Congress welcomes new Liquor Act as combined alcohol reforms make a big difference

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress says the passage of the NT’s new liquor legislation is a welcome modernisation that will help to address the Territory’s improving rates of alcohol-related health and social problems.

Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee says it has been heartening to see the NT Government stick to its promise to reform alcohol policy and law. These are difficult but necessary reforms.

“In response to concerns expressed about alcohol over many years by Congress, the government had former Chief Justice Trevor Riley and an expert panel review alcohol policy and legislation in the NT, and for the large part, has followed through with implementing nearly all of the Review’s 220 recommendations.”

“The Liquor Act 1978 was messy and out of date. One advantage of the new legislation is that it will make the responsibilities of licensees clearer, with a bigger focus on the harm minimisation objects of the Act,” said Ms Ah Chee.

“It’s good to see that licensees will finally have to pay an annual fee as they do in other jurisdictions and that this fee will be based on the level of risk that the license causes in harmful alcohol consumption. Combined with the floor price on alcohol, the Banned Drinker Register and the Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors (PALIs) at bottle shops in Alice and other regional towns, this legislation brings us into the twenty-first century in relation to liquor regulation. 

“These combined measures have had a great effect in reducing alcohol-related assaults and alcohol-related domestic violence assaults. There is also preliminary child protection evidence that child neglect has been significantly reduced.  

“While we acknowledge that the data is showing that the work of the PALIs is preventing a great deal of injury, mostly to Aboriginal people – and this is saving lives – we do need to make sure the work of the PALIs is monitored to ensure that they use their powers in a non-discriminatory manner when approaching bottle shop customers,” Ms Ah Chee added.

“Congress looks forward to the new Liquor Act coming into force in October and thanks the NT Government for its efforts to reduce consumption, injury, preventable illness and social disruption.”

The new Liquor Act will add to the improvements that have occurred in access to alcohol treatment services for alcohol dependant clients so we have both demand reduction, supply reduction and harm minimisation measures all working together in tandem.

Media Contact: Kate Buckland 0408 741 691


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