The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE)’s pre-budget submission for the 2016-17 Australian Government Budget outlines areas where immediate action can be taken to achieve budget savings and increase revenue, as well as areas where modest investment can result in significant benefits to the community.
This submission seeks to outline practical steps that the Government can make to reduce the social and economic burden of alcohol consumption in Australia. Recommendations are provided regarding a reform of the alcohol tax system, to deliver equitable outcomes while reducing harmful consumption and increasing government revenue. These recommendations are based on sound analysis, and may be incorporated into the existing fiscal infrastructure.
The Australian Government needs to urgently identify new sources of revenue to help bring the budget deficit back into control. Reforming the alcohol taxation system and increasing taxes on alcohol would result in both increased revenue and a reduction in alcohol consumption that would improve the health and well-being of all Australians.
FARE makes the following recommendations to The Treasury for the 2016-17 Australian Government Budget.
- That the Australian Government reform the alcohol taxation system by replacing the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) with a volumetric tax rate. This rate should be transitioned to a differentiated rate that is based on the alcohol content of wine.
- That the Australian Government increase the excise rates on all alcohol products by a minimum of ten per cent.
- That the Australian Government index alcohol excise rates to average weekly ordinary time earnings, rather than the Consumer Price Index, to ensure that the cost of alcohol does not reduce relative to personal income.
- That the Australian Government use a proportion of the revenue collected from reforming the alcohol taxation system to address the range of harms caused by alcohol.
- That the Australian Government fund the establishment of a National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Clinical Network of $3.1 million over three years to ensure a standardisation of approaches to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder assessment, diagnosis, and data collection across Australia.
- That the Australian Government renew the current funding amount in the Commonwealth Action Plan on Responding to the impact of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Australia, and ensure that this includes funding for the peak parent and carer body the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (NOFASD) Australia.
- That the Australian Government invest $80 million over four years in a comprehensive nationwide alcohol harm reduction public awareness campaign.
- That the Australian Government establish a $10 million national public awareness campaign over four years to raise awareness about the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
- That the Australian Government fund and implement a national primary healthcare brief intervention and screening program to raise awareness of the other guidelines in the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol 2009.