Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995
Parliamentary Record 10
Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 the night patrols, have also played a productive and effective role. However, they too have expressed a sense of exasperation at the gap in existing programs. Members would be aware of recent public comments by representatives of some Aboriginal organisations in Alice Springs. Many of these organisations believe, rightly or wrongly, that the problems are created by people from outlying areas, and that this in turn reflects poorly on Aboriginal people living in urban centres. Clearly, there is a need to provide dedicated resources if community expectations are to be met. In this regard, the government will allocate substantial new funding to intervene in the destructive cycle of public drinking, associated antisocial behaviour, littering and individual harm. With the introduction of this new program, the government recognises that there is a need for a tougher, interventionist approach. Many of our existing strategies have relied on education, tolerance and understanding, with the expectation of a response from the relatively small number of people responsible for generating this unacceptable behaviour. Unfortunately, some people simply do not want to be helped to help themselves. In some respects, our community has become disappointed that these expensive programs have shown little in the way of results which are sufficient to meet their expectations. In meeting the cost of new services, the government considers it inappropriate to force the cost of this initiative on the responsible members of our community. Therefore, the government proposes to recover as much as possible of the cost of this program from those who are creating the problem. The Treasurer will announce in the budget tomorrow a new levy on the sale of cask wine in the Territory. Cask wine is a significant contributor to public drunkenness and antisocial behaviour, just as cask wine packaging is a major component of litter in the Territory. The new levy will be applied at a rate of 350 per litre of cask wine sales, generating about $ 1.08m per year. All proceeds from this levy will be directed towards initiatives to combat public drinking and antisocial behaviour, and their impact on the community and those individuals who abuse alcohol. About 3 million litres of cask wine are sold in the Territory each year, and members would be aware of the direct consequences arising from the bulk of these sales. I am advised by the Liquor Commission that some 1.3 million litres of cask wine is sold in Darwin and Palmerston each year. In Alice Springs, with only one-third of the population of Darwin and Palmerston, cask wine sales exceed 1 million litres per year. About 310 000 L of cask wine are sold in Katherine each year and almost 200 000 L in Tennant Creek. The remainder is sold at other regional centres such as Nhulunbuy, Jabiru and Borroloola. The figures show that Territory supermarkets sell the great majority of casks to consumers of takeaway liquor. In Alice Springs, it is estimated that at least 60% of all cask wine is sold by large supermarkets and smaller takeaway liquor stores. Much of the cask packaging ends up discarded in our water courses, parks and recreation areas. While people are happy generally to take part in community projects such as Clean-up Australia Day, many draw the line at cleaning up after drunks. Community goodwill is very nearly at its end. With the impost of the cask wine levy, sufficient revenue will be generated to provide resources dedicated to tackling the problems of antisocial behaviour. The new program will be fully funded by government by way of special purpose tied grants to local government councils to implement this initiative in their respective jurisdictions. The tied grants will enable councils: to employ 2 specialist staff each, in Darwin and Alice Springs, with one officer each in Katherine, Tennant Creek and Palmerston; to purchase and fit out one vehicle in each centre, including mobile phone or radio communication; to meet the total operational and administrative costs of the program; and to employ casual labour to assist in 3216
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