LETTER: Booze controls needed for footy carnival

Sir – Will Alice Springs be the bunny at the Easter footy Carnival?

There will be up to 30 teams in Alice Springs for the Easter weekend Lightning Carnival from far and wide – plus spectators.

The games will no doubt be great. But if there are no decent alcohol restrictions it could be hell on earth for the hospital, police, night patrols, ambulance workers, youth services, road users and anyone else who is out and about.

We saw a pretty good set of supply restrictions for the Richmond vs. Indigenous All Stars match in February.

We had a watered down version for the NAB Cup last weekend. The NAB crowd was smaller, but there was more trouble.

Over the NAB Cup event police made ten arrests, moved on an extremely high number of people – 1,135 – and tipped out 312 litres of alcohol; and 111 people were taken into protective custody with eight liquor infringement notices issued.

So, while this game attracted fewer spectators and the crowd was well-behaved, there was clearly a lot of anti-social activity outside the ground and in the town area.

Who’ll bite the bullet and make sure that what works is in place for this big event? This is what we need for a safe Easter in Alice, and for all big sporting events:-

• No take-away sales of casks or fortified wines.

• A limit of one bottle per person per day on spirits (no larger than 750 mls.) and one carton of beer with ID to be shown.

• A limit of five bottles of wine per person per day with ID to be shown.

• 7pm closing for take-away sales (but 6pm on Saturday) from the Thursday prior to the Carnival through to the following Tuesday inclusive.

• No take-away trading before 2pm on the Saturday.

Five bottles of wine equates approximately in alcohol content to a carton of beer, as does the cost when cheaper varieties of wine are purchased.

This will assist in keeping some check on the volume consumed and on problems with glass. We want the additional days because people tend to stay on in town and drink, especially after the Lightning Carnival.

If the licensees won’t do this voluntarily, then the Licensing Commission must use its powers. If it won’t, then the ball goes to the new Minister for Alcohol Policy and for Licensing, Robyn Lambley, who also has powers to impose conditions under the Liquor Act.

It’s time to see some more serious action on preventing unacceptable behaviour and avoidable harm during big sporting events.

And it’s an opportunity for the new Minister to kick a few goals for her home town of Alice Springs.

Dr. John Boffa

People’s Alcohol Action Coalition

Alice Springs

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