By Andy Young
While some medical groups including St Vincent’s Hospital have been critical of the NSW Government’s recent changes to its liquor laws, the Liquor Stores Association NSW, has highlighted that the groups have once again failed to back up the calls with any independent evidence.
As part of the changes the Government announced last week, bottleshops across the state are now allowed to trade until 11pm, having previously been forced to close their doors at 10pm.
The LSA NSW highlighted that NSW residents and tourists who will benefit from the more flexible trading times are facing concerns from doctors which are not backed by independent evidence. In particular LSA NSW points out that since the 10pm closure came into effect, there was no change on the level of alcohol-related domestic violence.
Liquor Stores Association NSW Executive Director, Michael Waters, said: "Not downplaying the fact that domestic violence is a serious community issue, the reality is the 10pm bottleshop closure did not move alcohol-related domestic violence figures at all from their existing downward trajectory.
"Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has proven that rates of alcohol related domestic violence did not move or divert from their trend line as a consequence of the 10pm bottleshop closure.”
The Association also points out that the data from BOCSAR also shows that alcohol-related domestic violence and overall alcohol consumption per capita has declined to the lowest levels in 50 years. These trends, the Association says, show that bottleshop opening hours and availability to not correlate to harms, adding that the number of packaged liquor outlets in NSW has decreased significantly in the last decade.
Waters added: “The Callinan review confirmed it; the Baird Government has today acknowledged it; it’s a shame that St Vincent’s and other medical groups refuse to accept it.
"It is disappointing that some medical groups who appear to be clearly aligned to the temperance movement have tried to demonise responsible and sensible adults and divert policy attention and resources away from fixing the underlying causes of domestic violence.
"The sad facts are that non-alcohol related domestic violence has increased in the community at a time when alcohol-related violence has been decreasing. If doctor groups chose to cease viewing the current debate through the lens of the temperance movement, it would allow Australian society to focus on correcting the learned attitudes and norms, and social inequalities that directly lead to domestic violence.
"Alcohol should never be used as an excuse for violence, a point which the retail industry continues to strongly make,” Waters said.