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Alcohol and tax — time for real reform

Mike Daube and Julia Stafford
Med J Aust 2016; 204 (6): 218-219. || doi: 10.5694/mja16.00022

Alcohol tax reform would reduce harm and costs — and could fund major prevention and treatment programs

Australia’s first comprehensive report on drugs was entitled Drug problems in Australia — an intoxicated society? This 1977 report from the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare noted that alcohol “now constitutes a problem of epidemic proportions”. The Committee concluded that, given the extent of the problem, “any failure by governments or individuals to acknowledge that a major problem — and potential national disaster — is upon us would constitute gross irresponsibility”.1

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  • Mike Daube1,2
  • Julia Stafford2

  • 1 Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, WA
  • 2 McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, Curtin University, Perth, WA

Correspondence: m.daube@curtin.edu.au

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare. Drug problems in Australia — an intoxicated society? Report from the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1977. http://apo.org.au/files/Resource/PolicyHistory_DrugProblemsInAustraliaAnIntoxicatedSociety.pdf (accessed Dec 2015).
  • 2. Anderson P, Chisholm D, Fuhr DC. Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of policies and programmes to reduce the harm caused by alcohol. Lancet 2009; 373: 2234-2246.
  • 3. World Health Organization and World Economic Forum. From burden to “best buys”: reducing the economic impact of non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries. Geneva: World Economic Forum, 2011.
  • 4. Henry K, Chair. Australia’s Future Tax System Review Panel. Australia’s future tax system: report to the Treasurer. Canberra: The Treasury, 2010.
  • 5. Doran CM, Byrnes JM, Cobiac LJ, et al. Estimated impacts of alternative Australian alcohol taxation structures on consumption, public health and government revenues. Med J Aust 2013; 199: 619-622. <MJA full text>
  • 6. National Preventative Health Taskforce. Australia: the healthiest country by 2020. National Preventative Health Strategy — the roadmap for action. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2009.
  • 7. The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation. Submission to Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory: Select Committee on Action to Prevent Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. 9 June 2014. http://www.nt.gov.au/lant/parliamentary-business/committees/fasd/Submissions/Submission_Number_24_Central_Australian_Aboriginal_Congress.pdf (accessed Feb 2016).
  • 8. Winemakers’ Federation of Australia. Submission to the Australian Government’s Review of Taxation. 29 May 2015. http://bettertax.gov.au/files/2015/06/Winemakers-Federation-Australia-Submission-1.pdf (accessed Mar 2016).
  • 9. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Apparent consumption of alcohol, Australia, 2013–2014. Canberra: ABS, 2015 (ABS Cat. No. 4307.0.55.001). http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4307.0.55.001/ (accessed Mar 2016).
  • 10. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey detailed report: 2013 (Drug Statistics Series No. 28. AIHW Cat. No. PHE 183). Canberra: AIHW, 2014.
  • 11. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Health expenditure Australia 2013–14 (Health and Welfare Expenditure Series No. 54. AIHW Cat. No. HWE 63). Canberra: AIHW, 2015.
  • 12. Collins DJ, Lapsley HM. The costs of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug abuse to Australian society in 2004/05. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2008. http://www.nationaldrugstrategy.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/publishing.nsf/Content/mono64/$File/mono64.pdf (accessed Aug 2009).
  • 13. Li IW, Si J. Alcohol industry and governmental revenue from young Australians. Aust Health Rev 2015; Dec 18 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1071/AH15146
  • 14. D’Abbs P. Alignment of the policy planets: behind the implementation of the Northern Territory (Australia) Living With Alcohol programme. Drug Alcohol Rev 2004; 23: 55-66.
  • 15. Gilchrist D. The goon show: how the tax system works to subsidise cheap wine and alcohol consumption. Canberra: The Australia Institute, 2015.
  • 16. The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP. Doorstop interview, Melbourne [transcript]. 1 Nov 2015. http://kmo.ministers.treasury.gov.au/transcript/063-2015/ (accessed Feb 2016).

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