Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has pleaded with the Australian government to "pull its finger out" and follow Britain's lead in placing a levy on sugary drinks.
British Finance Minister George Osborne announced on Thursday morning (AEDT) that a sugar levy would be introduced in the UK in 2018 to help combat childhood obesity.
The levy will apply to drinks with a total sugar content above five grams per 100mL, and is expected to raise almost $A1 billion annually.
The celebrity chef, an outspoken campaigner against childhood obesity, posted a message on his Facebook page imploring other governments to follow suit.
"This is bold and brave, and this will send ripples throughout the world," Oliver said.
"If you are looking at this from other countries ... Australia, pull your finger out.
"It's about time your government got on this."
Online reaction to Oliver's message Down Under was deeply divided.
"With Australia having one of the highest obesity rates in the world I hope people will sit up and take notice!" wrote @padevilliers on Twitter.
"So love it when a leader uses his celebrity status in all the right ways and for a great cause - Go Jamie!" tweeted @dominicsiow.
Other social media users thought the tax would only make matters worse for the poor.
"Despite Jamie Oliver, a soft-drink tax is regressive, targets poor and does nothing to reduce obesity. Australia mustn't follow UK," tweeted Terry Barnes.
"Wealthy people like @jamieoliver want to make food more expensive for the poor. Even milk. To `help'," said @ToKTeacher.
Trade Minister Steve Ciobo indicated to ABC TV he would oppose the imposition of a tax.
"If you ask what's my personal view, I'm not a fan of that, I think the more you get in and distort these types of things, the more government causes havoc across the system," Ciobo said.