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 3860 Our approach to addressing problem drinking that has been so prevalent for so long in the Territory must continue to be creative and flexible. We must not only continue to support good practice; we must continue to explore new options to address alcohol problems. We have made some important gains in tackling alcohol issues, but we are also realistic. We still have a long way to go because the culture of big drinking is a strong one in the Territory. Tackling this culture and achieving lasting change is a long-term proposition. I applaud the efforts of those across the Territory, whether they are community members in councils, the police force or public servants, and all of those who embrace these new options. Their efforts to make a difference deserve our thanks. This government will continue to tackle alcohol misuse and abuse and the associated problems that it brings to our community. I believe the developments I have outlined today provide a sound platform for action and this government is committed to building on that platform. Mr Deputy Speaker, I move that the Assembly take note of this statement. Mr STIRLING (Treasurer): Mr Deputy Speaker, I support the Minister for Racing, Gaming and Licensings ministerial statement on alcohol abuse. There can be no question that much of the responsibility for much of the Territorys crime, antisocial behaviour and general ill health can be laid at the door of alcohol abuse - this is not a few drinks on a Friday or Saturday night, but consistent and rampant alcohol abuse. To ignore it is to ignore the root cause of much of our social ill. That is why this statement from the minister is such an important one, and one which clearly puts into place the governments alcohol agenda for the next few years. The government has engaged on the development of clear, relevant and local alcohol management plans, plans that are devised in consultation with the local community so that they address the local trouble spots and issues. They are also based on data and research provided by the Alcohol Policy Unit and the Racing, Gaming and Licensing group as a whole. The plans are carefully drawn up and then implemented and monitored. The government believes that it is important at all times to monitor the outcomes to ensure we are not wasting time on ineffective policies. It is hard to go past this approach; it is local, it is relevant, and it is comprehensive. It deals with the issues as they occur in each community. While there are many general aspects to a problem such as alcohol abuse, there are always local peculiarities that either magnify those problems or, alternatively, local issues which mitigate solutions that are applied elsewhere. For members, I would like to outline my own and my electorate officers experience in assisting with the development of the local plans for Nhulunbuy which have been constructed as part of an overall attack on antisocial behaviour in this area. The first thing occurred was the formation of a local committee, headed up originally by Mike Hindle, the Town Administrator, with representation from Alcan, Northern Territory government agencies across the board, NGOs, the Chamber of Commerce and indigenous communities from the region. Over many months, ideas were refined and the group model studied very closely. I was pleased to hear those indicative statistics mentioned by the minister in his statement because they are telling. They are telling when we are achieving such reductions across such a wide range of antisocial behaviour from alcohol abuse which leads to crime. Those figures speak for themselves. Senior Sergeant Tony Fuller, who came to Nhulunbuy from Groote, and John Cook from the local community Harmony Group, are to be commended for their leadership throughout what has been a very long term but a very well considered process, with the implementation of a permit system for takeaway alcohol now in sight. Many people have been involved in the committee and many people in the community have been involved in the process. There has been extensive consultation, not with just Nhulunbuy and Yirrkala, but Ski Beach, Marngarr, Galupa and the outlying communities. I thank all those involved for their diligence and commitment. If it can work in Groote, we have a view that we can make it work in Nhulunbuy. That is the process that has occurred thus far in Nhulunbuy. I am most keen to see the implementation of this plan and, most importantly, the outcomes following implementation of the permit system. The minister did speak, as I said, of the success of the actions in Groote Eylandt, Tiwi, Alice Springs. I am convinced we will be able to replicate that in Nhulunbuy because those figures do not just happen. Groote has been a trouble spot, particularly for domestic violence, for very many years. When we are talking about 50%, 60% and 70% reductions in those crime indicators, we are talking about a very significant move forward. You see it when you visit Groote in a whole range of areas; for example, the money spent by the people themselves from royalties on a training facility to enable them to skill up the local people for employment on the island. Ten years ago, that would have been a joke. You would not have been able to get people to go there. We see in the figures quoted by the minister in relation to
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