September 17, 1997

Greater restrictions on the supply of take-away liquor are needed in the short term, says the new MLA for MacDonnell, ex-police sergeant John Elferink.
Police, with the present resources, have done everything that is reasonably possible" to enforce the law which prohibits public drinking within two kilometres of premises with a liquor licence - effectively anywhere in Alice Springs, he says.
"Are you going to employ one police officer for every potential problem drinker to follow them around?"
On the suspension of take-away liquor trade for two days a week, mooted by the PeopleÍs Alcohol Action Coalition, Mr Elferink says: "Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing it happen. Not at all.
"I think it would certainly mean that some of those kids who suffer so badly in the town camps and other parts of the town would have a greater chance of getting a decent feed into their stomachs on Thursdays."
But Mr Elferink says "any restrictions are treating a symptom, not the problem, and restrictions should be seen as a short-term fix rather than a long term serious policy."
Ultimately, the responsibility for drinking rests with the drinker.
"If we take excessive measures we'd be seen as being hard, overbearing and imposing upon people's liberties. "
If you back off too far then you're seen as a government that doesn't care.
"You walk a very fine line," says Mr Elferink, who won the former Labor stronghold for the CLP in this month's election.
He says he is aware that trading restrictions would affect mainly businesses outside his electorate, which takes in the "farm area" south of the Gap, Yulara and the pastoral and Aboriginal lands to the south, between the SA, Queensland and WA borders.
The problem of any form of prolonged restrictions, according to Mr Elferink, would be that they encourage grog runners, as happens in some dry communities, selling wine casks "for $50 or $60".
In Tennant Creek, where similar restrictions are in force, he acknowledges that calls to police on Thursdays "markedly dropped, initially". In the long run, however, "people show a little more planning because they know Thursday is coming", and the benefits of the measures wear off. Thursday is knows as "pension day" because most social service benefits are paid out on that day.
"The types of restrictions we're talking about would incur the wrath of the providers," says Mr Elferink.
"People have the right to trade. You have to consider the rights of the traders, and the rights of the people to possess liquor, as against the needs of the town."
The two kilometre law is "notoriously difficult to police." Mr Elferink says he knows so from first hand experience, "having been in the front seat of the police Toyota, driving up and down the river, tipping out liquor.
"In a shift I've tipped out literally hundreds of litres of wine, and still have the feeling it's bows and arrows against lightning. "To have a stash buried nearby is quite common, or hung up in the fork of a tree.
"They normally see you coming, and they have sufficient time to bury a bladder." Mr Elferink says police are doing the best they can in policing the two kilometre law, and only with increased resources could the effort be stepped up.
"Police have a patrol dedicated specifically to policing that one law. "You're talking about three patrols a day, seven days a week. "Within available resources police are doing as much as they can."
For an offence to be committed, offenders must be drinking liquor - not just to "be walking down the street with a closed cask of Moselle". Mr Elferink says action can be taken if a container is open, or a police officer believes "on reasonable grounds" that the offence will be committed. "The law has changed, and the penalty for breaching it is simply the destruction or seizure of the liquor."
Mr Elferink says there's little point in imposing penalties beyond that. "Drunkenness used to be an offence in the NT. The only effect of that was that we created a lot more offenders.
It would have to go to court. On a big day, 200 people would be taken into custody. "If the police officer spent 15 minutes - and that would be an extremely short time - completing an arrest file, and you multiply that by 200, you can see the manhours we're talking about.
"The reason they moved away from criminalisation of public drunkenness was simply because it wasn't achieving anything. "To return to it would be a retrograde step."


What is the experience of Aboriginal people working in the private sector in Alice Springs? Following last week's launch of Employ Alice Springs, a joint initiative by liquor licensees, DASA, the Chamber of Commerce and others, to find jobs for 50 Aboriginal people as a move to curb anti-social behaviour, I decided to get some feed-back from the horse's mouth.
It's not easy. Even the Chamber of Commerce and Industry couldn't help me. I was on the phone for a day and a half before I found people I could speak to.
Yet the few Aborigines in private enterprise I managed to track down offered fascinating insights - and maybe a guide to how black unemployment should be tackled.
Daryl Armstrong works at the Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre of the Pwerte Marnte Marnte Aboriginal Corporation, a private company owned by a Southern Arrernte family group whose homelands are 100 kilometres south of Alice Springs.
At 32, Daryl emanates confidence and charisma.
Paul Ah Chee, the centre's manager, told me: "Daryl started out with no qualifications, sweeping the floors. "Now look at him twelve months later.
He has moved from serving customers to giving didge lessons and is able to manage the shop unsupervised. "Being out there communicating with people produces self-worth." Paul emphasises that the environment his employees work in is healthy and stimulating.
"One of the many complex reasons Aborigines don't stick around in jobs for very long comes down to job satisfaction. People should be able to see a career path in whatever they're doing.
"It's all about developing people's attitude in relation to a work ethic."
The business received a start-up grant through the commercial arm of ATSIC, but apart from DEET and CDEP subsidies, gets no money from ATSIC.
"These are available to anybody," says Paul, "not just Aboriginal groups, and although it's competitive, the opportunity is there for Aborigines with a sound business plan to set up their own private business."
Stephen Forrester has been working at the centre for two years, as retail manager. "I prefer to work for a private company, because you actually get to see the benefits and rewards from all the work you've put in.
"It's your livelihood. Everything you put in all comes back to you." Paul commented on work within publicly-funded Aboriginal organisations: "The work environments are too sheltered. You can get away with things, you can hide, and if you're hiding, what are you hiding from? Be out there!"
I asked Stephen why he thought so few Aborigines work in private industry? Is it fear of working with non-Aboriginal people, fear of racism? "I can understand that, but it does come down to survival. If you want a better wage to support yourself and in some cases a family, it's necessary to go outside of the Aboriginal run organisations. "If you wish to succeed in this town as an Aboriginal, you can. The only thing that stops you from succeeding is yourself.
A lot don't want to make the effort. "We must concentrate on the individual rather than making decisions for the imagined majority." Paul adds: "Yes, as well as the bright sparks, I admit we have people here even within my own family who haven't turned up for work. "There is no use opening jobs for people who don't want to work. "It's a waste of time and money. "Racism is often used as an excuse not to work. I don't use it as an excuse. I'm an Aboriginal, God damn it, and I still cop racism every day. "It doesn't worry me. Of course, the individual's rights and feelings should always be respected but at the same time, you can't expect somebody else to pick up the pieces. "You have to fight, and be prepared to take risks."
Paul believes it is too easy in this town not to work: "The Australian nation is a welfare nation. " The general public of Australia have become dependent on this welfare mentality of subsidies. "The government have got themselves in a situation where they are looking for scapegoats. "I think there should be opportunities for Aborigines to work in traditional areas such as Aboriginal art galleries, promoting their culture in a positive way. "However, you go for a walk down the mall and see how many Aborigines there are working in that environment.
"I'll give you a million dollars if you show me one Aboriginal employed there. "When people come in here and see Aboriginal people their awareness level picks up straight away.
SHOCKING "People want to see Aboriginal people selling Aboriginal artifacts. "It's also shocking that the Ayers Rock company does not employ any of the local Aboriginal community amongst its 600 employees.
"The amount of money that's made out of the Ayers Rock Resort, I think they should at least make an effort towards putting in programmes to encourage the employment of Aboriginal people.
"Some people may say they don't want to work there but no effort is made to create some middle-ground between the traditional life they are used to and a Western work ethic.
"Expecting these people to make this sort of transition is ridiculous. It's intimidating, it's not something that is understood. People are caught up in their own little world, and don't put themselves in their position. "All they think is that they are giving them something and it is being ungratefully rejected."


An ATSIC fund of $120m over four years for small black-owned businesses will signal an end to a 30 year era when "money was thrown" at the Aboriginal problem, according to Senator John Herron.
The Aboriginal Affairs Minister told about 200 businessmen in Alice Springs last week that past strategies have failed because there was no assessment of their outcomes.
He said "economic independence" is the answer to "destructive" welfare dependency. Senator Herron also said a report on the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) by Ian Spicer, head of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will be completed in about three months' time, assisting to formulate policies dealing with the "timebomb" of Aboriginal joblessness.
He said Aboriginal unemployment is at 38 per cent and without CDEP it would be at 54 per cent.
Senator Herron spoke to a breakfast meeting organised by local groups, including DASA and the Chamber of Commerce, seeking to find work in private enterprise for unemployed Aboriginal people.
He was asked whether reluctance to offer or accept jobs is the main problem, when he spoke to the Alice News after the breakfast:- Herron: I think it's between the two. What really has to occur is to accept the Aboriginal culture as it exists. Can't change it! What they're doing in the NT, for example, is job sharing.
There are 60 full time jobs which are run by 150 people. That's where we've made the mistake: We, the white people, are imposing our work culture on an Aboriginal culture that doesn't recognise it.
Where this has been beaten is where there are job sharing opportunities, run by Aboriginal people themselves.
Nothing occurs in Aboriginal affairs unless you have three ingredients: you've got to have community support.; you've got to have the support of the elders, and then you've got to have the leadership.
If there is a deficiency in one of those three things, then it won't work.
News: How will you make it happen?
Herron: At the grass roots level [you need] cross cultural training, for the employer and for the employee. At a higher level there has to be a recognition of how we can use CDEP for job sharing.
News: There is often a suggestion that it's too easy not to work.
Herron: That's another thing that's got into the community, a stereotype which is not true, because it's a basic human [goal] - we all want to earn money. We all want to better ourselves, we all want to work.
News: What about Mutitjulu - 70 per cent unemployment yet the Ayers Rock Resort, 20 km away, is staffed by 600 people brought in, mostly from interstate.
Herron: In Mutitjulu you have the lack of those three ingredients for success. You've got to get the community behind it, urging young people to get the training, to get the jobs. The Mutitjulu community is not behind it.
News: Why not?
Herron: I think it's primarily historical. The history of Aboriginal affairs in Australia is only 210 years. The last 30 years we've been throwing money at it. You look at the money that's available in Aboriginal affairs, three billion dollars a year, for 300,000 people.
News: What would you say to the Mutitjulu community?
Herron: I don't think there's anY easy solution. You've got to sit down with the elders. I haven't done it. News: Are you critical of the NT Government - they are the majority owners of the Ayers Rock resort? Herron: I don't know enough about it. I got this job 18 months ago, I can't be everywhere. I've been trying to.

Sir,- The [alcohol sales] restrictions put into place at the Curtin Springs Roadhouse have had a dramatic effect on health and social behaviour and have apparently led to an increase in patronage by tourists.
The Mutitjulu Aboriginal health service at Uluru has documented a massive 64 per cent decline in alcohol related incidents in the community in the first six months of the restrictions at Curtin Springs compared to the same period of the previous year.
The number of patients presenting to the clinic with alcohol related problems has also dramatically declined.
This has occurred in spite of the fact that there has been no decline in the number of visitors in the community.
This is a truly remarkable result and is even more significant when you consider the fact that there is about a 70 per cent unemployment rate in the community as reported in the Alice News last week.
There is simply no excuse for Alice Springs to sit back and wait for the longer term issues, such as education and unemployment, to be addressed when alcohol restrictions could have an immediate impact on reducing the level of social disruption.
Research across the world has shown that alcohol education is not the answer, yet uninformed people continue to push this line as a leading policy option.
Research here in Alice Springs tells us that banning drinking in public places does nothing to prevent alcohol related harm. It simply moves the problem indoors.
Restrictions in Tennant Creek and now Curtin Springs have proved that many alcohol related problems can be prevented and not just moved. We need more than slogans and old rhetoric in Alice Springs, we need a new approach.
Allegations that the drinkers from Curtin Springs have moved to Alice Springs are completely unproven.
Similar allegations were made in Tennant Creek but the Menzies School of Health Research Evaluation was able to prove that these allegations were false.
An evaluation of Curtin Springs would also be able to resolve this issue. Mr Severin has stated publicly that there has been a significant increase in tourist patronage of his hotel since the restrictions came into force because of the improvement in social behaviour.
There is absolutely no evidence to support assertions that tourism will decline if alcohol restrictions are introduced.
In fact the evidence from Tennant Creek and Curtin Springs is exactly the opposite - restrictions seem to have a positive effect on tourism. Again, an evaluation of Curtin Springs would prove this beyond doubt.
Why has no funding been made available to conduct an independent evaluation of the Curtin Springs trial? How are we going to move forward in the alcohol struggle if we don't base future approaches on good science rather than passionate nonsense.
We must learn from strategies that work. The NT Liquor Commissioner apparently approached a senior alcohol researcher at the Menzies School of Health Research earlier this year to see if they would be prepared to conduct an evaluation of Curtin Springs similar to the Tennant Creek evaluation.
Apparently, when Menzies said yes the offer was withdrawn. The Commissioner needs to explain to the general public why such an important trial as the Curtin Springs trial is seemingly not worthy of formal evaluation. The current lack of action by the Commission creates a public perception of bias especially when the new Commissioner has made his own anti-restriction views so blatantly clear.
There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that the right balance of alcohol restrictions can have an immediate and sustained impact on alcohol related problems.
The people of Tennant Creek know this first hand and therefore dealt the independent anti restrictions campaigner a severe blow in the recent Territory election.
The people of Uluru have also found out. When will Alice Springs wake up? If the Alice Springs Town Council votes to join PAAC and support restrictions then we will have clearly demonstrated "significant support" under the Liquor Act and we can proceed with an application to the Commission to introduce a properly evaluated trial.
Such a trial is likely to have a negative impact on the profit margins of certain liquor outlets in town. This is why [alderman and Todd Tavern licensee David] Koch has a clear conflict of interest in voting [in town council] on this matter.
It seems that Mr Koch now understands his conflict of interest because he has apparently written to the Minister for Local government to seek an exemption from the conflict of interest provision under the Local Government Act.
It is up to all of us to ensure that we do not allow the alcohol industry to dictate the terms of future approaches to the problem of alcohol misuse. The DASA Grog Forum is not going to address the restriction issue because, as outlined in the Alice News last week, the alcohol industry lobby has the strength in that forum to ensure that the issue continues to be sidelined claiming it is "too controversial".
The recent book on the Tennant Creek experience by Alexis Wright was not called "Grog Wars" for nothing - those connected with the alcohol industry will continue to subvert and undermine any progress towards the introduction of alcohol restrictions in Alice Springs.
It is up to the town council to resist this pressure and vote on the basis of the evidence.
John Boffa President, Public Health Association, NT Alice Springs
[ED - Ald Koch told the Alice News he has sought a ruling from the Minister on the following terms: He wishes to take part in council debates on alcohol issues as an informed and knowledgeable member of the council. However, he would abstain from voting on any decisions related to trading restrictions.]


Alice Springs is on the brink of losing a working print museum, all for want of a place to put it. A dispirited Mike Klarenbeek, craftsman-printer of anything from business cards to limited edition books, after four years' searching for a local home for his historic yet fully operational printing presses, is looking elsewhere for support.
His vision is to reproduce a busy printery as it would have appeared in the early 1920s and '30s, with its characteristic sound, smell and atmosphere.
"A printing press standing idle is not all that interesting," says Mr Klarenbeek, "but it comes to life with paper, ink and its product, whether it's a cartoon, a poster or a book.
"The equipment I've collected over the years, within its limitations, is still capable of producing commercial work. "The museum would be self-promoting and self-supporting by producing the usual range of commercial printed matter.
"It could also print books, as I've been doing in my family business, by local Territory authors. "These old time presses can produce beautiful, specialised work such as embossing, die cutting and gold leafing."
Mr Klarenbeek has promoted this concept around Alice Springs, from the Department of Industry and Development to committees such as those of the Old Ghan Preservation Society and the Road Transport Hall of Fame.
He says he doesn't want money, just a site for his machinery, be it in a corner of an existing tourist attraction, where there would be reciprocal benefits, or on an appropriate separate site.
While DID offered help with business planning, he has otherwise met with indifference.
Now Eddie Ah Toy, a third generation Chinese-Australian from Pine Creek, has offered him the use of his family's heritage-listed bakery, built by his father in 1908.
"It could be a possibility ," says Mr Klarenbeek, "but it's something I'll have to look at very carefully before I uproot myself, my family and my business from Alice Springs which has been home since 1978."
The printing industry has been an essential part of Australia's life and growth, and has probably been affected more than any other trade by the advance of technology and computers.
"The old skills of the hand compositor, the linotype operator, the stereotype caster and the stonehand have gone forever," says Mr Klarenbeek. "New technology, mostly made of plastic and packed with electronics, has replaced once valued and heavy cast iron machinery."
Indeed, Alice Springs played a noteworthy role in this development, chosen by the giant multi-national News Limited as the Australian centre to trial the use of computers in newspaper production.
Alice News editor, Erwin Chlanda, then Chief Reporter at the Centralian Advocate recalls: "In the early '80s we were the first in Australia and possibly the world in the Murdoch group to go over from typewriters and linotype machines - which set type at the rate of four lines a minute - to computerised production.
"It meant the loss of practically all the printing jobs - the typesetters and metal compositors - over a very short period of time, but it streamlined the operation and was soon taken up throughout the Murdoch chain.
"I guess it was like the choice of staying with horses or switching over to cars. "Today the machines we are using to produce the Alice News are much, much faster and much cheaper.
"An independent operation like ours would not have been possible 15 years ago without huge capital backing. "There would be few industries where new technologies have made such an immense difference to production.
"So, to show how it was done in the past is an important measure of a change that directly and indirectly has affected all our lives." Opportunities to preserve this aspect of our heritage are slipping away: just recently Mr Klarenbeek was offered a "wonderful old guillotine", weighing some two tons.
"I had nowhere to put it," he says. "My house and backyard are full, so I had to let it go to the scrap heap."
Mr Klarenbeek has had 40 years' experience in the printing industry and 10 years running his printing business in Alice Springs (Inday Printing).
He intends to merge this business with the proposed printing museum and to produce an old-style "newspaper" , the Territory Mail, aimed at the tourist looking for information and entertainment. It sounds like a great idea, doesn't it, but is anyone listening?

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