Alcohol reforms in the Northern Territory (NT) have included a rewrite of the Northern Territory of Australia Liquor Act 1978 (the Act).
FARE and the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC) welcomed the opportunity to provide comment on the Exposure Draft of the Liquor Bill 2019 (the Bill) in April. A new strong Liquor Act is a pivotal piece of legislation to continue stopping the harms from alcohol and to successfully implement the Riley Review reforms in the NT.
The Exposure Draft provided a good foundation for the new Liquor Bill, but some areas required further attention. FARE and PAAC provided 50 recommendations in their joint submission to strengthen the Bill and provide a strong regulatory framework for the future.
- The decision-making process should be underpinned by a publicly available risk model, be transparent, timely and regularly reviewed.
- A definition of harm should be incorporated into the definitions section and specifically encompass harm relating to the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol.
- Strengthen s41(1) of the Bill to clearly state that the Commission may only issue, transfer, vary or substitute a licence or an authority if satisfied that all applicants complete a community impact assessment under s 43.
- Include data on the current state of alcohol harm within the locality and evidence of the effect of the licence on alcohol harm as essential information for the community impact assessment in s42(2).
- Ensure that harm minimisation is the primary consideration for the Commission when reviewing an application under s41.
- Insert a requirement in to the Bill to outline proper consideration by the authority of the applicant’s documentation, including challenging witnesses and evidence, to provide greater confidence in the process of assessing the impact of the licence on the community.
- Make the community impact assessment publicly available on the Licensing NT website to give community members the opportunity to determine their own views on the application and provide greater transparency.
- Amend the Bill to require the Commission to consult with the community in assessing the potential impact of a licence application.
- Amend the Bill to require the applicant to consult with the community in order to assess the potential impact of a licence application when preparing a community impact assessment.
- Amend s48 (4) of the Liquor Bill 2019 to include a requirement for the Director to advise other relevant agencies or government bodies, in addition to notifying the Police Commissioner, CEO of the Agency administering the Health Act and the relevant Local Government.