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Smartcard 'licence to drink' ruled out in WA

Smartcard 'licence to drink' ruled out in WA

Purchasing the required database and scanning equipment and delivering ongoing system support in regional/remote areas too costly

The Western Australia government has put the kybosh on suggestions it introduced a smartcard-based “licence to drink” in the state as a means of tackling problem drinking.

According to WA Racing and Gaming Minister, Terry Waldron, a card-based system was “inappropriate” for Western Australia as providing all members of the community with access to photo ID able to be scanned by the system had been a significant, problematic and costly issue.

“Purchasing the required database and scanning equipment and delivering ongoing system support in regional/remote areas is a costly exercise,” he said in a statement.

“However, this is not to say that the circumstances won’t change in the future and we will continue to monitor progress with the card-based system in the Northern Territory, particularly if a solution to the secondary supply problem becomes evident.”

Waldron said a card-based system would only target people who had been convicted in court of an alcohol related crime, rather than target the wider group of ‘problem drinkers’.

“The inability, so far, to control secondary supply has limited the extent to which the system has been effective in preventing persons with court-imposed prohibition orders from accessing alcohol,” he said.

The announcement follows the introduction in April of a bill in the Northern Territory to ban problem drinkers from buying alcohol for three months and require every bottle-shop customer to have their driver's licence checked into a database before each purchase.

The move is similar to measures put forward by Federal Independent MP, Andrew Wilkie, to address problem poker machine gambling. This month the MP said a trial of mandatory poker machine pre-commitment technology would likely take place prior to the 2014 national introduction of the technology.

“I think [a trial] would be very helpful and genuinely inform the development of the technologies which are needed for this and to ensure they are the best technologies and to identify any unforseen consequences of these reforms,” Wilkie said at a press conference following the tabling of the Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform’s first report.

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