Simon Walker, can I suggest that such a forum is …

Comment on Mandatory sentencing or not, that is the question by Kieran Finnane.

Simon Walker, can I suggest that such a forum is a time for giving clear and precise answers that do not require conjecture as to their thrust? I also spoke to Mr Giles today to get clarification, as reported. In a perfectly civil exchange, he told me he did not accept that minimum sentencing for categories of assault is mandatory sentencing.

For the benefit of readers, here is a transcription of the exchange between Trish van Dijk from the floor and Adam Giles, with a final comment from Matt Conlan.

Trish van Dijk: I would like to ask Adam Giles and the CLP generally, but to Adam Giles perhaps, given that the prison is absolutely chock-a-block and overcrowded to the maximum, and given that there are 90% or thereabouts of Indigenous people in the prison, and I know law and order is a big [item on your agenda], would you be considering bringing back mandatory sentencing which would exacerbate the matter to an almost impossible rate. And probably do no good because the recidivism out at the prison is very, very high too. So, given that it’s a legal challenge that maybe mandatory sentencing is not legal, would the CLP be pursuing that agenda as they have promised to do?

Adam Giles: Thanks, Trish, for the question. No, we won’t be pursuing mandatory sentencing. I can say I am emotionally disturbed by the level of Indigenous incarceration and the recidivism rate. I think in 2012 in a nation such as Australia the level of Indigenous incarceration is appalling. I’ve been around politics long enough, I know that if it was a Liberal Government and this was happening, Labor would be singing from the rafters, absolutely bagging us about what was happening.
We lock up black Territorians seven times more than they ever did under Apartheid in South Africa and [inaudible]. It is disturbing what is happening. There are fundamental problems in our social psyche across the Territory. We know many of those issues and we’ve got to put in place reform at the structural level to try to fix some of these things.
We’ve spoken about the Planning Commission, housing, outstations, regional councils, economic development. There’s a range of areas we need to address to try to get to the root causes of some of the problems. I believe we need to do a number of things and that’s why we’ve got a policy around mandatory rehabilitation and voluntary rehabilitation for people who have got chronic alcohol misuse or abuse problems. So that anyone picked up three times in a six month period will have to go to either voluntary rehabilitation or mandatory rehabilitation. We don’t want people clogging up our police stations night after night, getting washed in and washed out because they’re drunk on the streets. We want to try and help people, we don’t want those people ending up through the prison system which is what’s happening now as a result of breaking into people’s houses or commercial premises to get grog. It’s not working under the current alcohol regime. All we’re doing is locking up black Territorians and I’m not happy with it.

Trish van Dijk: So is that a definitive no?

Adam Giles: No, right at the start, no.

Matt Conlan: No, it’s not happening.

Recent Comments by Kieran Finnane

The militarised centre of Australia
Evelyne, your question needs precisely the kind of informed public debate I’m arguing for. There are no simple answers, but such a debate needs to be able to question the criteria around military secrets and all facets of our alliance with the United States, including the possibility that it does not make us safer.
We need to at least imagine and consider the merits of other ways of managing national and regional security, instead of so passively accepting the business as usual model, predicated on violence and its threat.

The militarised centre of Australia
@ ‘Kelly’. Your kind of argument is used all the time to delegitimise questioning and dissenting views – ‘If you knew what we know, you’d think differently’.
I have no doubt that threat assessments and all kinds of intel exist. Yet, how well did they prepare us for our engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq? Where were they when the Northern Territory so foolishly sold the Darwin port to the Chinese state-owned Landbridge Group, and when the Australian Government dropped the ball on a timely intervention?
Neither do I doubt that there are rules of engagement for military operations, conventional and covert. They are not inviolable, as the ABC’s reporting of the Afghan Files has shown. In the case of targeted killings by drone, in which Pine Gap is implicated, there is no transparency whatsoever around the ethical and legal framework for our country’s involvement in them.
Yet these actions are carried out in our name and are supposedly in our interest. My argument is for a more informed public debate on the issues and against accepting the current direction of defence planning on blind faith, as you seem to suggest we should.

Rosenberg’s rose coloured view of Pine Gap
Is that the Australia you want to live in, Ray? A country where if you have a dissenting view you are a traitor? That’s how dissenters are seen in China and now Hong Kong.
Some more pertinent research for you on these issues might be to visit the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s coverage of America’s covert wars as a starting point. The deadly fallout from drone operations goes well beyond a few drones ‘going astray’.
Australia has acquired its own weaponised drones. Very soon it won’t be a matter of turning a blind eye to the actions of ‘our allies’. Shouldn’t we be able to have an open public debate about the frameworks, ethical and legal, that will govern their use?
I trust you will find my forthcoming book, Peace Crimes, offers a useful discussion of some of these questions.

Zachary Rolfe prosecution: possible hearing in September
@ Surprised!. Mr Hargraves’ comment about wanting to see Mr Rolfe “behind bars” was made in the context of talking about Mr Rolfe’s bail, as is made clear in the article.The bail allows him to live in Canberra with his parents, when most murder accused are held on remand while awaiting trial, in other words “behind bars”.
See our previous report about this issue.

NT closing borders to interstate arrivals
There are features we already know about the coronavirus that distinguish it from the flu.

The ABC’s Health and Wellbeing offers a clear explainer here.

Some of the salient points:

•The new coronavirus is about twice as contagious as influenza.

•It is about 10 times more deadly than seasonal flu, which is already estimated to kill between 290,000 and 650,000 people globally every year.

•Unlike the flu, for which we have anti-viral medicines and vaccines, there are currently no licensed vaccines or drugs for COVID-19.

This is why, if left uncontained, the new coronavirus would overwhelm our health system, which is what the social controls, imperfect as they may be, are seeking to avoid.

Kieran Finnane, senior writer, moderator

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