Wry & Dry

UK Budget amazes with 'sugary drinks' tax'

Government budgets are dreary things.  But W&D fondly remembers the almost excitement with a Keating or a Costello budget.  There was always a spiced item.  And each budget presented in a blend of theatre and circus.

And then along came Wayne Swan; W&D has difficulty suppressing the gentle waves of somnolence washing over him that the very memory of him speaking brings forth.  Or Joe Hockey, whose entertaining delivery masked his clear lack of understanding of what he was actually speaking about.

Gloomily, Scott Morrison's upcoming budget (now on a date to be fixed) promises to be nothing more than a liturgical recitation of inexplicable data presented to what will be a bovine audience.  Morrison should take heed of UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

This week's 2016 UK Budget certainly had the mundane bits, although there were some juicy items: such as a cut to company tax to 17% (Australia's is stuck on 30%) and a cut in CGT.  But he certainly put the cat among the pigeons with his announcement of a tax on 'sugary' drinks.


The tax will hit drinks (but not milk-based ones) with more than 5% sugar content, with a higher level for those with more than 8% sugar.  (W&D calculates that Coca Cola, apparently a popular beverage with younger people, has about 11% sugar.)

W&D's point is not so much about the sugary drinks' tax itself (although W&D applauds it) but more about how all the attention is now on it, rather than the nasty bits of the budget.  The media coverage is focused, for example, on the reaction of sugary drinks' companies; dietitians, etc.

Brilliant marketing.  But a certain sugary drinks' company is not happy.  As it knows that without that 11% sugar in its main product the only way to maintain sales is legislative fiat...