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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Alcopop tax + health prevention « Previous | |Next »
April 29, 2008

I see that the Rudd Government has placed a heavy tax on alcopops, the ready mix alcoholic drink that tastes like soft drink and is primarily marketed to teenage women. The excise on pre-mixed drinks, or alcopops, almost doubled on Saturday, from $39 a litre of pure alcohol to $67. The change means the price of alcopops such as Bacardi Breezers and Vodka Cruisers will increase by between 30c and $1.30 a bottle, depending on the alcohol content.

This kind of policy is in the tradition of taxing cigarettes to help reduce their consumption. No doubt the libertarians will mutter about the nanny state and individual freedom and teenagers will shift their alcohol consumption back to beer and wine. No doubt the AFR will do its populist sneer routine whilst going about competition, productivity, infrastructure and tax reform.

Anti-Nanny State.jpg Bill Leak

The justification for the tax rise is that a "significant proportion" of the revenue would be directed to the new black in health funding, preventative health programs. So something has come out of the 2020 Summit, in which each section had to come up with one big idea, and three policy ideas, including one that came at no cost.

This does help to shift the debate away from the medical model and hospitals to health and prevention. What we don't want is the money being spent on chronic diseases in public hospitals as the aim is to keep people out of hospitals by keeping them well.

Will junk food be next? We do need to make healthy food choices easy and this could include having a single food labelling system and food component labelling system; having healthy food choices at child care settings, schools, sporting venues and workplaces;regulating food marketing to children (banning junk food advertising and marketing through internet sites).

Update: 30 April
This cartoon represents the two aspects of the tax on alcopops. Most of the libertarian emphasis is on the tax /revenue raising side withe the public good of health prevention being pushed into the background.

Alcopopstax.jpg Moir

The libertarians in Australia are primarily consequentionalists about individual liberty ----liberty is conducive to good consequences. A morally right action is one that produces a good outcome, or consequence. Since the tax is an imposition on individual liberty, it is bad. Limited government is good as it gives more space to sovereign individuals to exercise their liberty. The nanny state is bad because it impinges on individual liberty.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:17 AM | | Comments (13)


I could never fathom why mixers were so popular if you were to base it on alcohol content. They have less alcohol content then beer and wine & you would have to consume more to become drunk.

I think it may be more about the flavour.

It is about the flavour. I can't count the number of times I've seen kids start the night off with a couple of alcopops for the taste and progress to goon (cask) mixed with Passiona. When the Passiona runs out they drink the goon straight.

Few of them can afford a whole night on alcopops.

As I understand it all this does it bring the excise on these pre mixed drinks back to the same level as applies to other alcohol products.

I have never understood why, say, rum and coke in a can is taxed at a lower rate than the same drink mixed by a bar person.

from memory the Howard Government reduced the tax. Why I do not know.

While I must admit I was brought up to think really pissed chicks looked cheap and were to be avoided like thye plague, I was also brought up to distrust and revile grown men playing Nanny especially with working class people's money.

I think this is more indicitive of government taxing the socially repugnant. I think governments are strapped for tax money and where they can leverage it so they are taxing in areas that have little social or democratic push back. It is hard to argue that a speeding fine is too much as the come back is "you were speeding". Same with these things. I think we are going to see governments more and more raising indirect revenue from this kind of thing.

there is a moral panic around this about girls gone wild. The panic says that it is a binge drinking epidemic. Girls are out of control, and hyped up on sugary alcopops, they are engaging in risky behaviour.

neo conservatism is playing a role here in shaping our culture. As Yuko Narushima says in the SMH:

What has changed is the social climate. There has been a renewed interest in preserving "feminine qualities" in Australian women. We watch reality shows such as Ladette To Lady, in which British broads with a bit of spunk are preened into plummy dinner party hostesses. Women in their 20s are wearing hairbands and big bows on their dresses and, hell, some are even baking cupcakes for three-tiered porcelain cake trays that have hit homeware shops as if primness was going out of style. Prissy, not pissy, seems the order of the day.

This form of biopolitics needs to be distinquished from health prevention.

Rather than penalise the rest of us more refeened quaffers of Brandivino and Coke in a can send all the skanky little molls to Eggleston Hall so they can be transformed from "Laddette to Ladies."

Pigs Ass! ;)

you're right. These kind of taxes are an instrument of neo-liberal governance to change the conduct of free subjects in a liberal democracy. Foucault, governmentality, bio-politics and all that. It's a useful toolbox as governmentality is quite different from a panoptican kind of disciplinary power.

Foucault. Yes. If we stinky citizens can't manage to internalise the panopticon for ourselves, obviously somebody will have to do it for us.

Interesting how the focus has moved from alcohol fuelled violence to sweetie drinks and girls binge drinking.


Not "moved" but become "more inclusive," with more attention to "context" as part of a more "nuanced" "conversation" you see. ;)


Foucault??? ROFLMAO. Oh sweetie, please spare us the ethical circumlocutions of that junkie fist-fucker.

"ethical circumlocutions" is not a critique of the concept of governmentality.