By ERWIN CHLANDA
Chief Minister Michael Gunner (at left) says returning the Banned Drinker Register (BDR) on September 1 will “address weaknesses in the old version by better addressing the problem of secondary supply and cutting red tape.
Meanwhile Deputy Opposition Leader, Lia Finocchiaro (at right) says: “It is unacceptable it will take Labor more than a year to re-introduce the BDR and that without explanation or consultation, Alcohol Mandatory Treatment is being scrapped.”
The government should also commit to a comprehensive scientific review to show whether or not the BDR is working after it is reintroduced.
“In 2015, the previous Government commissioned an Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Service Evaluation report, which was expected to be completed in January. Labor should immediately release the findings of this review,” says Ms Finocchiaro.
“Scrapping Alcohol Mandatory Treatment, which currently has 52 clients at the Saltbush Mob facility in Berrimah, requires more explanation than a single line at the bottom of a media release.”
Says Mr Gunner: “It will now be a criminal offence to intentionally supply alcohol to a person known to be on the BDR.
“Once charged with this offence police have the power to place the secondary supplier on the BDR. The offence can also carry significant fines.
“Another improvement – cutting red tape – is that once given a Banned Drinker Order, a person will go straight onto the BDR and will not require a tribunal hearing or appearance.
“Importantly, Banned Drinker Orders issued by police will be automatically processed through the Integrated Justice Information System to immediately place problem drinkers on the BDR. This will happen within 48 hours which will help both police and victims in urgent domestic and family violence situations.”
Mr Gunner says the Territory Labor Government introduced the BDR in July 2011 and the “chaotic CLP Government scrapped it in 2012 for political reasons.
“We know that 60% of domestic violence incidents are alcohol related – this is simply unacceptable and cutting grog to problem drinkers will help address this blight. Alcohol related crime and anti-social behaviour in our city centres is an issue facing many businesses and is hindering efforts to revitalise these areas.”
Ms Finocchiaro says there are no valid reasons for the delay: “The Government is using the same BDR technology as it did last time, so there is no excuse for its flagship policy to take this long.
“The Banned Drinker Register is not a silver bullet, because it failed to stop problem drinkers obtaining alcohol when it operated during 2011-2012, with Protective Custodies failing to decline substantially during that period.
“There were 19,988 Protective Custodies across the Northern Territory in the year the BDR operated, only 366 fewer than before it commenced. In spite of the BDR, one drinker was placed in Protective Custody 117 times and a total of 8035 individuals were still placed in protective custody.
“Tackling problem drinkers and associated anti-social behavior requires a number of measures, including ongoing treatment for addicts, supported by police and engagement with health and mental illness specialists,” says Ms Finocchiaro.
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By ERWIN CHLANDA