The MCG on Grand Final Day. Photo: Andrew Chapman
Alcohol commercials should be banned from television before 8.30pm and the alcohol industry banned from sponsoring sporting and cultural events under far-reaching proposals designed to curb the ''control'' of the companies.
The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education is urging the major political parties to agree to its election platform, saying the alcohol industry has too much influence over important health-related policies.
The foundation says its 10-point plan will reduce alcohol-related harm, with its research showing 75 per cent of Australians believe the country has a problem with excessive drinking or alcohol abuse.
Most parties have been reluctant to adopt the platform, which also includes a ban on political donations from the alcohol industry.
Foundation chief executive Michael Thorn said it was disappointing that major parties appeared to be lagging behind public support for alcohol reform. "The alcohol industry has too much control over alcohol policy in this country and it should not be holding the pen for government," he said.
The plan also calls for wine to be taxed as alcohol and for mandatory pregnancy warning labels. It wants children less exposed to alcohol promotion by closing the loophole in the commercial television code that allows advertising to be broadcast on television before 8.30pm as an accompaniment to live sporting events, and a ban of alcohol industry sponsorship of sporting and cultural events.
The foundation's research includes more than a decade of public opinion surveys taken up to 2010 and reflects heightened awareness of the issue, with 74 per cent wanting more done to reduce alcohol harm.
Jeremy Griffiths, director of corporate affairs at Carlton United Breweries, said alcohol sponsorship drives brand choice, not consumption levels.
He said overall alcohol consumption had decreased since the 1970s and young people were waiting longer to have their first drink.
''Alcohol is part of Australian society and we need to develop an educated attitude to it. Simply banning everything due to there being a risk is not a solution. The trends just aren't there to justify banning alcohol sponsorship,'' Mr Griffiths said.
In 2012, Carlton United Breweries came under fire after announcing a 10-year extension to their sponsorship deal with the AFL. The NRL is sponsored by Carlton United Breweries and Campari.
''We work with our partners to promote responsible use of alcohol,'' an NRL spokesman said. ''Our work with sponsors through programs such as DrinkWise and with the Australian Drug Foundation are evidence of this."
The AFL declined to comment on how a ban on alcohol sponsorship would affect the code.
Cultural bodies such as the Opera House have sponsorship deals with Chandon, and Bacardi and Smirnoff regularly sponsor youth music festivals such as Listen Out and Field Day.
Mike Daube, the co-chairman of the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol, said banning alcohol sponsorship would send a message that politicians care more about children than the alcohol industry.
''Sports argue that this money is essential to their survival. That's exactly the argument we heard about tobacco sponsorship - but the sports survived perfectly well without it.''
Only the Greens have embraced most of the organisation's platform.
Nationals director Scott Mitchell expressed his party's reluctance to ban advertising and sponsorships.