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

Stagnant CBD; industrial land, rental shortage; houses hold
@ Kylie Johnston. With respect, this is not a ‘media conversation’ but a report from a Town Council meeting open to the public.
Perhaps you will want to take up your concerns with Cr Auricht and Mr Doyle, whose comments are accurately reported.
Kind regards, Kieran Finnane.

Town Council riven by conflict, lack of leadership
@ Alex Nelson. Councillor Paterson is mistaken. I have checked the audio of the meeting: he was clearly nominated by Cr Cocking and Cr de Brenni seconded the nomination.

To die for country
@ John Bell: Dr Nelson’s message about equality is clearly expressed in his words that I have cited, about Australians all being “equal – irrespective of politics, race or religion”.
On reflection, his meaning when he said “they denied their Aboriginality to fight and die for the young nation”, is likely referring to those who enlisted either having found a way around their exclusion from the armed forces on the basis of their race, or having had their Aboriginal descent overlooked. “Denied their Aboriginality” seems to me an unfortunate choice of words to cover these circumstances.
Readers may be interested in further details on this topic in an article on the War Memorial’s site:

No gaol for Peace Pilgrims: sentence
Phil, They did indeed suffer consequence, as the article above and the series of reports from the trials make clear. For victimless acts of civil disobedience they were tried under harsh Cold War era legislation, facing maximum penalties of seven years imprisonment. This hung over them for a year.
They were found guilty and were sentenced, proportionately to the nature of the offence and their circumstances. Fines ranged between $5000 and $1250. Considerable penalties for people who live their lives in voluntary simplicity, without substantial income, and in service of those in need.

The ‘tough gig’ of doing things the right way
Thanks for the correction, Alex. I will amend the story accordingly.
I should also add that the demolition of the abandoned house, and the subsequent fencing of the site was done by way of compensation to custodians, after a telecom tower was erected on top of the range at the Gap without their permission.

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