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A year after the introduction of minimum unit pricing in the Northern Territory

On 1 October 2018 minimum unit price was introduced in the Northern Territory in Australia at $1.30 per standard drink. Now the initial effects have been evaluated in a new independent study by led by Professor Peter Miller from Deakin University’s Centre for Drug use, Addictive and Anti-social Behaviour Research Centre (CEDAAR). The independent research shows that the minimum unit price is contributing to the reduction of harms associated with alcohol.

Alcohol has been ranked the most harmful drug in Australia based on estimated costs on individuals and the community. The Northern Territory has the highest per-capita rate of alcohol consumption in Australia and the highest rate of hospitalisations due to alcohol misuse. In 2014, around 44% of people in the Northern Territory in Australia were drinking alcohol at a level that put them at risk of injury or other harms at least once in the past month compared to 26% of people nationally. While the social cost of alcohol in 2004-2005 was about A$642 million, or A$4,197 per adult, compared to about $943 per adult nationally.

The minimum unit price of alcohol was recommended for the Northern Territory as part of a suite of interventions from the 2017 Alcohol Policy and Legislation Review that also included a banned drinker register and police auxiliary liquor inspectors

The evaluation has found that the introduction of the MUP legislation has been associated with significant declines in:

  • Total alcohol wholesale supply per capita 
  • Alcohol-related assault offences per 10,000 people
  •  Protective custody episodes per 10,000 people
  • Alcohol-related ambulance attendances per 10,000 people
  • Alcohol-related emergency department(presentations per 10,000 people
  • Sobering Up Shelter admissions per 10,000 people
  • Alcohol-related road traffic crashes (resulting in injury or fatality) per 10,000 people
  • The number of child protection notifications, protection orders, and out-of-home care cases.

The introduction of the MUP legislation has been associated with no significant changes in:

  • Number of liquor licenses
  • Tourism number and expenditure

These observational findings show that the introduction of the minimum unit price coincided with significant reductions in harm in many communities adding to the impact of the existing supply reduction measures. Minimum unit pricing successfully specifically targeted cask wine in many towns, but moderate drinking patterns showed no change. Businesses including tourism reported that implementation of the legislation has either improved business or remained stable. 

The data shows that the trends for alcohol consumption and related harms has had significant reductions, although there are some variables where there is no change. It is also clear from the range of data presented that at this one-year point, while trends are promising, more time is required to evaluate the impact of the minimum unit price. The findings are broadly consistent with those from other countries where minimum unit price has been introduced and shows that tough alcohol reforms are working.

Read the full report at:

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