Territory Stories

Debates Day 4 - 20 August 1975



Debates Day 4 - 20 August 1975

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Parliamentary Record 5


Northern Territory. Department of the Legislative Assembly


Debates for 1st Assembly 1974 - 1977; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT; 1st Assembly 1974 - 1977




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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pages 457 - 498

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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 20 August 1975 The reason for this is that we are not considering simply the subdivision of Crown land in residential units; we are considering a different concept, the provision of unusual accommodation anywhere where land appears to be available. "Crown land" is a very wide term; it could be that the Darwin Reconstruction Commission want to place many demountables or caravans on an area which is at present an open space, which would have most undesirable consequences and to which the local people would have a legitimate right to object. Because of this, I hope I will be given the time and opportunity to have proper amendments drafted, circulated, discussed at length in committee and, after reasonable discussion, either accepted or rejected by the committee ofthis Assembly. I repeat that I do not oppose the legislation; it is probably necessary in an amended form, but I most definitely oppose its passage at this sitting. I do not see that it is vital to the program of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission. Debate adjourned. MOTION Darwin "Drunks" Report Mr POLLOCK: I welcome the report as a realistic appraisal and review of drunkenness in Darwin and the options available in any effort to deal with the problem. The report reviews the situation in Darwin in particular and also in respect to the whole Territory scene. In contrast to many other reports that have been prepared for consideration, this report deals with the problems face to face. It is by a man who understands what drunkenness is all about and has a good appreciation of methods available to overcome the problem. He also appreciates the real cost associated with any anti-drunkenness program. The report is quick to recognise the problems that flow if intoxication and drunkenness are "decriminalised ", for want of a better word, without the provision of valid alternative measures. This is the situation we now have in the Territory and the problems that face us could be all that more difficult to solve. The situations that followed decriminalisation of drunkenness varied considerably from centre to centre. In Darwin, police were more stringent in their street cleaning of drunks as compared to Alice Springs where they let the 489 community stew in its own juice. That community stewed well; it came to the boil some months ago, bringing several community organisations, in particular the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, to the point of taking some local community action to overcome the problems by the establishment of a drunks pickup service. I agree with Dr Milner in his statement that decriminalisation of Territory public drunkenness will prove a good and logical move, but only if it is one of a comprehensive set of community actions designed to recognise, meet and overcome alcohol use problems. I think that we would all agree that drunkenness and alcoholism is a serious problem. However, what so many people either fail to recognise, or show absolutely no desire to recognise, is their own individual contribution through their own drinking habits to the alcoholism problems of our society. Early in the report, Dr Milner points out some facts associated with the problem. Territorians drink more liquor than is good for them, much more than other Australians. They spend half as much again on alcoholic beverages than other Australians. We suffer double the road toll of the states; the road toll this year is already far in excess of the figure at this time last year, mainly contributed to by intoxication despite the increased use of the breathalyser. Admissions to our hospitals, always hard pressed to provide community standards, are added to by problem cases associated with liquor. Dr Milner estimates that at least 10% of out-patient attendances at Darwin Hospital in 1973-74 sprang from alcohol use problems. Crime levels are also associated with the use, or misuse, ofliquor. The report outlines underlying factors which tend to lead to alcohol and other drug use problems in society. Dr Milner reports that these general factors obviously exist in Darwin. If we, the community, are ready to acknowledge the community'S alcohol problems, comprehensive action must be taken. What I would like to bring to the whole Assembly's attention is the chapter "Darwin Drunks-a Phased Response", the chapter "based on priorities, causative factors and appropriate counter measures" on page 97 of the report. Dr Milner admits he has no "magic silver bullet" to offer Territorians to relieve woes of Darwin drinking patterns.

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