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Labor MP pushes for booze advertising bans

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A state Labor MP has petitioned an independent review of South Australia’s liquor licensing regime to consider a ban on alcohol advertising.

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Frances Bedford, the member for the north-eastern suburban seat of Florey, has lodged a submission with the review by former Supreme Court justice Tim Anderson that emphasises the “social cost” of alcohol abuse.

She provided research she had commissioned from the parliamentary library, which put that cost at more than $15.3 billion nationally each year (based on 2004-05 figures), compared to tobacco at $31.5 billion.

And she pointed out the precedent of state and Commonwealth bans on advertising tobacco – along with one set by Premier Jay Weatherill himself when he used the Gaming Act to ban the broadcast of live odds during sporting events “to reduce the intolerable burden of problem gambling in our communities”.

While her submission doesn’t explicitly call for an advertising ban – instead urging the review to conduct its own research and assessment of the issue – Bedford told InDaily she would support one.

“’Yes’, is my answer, because if we’re honest and look at the damage in the community that alcohol causes… I guess it’s the same thing we went through with tobacco [and] the runs are on the board, the results are out – it wasn’t a waste of time was it?” she said.

She said alcohol contributed to a vast array of social problems, including “domestic violence, binge-drinking, one-punches”, and the law would benefit “the 10 per cent that can’t control themselves”.

“From the perspective that we’ve done it with cigarettes – we know the damage tobacco’s caused – and we know that alcohol causes great damage too,” she said.

Bedford conceded “I think I’d be in the minority” on the proposal, which she said would also require “a whole pile of other measures that look at the education side, a change of culture”.

But she has the “qualified” support of fellow backbencher – and former Social Justice Minister – Steph Key, who told InDaily: “I support Fran but I’m also aware of the hypocrisy of us trying to promote the wine industry [if we ban alcohol advertising].”

“We don’t necessarily want it advertised in schools and sporting events and stuff like that, but we really are trying to promote SA as the wine epicentre,” she said.

“We need to look at all the tourism industry potential – and the wine industry is part of that… if we were looking at [banning] advertising, we need to think about who it’s aimed it, rather than a blanket ban.”

Bedford’s paper points out the Weatherill Government has already changed laws “to reflect the changing attitudes of the community towards alcohol consumption and violence”, but argues such regulation “has not sought to deal with the effect of advertising on consumption”.

“Steph and I think the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union is onto something,” she said.

“I’d just like everyone to be happy – but you can’t make a law for that!”

Attorney-General John Rau – who commissioned the Anderson review – said the Government would “consider whatever comes from the review in due course”.

“We don’t have any view specifically,” he said.

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