Stop Easter footy carnival in Alice: Liddle


p2222-Michael-Liddle-1 By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Easter Lightning Carnival should no longer be held in Alice Springs, says prominent local Aboriginal man Michael Liddle (pictured).
He is a member of the board of the Central Australian Football League.
He describes the anti-social behaviour that inevitably seems to accompany the fixture as “astronomical”.
Mr Liddle says “the negatives by far outweigh the pluses” of the carnival which started in 1984.
He says it is being held without consultation with the community, causing a “big migration” into the town.
“If there is a football carnival here people will come.”
He says he finds it remarkable that “people can get all energised and be at the football at 8.30am but can’t take on employment that starts at 9am”.
It is understood Mr Liddle is seeking a special meeting of the board to discuss the issues.


  1. Good on you Mr Liddle for your thruthful evaluation, interest and effort in this issue.
    There appears to be a growing tide of people saying “Enough is Enough” and questioning the value of the carnival – the Chief Minister included.
    I mentioned this in a previous comment however your article goes to the core of the issue. A petition has been started to force the hand of the ASTC and NTG and cancel this event in the future. The petition can be found at:

  2. Any other carnival, festival, music festival has to gain council approval and be open to public response.
    The CAFL should be treated the same as any other organisation wishing to use council facilities.
    Lighting Carnival needs to go. It doesn’t benefit the wider Alice community.

  3. Always good to get your perspective on critical issues like this, Michael. Can we get some more details on your thoughts regarding how it has come to this?
    Some general questions:
    • What have been the strategies implemented over recent years to deal with related issues with the influx of visitors, especially youth? I.e. by the CAFL, NTG, Council, Police etc.
    • Is there presently / should there have been a joint working group (a taskforce?) that implemented strategies and actions prior to and during the two weeks of school holidays immediately following the carnival?
    • What type of dollars are we talking about for this?
    • Social media is alight with agitated locals who are frustrated that the situation is still occurring each year. Is it not possible to negotiate some kind of stat-keeping release with the relevant authorities so the entire community can effectively monitor the longer term trends? I.e. and make more informed commentary?
    Clearly the reported behaviour is not acceptable. Some sort of change is required.
    However, I am concerned Alice Springs will have just conceded some pretty disappointing goals on the big-picture-scoreboard if the end result here is just moving it out bush.
    Nonetheless, good luck to yourself and others trying to get good outcomes for Central Australia in this challenging situation.

  4. Good on you Michael Liddle. Coming from some-one who has football in their blood it takes a lot of guts to say these things about the sport you so love and grew up with.
    Even though reports are that the footy carnival was a success and crowd behaviour was great, it has a very negative impact on the rest of the community for quite a while after the event.
    Getting the carnival out into the communities is a must for the future years if it is to be a continued success.
    And yes, you are so right about getting priorities right … can’t get up for work but can get up for socialising and sport!

  5. They never stopped the Bathurst 500 from happening, even though each year a big mob of young guys would cause trouble, they simply dealt with the problem at hand. Bad behaviour is bad behaviour. It’s got nothing to do with Footy, maybe people come from the communities because they enjoy footy.
    It seems typical to me, people like Mr Liddle and the Chief Minister want to use the big stick; instead of addressing the problem at the root of this conversation. If you don’t ask yourself the question why, what’s the use of whinging? Bullies only have one way to act and they reveal themselves by always wanting to use the big stick.
    Stopping the footy carnival seems absolutely stupid and will not stop the bad behaviour, we all know that, as we also know the WHY. Let’s have a conversation about the WHY.

  6. Oh, so does that mean we have no AFL games here? Same thing – I love my AFL and look forward to the games played here by the professionals.
    I admit a lot of community people come into town to watch the games, so do other people from other towns as far away as Darwin if their team is playing. So do we stop that as well?

  7. Well said Michael, coming from such a respected person in society and from a great Central Australian Aboriginal family this should hold some weight. Keep up the good work, Michael!

  8. The impact of football carnivals along with other types of events is negative in so many ways.
    The behaviour in Alice has been dreadful, but it also impacts on things like attendance at work, children not going to school and overcrowded housing creating social difficulties.
    Community people coming into town and for a variety of reasons unable / unwilling to return immediately after the event. It is quite sad to see how this affects local communities.

  9. Society has come down to applying a band aid and rarely a change in social policy and action to avoid the injury.
    Policy seems way too difficult for our law makers when individual rights are put way before public interest.
    SO until we get some discipline back on the streets the Carnival has to go!
    Thank you Michael Liddle! You have taken the race issue off the table. That must be a first for Alice Springs!

  10. So lets just block everything, block all entertainment for the town and then let’s see all the businesses go down the drain.
    We are already just surviving in this town, the carnival brings in well need money to the economy of Alice Springs.
    This talk of blocking carnivals is just stupid, we pay taxes for police and many other organisations to deal with anti social behaviour. Let them sit down and do their work, blocking carnivals is not a solution it’s just creating other problems in our community.
    Without football where do our children go for their interest in sports, Michael?
    What if your football was taken from you Michael would you be where you are today? NO.
    Every city and town in Australia has the same problem with anti social behaviour. Should we stop the cricket, the tennis AFL games, why don’t you put your efforts into the anti social behaviour being caused by the recently purchased drinking hole know as the Memo Club by local Aboriginal Corporations, Centrecorp and Tangentyere?
    This drinking hole is the cause of anti social behaviour in Alice Springs for 365 days a year, not just three days. Are you going to tackle this problem?
    What about the Feotal disorder syndrome caused by mothers drinking at the old Memo Club, the fights being had when they finished drinking at this Aboriginal Club.
    The Aboriginal money from ABA spent on acquiring this drinking hole should have been spent on providing education programs to our people/ don’t you think Michael.
    The Easter Carnival is nothing compared to this place.

  11. The best facilities for a football carnival in Central Australia are in Alice Springs, all the infrastructure built up over many years.
    And Aboriginal communities are not going to be allowed to enjoy that level of amenity? Don’t be silly.
    Rather than just shifting the problems, work on solving them. No magic bullets, long haul.
    Shifting the carnival is a short-sighted attempt at a magic bullet for Alice.
    In reality it is shooting yourself in the foot, an attempt to avoid the hard yards.

  12. Oh so, get rid of the AFL games? Great. Another sacrifice taken away for the benefit of others. Will the Show be next, lots come into town for that. Lot of trouble around after that too. Hmmm, what else. Police at pubs and supermarkets, limit on wine cask sizes. everyone suffers.
    @ Local Reader: The Memo is not an Aboriginal Club, it is there for the whole town, just because it was opened up with Aboriginal money doesn’t mean it is Aboriginal only.
    Didn’t hear all the fuss when the Memo was closed and the problem was at the Todd Tavern back bar and along the creek, or was that because the pub is owned by non indigenous people?

  13. Good to have you speaking out about these kind of issues Michael.
    I am very aware that many residents are also very concerned. However I think that we shouldn’t act to hastily or at least not before trying to arrive at a solution that suits everyone.
    We need to keep in mind that most people who come to town to support their footy team and enjoy the carnival, doing the right thing. Not everybody is engaging in anti-social behaviour! For many it’s the highlight of the year, it would be a real shame and a wrong message to punish them because of the actions of a few.
    I believe the carnival is a very important community inclusion event, although I agree, as was pointed out to me last night by a constituent, it is having precisely the opposite effect at the moment.
    The town’s growing discontent over the carnival centers around behavior, which is mostly confined to those “accompanying” footy teams, not the players themselves.
    Instead of canning the entire event I think we should first attempt to deal with the coinciding anti social behavior s much like happens with fanatical soccer fans in Europe.
    Make the teams themselves responsible for the behavior of their fans, followers from their community. If they are caught misbehaving by police or even afterwards by CCTV it should lead to a loss of points, eviction from the comp or suspension from entering for that particular community, obviously penalties depending on severity of the misbehavior.
    This ruling should be enforced mercilessly and should be accompanied by public education campaign with heavy advertising campaigns by the likes of Imparja and CAAMA Radio.
    The CAAFL should also be heavily involved with football players travelling to participating communities and running educational classes in conjunction with the local schools, teaching town ready life skills and behavioral expectations when going to town along with of course the dire warnings of what will happen to their local team if they’re let down by fellow community members’ misbehavior.
    This kind of education would not only serve to bring into line behavior around the carnival it would also give children and for that matter other community members very useful life skills that will serve them well in their owns lives, as well as taking a huge step towards lessening the divide / cultural gap between town and bush.
    I think that if the communities get behind this concept, particularly CAAFL and the players, we can make it work for everybody.
    So let’s give it a go before we slam the door shut, deepening the divide and creating issues that are never going to go away without this kind of effort.

  14. Well said Steve Brown. Not so sure about the specifics of the points system, don’t know much about that, but I think your general sentiment is spot on.
    Let’s give it a go before we slam the door shut, deepening the divide and creating issues that are never going to go away without this kind of effort. Well said.

  15. @ Sharon: Yes, the Memo IS now an Aboriginal Club and the Todd Tavern back bar is replaced by the Memo Club back bar. It’s now a disgrace full of unwashed, dirty drunks.

  16. I think the football in Alice Springs is a good thing and brings money into town.
    I drove past it and most people were well behaved. As for people saying it brings indigenous people to town is good.
    These are people, give them a bit of a go, most of the unruly behaviour can be fixed. It starts with everybody doing a little bit.

  17. Keep your hands off our footy carnival. It’s the only thing we got and we don’t want it taken away from us.
    Think about the kids’ footy future in AFL.

  18. Over the past fortnight I have watched with great interest the different views and angles about this issue, and yes it has generated a lot of interest from all types of people, supporters for and supporters against but … the game of football isn’t the problem here!
    The problem is the irresponsible behaviours of people that follow it and what happens after the game has finished.
    It is a conversation that has to happen with all about the continuation of the Carnival in Alice Springs the negatives and the positives which have to be discussed.
    Housing tenancy, school attendance, criminal activity (throwing stones, stealing cars, damaging property, breaking into houses) these are all activities that are born from oppurtunity and they happen when the football has well and truly finished.
    The financial reward by the dollars the carnival, the show and all other events that are held in Alice Springs every year and brings 1000s to visit this town and the large amounts of money that these events attract, is where the conversation has to start.
    Responsibility and accountability when visiting Alice Springs … whose is it?

  19. I think the message Michael is pushing here is a bit lost on some of you.
    While the current issue is about the Easter carnival, it is a relevant issue across many town events (the show for example) that attract people from near and far.
    Arrernte people want to reassert their control over our lands and how people behave when they come here.
    I’d imagine that should the carnival be held at any remote community and a large contingent of Arrernte people travel to attend, throw rocks at cars, stay on for weeks after the carnival, drink and fight and desecrate sacred sites, the welcome mat would be quickly withdrawn.
    The CAFL simply has to shoulder some responsibility as they are convening the event.
    Perhaps collaborate with relevant organisations to provide a bus service to assist supporters to get home once the carnival is over?
    Many people simply stay on in town because they spend their measly welfare money within days and are stuck without resources to get home until the next fortnight.
    This places pressure on town camps where families live, causing all manner of social disturbances and ends up with kids walking the streets, people sleeping in wretched conditions and public places. They literally have nowhere to go.
    I’m sure if some of the town camps people were asked about the influx of people and the strain it puts on their already inept housing they would have fairly strong sentiments.
    Michael has come under criticism for have the guts to stick his head up and start a conversation that needs to be had.
    All of us town people, whether Aboriginal or not, want the same thing, a safe community where our property, families and children are protected and that when visitors do come, they respect our (apmere) country the same way we respect theirs and follow protocol when we travel bush.
    It is not right to say that all bush visitors are badly behaved, that is simple untrue.
    Many visitors do the right thing and enjoy the carnival and other events with their families. But there is a problem with behaviour of some once the drink starts flowing and then runs dry.
    Many local people are probably just as guilty of this as bush mob. So what’s the problem here, football, the show, or grog?


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