Most Aussies Want Heavier Alcohol Restrictions, Study Finds

By McCarton Ackerman 05/04/15

Bucking their reputation, a majority of Australians want to see more regulation of alcohol.

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Australians have a reputation for loving their alcohol, but a new study has found that an overwhelming majority of Aussies want the government to get more involved in imposing alcohol-related restrictions throughout the country.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) surveyed 1,843 adults in Australia on their views towards alcohol. About 80% of those surveyed believed that pubs, clubs and bars should close by 3am, while over half felt that the government wasn’t doing enough to reduce alcohol-related harms. More than 69% believed that the alcohol industry shouldn’t be allowed to make political donations and 59% felt minors under the legal drinking age were being targeted for advertising by the industry.

“We think the alcohol industry has undue influence on the setting of public policy on tackling alcohol,” said Michael Thorn, the foundation’s chief executive. “We’re trying to show ... what people think in terms of the influence they perceive the industry as having on politicians, and these results show the federal government in particular should not be afraid of standing up to the liquor industry, because the people will support them.”

Unsurprisingly, those in the hotel and liquor industries panned the survey and chalked it up to fear-mongering. The Australian Hotels Association said in a statement that the poll was “designed to provoke a sensational level of fear and misinformation about alcohol consumption and the alcohol industry amongst ordinary Australians. Whilst the all-powerful and well-funded public health lobbyists would have Australians believe that drinking is at crisis levels, the opposite is true.”

Some territories in Australia have already taken steps to impose more alcohol restrictions. The New South Wales Liquor Act required venues in two major areas throughout Sydney to deny re-entry or entry to patrons after 1:30am, and stop serving alcohol at 3am. A report released last month found that assaults in those areas had been substantially reduced as a result.

Problem drinking continues to be a major issue throughout the continent. FARE reported last July that on average 15 Australians die from alcohol every day, a 62% increase in the last decade, while 430 people landed in the hospital every day for alcohol-related reasons.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.