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Urgent election priority: catch-up regulation making ‘online alcohol’ safer


Uber Eats and other food delivery services would be banned from selling alcohol; buying alcohol would not be possible via AfterPay or similar ‘buy now pay later’ services; and online alcohol deliveries would be next-day only, under an Election Platform designed to make NSW safer and healthier.

One of four reforms proposed today by the NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance (NAAPA), these measures would assist law-makers to address the rapidly growing online alcohol market, which, according to IBIS World, is expanding at the rate of 11 per cent per year.

“There are more than 500 online-only liquor outlets, which is a 10-fold increase in the past decade, in addition to the growing number of ‘bricks and mortar’ outlets offering 30 minute home delivery services,” said NAAPA Spokesman, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education Chief Executive Michael Thorn.

Mr Thorn says the proposed measures to address online alcohol sales and delivery are an achievable policy reform that embrace the sharing economy while guarding against alcohol harm, and will give regulators an opportunity to catch-up with alcohol market innovations.

“There are gaping holes in the state’s regulation of the fast-growing market of online alcohol sales and delivery, with glaring under-regulation around responsible service of alcohol (RSA) and proof of age controls,” Mr Thorn said.

“The online market is poorly controlled, making it easier for underage and intoxicated people to access alcohol, leading to more harm to drinkers and those around them,” he said.

To strengthen the regulation of the burgeoning online alcohol market NAAPA proposes a moratorium on all online liquor licences pending a review of the online, home delivery market; the strengthening of RSA conditions for online deliveries that would require companies to display licence details on websites selling alcohol; and the introduction of a 12-hour delay on the delivery of online orders.

The state’s leading coalition of health professionals, community members, community sector workers, researchers and advocates developed NAAPA’s Election Platform to put alcohol harm on the March election agenda.

Dr John Crozier, Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Trauma Committee says front-line emergency personnel, including police, paramedics and emergency department staff, face the horror of alcohol-related harm around the clock, which is a burden that can be successfully reduced.

“Drinking is so entrenched in our culture that we are blindly desensitised to the harm and damage caused by people who misuse alcohol,” Dr Crozier said.

“When I say that four people die every day in this state because of alcohol, how do you respond?”

“Facing the consequences of alcohol – the deaths, the injury, the assaults, the domestic violence, and neglect of children – is the harrowing, daily reality for front-line emergency services,” Dr Crozier said.

Dr Crozier says the NSW Government’s ‘last drinks’ and ‘one-way door’ measures introduced in 2014 have been powerful and effective in reducing harms in prominent nightlife precincts in Sydney and Newcastle.

“NAAPA is now calling for these measures to be rolled out state-wide to deal with hotspots of alcohol-fueled violence in other cities, towns and communities where there are concentrations of late-trading pubs, clubs and bottle shops,” Dr Crozier said.

Mr Thorn says the NSW Government has an obligation to protect all its citizens against agents of harm, including alcohol.

“Ahead of the NSW election, NAAPA is calling on the Government, Opposition, The Greens and other political parties to declare their commitment to prioritising these policy reforms to achieve a healthier and safer NSW,” he said.

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