Thursday, 17 October 2019
National Alcohol Strategy
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Federal Government is currently in the process of developing the National Alcohol Strategy 2018-2026 (NAS) which aims to reduce harmful alcohol consumption, including from binge drinking and disease or injury caused by a lifetime of drinking,
(ii) alcohol contributes to disease such as cancer and preventable harm, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and is estimated to be responsible for nearly 6000 deaths in Australia each year, and
(iii) the Ministerial Drug and Alcohol Forum (MDAF) had committed to finalising the NAS by the end of 2018, but it has not met since June 2018, and the strategy is still unfinished;
(b) further notes:
(i) the concern from health groups and specialists who developed and consulted on the initial draft of the NAS, that the revised draft has been watered down following involvement of the alcohol industry,
(ii) reports that the reason the revised draft of the NAS has not been finalised is because of state and territory concerns about the alcohol industry's interference in a public health strategy, and
(iii) that an analysis by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education shows the revised draft deletes a safeguard that the alcohol industry will not be eligible for membership of the NAS Reference Group, which will guide implementation, monitor progress and evaluate the strategy, and it also deletes the statement that 'Australia does not support any ongoing role for industry in setting or developing national alcohol policy'; and
(c) calls on the Federal Government to remove the pro-industry changes that were made to the NAS, and reintroduce the safeguards against alcohol industry involvement that were deleted.
The government rejects the premise of the motion; it is false. At Minister Hunt's request, Commonwealth health department officials have undertaken productive discussions with their state and territory counterparts to finalise the National Alcohol Strategy, through the National Drug Strategy committee. Finalisation and endorsement of the National Alcohol Strategy is a responsibility of the Ministerial Drug and Alcohol Forum, and this is a priority item for all ministers. The Australian government is committed to preventing and reducing alcohol related harms. We have committed more than $780 million over four years to reduce the impact of drug and alcohol misuse on individuals, families and communities.
Question agreed to.