Chief Jus­tice calls for ID sys­tem for ‘prob­lem drinkers’

Pilbara News - - News - Amanda Banks

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.

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