Hi Russell, Here’s your novel :) To give you some history …

Comment on Wanted: big fresh tourism ideas by Liz Martin.

Hi Russell,
Here’s your novel 🙂
To give you some history I am a born and bred Territorian and have lived with the grog debate and the chaos since I was a small child at Top Springs (Kalkaringi and Daguragu area) and have witnessed the many horrors of alcohol abuse and misuse in every place I have lived in the NT since. Unfortunately I have also witnessed restriction after restriction and initiative after initiative continue to fail.
Alcohol is the business of the NT Liquor Commission and NT Government (or maybe soon the Feds) although applications do come past council for comment or recommendation. I will, as I have always done, judge each such application on its own merits. I agree there are venues in this town that should / could have an injection of moral fibre. I spoke out against the sale of cheap bottled wine (ie Passion Pop) after personally witnessing the alarming increase in consumption by women and young girls in my neighbourhood. I am also currently horrified by Councils “river run stats” and my own observation at the increase in women and young girls roaming our streets at present. No-one has been able to pinpoint a reason for me and until we can identify the reason we can only guess at the solution.
I also voted against getting rid of wine casks NOT for the same reason as some other elected members but because of my concerns about the glass litter and the very real potential to use it as a weapon as I have also witnessed far too often out here. I have also lodged an objection to the granting of a liquor license in the past (although it was eventually granted) and in other instances I have supported applications – but I agree “no more take-aways”. I support outlets in each area as we have now because it is after all a legal substance and our working families and pensioners can walk there and have rights too. It also keeps drunks off the roads else they go in search of it elsewhere.
I have spent a lot of time with drinkers of all ages in my area discussing issues with them. Sometimes I am surrounded by up to a dozen drinking camps at once and I would say it is a fair bet that I, more than any other elected member, have been impacted by the resulting crime and anti-social behaviour. This includes everything from having batteries and fuel stolen to waking up with a man holding a chair over my head. To hear another candidate say I am “in denial” over this issue is nothing short of farcical.
My workplace has taken a lateral position and initiated a good neighbour policy with one of the town camps in our area and have made a concerted effort to engage with the people who reside within. I am thrilled with the results and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you elsewhere. This is not for fear that I will be attacked – but out of respect for the amazing indigenous women involved in this relationship whom I will not allow to be denigrated.
You are right in that this is a whole of community problem. I just don’t believe that Alice Springs has yet come up with a whole of community response. Different groups have produced comprehensive reports that are quite different in content, solutions and projected outcomes. Until we have input from all stakeholders using the same terms of reference I don’t believe we can come up with a whole of community solution. Whatever we do, I do not believe a blanket approach is the solution. This issue is far more complex than most people realise. I believe it needs to be a multi-pronged approach targeted at the different specific groups who grapple with grog for different reasons.
I believe if you do the crime you do the time. However I also appreciate that there are diverse issues behind our anti-social behaviours and crime most of which are grog or drug related and we need to deal with this at grass roots level. Council needs increased financial support to help it deal with issues caused primarily (not exclusively) by policy of other tiers of government. I could give you hundreds of examples of where my viewpoints have been shaped over the years but here’s a few:
Most of the youth I have spoken to out here are confused by the concept of a standard drink thinking that one can or bottle of whatever is a standard drink. That’s EDUCATION.
Another young lady I have dealt with has had several DUIs and is keen for rehabilitation however she has been told she has to go to Darwin and that she has to leave her children behind which she won’t do because she’s scared for their safety. That’s FAMILY REHABILITATION.
Another old couple lived for months under a sheet of corrugated iron on our property because their “family” took over the house and they were frightened of being there. THAT’S HOUSING.
A young man I know from an outlying community has no choice but to do his work order in Alice Springs. He has nowhere to live so sleeps rough and inevitably gets himself back into trouble again. THAT’S PROGRAMS.
And it goes on and on and on.
I have been fortunate to sit on the Alice Springs Community Action Plan the past year. This group has initiated many successful programs and initiatives including those for youth and children over the past holiday period. Like Damien Ryan I have been accused of being a “labor puppet” for accepting a position on this committee. I don’t care what political party it is – if I am given an opportunity to deal with the hard issues I will take it. For the record, this committee is apolitical, made up of a diverse membership from all persuasions and I have been both impressed and heartened by the compassion, determination and dedication of the group collectively. Somehow we need to transfer that to the wider community.
I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers. I don’t even know what some of the questions are! However, like I have said to you before, I am willing to listen and await convincing, albeit, my own experiences have also made me cynical of the whole alcohol debate.
By the way, while I could hardly be called a drinker, I do enjoy the occasional whiskey or glass of red and believe we should be promoting responsible drinking backed by appropriate programs for those who can’t or won’t drink responsibly.
Probably not quite the answer you wanted Russell but at least I am honest about my position.

Liz Martin Also Commented

Wanted: big fresh tourism ideas
Russell and Hal,
As you can imagine I am flat out at the moment, really busy with both work and the council elections, so I’ll be brief;
YES, Hal – we do need to go back to square one with a more holistic approach, there seems to be a honeymoon period after every new alcohol initiative and then its back to the normal chaos.
CAUSAL issues Russell? That’s a tall order and as a born and bred Territorian I could write a novel – but how about dispossession, inequality, the welfare mentality, homelessness, health, housing, employment, training, urban drift, gaps in some services and duplication in others for a start.
I would welcome a coffee with you both one day but in the meantime feel free to attend our “meet the candidates” night (as per advert in this paper) on Thursday 22nd March and chat to prospective Mayors and Councillors about the issues that are important to you.

Wanted: big fresh tourism ideas
Hi Hal, I get plenty of feedback from tourists without having to put a specific question into my survey and to be perfectly honest my biggest market (about 80%) is the self drive / grey nomads and they have a very communicative network, know about the restrictions and bring their own grog and some for their mates while they are at it – usually wine casks. My guess, and there are always exceptions, is that an alcohol free day would not impact this sector of tourism much at all. They are casual, not on a stringent time frame and bring it with them anyway. A hell of a lot of locals now buy bulk from interstate as well. No issue with this – but its certainly skews local consumption statistics! Likewise, I also get a hell of a lot of comments and complaints from tourists about not being able to get supplies till 2pm, let alone not at all when they are on a time frame to head north south east or west – and some of it is quite aggressive.
An alcohol free day would not impact my life at all but it would impact tourism and locals to a degree. I could be convinced of the benefits of an alcohol free day if I hadn’t witnessed first hand the Tennant Creek experience where it put more drunks on the road (travelling to Wauchope, Renner and beyond for grog) endangering not only their own lives but those of other innocent road users.
And … if I thought the drug of choice would not simply be substituted for another – I still find plenty of evidence out here for marijuana, sniffing and other drug use on a far too regular basis. We should be dealing more effectively with causal issues and not treating the symptom with bandaids or blanket measures.
And … as the spate of break-ins shows only too clearly, if people desperate for a drink really want one they’ll find it and steal it from your home and mine or any club, hotel or business they think they’ll score. I’ve had the Old Ghan Museum closed for over two weeks now repairing the building from the last break-in which I personally intercepted at 3.00am following an earlier robbery the same day.
And … is it really okay if you take one day off a week from bashing your wife and kids! Lets stop domestic and other violence happening every day!
My mind is open, I’m willing to listen and I await convincing.

Wanted: big fresh tourism ideas
Couldn’t agree more Domenico that, where tourism is concerned, it really is all about expectations and making sure we meet them. Just wanted to make some comments …
Our organisation puts out a simple eight question survey to all our visitors in July every year asking simple things like how they heard of us, why they came to Alice Springs, how they came to Alice Springs, was our museum what they expected, what do they think we can do to improve their visit etc etc.
We use these surveys for everything from gauging where to direct our limited marketing budget the following year to placements of seating around the facility. I know Brendan Heenan from the Big Four Caravan Park also actively surveys his market. I don’t know if other tourism businesses also do it. Several times over the last few years Tourism NT have left questionnaires here and had people come out and interview our visitors for statistical data. I would imagine these stats are used to identify declining and emerging markets among other things.
I am sure that the CMCA (Campervan and Motor Home Club of Australia) have done another survey since but I have a copy of one here that determined recently the three top things that their membership (62,000 grey nomads and growing at 15% per annum) look for most in a destination are 1) history and culture and 2) local markets and 3) Museums. This market sector is a major growth market and set to dominate tourism activity in regional Australia. Anything we do in the future we would be wise to heed their expectations. It is not just tourism that benefits and there are some interesting statistics on their website about what they spend on fuel, groceries, activities, repairs, medical expenses etc. Tourism really is every-ones business.
Another interesting trend working in southern and eastern regional Australia is the clustering of events so that grey nomands can prop for a few weeks, replenish their pension coffers, and enjoy several events and activities. This has been particularly successful in wine and gourmet food areas and there is absolutely no reason we can’t do that here too. We have some fantastic events here and should be cross promoting and clustering them to the self drive market.
The most common comment we get about where Alice Springs failed is the lack of indigenous cultural experiences – a Yeperenye like Festival would be a fantastic addition not only as a festival with economic benefits for tourism festival but as an socially inclusive experience that knits the diversity of our currently divided community.
The CMCA also have two great programs that I’d like to see in Alice Springs. These are the LNT (Leave No Trace) initiative for fully self contained vehicles that do not negatively impact environmentally sensitive areas, and the RV Friendly Town Scheme which has been specifically designed to assist local councils in attracting their membership to their towns.
This is something I have been working on for a while and would like to bring to fruition irrespective if I am elected for another term. Alice Springs already meets most of the requirements. Any-one who wants to know more about this organisation or these initiatives, check them out on www.cmca.net.au. I will be lobbying both Tourism NT and Tourism Central Australia to get involved in both these programs.

Recent Comments by Liz Martin

‘Historic agreement to strengthen SA-NT bond’
I doubt it will ever be (and hope it doesnt happen Tony) but if we did integrate with SA to form a new state then Darwin should be the capital and Alice the third city. So much untapped potential with both.
Besides! Adelaide who?
Federal infrastructure and services should never be hampered by state boundaries. We have had a century and more of jurisdictional inefficiencies in transport, education and health just to name a few areas of concern. Collaboration and unity is the best outcome.
How about joining ranks with WA and Qld for the Outback Way, too?

Making the most of The Rock challenge
Re the comment: “Promotion of the women’s and the road transport halls of fame and Olive Pink Botanic Garden could lift their image and be useful to extend the season at either end.”
I am just wondering what “lift” our image means and how it relates to extending the season at either end.
The National Road Transport Hall of Fame has consistently operated contrary to downward trends in tourism. The last year was our best ever with a turnover of $1.7m, 30 additional trucks were added to the collection with a nett worth of $1m. Our visitor numbers are up there in the top three attractions and the other two are taxpayer funded or assisted.
Yes, we do tend to run our own race out here. We are self funded and community based and dont have a big advertising budget. We have had to think smart, work hard and be opportunistic and lateral in our approach.
While Alice Springs may not know much about us the transport industry on a global level certainly does.
That is our bread and butter and it flows on througout the town. Tourism is our cream and yes we see lots of challenges moving forward but me thinks a few businesses in town could take a leaf out of our book.

Tourism bonanza in final CLP year
In 21 years of operation the 2015/16 year was by far the best for the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in all sectors of our business, in some areas by 40%.
A turnover of $1.7m for a self funded community based museum with a staff of three is pretty amazing.
We attribute this to many things including our volunteer workforce, our small budget marketing strategy, the trucking industry and most certainly Government marketing which increased the self drive and grey nomad sectors which are our bread and butter.
By taking operators to prospective agents / visitors we started to get back that real characters of the Outback feel.
It made us personalities, not just a destination, and they want to come visit.
It is what we had lost from the Hey Hey days!
We do the same to a much lesser degree with the trucking industry.
I have to say we have always had a great relationship with both NT Government and Alice Springs Town Council, both of whom are very tourist orientated.
Thank you Tony Mayell and Adam Giles, you both always gave me an ear when I wanted one.

Aiming for an events led tourism recovery
Great to read Jamie’s enthusiasm for the town and especially on tourism.
Having had to the opportunity to chat to him about tourism (long before he put his hand up for council) I know his enthusiasm is genuine and well grounded.
I have always said we have the potential here to be the events capital of Australia. Where else can we get such a diverse mix as trucks, desert racing, indigenous arts and beanies all of which attract an international audience.
Good to see also that Jamie is going in with an open mind.
The 4Ps (Protocol, Policy, Process and Procedure) can indeed be frustrating especially if you come from a private enterprise background as I do.
I agree there is room for improvement in several sectors that continue to frustrate the community. It is hard (but not impossible) to do that without compromising stakeholder and community consultation.
I am sad to leave council and absolutely enjoyed my time there. However, I leave with a wider appreciation of what community is all about, the uniqueness of our man made and natural environments and the culture and diversity of our populations. There really is no-where else like it in the world!
To me it has always been about roads, rates and rubbish as the core business of council – that keeps us busy enough. However, each of those come under the massive umbrella commonly called “community”.
The current Mayor and Councillors do a great job under sometimes very difficult circumstances and it will be good to see them “bolstered with new blood”.
Council has a key role to play in the social and economic well-being of the broader community. This is intrinsically linked to how council manages roads rates and rubbish.
The work council does behind the scenes is often thankless but truly commendable; particularly with community events, the arts, social services and their provision, sporting activities, youth and senior issues and the lobbying of all levels of government on all manner of issues.
I commend Jamie for taking a stand for the town and its future and know he calls Alice “home”. For that alone he will excel. I also congratulate the other candidates for putting their hands up – its all about diversity and representation of all sectors of the community so I wish you all well.
I look forward to reading all your profiles as we near election day. I am available if any would like a chat notwithstanding the confidential stuff!
And Yes, the complexities of confidential section will open the eyes of any new councillor – it certainly did mine.
As an old ex-councillor friend (from Darwin), once told me, being on council is like working a five step program …
1 x W – Well-being (of the community).
2 x Cs – Commitment and Consultation.
3 x Rs – Roads Rates and Rubbish.
4 x Ps – Protocol, Policy, Process and Procedure.
5 x Fs – Facilities, Faculties, Fun and Forethought for the – Future.

Uranium mining would help to save Alice: Businessmen
What is unfair to them about them telling lies about my place, Richard Bentley? I would assume they can validate their opinions, objectives and anticipated outcomes without messing all over two community based organisations, immediately alienating a sector of the community they are proposing to assist!
That’s a failure in 101 Community Inclusion! I have an opinion on water mitigation and nuclear power and uranium mining but I didn’t even mention those! I mentioned the lies about the Hall of Fame, and they are lies – come see for yourself if you don’t want to take my word for it.
We are proud of our achievements out here. In case you didn’t know part of the uranium (Pamela Angela) site is (was) actually on our land, so we are well across the issues.

Be Sociable, Share!