Evidence prevails: NT introducing lifesaving alcohol floor price

The Northern Territory (NT) Government is introducing a minimum unit price (MUP) on alcohol – a world-recognised intervention for reducing alcohol harm and saving lives.

FARE was instrumental in building the evidence-based case for Australia’s first floor price to take effect from 1 October 2018.

In August 2017, FARE launched the research paper The price is right: Setting a floor price for alcohol in the Northern Territory which was a foundation piece of research considered by the government’s Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review chaired by former NT Chief Justice and FARE director, Trevor Riley QC.

The review recommended a floor price, which was subsequently included as a central piece of the Territory Labor Government’s suite of alcohol reforms, announced in February 2018.

Alcohol is almost twice as affordable in the NT as it was 20 years ago, with the Territory also recording dangerous per capita levels of alcohol consumption, placing it among the top ten drinking nations in the world.

The Territory pays a high toll with the number of alcohol-attributed deaths around three times the national average, and with alcohol involved in more than half of all assaults.

On 21 August community stakeholders met with the Hon Natasha Fyles, NT Minister for Health to deliver their letter of support for the introduction of a floor price on alcohol, a measure that will work to reduce the alcohol related harms impacting the community. The legislation passed on Wednesday evening, 22 August 2018.

FARE’s paper highlighted international evidence that shows establishing a MUP not only targets cheap alcohol products, but also results in a dramatic reduction in alcohol attributable hospitalisations and deaths.

Australia, an intoxicated society: 40 Years on from the Baume Report

From left: Dr John Crozier, Co-chair, National Alliance Action on Alcohol, Michael Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Public Health Association of Australia, Peter Baume, Former Liberal senator for New South Wales and Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare, Jane Martin Co-chair, National Alliance for Action on Alcohol, Michael Thorn, Chief Executive, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Dr Alex Wodak Emeritus Consultant, Alcohol and Drug Service, St Vincent’s Hospital.

Forty years ago, a progressive and prescient Senate Committee report, Drug Problems in Australia – an intoxicated society? identified alcohol and its associated harm as a problem of epidemic proportions.

Often referred to as the Baume Report after then Committee chair Peter Baume, a physician and then Senator for New South Wales, the report made 37 recommendations to reduce alcohol harm in Australia.

Last financial year FARE undertook a progress report study against the Baume report, titled Australia, an intoxicated society: 40 Years on from the Baume Report, providing a high-level overview of progress made against the report’s  recommendations.

Grouping the recommendations into eight policy intervention areas: Price and economic cost of alcohol; Alcohol and the workforce; Alcohol and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; Enforcement; Physical availability; Advertising and sponsorship; Drink-driving counter measures; and National leadership and governance; the study found despite the Baume Report’s release 40 years ago, progress was made only in one of the eight key policy areas – drink driving.

Among the progress report’s recommendations were calls to introduce a Wine Equalisation Tax (WET), and an appeal to sportsmen and sportswomen not to lend their name and prestige to the promotion of alcoholic beverages.

Preventing chronic disease: How does Australia score?

FARE’s national Prevention 1st campaign continues to keep preventive health policy on the political agenda.

Prevention 1st is backed by like-minded public health organisations, not-for-profits, and research and advocacy bodies, to put pressure on all Australian governments and political parties to commit to a strong preventive health agenda.

On 19 June 2018, the Prevention 1st campaign released a national scorecard report to assess the Commonwealth Government’s progress in addressing chronic disease. The scorecard found that while government anti-smoking policies are ‘good’, efforts to address alcohol consumption, physical activity and nutrition all rate poorly.

The Prevention 1st scorecard recommended the implementation of a number of simple, evidence-based measures to address tobacco use, alcohol consumption, nutrition and physical inactivity.

Michael Thorn launching the scorecard at Parliament House, Canberra on 19 June 2018.

©2019 Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education | Level 1, 40 Thesiger Court, Deakin ACT 2600 | 02 6122 8600

©2019 Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education

Level 1, 40 Thesiger Court, Deakin ACT 2600 | 02 6122 8600