Retail Drinks Australia (Retail Drinks) has called for an independent inquiry into the Northern Territory Government-commissioned one-year evaluation report of the effectiveness of minimum unit pricing (MUP).
Retail Drinks CEO Julie Ryan said the independent inquiry was needed because of the report’s inconsistent and inaccurate conclusions on MUP and serious questions relating to the integrity of the authors’ presentation of the data.
“The wholesale alcohol sales data on which the report’s authors relied on to derive their conclusions has not been publicly released and won’t be until September which is a month after the NT election,” she said.
“Given the discrepancies with retail data, we independently sourced the majority of the wholesale numbers that were provided to the NT Government.
“We can now conclusively state that, on review of this wholesale data, there has been a significant increase in spirits sold in the NT, as well as a significant increase in bottled wine since the introduction of the floor price.
“However, the MUP report says the exact opposite – that these categories declined.”
Ryan noted that the wholesale data discrepancies were not the only issues to interrogate, pointing to the report’s conclusion that businesses had found the legislation relatively easy to implement and had not been impacted financially by the introduction of the floor price.
“The implementation of the floor price legislation has cost liquor retailers millions of dollars in one-time cost to adjust their systems, and significant further costs remain ongoing,” she added.
“The floor price was also introduced at a time of significant economic downturn in the Territory when all businesses, especially retail, have reported poor performance.
“It is simply not plausible to reach a conclusion that business has not been impacted, and we can confirm our members, who represent the majority of the liquor retailers in the NT who actually have to implement this legislation, do not have that sentiment.”
Ryan said that additional scrutiny from an independent inquiry was required to justify the expenditure of NT taxpayer money on the report.
“Given that this report has been funded by NT taxpayers, there is an obligation to ensure that the authors have completed a thorough and unbiased evaluation of MUP,” she noted.
“If the report’s authors have made claims about MUP which are misleading then an independent inquiry is the only way to get to the bottom of these discrepancies.”
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