The article in today’s Sun Herald about an investigation into alcoholshopper dockets misrepresents the truth of what actually occurred.
The Sun Herald’s claim that a ban on two shopper docket promotions was "quashed after intimidation" is wrong. Any claim that I have beeninappropriately influenced by any industry stakeholder is baseless.
Following careful and independent assessment by me as the Director General (note: title is now Secretary) of NSW Trade & Investment, I determined that an investigation by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) into two specific alcohol shopper docket promotions byColes and Woolworths did not meet the required statutory test.
[Note: The Coles shopper docket promotion offered customers a buy-one, get-one-free offer limited to a Secret Stone Sauvignon Blanc or aRosabrook Margaret River Classic White bottle of wine. The Woolworths shopper docket promotion offered customers a six pack of Sol MexicanBeer with the purchase of a South Island Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc bottle of wine.]
I am required to exercise my judgment based on all the material beforeme, including recommendations of staff as i did on this occasion.
I formed the opinion that the OLGR investigation had not demonstrated the two specific promotions -which included the sale of quality bottlesof wine – were likely to encourage the misuse or abuse of alcohol (such as binge drinking and excessive consumption), which is the statutorytest required under the liquor laws to ban or restrict promotions.
As per requirements under the liquor laws, Coles and Woolworths were given the opportunity to make submissions about the promotions.
Material considered by me included OLGR’s investigation into thematter as well as evidence including contested academic opinions and submissions by Coles and Woolworths.
In forming my independent decision, I took into consideration a widerange of factors including the nature of the promotions, the types of products being offered, the demographic targeted by the activity, andharm minimisation controls implemented by the supermarket chains.
After considering all of the material, I was not satisfied that it could be established that the promotions were likely to encourage the misuseand abuse of alcohol, and therefore the statutory threshold for banning the promotions could not be met.
However, both Coles and Woolworths were warned that bans could be imposed in future if the nature of promotions changed or the adequacy
of controls was doubtful. OLGR has continued to monitor liquorpromotions to ensure higher risk products are not included and harm minimisation measures are implemented.
Industry was advised that harm minimisation measures can includelimits of one docket redemption per customer, limits on the amount of free alcohol, not promoting products which appeal to at-risk and younger drinkers such as ready-to-drink beverages, and ensuring all dockets state that under 18s cannot participate.
My decision was communicated in a statement issued in August last year and publicly available on the OLGR website at the following web-link:
OLGR continues to actively target irresponsible alcohol promotions. In the 12 months to April 2014, OLGR has issued show cause noticesagainst 91 liquor promotions or activities resulting in bans being placed on 66 of them.