The “right to drink” in Alice Springs

9 May 2013

The NT government’s abolition of the Banned Drinkers Register has divided opinion in Central Australia, writes Eleanor Hogan in Inside Story.

Alcohol consumption in the Northern Territory, and in Alice Springs in particular, has long been notoriously high. In 2000, prior to the implementation of a series of alcohol management initiatives in Alice Springs, Central Australians drank an average of 17.65 litres of pure alcohol per person each year, 1.76 times the national average. But by 2008, according to a study conducted last year by the National Drug Research Institute, that figure had decreased to an estimated 13.75 litres of pure alcohol per person, 1.25 times the national average, and alcohol-related assaults and hospital admissions had also fallen. The study attributed these trends to the effectiveness of price-related strategies in Alice Springs to reduce overall alcohol consumption by facilitating a switch from cask wine to beer. The study also found that at least one of three other initiatives – enforcement of the “one per person per day” restriction, the introduction of ID cards, and the alcopops tax – had significant effects in reducing consumption, but the coincidence of these reforms made it hard to say which had been most effective.

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The dismantling of the Banned Drinkers Register has been accompanied by reports of increases in public drunkenness. Proponents of the BDR claim these add to the mountain of anecdotal evidence about its effectiveness in conjunction with other alcohol measures previously applied by Labor, and that this strengthens the case for further evaluation of the scheme.


Photo: The Conversation / Klearchos Kapoutsis



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