Pouring a drink along the Gibb River Road could be an easier feat for tourists this year, as leaders from four Kimberley shires call for changes to the region’s liquor restrictions to allow the bulk purchase of alcohol for visitors to remote parts of WA’s north. The Kimberley Regional Group, made up of representatives from the Shires of Broome, Derby West Kimberley, Halls Creek and Wyndham East Kimberley, submitted a letter to the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries late last month, calling for a review of liquor control conditions formed amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The restrictions were implemented Statewide for about four weeks last year under Section 31 of the Liquor Control Act, and were reimposed across the Kimberley in May to limit alcohol consumption and the risk of alcohol related violence following an increase in COVID-19-related welfare payments. The regulations cap daily liquor purchases at one carton of beer, cider or pre-mixed spirits, three bottles of wine, one litre of spirits, one litre of fortified one, or a combination of two of the four categories. While the KRG supported the reimposition of restrictions across the Kimberley, it requested exemptions for individuals and businesses holding functions, and for those living in remote areas located several hours from the nearest liquor outlet. Pastoralists and remote businesses were granted exemptions from the limits; however Kimberley residents holding weddings, birthdays or functions remain unable to purchase alcohol locally in bulk. With the upcoming dry season approaching, the group has again written to the department requesting the allowances for local event holders, as well as further exemptions for tourists travelling to remote parts of the Kimberley. KRG chairman Chris Mitchell said after struggling through the 2020 dry season, several tourism operators had raised concerns about the current limits, and how they may deter visitors from venturing up the Gibb River Road. He said the KRG was seeking a practical work-around to ensure the restrictions served their purpose, while leaving the tourism sector unaffected. “We’ve got to make sure that tourists aren’t affected by the restrictions; people going up the Gibb River Road, they want to be able to camp and have a couple of drinks,” Mr Mitchell said. “It’s really to make sure the Government amends it (Section 31) so it doesn’t affect the tourism industry, because that’s the last thing we want to do.” Mr Mitchell said it would be up to the department to decide how to best manage the exemptions, but suggested it could be as simple as customers presenting their passports or driver’s licences to prove they were genuine tourists. “It shouldn’t be that difficult; something simple,” he said. Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley president David Menzel, a member of the KRG, said it was important the exemptions were implemented before the upcoming tourist season. “We wanted it to be a temporary measure — as it came out of that (early COVID-19 cases) there seems to be a change in the view around bulk purchases and it hasn’t worked for us since then,” Mr Menzel said. “We really just need to take away any hindrance that’s going to negatively impact on our tourism.” The DLGSC said the request from the Kimberley shires meant further time was required to consider any changes and their subsequent impacts. It did not outline a date for a response to the KRG, but said it was working to publish an amended notice in the “near future”.