The Alice Springs News put the following questions to the Territory Alliance in preparation for our story published on July 28, 2020.
In regards to a more “sensible approach” to youth crime, would a TA government consider backing a change of the criminal age to 14?
Regarding the Community Justice Commission, what will the size would that group be? Who will it be made up of?
Do you consider incorporating the CARGO TERC (town council, chamber of commerce) submission for a hub and spoke model for the care of youth on the streets?
In the overnight safe houses, will the children be locked up? If not police, who will be collecting them?
When will you be releasing your tourism policy? Will the Mereenie Loop be a part of that plan (as floated by McIver in TERC takedown)?
The $70m in the budget for the national Aboriginal art gallery is on the lower end of estimates for the whole project (CARGO estimates $315m for a cultural centre and gallery). How much Federal help do you think you could bank on?
Sitting Member and candidate for Araluen, Robyn Lambley (pictured), replied, including to more specific questions:
Tackling Youth Crime in Alice Springs
One thing we have learnt through the COVID-19 era is that people can change their behaviour. During this period we saw very few unaccompanied children on the streets of Alice Springs at night. Crime plummeted and we were able to sleep at night.
Now with the coronavirus restrictions lifted, crime has been turned on again.
With the 2017 Royal Commission into the Detention and Protection of Children in the NT, the pendulum has moved to the extreme. There are now virtually no consequences for most juvenile offending. Territory Alliance believes the pendulum must swing back to a more sensible position when it comes to juvenile justice and community safety.
It is possible to have a system in which there are real consequences for juvenile offending; in which there are real opportunities for kids to rehabilitate; and in which the safety and well-being of the whole community is maintained. One does not have to negate the other.
Over the past few years youth crime has crippled Alice Springs socially and economically.
As a part of our response to youth crime in Alice Springs, Territory Alliance wants children off the streets at night. We see it as a hallmark of a caring community that children are kept safe and protected at night, not wandering the streets.
We acknowledge that there are reasons why some children do not stay at home at night, the most obvious being that home is not safe. This is a Child Protection issue. If a child cannot go home at night, this needs to be investigated and addressed.
Parents and carers have a critical role and responsibility to ensure children are not on the streets at night. We acknowledge that some children are defiant and difficult to manage. However, no parent or carer has the right to relinquish their responsibility for their children when it becomes inconvenient or too hard. Some parents require help and support. Other parents need reminding.
Night Time Youth Strategy
Territory Alliance will implement a Night Time Youth Strategy for Alice Springs which will include most of the components of the current NT Government funded children and youth services, such as accommodation, outreach, bail support, diversion, youth camps and the comprehensive suite of Child Protection services.
The key difference in the Territory Alliance youth strategy is that it will not be acceptable for children to be on the streets unsupervised by an adult at night. For all intents and purposes this will be a curfew. Children 16 years and under, who are not in the company of an adult, will be required to be off the streets after a certain hour at night. Exemptions will apply to some children, for example children that work at night.
We will tackle this as a Child Protection issue. All NT Government departments and Territory Families funded organisations will be required to participate in this broad approach to identify children “at risk” at night and to assist these children accordingly.
The NT Police will not be running around the streets at night throwing innocent children into paddy wagons and locking them up. This strategy is not about criminalising children. It is about protecting these children and in doing so, reducing youth crime.
Children found on the streets at night will be asked to go home. If they cannot go home, they will be taken to a safe house where they can stay until a responsible adult is found. This work will be conducted by Government and non-Government youth workers, child protection workers and the Police.
There are several existing NT Government owned facilities in Alice Springs that could be used as safe houses. The old Police station that was used as a Women’s Shelter for a period, is available. There is a large youth accommodation facility on Gap Road and a secure accommodation facility on South Terrace that would both be suitable. Any of these facilities can be made more “youth friendly” and could be available for use very quickly.
Over time, with on-gong education and a whole of Government approach, the number of children defying the curfew will reduce. Over time parents and carers will also become accustomed to this change in community expectations and Government policy. Pressure will be applied by all Government and Government funded agencies on children and families to comply with the Night Time Youth Strategy.
Consistent with the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Territory Alliance believes the NT Government has a critical role in ensuring the safety and protection of all children, day and night.
The Territory Alliance Night Time Youth Strategy is based on the Northbridge (WA) Youth Strategy that has been operating since 2003. This is the most successful, long-term youth curfew in Australia. We are confident that aspects of the Northbridge Strategy can work in Alice Springs.
Territory Alliance will commence the introduction of the Alice Springs Night Time Youth Strategy within the first 100 days of coming to Government.
The roll out will commence with an extensive education program across Central Australia. People will be advised well in advance that children will not be allowed to be out at night beyond a certain time in Alice Springs.
This strategy is about keeping the whole community safe. In recent years the practice of children roaming the streets of Alice Springs at night has become normalised. Territory Alliance does not accept that this is normal, healthy or caring. Territory Alliance believes we can do things differently and better.
The tourist industry in Alice Springs (not Ayers Rock Resort) has been in long-time decline before COVID. It now needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, how do suggest this is done?
With COVID-19 the Australian tourism industry is in survival mode. The future is unclear in terms of Australians being able to travel, let alone international tourists.
Tourism is the number one industry in Alice Springs. It is the largest industry and the largest employer.
A Territory Alliance Government is committed to stimulating and incentivising the Tourism industry in Central Australia.
We have been seeking input and feedback directly from the Tourism industry and operators on the ground. We will be releasing our Tourism plan in the near future, that will include how we can rebuild this all important industry.
How should our national parks be managed to make them the tourist attraction they deserve to be? (Ayers Rock / Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park; Kings Canyon/Watarrka National Park; West McDonnell National Park; Finke Gorge / Palm Valley National Park; The Devils Marbles, Witjira National Park.)
Growing our National Parks as tourism destinations is a crucial part of the future of Tourism for Alice Springs. Past visitor surveys and statistics show that a major factor for visitation to the Alice Springs region is the natural beauty and our National Parks. Attracting private investment into Parks is a critical factor to ensure we are showcasing the best we have to offer.
Will you make the national Aboriginal art gallery a reality? How?
The National Indigenous Art Gallery and Cultural Centre project has been managed appallingly by the current NT Government. In four years we are yet to have a final decision made on a site.
The whole process has been divisive and unproductive.
We have been meeting with Aboriginal stakeholders on this issue. We thing the NAAG is a game changer for Alice Springs and we are committed to make this a reality. A Territory Alliance Government will make a decision on the site of the Art Gallery within the first 100 days.
We are however concerned about the funding for this project. We are not convinced that the $70m allocated to this project in 2016 is still in the Budget. This is a major concern going forward.
Flood Mitigation has not been a priority for the Gunner Government.
There appears to be a lacklustre approach to what can potentially be a predictable natural disaster for Alice Springs, like cyclones are for Darwin. In Alice Springs we must always be prepared for the inevitable one in on hundred year flood.
And apart from that, we have regular flows of the Todd River, that requires the river to be cleared and maintained.
The Lhere Mparntwe (Todd and Charles Rivers) Management Strategy and the Alice Springs Flood Plain Management Plan have been critical to the future of all Flood Mitigation initiatives for the more than 20 years.
Territory Alliance will revisit the existing plans and undertake to refresh and revitalise these plans and commitments.
Water management (exploration, fracking, absence of recycling)?
Territory Alliance has a NO Fracking policy which is primarily about the preservation of our ground water supply.
Reducing our debt to a per-capita level comparable with the other states?
Our fiscal and economic policy will be based on the data provided to Territorians on July 31, 2020 by the NT Treasurer.
The NT has not been provided any fiscal or economic forecasts since the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) in November 2019.
Territory Alliance will manage the finances of the NT in a responsible and prudent fashion, unlike the current Gunner Government. We will continue to provide incentives to secure jobs and businesses whilst maintaining an efficient Public Service.
Jobs will not be cut from the Public Service. But jobs lost through natural attrition may not be filled.
Midway through the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic recession, it is difficult to plan exactly how to reign in debt, but at the right time, this must be a priority.
The NT Debt was driven up by $1.8b in 2016 to approximately $7b at present.
This rapid escalation of debt prior to COVID-19 should never have occurred. The financial crisis we are now facing is the legacy of the Gunner Government.
We entered the pandemic with no war chest, no funds left to cover the crisis we are currently facing.
A Territory Alliance Government will comply with the Fiscal Integrity and Transparency Act and manage the NT finances competently.
Should the Feds again take over the NT?
Another four years of fiscal mismanagement under the Gunner Labor Government could lead to the Federal Government having to take over the NT.
It is essential the next NT Government take a responsible and prudent approach to managing the finances of the NT.
Whom will you give your preferences to?
Territory Alliance has a policy that candidates have the final decision over whom they preference. Preferences are yet to be decided.