By Andrew Starke
Health Minister Nicola Roxon is investigating the feasibility of a nationwide ‘floor price’ for alcohol that could impact heavily on cask wine sales.
While the Minister called reports of a system that would make selling alcohol below a price per standard drink illegal premature, she has tasked the new National Prevention Agency with investigating the issue.
A spokesperson for Minister Roxon’s office would not respond directly to questions but referred TheShout to an interview done with Madonna King on ABC 612 Brisbane this morning (June 8).
Roxon said a national floor price for alcohol was being advocated by many public health advocates in indigenous communities.
”I think the reports are a little bit ahead of where the Government is, what we have agreed is that the new National Prevention Agency, should do some work, to see how a national floor price for alcohol would work,” said Roxon, adding that the government had not yet made any decision.
”We've simply asked that some work be done on the context. That plan still needs to be considered by all the states and territories, so it's a very preliminary step, but I think it is an important one.”
Roxon was quick to dispel any notion that the new measure would be another tax on alcohol, explaining to King that it would not impact on all liquor categories.
”It is very different (from a tax), it's just about making sure that extremely cheap alcohol cannot be sold, if there was a floor price introduced, it's not something that applies to every bit of alcohol that is sold, in the way that a change to the tax system would,” she said.
While two-litre casks of wine can sell at less than 50 cents per standard drink, advocates of a nationwide minimum price have suggested this be set between $1.20 and $1.50 per standard drink.
Earlier this year the Australian Greens reiterated calls for the NT and Federal Governments to act on a floor price on alcohol to reduce community harm.
Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal Issues, Senator Rachel Siewert, said amendments to the Northern Territory’s Liquor Act should allow for a floor price on take away sales to be enforceable as part of reforms to alcohol laws.
“It is essential that our governments take a stand against the alcohol industry and act in the best interest of people in Alice Springs and across the NT,” Siewert said.
“We know that a floor price on alcohol and reduced access to takeaway sales are effective measures when introduced with the community support. This has been a consistent issue and call from the community in Alice Springs for a long time.”