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 considered with representatives of the traditional owners directly involved. This is our problem. It is a social problem that is destroying not only the town and its image, but also the people who are involved in this activity. The problems arising from this behaviour include violence, breakdown of tribal laws and customs, neglect of family and income spent on grog instead of on essentials to maintain a healthy life. I believe the initiative announced by the minister is a very proactive step towards addressing this problem, not only in Alice Springs but in all the major centres. At the moment, the police are called in once the problem has escalated into violence and disturbance, but this particular program aims at addressing the problem before that stage. It is difficult because we all know about this problem, but no one has really come up with a solution to date. Simply increasing the police presence will not solve it because it will come back again. The good aspect of this proposal is that it is actually trying to find a solution. Thus, we should encourage it, support it and at least give it a go. To write it off at this stage as being simply a bandaid measure or a one-off move is a nonsense. This is not to overlook the work of the many agencies that are doing an excellent job already. Certainly, the night patrols are very active and their contribution to law and order often goes unacknowledged. The sobering-up shelter provides a haven to remove drunks from the streets. However, many of these services are so busy just coping day-to-day with the demands that are made on them that they find very little time to address the ongoing nature of the problem and ask how this cycle can be arrested. Certainly, the police feel very exasperated with the continual demand for assistance when their energies perhaps should be directed to other areas of law and order. I see this program as complementing activities that exist already and, by expanding the services to those people, providing them with the assistance that may enable the cycle to be broken. The minister mentioned a rather frightening figure for cask wine sales in Alice Springs. Over 1 million litres are sold there each year. In dollar terms, that is a huge sum spent on alcohol instead of on essentials. That leads us to ask about the consequences of this level of consumption. It adds enormously to the Territorys health bill, not to mention the legal and social costs. I asked the town council how much it costs each year for its work force to clean up the Todd area, let alone other parts of the town. I refer to an article which depicts Mayor Andy McNeil with a wine cask that he had picked up from the Todd River. He stated: Basically, the river litter problems costs us $70 000 a year to clean up. We simply have to clean it up as we cannot afford that type o f image for our town, for our own sakes and the impression it leaves with visitors. It is upsetting to the Arrernte community o f Alice Springs as the river obviously has special meaning fo r them, and to see it so degraded and abused is heartbreaking. Clearly, the town council is doing the best it can, and it realises how much money is being spent on this already. The town council should support this program because it will provide hopefully a means by which it can have some impact on the problem. To give this responsibility to the town council will empower it with this responsibility. In my view, this is not a law enforcement program, but a program to address a social problem and a social need. Who better than our 3256