Free «Government Policy in Australia» Essay Sample
Question one: What recent Australian government policies have been put in place to decrease smoking, binge drinking and obesity? Have they been effective?
The Australian government has come up with stringent polices to help reduce the rate of smoking that takes place in the country, reduce drinking habits and obesity. With regard to smoking habits, the government has come up with revenue measures aimed at reducing the affordability of tobacco products. It has increased excise taxes and custom duties. It has also encouraged many people to quit smoking and even those who would have considered smoking are less likely to start. For instance, in the year 2010, the government increased excise on tobacco by whopping 25%. It is the same margin, by which the tobacco prices are expected to be rising in the following four years. In the 2012-2013 budget, a measure to change the duty-free concession on tobacco products was included. Previously, one could bring into Australia up to 250 cigarettes or alternatively 250 grams of cigars or any tobacco product duty free. But beginning from September 2012, it has been reduced to 50 cigarettes or 50 grams of cigars or of any tobacco product. These policies will help discourage smoking. It has amended customs and excise legislations. It will help implement measures to prevent erosion of prices through evading duly taxes on tobacco. The second measure is the introduction of indigenous tobacco control. It is an initiative by Australian government, which seeks to reduce the number of smoking people among the indigenous communities in the regional, urban and remote areas by half in the year 2018. It is effective because the people are attended to by professionals from their own regions, which make offering advice and follow-up very easy. It is through advocating for training and mentorship programs for the people working in indigenous tobacco control.
Training has also been designed so as to empower health workers notwithstanding multi-component based community programs to facilitate provision of interventions. These policies have been highly complied with through high community support and a reduced consumption of tobacco. These policies have helped ensure that all community members are provided with smoke-free public places and workplaces. Best practices on smoke-free legislation will help cover all enclosed public places and thus provide equal protection to workers in industries (Busfield 2000).
With regard to the drinking habits in Australia, the government through the National Alcohol Strategy has come up with policies to help curb the rate of alcoholism. These policies include regulation of physical availability, introduction of taxation and pricing policies, strict drink-driving countermeasures and treatment, and early intervention. Regulation of physical availability of alcohol has been achieved through restricting the hours and days of alcohol sale, restriction on the density of outlets and ensuring minimum legal purchase age measures. Policies on advertising and marketing of alcohol have been affected to ensure that advertising of alcohol is subject to codes of practice that address health issues and have no unfair effect on the young generation. One important step is the lockout policy in Sydney that restricts the number of hours and the times of opening of bars and other alcohol selling spots in a bid to reduce the alcohol related crimes in the city. Indeed, since it started being implemented, fewer numbers of people are seen late at night coming from bars in Sydney, which is a sign that people are being very compliant with the law.
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To curb obesity in the country, Australian government has come up with policies and initiatives to help the occurrence of obesity cases in the country. It has come up with policies to ensure reshaping of food supply towards lower risk products and pricing. The taxation system has been reviewed to felicitate access to the healthier foods and active recreation. There has also been provision of disincentives towards unhealthy foods by increasing taxes for energy dense foods. The government has also come up with food composition policies. These will help increase the availability and access of healthy food options and also support an environment for behavior change (Ma & Truswell 1995). There has been product reformulation in many of the country’s industries, especially in fast food industries. There have also been food subsidies to enable availability and accessibility of nutritious foods to consumers who are socially or geographically disadvantaged and have low ability to consume healthy foods. The government has also come with policies to protect children and regulate inappropriate advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages.
Question two: Identify policy implications for stakeholders arising from the issues under discussion
There have been different policy implications to the stakeholders, which have raised from the government policies with regard to smoking, drinking habits and obesity. Smoking policies have had effects on the business sector, like loss of job opportunities for those who have used to work in these industries plus loss of a lot of revenue, which the government has used to collect from tobacco industries there before. The new smoking restrictions have attracted a major concern from businesses about potential revenue losses they experience. Thus the business sector has experienced profound losses, which, as mentioned above, include loss of job opportunities and also revenues that used to come from the tobacco industries (Carter & Scollo 2000).
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The introduction of higher taxation rates on alcohol has also affected the business sector with many of alcohol industries facing a decline in their profit margins. The introduction of partial or complete bans on the advertisement and promotion of alcohol has also negatively affected the business sector (Harris, Ramful, & Zhao 2004).
As for the health sector in obesity management, it has been majorly the key stakeholder. The health sector has a mandate with the task of investing heavily in preventive measures and appropriate interventions. The government also has the responsibility of coordinating preventive health reforms through delivering preventive programs and adequate support to individuals, families, communities and the health system (Jones et al. 2009).