Outrage as government proposes alcohol plain packaging laws

Australia's deadliest drug could soon come with a warning label.

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16 March, 2016. 9:45

ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S office has drafted alcohol plain packaging legislation which is due to go before parliament in the coming weeks.

Samples of the new branding were released by the Attorney-General Senator George Brandis QC this morning during a press conference in Canberra.

The proposed warning labels will be similar in design to the existing cigarette packets labels but will use more colloquial language.

Nearly every aspect of the alcohol industry would be affected by the new laws, which could effectively outlaw the sponsorship, advertising and branding of alcoholic products.

This latest government campaign has been met with outrage from the alcohol manufacturing and hospitality industries, calling the proposed measures “illegal” and “un-Australian”.

Isisford publican Ron Kelly says the new laws are "un-Australian". PHOTO: Imran Gashkori/RugbyMedia
Isisford publican Ron Kelly says the new laws are “illegal” and “un-Australian”. PHOTO: Imran Gashkori/RugbyMedia

“Most people can’t be bothered being angry with this current government,” said Isisford publican Ron Kelly.

“But this legislation is taking the piss,”

“I’m torn – as a middle-aged man living in a remote town, I will always vote for the Coalition government,”

“But I can’t, in good conscience, vote for these pelicans again – I’m throwing my ballot paper in the Barcoo!”

Cigarettes and other tobacco products have been subject to plain packaging laws since December 2012 – the result of a campaign spearheaded by former Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon.

Roxon was criticised by the media and global tobacco brands for “letting emotion” get in the way of “good policy” as she made plain packaging her personal mission because her father died of smoking-related cancer.

Attorney-General George Brandis QC revealed plans to introduce alcohol plain packaging. PHOTO: Leisa Cantwell/AAP/Panos
Attorney-General George Brandis QC revealed plans to introduce alcohol plain packaging. PHOTO: Leisa Cantwell/AAP/Panos

Senator Brandis has also been painted with the same brush by the media this morning when asked if this campaign was personal.

“Alcohol is the most harmful drug in Australian society,” said Brandis.

“My own personal experiences with alcohol in law school were not good,”

“While people like Bob Hawke embraced the drinking culture at Oxford – I was on the other side,”

“They called me Candy Brandy.”