Tough booze laws to fight NT crime crisis


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Drinkers in central Australia face tough new takeaway alcohol sales restrictions, as the Northern Territory government attempts to curb surging youth crime in Alice Springs.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met territory leaders in the remote city late on Tuesday, with many locals fed up with the violence and calling for federal intervention.

He was joined by Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney, who along with NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles, announced the restrictions were designed to curb anti-social activity.

They included a three-month ban on the sale of takeaway alcohol in the region on Mondays and Tuesdays and reduced trading hours on other days, with a limit of one purchase per person each day.

“Yesterday was the beginning of some very direct action and it will not be the end. We will stay with this right through,” Ms Burney said on Wednesday.

A long-term central Australian alcohol management plan will also be developed to deal with the “complex issues” in the region. They include alcohol-fuelled violence, unemployment and youth on the streets.

A central Australian regional controller has been appointed to ensure all levels of government are working together to deliver services to the community.

The controller, Dorrelle Anderson, will also review opt-in alcohol restrictions, that replaced expired Intervention-inspired liquor bans last year, and consider if opt-out bans should be implemented.

Alice Springs mayor Matt Paterson said Alice Springs had two major issues – alcohol, and antisocial behaviour.

“I am pretty speechless to be honest. We did ask for a circuit-breaker and hopefully this is it. Do I think that this is is everything that is required? No, I don’t,” he told the ABC on Wednesday.

“we go back to [strict rules on alcohol under] Stronger Futures, we knew that worked. The government were begged not to let that lapse and unfortunately it has lapsed.”

Mr Albanese has also promised to spend millions of extra dollars to bolster security, including better street lighting, provide emergency accommodation for domestic violence victims and continue community services in Alice Springs and the region.

NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles took aim at Opposition leader Peter Dutton, who she accused of playing politics with the issue.

“[He] was a part of the Coalition cabinet that sat there and let the Stronger Futures law lapse in the Northern Territory. Yet over the last few weeks he’s played politics with this issue without even visiting,” she said on Tuesday.

– with AAP

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