@ Sarah Thorne. February, 19th. As a regular contributor with …

Comment on Cover-up: Australia’s or Pilger’s? by Russell Guy.

@ Sarah Thorne. February, 19th.

As a regular contributor with ‘Alcohol Watch’ – not sure if you’d class me as a columnist – I’d like to respond to your statement re the “pro Intervention and anti self-determination stance of this website and its columnists”, but generalised statements about such a large and long-staying initiiave as the Intervention, makes it impossible to know where to begin. However, Jane Clark has responded to this elsewhere.
Self-determination as a government policy or as a right to maintain a culture different to that of the hegemonic is, in my opinion, problematic for many reasons, most pertinent in this instance, economic self-determination.
There are a few catch-cries getting around, e.g., Desert Shire’s ‘Two Ways – One Outcome’, but the pragmatic out-working of people living their lives in a multicultural society where racism is a factor, is one of a complex relationship and degrees of interdependence.
Peter Sutton’s revised edition of ‘The Politics of Suffering’ contains a chapter entitled ‘The Trouble with Culture’ which may be of interest.
I didn’t see Pilger’s film, but I’ve written for the past two years of the realpolitik of cross-cultural alcohol reform in a society which is undergoing and about to be, subject to considerable economic change.
I would welcome your thoughts on alcohol reform, particularly the use of ID as an interventionary measure for mediating alcohol-abuse in the region.

Russell Guy Also Commented

Cover-up: Australia’s or Pilger’s?
I’m amazed at the numbers raging against the analysis of John Pilger in regard to the “treatment” of Australia’s First Peoples, while only a small number have expressed any interest in reforming the alcohol laws in the NT.
After two years of constant researching, reporting and posting to the Alice Springs News Online, attending forums and writing to government ministers prior to the 2012 election asking without success for information on alcohol industry campaign donations, it appears that the Australian Hotels Association contributed $300,000 to both political parties at that time.
If some of the outrage over the past could be brought to bear on the NTG in terms of its lack of a floor price, its seven days a week takeaway regime and earlier closing times, we might stand a chance of avoiding another generation of excessive alcohol consumption, spend the multi-million dollar savings on productivity-enhancing programs that are not constantly undermined by alcoholism and Close the Gap.
This realpolitik seems to escape the Greens’ polemic.


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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