8th Feb

Response to Paul McCue, NT Police Association president: ‘Profiteering’ industry must act on grog harm

In response to 

Paul McCue’s NT Police Association President’s letter 5 February 2018:

Congress continues to be very sympathetic to the Police Association who continue to represent the views of their members in relation to POSIs. We appreciate that it is not work that they want to keep doing. However, sometimes there is a need to undertake work that while not necessarily popular is effective and very much needed by the community.

Congress also supports the recommendations of the Riley review including the recommendation to replace police on bottle shops with uniformed licensing inspectors. However, we also support the key recommendation that police do not withdraw their critical work on bottle shops until the new system with the uniformed licensing inspectors is in place. Congress is keen to work with the Police Association to help ensure this happens as soon as possible.

In any workplace where there is a disagreement between workers and management a decision needs to be made and Congress fully expects Commissioner Kershaw to ensure that police are doing the required work to maintain law and order and public safety. We appreciate there are many different aspects to this important work and the police are doing a great job and we have never suggested otherwise, however, for now, police on bottle shops full time is a key part of their overall work. Unfortunately, it is still needed.

Arguments about individual choice are interesting but do nothing to address the fact that POSIs are very effective and when in place they prevent severe alcohol related harms, including premature and tragic deaths from alcohol related violence, suicide and motor vehicle accidents.

Congress gets that police on bottle shops is by itself insufficient and we are also keen to work with the police association, other stakeholders and government to ensure other key recommendations from the review on alcohol policy, including the alcohol floor price, risk based licensing, the liquor commission and other measures are in place as quickly as possible.

We also fully understand the need to continue to work very hard on the broader social determinants of the alcohol problem including early childhood, education, employment, housing and the extreme poverty that too many of our people still live in. We don’t support either/or arguments, it is always “both/and”.

The AHA have suggested that their NT members alone contribute around $50 million per year in taxes, so to suggest that the alcohol industry does not pay anything for police operations is like suggesting that the community do not pay anything for their health care when it is bulk billed through Medicare. These sorts of essential services are rightly paid for by our taxes. More could be done however and Congress has been a very vocal advocate for a volumetric tax on alcohol.

Yes – POSIs are discriminatory, and no – they do not resolve underlying issues of addiction and violence and need to be combined with other key alcohol policy reforms. However, it is a very unsound argument that says don’t do anything immediate that will help; especially when we have seen the results.

Donna Ah Chee,

Chief Executive Officer