ACT News

ACT leads Australia on alcohol action but no territory passes 50 per cent

The ACT has been ranked first in the country for its alcohol policies, drink driving laws, Liquor Act reviews and a risk-based licensing fee system for liquor outlets but the territory has still failed to receive a pass on a national alcohol policy scorecard.

Despite receiving an overall score of only 48 per cent in the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol's report card, the ACT government has been named the national leader in alcohol policy for a second year running.

No states or territories received a pass grade and all scored below 50 per cent.

The federal government was ranked as the worst performer with a score of just 9 per cent, earning it the 2014 Fizzers award for inaction in developing and implementing alcohol policy last year. 

The federal government's low score largely reflected the lack of action and deep funding cuts in a number of key alcohol policy areas, NAAA co-chair and Public Health Association of Australia's alcohol spokesman, Professor Mike Daube said. 

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education chief executive Michael Thorn said the ACT government was the best performing jurisdiction because of its various policies to reduce and prevent alcohol-related harm.

"The government has shown a bit of leadership on the issue," he said. 

"They've got a plan that has some measurables in it, they've got good strong drink-driving laws, the risk-based licensing fee system for all liquor outlets that's in place was really cutting edge when it was implemented and they've had a very good, open, transparent review of the Liquor Act which has been conducted over the past 12 months or so. They are some of the things the assessment panel saw as important." 

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the recognition showed the ACT was "on the right path in terms of our alcohol policy", but he acknowledged more work had to be done. 

He said the government was committed to continually reviewing its policies to try and reduce alcohol-related harm.

Mr Thorn said although the ACT government was leading the country in alcohol policy, there was room for improvement.

He said FARE wanted to see action on the recommendations from the review of the Liquor Act. 

"Some of the things we've been advocating for are 3am closing times for all liquor outlets," he said. 

"There continues to be issues with the availability of services for people with drug and alcohol problems. We've also identified a number of issues with the way alcohol is promoted around the territory that need to be addressed as part of this Liquor Act review and we'd be looking at stronger secondary supply laws which is around how kids get alcohol from third parties.

"These are some of the things which would see the ACT continue its leadership in the country." 

Professor Daube praised the ACT but was disappointed by the 2014 scorecard results. 

 "It's disappointing the Australian government is falling even further behind the rest of the country when it comes to developing and implementing evidence-based policies that reduce alcohol-related harm," he said.  

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol has more than 70 member organisations, including in public health, law enforcement, local government, indigenous health and child and adolescent health.