The sobering face of alcohol

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I LOVE a drink as much as the next man, depending on who that next man is of course.

Mark Parton
Mark Parton.
I enjoy a drink, usually at home four nights out of seven, which is why I thought it was an interesting call from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education to get me to front their national video, which attacks the alcohol industry.

When they called, I said yes because I think this country needs to give serious thought to its relationship with alcohol.

The whole gist of the video we made here in Canberra was that the alcohol industry has a bunch of “super consumers” that they market to ferociously. From a business sense, this isn’t remarkable at all; if you have a set of consumers who tend to purchase lots of your product it makes commercial sense to pitch your messaging to them.

The problem is that alcohol isn’t like most other products, because excessive consumption leads to all manner of problems. Problems for the individuals and for the community as a whole.

In the FARE video, we went to the Phillip swimming pool to try to illustrate how much alcohol Australians drink each year.

According to the latest stats, we consume about 39 Phillip swimming pools of grog each year….99 million litres of pure alcohol.

The total figure isn’t the one that rings the alarm bells here. What shocked me most in the making of the FARE video were the stats on just who is doing the drinking.

Ten per cent of our population consumes more than 50 per cent of the drink at the table. Drill the figures down further and you discover that five per cent of our population, around a million Australians, are drinking on average eight standard drinks a day.
These are the super consumers… and the alcohol industry loves them. FARE wants the alcohol industry to admit that these people have a problem and to stop trying to force their product down their throats.

Good luck with that.

So who are these super consumers?

Based on pure mathematics we have around 15,000 of them in our town… more than the sellout crowd at Manuka Oval last week. If you want to meet them, come out into Civic at 2am on a Saturday. Or if you’re not that brave, just step into the emergency room at Canberra or Calvary Hospitals between midnight and 5am on Saturday.

So many of the violent incidents in our town stem from this abuse of alcohol.

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Mark Parton
Canberra Liberal MLA and former breakfast announcer on 2CC.

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