AHA push for tax dis­count to at­tract pub drinkers

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

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.

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