June 19, 2013
Today’s High Court decision to dismiss an appeal by a woman against her conviction for breaching alcohol management plan (AMP) restrictions on Palm Island has been welcomed by the State Government.
Joan Maloney had been convicted of possessing a bottle of rum and a bottle of bourbon in a public place, in breach of the island’s AMP. She argued the restrictions breached the Racial Discrimination Act.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Minister Glen Elmes said AMPs had been introduced in indigenous communities to reduce violence against women and children, and to increase social cohesion.
“This was confirmed in the decision of the High Court which was unanimously of the view that the alcohol management provisions constituted a ‘special measure’ designed to protect the residents of Palm Island from the effects of prevalent alcohol abuse and associated violence,” Mr Elmes said.
Mr Elmes said the State Government believed it had a strong case, which the Queensland Court of Appeal had upheld twice before.
However, he said the government would continue the process of working with communities to review AMPs in the indigenous communities where they are in place.
“We are determined to assist those communities which could demonstrate they had strategies in place for reducing alcohol-related abuse and violence to return to an environment of greater normality,” he said.
“Our aim is for our discrete indigenous communities to be as normal as possible, which includes improving economic sustainability and reducing current high levels of violence and public disturbance.”
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Cherbourg Council is currently reviewing its Alcohol Management Plan and consulting with community members – and the adjoining South Burnett Regional Council – about whether it should continue.
Mayor Ken Bone is on the public record as stating his opposition to the AMP continuing, saying he believed it is racist.
Other community members spoken to by southburnett.com.au appear to be more supportive of the bans, fearing violence could escalate if unlimited amounts of alcohol were allowed back into the community.
Speaking in April, Cherbourg Council CEO Warren Collins said Council had developed a survey to judge community feeling about the issue.
All Council’s workforce had already been surveyed and the next step was to take it out into the rest of the community.
“We will go door-to-door and sit down and survey everyone over the age of 18 at the residence at that time,” he said.
Council was aiming to have all the answers collated by the end of this month so that they could formulate a proposal to the State Government.