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Liquor sales on Sundays


By John Marion

The State Government recently revealed its intention to push ahead with somewhat unpopular and damaging changes to the Liquor Laws Act.

Christians should be concerned about the proposed changes to the legislation, as it will lead to greater harm caused by alcohol abuse in our communities. The proposed changes include allowing restaurants to serve alcohol without meals and the opening of suburban liquor outlets on Sundays.

The Government has stated that the purpose of this legislation is to minimise the harm caused by alcohol and has changed the wording of the bill to prioritise this. However, according to evidence of leading health bodies, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), increasing the availability of alcohol increases the amount of harm that is caused by alcohol, as witnessed in alcohol abuse, and crime caused under the influence of alcohol. The changes even go against the advice of the Government’s own Health Department, who lodged a submission opposing extended liquor trading!

These amendments also ignore the views of the West Australian public, as witnessed by the referendum on Sunday trading in WA last year. While the Minister claims that that referendum did not apply to liquor trading laws, the mood of the public was that Sundays should be a day of rest and recreation, kept sacred and free from trading and work.

It is imperative that you take action on this issue, even if you have already mailed the Minister before. It is still possible for this legislation to be blocked in the upper House, if the Greens and Liberals vote against it. The Greens have indicated that they will oppose the measures, while the Liberal party is open to compromise on the issue. Please contact the Liberal party’s Leader in the Legislative Council, Norman Moore—email, nmoore@mp.wa.gov.au; phone 9222 7282. Also contact the new Liberal parliamentary leader Paul Omodei: email, pomodei@mp.wa. gov.au; phone, 9222 7351. Ask them to oppose this bill. Outline that increased availability of alcohol contributes to greater alcohol related harm, and also note that both parties agreed to follow the decision of the people in the referendum held last year on Sunday trading.

It is also important that we make the case against these changes in the public arena. Please write letters to the editors of the West, the Sunday Times and your local papers. Also, try to get on talkback to discuss this issue. We need to be like a trumpet, alerting others to this issue.

Finally, why not mention this issue to your pastor? It is important for churches to stand against issues that will affect society negatively. Those who have worked in alcohol rehabilitation centres or with marginalised people would attest to the damage of alcohol abuse on individuals, families and society. Encourage your pastor to take a stand on this issue.

John Marion is a research officer for the Australian Christian Lobby in WA.
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