NT’s liquor shop laws perplex academic, as government fails to shake off backlash
NT’s liquor shop laws perplex academic, as government fails to shake off backlash

Impacts of NT’s liquor shop laws could be hidden for years

THE insidious harmful impacts of fast-tracking four grog shop projects in the Top End may not be known for decades should they go ahead, an academic reviewing the NT's alcohol measures says.

It comes as NT Police and Palmerston Council maintain they are opposed to two proposed bottle shops being established in the satellite city, with the council now looking into what the controversial laws could mean for alcohol management in the area.

With just 24 days to go until the director of liquor licensing is due to hand down a decision on four contested grog shops, including Darwin's Dan Murphy's superstore, the NT government has been at pains this week to justify fast-tracking changes to the Liquor Act.

Questions have been raised why the laws were put forward in parliament by Small Business Minister Paul Kirby instead of Alcohol Policy Minister Natasha Fyles or Attorney-General Selena Uibo.

Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths are the proponents of two of the proposed grog shops.

 

Small Business Minister Paul Kirby . Picture Katrina Bridgeford.
Small Business Minister Paul Kirby . Picture Katrina Bridgeford.

 

Mr Kirby, curiously dropping "small" from his portfolio title during a press conference this week, refused to say if he believed Woolworths could be considered a small business.

Deakin University Professor Peter Miller, one of the researchers tasked with reviewing the impacts of the NT's minimum alcohol floor price, said he didn't understand the "logic" behind the laws that effectively circumvented the Liquor Commission. "I think there's a lot of people inside (government) who aren't happy with it … (considering) how strong they have been on everything else relating to alcohol," Prof Miller said.

"We know that the more venues you put in, the more alcohol there is in the community, the higher the levels of harm … (and) not necessarily the obvious harms."

Prof Miller said those harms included cancers linked, in some part, to alcohol consumption, including breast and liver cancers, alongside family conflict and child neglect that may not escalate to the point of authorities being notified.

The government argued the laws, which granted sweeping powers to a single bureaucrat, were about "cutting red tape" and fast-tracking decisions on four grog shop applications caught between two editions of the Liquor Act.

NT Police acting assistant commissioner Travis Wurst said there had been "no evidence" put forward to flip the authority's view on the bottle shops proposed in Palmerston, which it opposed on the grounds of community safety.

Decisions on the four grog shops are due on December 20.

Originally published as Impacts of NT's liquor shop laws could be hidden for years


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