By Andrew Starke
Queensland Tourism and Fair trading Minister, Peter Lawlor, has consulted with UK government bodies and liquor industry giant Diageo as the state looks at innovative ways to address alcohol misuse.
While Lawlor was in London primarily to promote Tourism Queensland, he also held meetings with government and industry players involved in the liquor industry, noting that many of the social responsibility measures introduced in the UK could be applied locally.
“There is a strong feeling of partnership between government and industry to work together to find solutions,” he said. “My visit has highlighted that the Bligh Government is on the right track with establishing Drink Safe Precincts.
“The visit also enabled me to see the type of educational campaigns that are run in other areas and to see if they can be applied in Queensland.”
Lawlor met with Bundaberg Rum’s parent company, Diageo, Islington Council and the British Beer and Pub Association to discuss programs, initiatives and liquor licensing approaches to promote responsible drinking, and deal with alcohol-related violence.
“In Queensland, gambling and alcohol-related issues can have an impact not only on our communities, but also on the success of our domestic and international tourism industry, and also on overall image and lifestyle,” he said.
“The aim of these meetings was to investigate how the UK has responded to the issue of alcohol-related violence and crime, and to learn about, and contribute to, best practice in promoting and influencing the responsible sale and consumption of alcohol.
“My meeting with Mark Baird, corporate social responsibility manager at Diageo Great Britain, was highly relevant to Queensland, with Bundaberg Rum an iconic brand in our state,” Lawlor said.
“In recent years Mr Baird has been a member of the Scottish Department of Health’s Alcohol Policy Team.
“He has led a partnership between the Scottish Government and key players in the alcohol industry in Scotland to tackle alcohol misuse and promote not only responsible drinking, but responsible retailing, advertising and promotion within the industry.
“I was very keen to discuss Mark’s experiences in this project, and to discuss Diageo's work both in the UK and Australia to promote responsible drinking,” he said.
Lawlor also met with the head of gambling regulation, sport and leisure, from the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport for a briefing and overview of the UK gambling industry, the regulatory framework and trends, and major challenges including policy responses in the UK.
Three new ‘drink safe precinct’ committees were recently established in Queensland and are meeting on a regular basis to develop best practice precinct management plans, including local strategies aimed at reducing alcohol-related issues in the local community.
It is hoped the committees will work together to establish common goals in the three pilot sites – Fortitude Valley, Surfers Paradise and Townsville.
The drink safe precinct committees are made up of licensees, police, ambulance and OLGR officers, transport providers, local government and liquor accords.