Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Opposition Whip) (16:18): It gives me no pleasure to be here today raising the issue, once again, of Ceduna. It’s a beautiful town in the far west of my electorate, with a population of about 3,200, 25 per cent of whom are Indigenous. It also services a number of outlying remote Indigenous communities—Oak Valley and Yalata, in particular. It is a strong community, which has in the past addressed its challenges head-on and made Ceduna the wonderful place that it has been.
Following a South Australian coroner’s inquest after six untimely alcohol-related deaths in Ceduna, the previous government worked hand in hand with the Far West Aboriginal Communities Leaders Group to introduce the cashless debit card. The cashless debit card had a few bugs at first, and it was resisted by many, but it was easy to see, over a period of time, the improvement that it made to this community. But, if the improvements of the cashless debit card were steady, the fall-off, the collapse, of social order following its abolition by this government 16 months ago has been like a fall off a cliff. At the moment I am getting inundated with contacts from people in Ceduna who cannot stand the fact that businesses are being broken into regularly, cars are being stolen and trashed, windows are being smashed. I know a gentleman who has had people attempt eight times to break into his house, and twice they were successful. Another person’s house has been broken into at least three times, and they’ve had alcohol, money and all those things taken from their house. People are sick of it. They’re worried. They’re scared. Tourists are beginning to avoid the community. If someone complains, it’s quite likely their car will be targeted and trashed. It is just simply inadmissible behaviour.
I want to recount a story. A gentleman called me up on Sunday morning. He said: ‘I’ve got to tell you this. It can’t go on.’ He’s been in the area working with Indigenous people for the last 16 years and has a lot of trust in community. He went down to the roadhouse to buy a newspaper and he talked to a couple of young Indigenous blokes on the way in. He knew them. He said g’day and had a bit of a joke. While he was in there buying his paper, he said the face of the woman behind the checkout froze. He turned around and saw that these young fellas were helping themselves to merchandise. They filled up their pockets and walked out of the store laughing. He chased them and challenged them. They laughed at him. He came back inside and was told that this is happening every day. He said it can’t go on.
The police feel powerless. In fact, in Ceduna if the police decide to arrest someone and put them in a cell, someone has to go off duty to guard the cells. In fact, they don’t feel supported by the courts when they do arrest. The government and the minister need to come back to the community, unannounced, and meet with those people who are being affected by this appalling behaviour.