Call for better booze laws
The Northern Territory government is being urged to pause the lifting of intervention-era alcohol restrictions.
Alcohol bans first introduced by the Commonwealth during the NT intervention in 2007 expired in some remote communities this month. Frontline services report a spike in alcohol-related incidents and health presentations, and a rise in liquor sales, since the changes.
Independent MLA Robyn Lambley is set to move a motion in parliament calling for the lifting of the alcohol restrictions to be paused, saying the end to alcohol restrictions in some remote communities is fuelling domestic incidents.
Ms Lambley is calling for “comprehensive consultation” and for the implementation of an “opt out” rather than an “opt in” system for individual communities to continue alcohol bans.
Northern Territory Senator Jacinta Price says it was a mistake not to extend the legislation.
“The NT government should have asked for a continuation of the … legislation to put measures in place to actually have a plan instead of simply opening up to allowing grog back out in communities again,” she said.
“It's going to be devastating - we're seeing the effects of it now.”
Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles has confirmed that federal Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney wants a meeting to discuss reports of a rise in alcohol-related harm.
“We have been in contact and we will continue to work with the federal government,” Ms Fyles said.
But she said her government would not continue with “race-based” laws.
“People need to understand [the legislation] was race-based … so what has changed is that a community can opt in if they believe [continuing alcohol bans] is the best measure,” she said.
Ms Fyles also noted that “no other jurisdiction in Australia and maybe the world had the alcohol measures we have” referring to the Northern Territory's alcohol floor price, use of Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors and the Banned Drinker's Register.
“There are still measures that are in place,” she said.
“But the legislation that the Commonwealth has walked away from, we believe, was a race-based legislation, and so we will provide measures that protect the community from the harm of alcohol but are not race-based.”