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HomeIssue 3'Reduce chaos: police needed at all liquor outlets'

'Reduce chaos: police needed at all liquor outlets'

p2222-Michael-Liddle-1Sir – We need the police back on the liquor outlets. Alcohol related crimes that are harming the communities in and around Alice Springs have yet again risen to levels that are unacceptable. We know we can do a lot more to prevent the current chaos in our town.
There are still too many of our people who are not in control of their drinking of alcohol.
The flow-on effect from this is getting out of control, children and families are abandoned, and the streets of Alice Springs then become the shelters of these people.
These kids then commit property and other crimes as they seek food, shelter and attention wherever and however.
There has been an obvious increase in violence and children on the streets since the police stopped covering all of the take-away outlets.
The out of control levels of violence that is being committed whether it be sexual, domestic is largely affecting Aboriginal people with too many people admitted to hospital with serious injuries and some of our people dying.
Many of the people with a drinking problem have sought help through CAAAPU and other services and have tried, and they will continue to try, to get off the grog but they need more help.
I know the man who tragically died night before last. He had been trying to get off the grog time after time, going out back out bush sit down then come back. It’s just so sad!
Getting on top of the alcohol problem is a shared responsibility at all levels.
Of course those Aboriginal people who have a drinking problem must take responsibility and continue to attempt to stay off the grog.
This is even more important for parents of young children.
But these people need more support through the tap being turned down making it much harder to get take-away alcohol.
This is why we need the police back on all of the outlets to control what is going out and all of the time.
We need to get back to the relative calm that was created by this measure right now.
There is just too much sorry business and some of it can be prevented by reduced alcohol supply.
Michael Liddle (pictured)
Chairperson of the Central Australian Alcohol Programs Unit (CAAAPU)


  1. @ Michael Liddle, your sentiments and experiences have been expressed before in the late 80s by a great Lady in Katherine known as Mrs May Govan.
    I didn’t understand what she was saying at the time, but I remember what she said. Thankyou for reminding me.
    I doesn’t matter who the Government of the day is they are all as gutless as each other when it comes to solutions concerning alcohol abuse. This stems from the fact that their political donors are from the alcohol industry. It doesn’t matter who has the liquor licenses or who the Commissioner of Police is, as they are all controlled by the government of the day.
    One solution is to stop the sale of takeaway alcohol all together in Alice Springs and put the onus on liquor license holders to serve alcohol responsibly during normal hours of operation. This obviously comes with its own ramifications.
    But there is no drain on police resources to oversee the activities of the sale of alcohol, which is the sole responsibility of the licensee. There is no blame to be associated with police scrutiny on takeaway alcohol. Subject parents would be back at home after the local establishments shut (for which the government could reduce hours as well), so subject recalcitrant children may get fed and put to bed at a reasonable hour.
    Sounds to good to be true? It’s achievable, it just needs the NT Labor Party to grow a spine and the Country Liberal Party to start acting as an opposition to make it happen. It needs political will to bring about change, so political parties need to forget taking donations from the alcohol industry.
    The sale of alcohol is a licensed activity. The consumption of alcohol is not a birthright, it is an attained right and usually involves reaching a certain age and acting reasonably responsibly whilst consuming it, i.e. not driving etc.
    So if you breach these licenses or attained rights, you are breaking the law. So it stands to reason, that the child’s rights need to be considered in all of this as well, particularly when it comes to the sale of alcohol and its consumption. Legislation around the sale of alcohol needs to be changed accordingly to recognise the rights of children.
    In many years gone by, a publican would know just about all there was to know about their community, who could afford to drink and who couldn’t, whose family was doing it tough etc. Nowadays its squeeze as much money out of the drinkers as possible and damn the consequences.
    If no changes are to be had, then Michael Liddle’s voice and comments will become like that of the Legendary May Govan, a mark in time, that showed a lack of political will by a gutless government.

  2. It would also help if a certain big venue would stop the continued sale of alcohol to obviously intoxicated people and allowing those intoxicated people to finish off their drink before they are sent on their way.
    The LLC would do a service to this community if they visited licensed venues and watched both the customers and staff. People in charge are not adhering to the LLC laws, IMHO.

  3. The social ills in Alice come from grog. Full stop.
    If we are serious about addressing these ills, we have to address the ubiquitous presence of grog in our town and on our streets.
    Until we do that, we are simply chasing our tails around and around that same old track.
    Solutions? Reduce the number of outlets, reduce their hours of business and reduce the number of days in a week when take-away grog is sold.
    It sounds like Gunner is finally tackling the floor price issue. Now for the rest of it.
    And if visitors object, politely suggest they bugger off back to where they came from. Grog is ruining this town, and it’s not their town.
    As for objections to the floor price, I especially like that hoary old chestnut featuring an old dear on a pension who just wants a tipple before going to bed at night.
    Grog is a recreational drug, and like all the others, if you can’t afford it, go without.

  4. It’s great to see CAAAPU standing up, leading by example. They have a firm policy in place and have had it for years. If you work or sit on the board you have to be a non drinker. Great stuff, CAAAPU.

  5. Hal Duell is absolutely correct.
    Steve Brown, with respect, campaigned on law and order for years. He appears to have had a change of mind.
    However, the idea of a youth club nursing kids 24/7 while their parents / family remain at harmful levels of consumption / dysfunction is just another white elephant in a long parade that Alice has been saddled up to.
    It’s so blindingly obvious that even the government, of all people, has begun a family hotline, while they have a bet each way. It’s an absurd development.
    There can be no change until the alcohol supply tap is turned down significantly and this is not just speculation, nor hearsay. I’ve observed this working in communities for more years than I care to remember.
    You just cannot make any significant headway while access to alcohol remains so prevalent. Chaos breaks out and can take the form of anything from a riot to a binge, with associated assaults and deaths.
    A floor price is a start, but Sunday-free takeaway, as in Tennant Creek is worth a shot for a return to some kind of peace and prosperity.
    More needs to be done on turning down the tap if ideas like Steve’s are to gain any traction.

  6. I think one of the biggest problems is that people making or trying to make decisions for the town haven’t or don’t do enough consultation with the people on the ground.
    Who are these decision makers, what’s their background? Go out to the town camps and other areas of the community and talk to the people about what might work for them.
    It’s no good say turn the tap off. Our people have rights too. Do what they want. If you want to put a blanket over drinking do it across Australia.

  7. Well said Michael and Steve, but this is not a easy fix.
    I’ve seen over last few years the town changing mainly because of lost work structures out on the communities since the shires have taken over. I have seen this in my field of work.
    When I approached the shires to see if they were interested in still doing the maintenance I was told they no longer had the machinery to do this as it got sold off.
    So the community has no workforce.
    I witnessed all the people who were trained up and felt they had a purpose each day to go to work and enjoy it.
    Now I see them in town with nothing to do because they have nothing to do out on their communities.
    As to cutting alcohol take away hours and having dry days, this is just a joke. We’re only going to see more break-ins and criminal activity around town.

  8. @ Travis, posted 26th May. 7:51AM.
    Not turn the tap off (prohibition), but turn it down, Travis. There’s a difference. Drinking alcohol is not a right. It’s a privilege with responsibilities under law.
    That law applies to all people, regardless of race. It’s being changed because it is no longer working in the interests of everyone.
    The reason why police are needed at take-away outlets is because there is a cultural issue with people drinking in areas that have been declared dry.
    In many cases, this has been done at the request of people in those areas, often to avoid violence which impacts all people in Alice Springs.
    @ Alice Local. Posted 26th May. 8:03AM.
    You are correct about non-existent employment opportunities in some communities, but there is work available in some and it can improve.
    It’s the old problem of 95% of the population living on the coastal fringe and little appropriate focus on more remote or regional areas, e.g., an agricultural and pastoral college in Alice Springs to train Indigenous workers for the industry and upgrade skills in a range of developing areas.
    Your comment about “cutting alcohol take away hours and having dry days” being a “joke” may be so for you, but not for those who are alcohol dependent, nor their families and neighbours.
    There are numerous reasons as to why further cuts to alcohol supply should be tried.
    Sunday-free takeaway or dry days, especially on welfare payment days can minimise workload for police and authorities. It can help ease a crisis situation and allow people a chance to dry-out, maybe even give them a chance to reassess and train for employment. It can assist family dysfunction, etc., etc.
    The present level of alcohol consumption in the NT has been declared as unsustainable, i.e., we can’t afford it, so things have to change.
    Personally, I’m tired of losing friends to harmful levels of alcohol consumption and seeing the bush as worse for the wanderer, which is what you allude to by suggesting that criminal activity will increase.
    Look at what is happening in Tennant Creek. Dry days again, years after the cessation of Thirsty Thursday. And on it goes.

  9. @ Alice Local. Posted, 26th May.
    The ABC (16/5/18) reported that there has been a “drop in family violence” under the present alcohol restrictions which include Sunday-free takeaway sales in Tennant Creek.
    “Police and support agencies believe the restrictions are behind a sharp decrease in domestic violence incidents in the outback town.”
    This would appear to contradict your statement about the effects of further alcohol restrictions in Alice Springs leading to an increase in criminal activity.

  10. My old people went to war Russell, and came back. They faught for our country and worked hard to give my people equal rights. Some of these people making these so called decisions are talking with a forked tongue, with a sketchy past.
    To sit in Parliament you have to put everything on the table and be judged. So let’s have these people who know nothing about anything, put it out there, so we can judge or decide if we are going to back their idea.

  11. @ Travis: Alcohol is a priviledge not a right, just as Russell has stated.
    As the story suggests people’s behavior when under the influence of alcohol is where the problem is and it is causing the community of Alice, Tennant Creek many preventable issues.
    Prevention is far better than a cure.

  12. Look, Mabel, to me this looks like pointing the finger at black people. Go down south where the majority of people are not black and see how they act on the grog. Are the taps being turned down?
    Why should a person have their privliges taken for the sake of someone that thinks they in charge and making the wrong decision. I put my money on those people not being the right leaders whom people don’t want to listen to.
    I say where and what were these so called leaders doing or looking at 30 years ago when it was all starting to go the way it is now.

  13. Well done Michael for speaking up on this issue as a local Indigenous man who has the authority and knowledge to comment.
    I do want to address the issues raised by Alice Local about the “big bad shires” which unfortunately are not factual, although I do acknowledge a PR problem we need to do more to address.
    The shires (now Regional Councils) have been in place since 2008. At Central Desert Regional Council we have 100% indigenous councillors representing all of our nine communities. One of the key focus areas of council has always been indigenous jobs.
    In 2008 when the Shire was created, there were 103 staff positions across the nine community councils. Additional roles, often using consultants, such as accountancy were done from Alice Springs.
    The shire grew jobs in the first year to 266.
    At the end of our last financial year (June 30, 2017) we had 308 full time equivalent jobs – a 44% growth across those ten years. Our indigenous employment is currently just under 70%, and on the June 30, 2017 was 66%. Some 82% of our roles continue to be on community.
    The Regional Council has numerous plant and other assets, most of which reside on communities.
    None of the statistics above include the Community Development Program (CDP) activities which are also run by various providers (including council) on all our communities.
    This program today focuses on trying to provide the skills needed and to find work opportunities for those who live in communities. Are there enough jobs on communities to support those who wish to work – no there are not.
    However continuing to try and provide the opportunity for economic development and increased jobs, is the desire of all levels of government.
    Council is proud of its role in creating and maintaining meaningful work and jobs on communities. Can we do more? Yes we can and we will. Our focus is moving to staff development and opportunities to provide career progression.
    Diane Hood
    CEO, Central Desert Regional Council

  14. @ Travis, posted May 27th at 7:37pm.
    You deserve some kind of an answer, Travis.
    I can feel your anger and I can understand how you might see the alcohol restrictions as “pointing the finger at black people,” but maybe it might save some lives.
    To answer some of your questions, the tap is being turned down in some states, e.g. WA, NSW and Queensland, to my knowledge.
    The coward punch comes to mind and winding back on serving some drinks late at night, but to return to the NT and your question about where the “so-called leaders” were after the legal right to drink alcohol was conferred on Indigenous people fifty years ago.
    Very serious mistakes were made by NT Governments during that time. Allowing the density of takeaway alcohol outlets to build up in the Alice Springs CBD and making it available seven days a week, including at roadhouses, made a lot of money, but it has devastated Indigenous people.
    Why this is so is not as simple as people taking responsibility for their drinking as you say “when it was all starting to go the way it is now”.
    I have my own reasons, brought about by decades of living and working with blackfellas, side by side, making many friends and learning more than I contributed.
    It would be easy for me to give up coming to this site and just go away somewhere to the east, where the living is easy, but my spirit might wander.
    You would think that the so-called leaders would do more to turn down the tap on takeaway alcohol they have, which is patchy.
    I don’t know why they don’t get the connection to culture. Hope it helps to know that there are some of us who understand the way you feel.

  15. Travis needs to read the story shared by PAACs John Boffa and see what happened when police were on the bottle shops.
    These atrocities are causing disruptions to the community. People are abandoning their families and their responsibilities to their land by alcoholism.
    Congress, who are at the frontline of Aboriginal healthcare, imagine the money that could be used on homes and employment if indigenous people stopped abusing alcohol.

  16. Congrats to the licensees of the bottle shops as you don’t have to spend money on what the police do.

  17. I think that there is not enough education on this within the community. It’s too easy for someone to open up in the media about floor prices and turning down taps. These people with these sorts of suggestions need to go out there and run awareness and consultation with the people.
    Go to the council lawns and put a barbecue on or go to areas with problems. Talk to the people. Ask for their input. Don’t just think you’re in charge of anyone’s wellbeing, able to dictate terms to people. Our people are smart. They have ideas that can work. They just need to be heard.


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