ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
February 10, 1999

BIG BUSINESS CAMPAIGN DONORS IGNORE LABOR. Report by CHRIS HALLETT.

A change of leadership in both Territory parties has put the spotlight on political donations, with the ruling Country Liberal Party (CLP) towering over its Labor opponents.Last financial year the CLP received donations of at least $92,000 from companies with headquarters or significant interests in Alice Springs while the NT Labor Party received nothing.The figures for donations over $1500 to the parties were disclosed last week by the Australian Electoral Commission as required by law. The overwhelming support for the CLP from Alice Springs business people may have been even greater but many donor companies were difficult to identify.The largest CLP donations from Alice Springs connected companies were $20,000. Most of the money came from construction and contracting interests.Gorey and Cole Drillers Pty Ltd, based in Smith Street, donated $20,000 to the CLP, as did Sitzler E. W. and L. Nominees Pty Ltd, associated with the construction company Sitzler Bros. Companies associated with the Osborne family in electrical contracting business also donated $20,000 to the CLP, made up of $5000 each from Electronic Control Systems (Alice Springs) Pty Ltd and Electronic Control Systems (Darwin) Pty Ltd, and $10,000 from Osborne Family Holdings Pty Ltd.Ford Dynasty Pty Ltd, licensee of Lasseters Casino, also gave the CLP $20,000.Peter Kittle Motor Company gave the CLP $5000. The roadworks company Masterpath, with its depot on the North Stuart Highway, gave the CLP $4000.The CLP received $1500 each from the Stuart Arms Hotel and Legends Entertainment Centre. Rohan Miller, the nominee of both licences, seemed surprised to find out that the donations were made public. He said he donated because he supports the CLP’s policies and wanted to keep the party in power. "It isn't much different from giving money to a footy club you support. I had nothing to gain, I just thought it was the right thing to do," said Mr Miller.He said he was not concerned about the imbalance in donations between the CLP and the ALP because the government was doing the right thing, and the ALP needed to look at its policies if it wants more support from business.Several business owners who made donations to the CLP did not want to comment on why they had donated. Two managers offered that "it is better the devil you know". One said the joke had been that the company should back the NT ALP because if they won power, all the money would go to Aboriginal people, which would mean more work for their company.Last financial year the CLP received almost 20 times more in donations than the NT ALP.NT Labor Party Secretary Mike Smith said: "It is vital for Territory democracy that Labor persuades business to contribute to the whole system, not one party. A 20 to one disparity will lead to a one party state."The NT Labor Party received only two donations above $1500 from businesses last financial year. National energy company Boral gave the NT ALP $2000 and $4000 to the CLP. Darwin based Gaymark Investments, associated with the Fonnocharrio family real estate and construction interests, gave the NT ALP $5000 and the CLP $35,000.Other donations to the NT ALP came from unions with the largest being $8322 from the NT Branch of the Australian Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union which has about 1000 members in Central Australia. Rob Hitchcock, NT Branch Secretary of the "Missos", said the union " has been an affiliate of the ALP at both the federal and branch levels of the union for many years."The affiliation fees which appear as a donation in the Australian Electoral Commission summary are set in accordance with a formula agreed between the ALP and affiliated unions. "Our affiliation to the ALP is not a secret. The branch openly supports the party and party objectives of improving the lives of working men and women. We discuss policy matters at our branch executive and central council meetings on a regular basis and sometimes we openly criticise the party line on particular issues."Our membership of the party allows the union to contribute directly to policy development and debate and ensures that the party is aware of the views of our members and the issues which are affecting their lives."Having an open and honest political process is important to all working people. We support that process even when big and small business would probably prefer that their links to the CLP Government remain secretive," Mr Hitchcock said.Meanwhile Maggie Hickey stood down last week as NT ALP leader to look after her sick husband, and this week, CLP Chief Minister Shane Stone resigned in favour of Denis Burke. The new NT ALP leader, Claire Martin has Syd Stirling as her deputy, and Member for Stuart Peter Toyne is now the party whip. His senior coordinating role is to organise the party's business in parliament, such as speakers on bills, and to ensure members are in the assembly for votes.Mr Toyne said the best way of increasing business contributions to the NT ALP was to win government. AGENDA He said Ms Martin had already been discussing with business the Labor Party's agenda and what it might bring to business. "We have to convince them that life won't come to an end once we are elected, that we want a strong business climate." "We will support business and a strong economy and want those benefits realised in the community in high priority areas like jobs for youth," said Mr Toyne.On the imbalance in business donations to the parties in Central Australia, Mr Toyne said the Labor Party's preselected candidate for Greatorex, Peter Kavanagh, is making a stronger approach to business from within the business community. "Before getting into government it is a tough task convincing business to support the Labor party because we only have ourselves to present and we have to earn every yard. "It is a matter of getting into business forums, explaining our core values, what we can achieve for business, and listening to business extensively. There is an inner circle of business favoured by the government and an outer circle of business frustrated at the things that go on. "We want to create a level playing field for business without fear or favour. A good example is the inquiry into contracts let by government departments and the tendering process. We have worked very hard on that issue. "We want to satisfy contractors in Central Australia that they will be working in a fair environment," said Mr Toyne.

GOOD RIDDANCE TO CHIEF MINISTER SHANE STONE. Comment by ERWIN CHLANDA.

New parliamentary leaders for both political parties in the NT - sensationally appointed within just one week of each other - present a unique opportunity for Central Australia to assert its demands.Local MLAs, the town council, CATIA, the Chamber of Commerce - all should now grab the bull by the horns and make their agendas clear, preferably with a united voice.First up, the town's lobbies should make it clear that the politicians are working for us, not we for them.Few are going to shed any tears over Mr Stone's demise. The Alice News wrote four days BEFORE last year's fateful statehood referendum that there wasn't any place for a man of his ilk in Territory politics. Nothing Mr Stone said since, least of all on the day of his resignation, indicated that he had learnt anything from his resounding political defeat at the referendum. He thought it was all about a failure to sell statehood. He never credited the electorate with having understood that "Stonehood" would be dangerous for the future of us all.The News has kept the public informed about manoeuvring within Country Liberal Party ranks to get rid of him. It's finally happened. It's a credit to the CLP to have seen the light.In The Centre, Loraine Braham is reported to have opposed Mr Stone.His local numbers' man, Eric Poole, is rumoured to be considering resignation.John Elferink is in South Africa, but he's tipped to have been uncommitted on the leadership question.Richard Lim is said to have had the party's fortunes uppermost in his mind - and that, almost certainly, would have required the removal of Mr Stone.Now Mrs Braham, Mr Poole, Mr Elferink and Dr Lim will no doubt come under a lot of pressure from their constituents to give The Alice the kind of consideration it deserves.Peter Toyne, The Centre's sole Labor MLA, is now his party's whip and (deservedly) in a more powerful position than previously.

WE NEGLECT THE TODD RIVER AT OUR PERIL! Guest comment by MURRAY NECK.

The following is based on my observations over 65 years and my concerns of late about the Todd River. But, bear with me a moment while I tell you about one of Australia's greatest natural disasters, the details of which I discovered during a touring holiday in New South Wales.I had just crossed a bridge over the Murrumbidgee River near the historic town of Gundagai, when I stopped my car to read an inscription on a plaque attached to a cairn. It read: "In 1852 the flooded Murrumbidgee River raged through the small township of old Gundagai, drowning over 80 people and washing away almost every building in the town. The hero of that great flood was Yarri, a local Koori from the Wiradjuri tribe."Having driven up a considerable rise to reach Gundagai to learn more about the tragedy, I was told that the original settlement was built down on the river flats. The settlers had established a thriving little township and the 250 inhabitants had become accustomed to small floods. But this year the river had been swollen by three weeks of continuous rain and had risen higher than usual. The town's people had decided to tough it out even though the town had become an island when a branch of the river between the town and high ground had flooded. The river kept rising and Yarri was reported to have saved 49 lives, but 82 stubborn inhabitants of old Gundagai were drowned during the tragic night of June 25, 1852.I have related this little episode in Australia's history because I believe it has a parallel with Alice Springs of today. We, like those people of old Gundagai, have become complacent and while many of us know that some day our town will experience a flood of considerable magnitude, we don't stop to consider the consequences, let alone demand authoritative action to lesson any damage caused by such a flood.The "Alice Springs Flood Plain Management Plan" compiled for the Power and Water Authority by Gutteridge Haskins and Davey, in conjunction with a consultative committee made up of governmental, business and private representatives, was presented to the NT government in about, April 1996. Its 135 pages of background information, maps, drawings and recommendations concern the problems caused by the flooding of the township and methods of preventing or alleviating a flood - depending on its height. The plan has been painstakingly put together, its detail is commendable and most of its recommendations are worthwhile. But, its major failing is in its omissions rather than its content.Much time in planning and capital in construction has been spent over the years on town drains and with the exception of the Taylor Street drain disaster, they seem to be effective. But the biggest drain of all, the Todd Drain (or the Todd River - call it what you will) has been not only neglected for the past 30 or more years, it has been absolutely abused. Failure to adequately address the Todd Drain's major problem - its reduced flow capacity between its banks, is the management plan's major failing. In fact, the plan states that, based on surveys, there has been no significant change in river bed levels during the past 30 years. I do not for one minute give these reports any value. In fact I am quite convinced they are erroneous.My argument is based on my own observations as well as those of a number of both permanent and early residents of Alice Springs. When Mike Bowden, a member of the plan consultative committee representing the Tangentyere Council, asked a group of Aborigines what they felt about the Todd River problems, he reported that their solution was clean it out. Simple but, I believe, an answer based on years of observation.The Lovegrove Report of 1983 was initiated by Creed Lovegrove who at the time was head of the NT Department of Mines and Energy, which incorporated the NT Water Resource branch. Creed, like I, was an Alice Springs Hartley Street Primary School student during the 1930s and, when the Todd was flowing, we were to be found either on the bank or in the water. He was concerned about the alteration in the river bed levels, called a meeting of eight or so people, including myself, who had lived in Alice springs for 50 years, and wrote the report with recommendations to the NT Government for action: to further investigate the situation and consequent restricted channel flow. The report has been lost in Darwin!My regular visits across the Todd on Tuncks Road (then called the Power House Road) began in 1942 after the army had commandeered the original golf course, which was situated between Undoolya Road and Spencer Hill. A parcel of land south of Tuncks Road and stretching from near the east bank of the Todd into some low hills further to the east had been given to the Golf Club as an alternative site for a new golf course.My father as president, and Tom Barrett as captain, of the Golf Club had the task of laying out the new course and as a 12 year old, I was co-opted for odd jobs, hence my regular visits.Where now it is a gentle slope as you drive down into the Todd on Tuncks Road from Leichardt Tce, in those days there was a sizable bank on the west side of the Todd and I estimate that the creek bed was between two and three feet deeper than it is today. Successive gravel causeways and sealed causeways have, over the years, gradually raised the road height with the consequent build up of sand, both upstream and downstream.Sand mining through the ‘thirties, ‘forties and ‘fifties was encouraged by the district engineer, D.D. Smith, who recognised the importance of keeping the river bed as low as possible to assist in flood control.Good use was made of this sand and all of the early town buildings used large quantities of it. Until Ted Smith established the first brick works in Alice Springs (Ted's nick name was "Sand and Gravel" Smith to distinguish him from other residents of that surname) bricks were being laboriously made by hand. Ted also introduced a front end loader and a tip truck into the business of removing sand from the Todd, where previously hand shovels and flat top trucks were used.When the original government hospital was being constructed during the late 1930s, the contractor extracted his sand from the Todd bed behind the Memorial Club. I recall looking down into and across a huge hole. On a recent visit to that site it was impossible to recognise it, as it was overgrown with couch grass and young river gums and its surface was almost at the same level as Leichardt Tce.For a few weeks that summer, after a small river flow filled that hole, the town kids had a swimming hole at their back door. The next big flow filled it up with sand and all evidence of the hole ever being there disappeared.
To be continued!

REAL ESTATE PRICES DIP AS GOVERNMENT SELLS OFF PUBLIC HOMES. Report by CHRIS HALLETT.

Average prices for houses, home units and rents fell in Alice Springs last financial year for the first time since 1991, largely due to the sell off of NT Housing Commission properties.House prices rose on average about $10,000 per year for the previous three years but dipped $260 last year to an average of $164,791.The main reason was the sale of the ex NT Housing Commission and Commonwealth properties, especially those in Gap Estate in Bloomfield St. There were many more properties on the market and lower interest rates which, along with extensive advertising campaigns, attracted many more buyers into the market's cheaper end. This tended to lower the overall average prices paid for housing and draw some buyers away from the middle range properties.According to Anne Cloke of Range Real Estate, many of the flats had not been rented for some time even before their redevelopment and the previous residents were already absorbed into other housing in Alice Springs. After their sale, many investment buyers now have their flats up for rent once more, driving average residential rents down.Doug Fraser, Managing Director of the largest agency in Alice Springs, LJ Hooker, says: "We keep records on the number of Commission houses that are selling. Last month there were 30 sales from the NT Housing Commission, prior to that there were 15, prior to that there were 23, and they are all in the very low price range. The number of Housing Commission sales would lower the average price because they are in the lower price bracket and there are a lot more sales."What you have got is a steady increase and our records show that house prices over the last 13 or 14 years have had a steady increase of about 7.5 per cent on average per annum. "But what you'll get is a bit of a rise, then a plateau while prices stabilise, then another rise. What we haven't had is the effect that some other places have, like the Gold Coast or Sydney, where prices go on a roller coaster ride. "It is very dangerous to look at residential prices over a period of say 12 months. You have to take a longer term view. We always say to people look at a five year term because there are always fluctuations in any market. It is a supply and demand situation."The top end of the housing market has still been busy. Sales of houses worth over $250,000, mainly in the Golf Course area and the Carmichael Estate, trebled in number over the previous financial year . The Office of the Valuer General works out indicative base rentals on residences, not including extras like pools, furnishings or split or ducted air conditioning, based on information from agents and property managers. From June ‘97 to June last year there were no increases in the average rents paid and drops of between $5 and $10 per week for most classes of housing. Indicative base rents paid for one bedroom flats dropped $10 to $110. Two bedroom town houses dropped $5 to $180. Two bedroom houses dropped $10 to $180. Three bedroom houses dropped $10 to $230. Four bedroom houses dropped $10 to $270. Compared to Alice Springs, residential rents in Darwin and Palmerston were slightly cheaper overall, but remained at the same levels as previous years with no drops.Mr Fraser says: "Average rents in Alice Springs have traditionally been high but we are now experiencing the highest vacancy rate we have had for some time. One reason is that people have got out of the rental market and taken advantage of those low interest rates to purchase their own properties, so they have moved from the rental market into buying their own property. "There has been a lot of development in the town area in the last three years. A lot of new subdivisions have been created, in the Golf Course, Greenleaves, Kempiana Estate. "Larapinta is now almost completely filled in, the Americans have done a lot of building out on Stephens Road so they are moving again from renting into having their own properties. "So you can't increase the number of new dwellings without having some other impact in the market place. General attrition will generally eat that up. "We have noticed in just the last two weeks that we have been flat strap with new rental inquiries. It is normally a fairly busy time for us, a lot of new people coming to town, new teachers, new public servants arriving in January, February so we have been very busy with new rental applications and we have just noticed there has been a slight drop in the vacancy rates in the last six to eight weeks."Traditionally rent charged on properties in Alice Springs have been high compared to the price paid to buy the property. Says Mr Fraser : "We are coming back down, more into line with other regions. Again that is in response to interest rates. When interest rates are low returns on investments are low as well."With more sell offs of Housing Commission properties to come over the next few years, it seems likely the housing property market will remain flat and prices especially at the lower end of the market will not grow.Mr Fraser says "we need a bit more population growth in town". "The base [Pine Gap] will have an impact, bringing in another 200 families. They are all reasonably well paid people so they are spending money in supermarkets and restaurants which can then take more people on staff. "Tourism is an area we need to address a little more carefully. We seem to be losing tourists to Yulara. We just need to make sure Alice Springs is marketed as a destination separate from Yulara."On the new Western Precinct development of ex railway land Mr Fraser says: "It will create opportunities for some major retailers to come into the town. There seems to be some leakage of retail sales, particularly on some high ticket items, furniture and electrical goods. A lot of people seem to be buying south. There may well be an opportunity for a major discount store to set up operations. "Harvey Norman have said they want to be in every town in Australia with over 20,000 people in five years. Most towns of this size have got those sort of discount stores, an area providing warehouse type shopping with good on site car parking and displays set up inside. For example, you go to a camping store you see the tents set up inside. "The Western Precinct will provide that sort of retailing. It is a long term project certainly, better than five years I should think, maybe as high as ten, to get that up and running but there is a reasonable level of interest in the area," says Mr Fraser.

BATTLING BLACKOUTS. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

A three-year, $1m program to fit better insulators to power poles will lead to a "substantial reduction" in electricity interruptions, according to Allan Ogden, PAWA's operations manager in Alice Springs.He says some of the insulators are 25 years old and close to the end of their life.The new ones are much taller and made from more advanced materials.He says this will greatly lessen the risk of shorting out by tree branches and most birds, leaving just wedge tailed eagles and swans to create problems.Mr Ogden says the modern equipment is also more resistant to lightning strikes - another common cause for blackouts.Under the scheme, which is now half-way through its first year, sections of the main trunks have already been completed, as well as lines in the Ilparpa Valley where problems caused by birds are more likely because of the proximity of the sewage ponds.Mr Ogden says the rural areas are more prone to interruptions because of the greater distances - the lines are longer and repair crews have further to travel.ACCESSAlso, two of the three "feeders" serving the areas south of The Gap come over the top of the range where access for repairs is more difficult.Blackouts during the storm on Wednesday last week were caused by a tree (in town) and lightning (in the farm area).However, Mr Ogden says Alice Springs isn't as badly off as some people think.Darwin's rural area, often plagued by bats, has more interruptions and the "response time" to breakdowns is much longer than here.He says a benchmark study three years ago, looking at the USA, UK, Australia and NZ, put PAWA "into one of the best categories" so far as response times and the number of "customer outages" are concerned.Mr Ogden says it would not be possible to speed up the insulator replacement program, costing $360,000 a year, even if more money were made available: experts in "live line" techniques, and the equipment they need, are short in supply.Mr Ogden says to avoid scheduled power interruptions as much as possible, the replacement of the insulators is mainly done without turning off the 22,000 volt power - a highly dangerous job: "One flash and you're ash," says Mr Ogden.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RIFE IN CENTRAL AUSTRALIA

By HELEN Van ROEKEL, Catherine House Domestic Violence Outreach Service.

Alice Springs and Tennant Creek have again recorded disproportionately high rates of domestic violence, according to newly released statistics form the Office of Women's Policy.Alice and Darwin have about the same number of reported cases, although Darwin's population is three times greater.The 1997-98 figures also indicated an overall rise in the number of domestic violence incidents in the Northern Territory for the third year running.Out of a total of 1599 recorded incidents, 23 per cent occurred in Darwin, while 21 per cent occurred in Alice Springs, and 16 per cent in Tennant Creek. However, workers in the field still know domestic violence is dramatically under reported, and actual rates are suspected to be far higher. Although records are compiled by police, shelter workers, domestic violence counsellors and solicitors, many victims do not seek assistance from any external agency,Many others may seek medical help for injuries, but do not disclose how their injuries occurred. People ask why some women don't report this abuse, or even discuss it with their family and friends. The main answer is shame. Many victims of abuse believe that they have somehow caused or deserve the violence, many minimise it even to themselves. Some fear that the violence will get worse if they ask for help. For the last three years, the Office of Women's Policy has been recording and publishing domestic violence statistics for the NT, in an effort to create a picture of such violence against women. However, the office does not release specific regional information in an effort to prevent victims from small isolated communities being identified. The statistics are not startling for those working in the area. We know that domestic violence continues to be a source of great fear and physical danger for women and children. Women from all ages, all cultural backgrounds and all walks of life are far more likely to be raped or beaten by a partner than by a stranger. But domestic violence takes in more than these most obvious abuses, more than the hitting, yelling and physical abuse that we've all seen pictures of on TV, in movies: women with blackened eyes and bruises. The worse part of domestic violence is usually the other types of abuse, those a lot less obvious - things like constant verbal insults, threats, mind games, unpredictable outbursts of anger, accusations of infidelity, stalking and controlling. There is also the violence of boyfriends and husbands forcing partners to have sex, humiliating them in public, or preventing them from seeing family and friends,keeping them isolated and alone. Many people are not aware that these things are domestic violence too. There have been recent suggestions that females are not the sole victims of abuse. Some males are victims, and sometimes violence happens in gay and lesbian relationships. However, the year's statistics clearly show that 99.3 per cent of victims are in fact female, and 97 per cent of perpetrators are male.And domestic violence isn't class conscious: it occurs across all cultures, all classes, regardless of background, profession, money or education. Perpetrators of abuse can be unskilled labourers, trades-people, doctors, lawyers or unemployed.It's estimated that domestic violence occurs in about one in four relationships across Australia. Surveys held around the country have indicated that no region or area is exempt, and victims, as well as perpetrators, come from all walks of life.Physical domestic violence doesn't stop at injuries. Women can die or become permanently disabled from their domestic violence experiences. In the NT, up to half of all homicides occur between partners or close family. Also, according to the NT report, in 46 per cent of incidents, children and young people were exposed to the violence. By watching it happen, children are just as much victims of this violence. Children from violent families can become violent themselves, or often withdraw from other people. They are also being given a mixed message that it is possible to love someone and hurt them at the same time. And it appears that pregnancy is no protection from abuse, with pregnant women often receiving injuries aimed specifically at their stomach and genital area. Five per cent of women reporting domestic violence in the NT stated they were pregnant at the time of the abuse. Many women report first being assaulted once they became pregnant. In addition, the report indicates that pregnant women experienced more frequent abuse than other women, with 23 per cent of pregnant women reporting the abuse had occurred on a daily basis. Domestic violence is typically a pattern of behaviour where one person is manipulating and controlling another person, sometimes through physical force, sometimes with threats and manipulation. In the cycle victims are often confused by their partner's behaviour. After a violent outburst, there is a show of remorse, grief, promises that it won't happen again. There can be wonderful close times, with the abusing partner making a great effort to make amends. But then the cycle starts again, and over time, the good times in between become fewer, and the violence increases. All of this can keep victims in relationships for a long time; each time they think their partner really is sorry, and that it won't happen again. And the good times in between keep them hoping that the relationship can get better. Many victims still love their partners, they just want the violence to stop. According to the NT report, in 30 per cent of cases, victims first approached the police for assistance. But in 20 per cent of cases, victims first went to family and friends. If you want to know more about domestic violence, how to help a friend, there are, as part of the five year Domestic Violence Strategy, a legal service and police unit in Alice Springs; shelters and counsellors operate in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. You can contact the Domestic Violence Outreach Service on 8953 5912.

IAIN CAMPBELL: A PAINTER WHO PULLS NO PUNCHES. Part one of a review by KIERAN FINNANE.

The wellspring of Alice Springs artist Iain Campbell's work is an examined life, his own intimately entwined with others, be they family, friends, colleagues, or even the crowd at cherished places and events.The fruitfulness for the viewer stems from the man's intellectual and artistic capabilities having been able to match that endeavour.Such a process over 40 productive years offers the ideal food for a retrospective. The work showing at the Araluen Centre, under the title Looking Forward in Retrospect, spans the "Dance of Life" - to borrow one of Iain's own allusions - from its troubling precondition of mortality to its more particular individual and collective histories.There is all of this in Campbell's work.He was born into a strict Scottish Presbyterian family living near Glasgow just before the Second World War, a powerful heritage that continues to vitally inform his work. His Self Portrait No 2 (above right) tells us a lot about how the young Campbell experienced this growing up. At the heart of the painting is a photograph: the face is open, fresh, energetic, in short, full of youth's potential. However, the adolescent boy painted in the foreground is suffering. His elders, the priest, the whisky-drinking father and the schoolmaster are rigid and hypocritical.The restrictive atmosphere is emphasised by gloomily encroaching houses, and a high ironwork fence behind the figures (ironwork and other grids become a significant recurring motif in Campbell's paintings, a metaphor for alienating distance between individuals). An unsatisfactory feminine presence is suggested by the flying ducks. But there is an escape route: through these figures, beneath the ducks, down the centre of the painting ... the boy, at work in front of an easel, escapes through his art, on the football field and the river, which carries the possibility of a journey.We know it is a journey Campbell made, firstly to the Glasgow School of Art - from which he emerged with high distinction and a solid sense of vocation as an artist - and later, as an art teacher, to Cyprus and then to Australia, arriving finally in 1975 in Alice Springs.Here, apart from continuing his own work, he has contributed importantly to the development of our visual arts culture and to that of innumerable individual artists to this day.The current exhibition takes its title from key works relating to this journey, in its geographic, emotional and artistic dimensionsLooking Forward in Retrospect 1 is a second version of an earlier work now lost. It takes a step towards to No 2, in which, in my view, we see Campbell at the height of his powers. It is most fortunate that the people of Alice Springs own this work. There are no doubt others to rival it in terms of artistic accomplishment but the scope of its subject matter sets it apart and in this exhibition, at least, it is only met in complexity by Allegory 3.In Looking Forward in Retrospect 2 we see all in the one composition, the restrictive formative environment - physical and cultural - and the dreamt of release for the suffering subject.The subject wears Campbell's face. The built environment, deriving from his northern hemisphere childhood, all grey brickwork and iron railings, unrelieved by a leafless, lopped tree, is rendered as something between terraced housing and a railway station, stretched across the broad canvas. The device allows for a compart-mentalising of the painting's narrative elements, and at the same time stands metaphorically for the barriers between individuals, or between them and their aspirations. Campbell again treats the influence of the church, in particular in personal relationships: the virginal young woman, future wife of the subject, remains aligned to the priest; their alliance is pictorially linked to the mother-child relationship, where the restraint on easy, warm intimacy is represented by the grill between the boy on the scooter, the girl in the red dress and the women at the windows. The subject stares at us grimly from the chilly foreground (detail above right), with his projected escape into wide open and sunny spaces represented by the figure in a singlet in the middle ground, held, however, on the threshold between the past and the future by his psychological "baggage". The orange "plains of promise" are glimpsed through the grid of doorways and windows, never to be fully apprehended, never to liberate.This painting looks forward to a body of work essential for understanding the importance of Campbell's art to anyone who wants to think seriously about what we Europeans are doing here, how we live, in the centre of Australia.
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