Changes to laws hope to curb 'harmful drinking culture'

THE Queensland Government is considering opening bottle shops across the state from 9am each day, as part of proposed changes to liquor laws.

Under the proposal, the 789 takeaway licensees in Queensland would extend their opening hours from 10am to 10pm to 9am to 10pm.

All bottle shops could also apply for an extension to open until midnight, in line with existing regulations.

The government is considering the changes as part of a red tape reduction discussion paper detailing wider reforms to liquor and gaming laws in Queensland.

Department of Health acting chief health officer Dr Stephen Lambert said the state was taking the issue of alcohol-related harm seriously.

He said the government was working with both the Commonwealth and Australian National Preventative Health Agency to address "harmful drinking culture".

"There is a role for everyone in changing our drinking culture, including governments, workplaces, communities, families and individuals," he said.

"Research evidence supports creating environments that support low-risk drinking as well as encouraging and supporting individual responsibility."

His comments came after a report last week revealed an alarming 31% rise in alcohol-related presentations at emergency departments around the state.

Released by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, the report also showed a 57% rise in alcohol-related hospitalisations across the state in the 10 years to 2011-12.

Foundation chief executive Michael Thorn said the results were "extremely troubling", saying the government was "in retreat on this issue".

"In the face of rising alcohol harms, you would imagine this government would look to ways to strengthen the existing measures that serve to protect and ensure public safety," he said.

Despite the criticism, Dr Lambert said the government was working on drink-driving, early intervention and treatment and various other policies to stem the flow of alcohol-related harm.

State government figures also show there are about 30,000 hospitalisations associated with harmful alcohol consumption each year around state.



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