Gapview knocked back a second time on extended hours for Masters Games grog trade

Licensing Commission cites Briscoe Inquest findings on excessive alcohol consumption in Alice Springs

 

 

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Gapview Hotel has been knocked back for a second time on a request to  vary its take-away trading hours during the Masters Games. The Licensing Commission (three members) confirmed the September 17 decision by Chairman Richard O’Sullivan. In its reasons Presiding member Jane Large cited the Coroner’s findings in the Briscoe Inquest that “a long term solution to excessive alcohol consumption in Alice Springs requires greater cooperation amongst stakeholders (including outlets that sell alcohol)” and his recommendation that  “the NT Government convenes an urgent meeting with stakeholders …and commits to all available, reasonable measures to reduce the supply of excess alcohol from takeaway outlets.”

 

As we all know, a first meeting on the issues, convened by Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Central Australia, Robyn Lambley, has now taken place.

 

The Commission expressed its view that “the potential risk to community amenity, social harmony and well-being” outweighed “the inconvenience encountered by visitors and contestants to the Masters Games wishing to purchase takeaway alcohol”.

 

Licensee Ray Loechel had suggested that the variation “would be a great way to trial extended trading hours and gauge any effects that it may have”. The Commission did not agree: “Eight days of extended takeaway trading is insufficient time to provide any meaningful data and information to allow a proper analysis and evaluation of the Alcohol Supply Restrictions in Alice Springs.”

 

While Gapview did not intend to advertise the extended hours, they accepted that people other than Masters Games participants would be able to take advantage of them.

 

In its reasons for decision, the Commission also affirmed the existing restrictions regime: “The original imposition of the restricted hours for takeaway alcohol in Alice Springs followed extensive consultation with community members, government agencies and the Council. The outcome of these consultations was a strong commitment to not only reducing the hours of takeaway but also to a later commencement time.

 

“The reviews undertaken on these measures by both the Menzies School of Health Research and the Northern Territory Licensing Commission involved further detailed consultation and then a recommendation that the current measures be maintained. No community consultation has been undertaken on this application [Gapview’s] and time now precludes it happening.

 

“However, the Commission has comment on the application from two government agencies which encounter the results of excessive alcohol consumption in Alice Springs. The Department of Heath does not support the application. The Northern [Territory] Police response is brief and refers to monitoring of Social Order issues which indicates some concern as to these issues.”

 

Another recent decision by the Commission (single member) has relevance to the issues of take-away versus on-premise drinking and to the idea of ‘wet canteens’ on Aboriginal communities. The Commission dismissed the objection of a Department of Health officer to an application to vary the licence of the Wuduluk Progress Aboriginal Corporation to sell alcohol at the Beswick Community Store.

The NT Police did not object to the application and the Roper Gulf Shire did not respond.

 

Beswick is an Aboriginal community in the Top End, about one and a half hours’ drive south-east of Katherine. The store is managed on behalf of the corporation by Steve Moore of Outback Stores. The variation seeks to remove the take-away license but authorise an on-premise licence for drinking in a beer garden attached to the store.

 

Senior Policy Advisor with the Alcohol and Other Drugs Program, Department of Health, Neil Wright, was concerned about how the store would manage and control on-premise consumption and with the amounts currently authorised for sale to individuals being excessive given the limited hours for authorised trade.

 

Mr Moore told the Commission that in fact all alcohol sold is already consumed on-premise in line with the wishes of the Beswick community. He said the Social Club ensured that food was available to patrons at all times that alcohol was sold and that sufficient security personnel were engaged during trading hours. In addition, limitations on the amount of alcohol that could be sold to an individual were enforced and patrons are only permitted to purchase one can of alcohol at a

time.

 

Since the Federal Intervention the trading hours have been limited to 4.30 to 6.30 pm on Wednesdays and 4.30 to 7.00 pm on Fridays with no trading on Saturdays. Management has implemented measures that require all patrons to undergo breath analysis and return a reading of less that 0.05% BAC prior to being admitted to the premises. The present application does not seek to vary the limitations currently in place in respect of amounts or hours of trade.

 

In its reasons, the Commission states its preference for on-premise drinking over take-away sales: “From a Commission perspective, on-premise consumption of alcohol in circumstances where a patron’s behaviour and level of intoxication are able to be monitored by staff and security personnel is preferable to take away sales where the patron is able to consume the alcohol in an uncontrolled and

unsupervised environment.

 

“The Commission, together with various other bodies involved in the regulation of alcohol sales, has noted consistently and regularly that whilst there are issues with the regulated sale of alcohol for on premise consumption the greater level of alcohol related harm is generated from take away sales.”

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9 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Hal Duell
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    That’s a good final point in Russell Guy’s last post (October 10, 2012 at 8:01 am). He says (or so I read it) that the Byron Youth Service is asking tourists to work with them in understanding their community problem.
    Why does the NT Tourist Commission, or whatever they are calling themselves these days, and whether they are based in Alice or in Darwin, not adopt the same approach? Instead of worrying that restrictions will negatively impact on tourists’ enjoyment, rather ask them for their help.
    Most tourists visit us to see Central Australia, to have an “outback experience”. Very few visit to drink until they fall down, and those few we don’t need and can no longer afford.
    Blind Freddy can see the effects of alcohol on our streets, and asking for help would show both maturity and courage. It would certainly be better than the current head-in-the-sand attitude in which we pretend that the problem is down to a few unruly drunks, but otherwise everything is hunky-dory.
    We all know it is most definitely not hunky-dory. If the Tourist Commission has still to figure that out, then they want sacking and replacing with someone a bit more perceptive.

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  2. Paul Parker
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Congratulations to NT Liquor Commission and Beswick community for enabling responsible consumption. Need see more outlets replacing take-away licenses with responsible consumption on premises.
    Our courts regularly apply penalty to individuals who behave inappropriately. Problems related to individual’s intoxication best resolved in the courts.
    Taliban seeks avoid judicial processes which protect everyone’s rights and responsibilities.

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  3. Russell Guy
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Erwin, In relation to the Gapview knock-back, readers may also like to know that the Woolworth’s-owned Dan Murphy’s Liquor Chain licence application in Byron Bay’s CBD, in a Cinema Complex, for which they confidently paid a 25 year lease up-front, has been denied by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) for similar reasons given by the NT Licensing Commission.
    With social concerns in a tourist market like Alice Springs, local State MP, Don Page remarked: “This is the right decision and I am pleased that the independent body has come to the same conclusion that police, the local community and myself all came to … the concerns included the proposed location in the CBD and the high rate of alcohol-related assaults that have been occurring in Byron Bay.”
    According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics, the Byron Local Government Area recorded almost four times as many alcohol-related, non-domestic violence assaults as the statewide average.
    One local newspaper reported that “during the licence application, a wide-cross section of the community, including church leaders, police, politicians, school teachers and teenagers gave passionate addresses to the panel for over five hours” (Echo. 9/10/12).
    Byron Youth Service has taken the lead to change the binge drinking culture in Byron – and Australia – with its “Cringe the Binge” campaign, citing the town as a “microcosm of all the negative impacts of binge drinking – drink driving, multiple fatalities, sexual assault, street violence, brawls, domestic violence and trauma, anxieties and depression, and the early initiation of young people into alcohol consumption”.
    They are also asking tourists to work with them in understanding their community problems.

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  4. Russell Guy
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 5:48 am

    Steve, you may have had the most voters in the Council elections, but you didn’t have a majority. In this issue, you are outnumbered, even in these pages. Face it, the town wants and needs a change in liquor supply regulation, not just an expensive, so-called rehab “solution.”
    Robyn Lambley’s talking about a mix of supply and rehab, even Terry Mills hasn’t ruled out supply restrictions and their political stablemate Nigel Scullion is against the re-introduction of alcohol into remote communities, because “it has never worked.”
    Your “tax-payer” logic has never convinced me because the alcohol industry makes a profit while I pay for the 25% of alcohol-related car accidents Australia-wide and the white youth-binging emergency admissions etc, due to responsible serving of alcohol so that you can go to your fridge and get on the sauce after work, supposedly, or as you say several times in yr posts, “probably.”
    Your 97th no-brainer is another reminder that you’re increasingly becoming a lone ranger on the need for alcohol supply regulations. Take the Gapview knock-back as a sign of a of law and order town future.

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  5. Hal Duell
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:57 am

    @Steve
    As you say: “There is only one way out of Ground Hog Day Hal! That is by doing something to break the cycle.”
    I do so agree! And we could break the cycle of having a steady supply of inexpensive take-away grog available in Alice Springs by bringing in a day off, a day off for me and for you and for all the town.
    The binge drinkers and their families and neighbors would also get a day off.
    Are there really that many desperate alcoholics among them? I question that, but if there are, why must we pander to them?
    And as for repeating myself …

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  6. Steve Brown
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Hal repeating your argument over and over at every opportunity doesn’t make it any more convincing it simply turns it from being an argument into irritating propaganda. Perhaps it about time you gave us a day off Hal, I’m sure most of us heard you the first time let alone the 97th! A day off solves nothing and greatly exacerbates the issues. What happens on your day off ? Firstly normal every day Joe hard working tax paying probably only buys his Alcohol on one day of the week probably pay day He’s not effected by the day off because He’s got beer in the fridge, and will drink it any bloody time he chooses. So that leaves the ones you want a rest from Hal, Problem drinkers, alcoholics, you name it, now they do know that the “Day Off”, is tomorrow because to them it does matter, a great deal. So what do they do about it? They go out and buy, beg or steal twice as much Booze as they would normally consume in a day getting ready for the day off! Being alcoholics, once having all that extra alcohol they simply cant resist drinking it, so on the night before the day off you get a huge upsurge in noise fighting partying which cumulates the next day when all the booze has worn off in some very grumpy drinkers, facing the horrors, in desperate need of a drink. who then go looking for it probably in your house while your having your day off snooze Hal In short Hal when you are dealing with addicts of any kind things remain at their calmest when there is no threat or fluctuation in supply. Your calling for a day off because you want a rest from noise and fighting or so you say, “Well Hal”, we have laws against those things wouldn’t it make a hole lot more sense to campaign for those laws to be properly enforced than doing some roundabout fiddling with alcohol supply which is going to result in bedlam greater levels of division anger assaults murders domestic violence noise because your telling raging alcoholics they cant have what they so desperately want, because “you”, want some peace and quiet! Do you really think they’re going to let you have that without perhaps just a little payback? There is only one way out of Ground Hog Day Hal! That is by doing something to break the cycle. Its time to subject our drunks to life changing rehabilitation introduce sensible seven day a week trading hours and to put the naive and simplistic restriction propaganda away where we’ve just put the Labor Party who propagated it, On the Scrap Heap!

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  7. Bob Durnan
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Thanks Hal, you have expressed very well what many people are feeling.

    Re Dave’s comments (David Chewings Posted October 9, 2012 at 11:00 am):
    The decision by the Licensing Commission on this matter is not related in any way to the NTER, federal laws or anything other than the Licensing Commission’s pre-NTER (and still current) obligation to consider the application under its powers and responsibilities as outlined by NT legislation.
    The current restrictions applying to the Gapview and other Alice Springs licences are entirely the result of NT decisions under NT laws, and mainly consist of a package of regulation reforms which took effect in October 2006, with some further provisions resulting from the NTG’s Enough is Enough legislation, which until recently included requirements relating to the BDR.
    The Licensing Commission’s responsibilities include the requirement to consider the overall wellbeing of the community when making decisions about licensing matters.

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  8. Hal Duell
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    The Commission expressed its view that “the potential risk to community amenity, social harmony and well-being” outweighed “the inconvenience encountered by visitors and contestants to the Masters Games wishing to purchase takeaway alcohol”.
    That would have to be one of the most positive comments from a government agency that I have read in a long time. Now it needs to be extended to tourists and visitors in general, not just those who are coming to compete in the Masters Games.
    To rephrase it – community amenity, social harmony and well-being trump any inconvenience felt by visitors to Alice Springs.
    So true, and not before time.
    Now let’s have a day off. Sundays are still considered somewhat special, and as most of the take-away outlets are already closed on that day, why not go all the way and close the rest of them?

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  9. David Chewings
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Gapview knocked back a second time on extended hours on Masters Games grog trade by Kieran Finnane.
    I am a little surprised that Gapview management expect any special treatment under the current laws that govern the intervention.
    Ray and Dianne, as experienced publicans, are savvy enough to realise just how permanent the intervention policies are.
    These horrid policies would be reinforced, in the unlikely scenario that Tony Abbott becomes our leader in 2013, by a costly return of Mal Brough, the army and his mates in the Federal police force.
    Do you think that this would benefit Centralia?
    David Chewings
    aka THE lone dingo

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