Alternative liquor strategy on the table

Alicia PereraPilbara News
A new set of liquor restrictions are being considered for the City of Karratha area.
Camera IconA new set of liquor restrictions are being considered for the City of Karratha area. Credit: WA News, Cameron Myles

A group of hospitality business owners part of the West Pilbara Liquor Accord are considering their own strategy for addressing alcohol-related harm in the City of Karratha area as an alternative to a pending WA Police application for tighter restrictions.

The Director of Liquor Licensing has begun an inquiry into introducing further liquor restrictions in the city and nearby communities, including Pannawonica, following a Liquor Control Act section 64 application, with stakeholder submissions due to close on Friday.

While details are not yet public, potential restrictions are believed to include a ban on full-strength takeaway beer.

But local hospitality business owners, who say they are concerned the measures would punish the majority of people doing the right thing and affect the industry, are planning to put forward their own proposal based on using a moderated version of the identification scanning technology used by Takeaway Alcohol Management Systems.

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Blanche Bar owner and West Pilbara Liquor Accord member Bart Parsons said their approach would allow individual offenders to be identified and restricted.

“The underlying system is scan technology ... what we’re saying is design the software so that it targets individuals causing the problems,” he said. “As long as we can scan IDs that’s the only thing we need, so then all you’ll need to do is make sure if someone has done the wrong thing they get a prohibition order.”

Mr Parsons said Karratha did not have alcohol issues to the point of warranting the proposed restrictions and they would affect the liveability of the region.

Karratha International Hotel general manager John Johansen said he did not believe the proposed restrictions were in Karratha’s public interest and a moderated version of TAMS was a better option.

“I think it’s a good way to do it because that way it impacts the offenders, not the public,” he said.

The industry strategy is currently at an informal stage.

Acting Pilbara district police Superintendent Neville Dockery said police would welcome hearing alternative proposals from the industry.

“We’d always encourage that the industry put in their own measures because they have a huge responsibility to ensure responsible service of alcohol,” he said.

“Whether they do that through industry or through the accord, that would be a good move on their part.”

Acting Supt Dockery said he could not go into details about the section 64 application because no decision had been made, but asked community members to wait and see what came out of the process.

“Obviously the application is for the betterment for all our communities, and we’d advise they wait and see how the director progresses the application and don’t jump to conclusions,” he said.

A Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor spokesman confirmed the Director of Liquor Licensing had begun an inquiry into introducing liquor restrictions in and around the city but could not give any detail on what those entailed.

He also said a similar inquiry in Hedland had been put on hold to match up with the new inquiry in time. “The Port and South Hedland inquiry has been suspended pending alignment with the Karratha inquiry — once this has been achieved, the two inquiries will be determined together,” he said.

A WA Parliament committee last week held a hearing into liquor restrictions in the Pilbara and at large liquor outlets.

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