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Monday, 22 June 2009
Page: 6750

Mr WINDSOR (6:39 PM) —I will speak briefly to the legislation. I have spoken on this issue before. I just wanted to reinforce my opposition to the Excise Tariff Amendment (2009 Measures No. 1) Bill 2009 [No. 2] and the related bill. It is not that I am not opposed to alcopops. I think I made the point in a previous contribution that, when the so-called alcopops legislation was introduced, the government was under some pressure in other areas—and I will not elaborate on what they were—and my view was that it was essentially a stunt, a diversionary tactic, using quite a significant issue, excess alcohol consumption by young people et cetera. I opposed it on those grounds at that time, and I have seen nothing to dissuade me of that view to this day.

As a father and a member of the community, I think that bringing these drinks out originally was the problem. They should never have been allowed because they were very sweet and easy to drink alcohol which was just setting up a market of young people that may well not have been used to the consumption of alcohol. So I have always been opposed to these lolly water, high-octane ‘alcopops’, as they are called now. Rather than using taxation policy to try and do something about the issue—everybody recognises the issue; there are just different ways of dealing with it—I would ban them. If they are an issue in terms of health, in terms of leading to addiction and all of the other things that we have heard debated in this parliament on both sides of this issue, ban them. The government has the power to do that.

If we reflect back on the time of the former government, when petrol sniffing—and I and other members in this chamber have seen the results in communities where petrol sniffing is rife—was finally recognised as an issue, we did not put the tax up. We actually recognised it as a health issue and we banned it in areas where it was of major concern. In fact, we designed a fuel that was not sniffable, in a sense. But we did not use taxation policy. When we realised that high sulfur levels in diesel, for instance, or in our fuels, were potentially a health problem, we did not use taxation policy to try and drive that initiative; we banned it, and passed the cost on to the consumers.

I want it placed firmly on record that I will not be supporting this legislation and I am very much opposed to alcopops. I know there have been various arguments in support of alcopops and opposition to the legislation. I am opposed to both. I still believe that the way in which the government has put this together is nothing but a stunt. It will not cure any problems in terms of the issue. If we are serious about this—and the health minister has said on numerous occasions that this is a health issue, and I agree with her— then as a parliament we should be banning alcopops. We have non-sniffable petrol in communities where there has been a health problem.

I know I was not on the speaking list. I thank the minister and the House for listening to my small contribution.