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Call to close Northside liquor shop.

Inaction on all levels of government is hurting The Alice: Former resident.
Listen, act NOW, involve the town.
POSTED April 30, 2012 (This comment was posted in response to our report “Those in a hurry and those who are not”)
I left Alice Springs after 13 years, not because of the anti social behavior, not because because of the endemic drinking problem, not because of the myriad of social problems in Alice. I left Alice because of the inaction on all levels of government, from the CLC, to the council, to the minister, and a whole jumble of governing bodies of people, whose main objective in this whole mess is to bring home a big pay check, employ a countless numbers of consultants to do their job for them, and still not willing to make the hard decisions and put into action a plan to fix my town. A town and ALL its people who I love dearly, and sincerely think are the most unique and accommodating people that I have ever met in my life. LISTEN to my Model / Plan to secure a safe and thriving town for all.
1: Dismantle and throw out all the insane drinking regulations that cause a horrific backlash to the community, and replace it with the standard model that the rest of Australia uses make the offenders accountable. Just execute it! Simple. The existing regulations / prohibition only gives the impression to the rest of Australia that the NT Government cannot manage its own back yard and puts Alice Springs into the bad town to live in image, bad publicity brought about by fly in and out politicians who have not walked the walk or talked the talk, honestly what chance have we got!
2: Drinking in public. Again same law as the rest of Australia make the offenders accountable. Again Execute IT! SIMPLE, its not rocket science just common sense.
It is inconceivable that under the very noses of all government departments, best examples being all around the council chambers itself, the Todd River, and yes! even outside the very Police department that are charged with the enforcement of this law, that in any minute of any given day alcohol is consumed and the discarded bottles and cans are left in full view for all to see. As quick as the discarded cans and bottles hit the ground the council sneaks in every morning early and cleans the areas. What an insult to the Alice Springs people.
The Big problem here is not the fact that this is happening on a daily basics, it’s the dismay, the disappointment, the frustration that infiltrate the community as a whole which promote racial intolerance, a repulsive by product of yet another failed government process.
The Minister blames the people for talking down the town and instructs us to talk up the town and all will just go away. I say to you Minister, sit down and listen to the families of lost ones, injured ones and sick ones that are products of this mess, and think to yourself if this were my children my family my friends, would I just walk out silently into the night as I have done in the past?
3: Anti Social Behaviour: Again an existing Australian model exists for this – Execute it! And so on and on and on. Simplistic ideas? Not at all! Use what you have and get the job done! No more over complicating and procrastinating over all the issues make a stand now! The people of Alice stand with you, I know this for I have walked the walk and talked the talk.
The People of Alice Springs expect, no, demand that the government workers employed by the people for the people act now or move aside and let someone else have a go, that’s what Australians do, have a go and save our town.
Anthony de Souza
Formerly Alice Springs


  1. I do welcome the editors’ decision to curtail the alcohol debate on this site. The arguments have been made. The electorate at the recent election has made its wishes clear. The Alice Springs Town Council does not, and likely will not, support more restrictions of any kind.
    OK, I get that. Time to move on.
    For those who wish to tweak the existing restrictions and / or bring in a day without take-away sales, I suggest that the body to now lobby is the Northern Territory Licensing Commission. They are an independent statutory authority, and they are the ones to persuade that more, or better, alcohol restrictions are needed in Central Australia.
    For my part, I plan to lobby them to bring in one day a week when we can all have a time out from the steady drip, drip drip of take-away alcohol. To avoid the charge of desperate drivers traveling to Aileron or Jim’s Place, I will suggest that Sundays are declared take-away free from the NT / SA border north to Elliott.
    I will also lobby them to bring back the 4 litre wine casks at a price commensurate with the equivalent amount of wine in bottles.
    I will do this arguing that Alice needs a day off, and that the glass on our streets and everywhere else is a direct result of the banning of wine casks.

  2. Declare entire NT without take-away-sales on Sundays. For Sunday outings purchase on Saturday, or dine in licensed premises. Earlier this worked fairly well.

  3. Thank you, Paul. I’ve been recommending a Territory-wide take-away sales free day/regime for many reasons, but it specifically refutes the argument that drinkers will take to the roads to obtain alcohol from distant roadhouses if a take-away restriction is introduced. Let’s give it a go.

  4. Interesting how Mr Giles believes that the council is not doing enough about anti social behaviour. Giles, give them the chance to actually settle in … I am confident Brown, Ryan and the others will look at such things in due course. In the meantime, Giles, what are you doing about it other than just talking?

  5. As a resident of Northside I would like to see the liquor license held by my local supermarket revoked. There is no place for this type of outlet in a residential area. It is not run in an orderly manner and its clientele cost us all way too much in terms of lost sleep, worry and so much more. The time has come to take real alcohol action on behalf of residents.

  6. I believe Northside is a special case because elderly residents of Hoppy’s and nearby camps have no chance of a peaceful life because of those who are thirsty for grog. In addition you have proximity to a busy highway and of course there is the spillage into suburban areas. Didn’t the owners of Northside once say they would shut the doors when there was too much trouble? Well, there is too much trouble six days a week.

  7. Jane (Posted April 28, 2012 at 9:26 am) is right – there is a very strong case for the buy back of licences such as the Northside and Flynn Drive IGAs (by the government, as it issued these licences in the first place, but failed to ensure that they operated in a way that maintained safety and civic amenity for residents).
    An alternative approach would be for local residents to petition the owners to increase the floor price of alcohol products sold in these bottle shops. If the IGAs failed to respond, then the issue could be taken to the Licensing Commission, which has an obligation to consider the community wellbeing when making decisions and governing the ongoing operation of the licences.

  8. Thanks a lot, Jane and Bob, for your united approach to easing the alcohol-fuelled social problems in Alice Springs. One question – where in Alice do you think the derros from the Northside will go if that liquor license gets shut down?
    Far from offering a solution to our common town-wide problem, this really is just sweeping it under the carpet. Do you really mean to chase the drinkers from the Northside and Flynn Drive into the Gap, the Eastside, the CBD and the outlets south of Heavitree.
    By all means close the Northside if you can. But then come down to the Gap and close us down too because, believe me, we really don’t need the added agro.
    The Northside is not a special case because of elderly residents in nearby camps, proximity to the highway and spillage into suburban streets. Far from being special, that describes every area in Alice Springs that hosts a liquor off-license.

  9. Hal, which is precisely why Alice Springs needs a take-away alcohol restriction regime. It needs to be tabled, rather than continually dismissed. There is enough evidence posted and out there supporting such a move.
    It’s inevitable, as other options, such as rehab gulags are ludicrously expensive, impinge on Human Rights and are reasonably addressed in a critical manner at these posts.
    How long it will take for common sense to prevail in reducing forty years of irresponsible supply? While the trend in liquor industry marketing is towards ‘more’, it’s in the interests of the town to bring it on, sooner than later.

  10. Hal, if everybody’s hero Joy Baluch can do it for Pt Augusta, why can’t we do it in Northside?

  11. @Russell
    As always, economics rule. And economics dictate at least two things in the grog debates.
    First, and 4 litre wine casks sold at a floor price will never fly if the cost to your average derro will be around $60 per cask. Or am I wrong? Just how many dollars can they get their hands on?
    Second, and the rehab gulags will never be built. What dollar figure are we looking at? Millions to build and more millions to maintain? I suggest the money is simply not there, no matter what campaign promises are made.
    I picked up a plastic Bundy flask from my street the other morning. I would like to see more of those. And you are right. Alice needs a day off while we can still boast of any civility.
    It’s either that or rotating some of those Diggers returning from Afghanistan through the Alice to help our overworked and under-appreciated police.
    Or both.

  12. Hi Hal,
    I will second you on the returning Diggers option. But we all know that won’t happen. What I have witnessed over the last three days however is the numbers (and I mean LOTS) of our Police tied up at the hospital. We have ACPO’s, Auxiliaries and general duties Police. I think we either need more Auxiliaries or a new tier (of Police) similar to Auxiliaries that can handle these sorts of jobs thereby keeping professionally trained general duties officers on the beat. Perhaps this is a lot of the reason why (and the town camps of course) when we ring we have to wait for hours for Police to attend reported crimes.
    I would also like to make comment re Russell’s remark regarding Human Rights. He is of course referring to the rights of ABUSIVE DRUNKS being locked up in rehab and suggests this ‘impinges’ on their human rights. Who gives a damn about the ‘rights’ of these so called ‘humans’ who smash their partners senseless each night and ruin their children’s lives, their relatives lives and our lives! I give a damn about everyone caught up in their abusive ways and NOT the drunks themselves. I say throw them into a mandatory rehab and give the children of today a chance. It’s their human rights Russell which you should be concerned about and not the drunks! It was the drunks choice to become what they are, let them suffer THEIR choice do not let their children and the rest of us suffer it for them!
    As for your costings of millions of dollars for a rehab facility that is chicken feed compared to the BILLIONS of dollars being spent right now and budgeted for into the future. By spending a few million now on a rehab will potentially save today’s children who are fast following in the footsteps of their abusive parent(s). It is only by removing the abusive drunk out of the equation that we can then start to concentrate on what really matters, the children. It is only their human rights I am concerned with.
    All the alcohol reforms in the world will not stop a drunk from being a drunk. The only option therefore is to remove them. If you, Russell are happy to let abusive drunks have rights and continue to advocate restrictions which in my opinion do not work then in ten years’ time when nothing has changed and we are still having the same debate you might then wonder perhaps rehab SHOULD have been an option in 2012.

  13. Hal (Posted April 28, 2012 at 1:06 pm):
    you are right to be pissed off. I should have included the Gapview in my list of targets, as it also strongly effects an adjacent residential area. (I personally wouldn’t worry much about the Piggly Wiggly take-away licence, as its present operator has stopped selling the cheap lines of alcoholic beverages. Reports I have received indicate it seems willing and able to conduct a reasonably well-controlled liquor retailing regime in terms of the impacts on its neighbourhood).
    I wouldn’t expect that the ex-Northside drinkers would be likely to spread out around other suburban outlets. They are far more likely to shift most of their patronage to the next ports of call, in the CBD, which are closer to the places they are staying. Obviously this is not an outcome that any sane person would wish for either.
    However, as Russell points out in his comment below (Russell Guy, Posted April 28, 2012 at 3:07 pm), properly targeted regulations, such as a floor price and take-away-free days, would be by far the best way to guarantee improvement in the general safety and amenity of residents and visitors across the whole town (and, indeed, across the whole region.)
    It is precisely for this reason that people who are really concerned about solving the issue by the best available means should get behind the long-standing PAAC demands for the Licensing Commission to immediately institute a floor price on alcohol, and for the floor price to be set at a level which ensures no standard drink of alcohol contained in any alcoholic beverage is below the price of a standard drink of alcohol contained in the popular brands of beer.
    The floor price regulation should be accompanied by at least one day per week free from sales of take-away alcohol, and the restriction of all alcohol sales before lunch time on Mondays through to Fridays.
    That is how to best create a livable environment and the possibility of long term prosperity for the town and region.

  14. @Jane
    Joy Baluch did it for all Port Augusta thereby uniting that town. You are suggesting we do it for the Northside only, thereby fragmenting this town.
    Alice Springs does not need any more us and them. We are set against each other far too much already.
    The Northside is part and parcel of Alice Springs. Deal with it. Don’t try to sweep your portion of our mess under my carpet.

  15. @ Rex and @Bob
    Rex, and I like your idea of an auxiliary force to help keep our police free to respond to a crime wave that just keeps on keeping on. One main trouble with this is money. The Diggers are already on a pay roll while a new force would have to be funded from a budget already under pressure. I know the military is a big call, but we are under siege here.
    Bob, and thanks for the late inclusion.
    From living next to it, I agree that Piggley’s is a reasonably well-controlled liquor outlet. It’s also a good neighbourhood store.
    For the record (again), I too am in favour of a floor price and a day off. Especially a day off. Feeling a bit like a groundhog, I am currently writing to the NT Licensing Commission asking them to close all off-licenses between the SA border and Elliott on Sundays for a trial period of up to five years.
    I have the draft filed under Hope Springs Eternal.

  16. @hal Imagine if every neighbourhood put their case. I think we need to fight the government, not each other. The NTG gets away with dismissing issues by using generalized statistics and they scam their way out of taking action.
    My issue is Northside supermarket. They can’t scam their way out of this one because the residents have an issue and live with it. Our collective investment in Northside and hence the NT is worth fighting for. All residents have their own issues and a right to request they are dealt with. I am no longer a politician with a broad electorate to advocate for, I am a resident and can choose what concerns me personally. I’m not saying that ONLY Northside should be dealt with but I will fight like hell to have it NOT swept under the carpet because of broader issues.
    My suggestion to you? Do the same for the Gap. Your MLA should be working on things like this. Just maybe there is a neighbourhood model which will help us all to live together better.

  17. Rex (Posted April 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm):
    You assert that “All the alcohol reforms in the world will not stop a drunk from being a drunk.” This may be true in a general sense, but you fail to appreciate that we all benefit if the “drunks” are not so fully drunk so often.
    Even more to the point, if we want to get ahead in this game, we must reduce the rate of production of new habitual excessive drinkers, and this is where the floor price and associated regulations could be of very beneficial, even short term, assistance.

  18. Thanks for your post, Rex. PAAC’s policy investment is towards early childhood intervention.
    Let’s get some of the threads that are coming out of this debate together and sew them into a plan for the social fabric we want to see.
    It’s time for a rehab policy to be formulated and costed.
    You’re wrong about my opposition to rehab and the “many people” I am supposed to “know” in social welfare. Let’s have some substantiation.

  19. @Jane
    I appreciate your immediate concern is the Northside where you live. But if you close that liquor outlet the derros using it will simply move elsewhere. As Bob points out in another post, this move will probably not be down to the Gap or over to the Eastside, but into the CBD which is already its own mess.
    If we are to have any hope of regaining quiet nights and a sense of civility in Alice Springs, we have to devise a whole-of-town approach. And this in turn has to be within a whole-of-central-Australia approach. We have to take everyone with us. It cannot be neighbourhood by neighbourhood, or community by community.
    By all means fight like hell (I can’t believe you said that), but only within the larger context of all of Alice.

  20. How about a few Alice Springs candidates in the forthcoming NT elections prepared to stand on a ‘Turn down the grog tap, turn up the peaceful nights’ platform, with a combination of sensible proposals? Offer the punters a chance to vote for a more civilised approach to regulating alcohol in our fraught social environment, rather than the present mayhem courtesy of the seven day week of cheap wine, or Terry’s expensive charade (the high investment / low return of mandated rehabilitation in prison farms), because it will be many years before the longer term strategies to engender greater self-control by many habitual drinkers are likely to bite.


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