By ERWIN CHLANDA
The alcohol control measures introduced in January have had little impact on the crime figures in Alice Springs yet the Chief Minister has extended the restrictions indefinitely.
With the May figures released yesterday now in hand the total number of crimes reported to the police in Alice Springs was 4144 for the period, marginally less (4615) for the corresponding period in 2022 and 4622 for 2021 (see table below).
Ms Fyles, to justify her decision, says in a media release that domestic violence has halved since the restrictions were introduced.
She is clearly taking no account of the difference between the impact on the society of DV – which is horrendous but usually happens in a private space, and needs targeted measures – and the crime that happens mostly in public locations, much of it committed by children: its reporting in national media – factual and fabricated – has led to a drop in the town’s vital tourism business by about 50%.
The farcical restrictions of times and quantities for alcohol selling have added more frustrations for visitors and locals alike.
The Chief Minister’s decision was apparently made without adequate information: The wholesale alcohol supply figures published by the NT Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade are available only up to the quarter ending March 31, 2023, not the June quarter, which would have indicated any difference in the amount of consumption, allowing Ms Fyles and the public to make informed judgment.
These are January to May 2023 crime figures compared to that period the year before and in 2021: assault 978 (1018, 793); house break-ins 458 (525, 370); commercial break-ins 412 (390, 255); property damage 1244 (1350, 182).
The Chief Minister makes no secret that alcohol abuse management has been a string of failures.
She says in her release: “From risk-based licensing to the Banned Drinkers Register, from the minimum floor price to our Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors, and with record funding for alcohol treatment services and domestic, family and sexual violence, we continue to do more than any previous government to tackle this problem. But we know we’ve still got more work to do.
“I know that some retailers may not like this approach. It’s a difficult decision, but it’s the right decision. It has to be done.”
PHOTO: The location where last Saturday a woman was fatally injured with a blunt object. A man as been charged with murder. The site, an informal camp amidst a field of saltbush, is near the busy Sadadeen Connector Road, within metres of a residential homes cluster, close to a tourist hotel and on the edge of the town’s CBD.
UPDATE JULY 23: Letter to the Editor
The latest NT crime statistics released on Friday clearly show the NT Government lied about Alice Springs crime rates in statements they made in late June, then tried to cover it up.
On June 27 the NT Deputy Police Commissioner, Murray Smalpage, made an astounding statement about crime in Alice Springs, in a Darwin Press Conference, that “Alice Springs recorded its lowest recorded numbers and incidents in four years of crime”.
This 100% false and misleading statement was subsequently backed up by the Minister for Police, Kate Worden, who came up with an extraordinarily explanation that included “criminal” and “non- criminal” crime data.
The Alice Springs crime figures they were referring to was May 2023 compared to May 2019. With the latest crime statistics to the year ending on 31 May 2023, now publicly available, their allegations can now be examined.
The way in which data was defined and collected in May 2019 is very different to how it is collected now.
For example in 2019 there was no specific category of crime for domestic violence or alcohol related assaults. But what is potently evident is that crime in Alice Springs has increased across the board, month on month, year on year, consistently and incrementally, from May 2019 to May 2023.
Property crime in Alice Springs during the year ending May 31, 2019 saw 7311 incidents, compared to the year ending in 31st May 2023, there were 7751 incidents.
“Whatever way you spin it (and contrary to what the NT Government tells us), crime was significantly lower in Alice Springs in May 2019 compared to May 2023” said Mrs Lambley.
“However, it has now transpired that instead of Minister Worden and Deputy Police Commissioner Smalpage apologising (or even resigning!) for misleading Territorians for this serious breach of trust, the NT Police director of communications Margaret McKeown was allegedly sacked a few weeks ago, presumably for her part in this debacle.
And the Chief Minister has since installed a “marketing strategist” in the police media unit to ensure more politically favourable police messaging.
Despite the small reduction in crime in Alice Springs over recent months primarily due to the reinstatement of widespread alcohol bans, we still have a “crime crisis” with significantly higher levels of crime than what we experienced before Labor came to Government in 2016.
Lying to Territorians is a sure sign this Fyles Labor Government has not only lost control of crime but has lost their integrity along the way.
Robyn Lambley, Independent MLA for Araluen.