I have got word that amendments to the Northern Territory intervention laws are already being proposed, with some changes likely to appear when the Senate sits from today. The provisions regarding limits on the amounts of alcohol able to be purchased in prescribed areas are proving to be very complex – measuring the total alcohol content of the whole purchase when someone buys a range of different beverages was always going to be messy. Whilst any improvement in the practical workability of the laws in this area are probably to be welcomed, it is impossible not to make the point that making amendments to the law less than a month after it was first passed is a pretty clear sign that they were rushed through far too quickly and without adequate scrutiny in the first place.
It is also hard to escape the conclusion that the government is likely to be acting to make this aspect of the new laws more workable not because it is inconveniencing Aboriginal people, but because it makes things too hard for retailers and puts them at risk of committing a criminal offence inadvertently. No doubt the Senate will be told these new amendments also need to be rushed through and there’s no time to consult on them either.
These processes for making laws are getting more farcical by the day. Time for an election I think.