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The Drug Foundation today expressed surprise that the Justice and Electoral Committee recommended only tinkering to the Alcohol Reform Bill, saying that many thousands of submitters had expected much greater improvements to the Bill.

The Committee received an unprecedented 8,822 written submissions, and in-fact had to split themselves in half in order to hear from the more than 352 oral submitters.

“The vast majority of submitters urged the Committee to strengthen the Bill, particularly asking for tougher controls over alcohol advertising and an increase to the price of alcohol, which were measures first recommended by Sir Geoffrey Palmer’s Law Commission report,” said Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell.

“The modest amendments suggested by a Select Committee majority will be a blow to the many communities and concerned individuals who made the effort to have their say on this Bill and who expected much more from the Committee,” said Mr Bell.

“Sadly, the select committee was the only real opportunity for people to influence this law. The Bill now gets debated inside Parliament by MPs; people concerned at the lack of progress on the Bill don’t have a voice in that process. But it’s our hope that all MPs will take heed of what those thousands of submitters asked for, and push for further important changes to the Bill.

“MPs should also inform themselves of what experience and evidence says about good alcohol policy. In this case, they would do well to take advice from the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman who advocated in a recent report for increasing the purchase price of alcohol and restricting its marketing and availability, echoing the Law Commission's view that these measures have the weight of evidence behind them to reduce binge drinking and harm from alcohol use,” said Ross Bell.

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