Besieged businessman stands for zero tolerance but also calls for more ‘joy and laughter’

Candidate for councillor backs Eli Melky for mayor

 

KIERAN FINNANE talks to leading light from Action for Alice lobby

 

 

“It’s hard to stay positive,” says businessman Geoff Booth, manager and owner (with partners) of two licensed venues that have experienced a shocking run of break-ins. Town & Country, a bistro in the mall, was broken into in the early hours of this morning, twice. Club Eastside was the target of a ram raid in the wee hours of March 8, while Town & Country, also had a rock through the window, just a few hours later.

On that night Mr Booth (pictured at left with bollard protecting the club’s entrance) was called into Club Eastside at 1am, went home at 3.30, was called into Town & Country at 4.30, then went home at 5.45. In neither case did the police attend – the night of March 7 and 8, as we know, was a busy one in Alice, for all the wrong reasons.

Town & Country was attacked again in the early hours of March 11. On all occasions thieves took a few bottles of liquor and some RTDs – of insignificant value alongside the damage they caused .

A ram raid of a few weeks ago (pictured below) caused $10,000 worth of damage to the club entrance, prompting the installation of the red bollard. Five more bollards have now been installed to protect the front wall of the club. The raiders used stolen cars, says Mr Booth.

Last year’s damage bill for both venues came to $50,000. To date this year Mr Booth has had to spend $28,000.

By anyone’s standards, these are intolerable conditions in which to do business. But Mr Booth, who came to town 13 years ago as a golf professional to work at the Golf Club, remains resilient. He has put his hand up to run for council. A leading figure in last year’s Action for Alice campaign, his views on law and order are what you would expect: he stands for zero tolerance; he considers the outgoing council and Mayor Damien Ryan have failed the community on this issue; temporary solutions like Operation Thresher are only “bandaid solutions and short-term fixes if a few weeks later everything is turned upside down again”, he says; council has to make every possible effort to lobby the NT and Australian Governments for a longer term strategy and resourcing.

Yet he admits to not having all the answers and understands the importance of listening to different groups, having “everyone at the table”. This could be suspected to be empty rhetoric but one of my first contacts with Mr Booth was in the context of a small discussion group thinking about how urban design could contribute to a better and safer experience in town. Mr Booth wasn’t an obvious fit in this context but he was there, listening and contributing.

I ask him about the often polarised debate around social issues in Alice.

He suggests the divisions have their roots in a loss of direction for the town.

“We are not a very proud town right now. We can’t sell ourselves because we don’t really know who we are. We can no longer hang our future on The Rock. They have direct flights from Sydney now and their own nine-hole golf course, they don’t need us.

“We have terrible law and order issues, the rubbish around the place is disgusting.

“I want the town to stand up and be proud of who we are and what we’ve got.”

What would it take?

Beyond tough policing, a youth curfew for under 18-year-olds and maintaining high standards in a clean and tidy town, he talks of the importance of a mood change:

“Let’s get some joy and laughter back into the place!”

He suggests a big street party in the mall, no alcohol, full of kids, non-profit organisations selling food, local bands.

“Do this a few times a year!

“Have 20 night-time markets a year!

“If the culture changes, business will get its confidence back.”

We need to work on local economic development: “Take a deeper look at Indigenous cultural tourism, see if there are areas where that can grow.”

There are “tough challenges” ahead for tourism operators, “probably another two years of pain”: “Work closely with them, make sure our voice is strong when we need to lobby on the issues that affect them.”

The best person to do this on behalf of council and the town is Eli Melky, says Mr Booth.

He also likes Steve Brown, indeed he likes all Mayor Damien Ryan’s challengers, but “it’s not a personal thing”: “Eli is very passionate about the town, he’s had 12 months of experience on council, he understands the processes and policies, it would be good to have some continuity.

“Damien Ryan has done a fair job in certain areas, he carries the role of dignitary extremely well but on other issues I believe he has let the town down.”

On a future council’s position in the liquor debate, Mr Booth is not quite as predictable as you might expect: he would be “quite happy” about the introduction of a floor price – that would be “a move in the right direction”.

But he characterises restrictions on take-away trading hours as “prohibition” and he is 100% against them.

He agrees that consumption in Alice – currently around twice the national average – needs to come down. When I ask him how, he talks about social clubs on Aboriginal communities, starting with the Growth Towns where they would make up part of the picture of a normalised town. Their operation could be tied in with alcohol education programs and social bargains, such as “no work, no club”: “Kids would see their parents treating alcohol responsibly and the profits from the club could be put into developing facilities for the towns.”

I put to him that non-Aboriginal drinking in the NT is also significantly higher than the national average  – 52% higher is the figure quoted by researcher Professor Denis Gray.  Social clubs on communities would do nothing to address that.

He’s not aware of this statistic but “if it’s one and half times, that’s quite strong,” he concedes. He can see why it might be the case – a lot of social gatherings and barbecues, given the relative dearth of other entertainments, lead to a lot of drinking – but he doesn’t suggest the need for any action.

On improved management of the Todd and Charles Rivers, he’s “fully behind” it.

“I love the Todd. It’s very unique and should be treated with the respect needed to show we care about its dignity.”

On tree protection, it’s ‘yes’ to what it takes to protect street trees, but ‘hands off’ trees on private property.

On graffiti removal, he says property owners, whether business or  residential, are responsible for looking after their property and therefore for graffiti removal. And council has it about right if it provides assistance when a property is repeatedly targeted.

On the CBD revitalisation, he’s not confident that the current projects – opening the northern end of the mall to traffic and the redevelopment of Parsons Street – will have a big impact if the social mood and evening activities don’t change.

That’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. The mall needs “lots of restaurants, bars and cafes”.  He also likes the idea of casual vendors, for instance of coffee, icecream, pancakes, flowers – whatever it takes to bring people into the area, especially after hours. But to get business to the point of confidence where they will make that investment, anti-social behaviour needs to be dealt with.

Daytime, another issue in the CBD is carparking: “People are always complaining to me about it.” He wants to identify more carparking options but would also like to investigate the possibilities of improved public transport.

If elected, he would want also to scrutinise rates and charges, such as dump fees, to see whether  they can be held at current levels or even decreased.

Be Sociable, Share!

21 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Janet Brown
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Murray said he got them from you.

    View Comment
  2. Bob Durnan
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    You are both dead right, Stevie and Jan. It’s time for the Action Heroes and Little Hitlers. Send in the Clowns. I’ve taken your advice to heart and ordered myself a new clown suit and truncheon, a tazer and a magic wand. You take the high road, I’ll defend my house. Please ask Murray where he got that last lot of wacky pills. They are working so well.

    View Comment
  3. Steve Brown
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Bob your comment can only described as completely ridiculous. It’s time that you understood a few home truths about your own contribution to what we see happening around us. Now Bob I’m a bloke on the outside of the policy makers, on the outside of our extremely inept government. I’m a bloke that with the backing of a very large group of locals is yelling in the ear of those organisations that are responsible for the policy decision that have taken us so far down the path of destruction. I am yelling in their collective ear WE ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY! You on the other hand Bob have boasted of your 30 year association with these policies and their implementation you are sitting their on your proverbial backside ridiculing those who have the actual audacity to do something. “Action” Bob!
    Imagine that “doing something”! Now I am going to suggest that you personally do just that! I’m going to suggest that you take the time to look around you, take a walk speak to the mums an dads who are trying to make their lives here, talk to the people in the camps ask them if they feel safe, ask our businesses how it’s all going.
    You get my drift Bob? Their answers will leave you in absolutely no doubt that the last 30 years of policy administration in the centre has been a complete and utter devastating, disgusting, failure! A failure that has wrought horror, misery, dislocation, division, neglect, homelessness, lawlessness on our community. It has cost and wasted countless lives! Yet people such as yourself have the sheer bloody audacity to and offer “further advice” on where we should be going, without a single glance behind you! You get it yet Bob?? You and yours are directly responsible for that mess! You’ve had 30 years of opportunity, “look what you’ve done”! Do us all a favour, Bob. Stop trying, put your feet up and give someone else a go!

    View Comment
  4. Janet Brown
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Bob get help. Plenty of good places here in Alice. A reoccurring appointment to relationships Australia or holy oak. May help you with your delusions and get you back in the real world. And I say this out of paternal caring.

    View Comment
  5. Bob Durnan
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    An epitaph: Steve Brown, the Last Action Hero.
    “In order to save his town, he believed he first had to destroy it.”
    First, he would invite everybody who felt inclined to do so to drive early and drive free: Why should a minority who would risk driving over their kids and slaughtering defenceless pensioners get in the way of free-wheeling funsters enjoying their inalienable rights to drive as and where and when they themselves saw fit?
    His argument was long and complicated but there was an underlying principle to it all. You cannot take the wellbeing of the weak, the kids, the victims, the taxpayers, the service providers or the community into account when free individualistic citizens are exercising their God-given narcissistic rights to do what they damned well feel like in the Nanny Car State! There has been far too much paternal interference in drivers’ and passengers’ lives, and far too much use of the Law in an attempt to force decisions that community-minded licensed drivers, helmeted bicyclists and plodding pedestrians want, such as adhering to speed limits, driving on the left side of the road, wearing seat belts, stopping at stop signs, observing road rules, registering cars, taking out third party insurance, and even obtaining drivers’ licences, as opposed to the individual’s choice to do stupid risky things; and nowhere nearly enough influence used, through psychotropic drugs, electric shock therapy, wistfulness, hypnotism and threats of long solitary imprisonment, or even execution, to shine the light on another choice; nowhere near enough effort spent on creating better pathways, improving lives creating expectations of something more fulling than driving you life away.

    At the moment if you’re an angry young petrol head you can purchase a turbo-charged car as a legal product, legally within the prescribed rules whenever you choose yet we make it really difficult for them to drive their legally purchased product legally in an unrestricted dangerous manner. Their attempts to do so often end in the humiliating disrespectful seizure of their legally purchased product in the police lockup yard. This results in very real anger and desire to “pay back”! It also causes ever deepening divisions in our society as it only ever appears to be cops’ hands in their faces.

    I am not arguing for a free for all on hooning. I don’t like to see our streets full of hoons, I don’t like to see the wasted lives, the battered and homeless kids. I am horrified by the endless misery and want to bring it to an end as quickly as that can be achieved. What I am saying is that we have gone the wrong way! The present approach is a disaster of horrifying proportions. We’ve created enormous anger, separation and a never ending desire to drive hotted up jalopies recklessly and bash our heads in retaliation.

    We’ve succeeded in criminalizing half the population, with people being quite angry enough to do whatever it takes to drive what they want when they want. My argument is to stop making sanctimonious decisions on others’ behalf, get out of their faces, allow them to make their own choices, take the heat, the anger out of the situation. Let’s return to the situation we had years ago, we still had a lot of hoons, but they were happy petrol heads who said “gidday mate” when trashing you on the streets.

    Let’s recognise and respect every hoon’s individual rights, their equality! Let’s make a start on the long slow process of teaching hoons a better way, by encouraging them to rage wild and free, unencumbered by “road rules” because we care about their individual well-being not just the prettiness of our streets. We can begin this climb to sanity by normalising hooning, getting rid of restrictions that divide or cause mass binge hooning, make available areas where people can legally hoon under influence of moderate alcohol and police those areas heavily for bad behaviour, immediately remove any drunk hoon from our roads, otherwise leave them be. Pretty soon you’ll see the heat recede from the streets and we can concentrate our energies on the bigger goals.

    View Comment
  6. Steve Brown
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Sorry all, I’ve been too busy to keep up with the comments section, would have thought you may have noted that I always sign my full name on comments because as Jan says, there are quite a lot of Steves in the world. To the other Steve, my apologies for not correcting the misunderstanding earlier.
    I have not been joining the alcohol debate of late simply as I have been to busy. I have written an exhaustive amount on the subject already, a great deal of which would be in the archives of this publication.
    My argument is long and complicated but there is an underlying principle to it all. You cannot hand a person their freedom, their “equal rights” to make their own life choices, then simply take away those “rights” when they make choices you don’t like! There has been far too much paternal interference in Aboriginal lives, far too much use of the Law in an attempt to force decisions society wants, as opposed to the individual’s choice, and nowhere nearly enough influence used, through health, pastoral care, counselling and rehabilitation services to shine the light on another choice, nowhere near enough effort spent on creating better pathways, improving lives creating expectations of something more fulling than boozing you life away.
    At the moment if you’re an Aboriginal person you can purchase alcohol as a legal product, legally within the prescribed hours whenever you choose yet we make it really difficult for them to consume their legally purchased product legally. Their attempts to do so often end in the humiliating disrespectful pouring of their legally purchased product at their feet. This results in very real anger and desire to “pay back”! It also causes ever deepening divisions in our society as it only ever appears to be white hands in their faces.
    I am not arguing for a free for all on alcohol. I don’t like to see our streets full of drunks, I don’t like to see the wasted lives, the battered and homeless kids. I am horrified by the endless misery and want to bring it to an end as quickly as that can be achieved. What I am saying is that we have gone the wrong way! The present approach is a disaster of horrifying proportions. We’ve created enormous anger, separation and a never ending desire to consume alcohol and bash our heads in retaliation.
    We’ve succeeded in criminalizing half the population, with people being quite angry enough to do whatever it takes to acquire what they want when they want. My argument is to stop making sanctimonious decisions on others’ behalf, get out of their faces, allow them to make their own choices, take the heat, the anger out of the situation. Let’s return to the situation we had years ago, we still had a lot of drunks but they were happy drunks who said “good aye brus” when passing you on the streets.
    Let’s recognise and respect everybody’s individual rights, their equality! Let’s make a start on the long slow process of teaching people a better way, because we care about their individual well-being not just the prettiness of our streets. We can begin this climb to sanity by normalising alcohol availability, getting rid of restrictions that divide or cause bingeing, make available areas where people can legally consume their alcohol and police those areas heavily for bad behaviour, immediately remove any drunk from our streets, otherwise leave them be. Pretty soon you’ll see the heat recede from the streets and we can concentrate our energies on the bigger goals.

    View Comment
  7. Russell Guy
    Posted March 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Yeah, good one, Steve. Remind me to watch Groundhog Day again, next time I run into you in the Mall.

    View Comment
  8. Janet Brown
    Posted March 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Well my oh my, the jumping to conclusions by some displays that you read what you want into comments and ignoring the facts. Now some of you have proven that you have no desire to have a balanced view on anything. You saw the name Steve, and without any further thought went straight to print with your attacks. Big news guys. Many many Steve men and boys in the world. And Steve is a great sparky. And will also make a great mayor. And I must say a man who stands on principles and has vision and is not afraid to stand up for what he believes is worth voting for. A quote: Failure is the consequence of trying to please everyone.
    That is why we believe in equality. Equality under law. Equality under human rights. Equality is not a dirty word. But segregation is an insult to all Australians. Yet it is alive and well and funded by federal state and territory governments. And anybody or bodies that advocate to implement laws, policy or acts that are intent on impacting on race differences or issues. The alcohol drama is just that. Based on race. And those who defend their actions and say it is not race based then why is the calculation based on aboriginal suffering. Equality, balance, respect and compassion. For all Australians rich or poor. We all live and share the same world. Let’s try to get along

    View Comment
  9. Steve
    Posted March 15, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    I am not Steve Brown, nor am I affiliated with his campaign.
    Looking at all the misinterpretation coming out of my comments, it appears that a lot of people around here need remedial reading comprehension.
    1. I have never advocated zero tolerance law and order.
    2. I never called alcohol restrictions a ban. I have referred to it as a prohibition, but there are differences in the meanings of the words.
    3. I never supported a 24/7 sales license.
    4. I have never voiced opposition to other methods of alcohol limitation aside from restricting the freedoms of law abiding citizens.
    Ald Bitar can tell you about some people who were all about restricting the rights of law abiding citizens.
    [ED – Hi Steve … the Alice Springs News Online greatly welcomes your comments, but may we suggest there is a case for giving our readers your full name?]

    View Comment
  10. Michael
    Posted March 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Nah, you losing direction and you keep changing the goalposts to where they were originally. Steve Brown,Vote 1 should stick to being a sparky!

    View Comment
  11. Domenico Pecorari
    Posted March 15, 2012 at 9:01 am

    You are very good, Steve Brown, at re-painting Russell Guy’s proposal as a “total ban”, as “prohibition” and as an “attack on personal freedoms”. Russell’s idea is in fact to trial (over a limited period) a ban on take-away alcohol, on selected days only, leaving the clubs and pubs to operate exactly as they do now. No-one would be denied a drink at these controlled establishments and, if one was organised, they could buy their take-aways on the days it was on sale.
    The trial exercise would, however, determine whether it results in a reduction of alcohol-related crime, family violence and anti-social behaviour in The Alice, and I for one believe it is worth a little personal inconvenience to find out. It worries me that you are so inflexible on issues such as alcohol restrictions, Steve, as I do not believe it to be a trait I want in a mayor. A little more open-mindedness and a lot less dogmatic conviction, please.

    View Comment
  12. Russell Guy
    Posted March 15, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Steve, the name is Russell. You are so petty to introduce fried foods into the “logic” of excessive alcohol consumption and its ghastly contribution to inequality in this town. Let’s see your analysis of the economic costs and income management program. You’re on the side of anarchy and you can’t perceive that your policies create prohibition. You keep to the one trick of law and order and I’d reckon even the police are tired of it.

    View Comment
  13. Steve
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Since a few of the citizens of Alice have been anointed as protectors of society, why stop with the restrictions on alcohol? Surely if you ban drugs such as tobacco (nicotine), fried foods (serotonin), motorcycle riding (adrenaline) and coke (caffeine), society would be much better off. I point out the absurdity of the logic to say that any number of things that a normal person encounters on a daily basis has an affect on their behavior. How the person responds is entirely up to them and thus they must be held accountable for their actions. If there are things that society can do to help someone in need, I am in favor as long as the person does their part to affect that change.
    I will not be drawn into your line of questioning since either your reading comprehension lacks or you are attempting to pin me into a corner with statements I never made.
    I would suggest you assess the logic of your earlier post in which you equate responsible alcohol consumption with selfishness and anarchy. This line of reasoning is alarmist, overstated, irrational and does no good for your cause.
    Your assumption about Tawny reflects your ignorance to comment about the facts of the matter. While some Tawnys are cheap, brandy-fortified wines, there are those that are aged and priced at rates along with fine wines. To lump them all together and suggest that consumption is for the sole reason of a cheap buzz undercuts any stance of knowledge you profess to have.

    View Comment
  14. Russell Guy
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Steve, I’ve been reflecting on my response below and I believe I can make it clearer. I said that “the real issue is local leadership” in bringing solutions to the social problems facing Alice Springs, but in clarification, the qualities of those who aspire to it, should bear closer examination.
    It appears that you are concerned by the fact that you can’t consume alcohol whenever you want and that includes cheap liquor which has a high level of pure alcohol. As I understand it, the reasoning behind a floor price is to standardise the price per drink at around that of beer – a product medically deemed less harmful than cask wine or “tawny”, for example.
    Your reasoning is that “a few” alcoholics have made this difficult and you wish to remove them by “zero tolerance, law and order” policing, thereby bringing them before the courts and prison system, with no stated policy on rehabilitation or child neglect.
    You appear opposed to any other method, such as prevention by restricting access to liquor supply and wish to maintain a 24/7 approach to sales, despite the cost to the taxpayer.
    Have I got that right?

    View Comment
  15. Russell Guy
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Steve, thanks for continuing to ask questions about these complex social issues. There are five questions you’ve asked of me.
    Individual freedoms are fine until they come up against legislation. “Judgmental group think” refers to those who vote for laws to remain. You can’t have it both ways.
    Do you agree that sometimes we should relinquish an individual right for the good of the group?
    This was the essence of tribal law and in many instances, it’s still obvious to those who have the eyes to see it in action around Central Australia. It’s called mateship in the way that it was originally forged in the bush, but it’s broken down in all societies now, for a number of sociological reasons. Selfishness is its adversary. Greed is its enemy. Accountability is a casualty.
    Group accountability versus individual rights in this instance, is the right to consume alcohol at a responsible level. When it becomes irresponsible or excessive as it has, ‘responsible people’ are charged with an enquiry into why this may be so and our governments act on their reports or not, for the good of the people.
    It seems to me that self-interest – individual rights at the expense of the group – is the quickest route to anarchy and that appears to be one of the sociological reasons for the breakdown in community mateship worldwide.
    I have posted elsewhere that I don’t agree with the by-law that insists on property owners removing graffiti at their own expense, but I guess it depends on the magnitude of each case as to whether some just get on with it or not. I don’t understand Council reasoning behind it. Perhaps the Mayor of the CEO might comment?
    Your question about your right to drink “tawny” 24/7 conflates the issue of a floor price with the need to supervise what is essentially a legal drug. I know this kind of statement may get up your nose, but it’s a fact. No other recreational drug is unsupervised and popular ones such as marijuana, ice, etc are illegal.
    Hopefully, someone from the local People’s Alcohol Action Alliance (PAAC) who have chosen to make policy recommendations to Senate Committees, may answer you with a more informed response.
    In accord with the research statistics that I’ve tried to present over past weeks, it’s my opinion that the current restricted access to “tawny, beer or cheap vodka” has produced an excessive consumption for which taxpayers, you and I, foot a hefty annual bill – not counting the cost of purchase or the profit made. Cost recovery is on its way, otherwise we’ll go broke in the lucky country one day. Some say, that we’re heading for moral bankruptcy as it is.
    The real question which you raise is one of local leadership on responsible social policy for Alice Springs and I’m glad you do. A case can be argued that the “law abiding citizens” you speak of are responsible for “the few” not being able to hold their liquor and who may be drinking for different reasons than you. I think it’s more than a few, and that drinking amounts to high risk, excessive, harm-producing, consumption.
    In the late 1970s, Prof. Colin Tatz described “drinking to oblivion” as drinking to forget. When you live and work amongst alcoholics as I do on a daily basis, you see the need for patient care and the truth of his statement.
    This morning, I was forced to literally be a nurse bringing a cup of herbal tea to an 65 year old frail, talented woman and a peacemaker to an older woman who’d fallen foul of a store official. Sometime, today I have to apologise to a man who I was short with yesterday. He is a reforming alcoholic and I don’t want him to slip back to oblivion drinking just because I couldn’t take anymore. I’d really like it if you could see this through my eyes and help because some days, it’s too much.
    Regarding welfare payment penalties. This is being trialled with truancy where children whose parent/s/guardian/s/carers are recipients. Since you raise it, my opinion is that, like zero tolerance law and order solutions, welfare withdrawal will penalise children and only drive alcoholism underground, creating a black market which is a reaction to prohibition.
    Have you thought that the solutions you espouse create prohibition?
    I believe that it would be preferable to further restrict or amend current restrictions to supply, so that all of us, primarily the police, can start to clean up the town and alcoholics receive the kind of care / tough love necessary to reform their lives. They need help as the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) has advised, to at least, manage their money.
    I suggest that one outcome will be a wider business prosperity, a return to productivity / job placement and lives lived in equality.

    View Comment
  16. Steve
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 7:58 am

    @Bob: Absolutely not, I do not support executions for petty theft! Murder, maybe.

    @Russell: I value individual freedoms over judgmental group think that pervades the nanny state mindset. I can’t bring myself to force someone to pay out of their pocket to repaint their property or risk fines when it is targeted by vandals. It’s their property isn’t it? In the same manner, why must I be prevented from buying a bottle of tawny on certain days or before a certain time (that differs from other alcohol) on other days? Doesn’t beer or cheap vodka have the same effect?

    I don’t have my head in the sand regarding the social and community issues, but law abiding citizens shouldn’t have to pay for the misdeeds of a few.

    What about taking away any welfare or payments for repeat or violent offenders?

    View Comment
  17. russell guy
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Steve, I’ve been surprised by how many people consider take-away alcohol sales free day/s to be “prohibition.”

    A restriction such as this still leaves the pubs and clubs as licensed venues for the consumption of alcohol. It’s a controlled environment, whereas take-away is not.

    One of the main arguments in this debate about the acknowledged excessive alcohol consumption in Alice Springs (twice the national average) is the cost.

    For the life of me, I can’t see why protecting the right to drink at the cost of many hundreds of millions of dollars per year to NT taxpayers is seen as untouchable. I won’t even go into the human cost, the ongoing welfare burden and loss of productivity, except to say that welfare reform is as important as alcohol reform in this instance.

    The two are linked and one outcome would be better management of money and therefore quality of life for us all. That’s a significant outcome. One of the tenets of the much maligned Intervention is income management. It’s controversial, but from where I see it on a daily basis, it has taught people to think about their purchase and whether or not the six pack is not as important as “trous” as a reforming alcholic friend has been asking me these past weeks, i.e, trousers.

    It has been hard work getting this one man to consider the one day per week job that I try to oversee, but he’s making progress, despite my, at times, inability to take anymore. It’s the employer/employee relationship that is par of the real work too.

    It may sound patronising to some, but money management is as essential to the individual who has not had to consider saving before, as it is to the State. I have also found, like you, whenever you try to paint a bigger picture, someone tries to cut you down to size, but we all learn realpolitik by engaging in this kind of debate.

    I have learnt that logic and reason are not necessarily acceptable arguments, because, I suppose, we are from so many different walks of life and differing cultural experience, but anyhow, thanks for engaging.

    I’d much rather talk to someone than not and I too, as someone else quoted Voltaire today, value your right to say it. I hope what I have argued above in relation to take-away alcohol sales free day/s having merit, makes some kind of sense for you.

    View Comment
  18. Bob Durnan
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Steve (@Posted March 13, 2012 at 6:34 pm):
    You mean start executing people?
    Or just building more gaols so you can lock more people up for longer for doing things that they mainly would not have done if they had not been able to get so drunk?
    Do you have any idea about how much we taxpayers would have to pay for this? Any upper figure in mind? Or the sky is the limit?
    NB Regular periods in gaol are not deterring a lot of people at present – it seems to be a better lifestyle than what many have access to outside gaol. Aboriginal men in gaol in the NT are healthier and less likely to die or be injured, and more likely to learn some skills. Simply locking these people up more often is not going to achieve the changes in behaviour that we all want to see.

    View Comment
  19. Steve
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Instead of alcohol prohibition talk, why not stiffen legal penalties to the point that it actually discourages criminal activity?

    View Comment
  20. Bob Durnan
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    It is interesting to see that Geoff Booth, the proprietor of several venues which depend almost entirely upon alcohol sales for their existence, sees the future of Alice Springs as being dependent on the population learning to have fun without alcohol (presumably at least partly at rate payers’ expense) and remote Aboriginal communities becoming hosts to alcohol outlets (presumably at least partly at tax payers’ expense).
    Perhaps Geoff could put his money where his mouth is, and make Sundays alcohol-free, low-cost, family fun days at his venues, and challenge his fellow licencees (especially the two pubs which make a mint on Sundays selling take-away alcohol) to match him.
    If he wanted to really help Alice Springs, he could create suitable conditions, with relatively low priced (in terms of on-licence charges per drink) alcohol beverages, to attract into his venues the impoverished drinkers who are currently being policed out of the riverbeds, public places, social housing and town camps where they consume cheap take-away alcohol.
    Geoff could also check out the research literature concerning the documented impacts of alcohol outlets in remote Aboriginal communities.
    He would find that the normal result of a remote alcohol licence is not less problems in the regional centres such as Alice Springs, but that it does lead to a near doubling of the numbers of both habitual and casual drinkers in the remote community, greatly increasing social, education, health and employment problems in the communities, whilst the rate of visitations by drinking parties to the regional centres, and associated harms and problems, remains about the same.
    We should all be careful when proposing alcohol reforms, to be guided by the principal that what we do should not cause any more harms than are already occurring.

    View Comment
  21. russell guy
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Geoff Booth may see take-away alcohol sales free day/s as “Prohibition” which in the context it is not, but the fact remains that when this measure was successfully introduced in Tennant Creek (Thirsty Thursday), the consumption of pure alcohol decreased by 20% (PAAC Senate Standing Committee Submission. 6/2/12).

    Mr Booth is in favour of a floor price, but while the two pubs sell take-away alcohol seven days a week, the consumption (indigenous/non indigenous) he agrees is excessive, is not likely to decrease significantly.

    When Thirsty Thursday was removed, consumption increased again by 7/5% in the first year, with accompanying increases in further years (PAAC Senate Standing Committee Submission. 6/2/12).

    How much longer does Mr Booth and those whom he supports in the ASCT election, intend to deny its success by electively excusing it as “Prohibition?”

    The economic cost of alchol abuse to Territory communities, rate and tax payers is $642m p.a. ($4200 per adult). It seems to me that the additional costs of policing, provision of extensive health services, courts, corrective services, welfare, child neglect, preventable death, and in Mr Booth’s particular case, vandalism etc might make some impression on business people. How can anyone have confidence in their handling of public money?

    View Comment

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*