State wants more houses alcohol-free

Daniel Emerson

New WA Housing Minister Colin Holt wants his department to push more public housing tenants to make their homes alcohol-free, admitting he was staggered by how few took up the option.

In his first major interview since being sworn in in December, Mr Holt, whose second portfolio is Racing and Gaming, also said he wanted to decide soon whether the TAB should be sold.

In 2011, the Government changed the Liquor Control Act so private homes could be declared liquor-restricted, making it an offence to possess or consume alcohol on the property.

It was envisaged public housing tenants, in particular, would use the measure to help control unruly visitors, but only 334 of about 36,600 public houses have been declared liquor-restricted - less than one per cent.

"I was actually quite amazed that the figures, in my mind, were quite low," Mr Holt said.

He speculated that many public housing tenants did not know it was an option so he would explore whether the Department of Housing could better promote it among tenants struggling with disruptive behaviour.

"This would give people in difficult situations a way to exercise some power and control over what happens," he said.

Tenants, homeowners and the Department for Child Protection and Family Support can apply to the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor for premises to be declared liquor-restricted.

The premises must be signposted as alcohol-free and anyone who drinks there can be reported to police, who can confiscate it and fine the drinker $2000.

On privatising the TAB, Mr Holt followed predecessor Terry Waldron's position that it should be sold only if that was in the best interests of the racing industry.

He would research what a sale would mean and the sort of deal that would good for the industry.

The Nationals, the party to which Mr Holt and Mr Waldron belong, has a different position from Premier Colin Barnett, who said last year the Government would "probably" sell the TAB.