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New NT alcohol laws ‘not the intervention’, Fyles says

The NT government has introduced new community alcohol bans, saying they are temporary and non-intervention-style.

The NT government has introduced new community alcohol bans, saying they are temporary and non-intervention-style. Photo: AAP

The Northern Territory government has introduced new temporary alcohol ban laws.

Chief Minister Natasha Fyles introduced legislation to restrict the sale of alcohol in the NT on Tuesday.

“I want to be clear. This is not the intervention,” she said.

“This is NT government legislation … embedded with our commitment to local decision-making and self-determination.”

The measure comes in response to recent increases in alcohol-related harm in Alice Springs.

The legislation falls under the Northern Territory Liquor Act and will primarily affect 12 of the 96 remote communities in the NT.

The remaining 88 communities are already dry.

The bill will encourage communities to develop alcohol management plans and vote to introduce them, requiring at least 60 per cent of residents aged over 18 to approve a plan.

Ms Fyles said the plans would be assessed by an independent body and follow strict regulatory requirements.

She said there would also be room to tailor measures to communities.

On Monday, the NT opposition announced it would introduce its own liquor legislation to parliament with a stronger focus on giving police more authority to respond to people drinking in public.

Ms Fyles responded on Tuesday by saying her party’s proposal included investment into communities.

“What this bill does today is it provides a pathway that is robust but it also provides a pathway for that community voice to be heard,” she said.

Independent MP Yingiya “Mark” Guyula said the end of the federal government’s intervention era was an opportunity to empower communities and the territory government should have helped communities develop alcohol plans before previous bans were lifted.

He said he could not vote for the bill because he had not been given enough time to hear from the communities that would be most impacted.

He was also concerned the bill would undermine self-determination.

“An arbitrary number of 60 per cent does not allow a process where elders make decisions for our communities,” Mr Guyula said.

“This government has good policies of local decision-making and self-determination but I think they need to be more than policies.

“It requires an enormous shift of change in all government departments so that we can see action and resourcing on the ground.”

– AAP

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