Liz, you’ve been Deputy Mayor in a town plagued by …

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

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.

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
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.


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

NT-SA agreement hardly historic
Paul Keating, in his 1992 Redfern Speech, framed by speechwriter Don Watson, author of the somewhat dryly punitive opus, The Bush, also claimed a historic mandate, announcing success for Reconciliation “within the next decade.”
It’s in the nature of politics to claim credit for doing something, mostly spending tax revenue and living in hope that it won’t run out.
In my opinion, the “historic” issue is just a beat up or a sop.
Pass me another piece of Bicenttennial birthday cake, please.


Greens on Pine Gap: Move towards non-aligned foreign policy
The Greens, once declared an “alternative” political party, inherited the structural social and cultural goalposts, but they keep trying to kick goals through them.
Kinselas’s, one of Sydney’s long established pubs, was recently sold through the Sunsuper-backed Australian Pub Fund for $22m.
It was purchased in 2010 for $10m, but it’s been said that it would have gone for $40m had the NSW government’s lock-out laws not been enacted.
Senator Di Natale obviously supports other supply-reduction measures, but dealing with the structural wealth of Super funds and their investment in the alcohol industry is a bit more difficult than continuing to bang the party political donation route to government corruption.
It would be nice if politicians who eschew liberal social policy when it suits them, could tackle financial regulation through institutionalised investment in the alcohol industry.


They must be joking!
@ Charlie Carter. Sense is subjective. Some people laugh when others don’t and vice versa. Cheers.


They must be joking!
From reading these comments over a number of years, there are a lot of disgruntled people who have moved to Alice Springs in recent times, who appear to want the place to conform to their aspirations.
They talk about “remote” and “communities” in the abstract.
They have no idea of Mbantua.
They want what they think life should offer, according to what they read in the glossy inserts or la dolce vita on television.
When the lights go out and it’s time to cook dinner on an open fire, what then, ye dreaming?


What the open letter didn’t say
End-of-day performances by the many local musicians, occurring in the Mall is a great idea for so many obvious reasons.
I did this numerous times in the 1980s with musos and it’s not that difficult with a small PA system.
It creates paid work and gives a sense of cultural belonging that cannot really be created by other art forms.
Music speaks all languages. We had occasional problems with intoxicated persons, but violence was extremely rare.
I urge the council to look at this again, especially where inner-city gentrification is forcing musicians out and replacing “live” entertainment with grog shanties. Goodness, people might start dancing again.


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