Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 August 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 August 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 - Thursday 16 August 1990 ahead and did it anyway. He returned to that community 3 years later. One of the man's sons had a bakery, 1 had a garage. and 2 or 3 others had .other businesses. Obviously, they had received some help, but the heartening thing was what the father said to Bob Katter. He told him that they had beaten the grog problem. I believe that the catalyst came from people being able to own their own bit of dirt. That is what encouraged them to have a go. Once one experi ences ali tt 1 e success in stand i ng on one's own feet, that can remove the need for something which drowns the feeling of hopelessness and pointlessness. I am very interested in suggestions about possible solutions or part solutions, even if they do no more than alleviate the problem of alcohol abuse in communities for a short time. I refer to a suggestion put to me by Mr Bill Ferguson. He is a white person who is married to an Aboriginal woman. He works for the Tangentyere Counci.l inA 1 ice Spri ngs. Everybody who has been concerned with the a 1 coho 1 prob 1 em knows that Bi 11 is very concerned and very genuine. He put a suggestion to me which I have mentioned previously in this House. It may not provide a total solution but he believes that it has some possibilities and I believe that we should take it seriously. Whilst there are some drafting problems with it at present, I am hoping to introduce a private member's bill which will deal with the situation in whi ch peop 1 e are habitua lly taken into protect i ve custody. Bi 11 suggested that it apply to a person who is habitually drunk and virtually ends up in perpetual custody. However, I take the chairman's point that there is a real problem in this area. The law says that people who are drunk cannot be served liquor. The problem lies in determining that a person is drunk. You cannot simply squeeze his arm and determine that by the colour that results. It is a difficult legal matter. My suggestion applies to the person who is habitually taken into protective custody. Whilst 'habitually' will have to be defined, I am referri ng to the peop.l e who take up so much of the time of the po 1 ice in Alice Springs and, no d.oubt, in other communities. I believe that there is a need to make this habitual drunkenness an offence. It .should not be punishable by jail. There does not seem to be any point in that and, as pointed out by Mr Ferguson, jail often is no deterrent. In fact, it is often welcomed, particularly in the cold weather. in Al ice Springs, when it offers at least the prospect of a warm bed,food etc. I bel i eve that the offenceshou 1 d be pun i shab 1 e by commun i ty serv i ce orders. Mr Ferguson made this specific when he said, that, particularly in Alice Springs, many of the Aboriginal drinkers are outcasts in their bush communities. Of course, the law would have to apply just as much to you and I, Mr Speaker. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The community service to be performed under the community service orders would be, specifically, the cleaning up .of rubbish in the oHender's home community. Mr Ferguson said quite firmly that the attitude to picking up rubbish among Aboriginal people is that it is a job for women and for white people. He believes that, if people in this situation were taken back to their home communities - which in many cases ;are dry - and made to clean up rubbish, it would help to change their attitude to drink. Of course, there could be some enforcement problems. However, I am aware that Keep Australia Beautiful is working in many Aboriginal communities with Operation Clean Sweep. Perhaps that program could be 1 inked wi th th i s strategy of us i ng communi ty servi ce orders. Bi 11 Ferguson believes that, if. people were made to clean up in their communities in front 9939

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