Pilbara mining towns saddled with booze ban

Mining towns in Western Australia's Pilbara region have been hit with stringent new liquor laws due to surging rates of disorderly conduct.

The Western Australian reports that the new laws come into effect on 8 October and affect 18 towns in the Pilbara.

The laws have been introduced in response to an upsurge in alcohol-related unruly conduct in the area, with police statistics showing drunk and disorderly behavior is double the state average.

The laws mandate that liquor can only be sold from 11am to 8pm from Monday to Saturday, and prohibit most bottle shops from selling takeaway alcohol on Sunday.

The rules also prohibit the sale of containers containing more than two litres of liquor with alcohol content of over 6% – a measure obviously targeted at Australia's distinctive brand of boxed cask wine so beloved of cash-strapped winos; and bottles of beer 750 ml or larger except in Hedland.

Health advocate and Curtin University professor Mike Daube told ABC News that the bans were a welcome measure, and "a response to a cry for help from the community" which he feels "will reduce alcohol problems in the Pilbara."

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) has referred to the regulations as "heavy-handed" and said that they will "have a detrimental effect on our employees' ability to enjoy a quality lifestyle while living and working away from home."

The Australian Hotels Association has also raised objections, with WA chief executive Bradley Woods saying restricted Sunday trading would impact hospitality and tourism operators.