Calls to remove alcohol bans in Indigenous communities

RANUI HARMER

Lobbyists argue government bans are discriminatory and racist. Photo: Ranui Harmer

Lobbyists argue government bans are discriminatory and racist. Photo: Ranui Harmer

Alcohol bans in Queensland’s Indigenous communities are being reviewed after appeals were made to have them lifted.

It has been 12 years since the former Labor government established alcohol restrictions in 19 communities across the state to help reduce issues such as child abuse and domestic violence.

The Queensland Government started reviewing the laws however there is no date set for the review’s completion.

Assistant Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs David Kempton said it is not a simple matter of legalising alcohol.

“There have been alcohol management plans that have run their course. We are providing the community with an opportunity to review these plans and come up with a community based model that might replace the existing Government controlled process,” Mr Kempton said.

“I believe the communities are ready and able to transform to a new regime.

“I think the plans may well have had an initial impact on the level of harm and so on but I do not believe there has been a significant reduction in to alcohol related offences. It is accepted there has been a bout an 8 to 10% improvement across the board.”

Alcohol restrictions ban or limit the amount and type of alcohol you can take into a community, with some Indigenous communities prohibiting alcohol completely.

The maximum amount of alcohol a person is permitted to carry within the restricted area is referred to as an alcohol ‘carriage limit’.

These restrictions limit the maximum amount that can be transported in a vehicle, boat or aircraft despite the number of passengers.

Cook MP David Kempton said the decision to move away from government control to community responsibility is the right one.

“I think we need to provide opportunities for economic growth and community development. Where this has occurred we have seen substantial reductions in dysfunction without intervention,” Mr Kempton said.

“The challenge for us is to ensure communities take responsibility and we support them.”

The maximum penalty for breaching the laws for a first offence is a $42,693 fine, a second offence will result in a $59,771 fine or 6 months imprisonment with third or later offence reaching an $85,387 fine or 18 months imprisonment.

Communities are able to provide submissions to the government before any decisions will be made.

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