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Byron Shire
March 4, 2021

Counting the cost of grog culture

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There is a financial price every one of us pays for misuse of grog. In August the NSW auditor-general reported to parliament on the financial cost of alcohol. Mr Achterstraat presented his estimates because the NSW government does not currently estimate or report the total cost of alcohol abuse.

The Audit Office of NSW-sponsored research estimates two conservative figures. The first figure of direct costs to the NSW government ‘is over $1 billion a year, or around $416 from each NSW household’.

‘If social costs are included, the total cost of alcohol abuse in New South Wales is around $3.87 billion per annum, or about $1,565 from each household.

‘My concern is that the NSW government does not know the full cost of alcohol abuse – at best, cost information is fragmented,’ said Mr Achterstraat.

Bottom line: This conservative estimate means each household in Byron Bay (and the state) is losing $1,565 to pay for grog abuse and support the big business of grog. Your local grog shop owner may big-note how they ‘support local musicians’ etc – but you are supporting them to the tune of $1,565 even if you never buy a drink in their pub.

Other research suggests the figure is near double the attorney’s estimate.

Here is the worse news: in The Range and Magnitude of Alcohol’s Harm to Others, the most comprehensive report to date on the costs of alcohol abuse by The Centre for Alcohol Policy Research http://www.capr.edu.au, a national cost of $36 billion is given.

‘This comprises $24.7 billion in tangible costs which include out-of-pocket expenses, forgone wages or productivity, and hospital and childcare protection costs. There are a further $11.6 billion in intangible costs, which include lost quality of life from someone else’s drinking.’

When Last Drinks at 12 tells us there is a 17 per cent reduction in physical assault for every hour that early-morning closing times are wound back, many people seem unmoved. Some say, ‘I haven’t seen any violence, can’t be that bad’.

If the testimony of police officers, nurses, doctors, youth workers etc don’t move you, listen to your wallet.

John Allan, The Channon

 


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3 COMMENTS

  1. An excellent letter John.

    OLGR’s current trial of non enforceable weak measures ends in early October 2013. These were introduced without any genuine consultation and effective input from local community members and our elected Byron Councillors.

    OLGR continues to ignore the overwhelming independent evidence of the success of the 2008 Newcastle modest enforceable, precinct-wide reduction in late trading hours in favour of running interference for Byron’s 6 late trading clubs and pubs. The 2008 Newcastle conditions were shown last week to not only achieved a sustainable reduction in alcohol related harms and public/social costs, but also proven better for business with now more licensed premises such as restaurants and small bars than in 2008. We could repeat the same successful outcomes in Byron with some effective political leadership.

    The Byron community, families, Council and our local MP should mobilise and insist that OLGR now immediately trials mandatory precinct wide reductions in our late trading hours back to last drinks at 12 and other proven harm prevention measures promoted by independent public health and policing experts.

  2. Janine,

    Statistics! Statistics! As a confused observer I read from one side of the argument that the assaults are down in Byron Bay (according to Bureau of Statistics) and then I read the opposite from the other side.

    Who to believe?

    But, when I discover “Last Drinks at 12” continually omit the fact that the Newcastle trading hours were reduced from 5am to 3am….well…

    John,

    Your article was very interesting. Are you proposing prohibition of alcohol to solve this problem?

    I could do with an extra $1565. Not sure closing pubs down at 12 is going to get me there.

    Hang on! Is this the real agenda? Last Drinks at 12pm?

  3. OLGR’s current trial of non enforceable weak measures ends in early October 2013. These were introduced without any genuine consultation and effective input from local community members and our elected Byron Councillors.

    – The “trial” period ends in October, local police and OLGR will report on the success (or lack of) then and put forward changes for the accord to implement. The measures were never set to end in October, they will continue through summer. The measures were voluntarily adopted by accord members, but once adopted they are monitored and enforced by OLGR.

    OLGR continues to ignore the overwhelming independent evidence of the success of the 2008 Newcastle modest enforceable, precinct-wide reduction in late trading hours in favour of running interference for Byron’s 6 late trading clubs and pubs.

    – The measures voluntarily adopted by the accord members, already go above and beyond what was implemented in Newcastle. Don’t believe me, or what “12 says” just download the action plans for Byron and Newcastle from their respective accord websites and compare them. Also the Newcastle action plan included a whole range of sweeping changes to street lighting, late night transport, local policing, education efforts, not just a reduction of trading hours (which by the way was 5pm to 3pm, no one in byron trades past 3am as it is)

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