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ATSIC leader backs maximum penalty in wine row

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 9 March 2004


The head of Australia's peak Indigenous body, ATSIC, is demanding the maximum penalty for whoever took a bottle of wine into a dry Aboriginal community in far north Queensland.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission and Queensland police are investigating the incident after sacked ministerial adviser Teresa Mullan claimed everyone on the plane, including Indigenous Affairs Minister Liddy Clark, knew there was wine onboard.

ATSIC acting chairman Lionel Quartermaine says the embarrassing situation is another reason to review the Queensland Government's Alcohol Management Plan.

Mr Quartermaine says there should be no leniency for Queensland Government staff or MPs who break their own laws.

"The law is the law," he said. "The Government makes the law and when all of a sudden it backfires on them, if we have a go at the Premier saying 'well, look this is what you need to do about the Alcohol Management Plan - you need to do it my way or these are the penalties', then let him enforce his own penalties on his own Government otherwise don't be a hypocrite," Mr Quartermaine said.

Mr Quartermaine says if a private individual was caught taking wine into a dry community, there would be no excuses and no compassion.

"How many times have Aboriginal people been booked for the same thing?" he said.

"Do we say 'that's a mistake'? Does anyone feel sorry for them? No."


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