Price matters

The People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC) presented this graph to today’s meeting about alcohol in Alice Springs. It shows that as the wholesale price of alcohol increased (the solid red line) between July 2000 and December 2010, the volume of alcohol consumed per capita by individuals in Central Australia over 15 years of age decreased (the dotted red line). The vertical black lines are the points in time when various alcohol initiatives were introduced. The point at which the lines cross over, with consumption dropping, is the October 2006 introduction of the bundle of measures known as the Liquor Supply Plan.


PAAC has been campaigning for the introduction of a floor price which would tie the minimum price of a standard drink of any alcoholic beverage to that of a standard drink of beer. This would raise the cost of really cheap grog like cask wine, cleanskins and port, but leave beer, spirits and quality wines unaffected. The mechanism would help reduce consumption overall – the NT’s is 40% higher than the national average – and promote a switch away from cheap wine to less harmful beer. It would be a population-wide measure, of the sort that is being introduced in the UK by a conservative government and that is supported by international and national evidence the most effective reform for reducing alcohol consumption.



Source: The graph is from a longitudinal study of the influences on alcohol by the National Drug Research Institute (Curtin University), June 2012.

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7 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Russell Guy
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    What’s your point, Jason? That we don’t have an alcohol-abuse problem in the NT? That we haven’t had enough deaths from alcohol-abuse to prove it? That it doesn’t line the pockets of the alcohol industry at an enormous cost to the taxpayer when that money could be going into education, for example?
    I first lived and worked out of Tennant Creek from 1985. I last lived there for a couple of years during the mid-1990s and lost four close Warumungu friends to alcohol-abuse in 12 months: one with cirrhosis, one poisoned by it, one died of burns from falling into a fire and the other, a victim of a hit and run.
    I appreciate your distrust of statistics, but there are so many threads in the argument to turn the alcohol tap down that I can’t believe that, by now, you don’t come out and support the obvious need to cut supply along with any other argument you care to make. Where is the sociology in your argument?

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  2. Jason Newman
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I agree with Rex and think that the graph and figures above need to be questioned heavily. Consumption cannot be measured and these figures are not correctly gathered.

    I will use my venue here in Tennant Creek as the prime example. Because our restaurant does varying and minimal amount of alcohol sales, I don’t purchase my grog from a major supplier. Instead I share the sales equally between the Headframe, TCH and Goldfield hotels.

    So each time I make a purchase from those venues, they are listed as a takeaway sale and hence adds to the TC consumption figures. Yet the items then sit on my shelf for a further period and haven’t been used at all. When I then sell the product, it is now actually consumed and listed for a second time. This happens within the township here with multiple venues, and also in Alice Springs.

    So every sale I make over the counter is being registered for a second time and inflating the figures. Add in the fact that many hotels also supply the surrounding stations and sporting clubs and soon the figures are anything but reliable.

    It is a silly idea that we can measure the amount of alcohol consumed. While PAAC might have the right ideals at heart, the use of iffy at best data, being slanted to support their argument, is nothing more than propaganda, which really only makes them easier to ignore.

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  3. Ian Sharp
    Posted October 7, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Rex’s backing for his point about the missing line is his own judgement … “most likely” … an off-the-top-of-the-head response to a graph that he does not like. He is right however that there is a line missing, assaults on aboriginal women have fallen as alcohol price has risen.

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  4. Russell Guy
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Rex, your cynicism about restrictions misses the point about whether we continue to allow the alcohol industry to dictate the terms in which we live.
    Taking personal responsibility for consumption has been used to defend the industry, but many would argue that the State has a duty to protect its citizens or at the very least to mandate warnings as has occurred with the tobacco industry.
    The Australian government is set on “closing the gap” of Indigenous disadvantage, present alcohol supply regulations are helping to sustain it.
    Do you honestly think this situation will go away by putting the current generation of alcoholics in rehab?
    When whitefellers clean up their own backyard, they might be able to point the finger. There might also be a drop in liquor store break-ins and rehab admissions.

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  5. Posted October 5, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    I’m sure this graph does not indicate consumption. I would suggest it is indicating alcohol sold in Alice Springs only.
    PAAC has also forgotten to add another line to this graph. Most likely it should be in solid blue and would also most likely trend sharply upwards from 2006, showing break-ins targeting alcohol, as this has become one of the easiest ways to obtain liquor. Thank you restrictions!!

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  6. Ian Sharp
    Posted October 5, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    The crossover point mentioned in the text is simply a function of the two different vertical scales, it has no significance in itself (use different scales and you would get a different crossover point). There is inverse correlation shown but it is not exact, per capita consumption starts to drop steadily from about the 3rd quarter in 05 (? – hard to read the scale) while the big jump in price takes place about a year later. However, there is enough evidence to suggest price is an important factor affecting consumption, assuming the estimated per capita consumption estimates have a high degree of validity. Thanks for providing it, Alice News.

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  7. Janet Brown
    Posted October 5, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    PAAC is not a true representation of the residents of Alice Springs so this meeting was stacked by persons who are directly fighting for no personal responsibility of the drunks and blame everyone else. So what next. Close down takeaways like KFC and MacDonalds because they cause diabetes, heart problems and more health issues? Obesity? Time for balanced debates, not this stacking of one side. The CLP needs to ensure balanced debated as all bandaid programs need to be stopped. Personal responsibly. That is the answer.

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