‘You gotta push this through, bruv’: Watch Jamie Oliver’s sugar tax message to NZ

In a video filmed for a conference the health minister was scheduled to open but then withdrew from, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver implores David Clark to pass a sugar tax. Watch below.

Following on from the dressing down he directed at the National Party for failing to attend a sugar tax symposium last year, UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver recorded a video to be played at this year’s event.

The new minister of health, David Clark, had agreed to open the symposium, held in Auckland on 15 November, so Oliver aimed his message at him, imploring the minister to “own it”.

Only problem was, Clark didn’t end up going, sending health ministry deputy director general Maree Roberts in his place.

Dr Gerhard Sundborn, founder of Fizz, the public health advocacy group that hosts the annual symposium, said he had explained to Oliver that the change in the Beehive had brought about a shift in attitude, but while the new government was more sympathetic to the idea of a sugar tax, nothing had actually happened yet.

In the video the famous chef, who successfully spearheaded a campaign to get a tax on sugary drinks passed in the UK last year, praised New Zealand for being one of the first countries to ban smoking in restaurants and bars. “New Zealand has been forward-thinking and pioneering … You’ve done it before, so Dave, you’ve got to do it again mate.”

Health minister David Clark in Parliament (Radio NZ)

The supportive, matey tone of the 10-minute selfie video, which appears to have been filmed in Oliver’s kitchen, is in contrast to last year’s message, where Oliver called the government’s absence from the conference “a disgrace” and “disgusting”.

In the new video, the chef directs several emotional, personal pleas to Clark. “This is not just about your party – it’s now about you,” says Oliver. “It’s personal. You are the man at this moment in time. It’s not the same as 10 years ago – we have the data and the science.”

He speaks of the tax as “a thing of beauty”. “When it was ratified by the British government, before it became active, we’d already won – by the 1st of January [when the tax came into effect], one in three sugary drinks products had already reformulated.

“This tax is a tax for good – it has heart and soul and care. It’s a tax where we turn the word ‘nanny state’ into a nanny that loves and cares for your kid. We need that.

“So David, my ask to you is to listen to the people today – they have the local information – but also we got your back, bruvva. We’re not against you, we’re grateful that you’re in the room.

“I believe in this. It’s not just about the sugary drinks tax, it’s about a moment in time where a big old rock goes in a pond and it’s the ripples of all the other clever, meaningful, localised initiatives that truly take care of New Zealand kids.

“So here’s to New Zealand kids – let’s help New Zealand kids, let’s help the most at risk, let’s have a government that gets stuff done.

“Own it, Dave – I’ve got you, everyone in the room has got you, and hear ’em out today… Don’t go thinking it’s just about the sugary drinks tax. It’s a moment, it’s a symbolic change.

“Dave – no pressure, brother.”

Read The Spinoff’s two-part series for and against a sugar tax.


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