CANBERRA: In its proposal Fare recommended volumetric tax changes to the Wine Equalisation tax, an industry-wide 10 per cent increase on all alcohol tax as well as an increase in the tax rate on draught beer to bring it in line with the rates applied to packaged beer. This demonstrates Fare’s one-size fits all approach to dealing with targeted groups and issues. Targeting the draught beer tax is tremendously naïve as this will simply put the on-premise industry at risk, which will put jobs at risk and will do nothing to address harmful drinking.” He added: “Disappointingly Fare continues to exclude the industry trends which show that alcohol consumption is declining, the amount of mid-strength beer being consumed is increasing as well as all the positive work the industry is doing. Organisations like DrinkWise are doing great work in helping consumers to drink better and Fare continues to disregard their efforts.”Ferguson also told TheShout: “Pleasingly the Government understands and backs our industry and we will continue to work with governments to ensure a safe drinking culture.”He added that Fare’s proposal does not take account of the regulated and safe environment that pubs and hotels offer consumers to drink in, and of the costs associated with that. He also questioned the wisdom of simplistic price increases and what that might mean for people who are on a tight budget, but who still choose to drink moderately and responsibly.
The CEO of the Brewers Association, Brett Heffernan has also questioned Fare’s tactics, telling TheShout: “Fare is very selective in quoting the statistics that support their case, but they simply ignore the overwhelming amount of data that indicates that Australians have got the message about responsible and moderate drinking and that has well and truly sunk in. Twenty-five per cent of all beer sales in Australia are for a light or mid-strength and Fare’s policy proposal is to jack up the price on that, commensurate with full-strength. That is completely out of whack with what they purport to want to be achieving.” Heffernan also said that Fare’s targeting of ‘cheap beer’ is “misguided, lazy and flawed” as “the reality is beer is not cheap in Australia.