There are certain things in life that if we are told often enough we simply believe to be true.
Recently we’ve been told, endlessly, that Australia has a “booze-soaked culture”, that we have an “alcohol abuse epidemic”.
And guess what? It’s JUST NOT TRUE.
On Australia Day I was at a party like most of you and I asked pretty much everyone I ran into where they would rank Aussies on a global table of booze hounds.
Most had us in the top five – and every single person had us in the Top 10. Why wouldn’t they?
And I was the same. Until I checked the stats.
I swear to god if drinking booze was an Olympic sport we’d be in the middle of a Royal Commission right now because our place on the global pecking order beggars belief.
According to the World Health Organisation figures published in 2011 we are 44th in the developed world on overall per capita consumption of all alcohol. Sure we are number 21 in beer and number 25 in wine but we are ranked 92nd in the consumption of spirits (which frankly I wish I had known before creating my own gin brand last year ).
I’m not in any way suggesting we should be shooting for a higher spot on the table, I’m just craving a little bit of balance – I just wish some politicians and commentators would put on their sensible hats and get out of the sun.
More Australians these days are drinking less but better and that is evidenced by the multitude of small bars and expensive craft drinks. We are taxed and policed more than any drinking culture in the world. And as for the policing, well we deserve it and tolerate it so we can try to avoid the tragedies of recent months.
But we are not global booze hounds, we are NOT, on the whole, serial alcohol abusers. We most definitely have issues with binge drinking, alcohol and drug related violence and sometimes handing out licences to people who probably ought not have the privilege.
If you want the booze gold medallists then take yourself to Moldova (overall), Czech Republic (beer), Luxembourg (wine) or South Korea (spirits) to see cultures soaked in booze.
We have our social problems just like everyone else and we should continue to make sensible and reasoned decisions to better our society. Half baked, knee jerk policy on the run is not the way to make our city or state a better place to live.
Stuart Gregor runs marketing firm Liquid Ideas and owns a gin business and a small winery.