Look out! You favourite tipple might soon be more expensive!
Load up the cellar. As Australia drags itself back to work after four days off, calls for alcohol tax reform may be met with screams of horror or cheers of relief.
According to Julia Stafford of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, and Professor Mike Daube from Curtin University, greater tax could go a long way to assisting those with serious alcohol issues to find a way to return to a functional life.
While you might be arguing over which region of Scotland produces the best whiskey, or be excitedly waiting for those ten-year old wines to come good, the area of focus for reform is the cheaper end of the market – particularly for cask wine.
Silver Clouds by Andy Warhol (1966)
Wine is incredibly cheap to produce. Since the introduction of the GST, a federally-imposed Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) has applied to the production, import or wholesale cost of wine. The aim of this tax was to ensure that your favourite bottle did not become too cheap after the removal of the former 41% wholesale tax on wine.
However, with increased efficiencies across production and a wine glut across Australia, the drink has been dumped onto the market at a price that is cheaper than ever – as little as $2.25 per litre.
This is concern a lot of health workers, who consider access to booze at this price to be utterly dangerous.
The proposal is to scrap the WET – which is price-based – and increase the excise on alcohol content across all forms of liquor (beer, wine, spirits) by 10%.
Modelling has shown such a move could contribute as much as $2.5 billion in tax revenues – which would go a long way to providing services for those heavily affected by the impacts of alcohol addiction.
Whether or not this makes the 2016 Federal budget remains to be seen, however it could be an easy win for a Government looking for cash.