Most social policies and forms of law enforcement seeking to …

Comment on The Devil’s Big Day Out by Mike Gillam.

Most social policies and forms of law enforcement seeking to control or influence human behaviour have unintended consequences. Examples include the intervention and the outrageous lack of resourcing to enable Alice Springs to manage the very high levels of urban drift that followed. I reluctantly enter the debate about alcohol management because I don’t fully understand the issues. So I’m inclined to defer to those whose knowledge and judgment I trust. Despite the ability of alcoholics to circumvent “control” measures I suspect the banned drinker register is very good policy. Time will tell. I also fully support Russell Guy, Hal Duell and others in their prolonged calls for takeaway free days.
I believe this single issue needs to be examined with objectivity and urgency by the new Town Council. Sundays are a no brainer and there would be merit in going much further. I can’t accept that our collective “rights” to buy takeaway grog every day should stand in the way of a society attempting to stem the current chaos, thousands of lives lost and broken. The massive alcohol abuse attributed to takeaway might suit a few mercenary retailers and a tragic handful that enjoy seeing others in a state of dysfunction and distress. But I don’t think most residents want to live in a dog eat dog world.
As an employer, teacher and friend I’ve had modest success trying to manage / support “recovering” alcoholics, black and white, in the various stages of this disease. It makes no sense to me to keep the takeaway tap running at full speed and place all our faith in the expensive options of law enforcement and mandatory rehabilitation. I met one man who claimed to have been through seven treatment programs! I’d recommend reading the extensive living with alcohol research initiated by Marshall Peron during his term as Chief Minister in the 1980s. Also google references on the stages of alcoholism and you will realize that our society has very little leverage that can be applied to those with a dangerous ADDICTION, often without hope, without an employer to coerce / encourage them, or a wife or husband who is sober, supportive or threatening to leave or any visible community peer pressure for that matter. The situation is dire. In some parts of town, hard-core drinkers actually form the dominant and growing critical masses and they are recruiting others at a shocking rate. I made a similar observation in a letter to the editor a decade ago.
A day or two or three without takeaway will help to divert drinkers back into licenced venues where responsible behaviors can develop. A preemptive hand on the shoulder, “sorry mate you’ve had enough, can I call you a taxi” or “have a spell from drinking, eat something and maybe afterwards you can have another beer”. This feels very much like back to the future. Stopping take-away sales for a while will provide a circuit breaker to family drinking, some respite – a reminder of what it’s like to feel normal and live in a normal neighborhood. I really question the humanity of those who offer personal inconvenience as a counter argument in this debate. I’m happy to discuss “prohibition” one-liners and both the consequences and fear mongering of that too – maybe later.

Recent Comments by Mike Gillam

Melanka building would obscure unequalled backdrop
While I broadly support the views of the writer, I’d like to correct what is clearly a typo.
The building height limit in the CBD is 14 m. not 8.5m, and for the record, I won’t be making a submission to the NT Planning Commission, a Statutory Authority advising the NT Government on planning matters including building heights in Alice Springs because I don’t regard the public consultation process as genuine.
Recent calls by the Chief Minister for expressions of interest in the development of land at Whittaker Street, just outside the western boundary of the CBD and in an area with a LOWER height limit, makes a mockery of this public consultation.
The artist’s impression shows a building that dramatically exceeds the stated limit for this area, from memory, not even 14 m but currently 8.5m.
Of course, the nature of legislation, regulations and town plans may be subject to the extraordinary powers granted to the responsible Minister who can always find some justification.
In closing I would give credit to the NT Planning Commission for its recognition of the value of protecting some critical east west sight-lines across the CBD.
However the town’s future shape and collective massing of buildings will be determined to a large extent by the uncoordinated actions of individual developers and politicians in the decades ahead.
Ultimately this is a game of chance and DESIGN, that elusive collective vision for Alice Springs, appears to be taking a back seat in the process. As a struggling tourist town we can and should do much better.


Festival broadens ambitions of Alice Cinema
At a time when the town’s commercial centre is under great stress we are very fortunate to have such dynamic and progressive people directing the cinema complex.


A funny thing happened to me on the way to the tip …
Delightfully zany, elegant, rigorously conceived and resolved, an asset to the landfill and the town. Congratulations to the artist for her uncompromising effort and those on the Town Council who placed their faith in her and dared to make this happen. I hope the obvious quality of this public art has raised the confidence of decision makers and they feel vindicated to do it again with equal rigour. Perhaps in time, as the town’s artistic side is further highlighted and revealed we may regain some of our reputation as a tourist mecca.


Dancers take over after dark
Not denying there is an equivalent need for the hard core stories but surely this is the Alice Springs News at its very best.I’m kicking myself for missing the event.


Residency is at risk, says heritage group
Hal, where to start…If you peddle misinformation some readers might hyperventilate. But I think you’re ignoring the elephant in the room here…no-one likes their time being wasted and that’s how I feel trying to unravel your torrent of opinion and innuendo. Time prevents me from responding to more of your posts. It’s not simply that you distort reality by describing The Residency as “…current inactive state…” or that it’s preposterous and insulting to say, “Have you considered that Heritage Alice Springs’ dogmatic approach to these matters contributed to the Old Riverside not being given Heritage listing?” What an outrageous example of shoot the messenger by some-one who has not seen the nomination by HAS. But wait there’s more, “…I often think the heritage crowd exceed their brief…” Really? They’re the main reason you can cite the example of the Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame at its fantastic heritage location. And again, “…We don’t have very many buildings worth listing. Too many tin sheds, and who really cares…” Your regard for vernacular architecture including sheds is out of step with rising national interest and ignores much of the development history of Alice Springs.
PS Re. leasing the Residency for use as a cafe, I reiterate the issue of onsite car-parking. From memory, 6 parks are required for every 100m2 of net floor area and any alfresco dining areas – so I’m guessing this site would have to at least double the existing parks – this reasonable condition may be waived by the Minister BUT it’s in the best commercial interests of cafe owners to provide viable parking to lessen the impact on the street during periods of peak trade. And no, the idea that a new venture would be allowed to free-load on existing public car-parking is unlikely to win much support. The RFDS has it all, why try to replicate that experience with less at the Residency?


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