According to media reports, the O’Farrell Government is expected to urge Prime Minister Tony Abbott to show leadership on the issue of alcohol abuse and has also backed calls for a national alcohol summit which the Australian Medical Association made last month.
According to the NSW state government alcohol abuse is a nationally significant issue which needs to be dealt with on a national level and requires the involvement of all levels of government. The NSW parliamentary inquiry found that alcohol abuse should be addressed by the federal government by holding a national summit.
A state government response read as follows:
”Alcohol abuse is an issue which transcends jurisdictional boundaries and warrants appropriate responses and co-ordination at both the state and national levels,” said the response, which was signed by Premier Barry O’Farrell.
The NSW government has decided to approach the federal government to find the best way to bring governments together to develop a national approach to alcohol policy issues.
The national co-ordination was vital to support its reform package including an awareness campaign to change alcohol and drug behaviour.
The written response from the state government is expected to put pressure on the federal government to take country-wide action on alcohol marketing, pricing, taxation, venue licensing and opening hours.
The response is even more poignant because it came just a few days prior to the implementation of the new licensing regime in NSW and the Sydney wide 1:30am lockouts and 3 am last drinks call. It also includes a ban on the sale of take-away alcohol after 10pm.
The NSW government joins together with The Australian Medical Association in its call for the national summit. Last month the AMA called for the national summit to address the country’s booze-filled culture and the nation’s alcohol abuse “epidemic”.
The summit would bring together state governments, local councils, health experts, industry, police and families of those affected by alcohol fuelled violence.
The AMA is pleased that the state government has pushed for the summit and said it would give “momentum” to the calls for the summit.
Even members of the alcohol industry have gotten behind the calls for the national summit, the following excerpt from an article on Smh.com.au explains:
Carlton & United Breweries corporate affairs director Jeremy Griffith has previously dismissed the call for a national alcohol summit, saying it would duplicate previous inquiries and undermine the role of government agencies.
But he backed the notion on Wednesday, as long as it focused on addressing alcohol misuse, the industry was involved and it did not become a “platform for the anti-alcohol lobby to target moderate drinkers through blanket policies”.
A spokesperson for the Abbott government basically placed the onus for safety on the individual state governments, which indicates that the federal government is probably not considering such a summit at this time.
A spokeswoman for Mr Abbott said “we have all been appalled by the recent spate of alcohol-fuelled violence” but added “primary responsibility for community safety and justice rests with the state governments”.