Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003

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Parliamentary Record 11


Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005




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 - Thursday 1 May 2003 moral amnesia and loss of self-control that sees people hurt themselves and others and end up in police custody. We only have to look at the statistics that we have of the police incidents which have been tabled in the select committees interim report to the House last sittings. However, most of the victims of the antisocial behaviour attributable to long grass people in Darwin or river bed drinkers in Alice Springs are often long grass people or river bed drinkers themselves. That is not to say that such behaviour is okay; far from it. However, it is not these stinking drunks, as the member for Araluen calls them, who are responsible for the sort of crimes that are really worrying her constituents. As I understand it, in the great majority of cases it is not the stinking drunks who are responsible for the rock throwing incidents, and it is not the stinking drunks ... Ms Carney inteijecting. Ms SCRYMGOUR: I have listened to you, so why dont you just sit there and stop being the bitter, nasty little person that you have been over the last couple days, and give me the courtesy of allowing me to respond? You stood up before lunch to grandstand, now listen to other people! You do not like it when it is thrown back at you. Ms Carney: Well, get it right. Madam SPEAKER: Order! Ms SCRYMGOUR: It is not the stinking drunks who are responsible for the serious property crime that is being complained of. The stinking drunks, or most of them - and the member for Greatorex as a medical doctor should give an in-service briefing to the members of his party - are actually sick. They have an illness which is called alcoholism. It may be that we need to look at more drastic measures than have been applied to date. One of them, which the select committee and I have put on the table, is in relation to mandatory rehabilitation. It might be dealing with the cold weather outside. We are all coming down with ... Members inteijecting. Ms SCRYMGOUR: I do not deny the fact that at least I, as an elected member, recognise that in relation to the antisocial behaviour that we do have, we seem to constantly blur the whole issue of the antisocial behaviour of a lot of our people who are coming in from communities and causing a whole lot of problems in the town areas. As a member, I have certainly proposed to our government that it look at some positive measures, and the Minister for Community Development has come up with a number of initiatives. However, back to what I was talking about. Please do not try to gain traction for your look who is tough approach to rock throwing and property crime by dumping the drunks - and we all know what is really meant is Aboriginal drunks - into the same barrel as the offenders responsible for the rock throwing and serious break-ins into businesses and homes. Who are the people responsible for rock throwing and property crime? As far as I can gather, we are looking at a much younger offender. Some of them are organised into gangs, and most of them are affected by abuse of substances other than alcohol. Even if some of them drink alcohol as well, few of them are alcoholics. They are not like the Top End long grassers or the Alice Springs river bed drinkers. As far as Alice Springs is concerned, the history and demographics of this town predetermines that the majority of these offenders will be Aboriginal. There are serious and long-standing problems that have contributed to this offending. They have to do with cultural displacement, lack of place and security in the mainstream society, economy, educational failure and family dysfunction. As politicians - and I am someone who actually represents an Aboriginal electorate as well - you ought to hang your heads in shame! As politicians, we cannot pretend to talk about tackling crime in this town without acknowledging the racial and historical foundations upon which the town had been established. This does not mean the offender should be excused because of their Aboriginality, but it does not mean that you can impose a one size fits all mandatory sentencing regime imported from America, the UK or wherever else, and expect to make any impact on the causes o f the kind of criminal offending we need to address. Of course, prison sentences - and severe prison sentences at that - will feature as part of any realistic and effective crime prevention policy for the Territory. As the Attorney-General has already pointed out, the crime prevention policy put in place - and it can only be put in place under our government - is no exception. Per capita incarceration rates in the Territory are now the highest in the country. Should I repeat that? It is nothing to be proud of, but incarceration rates in the Northern Territory are the highest in the country; significantly higher than under the CLP regime. But in the longer term, the success or failure of the governments crime prevention policy will stand or fall on the extent to which reclaimable offenders - especially reclaimable young offenders - are coaxed out of their lifestyle, destructive to themselves and to those around them, 3969