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




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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 achievements to have established the Assemblys Sessional Committee on Use and Abuse of Alcohol by the Community in 1989, and I am pleased that the Living With Alcohol program flowed from the deliberations of that committee. I believe that much of the work that has followed from that is something of which both the government and the opposition can be proud. It is worth while pausing to recall that there has been a sea change in the communitys attitude to alcohol abuse. I think the attitude, that alcohol consumption generally and alcohol consumption to the level of abuse are to be taken as part and parcel of Territory life, has changed. I point out, and it is not obvious from the ministers statement, that that has always been the view in the so-called outlying areas to which the minister referred. It is worth while putting the whole of this statement in the broad context of what I would have hoped would be by now well known - that most people living in the outlying communities abstain totally from alcohol. That fact should be well known by now although I suspect that it is not. However, some 60% or 70% of people living in the bush do not drink alcohol at all. That contrasts ... Mr Perron: More Aboriginals do not drink alcohol than Europeans. Mr BELL: That is right. That contrasts with the figure in society generally where it is at the level of about 20% or 30%. As the Chief Minister interjects, the level of total abstention in the Aboriginal community is extremely high by comparison with the rest of society. It is a shame that the ministers statement did not commence from that starting point. I agree with the minister that the offensive social behaviour of the, usually Aboriginal, people who do abuse alcohol is something that we have to tackle, and we have 2 problems there to tackle. The first is stopping the kids getting into that destructive 20% or 30% and, once they are there, providing rehabilitation mechanisms for them. The second - and this is the only area tackled by the ministers statement - is to find ways of dealing with that offensive behaviour. Given the range of alcohol abuse issues that come to the publics attention, I find it surprising that this statement deals only with a policing mechanism. The issues that the minister addresses in this statement are truly policing issues. They are not community service issues. I find it extraordinary that, in his statement, the minister has had nothing to say about the habitual provisions in the Liquor Act. By now, the minister should well know that the Liquor Act contains a power for the courts to declare people under what was referred to previously as the dog act. I recall that his predecessor was doing something in this regard, but there is not a word about that here. I have no doubt that, in addition ... Mr Reed: It is being implemented. Mr BELL: I heard you out in silence, and you will have an opportunity to respond later. I have no doubt that, as well as working towards rehabilitation, and as well as, further back in the process, trying to keep kids out of that destructive cycle to which the minister referred, we should be using these other tools that are available to us under current liquor legislation. I refer to the habitual provisions. I am surprised that that was not mentioned by the minister. As I say, his predecessor seemed to be making some progress in that regard. I point out that I do not regard the habitual provisions as a panacea. There are serious 3219