There are concerns that strict alcohol regulation measures such as minimum floor pricing in the Northern Territory have led to a spike in sales of supermarket items such as mouthwash, methylated spirits and vanilla essence.
The Northern Territory introduced minimum floor pricing in October 2018 and reintroduced its Banned Drinker Register (BDR). The BDR bars people with a history of misusing alcohol from buying it for a certain period of time, while minimum floor pricing means alcohol must be sold for at least $1.30 per standard drink at liquor outlets.
Soon after, retailers in Darwin and Alice Springs noticed that sales of supermarket items containing alcohol had spiked.
The Central Australian Youth Link Up Service’s Blair MacFarland told ABC News: “We’ve been able to ascertain that one particular person bought 21 litres of metho over a two-week period.”
This week, the NT Government is expected to introduce the Liquor Bill 2019, which includes powers for police to search, seize and dispose of inedible substances containing alcohol.
However, the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC) and Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) are calling for restrictions on the sale of these products.
PAAC and FARE have made a submission calling for the products to also be kept at the checkout behind locked cabinets and sold only to adults with photo ID.
It has called for sales to be restricted to one container per person per day and not sold in containers larger than 500 millilitres.
The submission also suggests that retailers keep a register of sales, report any suspicious attempts to purchase and have the power to refuse purchases at their discretion.
Dr John Boffa from PAAC told ABC News: “The introduction for the minimal unit price in Darwin, coupled with the Banned Drinker Register, both of these measures are very effective and very targeted at the heaviest drinkers.
“Some of the heaviest drinkers will try and shift to products like mouthwash, that are freely available, that really sell at less than 20 cents a standard drink.”