Policy and Issues » Alcohol & Health
Alcohol & Health
Australian Grape & Wine believes wine should be enjoyed in moderation and that wine companies must encourage and promote responsible consumption. However, we strongly reject increasingly strident rhetoric from interest groups seeking to deny wine’s legitimate and accepted place in modern society.
Responsible Drinking - Cellar Door Resources
We want to ensure visitors to Australia’s cellar doors have a great experience, for all the right reasons.
Australian Grape & Wine recognises the importance of industry providing consumers with information about alcohol content and health messages about responsible drinking, so they can make informed choices about their own alcohol consumption.
With approximately eight million visitors to wineries across Australia annually, multiple tastings on offer at each cellar door and multiple cellar doors visited, consumers need an easy and effective means to track their drinking, especially if they are driving.
This is why Australian Grape & Wine has partnered with DrinkWise to create resources designed to increase consumer understanding of how many pours (tastings) add up to a standard drink. The resources provide a practical solution for consumers to moderate their drinking during their winery visits and have been provided to over 1,700 cellar doors across Australia.
On 11 October 2018, the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, agreed to introduce mandatory pregnancy warning labelling for alcoholic beverages as soon as possible. The new labelling standard will be in the form of a mandated pictogram and warning statement, and the process of designing the standard will be led by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
While the consultation process is complete, in many ways the hard work is now ahead of us. We are not in any way attempting to roll-back the Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation’s decision to mandate a pregnancy warning label. However, our view is that FSANZ’s proposal is a clear example of regulatory over-reach. It provides little evidence to suggest the proposed requirements will lead to behavioural change or increases in awareness beyond what we’ve seen as a result of current arrangements, including the voluntary DrinkWise labelling initiative.
National Alcohol Strategy
The National Alcohol Strategy 2019-2018 has been endorsed by Federal, State and Territory Health Ministers and was released on Monday 3 December 2019. On balance, the strategy reasonable – recognising that trends in dangerous drinking are heading in the right direction, and focusing on options governments can consider to prevent and treat alcohol related harms. Importantly, please note the strategy does not impose binding commitments on any government, but it can provide the political impetus to pursue some of the options in the plan.
While Minimum Unit Pricing is put forward as an option for governments to consider, along with changes to a volumetric tax system, the Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, said in his press release that “The Morrison Government considers Australia’s current alcohol taxation setting are appropriate and has no plans to make any changes” and “pricing mechanisms such as a Minimum Unit Price on alcohol are a matter for the States and Territories.” A Minimum Unit Price for alcohol would be damaging for the sector, and early indications from the Northern Territory’s experiment with such measures suggest it is leading to perverse outcomes. We will continue to watch this space and advocate against the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing in Australia. On a more pleasing note, the strategy also suggests that Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) arrangements be standardised nationally, which is an issue many members have raised with us. Australian Grape & Wine will use this as a basis for pursuing reform in this area in the coming year, although we expect getting the states and territories onto the same page will take time.
The wine industry also:
- helps fund the operations of DrinkWise Australia, which runs national information and education campaigns designed to change Australia’s drinking culture
- helps fund and manage the Alcohol Beverage Advertising Code (ABAC) which, with Government support, provides advertising guidelines and a pre-vetting service to industry and adjudicates on public complaints about alcohol advertising
- runs the National Wine Foundation, which funds projects that address social problems which can lead to alcohol abuse.