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Paul Karp

Paul Karp

People of Alice Springs might say help took to long: Burney

Burney was also pressed on what was done to heed early warnings, such as Congress chief Donna Ah Chee’s warning that freer access to alcohol would add “fuel to the fire” of social issues.

Burney said:

I’ve been in talks with the Northern Territory government for a number of months now, in fact, as far back as Garma … last year. Yesterday we made important progress and that’s what I want to focus on. This is the beginning of the response. Not the end …

I have been in discussions with the Northern Territory government and community organisations here in Alice Springs for a number of months and yes I have expressed that there needs to be some very, very real thoughts put into our alcohol restrictions.”

Asked if the NT government took too long, she replied:

Look, I’m not going to get into whether they’ve taken too long or they haven’t. But clearly, if you ask people in Alice Springs, the answer might be ‘yes’. But the most important thing is that we made enormous gains yesterday, Dorelle Anderson will report back in one week and then we will know where we will head after that report back.

Burney said the federal government had made commitments at the election related to community safety, denying that it had taken too long to get involved.

Burney believes voice to parliament wouldn’t have allowed Alice Springs to escalate

Burney has told ABC Radio that she believes “very deeply” that the situation in Alice Springs would not have escalated like it has had there been an Indigenous voice to parliament.

[If] the voice of the parliament had been established previously, I don’t think, we wouldn’t be where we are in terms of Alice Springs at the moment because we would be getting practical advice from people who are representative of the community in relation to these social issues.

I mean, it is wrong to think that the issue out here is just alcohol that it has been neglect for 10 years of small communities surrounding Alice Springs. There is a seasonal issue involved.


Do you really think that if we’d had a voice to parliament, making recommendations, you wouldn’t have seen this situation escalate?


I do believe that very very deeply. That’s the whole point.


But the voices were telling you they might not have been enshrined in the constitution minister, but they were telling you and the Northern Territory Government that things were going to explode.


Which is why we are responding, which is why there was substantial money committed in the budget towards Central Australia. This is not something that we walked into yesterday, Patricia, this has been something that we’ve been working with and dealing with for a very long time.

Both the Northern Territory chief minister Natasha Fyles and the minister for Indigenous affairs Linda Burney, have appeared on ABC Radio following the announcements out of Alice Springs yesterday.

Fyles was reluctant to say her government should have acted earlier when problems arose from the end of the Stronger Futures legislation six months ago.

It was the previous coalition government that walked away and left the Northern Territory with no measures.

When Burney followed she said she had brought it up with the Northern Territory Government:

I had expressed that there needs to be some very, very real thoughts put into our alcohol restrictions.

Patricia Karvelas:

Do you think I took too long?


Look, I’m not going to get into whether they’ve taken too long, If you ask the people in Alice Springs, the answer might be yes.

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

The Indigenous affairs minister, Linda Burney, has spoken to Radio National about social issues including lack of access to drinking water and alcohol related-violence in Alice Springs.

Burney said:

I went to Stuart Park last night and met with local people living in town camps … many of who had obviously experienced violence. And one of the things that really shocked me is, I was talking to the local member Marion Scrymgour who had visited the hospital and there are 16 beds in ICU, 14 of those were taken by Aboriginal women who had been beaten … I think alcohol is one of the major contributors to some of the problems. It’s about balance – but being able to drink is not more important than being safe, in my view.”

Thorpe’s ‘divisive tactics and motives’ similar to Dutton’s: Marcia Langton

The Indigenous academic Prof Marcia Langton has written in the Australian newspaper this morning ahead of Australia Day, which she says has “become a field day for the culture warriors”.

It’s unnecessary and boringly ritualistic to persist with this annual festival of identity crisis. It has become a field day for the culture warriors. January 26 was established as the national day only 29 years ago, and yet those who are committed to it like to give the impression it was written in stone in their golden age of imperialism.

Langton, who is co-chair of the Indigenous voice to parliament design group, says that both sides of politics know how the culture war works, saying that the motives and tactics of the opposition leader Peter Dutton and the Greens’ First Nations spokeswoman, Lidia Thorpe, are “very similar.”

Dutton knows how this culture war works. And his confected outrage this week has been timed to undermine the most important idea that could unite Australians in a vision of the nation all can take pride in – the proposed Indigenous voice to parliament and government; the culmination of thousands of Australians discussing ways to overcome the frontier hatreds that persisted from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Greens senator Lidia Thorpe knows how this culture war works too, and has done more than her fair share to wreck the chances of Australians voting for a voice. She is the leader of a new faction in the Greens party – the Blak Greens. Relying on her persona as a Greens senator by day, Thorpe has rallied her gaggle of supporters to con Australians into thinking this year’s Survival Day rallies are protests against the voice. She and the Blak Greens – I think there are three of them – prioritise “treaties and truth-telling” over the voice. That the voice would inform the parliament and governments on not just dire issues such as the urgent need to curtail alcohol supply into vulnerable towns such as Alice Springs, but also about treaty aspirations guided by a Makarrata commission, seems to be beyond the comprehension of the far left.

Thorpe’s divisive tactics and motives are very similar to those of Dutton’s in undermining the voice. Dutton doesn’t want details for the sake of information. He wants the opportunity to undermine any details that will be released. Thorpe wants nothing more than to repeat the claims about “waste of money” and “useless”. It’s just a matter of time before Dutton says this about the information that will be made public in February.

Prof Marcia Langton.
Prof Marcia Langton. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Good morning!

Thanks to Martin for kicking off proceedings for us this morning.

The government will today host a roundtable meeting to address sexual violence associated with dating apps.

The minister for social services, Amanda Rishworth, told ABC radio this morning there was “big interest” from the tech companies to address the issue.

Rishworth says she wants to see the design of the apps incorporate features to prevent or intervene early in instances of sexual violence.

Can we put, for example, education about respectful relationships? Can we use the technology to look at patterns of behaviour and intervene early?

And more on the news in the Northern Territory – the federal and territory governments have flagged the reintroduction of alcohol bans, which lapsed last year. Communities have been given the option to opt out of the bans.

After an emergency meeting late last night between community leaders and federal ministers, the prime minister, Anthony Albanese announced a new regional controller to “make sure that we get federal and state programs coordinated in the best possible way”.

The NT chief minister Natasha Fyles announced a three-month trial to ban the sale of takeaway alcohol on Mondays and Tuesday, restrict operating hours for bottleshops and a limit of one transaction per customer per day.

You can read more from our Indigenous affairs editor, Lorena Allam:

In South Australia, the former prime minister Julia Gillard will conduct the first public hearings for SA’s royal commission into early childhood education and care.

The hearings start today and will take evidence from a range of expert witnesses, kicking off with Associate Prof Victoria Whitington from the Child Development Council.

Let’s get into it!

Australians among Oscars nominees

The Australian of the Year contenders may be gathering in Canberra but an already internationally recognised great Australian, Cate Blanchett, will be going for her third Oscar win in March after she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in the film Tár. It is her eighth nomination.

The Australian husband and wife team Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin have been nominated in the best picture category for Elvis, but Margot Robbie missed the cut despite speculation that she might get the nod for her role in Baylon.

Here’s the full list of nominees.

Elvis makers Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin at Paris fashion week.
Elvis makers Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin at Paris fashion week. Photograph: Laurent VU/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

US state of Oregon plans to ban sale of kangaroo products

Lawmakers in Oregon, under pressure from animal rights activists, are hoping to pass legislation banning the sale of kangaroo products in the state.

Rafqa Touma has been investigating the story and finds that the trade mostly involves the sale of kangaroo leather for turning into football boots, or what Americans call “soccer cleats”.

Australian trade groups have called the idea “emotive misinformation” and say that the lawmakers don’t know what they’re doing.

State education can cost parents $100,000, report says

Caitlin Cassidy

Caitlin Cassidy

Experts are calling for greater government investment in public education as a new survey suggests parents could spend up to $100,000 putting a child through the state school system starting this year.

The Futurity Investment Group’s cost of education index found the cost of a government education in Melbourne was $102,807, which was 17% above the national average of $87,528, making it the most expensive city for public education.

Although public schools don’t charge mandatory fees, the survey asked parents about the other costs involved in schooling. Nationally, voluntary student contributions – which are optional – made up just 4% of total costs for government education – the rest going towards optional additional expenses like electronic devices, uniforms and tutoring.

Futurity Investment Group’s Kate Hill said the figures proved there was “no such thing as a free education” in Australia. She said the total cost of education has risen at nearly double the rate of inflation over the past decade.

Jim Chalmers on ‘Capitalism after the Crisis’

Katharine Murphy

Katharine Murphy

The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has been busy over the summer, penning a 6,000 word essay for The Monthly headlined Capitalism after the Crisis.

Politics watchers with long memories will recall there’s a tradition of Queensland Labor rightwingers contributing long-form think pieces mulling the state of the country. Kevin Rudd wrote about the global financial crisis more than a decade ago. Wayne Swan wrote about inequality and the power of vested interests in the Australian economy.

The Chalmers essay explores values-based capitalism. The piece highlights the importance of the clean energy transition to setting up a new era of prosperity and sustainability; the importance of healthy democratic and economic institutions; and the centrality of wellbeing to measures of economic success.

The essay also traverses some interesting territory about the prospects for collaboration between government and the private sector. Chalmers says the times are turbulent but “we can do more than simply batten down the hatches and hope for the best”.

He says there is an opportunity to build an economy that is “stronger, more sustainable and more inclusive, where more of our people share in our economic success”.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has penned an essay for The Monthly.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers has penned an essay for The Monthly. Photograph: Jason O’Brien/AAP

Cargo ship taking on water off Queensland coast

A coal carrier that began taking on water off the Queensland coast has been secured by tugboats after sparking an emergency response.

The Panama-flagged bulk carrier Frontier Unity reported seven metres of water in its engine room while heading to Hay Point near Mackay on Tuesday, AAP reports. It was empty of coal.

Twenty four people are aboard the vessel.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) representative said it was notified of an incident off Hay Point about 1pm on Tuesday.

“AMSA was informed the Panama-flagged bulk carrier ship Frontier Unity was experiencing water ingress into its engine room following repair work undertaken by commercial divers,” the representative told AAP in a statement.

“As the ship is within port limits and under the national Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies, Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) is the lead agency responding to this incident, with AMSA providing additional support.”

AMSA, which has a representative at the scene, tasked the Cairns-based Challenger aircraft to drop de-watering pumps to the Frontier Unity.

No injuries or fatalities have been reported.

“All parties involved are working collaboratively in the response to this incident to minimise risk to safety or the environment,” AMSA said.

The ship has been reported as being stable, with the water ingress now stemmed, and is remaining at anchor with two tugboats alongside.

Welcome to the blog

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the day’s news in Australia. Yesterday was dominated by events in the Northern territory and there’s more reaction to that coming up. We are also counting down to the Australian of the Year awards, and there are Oscar nominations announced overnight to mull over.

Indigenous elders have given a cautious welcome to plans announced by the prime minister to restrict alcohol sales in Alice Springs after the town faced an alarming rise in crime after the relaxation of intervention-era alcohol laws. But community leaders also pleaded with Anthony Albanese and other visitors from Canberra and Darwin that they couldn’t just make yesterday’s high-profile visit a one-off and that more sustained help is needed for the region and its neglected remote areas.

Rajwinder Singh, the man accused of murdering 24-year-old Toyah Cordingley on a Queensland beach four years ago, is to be extradited to Australia after a court hearing in Delhi overnight. Judge Swati Sharma informed Singh that his extradition to Australia had been allowed by the courts. Singh simply said “thank you” when the extradition was approved. It could take three to four weeks before he is back in Australia.

This year’s Australian of the Year finalists are gathering in Canberra for the ceremony later today. The runners and riders include human rights activist Craig Foster, migrant leader John Kamara, Indigenous musician William Barton, insect farming pioneer Olympia Yarger, documentary maker Taryn Brumfitt, Land Council chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi, paediatrician Angraj Khillan and end-of-life care advocate Samar Aoun.

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