Friday, June 24, 2011

Eight dollars per bottle. Coles does something good.

Alice Springs Pastor Basil Schild by 1petermartin
"I have attended around 100 funerals. Two were for white people."

Eight dollars will become the new cheap in Alice Springs from next month. After July 1 it will be impossible to buy wine for less than $8 a bottle in Coles supermarkets and absolutely impossible to buy 2 litre casks.

The new regime, designed to ensure alcohol always costs at least $1.14 a standard drink is an Australian first and beats to the punch health minister Nicola Roxon who has asked her Preventive Health Agency to “develop the concept” as part of a nationwide move to combat alcohol abuse.

Coles managing director Ian McLeod announced the move at a Sydney retail function yesterday saying he began thinking about the company's practices when contacted by a Lutheran pastor in Alice Springs six months ago.

Woolworths followed suit within hours and announced that it too would phase out 2 litre casks in Alice Springs, abandoning a popular product that sold for $12.99 or 62 cents per standard drink. Coles casks sold for 10.99 or less than 50 cents per standard drink.

Dr John Boffa of the Central Australian Aboriginal Health Congress said the break though with Coles only began 10 days ago when a grop of liquor division executives came to Alice Springs to see conditions for themselves.

“You could see their views changing. They didn’t say much, but but they left with an appreciation of the damage cheap alcohol is doing. They’ve gone from being the worst of the retailers in the Territory to the best.”

IGA had already trialed a minimum price of $1.15 per standard drink in its Northside Alice Springs supermarket and was looking to extend the minimum price town wide...

In a letter to prime minister Gillard and Northern Territory chief minister Paul Henderson seen by the Herald Mr McLeod says Coles will “review the relevance of these new policy positions on a needs basis for other stores across Australia”. In most cases it believes there will be no need to make a change.

Coles at present sells branded wine for as little as $4.99 a bottle in cities, well below the new $8 Alice Springs floor price.

Dr Boffa said the immediate effect would be to sharply boost beer sales, with resultant health benefits.

“Dependent drinkers will still get drink but they will drink less and drink more slowly. By itself this won’t solve the Territory’s problems, but it is a necessary part of the solution,” he the Herald.

Published in today's SMH and Age

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