MEDIA RELEASE – EMBARGOED: 6am, 29 April 2020
The report released today titled “Investigating the introduction of the alcohol minimum unit price in the Northern Territory” has incorrectly assumed long term trends of falling consumption and harms are wholly attributable to the introduction of a $1.30 minimum price per standard drink.
On 1 October 2018, the Minimum Unit Price (MUP) was set at $1.30 a standard drink. A Banned Drinker Register (BDR) was introduced a year prior in September 2017, and police auxiliary liquor inspectors (PALIs) were introduced outside bottle shops in regional centres other than Darwin three months earlier in June 2018.
Mr Andrew Wilsmore, Chief Executive Officer for Alcohol Beverages Australia, said today “The most serious flaw in the report is assuming that the existing downward trend line for consumption and harms was attributable to Minimum Unit Pricing. You simply cannot take an existing trend and then claim it was a result of a policy change.
“The researchers compound these problems by asking us to take it on trust that their model can somehow separate out minimum pricing from a whole suite of other measures all occurring at the same time.
“In this report, minimum unit pricing is singled out for its success, while at the same time, the NT Government1 and Doctors2 were claiming the additional police auxiliary liquor inspectors as being behind dramatic falls in assault, offences, and hospital admissions in Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek that hadn’t been witnessed to the same degree in Darwin which didn’t have any PALIs.
“The report has problems by relying upon wholesale supply data which do not reflect retail sales, simply what volumes have been put through the supply chain”, Mr Wilsmore said.
Wholesale supply data lacks any granularity and simply lumps thousands of products into a handful of categories with averages for alcoholic content. The data the report relies upon treats a high 8.5% alcohol craft beer the same as a more mainstream 4.6% XXXX Bitter. A delicate 11% Pinot is regarded the same as a 15% big and bold Barossa Shiraz.
Mr Wilsmore said “As an outcome of relying on wholesale data over retail data, the report claims Minimum Unit Pricing resulted in falls of cask wine, bottled wine, fortified wine, and mid-strength beer and no step-change increases to other categories. This contrasts with data using actual retail sales by each individual product, with the only real fall taking place in affordable cask wine, while gains were seen in almost all other categories of alcohol, with spirits the big winner enjoying double digit growth.
“In typical anti-alcohol research fashion, the Summary Report doesn’t provide hard numbers to back any of its claims. We only hope the final report allows a proper critique of their methodology.
Mr Wilsmore concluded “In light of the overall 1.2% increase in per capita consumption at a retail level, it is safe to say that the Banned Drinker Register (BDR) and police auxiliary liquor inspectors (PALIs) were more responsible for any improvements that might have occurred above the trend line for hospital admissions and alcohol-related assaults and harms, than could be attributed to minimum unit pricing.
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