Coles and Woolworths are under attack in Alice Springs for banning cheap wine in an attempt to force up the alcohol floor price.
The Alice Springs town council has decided 5 votes to 3 to ask the supermarket chains to abandon the new rules due to come into effect Friday.
From then Coles will sell no bottled wine for less than $8 and no 2-litre cask wine setting an effective floor price for alcohol of $1.14 per standard drink. Woolworths will also cease selling 2-litre casks.
Mayor Damien Ryan argued strongly in favour of the ban Monday night, but having been defeated told The Age he would write to Coles and Woolworths as directed.
Alderman Murray Stewart who moved the motion said it would send a message to corporate Australia that Alice Springs would not be party to price fixing and profiteering under the cover of action against alcohol...
“It is not on in any town,” Mr Stewart said. “How would you like it in Sydney or Melbourne?”
“We have pensioners, we have grey nomads, backpackers, all of whom want consumer choice and reasonable prices.”
“We wouldn’t mind so much if the ban was national, but how would you like your wine casks taken away from you?”
Coles responded that it was not profiteering by pushing up prices, but simply removing from sale cheaper products that used to offer alcohol for less than the price per unit of beer.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon has asked her yet-to-be appointed National Preventive Health Agency to investigate a nationwide floor price for alcohol, an idea also considered by the former assistant minister for health Christopher Pyne before the Coalition lost office in 2007.
Published in today's SMH and Age
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