By Andy Young

The Liquor Stores Association New South Wales has said that use of the terms "pre-loading" and "pre-fuelling" has become emotive and fails to distinguish between 'normal' social behaviour and excessive consumption.

Although the terms are generally used when a person excessively consumes alcohol beverages before going out to a licensed venue they can relate to a simple pre-dinner drink at home or in another venue.

LSA NSW executive director Michael Waters said: “What is a normal part of Australian life has been twisted by the neo-temperance movement to assert that alcohol consumption in Australia is out of control. They use extreme examples as the need for even greater regulation to roll back a so called ‘toxic drinking culture’.

“Not all pre-drinking occurs in the home prior to going out – it’s people venue hopping between licensed premises, it’s the office knock-off drink before going home to open a bottle of wine over dinner with your partner, it’s treating yourself to a drink on the plane before arriving to celebrate your mate’s wedding – it’s these things and more.

“The vast majority of individuals exercise their personal choice to drink in moderation, and are capable of enjoying a pre-dinner drink or a drink with friends before going out without causing harm to themselves or others, yet this normal socially acceptable behaviour is often inappropriately considered as pre-loading – the public health lobby and neo-temperance movement constantly downplay this ‘inconvenient truth’, seeking to demonise any alcohol consumption, not just irresponsible or excessive consumption.

"Australians shouldn't be treated as children who cannot think for themselves. They know that our bars, clubs, restaurants and nightclubs all expect very high standards of behaviour prior to entry. What would be the point of expecting to enjoy a good night out with friends only to be turned away due to intoxication at the door on arrival?"


Waters also highlighted that despite the terms being widely used in the media, very little research has been carried out on this behaviour in Australia. The 2013 National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund study Patron Offending and Intoxication in the Night-Time Entertainment Districts reported that 61 per cent pre-drank because of ‘price’ as the motivator, 22.4 per cent for social reasons, while just 7.3 per cent nominated ‘getting intoxicated before going out’ as the reason for pre-drinking.

The retail liquor industry like the community supports a targeted approach from Police and greater penalties for anyone who goes out with the intent of inflicting harm on others. It’s also why our industry supported the removal of consumption of alcohol beverages as an excuse for criminal and anti-social behaviour in NSW.

Waters added: “Since February 2014, the people of NSW have not been trusted to purchase a bottle of wine after 10pm to enjoy responsibly with a late BYO restaurant dinner or supper at home. Domestic and international visitors to our ‘open, vibrant and connected’ city are bewildered when told they cannot purchase a bottle of fine wine, champagne, local craft beer or nightcap after coming home from a show or the theatre.

“It’s confusing and disappointing that the City of Sydney, in their submission to the current Callinan Liquor Law Review, are quite happy for restrictions on other liquor licences to be relaxed, but advocate for the 10pm closing time for bottle shops and liquor stores to remain in place due to ‘pre-fuelling’, when they have not provided one drop of evidence to support this recommendation."

The issue was also highlighted by the CEO of the Australian Liquor Stores Association, Terry Mott, in a comment piece for Fairfax Media. Speaking about the City of Sydney's decision to back the continuation of the 10pm closure for bottle shop, Mott was critical of the fact that ALSA was not consulted by the Council or its lord mayor, Clover Moore.

Mott said: "In developing these positions, the lord mayor said the council widely consulted. Unfortunately, we never heard from Moore or anyone from the City of Sydney on this issue. 

"If they did bother to make contact, our industry would have highlighted that in the year to September 2015, Sydney had 9.2 million domestic overnight visitors and 3.1 million international visitors. The majority of these visitors live in places where purchasing a bottle of wine for a late BYO meal or on the way home after a show is a way of life. They can't do this in Sydney because of the current state-wide 10pm closing time for bottle shops and liquor stores. 

"It's hardly the type of restriction you would expect in a sophisticated global city." 

He added: "Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the City of Sydney is the lack of evidence it has for maintaining the 10pm restriction on bottles hops and liquor stores. It claims the practice of pre-fuelling, which could even mean a pre-dinner drink in another venue or in a private environment before going out, is the reason for having this position. 

"In short, Moore seems happy for restrictions on other liquor licensees to be relaxed, while maintaining a hard line on retail liquor licensees on little more than a hunch. She is also seemingly ignoring the growing impact of illicit drugs."

Last week the LSA NSW made its submission to the Callinan Review, which is looking into the 2014 liquor laws introduced in New South Wales and; the review's findings are due to be published in August.

The Shout Team

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *