Police presence cuts turnover of pub by 40%


The owners of the Gapview Hotel say their turnover has dropped around 40% since there has been a highly visible police presence at the front of their premises – as there is at all takeaway liquor outlets.
Ray and Diane Loechel say the police action is “discriminatory in nature because only one type of people” are being targeted.
Seeing squad cars and vans parked in front of the pub is scaring away potential customers who “automatically assume there is an issue whereas there is no issue inside whatsoever.
“We all work within the Act and comply with what we have to comply with. It’s soul destroying,” says Ms Loechel.
Asked whether a high police presence isn’t what most locals are clamouring for, she says: “I don’t know. We live in the Northside and we went home the other day and within 20 metres of the police there was a fight occurring.
“And that was between people they are supposedly targeting over anti-social behaviour. It still occurs and they are still arresting a lot of people.”
She says police carrying out licence checks, dealing with outstanding warrants, making arrests and defecting cars slows down the traffic in and out of the hotel and bottle shop, often blocking the driveways.
“We are aware of alcohol problems in the town but there has to be another way of policing this without sending legitimate businesses to the wall.”
Ms Loechel says the pub has approvals for a refurbishment of the bar area and for accommodation units at the rear – projects which are now in doubt: “If we don’t have customers we won’t be doing it.
“The banks won’t lend us the money if we go downhill at a rate of knots.
“What are we telling the people of Alice Springs? You can’t go out to eat now?
“All of us are happy to work with police, all of us would like to sit down and work something out. We don’t like the violence and all those things that are out there.”
Ms Loechel declined to disclose the hotel’s turnover, and says it’s not possible to say how many people drinking in public in the vicinity have bought their grog at the Gapview.
“People have cars.They are highly mobile,” she says.
The Alice Springs News Online has asked the police to comment.


  1. There is more than a little irony in the publican’s comment regarding police law enforcement at the Gapview as “soul destroying.”
    In the early 1980s, the plastic covered, neon sign outside the Gapview was frequently, over many months, the target of rocks. The pub was built on ceremonial ground.
    The area where the roundabout is was an important site for the Arrente and a welcoming place for other tribal groups who visited Alice Springs (Mbantua). Selling grog seven days per week on a sacred site from where locals were dispossessed could be considered soul destroying.

  2. Yes, it’s true, police are discriminatory. They discriminate by helping those of us in need and those who break the laws we have fought to have enacted. If we don’t need help and don’t break the law, lo and behold, the police usually leave us alone. It’s ironic that people whinge and whine about wanting the police to do something about crime and when they do, they complain that there is too much enforcement (or in this case, the profits are dropping off). Maybe there is a better way to approach the challenges that face us, however, please remember police officers are doing the job we pay them for and expect them to do.

  3. This is useful information. It suggests that perhaps 40% of drive-thru customers know they would not pass a breath test. (The Loechels do not mention police breath testing even once, so they must not be aware of this).
    Of course, no liquor takeaway would EVER intentionally serve drink drivers and make our public roads unsafe. Therefore, the police must cost-effectively provide this public health and safety service. This seems to be an excellent partnership to encourage responsible drinking!! I commend the police for their genius and daily dedication. Let’s continue it for a full year and observe if public safety statistics improve. If so, awards are in order.

  4. What an ironic thing for the landlady to say! I praise the police for their continual presence outside both the Gap View and the Todd Tavern. I drove through the other day and was asked for my Driver’s Licence. As I had a legal licence, my car was roadworthy and registered and I wasn’t intoxicated, they wished me well and sent me on my way with my carton.
    Finally the NT government are targeting directly the biggest sources of take away alcohol in Alice Springs that are doing the damage.
    Sorry Di Loechel that your venue is now doing 40% less than $1 million per month turnover, but at least we can sleep safer around the Gap area as there are not so many problems coming from there now.
    I also agree that soul destroying is the wrong phrase to use. Gap View have had it far too easy for too long as has the Todd Tavern. Interestingly enough neither venues signed up for the Alcohol Accord. I wonder why?

  5. As a resident of The Gap with a house about equidistant from the Gapview Hotel and Pigglys, all I can say is, What bliss! Add the motor bike patrols running up and down the railway corridor and through the local park, and it won’t be long before I have to spend my own money on dog food instead of using what I get for empty drink containers.
    Sorry, Diane, but no sympathy from this quarter. Maybe once word gets around that the public doesn’t have to run a gauntlet of loud abusive drunks to access your establishment, your business will pick up again.
    Go strong, NT Police. Go strong all summer long.

  6. Excellent comments from all contributors thus far. Privatising the profits (not declaring turnover either) and socialising the problem has long been the “sneaky” issue. Excessive consumption of alcohol has become “normalised” for many around the NT for several decades. It’s NOT “normal”.
    Responsible consumption, keeping enough money to spend on food, shelter and kids needs to take priority again. All people (where able) over 18 to be employed or/and in education so they are not spending their time in alcohol-driven activities leading to misery, pain and social disengagement. Promoting dependency on alcohol and welfare??? – now THAT’S soul destroying for humanity and culture.

  7. This means that almost half of the liquor sales at this outlet and most likely the others also would normally end up with people who simply cannot drink alcohol responsibly. Many will pull out the racism card but if you take a drive through one of the town camps or past a restricted premises you’ll be able to the results of the excess alcohol for yourself … this without even getting out of the car or looking up police and hospital stats. The Licencees can cry foul and talk of conducting business within the law all they like. How about exercising a moral conscience instead. It’s a real concern and a sad indictment upon this community that things have gotten to a stage where police have had to resort to this kind of action.
    PS: Has anyone noticed how it all turns to crap in town on the days the police are absent from the outlets?

  8. A 40% drop in alcohol sales is great news for 99.99% of the Alice Springs community. Forgive me for not feeling the Gapview’s pain over their declining of profits. The punters not breaking the law have nothing to fear from the police. Reduced alcohol consumption benefits almost all residents of Alice Springs.

  9. It is simply not true that the police are just targeting “only one type of people” outside the Gapview Hotel. Maybe Di “no issue” Loechel should get out amongst the action a bit more often. A blonde, fair skinned woman known to me – very definitely not an alcohol abuser, and not of Aboriginal appearance – was breathalysed and licence checked, after visiting the Gapview bottle shop last week, along with a heap of other people, black and white.
    Di would apparently prefer that the police do their alcohol-related work outside anybody else’s property, just so long as it is not outside the premises of the joint where it was purchased.
    What a hide!
    We should all call Di’s bluff.
    First she claimed that the BDR and ID scanning were sending her broke.
    Now it’s Operation whatever.
    She reckons that it’s “soul destroying” for her and Ray having attention drawn to the results of their trade. I reckon it’s pretty surprising how many years it’s taken her to show her sensitivity, given the daily parade of funeral processions and prison vans carrying grog ravaged bodies past her front gate, heading south to the cemetery or gaol, and the continual stream of ambulances and cop wagons heading north with their alcohol-saturated cargoes.
    Could the sensitivity outbreak be feigned?
    Or is it just brought on by the decreasing rate of profits in the local liquor trade?
    Best of all, is Di’s “I don’t know” in response to Erwin’s enquiry about whether she thinks Alice Springs people want plenty of cops around to try to control the results of so much easy consumption of so much very cheap alcohol by so many people – both black and white – who obviously have little control over their impulses to drink alcohol at harmful rates.
    She would have known about these things during the many years when she managed the Todd Tavern, which coincided with continual campaigns to have alcohol-related law enforcement improved and availability decreased (the “turn down the tap” campaigns), so she went into her current Gapview venture with her eyes wide open.
    It’s nonsense for Di to pretend to be unaware of the public concern about these things and the wide public support for the police.
    The Loechels sell a toxic, highly restricted substance in a regulated market under strict rules, much of it to a very sick, vulnerable and dependent clientele.
    They knew this when they bought their hotel and chose their field of trade.
    If they don’t like alcohol-related laws being enforced in front of their hotel, too bad.
    If they can’t adjust to the way Alice Springs has to protect itself from the outcomes of the licensees’ endeavours, that is entirely their own problem.
    Alice Springs people expect adequate action to prevent alcohol-related problems, enforce alcohol-related laws and provide greater protection from traffic offences, violence and other alcohol-related crime, not less.
    Bob Durnan
    PS One way to ensure less police action being necessary outside the Gapview’s front gate would be to bring back the Banned Drinkers Register and scanning of IDs. Would Di support that? It would produce better results, and take up far less police time!

  10. I don’t think I have ever agreed with pretty much everything emailed in on a subject before in The Alice Springs News but I do now except for the banned drinkers register. People who have issues with grog find very easy ways around it.
    The Police presence is excellent and they are most courteous to the people doing the right thing.
    As I mentioned before the Todd Tavern and Gap View are hugely responsible for “the unmentionable problem” that exists. Clamp down on these two and there will much less unrest.

  11. The kids in the town camps are safer and getting a good night’s sleep, now that the police are outside the drive-through bottle shops and supermarkets.

  12. I am very thankful when I go to the shop, that I do not have to hear the yelling and screaming that was the norm. Now the police are there everyone seems to be more responsible, so I am pleased that I can now go and buy my milk and feel safe. Thank you to the officers of the police force.

  13. A friend of ours has just finished a two week stint at the emergency department at our hospital and she said it was quite boring as there wasn’t much to do. What wonderful news. Could it be that having Police outside take away liquor outlets and on motor cycles is keeping people out of hospital, if that is the case … yipeee.
    Erwin, would you be able to verify this with the hospital?
    [Yes, Leigh … will call them tomorrow. Merry Christmas, Erwin.]

  14. Is this really the job of the police? I’m not knocking any success, but at what financial cost as an ongoing operation?
    Cause for celebration is premature while supply measures remain at current levels. The alcohol industry and their marketing arm has a vested interest in keeping their product highly visible and available.
    If the police are removed or deployed, the tap remains flowing.
    Addicts of all nationalities and substances have a vested interest in the status quo, but the rest of us pay through government budgetary measures siphoning funds from wherever they can get it, including new fees and taxes, under the guise of liberal alcohol laws made possible through police deployment. Vale George Orwell.

  15. Russell, I was just making the point that with the alcohol tap [maybe] turned down that [maybe] one of the knock on effects is [maybe] less people in the emergency department. Did you notice that I asked Erwin to check on my assumption?
    No, police are not paid to keep people out of the hospital, I did not say that or imply that they should or keep this as an “ongoing operation”.
    What I did want to point out is that the whole community benefits from alcohol taps being turned down and with proper fact / information gathering the pressure is kept on the powers that be to put permanent restrictive measures in place.
    Merry Christmas, Russell. I look forward to your input on these pages next year, happy 2013.
    [ED – I just spoke with the hospital’s media person and she is endeavouring to get us a response today. Cheers, Erwin.]

  16. Yes, Russell, this really is the job of the police. In a different world perhaps a society would not be held to ransom by binge drinkers lurking in the saltbush waiting for eyes to be diverted. But we don’t live in a different world. We live in the one we have, and for the first summer in a long, long time, it’s quiet out there.
    This quiet is down solely to the police presence at the bottle shops and take-away outlets that we are now seeing in Alice Springs.
    Reform society if you can.
    Instil a social consciousness in Big Alcohol if you can.
    But meanwhile, let the police institute a long overdue regime of proactive, community policing. The benefits will come, not least in children from across the board not having to witness staggering, loud and offensive drunks littering our parks and side-walks.
    In one demographic such witnessing produces scorn leading to racism. In the other it produces shame leading to racism. And it is there, right there in the attitudes learnt by children that we can, and with this initiative and others like it, will turn the corner toward a better future.

  17. I’m not knocking the current police operation, Hal. I’m making the point about a police state supporting an industry holding society to ransom through liberal supply of a restricted substance that has escalated into a seven day per week regime and taxpayers having to foot the bill.

  18. Just listened to BBC doco by James Fletcher on alcohol in Alice Springs.
    It included an interview with Diane Loechel.
    She started trying to present herself as being on the moral high-ground about the terminology “animal bar” by saying “anyone who uses that terminology is removed from having any humanity – it just beggars belief.”
    Now whom was she describing?!
    Then she makes it clear she has no idea how much her 2L wine costs per unit.
    She says it’s near $1.20. The interviewers’ 10 minutes of research buying one shows it’s near 80c/unit.
    Di said she makes every effort to comply with the floor price.
    What would have been interesting for the interviewer to ask Di would be: “If it can be shown you are selling an item significantly below the floor price, would you increase its price to match the floor price.” She’d foam at the mouth 🙂
    It’s clear from such an over-the-top description of police presence as “soul destroying” that she cares as much about the welfare of the Aborigines as people who use the terminology “animal bar” even if she doesn’t use it herself.
    Can she not live comfortably if profits drop 40%?
    She has the dubious honour of continuing the several 100 year old tradition of plying Aborigines with alcohol with only one motive – profit.
    How does she sleep at night?

  19. Wolfgang Puck is the movie star chef / proprietor of Spago in Beverly Hills, one of the acclaimed eating places in the country.


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