Thanks for your time, Liz. It’d be easy to get …

Comment on Wanted: big fresh tourism ideas by Russell Guy.

Thanks for your time, Liz. It’d be easy to get on the wrong side of you at a time like this, but thanks for going on the record about the raft of issues that cause the alcohol-related domestic violence which, among others, prompted my request to you.
However, I note that take-away alcohol sales free day/s have never been trialled in Alice Springs and that in your haste to move along, it needs to be tabled as an appropriate response.
The statistical evidence and experience that I presented surrounding Thirsty Thursday is substantial basis for responsible consideration of such a measure in Alice Springs.
Good luck with the novel.

Russell Guy Also Commented

Wanted: big fresh tourism ideas
Liz, thanks very much for your considered reply, including history. I worked for CAAMA from 1981 before we moved to Little Sisters Town Camp. I place it on the record without going into the medical detail.
Numerous people note the failure of “restriction after restriction.” Point: Take-away alcohol sales free days have never been trialled in Alice Springs, despite the ongoing deaths from excessive alcohol consumption. It was successful in this at Tennant Creek. I lived it and I’ve given the stats repeatedly, including the preventable loss of close young friends from misadventure through alcohol abuse.
It can be successful here for numerous reasons, primarily, assisting the Police so that they may concentrate more on other areas, for which many of those same nay-sayers accuse them of lacking resource. Take-away is a bottomless pit. Let’s plug it, instead of throwing more billions of dollars into it.
You and I agree that this is a whole of community problem: NT Liquor Commission, NTG and the Feds will respond if the community owns it and calls for assistance. The ASTC election needs to reflect that this week. This is responsible leadership.
You say “no more take-aways,” but then “no one has been able to pinpoint” a reason for alcohol-related anti-social behaviour. Respected community-based bodies like PAAC are calling for one take-away alcohol free day per week and if you’ve read that CAAC ASTP submission, you’d have seen that what they are saying amounts to the same thing, but the pin-prick appears to be falling on deaf ears, except perhaps for the Senate Standing Committee’s inquiry into Stronger Futures legislation, which the CLP is rumoured to be in favour of dismantling.
Waiting for “input for stakeholders” in the grog debate in this town is a pipe-dream. It ain’t gonna happen if the last 30 years is anything to go by. You’ve said as much in the opening chapter of your novel.
I’ve been advocating a multi-pronged approach from the word “go” as has Domenico Pecorari in these posts. There are capable, existing centres and rehabilitative programs standing by. I’ve been informed by medical professionals in Alice that this is correct. Housing, as you identify, is a problem.
It’s time to get pragmatic about housing, but welfare reform won’t be successful until alcohol reform is tackled. This is, at least, an attempt to answer the core areas associated with responsible drinking and restore some order to chaos.
I hope your “Meet the Candidate” sausage sizzle goes well. You’re a mover and shaker and a person who values trying to stay out of the smearing campaing – I respect that.
This week, the survival of Alice desperately needs a show of support for take-away alcohol free days to be trialled and evaluated over a twelve month period.
I spoke to two candidates, both new, who I ran into in the Mall yesterday and they support alcohol reform as well as law and order.

Wanted: big fresh tourism ideas
Liz, you’ve been Deputy Mayor in a town plagued by violence and excessive alcohol consumption where the two pubs sell take-away alcohol seven days a week, primarily to the more impoverished and disadvantaged members of our community. It’s a continuous top-up, drip feed whereby they are hooked to the cheap cask wine and beer.
Take-away alcohol free day/s would provide a circuit breaker for everyone and allow some meaningful compassionate intervention. Your campaign message spruiks “equality” and you are on record as acknowledging this disadvantage by many social indicators, all of which impact the social gradient in a town like Alice. Last year, it was reported that the two political parties received campaign donations from the liquor industry.
What is your position on take-away alcohol restrictions? Why haven’t you publicly acknowledged alcohol as an election issue? What are you going to do about it? I’m not real keen in attending any more sausage sizzle talk-fests, but I’d appreciate your answers to these questions.

Wanted: big fresh tourism ideas
Liz, finally after what feels like six weeks of advocating for take-away alcohol free days – plural – a candidate says that they have an open mind and are willing to listen, albeit, await convincing. I have waited a long time for this, but I’m cynical because of my age and experience, so forgive me if I seem wary of further betrayal.
I, too, lived in Tennant during some of the years of Thirsty Thursday (TT) and lost many dear friends with whom I’d worked and grown. I’m getting weary of presenting these stats, but the consumption of pure alcohol at the time of TT, reduced by 20%. When the one day restriction was lifted in 2006, it increased by 7.5% and anti-social stats continued to increase (PAAC Senate Standing Committee submission 6/2/12) to the chagrin of local police officers whom I knew.
I asked for and familiarised myself with these and many other research stats on what I see as the necessity of alcohol reform in Australia. There’s been none, to my knowledge, about road accident increase in the Barkly Region as a result of TT, but I used to watch people loading alcohol into the boot of their cars at Threeways and I’m not discounting what you suggest, but statistically this can be reduced by restricting the supply Territory-wide. Stats reveal that 55% of traffic accidents in the NT are attributable to high-risk consumption.
Alcohol is, without doubt, a causal factor, among others, in the domestic violence you mention and is associated with, not excluded by marijuana use. I would be interested if you enlarged on what you as other “causal issues”.
The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC, Alice Springs Town Plan, 7/12/09) notes that “a significant proportion of Aboriginal ‘problem drinkers’ in Alice Springs want to achieve safe drinking or sobriety and are seeking support to do so.” Take-away alcohol sales free days would assist them, their families and the community.
I suggest that it would impact the situation in a big way if given a trial. We have a large, complex problem and it requires a large multi-tasked approach to a solution. Many are in denial, but you at least have come out in the open. The benefits of consecutive take-away sales free days per week, would be an enormous breath of fresh air. Start with Sunday and move into the week.
Finally, without going into more stats (see Central Australia is perishing for a drink), can I add that the cost of maintaining the status quo is poor management of taxpayer funds. That, of course, is a gross understatement when you consider the economic stats, excluding the preventable human toll.
The re-direction of the multi-million dollar annual cost to the community in alcohol abuse could be directed into life-sustaining areas that support the re-growth of town planning that Domenico Pecorari speaks of in his “bottom-up” model.

Recent Comments by Russell Guy

Man in a hurry, surrounded by people who were not
It was about a quarter of a century ago – how time flies – a few years before I undertook a postgraduate Master of Social Science degree in sociology, anthropology and cross-cultural psychology (JCU, 2000), published the core of my thesis as BAPTISED AMONG CROCODILES: A History of the Daintree Aboriginal Mission 1940-1962 (Boolarong Press, Brisbane).
And it was before I did a further five years, primarily in alcohol dependency mentoring at a remote Central Australian community, this after 15 years of working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations around the country, mainly producing recordings and events for indigenous dance bands, that I thought that Alice Springs would become a kind of New York.
People from all over the US move to the Big Apple in search of greater opportunity for their dreams and aspirations and it’s no different among the Indigenous of Central Australia.
But I wonder if local town planners have factored this movement into their vision for the future?
Not so long ago, the too-often criticised police were talking about moving youth back to their communities, but the word is out that the purposelessness and abuse associated with these desert satellites is causing enough concern to render assisted passage to somewhere else.
These problems were first mooted, to my knowledge, by R M Williams in the 1930s who noted that the desert tribes were on a collision course with liberal alcohol supply.
Fast forward to the Gunner Government acting on most of the Riley Report recommendations (with the notable exception of banning Sunday takeaway).
It’s no coincidence that one of the most troubled neighbourhoods in Tennant Creek, where Sunday takeaway is currently under emergency extension, is referred to as “the Bronx.”
It’s early days in the implementation of various supply reduction measures, but 40 years of critical mass in the alcohol supply infrastructure cannot be exonerated for the Shakespearean tragedy of progressive Western values.
Beyond the alcohol plague, assuming that it will be reeled in, governments will have to give thought to how remote community families and former alcoholics will be accommodated in towns like Alice Springs, with attendant social support and employment opportunity.
The concept of safe or dry, no grog houses or Mandatory Rehabilitation Centres, will need to be extended to entire neighbourhoods, rising above the refugee or migrant settlements of yore.
This type of housing estate requires considerable financing, planning and input if it is to be built and assisted to succeed above the expectations of many of those who are complicit in causing the tragedy of lost generations and future opportunity.
It will transform the current vision of Alice Springs, but first of all, it needs to be put on the drawing board.
Ursula Le Guin, the novelist who passed away a couple of months ago, recently said: “I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope.
“We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.”
Tracker was one. Surely, we can learn from what defeated his vision or the Enlightenment has bitten the dust.

Man in a hurry, surrounded by people who were not
I spoke to Tracker a few times during the Robert Tickner period. One of his more infamous quotes was referring to Aboriginal people as a farm for whitefellers to manage and be well paid for producing the current tragedy.
Quite a few informed commentators are now talking about assisting those who want to move from remote communities into towns where employment and education opportunities either exist or could be set up to end the hopelessness and various forms of abuse that can go with a purposeless life on a remote community.
More than one is talking about overcrowded housing as a major cause of dysfunction. I’m stating the obvious.
If Alice was to be a centre for remote community refugees to retrain, restart and realise a future, who would build the houses and where would they be built?
Who would pay the electricity bills while the transition is fostered?
Would Tangentyere and other organisations be resourced to manage this situation?
Could it even be done?
Tracker seemed to think so.
The Federal Government did it to resettle migrants.
I recall Bob Beadman saying a couple of years ago that alcoholism would bankrupt the NT, or words to that affect and finally, we have a floor price, but in moving from generational alcoholism to the provision of basic housing, it appears that there are too many hard questions not being asked or acted upon.

Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill: it’s not over yet
@ Fiona: There’s some kind of irony in appealing for symbolic unity under an Aboriginal flag when Kittles, an Aboriginal-owned company is continuously trashed by children of Native Title holders.
It suggests that there’s some other law at work and that trying to construct a body of politically-inspired law has limited chances of changing anything.
Whilst I don’t doubt the sincerity of your attempt to unify, I make the suggestion that the practical method of law enforcement, alcohol supply reduction and housing in Alice Springs for those who may wish to leave remote communities for education and employment opportunities in town has better prospects than adding to the divisions on the hill.

Chamber of Commerce in a grog Catch 22
@ Paul Parker, posted 1st March, 2018 at 6:49am: How appropriate was ‘Sit-down money’ and the ‘Two kilometer law’, Paul?
Do you absolve the critical mass of take-away outlets in the 5km radius of the CBD as having any impact on the situation you describe?
Generational alcoholism has something to do with the present historical ennui and the police have stated that they can’t arrest their way out of it, so we’ll have to agree to disagree on failures to deal appropriately with intoxication and disturbing the peace.

Bush foods: how can wild harvesters get a piece of the pie?
Good one.

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