Thursday, 13 September 2007
Northern Territory National Emergency Response Amendment (Alcohol) Bill 2007
That this bill be now read a second time.
This bill makes minor amendments to consolidate the alcohol measures that are a key part of the government’s recent legislation to protect Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory.
These adjustments will make the alcohol provisions as practical as possible, particularly for people in the industry working with the government in this vital area.
First, the trigger for licensees seeking and recording details of takeaway alcohol sales (currently a sale of 1,350 millilitres of pure alcohol) will be replaced with a trigger of a quantity of alcohol with a purchase price of $100 or more (including GST), or a quantity of either cask or flagon wine that exceeds five litres. The change was put forward by the liquor industry to simplify the way the threshold was calculated.
The new formulation will still capture the vast majority of larger purchases over 1,350 millilitres, but will be quicker and easier for takeaway staff to apply, and easier for customers to understand.
The intent and effect is the same—stemming the flow of alcohol into remote Aboriginal communities by tracking large purchases to help us locate and prosecute grog runners.
Second, the bill will allow more flexibility for liquor licensees required to store records of takeaway alcohol sales. The legislation currently requires a licensee to keep these records for at least three years, and produce them to an inspector upon demand made on or at the licensed premises.
As a practical solution to a simple onsite storage problem for some licensees, it will now be possible for a licensee to store these records at a location directed by the Northern Territory Licensing Commission and still be considered to meet their obligations under the legislation.
Third, the bill will add new defences to an offence applying under the alcohol bans. Visitors to national and Northern Territory parks will be able to take alcohol into a prescribed area in the park if it is to be consumed in a responsible way as part of recreational activities undertaken with a tourist operator, consistent with any management plan or similar document that may be in place for the park.
The bill also provides some incentives for communities to work towards their own sustainable alcohol management plans. It will allow the alcohol measures to be ‘turned off’ in relation to a particular prescribed area or part thereof. For example, if a particular community demonstrates that it has developed appropriate alcohol management measures, and is winning the battle with alcohol, it may be desirable to stop applying the alcohol bans in that area. The Commonwealth minister would make that decision after seeking advice from the Northern Territory emergency response taskforce.
These consolidation measures have been developed in consultation and in conjunction with industry and demonstrate our willingness to make adjustments while ensuring that the intent of the legislation, which is to protect these communities from violence, can be realised. I commend the bill to the House.