gotta be kidding


Some things are plain stupid … installing a punching machine in a pub for instance.

I nearly choked on my chardy recently, watching a group of young men clustered around a machine in a pub pool room take turns bashing a roughly head-sized object as hard as possible against an electronic backboard.

The object was to score the biggest king hit complete with ridiculous Darth Vader-voice encouragements such as “Awesome, knockout.”

Like hello; haven’t both NSW and Victoria introduced one punch laws?

Wouldn’t someone, the licensee perhaps, make a vague connection between machines testing machismo by playfully bashing the bejesus out of a rubber noggin’ and alcohol and violence in the street come closing time.

Seems you can legislate all you like against idiocy, but there’s nothing stopping people from being idiots.

Sometimes, of course, even the most well-intentioned laws and regulations throw up ridiculous anomalies. I refer here unashamedly to mine own true love’s favourite tipple and the so-called alcopop tax

What sold the man on ginger beer was a drop from Harcourt Valley Vineyards in Central Victoria called Ginger Kid.

Now, there is nothing the slightest bit juvenile about this drink. Even the makers say you can’t really drink more than three or four 330ml bottles because the ginger gets too hot, but at 4.5 per cent alcohol you could at least have a drink or two responsibly.

Except, as Kye Livingstone, one of the owners of the family-run winery has discovered, it is a far more expensive proposition to produce a low alcohol ginger beer than a high strength one.

If you make it at 8 per cent it falls into the fruit wine category and for tax purposes it becomes a sparkling fruit wine,” he explains.

A six pack retails for $25 for 4.5 per cent alcohol and for high strength $20. Really on that low strength, we should actually charge more but we have absorbed a little bit of the excise which is $28 a case.

But obviously we can’t absorb it all and remain viable.

We are still selling the low alcohol version, but really from a consumer’s point of view why would they want to pay more for a low alcohol product when it should be the other way around?”

The ginger beer market – alongside the demand for cider – is growing strongly.

Our first batch was 400 cases and was only distributed locally, but now we are selling it by the pallet to bottleshops all over the place and have just sent three pallets to Canada as a trial and there is interest from China,” Livingstone reveals.

Harcourt Valley Winery will continue to make a low alcohol option, but expects to export the bulk of it.

It will be cheaper to buy in Canada, even with the cost of shipping it there, because they don’t have to pay Australian taxes.”

It’s doubly ridiculous because there is little to no evidence the Federal Government’s alcopops tax has done anything to deter young people binge-drinking.

A three-year study of alcohol-related admissions to Queensland hospital emergency departments found the number of people aged 15 – 29 did not change following the introduction of the tax in 2008.

Seems the kids, ginger, blonde and brunette, just switched drinks.




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