Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (02 October 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (02 October 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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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 - Tuesday 2 October 1990 referred to the Sess i ona 1 Commi ttee on the Use and Abuse of A 1 coho 1 by the Community. Mr COLLINS (Sadadeen): Mr Speaker, I listened with interest to some of the points that the member for MacDonnell made in his contribution to this debate. I am pleased to note that he has noticed what I have mentioned a number of times since this law was introduced first in 1983, which is that the incidence of homicides in the Todd River has dropped considerably following the introduction of the 2 km law. My interpretation of that was along the lines that Alice Springs is surrounded by some 13 different tribal groups who, before the white man came - and, no doubt, for a long time after the wh i te man came - were not known to mi x wi th one another. In fact, in the tri ba 1 days, I understand that it was taboo even to 1 earn a word of another tribe's language. Inter-tribal bitterness and fighting was suppressed, but it would flare up under the stimulus of alcohol. There were so many homicides in the Todd River that one became almost blase about how many there wou 1 d be each week. A homi c ide mi ght rate 2 or 3 1 i nes at page 17 of the Centralian Adv.ocate. It is a terrible state of affairs when the community becomes blase about people being murdered. I put it down very much to the fact that the various tribal groups were mixing with one another or drinking close to one another. The old antagonisms would flare up and they would go at it hammer and tongs with the result that people would be killed. I do not say that there are not people being injured in Alice Springs now as a result of the abuse of alcohol, but it tends to occur more among people of the same tribe. It would seem to me that, in general, the extent of the fi ght i ng and i nj uri es is not as grea,t. Plenty of people go into the hospital. Unfortunately, almost every night, it is 1 i ke a batt 1 eground there. That used to be the case on pay nights, but it seems to have become worse from what one hears from peop 1 e at the hospital. As I have said before, one of the good effects of the 2 km law is the tendency to push the various tribal groups further away or into the town camps for their particular tribe. I know that has created some problems for the town camps and that the Tangentyere Council would very much 1 i ke to exclude the troublemakers. Often, it is the dregs of their society who have come into town because, as a result of their behaviour, they are not accepted in their own tribal areas. They come into town and try to get into the Tangentyere camps. That has created problems there. We would be foolish if we did not admit that that has happened. However, by the same token, the actual number of homicides resulting from grog related violence and inter-tribal fighting have been reduced significantly. When I look back to 1983, I can see very clearly in my mind's eye the Alice Springs Town Council lawns as they were every day. They would end up in a filthy, littered state. I recall vividly the tension in the town at that time. I well remember that a lady, for whom I have a great regard, had a shop opposite the town council chambers. On numerous occasions, she contacted me to say that an Aboriginal man was in the area and was abusing people with obscene language. Such behaviour was creating tensions in the town. I recall also that, when my office was near the Flynn Church, I heard a ruckus one day outside in Todd Street. I went out to see what was happening. An Aboriginal man was trying to belt a woman over the head with a brown 26 oz bottle. Fortunately, he missed. He was obviously very much under the weather. However, the glass from the smashed bottle was spread across the street. 10 685