The government proposal would see Australians pay at least $1.50 a standard drink... that means $45 for the humble four-litre wine cask.

By Joe McDonough


Posted on December 20, 2017

Australian state and federal ministers have drafted a radical proposal aimed at reducing the nation’s excessive alcohol consumption.

They believe that hiking the price of alcohol will stop people buying and binging on it.

Under the National Alcohol Strategy, the cost of all ­alcoholic beverages would not be allowed to fall below a set level, which would be $1.50 a standard drink according to industry sources.

Cask wine drinkers, like university students, would be the hardest hit, with four-litre goon sacks worth 30 standard drinks to be sold for a minimum $45. A substantial increase from the current $10-20 price range.

In that case it would certainly deter cash-strapped drinkers, but it would also hurt wine-makers who are already facing a steep decline in cask sales.

It should be mentioned that cask wine is an Australian invention. South Australian grape-grower Thomas Angove was the first to design a prototype of the now iconic goon sack.

Beer-buyers will also feel aggrieved, with a case of VB stubbies to jump from $47 to more than $50.

Bottle wine drinkers will also be asked to pay 50% more for certain labels. And that could increase further if a flat rate of taxation for all alcohol is also approved.

At present, there are different rates of tax for beer, wine and spirits, and wine is taxed the least.

According to the Herald Sun, the raft of proposed changes also includes imposing tougher ­restrictions on alcohol advertising in sport, and laws to stop bottle shops providing two-for-one deals and bulk-buying discounts. There is even talk of alcohol companies being forced to place “readable, impactful health-related warning labels” on their products, similar to what can be seen on cigarette packaging.

Earlier this year, a group of leading Australian doctors warned of the harmful effects of alcohol sponsorship on minors.

They called for a total ban in cricket, which has attracted five alcohol-brand sponsorships in NSW alone – between Cricket NSW, the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder.

It is understood the strategy seeks a 10% reduction in regular binge-drinking sessions and harmful consumption.

Alcohol is the second-leading cause of drug-related deaths in Australia, linked to more than 5500 deaths every year.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt chaired last month’s ministerial forum which agreed to release the draft strategy for a final round of feedback, after three years of consultation, with the aim of finalising it by March.

The online submission process is now open and will close on February 11, 2018. You can lodge a submission via email — nationaldrugstrategy@health.gov.au.