Darwin Blog

Alice Springs – Best Kept Secrets
Tuesday, 17 April, 2007, 11:12 am
Filed under: Observations

This week sees the Northern Territory Parliament sitting in Alice Springs and boy, are they getting roasted.

Alice Springs has been one of my favourite places visit and I often get the chance to travel there through work.  The people are great and yes, there is some good shopping to be had.  This I discovered on my first trip to Alice for a Board Meeting in 1995 and my Chairman of the Board was previously from Alice Springs.  She kindly took me for a tour of the best shopping in Alice Springs – it was fantastic.  I am pleased to say that most of those shops still exist till today.

The last time I was in Alice Springs, I must say, it was a different place.  There was many itinerant black fellas lying around drunk, hassling each other and the tourists and fighting between themselves in the Mall.  Alice Springs just did not have the same feel, from a tourist perspective.  In fact, during my last visit I was actually glad to get out of there – I just did not feel safe.

We have a friend who spent some time in Alice Springs as a police officer and later working in a number of communities around Central Australia.  There are some serious issues that need to be addressed not only by the Government, but the people themselves.

So back to the Sittings in Alice this week.  A protest of 500 business people on the steps of Parliament protesting about the demise of the town – I can sympathise with them as they have chosen to build their lives here and I can’t imagine that it would be easy.

What did annoy me as I listened to the Chief Minister’s statement on Alice Springs this afternoon, is that she referred to the black fella itinerants that converge on Alice Springs and never leave as “visitors”!  Is she joking?  For God’s sake, say it for what it is.  Renaming issues does not make the problem disappear.  This Government is good at wordsmithing – in fact which Government isn’t!

Visitors are people who come to visit, in Alice Springs case, I think they would like to refer to them as tourists.  Black fellas from the community are not that.  They do not contribute to the economy, in fact they drain the economy and scare those important tourists away.  Alice Springs is an iconic Australia destination – we cannot afford to lose the tourism drawcard – this effects the whole Territory.

The Chief Minister also asked that the town camps not be called “town camps”.  I don’t remember exactly what she wants them to be called now – I’ll keep you posted once I read Hansard.

Anyway, if you are visiting Alice Springs this week or sometime in the future – please support these businesses – I can recommend them and have been supporting them for many years.

Let’s hope that the people and businesses of Alice Springs get the support and help they need to remain viable and that the town of Alice Springs does not disappear into anonymity in the desert.


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