By Andy Young

Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) has dismissed claims that the Federal Budget was soft on drinkers, saying they lack evidence and credibility.

ABA Executive Director Fergus Taylor said a claim by The Age economics editor Peter Martin that increased alcohol taxation would reduce alcohol-related harms is off the mark. Taylor highlighted that the $5.9bn a year that Australians already pay in alcohol tax is among the highest in the world and that increasing those tax levels will not solve the problems of alcohol misuse.

“Extensive international research and experience has clearly shown that increasing alcohol taxes only changes the behaviour of moderate drinkers, who are doing the right thing, rather than influencing heavy problem drinkers to drink less,” Taylor said.

“Well-established research shows that moderate consumption can have health benefits, including reducing the risk of cardio-vascular disease.”

Taylor also said that claims the Budget was soft on drinkers and that the Government avoids touching alcohol taxes is incorrect as beer and spirits excise automatically increase at a level equal to CPI on 1 February and 1 August every year.

“That’s twice yearly ‘secret’ excise increases that the government doesn’t need to announce in any budget, and the consumer probably doesn’t know about,” Taylor said.

A claim that alcohol consumption has doubled since the 1980s was also incorrect, with alcohol consumption in Australia in fact at its lowest point in 50 years, Taylor said.

“The most reliable source on Australia’s drinking practices, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s National Drug Strategy Household Survey, shows binge and underage drinking have been in steady decline for more than a decade; violence is also significantly trending downwards Australia-wide.

“There is no credible evidence that alcohol causes domestic violence and child sexual abuse. The Alcohol/Drug-Involved Family Violence in Australia report found ‘alcohol-related’ domestic violence incidents have decreased across the board, despite an overall increase in domestic violence, indicating that alcohol does not cause this violence. The focus should be on properly establishing and addressing the causes of family and domestic violence, not simplistically blaming alcohol for their prevalence. 

“Increasing taxes would not just ignore the evidence but only serve to punish the vast majority of Australians who drink responsibly and in moderation.”

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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