Australia: Sale of alcohol in SA supermarkets, drinking by minors up for debate, State Government says
By Leah MacLennan
October 2, 2015
The sale of alcohol in South Australian supermarkets is up for discussion as part of a planned overhaul of the state’s liquor licensing laws, the Government has said.
The issue of whether minors should be permitted to drink at private parties will be included in the discussion paper.
The State Government said the laws had become too complex, with many amendments over a 20-year period.
It is conducting a full-scale review that it said would focus on reducing red tape, creating a safer drinking culture and increasing vibrancy.
Attorney-General John Rau said bigger supermarkets would be included in the review.
“I don’t think we can have that conversation without realising we’re actually saying to Coles and Woolies, basically we’re giving this to you, too,” Mr Rau said.
Mr Rau said the discussion paper aimed to be a conversation starter rather than the Government’s final position.
It includes questions about whether the minors drinking alcohol on private premises should be controlled.
“We’re putting it here as simply a conversation proposition and it’s basically this: If you’re a parent and you have underage children and they are attending a birthday party or a party at a friend’s place who’s also underage, or even if they’re not underage for that matter, is it your expectation that the parents who are supervising that other party will be making reasonable attempts to make sure that those children aren’t being given alcohol,” he said.
No support for ‘Trojan horse’ review
The Opposition agreed current liquor laws were overly complex and needed to be reviewed, but shadow treasurer Rob Lucas said he did want the Government to push through proposals that had previously failed.
“If this is going to be a Trojan horse for the Government, trying to force through policies that it’s tried in the past, such as allowing supermarkets to serve alcohol, there’ll be strong opposition from the Liberal Party,” Mr Lucas said.
“If it’s going to be used as a Trojan horse, so that prominent members of the Government and the Police Commissioner [use it for a] further tightening of lock-out provisions, there’ll be strong opposition.”
Australian Hotels Association general manager Ian Horne said he would welcome reductions in red tape but was concerned about some of the more “controversial” proposals, such as selling alcohol in supermarkets.
“Already the major two grocers dominate: Over 60 cents in every dollar of alcohol is sold by them, with other national and international grocers coming in,” he said.
“They simply have no respect for local products. They trash brands and they drive down the wholesale prices and create enormous issues for boutique wineries.”
Mr Horne said he wanted to make sure a review did not mean hikes to licensing fees.
“It’s the natural place of governments unfortunately to look for revenue, and there is already a liquor licensing fee structure in South Australia, and certainly additional fees or increases in fees – we would struggle to see how that would be justified,” he said.
The discussion paper is open to submissions until January 29, 2016.