Liquor & violence: big increase after alcohol bans end in Northern Territory. Predictable results.

(22 Mar. 2022) “Liquor sales are skyrocketing in Alice Springs after long-term alcohol bans across hundreds of remote communities came to an end, with one bottle shop reporting a near tripling of sales.”

“NT Police said there had been a spike in anti-social behaviour and domestic violence incidents involving alcohol.”

“Police [in Alice Springs] on Thursday said officers had responded to 30 domestic violence incidents in the previous 24 hours.”

“Labor Member for Lingiari Marion Scrymgour said the issues facing the region were ‘playing out as we all feared’.”

“Ms Scrymgour slammed the NT government’s handling of the expiry of the Stronger Futures legislation, which saw previously dry communities made to ‘opt-in’ if they wanted to keep alcohol bans in place.”

“Ms Scrymgour said it was her understanding that only one camp out of 20 around Alice Springs had opted to remain dry.”

“Communities across the Northern Territory have until January 31, 2023, to apply to stay dry.”

(Abridged extracts from: Lee Robinson and Stewart Brash, “Alice Springs stores rushed with customers as intervention-era alcohol ban expires in NT”, ABC Alice Springs, 22 Mar. 2022.)

“Michael Liddle is an Alice Springs Councillor, an Alyawarre man from the remote eastern Barkly Region, and he’s worried lifting alcohol bans will do more harm than good: ‘When you’re consistently going to funerals because of alcohol, because of drunk driving, domestic violence, abuse, and we just haven’t gotten on top of alcohol abuse.’ Stronger Futures laws introduced by the Labor Gillard government a decade ago, expired at the weekend [17 Jul. 2022], making it legal for residents in dry communities and town camps to purchase and consume alcohol again. [Councillor Michael Liddle:] ‘There are people who have concerns, and there are people that cause havoc.’”

(Jon Daly, “NT alcohol bans end”, ABC Radio News, 18 Jul. 2022)

[Within a few days of the alcohol bans being lifted] “Alice Springs Mayor Matt Paterson called the 2GB open line earlier in the week, desperate to get the message across that crime rates in the Northern Territory are skyrocketing. Luke Grant spoke with him about the criminal activity, and the Intervention alcohol ban being lifted that could see more alcohol-fuelled violence.”

“In this week alone, there’s been as many as 28 domestic violence cases reported in one night (one night!) and a murder suicide that’s left a 17-year-old in a critical condition on top of that. The Northern Territory has rescinded its intervention bans on alcohol.” [Alice Springs Mayor Matt Paterson says:] “One of our bottle shops had an increase 300% sales in the very first day that the intervention had lapsed. So, you know, we’ve got Aboriginal peak health organizations screaming out, that have been screaming out for a long time, don’t let the legislation lapse! We’ve just opened the rivers of grog in central Australia, unfortunately! We’re seeing, as you said, … domestic violence … we’re up to over 50 in two days… We’ve had police spat on attending domestic violence incidents, someone up in Katherine in D.V. who was also killed. Unfortunately we’re a part of time that’s stepped back 10 years.”

(Luke Grant, “Alice Springs Mayor voices concerns on escalating crime rate”, Radio 2GB, 23 Jul. 2022)

Timeline

2007: Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act (Commonwealth). Object: “…to enable special measures to be taken to reduce alcohol‑related harm in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.”
2012: Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act (Commonwealth). Object: “… to enable special measures to be taken to reduce alcohol‑related harm to Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.”
2022: rivers of alcohol to return to many Northern Territory communities, with the expected domestic violence too. Unstated object: to enable the predatory alcohol industry to profit from the misery of everyone in the Northern Territory.

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