Monday, November 12, 2012

Eclipse of the wine cask long overdue

The Cairns Post has a report on busy weekend trading around the region ahead of the eclipse: Total eclipse of the mart in Cairns.

"BOTTLED water, bread, softdrinks and chips became hot property in Far Northern supermarkets as eclipse revellers stocked up and left shelves bare."
Even Mareeba is described as "bopping"?? Busy trade was certainly noted at city outlets particularly among a backpackerish genre possibly associated with the above shopping list? The phenomenon was also noted at liquour outlets.

However also noted was confusion as patrons with shopping trolleys filled with liquid refreshment were advised of restrictions on purchase of wine casks in the city before 4pm. The restrictions on wine casks are a measure to control alcohol abuse, although my understanding is that these only apply in the city and not the suburbs?

Apparently it is socially fine from a policy perspective to buy a cask at 10AM in the burbs and pass out at home during the day, but not to do so in the city and pass out with head rested on the silver pillow thoughtfully enclosed in the cask for such purpose!

Alcohol management plans on Cape York continue to be contentious. There was also a recent proposal by the evil retail duopoly to set a floor price on alcohol in Alice Springs, which apparently drew a query from the ACCC. However the anomalous taxation of cheap wine remains ridiculous.

Wine is taxed on price while all other liquour is taxed by the quantity of alcohol. This means cheap bulk wine is minimally taxed compared to quality wine and other alcohol. The grubby political history to buy the support of  wine grape farmers in the riverland goes all the way back to the Fraser guvmint in the 1970's.

The Henry tax review recommended reform as have almost all objective analyses. Just a few weeks ago the National Health Preventative Agency told the relevant minister:
"Based on public health considerations, the Agency finds that the current operation of the Wine Equalisation Tax is of concern and requires reappraisal."
Ignored again ..... how many times now .....  despite the push for revenue to fund a surplus? Mind you there are many economic concerns apart from health. Why is scarce irrigation water being used to produce cheap tax-advantaged alcohol consequently exacerbating a social problem?


  1. That is a weird restriction to have in place in the CBD. Good points about the WET. Unfortunately there's a global wine glut and I believe the Government has committed not to reform the WET until market conditions improve.

  2. There has been a wine glut now, both in Australia and elsewhere, for as long as my liver can recall :-P