A 70% tax hike on ready-to-drink (RTD) alcoholic beverages is to be relaunched by Australia's Government, despite being voted down in the country's Senate last month.

Health minister Nicola Roxon said yesterday (15 April) that the tax measure, which was introduced in 2008 to combat underage drinking, will be relaunched.

The move comes only a month after the controversial tax increase was voted down by 32 votes to 31 in the country's Senate, leaving ministers facing the prospect of having to refund A$300m (US$217m) already collected from the drinks industry.

Roxon said that the Government will propose fresh legislation in May that seeks to revive the tax rise and also validate all money collected in the past year.

"The measure - which has been widely backed by health experts - has seen a 35% fall in the consumption of alcopops and a significant fall in spirits consumption," said Roxon, adding: "A measure that is good for 12 months is a measure that is good into the future."

Roxon's announcement will anger drinks firms, which had denounced the tax rise as a tax grab in the guise of a public health policy. The Distilled Spirits Council of Australia, together with Foster's, has pledged to give any tax refunds to the DrinkWise Australia charity.

Prior to the Senate vote last month, Roxon said that the tax would be expanded to include malt and wine-based RTDs.