Alcohol floor price ‘won’t work’ and should be scrapped, Darwin Mayor Kon Vatskalis says


Posted

October 15, 2018 13:03:53

The Northern Territory’s controversial alcohol floor price is doomed to failure because alcoholics “will pay any price for a fix”, Darwin Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis says.

Key points:

  • Alcohol floor price won’t work because alcoholics “will pay anything to get their fix”, Darwin Lord Mayor says
  • Push to rework controversial forced-rehabilitation program instead of floor price
  • NT Consumer Affairs warns alcohol prices could be increasing “well beyond the floor price legislation”

The floor price legislation raised the minimum price of a standard drink to $1.30 and came into effect on October 1.

Since then, one online wine retailer has ceased servicing the Territory, saying changes to the cost of all wine bought, and the subsequent cost of shipping, would directly impact their business model.

Mr Vatskalis, a former Labor minister, said the model would not “cure” public drunkenness.

“I’ll tell you why it’s not going to work, the reason for that is wherever it has succeeded had different conditions to the Northern Territory,” he told ABC Radio Darwin.

“Everybody talks about the example of Canada, but what they fail to mention is all the liquor stores in Canada are owned by the Government.

“The other thing we fail to understand is that alcoholism is a disease … alcoholics will pay anything to get their fix.”

Mr Vatskalis pointed to the previous Country Liberal Party government’s forced alcohol rehabilitation program as a model that could be reworked in favour of the alcohol floor price.

Under the mandatory treatment program, anyone picked up by police for being drunk in public three times in two months could be forced into rehabilitation in Alice Springs or Darwin for up to 12 weeks.

However, the program came under intense scrutiny, with one review finding blockages in the system, including a lack of beds and staff at assessment centres, meant that up to half the people who could potentially benefit from the treatment were excluded.

“The medical treatment of alcoholics could be reinstated, but in a better way with support after the medical treatment,” Mr Vatskalis said.

“Because what happened, they finished their 90 days or 60 days compulsory detention, all the money went in the bank and they went out and had party time.”

Are liquor stores intentionally upping booze prices?

The alcohol floor price has been fraught with division since its introduction two weeks ago.

The Northern Territory Opposition initially supported the move, saying it was conditional on the Government commissioning independent advice on its success after six to 12 months.

However, it withdrew its support for the program last week.

Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison said the Government would “keep across” how the floor price was performing and measuring.

“So the Riley Review recommended a three-year formal review,” she said.

“But of course we will be looking at this on an ongoing basis to measure the effectiveness and see how things are tracking along.”

It comes as NT Consumer Affairs warns the price of alcoholic drinks, particularly the cost of beer, may be increasing “well beyond the floor price legislation”, with the increase “being blamed on this legislation”.

Acting Commission Sandy Otto said any retailers who sold beer products at a higher price point than what has been mandated under the alcohol floor price — and told consumers it was the result of new legislation — may be in breach of the Australian Consumer Law for misleading or deceptive practices.

Heavy penalties apply, with up to $500,000 for an individual and $10 million for a corporation.

While you’re here… are you feeling curious?

Topics:

alcohol,

education,

alcohol-education,

health,

politics-and-government,

nt,

darwin-0800,

alice-springs-0870



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