Melbourne Nightlife Blog

19 May, 2008

Alcopop tax enough?

Steve Fielding, Family First Senator-elect, will apparently take on the government and its moves against binge drinking as he holds back his support for the proposed pre-mixed alcoholic drink tax rise.

"If the Rudd Government is serious about creating a culture of responsible drinking, and it wants to prove the alcopops tax is not just a tax grab, (it) would also introduce alcohol warning labels to alcopops and all other alcohol products," Mr Fielding said.

Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens raised similar concerns and along with independent Nick Xenophon the three men will share the balance of power in the new Senate. None of the men have committed support to the Government's tax rise and the Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has promised to block it.

Australia currently has no uniform tax on a set measure of alcohol - taxes on a litre of wine, beer or spirits are all different. Shadow treasurer Malcolm Turnbull added that the move only added to the anomalies of alcohol taxation.

The Age has taken the opportunity to rehash expert opinion on the alcopop tax issue, listing the following expert's opinions in support of the government's move with their recent article:
"Evidence around the world shows that volumetric taxation is one of the most effective levers for reducing excessive consumption." - John Rogerson, chief executive of the Australian Drug Foundation.
"International evidence demonstrates that taxing alcopops at the same rate as bottled spirits will change the consumption patters among young people and lead to less alcohol-related harm." - Daryl Smeaton, chief executive of Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation
"There is now drastic evidence showing that young women are out-drinking their male counterparts, and unfortunately many of them drink to get drunk. This has been helped by the ready availability of cheap spirit-based drinks, which have become the first drink of choice for young women." - Professor Mike Daube, president of the Public Health Association of Australia
"It's easy to ridicule such measures but they tend to be surprisingly effective." - Professor John Toumbourou, Deakin University
"Using taxation or pricing as a lever for reducing harmful consumption is a really good idea." - Rob Moodie, chairman of the National Prevention Health Taskforce
"Frankly, the more we can do to make these sweeter beverages less available to young people, whose bodies and brains are still developing, the better." - Professor Richard Mattick, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

Source: The Age

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