Experts have praised the NT’s new alcohol restrictions.

The NT Government is implementing a minimum $1.30 floor price per standard drink for all alcoholic beverages in response to a wide-ranging alcohol review commissioned by former NT Supreme Court chief justice Trevor Riley.

“$1.30 doesn't affect the price of beer but it will get rid of that cheap wine, we see wine that costs less than a bottle of water… and that is just not acceptable,” NT attorney-General Natasha Fyles told Mix 104.9 in Darwin.

“A bottle of wine has on average around seven alcohol units per bottle, so it's $1.30 per unit of alcohol. That would put a bottle of wine around $9, $10, so you won't see that $4 and $5 bottle of wine.”

“It's getting rid of cheap wine, particularly, that has a higher alcohol content of beer, so it affects [people] quicker.”

The price change is expected to be in place by July 1, while other reforms including a redrafting of the NT Liquor Act over the course of the next year.

Ms Fyles described the current act as “ad hoc and not fit for purpose”.

The Territory will seek to impose a blood alcohol limit of 0.05 for people operating boats, as there is currently no limit.

The Government says it is also considering expanding the Banned Drinkers Register to cover both takeaway outlets to late-night venues.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) recently ranked the NT as having the worst alcohol legislation in Australia, which together with the highest rates of individual alcohol consumption placed the NT at the bottom of Australian’s jurisdictions.

Across Australia, almost 6,000 people die from alcohol-attributable disease each year, about one every 90 minutes.

Additionally, hospitalisations attributable to alcohol exceed 150,000 a year.

Julia Stafford - Executive Officer of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth at Curtin University - welcomed the news.

“There is real momentum for minimum pricing policies in many parts of the world, and for good reason. Evidence shows minimum alcohol pricing can reduce drinking and harms from alcohol, and is particularly targeted towards the heaviest drinkers,” she said.

“Canada, some Eastern European countries, and several US states already set some form of minimum price on alcohol. Scotland will introduce minimum pricing in 2018 and other areas of the UK are expected to follow.

“Within Australia, it is very encouraging that the Northern Territory Government is moving ahead with a floor price, and it’s also being actively considered in Western Australia.
“As the price of alcohol increases, drinking reduces, including for heavy drinkers. Minimum pricing is expected to have the greatest impact on heavy drinkers because heavier drinkers tend to buy cheaper alcohol, and more of it, compared to lighter drinkers.

“Moderate drinkers will only be minimally, if at all, affected by a minimum price.

“Young people are particularly sensitive to the price of alcohol, so price controls, such as minimum pricing, are likely to contribute to preventing harm from alcohol among young people as well as the broader community.”
“Lower-income groups experience more harms from drinking than higher-income groups. Therefore, low-income groups are likely to experience a greater reduction in alcohol-related harms as a result of reduced alcohol use due to minimum pricing compared to other income groups.”

The new Northern Territory Alcohol Harm Minimisation Action Plan 2018-19 includes plans to research the processes, impacts and outcomes of alcohol harm minimisation strategies.

Professor of Harm Minimisation at Menzies University, Professor James Smith, welcomed the response by the NT Government.

“The costs and harms of alcohol to the NT community are well documented, and remain the highest in Australia,” Prof Smith said.

“It is impressive to see that the NT Government has supported 186 of the recommendations, and indicated in-principle support for a further 33 recommendations.

“Investing in research and evaluation is an important part of building an evidence-base about which harm minimisation strategies work best and why.”