Alcohol truth: Dutch journalist strips away Heineken’s veneer of global goodness

February 20, 2019

Heineken have proven that when the alcohol industry goes unchecked by regulation, there is no limit to bad behaviour in pursuit of profits. Dutch journalist Olivier van Beeman’s book Heineken in Africa. A Multinational Unleashed, has been launched in English and is being promoted in Australia.   

In this Drink Tank podcast Van Beeman talks about his six years of research into Heineken’s operations across 12 African countries, and what he uncovered from the more than 400 sources he dealt with in and around the company.

Van Beeman’s book reveals many controversial facts and practices that made headlines in the Netherlands and around the world. It shows how Heineken collaborated with dictators, authoritarian governments and an alleged war criminal; explains how it achieves tax avoidance; and reveals the company is tied to human rights violations and high level corruption.

Van Beemen gives new insights and analyses about business in Africa and the role of multinational companies in jurisdictions that are lawless and poor. A major conclusion in the book is that Heineken has succeeded in imposing its own narrative about the positive benefits of alcohol and the company; however, they didn’t count on van Beeman relentlessly unpacking Heineken’s record and separating the truth from lies.

Overwhelming support for Newcastle’s liquor laws to be maintained

February 12, 2018

The Newcastle CBD Liquor Licence Conditions have been central to public interest advocacy for alcohol availability interventions to prevent alcohol-fuelled street violence and injury, but were recently challenged.

Last week, submissions to the current Newcastle liquor review closed, with those championing Newcastle’s life saving measures, including doctors, voicing concerns about the review process and demanding that the existing liquor laws are maintained.

In this podcast, Dr Peter Saul, Senior Intensive Care specialist for Hunter New England Health and community campaigner, Tony Brown discuss Newcastle’s bloody history prior to the introduction of the Newcastle measures, saying it is the fear of a return to those dark days that has prompted 300 Hunter doctors to make their plea to the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to maintain the measures.

Dr Peter Saul and Tony Brown both agree that the review has been initiated to suppress the great outcomes that have been achieved in Newcastle over the last ten years, and say that apart from the industry wanting change, there is no popular or broad support to changes the existing measures.

Alison Douglas: David v Goliath - Lessons from Minimum Unit Pricing in Scotland

November 19, 2017

In the ten years since the concept of minimum unit pricing (MUP) was first mooted in Scotland, it has gone from being perceived as an extreme proposal by public health advocates to a mainstream policy with widespread public and political support. In 2012, MUP legislation was passed unopposed in the Scottish Parliament. Despite losing the policy argument, global alcohol producers continued to oppose this life-saving measure, challenging its legality.

In this video interview with Alison Douglas, Chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, shares about her Global Alcohol Policy Conference presentation, David v Goliath: Lessons from Minimum Pricing in Scotland. Ms Douglas gives us an ex-government insider’s view of how MUP became accepted as a proportionate and appropriate response to the alcohol problem in Scotland, and the role of advocacy organisations in achieving this.

Ms Douglas also highlighted the critical role small advocacy organisations, such as Alcohol Focus Scotland, can play in strengthening the case for intervention going forward.

Professor Antonia Lyons discusses young people and alcohol marketing on social media

November 19, 2017

Professor Antonia Lyons from Massey University (NZ) explores why and how the alcohol industry are reaching underage drinkers online.

Jeff Collin: The alcohol industry, unhealthy commodity producers and health governance

November 19, 2017

At the 2017 Global Alcohol Policy Conference (GAPC) in Melbourne, Professor Jeff Collin explored the links between the world’s leading alcohol producers and manufacturers of tobacco and ultra-processed food products, political elites and health and development agencies.

Jeff Collin PhD is a professor of global health policy in the Global Public Health Unit, School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh.  A political scientist, his research focuses on global health governance and strategies used by unhealthy commodity industries to influence public policy.

In this short video, filmed at GAPC 2017, Professor Collin unpacks the expansion of unhealthy commodity industries, how the alcohol industry is inextricably linked to other industries, and how public health can respond to these effectively at national and international levels.

Professor Collin questions why governments are prepared to take decisive action to regulate the tobacco industry and exclude them from policy making, yet so often view the alcohol industry as a potential ‘partner in progress’.

Professor Collin explains that what underpins the success of tobacco control in Australia and internationally, is taking conflict of interest seriously – by recognising that there are very powerful commercial interests who are actively looking to undermine the development of effective health policies that would reduce their profits.

Dr Adrian Griscti discusses wine access, consumption, and risk knowledge in a wine producing region

November 19, 2017

In the Global Alcohol Policy Conference, Dr Adrian Griscti, a rural GP from Angaston in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, and a clinical educator at Flinders University and Adelaide University, presented research that explored the associations between wine industry affiliation, availability of free or discounted alcohol, understanding of National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines, and alcohol consumption.

Peter Miller shares insights from his GAPC2017 workshop

November 19, 2017

Professor Peter Miller of Violence Prevention and Addiction Studies, School of Psychology, Deakin University, shares at GAPC2017 about his workshop 'Vested Interests and Alcohol industry Corporate Political behaviour'.

Issah Ali shares insights from his GAPC2017 presentation

November 19, 2017

Issah Ali, Executive Director of Vision for Alternative Development (VALD) in Ghana, discusses the call for stronger national focus on alcohol prevention strategies in Ghana.

Louise Gray shares insights from her GAPC2017 presentation

November 19, 2017

At GAPC2017, Louise Gray, Executive Officer and Chairperson of the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFASD), shares with us the success and frustrations to improving information, understanding and awareness on FASD in Australia.

Hannah Pierce shares insights from her GAPC2017 presentation

November 19, 2017

At GAPC2017, Hannah Pierce, an Information and Research officer at McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth (MCCAY) in Australia discusses how Australia rely on industry self-regulation despite little evidence of its effectiveness.