Alice Springs is a brutal backwater

Following news of Alice Springs Town Council’s appalling inhumanity this week, putting up bylaws to fine beggars and take the blankets of the homeless, there are some further disturbing revelations by Chris Graham in today’s Crikey email:

  • The council is giving itself powers far exceeding those of NT police, including demanding date of birth (which is problematic for many indigenous citizens) and refusing to accept certain types of identification.

  • They are seeking to make it illegal to stage a protest without council permission. The laws go so far as to make it illegal for “a group or even [an] individual” to behave in a way “apparently intended to publicise that person’s view about anything”.
  • Under the heading, “Other Activities”, the Council is seeking to empower itself to “declare that any activity whatsoever ‘within, on, under or over a public place’ requires a Council permit”.
  • They’re duplicating laws against public urination or defectation – something which has become a problem since the town’s two shopping centres made all their toilets PAY FOR USE (to stop poor people using them).

And if you’re wondering how the Alice Springs community could have elected such a monstrous council, Graham reports:

And where is all this heading, you might ask? Well, over the weekend, a four-wheel drive containing a group of about four or five white males drove through two of the itinerant camps on the dry Todd River bed which the council is seeking to close down.

Later that morning, the body of a black male was discovered. He had reportedly been walking alone on a nearby street. Police are seeking any information on the occupants of the vehicle, but are remaining tight-lipped about the motive, fearing an escalation of violence.

The place is a disgrace. How long are they going to get away with this?

alice

The councilors’ email again – Aldermen@astc.nt.gov.au. (It’s important to title your email as an official response to the proposed Public Places By-Laws and request a receipt from Council.)

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33 responses to “Alice Springs is a brutal backwater

  1. “a four-wheel drive containing a group of about four or five white males drove through two of the itinerant camps on the dry Todd River bed which the council is seeking to close down.”

    Christ, it sounds like something out of “Mississippi Burning “….

  2. It does indeed.

  3. And until it is investigated, it should be treated as fictional – I thought you would have played the ‘presumption of innocence’ a little bit harder given your profession Jeremy. Or even if the two events were linked, which there is no evidence.

    Ohhh white males drive through itinerant camps. It that like “what are those aboriginals doing in this fine resteraunt??”

    By the way, itinerant camps usually consist of both black and white people in my experience.

  4. By the way, People in the NT don’t like interference from ‘Southerners’…..just letting you know. They blame ‘Southerners’ on just about every ill befalling them. The first time I was called this I felt like I was in the U.S.

  5. confessions

    Nasty. Very nasty. Gavin’s right: mississipi burning territory.

  6. “And until it is investigated, it should be treated as fictional – I thought you would have played the ‘presumption of innocence’ a little bit harder given your profession Jeremy. Or even if the two events were linked, which there is no evidence.”

    The “presumption of innocence” applies to individuals. No-one’s been charged yet.

    “Ohhh white males drive through itinerant camps. It that like “what are those aboriginals doing in this fine resteraunt??”

    By the way, itinerant camps usually consist of both black and white people in my experience.”

    I didn’t mention the ethnicity of the people in the camp.

    “By the way, People in the NT don’t like interference from ‘Southerners’…..just letting you know.”

    Stiff. Tyrants, despots, thugs and bigots often like to avoid responsibility by claiming that their accusers “just don’t understand”. It’s always a lame cop-out.

  7. confessions

    Alice Springs mayor says despite the proposed by-laws, they will continue current practice of giving any blankets found by rangers to Tangentyere council instead of throwing them out. Label me sceptical but i don’t trust anything these people say.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/07/29/2639509.htm?site=alicesprings

  8. “confessions” i ask, how can you make an unjustified opinion about the AS town council. you cannot say the AS town council arent trustworthy when people like the mayor have told EVERYTHING to the public since being elected. that, i believe, was his aim when first elected and he has done this to a magnificent standard. dont be angry with the reality of the world. be angry that people in this world need to make rules up for situiations like this. the council have clearly said that the blankets will be returned to tangentyere. have a little faith? what have you done to help resolve anti-social behavior in alice springs? be a part of the solution. NOT the problem.

  9. what part of my opinion about the AS council is unjustified?

    And btw, isn’t it interesting just how willing people are to twist and turn themselves inside out in order to defend the indefensible?

  10. Oh, anonymous. Too busy “resolving anti-social behaviour in alice springs” to come up with a pseudonym?

    I wonder if anonymous can help us understand how fining beggars “resolves anti-social behaviour in alice springs”. What does he or she think the beggars will do instead?

    Starve, freeze, or become someone else’s problem?

  11. Zippy the Pinhead

    This story takes me back to the glorious years of the Howard era … with the creation of Centrelink and it’s slogan ‘Giving you options’ … freezing, starving or suicide … it’s your choice!

  12. Alice Springs’ new laws seem eerily similar to Singapore’s (points 2 + 3 I mean)

    (PS: To be clear, Singapore ain’t high on the list of places to copy)

  13. jason, you are a rude and arrogrant person with not one clue about the issues in alice springs.

  14. Anonymous is quick with the insults but slow with plausible justifications for the by-laws in question, isn’t s/he?

  15. Anonymous: the issues in alice springs are clear to anyone who has spent any time there, as if that actually made any difference to the basic evil being committed by ASTC …the issues in alice springs are mirrored right across ‘stralia and they have just been made worse by this arrogant and barbaric ASTC..there is absolutely no excuse for what they are doing…none whatsoever…they are an irresponsible council who should be sacked forthwith.

    all of this of course is further argument for a serious and binding bill of rights in this country.

    then ignorant bigots who have power and budget like these councillors could be properly prosecuted. it is they who should be fined, it is they who should have their power removed. i would even consider a jail term, then maybe they’d actually have time to take a good hard look at themselves.

  16. “I didn’t mention the ethnicity of the people in the camp.”

    “Later that morning, the body of a black male was discovered.”

    Entshuldigung??? Thats German for “Excuse me?????”

  17. Pingback: Some hope for Alice Springs? « An Onymous Lefty

  18. Pingback: More about the council meeting of shame and Alice Springs proposed bylaws – updates « Heartsong

  19. While I have plenty of issues with ASTC’s proposed clumsy and crude bylaws, I have an even bigger problem with interstate urbanite charicatures of the outback. Either take off your lefty-goggles, move here, find out something about the reality of the place then speak from experience- or just back the fuck off. Huge damage is done to progressive politics in this town by fly-in/fly-out protesters showboating their favourite causes then fleeing back to the coast before summer starts. Sort out your own (fucked-up) backyard before hurling insults at me and my townsfolk.

  20. some of us know alice really (really) well..so back off with your dumbarse assumptions….

    assumption is in fact..the mother of all fuck ups…

  21. Ech1, I am critical of my own backyard as well. Doesn’t mean the ASTC doing something monstrous should not be condemned while there’s a faint chance of it NOT happening.

    You know what’s arrogant? The country attitude that anyone who’s not a local has no right to have an opinion on anything that goes on there.

  22. Maybe you didn’t understand what I said about the damage being done out here by know-all activists on holiday doing a lap of town on their hobby-horses, hurling abuse at all who disagree, then flee back to their climatic and social comfort zone? They have basically resulted in the local progressive political movement being completely marginalised- the majority of people in Alice Springs are humane, generous, environmentally conscious and cosmopolitan and would normally be the natural constituency of the Greens, but the cadres of dreadlocked heroes who swing into town every winter for a bit of protest in the sun spouting cut’n’pasted student-lefty cliches has totally alienated most average people out here. Before I moved to Alice I bought a lot of those abundant lefty cliches about Central Australia too- I was expecting apartheid-loving rednecks vs heroic indigenous battlers. Instead I found a really diverse open multi-ethnic town unlike any other you’ll find in the outback with a population under seige- petty crime, harrasment, violence and sexual assualts are off the chart and some of the biggest victims are aboriginal people- women, kids, old people. If you came and lived out here for a year (and didn’t live in one of the privilidged lefty-ghettos which are big on talk about aboriginal equality but very low on actual aboriginals) you’d experience it all for yourself pretty quickly.
    Efforts such as normalising the town camps (which, contrary to popular belief, are not owned by the people inhabiting them) to improve conditions, or enforcing the same standards of child protection which apply to kids of all non-aboriginal ethnicities in all other states are twisted and derided interstate and internationally by lefty activists and lazy journos into stories about ‘redneck settlers disposessing traditional owners’ and ‘creating a new stolen generation for eugenic purposes’. Its out of this mess that desperate and poorly thought-through plans such as those proposed by the town council come (which incidentally has ethnically aboriginal & middle eastern councillors- not exactly the redneck cowboys you picture).
    The story which zoomed around the world about town rangers stealing blankets from rought-sleepers on freezing nights is a good example. Its complete politically motivated bullshit. A lie. The proposed bylaws (while crap and deeply flawed) do not allow town Rangers to do that. Don’t believe me? Read them for yourself and show me where it says Rangers can do this: http://www.alicesprings.nt.gov.au/astc_site/your_council/by_laws/draft_by_laws_for_consultation
    I happen to know some of the town Rangers. They are good normal people who work really hard for the town doing a difficult job which most of you pinko-bloggers would turn their nose up at. The Rangers’ response to homeless people rough sleeping in the river (a practice which is being banned at the explicit request of the river’s aboriginal traditional owners- it is their hard-fought right to demand this- funny how the likes of Eric Sykes are keen to disposess traditional owners of this right to determine what happens on their own land in situations like this when TO’s wishes don’t fit his dinner-party ideologies) is to find them alternative accomodation. Its really disgusting to hear these people being villified as nazis by people 1000s of km away on the basis of a fake story concocted to win an arguement in the short term.
    Some of the bylaws which have been gotten right in the lefty-horror stories have been misconstrued- begging for example. The main targets for beggars ion Alice are aboriginal people and tourists. I’ve seen an elderly aboriginal lady sell her own dot painting then straight away be cornered by a young guy shouting at her with his hand out- when she handed over her money he literally sprinted off to the bottle-o. Without this bylaw that will be legal- Is that behaviour OK by you? And before you sneer at the idea that tourists should be protected from harassment for free money think through all the indigenous folk out here who work in the tourism industry and who will suffer if people stay away. You’d be sneering at their income and livelihood.
    The bylaws contain a lot of crap. The clauses requiring $80 permits to hold protests and on council members opinions being valid grounds for banning ‘offensive’ signs or even t-shirts for example are wildly anti-democratic and will do huge damage to the town. I personally don’t think that there was any nasty intent on the part of the council when they drafted these- just niaivety and incompetence.
    Stories based on lies or half truths deflect attention from these glaring defects and undermine the case of those of us who want the bylaws re-written properly.
    So, thats how things look here in Alice Springs, but what would I know?- I only live there and see things with my own eyes- how could that possibly make my views more valid than some ideology-addled blogger sat in God-knows-where?

  23. “’ve seen an elderly aboriginal lady sell her own dot painting then straight away be cornered by a young guy shouting at her with his hand out- when she handed over her money he literally sprinted off to the bottle-o. Without this bylaw that will be legal- Is that behaviour OK by you?”

    Um, no, that’s an assault. Someone demanding money from someone else with an implied threat of violence is not “legal” at all.

    That’s in no way a defence of a law criminalising begging.

    “how could that possibly make my views more valid than some ideology-addled blogger sat in God-knows-where?”

    The only people claiming some special “my views are more valid” are the Alice Springs locals who, when they don’t have an actual argument to defend an awful inhumane policy, fall back on “well you don’t live here, you wouldn’t understand”.

    Pathetic.

  24. Jeremy- Was that response an attempt to avoid looking like a high-handed reality-dodging ideologue? Well, you failed.
    You don’t have any comment to make on the barefaced lies being banded around on this blog and elsewhere about the bylaws?
    You don’t mind slandering good hardworking town Rangers doing a job you wouldn’t dream of soiling yourself with so long as it wins you feelgood lefty-points?

    To be frank, no, you don’t understand. And I’ll tell you why.
    You base your ideology on unsound sources and wishful thinking- the contrast between the reality on the ground and the cliched froth that are spread in the press then mutated beyond recognition in the splendid luxury of the blogosphere can only be seen if you are actually fucking here. You might feel like your ideology gives you all the answers so you don’t need the input of actual evidence but you are badly wrong. That sloppy thinking is the exact reason that progressive politics has such a poor standing out here. The story about council rangers stealing blankets is a perfect example- you bought it wholesale as truth and got on the bandwagon slandering the evil inhabitants of Alice Springs and their nasty council despite NOT EVEN HAVING READ THE DRAFT BYLAWS! You don’t seem to have a bloody clue what you are talking about- why the hell should anyone take you seriously? You think this is just another chance to score lefty-points but these are real people you are abusing and lying about. Have you no standards? Or are lies and slander ok so long as you are well intentioned and you win the argument in front of your friends?
    On the subject of those elected council folk who are charicatured by you heroes as evil fascist redneck WASPs, here is a link to an interesting well-written piece by our (aboriginal) Deputy Mayor on the subject of booze- http://rawnsleyj.wordpress.com/2009/06/21/op-ed-alice-springs-and-alcohol-policy/#more-298
    It won’t fit your world view very well but it might give you a glimpse of just how hopelessly inadequite your understanding of life out here is.

  25. “You don’t have any comment to make on the barefaced lies being banded around on this blog and elsewhere about the bylaws?”

    Examples? I never said rangers were going to conk people on the head and steal their blankets – clearly the proposal is for them to simply destroy the blankets they confiscate when they’re left abandoned during the day, instead of returning them to indigenous organisations as at present.

    “You don’t mind slandering good hardworking town Rangers doing a job you wouldn’t dream of soiling yourself with so long as it wins you feelgood lefty-points?”

    Where did I slander town rangers?

    “You base your ideology on unsound sources and wishful thinking- the contrast between the reality on the ground and the cliched froth that are spread in the press then mutated beyond recognition in the splendid luxury of the blogosphere can only be seen if you are actually fucking here”

    Bullshit. Fining beggars is wrong wherever it’s done. It’s wrong when it’s done here in Melbourne, too.

  26. “hopelessly inadequite your understanding of life out here is…”

    oh yeah..you guys and gals out in the aussie bush you are just sooooooooooooo special that normal humane ethics just don’t apply..we all havfta bow to your oh so superior knowledge of life ‘cause…you are really living and everyone else is just pretending….?

    well no..i refuse to humbly touch my forelock because you happen to live somewhere else..i have spent a fair bit of time on the phone and in direct email with these Alice aldermen and women involved, and they have failed to put up one single good argument as to why these by-laws are needed..

    so..it’s wrong, its evil and anyone who is low enough to make excuses for it is beneath contempt.

  27. Eric- I don’t live ‘somewhere else’- I live in Alice, the place you are passing judgement on from a media-fed position of dogma and ignorance. What if I wrote a heap of abuse about the place you live based on hearsay and preconcieved ideas? How would you feel about it?

    Jeremy & Eric- At no point have you acknowledged the dishonest nature of the ‘Rangers stealing blankets’ story which is refered to in this post and in others on this blog where it is presented as fact. You don’t think that, combined with your ignorance of the reality of the situation and even the basic documents in question undermines your grand rhetoric at all?

    This is becoming a case study in how the modern left is making itself irelevant.

    I have repeatedly stated that I have major issues with the bylaws- but that wasn’t the point of this. My problem is with people like you two diving into a topic armed with half truths and lies and expecting to impose your ideology-based opinions on a community which you contribute nothing substantial to and understand nothing about.

    As long as some tit is putting out posts with headlines like this one and containing phrases like; “The place is a disgrace.” from a distant position of ignorance and dogma then the future of progressive politics in the red centre looks bleak. The authoritarian right here are laughing into their sleeves and cracking open a beer every time some urban lefty moron goes off on a another fact-free masturbation about genocide and country rednecks.

    All you lot can think to do is oppose things. They call the rightwing ‘reactionary’ but I’d say you could teach them a thing or two about knee-jerk oppositionalism. Where are the left wing proposals to reduce crime in Alice Springs: the rapes, the muggings, the vandalism and theft? To protect the women and kids abused daily by drink-fueled violence in town camps? To protect the sacred sites? You two seem to think you have all the answers- lets hear some…

  28. Hmmm. No further comment from our east coast commie heroes. Perhaps they don’t know it all after all?…
    Seriously- anyone who wants to move here live here summer and winter, learn about this unique place, its glories and its problems then roll up your sleeves and join in making it a better place is more than welcome. Anyone, everyone, come, please!
    But if you’d rather stay in your comfy suburb and write carping lectures about Alice based on prefab-theories and 3rd hand opinions then don’t be surprised when we tell you shut the fuck up.

  29. Mate, you didn’t say anything new or worth responding to.

    “I have repeatedly stated that I have major issues with the bylaws- but that wasn’t the point of this. My problem is with people like you two diving into a topic armed with half truths and lies and expecting to impose your ideology-based opinions on a community which you contribute nothing substantial to and understand nothing about.”

    Your problem is that we dared to express an opinion about something Alice Springs Town Council is doing whilst being the lowest of the low, non-locals. NON-LOCALS! Ugh!

    I didn’t tell any “lies” or “half-truths”, which is why you’ve not been able to list any I did. I responded to the issue at hand. And now you claim to agree!

    So your only problem is that us having an opinion and daring to express it apparently offends the local snobbery of bigoted country people. Well, you’re certainly a great advertisement for Alice.

  30. You wrote- “Following news of Alice Springs Town Council’s appalling inhumanity this week, putting up bylaws to…take the blankets of the homeless,”
    As I have mentioned earlier, there is your lie. Its at the start of this blog article. The story about council rangers stealing blankets from rough sleepers which was put out by the green party and is doing the rounds of the bloggosphere and which has NO basis in fact. You tried to weasel out of it by going off on a weak diversion about abandoned blankets.
    So, on Planet Pinko being proud of my community and being offended when it is demonised by distant ignoramuses evangelising for the weak left qualifies me as a country bigot does it? I thought you heroes of the revolution didn’t believe in stereotypes? Would seem to prove my hunch that if you scratch an urban lefty you’ll find a smug condescending hypocrite.
    I note you still have no alternative ideas about how to deal with crime and social disaster that is here Alice Springs- you are clearly a reactionary as charged. You just oppose stuff. What use is that?

  31. “As I have mentioned earlier, there is your lie. Its at the start of this blog article. The story about council rangers stealing blankets from rough sleepers which was put out by the green party and is doing the rounds of the bloggosphere and which has NO basis in fact.”

    I didn’t say they’d “steal them” from “rough sleepers” – I said they could take them under the proposed bylaws. Which is entirely true.

    “So, on Planet Pinko being proud of my community and being offended when it is demonised by distant ignoramuses evangelising for the weak left qualifies me as a country bigot does it?”

    You’re not very good at reading. You’re a bigot when you suggest we’re not entitled to have an opinion because we’re not locals.

    “I note you still have no alternative ideas about how to deal with crime and social disaster that is here Alice Springs- you are clearly a reactionary as charged. You just oppose stuff. What use is that?”

    As far as the homeless are concerned, the only solution is better funding for shelters and food kitchens.

  32. “I didn’t say they’d “steal them” from “rough sleepers” – I said they could take them under the proposed bylaws. Which is entirely true.”

    Jeremy- your distiction between ‘take’ and ‘steal’ is wafer thin, and pointless, it certainly not ‘entirely true’ as you claim. The byelaws let the rangers clean up abandoned stuff such as blankets. If there is someone with the stuff its not abandoned and the rangers cannot ‘take’ them.

    All I ask is that you and your fellow travellers make an effort to learn something about a subject and have some regard for the truth before launching a crusade or pouring scorn on others. How do you learn something about a place? Well, going there is a start, and living there is obviously better. As I said, you’d be welcome here if you take off your ideology goggles and don’t get off the plane lecturing us. This seems to be beyond your abilities.

    The wikipedia definition: “A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one who regards or treats members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.”
    Considering your stated position is one of belief without evidence and of stereotyping and denigrating 70% a whole town on the basis of their race I’d say you and the other ranting leftistsas on your blog would be the ones more accurately described as a ‘bigots’.

    you say- “As far as the homeless are concerned, the only solution is better funding for shelters and food kitchens”. Well, at least you could find one suggestion, albeit an unoriginal one. Alas, “better funding” isn’t a solution, its a slogan. Maybe a real good look at whats causing the homeless problem might be a start: my bet is lives consumed by alcohol and drug addiction coupled with a lack of opportunities to do anything else but live on the dole out in bush communities are behind this. I’d blame the people who push endless welfare dependency for their own political reasons as having played a major role in creating this situation.
    And crime? What is your tremendous lefty solution for that? Surely not ‘better funding’ for the police?

  33. Pingback: How to look less nasty: stand next to someone worse than you are « An Onymous Lefty

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