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