Alcopop tax one step closer to being passed

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 13th October 2008

Family First Senator Steve Fielding has reported that he will now support the controversial ‘alcopop’ tax after in spite of his opposition to the use of taxes to control binge drinking.

Mr Fielding said that in light of recent economic turmoil it was now in the best interests of the country for the budget measures to be passed. This has meant he will no longer use his position in the Senate to block the ready-to-drink (alcopop) alcoholic beverage tax nor changes to the thresholds for the medicare levy surcharge.

“We will support the government’s remaining tax budget bills to bring about stability,” Senator Fielding told a press conference held in Canberra today. “The world economy is so grave that the government should be able to pass its budget, it’s in the national interest.”

Mr Fielding added that his vote for the two measures was not to be seen as support for the two bills. He remains concerned that the tax on alcopops will not curb binge drinking, with more needed to be done to tackle the issue.

The alcopop tax has been the source of much debate since it was announced in April.

The tax was controversially added to the cost of ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages before it had even reached the Senate and it was initially thought that it might not get through the Senate as the Liberals, Greens and Family First parties flagged fears that it would not solve the issue of binge drinking.

There is currently no majority in the Senate, but the opposition, which has been steadfast in their refusal to support the Bill, maintains the strongest presence with 37 of the 76 seats. As a result, Labor requires the votes of Independent Senator Nick Xenaphon, the five Greens Senators and Mr Fielding to get the Bill through the Senate.

With Senator Fielding’s support the Bill now appears destined to be passed, preventing a gaping hole being left in the Rudd Government’s first budget.