By Andy Young
The Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) has used its submission to the Callinan Review to call for the restriction on spirits and RTDs being served after midnight to be investigated.
The Callinan Review is currently looking into the 2014 NSW Liquor Amendment Act, which saw the introduction of 1.30am lockouts, 3am last drinks, 10pm restrictions on take-away alcohol sales and post-midnight service restrictions on spirits.
In its submission by executive director Gordon Broderick, DSICA said that it strongly supports measures to reduce alcohol-related harm in communities and that it recognises the shared responsibility of the industry, governments, communities and individuals in those measures.
Broderick added: “While we do not dispute the objectivity and good intentions of the NSW Government, and support wholeheartedly the animating goal of eliminating violence from our streets, the NSW Liquor Amendment Act 2014 (“the Act”), in so far as it relates to service of distilled spirits, satisfies none of the remaining criteria for good policy.
“We therefore welcome, equally wholeheartedly, the opportunity offered by the Review consultation for us to contribute matters concerning the Spirits Restrictions for your consideration, and value greatly the scrutiny and transparency the Review will bring.”
The submission also questions the evidence that justifies the restriction on spirit sales after midnight, while other forms of alcohol remain readily available.
Broderick wrote: “The Act included certain provisions within the broader package of measures, noted above and referred to in this submission as the Spirits Restrictions, which isolated spirits products for special, disproportionate and discriminatory service restriction, compared with other forms of beverage alcohol.
“The Spirits Restrictions lack a basis in evidence. No data was publically cited by way of supporting rationale for these provisions; it seems that they were enacted, at best, on the basis of the common mistake between correlation and causation.
“Our understanding of the Government’s rationale for imposing post-midnight service restrictions on spirits is a simple hypothesized correlation that, since violence tends to occur in late evening/early morning hours, and there is a perception that spirits are consumed later in the evening, perhaps when people ‘move to spirits’ after having first consumed beer or wine, consumption of spirits is an aggravating, determining factor in the causation of street violence of such import as to justify restricting consumer access and choice at a population level, versus other types of alcohol product.
“Let us be clear what this means, in the context of the Act: the Government asks us to believe that the patron, A, who drinks 4 schooners of beer, followed by a nip of whiskey at the end of the evening, is, by reason of his consumption of that nip, so significantly more pre-disposed to violence than a patron, B, who follows the first 4 schooners of beer with a further 4 schooners of beer, that it justifies the removal of A’s choice of late night drink, the removal of that choice for the remainder of the population, as well as well as a range of wider implications addressed below.”
Highlighting the lack of evidence to support a late-night spirits restriction, DSICA said in its submission that the “discriminatory measure” should be “set aside”.
The Callinan Review is currently looking at all the submissions it has received for its review of the 2014 legislation, with over 1800 entries submitted.