Monday, May 05, 2008

Coming To Your Living Room, Police-Enforced Alcohol-Free Zones

Many Australians agreed with alcohol bans in violence and sex-crime plagued Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. Sure, the meme went, such catch-all bans mean responsible drinkers in those communities have to go without, but if it saves a community from more alcohol related violence and sex crimes then, well, obviously it's necessary, isn't it?

But what happens when alcohol bans are proposed for communities that not Aboriginal?

That is, what if police decide that a certain part of a suburb, or street or apartment block should be made a no-go zone for booze, due to violence and disorder, but the no-go zone is filled with white, middle-class Australians instead of Aboriginals?

What then?
Drinking a glass of wine in your own home could be illegal under extreme new liquor laws that rubber-stamp the use of no-go alcohol zones in NSW.

Under the plan, drinking hotspots across the state can be labelled as "restricted alcohol areas" for up to three years under new laws that are just 10 weeks away.

A document recently published by the State Government reveals the detail of the alcohol bans outlining that areas of "chronic alcohol abuse" can be slapped with a range of restrictions.

"Restrictions will not be limited to indigenous communities," the paper reads.

Under the new laws, any area of the state can be declared a restricted alcohol zone and it applies to the sale of alcohol as well as possession and consumption in any premises - licensed or not. was still undecided as to what penalties might be imposed if someone was caught with alcohol in a banned zone.

Eviction? Enforced alcohol counselling?

Perhaps instead these no-alcohol zone insurgents will be screened for booze before they can enter their neighourhood or apartment building, or forced to endure in-home surveillance cameras.

It is undeniable that the media hysteria surrounding binge drinking and teenage alcohol abuse in recent weeks, with plenty of story meat processed by police media units, has been part of the softening up process for the implementation of alcohol-free zones that include the interiors of peoples' homes.

You can take away an Australian's right to smoke in public, to not care about seat belts, to burn off the rubbish in the back yard instead of sifting it for recyclables, to ride a train without a ticket once or twice in a year of paid for travel and to shout abuse at referees and opposition sporting teams, but if you try and take away the right to get hammered at home and pass out face down in a pizza box while missing the last five minutes of the Friday night game on the wall screen, then you're rolling down a road filled with neon billboards bearing the warning "Trouble Brewing."