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"We are not involved in sly grogging" - Elder calls out "unfair" application of alcohol rules

Giovanni Torre -

A prominent Nyikina Mangala community leader in WA's Kimberley region says she has been unfairly targeted and branded under the region's liquor restrictions.

Rosita Shaw was driving back to Fitzroy Crossing from Broome on March 1 after picking up a passenger from Broome airport when she was stopped by police and told the vehicle was carrying slightly above the per-person allowance for liquor.

Ms Shaw told National Indigenous Times that her passenger had been sent money by relatives to purchase a few bottles of spirits in Broome for a family reunion in the Valley.

"It was not for sly grogging (re-selling alcohol in contravention of restrictions); it was for a get-together they were going to have in town. We were about two bottles over the limit because there were only two of us in the car," she said.

"I don't drink alcohol myself. The limit is two per person, and I think she had six or seven bottles.

"There were six other people who were found with alcohol but they (local media) only mentioned Zephaniah (Skinner) because he's an ex-Bulldogs player and myself, and used our photos."

Ms Shaw said the fact that only she and Mr Skinner were named and pictured in media reports made it look like they were responsible for the haul of alcohol police photographed.

"If you are one or two over the limit they take the whole lot off you, not just the excess. In the media they put a photo of a big pile of cartons and other bottles, and it makes it look like it was my alcohol and Zephaniah's, when that was everyone's alcohol, there were cars lined up behind us," she told National Indigenous Times.

"I don't know if they do it to non-Indigenous people, because there are non-Indigenous station owners who drive through Fitzroy Crossing with so much alcohol in the back of their utes and they don't get picked up. Why do they only target us Blackfellas? It is not a fair situation."

Ms Shaw was fined $1000 plus had to pay $273 in costs.

"Police said I was being fined for being the driver of the car, not the alcohol itself," she said.

The respected Fitzroy Valley Elder said she had not been asked to attend court over the matter, and felt as though she had been "thrown under the bus" with how the incident had been presented in the media.

"The media used a photo of me outside court which they had on file that was from a different event that was not related to this at all. I have not been to court for this. By using that photo of me outside court they have twisted things around," she said.

"We are not involved in sly grogging and we were only a couple of bottles over the limit. I want to clear my name."

Ms Shaw also said it had been misreported that the vehicle was her own.

"I was transporting it back to the owner at the time," she said.

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