LETTER TO THE EDITOR
The two day per week complete ban on take-away alcohol sales in Alice Springs gives us two days of relative peace. It is by no means a solution to our enormous alcohol-related problems.
These latest alcohol restrictions were introduced at the beginning of the year after the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, was forced to detour into Alice Springs at the height of our “crime crisis”.
Last year the NT Chief Minister sanctioned the lifting of Stronger Future alcohol bans across more than 400 Aboriginal living areas and town camps, which resulted in complete chaos including a dramatic increase in alcohol fuelled violence particularly against women and children.
Albanese instructed the Chief Minister to reinstate the Stronger Future alcohol bans, with additional grog bans imposed on the town of Alice Springs.
This has been a long journey for Alice Springs, with extreme alcohol restrictions being a part of our lives for decades. They are inconvenient and impact on our tourism and hospitality industries but nothing impacts on the town more than alcohol.
And we now know that while restricting access to alcohol is not “the solution” it is one of the few strategies that makes a difference in the short to medium term.
I am advocating three things.
One, the two day per week complete ban on take-away alcohol sales continues into the foreseeable future.
Two, that Sunday take-away alcohol sales be restricted to a few hours, rather than the current nine hours.
And three, that alcohol be permanently banned on the Town Camps of Alice Springs.
Unfortunately the Town Camps remain a focus of extreme alcohol fuelled violence. The Town Camps have been dry for over 15 years under the Stronger Futures legislation. They must continue to be dry for the safety of residents.
In Alice Springs we must be pragmatic about strategies that will give us short to medium relief from alcohol fuelled violence and crime.
The NT Crime Statistics to March 2023 revealed that Alice Springs had almost 20% more incidents of crime than Darwin, which has a population more than double that of Alice Springs.
We have a very long way to go in addressing our “crime crisis”.
Robyn Lambley, Independent Member for Araluen