Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 19 October 2016
Parliamentary Record 1
Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020
pp 65 to 124
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 19 October 2016 116 applications in the system. We will implement this cap via regulation as soon as possible to meet our election commitment of doing so. What we saw under the previous government was unacceptable to our community. Alcohol abuse is one of the biggest challenges we face in the Northern Territory. It has been made clear to us that, no matter where we go, we must urgently and sensibly address the problem of alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory. Our government will not continue the irresponsible handing out of takeaway alcohol licences. One of my first actions has been to immediately approve new guidelines so that no new takeaway alcohol licences will be considered. This is the first step in fulfilling our election commitment to restrict new takeaway licences to greenfield sites, new restaurants, hotels and bespoke industries, such as mango beer. Our government is adopting a health-based approach to reducing alcohol harm across the Northern Territory. Having said that, we recognise that alcohol abuse is a serious and complex problem requiring a multifaceted approach. To effectively address the problem we must implement integrated strategies so we can simultaneously reduce alcohol demand, supplies and harms. We recognise that we must employ an evidence-based strategy and, importantly, these strategies must be cost effective. The CLP government failed Territorians in this space. The new government will not throw measures out simply to do so. We will make sure that when we stop one measure another measure is in place so we do not have a policy vacuum, which is what we saw under the CLP. Those new policies will be supported by evidence to tackle this important issue. We will repeal the Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Act and work with the Departments of Health and Attorney-General and Justice, together with stakeholders, to reintroduce the Banned Drinker Register. An evaluation of Alcohol Mandatory Treatment is currently under way, and we will wait for that evidence before we can put appropriate alternative treatments in place. Our decision to reintroduce the BDR is consistent with our intention to adopt an evidence-based approach to dealing with alcohol and its many challenges. Temporary beat locations will continue; however, they will be at the discretion of police. The police will decide where and when police resources will be used. Following its introduction in 2011, the BDR began by banning 2500 problem drinkers. They lost the right to purchase alcohol. When the BDR was removed we saw immediate effects. In my community of Nightcliff we saw the impact every day, and people are sick and tired of it. We are working hard to reintroduce the Banned Drinker Register as soon as possible. We need to make sure we have the technology. Four years have passed since the BDR was in place, and we need to make sure we use technology to the best of our ability. We are working as efficiently as possible, and we are doing it with expert advice. The effectiveness of the BDR can also be gauged by its support from key stakeholders, including the Northern Territory Police Association. However, we will not rely solely on the reintroduction of the BDR. We will consider a range of evidence-based alcohol health-focused harm strategies. These will include specialist assessments and detoxification services, comprehensive healthcare, reintegration and transition back into the community, secure and supportive accommodation options. As a government we do not for one minute believe that we alone have all the answers to the huge, deep-rooted problem of alcohol in the Northern Territory. We must work together with the community. That is why our approach will be consultative and we will be working together. We will continue to work with key stakeholders in this area to assist us in developing a broad range of strategies to succeed in minimising alcohol harm. We will make a strong start by creating a whole-ofgovernment response to readdress the whole-of-life issue arising from foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. I picked up on the comments from the Member for Nelson when he talked about the work done by the Select Committee on Action to Prevent Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. I note that work and we will be building on it as we tackle this issue. We will lead the development of a holistic framework to address prevention, diagnosis, support services and community education. FSAD encompasses the individual from infancy for their entire life, and we need to engage with the community. It needs an approach with a cohesive support network to provide the necessary integrated care and support for a better chance in life. We also need to work on prevention. In his opening address, His Honour talked about the place of children in this government. They are genuinely the heart of this government. We believe that children are our most valuable assets and the future of the Northern Territory, but too many Territory children are not being provided with the start in life
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