Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007
Parliamentary Record 12
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 14 February 2007 3859 be fundamental to the way the Territory goes about managing the responsible promotion, supply and consumption of alcohol for many years to come. A draft is expected shortly, and I will be saying more about this at a later date. Although we are still finalising the redrafting of the Liquor Act, it was decided in June last year to place a moratorium on the granting of new takeaway licences for 12 months. After that period, new takeaway licences will be limited to hotels and clubs only. There will be no new takeaway licences granted to supermarkets in the Northern Territory. This recognises that most consumption in the Territory, and the resultant consequences, occurs away from licensed premises. Some two-thirds of alcohol sales in the Territory are takeaways, and recent data from the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia study showed that more than 90% of Territorians placed in the watch-house in Darwin last drank in a park, a public place or at home. As a result of our election commitment, legislation has been passed that deals specifically with antisocial behaviour and alcohol. This includes the introduction of alcohol courts in July 2006. Forty-eight people have been referred to these special alcohol courts in Darwin and Alice Springs. One person has been issued with a prohibition order, while alcohol intervention orders have been made in relation to another 29 offenders. A prohibition order is aimed at preventing individuals with alcohol problems from drinking alcohol. Alcohol intervention orders put recipients under intensive supervision, including the prospect of mandatory rehabilitation or restrictions on where they can live. Alcohol courts are only in their early stages of operation and are dealing with offenders with complex rehabilitation and support needs. As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, the Territorys remote communities have had the option of being declared dry for many years. In the 2005 election, the Martin government committed to offering people in the major centres the opportunity to declare dry areas. The dry area laws apply to both public and private areas. Alice Springs Town Council has already declared its interest in using the new laws. A public meeting is being held into the application, with the community having a chance to find out more about the application and its consequences. Other councils are also considering using this tool to deal with public drinking and the problems it produces. I also note that the member for Nightcliff is currently working with her local community, as well as business, the Darwin City Council and police to see dry areas established in her electorate. I know we will hear more about that initiative later in this debate. The new dry private premises laws have seen 49 successful applicants across the Territory use this new initiative to declare their residences dry, with another 22 applications pending. Indications are that this initiative is achieving some positive results. I noted a letter to the Editor of the Northern Territory News on 3 February, from Mr Bob Marquis of Fannie Bay. In his letter, Mr Marquis said: Since the installation of the grog house sign on the front door in my neighbourhood there has not been any trouble from the residents. It has been unbelievably successful. I am not suggesting that Mr Marquis experience is absolutely representative of the results from the private dry areas law, but it indicates the initiative definitely can achieve success in certain cases. One final strategy I would like to mention is that of Liquor Accords. These are essentially voluntary agreements between neighbouring licensees to implement consistent actions aimed at increasing patron care both on and around licensed premises. Their management usually involves other agencies such as Police or Health or Local Government. Accords have gained increasing popularity in other jurisdictions and several accords have been set up in various parts of the Territory with the help of the Australian Hotels Association. Tennant Creek licensees have joined together to ensure better management of alcohol in Tennant Creek. The Katherine licensees have been involved in similar discussions. The licensees involved are to be congratulated for their involvement. The government is now considering a framework that will offer greater support for future accords. We are looking to strengthen local attempts at accords while also encouraging more licensees to become involved as part of the solution to alcohol-related harm. This is on top of ongoing discussions with the broader alcohol industry - and I include both retailers and wholesalers here - that are aimed at securing greater cooperation and support for government initiatives. This government knows that sensible drinking is an important part of the Territorys great lifestyle. Territorians must be able to continue to enjoy a drink with their friends and families, but the human and economic consequences of our high levels of alcohol consumption are all too obvious, and we have a responsibility to continue working to minimise the negative impact of alcohol across the Territory.