ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
May 14, 1997
ABORIGINAL GROG SHOP: SNAG IN LIQUOR LAWS
A bid by the Aboriginal owners of the Milner Road supermarket and
liquor outlet to separate the two sections is being thwarted by
legislation, according to Greatorex MLA Richard Lim.
He says a "source close to the owners" has told him about plans for a
separate entrance to the liquor section, and to close it off from the
Dr Lim says: "I commend the Milner Road Foodtown for this most
responsible move to lessen the impact of alcohol on our community.
"This would remove the subliminal association between food and alcohol.
"Shoppers would be less induced to think that while they get their food
they might as well pick up their grog at the same time."
However, the Liquor Act treats the bottle shop as "ancillary" to the
supermarket and appears not to allow separate premises.
Dr Lim says he hopes that the Liquor Commission will put forward
recommendations to change this anomaly in the Act.
The store was bought last year by an Aboriginal consortium whose major
partner is understood to be Tangentyere Council.
The store redeems food vouchers issued by Tangentyere.
Dr Lim has renewed his call for a full disclosure of where the money
for the purchase of the store came from.
He says: "I asked this question publicly last year and again earlier
this year but still have not received a reply.
"We know the store is owned by one or several Aboriginal organisations
which may or may not have used public funds for the deal.
"I am not suggesting that any public funds are involved.
However, in view of the recent collapse of the Tangentyere owned
Territory Business Suppliers and the many questions abut the source of
funds used to purchase that business, the public needs to be reassured
that the money for Milner Road Foodtown did not come from the public
"I don't believe it is too much to ask for a public statement from the
owners of the supermarket," Dr Lim says.
TOURISM LOBBY LOW KEY ON AYERS ROCK COMPANY PUBLIC
The Central Australian tourism lobby CATIA is low key about rumoured
moves to have the Ayers Rock Resort Company Limited (ARRCL) listed on
the stock exchange.
The company owns most tourism facilities at The Rock.
The NT Government announced recently that it will sell its 60 per cent
holding in the ARRCL, provided the price is right.
The Advent syndicate - mainly interstate corporate investors - owns 40
per cent of the company.
CATIA chairman Wayne Tucker says his organisation won't comment on
rumours, but it's a "good idea" for the government to be selling its
"We don't have a preference about a buyer or buyers," says Mr Tucker.
If a public float takes place, CATIA would not recommend to the
government to impose conditions about who may or may not buy the shares.
Resort manager Grant Hunt said in a recent memo to ARRCL staff,
obtained by the Alice News: "The Advent Syndicate ... has indicated
that it would join with the government in selling its shares in the
"The board of ARRCL welcomes these announcements.
"A public float of ARRCL's share holdings is seen as the preferred
method of sale.
"It would be a very positive move to have the company floated ... as
not only would it give all Territorians the opportunity to buy shares
in our unique and successful resort, but also it would give an
opportunity for all staff to participate in the ownership of the resort
through ... the stock exchange or through an employee share scheme,
which the board have agreed to introduce immediately following a float."
Meanwhile, CATIA will need to replace its general manager, Kevin Lewis,
who Mr Tucker said left "unexpectedly" after just 10 weeks on the job.
WHAT JOHN HOWARD'S TEN POINT NATIVE TITLE PLAN MAY
OR MAY NOT DO FOR CENTRAL AUSTRALIA
Prime Minister John Howard's 10 Point Plan responding to the Wik High
Court ruling - finding that pastoral leases and Aboriginal rights can
co-exist - does not offer relief for cattlemen in The Centre worried
about native title claims.
However, the plan would prohibit claims over land within townships,
although "native title holders ... would gain the same procedural and
compensation rights as other land holders".
Mr Howard's proposals, if implemented through Federal law, will
extinguish native title only on land under "exclusive" tenure.
In the Northern Territory, Aboriginal access for traditional pursuits
on pastoral leases is already guaranteed.
In other words, Territory pastoral leases could not be regarded as
"exclusive," so native title on them would not be automatically
extinguished under the 10 Point Plan.
About 49 per cent of the NT's land mass is held under pastoral leases,
numbering around 240, some of which are held by Aboriginal land trusts.
Most of the remainder is Aboriginal land held under the Land Rights NT
In Queensland, by comparison, there are 1,530 pastoral leases covering
54 per cent of the state.
It is understood that pastoralists with "exclusive" tenure are mainly
in NSW and Queensland.
In relation to agricultural leases the 10 Point Plan says native title
will also be extinguished if "exclusive possession was intended".
Bob Lee, the new executive director of the NT Cattlemen's Association,
says he will not comment on the 10 Point Plan until legislation is
Mr Lee, when asked whether his group wanted native title extinguished,
said: "We wouldn't necessarily use the word extinguished."
Mr Lee would not explain what word he would use.
The Central Land Council (CLC) - the approved body representing native
title claimants within Alice Springs - has spoken out against what it
calls "myths" perpetrated by the NT Government in the past few weeks.
The CLC found it necessary to drop a leaflet into 10,000 mailboxes in
Alice Springs last week explaining the current situation here.
In part the leaflet, entitled "Exposing the Myths about Native Title in
Central Australia" says: "The Mbantuarinya Arrernte people, on whose
traditional lands the town of Alice Springs has been built, want
recognition and protection of their native title.
"So far the NT government has refused to negotiate about most issues,
so the traditional owners have asked the Federal Court to make a
decision on the existence of native title."
The CLC did not respond to requests from the Alice News for comment on
the Howard plan.
Acting Chief Minister Mike Reed was stung into action calling the CLC
flier "a futile exercise in waste and misrepresentation".
Mr Reed says: "Outrageous claims like the Central Land Council land
grab over Alice Springs have prompted the need for the Howard
Government's 10 Point Plan."
Mr Reed says the ongoing dispute about native title holders taking over
the Alice Springs water supply (never a realistic possibility under the
NT Water Act, according to the CLC) has been put absolutely beyond
doubt by point number eight in Mr Howard's plan which spells out
governments' rights to "regulate and manage surface and subsurface
water, off-shore resources and airspace".
Despite an apparent reluctance to negotiate with native title
claimants, the NT Government may find itself under some pressure to do
so when and if the 10 Point Plan becomes law.
Point number nine, while stating there will be a higher registration
test for the right to negotiate for new and existing native title
claims, also says there will be amendments to speed up the handling of
claims and "measures to encourage the States to manage claims within
their own systems".
SOBER NINETIES AFTER THE EIGHTIES' REAL ESTATE BOOM
Entering the nineties developers in Alice Springs were licking their
wounds from the excesses of the eighties, recalls Ian Builder,
erstwhile real estate agent, now auctioneer.
"From a real estate point of view I remember it as very, very tough,"
"Things weren't happening, building had slowed down, housing sales had
slowed down, there was still plenty of vacant land out at Larapinta
Ian in fact pulled out as an active player in the real estate game,
while continuing to keep an eye on what was happening.
The first movement came from Joe Golotta, who'd been badly knocked
around in the late eighties.
"He came and started to build home units.
We wondered what would become of him but he proved to be right and us
skeptics, including myself, were quite wrong.
"We'd thought people would be too used to living in more open spaces,"
The development of units evolved in the mid-nineties towards the
introduction of "green streets".
This concept involves the developer developing the land, the buildings,
the landscaping, all before he sells a single block.
"Now in developments like the Red Gums Estate, land is developed up in
parcels that are much smaller than were acceptable in the seventies or
the eighties," says Ian.
The size can go as low as 400 to 500 square metres, with certain
restrictions placed on the way the blocks in cluster housing estates
Another recent example of this type of development is the area that was
to have been a retirement village at Desert Springs.
It has now evolved as a private subdivision with blocks of land again
much smaller than the accepted 800 square metres of the earlier days.
"We've seen a demand for land like we've never seen before," says Ian.
"As we got into the nineties we started to run out of residential land
inside the Gap and we chose to develop rural lands.
"We went out to Ilparpa and that was developed up with a reduction in
"Five acres or two hectares had been a minimum size and that's now gone
back to one hectare.
"That's likely to reduce again perhaps to one acre, depending on where
the move comes next."
The last few years have also seen the demise of some of the old caravan
parks close to the centre of town.
They've become uneconomic to run and have been sold off and
Ian thinks the redevelopments have been reasonably good but on land of
a smaller size than has been acceptable in the past.
Areas at the Gap are also being remodelled.
"That's not a bad idea," says Ian, "because the Gap is the entrance end
of the town.
"It's one of the earlier developed parts of Alice Springs.
In the fifties it was known as Rainbow Avenue, it was the birthplace of
the town, everybody was there.
"I don't say I like the way it's being developed but there is a move to
take full streets like Ballingall Street, knock down the old dwellings,
develop the land through the boundaries of the old blocks for cluster
"There's a need for a certain amount of that type of housing in a
township but I feel we're getting a bit overdone.
"Perhaps I'm wrong - a lot of people are happy with unit developments
because they're business people or they want to spend time travelling,
or out bush.
"The old days of our weekends being taken up with cutting lawns and
mowing grass may be a thing of the past."
With the restriction on land came something developers never expected
to see - the possibility of building duplexes, with the consent of
neighbours, on residential blocks of over a 1000 square metres.
Then, starting with the larger blocks on the Eastside and areas like
Clarke Street which were zoned R1 - large blocks with a house on them -
came redevelopments with two houses on the one block.
This move was distinct from the development of R2 land, such as some of
the bigger blocks along Larapinta Drive close to town and quite a few
blocks around the Gap, which are available for unit development .
"The development of large R1 blocks was really brought on because of
the restrictions placed on the town's development opportunities mainly
by the native title claims that still remain over the town and
neighbouring lands," says Ian.
"If, as it appears, that native title claims within town boundaries
will not be forthcoming - and that includes all towns in Australia - I
think we'll see a fairly open opportunity for land development inside
the town as well as outside the Gap or out towards Undoolya.
"Where that will take us I don't know but we've been saying for some
time if we want our young people to stay in the area it's important
that we make provision for cheap land.
"I think that's probably the next thing on the agenda.
"Generally speaking, our land values have gone through the roof, quite
unprecedented in my opinion for an isolated town like Alice Springs.
"We want to see a more stable situation."
Meanwhile, the real estate industry came from being on its knees in the
early nineties to having the best period of sales turnover, of growth
that has ever been seen in Alice Springs.
Return to main page