Australian health minister Nicola Roxon has approved a plan to develop a nationwide minimum floor price for alcohol. Over in Northern Ireland the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has opened a survey on the possible implementation of a minimum floor price for alcohol. 

Back in Australia, the National Preventive Health Agency has been asked to develop a concept for a minimum pricing policy as part of a plan approved by Ms Roxon, which has yet to be approved by her state counterparts. The minimum pricing would operate independently from alcohol tax and would prohibit retailers to sell alcohol below a certain price for a standard drink, allowing retailers and manufacturers to share any extra profit.

While the implementation of this new legislation would set a legal precedent, most drinks will stay unaffected by the plans because they are already priced above the expected floor price. John Boffa, of the Central Australian Aboriginal Health Congress, welcomed the move but said the Northern Territory shouldn’t wait years for the result of Ms Roxon’s review. Dr. Boffa told “We can cut self-harm, cut suicides and cut homicides by doing it now”. He wants a minimum price of $1.20 for a standard drink, about the price of a full-strength beer – well above the 30¢ price a drink for cheap container wine. “It would send a simple message: the price of beer won’t change, the price of spirits won’t change because there are no spirits currently sold at less than $1.20 even when discounted, but what would change is the price of awful cask wine that no one other than young people and heavy drinkers go near.”

Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety seeks views on the setting of a minimum price per unit of alcohol ‘to tackle problems associated with the availability of cheap alcohol in Northern Ireland.’ The survey also asks for views on possible alternatives to minimum pricing, such as below-cost selling and VAT and duty increases. The website of the department for Social Development also ads that if this survey shows that proposals for minimum pricing are endorsed, ‘it is intended that legislation would then be brought forward’.

The survey is intended for everyone ‘including consumers of alcohol, trade associations, criminal justice and health workers or those who run or work in pubs, registered clubs, supermarkets or other outlets selling alcohol’, and can be found here.

Sources: 06/08/11 06/10/11

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