New delay for Pilbara banned drinkers’ register trial

Alicia PereraPilbara News
The Pilbara is still waiting for the roll-out of a banned drinkers’ register.
Camera IconThe Pilbara is still waiting for the roll-out of a banned drinkers’ register. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

The planned WA-first trial of a banned drinkers’ register in the Pilbara has missed its latest deadline, in its third delay so far.

The Northern Territory-style system, which prohibits problem drinkers from buying alcohol and directs them to rehabilitation services, was proposed for the region by Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia last August and is seen by many as an alternative to stricter region-wide liquor restrictions to address alcohol-related harm.

The trial was intended to be launched in the Pilbara in the first half of this year.

The latest delay marks the third time the trial has been postponed, following previous government assertions the register would be launched by the end of 2018 and then in the first quarter of 2019.

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Mr Papalia said the State Government was still committed to introducing the register.

“The trial of a banned drinkers’ register in the Pilbara is a key priority of the McGowan Government, however, it’s essential that all factors impacting the introduction, operation and evaluation of the BDR trial are fully considered prior to the commencement of the trial, as any early introduction of the trial could be detrimental,” he said.

“Prior to proceeding with the trial of the BDR I will seek advice from the director (of Liquor Licensing), licensees in the Pilbara and UWA who are conducting the evaluation of the trial.”

The government has not yet locked in a new end date for implementing the trial.

Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said he was continuing to work with the government to develop a register for the region.

“My firm priority for the area is the implementation of a banned drinkers register,” he said.

“This is the best way forward. This is what the community wants.”

“I am working hard with the government to make sure the register is a success.”

The planned trial of the register would include all towns in the Pilbara and apply to all licensed premises selling takeaway alcohol, with the possible exception of social and sporting clubs.

The latest delay comes after a Director of Liquor Licensing decision for further liquor restrictions to be introduced across the Pilbara was stopped for all areas except Port Hedland following a successful appeal by licensees last month.

Mr Michel, who opposed the planned liquor restrictions but supported the push for a banned drinkers register, said he was glad community members had had an opportunity to be heard on the proposed blanket ban and thanked licensees for “speaking up”.

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