The Northern Territory news Wed 14 Mar 2012
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12 NT NEWS. Wednesday, March 14, 2012. www.ntnews.com.au P U B : N T N E W S D A T E : 1 4 -M A R -2 0 1 2 P A G E : 1 2 C O L O R : C M Y K On this day IN THE TERRITORY 10 YEARSAGO: A former Labor Party press secretary last night told of having sexwith his girlfriend on the Speakers table in the Legislative Assembly. 20 YEARSAGO: The Cullen Bay Marina developmentwill go ahead this dry season. The development lease was granted last night by the Lands Minister Max Ortman. 25 YEARSAGO: TwoBrisbane investment companies have been in the Territory to look at establishing a private airport terminal in Darwin. Letters to the editor should be kept to 175 words or less. Send your letters toGPOBox 1300, Darwin, 0801, or email email@example.com You must include your name, home address or PO Box number and daytime contact number. Name and address will be withheld on request. The NT News reserves the right to edit letters. Responsibility is takenby the Editor,NTNews, GPOBox 1300, Darwin, NT, 0801 WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2012 Closuremust be justified AN INDEPENDENT judiciary is vital to democracy so, too, is scrutiny of that judiciary. Thismakes the right of themedia to sit in on court cases of the utmost importance. There are times very few and extreme when barring the press from the courtroom is justified. The case of Dale Talbotwas not one of those times. Lastmonth, hewas paraded before themedia as the poster boy of SMART,more commonly known as the drug court. Talbotwas the first offender to complete the court program successfully. Everybody cheered. Sadly, hewas back in the dock onMonday for allegedly breaching a court order. Chief Magistrate Hilary Hannam is a strong supporter of the drug court program; indeed, she is said to have taken it under herwing. Even so, she raised eyebrowswhen she banned media from sitting in on the case. Her refusal to give a reason for the decision prompts speculation that embarrassment had a lot to dowith it havingmarched poor Dale Talbot out in front of the press lastmonth, it was excruciatingly embarrassing to have him back in court thismonth. It must be accepted thatmagistrates have the power to hear cases in camera. But surely that power should be exercisedwith the greatest restraint. And surelymagistratesmust be held accountable by giving reasons for closing a court. ... and another thing THE decision to add 94 new officers to the Territory police force should be welcomed. It is recognition by the Federal Government that the Darwin detention centres increase the workload. The Commonwealth runs the centres and, therefore, should pay to police them. Letters I hope that JB Tonerwill make good on his very generous offer and donate his $100 to theHeart Foundation. SEE LETTER BELOW ATTENTION All letters and texts to the Editor relating to the current council electoral campaignmust include the authors full name and suburb for publication. WELL JB, THATS $100 TOAWORTHYCAUSE J B TONER wrote off Mr Ross Bohlins early mornings and offers $100 to a charity of my choice if I can find another politician prepared to serve his electors at 6am (Letter of the Day, NT News, March 8). I often see Peter Styles MLA walking through Anula at 6.05am writing notes about broken street lights (etc), and talking with walkers. I hope that JB Toner will make good on his very generous offer and donate his $100 to the Heart Foundation. Thank you, JB Toner. KirsteneOst, Anula CASHFORCANSSAGA EASILYREMEDIED THE Cash for Cans impasse is an example of how we Territorians are again screwed by big business in the Northern Territory. The simple act by the canners/bottlers requiring about 10 times the level of sorting of that required in SA before accepting the returns back is an act of bastardisation, the sole purpose of which is to make the system almost unworkable. The Government needs to implement two immediate actions. First, implement a system whereby the recyclers get, say, 70 per cent of their claims immediately through Government funding while the delaying tactics of the suppliers is overcome and mediation enacted, thereby ensuring the system still continues. Second, have the ACCC go through these companies like a dose of salts, checking for price gouging and collusion over the recent price increases supposedly due to this system. Taxpayers money is wasted over many things, so I for one dont mind the money being used to get a good idea going. Nice for the people of the NT to get such great support from the CLP. I wonder if the donations from these companies will enable them to gain back the votes theyll lose over their backflip, lack of support and inaction? SteveBeagley, Nakara NOGUILTWITHOUT AGUILTYMIND I HAVE nothing but respect for Magistrate Dr John Lowndes, and appreciate his reasoning powers in dismissing an assault charge in that he used the NT Criminal Code provision that there must be mental, as well as physical elements present to sustain the charge. He has brought a growing problem to the fore. The Criminal Code reflects the Latin maxim: Actus non facit nisi mens sit rea there is no guilty act without a guilty mind. For these reasons, a thinking person I know well declined to press charges of assault last weekend, totally unprovoked, when confronted physically by an aggressive, mentally unstable person, known to the victim, neighbours, police and other authorities. The victim, shocked but minimally injured, preferred instead that the police warn the perpetrator to resume medication and to use police powers to refer the person to appropriate medical and support authorities. For mentally challenged persons with behavioural problems and aggressive tendencies to live in the community, it is pretty obvious there needs to be much greater support, including funding for mental health in such circumstances. John Lowndes is to be commended for drawing attention to this community problem. He knows the consequences of leaving unchecked such behaviour on the community, but is wise and courageous enough to know who is best to deal with such a problem, which is probably more widespread than thought as placement in the community gathers pace. Public authorities, including governments, must keep pace. It is notable only the Federal Opposition has pledged massive funding of mental health. Dr TedDunstan, Karama TIMETOCLOSEMENTAL ILLNESS LOOPHOLE IF I understand correctly, from the legal precedent recently set at the Darwin Magistrates Court, it would appear that anyone who gets high on an illicit drug may commit a criminal act such as assault, or even murder, and be acquitted. I wonder why the court did not distinguish what was and was not intended by the legislation that relates to mental incapacity? There is, after all, a considerable difference between one who is actually mentally incompetent, and one whose condition is wilfully selfinflicted, and by illicit means, isnt there? Persons who indulge in illegal drugs should be required to recognise there may be consequences and that they are not relieved of: (1) a duty of care to others whom they may affect while in a drugged state, and (2) responsibility for any acts they commit while under the influence. Surely the law must be interpreted with regard to what it was meant to achieve; and not used as a loophole through which those who commit criminal acts can escape justice. HMKingRoman, Coconut Grove HOPEBILL, HILARY REST INPEACE BILL and Hilary were our lovely neighbours who were fondly known in the complex as The Clintons. They enjoyed life, socialising with their friends from home (England). Bill enjoyed creating art, listening to jazz and Hilary enjoyed the garden. So sorry to hear this awful news. RIP. Fiona&Matt, Qld The Fixer WHAT: Streetlights are out on the corner of Hibernia Crs and Brinkin Tce, Brinkin. WHOSRESPONSIBLE: PowerWater general manager of power networks, BertramBirk. CONTACT: (08) 8924 5400 DOYOUknowof something in theTerritory that needs fixing?GiveThe Fixer a call on8944 9750, email firstname.lastname@example.org followonTwitter @DamienMcCartney Email: email@example.com Text: 0428 NTNEWS Fax: 08 8981 6045 Letters: PO Box 1300, Darwin NT 0801 VOTE LAST WEEKS VOTE Your Say Is a light railway a good idea for Darwin? Is the Cash for Cans scheme a failure? To cast your vote go to www.ntnews.com.au Yes 52% No 48%