Interstate grog runners have been thwarted by Northern Territory Police who seized 200 litres of alcohol destined for Tennant Creek.
Police say the haul was sourced in Mount Isa, before being taken across the Queensland-NT border.
It included 185 litres of cask wine, which was seized from one man before he fled to Townsville, avoiding charges.
Restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol have been extended in the remote outback community, in a bid to tackle a “disturbing” wave of grog-fuelled violence.
“Tennant Creek being a small town, it doesn’t take long before people become aware someone is selling alcohol without a licence,” Superintendent Kerry Hoskins said.
“With the liquor restrictions and the positive impact it’s had on the community, I suspect some of this information is from people who don’t want to see us return to the bad days.”
In a separate incident, a 52-year-old man was charged with supplying alcohol to a person on the Banned Drinkers Register and is now on the list himself.
Drop in family violence under restrictions
Police and support agencies believe the restrictions are behind a sharp decrease in domestic violence incidents in the outback town.
Superintendent Hoskins said police did not receive any domestic violence callouts overnight — and responded to just two on Tuesday night.
“We’re certainly seeing an impact — a positive impact,” she said.
“We’re getting information from other agencies as well, that we’re seeing fewer admissions to the emergency department and fewer admissions to the women’s refuge.”
The Tennant Creek Women’s Refuge has reported a stark decline in presentations, dropping by 60 per cent between February and April of this year, compared to the same period last year.
Ms Ryan said there had been a significant drop in presentations to the shelter. (ABC News: Steven Schubert)
Refuge chief executive Mary Ryan said 85 per cent of women who accessed the facility did so due to alcohol-fuelled family violence.
Similarly, there have been no reports of an increase in presentations among neighbouring towns, Ms Ryan said, despite anecdotal claims that problem drinkers had moved out of Tennant Creek.
“They do have a number of Barkly clients at any time and that number is quite small and simply hasn’t changed,” Ms Ryan said.
Superintendent Hoskins said she doubted suggestions Tennant Creek’s problem drinkers were drifting to other towns around the Northern Territory and western Queensland.
“It may be that some have returned to communities or moved on, but we’re certainly not seeing that as necessarily the case,” she said.
‘We can manage’ without new restrictions, Barkly MLA says
A proposal by the NT Liquor Commission for increased restrictions to alcohol access in the Barkly region is currently open for submissions from licencees in the region.
Member for Barkly Gerry McCarthy said he had heard “anecdotal evidence” of the restrictions’ impact, and did not believe stricter proposals were necessary.
“I think we have all the additional tools to show we can manage and normalise alcohol,” Mr McCarthy said.
“I think the existing conditions have shown improvement in community safety, the new tools will definitely manage the situation better, and the Liquor Commission can conduct reviews.
“We’ve seen in the past that you can’t just focus in on one area because problem drinkers will exploit legislation and have done in the past.”
Licensees in the Barkly region can make submissions to the Liquor Commission for the next 20 days, before a decision is made about whether they will be enforced.
Under proposed restrictions, residents would be limited to one six-pack of stubbies per person, per day. (ABC News: Claire Campbell)