August 27, 1997
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 poles apart. 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 strategy. "You can go shopping again without stepping over bodies. "We have many letters from tourists who're feeling safe. "They're impressed."
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 Intoxication Act.
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 the council.
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 contacts. "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 area. 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 sailing.
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 past year.
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 not. 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 rates. 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 confiscate booze. 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.

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 Stone.
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 instructions.
"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.

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 Springs.
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 noon.
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 drinkers.
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 disappeared.
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? Darwin?
News: Why should we care?
Koch: Don't we have a moral responsibility to help solve the alcohol problem.
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.
News: What?
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. [See footnote.] 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 matters?
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 in council.
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 available now?
Koch: We've been discussing a policy on swimming pool legislation for two years. 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 day. 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 council." 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.


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 less so.
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 Territory.
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" line.
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 short! 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 Stone. 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 urban voters. 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".


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 by them."
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 street." 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 vibrators. "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 situation." 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 mind.
"All this ïturn the other cheek' business, and forgiveness, is all very well, but it is just not protecting the innocent.
THE BIBLE "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 evidence. "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 supervisor. "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 smashed.
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."

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 law enforcement.
Alice News editor ERWIN CHLANDA starts this interview with Labor leader Maggie Hickey by asking her to explain the rationale for this spiralling expenditure.
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 place.
News: How? 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 systems.
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 attitude?
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 happening.
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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