Bishop laments dry church bid
The Catholic Bishop of Broome has sought an exemption for the Kalumburu Mission from a proposed tightening of liquor restrictions in the North Kimberley community.
As is stands, the by-laws of the community, which has a population of 412, already forbids alcohol being consumed but this does not extend to the church, which is on freehold land and provides limited powers for police to confiscate liquor.
The Kalumburu Aboriginal Corporation’s leadership group applied in December 2016 for the community to become a designated dry one under Section 175 of the Liquor Control Act.
KAC chairman Clement Maraltadj said there had been problems with Kalumburu and alcohol in the past.
“The only reasons we want restrictions, is during dry season there’s a lot of alcohol pouring in,” he said. “Fights start and everyone in (the) community gets involved and it’s no good for the community, no good for anyone.
“We want restrictions on even the mission; part of (the) plan was even the mission gets alcohol restrictions.”
Mr Maraltadj said the one exception would be for the drinking of wine for ceremonial purposes at the church.
The ban also would not extend to the coastal and tourism camps about 20km from the community.
Kalumburu Mission falls under the Broome Diocese, led by Bishop Christopher Saunders, who said he would not be impressed with any punitive laws against the mission, which was on freehold land but within the community’s boundaries.
He said staff at the institute had been enjoying a glass of wine with their meals since 1908, when it was founded as the Drysdale River Mission by Benedictine monks from New Norcia. Bishop Saunders said he had written to the previous WA Minister for Racing, Gaming and Liquor and the current one, Paul Papalia, about the issue but had not received a response.
Mr Papalia, who visited Kalumburu last month, told the Broome Advertiser his visit was part of the process of the community seeking a liquor ban.
“At the end of that process . . . you go visit the community involved and seek guidance — that’s what the leadership still wants,” he said. “Once we’ve done that, in about a month’s time, a law will be passed and there’ll be an alcohol ban in Kalumburu.”
Mr Maraltadj and KAC director Clarrie Djangharra see the ban as one of the many positive steps happening in Kalumburu.
Mr Djangharra said there were several exciting projects happening through East Kimberley Job Pathways, where participants are learning to grow vegetables and are setting up a mechanical workshop, which will hopefully be operating in the dry season.
Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders says people working at the mission should be able to still have a glass of wine with dinner as they have had since 1908.