PRICE OF DOING THE RIGHT THING
Years ago, as a young stock and station agent, I spent many hours driving around western and northern Queensland and New South Wales. In those days you didn’t need a GPS to let you know you were getting close to a town as the approach to every community with a pub was flanked by a carpet of broken brown glass. These were the days when western distances were often measured in “stubbies”. When a stubby was finished, many people simply tossed them out the window. I was reminded of this when reading the news that the price of beer would increase to cover the cost of a recycling program. Apparently we will all pay a 10c (possibly higher due to the unknown costs of running the scheme) deposit on a “single use” container – stubby or can – which will be returned when you drop your empties off at a new recycling centre. Nobody in their right mind would want to return to the drink driving and environmental vandalism that was a part of country living 40 years ago, however, most people I know do recycle diligently – and would no more chuck a bottle out of a car window than fly. More drinking happens at home nowadays anyway, and people tend to put empties in the yellow bin rather than chucking them at the clothesline. So why then do we have to invent a new bureaucracy that will add a minimum of $2.40 to the cost of a $48 carton of beer when the price of that beer already includes about $16.50 for excise and $4.36 in GST? That means in the new punitive recycling world, with each $50 carton you will contribute $23.26 (or 46.5 per cent) to the State Exchequer. And since it is a per-bottle tax, the bulk of the hurt will fall on the battler buying a 30-pack of Gold, who will pay more than those buying a $90 carton of Innis and Gunn. It is enough to drive you to drink.