Australia

Cook says WA will consider alcohol floor

WA Health Minister Roger Cook agrees with public health experts calling for WA to follow the Northern Territory to impose an alcohol floor price.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook wants the state to follow the Northern Territory in introducing a floor price for alcohol, saying it would reduced violence and hospital admissions.

The NT government announced this week it had opted for a $1.30 a unit floor price that would push up how much consumers pay for "really cheap grog".

Mr Cook says he is keen to see how the NT program works and WA will investigate and possibly follow suit.

"One of the particular policy areas I have asked to hear more about is how having a minimum floor price for alcohol could impact on harmful drinking," he told the summit.

"What we know is that a minimum price on alcohol as it has been implemented in other jurisdictions across the world has had a dramatic impact in reducing alcohol-related violence in the community but also reducing the amount of people coming into emergency departments."

He said it was concerning that businesses such as Aldi sold wine for a low as $2.70 a bottle, which provided easy access for vulnerable people that engaged in risky behaviour when drinking.

He will have to get support from Labor colleagues and says the government won't impose the policy without community support.

Mr Cook was commenting at a Preventive Health Summit, where WA Cancer Council director of education and research educator Terry Slevin and other experts called for a minimum $1.50 unit price on packaged alcohol to reduce harm.

Friday's event follows the release of a major review of the health system this week, which recommended an increase on the current rate of just 2.7 per cent of the total health spend on prevention be increased.

The focus of Friday's summit was obesity and alcohol-related harm, which Mr Cook called "two of the greatest public health challenges facing the state".

The Sustainable Health Review interim report released by senior public servant Robyn Kruk found spending on WA health had soared to unsustainable levels, more than doubling in the last decade representing nearly $1 in every $3 the cash-strapped government spends.

"We are not going to resolve health issues in Western Australia by jamming more people into hospitals," he said.

Alcohol use was linked to a range of issues, including a 49 per cent increase in emergency department attendances over a decade, along with preventable chronic diseases, mental health problems and others.

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