By Andy Young

Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) president Giuseppe Minissale delivered a passionate speech outlining the challenges facing liquor stores on the opening morning of the group’s conference on the Gold Coast in the presence of Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo who was invited to open the conference.

“Minister, as a native Queenslander I know you would recognise the important part that the alcohol beverages industry plays in catering for tourism and its contribution to the economy and the fabric of the Australian way of life. I note that earlier this year you have recognised the over-regulation of our industry and come out strongly against the early lock and last drinks laws supposedly aimed at curbing alcohol-related violence, saying Australia had gone too far down the path of regulating too many aspects of people’s lives.

“Every time a State or Territory government increases these poorly conceived regulations it not only impacts on the population as a whole it also discourages tourism, reduces competition, diminishes business and employment opportunity.

“With over 6400 packaged liquor outlets nationally, underpinning 165,500 jobs, catering for 13.9 million Australian drinkers, our sector turns over $16.2 billion each year and contributes $5.2 billion in taxes. This is why we are so passionate and proud of our sector’s important contribution to Australia.

“This year just gone had been a huge one for ALSA and the industry overall,” Minissale said.

“The ever-growing challenges of running a sustainable business are being compounded by the insidious growth of regulatory creep as governments around the country are swayed by the incredibly well-funded neo-temperance movement to increase the burden on our members and further restrict the freedoms of the communities we serve.

One such example of that is the organisation FARE (Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education) or ‘UN-FARE’ as ALSA CEO Terry Mott often refers to them. Another public purse-funded advocacy group that has whittled away a significant fortune over the last 14 years.

“It began life with $115 million and with little benefit accruing to the community, they have now developed a perpetual fund and appear to be using their remaining $34 million in capital to maintain their annual $1.7 million in staff costs, plus the $150,000 per annum in directors’ fees. If the Turnbull Government is serious about trimming waste – this would be a good place to start.

“Imagine if DrinkWise had these funds available? On a budget of around $6 million per annum DrinkWise has already made significant inroads into changing parental behavior in front of their children and the drinking culture in our young people. We can be proud that DrinkWise is funded by the industry and is making a significant difference – not wasting money on building another bureaucracy.

“We are often faced with such a consistent barrage of negative publicity perpetrated by the incredibly well-funded neo-temperance advocacy industry, that we, along with politicians and the community sometimes forget the positive things about the industry.

“While the vast majority of Australians do consume alcohol and do so in moderation and responsibly without harm to themselves or others, we are not for a minute shying away from the need to recognise that there are a small and often highly visible group who do behave badly and misuse or abuse alcohol, with very poor outcomes for themselves and others around them.

As Chair of the recent formed Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA), Minissale said this “all of industry body” will challenge the misinformation and negative publicity facing the industry.

“The ABA will promote the benefits of our industry and challenge the misinformation often pedaled by the neo-temperance movement and repeated so often without challenge by the media,” Minissale said.

“I am particularly proud as Chair of the ABA to welcome my fellow Council members and for his first ALSA Conference, Fergus Taylor, the newly appointed Executive Director of the ABA.

“I am particularly proud to say that ALSA and this event over the last five years has helped stimulate the recent establishment of Alcohol Beverages Australia.”

The ABA comprises seven major industry sector associations – Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA); Australian Hotels Association (AHA), Clubs Australia; Restaurant & caterers Association; Winemakers Federation Australia; Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) and the Brewers Association as well as nine major industry partner companies including Woolworths, now Endeavour Drinks Group; Diageo Australia; Lion Beer, Spirits and Wine; Treasury Wine Estates; Pernod Ricard Australia; Accolade Wines and Brown-Forman Australia.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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