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HomeIssue 10Compromise was needed to save youth crime plan

Compromise was needed to save youth crime plan

24100 mayor & 3 councillors
ABOVE: Is it three to one on this side of the chamber? From left, Crs Banks, Price, Auricht and Mayor Ryan. BELOW: Cr Cocking, with Cr Satour on the campaign trail.
2468 Cocking, Satour 300By ERWIN CHLANDA
A motion “to build a formal and strong relationship between the town council and the traditional owners” in the fight against youth crime was reduced to merely an agreement to talk about it – but that was necessary to prevent the scuttling of the plan altogether.
That’s the view of Cr Jimmy Cocking who – together with Crs Marli Banks and Eli Melky – supported the original motion from Cr Catherine Satour on Monday.
During a marathon discussion it became clear that Mayor Damien Ryan and Crs Jacinta Price, Glen Auricht and Matt Paterson would be voting against the motion supported by a dramatic address to the council by Apmereke-artweye (high ranking traditional land owner) Phil Alice. He was inviting the council to stand shoulder to shoulder with him and fellow leaders to save Alice Springs, a “town under siege” from youth crime.
What seemed to be destined to become a tied vote was likely to be decided by a casting vote, defeating Cr Satour’s motion. Instead a watered down motion did eventually attract unanimous support.
Cr Cocking said today: “The motion that was passed means the council would still be meeting with the Apmereke-artweyes. Unfortunately we couldn’t get it over the line as the motion was. There were four and potentially five councillors who wouldn’t have voted for the motion with the documentation attached.
“I amended the motion because I could see it was not going to get up, and rather than it being a ‘no, we are not going to meet with you’ it’s amended to we want to meet with you. It was a pragmatic response.
“I would have liked it if the other councillors had agreed to the invitation [from Mr Alice] as it was. I was supportive of that motion. It’s important for the community to see a united council on these important issues rather than a divided one.”
NEWS: Was that a sign of disrespect for the Apmereke-artweyes?
COCKING: It was not intended to be. I would hope it wasn’t taken to be one. I would hope the Apmereke-artweyes are still open for the conversation. The document submitted was described as a living document, an initial starting conversation document.
He said the decision lent weight to a motion by Cr Melky later in the meeting to ask for an emergency meeting with Chief Minister Michael Gunner, in presence of the Apmereke-artweyes, to formulate a community safety plan for summer.
Mr Cocking says the opposition to Cr Satour’s initial motion was “a sign of not being fully across what was being proposed.
“Hopefully now, during this week, the other councillors who originally indicated they would vote against Cr Satour’s motion would gain a better understanding of it.”
NEWS: Is it a sign of a split council that there was no discussion between all the councillors before the issue came before Monday’s meeting?
COCKING: In an ideal world everyone would have seen it beforehand, but now the conversation has been had, and I think that’s the main thing. There are definitely different opinions in the council. We all want the town to be a better place, but we just have different ways of going about that.
NEWS: Does that represent a split?
COCKING: Not everyone in the community thinks the same. We are a very different council to the previous one. That’s good for democracy, good for the town if we’re going to have robust discussions about important issues like how we engage with traditional owners, how we acknowledge Aboriginal people who died in past wars, and issues like climate change. It’s good that we have some different opinions than the ‘group think’ that may have pervaded council in the past.


  1. I would say no way we fly the Aboriginal flag on Anzac hill.
    We Australians fought under the red and blue ensign. As in my family 35 members fought in the WWII. We were Polish descendants – does that we should have a Polish flag? No way, our family fought under the flag of Australia.

  2. A community should be modeled on the family.
    “When spouses disagree about parenting issues, what usually happens is that one parent tends to be more strict and the other parent tends to be more lenient.
    “The strict parent gets angry when the lenient parent allows too much leeway.
    “The lenient parent gets upset when the strict parent is too restrictive. So the strict parent gets stricter and the lenient parents gets more permissive until the parents are battling all the time over how to discipline.
    “The children have a field day of misbehavior in this dynamic,learning to play one parent against the other and running amuck”.
    Our council is acting like the lenient parent and shows no sign of near changing of attitude.

  3. @ the appropriately self-described Fred: No-one is saying that the Aboriginal flag should be flown on Anzac Hill for the reason that they too fought in our world wars.
    It needs to be flown as a respectful acknowledgement of the original custodians of the land upon which Alice Springs is built, land that was forcibly taken by newly arrived settlers, with no recompense.
    With your Polish background, I’d have thought you might have had a better understanding of what it is like to have your land taken away from you and to live under the occupation and control of a foreign nation. We need to learn form history.

  4. @ Domenico: The Australian flag has been around for 100s of years.
    The Australian flag which flies upon Anzac hill, commemorates everyone who fought in the world wars.
    It has nothing to do with the Indigenous and their land. If they want to fly their flag, let them do it on their sacred sites, not ours.

  5. @ Domenico Pecorari: Your comments are right. Also, most local governments around Australia fly the Aboriginal flag alongside the Australian flag and their own local government and state flags.
    However, there is still an element of fear of the truth in this country, that Aboriginal people are the original inhabitants of Australia, a denial, a continuing oppression of the people and that fact.
    You can have every other nation in the world in this country, but it does not mean their flags should be raised as well. The fact is, they are not Aboriginal people of this land.
    Cr. Satour sought support of Apmerreke-artweye, the right people of the Aboriginal community, to help find ways to address problems rampant in Alice Springs committed by Aboriginal people.
    There is still hope that the council may support that initiative. Perhaps they just need to be a little more objective once they get over their own importance in the scheme of things, to think and act outside the box.

  6. I was at this meeting and felt embarrassed at the performances of Glen Auricht and Damien Ryan. Matt Paterson didn’t seem to have listened to Phil Alice’s presentation and asked questions that Phil had already covered.
    Glen Auricht rambled on about nothing. Damien Ryan adopted the do nothing approach that has been a hallmark of recent councils.
    The surprise was Jacinta Price. I thought she would have supported this proposal by Arrente elders, but she didn’t.
    Good on Jimmy Cocking for at least keeping the dialogue alive. Let’s hope the outcome is more positive after more discussion. Something needs to be done in this town and Phil Alice’s proposal seems to make a lot of sense. I believe it would make a real difference. Nothing that is in place now is having any impact.

  7. @ David: I agree with what you say about the fear held by some in our community and hope too that the Town Council will see reason and approve the flag soon.
    @ Fred: Your talk of Anzac Hill as “our sacred site” goes far to explain your position on this issue, but ignores the fact that Anzac Hill is a special Aboriginal place too, known as Untyeyetwelye, a name relating to the corkwood story, and that it was an Aboriginal sacred site for many, many years before Europeans claimed the place as their own.
    Flying the Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill would be an acknowledgement of the shared importance of the place to all of us, not least the original inhabitants of the land. Don’t you think that would go a long way to express the unity you claim to support?

  8. @ Fred the Philistine (Posted November 25, 2017 at 6:48 am): Your claim that “the Australian flag has been around for 100s of years” is one of the silliest claims I’ve read in years. Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it?
    The facts are that the original design was chosen in 1901 and was first flown on September 3 that year.
    The Commonwealth (or Federation) Star in the lower hoist (bottom left) was a six-pointed star, this was changed to a seven-pointed star in 1908.
    However, it wasn’t until 1954 that the Australian flag was officially recognised and defined in Commonwealth legislation.
    For its part, the Aboriginal flag was designed by Harold Thomas (who has Luritja ancestry) in 1971.
    It’s true, as David says (Posted November 25, 2017 at 7:52 am) that “most local governments around Australia fly the Aboriginal flag alongside the Australian flag and their own local government and state flags” and, indeed, that is an arrangement the Alice Springs Town Council formally adopted early last decade.
    No-one has observed civilization as we’ve known it abruptly coming to an end from flying the Aboriginal flag.
    Whether Anzac Hill is the best place to feature the Aboriginal flag alongside the others is questionable in my mind; but irrespective of that can we all come back down to earth for a moment?
    We’re getting ourselves all tied up in knots arguing about bits of coloured bunting flapping in the breeze on top of tall metal poles – we spend lots of energy and time diverted over symbolism rather than addressing the far more difficult problems that in reality give us so much angst.
    Whether the Aboriginal flag ends up flying on Anzac Hill or not is a moot point; symbolism (such as, for example, the national apology a few years ago) won’t address the problems of alcohol abuse, youth crime and a lacklustre economy.
    Let’s get real.

  9. @ One country one flag: Which one? In January 1788 to establish a penal colony.
    In the century that followed, the British established other colonies on the continent, and European explorers ventured into its interior.
    Indigenous Australians were greatly weakened and their numbers diminished by introduced diseases and conflict with the colonists during this period.
    Australia is one of few colonies left in the world and if the Australian of the 21st century do not take care, this colony could also disappear.
    I can hear the impossibles and see smiles, but I grew up in colony witnessing what happened when white did not care about the natives and even Algeria who was a French department disappeared.
    Only arrogant or stupid people do not want to learn from history.

  10. @ Neil Woolcock. I was also at the meeting and your account of what happened is spot on!
    I was not suprised at Price’s lack of support – nothing new!
    The failure of Paterson to even pay attention was surprising – isn’t he Aboriginal?
    The Mayor’s rudeness and disrespect was shameful and Auricht was on a mission. God knows what it was though!

  11. Could the Alice Springs News Online please clarify the focus of the invitation by Mr Alice and the motion by Cr Satour?
    I do not have access to all the documents, but am concerned that between Tuesday 21 and Thursday 23, as reflected in these news items, the focus as reported was reduced to “youth crime”.
    Youth crime is present in both items, but significant issues such as parental responsibility, late night alcohol misuse, acts of violence on the streets and domestic violence are not mentioned in the second article (23 November).


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