The Gunner Government is heralding its minimum alcohol floor price policy as a success following an independent report into its effectiveness was inconclusive and while other reports show Territorians are drinking more than ever.
The report into the floor price, called “Investigating the introduction of the alcohol minimum unit price in the Northern Territory”, was released today, concluding that more time is needed to monitor the effectiveness of a minimum floor price.
“The introduction of the (minimum unit price) has reduced cask wine sales, and some associated harms, without impacting the price of other beverages in the Northern Territory,” said the report’s author Prof Peter Miller.
“While these are promising outcomes, providing crucial baseline and interim findings, changes in social trends require more time to be certain and longer-term evaluations are needed.”
Mr Miller is with Deakin University’s Centre for Drug use, Addictive and Anti-social Behaviour Research Centre (CEDAAR).
Health Minister Natasha Fyles said it was clear the minimum floor price was “contributing to the reduction of harms associated with alcohol”.
“This reform is part of a suite of measures – including bringing back the Banned Drinker Register – to cut crime and antisocial behaviour and lower alcohol-related harm across the territory,” she said in a statement.
Leader of the Opposition CLP Lia Finocchiaro called for the floor price to be scrapped and pointed to research by Frontier Economics for Retail Drinks Australia, that shows that Territorians are actually drinking more since the introduction of the floor price, up 1.2 per cent or over two million standard drinks.
“The floor price is a failed concept and this government’s commissioned report even states that the independent impact of the (minimum unit price) was impossible to distinguish,” she said. “The CLP knows it’s a failed measure and if elected, a CLP Government will scrap it.
“This government has failed to create KPIs or measure the success of the floor price in a way to avoid scrutiny of its failure. It just punishes responsible drinkers. It doesn’t even raise any revenue for the Territory.”
The report found declines in alcohol-related harms in key areas, including a 23 per cent reduction in alcohol related assaults in the NT in 2018/19 compared to 2017/18; alcohol-related emergency department visits were down by 17.3 per cent; a reduction in drink driving fatalities (no numbers were provided) and a reduction in the number of child protection notifications.
Other alcohol policy measures the government was taking, including the BDR and Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors (PALIs), were cited as contributing to the reductions in alcohol harm.