/ 28 March 2024

A dangerous town like Alice

Alice Springs

The Squiz

The Northern Territory Government has declared an “emergency situation” in Alice Springs after about 150 people were involved in a violent crime spree across the town on Tuesday afternoon. Announcing a 14-day curfew for youth in the town yesterday, Chief Minister Eva Lawler says “the community have had enough, and so have I”. An extra 58 police officers will be sent to the Red Centre to help the 23 officers already there. They’ll be tasked with keeping people under 18yo off the streets of the CBD between 6pm and 6am each day – that kicked in last night. And they’ll have the power to take young people breaching the rules back to their homes or another safe space.

Back it up a bit… 

Lawler said Tuesday’s violence was “horrific, unacceptable and we never want to see anything like that again”. The situation was linked to an Indigenous teenager dying when a stolen car crashed earlier this month. NT Police Commissioner Michael Murphy said that “led to family feuds and that’s what erupted in Alice Springs”. Video footage of one of the most serious attacks at the Todd Tavern was shared yesterday – it shows a group of about 70 young people throwing bricks at windows and kicking down doors. Manager Craig Jervis, who was inside with other staff members, said he hadn’t seen behaviour “this bad before”. “The ferocity in which they were trying to get in … was very scary,” he said. Murphy says several officers responding to that “were attacked” as they made 5 arrests and seized more than 50 weapons.

So will a curfew solve the problem?

Alice Springs Mayor Matt Paterson doesn’t think so… He’s called on the Federal Government to intervene there to deal with youth crime and antisocial behaviour – which he says is a “national embarrassment”. The situation has been worsening in recent years – something the Coalition’s Indigenous Affairs spokesperson Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has spoken about this week, highlighting a recent violent group attack on a 16yo girl. Paterson says despite federal financial help – like PM Anthony Albanese’s $250 million package for Alice Springs last year – “what we’ve shown over the last 14 years is we are too immature as a jurisdiction to run ourselves”. Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney welcomed the curfew as a “circuit breaker”, while Lawler says her government is “determined to get on top of the issues”. Lawler will visit the town today with Police Minister Brent Potter – so watch this space.

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