The ACT government should move more quickly to reform alcohol laws to improve public safety and reduce health problems from drinking, say the authors of a new report on Australian attitudes.
Ahead of the release of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education's annual poll on Thursday, director of policy and research Caterina Giorgi said the territory was behind other jurisdictions in making changes shown to improve community safety and drinking behaviour.
The poll found 75 per cent of respondents think Australians have a problem with excess drinking or alcohol abuse, while an increasing number have embraced government efforts to address alcohol harm including lock-out laws and mandated last drink times.
A total of 73 per cent said more still needed to be done to reduce the harms from alcohol including illness, injury and death, and 55 per cent said Australian governments weren't doing enough to reduce alcohol harm.
A majority said they supported efforts to make the alcohol industry more accountable.
Nearly 70 per cent called for the alcohol industry to be banned from making political donations and 59 per cent said it targeted young people and those under the legal drinking age.
The poll found 42 per of Gen Y respondents had not been asked for ID in the past year at a bottle shop. A further 38 per cent had never been asked at a pub, club or bar.
The poll did not include specific ACT data because the population size is too small for there to have been an accurate sample.
But Ms Giorgi said the ACT government was yet to follow through on possible reforms flagged in response to changes elsewhere and violent incidents locally.
"The ACT government has been looking at reviewing the Liquor Act for more than a year and we're waiting for them to come out and say how they are going to progress this," she said.
"Now 81 per cent of Australians support a closing time of 3am or earlier, as shown by our poll, and you'll see also that since measures including a 3am last drinks or a 1.30am lock-out were introduced, the perception of safety has increased in states like New South Wales quite substantially.
Ms Giorgi said the ACT government could move quickly and introduce measures already supported by evidence from other Australian jurisdictions including Sydney's Kings Cross and Newcastle.
A study this month showed that Sydney's lock-out laws and alcohol restrictions in the inner city had seen assaults reduce by 40 per cent – but no evidence was found to show residents and visitors were drinking less.
The tough laws, introduced in March 2014 after high-profile assaults, also include a New South Wales-wide ban on takeaway alcohol sales after 10pm.
"I think that the perception that alcohol policy reform is too hard is not correct," Ms Giorgi said.
"Australians know that we have a problem, that they want governments to do more and we see that when governments do act, Australians respond positively.
"The only thing standing between governments and meaningful alcohol policy reform is the alcohol industry. We don't need another review, we don't need another year."
On Thursday, a spokesman for Health Minister Simon Corbell said a discussion paper on alcohol law reform was expected later in 2015.
Australian Hotels Association ACT general manager Brad Watts said the report
"The latest ACT Policing figures showed 20 fewer alcohol crime incidents in 2014 compared with 2013. There were also 16 fewer incidents in 2013 compared with 2012."
The alcohol industry would continue to
"Current alcohol laws are working effectively and there is no need for further, unnecessary regulations such as changes to trading hours.
"Canberra's popular entertainment precincts are also very different from other major capital city jurisdictions, especially in terms of alcohol-related violence."