Tax ’em into sobriety

FEDERAL Health Minister Nicola Roxon has blamed the former Howard Government for the rise in teenage binge drinking.

Nicola uses some pretty inventive logic to suggest the Howard government is solely to blame for the rate of teenager girls drinking rising from 14% to 60%. Not a mention of state liquor laws, lax club administration or poor parenting.

So now she has established the fact that the wonderful, socially aware ALP are fixing an insidious act of the evil conservative government that is killing our babies; while we watch her right hand conjuring up this image we fail to notice her left hand dropping a new tax on us.

She has come up with a plan to halt binge drinking, a problem amongst kids, that is supposedly rocking the country. I haven’t seen any good stats yet that back that up only anecdotal evidence but lets take it as a given.

The plan? Excise has been almost doubled from $39 to $67 per litre for RDT (ready to drink) products with one paper suggesting that will up the price of a bottle by a dollar. Queensland pubs and clubs currently charge, on average, about $8 per bottle but they can range from $5 specials to $12 rip offs.

So, there are two factors to consider here.

First. The pubs may or may not throw the rise straight back at kids buying RDTs. They could absorb the excise rise elsewhere in the inventory if they feel it to their advantage to keep the premixes cheap.
Even if they simply put up costs by a dollar a drink I can’t see that guaranteeing kids will stop buying them.

So it may or may not work but based on my experience it won’t work. If price was the determining factor I would have stopped drinking when a pot went from .30 cents to 45

Second and most important. The government will make a couple of billion dollars from the hike.


  • I vaguely recall Rudd claiming that his Government would only
    implement evidence-based policies.

    So where is the evidence that collecting an extra $2bn pa will benefit
    Australian society to the tune of, at least, $2bn?

  • Higher price alone wont cut down consumption but it will help. A policy that operated in the Northern Territory for many years, called Living With Alcohol, introduced a price differentiation based on alcohol content, among a range of other things. The effect was to reduce consumption of alcohol considerably. The policy was wiped out after 10 years effective operation by the High Court in a decision in relation to excises. The Feds could have picked it up but chose not to.

    I agree, by the way, that there has been no evidence presented that we have any binge drinking ‘epidemic’ and that this current activity has a lot to do with populist bullshit. Unfortunately, this simply carries on the practice of the past.

  • Anon, No evidence so watch where the money goes.

    Mangoman, The NT Policy may or may not apply in these circumstances. I would imagine the NT was targeting our indigenous brothers with possibly less disposable income than these ‘binge drinking’ kids….that’s just a thought. I know it wouldn’t deter me from a night on the tiles should I be so inclined as lets face it, if you are binge drinking do you really know or care what it’s costing until your cash runs out?

  • At worst it will cost another $10 for a teenager
    to get completely paralytic and make a mess/fool
    of themselves. Another useless populist knee-jerk reaction,
    nothing more.

  • I was going to get all high and mighty about this too, but then I read at the bottom of the linked article that all they are doing is changed the tax on pre mix drinks to be the same as everything else. Seems to me to be a fair enough move to level the playing field.

    That being said, this will do nothing to change drinking habits, and is just another populist move from a populist government.