ID scanner making it harder to buy alcohol
A PROPOSAL by the Western Australian government could make it a lot harder for some Aussies to buy alcohol with the introduction of an ID scanner in bottle shops.
The new scanning system would let cashiers know if the customer is a part of the Banned Drinkers Register, which features people who have been convicted of drink-driving or a violent offence.
If a person's ID is scanned and a red light comes up on the machine, the cashier will know they are on the register and the customer will be denied the sale of alcohol and directed rehabilitation services.
The trial will run for 12 months at a liquor store in Pilbara, located in the north of Western Australia.
The Pilbara region includes regions such as Port Hedland, Karratha, Onslow, Tom Price, Newman and Paraburdoo.
Racing and Gaming minister Paul Papalia told reporters they are trying to create a system that targets people who have problems with drinking while also not being a disadvantage to those that don't.
"I'm trying to identify a better methodology for identifying the people who have the problem and targeting them with the resources of government to change their behaviour, and at the same time remove the onerous obligations on the rest of the community who don't have an alcohol problem," he said.
Anyone visiting the liquor store during the trial period will be required to provide ID in order to be checked against the Banned Drinkers Register.
The retailer will not receive information about what the customer is on the register for, only if they are on the database or not.
The only way for people to be removed from the database is to prove they are getting help from professional services.
While the trial may look promising, there are concerns that the restrictions will cause more problems than they solve.
Opposition spokesman for Racing and Gaming John McGrath said rolling out a register across WA would be expensive and impinge on civil rights.
"People who want to drink will always find a way to get the alcohol," he told reporters on Sunday.
"If they're on a banned register, I think a lot of these people would find a way."
There was particular concern that this system would result in domestic violence offenders pressuring or forcing their partners to buy them alcohol.
Mr McGrath suggested that a better use for the funding would be to refine the government's welfare card scheme that, according to him, a lot of the people targeted by the scanner probably rely on.
"I would think that most of the people who are in this category of alcohol-related violence and being susceptible to alcohol would probably be on welfare cards."
The cost of the 12-month trial is $400,000 but if it is successful there could be plans for it to be rolled out across the state.
- With AAP