By Ian Neubauer

The Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) has denied it is actively promoting the Federal Government’s RTD tax hike bill to secure future funding increases.

The allegation surfaced earlier this week when the health agency petitioned the public to reprimand Family First Senator Steve Fielding for scuttling the bill in Parliament in March.

Fielding voted against the bill after his demand for a ban on alcohol advertising during the broadcast of sporting events on TV was met with walled opposition from the government.

Fielding joined the Opposition in labelling of the bill a thinly disguised tax grab after a Senate inquiry admitted it could not point to any evidence that the tax hike had achieved a reduction in binge drinking suince its introduction last April.

But in its most recent weekly e-newsletter released on Monday (Apr 4), the ADF instructed the public to petition Senator Fielding and senior members of the Opposition not to make their support for the RTD tax hike bill conditional on a crackdown on alcohol advertising.

ADF national policy manager Geoff Munroe denied the communiqué breached the organisation’s prinicples, which claim its strategies are evidence-based and that it refrains at all times from seeking or accepting support if its independence is likely to be compromised.

“The ADF makes its own policy decisions and decides which issues it will promote, and when it will do so,” Munroe said. “We have advocated action on RTDs for several years and we have supported the present government’s excise on [the category] because we think it is worthwhile.”

Munroe’s long-standing rival – DSICA spokesperson Stephen Riden – said Munroe’s support for the bill was also motivated by other factors.

“He supports the tax hike because the Minister for Health and Ageing has made it very clear that there will be no increase in funding for the preventative health industry unless the RTD tax increase is passed,” Riden said. 

Riden also questioned whether more money from the $5.5 billion in excise collected by the Federal Government from alcohol sales each year should be directed to the ADF and other groups working in harm minimisation and education.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon was contacted by TheShout today (May 8) but refused to comment on the allegation.

The Shout Team

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

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