By Amelia Ball
The RTD tax hike is far from done, with the Federal Government today announcing its intention to reintroduce the 70 per cent excise despite the bill’s official defeat last month.
The Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon said they would look to impose the controversial tariff while they work to push new legislation through Parliament to ensure the RTD tax becomes permanent.
In addition, the Government now hopes to retain the almost $300million that has been collected from the RTD tax since its introduction last April.
It is a turnaround on the Government’s original stance, having declared it would return the money to the distillers, who in turn hoped to donate the funds to the likes of DrinkWise and other alcohol education programs.
The Greens have welcomed the announcement, calling it a “common sense move to better managing alcohol-related harm”.
They are supporting the tariff on the basis of their existing deal negotiated with the Government for their support of the tax at the last sitting.
This deal includes a $25million Health Sponsorship Fund, mandatory warning messages on alcohol advertising and a range of other alcohol-related initiatives.
The announcement follows heightened speculation that alcohol tax remained big on the Government’s agenda, with many in the industry believing it would again emerge but within a wider package in the budget before May 13.
Stephen Riden from the Distilled Spiritis Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) said today’s announcement showed a complete disregard for the decision by the Australian Senate, made after months of debate and review.
“Like all Australians, we remain committed to a comprehensive approach to problem drinking and vehemently oppose a tax grab that punishes responsible drinkers and simply incentivises the purchase of cheaper and often more potent forms of alcohol,” he said.