By Ian Neubauer

The RTD tax hike copped yet another blow this week, with data showing it has led to a 10 per cent increase in the quantity of alcohol sold in bottle shops across the nation.

Liquor Merchants Association of Australia (LMAA) has released new data showing RTD sales have dropped 30 per cent since the tax hike came into effect in April but sales of straight spirits climbed 46 per cent.

The figure represents a 10 per cent increase in the quantity of alcohol sold, the equivalent of 21 million standard drinks for the months of April and June. Data for July is still unavailable.

The findings come on the back of a Nielson ScanTrack liquor survey published last month that found the tax hike had caused RTD sales to drop 40 per cent but boosted straight spirit sales by 20 per cent.

The Rudd Government has denied the veracity of the findings, with Health Minister Nicola Roxon accusing the liquor industry of doctoring data to further its financial interests.

“It’s a well-known fact that sales vary from month to month with the seasons, so these figures mean very little by themselves,” Roxon told The Australian. During an interview that aired this morning on ABC radio, she also said the findings show “the industry is prepared to selectively use data to protect their profits at the expense of young Australians”.

However, observers point out the Government has its own financial interests to worry about when it comes to RTDs. It may have to refund to consumers tens of millions of dollars it has already collected if the tax hike is rejected in the Senate.

The outcome would also cause a substantial loss of face for the Rudd Administration, which introduced the tax hike on the last weekend of April without warning or industry consultation in what is now widely being seen as a tax grab.

“These new figures further prove that the RTD tax trial has failed,” said Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA), spokesperson, Stephen Riden. “It’s time for the Government to look beyond the $1.75 million it is taking each day through this blatant tax grab and look toward real solutions to problem drinking in Australia.”

To comment on this story, click here.

The Shout Team

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *