The irony is that Alice Springs is considerably safer now …

Comment on Alice singled out in German Foreign Office travel warning by Alex Nelson.

The irony is that Alice Springs is considerably safer now than it was in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, most particularly in the period of 1989-91 when the Alice gained the dubious distinction as the “Murder Capital of Australia”. There were 11 homicides in the Alice in 1990, which worked out statistically as 48 murders per 100,000 (nationally it was 2 per 100,000). A similar situation existed in 1995, when Deputy ATSIC Commissioner Charles Perkins publicly noted there had been 12 murders in 11 months in Alice Springs.
In 1991, according to Mayor Andy McNeill (as reported in 1994), there were over 13,000 cases of protective custody cases recorded for Alice Springs alone; equating to over 55 per cent of the (then) resident population being found drunk on the streets at least once per year. That’s the highest figure I’ve found so far in the history of Alice Springs.
A decade later the figures had plunged by comparison but the year 2001-02 was another peak for protective custody cases, numbering 7813. That calculates to the equivalent of 27.7 per cent of the town’s population being found drunk on the streets at least once per year.
I don’t know what the recent figures are but what I can say with assurance is that the current law enforcement program being implemented in Alice Springs is the most effective I’ve ever witnessed (I’ve lived in Central Australia almost 50 years, and been resident within Alice Springs for the majority of time since 1989).
It is not true for anyone to claim that the current crime situation (which is still a serious problem) is the worst it’s ever been; a claim that has been made by a number of prominent individuals in this town in recent years.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Alice singled out in German Foreign Office travel warning
Following on from Hal Duell’s comment, in yet another example of how history repeats in Alice Springs, I remind everyone of the case of two young German women in 1988 who unwisely accepted a lift just south of Heavitree Gap who were pack-raped by a gang of young men. This case went to court early in 1990, and the perpetrators of this vicious crime received quite light sentences which prompted uproar from the public and an appeal against the sentences by the NT Government. The victims even went public in the local media, such was their disappointment with the way their case was handled. It generated a lot of adverse publicity for Alice Springs, which also coincided with a period of stagnant economic growth and a severe downturn in tourism.
Nevertheless, the record shows that the tourism industry in Central Australia boomed right throughout that period of the 1970s and ’80s when crime rates were also sharply increasing. The local tourism industry is influenced far more by other extraneous factors than a poor local reputation for crime. All the same, if a permanent reduction in the level of crime and anti-social problems in Alice Springs can be achieved, that surely would be of great benefit to all of us, locals and visitors alike.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

‘Voter apathy greatest threat to Territory democracy’
@ Domenico Pecorari (Posted August 23, 2019 at 8:44 pm): Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this but occasionally it’s been my practice to spoil my ballots by adding an extra box labelled Informal or None of the above, and voting for it.
These days I think “Informal” would end up being the most popular candidate in every election campaign, which is possibly a reason why politicians would be reluctant to include it on the ballot slips!
An update to my previous reply to Ted Egan, I noticed a reference that enrolment and voting was made compulsory for all Aboriginal people in the NT (at least for Territory elections) in the early years of self-government so this situation has existed much longer than I realised.


‘Voter apathy greatest threat to Territory democracy’
@ Ted Egan (Posted August 23, 2019 at 10:54 am): My understanding is that Aboriginal people (ie. “full bloods” as opposed to people of mixed race descent who could vote from 1953) gained the right to vote in the NT in 1962, however it was non-compulsory. This remained the case until comparatively recent times, as I recall.
The first elections that all Aboriginal people could vote in was for the NT Legislative Council in December 1962. The Labor candidate for Stuart, DD Smith, was the first person in Australia to advertise his campaign over radio in an Aboriginal language (Arrernte) – he got Milton Liddle to speak in language for him.
Smith won the seat from long-serving member Bill Petrick, who unsuccessfully objected to the result on the basis that only English could be used in an election campaign.


Opposition leader will not be questioned on looming NT poll
I have made the point a number of times for well over a decade, principally through Alice Springs News, in making two key observations about patterns in Territory politics.
One is that governments that win massive majorities in elections suffer serious electoral backlashes in subsequent polls.
This trend is strengthening over time; for example, in August 1997 the CLP won 18 seats and its greatest ever total vote across the Territory but it lost office for the first time in August 2001.
Similarly, Labor won 19 seats in June 2005 but was reduced to a minority government in August 2008.
There’s no reason to believe the Gunner Government, with its initial 18 seats (now 16) will not suffer a similar fate in a year’s time.
The second pattern is that political parties whose leaders represent electorates outside of Darwin always lose elections.
This pattern began as long ago as 1965 when the Member for Alice Springs, Colonel Lionel Rose, became the leader of the North Australia Party – he lost his seat by a narrow margin to Labor candidate Charlie “Chas” Orr, and the NAP was obliterated to a single winning member (Tony Greatorex, Member for Stuart).
History went full circle when Chief Minister Adam Giles, the Member for Braitling, narrowly lost his seat in 2016 to Labor’s Dale Wakefield, and the CLP was reduced to its worst ever result of just two seats.
The current leader, Gary Higgins, represents a rural seat and – consistent with the existing pattern – it’s highly unlikely in my view that he will succeed in leading the CLP to victory next year.
As noted in another report, there’s a high level of disengagement of electors in the political process, and with democracy itself, in the Northern Territory.
We live in interesting times.


Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Karen (Posted August 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm): Hi Karen, I presume you mean the wildfire on the Ross Highway side of Todd River in 2002, as I recall?
That was a very damaging conflagration fuelled by buffel grass that had grown rampant during the wet years of 2000-01.
It came very close to rural properties next to the river.
As it happened, I took photos of that area several times prior to the wildfire so was able to get contrasting before and after shots that demonstrated the severity of that particular blaze.
There were a number of other deliberately lit fires at the time such as along Colonel Rose Drive, and the damage remains clearly visible to this day.


Gunner goofs: No council ‘decisions’ on gallery site
@ Some Guy (Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:43 am): No, I don’t “feel like this golden opportunity of a project to secure the future of Central Australia both in an economic and cultural sense on the world stage is slowly slipping through the fingers” because it was an illusion in the first place.
This isn’t the first occasion that a big project has been held out for us in The Centre offering some kind of economic Nirvana; we were told exactly the same kind of thing with the casino 40 years ago, and again with the development of the Alice Springs Desert Park in the mid 1990s.
Both of these facilities may be attractions but have never come close to fulfilling the visions originally held out to us as major game changers for the Centre’s economy.
With all due respect, I cannot see how a “National Aboriginal Art Gallery” will prove to be any different in the long run.


Be Sociable, Share!

A new way to support our journalism

We do not have a paywall. If you support our independent journalism you can make a financial contribution by clicking the red button below. This will help us cover expenses and sustain the news service we’ve been providing since 1994, in a locally owned and operated medium.

Erwin Chlanda, Editor