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Alcohol bans in central Australia reinstated amid crime wave

Canberra, Feb 7 (IANS) Alcohol bans will be reinstated for indigenous communities in central Australia in response to a crime wave.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Chief Minister of the Northern Territory (NT) Natasha Fyles confirmed that dry zones will be reinstated for indigenous town camps and communities near Alice Springs, reports Xinhua news agency.

It comes less than 12 months after intervention-era alcohol bans in the NT ended in July 2022, making alcohol legal in some areas for the first time in 15 years.

As a result, rates of alcohol-fuelled violence have soared in Alice Springs, drawing national attention and calls from Mayor Matt Paterson for Australian Defence Force (ADF) support.

Albanese visited the region in late January and launched a review that recommended the return of bans.

Under the new legislation that will be introduced to the NT Parliament, communities can apply to opt out of the reinstated bans if 60 per cent of residents support the decision and they have an alcohol management plan in place.

Addressing the Parliament, Albanese conceded the current and former government could have done more to plan for the end of the 15-year bans.

He said the situation in Alice Springs is about more than alcohol and announced A$250 million ($173 million) in funding for a “better, safer future” for the region.

“This is about intergenerational disadvantage. It is about a lack of employment services, a lack of community services, a lack of educational opportunity,” he said.

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