Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 May 1995

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Parliamentary Record 10


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 17 May 1995 and about to walk across the river in the midst of groups of 100 or 200 people who are sitting in the middle of the riverbed - totally legless! On numerous occasions, I have stopped and offered them a lift to town. When you do that, particularly with young girls, you get funny looks. I feel embarrassed to explain that it is not sensible to walk across the riverbed in what really is a picturesque part of the town because it is simply not safe. I believe all members would agree that it would be asking for trouble to put yourself in those types of situations. The annoying thing is that we are not living in New York, but in the Northern Territory. We have one of the best qualities of life available in the western world. Certainly, Alice Springs is a relaxed environment. Unfortunately, day by day, it is changing for the worse. The difficulties are such that many Aboriginal groups speak to me about how these problems may be solved, but I do not think anybody has come up with any ideas that have had a dramatic effect on the problems of public drinking and antisocial behaviour. However, that does not mean that we should turn our backs on the problem and do nothing about it. We need to have the vision and the willingness to experiment. This initiative is perhaps something of an experiment, but it may work. The Four Comers Council in Alice Springs, a group of traditional Aboriginal people, spent considerable time moving around the river talking to groups of people and trying to encourage them to return to their own communities. The Tangentyere Council has done some excellent work in this regard. It has spent a great deal of time and a fair amount of money on studies of Todd River drinkers and people who live virtually in the parks and riverbeds around Alice Springs. They do not have the answer, but they are crying out for some assistance to fix some of the problems. I endorse this idea wholeheartedly. I do not share the misgivings that the Leader of the Opposition obviously has. I believe we have to try some measures to enable some progress to occur. The litter problem in Alice Springs that is caused by empty wine casks and the like is unbelievable. When I first went to Alice Springs, one of the major problems was broken glass from wine flagons and the injuries caused by it. We banned glass flagons in the Northern Territory. From the day we did that, the time saved in casualty departments throughout the urban areas of the Northern Territory was remarkable. To this day, I occasionally meet nurses and doctors who say: Thank God glass flagons were banned. I was reaching the stage where I seemed to be spending 24 hours a day picking pieces of glass out of peoples heads. The broken glass problem has not disappeared completely, but it has certainly been reduced considerably. The comments of the member for Amhem in relation to convenience stores and alcohol outlets are relevant, but one of the problems is that people congregate around the large shopping centres, such as Coles and Woolworths, precisely because they are exactly that - convenience stores. It is logical in our society that they should sell liquor because they sell almost everything else. That is not to say that, when they go to buy their weekly groceries, families should have to walk through 150 people who are sitting on the sidewalk, some of whom are obviously still affected by alcohol consumed the night before, and exhibiting the most atrocious behavioural standards imaginable. There is no reason why we should have to walk down the street and listen to people using the foulest of language. Sometimes I despair over the way that our society has changed. 3242