By Deborah Jackson, editor National Liquor News

The Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) has spoken out against proposed lockout laws in Queensland, which would see a ban on serving shots after midnight.

As the peak body representing the spirits sector, DSICA raised concerns in a submission to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee that "the draft provisions concerning the service of 'high alcohol content' and 'rapid consumption' drinks within the Proposed Bill appear to be based on flawed assumptions".

In the submission, which has been obtained by TheShout, DSICA says: "This singling-out of spirits products for special treatment does not survive exposure to the lightest scrutiny, even within the context of a broad package of measures. 

"It relies on the most basic confusion between the concepts of correlation and causation, and lacks the most basic appreciation of the biology of alcohol consumption.  

"Left uncorrected, this logic will result in bad policy, since it will needlessly and disproportionately constrain the consumer choices of Queensland residents and visitors, for want of appropriate rigour and scrutiny in the legislative process."

The submission goes on to say: "The Proposed Bill nominates midnight as an appropriate time to introduce restriction of consumer choice.  

"A set of restrictions such as those proposed in the draft bill makes no sense: as drafted, the Proposed Bill would allow a consumer in a typical Queensland pub or club at 1am to order a bottle of wine (approximately seven standard drinks) or a jug of beer (approximately four standard drinks), but not a single serve of whiskey on ice (one standard drink).  

"Equally, the draft measure could allow the consumption over a night, either side of midnight, of three shots of tequila and four schooners of beer, but only provided the tequila was consumed at the beginning of the evening, and not the end. Because, under the logic of the Proposed Bill, the order in which drinks are consumed matters: to ban the consumption of shots of tequila at the end of a consumer’s night would have a causative reduction in the consumer’s propensity to violence, even though precisely the same number of drinks are consumed over the same time period. 

"This is patently absurd."

In closing, DSICA calls for more education surrounding the effects of alcohol.

"DSICA supports the overall objectives of the Proposed Bill, and shares the Queensland Government’s concerns.

"But we have seen that these concerns are, more properly categorised, concerns around the effects of drunkenness which has accumulated over the entirety of a night out, and sometimes facilitated by irresponsible drinks promotions.

"Examined with the forensic approach which befits legislation at the nexus of public health, individual liberty and commercial freedoms, there is no justification for the Proposed Bill’s discriminatory treatment of particular products or venues, reduction in consumer choice and disadvantage to business.  

"Rather, it is DSICA’s submission that the correct policy approach is to educate consumers regarding the impact of alcohol consumption on their bodies, and for all stakeholders to join in the promotion of responsible drinking behaviours, so as to enable consumers to make better choices, for themselves and their communities."

The Shout Team

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

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