AHA push for tax discount to attract pub drinkers
AUSTRALIANS would get a tax break for drinking wine or spirits at the pub instead of at home, under a proposal by the hotels lobby.
The Australian Hotels Association wants an excise discount on wine and spirits consumed “on premise’’, because of the “safer environments’’ licensed premises are required to maintain.
The AHA is also using social and economic contributions licensed venues make to justify the change.
Draft beer served from kegs is already taxed at a lower rate than packaged beer.
The AHA has made the suggestion in a submission to the Federal Government’s tax policy White Paper taskforce.
AHA national chief executive Stephen Ferguson said the association had not suggested a specific tax rate for alcohol consumed in bars and pubs but believed lower excises should be discussed.
“Thirty years ago about 20 per cent of alcohol was consumed at home and 80 per cent in hotels,’’ Mr Ferguson said. “Now it’s the reverse.’’
According to industry estimates, drinkers pay about $ 1.01 in tax per standard drink for spirits and 36 cents per standard drink of bottled wine.
Packaged beer is taxed at a rate of about 46 cents per standard drink but this falls to 32 cents for draught beer – a 31 per cent difference.
Pub drinkers were divided over whether the tax system should be used to encourage people to drink in pubs or bars, instead of at home.
Emily Rich, 24, said drinking out may not necessarily be safer than staying at home. “If people get drunk they would be kicked out on the street, and who knows who would pick them up. [ The bar workers] are not responsible when you leave the premise,” she said.
Lan Nguyen, 30, said it was safer to drink under a controlled environment.
“It’s good to have someone at the pub saying that’s enough and it’s safer for other people in the pub,” she said.
But she said getting a tax break on wine and spirits and getting cheaper drinks may encourage people to drink more.
Foundation for Alcohol Education and Research chief executive Michael Thorn was sceptical, dismissing the idea as “self- serving’’. He said excise rates should be based on the alcoholcontent of beverages.
“I agree there should be differentiated rates on wine and spirits but it’s got to be an appropriate differentiation on a volumetric basis.’’
Excise will automatically rise with inflation at the beginning of August.
Emily Rich and Lan Nguyen enjoy a wine at the pub.