It appears our appointed moral, and healthy lifestyle guardians are on the warpath again. This time it’s about the discount chain Aldi’s offering cheap booze. Apparently under statist logic, being able to buy booze at lower prices is bad for us, and we need to have extra taxes to keep us on the straight and narrow:
The state's licensing authority has shrugged off warnings against selling super-cheap alcohol in supermarkets to give Aldi the green light for 34 outlets to stock beer for $1 a can and wine for as little as $2.25 a litre.This comes from the people who have given us plain packaging on cigarettes, demanding the same for alcohol, want extra taxes on convenience food, and want everything they don’t consider good for us either regulated, taxed, prohibited, or censored:
Health officials formally objected to the issuing of the new liquor licences, particularly in some regional and rural areas, insisting the increased access will "contribute to further alcohol-related harm and negative health outcomes."
… The alcohol will be sold unrefrigerated in a separate space to the grocery aisles although shoppers will be able to also use the liquor area check-out to purchase non-alcohol items.
Beer prices at Aldi stores start at $8.99 for a six-pack of Smith Clyde Lager to $19.99 for a carton of Storm Brewing Premium Light Beer. Four-litre casks of wine are available for less than $9 and bottles of sherry are sold for under $5.
The Ulladulla and Districts Community Resource Centre also complained to the licensing authority, saying there were already enough outlets "in a low-income area with high unemployment and major alcohol problems, and that another alcohol outlet was not needed."
Aldi has argued that its restrained opening hours compared with traditional bottle shops, and ban on quantity-based promotional offers such as two-for-one deals meant its impact would be negligible.
The Australians were recently in the news after making the decision to wrap cigarettes in olive-coloured plain packages. With tangible patriotic pride, campaigners claimed this as a world first, and so it is, but it only scratches the surface of the plans Australia’s public-health lobby have in store.
Last week, the Preventative Health Taskforce published a report which, in its words, launched a ‘crackdown’ on drinking, smoking and the eating of ‘energy-dense, nutrient-poor’ food. This report made 122 recommendations, called for 26 new laws and proposed establishing seven new agencies to change the behaviour of Australians. To take just a few examples related to tobacco, the Taskforce called for the price of 30 cigarettes to rise to ‘at least $20’ (£13) by 2013, for a ban on duty-free sales, a ban on vending machines and a ban on smoking in a host of places including multi-unit apartments, private vehicles and ‘outdoors where people gather or move in close proximity’. They even contemplate a ban on filters and the prohibition of additives that enhance the palatability of cigarettes.
As in so many countries, Australia’s anti-smoking campaign has acted as a Trojan horse in the effort to fundamentally change the relationship between citizen and state. By no means does it end with tobacco. The Taskforce also wants to ban drinks advertising during programmes that are watched by people under 25 – a category so broad as to include virtually every programme – and calls for graphic warnings similar to those now found on cigarette packs to be put on bottles of beer. It also wants the government to establish ‘appropriate portion sizes’ for meals, to tax food that is deemed unhealthy and to hand out cash bonuses to those who meet the state’s criteria of a healthy lifestyle.