The problem with the draft National Alcohol Strategy
15 January 2018
Brewers Association of Australia
The Australian Government has released its draft National Alcohol Strategy, proposing the introduction of minimum floor pricing for alcohol and taxation reform to include flat volumetric taxation.
The problem with the draft Strategy is that it targets all consumption - not harmful drinking, failing to recognise the Australian Government’s own official statistics that show total consumption trends falling dramatically in Australia.
It ignores the positive and dramatic gains made to date in curbing Australia’s drinking culture. The draft Strategy is out-of-whack with modern Australian drinking behaviour.
Further, putting the prices up on everything is regressive and doesn't actually achieve desired health outcomes, which require tackling those few who misuse alcohol.
Australians already pay amongst the highest excise on beer in the world, in addition to a 10% GST on top of that. In 2015-16, taxes on beer drinkers alone netted the Australian Government almost $2.4 billion. Further, the excise on beer is forever increasing, with indexation rising twice every year.
The Australian Government’s own facts, seemingly ignored in the draft Strategy, show that today’s drinkers in Australia are more discerning, better informed and better equipped socially regarding responsible alcohol consumption than ever before.
Overwhelmingly, the moderate consumption message has sunk in with consumption per capita falling, decade on decade, for more than 40 years. Meanwhile, underage drinking in Australia is at an all-time low, with 82% of teens abstaining – up from 72% just three years ago.
Additionally, over the last decade, there has been a marked uptake of low- and mid-strength beer options – these products now account for one-quarter (24%) of all beer sales in Australia. Industry is continuing to invest in and grow this market.
In the end, price is not a pressure point for the few who misuse alcohol. Penalising the vast majority of Australians who drink responsibly in the hope those who drink to excess will drink less, is a lazy and flawed approach.
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