ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
November 11, 1998

NEW AIRPORT OWNERS FOCUS ON PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT AS AVIATION BUSINESS NOSEDIVES. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

The new owners of the Alice Springs airport will focus on property developments on their huge land area because they see little short-term potential for growth in their aviation business.Local manager Don McDonald says there has been a steady decline of passenger numbers in The Alice, mainly because of direct flights to Ayers Rock.A master plan being drawn up at present is looking at opportunities for a rural residential subdivision south of Colonel Rose Drive; a service station and convenience store on the Stuart Highway near the turn-off to Adelaide; a motor sports complex including a relocated Arunga Park Speedway; fuel depots relocated from town; a road, rail and air passenger and freight interchange; and possibly even a theme park, golf course and conference centre.Mr McDonald says the company, Airport Development Group (owned 49 per cent by the US based Airport Group International, the balance by the Australian Infratil), has a 49 year lease, with an option to extend for a further 50, over 3500 hectares between the Todd River, Col. Rose Drive, the Old Ghan railway and including land several kilometres south of the main runway.In terms of land mass, it's Australia's biggest airport by far.The company also owns the Darwin airport.Mr McDonald says the master plan is scheduled for completion by Christmas after which it will be available for public comment for 90 days.The plan, to be in force for five years, will go to the Federal Government for approval on June 10 next year.The airport land is not subject to legislation of the Territory Government, and as such is exempt from NT planning processes."Of course, there will be consultations with the NT Government and the town council," says Mr McDonald.He says it is likely that any new rural subdivision will be similar to the existing one north of Col. Rose Drive (where the minimum block size is two hectares).There would need to be a new water pipeline, at a likely cost of $1m, because the existing one is near capacity.He says the Stuart Highway - traversing airport land - is scheduled to be realigned in a sweeping turn towards Adelaide, with a turn-off to the airport.Mr McDonald says the slide in air passenger numbers is unlikely to be arrested in the near future.It started with the lengthening of the Ayers Rock runway to allow unrestricted Boeing 737 operations (with fully loaded aircraft being able to take off on direct flights to any Australian capital city).At present, some 400,000 people come to Alice Springs by air, but half of them just stage through the airport, staying a mere half hour to change planes or stretch their legs before boarding again. As passengers, visitors are counted twice (arriving and departing): in 1994-95, the Alice airport had 950,000 passengers; today the number is down to 800,000 a year, a drop of nearly 20 per cent.Mr McDonald says airport staff overtime has been cut back and capital works deferred (including the sealing of a runway) to minimise losses."It's a tight year," he says. "We have a tight budget to ensure we don't lose too much."Mr McDonald says his company's US partner, which operates internationally, has the capacity to gain "greater exposure and contacts around the world" to develop direct charter flights to Alice.This could include giant operators such as the UK's Britannia and the German Lufthansa subsidiary, Condor.However, the lack of customs and immigration facilities here would be an obstacle. They were shut down some years ago - in fact, Airport Development Group is currently negotiating with a non-aviation tenant for the "quarantine shed" on Sta Teresa Road. Charter passengers would need to undergo clearance in a seaside port before coming to The Alice."Charter opportunities for Darwin are probably a little greater than here, particularly on the international front," says Mr McDonald."The Territory Government also have a few positive views about charter opportunities out of Darwin this year."The potential for charters could be improved by the involvement of a local travel agency but for the moment, "it's not looking too promising for the Alice in the short term," and Mr McDonald says his company is "putting our energies into opportunities out of Darwin."Meanwhile discussions are under way with the NT Government for the setting up of a cool room - possibly with financial help from the Government - at the airport, used as a transit holding area for produce from the Ti Tree farm area and flowers from Alice Springs.Airport Development Group have recently hired former Barry Coulter staffer Sharon Mulholland to draw up a business development plan.

WILL TOWN COUNCIL TAKE OVER BOOZE FIGHT? Report by CHRIS HALLETT.

The pressure on Alice Springs Town Council to take over examination of community liquor controls is likely to increase.Liquor Commissioner Peter Allen will be in Tennant Creek for next week's "thirsty Thursday". He will announce the Liquor Commission's final assessment of their alcohol sales restrictions trial and, if the controls have been proven to work, he will make them permanent.His reasoning for the decision will be crucial to supporters of a trial in Alice Springs. If, as expected, he endorses the trial and the Liquor Commission enforces community liquor controls, Alice Springs Town Council may move a step closer to asking for a trial here.John Boffa is the Public Health Association's Alice Springs representative on the People's Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC), a pro alcohol restrictions group. In his best case scenario, the town council could ask for a trial of community controls next year. Under the Liquor Act, a proposal from the town council for a trial here of a reasoned package of controls would be enough for the Liquor Commission to act.Town councillors however would want community support for their actions. An independent group could also ask for a trial, but proving they represent the community would be difficult.Whether alderman and liquor licensee, David Koch - with a possible conflict of interest - would vote on the question in council could be important in a close vote. If he didn't, that could also affect how the Liquor Commission views such a vote, with his constituency being effectively disenfranchised.Dr Boffa admits there are only about four councillors who are in favour of a trial at the moment, and two more would need to back a proposal for it to be successful. Also there is no agreed package of controls in front of the council and even PAAC needs to recommit to an agreed package. Again, the Tennant Creek decision will clarify what proposals might work.The Alice Springs Town Council's Alcohol Policy starts off by acknowledging that alcohol is doing harm in the town, and the council is committed to looking at ways of reducing the damage. However, the council has referred the question of a possible trial of sales restrictions to the Alcohol Issues Forum initially convened by the Drug and Alcohol Services Association, best known for running the sobering up shelter.President of DASA, Police Superintendent Iain Morrison, says the forum was convened to look at a range of alcohol issues. DASA needed to separate the issues forum from the ongoing management meetings of DASA which were getting caught up in a "merry-go-round of debates between the pro and anti restrictions lobbies". As the forum gathered steam over the last two years, Supt Morrison says it proved to be more and more a drain on the resources of DASA and the town council stepped in with $20,000 for a convener to keep the forum running.Some in the pro trial lobby believe that DASA, by following its motto of "keeping the middle ground", may be blocking change. They welcome the town council's commitment of money to the process as a weakening of DASA's influence. Dr Boffa questions Supt Morrison's chairing of the forum, saying "he needs to be seen very much as one of the leading protagonists against restrictions, so it's ridiculous to have him chairing the forum".DASA is relying on Territory-wide Living With Alcohol statistics to say the alcohol problem, measured in per capita consumption of pure alcohol, has decreased since 1992. Yet according to figures in a study for Tangentyere Council by Pamela Lyons, ten years ago Alice Springs alcohol consumption was 37 per cent higher that the rest of the NT, and two and a half times the Australian average. Then the average consumption of pure alcohol per person in Alice Springs was 27 litres. Tennant started its grog trial when their average consumption was about 25 litres and it is now down to about 20 litres per person per year.Dr Boffa says: "The best measure of success is the per capita pure alcohol consumption rates. Many, many studies show without doubt that it correlates extremely well with (levels of) alcohol related harm. So if you reduce pure alcohol consumption you reduce alcohol related harm." Dr Boffa says accurate current alcohol consumption figures for Alice Springs are just days away. The town council requested the Living with Alcohol program to provide a local breakdown of figures two weeks ago which Dr Boffa says "is a good sign". These combined with Alice statistics on alcohol related damage such as violence, injury and alcohol related sickness could form the basis of an application by the council to the Liquor Commission for a trial here. Liquor Commissioner, Peter Allen at a workshop in Alice Springs last week focusing on the Tennant grog trials, stressed the need for figures that can be independently audited."In order to clearly show people what the real issues are and to show the effects of the various issues or symptoms arising from the alcohol debate you need clear data. And not just clear data that is understood by people of the scientific or academic persuasion but data that people of common sense can identify with and understand."With any data, part of its credibility, part of its soundness will be the way that data is gathered. Anyone can gather data, anyone can place their own analysis on that data but if that gathering is independent and the analysis is independent, the credibility of that data is increased significantly. "It is very easy for anyone with a factional or extreme view to find data that supports their argument. So data that is put forward in favour of restrictions or anything else to do with alcohol must be independent, and scientific before bodies such as the Liquor Commission can rely on that data when making decision or varying or amending liquor licences," Mr Allen said.When Mr Allen announces his decision in Tennant Creek next week, proof that the restrictions have worked will be important but so will the opinion surveys showing support for the restrictions there.Mr Allen said: "Any movement for change in a community needs to take the community with it. You can't expect in any forum or any area of public life for persons with a dedication or extreme view to move events unless the community supports them. And support is often dependent on timely and accurate information as distinct from rhetoric and emotion. It is very important that any process that a community adopts to bring about change is based on sound data, clear information and community opinion."It is also important that the process be visible. People always become suspicious when they think there is something going on behind closed doors, something they are denied access to. In terms of liquor licensing, decisions of the commission can result in legal challenge. So any strategy of change has to involve a broad community in a visible and transparent process," Mr Allen said. Dr Boffa still believes the Alcohol Issues Forum could come to an agreement on restrictions which he sees as the "missing link" in a larger package of initiatives. However, the forum has to be more open and representative of the community. He says the processes of the forum, who chairs it, who decides who is invited to join it, need to be discussed openly within the forum.Dr Boffa: "The example from Tennant Creek the Liquor Commissioner gave was that the Tennant creek community set up a Beat the Grog working group and published the names of all the organisations represented on the group in the local paper. They asked if anyone thought it was not representative of the whole community. Maybe something similar could happen with the forum, write down clearly who the organisations and groups are that are represented and allow any group to make a claim to be represented."In Tennant the council was initially very involved in looking at restrictions, then largely handed over the running of the issue to the Beat the Grog committee. Alice Springs Town Council has followed a similar path by delegating the question of restrictions to the Alcohol Issues Forum convened by DASA. Now the council is finding itself more and more responsible for making the forum work.

THE FREEMASONS' NO LONGER SECRET HANDSHAKE. COMMENT by JUNE TUZEWSKI.

Human nature being what is, we all like to be in on a secret. In the early ‘sixties I worked for the director of a family company in London. He was an office bearer in several organisations such as Rotary and Freemasons, and as his personal secretary I was expected to attend to this correspondence in addition to company business. I can well remember his outrage following a BBC television program featuring a "tell all" interview with an ex-Freemason. The wider public became aware of the historical and Masonic significance of someone "being put through the third degree". And while there are many ways of recognition between Freemasons, the so-called "secret" handshake was also revealed and became not-so-secret anymore. Living in the Alice a number of years later, and being invited to attend a Masonic Lodge dinner-dance after one of their Installations (similar to an annual general meeting), I found Freemasonry here far more open than England. Even so, since those times the organisation has made a greater effort to demystify itself and to better inform the public about its activities. Today you will even find them on the Internet. Essentially, while sharing a belief in a Supreme Being or Creator, Freemasonry is a non-religious, non-party political society of men who believe in tolerance, charity and truth. Freemasonry is not about being a secret society. Rather it is about being a charitable organisation helping those in need. Masonic retirement homes and hospitals are well-known but there are many other ways in which Freemasons support the community. Membership is open to men over 21 years of age on the recommendation of two Freemasons who vouch that the candidate is law abiding and of good moral character. Those who have sought membership (no-one is invited to join) for personal gain have soon discovered that the Freemasons' focus is very much concerned with the welfare of others. There are a number of Freemason groups in Central Australia and this week sees the silver jubilee of McDouall Stuart Lodge 219. Lodge 219 is named after John McDouall Stuart, the famous explorer who was himself a Freemason, and who led the first European expedition to the Centre in 1860. That group's mission was to establish the centre of Australia, to search for an inland sea, and if possible, cross to the northern coast. Freemasonry came to the Alice in 1934 after the arrival in 1932 of Reverend Harry Griffiths, a Methodist Minister and Freemason. Once settled, Rev Griffiths looked around for other Masons to form a Lodge. He found five: police sergeant John Lovegrove, businessman David Neck, policeman Jack Kennett, pastoralist C. Chalmers and Bob Hamilton. However, the minimum number required to form a Lodge is seven. Further enquiries revealed that several members of Quorn Lodge in South Australia were regular travellers to Alice on the Ghan train, and so the required number was reached. In addition to his daily spiritual duties one of Rev Griffiths's primary tasks was to ensure the opening of the first Methodist Church on blocks taken up in Bath Street by his predecessor, Rev Lithgow. (The site is now occupied by Yeperenye Shopping Centre.) The Bath Street Methodist church was also identified as a suitable venue for Masonic meetings. A petition was drawn up and forwarded to the Grand Lodge in Adelaide to form a new Lodge. This became known as Alice Springs Lodge 156. After World War II, membership of the Freemasons increased Australia wide. An increasing membership in the Alice saw the formation of McDouall Stuart Lodge 219 on November 10, 1973. The first Master of Lodge 219 was Tony Greatorex, although he is better known for his political career, having been the elected to the Territory's Legislative Council as the Member for Stuart in 1965, and later as Mayor of Alice Springs in 1976. In keeping with Freemasonry's philanthropic focus, McDouall Stuart Lodge has for many years supported all Alice Springs Secondary Schools with $100 each for end of year prizes, and other cash prizes are provided annually to assist tertiary students with study costs. St John Ambulance and the Old Timers have also benefited generously. On a national basis, Freemasons donated over $120,000 to the Katherine Flood Appeal earlier this year. As part of its 25th birthday celebrations the Lodge, now located in Allchurch Street, will be open to men and women at 5 pm on Thursday, November 12. If you are interested in learning more about Freemasonry, stay for the informative talk at 5.30 which will be followed by some light refreshments. Further information about Freemasonry can also be obtained by writing to the Secretary, PO Box 510, Alice Springs. These days there is no emphasis on secrecy, Freemasonry is more open than ever before, and I sometimes wonder how my old boss would have coped with that. (Many thanks to Terry McCumiskey for background information on Freemasonry.)

TERRITORY INSURANCE COMPANY IN DEEP WATER OVER NEW FLOOD RULES. Report by CHRIS HALLETT.

The official odds on major parts of Alice Springs being flooded lessened a few years ago but the Territory Insurance Office (TIO) is refusing to say if property owners in affected areas have benefited.Nothing has happened that will actually control flooding of the Todd and Charles Rivers but more accurate mathematical modelling of the river basins and meteorological data has radically redrawn the limits of a one in 50 year flood. The areas affected by a one in 20 flood remain largely the same. It is ironic that the work assessing reduced flooding risks came out of the 1994 Floodplain Management Study, financed by the Commonwealth Government as a trade off for its blocking of the Junction Waterhole Dam in 1992. On top of the cost of basic flood insurance, extra premiums kick in on properties in one in 20 and one in 50 flood zones. Properties outside the one in 50 zone normally pay the same extra premium for flood insurance. In round figures, a home and contents package including flood insurance on a house outside the flood zone, insured for $110,000 and contents worth $40,000, costs about $400 per year. The same policy on a house in a one in 20 zone would be around $575.Previously all of the central business district (CBD) and parts of the old railway housing estate were shown on NT Government maps as being in the one in 50 zone. Now the Department of Lands Planning and Environment flood map (P273) shows that most of the CBD west of Hartley Street is outside the one in 50 flood zone.On Eastside virtually the only properties now shown as in the one in 50 zone are perhaps 10 houses near the river, the Alice Springs Resort and properties in the Coolibah swamp. These include the old Verdi Club, now the Christian Community Centre, and the YMCA and Mercorella Circuit on the old water slide site. New drainage works since the map was drawn might have lessened the flood risk around the swamp. Previously the one in 50 zone covered most of old Eastside out to Burke St. The Gap is still the most flood-prone area as most houses are in the one in 50 zone. Surprisingly, the half of Mahomed St closest to the river bed, the flats next door and Sunset Court near the Casino Causeway, previously in the one in 50 zone are now classed as only one in 100 risks.Most insurance companies will not cover floods. When a big flood comes the payouts are massive and all at once. Alice Springs was unlucky in the 1980s. In 1983 we had a one in 20 year flood, in 1988, a one in 50. Both hit the TIO and other flood insurers, draining their reserves and raising their costs of reinsuring, or sharing their risks, with other companies. The more you claim on your insurance, whether you are an insurance company or an individual, the more you pay for it over time until the odds even out again.The Todd and Charles Rivers are not the only flooding threats. Localised rain in any part of Alice can cause flash flooding. In 1992, soon after the ban on work on the Junction Waterhole dam, heavy rain on the west side of town, combined with ineffective stormwater drains, sent mud through many houses there while the rest of Alice was unaffected. The insurance companies factor in these claims when setting premiums for affected areas making direct comparisons difficult. In 1995 flood damage was estimated to cost Alice Springs over $9m in a one in 50 flood. That is without the intangible costs of loss of lives, treasured possessions and dislocation. The Australia Day flood in Katherine, estimated at around a one in 250 year flood, proves the value of flood insurance. Householders insured with TIO praised the extraordinary efforts of TIO staff in Katherine, including those drawn from the Alice Springs office. The flood zones in Katherine are also being reassessed as inaccuracies in outdated flood maps emerge. Some policy-holders may well find the flood risks changed but how TIO will react is unclear. An Alice Springs TIO policyholder told the Alice News of successfully arguing for a reduced premium on the basis of the flood map she bought from the Department of Lands, Planning and Environment (DLPE). TIO's older map had the woman's house well inside the one in 20 zone, while the new map situates it in a one in 100 zone. While TIO says it adopted the new DLPE map in January, one month ago street maps with the old flood zones drawn on them were still being used on the front counter at the Alice Springs office.One insurance agent in Alice suggested it is worth customers querying which flood zone they are insuring in. Another said insurance companies were secretive about the formulas and factors in setting premiums: "Basically they can charge what they like, all you can do is get a price from another company".Out of 15 questions referred to TIO in Darwin, the Insurance Manager would only confirm it uses the new map now for assessing Alice flood zones. How TIO factors in the changes and shares the risks among its policy holders can help shape how the town grows. No doubt business people along Railway Terrace and and those buying blocks on the old railways estate feel better knowing they are in a low risk area. A few years ago they'd have been paying for flood insurance at the one in 50 zone rate. Maybe some of them still are?

OUTBACK TRAVEL MAKES AUSTRIAN THE COMEBACK-KID. Profile by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Meet Viennese Alfred Pruckner, 36, an F.I.T.
In the jargon of the tourism trade that means free, independent traveller - a term that fits Alfred to a T.Package tourists pay for their trip abroad with agents deducting a generous slice. They barter down accommodation and tour tariffs, paring margins for local operators to a minimum. They commit the tourist to a rigid routine.The FITs, by contrast, come here under their own steam; where they stay or go, and what they do, are guided just by their fancy and spur of the moment.And, what's more, they have money in their pockets.Alfred, a bachelor from Vienna, is currently in The Centre on his seventh visit in four years: coming here for him isn't just a great trip, it's relief from the stress, overcrowding, pollution, foul weather and anxieties of Europe.In fact, it's therapy for him: "Here's where I come to recharge my batteries," he says.Alfred is employed as an optometrist and says his salary is above average - but not by much.That means he would be in the same income bracket as a few hundred million Europeans.This, in turn, raises the question why our tourism promoters aren't zooming in on that "market" of relatively affluent professional people, seeking an escape from the parts of Europe that are rich in cash but poor in lifestyle.Why are more than half of Alice Springs' just 5000 tourist beds are empty?Alfred earns the around $1500 it takes to fly out here in two weeks.He comes with $2000 to $3000 spending money for a two-week stay.A one-week skiing holiday in Austria's Tyrol, by comparison, would cost him $2000.Thirty years ago, the exchange rate of the Austrian Schilling against the Australian dollar was 32 to one.Now it's 7.5 to one: travelling in Australia today costs an Austrian less than one-quarter when compared with three decades ago.Similar exchange rate advantages exist with many other European currencies.Yet NT Tourist Commission promotional strategies all but ignore this market place and emphasise product of marginal interest to Europeans.TOO TOURISTYConsidering his lifestyle between breaks in Central Australia, it's not surprising that Alfred has little interest in the Ayers Rock Resort.He says: "The Rock is fascinating but everything around it is too touristy."I imagine 25 years ago, the Rock was like Chamber's Pillar. I prefer Chamber's Pillar."It's the outback as I imagine it."Neither is Alfred likely to jump on a plane and go half-way around the world to see the Desert Park."Now that I'm here I may go and see it," he says. "It's the outback in compressed form. It's OK for tourists who do Australia in two weeks."Like most of his European contemporaries, his excellent command of English is the product of nine or 10 years' learning in primary and secondary schools, now starting at age nine.What attracts Alfred to The Centre is best defined by what he hasn't got at home, and very little of that comes in bricks and mortar, including resorts, casinos and flash hotels (Europe is full of the best of those!).Alfred says during a good part of the year, he gets up and goes to work in the dark, and it's dark again when he knocks off.He'll get some daylight when he breaks for lunch and goes for a stroll - but chances are it's overcast and "dim", foggy or drizzling.He says it doesn't rain heavily in Vienna - but it rains often.The city is lucky to have 80 to 100 days of sunshine a year.The autumns are foggy, and lately there's been little snow in the winters, with temperatures between minus and plus five degrees.He says he comes to Central Australia "not despite the heat but because of it".In Austria, public servants get heat leave when the temperature rises above 30 degrees.HEATINGAlfred needs to burn the gas heaters in his home for around nine months of the year, at a cost of $300 a month.Compared to many German cities, pollution is relatively low in Vienna because of the forests to the south and west, the Vienna Woods, "the green lungs of the city".However, getting there is another story.Since the opening of the former Communist block countries, including Hungary to the east, driving in Vienna has turned into a nightmare.While authorities elsewhere in Europe are seeking to improve traffic flow, the Austrians have gone the opposite way, widely introducing speed bumps and other obstacles, and at the some time cutting back on car parking spaces.Alfred says anyone wanting to park in Vienna's inner city must buy an annual permit costing around $100.This doesn't reserve a car parking space for them - it allows them to use one if they can find it, a process that can take up to 30 minutes.Using public transport isn't necessarily the answer, either: trams and buses use public roads and in the event of a traffic jam - which may extend over several kilometres - they're stuck like everybody else."Driving a car is a fight, not just in Vienna, but in Central Europe generally," says Alfred."People are irritated and tense."No wonder Alfred considers The Centre the answer to all his prayers.He usually checks into a hotel for a day or two, eats in restaurants and shops for souvenirs, spending around $100 a day plus accommodation.Then he hires a 4WD camper van, for between $150 and $190 a day, buys stores in a supermarket, and heads "bush".The Austrian knows more of the local - and not so local - beauty spots than most Territorians - Rainbow Valley, King's Canyon, Old Andado, the West MacDonnells, Arltunga, the Birdsville Track, the Gun Barrel - the more remote the better.Alfred cooks on the open fire and sleeps in the car or in a swag."You can see stars in Austria, of course, when it's not cloudy, but nothing like in Australia," he says.It's almost inconceivable to do this kind of travelling in Austria, he says: "You'd have to ask every farmer to cross their tiny properties."The national parks there are small, and you'd have to stay in a hotel or a camping ground."NO POLLUTIONThe main attractions for Alfred are The Centre's emptiness, beauty, lack of pollution and vastness: you could comfortably fit Austria and its eight million people between Tennant Creek, Erldunda, Arltunga and Papunya."No people, peace and quiet," says Alfred."The people are friendly. There's enough space to live."There's security. In four weeks I locked my car only in the towns."In Austria you have to lock up wherever you stop."When you don't see any people for three or four days, you're looking forward to talking to someone when you get to the next town."When you tell someone in Austria that you can travel for days without seeing anyone, no-one will believe you."How could we make sure he'll keep coming back?"Don't change anything," is his emphatic reply.

THE ALICE PRIZE WINNERS' CIRCLE. Review by KIERAN FINNANE.

For judge Alan Dodge, Director of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, four artists from Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff) were among the front runners for this year's Alice Prize, with Marlee Napurrula finally the winner.As well, two other Central Australian artists featured in his "finalists" group.One was former Alice Prize winner, Pamela Lofts, whose "un: Titled" [sic] Mr Dodge found "both amusing and beautiful". Lofts presents bagged samples of soil labelled with the Aboriginal place names, packed in tight concentric circles on a round glass platform."The greenish plastic and the metal tags contribute to making it work very well as a beautiful formalist sculpture, but you also want to go in there and see what the different colours of the rich earths are. I liked the ambivalence of it working that way. It's evocative of a narrative, and it's rather romantic," said Mr Dodge.[He did not make mention of the poetic statement painted on the floor, circling the work. It reads: "When I am on a high mountain looking out over country, my Ungurr-life force flows out from inside my body and I fall open with happiness."This adds another important dimension to the work: the joy expressed is in stark contrast to the bagged "country", a contrast which makes the piece both sorrowful and clearly political, in line with other recent work by Lofts, focussing broadly on reconciliation.Lofts' play on the word "untitled" also undoubtedly suggests the work's reference to Aboriginal land title, or native title, issues. ]Mr Dodge was also struck by Dorothy Napangardi's Women's Dreaming."It has almost a Balinese feel to it, just so beautiful and intricate in its designs." Dorothy was winner of this year's Northern Territory Art Award with a work in a similar style (see Alice News, issue Oct. 7).Artists from other states and territories in contention for the prize included Chris Barry with a large photographic work titled Forsayth, November 1993."Chris has blown up photographs with exquisite contrast of light. Similar to 19th century gold prints, they have a rich etched quality."She has duplicated the image, implying the old stereoscopic views, which gave a three dimensional depth to images, often of places like the Niagara Falls, or in Australia, the Blue Mountains or the Outback."She has blown the image up to cinematic proportions. It evokes another era, the claiming of land. Often the camera lays claim just by photographing an area, mapping it as it were. "Mr Dodge was also "rather affected" by Pilar Rojas' Recollections : "shells, baskets, bottles, all done in white to give a sense of oneness, so that you look at the shapes and the surfaces."However," he said, "I know a number of artists work this way, so I filed the work with a question mark, even though it is a lovely evocative piece."NEXT WEEK: Acquisitions.

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