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Alcohol restrictions in the Kimberley brought up for debate

Date posted: 21 March 2016

Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, has lent his support to opponents of a push to ease liquor restrictions in the Kimberley, Western Australian (WA) towns of Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing.

Liquor retailers in the two towns have applied to Western Australia's Director of Liquor Licensing to allow the sale of mid-strength take away alcohol.

Local Aboriginal women had previously successfully campaigned to restrict the sale of all but light-strength take away alcohol, in response to a number of suicides, and high rates of binge drinking and alcohol-related violence. The bans were imposed in Fitzroy Crossing in 2007 and in Halls Creek two years later, with studies showing they led to a dramatic drop in assaults, domestic violence and presentations to hospital emergency departments.

Liquor retailers noted that despite the restriction, there is still a 'black market' which can provide access to higher strength alcohol. However there is still a number of concerned local residents that recall the communities' previous issues with alcohol, and a spokesperson for Mr Scullion said he 'strongly supports measures to help reduce alcohol-related harm and believes they should be appropriately enforced.'

Racing and Gaming Minister, Colin Holt, the Minister responsible for liquor licensing, has made it clear that he backs the current system. 'When imposing restrictions, the Director of Liquor Licensing must weigh and balance competing interests of people living in a community,' Mr Holt said in a statement. 'In respect of Halls Creek, it was determined that any negative impacts and inconvenience that may be experienced did not outweigh the social and health benefits that restrictions could bring to the broader community. Overall, it has been demonstrated that the Halls Creek liquor restrictions have significantly decreased the levels of harm that were occurring in the community prior to the restrictions being introduced.'

Source: ABC News

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Last updated: 21 March 2016
 
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