Simon Walker, can I suggest that such a forum is …

Comment on Mandatory sentencing or not, that is the question by Kieran Finnane.

Simon Walker, can I suggest that such a forum is a time for giving clear and precise answers that do not require conjecture as to their thrust? I also spoke to Mr Giles today to get clarification, as reported. In a perfectly civil exchange, he told me he did not accept that minimum sentencing for categories of assault is mandatory sentencing.

For the benefit of readers, here is a transcription of the exchange between Trish van Dijk from the floor and Adam Giles, with a final comment from Matt Conlan.

Trish van Dijk: I would like to ask Adam Giles and the CLP generally, but to Adam Giles perhaps, given that the prison is absolutely chock-a-block and overcrowded to the maximum, and given that there are 90% or thereabouts of Indigenous people in the prison, and I know law and order is a big [item on your agenda], would you be considering bringing back mandatory sentencing which would exacerbate the matter to an almost impossible rate. And probably do no good because the recidivism out at the prison is very, very high too. So, given that it’s a legal challenge that maybe mandatory sentencing is not legal, would the CLP be pursuing that agenda as they have promised to do?

Adam Giles: Thanks, Trish, for the question. No, we won’t be pursuing mandatory sentencing. I can say I am emotionally disturbed by the level of Indigenous incarceration and the recidivism rate. I think in 2012 in a nation such as Australia the level of Indigenous incarceration is appalling. I’ve been around politics long enough, I know that if it was a Liberal Government and this was happening, Labor would be singing from the rafters, absolutely bagging us about what was happening.
We lock up black Territorians seven times more than they ever did under Apartheid in South Africa and [inaudible]. It is disturbing what is happening. There are fundamental problems in our social psyche across the Territory. We know many of those issues and we’ve got to put in place reform at the structural level to try to fix some of these things.
We’ve spoken about the Planning Commission, housing, outstations, regional councils, economic development. There’s a range of areas we need to address to try to get to the root causes of some of the problems. I believe we need to do a number of things and that’s why we’ve got a policy around mandatory rehabilitation and voluntary rehabilitation for people who have got chronic alcohol misuse or abuse problems. So that anyone picked up three times in a six month period will have to go to either voluntary rehabilitation or mandatory rehabilitation. We don’t want people clogging up our police stations night after night, getting washed in and washed out because they’re drunk on the streets. We want to try and help people, we don’t want those people ending up through the prison system which is what’s happening now as a result of breaking into people’s houses or commercial premises to get grog. It’s not working under the current alcohol regime. All we’re doing is locking up black Territorians and I’m not happy with it.

Trish van Dijk: So is that a definitive no?

Adam Giles: No, right at the start, no.

Matt Conlan: No, it’s not happening.

Recent Comments by Kieran Finnane

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@John Bell. Alice Springs News Online’s editorial focus is always on the local picture. The YES campaign in Alice Springs is active and highly visible. There has been no contact to this office from anybody representing a local NO campaign.
It is possible that a NO case may be made by some local religious groups. We have contacted Pastor Jamie Tasker, who chairs the Alice Springs Christian Ministers Association, requesting a statement, if and when one is made. 

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@John Bell. My comment is straightforward: solid support from voters deserves a solid performance on council. For further explanation, re-read the pre-election profile I wrote about Ms Price (my comment provides the hotlink), acknowledging her many qualities while scrutinising her performance on the past council. This was based on a lengthy interview with her and my consistent attending and reporting of council for the length of her term.

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In the course of our everyday human relations trying to be open to one another irrespective of race, gender and age is a good starting point. In analysing social relations, it is naive if not disingenuous to suggest that these things don’t matter.
Whiteness, maleness, and age correlate strongly with power in our society. These factors are expressed in very real life conditions, all of which are evident in Australia and here in Alice Springs: being subject to violence, mortality and morbidity rates, property ownership, pay gaps, poverty levels, holding executive positions, holding political office.
It can be hard for white men, however well-meaning, to recognise as anything other than normal the situation that gives them unequal access to power. With their power intact, it is easy for them to then proclaim that the system ain’t broke and doesn’t need fixing, that they are blind to race, gender and age, that we are all equals.
The last Town Council was dominated by middle-aged and older white men, who also all had small business backgrounds. This make-up is not reflective of the community make-up, although it is undoubtedly reflective of its power relations.
The Development Consent Authority is another powerful group that has been dominated by the same demographic.
(See Erwin Chanda’s analysis here and my subsequent report here.)
The outgoing town councillors had an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to being more diversely representative when they last voted for the Deputy Mayor’s position (which rotates every 12 months). Cr Jade Kudrenko’s strong performance on council, combined with her many personal qualities, equipped her well for the role, but the dominant group on council backed their man, even though he had been in office just five months. He is a man like them in every obvious way except with fewer grey hairs, Cr Jamie de Brenni.
(See my comment here.)
This had political consequence. The Deputy Mayor’s position comes with a lot of opportunity to be out and about in the community. It’s an excellent preparing ground for assuming a greater political role and so keeping power in the family. Cr de Brenni has had the added advantage of extra time in the role when it might have been changed in March this year, giving him a higher-profile run all the way to this election.
It would be interesting to see this seemingly normal state of affairs tested by an upset result in the election that is underway. There are highly credible candidates in the field reflecting a far more diverse range of backgrounds, experiences and worldviews not to mention gender than was reflected on the last council.

Surprising conservative on council: Jacinta Price
Steve, You are reading far too much into this. My reference to the “old white fellas” was a light-hearted shorthand for the closely-aligned block on council that I otherwise describe as conservative. Councillor Price took it light-heartedly, as reported in the article – she laughed and answered the question without a hint of offence or defensiveness.
Any calm consideration of my journalism over the years would dispel any notion of me backing a “black and white judgemental politics of division”. On the contrary.
In this article I am simply speaking of a real division on council, between the majority block to which you belonged, as did Cr Price, and the rest (in the minority and less consistently united). Not all or even the majority of issues split council along these lines, but the more controversial ones did.

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