The Central Land Council is backing the residents of Tennant Creek and the Director-General of Licensing on the extension of the emergency alcohol restrictions in the town.

“We support the decision of the Director-General, Cindy Bravos, to keep the current grog restrictions in place and urge that they remain in place until more permanent restrictions have been implemented,” said Central Land Council director David Ross.

“Calls for hard decisions to curb the level of alcohol consumption in Tennant Creek go back decades and it should not take a media storm for government to act.”

Back in February 2009, NT Chief Justice Trevor Riley made sentencing remarks that sound depressingly familiar today:

“The courts regularly hear evidence of alcohol being consumed in Tennant Creek in quantities beyond comprehension. It seems that the excessive consumption of alcohol continues for so long as alcohol is available. People drink until they can drink no more and then get up the next day and start all over again. The frequency with which drunken violence occurs is unacceptable and the level of violence is likewise completely unacceptable.

For the good of the town, for the good of the victims, for the good of the offenders and for the good of the innocent children of Tennant Creek, it seems to me obvious that a system must be devised to limit the amount of alcohol made available to the people whose lives are being devastated in this way and to educate and rehabilitate those already abusing alcohol. The people of the Northern Territory cannot sit on their hands and allow what is occurring in Tennant Creek to continue. I accept that it is a complex issue but it is an issue that must be addressed and must be addressed sooner rather than later. Hard decisions must be taken.”

Mr Ross said he takes concerns about next week’s annual general meeting of the Tennant Region Aboriginal Corporation (TRAC) seriously but they are a diversion from the essential issues facing the town.

“Aboriginal corporations are legally obliged to hold AGMs in a timely manner and we have been working with corporation directors and the federal government to minimise any adverse impacts,” Mr Ross said.

“There is no distribution of cash at these meetings, as has been claimed.”

“The Director-General of Licencing and NT Police have been invited to meet with the TRAC directors following the AGM to discuss the impact of liquor restrictions on the wider community,” he said.

Mr Ross said the small team at the CLC’s Aboriginal Association Management Centre must facilitate almost 100 Aboriginal corporation AGMs a year within a statutory time frame.

“We schedule meetings when they have the smallest possible impact on school attendance,” he said.

“We draw on independent analysis of NT Education Department statistics showing where and when a meeting may have harmful impacts,” he said.

Mr Ross said the CLC has also long supported traditional owners to invest their income in community development programs.

“While the amount of money going towards these community driven projects is steadily increasing governments could offer incentives to encourage more traditional owners to take up this option.”