By Andy Young
In its pre-Budget submission to the Federal Government, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) called for wine and cider to be volumetrically taxed like beer, a move which has been widely criticised.
The Winemakers' Federation of Australia rejected FARE's call saying the claims come around like a broken record adding that they are based on incomplete analysis on the impact a tax hike would have on regional communities.
Federation chief executive Paul Evans said: "Not only is Australian wine heavily taxed already when compared to our global competitors, in fact we are among the highest taxed in the world today, but the tax rates reflect that alcohol industries are not all the same and this continues to be missed by health lobbyists like FARE.
“The reason why wine is taxed differently and preferentially to other alcohol types is clear cut.
“Wine is different when it comes to our socio-economic input into regional Australia, employment footprint, contribution to export earnings, profitability and access to capital compared to the vastly different brewing and spirits industries and it’s only fair that alcohol tax arrangements reflect this.
“The Federation believes wine must continue to be taxed within the existing WET legislative framework and that any future changes to wine tax arrangements are done so within this framework and not shifted to an excise-based approach as is the case for beer and spirits. The Federation does not advocate how the WET should be calculated.
“Speculative reports in the meantime such as those pushed again and again by FARE, need to be seen for what they are – headline grabbers that will hurt the local industry and must continue to be ignored by Government.”
The Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) also rejected FARE's calls for higher taxes, instead calling for a focused approach to reducing alcohol-related harm.
ALSA CEO Terry Mott said: “The most effective way of reducing the level of alcohol-related harm is for a targeted policy approach which focuses on ‘problem areas’.
“There is little or no benefit in penalising the vast majority of Australian taxpayers who already drink in moderation and cause no harm to themselves and others.
“Australians already pay the second-highest rate of alcohol taxation among OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries responding to World Health Organisation survey data.
“Australia’s retail liquor industry does not support increases in the current alcohol taxation regime.”
Last week TheShout reported that the Australian Hotels Association has made its pre-Budget submission, highlighting fiscal concerns for the industry.