COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
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.