ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
September 16, 1998

TERRITORY'S REAL UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES ARE WORST IN THE NATION. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

When Chief Minister Shane Stone boasts that "our unemployment rate, currently 4.2 per cent, continues to be the lowest in the nation," he ignores that this owes much to the Canberra-funded Community Development Employment Program (CDEP).If "work for the dole" participants were included, our jobless figure would shoot up to 14.3 per cent, by far the nation’s highest, and more than six points above the Australian average of 8.2 per cent announced last week.In Central Australia the picture would be even worse - close to 15 per cent would be officially unemployed.More than eight per cent of the Territory's "civilian" work force of 93,100 are on the ATSIC funded CDEP scheme, a total of 7524 people, including 1616 in the Alice Springs region.The CDEP participation rate in the Territory is 26 times greater when compared to the nation's 0.31 per cent.CDEP participants, almost all Aboriginal, generally get the equivalent of the dole - an average of $183.24 a week - but are required to work some 15 hours a week.The allocations are made by the ATSIC regional councils, in response to applications, direct to the communities, which are then responsible for the implementation of their schemes.While ATSIC keeps track of the financial aspects, little or no hard information is available about CDEP's benefits to the general economy, nor to the participants themselves.For example, euphemistic job descriptions such as "environmental health work" or "building maintenance" refer usually to collecting rubbish, gathering firewood or cleaning homes.It's the kind of work that has scant impact on getting workers ready for mainstream employment.Or else, it's work that should be done by a local government-type organisation, employing its own work force under standard award conditions.However, most CDEP managers, including senior ATSIC officials, agree that CDEP very significantly cuts our dole queues - creating a propaganda opportunity for the NT Government.ATSIC keeps no records - other than anecdotal evidence - of how many people move from CDEP jobs into mainstream employment, nor what social benefits, if any, communities derive from CDEP, including lessening of alcoholism, petrol sniffing and domestic violence.Neither is there any information on whether or not CDEP is getting Aborigines out of their poverty trap.On the other hand, some organisations - notably the Arrernte Council in Alice Springs - are progressively incorporating CDEP into a business ventures: contracts ranging from laying concrete slabs, manufacturing car trailers to erecting fences and making garden furniture - benefit from the CDEP subsidy but the workers are employed full-time and their pay is "topped up" from the proceeds of the work.The Alice-based Arrernte Council's CDEP manager Les Smith, an alderman, ex-police officer, social worker with many years' experience, and former businessman (he owned a service station) manages 180 participants from as far afield as Jay Creek, Love's Creek and King's Creek.The majority are still performing un- or semi-skilled tasks - house cleaning, lawn mowing for pensioners, house painting - but a growing core, some 30 workers at present, is absorbed into competitive business ventures.Clients include the Parks and Wildlife Commission (construction of sections of the Larapinta Trail, work at Trephina Gorge), cattle stations and bush communities (concrete slabs).The Arrernte Council has also completed a $100,000 footpath construction contract for the Alice Town Council.Still in the pipeline is a major deal with an interstate prefabricated homes manufacturer."We're very versatile," says Mr Smith. "We can do anything."Other major business ventures of the Arrernte Council's "CDEP Enterprise Section" are harvesting firewood for public sale, and earth works, using the council's own machinery.Mr Smith says: "Our main aim is to give CDEP participants confidence in themselves, so they can go out and look for work and get off CDEP and off the dole."Progress, however, is slow: in his two years with the Arrernte Council Mr Smith says about 10 workers have found mainstream employment.The Arrernte Council also encourages participants to start their own business: for example, the council is now buying firewood, for resale, from a contractor previously employed under CDEP.Mr Smith says a similar approach is under way with concreting work: "They run their own business, do the job in the shortest possible time, have a good quality product, and make money out of it."Instead of taking 10 days to do the job they do it in three."We've got to teach business skills as well as work skills."Mr Smith says he has no shortage of applicants although they get no more - and sometimes, even less - than the dole."They're trying to get work," he says. "I don't force them to go to work."There are not very many blokes here who are bludgers."They encourage each other. "Six of them have passed a back hoe course. We've got truck drivers out there.TOURISM"Tourist operator Paul Ah Chee has about 15 CDEP workers from us."By far the biggest CDEP player in The Centre is the Tjuwanpa Resource Centre, across the Finke River from Hermannsburg.Tjuwanpa serves 38 outstations with a population of 900, of whom 336 are CDEP participants.General manager John Omond says each outstation has a CDEP leader who draws up the work plans, is responsible for their implementation, and for the time sheets.Although CDEP at Tjuwanpa has been going since 1982, and aims at an enterprise mix drawing in Aboriginal Benefits Trust Account funds, the hard evidence of commercial success is not encouraging.Mr Omond says horticultural, cattle and camel enterprises make a profit of around $1000 to $2000 a yearThe great majority of activities remains rubbish collection, firewood gathering, some gardening and home maker services.Tjuwanpa has a mechanical workshop, a "steel shop" making beds, and a building maintenance section.However, these have full-time employees on conventional work contracts, and only a sprinkling of CDEP participants, although some are working full-time with a top-up of "work for the dole" payments.While CDEP continues to be the single most important factor making NT job figures look great, the scheme is by no means cheap.In addition to the dole payments, ATSIC has to bear considerable other expenses.At Tjuwanpa, for example, $3.2m was paid in wages during 1997-98.But to this needs to be added $652,000 in "recurrent" (administration) expenditure, plus $134,000 for capital costs, such as materials and equipment.Tangentyere Council in Alice Springs, which did not agree to provide information for this report, during 1997-98 received $2.4m for wages, $500,000 for "recurrent" costs and $167,000 for capital expenses.In all, ATSIC's Alice Springs regional office spent just under $20m on CDEP during 1997-98, spread over 15 organisations.While Mr Stone is "delighted at the continued success" of his economic management, independent research paints a bleak picture.SLOW GROWTHThe Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research of the Australian National University in Canberra says the employment rate for indigenous people in the NT is still less than half the level recorded for non-indigenous adults.The indigenous labour force participation rate increased only slightly from 42 per cent to 44 per cent in the 1996 Census - barely half the level for the rest of the population.In other words, if Aboriginal people of working age decided to join the work force at a rate similar to the general population, our jobless rate would be even more dramatic.The report says the small improvement in labour force status that has taken place reflects "the impact of widespread program intervention, primarily in the form of participation in the CDEP scheme," rather than market forces.Without CDEP, "overall indigenous employment in the NT would have been sluggish."The report says: "The other consistent feature of the past decade is a lack of relative improvement in the overall income status of indigenous people."In the context of slightly enhanced labour force status, this underlines the need for quality as well as quantity in job creation schemes, if the overall aims of government policy to raise economic status are to be achieved."From a labour market perspective, one difficulty continues to be the substantial proportion of indigenous adults of working age who are not in the labour force."This is especially so among females, and accounts in large part for the persistence of relatively high levels of welfare dependence."Given that much new employment growth has involved a shift into CDEP scheme employment of individuals formerly on unemployment benefit, or outside the labour force, it is realistic to suggest that the level of welfare dependence is actually higher than revealed by the [1996] Census."This is because income derived from such employment merely represents the transfer from social security entitlements under a different guise."NEXT WEEK: A 1997 report on the CDEP scheme by Ian Spicer, and other studies argue that CDEP brings substantial benefits to the communities in which it operates, according to Bob Boughton of the Menzies School in Alice Springs. And, will CDEP come under the umbrella of Centrelink?

TERRITORY WOMEN FOUGHT HARD FOR THEIR VOTE. COMMENT by JUNE TUZEWSKI.

The Federal election date has been set and the campaigns of the political parties are well underway. In the Territory, politicians and "would-be pollies" are out on the campaign trail. Radio and television carry hour by hour election updates, one issue rapidly follows another, and the political messages become blurred. The temptation is there to switch off both physically and mentally. After all, does my vote - your vote - really matter? History would indicate that Territorians' votes matter very much indeed. Originally the NT was part of New South Wales, but South Australia - the free settlers state, which had become a colony in 1836 - put pressure on the British Colonial Office to incorporate the land to its north within its border. The request was granted in July 1863 but annexation was on a temporary basis only. A later request for the Territory"s permanent inclusion was refused. South Australia was seen from the beginning as attracting people who were different and maybe idealistic. The Territory was always treated by South Australia as an integral part of the colony/state, subject to the same laws but with some legislation specific to the Territory being passed. Separate accounts were kept in respect of financial matters and our development went ahead at a healthy pace. There was the building of the Darwin to Pine Creek railway, the establishment of the new towns of Stuart (Alice Springs) and Borroloola and the opening up of the gold-mining fields in the Tanami/Granites area and Arltunga. As citizens of South Australia, "qualified" residents in the Territory were entitled to the vote, although in 1882 legislation passed which excluded both men and women of Asian descent from enrolling to vote. In 1888 the Territory was granted two seats, in its own right, in the South Australian Parliament. Finally, when South Australia became a state of the Commonwealth, Territorians' political rights were extended to a vote in both federal houses of parliament and in the right to vote in referendums. After much lobbying and campaigning as part of the growing women's suffrage movement, South Australian and Territory women became the first Australian women to win the right to vote and the first in the world to win the right to stand for parliament (1894). In a strange quirk of fate this included Aboriginal women. However, there appears to be no record that Territory Aboriginal women were aware of this or took advantage of the opportunity. A year after the passing of this legislation an election was held with 766 Territorians on the roll. Of the 82 Territory women enrolled to vote none were from Central Australia. After 47 years, including ten years of Federation, the growing administrative and financial strain of South Australia"s northern responsibilities saw the Territory pass to Commonwealth control. The pay-off for South Australia was a commitment by the Commonwealth to continue with the building of the railway to Darwin. During the transfer, the voting rights of Territorians somehow disappeared, some believe because of the focus on other matters. Certainly the deficiencies of Northern Territory Administration Act were acknowledged by government officials but excused by its rushed preparation. Particular reference was made to an appropriate constitution (as soon as possible), and the absence of Federal parliamentary representation. It was 1919 before the Territory gained one member in the House of Representatives - but without voting powers. The position was described by one speaker as the "first parliamentary eunuch in Australia". It is now common knowledge that Aboriginal Australians were excluded from the Australian Federal Constitution adopted in 1901. While some Aboriginal people had the right to vote in some states, it was not until 1962 when the Federal Electoral Act was amended that Aboriginals became eligible to vote on the same basis as other citizens. It was another five years before the Australian population voted in a federal referendum to change the Constitution that would ensure that the country's first inhabitants were given the same legal status as other Australians. There are indications that many Australians believe the coming election is a decisive one for Australia. That in some way, it is a "marker" for our future and our identity. Tax reform, employment, how we care for those less fortunate than ourselves, respect for our differences, reconciliation and the move to a republic, are just a few of the concerns. For Territorians we also have to decide, separately, whether we should allow the matter of statehood to go forward for debate in the Federal Parliament. The right to vote is not a matter to be taken for granted. Many have struggled to ensure we can use the power of the ballot box. With over two weeks before Election Day, we still have time to listen to the issues carefully and be in a position to make an informed vote. Also, will Territorians get back to being Australian citizens with the full Australian rights which were somehow lost in 1911? Don't let the opportunity pass. Have your say!

TENNANT CREEK TRIAL SHOWS THAT BOOZE RESTRICTIONS WORK.

The People's Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC) has called for Alice Springs to give "careful consideration" to the findings of the recent evaluation of Tennant Creek's liquor licensing restrictions.Evidence reviewed by the National Centre for Research into the Prevention of Drug Abuse (NCRPDA) showed a reduction in the mean per capita consumption of pure alcohol from 25 litres in the year before the introduction of restrictions, to 22 litres in the first year of restrictions, then to 20 litres in the second year.HARMThe NCRPDA says there is also clear evidence of reduction in the frequency of alcohol related harm on Thursdays (when restrictions to front bar and takeaway sales are in place).Although some of this harm may have been redistributed to other days, the researchers say that "on balance the evidence is in favour of an overall reduction in harm since the restrictions have been in place"."Specifically there is no evidence to support the contention that ‘restrictions only work for a short time'."Indeed, there is evidence that improved policing, in conjunction with the restrictions, may have resulted in a further reduction in harm over the past year, demonstrating how a combined approach may well be the most productive way for a community to tackle alcohol related problems," says the NCRPDA.PAAC spokesperson Dr John Boffa says the findings "reveal that sensible liquor license regulation may be used to produce substantial community benefits" which in turn "can produce better living standards for all of us in the NT".The findings, says Dr Boffa, also help validate the "population consumption" model, as outlined by Canadian researchers Mary Ashley and James Rankin.According to Ashley and Rankin, studies of the population consumption model point to three fundamental proposals:
A change in overall alcohol consumption in a population is likely to be accompanied by a change in the same direction in the proportion of heavy consumers.
Since heavy use of alcohol increases the probability of physical and social damage, the average consumption should be closely related to the prevalence of such damage in a population.
And, measures expected to affect overall consumption are likely also to affect the prevalence of alcohol-related problems and hence should be of central concern in any prevention program.Writing 10 years ago, Ashley and Rankin acknowledged that the population consumption model had not yet gained public acceptance, although it had gained "widespread acceptance among expert groups established to recommend ways in which alcohol-related health and social problems can be prevented."They also noted: "The usual response of governments to alcohol-related health problems has been to increase treatment services, leaving unaddressed the root cause: conflicting public policies. This approach implies unlimited resources for health care expenditures ... As this approach becomes increasingly unsustainable, a shift toward the implementation of effective prevention strategies will occur." For whatever reason, the shift in Tennant Creek has occurred with the majority of the population now in favour of retaining the current restrictions on the sale of alcohol in the town, and over half the population favouring additional restrictions, according to the NCRPDA.Support for the restrictions has come because the measures are seen to be effective, in spite of some efforts to circumvent them.An increase in purchases of fortified wine (in terms of pure alcohol) represents only 14 per cent of the decline in cask wine sales.Neither has sale of alcohol by licensed clubs greatly negated the effect of the restrictions.Pure alcohol purchases by out-of-town premises have experienced a mean quarterly increase of 586 litres. However, this figure represents only 20 per cent of the mean quarterly decline of 3002 litres that occurred in Tennant Creek.The NCRPDA also says that less than 30 per cent of the population has been adversely affected by any one restriction.There was not enough information to determine what effects, if any, the restrictions have had on business activity.On the basis of the evaluation the NCRPDA have recommended that all existing restrictions be retained, and that they further be strengthened by:
measures to discourage the sale of alcohol in glass containers;
limiting the sale of beverages with an alcohol content of greater than 15 per cent to a maximum of one litre per person per day;
extending the current Thursdays restrictions to licensed outlets within a 50 kilometre radius of Tennant Creek;
extending restrictions on takeaway sales to social and sporting clubs.They also recommend that front bar restrictions be applied to the Shaft nightclub which is trading as a de facto front bar on Thursdays; that bona fide tourists should be exempted from the Thursday ban on takeaway sales; and that a liquor inspector be based in Tennant Creek.If resources prevent such an appointment, a police officer should be trained as a "liquor contact officer" to handle issues related to liquor licensing legislation.Reference: "A Public Health Approach to the Prevention of Alcohol-related Health Problems" by Mary Jane Ashley and James G. Rankin in The Annual Review of Public Health. 1988. 9: 233-71.

JUNIOR CHAMBER OF COMMERCE GETS GREEN LIGHT.

Young Alice business people have overcome some hurdles - and had a measure of good luck - to set up a Junior Chamber of Commerce.Their "senior" counterpart in the NT had misgivings about the use of the name "chamber of commerce" - a fact reported in the Alice News (July 1). The story was picked up from our internet website by the international Junior Chamber of Commerce.Its general manager in Australia, Phillip Livingston, promptly got in touch with Irma Versluijs, owner of a local tour agency, and principal promoter of the new group.He invited her to set up a chapter in Central Australia. It has now 21 members aged between 18 and 40, and representing publicity, government, accommodation, storage, beef, food, employment, accounting, car rental, printing, cleaning and travel businesses.Ms Versluijs says the organisation - motto "developing leaders, creating achievers" - is represented in more than 100 countries and provides international networking.The official launch will be on October 10, with Mr Livingston and local luminaries as speakers.

YOUNG PEOPLE SAY BOOZE, DRUGS ARE TOWN'S MAIN PROBLEMS.

The rampant culture of alcohol abuse and growing drug use are the greatest problems faced by young people in Alice Springs, says Calin Clifford.He is the chairman of the Town Council's youth advisory committee, which masterminded the "Kickstart" youth expo at the Centralian College last week."Alice Springs definitely has a problem with grog and other drugs," says Calin."Other drugs are becoming more in your face."You walk down the street and you can see people drinking."It's a very social drug in Alice Springs, extremely social, I think more so here than anywhere else I've ever been, and I've moved around a fair bit."Go to a mate on Saturday afternoon, watch the footy, you sit down - ‘who wants a beer?'"It's the first question."That's what we've got to move away from."We can start here, and a lot of young people are starting to see that."A lot of my friends don't drink alcohol at all now, because of family problems, dad's an alcoholic, mum's an alcoholic."They don't want to turn out like that, and maybe this is the bottom level where we should start."Back away from the grog front."We're getting over this youth suicide now. "There are a lot of people out there who are prepared to help, who want to help, but people really have to look around."It's scary. "I know when we had those three deaths in a month or so, I remember the feeling over here in the Centralian College - Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal, oriental - it doesn't matter: "I'm South African myself."I felt it. But there's help!"Calin says the expo featured 45 exhibitors representing a large range of services and facilities.He says boredom is another "big factor" for local young people, despite the availability of sporting opportunities, the town's great natural environment and plentiful part-time employment."I'm not bored because I'm aware of what there is," says Calin."Awareness is the hardest thing."A lot of kids won't utilise the facilities and organisations."Sports is easy."What's harder is developing leadership qualities, responsibility."Without these, kids will grow up without any direction in life."The expo, first mooted some three years ago, showcased organisations ready to help youth but the question remains "whether youth want to be helped". "Some don't want to be helped, don't want to put in the work," says Calin.Why can't they help themselves?"Everyone needs a push. "It's not so much a matter of helping them, but helping them to get started. "I ask a lot of my friends and they don't know what the hell to do with their lives."A lot of people need a focus, a goal."If they have a goal then life will take care of itself."

STATEHOOD: DRAFT CONSTITUTION NEEDS TO BE REVISED.

Chief Minister Shane Stone should "recall parliament and change the referendum question on statehood," says Fran Erlich, Deputy Mayor of Alice Springs and spokesperson for Territorians for Democratic Statehood.In what has been described as a "backflip" by Opposition leader Maggie Hickey and Labor candidate for the House of Representatives Warren Snowdon, Mr Stone has proposed a new interpretation of the referendum question, which reads:"Now that a Constitution for a State of the Northern Territory has been recommended by the Statehood Convention and endorsed by the Northern Territory Parliament:- do you agree that we should become a State?"The wording rolls the three questions proposed by the statehood convention into one, with a preamble.Mr Stone initially said that a "yes" vote would be an endorsement of the constitution. He was reported in the NT News on August 19 as saying that "Territorians who wanted statehood but did not support the draft constitution should vote against statehood."Braitling MLA, Loraine Braham, reiterated this interpretation at the statehood forum held in Alice Springs two weekends ago.Mrs Braham said the question was a vote on three things: the name of the proposed new state, the constitution and statehood.Then last week, Mr Stone appeared to have changed his mind, saying on ABC radio that Territorians "are being offered an opportunity to vote in a referendum, yes or no for statehood, and we will have the argument about the constitution later."Mrs Erlich says the situation is "very confusing":"The referendum question is going to stay exactly the same, yet two weeks ago it meant three things and now it apparently means one thing. Most peculiar!"BACKFLIPThe Labor Party, however, appear to be satisfied with the supposed "backflip"."Labor's input to the official "yes" case makes it clear that a range of issues remain unresolved, including the final content of the constitution," says Mrs Hickey.Mr Snowdon says the preamble to the referendum question is irrelevant. Only the question is relevant and it is simply "Do you agree that we should become a state?"He says the Trades and Labor Council's recommending a "no" vote is not "wise", as a strong "no" vote will frustrate the chance of achieving statehood for another five to 10 years."The issue is to get the CLP and Northern Territory Government to accept its obligation towards democratic process," says Mr Snowdon.He is calling for a constitutional convention, this time democratically elected on the principles of proportional representation, to determine the future processes of the Territory's progress towards statehood.

THE BIGGEST BIRD EVER TO HAVE LIVED WAS A DUCK - IN CENTRAL AUSTRALIA! Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Now it's official: size does NOT matter!For more than a century scientists have been misled by the size of the biggest bird to have ever lived, the extinct Central Australian Dromornis stirtoni who stood 2.5 to three metres tall, into thinking that it was a probable ancestor of present day ratite birds, ostriches, emus and cassowaries. New finds at the Alcoota fossil site north east of Alice Springs, have turned that theory on its head: the big bird is actually the grandaddy of ducks and geese.Regional director of the Museum of Central Australia, Peter Murray, who heads up the Alcoota expedition each winter, says it's big news in the paleontological world: "It solves a really long-standing mystery in paleontology [the study of fossils]. There are lots of little remarks in the literature abut how the Dromornithids seem to be ratites but there was always some doubt, with one or two people saying they couldn't possibly be ratites."The majority of people who have studied them, since they were first found in 1839 until the mid-1980s, have been deceived by their flightless characteristics, the loss of the keel on the sternum and their reduced wings."They do look very much like emus in that way, and it's hard to conceive of these huge creatures as related to our short, squat ducks and geese."In imagining the link, it is helpful to remember that magpie geese have really long legs, and in fact, says Dr Murray, the limb to body size ratios of magpie geese and Dromornithids are the same.However, the key to the Dromornithid's lineage is found in the skull. Dr Murray thought it could take another ten year's patient sifting at Alcoota to find the evidence he needed, but luck came his way sooner than expected.Finding a couple of very large fragments of the skull and ultimately a complete skull base -, "although it came after we'd really figured out what they were" - put beyond doubt that they were on the right track.In ratite birds, the beak is very strongly attached to the skull, and, while it bends, it is not fully mobile. In what are thought of as more typical birds, the neognatus (meaning "new mouth" ) birds, there is a joint between the frontal bone and the beak allowing the beak to move.In correlation with the mobile beak, there is a chain of bones that make up the palette and, unlike a mammal, a quadrate bone which forms a link between the jaw and the skull. In ratite birds this is fused and immobile, while in "modern" birds, be they crows or ducks and geese, it is very mobile. The Dromornithid skull fragments demonstrate the big bird had a very mobile upper beak and therefore was indisputably not a ratite. Then, when larger pieces of the skull were found, there were distinct details, mostly in the little facets that the palette rests on, and in the form of the processes that are behind the eye, that clearly made the Dromornithid a member of the Anseriformes, duck and goose, order."Once we knew they were geese, all of the little characteristics and relationships were very apparent. Geese have changed very little from their ancestral state. "Size doesn't really matter. Dromornithids and in particular magpie geese are remarkably close, right down to their domed head."The discovery also links the Dromornithid birds to a strange and not very well known South America group of birds called screamers.Screamers are goose-like but with a beak more like that of fowl, more compressed and aquiline.Some have a long process that sticks out between the frontal bone and the base of the beak which has led to them being dubbed "unicorn birds".They are notorious, obviously, for the tremendously loud noise they make and are extremely strong flyers.Their relationship to other kinds of birds is not well known, but they are clearly within the Anseriformes order and the Dromornithids have quite a few skull characteristics in common with them.Confirmation of the Dromornithids' lineage will probably have the effect of getting them, at long last, into the textbooks.Despite their status as probably the largest birds to ever live, the mystery over their classification has kept them on the sidelines of vertebrate paleontology."If you can't classify them, how can you talk about them?" has been the attitude. In the context of emus and cassowaries, they appeared to be just a huge version of those and apparently not all that interesting.The whole Dromornithid skull is about 450 to 500 mm long, by far the biggest bird skulls known. The museum now has a Dromornithid skull from their site on Camfield Station in the Top End that is 12 million years old.At eight million years, their Dromornis stirtoni skull from Alcoota is younger but bigger, over half a metre long.The Dromornithid's main specialisation is in their huge beaks. They were almost certainly herbivores, cropping really tough vegetation out of shrubs in a giraffe-like niche.Says Dr Murray: "None of the large forms of Australian marsupials developed a long neck. Because they developed tapir-, lion- and rhino-like forms, we have wondered why they didn't evolve a giraffe-like form."The Dromornithids are likely to have been the Australian proxy giraffe."

LEGAL WRANGLES IN 'PIT' COUNCIL

The Pitjantjatjara Council appears to be in turmoil.According to documents leaked to the Alice Springs News, the council executive, meeting at Kalka in South Australia on September 1, voted unanimously to sack council director Damein Aidon, and at the same time to reinstate the Principal Legal Officer, Greg Borchers.Other unanimous resolutions of the meeting instructed that Donald Fraser be appointed Acting Director of the council for three months from the date of the meeting, and that the accounts department release financial information as requested to the executive members.A fax from Pitjant-jatjara Council Chairman Wilton Foster to executive members Robin Smythe and Livingstone West the day before the Kalka meeting said that the meeting was "wrong" and could not go ahead, defended the sacking of Mr Borchers as lawful and warranted, and warned that action to reinstate him would "split" the council. In the fax Mr Foster also said that the meeting and its resolutions would not be treated as valid.Now secretary of Pitjantjatjara Council, Bruce Williams, has called a general meeting of the council at Three Ways - Surveyor General's Corner (at the intersecting borders of WA, SA and the NT) next Monday, September 21.Agenda items are the reinstatement of Mr Borchers; the continued employment of Mr Aidon [both items apparently unaffected by the executive's resolutions of September 1]; the provision of the council's financial records as requested by the member Ngaanyatjarra Council; and defence of a Supreme Court of South Australia action brought by Mr Aidon and Mr Foster against Pitjantjatjara Council and Mr Fraser.It would also appear from the leaked documents that Mr Borchers is taking legal action against Pitjantjatjara Council and Mr Aidon.

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