By Andrew Starke

The liquor industry has cautiously welcomed the Government’s budget which will have little direct impact on the sector and resisted imposing punitive measures.

While the Henry Review had effectively pre-empted any budget surprises, the liquor industry will be encouraged by the Rudd Government’s response yesterday (May 11) to three major health reports.

Despite recommendations by the National Preventative Health Taskforce, Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the government would not be banning alcohol advertising during children's TV shows or sport broadcasts.

It also has no immediate plans to introduce health warning on alcohol packaging similar to that on cigarette packs.

“The Government notes the recommendation,” it said in a detailed response.

“The Government’s approach is to pursue voluntary and collaborative approaches with the alcohol industry to promote a more responsible approach to alcohol in Australia before considering more mandatory regulation.”

Australia currently has a quasi-regulatory system for managing alcohol advertising.

The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) scheme involves a voluntary Code for alcohol advertising agreed by a management committee with representatives from the alcohol and advertising industries and government.

The Code was extended to cover naming and packaging in November 2009 with an optional pre-vetting system to help advertisers ensure their advertisements comply with the Code before they are published and an adjudication panel to consider consumer complaints.

The National Preventative Health Taskforce was announced in early 2008 to recommend ways of tackling problems caused by tobacco, alcohol and obesity.

Its final report was released last September and included 35 key action areas and 136 recommendations.

While a spokesperson for the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) was understandably reluctant to call the Government’s response a win for the industry, it is a testament to such industry bodies and the industry’s voluntary compliance with self-regulation that most of the taskforce’s recommendations on alcohol have been rejected.

Aside from advertising restrictions, the taskforce wanted a crackdown on sponsorship of sporting codes and health labels on alcohol bottles and cans. Both were rejected by the government.

“In April 2009, the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia announced a trial voluntary ban on advertising of its members’ spirits products before 9pm, including during sporting events,” said the statement.

“The Government is watching the progress of this trial with interest and looks forward to the results of the industry’s evaluation of this trial.”

To read the full report, click here.

The Shout Team

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

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