The NT's powerful alcohol lobby has widely accepted the recommendations from a sweeping review of liquor laws, including a floor price on cheap grog.
Source:
AAP
20 Oct - 3:10 PM 

The Northern Territory's peak body for pubs and clubs has broadly welcomed significant reform proposals to combat the alcohol abuse crisis, including a new floor price on cheaper grog.

A minimum $1.50 price per standard drink, annual risk-based licence fees and penalties for skippers who drive their boats while intoxicated are some of 220 recommendations from a sweeping review into government policy.

The independent review by former NT chief justice Trevor Riley calls for the phase-out of small grocery stores selling alcohol, while Labor has already expanded a moratorium on all takeaway liquor licences to include greenfield sites.

A Sunday takeaway sales ban was the only recommendation to be flatly rejected by the Gunner government, which is now set to scrap its controversial 400-square-metre retail floor size restriction that will pave the way for Dan Murphy's to apply to set up shop in the Territory.

The Australian Hotels Association NT has broken ranks with its national branch by supporting a floor price to curb heavily discounted wine, which Justice Riley says is sometimes "cheaper than water" .

But AHA NT chief executive Des Crowe is opposed to the reintroduction of licensing fees, raising concerns about increased regulatory costs amid a struggling economy.

"We're already paying our fair share through GST, this is an additional levy," he said.

"We don't need any additional burdens imposed on our businesses that are already battling."

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education heralded the "landmark" reforms, saying if implemented they'll set a new bench mark for effective alcohol harm reduction, particularly in Aboriginal communities.

"I am extremely heartened ... by the review's determination to embrace the proven, evidence-based policy measures that can and will save lives," FARE chief executive Michael Thorn said.

The Territory has the nation's highest rates of alcohol-related crime, violence and death, which costs taxpayers about $640 million a year.

FARE says if the NT was a country it'd be one of the top 10 drinking nations in the world on a per capita consumption basis.

The opposition has pledged bipartisan support for the changes, with Country Liberal Party leader Gary Higgins labelling it a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity to address the single largest problem facing the NT.

The government expects the reforms will take at least 12 months to implement, with an independent Liquor Commission to be reinstated by the March parliament sittings.