AUS: Health agency warns against minimum pricing

By | 2 November 2012

The Australian authorities are examining alcohol pricing

The Australian authorities are examining alcohol pricing

A government-advising health agency has said a minimum price should not be introduced nationally in Australia, for the time being. 

In a report published yesterday (1 November), the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) warned that a price increase would “flow to private sector suppliers and retailers, potentially creating ‘monopoly rents'”. It also said that assessing the impact of the measure is not feasible.

However, the agency said minimum pricing should be considered in “more local circumstances” in the country.  

“Australia has private sector alcohol distribution and retail systems, so unlike other countries that have government-controlled alcohol distribution systems ... a price increase would flow to private sector suppliers and retailers, potentially creating ‘monopoly rents,” said the agency's CEO Louise Sylvan. 

However, the agency also said that the country's current alcohol tax system - where cheaper wine is taxed less regardles of its abv - is “of concern” and needs re-examining. 

The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia welcomed the ANPHA's findings on minimum pricing, but said it was disappointed it was still backing “price-based mechanisms”.

"ANPHA could not justify a public interest case that supports using price via minimum pricing to deal with alcohol abuse. It is hard to see how another pricing mechanism is going to be any different," said WFA chief executive, Paul Evans. 

Details of who responded to the agency's first consultation on minimum pricing emerged last month

Submissions are now being sought on the latest report, with a deadline of the end of November. A final report will be sent to Australia's Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, in December, the ANPHA said.

Sectors: Beer & cider, Legislation, Spirits, Wine

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