Send in the taskforce: councillor

A prominent councillor says if necessary, the police taskforce should be deployed to keep the peace in town camps: “We must not return to the situation where police are kept out of the camps after dark and needed permits to enter,” says Cr Steve Brown (pictured).
Cr Brown, who had the highest vote in the recent council elections, was commenting after a riot in Hidden Valley Town Camp on Wednesday, when it was alleged rioters attacked police, released prisoners from a paddy wagon and smashed police vehicles.
Cr Brown says full access by police to the camps was re-introduced when the Federal Intervention started in 2007.
He says it cannot be tolerated for the peaceful majority in the camps to be “bullied, beaten and bashed by drunken thugs.
“We must not back away and leave the law abiding people exposed.
“If we need to send in the taskforce night after night for the message to get across to the thugs, then so be it.”
This is how the police reported, in part, the events on Wednesday:-
Four people remain in custody following a melee at an Alice Springs town camp last night when officers attended the Hidden Valley Town Camp at about 8.30 to investigate the report of a fire.
They allegedly found two highly intoxicated people, a 44-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman, and took them into protective custody. [Possession of alcohol is prohibited in town camps.]
While police were attempting to find a person of interest in relation to the fire, they found a further two intoxicated men aged 54 and 25.
While officers were taking those men into protective custody, they began to violently struggle with police.
At this time, other persons around the vicinity allegedly became verbally abusive towards police and allegedly armed themselves with rocks and began to throw them at police, forcing officers to release the 44-year-old from their control.
This man allegedly opened the caged police vehicle and released the original persons.
These persons joined in the melee and allegedly began attacking the police vehicles with logs and rocks smashing windows and light bars.
Officers deployed Tasers, which were ineffective.
The 54-year-old man allegedly armed himself with a box cutter and threatened officers, who then used batons to gain control and arrest the man.
Other officers arrived and further arrests of the rioters were made.
The 54-year-old received injuries to his leg and knee which will require surgery.
Three men aged 25, 44, 54 and a 30-year-old woman have been charged with criminal damage and assault police.
Police reported a similar event, also in Hidden Valley, on May 25:
Two officers attended a disturbance at the camp at about 4.30am.
“Whilst at the camp the officers allegedly identified offences against the Liquor Act occurring at another location.
When the officers began seizing the alcohol they were allegedly set upon by an angry group of intoxicated people. A further three police officers arrived at the incident to provide assistance.
The officers were allegedly pelted with rocks, chairs and other improvised weapons.
Two male officers were injured during the incident and have received treatment at Alice Springs Hospital. One of the officers has a broken hand.
At this stage, two people have been arrested.

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22 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. Russell Guy
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Ray @ June 27. 1:11AM. Hi Ray, your post reminded me of the old argument about a means to an end. Sometimes, we use the means (alcohol regulation) to achieve an end that we can’t live with. It’s time for change.
    The end of forty years of liberal laws, where we currently have take-away alcohol being sold seven days a week, has produced a very expensive social problem, but this is where I really want to engage with your argument about all of us being equal under the law.
    The cultural difference that underpins much of life in Alice between Aboriginal people and those of a more European background, is seen not exclusively through the prism of law, but in inequalities in affordable housing, educational opportunities, welfare, prison and health statistics.
    There are terminologies for why this is so in the social sciences. Accelerated cultural change is one of my favourite, whereby change from a way of life has come upon Aboriginal people (whose first language in the majority of cases, is not English), at a rapid rate, causing confusion, psychological stress and shorter life spans, etc, than the majority of Australians.
    You are right in saying that more things need to change than alcohol supply, but the focus on alcohol-abuse, welfare reform and job creation is an obvious place to begin.
    Cultural difference is hard to explain, even though it’s all around us in central Australia. It’s something you have to appreciate. George Bernard Shaw once said “to be in Hell is to drift: to be in Heaven is to steer.” Guess who’s steering social change in Australia and on the streets of Alice?
    You want Aboriginal people to fit into this scheme, but their cultures are different and they don’t have the skills mentioned above to negotiate, because of the historical situation that still pertains.
    I maintain that we’re trying to put a circle into a box. The circle is found in Aboriginal art and the box is found in the geometry of Western science. I make a fire (in a circle of rocks) each morning out bush and people stand around it. The TV is a rectangle. There has to be a better accommodation of cultural difference.
    In conclusion, I would like to draw your attention to the Northern Territory Police Association’s (NTPA) submission to the Coroner’s inquest into the death of a young Aboriginal man in the Alice watch house in January.
    The NTPA, on behalf of our police, make some welcome statements regarding the “soul-destroying” work of taking Aboriginal alcoholics into custody. You will find the links to that in the AS News.

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  2. Ray
    Posted June 27, 2012 at 1:11 am

    Russell@5. Thanks Russell for saying you believe that my statements appear racist, rather than saying I am racist. A nice change. When you consider that my initial comment was in response to the police being attacked in a town camp, then yes, I make no bones in saying that this is an Aboriginal issue. I did not however say that they social dysfunction is caused purely by aboriginal people. Although it somewhat pains me, I tend to agree with your statement that there are many other interest groups that have led to the issues that we have today. My comment about broadening your scope was in relation to your talk about tightening the supply of grog. I believe there are many many other issues that need to be addressed AS WELL AS the grog issue.
    I am restricted by what I can and can’t say due to obligations to my employer, so sometimes I cannot give all the details I want to, this is also why I do not use my last name. Not withstanding the use of my last name, I still enjoy the intellectual debates we have. Regardless of what side of the fence you sit on, playing devil’s advocate and reading informed rebuttal to my own ideas allows me to expand my knowledge of local issues, and enjoy being part of a group that is prepared to put their opinion forward, expecting alternative views to be expressed.
    I am a very keen reader of the Alice Springs News and believe Erwin does a wonderful job in providing informed and well researched journalism, and also provides a forum for people interested in their town’s future to be heard. Many of these issues highlight the dysfunction that exists in out town, but it is up to us to solve it.
    Russell I have never met you and admit I can get passionate, but thanks for taking the time to responding to my views with well informed intelligent debate.
    Rex, thanks for your support mate, and Steve Brown, keep it up.
    Reading the various opinions on these and similar topics simply goes to show how hard it will be to reach agreement, as we all have opinions, and we also believe that we are right.
    My view is that I want the right to have a beer after work, as I do work hard, have a family, educate my kids and uphold my civil obligations, as I see them to be. My friends who visit me out here think the restrictions we have already are an absolute joke. I have heard the owners of Piggly’s and other places are complaining about the police presence outside their stores. They say that their customers are staying away in droves. Maybe they have something to hide. Outstanding warrants, trying to buy grog when intoxicated etc. maybe this action is what is needed to reduce the level of consumption that leads tho the problems we have. It may bring grog consumption back to what it should be. This is the police presence locals have been calling out for for the last tree years
    It seems to be working. My whole argument has been, and still is, that if anybody wants to be a part of our community, they should be made to feel part of it, providing they abide by the rules expected by that community. This includes the responsible consumption of alcohol, making the effort to improve their lot in life, and not being over-represented on the wrong side of the law, because of their own actions.
    Police are appointed to uphold the laws of the land. I respect the police, and see the crap they have to deal with. I respect the laws we live under and try to follow them. I teach my children that as well. Anybody who attacks police, in a drunken stupor to a point they have to draw tasers, should be condemned for bad behaviour, not excused. Simple. The inequity and lack of opportunity we hear trotted out went out the window years ago. We have, as a society, begun to right previous wrongs, and have bent over backwards to provide a hand up to all people. I get very upset when that hand up is spat at, and rejected because it is no longer a hand out.
    I look forward to more exchanges with you. Would enjoy a chat with you, Rex and others. You can enjoy your Billy tea, but I’ll sit around the fire with a nice bottle of red, thanks.

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  3. Ian Sharp
    Posted June 26, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Clarification: My last post is an extract from the front page article in Monday’s Australian … re the NT Police Association submission to the Coroner in the Briscoe Inquest.

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  4. Russell Guy
    Posted June 26, 2012 at 11:36 am

    The Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) submission to the Coroner in the tragic Briscoe Inquest was reported in The Australian on Monday (25/6/12).
    The recommendations are consistent with what many of us have been saying in the AS News and the Advocate regarding the immediate need for alcohol supply reduction. Not prison farms for rehab, not more law and order, but a floor price, a take-away sales free day/s and a reduction in opening hours from 10am to noon.
    There are many well-intentioned people in Alice who are not even aware that two pubs sell take-away seven days a week. This is a fatal flaw in any plan for this town’s future.

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  5. Ian Sharp
    Posted June 26, 2012 at 11:08 am

    POLICE say they are on the frontline of the battle against Aboriginal disadvantage in central Australia, facing a “maelstrom” of alcohol and violence so relentless that policing it becomes soul-destroying.
    In a powerful submission into the death in custody of Aboriginal man Kwementyaye Briscoe, 27, the Northern Territory Police Association has said the force is dealing with the consequences of decades of government policy failure that are so entrenched they have become “a stain on the whole community of the Northern Territory”.
    The submission, made by the association’s legal counsel, Lex Silvester, argues the job of putting drunk people in protective custody is a large proportion of police work and “is of such mind-numbing, de-sensitising and soul-destroying work as to be heroic”.
    The submission attacks the “failed” alcohol policies of the Territory, saying grog laws are “generous, lightly regulated” and support the “vested interests” of the alcohol industry.

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  6. Ian Sharp
    Posted June 25, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Thank heavens for Bob Durnan being prepared to use his long experience, his intellect and his time to thoughtfully respond on this website.

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  7. Hal Duell
    Posted June 25, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Although they are not yet up on Council’s website, an e-mail assures me the Port Augusta papers will be tabled at tonight’s ordinary meeting.
    There is a good chance the documents will be found later today at: http://www.alicesprings.nt.gov.au/meeting/list/2012/20120625_CNCL
    Both the papers and the debate might prove interesting.
    There will also be discussion on two notices of motion referred from the committee meetings earlier this month. One deals with an increase in penalty rates for infringement of public places by-laws, and the other looks at the future management of our parks.

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  8. Russell Guy
    Posted June 24, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Rex @ June 21. 11:59pm. Thanks for continuing to engage with this situation. Cr Brown, Ray, Jason Newman and yourself, et al deserve a medal or at least a cup of billy tea around the fire, BUT, you have side-stepped the one positive point that I made in reply to Ray.
    All very well to apportion blame and who hasn’t made mistakes, but turning down the supply of alcohol is one way that we can improve the dysfunction in Alice. In fact, I’d go further. It’s critical to the three points of breaking this la la land cycle – alcohol reform, welfare reform and job creation.
    By continuing to salute the mighty grog god as if it’s sacrosanct, it will grow more powerful – emphasis on ‘more’ marketing, more sly grogging, more policing as it has since 1984’s 2 km law.
    Let’s start somewhere around the fire and maybe we can organise a trip to your Reptile Park for some of those kids who need fathers and mothers to show that they care about them and their future in this town.
    I know you’ve had terrible experiences, but most of us have had our feathers ruffled and clipped over the years. Let’s have a go while we still can. Are you interested?

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  9. Bob Durnan
    Posted June 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Rex (Rex Neindorf, Posted June 21, 2012 at 11:59 pm):
    The issue here is more that some observers, like Cr Brown, seldom seem able to resist gilding the lily, or making up “facts”, becoming extravagant in their language, and exaggerating the problems, when presented with the opportunity to comment on the circumstances of Aboriginal people or the government systems and social services with which they are involved.
    Public commentary by elected figures should be balanced, scrupulously factual and responsible. It should not be unnecessarily provocative or making inaccurate implications.
    This is all the more important in the emotionally and politically charged atmosphere of life in frontier towns like Alice Springs, where elements of radically different but deeply embedded social systems, cultural imperatives and economic interests and aspirations of the distinct groups are often in such strong practical contradiction to each other, or at least appear to many people to be so. In these places, where catastrophic historical events are still torturously unfolding and causing serious social, cultural and economic problems and fears, it is vitally important that we all attempt to stay as calm and clear thinking as possible, and endeavour, as far as we are able, to work together in respectful and trusting relationships.
    Maybe you could meditate on the fact that not all “do-gooders” are stupid, or “bad-doers”.
    Although it may be true that many, even most, “lawyers, politicians, government officials, judges and do-gooders have all had a hand in [creation and maintenance of the social dysfunction] as well”, their roles have probably been no greater, and in many cases have probably been less, than that of some historic and present actors whom you have conspicuously omitted from your hit-list of blame.
    I have in mind the roles, attitudes and acts, or failures to act, of certain pastoral pioneers, police, prison guards, miners, tourism developers, gambling venue proprietors, community opinion leaders, investors, other entrepreneurs and many members of the general public, not to mention liquor licensees and other drug dealers, who must also share some of the blame with us “do-gooders” for helping create some of the dysfunction, in their various ways, over the years.

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  10. Posted June 21, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    @Ray, June 20, 8:56pm well said, Russell. In your reply you accuse Ray of making a racist comment. In my opinion not so. Take a look at the daily court records and if 90%+ listed are not of Aboriginal decent I will eat my hat. So Ray is just stating a fact, nothing to do with racism whatsoever. You are right however Russell when you state that they are not ‘soley responsible for the social dysfunction in the Alice community’. Lawyers, politicians, government officials, judges and do-gooders have all had a hand in it as well.

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  11. Russell Guy
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Ray @ June 20. 8: 56pm. Thanks for your thoughtful post. Please allow me to respond by saying that I think you are making a racist statement in identifying Aboriginal people as being solely responsible for the social dysfunction in the Alice community. I know “it stands out” and I appreciate your frustration.
    I remember the introduction of the 2km law in 1984 and had to work with it. I asked the police for help at the time, but they responded with, “we don’t make the laws.” Quite so.
    I think I have a little knowledge of alcohol restrictions in Alice, so I’m not just shooting from the hip and I agree with you that the current regime could be improved, but the NTG’s Enough is Enough measures have statistically improved the situation since their introduction in 2007. It would have been far worse without them.
    Along with many others, I advocate a take-away sales free day/s and a floor price (a reduction in public bar trading hours would be a good thing, say from 10AM opening, back to noon), but we’re such “good drinkers in the NT”, it’s a hard one to live down and keep one down, much less close down for the good of the community, but so was the abolition of the British slave trade.
    Regarding your advice to “broaden my scope”, if you Google my name in the Alice Springs News archives, you will find my recommendations for the overhaul of Centrelink.
    It seems to me, with a post-graduate degree in Sociology, among other things, if you’ll pardon my modesty, that in a laissez faire democracy such as we have in Australia, whereby many people go along with whatever happens and/or complain from the sidelines until the next election comes along, we have structural problems that are not easily overcome, especially, in a Rights-based environment where certain activists agitate for their rights above those of the community good, simultaneously reducing certain freedoms that were once taken for granted. We see it in the alcohol debate too.
    The legislative framework for governance is often limited, slow in adjusting to social pathology, unwieldy, inefficient, duplicated, etc. and such is the pace of modern life, that few of us have the time to listen, while the colossus of government rolls on and over.
    However, one has to start somewhere in Alice and reducing the supply of alcohol remains an obvious target in improving our community’s dysfunction. Since 1984, we have allowed numerous take-away alcohol outlets to supply seven days a week, to the point where the expense far outweighs any benefit to the community.
    We have arrived at a social crossroads in a transitioning economy where only the mining industry is referred to as a saviour. This morning, it was announced that housing construction is down 12.5p.c. in the first quarter.
    I’ve gone cold turkey on grog after 43 years. It’s not necessary for life. In fact, the benefits are amazing in so many ways. I expect to get shot at for saying this, but how about you?

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  12. Ray
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Russell@1. Yes Russell you are right in whom I identify. People say that this type of behavior occurs with white people as well, but in a town of 27000 people it stands out.
    Russell you always talk about alcohol issues, but I have been here 14 years and have noticed more and more restrictions coming in, yet the problems are getting worse and worse. We have had the 2 km law, that stupid one where you had to say where you are intending to drink if you buy more that $100 dollars worth of grog, abolition of long neck beer, abolition of 4 ltr casks etc, and now the ridiculous banned drinkers register that has been proven to increase break and enters for those who cannot legally buy it.
    The problem is the snivel libertarians who tell people they have every right to buy grog and get shitfaced every single day. They don’t need to work, Centrelink go into the river to help people get their dole payments. You confront a person breaking into your house looking for grog, they swing at you, you hit back in self defense and they go straight to CAALAS and get free representation to take you to court.
    You will most likely get off through section 27 and 29 of the criminal code act, but there is 6 months of worry where you have criminal charges hanging over your head. A normal working person has no chance of affording legal representation. This is what scares me about living in Alice Springs, and many other people I know. A kid breaks into my house, I defend myself, and they get free legal representation, funded by my taxpayer dollars, with the possibility of me going to court, getting a record, and possibly going to prison. Option 2 is take them out bush and bury them, problem solved. Am I over-reacting? You tell me, but this really how serious things are getting here.
    The parents do not give a shit about their kids (no not all, but many), the pollies are too gutless / powerless to bring in real policies, and the support agencies, legal agencies and civil rights activists who have no interest in teaching responsibilities, are also the root cause of the problem. Alcohol is part of the problem, but failure to accept the past, and move into the modern world is causing hatred and preventing any chance of true reconciliation. Broaden your scope Russell, there are more issues at play here, bigger than you or I.

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  13. Russell Guy
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Ray @1. “So why do we need to show respect to these people and this culture again?”
    Studying this post, I’m presuming that the author is referring to Aboriginal people and culture in Alice Springs. The story that we are sharing, including the Tourist Commission’s interpretation, seems to be at the heart of this writer’s concern.
    The biggest problem with the culture is alcohol-abuse.
    I had a visit from the Tourist Commission this morning who asked some questions, but just as I was getting into the answers, their leader, a young woman in R. M. Williams pants, said “well, we’d better get up to Tennant Creek.”
    No time to listen, so the same old, same old departmental duplication going around in fantasy land.
    I was reading an 1916 edition of an old NT publication this morning after the deputation departed and saw a couple of naked Aboriginal men helping a couple of white stockmen working cattle around a holding post – they were all pulling together.
    Until we get the alcohol supply down and people back to work, forget about solving the problem that you’ve raised, Ray, but thanks for writing and at least engaging with something around you that’s concerning. I hope you get it, two out of the three tourist women didn’t. All the best.

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  14. Ray
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 8:52 am

    So why do we need to show respect to these people and this culture again? Reconciliation is a two way street, and this has set the cause back many years in my opinion. Sad thing is many of my aboriginal friends feel the same way and it saddens them.
    Not sure who reported it interstate, but I have had friends discuss this, and other similar occurrences over the years and they have been horrified. Here, we seem to accept it as just another day in the Alice. If this is the story we are sharing, as the tourist commission puts it, god help us, and the generations to come.

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  15. Hal Duell
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    In last Friday’s local newspaper, mention was made of a report coming back to Council dealing with the Port Augusta initiative. This report may be included in the papers for Council’s next public meeting on Monday, 25 June.
    A question: Does Port Augusta have town camps as we know them here in Alice?

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  16. Russell Guy
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Steve Brown @ June 17 and Kevin Mumford @ June 16.
    In his concern for Town Camps being “exposed to the rule of thugs”, Cr Brown refers to “the weak, the vulnerable women and kids” having “the right to drink in their own homes”, “racist laws”, “paternalism”, the NTER, etc., but he continually fails to make the link between easy access to alcohol and violence.
    If these “thugs” weren’t abusing alcohol and having the “right to drink” seven days a week, the victims he’s concerned about wouldn’t have such an endless problem and neither would the police, or the entire community.
    Cr Brown’s CLP associates have an uncosted “prison farm” rehab solution that is just as expensive as Labor’s Carbon Tax-related, multi-million dollar, Centrelink rebates, but neither NT party has the political fortitude to move on alcohol supply reduction as a massive cost saving measure.
    Cr Brown’s accusations of paternalism doesn’t extend to his own political party’s humbug.
    Kevin Mumford keeps making these little “Ha!” homilies, informing us that he’s been holding “church meetings” in Town Camps for “four months”, while some of us have been involved for thirty-odd years.
    Instead of recommending “24 hour security”, perhaps Kevin might like to try organising the local churches to advocate for a take-away free sales day, beginning with Sunday or even Saturday as the Sabbath for those who so believe that on the seventh day, God rested.
    If he’s really interested in adding works to his faith, this would give him some agitating clout among the much touted Christian vote in this country. Moreover, instead of continuing to tell us what we know – “it’s a joke” – and even what he doesn’t, e.g., “there are no rehab facilities” in Alice, he could try joining the campaign to turn down the tap of alcohol supply.
    Perhaps, Cr Brown and Janet, “a woman of strong Christian faith” might jump on the wagon.

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  17. Bob Durnan
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 1:22 am

    Re Steve Brown (Posted June 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm): More baloney from Steve. Town camps are special purpose leases Steve: traditional owners (TOs) were generally not involved, other than advising where people seeking the leases should or shouldn’t be camping or disturbing the land.
    The leases were not obtained under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (ALRA). Under Malcolm Fraser’s ALRA 1976, no land rights claims by TOs are permitted within town boundaries.
    The town camp leases were granted, with conditions and caveats, to the applicant town camp associations and corporations, whose members were the residents, after formal applications were made and negotiated.
    This was the same process that applied to other leaseholders within the town boundaries – for example, caravan parks, sporting clubs etc.
    I was referring to a member of the public having the courtesy to ask before s/he presumed to conduct business on somebody’s lease, other than entering on the roadways with good reason. This was never an issue for the police, as they were asked to help provide security from the beginning.
    Are you implying that police used supposed lack of permission as “an excuse for not entering Town Camps particularly after dark”, despite no legal reason for such permission being needed? I very much doubt that this was the case.
    Once again: are you able to produce any proof for such an allegation? The many meetings with police about these issues were documented in minutes and protocols. You seem to be wanting to create yet another urban myth about the town camps.
    Of course the town camps were often not safe places: most of them were awash with beer and wine much of the time, before and after they were granted leasehold titles.
    Violence was widespread. That is why the town camp leaders were always keen to have as much police presence as possible.
    There was no ‘golden age’ of trouble-free, non-violent town camps. Policing efforts varied, but I doubt that there was a period of a few years prior to the NTER when they didn’t visit after dark, or when problems were significantly greater than they had been for decades prior, since the advent of socially inappropriate unconditional welfare in a town with very easy access to alcohol.
    I would also be interested to learn more about the “paternalistic commentary on the existence of traditional forms of justice in these places, put about by patronizing do-gooding bureaucrats and academics, [which] had given our community all the excuse it needed to sit idly by and watch the ensuing mayhem”.
    I am intrigued. Once again, this sounds like fantasy, gossip or urban myth. What form did this “commentary” on town camps take? Where and when was it published? How did it have the impact you describe without being apparent to people like myself who have observed town camp life and problems closely for several decades?
    I would like to put to you that the problems of violence and thuggery that you identify have been identified by many others for a very long time, with great efforts having been made to control or reduce them by certain town camp leaders, Tangentyere staff, many police, the night patrollers and others.
    The so far insurmountable problem which they have all faced and by which they have all been defeated, so far, is the ready availability of alcohol, and the widespread habit held by many town campers and their visitors of consuming it to excess.
    A permanent presence of “the police taskforce” may be necessary, but in itself it would be insufficient to deal with all the problems caused by having the alcohol tap turned up so high and grog being so freely available to alcohol-dependent people and their visitors.
    Nothing would help the police and everybody else concerned as much as would a sensible floor price on alcohol, a day or two free from alcohol sales per week, and later commencement hours for bars.
    On another issue that you raised: I hope that you agree with Macklin’s Stronger Futures proposal (not yet passed by the Senate) to scrap the automatic banning of alcohol on town camps, and replace it with Alcohol Management Plans generated by the permanent residents of the camp leases.
    In relation to Erwin’s mention of the threat to sue journalists entering town camps, or have them charged with trespass: this would have been an interesting legal exercise.
    As Tangentyere Council has never held the town camp leases, it would seem unlikely that it could ever have launched such an action on its own.
    It is probable that some town camp leaders at times would have wished to keep journalists from interviewing people on their leases. I imagine that they could have sought injunctions to achieve this effect, but as this, to my knowledge, has never been done, it remains untested.
    I don’t imagine that magistrates would have generally looked favourably on attempts to have journalists convicted of trespass for having tried to investigate important public interest stories by putting questions to people on the town camp leases. Perhaps you have been bluffed.
    [ED – Bob, it didn’t stop us from reporting on the camps and giving camp dwellers a voice in a mass medium.]

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  18. Janet Brown
    Posted June 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    So tell us all Bob about courtesy, co-operation and respect. There does not appear to be too much inside the town camps and the sooner they become part of the community of Alice Springs the safer they will be for those who live there. Moving forwarded to a safer and healthier township of Alice Springs.

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  19. Steve Brown
    Posted June 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Just a slight misquote of what I said: Police to my knowledge were never required to have permits to enter Town Camps but the fact that permission or discussion was supposedly required with, or was required from, traditional owners was often given as an excuse for not entering Town Camps particularly after dark.
    There was never anything written in law, there never is in these circumstances, it simply becomes an easy convenient matter of practice that is easily deniable if the practice is ever questioned.
    Law and Order effectively disappeared from Town Camps for a number of years. Some of them became like hell on earth after dark. The weak, the vulnerable women and kids were exposed on a nightly basis to the rule of thugs. The Intervention has brought about a new realization, a realization that although these people were heavily subjected to the attention of the law they were not being heavily protected by the law.
    A paternalistic commentary on the existence of traditional forms of justice in these places, put about by patronizing do-gooding bureaucrats and academics, had given our community all the excuse it needed to sit idly by and watch the ensuing mayhem.
    In my comments to Erwin I was simply making the point that we must not under any circumstances allow a return to those conditions and that some drunken misbehaviour by a few residents in a town camp is no more a reflection on the residents of that camp, than it would be on the town as a whole if one of us was dragged kicking and screaming from their home for drunkenness. I must also add that in my opinion it is high time laws that do not allow camp residents, “Equal Australians”, the right to drink in their own homes like the rest of us are scrapped. These blatantly racist laws will continue to be a source of much angst in our Community until they are removed.
    I have worked as a contractor for decades in the camps and that gave me opportunity for making observations.
    [ED – The Alice Springs News has reported on conditions in town camps for many years. Our interviews were always conducted with the consent of, and mostly, invitation from camp dwellers, yet pre-Intervention we were threatened by Tangentyere Council with action for trespass.]

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  20. Posted June 16, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Ha! We spent four months visiting the town camps holding church meetings. We witnessed all the problems that are always in the newspapers. Until you have 24 hour security on the gates you will never stop the grog problems. It’s a joke.

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  21. Hal Duell
    Posted June 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I don’t know about police, ambos, meter readers and pollies, but I do remember the CEO of the Alice Springs Town Council reading out a letter from Tangentyere in a Council public meeting granting the Town Council the right to enter town camps in order to deal with unregistered dogs.
    This was a couple of years ago after cases of people being at least partially eaten by camp dogs had made the local news.
    I reckon the police, ambos and other emergency services do have the legal right to enter town camps. The question is, are they safe when doing so?

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  22. Bob Durnan
    Posted June 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    This is a very weird one. When I parted company with Tangentyere, town camp leaders had been regularly holding meetings with police over many years, sometimes on the camps, and the issue most often was how to get the police to pay more attention to the camps, provide more regular patrols, and be more responsive to calls for help. I am pretty certain there had never been any request to police from any elected town camp leaders for them not to enter town camps.
    I have never heard about any request by the town camp leaders for police to keep “out of the camps after dark” or get “permits to enter” the camps.
    There was never any legal requirement for police to obtain permits to enter town camp leases, as legally the roads within the town camp leases had the status of public thoroughfares, by virtue of customary use by many members of the public, and no permit system operated in relation to them.
    Town camp residents did try to prevent fast food vendors, tourist buses, door to door insurance salespeople and other such commercial operators from entering town camps without first seeking permission from Tangentyere.
    They made this request by posting signs at the entrances of the leases asking these people to seek permission, but this was basically a request for courtesy, co-operation and respect, and did not (and could not) legally apply to public servants, politicians, police, meter readers, dog inspectors and other such people going about their normal business.
    Is this idea that police for some reason weren’t able to enter the camps something that police decided themselves, or is it another product of Steve Brown’s fertile and perhaps somewhat over-active imagination?
    Is Cr Brown able to produce any documentation to substantiate his allegation?

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