/ 25 January 2023

Restricting grog sales in Alice, but no ban


After knocking back Coalition leader Peter Dutton’s invitation to join him for a visit to the besieged Central Australian town of Alice Springs yesterday, PM Anthony Albanese made his way there. And after meetings with officials, including Chief Minister Natasha Fyles and local community leaders, it was decided that there will be “immediate restrictions” on the sale of alcohol, stopping short of bringing back the bans that expired in July last year.

Takeaway-alcohol-free days will be put in place on Mondays and Tuesdays, which adds to the bottleshops being closed on Sundays. From Wednesday-Saturday, the hours when takeaway alcohol can be purchased will be restricted to 3pm-7pm, and a one transaction per person per day limit will be put in place. Fyles said she knew “not everyone will be happy” with the restrictions, but it’s a decision “police fully support – and by reducing that amount of alcohol, we will reduce the harm.” Those arrangements will stay in place for 3 months, but Albanese has a tighter deadline in mind… Dorrelle Anderson, a local leader in domestic violence prevention programs, has been appointed ‘regional controller’ and will report back to the PM and Chief Minister in a week.

It’s a fair question, but it’s a town in the grip of a crime crisis… Albanese wants quick advice on “potentially moving to an opt-out situation rather than opt-in.” What the what? That refers to the arrangement put in place by the NT Government after federal laws that kept alcohol out of most remote areas and communities in the Territory lapsed in July. Chief Minister Fyles says she wouldn’t support another “race-based policy” but has copped criticism for the results of the transition to communities ‘opting-in’ to remain dry. Albanese’s essentially asking if grog bans should be the default, which would see him pull rank on his Territory colleague. And while the problems are complex, it’s that access to alcohol that police and mayor Matt Paterson say is behind the +50% spikes in domestic violence, commercial break-ins and property damage in the town in recent months. Yesterday, Coalition leader Dutton said the PM and his government have to increase support to Alice Springs, and his side “will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him to tackle these issues.”

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