The Northern Territory Government has announced it will be extending takeaway alcohol restrictions in Alice Springs, citing “evidence” that the restrictions are working to reduce alcohol related violence and harm.

But this has been met with backlash from Retail Drinks Australia, which is calling for the government to share the trial results with the industry.

Retail Drinks CEO Michael Waters, said that the NT Government’s sudden announcement of the extension of restrictions yesterday, without proper industry consultation, was of concern.

“Extending government restrictions on retailers for 12-18 months without providing any evidence of the root cause of the problem is just astounding,” he said.

“How is it that retail liquor stores are the sole cause of the issue? What is the government doing to target the ongoing demand by at-risk individuals, wherever they access alcohol.”

The measures, which were put in place earlier this year, include:

  • Takeaway alcohol-free days on Monday and Tuesday
  • Alcohol reduced hours on the remaining days from 3pm to 7pm only for takeaway alcohol
  • One transaction per person each day

Waters emphasised that Retail Drinks is eager to collaborate with the NT Government to find effective solutions to the issues at hand but stressed that the current measures are punishing an entire community rather than identifying and addressing the root of the problem.

He said: “Our members were the first to act when problems started to occur, self-imposing quantity limits on products.

“Under the current restrictions, what we see are long queues both before and throughout the relatively short hours of permitted trade, creating operational challenges.

“Let it be clear that industry is not proposing a return to what was in place prior to the restrictions being introduced in January this year, rather some sensible adjustments to the existing restrictions. With these restrictions in place for up to 18 months, some retailers may be unable to sustain their businesses.

“We believe that the NT Government should adopt a staged evidence-based approach to evaluate the current restrictions and involve industry and community by sharing the data to help inform decision-making.

“Identifying individuals who misuse and abuse alcohol, then restricting or removing their accessibility should be the Government’s core focus.

“Proper Government investment to address the demand drivers leading to alcohol misuse and abuse is critical, in addition to investment in support services.”

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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