Time For Action

Opinion: Community successes just the beginning

Tony Brown is an Australian lawyer who helped pioneer Newcastle’s reduced late trading hours and alcohol lockout laws, and is chair of the Newcastle and Multicultural Community Drug Action Teams. In 2008 he was instrumental in developing the ‘Newcastle Model’ of alcohol restrictions, which Sydney’s current lockout laws are modeled upon.

He wrote to us recently to highlight some of the ways the alcohol industry is attempting to market its products towards children – and, more importantly, how community action can lead to court decisions that defy Big Alcohol:

As this European Centre for Monitoring Alcohol Marketing (EUCAM) article and accompanying research reveals, Australia isn’t alone in Big Alcohol extolling the benefits of promoting alcohol to kids or at least denying any causal link between promotion to kids and harm.

At home, Woolworths/Dan Murphy’s attempted to convince Liverpool City Council in 2013 to support their DA for a large discount liquor outlet opposite a school in Moorebank NSW. It was only defeated after a successful grassroots community campaign.

The successful Moorebank community uprising and the more recent Casula community action, both of which were supported by the (then) Alcohol Community Action Project (ACAP), resulted in an unprecedented 2000 community objections against a proposed high risk large late trading pokie pub in the middle of their quiet and peaceful community (and 200m away from the Casula primary school). These decisions should provide some encouragement to other similarly disaffected communities across NSW, and the nation, that Big Alcohol is not invincible.

The more we highlight the incredible and absurd self-serving assertions of the industry, the less credibility they will have with parents and the public. This will ultimately be to the electoral detriment of those politicians who continue to appease and placate the industry in return for political donations and other favours.

Tony’s email comes on the heels of a news story yesterday, highlighting a new type of cider marketed in a way that unambiguously appeals to kids and young people. As Tony says,

The voracious appetite of the industry to feed young binge drinking is nothing more than alcohol grooming, and the community have no trouble seeing it as such.