Sunday Territorian 7 Mar 2021
Sunday Territorian; NewspaperNT
Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
News Corp Australia
Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.
News Corp Australia
16 OPINION SUNDAY MARCH 7 2021 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 LOOKING at the most recent debates on alcohol policy, there is an obvious trend amongst anti-alcohol campaigners that must be examined. The modus operandi of these groups is to create unnecessary panic and alarm around Australians drinking habits to justify the implementation of more intrusive and restrictive policies. Anti-alcohol groups specifically champion policies which target all drinkers regardless of whether you are a problem drinker or not. By contrast, the alcohol industry has persistently sought to target problem drinking through localised and specifically targeted solutions such as the Banned Drinkers Register, and Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors. The latest example of the anti-alcohol sectors tactics was the recent media commentary around Australians drinking habits during COVID-19. Antialcohol groups claimed that Australians drinking had spiked significantly during lockdowns. To substantiate this claim, anti-alcohol groups highlighted the increased retail sales figures of alcohol during this period. While it is true retail alcohol sales rose, the caveat to this is that on-premises alcohol sales nosedived over the same period due to these venues being closed during various lockdowns. Looking holistically at the data, the increase in takeaway alcohol sales did not make up for the drop in on-premises sales meaning that there was actually a net overall decline. Another recent example of the antialcohol sectors approach was the publication of misleading research around minimum unit pricing. Anti-alcohol groups have praised the minimum unit pricing as a resounding success and one which should be rolled out across the entire country. This is despite the fact that its success cannot be ascertained for certain as it was introduced at the same time as a raft of other reforms by the NT government. As Retail Drinks has previously noted, minimum unit pricing is a blunt instrument which penalises all drinkers and fails to address problem drinking as heavy drinkers simply switch to other alcohol categories unaffected by MUP. In discussing the results of this research, the authors heavily criticised the industry, claiming that the alcohol industry had sought to profit off problemdrinkers and persistently undermine efforts to reform alcohol regulations. These incendiary remarks demonstrate that the anti-alcohol industry is more interested in taking cheap shots at its perceived enemies and hiding behind lazy, flimsy research than contributing valuable insights into actual policy problems. A balanced and collaborative approach from all stakeholders is what is required to address the issue of problem drinking, rather than the combative and antagonistic approach taken by antialcohol groups. There is nothing to be gained by adopting this kind of adversarial mentality in terms of policy success. What is needed are targeted and evidence-based policy solutions as opposed to simplified, all-of-population measures which fail to distinguish between those who have harmful alcohol consumption habits, and those who do not. MICHAEL WATERS IS THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF RETAIL DRINKS AUSTRALIA Misleading use of data does more harm MICHAEL WATERS ANTI-ALCOHOL GROUPS SPECIFICALLY CHAMPION POLICIES WHICH TARGET ALL DRINKERS REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU ARE A PROBLEM DRINKER OR NOT OUTRAGEOUS GLADYS CAN BIN QUARANTINE BILL NEW South Wales has decided to send the NorthernTerritory a $1.5m bill because a few hundred Territo-rians happened to use the states hotel quarantine system after returning back to Australian soil from overseas. NSW sent similar bills to Queensland and Western Australia, for far larger sums of money. None of those states nor the Northern Territory will be paying those bills and they shouldnt have to. Those bills should have never been sent. Australia is meant to be going through this pandemic together. The NT, in its boundless generosity, told NSW travellers caught out by snap border closures mid-air that they could stay in the Howard Springs quarantine facility, aka Chateau de Howard, for free. Or if they preferred to return home on the earliest possible flight, the government would pay for that too. How many New South Welshman have returned to Australia via the international wing of Howard Springs? Perhaps the commonwealth could send the state a bill for that too. No other jurisdiction has called up NSW and asked for money because its residents happened to find themselves in a quarantine facility interstate. The NT government has also argued the invoice from NSW was contrary to national cabinet discussions where it was agreed the states and territories could not bill each other for hotel quarantine expenses incurred by their citizens returning from overseas. Apart from the principles of federation, perhaps it would be wise for NSW to be reminded that its asking Australias fiscally weakest jurisdiction to find a spare $1.5m. Mate, it costs us that much money a day to service the interest on our growing debt. Its akin to asking your broke, unemployed mate to shout you dinner at your own house knowing theyre barely making rent. With respect Premier Gladys Berejiklian, what youre doing is truly gammon. A shame job if we ever saw one. TOUCHED BY THE ROAD TOLL THIS YEAR 4 LAST YEAR 6 OPINION TE!tfitorian '' ee,, ~z "fot A MOl-.)1" ~ E\lf~ SPE1')T ...