By Ian Neubauer
The Federal Opposition has said it will vote in favour of the RTD tax hike bill despite its belief that the measure is a blatant tax grab that has had no measurable effect on alcohol consumption in Australia.
Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing Peter Dutton MP made the announcement today following the Rudd Government’s reintroduction of the RTD tax hike bill to Parliament today (Jun 22).
“Alcohol consumption has remained unchanged in Australia (AC Nielsen) since the introduction of the 70 per cent tax hike on RTD alcoholic beverages. Even the Government’s own budget papers acknowledge that straight spirit (18 per cent) and beer (5 per cent) sales and consumption have risen in the past year as drinkers have switched to other products following the tax rise on RTDs,” Dutton said, adding that the bill was never a ‘health measure’ as the Government sought to portray it.
Dutton said the Opposition would nevertheless act responsibly and support the bill to help the Government deal with the budget deficit.
“The Rudd Government has driven the budget into substantial deficit and we now know that Australia faces an uncertain future burdened, with unprecedented levels of debt totaling more than $300 billion,” he said.
“Kevin Rudd made this mess with the nation’s finances and the Coalition will act responsibly and not make an already bad situation worse. In this dire budgetary context, the Coalition has decided that it will not oppose [the bill].”
The development brings to an end a 14-month campaign by the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) and its members to repel the RTD tax hike bill. Contacted today, DSICA said it was in the process of formulating a formal response.