Alice Springs alcohol restrictions: Linda Burney says a Voice to Parliament could have helped communities

Key Points
  • The Northern Territory government will restrict the sale of alcohol in Alice Springs, it was announced on Tuesday.
  • Linda Burney said the government would consider all options and further restrictions were likely to be on the table.
  • She also believed a successful referendum to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament would help communities.
The Indigenous Australians minister has promised that tough new restrictions on takeaway alcohol sales are just the beginning of measures to combat surging youth crime in Alice Springs.
Linda Burney said the prime minister’s meeting with Territory leaders on Tuesday afternoon made important progress in strategies to curb anti-social behaviour.
But she said the government would consider all options and further alcohol restrictions were likely to be on the table.

“I find it very difficult to see a future where there are not further restrictions on alcohol,” she told the ABC on Wednesday.

Ms Burney also believed a successful referendum to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament would help communities, particularly in the Northern Territory, in the long-term.
“If the Voice to Parliament had been established previously, I don’t think we would be where we are … because we would have been getting practical advice from people representative of the community in relation to these social issues,” she told ABC radio in a separate interview.
“It is wrong to think that the issue out here is just alcohol. There has been neglect for 10 years of small communities surrounding Alice Springs.

“This is not something we walked into yesterday, this has been something we’ve been working with and dealing with for a very long time.”

A group of people stand and speak to media.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks to media during a press conference in Alice Springs on Tuesday. Source: AAP / Pin Rada

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and NT Chief Minister Natasha Files announced a three-month ban on the sale of takeaway alcohol in the region on Mondays and Tuesdays and reduced trading hours on other days, with a limit of one purchase per person each day.

Deputy Opposition leader Sussan Ley said the government had ignored community leaders and she called for tougher restrictions.
“Governments have to respond to the situations they face and this government has not responded sufficiently or strongly enough,” she told reporters in Canberra.

Meanwhile, a long-term central Australian alcohol management plan will be developed to deal with the “complex issues” in the region, which include alcohol fuelled violence, unemployment and youth on the streets.

A central Australian regional controller was appointed to ensure all levels of government are working together to deliver services to the community.
The controller, Dorrelle Anderson, will also review opt-in alcohol restrictions that replaced expired Intervention-inspired liquor bans last year and consider if opt-out bans should be implemented.

Ms Anderson will provide an interim report to the government with further recommendations next week.

Northern Territory Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy said she had “cautious optimism” about the impact of the measures.
“Over the next three to six months, it is absolutely critical that the people of Alice Springs see the change and feel the change and believe in the change,” she told Nine’s Today program.

Mr Albanese promised to spend millions of extra dollars to bolster security, including providing better street lighting, emergency accommodation for domestic violence victims and community services in Alice Springs and the region.

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