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 would have to do to change the CLP opinion about that. The defining debate that has ran right through the three days of this sitting is clearly crime and crime prevention issues in Central Australia. There has been a lot said about it. I would like to make one very defining framework over what has been said over the last three days. The ultimate way in which you can show arrogance and contempt towards the people of Central Australia is to deliberately mislead them. We chucked a cat amongst the pigeons when our government took the very courageous decision to put out completely independent and very comprehensive crime figures. This is the first time this has broken the information-free zone that the Northern Territory was in under the previous government. We are now saying to the general public, the media, and to anyone else who wants to take an interest in these sort of issues: here are the best facts available, directly drawn from our police, our courts and our Correctional Services. That is unprecedented in Australia on the scale that we have done it in the Northern Territory. Every three months, year by year, there will be a new set of figures coming out; always the same figures, always audited. So, people can trust these figures as the best available information. And what have we seen from the opposition? An hysterical attempt to debunk the statistics that have been placed in those publications - statistics that have been prepared directly from the databases o f those authorities by an independent unit of statisticians in the Office of Crime Prevention; untouched by political hands. And what do they do? They want to use all the usual tricks of taking the time frames within the time series, doing all the things that statistics say that you should never do with this type of information. If you are going to talk about statistics, talk about them accurately and explain exactly where your assertions are coming from. Right up until today, we have seen some pathetic attempts - pathetic attempts - to bias the picture that these statistical series have been providing to the general public. We cannot go on any longer within our public debate on these issues, playing these cheap and unethical tricks with the information that has been put out. What that is doing is creating a climate in the community where all the benefits that can come from having accurate information about crime trends are going to be cut off by the political interests that are being played out in the debates, and public assertions that have been made during the last few days. We have to move beyond that; we have to get to the point where both the CLP and the government agree that these issues are so important to our community that we will have informed debate about it, and informed policies and analysis or criticism, if it is warranted, of the effectiveness or otherwise of those policies. We will live by the figures, our policies and the results of our policies. The CLP cannot accept the picture that comes out from our police, our courts and from corrections, that say that in some areas of crime trends there have been some early improvements. If that is so hard to accept, then perhaps you are only going to prosper if the Territory community deteriorates. We believe we should be celebrating the fact that at least some things are working. We should be combining together to make the best possible constructive policies, deliver them out into our community and support them while they are there. We are not going to stand away from the fact that we have, over the last 12 months in Alice Springs, had a 17% decrease in offences against the person, 24% decrease in property offences; 16% decrease in house break-ins, 4% decrease in business break-ins; and 19% decrease in assaults. Those are figures that are indicating that some of the things that are going on now - some of the things that have been attempted and carried out - are actually starting to bite into the crime situation in Alice Springs. Let us keep working because, even though 19% might have come off assaults, that leaves the other 80% that are still there. That is what we have been saying consistently; we have not been asserting to the community there are no crime problems. What we have been saying is that there are signs that some of our policies may be starting to alleviate some of those problems. I would also like to deal with the call by the Leader of the Opposition over the last three days to reintroduce mandatory sentencing for property crime. Well, this graph says it all. This comes straight off the police database, and we now have over two years of data to build this picture up. The red area is rising crime - this is for house break-ins, mandatory sentencing for property crime. The green area is since the Labor government has put its policies into place. So, the CLP is going to have a major problem explaining why mandatory sentencing is such a great idea when, clearly, the offences that it was designed to alleviate were rising for the 18 months prior to them losing government, when mandatory sentencing was fully in place and fully being implemented within the justice system. It was not working; the figures show it was not working. Why would you want to go back to a policy that was providing no benefit to the Territory community? We do not mind if we are exposed to areas of our policies that are not providing the effect; the figures will show that and we will have to review what we are doing. That is the way the process 3982