By Ian Neubauer

The Opposition has said it will attempt to block the new RTD tax in the Senate following Budget revelations that show the government expects RTD consumption to increase and that monies raised from the excise will not go toward the war on binge drinking.

“You are on a tax binge!” Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson said in Parliament yesterday. “Given that this tax increase was meant to tackle binge drinking… why is alcohol consumption actually going to increase in the next four years?”     

“It is a naked tax grab and has nothing to do with combating alcohol abuse,” said Deputy Opposition leader, Julie Bishop. “All it is doing is putting a tax on one product.”

Also questioning the validity of the tax hike is Independent ‘anti-pokie’ Senator, Nick Xenophon, who said he would listen to the arguments of the Opposition and various groups.

Swelling opposition to the tax hike stemmed from Budget papers that showed the government expects consumption of RTDs to increase, with an additional $3.1 billion in excise over the next four years.

The revelation contradicts previous Government claims the tax hike would reduce the consumption of RTDs. Prime Minister Rudd voiced the argument on radio as late as last week, while Health Minister Nicola Roxon told Parliament the tax hike would lower consumption of RTDs by 43 million bottles per year.

Yesterday, the Government attempted to backtrack on this claim, with Deputy Senate Leader Stephen Conroy now admitting the tax hike “is expected to reduce but not reverse” RTD consumption.   

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The Shout Team

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

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