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“One size fits all” approach to Pilbara alcohol problems won’t work

The Nationals WA have rebuked the Director of Liquor Licensing’s attempt to curb alcohol abuse in the Pilbara, questioning whether the “one size fits all” approach will achieve harm reduction without community buy-in and a comprehensive Government response.  

Deputy Leader and local MP Jacqui Boydell said the heavy-handed restrictions were an “erosion of personal rights” for the majority of Pilbara residents who consumed alcohol responsibly.  

Ms Boydell said the Pilbara was made up of a diverse patchwork of communities and the Director’s blanket bans would hurt the region’s image as it tried to lift its residential population and increase tourist numbers.

“The Nationals WA are not blind to the fact that instances of alcohol abuse and excessive consumption are the main factor in family violence, assaults and anti-social behaviour in the Pilbara,” Ms Boydell said.

“While it is essential that something is done to address this scourge, it is my view that the Director’s new restrictions will do little to stem the tide.

“Other jurisdictions have implemented measures such as the cashless welfare card with an almost immediate reduction in alcohol abuse and the human trauma that goes with it.

“I would prefer measures that target the underlying problem and target those who do the wrong thing rather than penalising an entire region.”

Spokesperson for racing and gaming Colin Holt said there seemed to be no appetite from the McGowan Government to fix the inadequate level of social services which could address alcohol abuse in the Pilbara.  

“The Government has a responsibility to dedicate resources and work with the community to bring about a community response,” Mr Holt said.

“The McGowan Government just isn’t interested – if anything they’ve cut resources with the machinery of government changes leaving many departments short-staffed and under pressure.

“The Director cites Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing as examples of where onerous alcohol restrictions have worked but in those instances the change was driven by the community.

“That level of grass roots support just isn’t there with these changes, which are being imposed upon the community.”

Ms Boydell said The Nationals WA were supportive of a trial of a banned drinkers register (BDR) in the Pilbara but the McGowan Government had dragged its heels in implementing it.

“We were told the BDR would be in place before the end of 2018 but we still have no indication of when it will start,” she said.