This week's Food for Thought is by RUSSELL GUY, commentator, writer and music promoter in Central Australia's outback for 31 years. He is a frequent contributor to the comment sections of the Alice Springs News Online. He is also a keen aviator where "eight hours from bottle to throttle" is an unbending rule for pilots in command of an aircraft.
In 2006 – 2007, Australians aged 15 and over consumed on average almost 10 litres of pure alcohol per head. In comparison, average consumption in the NT by the non-indigenous population was over 14 litres, and for indigenous it was more than 16 litres, but Alice Springs is way out in front at around 20 litres per head.
The NT Government says 70% of all alcohol sold in the NT is sold as take-away liquor and that hospitalisation rates due to alcohol are the highest in Australia. The same research relates that alcohol-related deaths occur in the NT at about 3.5 times the rate they do nationally. 55% of road deaths are caused by high-risk drinking in the NT and that in 2009, there were 54,000 incidents of people taken into protective custody due to alcohol misuse. Adults who consumed alcohol, 30% reported drinking alcohol at a risky or high risk level and added that if the NT were a country, then it would be up amongst those countries in the world with the highest rates of per capita consumption. Many studies have identified the correlation between high levels of alcohol consumption and shortened life expectancy.
Is it any wonder booze is shaping up as one of the main issues in the run-up to the local government elections next month?