QUEENSLAND: The Queensland government says alcohol bans in remote Indigenous communities have been successful but the current review is warranted.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Minister Glen Elmes is reviewing alcohol management plans (AMPs) in 19 Indigenous communities.
The plans restrict or prohibit the sale and possession of alcohol, and carry penalties including jail time for breaches.
Before the election, Premier Campbell Newman said the plans had not been successful in reducing alcohol-related violence.
But Mr Elmes on Wednesday said there were signs the plans had worked.
“If you look at the evidence … in most communities, you can see a reduction in crimes against the person, you can look at school attendance figures and see them on an upward slope,” he told reporters in Cairns on Wednesday.
“The communities themselves are much calmer and more peaceful than they were some years ago.”
Mr Elmes said the government was committed to a review but said it would be up to individual communities to decide on the future of the restrictions.
“We have had mayors … saying they are happy with the complete prohibition of alcohol in their communities – well that’s their decision,” he said.
“There are others who say they want to transition away from the AMPs, that’s their view.
“They will come back to me with a plan and a proposal that’s signed off by the community, that the community is at peace with.”
Earlier, the minister told ABC radio communities that wanted to ditch their alcohol management plans would have to show they could maintain public safety.
“So we’ll need to be able to see evidence that crimes against the person are going down. We’ll need to see that school attendance rates are going up,” he said.
The laws are currently the subject of a High Court challenge, involving Palm Island woman Florence Morton, who was convicted of smuggling whiskey into the community in 2007.
The High Court will on Friday decide whether to grant leave to the challenge.