ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
August 27, 1997
COOBER PEDY DRY AREAS INVESTIGATED BY ALICE SPRINGS
A group visiting Coober Pedy to investigate its dry areas strategy
found astonishing similarities in "anti social behaviour" between Alice
Springs and Coober Pedy.
In terms of seeking and finding solutions, however, the two towns are
For the past year, public drinking in Coober Pedy's centre - roughly
one quarter of the municipal area - has all but stopped.
"The problem virtually disappeared over night," says Anita Tsamtsikas,
a local for 18 years and the driving force behind the dry area
"You can go shopping again without stepping over bodies.
"We have many letters from tourists who're feeling safe.
Ms Tsamtsikas says it was common for drunks to fall in front of cars,
to be harassing tourists for money, or declaring that this was "their
land" and whites had no right to be there.
The town is now breathing a collective sigh of relief: although there
are few precise statistical data, there is overwhelming anecdotal
evidence of an upswing in business as people do their shopping locally
instead of at Port Augusta; the ambulance is called out less often, the
hospital's outpatients department is less busy; tourists are staying
longer and there's a sharp drop in police responses under the Public
For example, in January 1995 there were 144 compared to only 35 in
January this year.
Similar to our "apprehension without arrest", these people are detained
without charge for about eight hours.
Just 11 people were fined under the new regulations in 10 months.
Like Alice, Coober Pedy has an above-average number of police officers
(roughly one for every 200 people); has a large Aboriginal population,
some living at the Umoona town lease area not far from the town centre;
has frequent bush visitors; and relies heavily on tourism.
The very first correspondence seeking dry areas in Coober Pedy dates
back to 1979. The dry area strategy finally came into effect 17 years
later, in August last year, after countless submissions to the South
Australian liquor licensing authority and the Attorney General.
Ms Tsamtsikas is the crime prevention and substance abuse officer,
employed by the council under a grant from the Attorney General.
She'd been pushing for dry areas since 1993 when she was a member of
In her early days in "Coober" she worked in many of the town's
restaurants and shops, building up a big network of white and black
"I've learned to deal with people in a nice way," she says.
The dry area initiative was finally approved by the state after an
application by the council with keen support from business, family,
church, school and health interests, the police and - most importantly,
according to Ms Tsamtsikas - local Aboriginal leaders.
"We didn't say to the Aboriginal people, you will do this," she says.
"If we had we would have lost them."
Coober Pedy is now one of half a dozen towns in SA where similar rules
are in place, including Pt Augusta, Pt Lincoln and Ceduna, and several
others are considering bringing in similar requirements.
The rules are simple: There are no restrictions on the sale of alcohol
- but it is prohibited to be consumed in public within the defined dry
One year down the track the community is gearing up to apply to the
government for an extension for another year: it won't be plain
Ms Tsamtsikas says that there has been a shift of drinking from the
town centre to Umoona, an Aboriginal lease area roughly one third the
size of the CBD, inhabited by about 165 people.
Umoona occupies inhospitable, rocky and barren land but is much less
untidy than Central Australian bush communities.
It has a thriving CDEP program under which public buildings, homes,
shelters and car parks have been built and trees planted.
Umoona will soon get a $1m aged persons' home, as well as houses,
sewerage and infrastructure worth another $3.1m.
Again, hard facts aren't available, says Ms Tsamtsikas: according to
some accounts, drinking at Umoona has increased only marginally in the
Others, however, say that bush visitors - prevented from drinking in
town - now routinely cause mayhem at Umoona, take money, trash homes
and have allegedly raped two elderly women.
Umoona wasn't included in the initial dry area declaration, and the
reasons for this are unclear, says Ms Tsamtsikas: it appears that
despite repeated requests, the land trust administering the area hasn't
made the necessary applications.
Umoona administrator Gwen Crombie is also uncertain why the trust
officials haven't acted.
However, this time ïround it's likely the Aboriginal community
will join the local government in its application - and seek to have
Umoona included in the dry area applied for by the council.
It's not clear yet whether the Umoona homes should also become dry or
This spirit of cooperation is in sharp contrast to Alice Springs where
the town council is locked in a bitter court battle with its Aboriginal
living areas over the payment of rates (the town council is seeking
leave to appeal to the High Court against a Supreme Court decision,
upheld by the full bench, in favour of the town lease areas.)
However, it is interesting to note that the Umoona community does pay
Ms Tsamtsikas says there's another problem which the state authorities
may demand to have resolved before an extension is granted: the
question of designated drinking areas.
This is still in the too hard basket, partly because no-one wants to be
legally responsible for events in an area under their control, and
partly because drinkers would be "on display" in such an area.
Also unresolved is whether or not police should have the power to
Unlike in Alice Springs, there is no sobering up facility in Coober
Pedy, and the nearest alcohol rehabilitation centre is in Murray Bridge
- not an option for the largely tribal people who make up a good
portion of the "problem drinkers".
There's another dissimilarity with The Alice, which seems to run on
government grants: the total cost for setting up Coober Pedy's dry area
initiative, estimated at no more than $25,000 (including council
officers' time) has been entirely self-funded.
EX-CLP MAN RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT PARTY PAYMENT BY
CHIEF MINISTER SHANE STONE
A former Country Liberal Party (CLP) official and the present convener
of the Australian Democrats in The Centre, Alex Nelson, has raised
questions about a $10,000 transaction involving Chief Minister Shane
Mr Nelson says when he was the secretary and treasurer of the CLP's
Flynn branch in Alice Springs in 1987, he was given a bank cheque for
$10,000 by Mr Stone.
Mr Nelson says Mr Stone, who did not disclose the source of the money,
requested it to be deposited in the branch's bank account.
Mr Stone then asked Mr Nelson to raise a cheque on the branch's own
account, in favour of the secretariat of the CLP.
Party president Suzanne Cavanagh said this week that she doubted the
veracity of the claims.
The party's records for that period had been subjected to the "closest
possible scrutiny" by the Australian Electoral Commission which had the
CLP's books for 11 months.
Mrs Cavanagh says the commission had followed the "money trail" right
back to the branches and "no anomalies were discovered".
She says: "In 1987 there was no requirement of political parties to
disclose the source of political donations other than expenditure
incurred during Federal elections.
"Why would an official of the party go through this charade?"
Mr Stone at the time of the claimed transaction was the vice president
of the party.
He was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1990 and became Chief
Minister in 1995.
Mr Nelson says Mr Stone did not explain to him why he did not deposit
the cheque directly into the CLP's account.
Mr Nelson this week wrote about the incident to Democrats Leader Cheryl
Kernot, inviting her to raise the matter in Federal Parliament.
Mr Nelson says in his letter: "I was instructed [by Mr Stone] not to
reveal the source of the money on the branch record.
"I considered this to be an unusual request but obeyed Mr Stone's
"The item was recorded as a miscellaneous figure, despite it being by
far the largest single entry for that year.
"I obeyed Mr Stone's instructions in good faith.
"However, my integrity was severely compromised when the time came for
the branch account to be audited, and then presented at the AGM in
March 1988, for I adhered to my undertaking not to reveal [Mr Stone as]
the source of the money.
"The questioning looks and murmurs were sufficiently embarrassing but
matters were not helped when Daryl Manzie MLA quipped that I was the
John Friedrichs of the CLP, a reference to the notorious confidence-man
in Victoria in those times.
"I subsequently learned (during the NT election campaign in 1990) that
Shane Stone had earlier approached the treasurer of another CLP branch
in Alice Springs.
"That treasurer apparently refused so Mr Stone turned to me.
"I have long felt that Mr Stone exploited my naivete on that occasion.
"It was the only time in 10 years of membership of the CLP that any
such request was made of me.
"I see no reason why Shane Stone, given his current position of power
and responsibility, should not give an account of his actions."
The Democrats have no candidates in The Centre, but Vic Edwards is
running in the Top End.
VIEWS ON BOOZE: WE ASK THE MAN AT THE SHARP END
David Koch is an alderman, serves on the Planning Authority, is a
member of the Drug and Alcohol Services Association, and is a part
owner as well as the licensee of the Todd Tavern in the heart of Alice
The hotel is now on the market for $3m. Sales advertisements quote the
turnover as around $4m a year.
Ald Koch says nearly half of that is from bottle shop sales. He says he
pays $600,000 a year in wages. When he took over the former Old
Riverside five years ago it had been badly vandalised.
He says he needed 12 security guards to run the place in the beginning,
now he can get by with three.
Two weeks ago, the People's Alcohol Action Coalition said the
government should buy the pub and turn it into a community centre.
Alice News editor ERWIN CHLANDA spoke to Ald. Koch as the public debate
is hotting up - yet again - about the role of alcohol in "antisocial
behaviour" around town and what should be done about it.
News: You're seen by some as the liquor trader who creates the major
hassle with public drinking.
Koch: I find that a bit of a joke, actually. There are 10 or 11
take-away outlets in Alice Springs and I'm only one of them. We're in
the CBD and a lot of traffic goes past the property, so the appearance
may be there. I would suggest the Gap Area may be worse, exposed to
people coming into town.
News: You'd have some 100 to 150 people waiting for you to open at
Koch: That's a gross exaggeration. I'd say, at any one time, probably
20 to 25.
News: They buy the green suitcases, walk across the road and drink them
in the Todd.
Koch: The majority take the liquor away and don't drink in the
immediate vicinity of the hotel. For the last 10 or 12 months, the
wardens and the police have been dealing with groups having their
drinking parties. That's working fairly well. The majority of the
people tend to buy their liquor not from our outlet, but from ones
closer to home. They don't want to carry the stuff any great distance
to their camps.
News: What portion of the problem drinkers, in your own estimate, would
buy it from you?
Koch: I probably have a fair share. If we're talking about the
Aborigines, over 75 per cent of them don't drink at all and out of the
remaining 25, there's only four or five per cent who are problem
News: What do we do with them?
Koch: They're the hard ones.
News: They do it in public. That's clearly the problem.
Koch: We have the two kilometre law. If you put a two kilometres circle
around every licensed premises in Alice Springs, that would make about
75 per cent of the town a dry area. But there are obviously some
difficulties in enforcing that.
News: Why is the two km law not being enforced?
Koch: There is obviously difficulty enforcing it completely. There's
only so many patrols at any one time. It would be very easy in Coober
Pedy where the area is not particularly great.
News: The numbers of police officers per head of population are about
the same in Coober Pedy as in Alice Springs.
Koch: Difficult to answer. I would have thought the police were
actually doing quite a good job. There's been a gradual improvement in
this particular area [near the Todd Tavern]. When I started in this
business five years ago, they were having drinking camps on Anzac Oval,
setting fire to the scrub, the grass in the creek. A lot of that has
News: Is there a problem?
Koch: There's a law and order problem, part of it is alcohol related,
part of it is boredom related. People engaged in anti social behaviour
are unemployed, they're in the social welfare system, don't have any
self-esteem to get out of it.
News: So, what needs to be done?
Koch: We follow along the lines of what we've done over the last few
years: The Drug and Alcohol Association has had its public forum,
that's still ongoing ...
News: Has it achieved anything?
Koch: We're still meeting, things don't happen overnight. There's a
very diverse group of people, and to get a consensus requires effort
and time. An education and employment program looks like coming off
through CES. There's some valuable input.
News: What always seems to be missing are moves towards alcohol sales
restrictions. There are restrictions at Yulara and Curtin Springs, why
should there not be restrictions in Alice Springs?
Koch: I don't believe they work. I've been shown no examples throughout
the world where restrictions help solve the problem. When they brought
in restrictions at the Ayers Rock Resort, all people did was travel.
They went to Curtin Springs. Then there was trouble there and they put
in voluntary restrictions. Now, where are they going to go? Erldunda?
It's moving the problem but not solving it. [Local restrictions] didn't
solve the problems of the drinkers.
News: It solved the problem in particular locations.
Koch: If you ban it in Alice Springs, where are they going to go?
News: Why should we care?
Koch: Don't we have a moral responsibility to help solve the alcohol
News: Would moving the problem not bring relief to the town?
Koch: It might, but I don't think it's morally right to do that.
News: It there such a thing as a right to drink?
Koch: There's such a thing as civil rights.
News: Are they above the right to live in peace?
Koch: I thought we were living in peace. It's deeper than just seeing a
person affected by alcohol. What we have to address is why someone has
gone into a personal rut.
We need life skill education. That's come into the school curriculum
only in recent years. There are generations who have missed out on
that. We need to find the root of the problem.
News: We've known the root for at least 20 years, haven't we?
Koch: Or longer! Obviously, nothing's been done about it. The present
generation wants to do something about it.
Koch: We've had [the alcohol and drug forum at] Hamilton Downs.
News: What's been the outcome of Hamilton Downs?
Koch: At this point I believe the full report hasn't been given.
News: There are suggestions that you have acted improperly by taking
part in town council debates about a policy on alcohol without
declaring an interest as required under the NT Local Government Act.
Koch: I don't think I have a conflict of interest because there's no
decision being made ...
News: The Act refers to matters before the council, not just decisions
before the council.
Koch: I run a business in town, the same as anybody else. Every couple
of weeks there's an application for a liquor licence.
News: You don't think you should abstain from dealing with these
Koch: I don't think so. I don't oppose licences like that, and haven't
done in the past. And if I don't oppose it I really don't believe
there's a problem with that. I've spent 28 years in the hospitality and
accommodation industry and have a considerable amount of experience,
and I have a wealth of experience that can be useful in open discussion
News: Sales restrictions are clearly a possibility in the strategy that
council may be adopting. If you advocate, as you did last week, that
consideration of the strategy should be deferred, then such a deferral
may well be in your interest.
Koch: I made a suggestion that the debate be deferred, and that was
agreed to by the rest of the council, so we could get further
information. We have a further two deputations [coming up, from Bob
Vigar and anti-restrictions campaigner Shane Arnfield. We should hear
them] for council to have an informed view of what the people of Alice
Springs want. When actual sales restrictions are discussed I believe I
will withdraw at that point.
News: The question of an alcohol strategy has now been on the table
since February or March this year. Even when the council has come to a
decision it's likely further views will be put forward. What's the
point of deferring a decision further, there's a wealth of information
Koch: We've been discussing a policy on swimming pool legislation for
The social order issue in Alice Springs' been going since 1967.
News: Do you pay Shane Arnfield or do you belong to a group that does?
Koch: No, I don't. I've offered to give him some money but he's
refused. I belong to the Hotel and Hospitality Association and they've
offered no funds. I'm not aware what the Liquor Licensees' Association
may or may not have offered him. I'm not a member of that group. As far
as I'm aware, Shane has funded his campaign himself.
News: In Coober Pedy, the town council has played a leading role in
dealing with the public drinking problem. The Alice Springs town
council seems to have done nothing at all. Why?
Koch: I've been on council only a year and a bit. These issues are now
in the forefront and they're being discussed. Rome wasn't built in a
FOOTNOTE: The NT Local Government Act says in part that "where a member
of a council ... has or may have an interest in a matter before the
council or committee, the member shall, as soon as practicable at a
meeting at which the matter is to be dealt with and before the matter
is discussed or debated, declare the interest or possible interest to
The fine for failure to do so is $10,000.
Town Clerk Allan McGill says it is up to the individual council members
to declare any interest they may have. No action is taken unless the
failure to declare is challenged by someone.
THE COUNTRY LIBERAL PARTY WENT TO THE POLLS EARLY
BECAUSE THEY'RE CERTAIN OF VICTORY
COMMENT by the NT Univeristy's Dr ALISTAIR HEATLEY
Even if election outcomes are never inevitable, all the signs point to
a CLP victory on Saturday.
Shane Stone would not have risked an early election without solid
evidence that his party was well placed to win.
The intensive party polling, conducted by the CLP before his decision,
must have indicated favourable voter perceptions and attitudes.
Territory Labor also appears to appreciate the popular mood; although
its public face is one of confidence, its private expectations are much
Media commentary is confident of continuing CLP electoral dominance;
the only area of debate is the margin of victory.
Malcolm Mackerras, the doyen of election forecasters in Australia, has
predicted a 15/10 party division, with the CLP losing two seats in
Darwin's northern suburbs.
For his part, John Hepworth, the "darling" of ABC political reportage
in the Territory, sees a debacle for Labor with it retaining only two
or three seats.
At this stage, my view is that the outcome will largely preserve the
status quo, that is a 17/8 split.
Long periods of time in office are normally corrosive for incumbent
governments . But the CLP has defined that process and it has firmly
established itself as the "natural" party of government in the
The reasons for its long dominance are again evident in this election
setting; all the ingredients of past CLP strategy, except perhaps the
capacity for "Canberra-bashing", are present in 1997 - the use of
Aboriginal issues, the negative targeting of Labor as an alternative
government, the emphasis on leadership and the populist agenda.
As before, the CLP has chosen, at least in the early stage of the
campaign, to highlight Aboriginal issues, particularly those relating
to land. It recognises that they are effective in the urban voting
community not only because they are perceived there as significant
problems but also because they work strongly to Labor's disadvantage.
Partisan and media critics decry their use as electoral devices and
some brand the CLP as unscrupulous racists. But Aboriginal matters have
constituted a major party-divide in Territory politics and their
involvement in elections is not illegitimate, even if sometimes they
are crudely employed.
For both major parties, campaigning so far has been essentially
negative. Labor has largely focussed on the CLP's tiredness, arrogance,
insensitivity and irrelevance and run a strong "it's time for a change"
Its policy agenda is determined by what it sees as CLP failures and is
driven by what it sees as community concerns. There is little in
Labor's approach which can be labelled as ideological or programmatic.
In the same way, the CLP has concentrated on the themes of Labor's
unfitness to govern, of its allegiance to sectional (read "Aboriginal")
interests and of its capacity to upset the Territory's "way of life".
Taken together, the negativity makes for a very unconstructive and less
than absorbing campaign. Nevertheless, the CLP has proved to be the
master in such campaigns.
While the intensity will undoubtedly increase in the last week,
especially in the advertising medium, the character of the campaign
will not change.
A cynic might comment that it is a blessing that the campaign is so
As elsewhere in Australia, Territory elections have developed a
"presidential" character and the quality of leadership has become an
important campaign factor.
The respective claims of Stone and Maggie Hickey to the Chief
Ministership will become progressively more prominent in the campaign.
Leadership certainly favours the CLP, as it has done in past elections.
While she has tried hard to project an image of authority, Hickey has
always found it difficult to match the slickness and assurance of
In policy terms other than in the Aboriginal land domain, there is
little to separate the parties; they both illustrate the pragmatism and
populism of contemporary politics and the fact that philosophy and
ideology play almost no role.
There is a close similarity between the identification of issues and
the approaches proposed. So close are they that both parties make
ritualistic claims of stealing or copying.
"Tweedle-Dee, Tweedle-Dum" is again an apt description of the partisan
policy agenda. In competitive terms, the CLP will likely emerge the
policy winner if only because of the railway and the residual force of
its stance on Aboriginal land.
Labor requires five seats to win office. To do so, it must secure at
least four in the Darwin area as well as Victoria River and hold on to
all its present seats.
That is a very tall order and it would take a marked mood shift in the
later stage of the campaign to achieve it. From what has been argued
above, such a prospect is improbable.
Although Stone and the CLP will continue to argue vehemently up to
polling-day that the election is evenly balanced, that tactic is
designed to ensure against over-confidence and to deter waverers.
In Central Australia, the six seats are unlikely to produce any change
in partisan terms. The three based on Alice Springs will remain in CLP
hands. They represent bedrock CLP territory and despite some community
disenchantment with government attention, Labor will be as far away as
ever in making significant inroads.
Neil Bell's old seat of MacDonnell will bear watching if only to see
the extent of his personal following. Given the Aboriginality of the
electorate and the continuing salience of its Labor infrastructure, it
will be retained by Labor.
So also will Stuart where Peter Toyne will have consolidated his
position since the by-election. In the marginal Labor seat of Barkly,
Hickey will prevail again on the strength of the Aboriginal vote in
Tennant Creek and in the tablelands.
While the CLP again harbours some hope to retrieve the southern rural
seats, Aboriginal voters will stick predominantly to Labor.
That is the downside to the CLP's Aboriginal policy strategy geared to
On Saturday, the CLP will be returned to office but it will not be a
rousing mandate. Rather, it will be a case of "better the devil you
know than the devil you don't".
THIEVING IS JUST ROUTINE: SOME LAUGH, SOME DON'T
Report by GRETTA SCADDING
Some victims of crime in Alice say they are made to feel nuisances and
get no effective help, while others have become almost tolerant of
their situation and are happy with the police help they get.
Peter "Ozzie" Osborne, who owns World of Oz in Gap Road, is the target
of almost continuous shoplifting.
He doesn't have alarms but just keeps an eye on the thieves.
"A few of them are real regulars," he says. "I can't help but be amused
Mr Osborne says he's even become quite fond of one or two!
As we speak, an elderly Aboriginal woman wanders into the shop.
"That's Lightfinger," says Mr Osborne.
"Everyone knows her. She goes into all the shops with Aboriginal
artifacts, pinches them and sells them in the next shop, or in the
Sue enough, she approaches us and pulls out eight painted wooden
bangles from her bag.
"Ten dollars," she says, "plus five."
"I've got too many bracelets," I reply.
"You'd find all these court summonses on her," says Mr Osborne. "She
never goes, she can't read.
"It's interesting to see what she brings in.
Once I could smell something funny, there was a huge bulge at her
chest. She'd stuffed a whole roast chicken down there and it was a good
42 degrees Celsius.
"I remember the time she went down to the sex shop and stole some
"She didn't know what they were but still tried to sell them to me.
"Then she went to the restaurant next door, flashing this large pink
instrument, saying ten dollars, ten dollars.
"She's come in with antique clocks, champagne glasses, hobbling around,
always bandaged up and never with any money."
Mr Osborne also had his home broken into once.
He admits he often thinks of leaving Alice "but I keep coming back here
because of the weather.
"I hate cold winters.
"I lived in New York so I'm used to crime.
The police service here is good. They cope well with the crime
Gerry Baddock has lived in Alice for 37 years and expresses a
diametrically opposed viewpoint.
She says she has paid out $4,820 to repair and replace property damage
caused by criminals.
The offenders never came to court, says Mrs Baddock.
"All the police did was come around with a flashlight," she says.
She wants mandatory sentencing, not more policemen: the police who are
here need to activate the laws we've got, she says:
"One hundred more policemen won't make any difference.
"All this psychological stuff and therapy is rubbish. The sympathy is
too often with the criminal. Ahhh, mummy was naughty to you, never
"All this ïturn the other cheek' business, and forgiveness, is all
very well, but it is just not protecting the innocent.
"The bible also says, spare the rod and spoil the child, and an eye for
an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
"I know of a 14 year old who caused $25,000 worth of damage and is
already in breach of two bonds.
"Of course none of it came to court, though there was 100 per cent
"The police didn't feel it was worth going to court, and even if they
had, the magistrates will not administer suitable punishments.
"We are paying advisers to find any possible way to help offenders
wriggle out of the consequences of their actions. It causes terrible
resentment in this town."
Mrs Baddock believes that the police should not be given the ultimate
authority to decide what is worth pursuing and what isn't.
"Every crime, no matter how petty, should be written down and followed
through," she says.
"It should be like ïThe Bill'. Everyone who comes on duty has to
make a report after each incident, when then gets checked out by a
"As it is, I found out that my report was lying at the bottom of the
secretary's basket for five weeks."
Mrs Baddock also says all schools should have a truancy officer.
Gayle Hucks has repeatedly been a victim of various petty crimes over
the years and she has the same sort of complaint.
She came to work at her shop one morning to find the whole front window
She immediately rang the glass company to get it replaced.
Most people's first instinct would be to phone the police.
"What for?" she asks. "The police won't do anything, they'll put it
away in their file draws and forget about it."
WHAT WOULD LABOR DO ABOUT LAW AND ORDER?
ALICE NEWS editor ERWIN CHLANDA speaks with Labor Leader MAGGIE HICKEY
This is the law and order Territory: we spend $545 per man, woman and
child on police, compared to a national average of $152; $120 per
capita on our courts and administration of justice, compared to $48
nationally; and $236 per capita on corrections, compared to $44
nationally. And it's not going to stop there.
Both the CLP and Territory Labor are promising to spend even more on
Alice News editor ERWIN CHLANDA starts this interview with Labor leader
Maggie Hickey by asking her to explain the rationale for this
News: The Territory is spending per head of population - according to
figures supplied by you - nearly four times as much as the rest of the
nation on police, two and a half times as much on courts, and a
whopping five times as much on prisons.
Yet you're advocating more police?
Hickey: Yes, in line with what the Government's proposing, too.
Unfortunately, we've got the highest rate of crime.
News: What would you do if you came to power, other than spending more
money on it?
Hickey: Make every attempt to prevent crime from happening in the first
Hickey: [Initiatives like] community safety audits, strengthening
neighbourhood watch, having wardens systems, like providing financial
assistance to elderly people in their private homes who want security
News: These are all protection measures, not measures that would remove
the incentive to commit crimes.
Hickey: [This falls into the ambit of] employment out there on the
communities, the business of ensuring that people who come in for
footy, for courts or shopping or whatever can get back out to their
communities. That means road improvements, opportunities for work on
those communities. Federal initiatives such as CDEP can be underpinned
strongly by initiatives that the NT Government can provide.
News: Here in The Centre there are many opportunities in tourism that
exist now and have existed for years. They are not taken up.
Hickey: [We have a proposal to] ask communities in what area and to
what extent they would like to be involved, and how can we facilitate
that, how can we bring in some other shareholders ... joint ventures.
News: The opportunities that clearly exist aren't taken up. At Ayers
Rock, you've got 1000 staff brought in from interstate and New Zealand,
while around the corner is an Aboriginal community with massive
unemployment. Instead of new programs, do you think we need a change of
Hickey: I think that's right, and that's what we're on about. We say we
can do it better because the government we have at the moment uses
every opportunity during election periods to play the race card. You're
not going to get cooperation from a group of people you clobber once
every four years just to get yourself back into power. There's not only
divisiveness, there's real antipathy out there, and a negative attitude
from Aboriginal groups to any government approaches that are made.
[Mining companies managed to break down similar antipathy.] They've
done that very well, become very sophisticated at it, very
understanding of Aboriginal culture and tradition. In Tennant Creek, by
the year 2000, 11 per cent of the Normandy Gold work force will be
Aboriginal people. It's about five per cent now.
News: Are you suggesting that elsewhere, there is a form of boycott of
"white man's style" work because the white man is treating the
Aborigine so badly?
Hickey: It's probably more an issue of communications. People feel more
comfortable with someone they know and trust and have built up some
mutual respect with. Frankly, it's pretty hard to have any respect for
a mob of people who clobber you at election time, and then come along
and say, we want to be buddy buddy with you and get some joint ventures
going. There are areas now that could be developed, and it's just not
News: Why does it need to be the Government that develops these areas?
Hickey: It doesn't have to be but I think governments have to take the
lead, especially where [government officials] can audit a community and
do a survey of what's wanted.
News: What's wanted is patently obvious.For example, tourists in
Central Australia are looking for an authentic experience with
Aboriginal people. That need is known. Why is it not being met?
Hickey: Because the people who've been involved in developing tourism
and promoting it here haven't got a real understanding of those issues.
The tourism people bemoan the fact that they haven't got Aboriginal
involvement, but frankly, so many of them know so little about
Aboriginal people, know so few of them on an intimate level. It doesn't
necessarily need to be politicians who do that work, but we do need to
be employing the appropriate people. We need to be putting the
appropriate people in the decision-making roles.
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