dry in the Desert

I saw a billboard on the side of the highway reminding drivers that alcohol sales were prohibited on Sundays and certain holidays.  Someone graffiti painted over the sign a big “Racist” comment.  I asked Reggie about it and he says that many Aboriginals consider the alcohol controls racist as the laws are directed towards limiting Aboriginal alcohol consumption.  I found that when you purchase alcohol in Alice Springs, your ID card is scanned and you are entered into a database.  Should you try to buy alcohol again on the same day, you will be denied.  In this way, you can only buy enough for yourself – or, if you are buying for someone else (say an Aboriginal) who has already used his daily quota, you can’t buy too much booze.

In the tourist brochure that is handed out to all tourists at the airport, there is a full page dedicated to the alcohol rules:

  • No drinking in public places (interestingly, mostly the Aboriginals drink in public places)
  • One purchase of cask wine or fortified wine per person per day
  • Sales limited from 6pm to 9pm (wow, a 3 hour buying window only!)
  • No alcohol sales on Christmas or Good Friday
  • ID screening of alcohol at point of sale

Considering that whisky and vodka sales are not affected – only cheap wine, I can see why some are unhappy with the policy.  The policy certainly only affects those who drink crap alcohol and are probably the same folks who drink it in the park, start fights and yell at each other late into the night.

It sorta feels a bit like I’m in a dry county in Texas or have flashbacked to the prohibition…


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