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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492 stew in its own juices (distilled from a high average intake of alcohol, ethnocentric conflicts and perhaps even local ill-will directed towards their lawgivers)." A very erudite man, Dr Milner. I say that, in the absence of any action being taken by the government, in the absence of any money being reallocated for detoxification centres, we have done the only reasonable thing. "Northern Territorians have serious problems with alcohol use, problems likely to increase with recent changes. The Territory has special problems with its hot, hard and happy Aussie image, its isolation, the great distance between clusters of people, changing patterns of life amongst Aborigines, a high proportion of men in a generally itinerant white population and of course the recent catastrophe, but it has strengths, special assets ". Dr Milner has pointed out numerous statistics, particularly in relation to the per capita expenditure on alcoholic beverages. In Australia for 1973, it was $133 as a whole; in Darwin it was $198. The total Australian expenditure came to close on $2 billion. Dr Milner reports that medicos, medical practitioners, private medical practitioners, hospitals, institutions in the Territory are just unable to cope. They do not have the facilities and most of the doctors do not have the right attitude; their training is not directed in this area. In Darwin in the administration of justice as it stood in 1973, half of the activities and cost of police and court work were alcoholrelated. Now that the amendments to the legislation have done away with the offence, there should be, one would imagine, money left over which could be allocated towards the setting up of detoxification centres. Has that money been made available? No, it hasn't. The courts complex has been further filled up since 1973. Like most public service type empires, even courts aggrandise themselves as they get more magistrates and more staff. I think that the present setup in the courts here-just bypassing the subject-has probably approached a state of perfection and perhaps it wasn't in 1973. Dr Milner says that there is a complete absence of facilities and manpower for the implementation of a rehabilitation program and it is difficult to say in the present context that the criminal process is utterly lacking in social values. Dr Milner feels that it would have been better to leave well enough alone if you were not going to provide any alternative. DEBATES-Wednesday 20 August 1975 In Canberra, the offence of drunkenness is still on the statute books and magistrates daily deal with that offence. Our masters have not seen fit to repeal it in their own backyards. It still stands in Canberra, but in the old experimental ground, the pilot farm of the Northern Territory, we are getting the treatment. Mrs Lawrie: Oh come on! That was passed by all members of the old Council not just the government. Mr EVERINGHAM: Dr Milner says that studies have shown that emergency treatment, sobering up stations and detoxification centres are not enough to meet the problems of debilitated alcoholics. I agree with him entirely but you have to start somewhere and if we do not start now the problem will just get worse and worse and the Drunkenness Bill is some sort of start. The government will not give us any money. We are trying to use the existing facilities to operate the Drunkenness Bill if it is ever passed and assented to. It is the only feasible thing that can be done within the next 2 years. Overseas countries have different approaches to the treatment of alcoholism. Dr Milner says that Sweden, Poland, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia have compulsory alcohol treatment laws whilst most other countries offer voluntary treatment. Russia also has compulsory alcohol treatment laws and I consider that the Drunkenness Bill follows on the fine traditions of Soviet legislation. Mrs Lawrie: So did I! Mr EVERINGHAM: The Russians no longer make a secret of the fact that they have a substantial alcohol problem and that there is considerable public drunkenness. They have established a system of municipal sobering- up stations to which persons appearing drunk in public may be taken for detoxification with possible follow-up action. There are 29 of these in Moscow, 28 for men and one for women. A typical sobering-up centre is a nice old building converted for this use. The entrance is up a few very well-worn marble steps. There is no reason why nice old buildings in the Northern Territory could not be taken over. All a sobering-up centre needs is a large house or building. Members: This Assembly building. Mr EVERINGHAM: Yes, you could put a lot of beds in this room. In fact, I wonder that they don't do it now.

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