Federal government accused of inaction over alcohol policy development

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Federal government accused of inaction over alcohol policy development
The National Alliance of Action on Alcohol has awarded the Australian Federal Government a Fizzer award for its ‘inaction’ in developing and implementing alcohol policy in 2014.

Community health organisation, the National Alliance of Action on Alcohol (NAAA) has awarded the federal government a Fizzer award for its ‘inaction’ in developing and implementing alcohol policy in 2014.

NAAA developed the National Alcohol Policy Scorecard in 2013 to assess the policy response of Australian jurisdictions.

According to the Alliance, the Australian federal government’s performance in 2014 was very poor, resulting in the lowest score overall at nine percent, representing a 20 percent drop from the previous year. No state or territory scored above 50 percent.

“The majority of jurisdictions again did not score well this year for their alcohol policies, with all scoring below a pass grade,” said Professor Mike Daube, co-chair of the NAAA and Public Health Association of Australia alcohol spokesperson.

“The Australian government was by far the lowest performing jurisdiction in the country and in recognition of this has received the 2014 Fizzers award.”

Daube says the Australian government is falling further behind the rest of the country when it comes to developing and implementing evidence-based policies that reduce alcohol-related harm, adding that its low score largely reflects the “lack of action and deep funding cuts in a number of key alcohol policy areas.”

“The most critical shortcomings include the lack of a national alcohol strategy since 2010, and inaction in the areas of alcohol taxation, regulation of alcohol marketing, and labelling of alcohol products,” he said. “Other backward steps also include the government’s dismantling of a number of key advisory groups such as the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) and the Australian National Preventative Health Agency (AHPHA)."

NSW received the ‘most improved’ award gaining 10 percentage points to a total score of 41 percent. The Alliance says that this is due to a number of reforms including the introduction of 1:30am lockouts and 3:00am last drinks in Sydney’s CBD, bans on the sale of shots after midnight, a state-wide 10pm closing time for all bottle shops, a ban on high risk promotions, and a community awareness campaign to address binge drinking.

“The results of this year’s National Alcohol Policy Scorecard highlight that NSW is on the right track when it comes to the prevention and reduction of the state’s heavy alcohol toll,” said Michael Thorn, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education chief executive. “Their improved score reflects the strong action taken by the government following the tragic events in Sydney last summer, which saw the death of Daniel Christie and a community campaign led by medical, public health and law enforcement organisations.”

The ACT government was also praised for receiving the highest score overall of 48 percent.

The NAAA has called for action in three priority areas – alcohol pricing and taxation, alcohol marketing and promotion and alcohol availability – supported by strong education and information programs.

Ranking of Total Scores, 2014 National Alcohol Policy Scorecard


 

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