GENERAL News

OPINION: 2021 CURE THE TRANSIENT ALCOHOL PROBLEM, AT HOME!

How much longer are we prepared to allow this shameful situation to exist?  Every able-bodied young Anangu male in 2021 is following in the undignified footsteps of their forefathers.   “Is this deliberate”?

Cashed up Anangu can purchase alcohol in distant towns if they have an ID such as a driver’s license.  So there you have it – the pied piper, or alcohol is calling the tune! 

By way of generous pensions and no successful management plan it is very clear that the Anangu are armed with adequate funds to genocide themselves. 

In 2021 why are we still seeing alcohol used as a carrot to humiliate Anangu?  

If the two Governments weren’t so obsessed with romancing the minerals on the APY Lands, then maybe the Anangu could achieve stability and a graceful transition, as a priority.

Port Augusta:  I feel for the people of Port August when their Mayor, Brett Benbow comes out to query severe anti-social behaviour.  They are at the beginning of where Coober Pedy was in the 90s when the Government wheels turned slowly.

“These are not normal visitors. These people from the lands are cashed up…”  “I have lived here all my life and it is the worst I have ever seen things,” Mayor Benbowtold the Transcontinental Newspaper in January.

Sunny Singh Port Augusta City Councillor said, “Enough is enough.. We all in Port Augusta are facing this anti-social behaviour issue.. People from out of town, aggressive, drunk people at CBD, fights at beach. I have never seen this before…”

Over the Christmas period I spent some time in Pt. Augusta and the town was indeed overrun by hundreds of non-locals seeking alcohol and sleeping rough.  I had to ask myself, “Is this deliberate”?

A businessman said to me that they had attacked numerous cars including the town’s war memorial with an acidic solution that corrodes paint, if not quickly removed.

Mintabie: The recent closure of Mintabie looms large as a contributing factor to the aboriginal uprising currently being experienced in Pt. Augusta and beyond, if indeed, as the Government claims, Mintabie was serving as a springboard for illicit drugs and alcohol into the APY Lands; despite, the overwhelming majority of miners not being involved in any underhanded exchange.

When the state government closed the township of Mintabie; did they foresee that a large number of aborigines would exit the Lands in search of illicit alcohol and drugs and implement a Plan B?  If so what is it?

Regrettably, for Pt. Augusta and others the South Australian State Government would seem not to have a Plan B, resulting in towns within cooee of the APY lands no better off than in the 90s when towns in the path of transients wanting to obtain alcohol was at an all-time peak and the Government had no apparent interest in Aboriginal disadvantage, nor the inconvenience that this neglect had on their constituents.

Police intercepted a recent attempt to smuggle a carload of substances into the APY Lands. Why not TRIAL a hospitality and social program rather than continuing to allow liquor to be the weapon of disenfranchisement, financed by the government

Liquor availability: Since 2013 Coober Pedians and visiting tourists have been paying through the nose for bottled wine because casks were outlawed.  An entire town is penalised making Coober Pedy less attractive to stop at.

Cask wine has always been available in Pt. Augusta but may need to be removed; if, this APY Lands revolt continues to stretch police resources and the city’s patience.

Ban casks in Pt. Augusta and this tide will simply flow on to Adelaide, will it not?  Will the State Government or his Liquor Commissioner place Adelaide and suburbs on similar restrictions?

Those that live on prescribed lands appear not to be paying electricity or water so this money becomes available for alcohol in Coober Pedy and Port Augusta.  In other words, as I read elsewhere, government pensions have become a stimulus for the liquor industry.  Is this fair?

Residents in Coober Pedy have long complained that they are overcharged for alcohol due to the restrictions which is tantamount to an additional and heavy tax imposed on a small town simply because the government cannot solve any remote problems, let alone one that involves minerals.

The Government have renamed it, Coober Pedy’s problem and walked away.  Is this fair on the Anangu?  This “tactic” is the main factor generating racism!

Had the Basics Card trial in Ceduna been applied state wide, problem drinking may have been severely curtailed.

While it is known that alcohol is not a tolerated substance for indigenous people, they are clearly supplied with the funds and the loopholes to destroy themselves.  Is this fair? 

Why should responsible drinkers in Coober Pedy and elsewhere be permanently disadvantaged because of a few hundred desperate drinkers, heavily financed by the government?  According to Mayor Brett Benbow the Anangu arrive in this city all cashed up!

Critically, tourism suffers as a consequence, and a severe increase in house break-ins, property damage and arson.

Education and Training: I read recently that the Oodnadatta mob own and manage the Transcontinental Hotel and the womenfolk help enforce responsible drinking among the men.  Others say it has had some setbacks.

I agree with a growing belief that in 2021 the APY Lands should strongly consider trialing “hospitality” at home based on the Oodnadatta model and responsible consumption.   Education and management is surely the answer.

Anything has to be better than the present unacceptable situation that continues to force a small community like Coober Pedy, and now the City of Port Augusta to carry the can for mis-management and neglect of our first nation’s people’s need to fully integrate into the mainstream.  With responsible education and management, success could be achieved at home.

Local Ratepayer and Pt. Augusta visitor

BC Trueman.

PS The 2013 Coober Pedy approach (no identity; no grog, etc.) was only ever partially successful.

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