Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 21 May 1985
Page: 2212

Senator COLSTON —I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Was the matter of the labelling of alcoholic beverages informally discussed in Brisbane last week? Are any steps being taken to place health warnings on alcoholic beverages?

Senator GRIMES —I did see an article in one of the newspapers which stated that at the Health Ministers Conference in Brisbane there were discussions about the labelling of alcoholic beverages in the same way as tobacco products are labelled. Dr Blewett, who was at the conference for both days, assured me that he at no time heard any proposals brought forward officially or unofficially, nor does he know of any unofficial or behind the scenes discussions about the possible labelling of alcoholic products in this manner. Certainly, no such proposals were put before the conference or before the Federal Minister. We cannot say that some of the State Ministers did not discuss this matter.

I do not know of any such proposals being brought up in the past. I am not sure whether such a proposal was put to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare when we discussed the matter some years ago. It has always interested me that the liquor industry seems at all times to be very afraid of something like this happening, to the extent that it makes statements such as that which it was quoted as making in the article to the effect that it is all right for the Government to label tobacco products because there is good evidence that tobacco is unhealthy but there is no evidence that alcohol is unhealthy. I think that is carrying the argument to pretty desperate straits. Another problem is that the general community's attitude to alcohol is quite different from that which has developed to tobacco. I notice that in all the reviews of new wines and new vintages of wines, in particular in the newspapers, we have long paragraphs about the bouquet, the taste, the after-taste, the tannin content and whether grapes came from one side of a hill or another, but the reviews never report on how quickly wines make one drunk or what sort of hangover they give. We have a long way to go to educate people that alcohol is at times harmful and can even make one fall over. I dare say that at some time the Health Ministers will discuss this question, but there is no such proposal before the Health Ministers at the moment. I make an earnest request to all members of hotel associations and liquor producers associations not to write to all of us giving us their views because their views are quite clear from the article that we have read in the newspaper.