Prime Minister Scott Morrison has backed a Melbourne pub’s offer of free alcohol to vaccinated patrons, after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) told the publican to pull the campaign, ABC News reports.
The Prince Alfred hotel in Port Melbourne offered vaccinated patrons “a free drink of their choosing — whether it be a pint, a wine, or a house spirit and mixer” as a vaccine incentive.
The TGA contacted the pub on Tuesday and highlighted the regulation which bans the offer of “alcohol, tobacco or registered medicines” as incentives for COVID vaccinations.
During an interview on Channel Seven’s Sunrise today, Morrison described the TGA’s intervention as “a bit heavy-handed.”
“It’s a sensible rule, but in these circumstances, the national interest is to get vaccinated, so to the PA [Prince Alfred] down there in Melbourne, good on you for getting behind the national effort… cheers to the PA,” he said.
The Prime Minister offered his endorsement despite the fact that up to 15 Australians die every day from alcohol-related illnesses.
In 2014, VicHealth revealed the Alcohol’s Burden of Disease in Australia report, found 5,554 deaths and 157,132 hospitalisations were caused by alcohol in 2010, with the number of deaths increasing by 62 per cent since the study was last undertaken a decade ago.
The report also found that 430 Australians are hospitalised every day from alcohol-related causes.
“For men, injuries accounted for more than one in three (36%) alcohol-related deaths, while cancer and digestive diseases caused 25 and 16 per cent, respectively. For women, one in three alcohol-related deaths were due to heart disease (34%), followed by cancers (31%) and injuries (12%).”
A recent survey from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation revealed that 12% of Australians have begun consuming alcohol on a daily basis since the beginning of the ‘pandemic,’ with one in ten consuming over ten standard drinks per week.
Mental health experts also claimed a connection between lockdowns and the increased risk of excessive drinking, with one in five Australians saying they regret their alcohol consumption during lockdown periods.