Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 38 »

September 27, 2012

Rehab of drunks is secondary to getting them off the streets, says A-G

 

Crime stats released: there is little difference in the number of alcohol-related assaults in Alice between 2010-11 and the BDR year, 2011-12, however alcohol-related assaults in Alice have increased by 47% since 2007.

 

The success of the government’s mandatory rehabilitation of habitual drunks will be measured by things like fewer protective custodies, fewer presentations at accident and emergency departments  – the usual benchmark indicators of social order, says the Territory’s new Attorney-General John Elferink (pictured at left).  And while the 800 or so “frequent flyers”, as he calls them, are incarcerated in the “camps” intended for them,  they will be off the streets – and that also will be  a measure of success. KIERAN FINNANE speaks to the Attorney-Genereal.

 

UPDATED: September 27, 10.25am. FULL STORY »

Offending in Alice significantly worse than five years ago …

… while Darwin’s offending is significantly better in many categories


The picture of offending in Alice Springs over the last five years is not pretty in most categories. Importantly our homicide and related offences are not climbing but in most other categories the increases are very significant. This is revealed in the June Quarter 2012 crime statistics released by the Mills Government yesterday. Darwin, by contrast, experienced significant decreases in most categories. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Advancement in the bush: no more ‘one size fits all’, says Minister

Alison Anderson has proved her political clout in her electorate, increasing her vote despite her switch of party and the negative campaign against her. Now she is setting out to prove it as a Minister in two important portfolios – Indigenous Advancement and Regional Development. She has showed her style early, suggesting that Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin is in “La La Land” if she thinks she’s “closing the gap”, but what will be the substance? The long-awaited report by NT Coordinator-General of Remote Services, Olga Havnen, has finally been released. Ms Anderson is not committing her government to implementing its recommendations as formulated because, although it has attracted a lot of publicity, she says the report is “nothing new”. She is also not sure if she will maintain the position of Coordinator-General, which she created as Labor Minister, and her comments suggest she is moving away from the Working Future policy and its associated Growth Towns, again her creations while she was with the Labor Government. KIERAN FINNANE speaks with Ms Anderson in the wake of the Havnen Report.

 

Pictured: Ms Anderson with Judy Brumby (right) and Esmeralda, both from Areyonga, during her election campaign.

  FULL STORY »

‘Chain gang’ or holiday gaol time: a crucial question for our parks

When the new government gets cracking on its promised work camps for prisoners it needs to look no further than the Larapinta Trail, much of which was built by inmate labour in the 1990s. The current dry spell and the escalating threat from weeds to our neglected national parks, add urgency for a cheap workforce that can be deployed at short notice. The need to halt the decay of our prime natural assets, which should be bringing home the bacon for our flagging tourism industry, makes a good argument for change for people now doing time in what some regard as holiday comfort. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Pictured: Botanist Peter Latz with wattle burnt in a bushfire. FULL STORY »

New legislation to keep dangerous sex offenders locked up indefinitely

 

 

 

 

Dangerous prisoners can already be detained indefinitely if the Supreme Court so decides, so why is the Territory’s new Attorney-General, John Elferink, wanting to add legislation in this area? Mr Elferink introduced the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Restraint Bill while in Opposition and recently announced his intention to reintroduce it. It was among the matters of concern discussed with him by President of the Criminal Lawyers Association, Russell Goldflam, in their first meeting since the election last week. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Hardware giant Bunnings set to start construction of Alice store

Bunnings is currently finalising the building contract for its new warehouse in Alice Springs, according to the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Davis.

He says the firm “is looking forward to commencing construction within the next two months”.

The store, on the North Stuart Highway, represents an investment of over $23 million, says Mr Davis, and will provide employment for more than 100 local residents.

It is expected to open in mid 2013. FULL STORY »

Officers a leap ahead of councillors on parks

The Town Council’s Director of Technical Services, Greg Buxton, would appear to have been ‘freelancing’ (as Tony Abbott would put it) when he released earlier this month the 2004 draft report on council’s parks. When the issue of public consultation was raised in last night’s council meeting, Mayor Damien Ryan said it was Mr Buxton’s decision to present the report, he didn’t understand why he had done so and looked forward to finding out. Mr Buxton was not at the meeting to be asked. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Central Desert Shire drops 11% of its Indigenous population

 

Central Desert Shire lost 6.6% of its population in the five years from 2006, according to the 2011 Census. And this was with a gain of 11.7% in its non-Indigenous population. Its Indigenous population fell by 11.1%. This was one of the standout snapshots from a presentation by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to the Alice Springs Town Council last night. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

  FULL STORY »

Aboriginal job training scheme in the bush: Governments, bureaucrats, contractors, public money – who gains what? A case study.

We are returning this story to the home page because we have received further government responses – as distinct from answers.

Leaving your home town to learn a trade is a tough call for anyone, even more so if you’re an Aborigine living in a tight-knit remote community: while the bright lights may be alluring, the temptation of booze too often has catastrophic consequences.

Now a Cairns, Darwin and Adelaide based company has developed what may well be the answer: Don’t take the people to the training, take the training to the people. By ERWIN CHLANDA. Photo: Construction industry trainees in the APY lands. FULL STORY »

Dry spell breaks, but not a deluge

It ended the longest dry spell in Alice Springs but it was hardly a deluge: 3.2 millimeters of rain fell at the airport, beginning just before midnight. Now the trough causing it has passed, at 11am this morning, clouds are clearing and three fine days are forecast. According to the Met Bureau there is still rain falling up high, but it’s not  reaching the ground.

Photo: Droplets glistening on the leaves of a witchetty bush on a rural block near the airport as the sun broke through this morning. FULL STORY »

Bushfires an even bigger heartache when they are started by fools

The big country we live in turns into a monster when it burns, thumbing its nose at our feeble efforts to regain the upper hand.
It’s the more agonising when the cause is human stupidity, carelessness or malice, as appears to have been the case a few days ago when part of the West MacDonnell National park, our greatest tourism asset, was turned into cinder.
An area of about 40 square kilometers was burned.
One blaze was started by the roadside near Redbank Gorge.
Another, ignited in dozens of spots for some 30 kilometers on the Glen Helen to Alice Springs road, was lit by sparks from a car driven on its rims. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

ABOVE: The Finke River (foreground) stopped the bushfire just short of a popular bush camp, and the Glen Helen Resort. Mount Sonder is in the background, charred bushland in the middle ground. LEFT: A curry wattle re-grows after a bushfire in the MacDonnell Ranges, near Ormiston. FULL STORY »

Is there a line between art and craft?

 ‘If you drop a stitch, or forget the code, it all unravels – and so does your mind’

 

Artist Nicky Schonkala has had a big month: she was responsible with Ralf Haertel for the much admired knit graffiti on the Alice Springs Courthouse; she collaborated with Dave Nixon on an exciting video work, Dimension Elevator Mk2, shown as part of the Watch This Space exhibition, Shift, and now Common Threads has opened, again at Watch This Space. It’s not quite a solo show as she has chosen to collaborate with artists working in other disciplines to extend its scope but it is her textile art that is very much centre stage, purposefully treading (or blurring) a line between art and craft, asking the question of herself and viewers, what is art and what is craft? Is there a difference and how do you decide? Fellow artist PIP McMANUS addressed these questions when she opened the show last night.

Pictured: Dancer/choreographer Miriam Nicholls responding to the work at the opening last night. Photo courtesy DAVE NIXON. FULL STORY »

Country Liberals ‘not ruling out’ a floor price for alcohol

Key stakeholders in the Centre will meet about alcohol policy

 

UPDATE, September 18, 7.00pm: While they are “not ruling out” the introduction of a floor price on alcohol, the Country Liberals have “traditionally opposed it”, said a spokesperson for Deputy Chief Minister Robyn Lambley … read more in FULL STORY. 

 

Deputy Chief Minister Robyn Lambley would appear to be foreshadowing the introduction of a floor price for alcohol – whether Territory-wide or in Central Australia only is not clear. She has just issued a press release, calling on Police Minister Kon Vatskalis to say “whether Labor supports a floor price on the sale of take-away alcohol – a supply side measure Labor previously opposed when in Government”. – Kieran Finnane FULL STORY »

Alleged burglars sought by police

 

 

Police are asking for public assistance to identify two males who are responsible for several offences including the unlawful entry of an Alice Springs bar. FULL STORY »

Briscoe Inquest: reduce supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets, says Coroner

“The NT Police shoulders a huge burden from alcohol sales. They cannot be expected to tackle the social problems that result, in the absence of further initiatives to stop the flow of alcohol in the community.” – Coroner Greg Cavanagh, Kwementyaye Briscoe Inquest.

 

Less than one month after taking power and ushering in a new era of Territorians taking “individual responsibility” for their drinking, the Mills CLP Government has been called upon by the Coroner to urgently convene a stakeholder meeting in Alice Springs to commit to “all available, reasonable measures to reduce the supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets”. This is one of two recommendations to the government arising from the inquest into the death in custody of Kwementyaye Briscoe, who died in the Alice Springs Watch House on January 4 this year. Coroner Greg Cavanagh handed down his findings today. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Coniston: survivors and descendants recall the massacre in a new film

How could a man designated Protector of Aborigines end up leading a revenge party that would shoot at least 31 of them, including women and children, and probably many more, in retaliation for the death of one white man? It is a question that preoccupies a white Australian audience but the film Coniston does not try to answer it.  Nor does it look in much detail into the broad context of the infamous event it is concerned with – the last white on black massacre in Australia, starting at Coniston, about 250 kms north-west of Alice Springs, in 1928. The one hour documentary, that includes dramatised sequences, focusses instead on capturing the oral history of the massacre held by Warlpiri, Anmatyerr and Kaytetye people. KIERAN FINNANE reviews.

  FULL STORY »

LETTER: Frontline care for kids being cut

Critical service delivery for frontline care and protection of Territory children is being cut by the CLP Government, says Kay Densley of the Community and Public Sector Union. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Live exports vital in more ways than one

Australia is best placed to provide massive emergency food aid should catastrophes such as volcanic eruptions occur in Indonesia. A flourishing food export industry from north Australia, such as the live cattle trade, should be considered as a key component for insuring the long term food security of Indonesia and our other northern neighbours, writes Alex Nelson. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Shire attacked over children’s service, responds

The delivery of the Early Childhood education program by the MacDonnell Shire in the Ikuntji / Haasts Bluff community is appalling, says a former employee, Susannah Taylor. The shire responds that it delivers Early Childhood Education programs in nine communities “and due to the success of our programs has recently been awarded a tenth community”. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Quota back in Alice

Quota International is looking to re-establish the once vibrant Quota Club in Alice Springs. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Traditional owners step up

Newly elected NT MLA Bess Price’s call for Traditional Owners to step up to the negotiation table is sound. In my opinion, too much government grant money is dispersed by people who have little idea of the inner workings of Indigenous cultural obligation and much of it builds a consultancy empire interstate, writes Russell Guy. FULL STORY »

Volunteers to investigate arson

Fire authorities will be training unpaid volunteers to become arson investigators after last year 41% of the NT was burned, an area twice the size of Tasmania. Firebugs were to blame for up 80% of the blazes. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Fire fighters demonstrating hazard abatement to media this afternoon. FULL STORY »