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
DEBATES Wednesday 14 February 2007 3868 There are pockets all around the Territory of things like that but, certainly, there are not enough. The resources required to address the problems of alcohol in our communities pale, I suggest, in comparison to the amount of effort that is required by everyone, those who live and are surrounded by alcohol every day, to people like you, being a minister of the Crown. You may remember, minister, when Peter Toyne was the Health Minister and Justice minister and I brought a matter to his attention. I was shopping in Alice Springs and there was a bottle shop in Woollies. A trader came out and said: Go into that shop and have a look at those casks. I was stunned and outraged because on those casks were bright pictures, copies of $20 and $50 notes all over the cask, enticing people to buy the alcohol. Of all of the places in this country where packaging like that should not have been allowed to be sold, where do you reckon it was being sold? Right in the heart of Alice Springs. I cannot remember, but I think the Attorney-General dealt with the appropriate people and had a bit to say about that because it was certainly inappropriate. Over and above government planning and dealing with stakeholders, odd bits and pieces come up, which also must surely have an effect on levels of drinking. I hope that we do not see casks like that in our bottle shops at any point in the future. I note in the statement there was a reference to supply. Supply is a really interesting one. You would know, as it has been happening for years, about trafficking of alcohol. There are people who stack up their boots and their motor vehicles with grog and take them to communities, some of them dry communities. I cannot remember what the current penalty is, but I do not think it is very high. One thing you might like to consider with your colleagues, minister, in due course, is to see what you can do about the level of trafficking. I accept, as do you, that you cannot have police officers standing at the gates of communities, but you could work towards building the capacity of that community to deal with those traffickers. That is one thing. Another thing you could do is significantly increase the penalties for trafficking alcohol. The member for Arafura talked about marijuana and the effects that has, and I know you feel strongly about that, too. When we see people - the scum of the earth in my view - who traffic ganja and grog into communities, they should not only feel the full force of the law, but the force of the law should be very forceful indeed because scum like that just should not be allowed to get away with it. You might be working on it, I do not know but, in a constructive contribution, you might wish to take it up in due course. Data collection is important as well. I am sure you would be interested in that. We have a problem in the Territory when it comes to data collection, certainly in the area of domestic violence. I was interested to hear the member for Arafura talking about her observations of increasing levels of women-on-women violence. Her view was that much of it is alcohol related. It would be probably worthwhile and it probably would not get immediate results, but over time - if you could construct a suitable way of collecting data, which is the basis of all good public policy. It may be of some assistance in the criminal justice system and solutions pertaining to that, but also in health outcomes and building the capacity of some of the communities, some of which, as you know, have quite strong women leaders. I am not sure that much is happening in that area. The violence perpetrated against women and children goes, sadly, to a large extent without saying because it surrounds people almost every day. There is increasingly an acceptance of high levels of violence in Aboriginal communities. One need only look at the research - particularly interstate but here as well - of that increasing level of tolerance and acceptance of violence. In other words, it has become normal. People have become desensitised. Again, it goes to capacity building of communities. We have to, obviously, talk about economic prosperity in some of those communities. There is a view that some communities can never be economically prosperous. I am not sure that I necessarily accept that view. I do, however, accept that there are enormous difficulties ensuring or even working towards making them economically prosperous, but I know that both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people have to start. If you look at the examples of the arts movements in some of those communities, you see economic benefits that, in turn, go to pride and, obviously, it improves those communities. That is one example. I am sure you do not need too many of them. When we talk about alcohol, not only should we talk about the people who are affected by it in terms of the violence perpetrated on them, and the people who are addicted, but we need also to talk about the effects on people who are not drunk, the people who are walking down the street who, on a bad day in some areas, need to step over a drunk or who need to duck and weave. We have all had that experience, I am sure. There needs to be proper ways of ensuring that people who are not drunk or affected by alcohol can go about their business. In that regard, we will differ. You will remember that the CLP policy announced probably six or eight months was three
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