NT’s grog policy focus remains on public drinkers and drunk offenders

The NT Government continues to focus its alcohol policy reforms on “problem drinkers”, seen as those who commit alcohol-related crime.

Minister for Alcohol Policy, Delia Lawrie, has introduced legislation to Territory parliament that gives police and the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Tribunal “additional tools to get problem drinkers out of public places and into rehabilitation”.

Police will have the power to issue an infringement notice to people drinking in a public place within two kilometres of licensed premises and causing a nuisance to other persons. This will be in in addition to their existing power to tip out grog.

The infringement notice will be linked to the Banned Drinker Register, increasing “the ability of police to target repeat offenders and direct them into treatment”.

Problem drinkers issued with these infringements three times in 12 months will be placed on the Banned Drinker’s Register.

The bill extends the definition of “alcohol related offence” to include people who are summonsed (but not arrested) for an offence.

It also increases the power of the AOD Tribunal to force problem drinkers into rehabilitation.

It will also be able to make orders that a person be subject to income management, including making ex parte orders in the absence of the problem drinker attending the Tribunal hearing.

“This means welfare recipients on the Banned Drinker’s Register can have their income managed until they complete treatment,” Ms Lawrie said in a media release on Tuesday.

“By targeting drinking in public places, and giving the AOD more powers to force problem drinkers into rehabilitation we can reduce anti-social behaviour and turn lives around.

“More than 60% of crime is alcohol-related, and the Territory Government’s Enough is Enough Alcohol Reforms have already seen more than 2,100 problem drinkers put on the Banned Drinker Register and drops in alcohol-related crime in the first six months,” Ms Lawrie said.

In the first six-month report on the impact of the Enough is Enough reforms, released in February, only assault statistics were given, comparing the six months from July to December in 2010 to the post-reform period of July to December, 2011. They showed a Territory-wide drop of 5.1%; in Alice, the drop was 8.4%; in Darwin, 12.1%. In Tennant Creek, however, there’d been an increase of 12.9%, with a footnote suggesting that this was related to a more proactive approach by police to domestic violence matters.

There were no statistics on alcohol-related property crime, of considerable concern in Alice Springs.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Conservative British Government proposing to introduce a floor price for alcohol in the UK, a floor price at least for the NT has again become a hot debating point. Federal Liberal front-bencher Christopher Pyne yesterday told ABC 891 reporter Ian Henscke yesterday that it is “an idea whose time has come”. The Commonwealth has the power to introduce it into the Territory, he said, and he would be an “enthusiastic supporter” of such a move.

The Country Liberals Shadow Minister for Alcohol Policy, Peter Styles, reacted by saying that Mr Pyne is “too far removed from the Northern Territory to be weighing into issues associated with alcohol policy”.

He wants Mr Pyne to contact him for a briefing .

“The fact is that people will still get grog even if there is a floor price, as evidenced by the failure of the Government’s grog bans to stop anti-social behaviour,” said Mr Styles.

“Territorians are entitled to buy an inexpensive bottle of wine without an artificial floor jacking up the price.

“The only winners from a floor price are the large retailers who reap the profit from the higher prices.

“It’s already expensive enough living in the Territory without Government policy making it even dearer.”

Ms Lawrie has previously ruled out moving on a floor price for the NT, with arguments similar to Mr Styles’. – Kieran Finnane

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9 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Bob Durnan
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    to Janet @ Janet Brown (Posted April 5, 2012 at 8:36 pm): sounds like you really enjoy that cooking, and that is your God given right.
    You are absolutely correct, Janet. Who in their right mind would deny a cook the right to purchase two bottles of sherry on the one day? Only a true SEGREGATIONIST would want to do SOMETHING like THAT. A true measure of the HORROR, the end times in which we live. A bit like that new fangled nanny rule that we have to wear SEATBELTS. Only keeps us further away from the moment when we encounter the holy embrace of the Lord.
    But I am puzzled as to why you only want to go back to the 4 litre casks? Let’s have 5 litre casks again! Unlimited purchases! Less than twenty cents per standard drink! Available at dawn, like it used to be, and get completely pickled whenever we want – er, sorry, I mean NORMAL!

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  2. Russell Guy
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Janet Brown and her Councillor husband Steve, referred to statistical data as “idiotic” at the beginning of their Alice Springs Town Council election campaign, but weeks into it, they did an about-face and started using statistics.
    Hopefully, they will have the same sensible attitude towards alcohol restrictions. Janet wants an end to all “race-based” restrictions, despite the fact that countries, cities, towns and remote communities with excessive alcohol-related violence are introducing new restriction regimes as a means of cracking down on “anti-social” problems, including self-harm and taxpayer-funded alcohol abuse, which is escalating into double-digit, billion dollar annual costs in our an increasingly drug dependent Australia.
    Alice Springs has double the national average consumption figures, with 55% of NT road accidents attributed to alcohol and the the highest death and alcohol-related hospitalisation rates in Australia. The NT prison system is overcrowded to the point where police watchhouses try to accommodate the overflow and a very large proportion is due to alcohol-related offending. These are facts.
    The sale of cask and fortified wines have been banned from sale in Alice Springs for six days from today in an attempt to reduce alcohol-fuelled crime, but Janet and Steve Brown are not alone in wanting an end to alcohol restrictions in Alice Springs, or, for that matter simply saying that restrictions haven’t worked when a floor price and a take-away restriction haven’t been given a chance.
    The AFL and Easter Carnival restrictions deny the logic of such arguments. They, like those who continue to ask the randomly substantiated question “why should everyone be penalised for the majority?” are missing the point.
    All agree that Alice has a serious problem with alcohol-abuse among adult and youth of all cultures, so there’s nothing “racist” about it. This is a spurious argument and makes no sense. In fact, one has to wonder if those who play the race card are aware that they are being racist – a word, which by definition and intent, consciously or not, is segregationist. It has no useful outcome and is socially anathema. This is a costly humanitarian issue, which needs a government intervention in order to protect its citizens from unregulated, free-market trade in excessive alcohol supply and consumption. There is nothing responsible about it.
    The sly grog culture has been fostered since the 1788 Settlement of Australia, but the UK government recently announced a floor price to restrain this manipulative drug’s escalating and destructive effects on society, in a turn-around which should ring alarm bells in the land of beer o’clock.
    Those who oppose attempts to do likewise in Alice Springs from an “anti-restriction” stance go against the trend to reform alcohol supply. These opponents have nothing but free market trade as an answer, but the industry can’t self-regulate, so just whom are they trying to fool? It’s been tried and it’s failing badly – look around, or listen to police road safety warnings, but still, the Rum Corps want to go back to it. This is essentially the AHA (NT) and CLP argument and apparently a large proportion, but statistically, a minority of Alice Springs voters in the Council elections.
    Its been said many times that a multi-pronged approach is necessary to bring alcohol-abuse under control, which is why, in my opinion, a floor price and a take-away restriction regime should be added to the mix in an attempt to constrain a statistically-proven epidemic, undermining our society. If you think there’s a loss of liberty now, don’t apply any further restriction and see what will happen. This problem is way too big to be solved by law and order alone. Steve Brown talks about “guts,” but he has no idea what he’s talking about.
    Statistics on alcohol-related death, poverty, declining productivity, and all of the above are slated to increase as Australia continues down the unregulated, unrestricted path of alcohol supply.

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  3. Janet Brown
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Let’s. Remove all restrictions and return to normality. Get back 4 lt casks and let’s be like all other states without being different. Where I can buy a bottle of sherry before 6 pm on any day to use in cooking. And I can buy sweet dry and medium on the same day.

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  4. Russell Guy
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I’ve never accused you of “ranting”, Janet. There’s no need, you take the cake. You have nothing new to offer, only more of the same, but marching backwards leads to the ditch. It will be interesting to see which of your running pals will jump ship first.

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  5. Janet Brown
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Oh my I am sure that I have never asked or demanded you change you views on the grog issues Russell . I have always only argued for the pathetic race based restrictions to be removed. In all of your rantings you have almost demanded I change to accept your ideologies. Sorry Russell I will stick to what I believe in and know. I do not follow blindly to others interpretations. Grog restrictions need to go, segregation needs to stop, racists who promote segregation need to be stopped.

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  6. Russell Guy
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 10:13 am

    More than a few of those who voted for the Brown team must be squirming after reading your latest series of posts, Janet.
    While the nation confronts a new report on its failure to win the Drug War, your team threatens to dismantle current restrictions on alcohol. Other places with the same alcohol problems are introducing more.
    The nation is going deeper into dependence on drugs, including the legal use of alcohol – a gross hypocrisy that fuels “anti-social” behaviour – and you talk about “minorities and majorities” while fixing “big picture issues.”
    Steve refers to Stronger Futures as “New Futures” and you turn the English language into an Orwellian prophecy, while boasting of silencing those who disagree.
    The tragedy is that your policy-driven delusions will continue to be a soft-option that contribute to unnecessary loss of life and opportunity, but you think you’re taking a tough stance.

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  7. Janet Brown
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Our Territory has been hijacked by minority propaganda. It is time to silence the screaming by petulant little sub groups. And fix the big picture issues. That refers to majority workings. This is not the time to be sidelined to use band aid fixes. Majority. We are the biggest group and our time is now. Minority groups are not going to take the back seat. They will be on the ride of change. They will just be quiet till the ride is over.

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  8. Russell Guy
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    The NT CLP Shadow Minister for Alcohol Policy, Peter Styles, says that “people will still get grog even if there is a floor price as evidenced by the failure of the Government’s grog bans to stop anti-social behaviour.”
    Mr Styles would be well-advised to stop playing politics, wasting lives and taxpayer’s money, and note UK PM Cameron’s comments (Guardian 23/3/12) on why his Government has decided to introduce a floor price.
    What people are “entitled” to do is not necessarily the “right” thing. There are numerous examples of free-market regulation occurring in the alcohol trade, e.g. in Newcastle (Newcastle Herald 28/3/12) where a local campaigner had declared that there is such a thing as a victory for “common sense.”
    Mr Styles and Ms Lawrie, the NT Minister for Alcohol Policy, have not mentioned reducing the supply of alcohol at the seven day per week take-away outlets.
    Arguments for this range from freeing up police to tackle property crime and black-marketeering to attending to Mr Styles argument that people will still get alcohol despite a floor price.
    Of course they will, but you have to start somewhere in what is widely recognised as a multi-pronged road to success. The West Australians are doing exactly this. It’s supply on which the Commonwealth is beginning to focus as a cost recovery and self-harm reduction measure.
    This will make it harder, not more expensive, and assist in reducing the Government created dependence on alcohol. The CLP opposes free-market regulation, even though the new Alcohol Marketing Review Board has said that the alcohol industry “can’t self-regulate” which means that it’s not meeting its own standards which suggests it may be irresponsibly supplying alcohol to the community. Is that what you’re about, Mr Styles?
    There are so many double standards at play here. How can an addict be accountable? Why foster addiction and then fine the victim? This is recidivist behavior by the NTG and the Opposition.
    Federal Liberal front-bencher Christopher Pyne got it right. Mr Styles is out of step by claiming that the NT is somehow a different back-yard to the rest of the world when it comes to excessive alcohol consumption.
    With respect, Mr Styles, your comments are those of a back-water politician rather than a progressively-oriented Shadow Minister. The NT deserves better than protecting “the bloody big drinkers” at the expense of the majority.

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  9. Aaradamw
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Dear Ms Lawrie,
    Not sure what planet you are living on but evidence based practice world wide clearly shows that you can not legislate and mandate behavioural change in individuals.
    All States repealed their Inebriates Act or similar in the early 70’s as it does not work.
    Even if you could mandate behavioural change where will you place people for “rehabilitation” as you have stated … very few services on the ground to provide rehab and your Government hasn’t provided any increase in rehab beds with existing service providers.
    Your Grog Policy may look good on the front page of NT papers with stats that have very little meaning.
    Open your eyes, Ms Lawrie, and look at what the rest of the world is doing to deal with Community AOD issues.

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