By Ian Neubauer

The Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) has said it does not want — nor has it ever expected —  money collected by the Federal Government’s 70 per cent tax hike on RTDs to be returned to the industry.  

The announcement pre-empts an upcoming Senate vote that could see the reversal of the tax hike that was implemented on April 26 without warning or industry consultation.

“Our members do not seek to profit from a situation in which the Government is forced to return tax revenues collected without Senate approval,” said DSICA information and research manager, Steve Ridden.

“If and when enabling legislation is rejected by the Senate, all revenue gained from this poorly conceived tax trial should be returned to the community for use in alcohol-related harm minimisation programs,” he said, adding that the $200 million collection to date would make a huge impact if directed toward community-based education and intervention programs.

Prime Minister Rudd was caught crying wolf last week when he said a reversal of the tax hike would mean less money for Australia’s overstretched public hospital system.

But when implemented in April, he said a significant proportion of revenue raised — estimated at $500 million annually — would be spent on a new National Preventative Health program that is yet to eventuate.

He also said the tax hike would make the category less attractive to underage and youth drinkers and help address alcohol-related harm.

However, a maelstrom of anecdotal evidence and sales data collected over the last four months has shown the tax hike has backfired, showing consumers substituting RTDs with higher-alcohol products like cask wine and straight spirits.

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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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