In reply to Robinoz (Posted January 18, 2013 at 7:52 …

Comment on OUR REST & REFLECTION SERIES: Alice has magic but house prices and crime need a firm hand by Bob Durnan.

In reply to Robinoz (Posted January 18, 2013 at 7:52 pm): re your observation that “it would be good to see some evidence that what we are doing is working”.
As it happens, I can assist you there.

The most recent over-view report on the impacts of alcohol reforms and regulations in Alice and Tennant (the NDRI’s Longitudinal Study of Restrictions in Alice Springs from 2000 – 2010) is also the most comprehensive look at the topic to date.
It contains analysis indicating there was some good news during that period, particularly in relation to reduced rates of per capita alcohol consumption, and a halt to the upwards trend for serious alcohol-related injuries and deaths (especially for Aboriginal women).
This report, which was compiled by a number of eminent researchers from various institutions and agencies, was published by the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) a couple of months ago, and may be found at on the web.
The NDRI report examines in detail the impacts made during three separate periods in Alice of restrictions to alcohol availability using different combinations of regulatory mechanisms.
It concludes that the most recent arrangements (those applying since Clare Martin and the Licensing Commission introduced a well-calibrated package of regulation reforms in October 2006, which was later refined by Paul Henderson, especially via his “Enough is Enough” legislation and programmes which he introduced in 2011) have produced some valuable results. (The data available to the NDRI researchers was generally only that which had been collected to the end of 2010, so the actual impacts of Henderson’s reforms could not be included. Henderson’s reforms included substantive measures such as the SMART Court, the AOD Tribunal, the Banned Drinkers Register, increased police powers to deal with habitual drunken offenders, and domestic violence prevention and intervention programmes).
If Terry Mills, Robyn Lambley and John Elferink had their heads screwed on properly, they would have moved mountains to ensure that the various departments fast-tracked alcohol-related data collation for the period to the end of 2012, and commissioned an extension of the NDRI study to examine the trends emerging since the end of 2010.
Then they would have been in a much better position to make accurate assessments of the real value of the SMART Court, AOD Tribunal, domestic violence programs, Banned Drinkers Register and the other valuable, long term tax-saving mechanisms which they have very recently demolished with axes via their amateurish “mini-budget”.
The fact that they chose to go with the flow of ideology and prejudice rather than reason and evidence in making these destructive decisions shows that, unfortunately for the people of the NT, they are more like ignorant barbarians than wise rulers.

Bob Durnan Also Commented

OUR REST & REFLECTION SERIES: Alice has magic but house prices and crime need a firm hand
Further re Lore Solaris (Posted January 19, 2013 at 9:22 pm): I agreed with Hal that your criticism of the police is too broad brush, and unfair in that it is the unhappy lot of the police to have responsibility to be compelled to deal with many people who are angry, unco-operative and often aggressive. This is extremely difficult and testing work. Despite this, many police do manage to communicate with all members of the general public in surprisingly respectful ways. Many police participate in sport, mix with all sections of society through school and church activities, and socialise in clubs.
The presence of police (and even more so, their potential presence) often empowers many people to have confidence and deal with problems which they would otherwise be completely powerless to handle.
The NT Emergency Response legislation (and now the Stronger Futures program funding) are providing more than 60 extra police, and 18 police stations, in places which formerly had no police presence and where vulnerable people were often previously scared to challenge drunken bullies, drug dealers, grog runners, domestic violence perpetrators and other lawbreakers.
Most police are well behaved and courteous to people. If they aren’t, people should be lodging complaints about particular incidents and behaviour that they find unacceptable. Senior police take such complaints seriously. There are several publicly funded legal services which are prepared to assist people to lodge valid complaints, so long as they are not frivolous or vexatious.

OUR REST & REFLECTION SERIES: Alice has magic but house prices and crime need a firm hand
Lore (Posted January 19, 2013 at 9:22 pm: Good to hear you speaking up with passion, raising many valid issues.
I can’t blame you for thinking you are alone in your concerns that “No one is talking about [social inequality] and no one wants to face up to it.” However, a check of the back issues of this journal and the Advocate will show that Jimmy Cocking has raised the issue repeatedly, as has Russell Guy.

Aboriginal leaders have been focussing on the need for greater equality for many years. A check of interviews with spokespeople from CAALAS, CLC, CAAC and Tangentyere will confirm this.

In early 2011 Central Australian Aboriginal Congress launched a pivotal strategy “Rebuilding Family Life in Alice Springs and Central Australia: the social and community dimensions of change for our people” (see
This document, which CAAC representatives have promoted continuously during the last two years, nominates income inequality, low social status and poor self-esteem as the fundamental issues underlying most other problems for many Aboriginal people.

“Rebuilding Family Life” proposes programs and advocacy to address these problems, primarily hinging these programs on increased empowerment and greater control over their own lives and circumstances. The key areas which it pinpoints as requiring urgent action are early childhood services, education, employment, health, accommodation, improved youth services, and programs to reduce alcohol problems and improve adult literacy.

Twelve months ago I also pinpointed inequality as one of two key issues in my analysis of the NT’s problems here .

Liz Martin and John Reid (and probably others) raised the issue in the context of the Alice town council election campaign.

Warren Snowdon often speaks about the problems associated with inequality in his public statements and speeches. The local ALP branch advocates for more attention to equality by governments, and did so at the recent conference of the NT ALP.

So although the issue may sometimes appear to be not receiving the attention it deserves, you are not alone; there is in central Australia a strong advocacy movement struggling to achieve greater equality.

Recent Comments by Bob Durnan

Gallery business case slap in the face of custodians
Wrong again Matthew Langan (Posted August 26, 2019 at 6:44 pm).
It was actually “big knob socialist flogs” from the CLP who talked up and used government funds to build the Desert Park, the Araluen Arts Centre and the Strehlow Museum.
If you have complaints about those places and their costs to the public purse, go talk to the conservatives. Nothing to do with the Labor mob.
The CLP under both Adam Giles and Gary Higgins has indicated it would also support a new National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs.

Architect of Katherine’s masterplan to be Alice council CEO
James (Posted June 6, 2019 at 8:14 am): How many parks in Alice Springs commemorate Aboriginal leaders or dignitaries?
Nothing against Father Smith, but couldn’t we consider looking collectively at setting some priorities before rushing in to barrack for our favourite project?

Price family were sole complainants against Cocking & Satour 
Conservative (posted May 1, 2019 at 9:19 am): what do you mean by ‘props to Erwin’? Stage ‘props’? It doesn’t make sense.

Road toll drops by half
Like InterestedDarwinObserver, I think Assistant Commissioner Beer’s claim is a somewhat questionable one.
Given that the majority of NT road deaths are normally the result of single vehicle roll-overs on remote roads, it is questionable whether more intensive traffic policing in Alice would necessarily produce this good result as claimed.
We would need a much bigger sample and more details of the individual accidents to really get an idea about what is actually going on here.

Massive horse deaths now a risk to humans
Hal, (Posted April 14, 2019 at 1:29 am): Don’t be so disingenuous. It is obvious from the article that CLC staff have been trying very hard to get permission to act.
They have now made their frustrations known to the relevant authorities, who are able to step in.
My point is that your criticism should have been aimed at those responsible (the traditional owners in question), not at the CLC as an organisation, as the staff are trying to do their job and get something done about the situation.
I was at both Mulga Bore and Angula a little over a week ago, and found very few people at Mulga, and none at Angula.
There were no dead horses that I saw, or smell of dead horses, around the houses then at either place, but there may have been some elsewhere. Of course the carcasses should be disposed of, wherever they are; that is what the writer and the CLC are trying to achieve.

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