Congress call: Put full-time police back at bottle-shops

p2309-police-bottle-shop-1LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir, The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress has added its voice to the many other businesses and organisations calling on the NT Police Commissioner to resume full time police presence on all the town’s takeaway liquor outlets during trading hours.

 

There has been a large and unacceptable increase in harms since the decision was made to remove the police presence from bottle shops.

 

Congress has been approached by many concerned Aboriginal people about the increased drunkenness and harms in the community – which we know can be prevented.

 

We know that the episodic placement of police on bottle shops is ineffective and unacceptable.

 

The demonstrated effectiveness of the ongoing police presence at all liquor outlets is now obvious to everyone as we all live and breathe the harms being caused by the decision of the local police command in refusing to continue this measure.

 

The situation we have now is as clear as it was when the former Banned Drinkers Register (BDR) was suddenly withdrawn and resulted in the level of alcohol related harm in the community skyrocketing. This piecemeal approach to policy on alcohol is not good enough and the whole of Alice Springs is suffering.

 

What is happening now is not what was recommended in the Riley review into alcohol. The police presence at bottle shops was not meant to change until such time as the BDR was fully operational and even then, only in a measured way alongside proper monitoring of reliable data that could raise the alarm about any increase in harm.

 

This has to stop now. We need Commissioner Kershaw to demonstrate leadership and act now to put police back on the doors of the town’s bottle shops and get things under control.

 

Of course, we all understand the many social determinants of alcohol dependence but these longer term issues should not be used as an excuse to ignore what works now.

 

Donna Ah Chee

CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress.

 

 

 

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18 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. Russell Guy
    Posted February 6, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    @ Surprised. Posted 6/2/18. 7:40AM. Re your comment about costs related to harmful levels of alcohol consumption within NT communities:
    “You know, they fail to take into account that currently we pay $50m in the Territory in relation to alcohol sales in taxes. That money unfortunately goes straight to the Commonwealth so there is some arguments there how the Territory Government gets that money back” (Des Crowe, CEO. NT branch of the Australian Hotels Association. ABC 6/2/18, responding to the NT Police Association call for industry responsibility).
    This appears to be a game of “pass the buck” with Liquor Inspectors and “new technology” attached to the BDR as a “way forward.”
    Smoking in public places is banned and the health warnings that now appear on tobacco products have helped create a greater awareness of the issues related to the peer enforcement of smoking, but the tobacco industry didn’t go quietly.
    Perhaps, the alcohol industry needs to admit responsibility and leadership by comparing the costs to public health for its products, but that would affect the corporate bottom line.
    The $50m in taxes is miniscule in comparison to the billions spent on alcohol-related health issues that taxpayers subsidise on an annual basis.
    That money could well be spent elsewhere.
    It’s not an economic issue, but one of leadership in community values and political will.

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  2. Surprised!
    Posted February 6, 2018 at 7:40 am

    Laurence: The cost I refer to is the costs of peoples lives, not money. (I think I suggested that.)
    We have allowed ourselves into this mess because of poor and weak leadership. The poor and weak leadership is in place, because of the weak people who voted for the leadership.
    It’s not a police issue, it’s a political issue. Whilst the prevention of alcohol related crime is certainly a police issue, we are, as we so often do, dealing with the effects not the causes.
    The weak pollies and public need to deal with the causes and work on preventative measures.
    If alcohol wasn’t so attractive as an earner for the government, they may actually do something about it.
    To me this adlib crap from the government is akin to the QUIT Campaign. On one hand the government is raking in millions in taxes and on the other they are spending money on campaigns for people to quit smoking.
    At the end of the day, if alcohol related issues are so bad (I think they are) ban grog or find another alternative to resolve the issues.

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  3. Laurence
    Posted February 5, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Does it really matter what the cost is when it can be offset by the reduced numbers appearing in the hospital, court cells and prison for alcohol related crime?
    It’s sad that you don’t consider the prevention of alcohol related crime to be real policing. I mean how could it compare to the glitz and glamour of attending yet another domestic violence incident, or the thrill of yet another stabbing?
    The knee-jerk reaction is politicians taking away the police at outlets because their party didn’t introduce it.
    But then they are compounding the error by replacing them with what was tried before and failed then, and is failing again: The Banned Drinkers Register.

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  4. Surprised!
    Posted February 5, 2018 at 7:32 am

    Again lots of passion here.
    Whilst Colin J Dawson’s comment has some merit, it is somewhat misguided, in that ALL businesses make profits off their own people.
    As with most issues, you have the do gooders that interfere with logical decision making.
    What upsets me the most is that through life, we are all affected, judged and forced to comply with things that are the errors of others.
    As for police at grog shops, perhaps it does work but at what cost!?
    Not only the financial costs either. If I was a copper, I wouldn’t want to man the shops, I’d want to be doing real policing.
    Police at grog shops is yet another knee jerk reaction by the jerks that are our pollies.
    When the pollies cease using grog as a football, we may get some coherent action.
    It seems to me the only viable answer here may be prohibition, but that will cause some robust debate.

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  5. Russell Guy
    Posted February 5, 2018 at 7:06 am

    @ Laurence, posted February 3, 2018. 6:17pm: Re your comment about a “radical rethink”.
    Leaving aside the suite of measures so far employed to address the harmful levels of alcohol consumption in the NT and notwithstanding the absence of a floor price, there is something in what you say.
    Stewardship is an old fashioned word for community values.
    In the 1920s, Rev. John Flynn, who knew something about the health of people in the bush, wrote that we would have to render an account one day.

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  6. Jones
    Posted February 4, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Local 1: I wouldn’t use the criterion of Aboriginal or non Aboriginal ownership in deciding which outlets should be closed down.
    That seems irrelevant.
    I would look at the proximity of outlets to tourists and their ability to cater to increased numbers of drinkers once the total number of outlets is reduced.
    The NT Police would have an important say in the decision.
    Basically, we need fewer outlets and ones that lend themselves to intensive ongoing policing.
    The savings to the NT Government in the long term from having fewer outlets to police would be considerable.

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  7. Pseudo Guru
    Posted February 4, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Introduce Government “Food Only Card” for ALL welfare recipients – no grog, no smokes.

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  8. Local 1
    Posted February 4, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Fred the Philistine is right of course, we need to get rid of all alcohol in the town.
    After we have done that we can move on to food that contains sugar to eradicate diabetics, and then no motor vehicles to combat the shocking road toll.
    Naturally if you do make the whole town dry, all tradies, and all everyday workers who make this town function will take a pay cut and move to any other town in the country where people who can handle their drink are not penalised for the actions of those who cannot.
    Then, Jones, I fail to see how you identify which outlets are the ones that cause cause the most problems?
    The ones that are owned by Aboriginal corporations, or the others that are not?
    If you close those the drinkers will go to the ones that remain then they will be the ones that cause trouble, then they will close, then you can refer to my first point.

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  9. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted February 4, 2018 at 9:43 am

    I have to agree with Fred the Philistine. Those who want alcohol at home can buy online.

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  10. Jones
    Posted February 4, 2018 at 9:28 am

    What will it cost to police each alcohol outlet for a decade? $4m?
    They must be policed so what we need to do is to reduce the number of outlets.
    The NT Government should buy out a couple of the current licences.
    Yes, expensive, but $8m saved in a decade with other benefits as well.
    Outlets that contribute to the most social disruption and damage to the Territory’s reputation with tourists should be the ones to go.

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  11. Laurence
    Posted February 3, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    @ Russel Guy: I would think those numbers would be substancially higher here in the Alice.It’s definitely time for a radical rethink. Prohibition or more restrictions can’t be the answer. Every measure that has been tried has failed miserably.

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  12. Fred the Philistine
    Posted February 3, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Simple, make the whole town dry. No sale of alcohol anywhere, including Woolies, Coles, IGAs or the pub drive throughs.

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  13. Chris2
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Interestingly there was a police presence at Pigglys yesterday and things were definitely more orderly than earlier in the week. To see groups of people stopping in their tracks when sighting the police vehicle parked prominently is vindication of the effectiveness of these police beats. No such order at the Gap View. No police presence.
    The police minister Mr Gunner, the police commissioner Reece Kershaw and those that advise the decision makers must listen to the people they serve. They must put back the cops at all the grog shops immediately. And if certain members are railing against this get some new ones who will do the job, hard as it is.
    I am told Pigglys is for sale for one million dollars. Small change for the Government or a cashed up organisation. Buy it and close it. One less police beat.

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  14. Posted February 2, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    There is a groundswell of awareness about the use of methamphetamine (Ice) at a community level throughout Australia.
    Most people seem to have direct or anecdotal experience of families being tragically affected, but if it was better understood that ‘for every person who uses methamphetamine in a year there are 85 drinking alcohol;for every person addicted to methamphetamine there are 20 addicted to alcohol;for every ambulance call-out for methamphetamine problems there are 25 for alcohol;for every methamphetamine presentation to an Emergency Department there are 30 for alcohol;for every amphetamine-related death there are 65 alcohol deaths’ (source: Emeritus Professor Ian Webster, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education newsletter 2/2/18), the alcohol problem confronting communities in the NT might be considered more seriously.

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  15. Colin J Dawson
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    Well maybe just maybe the Aboriginal organisation should close down the 3 IGA liquor stores. It is amazing they are profiting from their own people.

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  16. Interested
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Is any one taking bets yet on A) The time left Gunner will maintain leadership and B) Labour being reelected? I would love to see some polling on the support that our NT Government currently has (or lack of). They are surely the most impotent bunch we have seen for a long time.

    It’s been a few years since I have seen loud angry mobs openly drinking green cans in the Todd Mall, seemingly confident in doing so. But of late – this is the new normal! Combine that with drunks trying to flog artwork and other humbugging – I really do feel sorry for our poor, naive tourist.

    Well done on Congress taking a public stance on this vital issue.

    PS – Dale Wakefield – Are you still here?

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  17. James T Smerk
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    And what is Congress doing from their end to help the situation I wonder…

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  18. Laurence
    Posted February 2, 2018 at 11:40 am

    It never ceases to amaze me that the MOST effective measure to curb the towns alcohol related problems seems to be on the way out. A stupid decision made somewhere North of Alice Springs by people that know better than us.
    Yes, a lot of the police members don’t like this duty but the decrease in alcohol related violence and other crimes makes it totally worthwhile.
    The police presence at bottle shops does both PROTECT and SERVE the community, it also shows the futility of the BDR it didn’t work before it doesn’t work now.
    It’s just another “feel-good” exercise by an increasingly inept Gunner Government.

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