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The Great Alcohol Debate: Council rangers work 'more difficult' since scrapping of BDR, says Mayor

Town Council rangers have had a “more difficult workload” since the removal of the Banned Drinkers Register, according to Mayor Damien Ryan. He told his fellow councillors last night that he had conveyed this message to the stakeholders’ meeting on alcohol issues convened by Deputy Chief Minister Robyn Lambley on October 5.
Under council’s Public Places by-laws public drinking is prohibited and rangers have the power to seize and empty open containers of liquor.
May Ryan said that each stakeholder representative at the October 5 meeting spoke of their organisation’s experience of alcohol issues and that the rangers’ “disappointment” was what he could speak about. He also commented on the bigger number of wine and spirit bottles found in the public open space since the scrapping of the BDR, which had “dissipated over time” with its introduction. Mayor Ryan was responding to a question from Councillor Jade Kudrenko about the meeting.
Meanwhile, his opposition to the NT Rock Bar’s application to extend its trading hours had evaporated as had Cr Eli Melky’s. Council had received an extension of time to comment on the application and last night voted to “not object”.
At right: The NT Rock Bar last night.
Cr Eli Melky said he had changed his mind after meeting with the licensee. He was satisfied that he runs his business well and that he fully understood council’s concerns with alcohol and anti-social behaviour issues. Cr Melky said he sought assurance from the licensee that he would  attend relevant meetings to work towards resolving alcohol-related issues, which the licensee gave. He encouraged his colleagues to vote in the affirmative which the majority duly did. Crs Geoff Booth and  Brendan Heenan were absent but had voted in the affirmative previously; only Cr Kudrenko abstained, though without comment.
Mayor Ryan said his “main” point when he spoke on this matter at the committee meeting was how to get Gaming and Licensing to understand council’s meeting cycle. He didn’t revisit the substance of the application.
Council has since been told that there shouldn’t be a problem with allowing enough time to comment on future applications.


  1. Yeah, I’m not sure why Damien is relating the increase in the amount of empty alcohol containers being found by rangers to the scrapping of the BDR. That would suggest that many confirmed drinkers, alcoholics, had given up drinking because of the BDR and immediately took the all consuming habit up again upon the dismissal of the BDR. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t seem very likely to me, bordering on the bounds of complete improbability I would suggest. When the BDR was scrapped there was also a bit of political by play going on, some of which resulted in police backing of the concentrated effort they had been putting in under Operation Marathon. Put that together with the footy grand finals and the normal increase in activity we see as the weather warms and I think you will have a much more likely reason for the increasing demand on Ranger Services. What would in fact be truly of note would be if we didn’t have an increase at this time of year, that is the day we are all looking for and that day will never come until we address the issue of Problem Drinking with Compulsory Rehabilitation!

  2. Steve, you don’t pay any attention to the social context in which Aboriginal alcoholics consume, nor do you appear to understand the emotional, historical or psychological stress and dependency foisted on Aboriginal society by one that has determined how they will live and how much they will pay for everything, including the price of a dwelling.
    The cultural differences between these two societies are barely understood or appreciated and are more often criticised for reasons that don’t bear repeating. Aboriginality is wafer thin in Australia and staggering under the weight of a culture that sees going for gold as the raison d’etre for its existence.
    Welfare or Sit-down money has been the salve for a hegemony that you well know goes back into multiple massacres across the continent and still resides in Aboriginal memory as they move about these countries.
    You make no mention of alcohol supply reduction or the human cost to black and white, not to mention the taxpayer who foots the bill for government / alcohol industry coercion and continue to write as if this is an abstract phenomenon that has no impact on the lives of people. Your only solution is compulsory rehabilitation.

  3. Re Steve’s comment (Posted October 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm): Steve is unable to assimilate (or possibly is not able to cope with) the fact that the BDR greatly reduced – but did not necessarily completely eliminate – a great deal of the alcohol consumption of most of the 800 or so local drinkers who were on the banning register.
    Many of these people were occasional or regular binge drinkers, mostly visitors to town from bush communities, and would not fit the classic description of alcoholics.
    Many others were town-dwelling daily drinkers, or as close to it as they could manage on their limited incomes.
    As these banned drinkers’ combined access to alcohol was reduced, and the BDR process produced a “critical mass” effect, so the ability of police to contain and eliminate the remaining public drinking and nuisance making was greatly increased, leading to the situation we saw in July and August, when there was virtually no public drinking or disorder occurring in public spaces even during sunny daylight hours.
    Steve chooses to reduce the fact of the BDR’s impact to a simple caricature of the complex reality.
    However it is completely predictable that most of the 800 banned drinkers in central Australia would immediately resume their bingeing as soon as they were no longer blocked from drinking at the Todd Tavern and Gapview bars and once again able to freely purchase take-away alcohol anywhere they pleased.
    Thus the Mayor and his workers are on very strong factual and logical grounds, supported by many other observers, and are entitled to have their opinions respected, when they interpret the sudden return of widespread littering of alcohol containers and broken glass in public places as strongly correlating with and mainly caused by the suspension of the Banned Drinkers Register.

  4. I think the BDR and its immediate removal by the incoming CLP government is a near classic case of a promise made in Opposition and then enacted out of a sense of needing to keep faith with the electors once the counting is over.
    To say the BDR didn’t work is simply wrong. It was never going to be all the answer, but it did contribute to a better-than-before situation. White Gums is a long way out of town, and statistics don’t tell all the story. Those of us who live in town know what we see and hear once the bottle shops open. Certainly what we see and hear once the sun goes down.
    To provide an ID was not such an imposition after all. It was certainly cheaper than a rehabilitation facility, altho if the money can be found I reckon we could do with a couple of them as well.
    Perhaps the biggest shame is in letting the banned drinkers back into the pubs. Only the publicans will benefit from that piece of short-sightedness.
    Let us hope and pray that the new government keeps the dirt bikes patrolling. Summer is almost on us, and any type of helpful facility is only a promise.
    I see grog on communities on the horizon. Wonder how that’ll go.

  5. The banned drinker register achieved partial success when placed a name on the register.
    Success of public register is when others avoid being added to the register.
    Primary concern for others – many fellow drinkers, may be to avoid being placed on banned drinker register.
    Thus effectiveness of list increased as an effective deterrent.
    Deterrence shows with fewer events.

  6. Backing what Damian said, I have noticed a massive increase in general litter and broken bottles all around the Crown land near the Lovegrove Drive / Larapinta intersection. There are a lot more people camping, drinking and fighting. There aren’t any toilets there, and the stench rising from the blankets and discarded food items is sickening. The NT Police Superintendent’s office has discussed these issues with me following correspondence to Adam Giles, who has been very supportive. What a shame to take kids bike riding and having to put up with this filth. Unfortunately, it has got noticeably worse since the election, although it has spiked previously with events such as footy carnivals etc. These drinkers come from prescribed public housing and Morris Soak camp, but many are drifters from out of town. Please feel free to walk through this area to get first hand confirmation.

  7. In 1642, Columbus defied the many anonymous flat-earth theorists and sailed to what was called the “New World”.
    In 1770, Cook sailed up the east coast of the “Great Southern Land” (Quiros 1660) and noted in his log that the Indigenous people seemed quite happy.
    Further north, in central Qld, he went ashore again and noted that the people slept on pieces of paperbark around cooking fires where their wooden dishes had been left when they fled into the scrub as the Englishmen approached. Some in the party thought them “poor wretches”.
    250 years later, the anonymous Ray invites us to freely wander through the hills around Alice and note the different toilet of people who once fled from Englishmen, and others, at the point of a gun or because they couldn’t afford the price of overnight accommodation.
    Not trying to be funny, Ray, and always appreciate your posts, but a little perspective goes a long way.

  8. My apologies for the typological error – 1606 is the correct date (not 1660), placing Ferdinand de Quiros in the Coral Sea region, well ahead of Columbus’ departure from Lisbon and it’s reasonable to assume that the Spaniards had a bit of a chat.

  9. Wow Russell such a response on a simple observation of mine that the litter and associated mess is getting worse, in line with the original article. For this I get a brief history of the world over the last 400 years.
    I am aware of Cook sailing up and down the coast. I have been to Cooktown and the Town of 1770, so I have that part of history pretty well covered. I never invited you to inspect toileting habits, I simply invited interested readers to walk through one area that suffers from the problem that Mayor Ryan mentioned, and how his rangers noticed an increase in the amount and types of litter. Evidence to back the claims in the article, as according to you Russell, we can’t have an opinion unless we have evidence to back it up.
    I am actually referring to what is happening today Russell, in 2012. I have not personally seen Englishmen running around with guns chasing the natives into this area, but maybe you have evidence of this?
    Can’t afford overnight accommodation? Really Russell? I am not worried about why they are here, I just object to the litter, broken glass, drunken arguments and lack of hygiene that is occurring in our town. What modern, civilised society should tolerate this, particularly when it occurs in an area of such natural beauty that is regularly used by walkers, bike riders and runners. All of whom have a right to use this area. Before you claim I am being racist towards the “poor wretches” remember that the “traditional owners” are offended by it. These people, from Utopia, Yuendemu, Papunya and other areas, are coming into country that is not theirs, and disrespecting it. The need for basic sanitation is known by modern and traditional people. It may be that these people, who subject their own children to this lifestyle, simply do not care. There are people like this across all races, so I am not racial profiling. If you think that Aboriginal people do not have any reason to care about our standards of cleanliness and pride, please tell those communities that proudly display a Tidy Town Winner sign that their efforts are only white fella way.
    You have proven you vastly superior intelligence with your dates and placements of historical events and explorers, but why do you feel the need to denigrate a person of no more than average intelligence, who simply likes to share an opinion to contribute to some of the issues affecting the place I have chosen to call home?

  10. Wow, Ray! Didn’t denigrate you, said I appreciated your posts. Didn’t call you racist, either. Have walked those places you mentioned many years ago, more specifically in 2004 and noted that the drift into Alice from surrounding communities for some of the reasons why you and I hang out in town was an issue that was going to become more urgent.
    History, especially how the Old World and the New World (from the European perspective) works out cultural differences is of interest to me. As I said, a little perspective goes a long way in finding acceptable solution.
    The question of traditional owners etc. that you raise is bound up in the Alcohol Management issue, and the NT Government is now receding from criminalisation of problem drinkers to a position where they are considering it as a health issue. So, you are on the right track and I’m not intending to be supercilious.
    Sorry if you are offended by history. Terra Nullius, the legal fiction, is no more. Social consequences remain. When are you going to come out of the anonymous closet?

  11. My own observations on this matter confirm what Mayor Damien Ryan said, and contradicts Councillor Steve Brown’s original comment. I noticed an immediate upsurge in the quantity of alcohol-related rubbish following the suspension of the Banned Drinkers’ Register. The access to my residence is in a laneway between the Eastside IGA at one end and the Todd River at the other, with the Todd Tavern in the near vicinity.
    The number of cheap wine bottles, whole and broken, that were discarded in that laneway and along or in the Todd River (which I cross at least daily) increased dramatically in the first week of the BDR suspension. It’s very clear there was a sale of cheap wine that coincided (?) with the NT Government’s decision.
    Also noticeable was the number of single-use white plastic bags discarded in the laneway, these were used for the sale of liquor. I collected a large number of them and am currently using them for my own rubbish disposal.
    The past can return to haunt us in many ways.
    A good example is in regard to the now dismantled Banned Drinkers’ Register, as quoted below: “David Koch, an alderman and former publican of the Todd Tavern, claims the recommendations in the report make licensees responsible for the irresponsible behaviour of a small minority.
    “The report, commissioned by the Alcohol Reference Group, recommends licensees label their casks so police can track the point of sale of any alcohol which has led to anti-social behaviour”.
    Mr Koch rejected this idea and suggested an alternative approach for troublesome drinkers: “The solution is simple.
    “They could be identified and banned from buying alcohol” (Koch claims grog report ‘outrageous’, Centralian Advocate, February 2, 1999).
    Mr Koch was also a prominent member of the CLP in Alice Springs, including being a branch chairman.

  12. @ Alex Nelson posted 10:42 am 6/11/12.
    Top comment Alex, it would seem that the Mayor and other residents are right in their osbervations and that the ‘new chum’ is not. Perhaps Steve is in denial or has been too busy to have a look for himself.
    I am sure you will recycle those white bags in a suitable manner. Dare I suggest to other concerned readers e.g. the anonymous Ray included, to pick up those naughty cheap wine bottles that are both whole and broken.
    It is not too hard to make a real difference.
    Dogooder Dave Chewings aka THE lone dingo.

  13. Thanks Dave, I do pick up the litter (bottles and cans) with my kids, and take them to be cashed in. I do this with my kids for pocket money for them. I do need to take care though and we don’t pick up the broken ones, but once again, we still seem to be picking up the pieces. All my original post was intended to do was agree with Damien, that the workload of the rangers seems to have increased, along with the litter, which is a shame.


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