Re Steve Brown (Posted June 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm): …

Comment on Send in the taskforce: councillor by Bob Durnan.

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.]

Bob Durnan Also Commented

Send in the taskforce: councillor
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.


Send in the taskforce: councillor
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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Fascinating to hear that seniors who were grandfathered will keep their concessions and receive $500.
Would be even more interesting to know what that means.
Exactly what did the grandfathers do to the seniors? Care to tell us, Sue Shearer?


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Neither Paul McCue nor James Smerk understands the role of the police at the TBLs / POSIs outside the takeaway grog outlets.
They are not there for the purpose of policing the outlets, nor for the purpose of proving security for the benefit of the outlets and their customers, although they do some of that incidentally in the course of their main duties.
The reason that police are there is to prevent the trafficking of alcohol by people who have no legitimate place to drink it, and who are intending to drink it in places where it is illegal to do so, such as Aboriginal lands where communities have asked the Liquor Commission to declare areas dry, or town camp leases which the Federal government has declared dry for the wellbeing of vulnerable residents.
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In response to R Henry on Oct 20th, on who gets the extra markup money?
There is very little brand loyalty to the cheap brands of Chardonnay amongst our dedicated alcohol-drinking punters: They are after the cheapest hit of alcohol for their buck, regardless of its host liquid, not for their next taste of the rank Calabrian / Bortoli products.
Since the vast majority of shoppers generally shift their choice to better value for money when confronted with higher prices (and this happened when Clare Martin knocked the cheapest wines and sherries off the shelves in October 2006: there was a massive shift to beer), there is unlikely to be very much windfall profits via extra markup.
To the extent that there are any windfalls, they are unlikely to be anywhere near commensurate with the decrease in profits that are likely to occur because of the overall impacts of a number of the proposed reforms.
To see if I am correct, keep your ears open for the sounds of the interstate alcohol industry cartels – manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and their paid public relations reps squealing about the alleged injustice, unfairness and unworkability of these visionary evidence-based reforms.
It is going to be an interesting war, and the outcome will decide whether the NT has any future worth speaking about.


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Peter, Posted June 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm: some young girls may resist promised marriage more strongly these days, but I doubt whether some are in a position to do so.
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I’m not kungka, I’m arelhe
Does anybody know if the hours when the Arrernte words teaching program is held at the Apmere angkentye-kenhe are available somewhere on the net, or anywhere else?
I thought I had seen it advertised for every Wednesday night at 6pm, but this doesn’t appear to be the case?
I have gone there at this time, found it closed, and no notice or info on the door.
Anybody wanna clarify here?


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