By Annette Shailer

The RTD tax hike may be blocked after a report by the Senate Community Affairs Committee examining the tax, split senate members yesterday.

In the report the committee acknowledged its support for the tax excise, in contrast to the Opposition, the Democrats, the Greens and alcohol industry members who expressed concerns.

In response, a dissenting report by Liberal senators outlined the potentially negative consequences of the excise, including possible loss of revenue and jobs, and called for evidence of a net benefit to be clear and unambiguous.

Family First Senator, Stephen Fielding, said he would block the tax unless the government looked at more alternatives to rectify binge drinking.

“Evidence given to the inquiry showed that nearly twice as many people support alcohol warning labels and alcohol advertising restrictions, as opposed to increasing tax on alcohol as a means to combat problem drinking,” Fielding said.

Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) chief executive officer, Terry Mott, explained that an early drop in RTD sales had been matched with a concerning rise in sales of full-strength bottled spirits and soft drinks.

“People in that age group (18-24) do not necessarily carry measuring jiggers with them to mix,” Mott said. “At least with prepackaged products it was a set amount of alcohol and it was clearly labelled with the number of standard drinks.”

There has been a 20 per cent increase in the sales of full-strength spirits, in the two week period ending May 11 according to the AC Nielsen Liquor Scan Track Service.

Liberal senators recommended that the RTD excise increase be reversed until the Henry Review of Australia’s tax system has been reported and a response devised.

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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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