This pre-budget submission for was prepared for Treasury ahead of the 2018-19 Australian Government budget. The submission outlines the health and economic harms associated with the current approach to alcohol taxation, and shows the wide-ranging support for reform and effective measures to instigate cost-saving preventive measures. The proposed reforms will facilitate meaningful public policy interventions to reduce rates of alcohol harm, including better resourcing of interventions to reduce rates of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. They will also provide additional resources for comprehensive public education campaigns that will raise awareness of alcohol harms and bolster support for meaningful reforms.
1. That the Australian Government reform the alcohol tax system through a phased approach that will save in excess of $2.9 billion annually and reduce consumption by more than 9.4 per cent. This should include:
- Introducing a volumetric tax alongside the current WET and requiring producers to pay the larger of the two.
- Lifting the volumetric rate over time to capture an increasing proportion of excessively cheap wine.
- Fix the volumetric tax on wine at a level commensurate with its strength, half way between full-strength draught beer and spirits.
- Increase all alcohol tax by at least 10 per cent, to address negative externalities associated with the liquor trade.
2. Lift the tax on draught beer to bring this in line with the rates applied to packaged beer, providing a level playing field, additional revenue and a reduction in harm.
3. Protect children from being born with a preventable lifelong disability by establishing a $10 million national public awareness campaign over four years to raise awareness about the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
4. Fund a nation-wide public education campaign to highlight the harms associated with alcohol consumption and strategies that individual can use to minimise their risk ($100 million over four years).