The Australian taxation office raises alcohol taxes twice a year. The most recent change would increase alcohol taxes by 2.1%.
This means the rate on liquor would increase from $88.91 per litre of pure alcohol to $90.78. But the alcohol industry lobby group, Spirits and Cocktails Australia is lobbying the government to halt the tax increases for three years. Big Alcohol is claiming “it would be hard for the industry to stay profitable” and citing COVID-19 as a reason.
Contrary to Big Alcohol’s lobby group claims, retail data shows that the alcohol industry had no issue making money during the pandemic. In 2020, the alcohol industry made $15.6 billion in retail sales, which is a 26.7% increase on 2019, according to a Roy Morgan analysis from last year.
Big Alcohol campaigns to reduce taxes in the guise of helping “small business”
In a recent round table discussion Australian Hotels Association chief executive Stephen Ferguson claimed that alcohol taxes affect small businesses like pubs and restaurants. The discussion was between an owner of a pub, Smithton’s Tall Timbers owner John Dabner, the Brewers Association (an alcohol industry lobby group), Australian Hotels Association chief executive Stephen Ferguson, Braddon Liberal MHA Gavin Pearce, Labor candidate Chris Lynch, Senator Anne Urquhart, Senator Jacqui Lambie and her candidate for the Senate, Tammy Tyrrell.
The industry uses these kinds of discussions to frame taxes as only affecting local business and to lobby policy makers to weaken alcohol regulations. In this discussion Mr. Ferguson lobbies for cutting taxes in half. However, the industry conveniently ignores the burden alcohol places on Australian citizens which is far beyond the tax revenue of alcohol products.
A study published by the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) at Curtin University in Perth conservatively estimated the cost of harm caused by the products and practices of the alcohol industry, to the Australian people in 2017/18, to be $66.8 billion. This is far higher than the estimated cost in 2010 which was $14.4 billion.
The alcohol industry profits at the cost of Australian citizens
Despite the twice a year tax raises, alcohol remains too cheap and easily available in Australia. This fuels widespread alcohol harm and drains much needed resources from society. Behind the figures of tangible and intangible costs are thousands of real life stories of Australians harmed by the alcohol industry.
There are very real harms that the products and practices of the alcohol industry are causing to Australian citizens.
The alcohol industry exploited the ongoing pandemic to market alcohol even more and push people to buy and use more alcohol. A report, released last year by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, found that people in Australia were exposed to an alcohol advertisement every 35 seconds on Facebook and Instagram during the pandemic.
At a time when our healthcare system and hospitals are overwhelmed and when people are doing it really tough, it’s a slap in the face to us all to see alcohol corporations, who are making super profits, asking for more of taxpayers’ money,” said Caterina Giorgi, chief executive of Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, as per news.com.au.Caterina Giorgi, chief executive, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education
As Movendi International has previously reported:
- There was an 8.3% increase in Australian deaths caused by alcohol in 2020 compared to 2019.
- For the first time in four years, the number of Australians who use alcohol has increased in 2020.
- Alcohol related ambulance callouts have also increased by 8% in 2021 compared to 2020, as per St Johns WA.
- This translates to 16 ambulance call-outs for alcohol intoxication per day.
Right now, our focus should be ensuring resources go towards people’s health and wellbeing, not the deep pockets of alcohol companies,” added Ms. Giorgi.Caterina Giorgi, chief executive, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education
[This article was updated on February 11, 2022]
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