12 Dec 2011

Dunne accused of keeping alcohol survey quiet

8:30 pm on 12 December 2011

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne is being accused of deliberately suppressing a survey that shows support for raising the price of cheap alcohol and reducing liquor trading hours.

The Health Sponsorship Council carried out the survey for the Ministry of Health last year, but it was never released.

Some 66% of those surveyed wanted a reduction in the hours alcohol can be sold and 57% wanted the price of cheap alcohol to go up.

A specialist in psychiatry and alcohol addiction treatment, Professor Doug Sellman from Alcohol Action, says Mr Dunne deliberately suppressed key new information.

He says Mr Dunne knew there was overwhelming support for much bigger change than what was in the Alcohol Reform Bill.

However, Mr Dunne says the council wanted $10,000 to have the survey results peer reviewed.

He says it was not worth spending that money, given most of the information was already in the public arena.

Mr Dunne says he had expected the council to have released the information on its own, as it was the council's report.

Council responds

The Health Sponsorship Council says alcohol data that it collected for the Ministry of Health was not suppressed, however it was not its role to release it.

Council chief executive Ian Potter says it only collected the data at the request of the ministry, and the protocol is to not release that information unless requested to.

Mr Potter says the council is not funded to work on alcohol issues.