Federal Government to keep alcopops tax already collected

Posted by James Ferre on 13th May 2009

The Senate has today passed legislation validating the revenue raised from the failed alcopops tax Bill, ensuring $424 million in revenue will not get handed back to distillers.

The 70 per cent tax was introduced last year but, with the Senate blocking the legislation earlier this year, new legislation was introduced to validate the revenue already raised.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon continues to maintain that the tax is good policy and will again introduce legislation to make it permanent next month, a move which could end up forcing an early election. The move to validate revenue raised was supported by all parties, while the Coalition and Family First Senator continue to outline opposition to the tax proposal.

“The measure is working and the fact that the distillers and their dancing marionettes in the Liberal Party are so agitated is really a good indicator of this,” Ms Roxon told ABC radio yesterday. “Distillers are pulling the strings from just outside the chamber and no doubt the Member for Dickson (Peter Dutton) will flail around in mock outrage at this measure.”

Mr Dutton, the Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, suggested the forcing of an early start to Parliament yesterday was embarrassing for the Government and stressed the Coalition would not support the Bill to make it permanent.

“We are right up against the 12-month mark today and that’s why embarrassingly this Minister has had to come and interrupt business of the House on Budget day to ram this through,” he said. “The Government has not been able to provide one shred of evidence that this measure has gone any way toward curbing the issue of binge drinking.”

The Government has indicated that the alcopops Bill will not be put back to the House until after June 18, a move which could force an early election as it means it would have been over three months since the legislation was first blocked by the Senate.

ABC‘s election analyst Antony Green believes the double dissolution trigger will not be pulled by the Government, however, who will instead try to leverage it to get the Bill passed.

“They’re introducing the legislation to get it passed and by introducing it in such a way that it can become a trigger, it puts more pressure on the Opposition to let it through if it wants to avoid an early double dissolution election,” he noted.