liquor laws

The Northern Territory Government has announced a new Bill which is intended to give greater power to remote Aboriginal communities to choose their approach to alcohol restrictions.

The Associations and Liquor Amendment Bill 2022 was passed this week and will replace a set of blanket prohibitions against alcohol introduced by the Commonwealth in 2007 during the NT Emergency Response, also known as the Intervention. These blanket laws were continued under the Stronger Futures Act in 2012, which was set to lapse on 17 July 2022.

Essentially, the new Bill allows communities to decide if they will remain ‘dry’ or reintroduce alcohol. It gives affected communities the option to continue alcohol restrictions for a period of up to two years, or, for communities that do not opt in, the Government said it will support them with resources and assistance so risks are properly managed during the transition.

Without this new legislation, the Government said there would be no restrictions in place for over 100 communities after the 17 July deadline. The opt-in two year period instead is intended to find a longer term solution in consultation with these communities.  

Chief Minister, Natasha Fyles, said: “The Stronger Futures legislation is one of the last living remnants of the Intervention, which was a race-based policy targeting Aboriginal Territorians with little to no engagement or consultation.

“The Federal Liberal Government, which is responsible for the Stronger Futures legislation, notified the Territory at the eleventh hour that it would be walking away and leaving the Northern Territory Government to clean up its mess. This Government has accordingly acted quickly and responsibly to prepare for the Commonwealth walking away.

“This Government will not support continuing the mandatory restrictions and obligations of the Intervention.

“In line with our commitments to Local Decision Making and self-determination, this Bill empowers affected communities with a choice to decide what is best for their community, and we will continue to support them in making that choice.”

Retail Drinks Australia supports the new Bill, with CEO Michael Waters noting that it gives Aboriginal communities the opportunity to make decisions in the best interests of their people.

“As a principle, Retail Drinks supports alcohol policies which are targeted, community-specific measures designed to address alcohol-related harm,” Waters said.

“These legislative changes will give Aboriginal communities the choice to remain dry communities moving forward. They do not impact the majority of Territorians who consume alcohol responsibly and are not at risk of alcohol misuse and abuse. 

“Retail Drinks and our members are strongly committed to retailing responsibly and, in doing so, supporting the needs and interests of the communities in which they serve.

“We look forward to working in close collaboration with the Northern Territory Government, in particular the new Chief Minister, to deliver positive policy outcomes for Territorians.”

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *