Blog: Olly WehringFacebook generation targets alcopop tax

Olly Wehring | 27 May 2008

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has recently come under enormous fire over the government’s proposals for a tax on RTDs.

Only today (19 May), Rudd received a warning from The Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia, which said so-called spirit-based RTDs are taxed on alcohol content as an incentive to keep alcohol levels low. But wine-based pre-mixed drinks are taxed on value and already have higher alcohol levels than alcopops.

Now it seems Rudd is facing even tougher opposition – 35,000 savvy Australian youngsters who have revolted against the new tax by forming an online Facebook group called “The Aussies against the alcohol tax increase” (AAATI).

“The Government has come up with a cunning plan to stem binge drinking and its associated violence by taxing everyone some more for our beloved beverages,” the group says. “We work hard everyday to earn a pay cheque for which a fair amount is spent on tax, our mortgage and petrol. Now after all this, most people want to sit down to a hard earned brew...why tax us some more on this liberty?”

Rudd’s opposition said that the taxes would not reduce binge-drinking, and has hinted it will use its Senate majority to block the tax hike.

Other Facebook groups attacking the tax include; 'I liked Kevin Rudd until he declared war on binge drinking' - with 726 members, 'The 70% tax on pre-mixed drinks in Australia is revenue-raising bullsh..t' - with 621 members, and 'Tax increase on alcohol will not stop teenagers drinking' - with 232 members.

Most agree that something needs to be done to curb binge drinking and violence related to it, yet they don’t feel a tax is the answer. Many say it would encourage youths to turn to cheaper alternatives such as drugs.

“The government is really onto something here... stop alcohol related violence in teenage binge drinking by making the drinks so expensive that everyone starts taking drugs as a cheaper alternative. Then we only have the drug related violence and mental health problems to deal with, pure brilliance,” said one member.

“Although I agree that something needs to be done, increasing the price of alcopops is only going to encourage drinkers to buy straight alcohol and mix it. Which is more lethal... 4-8 bottles of cruisers or 750ml of straight tequilla? I can tell you which one hurt the most on the weekend…and it wasn’t the alcopops,” said another member.

It seems the government needs to stand back and take a look at the possible knock-on effects this tax could have. Will it really solve the issue of binge drinking?

There are over 35,000 youngsters saying it won’t make a blind bit of difference, so that must account for something.

In the final words of one member: “We don't need a tax grab to punish binge drinking, nature has her own punishment - the hangover!”


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