Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 August 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 August 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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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 - Thursday 16 August 1990 said that it is its problem and it has to start thinking about solutions to resolve it. As part of that, it commissioned Pamela Lyons to prepare a report. I recommend that every member of parl i ament shoul d read that report. It is a very readable and very sensible report. I think we could do very well indeed if we looked seriously at the recommendations in the report and picked up most of them because, in my view, they are sensible recommendations. For me,' the basic message that comes out of Pamela Lyons' report is that the community has decided to own to the problem. It is from the community, in this case the Tangentyere community, that the solutions have to come. There is no point in us, as legislators, sitting here and saying: 'This is how we will resolve these problems'. The community itself has to come to accept the problem and then attempt to come up with solutions. Tangentyere is making a serious attempt. It has named the problem and it is now looking at solutions. That is a process that we will need to follow Territory-wide. In one sense, it is easier in respect of the Aboriginal part of the problem because there are identifiable groups like Tangentyere and the councils in Aboriginal communities who can tackle the problem. It is rather harder in white communities because we do not have that collective mentality. We tend to be more individualistic. We tend to hide our problems behind the 4 walls of our houses and we are very reluctant to talk about them. That is why there is a great' tendency to say that the Aboriginal drinking problem is far worse than the white problem. Frankly, I do not think, and Pamela Lyon and others do not think, that that is the case at all. We have come along way in the 1 ast few months. It is important that we keep the momentum gOing, debate the issues and address suggestions that are proposed. Hopefully, at the end, we will have a strategy with which all of us can be comfortable and which can seriously address the problems. One of the interesting suggestions in Pamela Lyons' report is what is called 'dram shop or liquor shop liability'. It is a concept that is pretty new to Australia, but it is widespread in the United States where 38 states have dram shop or liquor shop liability laws. Those ,liability laws make servers of alcoholic beverages potentially legally liable for injuries caused by their intoxicated and or under-aged customers. I am certainly not suggesting this but, in some American states, it has been extended to people in any situation who offer alcohol to others. There have been a couple of famous 1 ega 1 cases. In one case, the parents were away and the kids had a party. One of the kids at the party was killed on the way home. The parents of the deceased successfully sued the owners of the house under the liability law that was in place for that state. I am certainly not suggesting that for the Northern Territory but, as part of our deliberations, we could look at liquor shop liability. For whatever reason, we have a situation where the present liquor laws are not working. No one in the hotel industry has been prosecuted success fu lly. No prosecut i on has been 1 aunched even aga i nst i ndi vi dua 1 hoteliers for serving drunks or under-aged people. That problem is not restricted to the Northern Territory. Research has indicated that, right across Australia, the laws relating to serving intoxicated persons are very rarely enforced. Those laws simply do not work at present. From Canadian experience, we know that successful server liability cases can be prosecuted under common law. There is no reason, in one sense, why server liability cases cannot be prosecuted under common law in Australia. In our increasingly litigious society, perhaps it is only a matter of time before such a prosecut i on is brought. At 1 east theoret i ca lly, that avenue is open to people. 9941

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