Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Further action to tackle alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory

Joint Media Release with:

  • Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, Member for Lingiari
    Senator Trish Crossin, Senator for the Northern Territory

The Australian Government has today announced further initiatives to tackle alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory and ensure licensed premises operate properly and do their part to reduce alcohol-related harm.

As part of the recent Stronger Futures consultations, Aboriginal people told governments that tackling the harm caused by alcohol abuse remains a priority issue.

Alcohol abuse is still devastating the lives of too many Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

The Government’s Stronger Futures legislation, to be introduced into Parliament today, includes measures to extend current alcohol restrictions, develop alcohol management plans and increase penalties for grog running.

These measures, together with the Northern Territory Government’s Enough is Enough laws, are designed to help reduce the harmful effects of problem drinking.

However, the Australian Government recognises that there are still some licensed venues in the Northern Territory that are contributing to significant alcohol related harm to Aboriginal people through their serving practices.

Legislation introduced today will also give the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister new power to request the Northern Territory Government appoint independent assessors to look into these venues and assess the level of harm that is being caused to Aboriginal people.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said that if a licensed venue is resulting in major alcohol-related harm to Aboriginal people the Government wants to see it fixed.

“If the independent assessors find that the venues are disproportionately contributing to alcohol related harm to Aboriginal people, the Australian Government will work with the Northern Territory Government to ensure the practices of those venues change,” Ms Macklin said.

The Minister for Indigenous Health and Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon said the new provision will help ensure licensed venues have the right licensing arrangements and are operating well.

“Most licensed premises in the Northern Territory are reputable and responsible businesses,” Mr Snowdon said.

“But sometimes venues may not have the right licensing conditions or are located in places where people are particularly vulnerable to alcohol related harm.

“And sadly sometimes the licensee may run the business in a way that facilitates extremely dangerous drinking.

“We need to make sure that genuine concerns that a venue is disproportionately contributing to alcohol-related harm are properly and independently assessed.

“This measure will make sure that those that warrant closer examination will get it.”

To further the momentum for tackling alcohol related harm among Aboriginal people, the Australian and Northern Territory Governments have also agreed to initiate an independent review to determine the effectiveness of alcohol-regulation legislation in the Northern Territory.

The report will be tabled in the federal Parliament within three years. It will cover the Northern Territory Government’s Enough is Enough reforms, the Stronger Futures alcohol restrictions and the Northern Territory Liquor Act.

“We know Aboriginal people want to do more to tackle alcohol abuse. Governments want to work with Aboriginal people, leaders and communities to ensure this work is done,” Senator Crossin said.

The Stronger Futures legislation being introduced into Parliament today will reflect this commitment.