Why the increase in NT alcohol sales and consumption?

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – The first increase in alcohol sales and consumption in the NT since 2005, along with increased domestic violence and other offences against the person, reinforces the need for a full-scale joint NT and Commonwealth Board of Inquiry into alcohol consumption and harm in the NT.

 

The Department of Business data finally released on Friday shows a two per cent, or more than 100,000-litre, increase in the wholesale supply of alcohol in 2012, a reversal of the previous steady decline that’s occurred since 2005.

 

And this is only annual data so we cannot get a true picture of sales before and after the use of the Photo ID system and the Banned Drinkers’ Register.

 

It also only includes four months’ worth of sales since the BDR was scrapped. The NT Government needs to get moving and release detailed, monthly alcohol sales data so we can have a clear and detailed look, including since the Photo ID system BDR and were dropped.

 

And we need data for at least the first three quarters of 2013 now, not in another year’s time.

 

A twelve-month lag in alcohol sales data is not acceptable, especially given the increase in various types of offending.

 

Most of the increases in sales occurred in Darwin and Palmerston. In Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine, police have been stationed outside bottle shops during many, but not all, take-away opening hours.

This has no doubt deterred many people who have nowhere legally to drink, from buying grog at least some of the time. The police activity may explain the difference between Darwin and Palmerston and the other centres, but where are the details?

 

We really must see a more comprehensive breakdown and more recent sales figures as soon as possible. In June the Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the NT called for a full-scale Board of Inquiry.

 

The NT Government’s lack of timeliness and openness on alcohol data simply adds more weight and urgency to that demand.

 

Dr. John Boffa (pictured)

People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC)

 

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