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HomeIssue 1Chamber of Commerce in a grog Catch 22

Chamber of Commerce in a grog Catch 22

The Chamber of Commerce represents members who make money from liquor as well as those whose businesses – tourism, especially – are going downhill because of the grog-fuelled violence and anti social behaviour in town.
So it’s no surprise that asking Chamber CEO Kay Eade what issues she will be putting before the new Liquor Commission is a hard question: “If you find the answers let me know,” she says in our interview.
She contributes points outside the usual discussion.
In Tennant Creek an alcohol accord, which is made up of licensees, is in operation which regulates sales outside the government rules, making adjustments in response to local circumstances.
For example, that includes selling only mid strength beer  from the hours of 2pm – 3pm, and only two bottles of wine is sold per person after 3pm.  Week-ends, when there are football carnivals and so on, they may decide to serve only mid strength beer.
A similar accord is operating in Alice Springs but doesn’t have voluntary restrictions on the sale of alcohol.
Ms Eade says secondary sales are “one of the biggest problems” in Tennant Creek and in Alice Springs: “The quantity would be quite huge, I think.
“I can just gauge that by what I see in the morning, when I go to work. There is quite a bit of alcohol around at a quarter to eight in the morning, in the CBD.
“It could be coming from the south or from Mt Isa via Tennant Creek.
“How is the Liquor Commission going to approach that,” she asks, conceding that it is a police issue, not one for the licensing authorities.
She says Judge Riley’s recommendation for inspectors to take the place of cops at bottle shops has merit because it would free up police officers to deal with crime.
Where does the Chamber stand on sales restrictions?
“It has to benefit the health and well-being of the community,” Ms Eade says.
The Chamber has no answer to the age-old argument that with restrictions, the majority is being penalised because of a minority.
“And then there is online buying. How do you police that?” she asks.
Does it need policing? Surely the drinkers causing public mayhem and neglecting their kids who then commit crime don’t have the internet and a Visa card at their disposal?
“You still have the secondary sales,” Ms Eade says.
“You go to NSW and they have take-aways open from 9am to 10pm, and they don’t have the problem we have. Why is it that we have it in the Territory?”
What does she say to her members in the tourist industry who complain about the drunks in the streets? How can you help those business people?
“It’s Catch 22, you just can’t. You can’t just cut off alcohol completely. Because the tourists also would like to buy a bottle of wine to drink in their caravans.”
Could they not be served as bona-fide travellers?
“If you really want to be brutal, stop serving known alcoholics,” says Me Eade.
How do people become known alcoholics, short of the court declaring them as such?
“I don’t now.”
Why should the liquor merchants not be performing the work now done by police, namely ensuring that people who live in dry areas are not sold alcohol?
“You can’t serve one person and not another. They would be up for discrimination.”
But that’s exactly what is happening now. Police are doing just that.
“Well, that’s the police. Police have powers. Bottle shop managers do not have these powers. No matter what you do, there is always a loophole.”
Would she accept a more cumbersome way of buying liquor if it would save the town, its tourist industry, and people could go out at night and have dinner, walk the streets?
“But there are still the kids, that’s still a problem. The parents drink. And the majority of that is secondary sales. Catch 22.”
And so the debate goes on.


  1. Ms Eade raises some interesting points, but the issue of secondary sales/grog running is one, not just for effective police intelligence, but point of sale. That’s the primary issue.
    Online trading is a secondary sales issue. If you begin at the biggest hole in the dike, it becomes easier to concentrate on other leaks.
    When asked where does the Chamber stand on sales restrictions, Ms Eade says: “It has to benefit the health and well-being of the community.”
    The public impact part of the policy is designed to focus on harmful levels of consumption leading to a $650m p.a. public health cost, including FASD and subsequent education / employment issues.
    Ms Eade asks: “You go to NSW and they have take-aways open from 9am to 10pm, and they don’t have the problem we have. Why is it that we have it in the Territory?”
    Alice is reaping what it has sown after 40 years of granting take-away licences in the CBD. We have a culture of drinking alcohol. Adam Giles got that one right. Changing a culture is what is required. On that point, seven days per week take-away needs reform. Sunday should be free from take-away sales.
    The question of whether Ms Eade would “accept a more cumbersome way of buying liquor if it would save the town, its tourist industry, and people could go out at night and have dinner, walk the streets?” relates to changing the culture.
    “But there are still the kids, that’s still a problem. The parents drink. And the majority of that is secondary sales. Catch 22,” says Ms Eade.
    I’m not sure the majority is secondary sales, given the current state of POSI, but lawlessness proceeds from lawlessness.
    Drunken behaviour is a lawless state of being and when it occurs in parents, whether Indigenous or not, it has a deleterious affect on children.
    The tragedy of recent events in Tennant Creek confirms this obvious state of affairs in NT towns and communities.
    Witness the student-led gun reform in the US.
    A society that fails children has no future.

  2. I’m all for turing off the tap if by tap you are referring to the non stop river of sit down money that is pouring into the community.
    Everyone likes to focus on the end result how to fix that: Cops on bottle shops, BDR. At the end of the day the funding for this problem is being provided by the government in a reverse racist system.
    How many of these problem drinkers are being forced to provide details on employment opportunities before they are paid from the public purse?
    The old argument that there is no opportunity for these people is tired and incorrect. They have the most services, the most funding and every opportunity in the world thrown at them.
    The problem is not the lack of opportunity rather than a system that rewards them for doing nothing.
    Time for a 100% quarantine of welfare to basics card. Lets see how many cops we need on bottle shops after that.

  3. The inaction to make the hard choices and do something about alcohol sales is much like (in my eyes) the issue of gun control issue of America.
    People with the power won’t do what is required to stop the flow of alcohol therefor the problems won’t go away but get worse.
    Let’s stop talking about it like its a race issue and blanket everyone with the solution, and not by disadvantaging the people who don’t have a problem but address the people that do, no matter what race they might be!
    I think it would be worth offending some people (these being the people that always complain and throw terms around but funnily enough never bother to offer ideas or solutions) in order to do what is right to help the people who really need help!

  4. I think you will find that there are many alcohol problems in NSW. I think the difference is we have a much higher proportion of marginalised people living in longterm poverty.

  5. Re: Russell Guy Posted February 27, 2018 at 7:08 am:
    Alice is reaping the results from 40 years of failure to deal appropriately with being intoxicated in public AND disturbing the peace.
    Re: Laughing Posted February 27, 2018 at 9:11 am:
    Both Commonwealth and NT governments needs enable Magistrates to consider where deemed appropriate to order persons appearing to be placed under partial financial management like the basics card.
    Justice is NOT an appropriate task for Centrelink, or others to order persons onto the basics card.
    All such mutual agreements need be registered.
    Re: James T Smerk Posted February 27, 2018 at 9:18 am:
    You are correct this is NOT a racial issue, it is an issue effecting originally a small section of community learning and adopting inappropriate behavior, it is that behavior needing to be corrected.
    However those decisions by politicians to ignore ongoing inappropriate behavior by individuals claiming such for “cultural” or “racial” reasons was gross negligence, political cowardice, and gross racism.
    It is racism to impose penalties upon individuals using only “racial identification” when they NOT found guilty of the behavior to be prevented.
    Re: Gammon Posted February 27, 2018 at 9:34 am:
    Everywhere alcohol is available a percentage of the population develops a problem, dealing with it requires the problem be addressed, not the symptoms, and with minimal impact upon those NOT guilty.
    Legislators forget far too easily how so many of today’s problems flow from earlier legislative decisions, this one of their imposing mass racist penalties, saying “we are here to help you”.

  6. @ 1 Paul Parker: Agree totally Paul. Will add though, that if pollies were held accountable for the decisions they make whilst in office and afterwards, perhaps they may think a little harder!
    This knee jerk reaction (reactive behaviour) needs to cease immediately.
    We are all held accountable for the errors me made, so why aren’t the pollies?

  7. @ Paul Parker, posted 1st March, 2018 at 6:49am: How appropriate was ‘Sit-down money’ and the ‘Two kilometer law’, Paul?
    Do you absolve the critical mass of take-away outlets in the 5km radius of the CBD as having any impact on the situation you describe?
    Generational alcoholism has something to do with the present historical ennui and the police have stated that they can’t arrest their way out of it, so we’ll have to agree to disagree on failures to deal appropriately with intoxication and disturbing the peace.


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