ALBURY councillor David Thurley wants a public debate on whether the city’s pubs and clubs should be banned from selling energy drinks.
It’s a move the peak body representing beverage companies has labelled “concerning”.
Australian Beverages Council chief Geoff Parker and a Red Bull manager Zach Rich flew to Albury this week and met Cr Thurley and council community safety officer Heather Webster and Cr Daryl Betteridge in separate meetings.
Mr Parker said he found Cr Thurley’s description of the meetings being “damage control” to be “offensive”.
“They’re out to protect their market and when they see threats pop-up they go to calm it down,” Cr Thurley said.
Cr Thurley said he did not want to ban energy drinks, but wanted the council to lead the debate on what they community wanted.
“We have forums about parking and parks and gardens, why not a forum about this?” he said.
“I’m 66, I don’t go to Groove Saint, but the community needs a serious talk about ‘is this what we want’?”
Cr Thurley said energy drinks could encourage patrons to do more shots during a night out and lead anti-social behaviour.
“It’s a culture, the bombs — like Jagerbombs, energy drinks and a shot of alcohol,” he said.
“If a pub is saying it’s serving alcohol responsibly, I can’t see how serving a shot is. That whole shot of alcohol goes down in one gulp, followed by the energy drink.
Mr Parker said he was concerned any stakeholder would propose banning a non-alcoholic drink from licensed premises under the guise of addressing anti-social behaviour.
“It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
“All non-alcoholic beverages help licensed venues to provide non-alcoholic alternatives,” he said.
“Soft drink, for example, stops drink driving and coffee can keep designated drivers awake.
“Quite frankly, energy drinks are no different.”
He said his organisation did not support energy drinks being used in shots or in buy-one-get-one-free promotions.
He said the sale of energy drinks at the average bar accounted for 0.6 per cent of sales and 95 per cent leading energy drinks were from supermarkets and convenient stores.
Mr Parker said he was keen to attend a community forum and he rejected Cr Thurley’s assertions his visit was “damage control”.
“We take offence at any assertion that it’s damage control,” he said.
“This is part of what industry bodies do — we talk to stakeholders.”
Cr Thurley will meet Groove Saint owner Craig Shearer on Monday.