Home' National Liquor News : NLN FEB 2018 Contents 40 | FEBRUARY 2018 NATIONAL LIQUOR NEWS
WHAT WERE THE MAIN
FOR ABA IN 2017?
The alcohol beverages industry in Australia
has celebrated a year of unprecedented co-
operation among members as it dealt with a
multitude of challenging issues.
This co-operation not only provided for
much needed balance into the mainstream
public debate around alcohol consumption
and regulation, it also helped to solidify trust
and alignment among our growing group of
key industry stakeholders, which is critical to
enabling the benefits of effective and united
representation for the industry into the future.
The highlight was the Alcohol Beverages
Australia (ABA), Celebration of Industry
dinner in Canberra in August, when 200
plus ABA member association and corporate,
and non-member association and corporate
representatives, came together to meet and
inform more than 80 federal politicians from
all corners of the political spectrum in The
Great Hall in Parliament House Canberra.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE MAJOR
ISSUES THAT ABA FACED IN 2017?
Well-funded organisations that promote an
anti-alcohol agenda remain a constant hurdle.
The operations of the anti-alcohol activists
directed against our industry are becoming
better resourced, more aggressive and more
prepared to appeal to emotion than rely on
evidence. Their tactics change and we will need
to ensure credible evidence is available and
accessible to the public and to politicians, as
opinions are formed and decisions are made.
Research has shown that population
wide policies neglect contextual and cultural
determinants when it comes to alcohol related
harms. ABA is countering widespread advocacy
by anti-alcohol activists for minimum unit
pricing, sweeping advertising bans and mandatory
labelling which do not provide the targeted tools
needed to appropriately address alcohol related
harms. The conversation has also been hijacked
by biased individuals who do not view the alcohol
industry as a legitimate stakeholder and who
directly damage any confidence in the impartiality
of reforms and guidelines.
However, despite the seemingly never
ending defence of the industry against the
misinformation and scaremongering of the
anti-alcohol activists – we are always stronger
together and the results we’re achieving are
both a testimony and an encouragement to this.
WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE AS
THE MAIN CHALLENGES AND
OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE LIQUOR
INDUSTRY OVER THE NEXT
As we move into 2018 it’s never been more
important that we continue to build co-
operation and focus on the issues that unite us
instead of those we see differently. Despite an
avalanche of credible, recent, comprehensive
and conclusive evidence to support the safe and
sensible production, marketing, advertising,
promotion, availability and consumption of
our products, despite the continuation of
hugely positive trends in declining underage
consumption and binge drinking that have
been borne out of the major government and
industry research pieces of 2017, and despite the
declines in violence and anti-social behaviour
and improvements in community attitudes
towards alcohol that people are increasingly
experiencing, there remain vocal and noisy calls
for yet further restrictions to alcohol advertising
and availability across Australia.
Our capacity to protect our industry from
populist misinformation, public misconception
and over regulation relies on an ongoing
determination to work as one, with a united
message to ensure the public and administrative
debates around alcohol are only ever
conducted against a backdrop of credible and
independently scrutinised evidence.
WHAT WILL BE THE IMMEDIATE
FOCUS FOR ABA IN 2018?
ABA and its members have been following
the development of the National Alcohol
Strategy (NAS) for several years and actively
participated in detailed consultation along
the way. Unfortunately, the newly released
Draft NAS reflects little of this work and
has been received with great surprise and
disappointment by ABA members.
The draft has included several population wide
measures when the bulk of international, peer-
reviewed evidence has repeatedly shown that
lowering population wide alcohol consumption
does not equate to a reduction in harmful alcohol
consumption. The blunt strategies of reducing
overall consumption and banning promotion will
additionally cause significant and unnecessary
upward pressure on alcohol prices and
inconvenience for up to 14 million Australians.
ABA will also be focussing on presenting more of
the positive aspects of our industry.
WHAT KEY POINTS SHOULD THE
INDUSTRY BE DISCUSSING
Industry wide reputational issues that target
overall consumption without driving down
misuse, like advertising bans and minimum
pricing, will continue to attract our attention,
so it’s important for the industry to invest
in the effectiveness of targeted measures to
demonstrate their suitability and worth, and
the industry’s commitment to be part of the
solution where alcohol is misused.
But we’re also keen to better promote the
positive side of the industry, like the fondness
our customers have for our wonderful products
and the enormous contribution we make to
the economic and social fabric of Australian
life, to remind the public and politicians that
moderate drinking is a fun and enjoyable part
of a healthy lifestyle.
WHAT IS ONE ISSUE THAT YOU
WOULD LIKE TO SEE URGENTLY
ADDRESSED BY THE INDUSTRY?
ABA looks forward to engaging with key
stakeholders to ensure the final NAS is
developed against a backdrop of the most recent,
credible and peer reviewed evidence available
and guided by a determination to target
alcohol misuse where it occurs without unfairly
impinging on the freedoms and lives of those
who are doing the right thing. The vast majority
of Australians have a positive relationship with
alcohol, so any reform should correctly focus on
targeted policies, rather than unfairly penalising
the majority of responsible drinkers with big
price rises and further restrictions.
FERGUS TAYLOR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
ALCOHOL BEVERAGES AUSTRALIA
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