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Too much talk on shopping, not enough on alcohol risks

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The sponsor of a report into Adelaide’s booming small bar industry says the state’s liquor review has placed too much focus on discussing alcohol on supermarket shelves and not enough on violence and health issues.

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In its submission to the liquor licensing review, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, which is sponsoring an Adelaide City Council review into small bar sector, has also called for a 3am close and 1am entry cut-off for pubs and clubs.

FARE chief executive Michael Thorn told InDaily the liquor review was not strong enough and discussion had centred on business profits rather than health and social impacts.

“As the market has moved towards packaged liquor we’re seeing more domestic violence and child neglect,” Thorn said.

“In Aldi (interstate) you’ve got the wine near the chicken and the fish and the beer and the chips.

“Their approach to marketing is very successful and alcohol is a classic example.

“That’s where Woolies and others make their money – it’s not through hardware.”

Thorn said the review threatened to water down the state’s liquor laws and put SA’s reputation for strong alcohol regulation at risk.

“We urge the government to maintain realistic policies that reduce the harm.”

FARE is one of 86 public individuals and industry groups to make a review submission to the Attorney-General’s Department.

In its submission, FARE has made 30 recommendations on the 32 issues up for discussion in the paper.

Among the recommendations, FARE has argued the SA Government’s “failure” to acknowledge the public health impacts if the liquor laws were changed.

Thorn said SA was at risk of watering down its strong liquor laws and the debate over liquor in supermarkets completely overlooked the serious and adverse impacts it would have on crime and health.

“Frankly, it is concerning that the health impact of alcohol is completely missing from the government’s discussion paper,” Thorn said.

“The South Australian Government’s own alcohol and other drug strategy 2011 acknowledges the threat that alcohol poses and the government has also adopted a world’s best practice to a health-in-all-policies approach to policy development; all of which makes its failure to acknowledge alcohol harms all the more curious.”

FARE’s submission has called for:

“Up to now, any discussion on the sale of alcohol in supermarkets, in the media, has centred on the business implications of such a move,” Thorn said.

“That’s a discussion that completely ignores the welfare of the people of South Australia.

“We know for a fact that an increase in outlet density will lead to greater harms. Furthermore, alcohol is a dangerous commodity and has no place alongside cornflakes and toilet paper.

“Increasing its availability in this fashion further normalises and entrenches a dangerous drinking culture, and risks further exposing children, and that’s the conversation we need to be having.”

The comment come as SA’s independent supermarkets have stepped up their fight to stock alcohol on their shelves.

South Australian Independent Retailers (SAIR) told InDaily this week it had changed its aim from getting the right to stock alcohol on supermarket shelves and, instead, it would campaign to set up a “store within a store” similar to some Woolworths’ and Coles’ businesses.

The findings of the review, conducted by former Supreme Court Judge, Timothy Anderson, will be presented to state parliament in June.

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