By ERWIN CHLANDA
POSI – cops at bottleshops – is still the weapon of choice in the war against booze abuse in The Alice, but there is a Plan B in the wings of the 2016 to 2018 Alcohol Management Plan announced today.
And that alternative sounds a lot like the Banned Drinkers Register under which buyers of grog had to show ID, and which was knocked on the head by the CLP government soon after being elected in 2012.
Mayor Damien Ryan, who heads up the Alcohol Reference Group, says the alternative is “something different altogether”.
However, in the plan it is described as an “alternative to Strategy 1.1 [that’s POSI] but it would use a point of sale identification system to enforce … Alcohol Protection Orders, prohibition orders and alcohol related Domestic Violence Orders”.
Says Mayor Ryan: “We would in the future support some form of ID but we wouldn’t replace POSIs without something positive in its place.
“You could move to that but until you have perfected it you wouldn’t move away from POSIs. It’s another option going forward.”
Chief Minister Adam Giles said at the launch of the plan today: “The Government is currently looking at whether there could be another model in a similar vein that can help alleviate the need to have police at bottleshops.”
Mayor Ryan says he “begs to differ” with assertions that crime statistics on the increase in 2015 after a drop in 2014 put a question mark over POSI: “We’ve had someone from the women’s shelter on our committee since the beginning and they are very supportive of the difference in the community with the POSIs in place.
“People in the community are saying: Don’t remove the POSIs.”
He says a floor price was discussed but not included in the plan: “It is not the be-all and end-all.”
The plan co-ordinates a string of agencies with clear definitions of their roles.
Mr Giles had a blunt message for bush people bringing anti-social behaviour to Darwin: “There are always people who come in during the wet season in the Top End, like to consume alcohol and live in the long grass and cause trouble.
“My message to those people is piss off and get off the country in Darwin and go back to your home communities. Stop causing trouble in Darwin.”
Commenting on trouble in Alice Springs Mr Giles said Licensing “needs to have a good look at the Memo Club because what I am seeing is not what Alice Springs wants”.
Would he increase police numbers to deal with the need of diverting POSI offers when there are urgent police jobs, Mr Giles said: “We increased police numbers by 20 in Alice when we first came to government. Managing these resources is always a challenge.”
When the crime rate dropped in 2014, was that an adequate level or should it be lower still?
“I’d like to see the crime at zero,” says Mr Giles. “You hear some of the horrendous crimes in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane and I think thank goodness those crimes are not here in Alice.”
By ERWIN CHLANDA