By: Fabian Cotter

IT’S THE END OF THE ROAD - literally and metaphorically - for alcohol advertising on Perth public transport, with a state government ban effective immediately for rail and changes for bus starting March, 2019, it’s reported recently.

Alcohol advertising on Perth public transport is to be phased out in full by the WA Government.

According to the McGowan Labor government, the changes will be phased in over this term, beginning with rail and digital billboard advertising, which is now in effect. The move is part of the, "delivery of McGowan Government election commitment under the 'Plan for Health," it’s stated. It equates to a state revenue loss of AUD$160,000 per annum. 

The organisations involved include the Public Transport Authority (PTA) and APN Outdoor, which holds two existing contracts covering the sale of advertising space on buses, trains and related infrastructure. Both contracts have some years still to run - to 2019, in the case of buses, and 2022, for trains.

Though both contracts enable the PTA to restrict advertising under certain circumstances, legal advice indicated that it would be difficult to effect an immediate total ban on alcohol advertising, the government concedes.

Accordingly, Transport Minister Rita Saffioti directed that the contracts be allowed to run their course but that the replacement contracts or contract extension options incorporate an alcohol ban.

The PTA has negotiated with APN Outdoor to incorporate an alcohol ban into the current contracts as early as contractually practical.

The APN agreements currently generate revenue of about $8 million per year for the PTA, of which alcohol advertising accounts for about $160,000 (about two per cent). Advertising revenue helps to pay for transport services, the government states.

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The government is, "…working with the alcohol industry to further reduce and restrict the advertising of alcohol at locations, and in ways that target children," it’s stated.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said, "After coming to Government, I asked the PTA to look into how it might achieve a total ban on alcohol advertising on all its property - rolling stock and fixed infrastructure.

"I decided that the most prudent course of action was to allow the existing APN contracts to run their course, but that alcohol advertising be prohibited under any new agreements or contract extension options.

"I am pleased we have been able to achieve this ban on alcohol advertising on public transport in a practical and relatively short timeframe."

Health Minister Roger Cook added, "Before the election, I said that in government I would seek a ban on alcohol advertising on PTA assets. I am delighted this important ban has come into effect.

"We need to continue to influence community attitudes around alcohol… Many young people use public transport and we need to reinforce the message that excessive alcohol consumption is dangerous.

"Preventative health is an important issue for all Western Australians. The impact of alcohol abuse on the community is staggering in terms of sickness, disability, effect on families, cost to the hospital system and early and preventable death."

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