By Ian Neubauer
The public health agency whose data was used by the Rudd Government to justify the RTD tax hike has revealed there is no clear link between binge drinking and RTD products.
“Given the stable prevalence of risky drinking and the lack of any clear trend regarding preferences for RTDs, the increased availability of RTDs does not appear to have directly contributed to an increase in risky alcohol consumption,” the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) told a Senate Inquiry into RTD beverages.
“There has been virtually no change in the pattern of risky drinking over the period 2001-07, including among young Australians,” the agency added.
The AIHW was one of 23 public health agencies, industry groups and individuals who presented submissions to the committee overseeing the Senate Inquiry. Many of these, including the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia and the National Drug Research Institute, submitted arguments and data in support of the tax hike.
However, few of these agencies carry greater weight than the AIHW, whose data was heavily cited by Health Minister Nicola Roxon when making the Government’s case for the tax hike.
The Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) pounced on the revelation, calling for the Federal Government to reverse its RTD tax hike.
“The AIHW has validated the industry’s concern over this tax grab,” said DSICA information and research manager, Stephen Riden. “The Government needs to accept there are no public health grounds or evidence to support the RTD tax hike.”
A public hearing detailing materials submitted to the committee will be heard in Canberra on June 11 and 12. The committee will present its report to the Senate on June 24.
To view the full list of submissions presented to the Senate Inquiry on RTDs, click here.
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