PM's rivers of grog claim under attack in Cape
THE CAPE York leaders of several dry communities are offended by Julia Gillard's claim "rivers of grog" would return to the Far North if locals got to make the rules, saying it shows the Federal Government thinks indigenous councils are incapable of looking after themselves.
The mayors who lead the communities even the ones that have embraced their decade-long alcohol management plans have challenged the Prime Minister to work with their communities as they consider relaxing the strict grog bans.
Ms Gillard used the annual Closing the Gap address in Federal Parliament yesterday to scathe the Newman Government's current grog-ban review, which is allowing councils to come up with alternatives to the strict alcohol management plans imposed in 2002.
She said the Government would take action to stop any "irresponsible policy changes", prompting outrage from indigenous leaders who insist they know what's best for their communities.
"They put prohibition on top of us and we're tired of it. We should be the ones who manage our alcohol management plan," Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council Mayor Bernard Charlie said.
Alcohol isn't totally outlawed in the NPA, but carriage restrictions prevent anyone holding more than two litres of wine and a carton of beer at a time. The council wants to increase those amounts.
"There is a place for restriction in our community but we are the ones who know where we're going to put the restrictions and how," he said.
Napranum councillor Ernest Madua said the Prime Minister's speech perpetuated old "negativity" towards local governments in Aboriginal communities.
The Napranum council has developed a 10-year plan it will submit to the State Government under the review, proposing to reopen the local tavern that was shut down when prohibition set in.
"We want our community to move ahead at the end of the day and be normal, and everyone can have the right to enjoy a nice cold beer at home or at the local tavern," Cr Madua said.
Mapoon Mayor Peter Guivarra said locals had accepted the booze limits in his community but the State Government review was still needed for those communities where current policy was an ill fit.
"Please Julia, come and work with us," he said.
"Have a look at each individual community, don't just have a blanket wholesale imposition on all the communities."
Cook MP David Kempton said the review aimed to tailor alcohol management plans to individual towns, not repeal the laws altogether.
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Speaking out: Ernest Madua, Member for Cook David Kempton, Bernard Charlie and Peter Guivarra. Picture: ANNA ROGERS