I can’t agree that the Town Council is quite as …

Comment on No shift in council’s priorities in the river by Hal Duell.

I can’t agree that the Town Council is quite as slack and irresponsible as some would seem to suggest. While I often disagree with Council’s actions, in the case of the Todd River, I wonder what else they can do, in addition to what they are already doing, without more funds and clearer authority.
An increase in rates is never welcome, but without spending more money, how can the grasses be kept from becoming a fuel load? How can the remains of the trees burned by arsonists be removed before they add to next year’s fuel load? And how can the river’s floor be deepened, or its channels improved, so Alice is protected from a Q20 flood breaking the banks?
No one, and on my own I include the Council, wants to see the large river gums go. I suggest the inclination to protect the river is there but is being stymied by other bureaucracies. Why else is Council only allowed to enter the river with handheld tools? Rakes and a whipper snipper or two to look after the broad expanse of the Todd that Council has been given responsibility for by the NT Government? It’s almost as if someone is deliberately putting rocks in Council’s road.
The massacre of mature trees in the riverbed is down to arson, and as Mr Buxton correctly pointed out, that is not Council’s problem. The clean-up is, or could be if allowed, but the act itself is a crime and belongs to the NT Police.
Expertise can be hired. A River Warden has been suggested, but if we go down that path, I would like to see Council remain the designated authority. We have tried splitting authority in Alice before when Tangentyere Council was given authority over the Town Camps, and that just didn’t work. Splitting the Todd won’t either.
I think much of the current problem is that as a town we have turned our back on the Todd. Other than the bicycle path, the Sturt Tce. parklands and the veranda at Juicy Rump, where else is the river the focus? Even in the more than 170 activities listed in the recently released and truly admirable Youth Activities Calendar 2011/12 – summer holidays, not one activity is scheduled to take place in the Todd. Not one.

Hal Duell Also Commented

No shift in council’s priorities in the river
“He said he met with AAPA last week and they are having discussions with traditional owners.” I was in the public gallery during last Monday’s council meeting and heard Director of Technical Services, Greg Buxton, make this statement.
One question: When he said they are having discussions, did he mean the Town Council and AAPA are having discussions with the traditional owners of the different stretches of the Todd River, or did he mean that AAPA is having the discussions and relaying back to Council any decisions?
I would like to think our Town Council is a participant in any discussions with traditional owners when the discussions relate to a matter of public safety for all the residents of Alice Springs. Given the concern that the Todd River is now so shallow that a Q20 flood could break the river’s banks, I suggest these discussions would fall within the rubric of public safety.
Just asking.


Recent Comments by Hal Duell

Gallery: Friday is the day
Now that would have been an interesting question. Do the residents of Alice really want another art gallery? Or are we being sold a pup?


Bush community learning centre to close
“Batchelor Institute say that increased funding would be needed to run the Centre in 2018, they run similar programs in three Warlpiri communities where they are funded through royalties money.”
Sounds like a plan.


Cops with assault rifles footage six years old
I would like to thank CM Gunner for clarifying the issue of armed and masked TRG police being deployed on the streets of Alice over the coming summer. There won’t be any. Good!
The use of specialised equipment to assist operational officers is a good idea. The perpetrators of youth crime need to be identified.
But this begs the question of what will be done with these young criminals once identified? We can’t hold them in detention, we can’t hold the parents accountable, it seems we can’t do much of anything, really.
These plans are not very encouraging. I suppose they will keep the vigilantes off the streets, but will they keep the kids off them as well?
Perhaps these running-amok kids can be identified as coming from a specific community, and then the royalty payments going to their community can be sequestered until the damages done by them to the residents of Alice have been fully paid for?


Masked cops with assault rifles, but where are the parents?
So it’s come to this. A Tactical Response Group may be deployed to Alice to deal with youth crime. And we have no one but ourselves to blame.
Consider the alternatives.
The NT Police dare not intervene in youth crime for the simple reason that to so much as look sideways at a juvenile delinquent in action is accompanied with reams of paperwork and the high likelihood of a departmental inquiry and possible legal action.
The Town Council is not constituted to deal with policing matters. They can and do host meetings to try to reach a community consensus on what to do about children “getting ready for the summer crime spree,” but internal divisions and differing agendas make theirs a fractured voice.
And while the larger Indigenous organisations often voice their concerns, whatever they may be doing has clearly not worked in past years, and there is little to suggest that this summer will be any different.
And so now we may be seeing armed and (I assume) masked men (and women?) patrolling our streets, not to deal with organised criminals or national or international terrorists, but to deal with children. How inept are we?


Council not keen on offer of help to fight crime
One objection to Mr Alice’s comments as reported above would be that rather than a need to clean up our town to make it safe for tourists, we need to clean up our town to make it safe for residents. Accomplish that, and tourist safety will not be an issue.
Yes, there is a need to make parents accountable for their underage children, to address our irresponsible consumption of alcohol, and so much else. And perhaps chief among the “so much else” is a need to really look at what the rampaging kids are showing us.
And what might that be? I suggest that within these “gangs” that we are reading about, and no matter how fleeting and unarticulated, there will be hierarchy, loyalty and discipline.
Can we possibly provide that within a whole-of-town context, instead of a three hour talk fest going nowhere and beset with a confused hierarchy, split loyalty and little discipline?
The kids are showing us what is needed. Start there.


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