National Alcohol Strategy
The National Alcohol Strategy 2019-2018 has been endorsed by Federal, State and Territory Health Ministers and was released on 3 December, 2019. On balance, the strategy looks reasonable – recognising that trends in dangerous drinking are heading in the right direction, and focusing on options governments can consider to prevent and treat alcohol related harm. It is important to note the strategy does not impose binding commitments on any government, but it can provide the political impetus to pursue some of the options in the plan.
While Minimum Unit Pricing is put forward as an option for governments to consider, along with changes to a volumetric tax system, the Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, said in his press release that “The Morrison Government considers Australia’s current alcohol taxation setting are appropriate and has no plans to make any changes” and “pricing mechanisms such as a Minimum Unit Price on alcohol are a matter for the States and Territories.” A Minimum Unit Price for alcohol would be damaging for the sector, and early indications from the Northern Territory’s experiment with such measures suggest it is leading to perverse outcomes.
We will continue to watch this space and advocate against the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing in Australia. On a more pleasing note, the strategy also suggests that Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) arrangements be standardised nationally, which is an issue many members have raised with us. Australian Grape & Wine will use this as a basis for pursuing reform in this area in the coming year, although we expect getting the states and territories onto the same page will take time.