By Ian Neubauer

The RTD tax hike bill will likely be passed into law when it is reintroduced to the Senate next month after the Opposition announced it is reconsidering its longstanding opposition to the bill because of the deteriorating economic environment.

“We will definitely look at [it] again in the context of what they present us with,” Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull told Channel Nine yesterday (May 17).

“We have seen their new bill and also we’ve got to take into account the budgetary environment has changed. I mean, last year the budget was solidly in surplus. This year we have a record deficit.”

However, observers have said the Opposition’s backflip is more about preventing an early election triggered by a double dissolution should the RTD tax hike bill be knocked back by the Senate a second time.

“In terms of the Senate numbers, it may be to the Government’s advantage to have a double dissolution election because the party that would lose most seats would be the Coalition,” said ABC electoral analyst, Antony Green.

“Senate numbers would be … decreased for the Coalition and the Government’s position would be improved.”

Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) spokesperson Stephen Riden, whose organisation has mounted a lengthy and costly public relations battle to ward off the tax hike, said DSICA would not comment on Parliamentary politics.

However, he maintained the RTD tax hike was a tax measure – not a health measure – that was failing to meet its objectives. 

“The tax is still failing to change the drinking patterns of Australians or improve health,” he said. “It’s merely shifted RTD drinkers onto other products. It remains an unfair and ineffective tax.”

The Shout Team

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

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