By Ian Neubauer

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has introduced a clause for the RTD tax hike bill that will close the loophole that has fostered the proliferation of beer-based RTDs, or malternatives, in Australia.

“I want to announce that the Rudd Government is taking another step to close some of the shameful actions of distillers across this country,” the minister said on Wednesday (Feb 25). “I will be moving in Parliament today some amendments to our [RTD] legislation, which will ensure that malternatives — products based on beer or wine, that are being used to try to get around this alcopops legislation — will also be taxed at the same rate.”

The clause represents the fulfillment of a warning the minister made last year that manufacturers and distributors dabbling in malternatives were playing with fire.

But it will only come into effect if the RTD tax hike is passed in the Senate next month — an outcome that is looking more unlikely given the Government lacks the numbers to push it through.

Key cross bench Senator Steve Fielding, who late last year said he would support the bill, revoked his support for it this week, saying it had failed to address binge drinking.

Senators from the Liberal and Green parties have also refused to support the bill, while Independent Senator Nick Xenophon is yet to indicate how he will vote.
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The Shout Team

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