The state government’s attempt last week to change SA’s Liquor Licensing Bill and potentially ban alcohol advertising is honestly gobsmacking.
A restriction on alcohol advertising in the state widely known as Australia’s wine state?
In one of the world’s Great Wine Capitals, of which we’ve recently been admitted to, and which the state government has been ever so keen to promote?
And amid the much touted framework of the state government's Premium Food and Wine economic priority?
Seriously? It really does beggar belief.
But, before anyone starts playing the blame game, it must be noted Steven Marshall’s Liberal Party opposition also didn’t raise any objections when it came before parliament.
As SA Wine Industry Association chief executive Brian Smedley said: “if government was asleep at the wheel, the opposition was as well”.
Thankfully common sense prevailed and the amendment was quickly withdrawn within a matter of days, but it does raise some significant concerns.
Attorney-General John Rau said the amendment had been produced at short notice and thus, there was no time for it to be assessed and scrutinised prior to being tabled.
Surely amendments to state laws should be given due consideration, and not rushed through?
If nothing else, last week’s blunder serves to illustrate the vital role our industry bodies play in keeping government to account.
The swift response from SAWIA along with larger businesses should be commended for their part in stopping the amendment going through.
We also contacted the Agriculture, Food and Tourism Minister Leon Bignell for comment on this week’s story (page 4), but were advised by his media team the amendment was “not his responsibility” and redirected to the Attorney-General.
It’s a little disappointing that the Minister who is responsible for the wine industry wouldn’t comment on an amendment which could have potentially disastrous consequences for the folios that do, in fact, fall under his responsibility.
We rely on our elected members and industry ministers to do the right thing by their electorates, state and industries.
Shirking the issue doesn't make it go away.