A warning that alcohol is bad for you will appear on glitzy liquor and wine labels if proposals for trans-Tasman food labelling laws are adopted.The Press then goes to the usual suspects for comment about how critically important this move is. Except that we already know it doesn't work. People do not change behaviour when they read the calorie counts on fast food. Some eat more, having previously figured fast food had to be really really full of calories and being informed that the calorie count isn't as high as they'd previously thought. Evidence is accumulating.
An alcohol warning is one of many proposals made by an independent panel, commissioned by the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council.
The panel also recommends fast-food outlets highlight the calorie counts of their burgers, chips and other foods.
Canterbury Community and Public Health nutritionist Janne Pasco said people would be "astounded" to see the calorie content of fast food.Yup - it's not as bad as you'd thought, so have more.
Lion Nathan, one of the two big NZ breweries, has moved defensively:
In response to the report, brewer Lion Nathan promised to "voluntarily adopt consumer health messages that support responsible drinking choices, including during pregnancy".The real killer though would be if they forced calorie counts on beer. That's a reasonable fixed cost. Lots of the smaller brewers here do unique one-offs that might well not be economical if they had to submit all their brews to nutritional analysis. And that's the Commission's Recommendation 26. NZ's craft brewers might want to keep an eye on this one. How much does it add to the cost of your new seasonal brew to have to submit a sample to the lab at time of bottling, wait on results, print up new labels with the calorie count, then label before shipping? This pushes brewers to having a set stable of beers rather than interesting and changing portfolios.
Any chance the brewers will be allowed to note the health benefits of moderate drinking on their bottles while putting on the official warnings?
The Commission also recommends mandatory GE labelling - tough call when there's easy potential for unintentional presence. Who bears the lab costs? Doesn't it make more sense to run certification for those wanting to advertise as GE-free for folks with strong preferences? It's not like non-organic foods have to advertise the pesticides that have been used.
Item the second. Wellington taxi companies try on having the City Council cartelize them, and Council seems interested. Fortunately, they may not have the power to do it directly. Here's the Dom:
There are too many taxis in Wellington and it is time to put a limit on them, the mayor says.Fortunately, it seems illegal for NZTA to set quantity restrictions. But you can have similar results by ramping up compliance costs, like they did last year with mandatory cameras. If any other industry made a bunch of claims that amount to "Please help turn us into a cartel", would NZ journalists take it at face value?
The taxi industry agrees and has called on the Government to introduce legislation to cap or reduce numbers in the city.
Celia Wade-Brown believes part of the problem stems from "overqualified" immigrants being funded by Work and Income into an industry that has hit saturation point.
"There seem to be too many for the city and they aren't getting a good living wage in some cases."
The New Zealand Transport Agency issues taxi licences, but legislation that deregulated the industry in 1989 does not allow the agency to set limits.
There are 1237 taxis licensed for Wellington City. About 400 were on the road before deregulation. This tripling of taxis in the past 20 years has led to overcrowded taxi stands and dubious parking practices as drivers clamour for business, especially in the late-night Courtenay Place party zone.
Mr Tyler [Taxi Federation Wellington branch secretary and rent-seeker] said the only solution he could think of for Wellington's taxi congestion woes would be for the Government to introduce legislation to cap the number of taxis at current levels.
"It would mean they [NZTA] couldn't issue any more licences in Wellington until it could be demonstrated that there is a need for it."
A less palatable option would be to return to full government regulation, which would pre-set cab numbers.
"Then they would have to reintroduce fare fixing. If you are going to limit the supply, then you have to control the costs as well."