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HomeIssue 43NT Government action on grog clearly not enough for Macklin

NT Government action on grog clearly not enough for Macklin

Adam Giles slams Feds giving themselves new alcohol reform powers in NT

The Australian Government will add to the ways in which it tells the Northern Territory Government what to do with new measures to tackle alcohol abuse  just announced.
It’s a move vehemently criticised by Shadow Minister for Central Australia, Adam Giles (pictured), who says the “Territory Labor Government has again ceded its sovereignty to the Commonwealth as a direct result of its failure to bring about improvements in living conditions on Aboriginal communities.
“Under Labor’s second intervention, southern bureaucrats will effectively have the power to shut down any pub or bottle shop that is seen to adversely affect Indigenous Territorians.”
The NT’s most recent alcohol reforms have been packaged under the banner Enough is Enough but they are clearly not enough, in the view of Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin.
The Stronger Futures legislation, being introduced into the national parliament today, will give her new power to request that the NT appoint independent assessors to look into licensed venues that are contributing to significant alcohol related harm to Aboriginal people through their serving practices.
“If the independent assessors find that the venues are disproportionately contributing to alcohol related harm to Aboriginal people, the Australian Government will work with the Northern Territory Government to ensure the practices of those venues change,” she says.
Minister for Indigenous Health and Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon says the new provision will help ensure licensed venues have the right licensing arrangements and are operating well.
“Most licensed premises in the Northern Territory are reputable and responsible businesses,” says Mr Snowdon.
“But sometimes venues may not have the right licensing conditions or are located in places where people are particularly vulnerable to alcohol related harm.
“And sadly sometimes the licensee may run the business in a way that facilitates extremely dangerous drinking.
“We need to make sure that genuine concerns that a venue is disproportionately contributing to alcohol-related harm are properly and independently assessed.
“This measure will make sure that those that warrant closer examination will get it.”
Specific venues are not mentioned in the government’s announcement but the so-called ‘animal bars’ of Alice Springs (video below) have been the subject of controversy, with strong criticism of their mode of operation aired in the national media, and would seem likely candidates for scrutiny. Despite Chief Minister Paul Henderson’s declaration at the time that such venues had “no place in the Northern Territory” and “their time is coming”, his government has done little to get in the way of their trade. A proposal by the Alice Springs Alcohol Reference Panel that there be no sale of full-strength alcohol without a meal before 2pm sparked a local outcry and was duly rejected by the Licensing Commission on the grounds that it would be “resented” by the wider population and “would likely increase the social divide”.
The only action taken was the the development of a set of “amenity guidelines” for licensed premises and the trial of Electronic ID systems in the venues hosting the ‘animal bars’.
The Australian Government’s legislation further includes measures to extend current alcohol restrictions, develop alcohol management plans and increase penalties for grog running.
Today’s announcement also refers to an agreement between the Australian and NT Governments to initiate an independent review to determine the effectiveness of alcohol-regulation legislation in the Northern Territory, to be tabled in the federal Parliament within three years.  It will cover the Northern Territory Government’s Enough is Enough reforms, the Stronger Futures alcohol restrictions and the Northern Territory Liquor Act.
Mr Giles says Ms Macklin “delivered a damning critique of Territory Labor’s performance when she released details of the second intervention.
“And the Government has just rolled over and accepted laws that ‘allow regulations to be made to modify particular laws of the Northern Territory’.
“It also means that any shop that sells food could be required to submit to a draconian set of Commonwealth rules.” – Kieran Finnane


  1. Good to see these Commonwealth politicians having the guts to show some serious, thoughtful leadership on this issue. If these steps are allowed to proceed to fruition, then at last we might get a better balance between the individual’s freedom to drink alcohol in the NT, and the rights of us all to be reasonably safe from the harms caused by many consumers of alcohol. In particular, we could even see adequate respect for the rights of all children to receive proper care from sober parents and carers, not disrupted by alcohol-related harms, and a healthy start to their lives during their pre-birth, pre-school and school years.

  2. I listened to “an expert” the other day. He was talking of stricter control on the sale of cask wine. “Just look at all the empty 2 litre casks in the Todd River,” he spruiked. I say, look at all the empty wine bottles, VB cartons, and other alcohol containers along the Todd. Look at the groups slurping on wine bottles around the Mall and Kmart, with not a cop in sight. The banning of 4 litre casks has done nothing except inconvenience the wider population. Now this expert wants 2 litre casks banned. It’s like living in kindergarten land!

  3. Re Tony @Posted November 29, 2011 at 9:52 am:
    You’re right, it is a bit like living in kindergarten land: if you paid any attention to the details that have emerged in this important ongoing debate, you would be well aware that your statement claiming the “banning of 4 litre casks has done nothing except inconvenience the wider population” is absolutely incorrect.
    The banning of the 4 litre casks has seen a sustained drop in overall sales of alcohol (close to a 20% drop since 2006), and this has massively improved things for the general public, because it has caused a drop in the average number of homicides, and a reduction in serious alcohol-related harms, emergency department attendances, expensive hospital procedures, and serious inter-personal violence and self-harms. Consequently the police and hospital are freed to take more care of the general public, as they have to spend less time clearing up the results of murders and serious assaults. Continued litter and public drinking problems are relatively small prices to pay compared to these public benefits.


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