Alcohol and Alice Springs : meeting the needs and wishes of the community


For years community groups in Alice Springs, including the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC), attempted to gain the agreement of the NT Licensing Commission to trial reduced takeaway trading hours and target the consumption of cheap bulk packagedalcohol products. A twelve month trial finally came into effect on 1 April 2002, and the evaluation of this showed that the reduced trading hours had had an impact on the level of alcohol related harm; however the potential of container size regulation to reduce consumption levels was undermined by drinkers shifting to cheap cask port. This shift had been predicted by the PAAC but efforts to forestall it were successfully blocked by the liquor industry during the development of the trial. In July 2003, the Commission decided to maintain the restricted takeaway trading hours and bar sale times for low alcohol beer; however it stunned community groups by acceding to calls by the tourism industry and police for the reintroduction of four and five litre cask wine containers. Despite strong evidence that product substitution was determined by price, the Commission provided no evidence to support its view that if port was banned there would be a shift to expensive products such as beer and spirits. The community groups working on alcohol issues in Alice Springs now have to consider their options in pursuing action through the Commission.

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