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Citywide park lands booze ban knocked back

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The State Government has rejected a request from the Adelaide City Council to ban the consumption of alcohol at all times in the park lands, after the majority of respondents to the council’s own consultation claimed the idea was “discriminatory and racist”.

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The council in December voted to ask the State Government to enforce a 24/7 alcohol ban across every park in the park lands – a step-up from the current policy implemented in 2014, which only bans the consumption of alcohol across some of Adelaide’s green belt between 8pm and 11am.

The call – led by Deputy Lord Mayor Alexander Hyde – was prompted by concerns raised by residents and business owners that the city’s south had become prone to problem drinking and disruptive behaviour stemming from a group of about 50 Aboriginal people who had gathered in the park lands late last year.

Under the proposed ban, those found drinking or possessing alcohol in the park lands could be fined up to $5000 – unless they applied for a $93 short-term liquor licence from Consumer and Business Services at least one week in advance.

City councillors Anne Moran, Mary Couros, Arman Abrahimzadeh, Simon Hou, Jessy Khera, Franz Knoll and Houssam Abiad supported Hyde’s call to implement the blanket ban at the December vote.

The ban was also backed by Liberal MP for Adelaide Rachel Sanderson, who conducted her own poll with residents in the city’s south, which showed 84.5 per cent supported a blanket alcohol ban “with special permits for residents and park users”.

InDaily in March published confidential results from a council-run consultation on the proposal.

The results showed that of the 921 people who responded to the council’s online Your Say questionnaire, 74.6 per cent said they “strongly disagreed” with implementing a 24/7-alcohol ban in the park lands.

A report summarising the findings said the “overwhelming” number of respondents felt that a 24/7 park lands dry zone was discriminatory and racist “in that it sought to address the behaviour of vulnerable Aboriginal people with significant health needs”.

“Overall, a majority of respondents perceived this proposal as discriminatory and racist stating it would disproportionally affect people experiencing homelessness as well as Indigenous groups who traditionally gather and socialise in the park lands as they have no where else to be,” the report stated.

A spokesperson from Consumer and Business Services told InDaily yesterday that the State Government had reviewed the results “in detail” and decided not to enforce the ban.

“Given the city council’s own consultation report did not support the application, and most respondents to the Council’s consultation were against the project, the Government declined to grant the application,” they said.

Hyde told InDaily he accepted the State Government’s decision but it lacked “political will”.

“It’s obviously not a matter of principle for them because the Government has accepted that dry zones work and they will use them in problem areas,” he said.

“The idea was heavily criticised by people looking at it through a very narrow lens.

“It was meant to be a tool in the kid to address overarching issues, but the Government squibbed on it.

“This was supposed to be part of a broader policy response to ensure the right supports were offered to help people.”

But Attorney-General Vickie Chapman’s office branded the ban “unworkable”.

A 24/7 dry zone trial has been extended until September next year in Parks 20 and 21 – commonly referred to as Veale Gardens and Blue Gum Park.

The Consumer and Business Services spokesperson said the extension would “give both Government and the council further time to consider the outcomes of this trial, should the council wish to pursue another application of this nature”.

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