Photo: Andrew Quilty
The ACT government has announced a review of the territory’s liquor act amid calls for a crackdown on the trading hours of pubs and clubs and cheap alcohol promotions by Woolworths and Coles.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell said on Thursday the government would review whether reforms it introduced two years ago had reduced alcohol-related harm.
A new body that lobbies for tighter alcohol controls has also been launched in the territory.
The NSW ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance (NAAPA) will call on the territory government to tighten regulations on the sale of alcohol.
The group comprises 39 community organisations, including the Ted Noffs Foundation, the Salvation Army and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE). The alliance wants a crackdown on cheap alcohol marketed by retailers, including supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles.
FARE chief executive Michael Thorn said the ACT government had the power to ban many measures used to market alcohol in Canberra, including supermarket shopper dockets offering cheap deals on wine and other alcohol products.
“We have seen Coles and Woolworths aggressively market alcohol products through a range of shopper docket promotion strategies, two-for-one deals in shops, buying bulk, meaning you get it for a cheaper price if you buy more,” Mr Thorn said. “The territory government has it within its power to crack down on this. It can strengthen its current promotional guidelines to outlaw many of those measures.”
Mr Thorn said NAAPA’s submission to the review would also demand earlier closing times for pubs and clubs, with 3am being the latest closure, and mandatory lockouts from 1am.
Research published by the alliance on Thursday found that 44.5 per cent of Canberrans aged 14 and over consume alcohol at levels that put them at risk of injury on a single occasion, while one in five drink atlevels that put them at risk of lifetime harm.
The study also found that hospital admissions due to alcohol rose by 53per cent for men between 2000 and 2010 and by 35 per cent for women.
Mr Corbell said the government would consider NAAPA’s submission to the review but it already had the power to impose mandatory lockout times if it wished.
He said the government had evidence that liquor laws it introduced about two years ago had been effective. In the first six months, he said there was a 15 per cent drop in alcohol-related crime.
“Our scheme to date has seen significant reductions in the amount of alcohol-related harm in our community but we want to look at what can be done to further improve the operation of the scheme,” he said.
Mr Corbell said that included reviewing the impact of risk-based licensing, where a fee is based on a venue’s perceived level of risk.
“In relation to trading hours, I’m very happy to take that on board and look at the submissions ... but I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of the review at this time,” he said.