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MEDIA RELEASE                      8 January 2021

Council response to proposed liquor restrictions

The Northern Territory Liquor Commission has released its proposed variation of the condition to licences (liquor restrictions) for the Barkly Region, with a focus on Tennant Creek and Elliott.

Proposed restrictions are a continuation on the restrictions already in place in the region as an initiative of the Territory Government.

Whilst acknowledging the Government’s efforts to assist in bettering the community, Barkly Regional Council has reviewed the proposal and has found the consultation process and the outcome of the proposal to be less than adequate to service the needs of the Barkly for the following reasons:

In regards to consultation with Council, The Liquor Commission initially requested a call for submissions for this proposal on October 27 2020, with a closing date of October 30, 2020 (3 days). This is in stark contrast with surrounding regions with lesser restrictions receiving nine month consultation periods for the same process. As an area with the harshest liquor restrictions in the Northern Territory, we would think an appropriate period of consultation and public consultation was necessary. Especially considering the author isn’t based in the Barkly nor the liquor commission. 
The restrictions themselves are a Band-Aid solution and does nothing to address the root causes of alcohol abuse in the community, such as lack of social infrastructure, economic and psycho/socio factors. Hence, Council sees the restrictions as a superficial and ineffective way to combat a multi-faceted problem which requires a collaborative approach between all levels of government, and service providers who understand the lived impact of alcohol abuse. 

Council, after discussing the proposal, is disappointed by the quality of the publication, which uses emotive and accusatory language, and opens the introduction in the second paragraph with ‘According to local legend, Tennant Creek sprang up in about 1930 at the site where a truck carting beer to the Barkly broke down. Ever since, it has been known as a hard-drinking community’ which is neither based in fact or representative of the aforementioned complexities.

Furthermore, Council sees that the continuation and tightening of the restrictions will lead to a similar trend where prohibition style models of risk minimisation have been implemented. Where data shows an initial downward turn in alcohol consumption and alcohol related issues, which then turns to an upward swing to initial, if not higher levels of alcohol consumption and alcohol related issues. This was seen with restrictions brought in Tennant Creek in 2014, which, by 2016 saw per capita annual consumption being back to levels from 20 years ago and is starting to be observed in the statistics relating to the current restrictions.   

The restrictions have led to a number of secondary issues such as; secondary supply of alcohol from interstate and from the north of the Barkly and break-ins into private properties to steal alcohol. 

Councilor Hal Ruger has testified to this, remarking "My house was broken into 4 times in 2020, and each time, the only thing taken was alcohol". 
With the Territory and more specifically the regional Territory having a declining population base, the question has to be asked about how serious are we in addressing livability issues when the Territory Government imposes blanket restrictions on an entire population based upon geographical location. This has seen and will continue to see residents move to other areas where they have access to more convenient amenities. 

The commission has now given a window to reply to this proposal, which can be found here, and Council asks all concerned residents to reply to this proposal as currently the Barkly voice is not being listened to. All submissions should be forwarded to the commission by 3 February 2020. 
If you would like to find out more email council at; or call on 08-8962 0000.

Copyright ©  2020 Barkly Regional Council, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
PO Box 821
Tennant Creek NT 0861

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