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Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Page: 2613

Ms ROXON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (8:19 PM) —I move:

Excise Tariff Proposal (No. 1) 2008

Customs Tariff Proposal (No. 1) 2008.

The excise and customs tariff proposals that I have just tabled contain alterations to the Excise Tariff Act 1921 and Customs Tariff Act 1995.

The proposals formally place before the parliament changes to both acts to increase the rate of excise and customs duty applying to ‘other excisable beverages not exceeding 10 per cent by volume of alcohol’ from $39.36 to $66.67 per litre of alcohol content, on and from 27 April 2008.

Beverages subject to the tax increase are often referred to as ‘alcopops’ or ‘ready-to-drink’ beverages. The government has increased the excise and excise equivalent customs duty on these beverages in order to put them on the same tax footing as spirits purchased unmixed.

This is part of the government’s strategy to tackle the harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption—particularly by young people attracted to these products.

This government is determined to take a strong, comprehensive approach to tackling binge drinking in our community. It is a community-wide problem that demands a comprehensive, community-wide response.

We know that young people are particularly at risk—and we know that alcopops are used to hook young people on drinking when they are young. And we are not prepared to just stand by and let this happen. That is why the government has taken this decision to increase the rate of excise on alcopops.

Research shows that young people are quite price sensitive and we hope that this tax measure will have a positive health impact by deterring or reducing alcohol consumption by young people. We hope that reversing the Howard government’s decision on ready-to-drink products will have some impact on harmful binge drinking.

As well as being an important public health measure in and of itself, the government is committed to investing a proportion of the revenue from closing the existing loophole to preventative health initiatives. The measure will result in an estimated gain to revenue of approximately $3.1 billion over the forward estimates period.

In concert with our $53 million national binge drinking strategy, this is an important step towards tackling binge drinking.

Through this and the other measures announced in the budget tonight, the Rudd government is committed to bringing a much stronger and strategic focus onto preventative health measures within our health system.

A summary of the alterations contained in these proposals has been prepared and is being circulated.

I commend these proposals to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Mirabella) adjourned.