@ Hal Duell. March 4. What is it about Janet …

Comment on LETTER to Janet Brown and Russell Guy by Russell Guy.

@ Hal Duell. March 4. What is it about Janet and my open and ongoing discussion at the polite request of the Editor that elicits your sense that we have somehow failed, Hal?

Russell Guy Also Commented

LETTER to Janet Brown and Russell Guy
@ Hal Duel. March 5. “Mutual admiration pact” confirms that your earlier comment of Janet “doing me like a dinner” is contradictory, Hal.
You, whom I once thought was considering standing for public office by the deluge of social commentary over the past five years or so, don’t seem to have yet got the message that in the interests of public health, I have drawn a line and only responded at this post by invitation of the Editor in as polite a manner as possible.
All the best in your career of super serial social commentary across the issues. I wish you well.

LETTER to Janet Brown and Russell Guy
Dear Editor,
Thank you for your letter. This may not be what you are expecting by way of reply, but my campaign for better alcohol management in central Australia over the past twelve months has been driven by one thing only and that is my concern for the mostly Aboriginal friends (many deceased) with whom I live and have lived and worked beside for thirty years.
The fact that they are disproportionately represented in social indicators of disadvantage, suggests that they are the most vulnerable section of NT society and so I have taken to defending them from the self-harm as a result of an epidemic of alcohol mismanagement in our nation, particularly in the NT.
Your letter concerns the “nanny state” stepping in to regulate the free market supply of alcohol or not as I understand it.
Some say that I have been obsessed with alcohol in every social issue raised, but my experience has shown me that alcohol has its tentacles into every area of Aboriginal society in central Australia and they are a legitimate part of the population.
Some say that it’s “paternalistic” to discriminate about where Aboriginal people can drink (even though they already suffer the consequences of discrimination as a group of people) and that seven days per week take-away and any other form of restriction of supply, including health warnings on product should be left to supply and demand.
Be that as it may, most people appear to believe that it’s a community problem and would rather a community-led solution, rather than the “nanny state” step in, even though without legislation there is no stopping those who cannot agree to act in the community interest. What is the best interests of the community remains polarized to this day.
I would like to bring to the attention of the Alice Springs Town Council, as the local community governing body, a response of the City of Victor Harbour Town Council in SA, where there is a plaque on the foreshore that reads: “Sincere Expression of Sorrow and Apology to the Ngarrinderi People.
“To the Ngarrinderi People, the traditional owners of the land and waters within the region, the City of Victor Harbour expresses sorrow and sincere regret for the suffering and injustice that you have experienced since colonization and we share in your feelings of shame and sorrow at the mistreatment your people have suffered.
“We respect your autonomy and the uniqueness of your culture. We offer our support and commitment to your determination two empower your communities in the struggle for justice, freedom and protection of your Heritage, Culture and interests within this Council area and acknowledge your right to determine your future.
“We commit to work with you. We acknowledge your wisdom and we commit to ensuring our actions and experiences best assist your work. We accept your frustrations at our past ways of misunderstanding you. We are shamed to acknowledge that there is still racism within our communities.
“We accept that our words must match our actions and we pledge to you that we will work to remove racism and ignorance. We will recognize your leadership. We honour your visions, and we hope for a future of working together with respect for each other. We look for and two a living reconciliation with justice.
“We walk beside you, and stand with you to remedy the legacy of 166 years of European occupation of your land and waters and control of your lives.
“The work of the City of Victor Harbour will be guided by your vision of a future where reconciliation through agreement making may be possible and we may work together.
“The City of Victor Harbour acknowledges the Ngarrinderi People’s ongoing connection to the land and waters within its area and further acknowledges the Ngarrinderi People’s continual culture and interests thereon.”
I’ll leave it with you to draw your own conclusions about how such a statement might make a difference to Alice Springs, although it’s a different city to Victor Harbour, in that it’s a multi-national destination, both in the Indigenous visitation to traditional Arrente country and those who come lately.
Yours sincerely,
Russell Guy.

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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