Koori History Newspaper Archive

NT alcohol laws a waste: police

by Lindsay Murdoch, Darwin Age - 12th March 2009

POLICE have attacked the $1.5 billion federal indigenous intervention, describing the law requiring people buying alcohol to provide photographic identification in the Northern Territory as a farce that should be scrapped. Head of the Police Federation of Australia Vince Kelly said police rarely checked records of alcohol purchases because it was a waste of time.

"The law has not identified any grog running. All it does in reality is to create a level of bureaucracy," he said.

The Howard government introduced the requirement for anyone buying more than $100 of alcohol to be recorded and for them to state where they intended to drink it.

Drinkers have often mocked the law, declaring they intended to drink the alcohol in places such as the prime minister's residence.

Northern Territory Licensing Minister Kon Vatskalis said the law was a waste of time, paper and ink. "The Federal Government is looking at this piece of legislation and my suspicion is that it will be removed soon," he said.

Mr Kelly said the Rudd Government made a mistake last week when it committed to funding the Australian Crime Commission's operations in Alice Springs for at least another year.

"The crime commission simply hasn't delivered and hasn't brought about any increase in prosecutions," he said.

"It is not producing anything that Northern Territory police would not have the capacity to do if they were properly resourced."

He said instead of committing $5.5 million for the commission the Government should have asked Northern Territory police to broaden the work of its child abuse taskforce, which has initiated several prosecutions.

"The Australian Crime Commission was established to deal with serious organised crime, not conduct investigations into sexual assaults in remote indigenous communities," he said.

The Government was pressured into making a commitment on the commission, whose task was to prepare a report on violence and child abuse in June for police and emergency services ministers.

The Northern Land Council, which represents Aboriginal groups in northern Australia, criticised the decision to continue the commission, saying there was no evidence to support the claim by former federal indigenous affairs minister Mal Brough that pedophile rings operated in the territory.

"I cannot see any factual evidence supporting the work that the ACC has done," the Northern Land Council chief executive Kim Hill said.

Mr Kelly criticised the Government for continuing to rotate 66 Australian federal police to the territory for about six months under the intervention.

He said the AFP should be phased out and funding made available for permanent NT police to do the work.

Mr Kelly is scheduled to hold talks in Canberra today.