Is it time to say goodbye to the goon bag?

The goon bag turns 50 this year and according to some reports that’s enough; it’s time to lay the cask to rest. Will you be sad to see it go?

Developed in 1965, the wine cask has become part of our Australian identity. Though, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) reported that cask wine is consumed the most among the younger and older age cohorts, as well as, in less affluent neighbourhoods, which has prompted questions and concerns about why this is occurring and what can be done. A staggering one-third of cask drinkers consume it daily compared to only eight percent of bottled wine drinkers. These numbers are considered quite alarming, which is why there has been a suggestion to phase out the goon bag in order to protect the younger drinkers.

The appeal of the goon bag is that you can store it without having to worry about the bottle breaking or being open too long and it is cheap, cheap, cheap. It’s the most affordable way for these young drinkers to get drunk and the price does play a prominent role in their purchasing decision. Prices are usually around A$2 a litre and major retailers often offer even greater discounts.

In fact, our alcohol tax system seems to encourage cheap wine sales. For instance, according to the Wine Equalisation Tax, wine is taxed on its wholesale value rather than alcohol content. This means the cheaper the wine, the less it is taxed. There is a bias towards cheap and cask wine. So as long as the product is available and remains cheap the market will continue to be dominated by the big producers and consumers will keep on drinking it.

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However, it seems like a no brainer for our government to reform the tax system. If they were to implement a volumetric tax system they could raise upwards of $3 billion over four year, and this doesn’t include the savings from reduced alcohol-related problems. With so much evidence to suggest the damages caused by alcohol, such as drink-driving, violence, cancer or children’s development, the taxation system seems dangerous to our safety and well-being. Instead, the tax system appears to be promoting the sale of goon bags, rather than trying to stop it. More to the point, there has been varying studies that demonstrate alcohol prices and taxes do impact drinking habits. So could raising the price of alcohol reduce drinking? Do you think the bag in the box will stick around?

 

Feature Image Source: Johnsyweb/Flickr

 

Tell us, what do you think can be done about it? Do you drink cask wine?