The total wholesale supply of liquor measured as pure alcohol has reduced in Alice Springs by 12% since 2004, according to figures from the NT Department of Justice.
The figures do not include alcohol obtained by mail orders or online purchases obtained from interstate which, according to anecdotal evidence, are increasingly popular.
The most significant drop was in the supply of wine casks and fortified wines, coinciding with sales restrictions and price increases.
See also Letter to the Editor from Dr John Boffa, from PAAC. Photo: Campaigners against alcohol abuse tipping out grog in Alice Springs in 2007. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
The volatile debate on alcohol reform turns largely on the volume of consumption and how various measures affect it.
Trouble is, the stats are seen to present an incomplete picture as they do not capture the apparently growing online and mail-order purchases that come to the consumer direct from interstate. Said Deputy Mayor Brendan Heenan during the recent local government election campaign: "There are statistics that less alcohol is being sold now. I don’t believe them. Go to the post office and watch how much alcohol comes in, pallets and pallets of mail orders from south now, tonnes of the stuff, every day."
The Alice Springs News Online requested information from the NT Justice Department at about noon yesterday. It has not yet been provided. When it comes to hand we will update this report.
Blair McFarland, manager of CAYLUS (Central Australian Youth Link Up Service) which campaigns strongly on substance abuse issues , says so far as he knows, figures about alcohol obtained from interstate by mail order and online are not included in the NT consumption statistics, which – again, so far as he knows – represent wholesale trade in the NT.
Mr McFarland says, relying on figures interstate, the online and mail order proportion is around one percent of the total.
Prominent alcohol activist and medical doctor, John Boffa says: "The short answer is that only some of the sales are included when the wine company or other company is registered in the NT.
"[The government does] not have a way of monitoring all of the internet sales." ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: The yard of the Alice Springs post office which, some claim, transports large quantities of alcohol not accounted for in NT consumption statistics.
UPDATE May 10, 12:40pm: The NT Department of Justice has now provided a partial response to questions we asked yesterday.
They were: Does the department have figures of alcohol obtained via mail order or online, and delivered via Post Australia?
If you do please supply them to me.
Are mail order or online purchases of alcohol from interstate and delivered to the buyer direct captured in the NTG stats made public? Answer: DoJ is aware of small amounts of alcohol being purchased over the Internet. These amounts are insignificant in comparison to the 2.73 million litres of pure alcohol sold in 2010.
Online retailers can use the Banned Drinkers Register (BRD) online and since its launch on 26 March, three interstate licensees have adopted the system with the first sale recorded on 8 May 2012.
Follow-up questions to the department: That clearly means that the government does not know the quantities and they are not reflected in the NT alcohol statistics; is that so? How many mail order and online retailers from interstate are supplying the NT?
UPDATE May 10, 4:20pm:
The department replies: Whilst we don’t know specific quantities, from discussions with cartage agents, especially in Alice Springs, quality bottled wine is being purchased in very low quantities in comparison to what is sold in the Territory.
The majority of online liquor sellers don’t sell into the NT. Coles and Woolworths despatch their online liquor sale products from the NT and so already use the BDR. In developing the BDR online, we wrote to 10 organisations that offer online liquor sales into the Territory – including Coles and Woolworths, letting them know that the BDR was available online.
In the 2011 March quarter Alice Springs again had more assaults and break-ins than Darwin, which has three times the population, and over six years the town has had twice as many murders.
The latest NT Department of Justice statistics released for the March quarter for 2011 show offences in Alice Springs against the person (464) were down on the March quarter of 2010 (485) but still higher than in the March quarter of 2009 (420). PHOTO: A CCTV camera overlooks the Mall. KIERAN FINNANE reports.