By Ian Neubauer

The RTD tax hike has failed to reduce the amount of alcohol sold at off-premise venues, according to a survey of 480 liquor retailers commissioned by the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA).

Ninety-six per cent of survey participants said the tax hike had not led to a reduction in the amount of liquor sold to their customers.

Eighty per cent said most RTD drinkers substituted other forms of alcohol as a result of the tax hike, while 90 per cent said their customers see it as an unwarranted tax grab.

The general view expressed by retailers was that the tax hike had not helped stop or limit excessive drinking behaviour and the problem needs to be tackled in different ways. They believe the Federal Government had “rushed in and made the wrong decision” and that they should have been consulted before the measure was introduced.

“They should have spoken to any 18 year old who would say that they are going to drink anyway and now larger levels of alcohol are being consumed in an uncontrolled fashion,” a participant said.

“It seems like they were trying to be good natured and do something right but not enough research went into it and they need to cop it on the chin now it has backfired and try something different,” said another.

DSICA spokesperson, Stephen Riden, said the findings show liquor retailers are concerned about the consumption of alcohol and believe RTDs — which have known ABVs — are safer than self-poured mixed spirits.

He has also called on the Federal Government to listen to liquor retailers and other frontline parties “dealing with the fallout from a policy that encourages the purchase of stronger alcohol products”.

Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, discounted the survey findings, calling them shonky and predictable.

"This is another one of those pretty shonky industry surveys," she told News Ltd. "I mean, shock horror that the spirits industry asks bottle shop owners what they think of an alcohol tax and they say they don’t like it — well there’s no surprises there.”

The survey was conducted by research company EMRS. To see the complete survey results and methodology, click here.

To comment on this story, click here.


The Shout Team

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

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