The New South Wales (NSW) state government of Australia committed to several reforms for online alcohol sale and delivery in the NSW Liquor Amendment Bill in 2020. One of the reforms was enforcing mandatory age verification for same-day alcohol deliveries. The verification was supposed to occur electronically using the federal government’s Document Verification Service and Trusted Digital Identity Framework. This was supposed to start this month.
Instead of the more comprehensive electronic method, the NSW government published regulations on June 1 allowing companies the option of simply asking customers to state that they could produce a document to verify their age – such as a driver’s license – if asked on point of delivery, and keep records of that statement being made. This is in addition to the obligation companies have to check IDs at the point of delivery.
The NSW government has allowed for a grace period till September for companies to adhere to this measure of collecting a statement. The Sydney Morning Herald reports when they checked on this measure last week none of the alcohol delivery services asked customers to sign the statement.
Liquor and Gaming NSW will monitor their progress and review the effectiveness of this regime by June 1, 2023.
The reason the NSW government has given for not implementing the electronic age verification method is “technical difficulties”. One of the issues which had arisen in electronic age verification was matching purchasers’ ID documents to the DVS. This had led to long processing times and/or large failure rates where the matching was unable to be completed.
The Greens party which brought in the amendment said it was unbelievable that alcohol companies can deliver alcohol within 30 minutes but can’t figure out how to effectively use electronic age verification systems which already exist. There are currently three ID verification providers in Australia who are accredited under TDIF: Australia Post, myGov ID, and OCR Labs.
It’s incredible that these companies can figure out how to deliver alcohol to your door in minutes but not how to implement existing identity verification technology,” said Cate Faehrmann, Greens upper house member and alcohol policy spokeswoman who introduced that amendment, as per The Sydney Morning Herald.
Clearly, the alcohol industry cares more about its bottom line than it does about the potential harms caused by alcohol.”Cate Faehrmann, Greens upper house member and alcohol policy spokeswoman
The NSW State government has also given alcohol companies the option of using an alternate ID-checking solution including those that are not using the federal government’s Document Verification Service. Some alcohol companies are already looking into this option.
Melanie Poole, policy director at the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education said regarding the statement collection measure on age verification instead of electronic age verification that it was not acceptable for customers to self-report their age.
The new laws on same-day alcohol delivery in NSW were supposed to reduce the harm caused by rising alcohol delivery in Australia, including children accessing alcohol. But alcohol companies are failing to implement even these measures and it appears the NSW government is relaxing the measures to benefit alcohol companies.