Power struggle on Town Council: a sign of things to come?

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

The so-called Gang of Four were not going to accept the consolation prize. Councillor Liz Martin had said on this site that she would be nominating Cr Brendan Heenan for the role of Alice Springs Deputy Mayor and that runner-up in the mayoral race, Cr Steve Brown, would be ideally suited to chair the Technical Services Committee. Once Cr Heenan was elected by the predicted five / four split in votes, Cr Brown and his supporters, Crs Geoff Booth, Dave Douglas and Eli Melky, were ready.

The four proceeded to refuse all nominations to chair the standing committees in what was clearly a coordinated boycott.

Council has three standing committees – Finance, Corporate and Community Services, and Technical Services –  through which is channelled all its business. All councillors are members and attend the meetings which  take place a fortnight ahead of the formal monthly Ordinary Meeting. There are no standing orders for committee meetings and they are normally the place for more robust debate and thorough discussion of issues. Ordinary Meetings are normally chaired by the Mayor while committee meetings are chaired by councillors elected to the position.

When Mayor Ryan called for nominations to chair the Finance Committee, Cr Booth nominated Cr Chansey Paech. New to council and its youngest member, Cr Paech seemed surprised but chuffed and accepted the nomination. Cr Jade Kudrenko, also new and youthful, tried to head off the manoeuvre, nominating Cr Booth, an experienced businessman. He declined, so Cr Paech was elected.

Cr Paech then nominated Cr Liz Martin to chair the Corporate and Community Services Committee. She accepted and was declared elected.

Next, Cr Eli Melky nominated Cr Kudrenko to chair the Technical Services Committee. She was clearly startled. If the five who supported Cr Heenan to become Deputy Mayor had decided on this in advance, they hadn’t counted on such a reaction from the ‘Gang of Four’. Cr Kudrenko declined the nomination.

Cr Brendan Heenan then nominated Cr Brown, an electrician and builder who would certainly be on top of the issues of this committee. Cr Brown declined. Cr Martin had had her hand up to also nominate Cr Brown.

Cr Heenan then nominated Cr Melky. He declined. Tension was mounting. Cr Melky attempted to lighten the atmosphere: “We love you, Greg!” he told the Director of Technical Services, Greg Buxton.

Cr Martin then asked CEO Rex Mooney whether the same councillor could chair two committees, obviously thinking that she might have to take on Tech Serves as well.

Mr Mooney said that would be “very unusual”. He tried to encourage further nominations, saying that not a lot was required in the role between council meetings. But workload was clearly not the issue.

Mayor Damien Ryan called for nominations.

Cr Booth nominated the Deputy Mayor Heenan.

Cr Heenan said he would like to see a new member of council put their hand up; the role would be a good way of getting into council business. He declined the nomination, the fourth to do so.

Cr Paech nominated Cr Dave Douglas, who declined.

Cr Martin meanwhile was having a quiet word with Cr Kudrenko, who was seated next to her. Cr Martin then asked whether it would be possible to withdraw from Corporate and Community Services, to nominate Cr Kudrenko for that position and then to nominate herself for Tech Services.

She got the nod, duly nominated Cr Kudrenko, seconded by Cr Heenan. Cr Kudrenko accepted although her raised eyebrows suggested that she still felt taken aback by this tactical game playing.

Mayor Ryan then nominated Cr Martin for Technical Services which she accepted.

During the minute’s break that followed, there was a leaden atmosphere in the chamber. After the fine sentiments expressed by all councillors during the swearing-in ceremony, this procedure had felt like a fit of pique at best, outright bullying at worst. It did not augur well for a cooperative approach to council business.

The business of the Ordinary Meeting concluded, it was now time for the Corporate and Community Services Committee to convene. Cr Kudrenko stepped into the chair. She kept her head, deferred to CEO Rex Mooney whenever she was unsure and managed the next lot of business very well, all things considered.

On paper it looked innocuous enough, a matter of finding councillor representatives to sit on the very many other committees, both internal and external, where they are required.

It mostly went smoothly but for a few key committees there was again a power struggle.

The first was over representation on the Town Council and Tangentyere Council steering committee. Two councillors were required in addition to the Mayor. Cr Paech nominated himself (seconded Cr Martin); Cr Martin nominated Cr Kudrenko (seconded Cr Paech); then Cr Melky nominated himself (seconded Cr Brown).

It would have to go to a vote. This must be unusual as there was no clear voting procedure to follow. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, Mr Mooney suggested that the rest of the business continue, while officers put their heads together about how to conduct the vote.

The Town Council and Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation [the native title holders] partnership committee went the same way. It also requires two councillor representatives and the Mayor.

Cr Booth nominated Cr Brown; Cr Melky nominated himself; Cr Martin nominated Cr Paech; Cr Brown nominated Cr Booth; Cr Paech nominated Cr Kudrenko.

A number of other committees were also heading for a vote, including the Todd Mall  Redevelopment Project team, for which four councillors were being sought and five nominated. Mayor Ryan headed off possible rancour over this one by suggesting that all five be allowed a seat on the team. This was unanimously agreed to.

What officers decided on as the way to take a vote was unfortunate as it did not allow a clear indication of the level of support for each nominee and discontent over this will possibly fester. There was a show of hands for candidates in order of their nomination, so it ended up being first in, best dressed. (In the course of the night, I had been reminded more than once of quiz shows, with councillors very keen to hit their buttons first – when they do a red light shows on their microphones, attracting the attention of the chair.)

For the Tangentyere committee Crs Paech and Kudrenko had been nominated first and each got five votes, so Cr Melky’s nomination did not go to the vote. He muttered something about a “block” to which Cr Martin took exception – fair enough really, given the coordinated tactics displayed earlier in the evening. Cr Martin asked Mr Mooney to give some direction to councillors about “smart comments” being made in her ear. She said she had had to put up with it for the last 12 months but was not going to “at all” in this term.

Mr Mooney asked Cr Melky, who sits next to Cr Martin and did during the last term, to “kindly refrain”.

The five / four split was then broken for the Lhere Artepe committee vote. Cr Brown won six votes, including those of Cr Martin and Mayor Ryan, and was duly elected. Cr Melky only got four votes, so this time the third nomination, of Cr Paech, was put to the vote. He got five votes and was thus elected.

Further tension was avoided by various nominees to other committees withdrawing before a vote was taken. The exception was for the Alice Springs Population Intelligence Working Group, for which Cr Kudrenko self-nominated and Cr Heenan nominated Cr Brown. Cr Brown won with five votes, including Mayor Ryan’s.

These votes where Mayor Ryan and Cr Martin voted with the “Gang of Four” avert for the time being the possibility of speaking of a Gang of Five. The four never broke ranks.

 

Pictured, from top: A happy Cr Steve Brown with Local Government Minister Malarndirri McCarthy after his swearing-in. The good cheer didn’t last. • The Greens’ Cr Jade Kudrenko pledges her service. She is proud of her party affiliation but said she will work for all of Alice Springs • Cr Eli Melky, seated next to Cr Liz Martin: there may not have been fireworks but there was definitely irritation. • Below: Cr Dave Douglas pledges his service. The ceremony was well-attended but most left  before council got down to business.

 

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46 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. Bob Durnan
    Posted April 28, 2012 at 11:22 am

    In reply to Rex (Posted April 28, 2012 at 12:12 am: I’m pleased to see you have taken on board the detail of the floor price mechanism.
    However, you also need to consider that the problem of excessive consumption is not quite as simple as it first appears. “Drunks are just that, drunks!” you say. However, they were not always dependent drinkers, addicts or alcoholics: they too started off as children who had the potential to go in various directions in life.
    They fell into the grog trap to a greater degree than they otherwise would have because of the very easy availability of cheap alcohol. There are many studies world wide, and particularly detailed analyses of data obtained over several decades from counties across the USA and parts of Europe, which show clearly that, in the longer run, jurisdictions which have higher prices, lower accessibility and less availability of alcohol have far less alcohol-related problems.
    If we want to have less of these problems being generated in the future in Alice Springs, then we need to lower availability now, and this can be best achieved by instituting a floor price. It will also have impact on the style and degree of existing drinkers, but its big advantage is in its capacity to reduce the rate of re-production of problematic consumption.
    In relation to the burglary problem, consider this: the floor price will free up a lot of police and security guard time and resources, as the rate of casual crime will be less intense (this happened in Tennant Creek, and clearly happened after the 2006 restrictions in Alice Springs, until they were each undermined by ‘leakage’ which would mostly not have been so possible if there had been a floor price in operation).
    Police and security will have more ability to apprehend the burglars, prevent burglary, attend call outs by worried residents, carry out preventative patrols, maintain presence in ‘hot spots’, gather intelligence, undertake relationship building, guarantee communication etc.
    Thus the burglary rate should be more under control than it presently is. At the same time the nature of the drinking culture will change, and will be more susceptible to intervention such as rehab etc, as the average drinker will, by necessity, be less drunk and drunk less often, because of their lower purchasing capacity.

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  2. Bob Durnan
    Posted April 28, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Hal (Hal Duell @ Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm): a floor price would mean that cask wine could be allowed, but only if the floor price was strictly observed. This would mean that the 4 litre casks containing 40 plus standard drinks and currently selling in Frankston bottleshops for a discounted rate of $11 per cask, or 28 cents per standard drink, would retail for around $60, given that the recent average price of popular beers such as VB or Fosters, even when purchased in slabs, has been over $1.40 per standard drink.
    So in itself the floor price would help with, but not completely solve, the broken glass problem. The most likely shift in consumption pattern would be from cheap bottled wine to slabs of VB, as this is what has occurred as a result of several similar experiments with regulation in the past, so it would help if retailers sold slabs of bottled beer at slightly higher prices than the cans. It would also help if the big discounters kept their cheapest bottled wine at a slightly higher price, in standard drink terms, than the average beer, as this would probably also assist with minimizing the problem of broken glass.
    You may have noticed that one of our largest local retailers currently (and perpetually) has around 56 different brands or varieties of cheap wine available at $8 per bottle, and quite a few more at $8.50.
    These are carefully scattered all around the wine shelves. They vary considerably in terms of standard drink contents (from around 5.5 up to 8.3), but they indicate a scattergun approach to retailing, where the outlet tries to maximize the chances of appealing to the cash strapped punter looking for a starter at 10am on Saturday, or 2pm most other days. The brands that move most quickly out the doors when the bottle shops open are invariably the ones with the highest alcohol content i.e. the ones in the upper range (7.3 to 8.3 standard drinks). These are also the overwhelmingly most common empties found in the riverbeds, car parks, behind the post office, on the church lawns, and probably in the park next to your place.

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  3. Posted April 28, 2012 at 12:12 am

    In reply to Bob Durnan, thank you for your explanation regarding a floor price system. Very informative, but only useful if it works. Drunks are just that, drunks!
    They live only to drink and they drink until they are ‘dead’ drunk. We have already been witness to the incredible amount of burglary in private homes and businesses in their effort just to gain alcohol in order to achieve being ‘dead’ drunk! In my opinion a floor price will see these crimes skyrocket even further, thus making this measure useless.
    Sorry Bob, you have once again failed to convince me that another form of restriction will work here. It may work in the rest of Australia on the teen binge drinkers but it will NEVER work on habitual drunks! The only thing that will work on them is to remove them from society until they can be productive members.
    If in their lifetime it is unachievable that is their fault. At least with the drunks removed we can save the most important people, today’s children!

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  4. Hal Duell
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Now I have a question that I will throw out to anyone able and willing to answer it.
    If a floor price is established for one standard drink, would it be possible to reintroduce 4 litre wine casks using this floor price? The reason I ask is if this were possible, I would be in favour of doing it for no other reason than to get some of the broken glass off the streets.
    At the very least could we use a floor price to establish the price of two litre casks and make them available whenever bottle shops are open.
    I no longer think the addicted drinkers drinking in public places will ever stop drinking, and the broken glass in Alice Springs has become a public health issue that needs addressing as a matter of urgency.

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  5. Bob Durnan
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    More on Rex Neindorf’s comment (Posted April 21, 2012 at 1:01 am in this thread):
    Rex, you also wanted somebody to “explain to [you] how a ‘floor price’ on alcohol will work?” Too easy.
    A great many of the most frequently inebriated disturbers of the peace, in their homes or in public, are people who have spent much or, in some cases, all of their lives receiving welfare to sustain them.
    Those who aren’t on welfare are generally on relatively low incomes earned from part-time or lowly paid full-time work.
    Some of them occasionally get some supplementary cash income courtesy of royalties or insurance payouts, whilst some also earn some income from selling art or crafts, but most don’t.
    On the whole, their incomes and available cash, as individuals or groups of alcohol consumers, are restricted and fairly non-elastic. For those of them who are subject to income management, this is even more so.
    As a total group, or as sub-groups of co-drinkers, their available cash resources on most days of the year are quite constricted, and they are particularly sensitive to the price of alcohol in their daily struggles to maintain their habitual, and predominantly excessive, consumption of alcohol.
    Many of these people are so damaged by their early experiences and/or by subsequent excessive substance use that they are virtually untrainable and unemployable.
    Although the welfare-dependent drinker of excessive amounts of cheap wine may (if the price of wine is raised sufficiently) choose to spend her or his money on spirits rather than beer or dearer wine, if s/he does so s/he will only be able to buy half as much alcohol as s/he presently consumes, as a standard drink of the cheapest spirits (currently around $1.85) costs more than twice the price of a standard drink of cheap cask wine (currently around 77 cents).
    The point is, although the spirit drinker may absorb the alcohol quicker, s/he will also use their available cash more quickly, and only be able to purchase half the quantity of pure alcohol when compared to the consumer of the cheap cask wine.
    That is, the effect of putting up the price of cheap wine would dramatically cut the amount of pure alcohol that can be bought with disposable cash available to welfare-dependent binge drinkers and alcoholics. If the floor price is set at the same price as, say, a can of VB (based on the price of a can in a 24 can slab), then the average amount of pure alcohol absorbed by problem drinkers would be way less than it is now, as the price of a standard drink of such VB (currently around $1.48) is almost twice the price of a standard drink of Remano’s or Yalumba cask wine from a 2 litre cask as currently sold from the bottle shops at two Alice Springs pubs (at around 77 cents).
    Some of the cheap clean-skin wine bottles currently on sale at supermarket bottle shops move for just over 96 cents per standard drink. Plenty of others hover around a few cents more per standard drink.
    The overwhelming majority of the alcohol containers found empty in public places in Alice Springs are these cheap wine casks, along with some of the cheapest cleanskins and bottled wine brands.
    The impact of raising the prices of these cheap wines sufficiently to make a standard drink of beer competitive with them would enable a huge boost to the social amenity of the town, the cost-effectiveness of the justice system, the coffers of the town council, the return on investment of the ratepayers and tax payers, the efficiency of the hospital, the productivity of council workers, the retention rates of police and security personnel, the effectiveness of teachers, and the wellbeing of children and other vulnerable dependents of these excessive binge drinkers.
    These would be the benefits of a functioning floor price, which could be mandated by the Licensing Commission in consultation with the licensees, and based on the existing average price of popular beers brands.
    Why on earth don’t the politicians just do it, at least for a trial period?
    It would be considerably cheaper than Rex and his soul-mate Terry Mills’ great big expensive permanent secure rehab facility for 300 habitual problem drinkers from Alice Springs, a facility which would cost many millions per annum to run, if you go by the running costs per head of other similar facilities.
    On top of these operational costs there would be the great big capital establishment costs of many more millions to build the secure facility. (This is just for the Alice Springs section of the gulag).
    Then there would be many millions more for the cost of land and essential services and access roads for the Alice facility to take into account as well.
    If the actual number of habitual problem drinkers is closer to 500 (as Rex conjectures may possibly be the case), then the costs would be considerably higher.
    Then you would have to consider that the preventative aspect of this approach, in terms of preventing the rapid production of new problem drinkers, would be about nil when using the Neindorf model, so you would have to just keep building and staffing these facilities as the years go rolling by.
    Is that how we want our Territory to develop?
    A gulag archipelago for the public “drunks”, and a monkey on the back of tax payers?
    Not very smart, Rex and Terry.

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  6. Jason Newman
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 10:16 am

    How many members are there of PAAC?

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  7. Bob Durnan
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Rex (see Rex Neindorf’s comment Posted April 21, 2012 at 1:01 am in this thread), you have pinned me down like a helpless witchetty moth: I did indeed misname the Alice Springs wholesale alcohol figures by calling them consumption figures.
    Thanks for picking it up and pointing it out, it keeps me on my toes. Probably a small practical difference, as it turns out, but an important detail nonetheless.
    However, I think you would be hard pressed to find Dr Boffa and PAAC making many similar mistakes, despite your rather sweeping statement that “for too many years Dr Boffa and PAAC have been allowed to peddle false statements to all and sundry which is completely distorting the truth.”
    Isn’t that a little bit over the top?
    Care to support it with any evidence?
    INTERNET PURCHASES AND ALICE SPRINGS ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION TRENDS: Now I turn to some of your over-excited allegations: first, the fact that some people buy alcohol from interstate via the internet or other means proves nothing about the consumption levels of alcohol in Alice, as mail order and internet purchases had been happening for a long time before the 2006 reforms. According to Justice Dept and Licensing Commission officials this traffic is not running at a high volume, and has not increased by any great margin in recent years.
    Thus the impact of these purchases on Alice Springs consumption figures is not likely to be anywhere nearly as significant in relation to rates and trends of consumption as you and Steve Brown and other amigos would have us believe.
    RESTRICTIONS DO HAVE BENEFITS:
    Next you bellow “All restrictions have done is hinder the Alice Springs economy!”
    Well no, Clare Martin’s reformed regulations, which were introduced in October 2006, reduced wine cask sales to one per person per day after 6pm; restricted the strength of alcohol that may be sold in bars between 10am and 12 noon; and disallowed sales of take-away alcohol before 2pm on Mondays to Fridays. These reforms actually reduced serious injuries and alcohol-related conditions at the Hospital to such an extent that it was able, according to the then CEO, to reorganise its intensive care resources and free up beds for other purposes in 2007 and 2008.
    These same regulations reduced total wholesale figures for alcohol in Central Australia by a very significant amount (around 18%), with consequent wide benefits to workers and programs in many fields. Thus taxpayers benefited, and residents and tourists had better civil amenity.
    The police were extremely positive about the changes, stating on several occasions that although the number of people drinking in public did not appear to decrease by much, that dealing with those who had been drinking and committed offences was on the whole much easier than prior to the reforms: The accused were generally not nearly as drunk and obnoxious and violent as had previously been the police’s misfortune to have to deal with.
    Alcohol-related homicides also dropped significantly.
    Of course these benefits began to wither away following the introduction of the cheap bottled wines in 2009 (mainly ‘cleanskins’, which could be legally sold from 2pm on weekdays) and the growth of cheap 2 litre wine cask sales after 6pm. (The ‘floor price’ advocated by PAAC would have averted much of these ‘displacement’ sales, if the NT Government and Licensing Commission had have had the foresight to introduce it).
    A few other matters:
    THIRSTY THURSDAYS IN TENNANT CREEK: in relation to the Tennant Creek experience with Thirsty Thursdays, the problem you and some others get so excited about (the fact that some displacement sales occurred at regional roadhouses – there are no “nearby towns” – during the first year or so of Tennant Creek’s eight years of Thursdays free from take-away alcohol) was overcome when the Licensing Commission extended the same restrictions and conditions to those roadhouses.
    Following this, the problems with people driving long distances to obtain grog on Thursdays dropped to very low levels.
    The evaluation reports by different independent expert evaluators detailing these events are publicly available to read on the net. They were carried out by Professor Dennis Gray and a team from the National Drug Research Institute in Perth, and Dr Peter d’Abbs and a team from the Menzies School of Health research in Darwin. The town libraries used to have copies of them, and may still do, and they would probably be available through the Licensing Commission.
    You really should take the trouble to have a read of them.

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  8. Eli Melky
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:17 am

    In response to the continuing discussion in this newspaper regarding the many issues including alcohol, law and order and carrots. I need to express my desire to respond in the appropriate fashion, however due to commitments to the OLSH basketball team I am unable to do so at this time as we are away in the Gold Coast competing at the national basketball champs. I have every intention to respond to both Bob Durnan’s and Russell Guy’s post that direct comments to me upon my return to the Alice next week. Please respect the fact that I am not ignoring your posts which I find interesting and important.
    I am happy to inform you that the Alice teams are punching above their weight against top national standard teams. The boys’ team has made it into the semis with a one point upset win against a favourite team who finished 2nd in the pool. The Alice team had finished 4th in their pool. Thank you for your patience.

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  9. Russell Guy
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Dear Janet, please see my earlier postings.

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  10. Bob Durnan
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:47 am

    Sorry Eli (Eli Melky Posted April 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm): I was wrong about the carrots. They are only available 18 hours per day at the moment.
    Used to be 24 hours, but Coles must have gotten tired of staying up so late. But you were wrong to say that “there are restrictions of trade on fruit and veg sellers” as to their hours of trade: there aren’t. Find me the law or regulation that tells them they can’t trade 24 hours in Alice Springs if they so wish.
    It doesn’t appear that you are capable of clear, accurate communication, as you demonstrate with your wriggling around about your position on something as important as the detail of restrictions etc. If, after detailing a long list of general alcohol-related issues, you are going to make a categorical statement like “No, I just cannot for the life of me agree with restrictions on trade of a legal product and restrictions on majority of people due to a few that cannot abide by the law”, then claim that you meant something else, how do you expect to be taken seriously as a politician or public figure?
    I just cannot for the life of me imagine how you could think that a reader would think that your “comments were related to Russell Guy’s post, restrictions of one day off, floor price and take away is what I was referring to”, when they clearly continue from the earlier listing of broad anti-restriction statements in your comment, and make no reference to Mr. Guy’s post.
    As for your strange statement that you “would challenge [me] to define what exactly qualifies in [my] mind as to what is a social occasion and what is an appropriate venue? I dare say that those drinking in the Todd would argue that they too are entitled to have a drink socially”, I don’t know what you are getting at. A “social occasion” is conventionally understood to be a party, celebration, a relaxed gathering of friends, an organised event where people interact in a friendly way. Why do you ask? What has drinking in the Todd got to do with it?
    It is well-known that PAAC objected to the Town Council’s application to have Alice Springs, including the Todd River bed, declared a “Dry Town” in 2007. As a delegate to PAAC at that time from a remote community organisation, I expressed my Board’s agreement with PAAC’s position. PAAC, and myself as an individual, have always supported responsible adults being able to buy alcohol from (or drink it socially in safe quantities in) properly regulated licensed venues, as well as being able to drink alcohol in safe quantities socially in private places, unless the owners of those places have had them declared off limits to alcohol. Regardless of my personal view, the authorities (including the ASTC and Aboriginal Native Title holders) have combined to declare much of Alice Springs off limits to any alcohol consumption. The Howard government also had all the (privately rented) houses and open spaces on town camps declared off limits to alcohol in 2007 – another declaration opposed by PAAC and myself, and one that still defies logic.
    Far from “belittling” you, my comments were aimed at bringing you to account for your extreme statements as a public figure and influential community leader. To function properly in those roles, you will have to learn to take the heat of public scrutiny. Anyway, you do a pretty good job of “belittling” yourself, with your loose talk and opportunistic swivels.
    You said in a previous thread that you had been criticised by a very wide cross-section of Alice Springs groups during the election campaign. Have you stopped to consider that there might be some sound basis for that much disapproval? Maybe there could be an important message there for you?
    It seems to me that sometimes your own comments undermine your chances of achieving the respect that you seem so much to crave. Rex Mooney seemed to get it about right when he chided you for making “snide” remarks at last Monday’s Council meeting.

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  11. Janet Brown
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Not up to council or individuals to cost or provide rehab. That is govt territory and federal. So what is your point? Are you implying that govt has failed to provide for the mentally ill and addiction illness in our community? Then I agree with you.

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  12. Russell Guy
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 5:11 am

    The reasonable approach displayed by Cr Melky below, contrasts with the shrill tone emanating from the Brown camp. Those who voted for Cr Brown’s Law and Order approach, have not been rewarded by any policy or cost on “mandated rehabilitation”.
    However, it must be clear by now that the Brown team has no understanding between a seven days per week supply of take-away alcohol and Law and Order.
    The cost of supporting the Law and Order plan without turning down the tap on alcohol supply is unsustainable.
    Making clever remarks about the “Enough for Enough” alcohol reforms is evidence of a contemptuous approach to a complex issue.

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  13. Janet Brown
    Posted April 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    I am with you Rex. This town is being driven to hell fast with the ridiculous ideologies that are fed out by Boffa, Russell, Bob and others proclaiming a false level of superiority over the rest of us.
    I really don’t give a damn about those who want to waste theirs lives on booze, drugs and gambling. As long as they pay for it out of their pocket. Not mine. But what I demand is safety and respect from government for those who respect the law and others in the community. Those who work and cooperate with the community for the benefit of others.
    I want courts to punish and make those criminals pay for their criminal damage. Even if it means that royalty payments are used to facilitate that expense. I demand that governments ensure that welfare payments are means tested and those who receive welfare payments are no longer on a free ride of the taxpayer due to royalty monies not being means tested. Enough is enough.

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  14. Russell Guy
    Posted April 21, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Dear Cr Melky,
    Thank you for your thoughts on alcohol policy. I would like to respond by referring to an interview on ABC Radio Alice Springs on Friday 20th April with the CLP’s Terry Mills.
    You’ve said that alcohol-abuse is a complex problem and that’s true, but the Leader of the NT Opposition has made claims that reveal the complexity to be beyond his grasp. This is instructional.
    In my opinion, and I’m willing to be corrected, one problem, that both you, he, the Alice Springs Town Council and the NT Government consistently fail to understand is the connection between supply and the problem drinker.
    Mr Mills reveals that he can’t cope with the two issues at the same time. It may be that he, like the rest of us, need more help in understanding these issues, but it’s disturbing because it reveals substantially deficient analytical skill in a potential policy maker.
    Another problem with Mr Mills’ assessment of the situation is that he, like many others, raises the old claim that problems drinkers will always find other ways of obtaining alcohol, no matter what restrictions are put in place. This is a cop-out.
    It’s lazy and convenient politicking, rather than a serious attempt to come to grips with the complexities of alcohol-abuse. Leaders in other Australian states are managing much better.
    Another common flaw in the argument and which he exposes, is the ‘majority / minority’ card in claiming that it’s a few who spoil it for the majority. This is a reactionary view designed to appease voters.
    It’s the old Law and Order Auction – give voters what they want to hear, but don’t mediate the complexity in a meaningful or bipartisan way. It’s the ‘we’ve got all the answers’ card, when the irony is that these answers are very expensive and the voter pays. There’s no minority / majority in that one, we’re all in together and while the rest of the world looks on, pregnant Territorians stumble around in a supply playground.
    Mr Mills criticizes the NT Government for not releasing quarterly assault statistics, but he won’t release the cost of his mandated rehab policy. Lots of people talk about it, but let’s have a cost analysis comparison with turning down the tap.
    Of the quoted 30,000 problem drinkers taken into custody each year, many will be accommodated at taxpayer expense in secure facilities (Mr Mills doesn’t know where, but he intends to go ahead with this policy).
    One of the underlying issues is irresponsible supply, but he doesn’t, or won’t see it as being of any consequence in the forty year gestation of the current problem facing this constituency.
    One of the most glaring flaws in this approach is the confusion between advocates of a Wet Canteen on communities and others, including Mr Mills, claiming that “drinking camps” are not on, when the biggest drinking camps in the NT – Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Palmerston and Darwin are flourishing under irresponsible alcohol supply policies.
    This perverse message is being sent to a new generation while the only option discussed is mandatory rehab. Eli, I hope that this exchange of views may assist you as a conscientious political leader in attempting ways of dealing with the complex issue of alcohol reform.

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  15. Posted April 21, 2012 at 1:01 am

    I write to add my two cents worth of facts to the long running alcohol restrictions debate. Unfortunately for too many years Dr Boffa and PAAC have been allowed to peddle false statements to all and sundry which is completely distorting the truth. Many people are quoting Dr Boffa falsely believing the statistics he presents as “fact”.
    Firstly let’s take the graph which Bob Durnan refers to from the Friday, April 13 Advocate. Bob writes ‘Just have a look at the “total consumption” line (the top line) in the Justice Department graph reproduced last week in the Advocate to illustrate John Boffa’s article’.
    There is no such line and no such graph! This graph as clearly stated below depicts ‘Wholesale supplies (of alcohol) for Alice Springs.’ That is sales of alcohol to local grog outlets as supplied from large interstate wholesalers. Absolutely nowhere does this graph show consumption or a drop in consumption. To get a true picture of consumption you need to survey everyone in Alice Springs and ask them ‘How much alcohol did you drink last year’ and then a year later retake the same survey. This will then give you consumption statistics.
    There are several reasons why there has been a drop in ‘wholesale sales of alcohol’ into Alice Springs. Tourists are buying their alcohol interstate before they arrive here. Just ask them. Loads (read heaps, lots, bucketloads) of Alice Springs residents are members of interstate wine clubs etc. They purchase online and it is freighted to their door. I am one of them. These residents either do not want to have to show ID at their local store or just don’t want to go to the shop to get it when it is far easier and cheaper to have it freighted to your home.
    All restrictions have done is hinder the Alice Springs economy! This is my major beef against people intent on restrictions. They say they have proof that restrictions work, however there is no such proof. If you can give me 100% proof I will support you. If you twist the statistics and present a straight out lie, which is what is happening, then I will not support any further so called ‘reduction measures.’
    Both Jason Newman and Liz Martin (in another forum) have recounted for all to read what happened in Tennant Creek during the ‘Thirsty Thursday’ years. Unfortunately Russell Guy has also been misled by Dr Boffa and PAAC. Russell states ‘Thirsty Thursday’s first year of operation in Tennant showed a reduction in consumption of 7.5%’
    Sorry Russell what really occurred was 7.5% less alcohol was sold to grog outlets in Tennant Creek by interstate wholesalers. This is due to the fact that instead of purchasing grog in Tennant Creek the alcoholics drove to nearby towns and way-side roadhouses to drink. Anyone heard of drink driving? Read comments by Jason Newman and Liz Martin to see what really occurred.
    The next restriction which is now PAAC’s pet project is to try and implement a ‘floor price’ for alcohol. This idea if implemented will supposedly shift drinking habits as cheaper alcohol will become more expensive to buy, therefore less is drunk. Unfortunately this only works when cheap alcohol is bought. I will quote from the Advocate Tuesday April 17, 2012. ‘Drunk facts alarm’ Superintendent Jo Foley states: ‘One of the more disturbing things we’ve found is that itinerants in Alice Springs are drinking more spirits than before. There is more alcohol in a bottle of rum or vodka than there is in a cask of wine, which means they’re getting drunk faster and prone to becoming violent more easily.’ Now, please explain to me how a ‘floor price’ on alcohol will work?
    Now for my turn. I will state here and right now that I really don’t care a lot for habitual drunks that ruin my town on a daily basis. I worry about the 27,000 fantastic residents of Alice Springs. I worry about my partner and my gorgeous baby girl. I worry about the partners and children of the violent drunks. I want the children of these drunks to be able to go to school and get an education so that they can live ‘their’ life. I worry about my business.
    However what I do realize is that alcoholism is a disease and requires treatment. Build a rehab facility and throw every raging drunk into it. I do not care if it takes them twenty years to walk out sober or if they never walk out sober. For the sake of every good resident of Alice Springs, for our wonderful town, grab those 300 to 500 alcoholics roaming Alice Springs day and night and throw them into a secure rehab facility. I won’t worry about them in there and their partners, children and every other Alice Springs resident can start to live life again in our town. A town like Alice.

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  16. Eli Melky
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Dear Ed, allow me to respond to Bob Durnan please. So to try to stay in line with the Ed’s request here are some new facts: Carrots are an all year round vegetable and are also sold at small fruit and veg shops, not only supermarkets. Contrary to your point, there are restrictions of trade on fruit and veg sellers, one being they are not available 24 hrs a day 7 days a week in Alice Springs.
    More about my personal experience with alcohol, I draw on all that to help form open views and not narrow minded. 10 years in the night club and tour bus business puts me in a good field of expertise on service, management and effects of alcohol. I also make a damn good host on the party bus back in South Australia. As for being specific to detail my comments were related to Russell Guy’s post, restrictions of one day off, floor price and take away is what I was referring to.
    None the less your raising the logical 24 hr 7 days a week point seemed to be aimed at belittling me, well you failed. I support trading in alcohol that is in line with national standards. As an elected member of council I am able to address the issue of alcohol and its effect on people in our community and would challenge you to define what exactly qualifies in your mind as to what is a social occasion and what is an appropriate venue? I dare say that those drinking in the Todd would argue that they too are entitled to have a drink socially.

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  17. Bob Durnan
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Eli Melky
    Thanks for diverting attention from the issue at hand and grandstanding by letting us know yet again your personal history and relationship with alcohol – a topic that, as far as I can see, nobody has enquired about or cares about, and one that we don’t need to know about, as it is completely irrelevant to the issues of public policy and alcohol.
    From what I have seen at social events, many PAAC members are happy but responsible consumers of alcohol, even though they are often accused of being “prohibitionists” or “anti-alcohol evangelists”, but they do not go parading their personal relationships with grog in order to ingratiate themselves with the rest of the drinking (or teetotal) members of the public. This does not make them hypocrites or liars, as PAAC has always taken a position against prohibition, and in favour of responsible serving and consumption of alcohol for those who choose to drink it. PAAC produced leaflets which it distributed publicly in 2001 explaining its positions on these matters, and has reiterated them regularly ever since.
    As I said, our personal relationships with alcohol are not particularly relevant.
    What is relevant is that most of us are intelligent, educated beings with powers of analysis, and capable of engaging in logical and rational thought for the purposes of problem solving and helping to create improved policy, at both the personal and public political and social levels. I imagine that you would see yourself in the same way.
    You say (@ Posted April 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm) “I just cannot for the life of me agree with restrictions on trade of a legal product and restrictions on majority of people due to a few that can not abide by the law.”
    I take it then that, if you are to be logically consistent with your stated position, you must agree with having no regulation of alcohol, and also with allowing 24 hour trading by those who want to do so, and availability of all alcohol products to all consumers, at all times, in the same way that people are free to buy carrots any time of the day or night at the big supermarkets.
    [CORRESPONDENTS PLEASE NOTE: We greatly appreciate the passionate and mostly well-informed debate on alcohol issues in which many of our readers have participated. All postings can be retrieved from our archive (use the on-site Google function). However, from now only facts and arguments on the subject not previously published will be considered for publication.]

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  18. Russell Guy
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Dear Cr Melky,
    Thank you for honouring your word. I will consider your thoughtful reply in the terms set by our editor, but wish to acknowledge my sincere appreciation for publicly expressing your views on alcohol with honesty and integrity.
    I hope that we can exchange views and ways to give quality of life back to the community by assisting those who abuse alcohol and have expressed a desire to live without it.

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  19. Posted April 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Dear Russell Guy,
    I wish to now address the issue of alcohol.
    Firstly you are correct, I don’t drink now and other than on my 16th birthday I have never drank alcohol.
    I have never encouraged alcohol in my home and have rarely served alcohol to my guests at my home. This has not been the most popular choice by the way.
    Ok, so we have that straight.
    Now, considering my position as an elected member of Council and respecting the power of influence that it may carry, I choose to be very careful with my comment from here on in.
    I do not support the damage that people do to themselves and to their health as a result of abuse or addiction to alcohol.
    Alcohol is a popular and legal product and has been for a very long time. It is a magic drink that has the power to change the chemistry of the body and render a human being useless in the first instance if they drink a certain amount. It can go on to kill them in one hit if they take in enough of the stuff. It can bring about bad health if the person consumes enough of the stuff over a certain period of time. I get that, so I don’t drink, as to why others don’t or won’t heed the danger. I cannot answer for them.
    Can I stop them drinking? No.
    Can I stop bottle shops and pubs selling it? NO.
    Can I influence the restaurant and pubs to sell cheaper or dearer? No.
    What Can I do? I can support responsible service of alcohol not in breach of the liquor license on that premises.
    Take Away Alcohol, can I stop that? No.
    Can you stop that? No.
    Should we stop it? My response to that is who am I or you for that matter to force our views on to others if they are part of the majority who want to drink a legal product in a legal environment. so therefore I say No.
    Russell I know if I did not agree with you on each point that you will be disappointed and perhaps go as far as picking the living bones out of my reply, or you can prove me wrong and just respect my position as I do yours.
    Can we work together to fix the problem in the long term? Well I would be prepared if you are.
    Is Alcohol causing harm to our community? Yes.
    Am I ignoring the problem? No, I just cannot for the life of me agree with restrictions on trade of a legal product and restrictions on majority of people due to a few that can not abide by the law.
    Those poor people need our help; they need to be cared for and given support not goal.
    What is the solution? Education of a new Generation and only then perhaps in time and together, it will be possible.
    I hope I have done you justice in attempting to engage in what is a very complex topic that you are clearly passionate about.
    And yes I would chair a committee as set up to deal with this issue if the opportunity arose.
    Have a good day
    Eli Melky
    Councillor
    [CORRESPONDENTS, PLEASE NOTE: We greatly appreciate the passionate and mostly well-informed debate on alcohol issues in which many of our readers have participated. All postings can be retrieved from our archive (use the on-site Google function). However, from now only facts and arguments on the subject not previously published will be considered for publication. If Mr Guy provides a brief response to Cr Melky’s offer above we will publish it.]

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  20. Posted April 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Well Mr Pearce there is only one thing to do from here considering your comments. I accept your challenge to do all I can for the good of the community and shall see you in four years to be judged again.
    You see, Mr Pearce, I am never afraid to put my hand up and be judged by you or anyone else. I have every confidence in my ability to help achieve the goals of the community for this town. You just sit back in your arm chair and judge away. Please from time to time drop me a post on this website to remind me of how much is achieved.
    It won’t always be the way it is, a week can be a long time in politics.
    Best wishes to you
    Eli Melky
    Councillor

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  21. D. Pearce
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Clr. Melky – I am always wary of people whose answer to criticism is “if you think you can do better then why don’t you do it”. That’s a cop out.
    You are the one who put yourself up for election – not me.
    Also Clr. Melky, I tend to judge people on their actions, not on what they say. So far I have noticed that you have a hell of a lot to say, but you haven’t actually done much have you?

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  22. Bob Durnan
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Well may you ask “Where will it stop?” Harold Albatross (Posted April 19, 2012 at 10:29 am). None of us know, but Russell Guy supplies compelling arguments about why we have to continue to try to “turn down the grog tap” some more, as it is completely unrealistic, self-destructive and immoral to ignore the need to reduce this unsustainable level of dysfunction in our own community and indeed, in our nation as a whole.
    We cannot continue on the present continuing downwards spiral without attempting to intervene further, using our human intelligence and ingenuity to reduce the grog flood down more than we have already succeeded in doing.
    A few quibbles with your alleged “facts”, Harold: for example, you say “we already have reduced take-away hours … these are restrictions and … have not achieved a reduction in consumption.”
    Wrong, Harold, and this begs the question as to whether you bother to try to read and understand the facts about these issues. Nobody is denying that then Chief Minister of the NT Clare Martin and the Licensing Commission introduced our current restricted hours and restricted products for take-away trading and on-licence drinking in Alice Springs and surrounding districts on October 1st 2006, but you are denying, or refusing to understand, the clear evidence that it was that single set of reforms which had a sudden, deep and largely lasting impact on consumption.
    Within weeks total consumption of pure alcohol in Central Australia fell by close to 20%, and remained around that level until very cheap cleanskin wines started to appear on bottle-shop shelves a couple of years later, when some drinkers adjusted part of their consumption pattern to include buying the cheap bottled wines, as well as saving some of their available cash until 6pm when they were legally able to buy a very cheap single 2 litre wine cask per day.
    Clare Martin, when designing her reforms, had unfortunately not foreseen these very predictable developments.
    Nonetheless, a large part of the successful legacy of those reforms remains: available figures indicate that current total consumption of pure alcohol in Central Australia is still around 12% less than it was prior to October 1st 2006. Just have a look at the “total consumption” line (the top line) in the Justice Department graph reproduced last week in the Advocate to illustrate John Boffa’s article. That line dropped suddenly after Oct 2006, and trended back up from 2009, but has never returned to the catastrophic pre-October 2006 levels of consumption.
    The restrictions may not have resolved a majority of our problems, but without them there is no doubt that our present problems would in fact be far greater than they are.
    So Russell Guy is correct: alcohol restrictions can, and do, have some lasting impacts in Alice Springs, as they can and do in many other places. This is very well documented.
    The clear lesson from this is that the October 2006 changes would have had much stronger, and more effective, impacts in Alice Springs if Clare Martin had included a floor price (which would have prevented much of the impact of new cheap wines, whether they be cleanskins or casks), and at least one day free from take-away alcohol sales each week in her set of reforms, as PAAC advocated at the time.
    If Martin and her advisers had had the foresight to take this course of action, the levels of alcohol consumption today would be far lower than they currently are. It is still not too late to learn from this experience and take the necessary steps to pursue our community’s best interests.
    [ED: We greatly appreciate the passionate and mostly well-informed debate on alcohol issues in which many of our readers have participated. All postings can be retrieved from our archive (use the on-site Google function). However, from now only facts and arguments on the subject not previously published will be considered for publication.]

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  23. Jason Newman
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Thirsty Thursday was and is extremely dangerous policy making and I personally question the validity of the stats every time I hear them. As a Tennant Creek resident I’m sick of it being heralded as some sort of assistance. If it worked it would be policy here in TC still today.
    What is never spoken about is that while there was a drop in TC, I would like to see what exactly the spike was in Renner Springs, Wycliffe Wells, Wauchope and even Alice Springs. What the Thirsty Thursday policy did was actually take drunks out of TC and put them on the road. We had drink drivers everywhere! It even still occurs with the dry communities. The perfect example was the seven deaths on the Ali Curung road six months back.
    Take away free days will just push those people to steal, or travel to Jim’s Place or Aileron. Its possible effects should be looked at holisticly, not just in a possible way to back up an argument.
    And I have a genuine question too? How many people exactly are members of the People’s Alcohol Action Committee (PAAC)?

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  24. Russell Guy
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Harold, where do I say that restrictions have not achieved a reduction in consumption? In fact, I gave you an example re the first year of Thirsty Thursday.
    The online ordering of grog to which I refer is part of a response to Cr Heenan’s remarks that “tonnes of the stuff, everyday” are arriving in Alice, which is posted elsewhere at this site.
    The NT Department of Justice claims that this is negligible. Do you have any information or are you just responding to what I’m reporting? Can’t you do any research, including familiarising yourself with the last two months of postings at AS News?
    The online ordering stats are still anecdotal and if you had been following this debate, as I suggested, you would be aware, instead of haplessly quoting without context.
    You have twice, so far, claimed that “we”, that is, you and I “agree” but that has not been the case. I can’t recall your use of a statistic.
    In the argument at hand, the trend is towards a micro-management / multi-pronged approach to reforming a national alcohol epidemic (see FARE research quoted) of which the NT, as explained to you several direct posts, is more highly represented than any other state.
    You consistently ignore this, denigrating restrictions, without proposing any other alternative, in opposition to recognised data. If you took the time to read the reports online, instead of bouncing an immediate post, you’d be better informed and save us all a lot of time going back over the same territory.
    Newcastle is a part of Australia and so is Alice Springs, the last time I looked. You make ridiculous statements about alcohol-related violence which is common to both towns. Model based assessments are constantly made in scientific-based reporting and this is the case with Newcastle and Broome and Halls Creek, Larrakia, Alice Springs, etc. etc.
    Regarding people “drinking themselves into an early grave”, consider this – a loss of self-respect contributes to defeat and dulls the spirit. Many alcoholics, including the long-grassers, if you’ll read the Larrakia Report, in their own words, attribute this as playing a major role in their demise.
    A seven days a week take-away supply restriction draws a line in the sand, morally and spiritually, sets an example to youth, the vulnerable and other like-minded members of the community, local and interstate, and overseas in terms of getting help and in promoting tourism.
    Tourists don’t all want to grog on seven days a week, Harold, and who’s to say they’re in the minority? In fact, if you study this situation, you’ll see, as I stated in the FARE research, that 75-80% of Australians are concerned about alcohol-abuse, but you ignore all this.
    Irresponsible, seven day a week, alcohol supply encourages addiction and loss of self-respect which is a fundamental AA argument. Soapbox, Harold?
    Your remarks about discretionary income are ludicrous when you consider the non-productivity and impoverishment caused by State-sanctioned alcohol-abuse, but we are entering into criminology and that’s a broader area of research finding.
    I wouldn’t want to lead you too far afield when you haven’t done the basic research and consistently demonstrate a lack of moral understanding or sympathy for those who, Larrakia and CAAC stats show, don’t want to drink themselves into an early grave.
    I’ve never advocated prohibition and have said so throughout. This is another example of your failing to be informed and putting words in my mouth. It is incorrect, inaccurate and misleading.
    You conclude by asking a question which does not say much for your understanding of the issue of alcohol-abuse, related violence, cost to taxpayer and the success of restriction-based regulation.

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  25. Raymond Lee
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Must say that Jason has hit the nail on the head. Having done business with Jason he is someone who does have a business brain and is someone who others should listen to.
    All the rubbish about Thirsty Thursday is just that – Rubbish.
    I have been involved in number crunching all my life and a set of figures will tell 10 different people 10 different things. Each one looking for their own answers to justify their thoughts. Unfortunately, that’s life.
    [Re Editor’s note: We greatly appreciate the passionate and mostly well-informed debate on alcohol issues in which many of our readers have participated. All postings can be retrieved from our archive (use the on-site Google function). However, from now only facts and arguments on the subject not previously published will be considered for publication.]
    Thanks. You may have a couple of repeat offenders who will have their noses out of joint.
    I left Alice Springs to try to get a normal life. It is great now going out, enjoying a meal and feeling safe. And that’s Sydney. In Alice the crime and anti social behaviour has continued to get worse. I holidayed there as a kid and loved the place but with all the urban drift and lack of Government and Council responsibility for the issues the town will die.
    I read with interest that the A/S lock up had 88 people in it over a recent weekend. That should be a complete embarrassment to Alice Springs but they seem to wear that as a badge of honor. Where’s the logic in that? Sydney Centre would not have had 88 people locked up.
    Alcohol restrictions will do nothing for these issues. It will just mean they will find other ways to get the alcohol. What happened is the dogooders have broken down the law and order fabric and people know that the law can do nothing.
    In NSW radio commentators laugh at the headlines coming out of the NT. They get the headlines on a weekly basis and comment on them. It should be embarrassing to the NT as it makes the whole place look like a complete joke. It shows that the redneck attitude is there and that the old “Last Frontier Attitude” needs to be placed aside and a more professional attitude taking on.
    I will continue to read your online paper and hope that one day Law and Order will return to Alice Springs. It will take a lot from all concerned. The egos and bullshit will need to stop and some hard decisions will need to be made. I see the new council as lacking the ability to make those decisions. I hope they prove me wrong.

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  26. Harold Albatross
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Russell, I didn’t put words in your mouth. I quoted you directly. You may consider that Alice Springs doesn’t have alcohol restrictions simply because they are not at the the level or type you wish them to be. But surely you cannot deny that we already have reduced take-away hours, ID card scanning, a banned register and limited outlets on Sundays. You stated that our consumption is still high and climbing. Whether you like it or not, these are restrictions and in your own words have not achieved a reduction in consumption.
    The issues in Newcastle have nothing to do with this discussion. They did not relate to take-away alcohol, but rather the anti-social behaviour occurring when pub / club customers were moving / loitering between licensed establishments in the early hours of the morning. This is not an issue in Alice Springs at present and if you took the time to get down from your soapbox, then that would be bleedingly obvious to you.
    From my perspective, I would have thought the greatest alcohol related issue in Alice Springs is the habitual alcoholics who do nothing other than drink themselves into early graves. You may not be aware, but this group of people generally do not generate enough discretionary income to fulfill their total alcohol needs. I would suggest that this is why reduced take-away trading hasn’t really impacted on total consumption. So what would be the result of removing another 8 hours by having a take-away free day? I’d suggest it’s likely that there will still be enough hours in the week for alcoholics to extinguish their discretionary income and therefore have little to no impact on total consumption.
    What concerns me and why I respond to prohibitionists, is that if removing a take-away day has no impact, you are likely to continue to press ahead with the same agenda regardless. Next it will be 2 and then 3. Where will it stop.

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  27. Russell Guy
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 8:39 am

    News just in this morning can contribute to the getting of wisdom for Harold Albatross, but first, just where has he been for the past two months or is it that he prefers to dazzle us with his pseudo-analytical skills?
    There’s a distinction between grinding an axe and flogging a dead horse, but Harold manages to do both at the same time. Anyone with a reasonable overview of the restriction debate and a good pair of binoculars can see where his tactics have placed him in the field.
    “We” don’t accept that restriction hasn’t “really” achieved anything, Harold.
    The Chief Executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), in releasing their annual poll yesterday, backed the Last Drinks coalition of health workers and police for Newcastle’s early pub closing times, lockouts and trading restrictions to be extended to other parts of the state.
    FARE’s research says that three-quarters of Aussies believe that Australia has a problem with alcohol abuse. Three-tenths have suffered alcohol-fuelled violence. Eighty percent believe that alcohol-related problems will either get worse or stay the same over the next ten years, while seventy-five percent believe that more needs to be done. Which group are you in, Harold?
    The poll also showed an ignorance of how many standard drinks were in any one product, which is one of the arguments for a floor price, aimed at easing consumption related to self-harm. Alice’s community organisation, the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC) have been recommending a floor price for some time. The UK Government is introducing it.
    Thirsty Thursday’s first year of operation in Tennant showed a reduction in consumption of 7.5%. The Banned Drinkers Register has over 2000 offenders since January and people are volunteering to be placed on it. Restrictions do work, Harold, especially when they’re given a go, monitored and evaluated. They are one of the few options available to try and control an epidemic of alcohol abuse in Australia.
    Newcastle is a national standard for combating alcohol-abuse. It will lead to the freeing up of NSW and Commonwealth taxpayer funds (currently $15b p.a.) spent on alcohol-abuse for education, health and other services. The NSW Nurses Association are backing these restrictions as has the QLD Nursing Association in its stand against regional alcohol-abuse associated with fly in / fly out mine workers.
    A take-away sales free restriction has not been tried in Alice Springs, Harold. It will form another part of the micro-management / multi-pronged approach to managing excessive consumption, currently being tried and evaluated in Hall’s Creek, Broome and other parts of WA.
    It’s time that the NT Government stopped treating “problem drinkers” as the only problem and focused more on the supply end as a problem creator, by considering a Territory-wide take-away ban on Sundays.
    This would set an example to many in the community, particularly youth and begin an approach that will be seen as seriously engaging with an issue, which as I pointed out and you chose to denigrate (as you habitually do), is way above the national average on several indicators.
    It’s time figures on the non-productivity and impoverishment caused by irresponsible alcohol supply were researched in the NT. Have a read of the Larrakia Corporation, NT Government funded report into the state of the long-grass alcoholics, Harold.
    Google the articles and posts over the past two months in the AS News, if you’re serious about being informed. As Dr Boffa noted in the Advocate last Friday, it’s time for people to stop saying that restrictions don’t work. Study that graph, read the reports. Get with it.
    There are too many people, men, women, children and the as-yet unborn, being affected by alcohol-abuse due to irresponsible supply.

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  28. Russell Guy
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Harold, this is at least the second time that you’ve put words in my mouth. Restrictions that haven’t been tried haven’t failed. Give it a break.

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  29. Janet Brown
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Steve has at all times put our town first. He is not into playing the petty games that some who claim to be on the righteous side would have you believe. There is no gang of four. There are four businessmen. Men who run their own separate businesses. Separate businessmen with one goal – assisting business and economic growth. That means a safe town jobs families and community.
    What Steve is about is real change, real hope and real work to address our town’s issues. Yes there are committees but they have been there for 11 councils and what have they achieved in addressing the law and order and safety of our town? Nothing. Steve is going to represent the people – all people, even those who did not vote for him.
    Why? Because Alice is his home and we are prepared to fight for it. We have been doing it since 2004. We put people first. Not second. So complain all you like about Steve, but he will not hide under mountains of paperwork and spin.
    He will represent the town’s population, not pomp and ceremony. Those elected members yelling “look what they did” are the same ones that have said we have no law and order issues in town. So who really has their heads in the lap of the NT Government, being told be quiet?

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  30. Harold Albatross
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Finally, Russell has hit the nail on the head: “Alice has twice the national consumption of grog and climbing if the online quantity is added.” We have already reduced our take-away outlet trading hours and according to you the gap is apparently ever widening. So we now both accept that restriction hasn’t really achieved anything. Thanks for putting it so succinctly, it really is appreciated. That dead horse you’ve been flogging can finally rest in peace.

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  31. Posted April 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Dear Cr Martin: In the interest of ensuring long lasting credibility and positive reinforcement for the title of Councillor, I decline your invitation to join with you in a public spat using this or any other publicity medium. I am certain that the public expectations would demand that of all elected members. I support the notion that disagreement between elected members that are of a personal matter and not council business belong in the private arena where they can be discussed with a view to resolve them for the betterment of the Town.
    That is my invitation to all elected members.
    Sincerely
    Eli Melky
    Councillor

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  32. Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    @10 The only reason there were no fireworks was because the rest of us were too professional to be drawn into your nonsense. It takes two to tango and my prediction is you will ultimately be dancing on your own.

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  33. Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Congratulations to Councillors Paech and Kudrenko who not only stepped up to the plate by accepting Committee Chair positions in the absence of the obvious choices but handled the challenge professionally and without the childplay of the so called “Gang of Four”. This attempt to de-stabilise the new council was calculated and deliberate and I am shocked that the same four men, all successful business people with good business brains (and who have spent the campaign spruking their superior business acumen and management skills) refused to accept key positions where they have an opportunity to make a real difference. I trust that now they have “honoured” their pre-election promise to each other to be “all in” or “all out” they will apply the same skills they have no doubt used in growing their own businesses.

    Yes, I agree with you Councillor Melky that this council does have the potential to become “the most productive and efficient yet in the history of the town” – But the key requirement for that is for YOU Councillor Melky, to back off the game playing. How dare you manipulate outcomes and then when it backfires on you – you have the audacity to lay the blame on me for forming a block against you.

    The most destructive thing on the eleventh council was your gang of three. I’m not going to stand idly by and watch you do it again with a gang of four. That’s no media beat up; you proved it very publicly on Monday night. I hereby publicly call on your three counterparts, Councillors Brown, Booth and Douglas, to end this destructive alliance and put the town first and prioritise their efforts to what the town elected you for. I was pleased to see some real business diversity come onto council and would love to work with them productively and efficiently for the good of the town.

    There may have been no fireworks Councillor Melky but all is not fine. My fuse is very nearing the end.

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  34. Lou H
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Interesting reading, Kieran, great article.
    I too attended the initial part of the council meeting before departing to tend to other business. I found it a little shocking at the lack of commitment that some newly appointed members had shown, if I recall correctly a few weeks ago these people were screaming and demanding our community to elect them so they could restore our town that is apparently in dire need.
    [However] Monday night there were hesitations and declines from predominant business councillors in regards to representation on various committees due to work / business commitments. Cr Brown started off wanting deputy mayor but was unsuccessful due to Cr Heenan winning the vote. Brown was then nominated for the role of chair of Tech services however declined due to work commitments – Steve if that is the case how were you going to manage being Deputy?
    On bright note I must say that I was delighted to see Cr Martin, Paech and Kudrenko playing an active and professional role on our council. Paech and Kudrenko deserve a pat on the back, the two youngest councillors have taken on integral roles and seem to be identifying what the public need.
    So councillors, I ask if you are not on any committees or on committees that meet twice a year, WHAT ARE YOU THERE FOR?
    In closing I hope that the other councillors use and support the young two as role models and future leaders for our community.

    ED – Thanks Lou, but it is important to state that work commitments were not the reason for declining nominations to chair the standing committees. The only committee that a number of councillors declined to sit on because of work commitments, as I recall, was one that meets during the day. As the article explains, the refusal to chair the standing committees appeared to be a refusal to accept that role as a ‘consolation prize’, a tactical move rather than a shirking of work, as not much work is involved between meetings. Cr Brown was nominated for and elected to several other committees.

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  35. Posted April 18, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Our elected members to the 12th Council are only nine people. Supported by the terrific Administrative and Operational staff, they require a “whole-of-community” support base if they are to achieve their objectives for improving the “look and feel” of Alice Springs over the next four years. There is much work to be done outside the Chamber in the community encouraging all of us to work together to achieve the projected goals.
    One way is for the whole of Council being to be perceived as working in harmony. Negative commentary from arm-chair commentators without offering positive options is unhelpful.
    Clearly, we have challenges ahead that should be embraced rather than feared. We also have significant successes that we need to constantly acknowledge and reinforce. Political point-scoring is a game children play. The tactics of how we play the game need not be focused on a “them and us” model. It’s about being assertive, not aggressive. If the “rules” change … then so do the outcomes!
    Wishing the 12th Council all the best in their efforts to help lead us through the next four years. They need “whole-of-community” support in helping to roll out the processes … we are all part of this valuable and vibrant community so each of us has a positive role to play in support. Once people acknowledge and embrace that way of thinking, the journey will become easier.
    Encourage others in our community to embrace positive language, positive focus and acknowledge positive outcomes. Like tourism, this community is “everybody’s business”.

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  36. Brenton Gallas
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:17 am

    I welcome the efforts of the “gang of four”. This town is getting terrified of the lawlessness in our town. It is looking like a town camp with broken glass on our roads … graffiti everywhere … drinking everywhere (the dry town is an absolute joke, with indigenous drinking freely in open sight of everyone), and numerous break-ins. The businesses in the town centre are going under as honest rate paying citizens are too scared to venture out at night: They either get abused, mugged, harassed and cars are wrecked or broken into!
    Law and order should be the main priority, indigenous sent back to their homelands and many more police to enforce this. No wonder the town population is declining and many businesses going under. This town will self destruct the way it is going … we need some balls in the council … stick to your guns, gang of four! And Mayor and friends … come to Northside or go for a stroll in the town centre at night if you have the guts.

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  37. Steve Brown
    Posted April 17, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    It was certainly a little disappointing that Liz, Brendan and Damien came to last night’s first Council meeting with a predetermined plan to appoint people where they saw fit.
    It would certainly have been more constructive to have had an all inclusive discussion to determine those best suited to the various roles.
    This certainly would have resulted in a much stronger signal of intent being sent to what is becoming a rather desperate community, however that being said I think the Council will settle down and work constructively for the town. The feeling in the room is pretty good, a little testy between Liz and Eli otherwise no real issues.
    For those who are concerned about how we will work together, even though the campaign may have been a little divisive, Liz Martin has been and remains a close friend. Brendan is both a friend and my cousin to boot. I have know Damien and his family for my entire life, though not a close personal friend we get on well.
    We in the so called Gang of Four and these three, are all of a similar background, very much on the same page politically speaking. Sure, there will be some argy bargy, and hopefully some good discussion which will lead to good argument winning the day.
    Yes, perhaps not a good start to that, but it’s very early days. I personally have no particular interest in titles or positions, just in getting some things done.
    I intend once I get used to the process, introducing a number of motions that will hopefully be the lead to the creation of a number of strategies to deal with the town’s issues, the first with utmost priority Law and Order. With that in mind I have already put forward a rather poorly worded motion {new chums} that has as its intention council assessing the possibility of introducing a Joy Baluch (the Mayor of Port Augusta) style committee to both develop and monitor a strategy aimed at dealing with our town’s increasing trauma. This will come up for further discussion at the next ordinary meeting of council. Looking forward to it.

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  38. Posted April 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Dear Russell, I have read many of your comments and totally understand that you have a desire to deal with the issue of alcohol which includes discussion on restrictions, with or without, also all the greater complexities that are attached to such a discussion which includes a huge amount of statistics that support for and against argument. But by way of a very quick explanation regarding my agenda items, I listed those items specifically as they are on the papers for discussion now and need to be dealt with now. The Agenda comments are directly associated to the previous post regarding Mr Douglas Pearce comments. This is not to say that I will not deal with or talk about or discuss the issue of alcohol. In fact I look forward to it, that I can assure you.
    Please rest assured, it is not that I have a limited agenda at all, I just run out of time for the day, yet felt the need to respond quickly to you. Please accept my limited reply as part one, to be followed by part 2 shortly.

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  39. Hal Duell
    Posted April 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I think anyone who watched the elections to the various committees would agree that work needs to be done on how to resolve the problem arising when the nominees outnumber the positions. Unfortunately by then the Gallery was down to the press, former Alderman Murray Stewart and myself.
    But the system cobbled together last night clearly didn’t work (see my comments in the following article), and it is in everyone’s interest to fix it.
    Perhaps it is also necessary to shuffle the chairs. It would seem to be pointless to place two Councillors next to each other if they don’t get along. They all have to sit there twice a month in front of the public and deal with matters important to Alice Springs. Why make that any more confronting than it has to be?
    And a final note on what did happen last night. I didn’t stay for the Technical Services Committee or the Finance Committee, but Councillor Martin chaired the former and as an old hand, I have no doubt she acquitted herself well. New Councillor Paech chaired the Finance Committee, and as there’s not much to do there, I doubt it was a problem. Councillor Kudrenko may have been thrown into the Chair of the Community and Corporate Services Committee, but she seemed to take it at a canter.
    I predict the rough edges will wear off, and we will end up with a good working Council.

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  40. Russell Guy
    Posted April 17, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Eli,in listing your agenda issues, you didn’t mention the fact that Alice has twice the national consumption of grog and climbing if the online quantity is added. One of the reasons for this surely must be the seven days per week take-away access. Do these things make you proud to be a representative of the local governing body? Do you think this sets a good example to youth?
    I asked you reasonable questions concerning excessive alcohol consumption at this site during the election campaign, but you didn’t reply.
    I have yet to read why you think that Law and Order can contain an alcohol epidemic, when increasing restrictions in countries, towns and communities elsewhere are being employed to face the same problems.
    I would appreciate your argument, because there are anomalies coming out of the restriction issue, including the limited cask withdrawal leaving port on the shelf. This is a high-risk product in the circumstances. The one liter glass bottles are in the same category.
    As a non-driker, would you agree that the responsible supply of alcohol requires the applied micro-management of a restriction regime to be effective, or do you still support open slather sales?
    Perhaps, you might lobby for a Responsible Alcohol Supply Committee to look at the complexities, before we continue to throw more billions at the issue in more police and poorly thought out rehabilitation solutions?
    In case it has escaped you, the trend in alcohol marketing is towards “more”, while the trend in alcohol reform is towards the supply end, but here in Alice, this seems to have not been appreciated by the many who only see themselves punished by a floor price or a restriction. They’re not prepared to sacrifice anything for a common sense argument.
    There is a polarisation going on and alcoholics are caught in the middle, while taxpayers fund the abuse to the tune of $15b p.a. and escalating. The NT Government and the Alice Springs Town Council blame “problem drinkers” for “anti-social” behaviour while they could be accused of being “problem creators” for ignoring the type of restrictions which have worked and are coming into legislation elsewhere.
    This is dividing communities and as someone who has handed back the boxing gloves, would you be interested in chairing the committee if you could get it up? You’ve had two good ideas, that I’m aware of, in the small-sports idea and tackling the graffiti pays issue, but alcohol underpins everything that this town needs in order to go forward, including the productivity of its most disadvantaged citizens and the biggest nett result – tourism.
    The fact that you don’t even include alcohol in your agenda items, apart from the Law and Order approach, is hard to understand.

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  41. Posted April 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Dear Melanie
    Hope is not lost; it was only our first night, so please give us a couple of minutes to settle in. After all I had to practise a couple of times how to pronounce a couple of the elected members surnames and the Mayor had called elected members Alderman not Councillors an easy error … gee whiz take a breath.
    The only people having a hissy fit I can tell you is the Media as they just did not get their anticipated so called Fire Works.
    I assure you all is well and we will be working together. As for that tag the gang of four: That only serves to benefit the media and the doomsayers … and you don’t sound like a doomsayer Melanie.
    I have been judged during the election, now I ask you be patient please Melanie and never loose hope.
    Cheers
    Eli Melky
    Councillor Alice Springs

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  42. Jane Clark
    Posted April 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    re: the vote for reps on Tangentyere and Lhere Arterpe –
    Has that system of voting got a name? I have never heard of it before! It doesn’t seem to work mathematically or democratically. I’m not a fan of the “gang of 4” but fair’s fair…

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  43. Posted April 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    So let me get this strait Mr Douglas Pearce, your suggesting based on the report above that myself and at least 3 other councillors are not shouldering our share of the work load and for that should get off council and let others do the work.
    My question to you then Mr Pearce is were you there last night? If you were you would know that in fact of the councillors who declined certain chair and other committee roles included Cr Kudrenko, Booth, Douglas, Paech, Martin, Deputy Mayor (DM) Heenan and Cr Brown.
    You would also know that Cr Brown not only stood for Mayor but again was prepared to offer himself as Deputy Mayor. This was decided by an open vote and it is congratulations to DM Heenan for the next 12 months. YOU need to know then also that I put my hand up for 5 committees but lost on votes once again and pulled out of 3 to make way for others who showed interest. I felt it is good to encourage the new Councillors to get involved early. Over the next four years we will have 3 more elections for DM and other Chair and committee positions as we rotate around. I can assure you each elected member will get a good opportunity to serve.
    Councillors Booth, Douglas and Brown have been elected to many other committees, clearly not reported above, so I think you may be incorrect in saying they are not shouldering their share.
    As for myself, I can only offer myself up, as I was voted out, there is very little I can do about that.
    Nevertheless I know that each one of us elected members will be working tirelessly to ensure the Budget, the Landfill, the Aquatic Centre, the solar cities, the road verges, and the Law and Order issues all of which are items on the agenda now, will be committed to making sure all is well at the end of the day.
    I put that challenge back to you, don’t you think you’re quick to judge attitude which was typical of the stuff dished out during the election at us by others, is in itself childish behaviour?
    Furthermore, I am proud and happy to have supported the nomination of Cr Paech to Chair of Finance which he accepted, and also nominated Cr Kudrenko to the chair of Tech Services, she declined.
    I am pleased that we have our 2 youngest and newest elected members in the role of Chairs of a committee in their first year. That says more about how much I support elected members rather than not support.
    It needs to be said that it is not lost on many people that this council may just become the most productive and efficient yet in the history of the town; this may just come at a price. That price is we may be the most boring when it comes to media as they just didn’t get their so called fireworks.
    If you still feel the need to mouth off at elected members and demand we create a by-election, then I expect it will be an opportunity for you to put your hand up next time.
    Best wishes to all.
    Eli Melky
    Councillor
    Alice Springs
    And proud.

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  44. Melanie
    Posted April 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I did have some hope of everyone acting in the best interests of the town after the rancour of the election. Sad to see that Crs Melky, Booth, Brown and Douglas seem more interested in self serving than serving Alice Springs. What a shame.
    Doing something would mean working together to achieve the best for Alice, not having a hissy fit when you don’t get your own way.

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  45. Douglas Pearce
    Posted April 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Wake up to yourselves Crs. Booth, Melky, Douglas and Brown. The Alice Springs residents rejected your push to become Mayor but elected you to serve as aldermen. They expect you to “serve”, not play childish games. If you are not prepared to shoulder your fair share of the workload, get off council now and let those who are have a go.

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  46. JJ
    Posted April 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    The way this gang of four stuff is reported makes me last.
    No one seems to want to mention that we also have a gang of 5 all in bed together? And that we even had a gang of seven on election day all putting the Law and Order guys last. So really both sides played the same game.
    And what happened last night is great, those who choose to support the mayor should be those now stepping up to the plate. Perhaps it would seem they didn’t think getting on the council would actually mean doing something. How concerning.

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