People in the Barkly region in the remote Northern Territory will need to provide ID to buy a drink at the pub under proposed changes to the region’s alcohol policies.
The measure is among a handful of recommendations made by the Northern Territory Liquor Commission following a two-year review intended to reduce alcohol-related harm in the area.
Under the proposed change, patrons would be barred from buying drinks from three licensed premises — the Goldfields Hotel, the Tennant Creek Hotel and the Elliott Hotel — if an ID check shows they are on the Banned Drinker Register (BDR).
The BDR currently only applies to takeaway alcohol sales.
The tentative measures have been described by one publican, Jason Groves of the Goldfields Hotel, as “a bit of a farce”.
“They’ll need to put [ID] scanners in all the bars, so that’ll be a major expense … it’s [also] going to increase staff on the doors,” he said.
“It’ll just be another cumbersome thing for people to do to enjoy a legal product.”
The mandatory ID check and other measures suggested in the review — which are at this stage only recommendations — will be considered by the NT Government.
The Liquor Commission’s report also recommended changing the takeaway license conditions of three Tennant Creek outlets — the Goldfields Hotel, the Tennant Creek Hotel and the Headframe Bottle Shop.
If that change went ahead, no more than three people from the same household would be allowed to purchase takeaway alcohol in the same day.
The commission said police stationed outside outlets could enforce that measure using “iPads linked to police databases”.
Tennant Creek, the region’s major population hub, has long suffered from social issues related to high rates of alcohol consumption, and its 3,000 residents already face some of the strictest alcohol restrictions in the country.
Takeaway bottle shops currently have reduced opening hours and their customers are limited to purchasing one 750ml bottle of spirits, two 750ml bottles of wine or 24 cans of full-strength beer per day.
The new report noted that in the first 12 months of those restrictions being introduced in 2018, alcohol consumption dropped by 27 per cent.
But the commission reported that, over the past 18 months, “consumption levels have steadily crept up”.
“Given the increase in liquor consumption and alcohol-related harm since mid-2019 in the Barkly, it is in the public interest and would have a beneficial impact on the community to further vary takeaway license conditions in the Barkly,” the Liquor Commission’s report read.
Another proposal is to mandate CCTV cameras in point-of-sale areas for most licensees, who would be required to keep the footage for at least two weeks.
There was no public hearing with Barkly stakeholders before the Liquor Commission’s proposals were handed down, but a spokesperson for the Commission said it was open to holding one next month.
Stakeholders and members of the public have 28 days to make submissions to the Liquor Commission on the proposed laws.
Alcohol Policy Minister Natasha Fyles said any subsequent changes would be made in accordance with the Liquor Commission’s recommendations.
“The majority of Territorians do the right thing; they drink responsibly,” she said.
“But sadly, we see the impact of alcohol on those people that abuse it and it can cause an impact for them, the loved ones around them and for our communities.”