Politics

‘A bloody disgrace’: watch Jamie Oliver’s video message to the NZ government on sugar tax

Incensed by the government’s absence from a conference on a proposed sugar tax, this week celebrity chef Jamie Oliver got stuck into the National Party. Watch the video below. 

The Essex TV chef campaigned for a sugar tax on soft drinks in the UK and the levy is set to be introduced in 2018. A group of New Zealand scientists and doctors wants our government to introduce a similar tax to address our child obesity rates, but when the government, which has repeatedly ruled out the tax, refused to show up to the conference they enlisted Oliver to give the government some shit.

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

In a selfie video filmed in his garden on his 17th wedding anniversary, while wife Jools breastfed their baby son in the background, Oliver called the New Zealand government “a bloody disgrace” for their failure to front up.

“Hello you lovely people. Hi to all the people in New Zealand at the sugar tax symposium. Big up Gerhard for reaching out and finding me. How you got me I don’t know…

You’ve got a whole bunch of people in the room that can make a difference. You’ve got politicians there. Apart from the one, or any politician from your government. Which is a disgrace and disgusting. Because it is their job to listen to experts and listen to the public and react and debate internally whether they should make change.

Now guys New Zealand like Britain, has got some of the most obese children on the planet. It’s disgusting, it’s nuts. The world has changed in the last 40 years. All the data is there to justify logically, scientifically, and economically, why we should have a sugary drinks tax.

For us it wasn’t all sugar, it was sugary sweetened drinks. In New Zealand that is 26 percent of all sugar kids get from sugar sweetened drinks. It’s an industry that has come from nothing, to being prolific. Of course they should be taxed. Of course they are contributing to obesity and diet related disease. Of course they are, we all know it.

I spent a year and a half working with the British government to convince them and show them the data that they need a tax. Cameron didn’t want it, the Conservatives didn’t want it, and I got it through. I am here as hopefully hope. France is in. Portugal is in. Hungary is in. Ireland is in. Britain is in. Mexico is in. This is the new norm.

There is a little proviso. No one likes tax. Even when I told my own organisation that we were going to spend two years dedicated to curating a new tax they must have thought I was mad. This is not regressive this is progressive. This is not a tax that’s negative it’s a tax for good.

There is a proviso, you have to make sure that the money raised from this tax goes to elementary or primary schools in NZ. For sport, for food education right, to get kids understanding where food comes from and how it affects their body and then you will find it polls really well. In Britain this tax polled 75 per cent. Politicians in the room, activists, come together. Come together, this is new money! This is new money for the children of New Zealand.

Anyone that could debate this needs a slap. The science is there, the data is there, the measurements there. So today is a beautiful day. Thank you everyone in the room that has come together.

I know you would rather be doing different things, but you care about this. It looks like you are way more organised than we were, but we won guys, we won, we got it through. We got it through. It is now ratified, it is happening.

And here is the genius, it was never about the sugary drinks tax, it is not just about that. That is one of hundreds of things we need to do environmentally to make our countries less obesogenic for our children.

If you want to change health outcomes we have to change 100s of things, but this one thing, it’s not just new money, it’s not just lowering consumption of crap and promoting more milk and more water. It’s symbolic that government will step in when things go wrong.

We can’t spend 40 years learning like in tobacco, we can’t.

But what I have seen in Britain in four months is a complete reformulation of not just sugar but salt and fat in Britain. The sugary drinks tax has been a reformulation turbo charge. It’s amazing.

Have a great symposium.

This is my wife here, it’s our 17th anniversary today. Little [baby] River, having some milk – don’t even get me talking about breastfeeding cos you know it’s all connected.

Guys lots of love, have a brilliant week and go and kick some arse from your government. The fact they’re not there is a bloody disgrace, it’s an embarrassment, and they should not be entrusted with child health if they don’t turn up to your event.

God bless you. Go get it. New money. Kids. Hope. It’s all good.”


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