Well done to Jessica Irvine, Economics Correspondent at the Sydney Morning Herald, who actually did some research before she wrote something.
You might remember that a couple of months ago I was sceptical about the Australian Federal Government’s plans to introduce a 70% price increase on RTD (ready-to-drink) alcoholic beverages. After a quick scan of the major news sources, it appeared that my scepticism was well-founded.
The Daily Telegraph ran the headline: Alcopop tax slug ‘failure’ citing research from the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) that while sales of these drinks fell by around 30% in April. sales of full-strength bottled spirits rose by 46%. The DSICA claims this proves “Mr Rudd’s plan to tackle binge drinking has backfired.” Fantastic reporting there by a wonderful news source – pity they didn’t talk to anyone else about it. Whose side do you think the owners of that paper are on? Kickbacks for the teenage kids of the editors?
ABC News reported the story along similar lines, but with a slightly more neutral headline: Spirit sales ‘up 46pc’ since alcopop tax, adding the DSICA’s belief that the tax was raising $1.7 million per day for the government. Thankfully The Australian and the SMH were a bit more objective and rightly gave voice to the government, who accused the drink’s manufacturers of manipulating figures to suit their own purposes. Hardly surprising that they did. The SMH went one step further and took the amazing step of doing some research of their own, discovering that there has actually been an 8.5 per cent fall in the sales of alcohol over twelve months.
Whoever’s figures turn out to be correct, there is still the chance that the Senate will overturn the laws when they are put before them. My hope here is that the Senators wielding the balance of power work together and follow the lead of Family First Senator Steve Fielding on this issue. Even though I don’t think warning labels on alcohol products is a great idea, I like his proposal to restrict alcohol advertising until after nine pm. I’d also like to see a public education campaign on alcohol. I imagine that if the Senators have any political nous at all they’ll be doing a little bargaining here and there before they pass the laws for the government.
Whatever the outcome, I’ll be turning to the SMH to get my news. Why is it that we only have one decent newspaper in this country?