Northern Territory alcohol purchasing laws tighten

Published on April 13, 2011 at 10:05 PM · No Comments

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

According to new laws nearly 11,000 people in Alice Springs and Katherine have to obtain other forms of identification to buy alcohol later this year. Some residents in the towns now use Tangentyere identification or other cards to meet a photo ID requirement. The Northern Territory Government is changing its ID scanner system and will only accept driving licenses, proof-of-age cards and passports.

Alcohol Policy Minister Delia Lawrie had announced earlier that ID scanners would be installed in every takeaway liquor outlet in the Territory from July. Top End Hotel bottle shop manager Dave Cannon said scanners would “help out” with turning away problem drinkers. Ms Lawrie had announced the $4.7 million system would turn problem drinkers “off tap” and mandate treatment.

According to Ms Lawrie she has heard stories of bottle shops keeping fake IDs to sell drinks to some people. “'If we get a sense that anyone is trying to work against it... we'll go in hard with inspectors…'We'll be doing random checks of points of sale to check they don't have a stash of false IDs,” she said.

Also problem drinkers will be banned from buying alcohol at takeaway bottle shops in the Territory if their name appears on a banned list. Ms Lawrie had said anyone taken into the police watchhouse three times in three months or who committed an alcohol-related crime would be considered a problem drinker. That person “automatically” would be banned for three months. “(The register) will enable people who are banned in one community, to be banned everywhere,” she said.

Opposition alcohol policy spokesman Peter Chandler said the problem was not about access to alcohol but about the choice to drink. “We need to deal with the anti-social behaviour…People who want to drink will get the alcohol,” he said. Mr Chandler added that the money should be put into alcohol rehabilitation. “That would be money well spent,” he said. Ms Lawrie said the system would be an “enhanced” model to that in Katherine and Alice Springs. Mr. Chandler in reply said systems there were not working.

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