Monday, July 22, 2024

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

HomeVolume 28The trials and tribulations of buying whiskey

The trials and tribulations of buying whiskey


POLICE OFFICER (looking at my driver’s licence): Will you be going to this address?

ME (not wanting to tell a lie. I wasn’t sure.): Probably.

OFFICER: Probably? Will you be sharing the alcohol?

ME: Of course. I’m not going to drink a bottle of whiskey on my own.

OFFICER: Who will you be sharing the alcohol with?

ME: I’m not going to tell you that.

OFFICER: You have to. (Points at a sandwich board beside us with a heading “Point of Sale Intervention” and lots of text including “Do you have to answer questions by the Police? Yes.”)

ME: That is private.

OFFICER: That person may be on the Banned Drinkers Register. You must answer my questions so long as they are within reason.

ME (having been in a queue behind two Aboriginal people also engaged in an exchange with the same officer, only longer, and perhaps equally futile and irritating, and by now convinced that under NT law it is the police which gets to judge what is reasonable and what is not, no matter how impertinent): My wife. And she is not on the Banned Drinkers Register.

OFFICER: Well that wasn’t so hard, was it. (Hands me back my driver’s licence.)

What a splendid work of investigation. I told him a lie. I got away with it. My wife doesn’t drink whiskey. And if she were on the Banned Drinkers Register the officer would be none the wiser. He didn’t ask me her name to look it up on his tablet (she kept her maiden name).

So I get to enter the bottle shop, get to buy one single bottle of whiskey (instead of my month’s supply), 0.7 litres, pay $49 instead of $39 before the recent introduction of the measures that are going to solve all the town’s problems, have a “what’s the world coming to” conversation with a man who wants to buy a litre bottle of whiskey but is not allowed to and I have to show my driver’s licence yet again.

Any wonder people buy booze online?

Some prices of today (0.7 litre bottles): Johnny Walker Red Label: Alice $49, Online $39.99. JB Alice $51, Online $34.09.

And so on.


  1. Governments of course, find it far easier to apply such pointless regulations.
    Addressing the causes or solutions to such problems are too difficult and require long term fixes.
    Difficulty and long term are anathema to government – particularly these days.
    This is despite a multitude of examples over many years, showing that such regulations lead to higher prices and usually an explosion in the black market. On line purchasing may provide something of a relief valve to these inevitable pressures, but one wonders if governments at the Federal or Territory level will ever rise above such kindergarten responses.
    I do recall the last very promising efforts being attempted by the Henderson government. Where have such people gone in government, I hear you ask?

  2. My God, Erwin. “Trials and tribulations,” eh? You can bless your lucky stars you are not in Kiev, or Turkey / Syria, or even Lismore.
    The truth of the matter is that we ALL have to do our bit in resolving the problems that are associated with alcohol abuse in our town.
    I too have been affected, in that I cannot buy my “aperitivo of choice” (Cinzano Bianco, on ice and with a slice of lemon) just because it comes in a litre bottle.
    I’ve accepted it, particularly as it seems the take away restrictions have had an almost immediate effect in reducing hospital admissions and domestic violence in Alice.
    Ya gotta just weigh up the good with the bad, mate, and get over it.

  3. I’m sure everyone has similar stories.
    The BottleCop asked me: What are you going to buy?
    I said I don’t know.
    Cop said: You must answer any question I ask, or it is an offence.
    I replied OK, then I won’t buy anything.
    Cop said: Thank you and returned my licence.
    I left.
    Another time, BottleCop pointed to the beer I set by the till and asked me: Are you going to buy that?
    I was confused. Why else would I set beer by the till? Was this a trick question?
    Cop interpreted my confusion as refusal to answer, and asked again more forcefully.
    I said No, and left.
    It’s like a Monty Python sketch: “Silly Questions Asked by People with Guns.”

  4. You buy alcohol and you must drink it alone at home!
    If you taking it to a party, you have breached the law, you have lied to the police.
    At the party there are other guests. How do you know if they are on the Banned Drinkers Register?

  5. Don’t think things are quite that simple Domenico. I guess that’s the point being made!
    Good to see some possible short term benefits you refer to. Unfortunately, the problems are far more serious and complex and will not be solved by inefficient and ineffective government regulations. Talking of war zones, some living conditions in remote communities and camps have much in common with these! How you fix this is the real question that governments should be confronting.

  6. On the odd occasion I drink alcohol (it can be anything), it is usually when offered and almost always only one drink at each time (very rarely two).
    For any year, I can count the number of times I drink alcohol on both hands, maximum.
    However, I’ve never felt any desire or urge to consume alcoholic beverages – it simply doesn’t occur to me.
    Perhaps there’s something missing in my genetic makeup as alcohol has not the slightest attraction.
    Frankly I couldn’t care less if every alcohol outlet shut down, I wouldn’t miss a thing – but gee, wouldn’t so much else be vastly better off!

  7. Domenico Pecorari, are all the other drivers licenses suspended when a bad driver commits a terrible offence?
    When a class is punished because of the behaviour of a student, the culpable often get a bashing after school.
    In my point of view all those changing rules and regulation create tension and do not achieve much.
    Yes we have a problem (a big one) but like with gangrene a band aid does nothing.

  8. @ Don: There are restrictions all around us, all designed to protect the community, but I do agree that the problem is a complex one and won’t be resolved until social support structures (which I believe are part of the plan) are in place, both in our towns and regional communities.
    Things may indeed be bad in some of our communities but they just do not compare with having to dodge missiles or live in an earthquake or flood ravaged town, don’t you think?
    @ Evelyne: Your analogy is flawed in that it would apply only if everyone was banned from buying take-away, which you know is not the case.
    Have you seen the “maximum daily purchase” associated with the restrictions? I think you would have to agree they are more than generous.

  9. @ Dominico: Yes, you can buy but with how much more restrictions.
    What about shift workers? People relying on public transports? Why do I have to wait 18 o’clock to go and buy a bottle of sherry for cooking a cake? Is it not dangerous to be on the streets at dark?
    Yes we are punished for the crimes of others.
    Collective punishments are prohibited under international humanitarian law in all circumstances.(: smile Domenico.

  10. I find it interesting how many Australians feel so strongly about their right to buy alcohol, in much the same way that many Americans feel about their right to buy guns.
    @ Evelyn, you will just have to plan ahead and organise all your ingredients before baking that cake. Surely a small price to pay for freeing up scarce police resources so they can get on with more important work.

  11. Domenico. so no more spontaneity in my life?
    I have a document dated the 30th August 1973 stating that from this day I have, as an Australian citizen, become entitled to all rights, power and privileges … unless, of course, Alice Springs belongs to another country.

  12. Yes, Evelyne, even spontaneity has curbs placed on it. Try getting a cappuccino or shopping for cake mix at 3:00 in the morning.
    And no, your “citizenship rights” do not over-ride common sense. Sorry.

  13. Domenico, the common sense those days is nonsense.
    I have been in Alice since 1974 and I saw so many restrictions, new systems, new legislation made with what you call common sense.
    Alas, nothing has worked and the situation with the alcohol is getting worse. Our nice little fences have been replaced by Fort Nox security systems and we cannot take a walk in the cool hours of the evening.
    Like Alex Nelson I do not worry if Alice Springs becomes a dry town (I do not drink). But will this fix the problems of domestic violence and kids on the street?
    God bless Australia, our land Australia,
    Home of the ANZAC, the strong and the free
    It’s our homeland, our own land,
    To cherish for eternity,
    God bless Australia, the land of the free.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

error: Content is protected !!