An interesting appeal case which recently came before the High Court in relation to whether the restriction on the purchase and possession of alcohol in Northern Queensland communities was in breach of racial discrimination laws, was dismissed last week.

The appellant, an indigenous Queensland resident, Joan Maloney, argued that the present laws which restrict residents of several Northern Queensland communities from purchasing or possessing alcohol, breached section 10 of the Racial Discrimination Act, as the restrictions were aimed towards indigenous residents and these restrictions were in direct contrast with the rights afforded to nearly all non-indigenous Australians.

Ms Maloney also argued that the laws breached the United Nations and federal racial discrimination laws.

However the High Court dismissed the appeal and maintained that the laws were not invalid by reason of inconsistency, and that section 10 did not apply to the laws, because the laws were classed as ‘special measure’, an exception under section 8 of the Act.

The High Court unanimously agreed with the legality of the alcohol management laws, which were introduced as a special measure to reduce violence against women and children, and to increase social cohesion within communities.

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