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Notice given 28 July 2005

1040  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) Is the Minister aware of the article in the 18 July 2005 issue of the Medical Journal of Australia by Dr Ken Harvey calling for drug advertising to be banned on prescribing software.

(2) Will the Government consider this and/or other recommendations made in the article that: (a) spending caps be introduced on prescription pharmaceutical advertising; and (b) fines be imposed for individual marketing and sales staff involved in campaigns found to have breached the Medicines Australia code of conduct.

(3) Does the Government accept the results of the survey conducted by the University of South Australia which assessed 60 advertisements that made a promotional claim and found that 57 appeared not to comply with one or more requirements of the Medicines Australia code of conduct.

(4) Does the Government accept Dr Harvey’s conclusion that in terms of pharmaceutical promotion, industry self-regulation has failed; if not, why not.

1041  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) Is the Minister aware that the following ‘super-strength’ pre-mixed drinks are now being sold: (a) Woodstock Blue (9 per cent alcohol by volume and the 375ml can contains 2.7 standard drinks); (b) Bulleit Bourbon (9 per cent alcohol by volume and the 375ml can contains 2.7 standard drinks); and (c) Jim Bean Long Black (8 per cent alcohol by volume and the 330ml bottle contains 2.1 standard drinks).

(2) Is the Minister concerned that these products contain approximately twice as much alcohol as standard pre-mixed drinks, wine and beer.

(3) Does the Minister consider that the availability of these drinks will increase unsafe levels of drinking, especially among young people.

(4) Would the Minister be concerned at any move to double the alcohol content of all pre-mixed drinks; if so, are there any proposals to prevent this level of alcohol content becoming the ‘norm’.

(5) Given that the industry has justified the selling of pre-mix drinks on the basis of parity of alcohol content with beer: (a) what, if any, justification has been given to the Government for putting these super-strength drinks on the market; and (b) how does this move comply with the industry’s claim to be committed to the responsible marketing of alcohol.

(6) Will the Government consider imposing limits on the distribution and marketing of these super-strength drinks.

(7) Will the Government commission research to determine the extent to which pre-mix drinks contribute to the burden on the health system of acute drinking episodes or binge drinking.

(8) Will the Government consider reforming alcohol labelling laws to require clear and prominent warnings on containers, particularly for super-strength drinks.