The biggest challenges facing the ABA in 2018
Drinks Trade editor Hannah Sparks talks to ABA Executive Director Fergus Taylor (above) about the organisation's achievements in 2017 and plans for the year ahead.
Looking back on 2017, what have been ABA's most significant achievements?
The alcohol beverages industry in Australia should celebrate a year of unprecedented co-operation among members as it dealt with a multitude of challenging issues. This provided balance into the mainstream public debates around alcohol consumption and regulation and helped to build trust among our growing member group. We are always stronger together and the results we’re achieving reflect and encourage this.
The highlight was the Alcohol Beverages Australia 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.
As we move into 2018, what are the issues that are carrying over from this year?
Industry wide reputational issues that target overall consumption without driving down misuse, like advertising bans and minimum pricing, will continue to attract our attention. 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.
Do you foresee any new challenges that ABA will be tackling in 2018?
The issues we face have remained constant for many years, but the tactics change, and it’s likely sports advertising, cancer and mandatory labelling will be new areas where we will need to ensure credible evidence is available and accessible to the public and politicians, as opinions are formed, and decisions are made.
Are there any regulatory challenges you think retailers need to prepare for in 2018?
I think the connections retailers make with their local communities as part of establishing and developing their businesses will continue to be the most critical activity they can engage in, in a regulatory space, because it’s this local capital that will best enable them to resist attacks on their social and economic licence to operate. They should also make sure they’re in constant contact with their local council, state and federal political representatives, so they all understand the contribution these businesses are making every day, in the areas where they operate.
ABA recently announced a new EC. Are you pleased with the new EC and how do you think ABA is now placed structurally to tackle issues in 2018?
The outgoing Executive Committee (EC) of Giuseppe Minissale, Shane Tremble and Mitchell Taylor has steered ABA from a good idea into an effective and growing organisation of industry thought, comment and action that is serving the industry well, and they should be congratulated for the hard work and professional approach that made this happen.
The new EC of Bryan Fry, Giuseppe Minissale and James Brindley, will build on this with a continuity of what has worked well for ABA, potentially different approaches to operational issues and a further engagement of our stakeholder group courtesy of the sharing of this management responsibility.