More than a few of those who voted for the …

Comment on NT’s grog policy focus remains on public drinkers and drunk offenders by Russell Guy.

More than a few of those who voted for the Brown team must be squirming after reading your latest series of posts, Janet.
While the nation confronts a new report on its failure to win the Drug War, your team threatens to dismantle current restrictions on alcohol. Other places with the same alcohol problems are introducing more.
The nation is going deeper into dependence on drugs, including the legal use of alcohol – a gross hypocrisy that fuels “anti-social” behaviour – and you talk about “minorities and majorities” while fixing “big picture issues.”
Steve refers to Stronger Futures as “New Futures” and you turn the English language into an Orwellian prophecy, while boasting of silencing those who disagree.
The tragedy is that your policy-driven delusions will continue to be a soft-option that contribute to unnecessary loss of life and opportunity, but you think you’re taking a tough stance.

Russell Guy Also Commented

NT’s grog policy focus remains on public drinkers and drunk offenders
Janet Brown and her Councillor husband Steve, referred to statistical data as “idiotic” at the beginning of their Alice Springs Town Council election campaign, but weeks into it, they did an about-face and started using statistics.
Hopefully, they will have the same sensible attitude towards alcohol restrictions. Janet wants an end to all “race-based” restrictions, despite the fact that countries, cities, towns and remote communities with excessive alcohol-related violence are introducing new restriction regimes as a means of cracking down on “anti-social” problems, including self-harm and taxpayer-funded alcohol abuse, which is escalating into double-digit, billion dollar annual costs in our an increasingly drug dependent Australia.
Alice Springs has double the national average consumption figures, with 55% of NT road accidents attributed to alcohol and the the highest death and alcohol-related hospitalisation rates in Australia. The NT prison system is overcrowded to the point where police watchhouses try to accommodate the overflow and a very large proportion is due to alcohol-related offending. These are facts.
The sale of cask and fortified wines have been banned from sale in Alice Springs for six days from today in an attempt to reduce alcohol-fuelled crime, but Janet and Steve Brown are not alone in wanting an end to alcohol restrictions in Alice Springs, or, for that matter simply saying that restrictions haven’t worked when a floor price and a take-away restriction haven’t been given a chance.
The AFL and Easter Carnival restrictions deny the logic of such arguments. They, like those who continue to ask the randomly substantiated question “why should everyone be penalised for the majority?” are missing the point.
All agree that Alice has a serious problem with alcohol-abuse among adult and youth of all cultures, so there’s nothing “racist” about it. This is a spurious argument and makes no sense. In fact, one has to wonder if those who play the race card are aware that they are being racist – a word, which by definition and intent, consciously or not, is segregationist. It has no useful outcome and is socially anathema. This is a costly humanitarian issue, which needs a government intervention in order to protect its citizens from unregulated, free-market trade in excessive alcohol supply and consumption. There is nothing responsible about it.
The sly grog culture has been fostered since the 1788 Settlement of Australia, but the UK government recently announced a floor price to restrain this manipulative drug’s escalating and destructive effects on society, in a turn-around which should ring alarm bells in the land of beer o’clock.
Those who oppose attempts to do likewise in Alice Springs from an “anti-restriction” stance go against the trend to reform alcohol supply. These opponents have nothing but free market trade as an answer, but the industry can’t self-regulate, so just whom are they trying to fool? It’s been tried and it’s failing badly – look around, or listen to police road safety warnings, but still, the Rum Corps want to go back to it. This is essentially the AHA (NT) and CLP argument and apparently a large proportion, but statistically, a minority of Alice Springs voters in the Council elections.
Its been said many times that a multi-pronged approach is necessary to bring alcohol-abuse under control, which is why, in my opinion, a floor price and a take-away restriction regime should be added to the mix in an attempt to constrain a statistically-proven epidemic, undermining our society. If you think there’s a loss of liberty now, don’t apply any further restriction and see what will happen. This problem is way too big to be solved by law and order alone. Steve Brown talks about “guts,” but he has no idea what he’s talking about.
Statistics on alcohol-related death, poverty, declining productivity, and all of the above are slated to increase as Australia continues down the unregulated, unrestricted path of alcohol supply.


NT’s grog policy focus remains on public drinkers and drunk offenders
I’ve never accused you of “ranting”, Janet. There’s no need, you take the cake. You have nothing new to offer, only more of the same, but marching backwards leads to the ditch. It will be interesting to see which of your running pals will jump ship first.


NT’s grog policy focus remains on public drinkers and drunk offenders
The NT CLP Shadow Minister for Alcohol Policy, Peter Styles, says that “people will still get grog even if there is a floor price as evidenced by the failure of the Government’s grog bans to stop anti-social behaviour.”
Mr Styles would be well-advised to stop playing politics, wasting lives and taxpayer’s money, and note UK PM Cameron’s comments (Guardian 23/3/12) on why his Government has decided to introduce a floor price.
What people are “entitled” to do is not necessarily the “right” thing. There are numerous examples of free-market regulation occurring in the alcohol trade, e.g. in Newcastle (Newcastle Herald 28/3/12) where a local campaigner had declared that there is such a thing as a victory for “common sense.”
Mr Styles and Ms Lawrie, the NT Minister for Alcohol Policy, have not mentioned reducing the supply of alcohol at the seven day per week take-away outlets.
Arguments for this range from freeing up police to tackle property crime and black-marketeering to attending to Mr Styles argument that people will still get alcohol despite a floor price.
Of course they will, but you have to start somewhere in what is widely recognised as a multi-pronged road to success. The West Australians are doing exactly this. It’s supply on which the Commonwealth is beginning to focus as a cost recovery and self-harm reduction measure.
This will make it harder, not more expensive, and assist in reducing the Government created dependence on alcohol. The CLP opposes free-market regulation, even though the new Alcohol Marketing Review Board has said that the alcohol industry “can’t self-regulate” which means that it’s not meeting its own standards which suggests it may be irresponsibly supplying alcohol to the community. Is that what you’re about, Mr Styles?
There are so many double standards at play here. How can an addict be accountable? Why foster addiction and then fine the victim? This is recidivist behavior by the NTG and the Opposition.
Federal Liberal front-bencher Christopher Pyne got it right. Mr Styles is out of step by claiming that the NT is somehow a different back-yard to the rest of the world when it comes to excessive alcohol consumption.
With respect, Mr Styles, your comments are those of a back-water politician rather than a progressively-oriented Shadow Minister. The NT deserves better than protecting “the bloody big drinkers” at the expense of the majority.


Recent Comments by Russell Guy

Alcohol floor price may breach Australian Constitution
The fact that no action is being taken by the Winemakers Federation, preferring instead to work with the NT Government; that there have been no casks larger than two litres in the NT for several years and in Alice Springs for several more, because they are banned, we should be encouraged by their example, along with other retailers who have shown similar intent.
Tourist tipple and alcohol problems in the NT are interrelated. In a recent post, I pointed out the illogic of sacrificing current levels of visible alcohol-related harm to the tourist economy, which will only cause further decline.
The Mandatory Treatment Act (2013), since repealed, highlighted how harmful and disempowering alcohol restrictions can be, particularly where Indigenous communities have not been involved in their development.
While Steve Brown appears to consider it a “do gooder” issue and appeals for ice containment, he ignores the need for alcohol supply restriction in the general community, a product, it could be argued, of laissez faire capitalism over 50 years, culminating in corner stores trading in takeaway alcohol seven days a week.
Mr Brown compounds his approach by wishing that crystal methamphetamine (ice) was not a problem, allegedly within Indigenous communities.
It would be better if he, and others of a similar opinion, evinced the same desire for alcohol management through community coalitions backed by government regulation or government‐initiated community partnerships, which according to a recent article in the Australian and New Zealand Public Health Journal, “have been successful in harnessing local knowledge and Indigenous social systems to curb the unintended impacts of alcohol regulation”.
The article revealed that improved health and social outcomes, for example, by tethering demand reduction programs to supply restrictions had been achieved.
Outrage over the disempowerment of Grey Nomads to purchase a cask of cheap wine, while the harmful use of alcohol among Territorians continues at levels in excess of the national average, ignores the possibility of a community-led solution, even when governments repeal poorly consulted legislation such as the MTA.
In the mid-1980s, Territorians died from being stabbed by glass flagons. Casks were introduced by governments working with the winemakers and less harm eventuated.
It didn’t curtail harmful levels of consumption, nor the granting of takeaway licenses, but the NT Government, acting on recommendations from Justice Riley’s Report, is facing up to the cost of those unacceptable levels and investigating ways of working with the underlying cultural problems.
Learning from history on which evidence-based legislation like soft packaging and a demand reduction floor price is based seems more appropriate than sticking one’s head in the sand.


Ice Age in Alice
Four balls coming back over the net. Policy on the run.
@ Local 1: Comparing Queensland with the NT is apples and oranges. Been crossing the border all my life, not just for a week.
@ Steve Brown: I want to see evidence for your claims, not just anecdotal. Been there.
@ John Bell: Commonsense has been missing in action and @ Paul Parker, same thing.
Tolerance, common sense and reason were the founding values of the European Enlightenment. Not going well.
Finally, to all, I speak for myself, not for PAAC, whose evidence-based campaign assisted the NT Government in micro-managing the issue of liberal alcohol supply with a floor price. The claim that it makes all alcohol more expensive is incorrect.


Ice Age in Alice
The floor price is not a “silver bullet.”
There is none. There are only a suite of measures to reduce levels of supply, including the BDR.
A floor price targets the cheapest alcohol sold, mostly cask wine, consumed by the most desperate addicts, including pregnant women.
Canada and Scotland have a floor price.
It was introduced this week in the NT after a long evidence-based campaign.
Cynicism is an easy choice, but I’ve been involved in reducing alcohol-related harm in the NT since 1986 when I produced four songs with Indigenous band, Coloured Stone for the NT Road Safety Board.
If you allow yourself to get cynical and negative about drugs, of which alcohol is one of the most prevalent, then you might as well accept the carnage as inevitable.
Take the opposition over the recent Master’s Games request by the police for light and midstrength beer.
One of your readers posted anonymously, calling those who lobby to turn the tap down a “mob” who are only interested in prohibition. That’s hysteria.
The NT Government is currently looking into the seven days a week take away grog licensing regime.
Australia has a culture of alcoholism, particularly around sport.
Changing that culture, currently costing NT taxpayers $640m p.a. is a positive step towards putting money into ice rehab.


Apex Club ‘fenced out’ of running Masters Games bars
@ “Ray”. My argument for turning the tap down (not off, as you insinuate with your anonymous post), exposes your confusion, but it clarifies one point.
It will be hypocritical for you to point to the Indigenous as being responsible for the town’s social problems again.
While you busy yourself over being “the laughing stock of the country”, the hospital and police records continue to speak for themselves and show no sign of abating, due to what is a culture of alcoholism.
It was the police who requested light and midstrength beer be served at this sporting event.
As an attendee at last Friday’s National Police Remembrance Day, the names of those officers who were killed in the line of duty was sobering, yet they who we appoint to serve and protect are fobbed off.
Justifying the capitulation on the economy and giving back to the “community” is evidence of your confusion, but as cultural tourism is the vogue, it will be interesting to see how long before you start referring to “the section of the community that has the issue” again.


Apex Club ‘fenced out’ of running Masters Games bars
Why such despondency, “Ray”?
The streets of Alice Springs are paved with gold if you have eyes to see.
They need not be awash with the consequences of alcoholism.
Turn the tap down (not off) and you will see how a great town can come back from fifty years of an uncapped flow.


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