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More Urgent Response Needed To Alcohol Sales

17 June 2008

More Urgent Response Needed To Alcohol Sales

Alcohol Healthwatch supports the Prime Minister’s call for a review of the Sale of Liquor Act but calls for a more urgent response to give back to the community a say into the number of liquor outlets in their neighbourhood.

Communities have been calling for the mandate to influence licensing decisions since they lost that right in the 1989 changes to the Sale of Liquor Act. The time is now to give some assurance to these communities that their concerns and expectations have been heard. Communities are supported by evidence in that lower density of outlets will in fact reduce alcohol-related harm, particularly in the area of crime and violence.

In supporting a review Alcohol Healthwatch Director Rebecca Williams also suggests caution. She says that we’ve had two recent reviews into the sale and supply to minors and alcohol advertising, and both provided plenty of scope to put in place meaningful controls on key aspects of the alcohol issue, yet both failed to do so. Addressing outlet density and price, restricting marketing to young people could have easily been achieved in the reviews conducted during 2006.

A review takes time so Williams suggests that achieving better community input into the issue in the short term would at least get us moving in a more positive direction.

A review would need to cover a wider range of issues than those covered in the Sale of Liquor Act. Controlling alcohol advertising and pricing must also be included.

Williams notes that food industry interests also want a review of the Sale of Liquor Act. They have a different motive – that is to gain entry in the spirits and RTD market. Review processes must ensure that there is no “back-door” dealing and that harm prevention and community safety is the primary objective.


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