COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
A strong law and order platform greatly helped to secure victory for the Country Liberals on August 25, 2012.
Today, 156 days later, nothing substantial has been done by the new government about Alice’s most troublesome problem: out of control crime and vandalism by young people whose parents – with impunity – are running away from their responsibilities.
And so we’re having another chaotic summer of crime – and of despair and anger by the victims.
Braitling MLA Adam Giles and government front bencher, in a recent interview with the Alice Springs News Online, made it absolutely clear how urgent meaningful action has become.
And Correctional Services Minister John Elferink is working on a visionary scheme to help prisoners have a normal life once they are released, offering them opportunities of employment, award wages and and social contacts even while they are still in jail.
But this is a long-term project and neither Mr Elferink nor Mr Giles are the Minister for Children and Families (and Central Australia!). Robyn Lambley is.
We have raised pressing issues with her since mid-November and she has steadfastly refused to be interviewed. We again put questions directly relating to her portfolios this month – see emails below – still no interview.
And so the community does its best to grapple with the issues without having the power nor the money to fix them.
One thing is clear: Alice Springs stands as one against the the government’s inaction.
The debate that has unfolded on our website has just turned up a result illustrating this, in the string of comments to a story about the hapless revival of the youth curfew proposal.
Readers Bob Durnan (pictured, with glasses) and Steve Brown (pictured) frequently send us comments for publication.
Steve is a tradesman, member of a local pioneering family and staunchly conservative.
Bob, Community Development Officer with the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, has been an astute observer of local politics and social affairs for decades and is clearly oriented towards the left.
Bob and Steve are poles apart but do not hesitate to agree on one issue: there needs to be an institution housing and caring for the children causing mayhem. Tragically, taking them home may put them into greater peril than leaving them in the streets.
The curfew issue, to be discussed by the Town Council at tomorrow night’s meeting, is being revived by Councillor Eli Melky, clearly still having no idea where any apprehended children can safely be taken. This is a problem well explored a year and a half ago and still begging a solution.
There’s no room for populist and cynical self-promotion while the town fumbles, cajoles and agitates for a solution which is clearly Ms Lambley’s obligation to provide. And pronto!
Further, Minister for Central Australia is in part a communication role.
Ms Lambley needs to be in a strong open conversation with the public and taking their concerns to government.
We’re all over a silent Minister for Central Australia after years of Karl Hampton in the role.
UPDATE Jan 29, 2pm
Minister Lambley has issued a media release following the publication in the Alice Springs News Online about Cr Melky’s initiative, saying she “has ruled out the introduction of a blanket curfew for Alice Springs.
“A multi-pronged approach is the most effective and preferred way to manage law and order issues in the town,” Ms Lambley said.
“I have been on the record many times stating a short term curfew for children would only be considered as a last resort in the face of unabated anti-social behaviour and crime.”
Well, not quite. In our November 16, 2006 edition we reported about the town council:-
“Meanwhile, aldermen also resolved to write to the Territory Government, requesting implementation of a Night Time Youth Strategy, which would see taken into protective care unsupervised children 15 years and under on the streets between 10pm and 5am.
“The model being proposed by Ald Robyn Lambley is similar to the one in operation in Northbridge, Perth which has an emphasis on accompanying support services for the young people and their families.”
Date: 21 January 2013 10:48:20 AM AEDT
To: Adrian Renzi <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Greetings
I would include the following subjects, speaking with Robyn as the Minister for Central Australia:
AZRI – time frame; who would be selling the blocks (e.g., the NTG?); for what price; where would the profits go.
YOUTH – boot camp; mandatory?; time frame; cost; amalgamation of youth services (how many do we have now – govt & NGOs?); parental responsibility; passive welfare (would she, for example, promote with the Feds the notion that people should not get the dole if they are capable of doing work that is available?); pastoral and horticultural developments; tourism (Conlan’s trade mission to Singapore doesn’t seem to include anyone from Central Australia – does it?)
From: Erwin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 10 January 2013 1:22:29 PM AEDT
To: Robyn Lambley <Robyn.Lambley@nt.gov.au>, Adrian Renzi <email@example.com>, Robyn Lambley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: From Erwin, Alice Springs News
Happy New Year!
Can I please draw your attention to the following stories in our online edition and, especially, to the many comments from readers. I’d like to do a 20 minute telephone interview with you about these issues, tomorrow or the next day. Could you please make a time for me?
Kind regards, Erwin
From: Erwin [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, 30 November 2012 3:15 PM
To: Adrian Renzi
Subject: From Erwin
Re the one-on-one IV with Robyn which I hope you can now organise (weekend is OK): Phone will do (no movies – still not sure how they will rate. Indications are people expect us to be a written medium).
Subject: The Feds pay us, per capita, four and a half times the national average.
Where is the money going?
Why do we need to apply a user pays regime?
If we want to attract valuable people to The Centre, don’t we need to pamper them, just a bit?
At the moment we are getting screwed through rents, food costs, travel costs and government charges.