Alice Springs residents weigh $1.5 billion class action bid against Northern Territory government amid crime wave

Alice Springs residents weigh .5 billion class action bid against Northern Territory government amid crime wave

Thousands of Alice Springs residents gathered to share their grief over rising crime rates, with many voicing their support for a class action against the Northern Territory government for what organizers described as “negligence”.

Key points: An Alice Springs business owner is appealing for support to sue the Northern Territory Government for crime-related damages. Both the federal and territory governments have pledged funding aimed at tackling rising crime rates. Some residents express concern about the “tense” atmosphere at the town meeting

The meeting was held Monday night amid growing community frustration over a rise in alcohol-fueled violence and property crime, with some business owners claiming they have suffered losses due to government inaction.

Organizer Garth Thompson told a packed convention center the Northern Territory government had neglected Alice Springs on a variety of levels and said residents “deserve to be compensated for what the government put us through”.

“I am more than proud to stand here and say that we, as a community of Alice Springs, are about to sue our government for $1.5 billion in compensation,” the business owner told the crowd said.

Garth Thompson gave an emotional speech at the meeting, which was interrupted at times by cheers and shouts. (ABC News: Charmayne Allison)

Mr Thompson said he had been preparing a class action for several weeks and had consulted lawyers.

Both the federal and territory governments have pledged extra money for policing and short-term closures of bottle shops, and both have said they are considering reintroducing the ban on alcohol in Indigenous communities.

However, Mr Thompson said the controls put in place by the government are “quite disgusting at times”.

“They have the ability to solve these problems … but they choose not to,” he said, “instead we’re all affected.

“We are all controlled and we are all put in a place where we are harmed by their decisions to try [to] fix our problems with a patch and that’s wrong.”

Community divided over class action

Christine Burke, a local teacher, said she wants recognition for residents who are fed up with crime in town, but doesn’t support a class action.

“I can’t say … that I’m here in favor of suing the Northern Territory government,” she said.

“It’s really our government, so it will be our money.”

Garth Thompson’s proposal for a class action drew mixed reactions from the crowd who attended the meeting.(ABC Alice Springs: Charmayne Allison)

Speaking to the ABC after the meeting, Warlpiri elder Robin Japanangka Granites said Aboriginal people were best placed to connect with the young people involved in criminal behaviour.

“We are the ones who have to talk to the children, not to white people, because the children do not understand their language,” he said.

Mr Japanangka Granites said he attended the meeting to show his “support for the people of Alice Springs”.

Robin Japanangka Granites says Aboriginal people must be part of the solution. (ABC News: Charmayne Allison)

“It’s sad because it’s our children who are doing this and we need to support our children by going and talking to their parents in the community – not here in Alice Springs because Alice Springs is not their country,” he said .

Central Arrernte man Declan Fuller Gillick said he was disappointed Aboriginal elders were not asked to speak at the meeting.

“Those of us who came here for a community meeting ended up listening to 20 to 30 minutes of a local business owner essentially evoking a very emotional story centered around protecting private property,” he said. said.

Declan Fuller Gillick says he was not impressed by the meeting. (ABC News: Charmayne Allison)

Mr Fuller Gillick also raised concerns about the tone of the meeting, which he said threatened to “demonise and continue to criminalise” young people.

“It was probably one of the most tense public and social environments I have ever seen in this town,” he said.

“To think that this passes for a community forum is actually very troubling to me.”

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