Prohibition era: NT grog bans prime Mount Isa’s ‘sin city’ reputation

Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Leader Robbie Katter is convinced widespread alcohol bans across the Northern Territory will see Queensland border communities inundated with people looking to subvert the tightened restrictions, further embellishing Mount Isa’s dubious “sin city” reputation.

Feb 09, 2023, updated Feb 09, 2023
Katter's Australian Party (KAP) MP Rob Katter gestures during a press conference at Queensland Parliament House. (Photo: AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Katter's Australian Party (KAP) MP Rob Katter gestures during a press conference at Queensland Parliament House. (Photo: AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Queensland-Northern Territory (NT) border towns such as Camooweal, Urandangi, Dajarra and Mount Isa will be in the firing line of its neighbour’s dysfunction if the NT Government’s backflip on prohibition era type alcohol bans go ahead, according to Katter.

The region’s local Traegar MP, who sits in the Queensland Parliament, said he had written to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Attorney-General Shannan Fentiman calling for more protection for the vulnerable communities in his electorate.

Top of his list is the trial of a banned alcohol register and proof of residency required to purchase alcohol to save cities like Mount Isa, currently wracked with elevated crime rates and alcohol-fuelled disruption, from further deterioration.

“Given the exposure Mount Isa and the other small townships have to the problems in the Territory, implementing these measures is critical,” Katter said.

“We already have enough on our plates here, a crime crisis that is destroying our ‘country town’ feel and a housing crisis just to name a few – we simply cannot afford to be the overflow destination for all the dysfunction of the NT.”

Katter said the anxiety levels of residents and business owners had already started to rise when alcohol purchase limits were introduced in Alice Springs last month following high-level emergency intervention to clamp down on violence and lawlessness.

He said said this week’s announcement the NT would reinstate wide-spread alcohol bans would “open the floodgates to itinerants” and send Mount Isa into a spiral of anti-social behaviour, violence and crime.

He said it was well-known that Mount Isa, which sits about 200km from the NT border and has no alcohol restrictions, was routinely host to inter-state visitors, earning it the reputation of “sin city”.

According to the ABC, a privately run “bush bus” regularly transports people from Alice Springs and Tennant Creek to the Leichhardt River riverbed, attracting a significant population of Indigenous people who use the location in Mount Isa as a campsite.

“Alcohol bans are not a long-term or stand-alone solution, but they have their place and are essential in times of crisis to pull things back into order,” Katter said.

“Therefore, the announcement from the NT Government is welcome but there has been a deafening silence from both the Federal and State Labor Governments as to how these decisions are going to affect Queensland and particularly the north west.

“The obvious result of an alcohol ban is people are going to go elsewhere to get what they want.”


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