The Indigenous Affairs Minister, Mal Brough, has announced an exemption to the alcohol bans in 70 remote indigenous communities in the NT that were announced as a core component of the government’s Indigenous Emergency Plan to combat the sexual abuse of indigenous minors. The exemption applies to rivers being used for recreational fishing on or adjacent to Aboriginal land.
Why is such a core measure being undermined?
The professor of indigenous studies at the University of Melbourne, Marcia Langton, said yesterday that relaxing the bans would open the floodgates for alcohol to be smuggled into the 70 communities where it was banned.
“It will allow illegal grog runners to sell grog into the communities,” she said.
“It’s the kind of loophole that can bring the whole system undone, by giving the big tick-off to the grog runners. It’s not going to work.”
What could be more important than protecting the children who are the whole justification for the sweeping authoritian emergency plan in the first place?
At the time, Mr Brough agreed with the authors of a report, Little Children are Sacred, that the first action needed to stabilise the situation was to stop the flow of “the rivers of grog”. But in the territory, where fishing and drinking go hand in hand, the fishing lobby complained after a Federal Court decision gave inland waterways up to the high tide mark the same status as the Aboriginal land through which they flowed.
Under pressure, Ms Martin asked Mr Brough to make the exemption for those who fished there..