Senate Debate on RTD Tax Postponed

11 March, 2009 by

By Ian Neubauer

The long-awaited Senate debate and vote on the RTD tax hike bill will likely be delayed until Monday (Mar 16).

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Senators were this week scheduled to question medical experts, treasury officials, RTD manufacturers and other stakeholders over the effectiveness of the tax hike.

But a parliamentary spokesperson told TheShout today (Mar 11) the Community Affairs Committee will this afternoon ask Parliament for more time to complete its report on the bill.

“The committee has not yet reported on the bill and has posted a motion to extend to the 16th of March,” the spokesperson said. “The Senate cannot debate the bill until the committee has tabled its report.”

The RTD tax hike bill was introduced without industry consultation in April last year to tackle binge drinking among young people and underage drinking.

But evidence and data collected by industry and independent sources shows the tax hike has encouraged drinkers to switch to cheaper forms of alcohol with higher ABVs, such as straight spirits and cask wine.

The Federal Government has nevertheless stuck to its guns, using data derived by public health agencies it sponsors to show the tax hike is working.

However,  the Federal Government lacks the numbers in the Senate to pass the bill and is lobbying the Greens and independent Senator Nick Xenophon for their support.

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