The introduction of a tax hike on RTDs in Australia has failed to stem the overall amount of alcohol consumed in the country, according to local reports.

The country's Federal Treasurer, however, has told alcohol companies unhappy with the tax rise to "go jump", other reports have said.

Citing figures from the Liquor Merchants Association of Australia today (28 July), some reports have concluded that the tax rise of 70% on RTDs, introduced earlier this year to curb teenage binge drinking, has failed in its original intention.

While sales of RTDs have slumped by 30% last month, compared to April - before the tax hike was introduced - the LMAA also said that around 266,000 extra litres of spirits have been bought in the country over the same period, on the back of a 46% leap in bottled spirits sales. A spokesperson for The Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia was cited in one report as saying: "These new figures further prove that the RTD tax trial has failed. It's just not working as a public health measure."

But, in a report from Australian Associated Press, Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan was cited as saying: "You have got to be really wary about listening to the special pleading of the liquor industry in this. They will take any set of figures and slice and dice them at any time to suit their argument because they were making a motza out of this (binge drinking of RTDs).

"We've put an end to it," Swan continued. "Well, they can go jump."

Last week, Fortune Brands' drinks unit, Beam Global Spirits & Wines - which was the clear market leader in the Australian RTD market - highlighted the tax rise as one of the reasons for flat sales in the first half of 2008. Sales at the division were down by 1.1% year-on-year in the period, to $1.12bn, with operating profit decreasing by 12.5% to $267.2m.