The Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) submission to the Coroner …

Comment on Send in the taskforce: councillor by Russell Guy.

The Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) submission to the Coroner in the tragic Briscoe Inquest was reported in The Australian on Monday (25/6/12).
The recommendations are consistent with what many of us have been saying in the AS News and the Advocate regarding the immediate need for alcohol supply reduction. Not prison farms for rehab, not more law and order, but a floor price, a take-away sales free day/s and a reduction in opening hours from 10am to noon.
There are many well-intentioned people in Alice who are not even aware that two pubs sell take-away seven days a week. This is a fatal flaw in any plan for this town’s future.

Russell Guy Also Commented

Send in the taskforce: councillor
Ray @ June 27. 1:11AM. Hi Ray, your post reminded me of the old argument about a means to an end. Sometimes, we use the means (alcohol regulation) to achieve an end that we can’t live with. It’s time for change.
The end of forty years of liberal laws, where we currently have take-away alcohol being sold seven days a week, has produced a very expensive social problem, but this is where I really want to engage with your argument about all of us being equal under the law.
The cultural difference that underpins much of life in Alice between Aboriginal people and those of a more European background, is seen not exclusively through the prism of law, but in inequalities in affordable housing, educational opportunities, welfare, prison and health statistics.
There are terminologies for why this is so in the social sciences. Accelerated cultural change is one of my favourite, whereby change from a way of life has come upon Aboriginal people (whose first language in the majority of cases, is not English), at a rapid rate, causing confusion, psychological stress and shorter life spans, etc, than the majority of Australians.
You are right in saying that more things need to change than alcohol supply, but the focus on alcohol-abuse, welfare reform and job creation is an obvious place to begin.
Cultural difference is hard to explain, even though it’s all around us in central Australia. It’s something you have to appreciate. George Bernard Shaw once said “to be in Hell is to drift: to be in Heaven is to steer.” Guess who’s steering social change in Australia and on the streets of Alice?
You want Aboriginal people to fit into this scheme, but their cultures are different and they don’t have the skills mentioned above to negotiate, because of the historical situation that still pertains.
I maintain that we’re trying to put a circle into a box. The circle is found in Aboriginal art and the box is found in the geometry of Western science. I make a fire (in a circle of rocks) each morning out bush and people stand around it. The TV is a rectangle. There has to be a better accommodation of cultural difference.
In conclusion, I would like to draw your attention to the Northern Territory Police Association’s (NTPA) submission to the Coroner’s inquest into the death of a young Aboriginal man in the Alice watch house in January.
The NTPA, on behalf of our police, make some welcome statements regarding the “soul-destroying” work of taking Aboriginal alcoholics into custody. You will find the links to that in the AS News.


Send in the taskforce: councillor
Rex @ June 21. 11:59pm. Thanks for continuing to engage with this situation. Cr Brown, Ray, Jason Newman and yourself, et al deserve a medal or at least a cup of billy tea around the fire, BUT, you have side-stepped the one positive point that I made in reply to Ray.
All very well to apportion blame and who hasn’t made mistakes, but turning down the supply of alcohol is one way that we can improve the dysfunction in Alice. In fact, I’d go further. It’s critical to the three points of breaking this la la land cycle – alcohol reform, welfare reform and job creation.
By continuing to salute the mighty grog god as if it’s sacrosanct, it will grow more powerful – emphasis on ‘more’ marketing, more sly grogging, more policing as it has since 1984’s 2 km law.
Let’s start somewhere around the fire and maybe we can organise a trip to your Reptile Park for some of those kids who need fathers and mothers to show that they care about them and their future in this town.
I know you’ve had terrible experiences, but most of us have had our feathers ruffled and clipped over the years. Let’s have a go while we still can. Are you interested?


Send in the taskforce: councillor
Ray @ June 20. 8: 56pm. Thanks for your thoughtful post. Please allow me to respond by saying that I think you are making a racist statement in identifying Aboriginal people as being solely responsible for the social dysfunction in the Alice community. I know “it stands out” and I appreciate your frustration.
I remember the introduction of the 2km law in 1984 and had to work with it. I asked the police for help at the time, but they responded with, “we don’t make the laws.” Quite so.
I think I have a little knowledge of alcohol restrictions in Alice, so I’m not just shooting from the hip and I agree with you that the current regime could be improved, but the NTG’s Enough is Enough measures have statistically improved the situation since their introduction in 2007. It would have been far worse without them.
Along with many others, I advocate a take-away sales free day/s and a floor price (a reduction in public bar trading hours would be a good thing, say from 10AM opening, back to noon), but we’re such “good drinkers in the NT”, it’s a hard one to live down and keep one down, much less close down for the good of the community, but so was the abolition of the British slave trade.
Regarding your advice to “broaden my scope”, if you Google my name in the Alice Springs News archives, you will find my recommendations for the overhaul of Centrelink.
It seems to me, with a post-graduate degree in Sociology, among other things, if you’ll pardon my modesty, that in a laissez faire democracy such as we have in Australia, whereby many people go along with whatever happens and/or complain from the sidelines until the next election comes along, we have structural problems that are not easily overcome, especially, in a Rights-based environment where certain activists agitate for their rights above those of the community good, simultaneously reducing certain freedoms that were once taken for granted. We see it in the alcohol debate too.
The legislative framework for governance is often limited, slow in adjusting to social pathology, unwieldy, inefficient, duplicated, etc. and such is the pace of modern life, that few of us have the time to listen, while the colossus of government rolls on and over.
However, one has to start somewhere in Alice and reducing the supply of alcohol remains an obvious target in improving our community’s dysfunction. Since 1984, we have allowed numerous take-away alcohol outlets to supply seven days a week, to the point where the expense far outweighs any benefit to the community.
We have arrived at a social crossroads in a transitioning economy where only the mining industry is referred to as a saviour. This morning, it was announced that housing construction is down 12.5p.c. in the first quarter.
I’ve gone cold turkey on grog after 43 years. It’s not necessary for life. In fact, the benefits are amazing in so many ways. I expect to get shot at for saying this, but how about you?


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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