” This report has the potential to be a game-changer in responding to the alcohol-related harms that are far too prevalent here in the Northern Territory.
“It is really heartening to see how much the review has listened to the long-standing policy solutions that AMSANT has been advocating for more than a decade.
Implementing this report will reduce premature death, hospitalisations, domestic violence and child neglect. It will help significantly to close the health gap in the NT. ”
Mr John Paterson CEO Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) today welcomed the final report of the NT Review of Alcohol Legislation and Policy released last Thursday.
Download the Final Report HERE
“It is really heartening to see how much the review has listened to the long-standing policy solutions that AMSANT has been advocating for more than a decade”, he said.
“For a very long time we have been concerned about the harms being caused by cheap grog, too many outlets and take-away licenses, too much alcohol promotion and lack of adequate data, amongst other issues.
“This report addresses all of these issues and goes further, providing a comprehensive response to alcohol problems in the NT. Previous attempts at reform, such as the “Enough is Enough” program, not been far-reaching enough to have a major impact, but we are confident that this report provides the policy options to effectively deal with the NT’s alcohol problems.
“AMSANT thanks the Gunner Government for their immediate and emphatic response to the report in supporting all but one of the 220 recommendations.
The leadership shown by our Chief Minister on this key public health issue is commendable.
“The Territory is on the cusp of finally coming to terms with alcohol and the harm it causes. Instead of being the jurisdiction famous for its “bloody good drinkers”, we now have an opportunity to lead the nation in action to address alcohol.
“Implementing this report will reduce premature death, hospitalisations, domestic violence and child neglect. It will help significantly to close the health gap in the NT.
Research shows that in any population, the most disadvantaged people are most impacted by alcohol and have the most to gain from an effective public health response”, he concluded.
Riley review: Floor price on alcohol, 400sqm rule to be scrapped in wake of NT alcohol policy paper
Photo: Michael Gunner (centre) says he agrees with nearly all the recommendations of Trevor Riley (left). (ABC News: Felicity James)
The review by former chief justice Trevor Riley could usher in some of the biggest-ever changes to the Northern Territory’s alcohol policies.
Already the Gunner Government has said it will accept in principle nearly all of the 220 recommendations from the review, including a floor price or volumetric tax on alcohol products and a policy shift away from floor-size restrictions.
Major recommendations of the Riley Review:
- The NT Liquor Act be rewritten
- Immediate moratorium on takeaway liquor licences
- Reduce grocery stores selling alcohol by phasing out store licences
- Floor price/volumetric tax on alcohol products designed to reduce availability of cheap alcohol
- Shift away from floor size restrictions for liquor outlets and repeal 400-square-metre restrictions
- Reinstating an independent Liquor Commission
- Legislating to make it an offence for someone to operate a boat or other vessel while over the limit
- Establish an alcohol research body in the NT
- Trial a safe spaces program where people can manage their consumption and seek intervention
“I got that one wrong going into the election and it has been good to see that Trevor [Riley] has come forward with this report with a much more considered, better way of dealing with density and sales of take-away outlets,” Mr Gunner said following the release of the report.
The Government has also said it will enact today a “complete moratorium” on all new take-away alcohol licences, including at greenfield sites.Attorney-General Natasha Fyles said the Northern Territory had the highest rate of alcohol consumption of anywhere in the world.
But the AHA’s opposition to Dan Murphy’s in the NT continues.
“We see that there are some recommendations in there in relation to additional licencing fees… to put an additional impost on businesses above the GST… we would see would be unfair,” he said.
“If the spirit of the review is followed in the Liquor Act, then the end result will be a reduction in alcohol in the volume of alcohol in the community.”
The national branch of the Australian Hotels Association does not support a floor price but the Northern Territory branch is in favour of it and has widely accepted the Riley review.
The figure would be indexed against ordinary wages and evaluated after three years.
“Floor space doesn’t impact on the amount of alcohol out there… it’s the price that makes the alcohol obtainable… if we’ve got people selling bottles of wine for $3, that’s cheaper than water, it seems to me you’ve clearly got a problem,” he said.
It said the relationship between the size of these premises and any increased harm is less clear, dismissing the claim that floor space was a contributing factor to alcohol related harm.
Floor price a more powerful way to reduce harm
He also acknowledged the Territory’s problem with alcohol-related harm and promised to sell liquor responsibly, if the licence was to be granted.
In a statement he said the company planned to move ahead with their application for a liquor licence in the Northern Territory.
Dan Murphy’s will try to operate in the NT
Other reforms include introducing licensing inspectors to help police at bottle shops, a move the NT Police Association has been pushing for.
Once the review is in place, one of the first priorities would be to reinstate an independent Liquor Commission, followed by a complete rewrite of the Liquor Act, which is expected to take 12 months.
“It is time that the Northern Territory gets rid of the tag of being an alcohol-fuelled community,” Ms Fyles said
He said details of how the floor price on alcohol will operate are yet to be determined, and any such price would be abolished if the Federal Government were to introduce its own volumetric tax.
Another recommendation that the Government has said it will back is a law to make it an offence for a person to operate or navigate a vessel on the water with a blood-alcohol content above 0.05 per cent.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner conceded that he made an error in pushing for the 400-square-metre rule, which had been dubbed a “Dan Ban” because it was seen as preventing Dan Murphy’s from opening a large store in Darwin.