Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007

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Parliamentary Record 12


Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT




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 14 February 2007 3858 the restrictions, the amount of pure alcohol consumed in Alice Springs has fallen by 11%. Initial reports from Alice Springs Hospital indicate there have been fewer hospital presentations for alcohol-related injuries in the past three months and less disruption in some town camps. Police Southern Command has reported that apprehensions for protective custody have decreased by 50% in the first three months of the trial. However, we are also aware that there has been a product switch to beer associated with the trial, and there were reports that litter has become more noticeable. Officers from Racing, Gaming and Licensing, the Department of the Chief Minister, Correctional Services and the Alice Springs Town Council are meeting to develop further strategies to deal with this aspect of the trial and work with the community to assist with positive solutions. I note that in a recent ABC interview, Gap Road Smart Mart Manager, Tony Phillips, who has been an Alice Springs resident for some 14 years, commented that he has not seen any liquor supply laws make such a positive impact as these. Although there is yet to be a formal evaluation, the initial results are certainly encouraging, and I urge Alice Springs Town Council and aldermen who were represented on the original task force to support the trial in its entirety. The work being undertaken in Nhulunbuy is also notable, largely for the innovative nature of what is being developed. Following a background report funded by government, a computer-based permit system has been proposed by the local Harmony Group. The Harmony Group broadly represents local government and non-government interests. The computer program likely to be used in Gove is called the ID-Eye. I have had a chance to see it in operation elsewhere in Australia and I am impressed by its potential. ID-Eye allows instant recognition of a persons status as to whether or not they are permitted to buy alcohol. The Licensing Commission has given in-principle support to the proposal. This computer-based system will help in the enforcement of limits on takeaway sales. Importantly, it will also enable the proper enforcement and management of the plan by linking data from licensed outlets in the Nhulunbuy region. As members of the House would appreciate, the potential of such a system for controlling access to alcohol is enormous. However, that potential must be balanced against the practical, legal, policy and ethical issues. Those issues are now being examined and, presuming matters can be satisfactorily addressed, it is expected that the system will be trialled in the next few months. The idea for this system emerged from the experience of Groote Eylandt. After many years of discussion and negotiations, communities on Groote Eylandt introduced a permit system which allowed takeaway sales to be monitored and managed. We have seen some extremely encouraging results since the permit system was introduced on Groote Eylandt. There have been some dramatic reductions in alcohol-related incidents attended by police and the health clinic, especially after hours. There have been decreased levels of family violence, and a reduction in absenteeism in the indigenous workforce at the GEMCO mine. The Liquor Management Plan has received a ringing endorsement from GEMCO management. They have said: As of the financial year 2005 (pre-Liquor Management Plan implementation), our indigenous employees were running on an average of 7.1% sick leave. From July 2005 to the current date, these same employees are averaging 2.4% sick leave. We attribute this to the Liquor Management Plan. Drink driving offences have dropped from 20 in the year prior to the implementation of the plan to four in the first year of operation. Aggravated assaults have fallen by 80% since 2003. I will say that again, Mr Deputy Speaker, because that is highly significant in a place like Groote Eylandt: aggravated assaults have fallen by 80% since 2003. There have also been reductions in property crime. This includes a dramatic reduction in unlawful entries. Not surprisingly, the islands plan has been reported in the national press with its outcome of increased indigenous employment and business opportunities applauded. Such results are impressive and exemplify the kind of gains that can be made when local communities and government work together to find solutions for their issues. In addition to working in partnership with communities and effectively coordinating the resources of government, the Martin government is also using its legislative and regulatory capacity to offer improved and more extensive options for the community to address alcohol issues. A complete rewrite of the Liquor Act is at the forefront of these initiatives. After more than 20 years of ad hoc amendments, a dedicated team led by Racing, Gaming and Licensing is working on a new act that will bring liquor control in line with contemporary thinking, experience and needs of the Northern Territory. Our understanding of alcohol issues and the effectiveness of different control measures has changed markedly since the Northern Territory Liquor Act was first formulated. The new act will