DRUGS: The Government will re-introduce its alcopops tax measure to Parliament
Last month, the government's legislation to increase the tax on pre-mixed alcoholic drinks by 70 per cent was voted down in the Australian parliament, thereby denying the government of revenue to the tune of $1.6 billion over the next four years. Now the news is that the legislation will be re-introduced in the May Budget Sitting of Parliament (Department of Health and Ageing, "Government to re-introduce Alcopops Measure", media release, 15 April 2009, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/mr-yr09-nr-nr040.htm or http://tr.im/iRQC)
Expert opinion: News of this second bid to impose a price increase on pre-mixed drinks has been applauded by some experts in the health sector and in the alcohol and drugs sectors. The Australian Drug Foundation, the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation and Cancer Council Victoria supported the proposed changes in their submission to the government's Inquiry into Ready-to-Drink Alcohol Beverages (at http://www.adf.org.au/article.asp?ContentID=rtdinquiry). A recent Druginfo factsheet (http://tr.im/iRS0) and ARACY's weekly update of 15 April 09 both focus on the issue of alcopops, but some health experts are going further, calling for a move to make alcohol more expensive, or for a raise to the legal drinking age in Australia (ABC News, "Lift booze prices, drinking age: health experts", by James Bennett, http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/04/13/2541798.htm).
The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) applauded the government's decision to re-introduce the alcopops taxation legislation, saying that "the fact that this action must be taken was further highlighted over Easter with the release by Melbourne's Murdoch Children's Research Institute of a 10-year report showing there is no safe or sensible level of drinking for adolescents". The research found that teenagers who drank alcohol even at the level recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council, increased their likelihood of encountering problems in their later years with alcohol abuse, social and legal problems, or alcohol-related high-risk sexual behaviour. (Source: ADCA 'Update' email posting, 15 April; "ADCA applauds action on alcopops", media release, 15 April 2009, http://www.adca.org.au.)