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Liquor Law Changes

MEDIA RELEASE
7 August 2008

Liquor Law Changes

Alcohol Healthwatch welcomes the changes put forward by Associate Justice Minister Lianne Dalziel yesterday in the Sale and Supply of Liquor and Liquor Enforcement Bill.

Alcohol Healthwatch Director Rebecca Williams says that the Bill will fill many of the gaping pot holes in our liquor laws in the short term, while the first principal review of liquor laws also announced yesterday will potentially provide the design for a new road ahead.

Williams says the review has been a long time coming and follows numerous reviews on separate parts of the problem which ultimately have got us nowhere. Yesterday’s announcements signal that finally there is some intention to address the imbalance between market interests and community health and safety.

Of particular importance in the Bill is the empowerment of communities to influence licensing decisions. Williams says that this will bring some relief to communities who have been struggling under the burden of alcohol-related harms.

Other aspects of note include the use of social impact assessments in the licensing process. The intention of this is sound however, Williams cautions on the process of implementing these. “It is our view that local councils and the medical officer of health need to be leading these processes and not the liquor licence applicants,” says Williams.

Sadly measures to address pricing issues have been left of the menu. However the Bill ensures that supermarkets stay out of the spirit and ready-to-drink market. This will be a moderating measure in the meantime.

Another area where the plans show a lack of fortitude is in relation to alcohol advertising. Leaving the control of this in the hands of vested interest groups is not good enough. Effective controls on the exposure to young people of alcohol advertising and sponsorship are missing.

ENDS

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