News State Western Australia Booze ban outrages residents in Pilbara

Booze ban outrages residents in Pilbara

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles discusses a 2017 trial with Miwatj Health worker Melanie Rarrtjiwuy Herdman at a Nhulunbuy community meeting in Arnhem Land. Photo: AAP
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Residents in northern Western Australia claim they’re being unfairly punished by a ban on the Sunday sale of alcohol designed to tackle problem drinking in the region.

From March 31, restrictions on when and how much takeaway alcohol can be sold in WA’s Pilbara communities will come into effect.

Locals will be limited to one carton of beer and three bottles of wine, or one bottle of spirits, per person on weekdays.

Hotels and pubs will also be banned from advertising their prices for popular, full-strength beers.

Angry residents have taken to social media arguing the changes will hurt workers whose schedules restrict their trips into town.

“A lot of us have our RDO on Sunday and it’s the only day we can get to the bottle shop to buy booze before it shuts,” Josh Coleman posted on Facebook.

Liquor Licensing director Duncan Ord says the changes were in response to submissions from WA Police calling for extra ways to combat alcohol-related abuse.

“The abuse of alcohol in the Pilbara continues to have a negative impact on the community in terms of domestic violence, child abuse, crime and anti-social behaviour,” Mr Ord said in a statement on Monday.

But industry representatives say the new rules will unfairly impact tourists and responsible drinkers.

“This is 1970s thinking to an issue that we have learned needs a more nuanced, collaborative and well thought-out solution,” Liquor Stores Association chief executive Peter Peck said.

A register of banned drinkers would better target alcohol abuse in the region, he said.

The WA government has previously pledged to conduct a trial of the register.

Alcohol-related domestic violence in the Pilbara is seven times the metropolitan rate, according to WA Police.

And about half of all reported domestic violence incidents in the region involved alcohol, the Department of Child Protection and Family Services said in a submission.

A third of those involved children.

The Pilbara town of Port Hedland already has a Sunday takeaway alcohol ban in place, while in Newman sales are prohibited before 10am on weekdays.

-AAP

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