Government still obstinate on take-away alcohol supply

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – Twelve months after the Coroner recommended that the NT Government should commit to all available, reasonable measures to reduce the supply of excess alcohol from take-away outlets in Alice Springs the NT Government has failed to do anything new in response.

 

The then Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Central Australia Robyn Lambley met with government service providers and non-government agencies in early October 2012, following Mr. Cavanagh’s recommendation in the Briscoe inquest.

 

Minister Lambley described this at the time as a ‘preliminary’ meeting. That seems to have been the end of it. There has been no response to follow-up correspondence from PAAC in November 2012 and no action from the NT Government in relation to doing what His Honour recommended about reducing supply.

 

The increase in nurse employment hours at the watch-house and police efforts to seek alternatives to the cells for those who are picked up for being drunk are commendable.

 

Meanwhile the Government does nothing about pricing, nothing about controlling the volume of sales to lessen excessive drinking. The Minister responsible for licensing, Dave Tollner, would not even step in earlier this year and use his powers under the Liquor Act to strengthen take-away restrictions for major sporting events when licensees failed to agree on adequate temporary measures.

 

Dr. Boffa said the NT Government seemed determined to continue to ignore all the sound evidence placed before it. On top of that, it was thumbing its nose at those parts of the Coroner’s findings that don’t match its view of drinking as a ‘core social value.’

 

They got rid of the Banned Drinkers’ Register, introduced a dubious and expensive Alcohol Mandatory Treatment scheme that deals with only a small number of people and leaves some of the heaviest drinkers with no useful response.

 

Third-time absconders from treatment can be charged with an offence, but there has been no population-wide approach to reducing consumption.

 

And there’s no movement that we can see on the Alice Springs’ Alcohol Management Plan that Adam Giles and Robyn Lambley announced confidently in June would be in place by December this year.

 

It would be refreshing for the community if Dave Tollner, who is now the Minister for Alcohol Policy, could actually work on some useful policy and implement the Coroner’s findings using the evidence that’s been presented to his Government over and over again.

 

Dr. John Boffa

PAAC

 

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