Alcopop tax legislation amended to include “malternatives”

Posted by James Ferre on 26th February 2009

The Rudd Government has altered their alcopop tax legislation to ensure the 70 per cent tax hike applies to ‘malternatives’ – products which taste like alcopops but use the alcohol extracted from wine or beer to beat the controversial tax.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon yesterday said she would extend the excise increase from pre-mixed spirit drinks to those based on beer and wine, despite currently lacking the numbers in the Senate to pass the original measure. The legislation has passed the Labor-majority lower house but will be blocked in the Senate if Family First Senator Steve Fielding joins with the Opposition in voting down the Bill.

“I will be moving in the parliament today some amendments to our alcopops legislation, which will ensure that alternatives – products based on beer or wine, that are being used to try to get around this alcopops legislation – will also be taxed at the same rate,” Ms Roxon advised.

The expanded tax will take effect from July 1, provided it gains the support of the Senate by March 19. If it does not, then around $300 million in tax revenue will be required to be returned to distillers – who have said they would like the money to spent on alcohol education programs.

Mr Fielding, who decided against supporting the legislation on Tuesday, has indicated the amendment will not persuade him to change his mind.