By Andy Young

Steven Ciobo, the Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment has told liquor retailers that they should “push back against moves from so many people who are seeking to regulate the industry”.

Speaking at the Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) Conference on the Gold Coast, Ciobo also said that it was important that as an industry liquor retailers should stand up and be counted.

Ciobo (pictured) told the conference: “I am really pleased that ALSA is having its conference here on the Gold Coast, representing 165,000 people within the industry and tens of millions of dollars in investment. It’s a great industry and of course it satisfies a community demand for people to be able to have their tipple of choice.

“The Government is very focused on providing support for the small business sector and we want to make sure that they do that through the tax cuts we have offered and in addition to that the instant asset write-off of $20,000 per item and we know that this is really helping Australian small businesses to continue to invest.

“But I also want to make sure that, especially for liquor stores, they push back against moves from so many people who are seeking to regulate the industry and think the only approach is to reduce trading hours.”

The Minister added: “Frankly, I think a lot of Australians have had enough of that approach and I think it is important that as an industry it stands up and is counted, it stands up for the 165,000 employees, it stands up for the investment and stands up by saying: ‘you know what – we actually satisfy a community demand’ and of course the vast bulk of people for whom being able to get their bottle of choice is actually something that they would like to be able to do after 10pm at night.”

Ciobo also called on retailers to talk to their local MP about how increased regulation can impact their business.

He said: “For every bottleshop owner, they need to be able to make their case. They can make their case by talking to their local MP, talking about the impact on their business and what the impact is in terms of employment, also through national peak bodies such as ALSA itself which is well positioned to be an advocate for the industry and to make it clear what the industry’s views are.”

Ciobo was speaking at the ALSA Conference, where earlier this week the association’s president, Giuseppe Minissale, outlined some of the challenges that are now facing liquor store owners.

The minister also highlighted to delegates how pubs and clubs influenced policy decisions and called on retailers to follow that example.

He said: “One thing I have noticed in particular about your industry is there seems to be this all-pervasive wall of noise that is growing as people increasingly want to tell us how to live our lives. I am part of a government that has as a fundamental belief the supremacy of the individual over the state.

“So I want to encourage you to do one thing and one thing in particular and that is to stand up for your industry. One of the reasons why the Wilkie motion and the Xenophon push in relation to mandatory $1 betting limits was unsuccessful because the pubs and clubs industry in particular pushed back and pushed back strongly and made the case to say we are putting in place control measures to help those who have a problem with gambling.

“They pushed back to say that we are an industry that employs thousands and you need to do the same thing with 165,000 employees making the contribution in tax you do from the excise that is levied across your industry you do need to be vocal and passionate about standing up for those who say – ‘You know what I don’t have a problem with alcohol, I should be allowed to go and buy a drink’.”

“I think that it is really important that industries recognise that in the contest of ideas more often than not it is the squeaky wheel that is the one that gets the grease. And so if you have other groups that are well funded and well organised, who are able to dominate front pages and dominate the soundwaves and dominate the television airwaves and put their case consistently and regularly about why we need to kerb sales hours or kerb people’s ability to go and have a drink then I say to you need to make sure that you help to occupy those airwaves, those inches in the newspaper, make sure that you have advocates out there explaining why we need to keep a sense of proportion about these types of issues because there will always be those that do the wrong thing.”

The Shout Team

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

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  1. Let,s be fair dinkum if the Government would have ALL Hospitality IN Cabinet….That’s what they told us last time….Oh I forgot this is the reason the LOST 14 Seats because of the B.S.

  2. Well done Mr Ciobo, couldn’t agree with you more. Last time I looked, we still live in a democracy where individuals rights should rule supreme!

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