The Western Australian Government has introduced new regulations to help stamp out sly grogging in the Kimberley, which come into effect this week and have been widely welcomed.

The new regulations will give WA Police the discretion to seize and dispose of illegal alcohol on the spot and anyone found to be in breach of these regulations faces a maximum fine of $10,000.

From Saturday (September 18), restrictions will apply under a new section of the Liquor Control Act, limiting the quantity and types of liquor that can be legally transported in a vehicle.

The carriage limits will reflect the liquor restrictions that are currently in place in the Kimberley under the Emergency Management Act.

They include:

  • one carton of beer, cider or pre-mixed spirits; or
  • three bottles of wine; or
  • one litre of spirits or fortified wine; or
  • a combination of two products per adult in the vehicle, per day. 

Vehicles that carry more than five passengers will only be permitted to carry quantities of alcohol for five people.

The carriage limits will apply in the towns of Broome, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Kununurra and Wyndham, and within 20 kilometres of those towns. The limits will also apply within five kilometres of dry Aboriginal communities.

Racing and Gaming Minister Reece Whitby said: “Sly grogging is a significant issue in regional and remote communities, and these regulations are just one way the McGowan Government is tackling alcohol-related harm.

“Police will now have the discretion to seize and dispose of illegal alcohol on the spot, and I hope this will be a deterrent for members of the community who prey on the vulnerable – and profit off them.

“Alcohol abuse is a long-standing issue in the community and there is no easy fix, however, the State Government is committed to doing what it can to minimise the devastation caused by sly grogging.”

Kimberley MLA Divina D’Anna added: “These amendments will target the people engaging in sly grogging – those who are exploiting vulnerable members of the community by illegally selling liquor to them at inflated prices.

“The social and physical impacts of sly grogging, particularly in remote communities, has devastating impacts and I am pleased to see this important initiative implemented.”

The Australian Hotels Association WA welcomed the move with CEO Bradley Woods saying sly grogging has been a long-standing problem in areas where liquor restrictions have been imposed.

“The AHA has been highlighting the issue of sly grogging for well over a decade so we welcome new regulations that will help address predatory behaviour in WA’s regional and remote communities,” Woods said.

“Sadly, for far too long we have seen opportunists bring large quantities of beer and hard liquor into communities which circumvents and profits from the restrictions in place.

“This illegal activity not only renders the restrictions ineffective, it penalises licensees who are abiding by the limitations on alcohol sales.

“We also welcome the common-sense exemptions in the regulations for pastoralists, tourists and operators of remote work sites.”

Retail Drinks Australia CEO Michael Waters said he strongly welcomed the WA Government’s regulations to stamp out sly grogging.   

“We have appreciated the Government’s consultative and collaborative approach towards developing these

regulations, and in ensuring that common-sense exemptions apply for tourists, pastoralists, station owners and operators of remote work sites,” Waters said.

“These measures are a clear example of a State and Territory Government developing and putting in place specific, targeted policy solutions to help address alcohol-related harm rather than blunt all-of-population measures.

“On behalf of our members in the Kimberley and other regional and remote areas of WA, we look forward to assisting the WA Government with the implementation of these measures to help eliminate this practice.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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