LETTER: Attack on film crew – should we defer to criminals?


Sir,- In regard to the attack on the ABC film crew in the Todd River on February 8 there seem to be many in the community who are criticizing both the camera crew and the police.  These criticisms are unwarranted.
To begin with the film crew was not filming Aboriginal people, as some have suggested. They were filming Indian people as a part of a documentary.
However, had they been filming in the Todd River, it must be pointed out that the Todd River is one of the main tourist highlights of our town and it would be quite normal to take pictures of the Todd River, irrespective of whether there are people there or not, and irrespective of which race of people they might be.
No one would suggest that tourists (or anyone else) have a right to go into a town camp and photograph Aboriginal people, but in a public place like the Todd River, or the Mall, or the parks, we should all have a right to photograph these public areas without fear of attack.
Drinking in the Todd River is a crime. Do we defer to the criminals? Are we in a situation where we must tell tourists not to film in the Todd River because there are criminal activities taking place there, and the criminals will get angry if you film them?
The situation with the ABC film crew only highlights the high priority need to get rid of the drinkers in the Todd River. They are not just an eyesore to the tourists, but a physical danger to us all.
Dumping out grog is not the answer. It’s just pouring taxpayer funded alcohol into the sand, with no effect on the problem.
It’s a crime, and for the protection of the community the criminals should be arrested and removed, either to jail or a drying out shelter (for their own protection).
And finally, any criticism of the police for the time they took to respond is unwarranted.  If people give the right information when contacting the police, they will get the right response.
If they had said that a drunk woman with a metal bar was in the hotel, having already attacked a staff member, who was bleeding from the head and in need of medical attention, and that the rest of the staff were in fear for their lives, and that the woman was still there wrecking the place and threatening bodily harm to all present, the police response would have been appropriate to the circumstances.
Jerry Flattum
Alice Springs


  1. I am with you, Jerry, the very idea that the film crew should in some way be regarded as responsible for what happened is disgusting and disgraceful! The film crew were going about their legal business in a public place as any person or persons have the right to do along with an expectation of safety from criminal attack! This incident has once again caused our community immense harm. The criminal actions of a couple of drunks have been broadcast around the world, once again highlighting our town’s social ills. The incident unfortunately occurred just as we were beginning to see the first glimmers of hope that our police may have finally gotten some kind of control on the situation. Sadly the incident also served to reaffirm the despair of a few locals teetering on the brink of leaving, with one tour company simply dumping its Alice Springs operation on the back of it. Makes the Territory Government’s proposal to spend $1.5 million on a 10 week advertising scheme absolutely laughable, doesn’t it? Perhaps if we were to spend that amount and a bit more on maintaining a “never ending” police operation on our streets we might gain over a period of time priceless amounts of positive advertising by the simple device of not having horrifying incidents on our streets making the news of the world. As I have yelled from the roof tops long, loud and often, we simply must address the issues in our town and on our streets before the world will want what it is we have to sell.

  2. Hi Jerry,
    May I suggest that you get your facts correct before instructing my staff on what in a perfect world should have happened?
    How easy it is for you to criticise my staff on how they should have made the 000 emergency calls. The TV crew ran into Aurora Alice Springs knowing full well Aboriginal women were chasing them and my reception staff made the 000 calls on assessing the fear on the faces of the retreating TV crew. Why didn’t the TV crew use their own phones?
    It is easy for you to sit back in the comfort of your home and tell my staff how they should have made the call. I made a call, as you kindly suggested with the description you have detailed, at 6.43pm, the police didn’t arrive until 7.13pm, and I rest my case.
    My criticism of the time police took to respond is and was totally warranted.
    Ron Thynne
    General Manager – Aurora Alice Springs

  3. You’re a one-trick pony, Steve. You just don’t get it, do you? You “yell from the rooftops, loud and often” and beat your silver breasted chest, while more than a few others have, time and again, tried to tell you something, but you’re not listening. You blame “a couple of drunks” while advocating unrestricted alcohol sales. How dumb is that?

  4. I see something wrong in your logic, Steve, when you can admit how damaging our town’s grog problem is and yet be in favour of winding back the few restrictions we have been able to have put in place. How will this help, Steve? Should we also quadruple the number of police on the beat and introduce 24/7 patrols of the Todd River as well? No, Steve, when your car is careering out of control, you hit the brakes, not the accelerator.

  5. When you focus on an issue you fail to view the problem from the many other factors that contribute to the problem. It was not grog that chased down the film crew, it was two women who had been drinking it.
    Many people drink the grog and laugh and do no wrong. But there are a few that are just basically angry people. Grog is not the problem here. It is not the cause.
    To keep on about the grog is to stop the focus on the [alleged acts] of these two women. We need to address the crimes and the criminals who commit the acts. Stop using the booze as an excuse for them and others that “hey we will get drunk and break into that place and we will be okay”. Stop the rot.
    The grog is not committing the crimes – people are. How do you fix the problem of criminal behavior? You punish them.
    Time to remove the nanny state that excuses those who are intent on property damage.

  6. Hi Jerry,
    how cleanly you cut to the quick of an issue we all skirt around! We need to lock criminals up! There should be no consideration of the fact they were drunk, or black, or white, or green.
    The only consideration should be, the crime and the victims.
    I also admire your use of factual evidence, according to the police reports of the incident, the information they received from the Aurora hotel’s staff, led them to believe there was no overwhelming danger.
    And therein lies the problem, now Ron, I’m sure that a terrifying situation like that, where your staff and self (not to mention property) are in danger can put a strain on your perception of what you think is “fast enough” for the police to respond.
    But to criticize the public servants for acting on information they received and categorized by risk would only serve to stoke the fires of your own memory.
    In the future if you want to receive a faster response, you now know how the police categorize the calls they receive, so perhaps instead of commenting somewhat pettily on the comfort of Jerry’s home, you could take a moment to appreciate the issue from another perspective.
    Now before you comment on the comfort of MY home, know that I worked as a supervisor, next door to your hotel at the Alice Springs news-agency, for over two years and I experienced similar things first hand many times and yet, I still have no criticism for the police that arrive on the scene and preform a public service.
    Living in Alice Springs has become a combat sport, that is just a fact. It serves no one to whine about the police or reporters in this issue, complain instead to your local politicians about how hamstrung the laws are when it comes to dealing with drunks.
    It is the ultimate form of racism for our legal system to separate blacks from whites at judgment time. So my advice is to complain where its warranted, and put your words to good use.
    Also I live quite comfortably Ron, perhaps we could have coffee sometime? 🙂

  7. A couple of chicks can intimidate all these Territory tough guys and this intrepid fearless film crew (don’t send them anywhere really dangerous like Iraq).
    Oh you poor disadvantaged crucified Alice Springs residents whose life has been made so intolerable by some virtually homeless ladies. To all you outraged citizens (especially the guys): “GET A BACKBONE LADIES” as they might say in the army. By the way, if there were no Aborigines here, no foreign tourists would visit Alice Springs which, after all, otherwise is a very dull white suburb in the desert.
    [ED – We understand the film crew wasn’t from the Territory.]

  8. That was very perspicacious of you editor. If you read my phrase “Territory tough guys AND this intrepid fearless film crew …” you will see that the word “and” differentiates the film crew from the Territorians. I was fully aware that the film crew were not from the NT. That is why I said “and”.
    But Alice Springs will survive the audacious behaviour of a couple of homeless young women. Obviously they were wrong to behave in such a way. Terminology like “disgusting and disgraceful” used by Steve typify “the ain’t it awful” neurosis that mainstream Alice Springsians (sic) indulge in like a pack of whinging poms.
    I am not defending what the two lawbreakers did for one moment, I am merely pointing out the hyperbolic over-reactive whining victimhood of some whites.
    The women should be prosecuted – no argument – but all the bleating victimhood residents of our isolated suburb in the desert did manage to live to tell the tale … and to whine with an overblown sense of victimhood. It is laughable and I am exercising my democratic right to laugh at it. The atrocious and famous lack of service in many of our hotels (I do not mean the Aurora), is more damaging to our tourism than a couple of homeless young women spitting the dummy. I apologise for saying something original instead of saying “aint it awful” just like everybody else. I am so sorry.
    [ED – Fair comment, Kris. I just wanted to make sure. Some of my best friends are Territory cameramen and women. I’m one myself.]

  9. My son and nephew went down to the 24 Hour last night for a feed and were attacked by a group of about 12 youths that were throwing blocks of concrete and anything else they could pick up. They smashed a window at 24 Hour along with smashing window of car driving by. Just another night in Alice.

  10. Yes, Janet and it will continue to be so as long as you and others advocate the kind of alcohol policies which dodge the question of restricting take-away outlets.
    Your facetious comments continue to talk the town down because you see the statistical data that points to excessive alcohol consumption in Alice Springs as “idiotic.”
    NT residents over fifteen years of age drink 15 litres of pure alcohol per head a year on average, compared to 10 litres for other Australians. In Alice Springs, consumption averages 20 litres per head (PAAC media release. 7/2/12). Take-away alcohol accounts for 70% of all sales in the NT (NTG media release. 31/3/11).
    Your position is all over the place. One minute you’re talking about those who talk the town down and then you’re at it yourself. It’s not too late for you and Steve to wake up to the need for take-away restrictions and thereby solve a lot of the issues that you raise, but that would mean arriving at a position of consensus with those who oppose you.
    At least, it would be a position that has a firm moral compass and on which the town could unite to try and move forward.

  11. Again with excuses. The rivers of grog. I have picked up many bottles of the grog and never been attacked by them. You assume so often for someone who demands others read more. I did not say drunks I said youths, and oh my they were no drunks. The problem with avenglists is that you don’t see people you see what you want to see. You assume rather than search for realities. Yes people, real people. Street level social issues. Reading books or stats are based as I have said before about a subject not people. It is about using stats to obtain funds.
    Removing those funds from assisting in the social issues to assist people to putting into the pockets of paternal greed soap box stars. When I read and I do read $600,000 to provide a report I wonder about [how much that amount could contribute to] kids sleeping in a bed in safety. Real change in kids lives. The $10m+ could see kids in Alice enjoying a new youth centre with beds for kids not safe at home. Real people real issues real solutions, money being spent to improve the lives of real kids and families. That money being swallowed up by paternal greed that ensures kids see no future no hope and Russell you have made your stand clear. As is mine. I want kids to have a safe home. A life to enjoy. Why is it that you fight so strongly for their continued suffering.

  12. Janet, thanks for your comment. At least, you have a go at reply, unlike Alderman Melky whose cone of silence grows more ominous. I will try and explain something about statistical data, but first I challenge you to find anywhere in my writing where I’ve used the word “drunks.” It was, however, used by Steve in his comments regarding the film crew incident. It’s an unfortunate term when used in relation to someone who is alcoholic. To blame the person rather than the cause is an ad hominem argument. Such is the genie in the bottle.
    Widely researched statistical data is more than your claim of it being simply an assumption. It is, as you say, an attempt to search for “realities” and is debatable as to whether it’s a preferred method to your somewhat garbled claim that scientists, including medical practitioners are “paternal greed soap box stars.” Your concern about “kids sleeping in a bed in safety” is no doubt well intentioned, but is contradicted by your publicly stated alcohol policies.
    Statistics, in this case, help us to understand trends in alcohol consumption. They assist the community and responsible leaders to effect laws or to change existing laws that militate against public order, e.g., takeaway alcohol outlet provisions.
    Politics, of course, is a matter of opinion in a democracy, as to what serves the common good, but statistics point out the negative as well as the positive in an attempt to be balanced. That argument is brought to politicians for reasoned debate in a forum such as the Alice Springs Town Council or Legislative Assembly. If you get elected, you will discover that paranoia doesn’t cut it. Winston Churchill used intelligence to encourage England against Hitler’s ambitions. Intelligence is a form of statistical data.
    Can you explain what you mean by an “avenglist”? Also,can you supply a reference for your claim of “$600,000” in relation to what report? Again, can we have the reference to your claim of “$10m+”? What are you referring to here?
    Please add these questions to those which you have not answered to date. Here is an easy reference list.
    Under the story “Council should not be in government’s pocket, says mayoral candidate Brown” Steve states: “We’ve escalated all levels of crime one hundred fold.” A trauma surgeon at Alice Springs hospital has suggested that the number of women being treated for stab wounds has decreased and that this statistic could be linked to increased alcohol restrictions (ABC radio. 20/11/10). Do you refute this?
    Would the Arrente want a National Aboriginal Culture Centre in Alice Springs?
    Under the heading “Unseating an incumbent: not easy but not impossible” and in relation to your stand against further alcohol restrictions, indeed, winding back existing restrictions, have you thought about the rights of children currently disadvantaged by the river of grog or those yet to be born (see Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder)?
    As your policy is “Make those who misbehave pay the price and leave everyone else alone” (posted 11/2/12 at 5:01pm, what plans do you have for the children’s safety while you arrest and penalise their alcoholic parents whom you think have a right to drink whenever they like (it’s a privilege under law, not a right and has nothing to do with your claim of discrimination)?
    Do you think it would help to reduce the amount of alcohol available on any given day (I refer specifically to take-away alcohol outlets) in the interests of managing public alcoholism?

  13. Sorry but your view on the grog is not mine. I will not answer questions on the subject due to my belief that behavior is and always will be the issue and I will not be blindsided by movements that find excuses for bad behavior. I do not support segregation so on the culture centre it is about the history of Central Australia. Thank you but no more.

  14. Janet, you have blindsided yourself to the obvious fact that excessive alcohol consumption and bad behaviour are linked. Your vision has diminishing returns for the tourist industry on which the prosperity of Alice Springs relies, not to mention property values and quality of life.
    We have many museums, some privately owned, some public and some community operated, all of which tell the history of Central Australia. Do we need another culture centre to do this? Your idea needs a re-think, like just about all the social policies you have posted to date.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here