Parliament: Questions Kelly's Asked

Powdered Alcohol

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Consumer Affairs questions regarding the potential sale of powdered alcohol in South Australia.

Leave granted.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Recently, the Victorian government has announced that it will move to ban powdered alcohol, known as Palcohol, as there is an expectation that an overseas manufacturer plans to sell this product in Australia. To make an instant standard drink, one pouch of the powdered alcohol is added to water. Media reports suggest that the product is likely to cause security problems for venues and events, as well as at schools, because it can be carried in powdered form and then mixed up on site. My questions to the minister are:

1.Is the minister concerned about a potential increased risk of drink spiking with such a substance available?

2.Will the South Australian government follow the Victorian government’s move to ban the sale of Palcohol?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers): I thank the honourable member for her most important question. I have read similar articles to those, no doubt, the Hon. Kelly Vincent has considered in relation to the proposed introduction of powdered alcohol here in Australia, and it does sort of beggar belief. Given the accessibility of alcohol already, it does amaze me that there is a potential market for selling powdered alcohol, but there you go. I will watch with great interest—

Members interjecting:

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I will certainly watch powdered Grange, as honourable members opposite me were suggesting.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: You could give us little sachets.

The PRESIDENT: Can the honourable leader stop—

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Thank you, Mr President, for your protection. It does beggar belief, I have to say, in terms of where the market appeal for that is. I have also understood some of the concerns, particularly around young people being able to more readily hide these sachets. I do not have a view at this point in time. I need to consider this carefully before, if necessary, taking a position to cabinet.

I have to say in my initial thinking it is hard for me to see a great deal of difference between carrying a sachet into a venue versus a hipflask, for instance. I do not see a great deal of difference in that, as I said, given the accessibility of alcohol already. It is the same with drink spiking as well. We understand that it is already fairly easy to spike a drink. Perhaps powdered alcohol might make it even easier, I am not sure, but I am certainly prepared to consider the concerns and fears around the introduction of powdered alcohol and, as I said, if necessary, take a position to cabinet for consideration.