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6 Feb. 2023

Alcohol Bans Return ABC


Alcohol bans to return in Alice Springs town camps, remote communities in central Australia


[A woman with dark hair speaks behind a lecturn with microphones and flags.]

Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles made the announcement at a press conference in Darwin.(ABC News: Tristan Hooft)

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Alcohol bans will be reinstated in central Australia, preventing the sale of alcohol to Aboriginal people living in town camps and remote communities.


Key points:

Alcohol bans will return in response to calls for action on crime and alcohol-fuelled violence
The bans can be lifted if 60 per cent of residents vote in favour of an alcohol management plan, once it's developed
The federal government has rejected the NT's calls for "needs-based" funding

The move was recommended in the snap review of alcohol laws ordered by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in response to a spike in crime and alcohol-fuelled violence.

Frontline services and Aboriginal health groups have criticised the failure of governments to plan a transition when Intervention-era bans expired in July last year.

Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said she will introduce urgent legislation in next week's sitting of parliament to put bans back in place. 

Alcohol management plans will be developed by each community, with 60 per cent of residents needing to vote in support if restrictions are to be lifted.

"We've heard loudly and clearly that the matter and decision of alcohol on community needs to be one that is made by the entire community," she said.

"That is why we're creating a circuit breaker and implementing temporary dry zones until communities can develop and vote on the alcohol management plans."

The NT government had resisted calls to reimpose blanket bans, which it said were racist and ineffective.

Ms Fyles said she knew there would be people disappointed by the announcement.

"But it does provide a clear pathway allowing local leadership to come together around this issue and a clearly defined process," she said.

The Commonwealth government will provide an extra $250 million for support services in the region.

Ms Fyles had lobbied the federal government for "needs-based" funding.

More to come.