Spirits industry fights back against alcopop tax

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 11th July 2008

A website has been set up by the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) to highlight the millions being reaped by the Federal Government following the introduction of the controversial alcopops tax.

In the wake of concern about binge drinking in Australia the Rudd Government announced a 70 per cent increase on taxes imposed on alcopops (ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages), which was introduced before being passed through the Senate. It has since been attacked by some as being merely a revenue raising scheme with the federal opposition among those to argue against the tax rise. It will still need to be passed through the Senate with the DSICA claiming that $200 million will have been raised in tax before the Senate meets in late August.

The Family First and Greens Parties have also flagged concerns about the tax due to fears that it will only be a successful ploy if it is a part of a dedicated commitment which incorporates other non-tax strategies to deal with binge drinking. “The Rudd’s government’s lack of commitment to other measures like implementing alcohol health warning labels and banning all alcohol ads from appearing during daytime TV, suggests this alcopops tax is just a blatant billion dollar tax grab,” Family First Senator Steve Fielding said in response to the findings of a Senate inquiry into the effectiveness of the proposed tax. “Family First believes we must change our culture in Australia, which celebrates alcohol and accepts drunkenness and binge drinking, and create a responsible drinking culture.”

The website, www.alcotaxripoff.com, has a counter at the top of the page highlighting the approximate revenue raised by the government from the new tax and poses the question “has your favourite drink been hit with an unfair 70% tax increase?”. Additionally, a section labelled ‘The Facts’ provides data to help them plead their case that the tax is “unfair”.

The Rudd Government requires the support of the Family First and Greens parties to get the Bill passed (assuming the Liberals don’t change their stance on the issue), and this appears a forlorn hope at the moment. The question has also been raised as to where the funds already raised would be directed if the Bill is not passed.

The report from the Senate Inquiry into taxes on ready-to-drink beverages was completed on June 24 and can be seen at: www.aph.gov.au/SEnate/committee/clac_ctte/alcohol_beverages/report/index.htm