Proposed minimum standards for Alcohol Management Plans in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities have been released for comment by Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin. Under Stronger Futures legislation Ms Macklin has the power to sign off on the plans, a power that will be relevant to any move to introduce alcohol or stronger strength alcohol on communities, as has been mooted by the new Territory Government. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
The Australian Government's Stronger Futures legislation – essentially a further Intervention – will "sunset" after 10 years, says Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin. When its measures achieve their objective, they will not continue. An independent review will commence after seven years, with its findings to be tabled in parliament.
Progress has been made, says Ms Macklin, but "across each of the Closing the Gap targets, the gap remains the greatest for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory" and in particular "some children are still not receiving proper care, and that is completely unacceptable".
Adam Giles slams Feds giving themselves new alcohol reform powers in NT
The Australian Government will add to the ways in which it tells the Northern Territory Government what to do with new measures to tackle alcohol abuse just announced.
It's a move vehemently criticised by Shadow Minister for Central Australia, Adam Giles (pictured), who says the "Territory Labor Government has again ceded its sovereignty to the Commonwealth as a direct result of its failure to bring about improvements in living conditions on Aboriginal communities."
The NT's most recent alcohol reforms have been packaged under the banner Enough is Enough but they are clearly not enough, in the view of Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin.
The Stronger Futures legislation, being introduced into the national parliament today, will give her new power to request that the NT appoint independent assessors to look into licensed venues that are contributing to significant alcohol related harm to Aboriginal people through their serving practices.
“If the independent assessors find that the venues are disproportionately contributing to alcohol related harm to Aboriginal people, the Australian Government will work with the Northern Territory Government to ensure the practices of those venues change,” she says.
Specific venues are not mentioned in the government's announcement but the so-called 'animal bars' (video below) of Alice Springs have been the subject of controversy, with strong criticism of their mode of operation aired in the national media, and would seem likely candidates for scrutiny. – Kieran Finnane