Sunday Territorian 4 Apr 2010
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www.sundayterritorian.com.au Sunday Territorian, Sunday, April 4, 2010 17 P U B : N T N E W S D A T E : 4 -A P R -2 0 1 0 P A G E : 1 7 C O L O R : C M Y K PARASITES? Willy Djorl, Eddie Tipungwuti, Mary Malbbiyanga and Maggie Tipungwuti discuss Dave Tollners comments about itinerants Pollies dusting off old scare campaigns Sundayforum with NICK CALACOURAS I VE been feeling a bit nostalgic lately. It happens whenever the radio station plays music from the 80s or after I pull out the old family album. I also start to feel nostalgic when politicians start replaying their greatest hits. Its been happening a lot lately. On one of the breakfast shows last week, I saw Julia Gillard talking about WorkChoices. And the Liberals are trying their best to stir up fear over boat people. The CLPs new candidate for Solomon, Natasha Griggs, has put out a few statements regarding the threat of invasion giving us a taste of what to expect at the upcoming federal election. But theres something sad about politicians who dust off their old scare campaigns like a faded pair of bell bottoms in the hope it will become fashionable again. Its like a football player who stays at home to watch replays of his winning games. I also started to get a feeling of deja vu while surfing on Facebook this week. Social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter have added a new dimension to politics. You can get some politicians, like Labors Michael Gunner, who has stripped down and sterilised his Facebook page making it dull to the point of useless. Then there is Paul Hendersons page which is updated by his staff who pretend to be the Chief. And then theres the CLPs David Tollner who uses his page as a discussion board. He is using technology as a tool to engage voters and debate issues. But it can also bring out the uglier side of democracy. Last week he changed his Facebook status to say: David Tollner is sick to death of drunken itinerants and other bums terrorising decent citizens. The fun will be over for these parasites on the very day we get a Country Liberal government in the Territory. Despite his later rationalisations, there is a definite level of anger, if not hatred, in these comments. Attacking long-grassers is nothing new in Territory politics. Clare Martin took Labor to a second term in 2005 on the back of her practical action on antisocial behaviour. She promised to replace day and night patrols with more police powers to get tough on drunks. Labor even started shipping itinerants home as part of the Back to Country program. Itinerants are an easy target for politicians. They are extremely visible and unpopular with the electorate. And its unlikely that the itinerant population would be a strong voting block on election day, so its easy to demonise them. Clare Martin was not talking about drunken Aborigines in 2005, she just mentioned drunks and let the voters fill in the blanks. And thats what makes David Tollners Facebook comment so distressing. His language is extremely harsh and borderline violent, but he doesnt cross that line. After sounding off the dog whistle, he lets the worst comments come from the public. I hate seeing our hard earned tax money being wasted on piss. I work, I support myself. Why cant they? wrote one person. While we continue to pay them money to sit down they will keep taking it... piss off... send them back to their community, wrote another. Another person said there are lots of people out there on the same or less money as them and they can afford to live somewhere and drink at home and use their own toilets and showers ... it is their choice to live in the conditions they do on the street. Mr Tollner took no responsibility for these comments. I do not vet any of these comments. These are views that people express and they are not always my views, he said. Mr Tollner said he was not playing the race card or sounding a dog whistle to the voters. The interesting fact is that the Country Liberals seem to have a fairly comprehensive plan to deal with itinerants. Territory police take approximately 26,000 people into protective custody for public drunkenness each year. But figures suggest that it is only 300 people who make up the majority of these cases, meaning there is a small number of identifiable people who are repeatedly drunk on our streets. Under the CLPs plan, those who are picked up for public drunkenness three times in six months would be issued with a control order to seek treatment. Breaching this control order would mean a prison sentence. It sounds like the CLP care about these people and really want to help. So why is there such strong hatred? Why does a prominent member of the party call them parasites? After reading the Facebook discussion, I took a drive to talk to some of these bums who are terrorising the public. I met a foursome at East Point who proudly refer to themselves as long-grassers from way back. They had been camping in Darwin for the past three months. They had come in from their communities to shop, visit friends and, yes, drink. And while they admit some long-grassers will get drunk and cause fights, they didnt want to cause any trouble. As they laughed and joked, rattling off the names of politicians they had met over the years, it was hard to see them as parasites. There is undeniably a lot of strong feelings about this topic in our community. At last check, there were 62 comments about Mr Tollners status and a further 26 people indicated they liked what he had to say. But perhaps even Mr Tollner decided some of the comments went too far. By late Friday afternoon, he changed his status again. While I dont usually delete comments placed on my page, I have had cause to waive that rule recently because of the nature of some of the commentary that has been posted here. Territorians do feel strongly about itinerancy and politicians must be responsible enough not to encourage any vilification to grow. If our leaders are going to find a solution to our problems, perhaps they should leave the hatred and anger at the door. OPINION I think heshould get out of budgie smugglers and into board shorts Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce on the attire of his leader Tony Abbott. What they said . . Chinas an emerging power but I think the world is watching the way in which China evolves its political system including the importance of ensuring a fair trial. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on the Stern Hu trial. We express serious concern over the Australian remarks. The Australian side should respect that result and stop making such irresponsible remarks. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang. We have tried the Lara Bingle approach. We have to have a strategy that survives ... we actually think this has some longevity. Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson on revealing Australias new tourism campaign. I think weve got to read an instruction book when we get out of bed what we can do and what we cant do put a yellow vest on and all that sort of stuff. Its certainly changed since I left here. It pisses me off coming back here, to be honest. Australian Formula One driver Mark Webber. Maybe if he loses a loved one in a car accident he might regret saying that. Norm Robinson, the father of a 19-year-old man who recently died in a car accident. Cutting off a penis can be fatal. Cilacap General Hospital Director Sugeng Budi Susanto comments on reports an Indonesian teenager chopped off his penis and threw it down a well after discovering his girlfriend was to marry another man.