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Plan to raise booze price to tackle binge drinking

State and Federal ministers have proposed a draft strategy to cut back on binge drinking, imposing a flat taxation rate for all alcohol.

That would replace the system used now where various rates are in place for wine, beer and spirits.

It’s a strategy that could see the price of Victoria Bitter rising from about $45 for a slab of 24 cans to well over $50.

And in more extreme cases, the price of Golden Oak dry white wine could jump from $10 to $45.

It’s a plan that would prevent the cost of all alcoholic drinks from dropping below set prices.

The report says that one in four Australians are now drinking alcohol at risky levels so adjusting the price is the best way to tackle this.

“Increased alcohol prices have been shown to reduce the proportion of young people who are heavy drinkers, to reduce underage and binge drinking, to delay intentions among younger teenagers to start drinking and to slow progression towards drinking larger amounts,” the report says.

“Evidence demonstrates that influencing the price of the cheapest drinks on the market by establishing a floor price has a larger impact on total consumption than does by increasing the prices of more expensive drinks, which tends to produce shifts in product preference.”

The strategy also proposes tougher restrictions on alcohol being advertised at sporting events. Specifically ads that provide two-for-one or bulk purchasing deals are in the firing line. 

The industry rejects the plan, saying it won’t change boozing habits.

Brewers Association of Australia chief executive Brett Heffernan says the proposal completely ignores the government's own official statistics showing that total consumption trends falling dramatically in Australia.

He also pointed to the government’s own research showing a dramatic long-term decline in youth alcohol consumption in Australia

"The problem with the draft strategy is that it targets all consumption, not harmful drinking," Mr Heffernan told the West Australian.

"Putting the prices up on everything is regressive and doesn't actually achieve desired health outcomes, which require tackling those few who misuse alcohol.

"Penalising the vast majority of Australians who drink responsibly in the hope those who drink to excess will drink less is a flawed approach.”

by Leon Gettler, December 21st 2017