Launch of the Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) Australian Retail Liquor Market Insights Report

  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Training

May I begin by acknowledging the work of the Australian Liquor Stores Association as a strong advocate for the industry.

I wasn’t familiar with the press release that you said you were targeted in, however it is probably fair to say in this building that we are used to sledges. In fact some might say we do it to each other. But one of the things I have found, having worked in the health sector, is that Australians don’t respond well to language that is too strident for the circumstance and they don’t actually respond that well to sledging.

You did describe a ‘six pack of happiness’ while watching the footy. Coming from Victoria I can remember certain voices in Victoria describing that as binge drinking. Needless to say Australians do not respond well to fanaticism either.

The story you told is quite rightly told as a story of success. We know a lot more about the harms that misuse of products can cause today, we are better informed and people who have a particular view and might want to use a vehicle, such as health policy, to achieve a change in people’s behaviour through a dramatic increase in taxes – well the good news is that this country is still democracy and politicians respond to the legitimate expectations of the people. I think you told a very strong story and it is one you should keep telling as it is one that the community responds to.

I am actually a sub here tonight representing Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, the Assistant Minister for Education and Training. It is a real privilege to join you here tonight.

You are an important voice and source of information for your members – as demonstrated by the report to be launched this evening. And importantly you are a strong voice for the responsible sale and use of alcohol.

Looking at your report, I note that ALSA members feel they are – and I quote – “drowning with the vast and complex array of laws, regulations and reporting requirements arising from many overlapping compliance requirements across the three tiers of government”.

It is an opportune day to raise this point, given today was the Government’s third Red Tape Repeal Day since coming to office 18 months ago.

For the first time in Australian history, the Government has undertaken a thorough stocktake of all the regulatory costs imposed by the Commonwealth. We now have one of the most precise, comprehensive and transparent programs to reverse the growing cost of red tape which small business feels so acutely.

Over the past 18 months, this Government has announced savings for compliance costs of businesses, community organisations and individuals of just under $2.5 billion by repealing outdated legislation, streamlining the way individuals and groups deal with government and axing regulations that stifle commerce.

In your industry, much of the red tape is imposed by state and territory governments.

As your report points out, some states and territories impose restrictions on your trading hours, what types of liquor can be bought and by whom, and when liquor can be brought from packaged liquor stores, as opposed to hotel bottle shops.

While today’s Red Tape Repeal Day unfortunately will not rid your industry of state and territory imposed regulations, the Federal Government is committed to relieving the red tape burden to help free business to do what it does best and you are right to point out that reference in the Harper Review.

Another point I note from the report that is launched tonight is your employment profile.

The report notes that many bottle shops employ students, parents and older people because of the flexibility offered to workers in your industry. Many people got their first job working in the local bottle shop while at University.

In recent months, Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison has emphasised that this Government is focussed on getting more people under the age of 25, more young parents and more older Australians into work.

These groups, for a variety of reasons, often face challenges in entering the workforces and I congratulate your industry on playing a key role in employing workers from across the community.
As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Training, I am particularly interested in the quest for younger Australians to find their first job.

Assistant Minister Birmingham is working hard to strengthen the vocational education sector so that young people – and those retraining – learn the skills that employers are looking for.

A 2013 survey of employers by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research showed increasing employer concern about the VET system’s ability to meet their needs.

This survey tells us that employers’ use of the VET system has decreased.

Senator Birmingham is working hard to improve the vocational education and training system to ensure it remains a vital part of the Australian Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda.

Just as important though is on-the-job training.

Your members, the bottle shops around the country, are providing essential, money-can’t-buy training to young people in customer service, team work, the importance of being punctual and reliable and workplace safety.

Assistant Minister Birmingham’s efforts to create a world-class vocational education and training system, together with your members’ efforts to employ and train young people, parents and older workers, will ensure the strength of Australia’s future workforce as well as serve the needs of your millions and millions of customers.

Tonight, I am pleased to be here to launch a report on behalf of the Australian Liquor Stores Association and I wish you all the best for the coming year.

Thank you for the invitation and enjoy your evening.


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