Australians grapple with new ID rule for takeaway booze

An inflatable kangaroo with a beer Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Australians love a beer, but sometimes it crosses the line into problem drinking

Citizens in Australia's Northern Territory now need to produce photographic ID if they want to buy takeaway alcohol, it's reported.

This means that more than 1,000 people living in the country's northernmost state will be unable to make a purchase, now that the Banned Drinker Register (BDR) has been relaunched by the authorities in an attempt to cut booze-related crime, The NT News reports.

A register was attempted in 2011, but was replaced within a year with a mandatory treatment scheme for problem drinkers. Now that the BDR has been successful, bottle shop customers must produce photo ID, which is then scanned through machines linked to the BDR database.

Trade associations, however, fear that glitches in the system could result in long delays, raising the prospect of violence against staff. A recent trial of the machines resulted in just that outcome, the Australian Hotels Association NT told the paper.

The territory's Liquor Stores Association hints at further problems to come, given that the roll-out is happening on what is traditionally the busiest day of the week. "It's going to be a nightmare," LSANT president Faye Hartley said. "It'll take time to sort out and to start."

Rising crime figures

The register means that anybody with a conviction for alcohol-related crime is now banned from purchasing takeaway alcohol, broadcaster ABC reports. This includes anyone convicted for drunk driving or alcohol-related domestic violence. Many who have been taken into protective custody for being intoxicated have also been blacklisted.

The initial banned list contains just over 1,000 names out of Northern Territory's 250,000 population. However, the authorities expect it to grow by about 500 per month until "the majority of the Territory's problem drinkers are identified," ABC adds.

The Northern Territory - perhaps due to its remote location - has struggled with excess alcohol consumption and its associated health and law and order problems.

Police figures for the last year show an average of 10 alcohol-related assaults in the Territory per day, and Darwin suburb Palmerston saw a 34% increase in assaults annually linked to excessive drinking.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The measures hope to protect the enjoyment of having a drink, whatever the weather

Reporting by Alistair Coleman

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