Aurukun Shire Council has been forced to back down from Mayor Derek Walpo push for the reopening of plans for a “trial alcohol” event, amid a growing backlash from the community, concerned the grog event would open the flood gates for grog to flow back into the community.
Councellors were so concerned, that they wrote to deputy premier Jacki Trad. The letter said “We as commissioners and councillors do not support any event that will see alcohol available in any form in Aurukun … until our community members can show they are responsible and mature enough to resolve the continued issues created by alcohol.
The decision was a slap in the face for Mayor Derik Walpo, who campaigned hard saying that prohibition is not working, and was behind the bid to re-open the council-owned Three Rivers Tavern to a maximum of 200 people for a three-hour event on a Saturday afternoon.
He believed the trial event would have been a way for the town of 1200 to learn to drink responsibly, saying that similar controlled events in other indigenous communities have been successful.
The councillors said the community has more pressing issues that need to be fixed. Domestic violence, children not attending school and assaults, to name just a few — we cannot believe that time and money is even going into this topic of alcohol when there is so much other work that needs to be done in Aurukun,” they said.
Locals have also expressed concerns that the reintroduction of alcohol could lead to a resurgence in drunken brawling in the street and resurgence in domestic violence.
The bigger problem for Mayor Derek Walpo is how to stop the underground sly grog market where a can of beer sells for $10 and a 700m bottle of rum $350.
Before the blanket ban on alcohol, the Three Rivers Tavern, which has been kept in good condition, sold $2.3 million in beer a year, with half of the revenue going back to the council.