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Australian town’s curfew may be unlawful


A nighttime curfew imposed on Australia’s Outback capital of Alice Springs to curb rising unrest may be unlawful, a local police union warned this morning.

Politicians in the troubled town introduced a two-week dusk-to-dawn curfew on 27 March and deployed dozens of additional police officers after a reported spike in crime.

Since then, residents aged under 18 have been forced off the streets between 6pm and 6am.

The town of 25,000 people has a large Indigenous population and persistent problems with underemployment, poverty and other social issues.

Critics say the curfew is another example of politicians wanting to appear tough on crime, while doing little to address underlying problems.

Supporters argue it was needed a “circuit breaker” after up to 150 people were involved in a brawl at a local pub.

But the Northern Territory Police Association has now warned the curfew may be illegal.

“In my opinion the declaration is unlawful and police operating under that declaration are at risk of acting unlawfully” said police association president Nathan Finn.

The association’s legal advice is that a curfew cannot be used to “put down a riot, or other civil disturbance”, according to details shared with AFP.

“This is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction” said Mr Finn, adding: “once again, it is police who are lumped with cleaning up government’s mess following years of poor law and order policy decisions.”

In response to a potential legal challenge, Northern Territory Chief Minister Eva Lawler said: “Bring it on.”

Northern Territory Police Commissioner Michael Murphy also defended the government’s decision to implement the curfew.

“There’s three things the act is not used for, it’s for the suppression of civil disorder, combat or ending a strike. We’re not using the act for any of those,” said Mr Murphy.

“What we’re doing is using all the government assets, we’ve declared the emergency situation, to make sure there’s a coordinated effort over the next 14 days to remedy the situation.”

The curfew is set to end on 10 April but police have flagged it could be extended further.


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