10 May 2023

Alcohol ban lifted for Lockhart River

| Matt Nicholls
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THIRTEEN years after alcohol was banned in Lockhart River, local residents in the Cape York community will be able to enjoy a cold beer when the town’s social club opens next month.

In a move backed by the council and government leaders, Lockhart River will have a licensed venue with strict conditions.

The Lockhart River Social Club is due to open on Wednesday, December 1 and mayor Wayne Butcher hoped it would revitalise the community.

“The canteen closed in 2008 but it hasn’t stopped alcohol coming into the community,” he said.

“For the past 13 years we have been dealing with binge drinking and sly grog. It hasn’t stopped crime in Lockhart.

“Hopefully the club will be a social hub where people can play darts or pool, have a meal and enjoy a drink in a controlled and safe environment.”

Cr Butcher said the Lockhart River Social Club had hired a business manager and had a local board of directors.

“The whole idea is around building a social environment for people to get together,” he said.

“Alcohol is just a small part of that and it’s important to teach our young people how to drink alcohol responsibly, because all they are doing now is binge drinking, especially wine.”

The mayor said prohibition had created a black market for alcohol in all Cape York communities and binge drinking had become a by-product.

“It is destructive from a health perspective and we’ve already got enough health problems on our hands,” he said.

“In the time we’ve gone without a licensed venue, all our kids that turned 18 in that time have only experienced binge drinking, rather than consuming a few drinks in a responsible manner.”

Cr Butcher said he was not sure if the social club would open its doors on December 1, with some fine tuning still to do, but hoped it would be a successful venture in time for the wet season.

“It could be a great thing for Lockhart River and we could set an example for other communities,” he said.

Lockhart River Ministerial Champion Mark Bailey said he supported the opening of the social club and the return of alcohol to the community.

“We are here to listen to the needs of the community and I have strong faith in the mayor and the council to make this a successful transition,” he said.

“There will be limits on the amount of alcohol a person can consume and it will be mid-strength, so I think there will be a lot of positives to come from it in the long run.”

Mr Bailey said he was impressed with the quality of the facility, located at the Lockhart River sports ground.

“The oval is getting resurfaced and it will end up being a great asset for Lockhart.”

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