LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – The NT Government and NT Police need to stop passing the buck on how to determine who is allowed to buy take-away liquor.
Stop playing political games. Get enough police to cover all the take-away opening hours with Temporary Beat Locations (TBLs) or bring back an electronic, population-wide ID scanning system.
A month ago PAAC called on the NT Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw to keep his commitment to allocate sufficient resources for TBLs at NT take-away liquor outlets, which operate in Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek.
Today the new NT Police Association President Paul McCue has told the ABC that TBLs are not working.
While the politics of this drags on and on, we have seen an increasingly sporadic police attendance at bottle shops. These absences result in an immediate, stark and damaging rise in excessive public drinking, fighting and other social dysfunction.
We understand the Police Association’s concerns. We know that standing outside bottle shops deterring purchasers who have nowhere legally to drink is not the most challenging of police work.
But like them or not, TBLs have been very effective in reducing alcohol sales levels and alcohol-related offending. When they don’t work is when there are not enough police.
The NT Government has previously promised funding for more police. The Police Commissioner gave a commitment for sufficient officers to cover all bottle shop hours by the end of April, but this hasn’t occurred.
It really is time for these games between politicians and senior police to stop. Run the TBLs properly, or bring back an electronic ID scanning system. ID scanning is working other areas such as Coober Pedy and Ceduna, while the NT Government abandoned ours in favour of using many thousands of police hours. Work it out for the sake of the community.
Dr. John Boffa
People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC)