Potential new push for Pilbara liquor restrictions

Alicia PereraPilbara News
WA Police have been consulting community groups in Karratha, Roebourne, Wickham and Newman in support of a possible new liquor restrictions application.
Camera IconWA Police have been consulting community groups in Karratha, Roebourne, Wickham and Newman in support of a possible new liquor restrictions application. Credit: WA News, Cameron Myles

A fresh push for tougher liquor restrictions in parts of the Pilbara could be on the way as WA Police confirms its officers have begun gathering information for a potential new application.

A WA Police spokeswoman has confirmed that on behalf of Police Commissioner Chris Dawson, liquor enforcement unit officers from Perth visited Karratha, Roebourne, Wickham and Newman between August and October to collect information, including by consulting community groups, “in support of a possible Section 64 application to the Director of Liquor Licensing”.

“These visits were deemed necessary to gather information relating to the troubling high levels of alcohol related family violence, FASD and other crimes,” she said.

The spokeswoman said a report would be drafted and provided to the Director of Liquor Licensing for consideration “in due course”.

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WA Police made a Liquor Control Act section 64 application for blanket liquor restrictions to be rolled out across the Pilbara in late 2018, following an original submission for tougher restrictions that only applied to Port and South Hedland.

Most of those restrictions — including a ban on the sale of takeaway liquor on Sunday and daily purchase limits for certain types of alcohol — won the support of the Director of Liquor Licensing and were due to come into effect on March 31, but were stopped for all areas except Hedland at an appeal brought by licensees in June.

The Pilbara News understands a key reason for the court’s decision was a lack of local information for parts of the Pilbara.

Pilbara District Police Inspector of investigations and support Ray Thompson said police remained concerned about levels of alcohol-related harm in the region.

“The link between alcohol and harm is significant, and the figures speak for themselves,” he said.

“With the domestic violence and disorderly or antisocial behaviours we see in the community, there’s always a linkage with alcohol and drugs.”

Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel, who has been against further liquor restrictions in the Pilbara since they were proposed, said he was disappointed to hear of a possible new application because “restrictions upon restrictions are not working”.

“This is just getting out of hand — we are like yo-yos,” he said.

WA Nationals deputy leader Jacqui Boydell said she understood police were likely reacting to the alcohol-fuelled harm they saw, but a new application would be a “poor outcome” for the Pilbara.

The new police push comes as the process to implement a Pilbara-wide trial of a Northern Territory-style banned drinkers register — seen by many as an alternative to blanket liquor restrictions for the region — draws on, more than a year after it was announced.

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