The recent report produced by the Education and Health Standing Committee chaired by Dr J.M. Woollard MLA ‘…discusses proposals, some similar to those introduced 300 years ago, to combat the current excessive consumption of alcohol in Western Australia.’ The report is titled Alcohol: Reducing the Harm and Curbing the Culture of Excess.
Should many of the 43 Findings and 60 Recommendations be implemented it would cause significant changes to the liquor industry and have serious impacts on licensees. Some of the more serious recommendations are to:
- make the primary object of the Liquor Control Act 1988 (Act) to be ‘protecting and improving public health’;
- amend the Act to assist Police more successfully prosecute persons (and therefore indirectly licensees) for being drunk on licensed premises;
- raise the minimum fine payable by licensees and managers to $10,000 per offence;
- automatically suspend a liquor licence if a fine remains unpaid for three months;
- raise the legal age to 20 for persons wishing to purchase packaged liquor;
- delete the object provision in the Act which states that the Act is ‘to cater for the requirements of consumers for liquor and related services, with regard to the proper development of the liquor industry, the tourism industry and other hospitality industries in the State’;
- tighten restrictions on liquor advertising;
- introduce cigarette packet style health warnings on all liquor products;
- make it a condition of liquor licences for glassware to include an indication of the number of standard drinks;
- introduce a minimum price for liquor to prevent its sale in its cheapest forms;
- raise the taxes on liquor and introduce a minimum retail price per standard drink; and
- increase annual liquor licensing fees to fund a large-scale alcohol-related public health media campaign.
Even if none of the Recommendations are implemented, the report gives the clearest indication yet of a hardening of attitudes to both obtaining liquor licences and operating licensed premises.