Chief Justice calls for ID system for ‘problem drinkers’
WA’s top judge has urged the State Government to consider restricting the sale of alcohol to “problem drinkers” by introducing an identification system at liquor outlets across the State.
The proposed regulations are similar to those described as the “toughest alcohol laws in Australia” when adopted in the Northern Territory in 2011 and scrapped af- ter the 2012 election. In a speech this week, Chief Justice Wayne Martin said dry communities had been positive and there was evidence that restrictions in small towns had successfully reduced assaults and hospital admissions.
But he said the approach had unintended consequences, including moving problem drinkers to bigger towns and cities where alcohol was freely available.
He said imposing blanket restrictions on alcohol consumption in areas such as Broome, Kununurra and Perth was impossible.
“Because of the impossibility of imposing those restrictions, it seems to me that we need to look more carefully at regulation which identifies problem drinkers and imposes restrictions upon their use of alcohol — not by reference to race or geography but by reference to past misuse, ” Justice Martin said at a McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth event.
“Contemporary technology enables us to effectively introduce restrictions on the sale of alcohol at the point of sale to persons who have demonstrated, in the past, an incapacity to behave in a socially acceptable way if affected by alcohol.
“Of course, the question of whether such restrictions should be adopted is a matter for Parliament, not the courts, but I simply suggest that it is an area of public policy which would merit further attention.”
Racing and Gaming Minister Colin Holt said the NT had scrapped the banned drinkers register and ID system after announcing it had failed to prevent problem drinkers from obtaining alcohol.