By Amelia Ball
The RTD debate heated up this week at the two-day senate inquiry into the recent RTD tax hike, with many calling for a tax overhaul across all alcoholic products.
A total of 35 bodies entered submissions into the inquiry, with a number of public health bodies, industry associations and hotels associations speaking over the two days.
Stephen Riden from the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) said he agreed with submissions put forward by some public health and research bodies, which discussed inconsistencies resulting from the isolated RTD tax hike.
“Officially, we would like them to return the RTD excise rate to what it was before the hike and review the entire alcohol taxation system,” he said. “Alcohol is alcohol. That’s all it comes down to. If you treat alcohol as alcohol, you need to have a volumetric tax. Not a flat rate, but a step system where you sensibly design a situation where you encourage the production of low-alcohol products.”
The inquiry generated real debate as to who is drinking RTDs, alcohol consumption patterns, cultural shifts and the role alcohol plays among all age demographics.
Australian Liquor Stores Association CEO Terry Mott was among the speakers on the day and called for an engagement with government on the related issues.
“It’s not our view that tax is the way to solve problems. Our preferred option is to look at working and consulting with the industry to develop targeted and meaningful interventions where problems are identified,” he said. “Tax is a blunt instrument and won’t solve any of these problems.”
The industry is now awaiting the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs recommendation, which will be put to the Federal Government by June 24.
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