Posters in Alice Springs offering $40,000 for disclosure of the "whereabouts" of Peter Falconio were the subject of a curiously cautious debate during the town council committee meetings last night.
Mr Falconio disappeared near Barrow Creek in 2001 and Bradley John Murdoch is serving a 28 year sentence for his murder.
Keith Allan Noble in his book "Find! Falconio – dead or alive" claims Mr Murdoch may be innocent. Cr Eli Melky started the discussion by referring to a "recent attempt to capitalise on an unfortunate incident regarding a victim in or around Central Australia, I prefer not to mention the name" and asking council do something "if there is misleading and false advertising offering rewards" which may be in conflict of "stringent legislation". ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
UPDATE May 17, 2012 07:30am: Meanwhile the author of the poster, and a book about the case, Keith Noble, has described remarks by Mayor Damien Ryan as "rubbish".
Dr Noble, who gives his address at a location in inner city Vienna, Austria, says in a letter to the Mayor: "No doubt you are critical of those residents for posting the posters in Alice Springs.
"Your ill-conceived remarks surfaced on an English newspaper website" quoting Mr Ryan as saying that Dr Noble's reward offer was a "cheap stunt".
He says: "Yes, it is only A$40,000 (£25,000) but people have spoken to me about contributing more so the reward can be increased.
"But I think that your remark really relates to your inaccurate belief that the poster is part of a book promotion effort."
Ella Simon was an Aboriginal woman whose affectionate, white father lived near Taree in New South Wales, while she grew up on nearby Purfleet Mission, in the years before WW2. Ella married and farmed vegetables with her husband for the Army during the war, before writing an account of her life, Through My Eyes (1978: 126). In those days, Aboriginal people weren’t allowed to visit hotels or any other licensed place. They weren’t allowed to be in possession of alcohol. It was a total ban, but as Ella notes “there was always some ‘sympathetic’ white man ready to buy his black ‘pals’ a drink or two, or sell it to them for a bit of profit, and this was the cause of a lot of the disturbances – the white man willing to give it to the black man if there was something in it for him."
As the Alice Springs prison system overflows, it’s clear that not much has changed in the past eighty years. There’s an argument that “people drink for different reasons”, but with the annual, national cost of servicing abuse at $15b, a case can be made for the State to draw a line with a regulatory process aimed at reducing both this cost and unacceptable levels of self-harm. Comment by RUSSELL GUY.
Image: A child’s drawing found in a beer garden beside the Stuart Highway, NT.