Ray, you make some good points amongst a lot of …

Comment on Female tourists sleeping in car alleged to have been sexually assaulted: all three suspects now charged, rifle still not recovered. by Russell Guy.

Ray, you make some good points amongst a lot of tired old arguments, but running a small army of patrol officers and more police etc. has to come, not from government grants, but from a finite fund of taxpayer dollars which are largely occupied in policing alcohol-abuse.
I don’t know about you, but I pay my taxes and work very hard to do it, so I’m claiming the right to say where I believe it’s being misappropriated.
The cost of alcohol abuse in the NT is in excess of $300m p.a. plus additional servicing costs by police, health, courts, correctional services, etc, at the expense of education, housing, rates, etc. If we keep going like this, more will have to given to the great idol of grog, which is never satisfied.
What amazes me is that alcohol, the chief cause of this expense, including woefully planned and massively expensive Rehab options, is considered untouchable by Alice Springs councillors and the Leader of the Opposition.
They will not address the statistically-proven, nationally overly-represented NT consumption figures. The power of this legalised, under-regulated, out of control, lifestyle drug to hold us hostage is something for adults to behold, while kids stare and wonder.
I don’t think too many have the developmental focus to consider what it means for their future, but if it’s a tragedy now, what will it be like as lawlessness increases?
We in Alice Springs still have the ability to pull some levers and show the nation, and the world, what is possible in alcohol reform, but not for much longer.

Russell Guy Also Commented

Female tourists sleeping in car alleged to have been sexually assaulted: all three suspects now charged, rifle still not recovered.
Dear Eli,
Thank you for the invitation to participate in a discussion with you about the alcohol and its effect on Alice Springs. Yes. I agree to participate.
On the subject of ‘ground rules,’ I’m in agreement with Bob Durnan (posted May 8, 2012 @ 11: 37pm). You have invited Bob and myself, but do you have any other names that you would like to invite? You have only nominated those who have contributed to this debate, so far. I presume that you mean via the Alice Springs News.
It seems to be more of a forum, rather than a debate. If that is the case, I believe that it should be open to anyone to attend, because that is what will most likely occur. We have no way of identifying who has posted, but the success of the event depends on the quality of the input, so could you clarify if you would allow questions and contributions from the floor of the meeting or how do you see it?
I have no problem with Erwin being Chair, if that seems best to you. I think it fair that all media should be invited. I would like the event to be outcome focused, i.e., taking note of where the goal posts are and attempting to kick a few, rather than going around in circles.
I agree to Erwin’s agenda and his suggested terms as protocol on which to begin as it’s clearly a ‘hot potato’ subject, but as the Police Commissioner has said “police cannot solve the acutely dysfunctional social elements in this town.” I also agree with Chief Magistrate Hilary Hannam who has noted that alcohol-abuse “is the community’s greatest concern in the NT.” The Alcohol and Other Drugs Tribunal (SMART Court) is correctly named.
I’m not sure how the ‘live streaming’ would be governed – outgoing and incoming – it may distract from the discussion, but I’m open to further comment.
I’d prefer the meeting to be in the evening, commencing at approximately 7pm, so that workers can attend. What venue do you have in mind? What date are you considering? Please post your answers.
Regards, Russell Guy.


Female tourists sleeping in car alleged to have been sexually assaulted: all three suspects now charged, rifle still not recovered.
Ray, posted May 7 at 9: 02pm.
It’s time you posted with your surname, Ray. We, who do, along with the Editor, recommend that you have the courage of your convictions and it negates confusion from other “Rays.”
The recidivist statistics, which you ridicule, are posted at the AS News SMART Court reportage. Google the archives. I doubt that you are reading the links suggested, because if you were, you’d be better informed.
Like others, you totally ignore the positives because you have an agenda, or you refuse to see the incremental gains made by the SMART Court and voluntary restrictions such as a floor price. More posts are now supporting a take-away sales restriction.
The arrival of the Police Commissioner is another positive, but it doesn’t mean that it’s the only salvation. The Law and Order approach is related to supply restriction and Rehab.
I have made reference to the bursting prison stats during the past three months of this debate.
Your comment about Aboriginal fathers “dragging” their kids to a lawyer, overlooks the verifiable fact that some of these kids you refer to haven’t got a Dad or Dad is in gaol. I know of many such cases which puts more pressure on extended family and commnunity. This is an issue that has not been disclosed by those who have made wild claims about Rehab solutions.
Your comments about taking responsibility, while correct, have been made ad nauseum. Try getting with the program and do a little reading, it may cure you of your disdain for evidence-based policy.


Female tourists sleeping in car alleged to have been sexually assaulted: all three suspects now charged, rifle still not recovered.
Ray, posted May 4 @ 4:24pm and Janet, posted May 7 @ 10: 13am.

Ray, I hope you’ve had some time to read the link I posted to the Overview of Indigenous Health 2011, published in January this year. I’ve been thinking about your use of the word “huggers”, in relation to those who show concern for problem drinkers in Alice Springs.
And Janet, I hope that you too will take the time to read that link, because it contains information on the long-term health issues endured by Indigenous people in the history of “the rules of this society”.
Both of you are dictating in terms of “go somewhere else” or learn to like Western society, justified by the right to drink alcohol and dismantling Indigenous institutions that allow for cultural difference. You want a return to the Assimilation Policy, but it’s a waste of time and taxpayers dollars.
Social inclusion is a more contemporary term. In the 1980s, it was called a Treaty, but it didn’t get very far, mainly because the dominant European society hasn’t evolved that far from the old Squattocracry. Some still want the blackfellas to go somewhere else, out of our face and out of our town, or “back to their homelands” as was recently posted. That ain’t gonna happen either.
This status quo has created some unfortunate statistics in which Indigenous have been disproportionately represented since the rule of English law arrived on our shores, but good news, the SMART Court (Alcohol and Other Drugs Tribunal or AoD) has arrived.
Part of the NT Government initiative to reform some of the carnage caused by Western-style, seven day a week take-away alcohol sales, cheap, nasty grog and early openers, the SMART Court stands for Substance Misuse Assessment and Referral for Treatment.
It allows the mainly alcohol related offenders to undertake rehabilitative programs, instead of being sent to Gaol, as would more likely happen under the Court of Summary Jurisdiction.
However, convictions including disqualification for holding a driver’s licence and community work orders are still imposed. Violent offenders are, controversially for some offenders, excluded, but include alcohol, cannabis and methamphetamine, and not all are Indigenous.
The savings to society, already evident in recidivist statistical data, includes health, policing,court and prison costs, leading to positive future benefits like full-time employment.
As the AS News has reported, only the longer term will tell to what extent the SMART Court can reduce re-offending and include rehab in the NT, but it’s a huggers court, where offenders are encouraged and rewarded for success.
It proves that the West is not intractable and that a more compassionate society can be created out of what Chief Magistrate Hilary Hannam in describing alcohol-related offences, is “the community’s greatest concern in the NT.”
[ED – Google SMART Court in the Alice Springs News Online.]


Recent Comments by Russell Guy

Alcohol floor price may breach Australian Constitution
The fact that no action is being taken by the Winemakers Federation, preferring instead to work with the NT Government; that there have been no casks larger than two litres in the NT for several years and in Alice Springs for several more, because they are banned, we should be encouraged by their example, along with other retailers who have shown similar intent.
Tourist tipple and alcohol problems in the NT are interrelated. In a recent post, I pointed out the illogic of sacrificing current levels of visible alcohol-related harm to the tourist economy, which will only cause further decline.
The Mandatory Treatment Act (2013), since repealed, highlighted how harmful and disempowering alcohol restrictions can be, particularly where Indigenous communities have not been involved in their development.
While Steve Brown appears to consider it a “do gooder” issue and appeals for ice containment, he ignores the need for alcohol supply restriction in the general community, a product, it could be argued, of laissez faire capitalism over 50 years, culminating in corner stores trading in takeaway alcohol seven days a week.
Mr Brown compounds his approach by wishing that crystal methamphetamine (ice) was not a problem, allegedly within Indigenous communities.
It would be better if he, and others of a similar opinion, evinced the same desire for alcohol management through community coalitions backed by government regulation or government‐initiated community partnerships, which according to a recent article in the Australian and New Zealand Public Health Journal, “have been successful in harnessing local knowledge and Indigenous social systems to curb the unintended impacts of alcohol regulation”.
The article revealed that improved health and social outcomes, for example, by tethering demand reduction programs to supply restrictions had been achieved.
Outrage over the disempowerment of Grey Nomads to purchase a cask of cheap wine, while the harmful use of alcohol among Territorians continues at levels in excess of the national average, ignores the possibility of a community-led solution, even when governments repeal poorly consulted legislation such as the MTA.
In the mid-1980s, Territorians died from being stabbed by glass flagons. Casks were introduced by governments working with the winemakers and less harm eventuated.
It didn’t curtail harmful levels of consumption, nor the granting of takeaway licenses, but the NT Government, acting on recommendations from Justice Riley’s Report, is facing up to the cost of those unacceptable levels and investigating ways of working with the underlying cultural problems.
Learning from history on which evidence-based legislation like soft packaging and a demand reduction floor price is based seems more appropriate than sticking one’s head in the sand.


Ice Age in Alice
Four balls coming back over the net. Policy on the run.
@ Local 1: Comparing Queensland with the NT is apples and oranges. Been crossing the border all my life, not just for a week.
@ Steve Brown: I want to see evidence for your claims, not just anecdotal. Been there.
@ John Bell: Commonsense has been missing in action and @ Paul Parker, same thing.
Tolerance, common sense and reason were the founding values of the European Enlightenment. Not going well.
Finally, to all, I speak for myself, not for PAAC, whose evidence-based campaign assisted the NT Government in micro-managing the issue of liberal alcohol supply with a floor price. The claim that it makes all alcohol more expensive is incorrect.


Ice Age in Alice
The floor price is not a “silver bullet.”
There is none. There are only a suite of measures to reduce levels of supply, including the BDR.
A floor price targets the cheapest alcohol sold, mostly cask wine, consumed by the most desperate addicts, including pregnant women.
Canada and Scotland have a floor price.
It was introduced this week in the NT after a long evidence-based campaign.
Cynicism is an easy choice, but I’ve been involved in reducing alcohol-related harm in the NT since 1986 when I produced four songs with Indigenous band, Coloured Stone for the NT Road Safety Board.
If you allow yourself to get cynical and negative about drugs, of which alcohol is one of the most prevalent, then you might as well accept the carnage as inevitable.
Take the opposition over the recent Master’s Games request by the police for light and midstrength beer.
One of your readers posted anonymously, calling those who lobby to turn the tap down a “mob” who are only interested in prohibition. That’s hysteria.
The NT Government is currently looking into the seven days a week take away grog licensing regime.
Australia has a culture of alcoholism, particularly around sport.
Changing that culture, currently costing NT taxpayers $640m p.a. is a positive step towards putting money into ice rehab.


Apex Club ‘fenced out’ of running Masters Games bars
@ “Ray”. My argument for turning the tap down (not off, as you insinuate with your anonymous post), exposes your confusion, but it clarifies one point.
It will be hypocritical for you to point to the Indigenous as being responsible for the town’s social problems again.
While you busy yourself over being “the laughing stock of the country”, the hospital and police records continue to speak for themselves and show no sign of abating, due to what is a culture of alcoholism.
It was the police who requested light and midstrength beer be served at this sporting event.
As an attendee at last Friday’s National Police Remembrance Day, the names of those officers who were killed in the line of duty was sobering, yet they who we appoint to serve and protect are fobbed off.
Justifying the capitulation on the economy and giving back to the “community” is evidence of your confusion, but as cultural tourism is the vogue, it will be interesting to see how long before you start referring to “the section of the community that has the issue” again.


Apex Club ‘fenced out’ of running Masters Games bars
Why such despondency, “Ray”?
The streets of Alice Springs are paved with gold if you have eyes to see.
They need not be awash with the consequences of alcoholism.
Turn the tap down (not off) and you will see how a great town can come back from fifty years of an uncapped flow.


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