INDUSTRY LEAK: Embarrassment for the QLD alcohol industry with its entire PR strategy to block the introduction of 3am last drinks published online today.
With the Queensland Government committed to the introduction of 3am last drinks and 1am lockouts, proven and effective world-leading measures to reduce alcohol violence, a letter to industry stakeholders from the alcohol industry led campaign Our Nightlife Queensland has revealed the strategies and tactics currently being employed by the alcohol industry to protect its profits at the expense of public safety.
The letter provides a rare insight into alcohol industry efforts to undermine evidence-based alcohol policy reform.
It reveals extensive government relations activity, including an analysis of the voting intention of the Queensland Government, Opposition and independent MPs, and outlines the financial details of the campaign including a list of the businesses currently contributing to the Our Nightlife Queensland campaign.
While it’s well known that the alcohol industry does everything in its power to influence decision makers and undermine evidence-based alcohol policy reform, FARE Chief Executive Michael Thorn says these documents provide a rare insight into the precise planning and strategies currently being implemented in Queensland, as the alcohol industry scrambles desperately to block proven measures that will save lives and reduce violence on Queensland streets.
“3am last drinks and 1am lockouts will reduce violence in Queensland. We have already seen them successfully implemented in Newcastle and in Sydney. And these measures will be just as successful in Queensland. Venues that have, up until now profited from a business model predicated on selling lots of booze, often to people who are already intoxicated, will lose business. Which is why we see the alcohol industry so desperately opposed to the measures,” Mr Thorn said
Mr Thorn says that contrary to self-serving alcohol industry campaigning material, the measures will in fact have a positive impact on the night-time economy.
“The truth is, even the name of the industry campaign is misleading. ‘Our Nightlife Economy’ implies that night time entertainment should begin and end with late night boozing when in fact that’s not the position of a majority of Queenslanders, 82% of whom support the introduction of a closing time for pubs, clubs and bars of no later than 3am. Nor is it the commercial reality. We know that once implemented, these measures will actually create a more vibrant and prosperous and diverse nightlife. It happened in Newcastle, it happened in Sydney, and it will happen in Queensland,” Mr Thorn said.
Most revealing, in what appears to be an acceptance by the alcohol industry that it has an image problem, the campaign material includes specific demands not to include images of alcohol, bars bottles and drinks in the background of any campaign photos.
Mr Thorn believes the admission is very telling.
“Even the alcohol industry recognises the product it’s selling has a huge image problem. So much so that they need to remove it entirely from the face of their own campaign. And that’s because the alcohol industry recognises and concedes that Australians today have a greater understanding and acceptance of the harms caused by alcohol,” Mr Thorn said.
In further efforts to sanitise its campaign material, the letter also calls for photographs to be cross-generational and appealing to a wide audience.
The letter also reveals efforts by the alcohol industry to weaken the measures outlining possible ‘compromise’ positions including a 4am last drinks.
Mr Thorn says that given that we know that for every extra hour of trading there are 20% more assaults, that’s not a trivial concession but a proposed change that would seriously undermine the success of the measures.
“Despite attempts to dress itself up as a ‘community’ campaign, Our Nightlife Queensland is and has always been an industry-led effort singularly focused on its own financial self-interest at the expense of community safety. I sincerely hope the Queensland Government’s efforts to save lives by introducing sound evidence-based policy is not thwarted by these alcohol industry efforts,” Mr Thorn said.