Communities in central Australia could participate in a formal vote on establishing alcohol bans as federal and territory governments work to combat the Alice Springs crime crisis.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles suggested the Electoral Commission could hold the vote on whether communities want to opt-in or out of widespread alcohol bans.
Her comments were made following Tuesday’s meeting with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney and community leaders to discuss ways to curb anti-social behaviour.
Ms Fyles said community consultation needed to be a key part of alcohol management plans, particularly in discussions about alcohol bans.
Alice Springs has faced a wave of youth crime in recent years (pictured, a young man attempting to break into Alice Spring’s Todd Tavern)
‘We can’t look at Alice Springs in isolation, we need to look at the broader community and this is something where communities have had the option to opt-in to being a dry community,’ she told ABC Radio on Wednesday.
‘Do we go out to a ballot? Do we get the Electoral Commission to go out to these communities?
‘Then the matter can be settled confidently knowing that all views have been heard.’
Mr Albanese and Ms Fyles announced a three-month ban on the sale of takeaway alcohol in the region on Mondays and Tuesdays and reduced trading hours on other days as well as a limit of one purchase per person daily.
Ms Burney promised tough new restrictions on takeaway alcohol sales were just the beginning of measures to combat surging youth crime in Alice Springs.
She said the government would consider all options and further alcohol restrictions were likely to be on the table.
‘I find it very difficult to see a future where there are not further restrictions on alcohol,’ she told ABC TV on Wednesday.
The minister also believed a successful referendum to establish an Indigenous voice to parliament would help communities, particularly in the Northern Territory, in the long-term.
‘If the voice to parliament had been established previously, I don’t think we would be where we are,’ she told ABC radio in a separate interview.
‘We would have been getting practical advice from people representative of the community in relation to these social issues.
‘It is wrong to think that the issue out here is just alcohol. There has been neglect for 10 years of small communities surrounding Alice Springs.
An Alice Springs man posted this video offive children who broke into his house, where they spent 30 minutes trashing the place before leaving
Deputy Opposition leader Sussan Ley said the government had ignored community leaders and called for tougher restrictions.
‘Governments have to respond to the situations they face and this government has not responded sufficiently or strongly enough,’ she told reporters in Canberra.
A long-term central Australian alcohol management plan will be developed to deal with the ‘complex issues’ in the region, which include alcohol-fuelled violence, unemployment and youth on the streets.
A regional controller, Dorelle Anderson, was appointed to ensure all levels of government were working together to deliver services to the community.
She will also review opt-in alcohol restrictions that replaced expired Intervention-inspired liquor bans last year and consider if opt-out bans should be implemented.
She will provide an interim report to the government with further recommendations next week.
Northern Territory Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy said she had ‘cautious optimism’ about the impact of the initial measures.
Mr Albanese promised to spend millions of extra dollars to bolster security, including providing better street lighting, emergency accommodation for domestic violence victims and community services in Alice Springs and the region.
WHY THE KIDS ARE RUNNING WILD
Darren Clarke, who started the campaign to spotlight the violence in Alice Springs, earlier told Daily Mail Australia that Indigenous kids were coming into town and committing crimes and acts of violence to get away from alcohol-fuelled violence at home.
‘These kids are not in safe, there’s alcohol being drunk in the town camps, there’s blood on the walls at home, kids see people being hurt and the kids are being raped and abused.
‘You have to save the kids but no-one will speak out about it because everyone is scared about the Stolen Generation.
‘That’s what’s inhibiting kids being put into a safe spot.
‘I’m a white person, but people like (Federal Alice Springs MP) Marion Scrymgour is calling out the NT Government at the moment, that’s very brave.’
Mr Clarke was referring to the lapse of the government’s previously strict alcohol laws which ensured a ‘grog ban’ in Alice Springs’ roughly 30 tow camps.
‘I run a bakery in town and my partner and I have spent a lot of time with young girls who are in town in the middle of the night because (they say) ”my auntie has been bashed and bashed and there’s blood all over the walls”.
‘Or ”Dad’s mate came into my bedroom and tried to touch me”. It breaks your heart.’