The Northern Territory government has announced it will voluntarily buy back independent grocery store liquor licences across the territory.
For the next four weeks, grocery store licensees may express an interest for government to purchase their liquor licence.
Chief Minister and Minister for Alcohol Policy Natasha Fyles said: “We are putting Territorians first with world-leading alcohol reforms to cut alcohol related harm and reduce antisocial behaviour in our community. This included measures like the Banned Drinkers Register, risk-based licensing and Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors – but we know there is still more work to do.
“We are using innovative ways to reduce liquor licences in the community. Instead of them being transferred, we will purchase the liquor licence, creating less outlets to purchase alcohol from.
“Given the ongoing alcohol-related harm we’re seeing in the Territory, particularly over the last few months this buy-back scheme will likely see a decrease in alcohol sales.”
It follows NT parliament passing new legislation on Wednesday introducing a presumption against bail for violent offences involving a weapon, as pressure grows on the Northern Territory government to curb spiralling violence.
Darwin Local Court heard last week that teenager Keith Kerinauia, who has been charged with the murder of 20-year-old bottle shop worker Declan Laverty, had been released on bail for alleged aggravated robbery and aggravated assault with a “bladed weapon” in 2022.
In Alice Springs, hospital emergencies related to alcohol and domestic violence have plummeted in the eight weeks since strict limits on takeaway liquor sales were reintroduced.
New Alice Springs hospital figures obtained by News Corp show “alcohol related” emergency department presentations dropped 40 per cent and domestic violence related injuries more than halved in February compared to the previous month when restrictions were not in place.
In January this year, the NT Government enacted the quarterly reporting for 25% cap on liquor sales – building on a recommendation of the Riley Review. It ensures that alcohol is not the primary product of grocery stores – alcohol sales must be ancillary to the key business of selling food and other groceries.
All buy back offers made will be commercial in confidence. The NT Government said the purpose of the EOI is to reduce the number of alcohol takeaway outlets across the NT as evidence shows the density of liquor outlets contributes substantially to alcohol-related harms and takeaway outlets pose the highest risk.
For more information about the buy-back scheme contact DirectorLiquorLicensing.DITT@nt.gov.au