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Australia's plan for tackling alcohol abuse and harm has been compromised because of meddling from the alcohol industry, health experts have warned.

Key points:

  • A leaked copy of the National Alcohol Strategy describes alcohol as "an intrinsic part of Australian culture"
  • State and territory ministers say they cannot endorse the new draft
  • Alcohol accounts for up to 15 per cent of emergency admissions at hospitals

The impasse is presenting an obstacle for Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, as he seeks to finalise the long-awaited blueprint.

"I'm not sure why we need to see it watered down," Western Australian Health Minister Roger Cook said. "Minister Hunt now needs to re-examine his conscience."

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said industry inclusion in strategy governance "presents a commercial conflict of interest" She added that changes from the Commonwealth had "significantly reduced the quality of the document".

This first draft also focused on "challenging perceptions of risk among Australians about safe drinking levels, including in relation to health impacts". But the revised draft instead focuses more on educating Australians or measures to prevent "excessive alcohol consumption" and "excessive drinking". Professor Miller says it ignores the harm caused by regular alcohol consumption. "That our governments and bureaucrats aren't pushing that message clearly in a National Alcohol Strategy is frightening," he said

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