What government regulation could mean for online alcohol delivery

03 April, 2019 by Deborah Jackson

In a column for the March edition of National Liquor News, Julie Ryan, the CEO of Retail Drinks Australia, discussed asked how will government regulation affect the future of the online alcohol delivery space?

One of the key features of the current retail liquor landscape is the explosion in popularity of online alcohol deliveries.

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Consumers have enthusiastically embraced the ease of access to retailers’ product offerings and the unprecedented convenience of ordering and receiving alcohol deliveries in as little as 30 minutes.

As is the case however with many new and emerging business models, the rapid pace of technological advancement has outpaced the ability of governments to implement appropriate regulation. At present, the online alcohol delivery space is subject to state government-led consultations in both NSW and Western Australia, with further consultations in other jurisdictions likely. These consultations represent a valuable opportunity for governments to adequately balance the interests of all stakeholders involved in the online retail environment while also ensuring the regulatory framework reached prioritises the safe and responsible consumption of alcohol.

There are important nuances that need to be carefully considered as part of this debate which are often neglected as governments try to play catch up with technology. The conjecture around the issue of online alcohol delivery is centered on three key issues; namely, the ability of drivers to leave unattended deliveries (and the timeframe in which this is permitted from point of purchase), the relevant training of drivers delivering alcohol and ensuring the prevention of alcohol deliveries to intoxicated persons or minors. While responses to all three of these issues are not straight-forward, it is critical that the ultimate approach taken towards online delivery is one which is tailored, fit-for-purpose and recognises the unique nature of online alcohol deliveries, particularly as it relates to the risk profile of this sector.

Retail Drinks Australia has taken a collaborative and proactive approach towards these consultations, liaising extensively with representatives from various Ministerial offices and government departments on each of these issues. As these consultations progress, Retail Drinks Australia will continue its advocacy to ensure that the collective views of the retail liquor industry are strongly represented.