Calls for minimum floor pricing in Victoria

Calls for minimum floor pricing in Victoria

VicHealth is calling for a major overhaul of the liquor industry in Victoria, including reduced trading hours and minimum floor pricing.

VicHealth chief executive Jerril Rechter told the Herald Sun that bottle shops should close at 10pm and “on-premises liquor outlets” — pubs and clubs — should stop trading at 2am.

She also called for alcohol ads to be banned during sports broadcasts in children’s viewing hours, and for tougher restrictions on liquor ­licence applications, with new bottle shops and licensed ­venues banned in “saturated” areas. 

“These three reforms have a strong evidence base to indicate they will have the greatest impact in reducing alcohol harm,” she said.

The ideas were originally part of the Draft National Alcohol Strategy, which attracted widespread concern from consumers and the hospitality and drinks industries. 

The draft plan proposed a minimum price on alcohol, expected to be $1.50 per standard drink, which would push a slab of VB over $50 and blow the cost of a cask of white wine from $10 to $45.

Victorian Mental Health Minister Martin Foley said the state government would consider increasing alcohol prices as part of a broader strategy to tackle alcohol abuse.

The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association also backed pricing reforms, saying there had been a 50% increase in alcohol-related ambulance call-outs between 2012 and 2017.

But the Victorian Farmers Federation warned the move would increase the price of cask wine by as much as 500%, pushing demand down by 85% and hurting the wine industry.

The National Alcohol Strategy is expected to be finalised by the end of the year after further consultation was sought.

Growing support for minimum floor pricing

Wales recently joined Scotland and Australia's Northern Territory by announcing it will implement a minimum floor price on alcohol.

The National Assembly passed the new law - The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill - introducing a minimum price to be specified in regulations made by the Welsh Ministers following a consultation this year.

The new minimum pricing regime is currently expected to come into force in summer 2019.

Scotland became the first country in the world to introduce minimum alcohol pricing – of 50p per unit - on May 1, 2018.

Meanwhile, NT attorney-General Natasha Fyles told Darwin's Mix 104.9 earlier this year that the Government hopes to have a minimum $1.30 floor price per standard drink for all alcoholic beverages in place by the second half of 2018.

"$1.30 doesn't affect the price of beer but it will get rid of that cheap wine, we see wine that costs less than a bottle of water… and that is just not acceptable," Fyles said.

"A bottle of wine has on average around seven alcohol units per bottle, so it's $1.30 per unit of alcohol. That would put a bottle of wine around $9, $10, so you won't see that $4 and $5 bottle of wine."

The impact will also be felt on cask wine - a 2 litre boxed variety currently selling for about $10 will increase in price to $27.30.

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