Australian Laws for Alcohol Use Thesis

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To be exonerated from this punishment, the adult should prove that he or she was not the minor's responsible adult at the time of the offense.

Consumption of alcohol in public places is governed by the Summary Offences Act, 1988 and under this act, it is an offense for the minor to buy or consume alcohol in public places. This can attract on the spot fines up to a maximum of $20. This is negligible and many minors would prefer to pay $20 and drink in public places rather than abstain from them. Also, there are no rules related to consuming alcohol in private places including residences and other private properties of individuals. This leads to many binge drinking house parties with or without the knowledge of parents where teenagers can have unlimited amounts of alcohol. It is time the Government looks into this issue and passes laws that will curb drinking in private properties as well.

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There are laws related to selling alcohol through the Internet as well. Any person who is selling alcohol through the Internet should clearly display his or her individual or company's license number. Also, for orders done through the Internet, the delivery should be given only to an adult or to any other adult who has been authorized by the buyer. Any person who is buying alcohol through the Internet is required to furnish his or her age and the licensee has the right to store this information for future purchases. Any licensee violating these laws can be liable to get a punishment of $11,00 and/or 12 months imprisonment. Any person who is delivering alcohol to minors as part of an order is liable to get an on the spot fine of $1,100.

TOPIC: Thesis on Australian Laws for Alcohol Use Assignment

Despite these heavy penalties, more and more minors have access to alcohol. This clearly means that either the laws are insufficient or they are not implemented well. The laws do not create a sense of panic or fear among minors that alcohol consumption can lead to severe punishment and this is partly why they continue to indulge in it. Also, there are numerous loopholes in the laws and this gives them the opportunity to continue drinking without attracting any kind of punishment. Therefore, the Government should consider passing stricter laws, implementing them more forcefully and above everything increase the punishment so that it makes it harder for minors to have access to these dangerous substances.

Measures taken to reduce underage drinking

In a move to decrease the alcohol use among underage drinkers, the Australian Government has brought in many laws. On such law is related to taxation of alcoholic drinks. The Australian Government tried to increase the amount of tax on "alcopops" that is commonly consumed by adolescents and minors. However, many fear that this backfire because they will switch to cheaper wine-based products that contain more alcohol. The Distilled Spirits Industry Council argues that the alcopops are taxed on the amount of alcohol present in it and this induces the manufacturers to keep the alcohol levels low. On the other hand, wine-based pre-mixed rinks are taxed based on their value and not on their alcohol content and so they are likely to have a higher level of alcohol which will in turn, compound the problem. The wine products have an alcohol rate of 8% to 22% while alcopops have only 3% to 5% of alcohol and if the underage drinkers switch to wine-based products, then the problem will explode into a social crisis. However, the Government believes that additional cost can be a big deterrent for underage drinkers who live on limited financial resources and this has been endorsed by many organizations such as the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council and the Australian Drug Foundation (Milne, 2008). The failure or success of this law is still being studied and it is hoped that this reduced the number of underage drinkers since it was passed.

Another problem is the ambiguity that comes with alcohol labeling. More and more Australian companies are looking to have a higher alcohol content in their wine bottles and this also poses a threat to the underage drinking industry. In general, the Australian rules allow wine labeling to be +/- 1.5% of the actual alcohol content. However, most manufacturers tend to keep it at the lowest level possible. So, if the labeling says that the wine contains 16% alcohol, in reality, it can contain 17.5%. "The world's most powerful wine critic, Robert Parker, has a penchant for big, powerful reds with 16% alcohol (or is that 17.5%?) and his palate has encouraged many a winemaker in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale to push the limits of table wine making, sometimes straying into the realm of fortified wines where alcohols start at 17%" (Port, 2008, p.1).

This means that alcohol drinkers were consuming more alcohol than they should without even being aware of it. When adolescents get hold of these drinks, their intake increases and when they resort to binge drinking, the problem gets out of hand. This is a good example of the irresponsibility shown by the Australian wine makers towards the problem of underage drinking. They are concerned more about their profits rather than the impact of such drinking on the society at large. Therefore, it is not only the people who provide alcohol to minors, but also those who do not disclose the true facts like the manufacturers should also be punished.

Another problem is the lack of laws related to underage drinking at private properties. Studies have shown that alcohol consumption is highest at home and at private parties. There are no stringent laws that relate to drinking alcohol in private parties. It was found that an after-formal party of Year 12 of Loreto College students included alcohol. This party took place at a private home and not on the school premises and the ticket price included a charge for alcohol. (Tideman, 2006). Since there is no law that prohibits minors from consuming alcohol on a private property, the organizers of the event were not charged. Though there has been no report of another such party, it is anyone's guess that the party took place at an undisclosed location away from the media's attention.

In other words, any adolescent drinking on a park can be charged whereas if he or she runs into a private property and continues to drink, then there can be no charge. "The Liquor Licensing Act in SA states that minors who consume or possess alcohol, and those who supply alcohol to a minor in a public place, are guilty of an offence carrying a maximum penalty of $5,000. This does not apply to consumption or possession of alcohol by a minor who is in the company of a parent" (Tideman, 2006, p.5). It is time the Government looks into it and decides to pass a law that will extend punishment to drinking in private properties as well. Currently, only New South Wales has laws that control drinking on private properties. Underage kids need parent's approval before they can drink at home in NSW and this law should be extended to the rest of the country to ensure that all parents are aware of the activities of their children.

Recommendations to curb this problem

The existing laws related to underage drinking have been a clear failure. "For too long, the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner has been a toothless tiger in stamping out the irresponsible service of alcohol which contributes to a scourge of violence and anti-social behaviour on our streets. SA Police should take a bow for raising their concerns on the issue since it was revealed in The Advertiser in 2008 that in the previous six years, only one worker had been fined for serving someone who was drunk." (The Advertiser, p 20).

Therefore, more stringent laws have to be passed to address some of the issues that have hereto been neglected. One of them is the lack of laws to punish underage drinking on private property. The laws of NSW that punish offenders who drink at private residences and parties with or without the consent of their parents should be extended to other parts of the country as well.

Other measures can be to increase the price of all alcohol products so that it makes it more difficult for adolescents to have access to have it. The Government can also consider increasing the legal age of drinking to 21 so that more people can come under the radar for underage drinking. Also, the government should look at increasing the punishment for people who supply alcohol to minors including parents, guardians, license holders of establishments that can legally sell alcohol and any other adult indulging in this act. More stringent punishment by way of more fines and jail times can instill a sense of fear and make adults more conscious… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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