Health Agencies Fail To Prove RTD Tax Hike is Working

16 March, 2009 by

By Ian Neubauer

Representatives of public health agencies who gave evidence before the Senate Community Affairs Committee on the RTD tax hike last week said they have no evidence the tax hike has reduced binge drinking.

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“Unfortunately, we just do not have the data that would tell us whether young people who were going out on Friday and Saturday nights and getting really drunk are still doing that and, even if they are, whether they are doing it on some other type of alcohol,” said National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre senior lecturer, Profession Anthony Shakeshaft.

“I do not think there have been any large-scale surveys that have been published that would indicate what is happening,” said Australian Drug Foundation spokesperson, Geoff Munro.

“I have not seen any evidence which has shown a decline in alcohol problems in the community since it was introduced,” added Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation chair, professor Ian Webster.

Yet the most damning testimony came from National Drug Research Institute associate professor, Tanya Chikritzhs, who admitted she was not aware of any evidence that indicates there has been a reduction in sales of alcohol to risky drinkers.

The testimony indicates that claims by RTD manufacturers and independent researchers that consumers simply switched to less expensive forms of alcohol when the tax hike was introduced — instead of cutting down on consumption — are correct.

But the facts may have very little to do with the final outcome when the Senate votes on the RTD tax hike bill this week.

Rather, it will reflect the fruits of negotiations — or lack thereof — between the Federal Government and cross-bench senators who hold the balance of power in Parliament.
 
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