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Calls to suspend online alcohol sales in NSW

Calls to suspend online alcohol sales in NSW

The NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance (NAAPA) is calling for statewide lockout laws and a moratorium on all online liquor licences.

The coalition wants earlier closing times for pubs, clubs and bottle shops and stronger regulation of the online alcohol industry, which it describes as an "urgent election priority". 

NAAPA's members include the NSW Australian Medical Association, NSW Police Association, Cancer Council and Thomas Kelly Foundation.

NAAPA spokesman Tony Brown told The Newcastle Herald: “The NSW government’s ‘earlier last drinks’ and ‘one-way door’ measures … have been powerful and effective in reducing harms in prominent nightlife precincts in Sydney and Newcastle.

“These measures must now be rolled out statewide to deal with hotspots of alcohol-fuelled violence in other areas … where there are concentrations of late-trading pubs, clubs and bottle shops.”

ABA Executive Director Fergus Taylor said expanding lockout laws unfairly penalised responsible NSW drinkers. 

"Australians’ consumption habits are changing; we are drinking at our lowest rates since the 1960’s, while problem and underage drinking rates are also on long term declines," he said. 

"Broad-brushed policy measures like the crippling Lockout Laws and those proposed, will impact the vast majority of people who drink responsibly as part of a balanced social lifestyle.

"Policies to address alcohol-related harm should be targeted solutions which focus on education, assistance and ongoing support for those at-risk."

NAAPA plans to release a policy document ahead of the March state election that recommends Newcastle/Sydney CBD lockout conditions statewide, temporary moratoriums on new liquor licences in locations deemed to be “high risk”, a $30 million public awareness campaign over four years focusing on the long-term effects of alcohol, suspending online liquor sales pending a review of responsible service of alcohol practices and banning buy now-pay later options for the online alcohol purchases.

Online alcohol sales targetted by NAAPA

Uber Eats and other food delivery services would be banned from selling alcohol; buying alcohol would not be possible via AfterPay or similar ‘buy now pay later’ services; and online alcohol deliveries would be next-day only, under the NAAPA election platform.

According to NAAPA "these measures would assist law-makers to address the rapidly growing online alcohol market, which, according to IBIS World, is expanding at the rate of 11% per year".

“There are more than 500 online-only liquor outlets, which is a 10-fold increase in the past decade, in addition to the growing number of ‘bricks and mortar’ outlets offering 30 minute home delivery services,” said Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education Chief Executive Michael Thorn.

“There are gaping holes in the state’s regulation of the fast-growing market of online alcohol sales and delivery, with glaring under-regulation around responsible service of alcohol (RSA) and proof of age controls.

“The online market is poorly controlled, making it easier for underage and intoxicated people to access alcohol, leading to more harm to drinkers and those around them,” he said.

NAAPA wants a moratorium on all online liquor licences pending a review of the online, home delivery market; the strengthening of RSA conditions for online deliveries that would require companies to display licence details on websites selling alcohol; and the introduction of a 12-hour delay on the delivery of online orders.