By James Atkinson
The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has urged the Federal Government to reject a national minimum alcohol price being considered by its new preventative health agency.
The AHA has submitted its response to the Australian National Preventative Health Agency (ANPHA) issues paper on minimum pricing, highlighting a lack of evidence supporting the concept and concerns about the impact on the hospitality sector.
"The introduction of a floor price would force up drink prices across the spectrum as brands reposition themselves and impact on the majority of moderate consumers rather than on problem drinkers," said AHA National CEO Des Crowe.
"All the available evidence indicates that a minimum price would have the biggest impact on the vast majority of people who consume alcohol responsibly and in moderation, while harmful drinkers are less likely to change their drinking patterns in response to price changes.
"The AHA has provided its submission urging the Federal Government to first observe the impact and results of the recently-legislated Scottish 50-pence minimum standard drink price before considering options for adopting such a radical policy here in Australia.
"Governments always promote the need for evidence-based policy, and on this issue the evidence suggests a floor price would mean more financial pain for everyone without addressing the harmful drinkers that are the intended target of the exercise.
"There are legitimate concerns in some communities about the availability of cheap alcohol to at-risk groups, but there is no justification for a national response to a localised problem.
"Addressing harmful drinking requires a more sophisticated approach than just jacking prices up. Interventions must be targeted towards actual problem drinkers rather than on the vast majority of responsible consumers."
The Australian Liquor Stores Association's submission will be available in the coming weeks.