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 problems associated with alcohol. Rather than focus on the symptoms of excessive use of alcohol, it will begin to address the patterns of abuse that are common in places where it should not be tolerated. Since the introduction of the Living With Alcohol program in 1991-92, this government has been very innovative in combating a significant problem in the Territory community. As the minister indicated today, alcohol abuse was costing more than $150m a year when the program began. The government has applied more than $22m towards minimising the costs of the Territorys high consumption of alcohol. While initiatives under the alcohol program have been at the forefront of the Australian approach to alcohol abuse, and the Northern Territory provides per capita funding to the program at a level far beyond that of the states, antisocial misbehaviour, resulting from excessive drinking, is still very prevalent, particularly in public places. The government is proud of its results in moving towards achieving the targets it has set in relation to the alcohol program. However, it is not proud of the behaviour of Territorians who persist in drinking to excess in public, causing hardship and damage not only to themselves but also to more responsible Territorians. Many of my constituents have indicated to me that they are no longer prepared to tolerate the unacceptable behaviour of some people who seem to be able to do as they please. Victoria River is a large rural electorate. Residents need to travel to major regional centres for some services that are otherwise unavailable to them. Sometimes they spend a considerable time in places like Darwin and Katherine, for reasons including not only family visits, business, shopping and holidays, but also hospital stays. Whether they are pastoralists or visitors from the many communities in my electorate, they are appalled for the most part by the behaviour of some of those whom they are forced to put up with as they go about their business from day to day. Many of my Aboriginal constituents tell me that, when they visit Darwin, they try to avoid the groups of drinkers that they invariably run into because they are usually humbugged for drinking money or abused verbally or even physically at times. Many say that they do not tolerate this kind of behaviour in their own community and ask why they should be required to tolerate it in the communities which they visit? I agree. No one in the Territory should have to accept the levels of social misconduct that are evident more and more in places that all members of the public have the right to enjoy. That behaviour is caused mainly by the misuse of alcohol. The responsible place for drinking is either in licensed premises or in the home. Under Territory law, it is certainly not within 2 km of any licensed premises. The initiatives outlined in the statement are focused directly on people who, because of their habits, are causing harm to themselves and to the community in general. To highlight this, I take the opportunity to quote Mr Denis Barritt, a former magistrate in Alice Springs, from an occasional paper he presented in 1991. It is worth noting that that was before the introduction of the Living With Alcohol program by the government. In his paper, which is published by the State Library of the Northern Territory, Mr Barritt discussed a range of topics including some of the social conditions faced by residents of Alice Springs: Today it cannot be said to be safe for a woman to walk through the streets o f Alice Springs at night. Murders and rapes are by no means extraordinary events. It might justifiably be suggested that at night it is not safe either for a male to walk alone, particularly in the vicinity o f the fam ed' Todd Street Mall. House and shop break-ins and thefts are a commonplace. Not to have had your motor 3268