Northern Territory passes minimum floor price laws

August 23, 2018
By Alana House

The Northern Territory has officially passed laws that make it the first Australian jurisdiction to put a floor price on alcohol.

The new laws, which were passed on Wednesday, will require alcohol to be sold for at least $1.30 per standard drink from October 1 this year.

NT joins Canada and Scotland, which also have set a floor price on alcohol.

The move follows an alcohol review released by former NT supreme court justice Trevor Riley. which made the recommendation. 

The law will mostly impact the price of cheap wine as spirits and beer are already more expensive than the minimum price. It will effectively triple the price of cask wine in the territory.

People’s Alcohol Action Coalition’s Dr John Boffa noted to ABC News that there was already a voluntary floor price on most alcohol sold in Alice Springs.

He said most retailers took super cheap alcohol off shelves entirely, rather than market it at inflated prices.

“Because consumers aren’t idiots. They’re not going to buy a 2 litre cask of wine that’s suddenly worth three times as much,” he said.

Revenue from the initiative will go to retailers as it is not a tax, which could only be introduced by the Federal Government.

Attorney-General Natasha Fyles said the law was designed to tackle alcohol-related violence, crime and antisocial behaviour.

“It’s aimed at getting rid of the cheap $4, $5, $6 bottles of wine … that people consume purely to get intoxicated and cause harm in our community,” she said.

To help evaluate the effectiveness of the policy, the liquor industry will be required to collect retail sales and wholesale data from next year to provide to the Government.

Liquor Stores Association NT vice president Russell Willing told ABC News this would cost businesses between $10,000-$12,000.

He also felt the new laws would not be effective in reducing problem drinking.

“I think the main issue is that it’s going to effect the majority of people who rely on a drink, people who are doing the right thing,” he said. “This population-wide measure basically effects everyone.

“A couple that are pensioners for instance might have a drink, three or four bottles of wine a week. Well that will cost them potentially an extra $1000 a year.”

Calls for Australia-wide minimum floor price laws

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation is calling on other jurisdictions across Australia to follow the lead of the Northern Territory.

The foundation said the NT Government was showing leadership by recognising the strong link between price, alcohol consumption and related harms such as violence and ill-health.

“Price is a major determinant of people’s drinking. We know that when the cost of alcohol goes up, the heaviest drinkers consume less,” Chief executive Dr Erin Lalor said. 

“Evidence from overseas is showing that introducing a minimum floor price for alcohol is an effective way to reduce the public health burden associated with problematic drinking.” 


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