Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995

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Parliamentary Record 10


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 most ambitious alcohol reform initiatives, my department deserves recognition for its preparedness to tackle difficult problems with some unorthodox measures. However, while much progress has been made, much remains to be done. An area of particular need is the incidence of public drinking, public drunkenness and resultant unacceptable antisocial behaviour which can be observed all too frequently in most Territory communities, cities and towns. Many Territorians have come to tolerate, but not accept, a gradual decline in the standards of community behaviour as public consumption of alcohol and antisocial behaviour have become commonplace in too many areas in the Territory. I want to assure Territorians that this government will not allow antisocial behaviour, such as public brawling, swearing, urinating, fornicating and verbal abuse, and the litter that results from public drinking, to become an accepted part of the Territory lifestyle. Nor will this government stand by while those people caught in the circle of binge drinking and other forms of excessive alcohol abuse continue to suffer serious injury, personal suffering and, tragically, premature death. Public drunkenness produces a cycle of violence and personal injury resulting in unacceptable social and economic costs to our health and law-and-order services. Thus, the broader community pays twice - first, in having to tolerate unacceptable levels of antisocial behaviour; and, secondly, in meeting the very high financial cost of medical services and police resources. This statement includes details of a new initiative to address antisocial behaviour in the community and is designed to meet specific community concerns. The new program, for the first time, will target directly increasing levels of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour and the personal suffering of those caught in the web of this serious social problem. In terms of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour, the community has had enough of those small groups of drinkers who repeatedly flout the law. In this context, we are not talking about people enjoying a quiet barbecue with friends or those picnicking in public places. We are talking about those who act irresponsibly and without self-control. This offensive behaviour transgresses all reasonable community standards - standards adhered to by most Territorians and which they in turn expect others to meet. Similarly, visitors to the Territory, both domestic and international, should not be expected to tolerate behaviour that is threatening, intimidating or downright offensive. This is particularly so when a good public image is absolutely essential to continued growth in our tourism industry. I believe there is an expectation that the bounds of acceptable behaviour should be re-established in our community. As we all can attest, this is a problem which has generated a great deal of community interest and concern, and I am sure all members have had meetings with constituents about this matter. In discussing this issue with town councils, it has become apparent that the local government jurisdictions have devoted a great deal of effort to attempting to combat this problem. While their effort is to be commended, it is clear that councils lack sufficient resources, the specialist expertise and clear statutory authority to act in an effective manner. The police too have played an effective role, but they are often diverted from these problems to more important police work which rightly demands a higher priority. In many respects, we are dealing with delinquent behaviour rather than criminality and therefore, police should not be expected to carry the prime responsibility. Urban-based Aboriginal organisations, such as Tangentyere Council, Kalano Community Association, Julalikari Council, Arremte Council, the Aboriginal Development Foundation and 3215