Northern Territory alcohol laws to undergo government review, three years on from sweeping changes

Alcohol laws in the Northern Territory will be reviewed by the NT government three years on from sweeping changes, amid calls from lobby groups and senior police officers for stronger restrictions to stem alcohol-related violence and crime.

The Northern Territory has some of the toughest measures in the country regulating the sale and consumption of alcohol, including a Banned Drinkers Register, Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors — stationed outside some NT bottle shops — and a floor price.

Yet it still has a long-standing reputation for some of the highest rates of alcohol-related harm in the country.

In particular, there has been a concerning increase in alcohol consumption observed after long-term alcohol bans in dozens of Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory ended in July.

At a press conference in Darwin on Tuesday, Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said the review was standard practice that would allow Territorians to have a say on the policies, through a two-month consultation phase that opens today.

A report on the outcome of the review is expected to be tabled in NT Parliament in October next year.

A woman with black hair standing at several microphones
Natasha Fyles announced the review at a press conference today. (ABC News: Michael Franchi)

“This Northern Territory government has done more for alcohol policies and protecting the community than any other,” Ms Fyles said.

Vicki Gillick, the policy coordinator of lobby group the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition, said the reforms implemented under the 2019 Liquor Act were “a lot better” than the “antiquated” legislations of the past.

However, she said much more work needed to happen to prevent widespread harm, and alcohol “pouring into communities”, following the lifting of the liquor bans.

“We are looking down the barrel of alcohol-related harm into the future, and that’s not just on drinkers, that is on their families,” she said.

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