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




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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 3870 Day, albeit without alcohol whilst in the Chamber at least. The majority of Territorians act responsibly with alcohol. However, unfortunately, as the minister said in his statement, too many Territorians are drinking in ways which put them and others as risk of gaol, injury, health problems or death. In 2005-06, the per capita consumption of alcohol in the Territory was calculated at 17.3 litres of pure alcohol. This is some 70% higher than for Australia as a whole. Territorians are 50% more likely than other Australians to suffer short-term harm from alcohol than other Australians, and Territorians are 80% more likely to suffer long-term harm through chronic disease and permanent ill health. Similarly, alcohol is involved in 71% of police incidents across the Territory, and was the primary drug for 61% of clients admitted to substance treatment programs, compared with 37% to the same services across Australia. There is a clear relationship between alcohol abuse and domestic violence, family and community dysfunction and breakdown, poverty and homelessness, antisocial behaviour in our streets and parks, and drink driving and related deaths and injuries. I have to say I am particularly concerned about young people and the rate of alcohol consumption evidenced by our younger generation. National studies show that young people tend to binge drink, imbibing around 10 drinks in a session, but they do not consider this to be a problem. We still need to be considering ways to deal with this. Tonight, I would like to focus on alcohol issues in my own electorate of Nightcliff. As the member for Nightcliff, the most consistent complaint I have received has been in relation to alcohol-related antisocial behaviour. Sadly, a small group of people with significant alcohol abuse problems create problems for the majority in some of our shopping centres and park areas, particularly in the Pavonia Place shopping centre where my electorate office is, the Woolworths Nightcliff complex, and parts of Sunset Cove. Humbugging and general antisocial behaviour can be very distressing to witness for families and people trying to go about their business in a peaceable fashion. It is also degrading and evidence of loss of identity for the people perpetrating the behaviour. Over the past few months, I have been working with business owners, residents and the Darwin City Council in looking at declaring parts of the electorate dry under the dry area legislation and private premises legislation that was passed last year. This legislation is about targeting problem areas to allow people to enjoy our green open spaces and shopping centres. This is not about prohibition for all of Nightcliff; it is about stopping the minority of people who drink, loiter and humbug in certain areas. The public dry areas legislation allows the community, through a local council, the Director of Licensing or the Police Commissioner to apply to make areas dry. The private premises legislation gives residents and organisations the power to have their homes, schools, shopping centres, churches and hospitals declared dry. I have been working with Alderman Bob Elix from the Darwin City Council in the areas which could be declared dry. Mr Elix has advised me today that a proposal to apply for dry areas will be put to the council on 27 February. If approved by the council, the Liquor Commission will hold an extensive consultation before making its decision on declaring an area dry. I encourage all aldermen to support this proposal. Antisocial behaviour is simply not acceptable. I would also like to thank the owner of Nightcliff Woolworths complex for his support in the matter. Mr Tony Milhinhos, who is well known to members of this Chamber and who was the 2005 Senior Australian of the Year, continues to be a great community supporter and has decided to seek to declare his property, the Nightcliff Woolworths complex, as a dry area, an action which I am sure will be applauded by visitors to the shopping complex. Breaches of either the public dry areas or private premises laws will result in alcohol being tipped out and a possible fine of up to $500. Both laws work in tandem with the 2 km law. Repeat offenders will be sent to the alcohol court, which provides the opportunity for rehabilitation. The government has supported rehabilitation options with an injection of funding of more than $1.5m over three years. Since the announcement of these proposals, I have received much positive feedback because people are tired of antisocial behaviour in our streets and parks. Residents are also pleased that those committing the antisocial behaviour will be offered rehabilitation. One query that has come back is: will people still be able to drink on the foreshore as they do now? The answer is a clear yes. Drinking is permitted in the area from Sunset Park at the end of Aralia Street through to Chapman Road excluding the car park areas of Nightcliff Aquatic Centre. This is an area enjoyed by many families from across Darwin who enjoy a drink while they are picnicking or watching the sun set. Drinking in these areas is permitted by Darwin City Council by-laws from 4 pm to 10.30 pm from Monday to Friday and between 12 noon and 10.30 pm on weekends and public holidays. Most people who take advantage of