By Ian Neubauer
Pressure is mounting on the Senate to reverse the Rudd Government’s RTD tax hike following findings by another public health agency that cast doubt over the rationale behind the hike.
A research paper by the South Australian Department of Health has found people aged 40 years and above were significantly more likely to be at risk from alcohol-related harm than people aged 16 years and above.
The report also found males had a greater predisposition to suffer from alcohol-related harm, and that the proportion of adults aged 16 and above exposed to alcohol-related harm in the state has remained consistent over the years.
The findings fly in the face of Rudd Government claims that RTD products encourage binge drinking among young people, particularly women, who favour RTDs with white spirit bases.
The new findings follow a June report by the Australian Institute of Health — the public health agency whose data was originally used to justify the tax hike — that said there was no clear link between binge drinking and RTDs.
Adding fuel to the fire, anecdotal evidence from bottle shop attendants and market data has shown the tax hike has led to increase sales of bottled spirits and cask wine, both of which have significantly higher alcohol content than most RTD products.
The Distilled Spirits Council of Australia (DSICA) again called on the Government to reverse the tax hike.
“The proposed legislation to increase the tax just on RTDs that is yet to be — and may never be — passed as laws by the Parliament, has done nothing to decrease alcohol abuse by young people,” said DSICA chairman, Michael McShane.
The South Australian paper has also caught the attention of a number of senior politicians who had previously expressed doubt over the tax hike, including Family First Senator Steve Fielding, independent ‘anti-pokie’ Senator Nick Xenophon and representatives of both the Opposition and the Greens.
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