ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
April 19, 2000

HERITAGE HOME NEXT TO GO? ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

The threatened destruction of yet another historic building in Alice Springs has shown up serious flaws in the processes to protect heritage structures.The Kenna Residence in Leichhardt Terrace known as the Alice Bazaar was nominated two years ago for assessment by the Heritage Advisory Council (HAC).However, the council has not yet made a decision and the building remains at risk of demolition.Last Friday the National Trust asked the Heritage Unit to request Environment Minister Tim Baldwin to place an interim conservation order on the buildings which, if granted, would protect the building for 90 days, or until he has made a decision for or against heritage listing it.National Trust NT director Elizabeth Close says long delays with heritage listings show that the Heritage Conservation Act is not working as it should.Kenna House is owned by the Australian Youth Hostels Association (YHA) which also owns the adjoining Pioneer Theatre the town's first cinema.YHA, which said it could not provide a comment this week, is understood to be planning a 60 bed extension to its backpacker hostel, in a new two-storey building on the site of the Kenna Residence.It is also understood that part of the planned extensions would occupy at least part of the theatre's open air auditorium, rendering it useless for screenings.HAC member Fran Erlich, an Alice Springs alderman who is seeking election as Mayor partly on a heritage preservation platform, says an assessment of the residence and the theatre late last year had found both structures to be worthy of preservation.Mrs Erlich says negotiations with the YHA had been going on for "some months", but no recommendation had yet been made to Mr Baldwin, although the HAC had made a "decision" in August that the building had heritage value.Mrs Erlich says she is in favour of both buildings to be preserved but denies that the HAC had been procrastinating on the issue.She said she did not know what point negotiations with YHA had reached: "I have not seen anything from the owners," she says.The buildings currently have no heritage protection because they have not yet been declared to be a heritage place. Says Mrs Erlich: "Heritage values are of concern, but at this stage we're trying to come to an agreement."It is preferable not to list places against owners' objections."She says listing without "adequate consultation with the owners is a jackbooted approach."It takes a long time to do the research, and to give the owner more ample time to negotiate. "We're not rushing into it when an owner is reluctant."You negotiate as long as you think there is a possibility of success."Ms Close says the Heritage Unit in the Department of Environment in Darwin was not aware of any threat to the building.Says Ms Close: "The trust has been concerned about deficiencies in the Heritage Act for some time."Negotiations can be going on and on for years."There should be a shortened time line created between assessment and listing."According to an architectural assessment by Domenico Pecorari, the Kenna Residence is on land first granted to Danish stonemason Gerhardt A. Johannsen.Leslie Joseph "Snow" Kenna moved in during 1943, having built the Pioneer Theatre next door the year before, with its trademark Art Deco tower.According to Mr Pecorari, the open air theatre hosted the Australian premiere and probably the world premiere of the film, "A Town Like Alice", and the second ever screening of "Jedda". The Kenna Residence is the town's "only privately built, non institutional house remaining in the Central Business District from the 1940s era," says Mr Pecorari.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Biggest mozzie farm this side of black stump.

Sir,- PAWA's Regional Director (South) would have us relaxing about water effluent treatment issues in Alice Springs (Alice Springs News, April 5) and on ABC earlier last month. Three glaring discrepancies need addressing.Firstly, the impression that the "Ilparpa s wamp" is a natural (swamp) feature, and further, that it is quite OK to commandeer it as an integral part of the treatment of waste water. The "swamp" was not originally a swamp, but a large natural ephemeral claypan like so many in the area. A quick examination of available aerial photos confirms this. It never was continually full of water, nor covered with weeds, which now makes it "the biggest mosquito farm this side of the black stump". Prior to it being drowned by sewage water overflow, it was possible after suitable rains to canoe all over the area on clean, almost entirely open water.Secondly, so what if the water samples "were no worse than other areas including the Todd itself". Were they in any way acceptable from either the Todd or the "swamp" what exactly were the sample readings?Thirdly, not all drinkers of water (are able to) obtain their water from the "unpolluted" Mereenie aquifer.
Rod Cramer,
Alice Springs

Sir,- A letter to Centralian Advocate on March 31 inferred that buffel grass was the reason for our no longer suffering from large dust storms. I replied to this letter, but my correspondence has been ignored. I reconstruct here what I wrote to the Advocate.It is false to believe that buffel grass is the cause of the cessation of dust storms in Alice Springs. The real reason is climatic.1958 was the year of commencement of a devastating eight year drought (longer in some areas). Within 18 months, dust was blowing and later on we began to endure dust storms with would usually hit town from the south, arriving like a colossal wave dwarfing the MacDonnell range. This was not merely local dust, but originated from many kilometres away. In December 1965, an eerie, virtuously windless dust storm, white instead of the usual red, extended from Port Augusta to the Top End.I travelled extensively in Central Australia before, during and after the drought and recall vividly being caught in huge dust storms especially towards the South Australian border, to the west and to the north of Alice Springs. I had to monitor a series of rain gauges during the drought. One of these registered 144 pts, or 36 mm, for the year in 1961. Another gauge was difficult to read, as its funnel was constantly blocked by deposited soil.Of concern during the dusty years was the effect on aircraft by blowing or suspended dust. The change was being made from piston engined airliners to turboprop and pure jet engined aircraft. Piston engined planes could deal with dusty conditions by means of filters, but turbine engines suck in the air directly. It was considered necessary to revegetate the bared area immediately south of the airport to alleviate local dust. The earliest attempt to grow buffel grass in this area that I recall was in 1958. This effort failed, because of the drought.A local identity told me, during the drought, that it was not going to rain properly again in the Alice Springs area because the place was too wicked. However, we must have repented, as rain fell in plenty in January 1966, and in every other month of that year. There have been dry periods since then, but nothing to compare with the big drought.Buffel grass sowing was carried out over large areas. The grass became well established during the record rainfall year of 1974. The problem with buffel grass is that it has blanketed much of the alluvial country near Alice Springs to the detriment of the native vegetation. Some places which were notable for wildflowers in the 1950s now have just grass. Who wants to photograph grass? Also of great concern is the heat generated by buffel grass fires. Evidence of the effects of such fires already exists. Once, when you approached Heavitree Gap from the south, you would see a beautiful large Bloodwood near the railway line. Its dead trunks and limbs still stand. It was killed by a buffel grass fire. A few kilometres to the south are large ironwoods also killed by buffel fires. These trees can resist native grass fires.I offer no criticism to the personnel who planted buffel grass. They were doing their job and they did it well. I just wish that the buffel grass had stayed where it was planted!In summary wetter seasons are the reason why we no longer experience big dust storms.In many areas from which large volumes of dust originated, there is little or no buffel grass but sufficient native vegetation to prevent large scale soil movement.
Des Nelson,
Alice Springs

Sir,- I would like to say congratulations on running the alcohol related stories in your paper.Upon reading the issue dated March 29 I actually felt like the community organisations might be burying their differences and truly coming together to pursue solutions. I was particularly moved by the licensee's comments about how much Alice Springs truly meant to him and if people's wallets have to suffer for positive changes to the alcohol laws, then so be it.I also feel a strong sense of connection to this place where I have worked, played and experienced great joy over the past 10 years. I live close to the Todd River and am reminded daily of the affects of alcohol consumption upon the Indigenous population for whom the river may be home.Martin Proctor,
Alice Springs

Sir,- After reading Frances Collins' contribution to the Alice Springs News (April 5) re. the killing of doves in Alice, I am totally saddened that a sane-thinking person could be so callous in condoning this inhuman practice.I ask, what damage have these immigrants done to our country? Attacked our crops? Killed our native animals? Killed or maimed our feral herds of cattle and sheep? Caused untold damage to us humans? If so, I would like Mrs Collins to enlighten me as to what heinous crime they have committed that condemns them to death by shooting, which in some cases leaves these animals to suffer and die in horrific conditions. Please don't tell me that other birds cannot survive with them, as I say "Poppycock". It so happens that I love to hear the birds at my place whistling. It is very peaceful, and I see no logical reason to take offence at the cooing of the doves. This argument could be taken further to cover our most welcome people who have settled in our country. Shoot them all too?
Fred Thompson,
Alice Springs.

Sir,- Greetings! My son is a first grade student at our local elementary school in Harwinton Connecticut, U.S.A. He is six years old. The first graders at his school are studying Australia. They are to do individual projects as well. While he and I were looking for information on our computer, we were wondering what an average school day is like in Australia. What do the children like most? What games do they play? Here they have recess, a break after lunch when they get about 20 minutes to go outside. Do school children there do the same? Do they buy lunch at school? Do they like it? Do they go to school for 180 days a year like we do? It would be so interesting and educational to hear from children from so far away. A postcard with some information would be so greatly appreciated! Perhaps a teacher would welcome an opportunity for her class to make some new friends? We'll share any information we receive with the whole first grade, about 80 children. And I'm sure the teachers will welcome a great learning experience. I thank you for any help you can be!Postcards or information can be addressed to: Jake Ambrozaitis, South Road, Harwinton, CT 06791, USAJake's Mom


Sir,- It has been 30 years since I walked the beautiful land called Alice, but my memories are just as vivid as they were when I was a young girl from America living in a strange but wonderful land, called Australia. My dad came home one day and said, "Well, how would you like to go to Australia?" Saying yes began the most amazing time in my life. I just wanted to write and share my thoughts as I search the internet for even the smallest link with the past. Your publication had given me that link, and I "visit" Alice regularly now. I thank you for the opportunity to read the paper over the WWW and the ability to "catch up" on what is going on in Alice. I find as I get older, (much older), I feel the need to reconnect with my past. I have heard this is a natural part of the aging process, so I will follow that need. From my childhood, I remember the great times we had at such wonderful events such as "Henley on the Todd", and the everyday events such as going to school at the High School. I am able to see with your help, pictures of Alice and how things have changed. I know that in 30 years, everything must change, but the one thing I have found is that the beauty of Alice remains. I wish someday to be able to bring my daughters to Alice. I would love for them to be able to experience the beauty as I did. When people tell me they visited Australia, I ask them what they thought of Alice, and most say, "Oh we only went to Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef". I tell them they missed the best part of the country, the heart of Australia, Alice Springs. Thank you again for your web news, I will check it often to keep the link to my past.
Joan Kraemer,
San Luis, USA


Sir,- I read your paper in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Saving my money to come on a vacation to visit you. I read everything I can about Australia and the Outback.
Judy Shrader
Indianapolis, US

Sir,- Just a note to say keep up the good work! While I have never been to Australia, let alone Alice Springs, I have been fascinated with the town ever since I read the book "A Town Like Alice" by Nevil Shute and watched Virginia McKenna in the movie.I would like to visit there some day.
William Callahan,
Indianapolis,
Indiana, USAV

Sir,- Enjoyed looking at your archives. Virginia and I left in 1983, but it's always nice to read about people you knew many years ago.
Roy Crippen
realroy@tampabay.rr.com

TOURISM: WE'RE IGNORING A GOLD MINE. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Last week's national tourism conferences in The Alice and Territory Labor's employment policy launch invite some lateral thinking.Federal Tourism Minister Jackie Kelly said 80 per cent of international visitors that's 3.2 million people come to Australia "with the expectation of having an authentic Indigenous experience".It is clearly not available around the Sydney Opera House nor on the Gold Coast, but can be enjoyed, potentially in astonishing abundance, up here in the Northern Territory. The opportunity is staring us in the face to generate "a tourism product" (to use that ghastly jargon) worth billions of dollars.If all the 3.2 million visitors wanting an Indigenous experience came to The Centre, spending $2000 each over, say, a week, we'd be making $6.4b a year, 22 times as much as the region is earning from tourism at the moment. And that's at the present level of foreign visitation to Australia. Australian Tourist Commission Chairman Nick Evers says: "It is quite conceivable that within the next 15 years international tourists will spend more than $16 billion a year in regional Australia."So there's our market, our target, our challenge!No Indigenous culture in the nation is remotely as plentiful, "authentic" and alive as the traditions, languages and social structures of the Aboriginal people in the Territory, 25 per cent of our population, and guardians of the world's oldest surviving culture.What's more, they possess an infinitely renewable resource which could create ongoing employment for the currently most wretched members of our society, and give them the sense of purpose, pride and belonging whose lack is at the root of our escalating social problems.MLA for Stuart, Peter Toyne, and Labor Leader Clare Martin claimed last week that we're "on a path that leads to increasing unemployment, casua-lisation and job insecurity", with more than 90 jobs a day disappearing in the four months to January, and the trend employment at 85,500 jobs, 6000 fewer than a year ago.And that's the NT average! Ms Martin says on some Aboriginal communities unemployment is at 100 per cent yet these are the very locations and societies the vast majority of overseas visitors want to experience the most. Ms Martin and Mr Toyne say the 1993 weekly average male earnings in the NT were $41 above the national average. By August 1999 they were $34 below the national average.Yet never in its quarter century rule over the NT has there been an adequate response from the CLP government to the astonishing commercial opportunity presented by the Aboriginal tourism product.Instead, Tourism Minister Mike Reed came under attack at the recent conferences for allowing his Tourist Commission to all but ignore Aboriginal attractions in the current national promotions.Mr Reed declined to comment to the Alice Springs News, which broke the story, but later gave the following explanation to an ABC television interviewer: "The promotional activity has to be very much in line with the level of services that are available. "Sadly, we don't have a lot of activities from the point of view of Aboriginal tourism."Sadly indeed. It was tempting to interpret Mr Reed's demeanour as saying: "Don't blame us if they can't get their act together."Not a hint of remorse from Mr Reed that during his party's prolonged rule as highlighted by Labor education of Indigenous people has remained at disastrous levels: For example, Ms Martin says in 1977, just 14 per cent progressed to Year 12, with only 18 students eligible to enter the NTU, compared to 544 non-Indigenous ones.The overall retention rate of full time secondary pupils to Year 12 in the NT is just over 40 per cent, compared with the national average of over 70 per cent.The Bob Collins review of Indigenous education in the Territory has revealed that in bush communities, only six per cent of students are achieving Year Three national reading benchmarks, and only four per cent are achieving Year Five. These figures compare to 82 per cent and 78 per cent for non-Indigenous students in urban schools.Not a hint of remorse from Mr Reed that his government is bending over backwards for the pastoral industry (which in The Centre earned $17m during 1996-96, about one sixteenth of the current revenue from tourism), and for the mining industry, which according to Ms Martin employs just 2400 people Territory wide.Canberra funds the Territory at a per capita level five times greater when compared with the states. The NT government ceaselessly lays claim to extraordinary economic prowess, and its propaganda asserts that to "foster partnerships in Aboriginal Development" is one of its six "foundation areas" for development.Yet there is no evidence that our string of lavishly funded departments and instrumentalities are making any headway in the potentially most lucrative business in the bush: tourism.When it comes to funding, the NT Tourist Commission's kitty is a spectacular case in point: the Australian state and territory tourist commissions have a combined budget of $200m; that's $11 per head of Australia's population.The NT Tourist Commission gets $28m a year, that's $165 per head of NT population, 15 times the national average.In the year ending June 1999, Australia's tourist industry sold 297 million visitor nights; when related to the promotional budget, each cost 67 cents to achieve.The corresponding figure for the NT, which had 8.3 million visitor nights, was $3.38 five times the national average cost.That raises the question of whether we're getting value for money from our tourism promoters.It can be argued that the NT is remote, that it's expensive to get here, and so on.On the other hand, there is a massive world wide demand for what we have got and what the others haven't: mostly great weather, no pollution, wide open spaces, no crowds, no traffic congestion, unique flora and fauna, a star filled sky, breathtaking colours is there an end to our wonders? and the compelling yet inexcusably inaccessible lure of Aboriginal culture.Individual operators relying mainly on their own marketing, notably Ren Kelly of the Ayers Rock based VIP Tours, are demonstrating time and again that the wealthy around the globe can be a keen and seemingly inexhaustible market for The Centre.While half of Alice Springs' 5000 tourist beds are empty, and glaringly obvious opportunities are squandered, Mr Reed and the NT Tourist Commission remain on notice to lift their game a lot!Ms Martin and Mr Toyne make some interesting observations in their employment position paper on the NT Government's ceaseless bragging about having the nation's lowest jobless rate.Firstly, even the official rate is creeping up to towards the national one.Secondly, when people here lose their jobs they leave town, head interstate and disappear from our statistics.In fact, Labor says we now have a net migration loss more people are leaving than coming. It's the birth rate, to a large degree the Aboriginal one, that's keeping our total population figures stable.Thirdly, there's the ongoing deception of hiding a vast number of Aboriginal unemployed in the largely futile CDEP "work for the dole" schemes: if all these people were included in the NT's jobless figure it would rise to 13 per cent, and we'd be the nation's basket case.Labor's policy answers are:-
Reducing payroll tax.
Bonus payments for businesses taking on trainees.
Passing retail tenancy legislation.
Resolving native title issues.
Giving meaningful assistance to growing industries such as horticulture.
Reviewing job training offered in schools.
Helping Aboriginal groups to enter joint ventures with private enterprise, using NT and Federal grants.
Mr Toyne says: "We chose to have the position paper launch at the Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre at the Red Centre Resort because it is a leading example of joint tourism developments which we would foster as a government."

LABOR LAW AND ORDER POLICY: JAIL STILL 'INTENTION' EXCEPT IN 'EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES'.

Punitive work orders, making home invasion a crime and "requesting" the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal sentences considered too lenient are amongst a raft of proposed measures announced by Territory Labor this week.The party says a Labor government in the NT would repeal mandatory sentencing, but legislate to "state expressly that it is the intention of the Parliament that people who commit the crimes of house breaking, burglary, entry and damage to homes, cars or business premises will go to jail, unless extenuating circumstances exist".Labor legislation would regard the trashing of houses, businesses and cars as an aggravating factor.Prosecutors would be required to tell the courts not only about the impact of a crime on the victim, but also the victim's "wishes in respect of sentence".The party's position paper says: "Victims of house break-ins and home invasion will be given prompt practical assistance to re-secure their premises and where trashing has occurred, assistance to clean up their houses."An ALP government would "refocus police activity to combat and reduce house break-ins and home invasions," and form a permanent house breaking and home invasion squad in Alice Springs and Darwin.It says 90 per cent of urban offenders are "getting away scott free" at present.Labor also says it would strive to "ensure that appropriate community values are acquired and maintained from early childhood", as well as measures to "detect behaviour that may lead to criminal activity".The position paper says "a decent education is an insurance policy against poverty and other associated risk factors."The more the government spends on prisons the less there is for health, education and other community services."The paper says it costs $332 a day to keep a juvenile in prison.Labor also says it supports the establishment of a central Crime Prevention Agency in the Attorney General's Department.Meanwhile well informed sources say that the police will not become "judge and jury" following the deal between NT Chief Minister Denis Burke and Prime Minister John Howard on mandatory sentencing.The sources says NT Government guidelines are likely to give police the power to order offenders to enter "diversionary programs" only when the offences are admitted.Opponents to mandatory sentencing have expressed fears that the function of judging whether an alleged offender is guilty or not will in some instances be transferred from the courts to the police.However, police may finish up with broader powers than the courts: a magistrate is obliged to impose a custodial sentence when a third offence has been committed, even in the event of a guilty plea, while police will apparently have the diversionary program option.The new arrangements, likely to require legislative changes, are also tipped to broaden the use of diversionary programs.Presently they are available only for juveniles aged 15 or 16, only in the case of property offences, and only if the offender is considered suitable for the programs.The youth age will be lifted to 18.Since diversionary programs were introduced in August last year, and modified in February, not a single offender in Central Australia has been ordered to undertake one.Diversionary programs in Central Australia include the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards, Holyoake Adolescent Program, Tangentyere Council Indigenous Five-A-Side Soccer, Centacare Job Placement Employment and Training, Harts Range Diversionary Program, Gap Youth Centre Aboriginal Corporation; plus programs at Imanpa community on the Lasseter Highway, at Santa Teresa, Papunya and Yuendumu.Aboriginal leaders last week announced they are united "in condemning mandatory sentencing".Central Land Council director David Ross says: "Nothing has changed."This deal is a $5m reward to the NT Government for its incompetence paid for by Australian taxpayers."Pat Miller, from Aboriginal Legal Aid, says: "Discretionary powers are still with the police and not with the judiciary where they should be."Donna Ah Chee, from Congress, says: "Education, not incarceration, needs to be funded."Mr Ross also called for Freedom of Information to be enacted in the NT "as soon as possible".Meanwhile the Jesuit Ignatius Centre says, while it is opposed to mandatory sentencing as a "serious miscarriage of justice", research shows that the NT has the lowest rate of detention of Indigenous youths, and the lowest ratio of Indigenous to non-Indigenous youths of any state or Territory in Australia.Per head of population, WA imprisons more than five times as many Indigenous youths than the NT; the ACT, nearly four times as many; NSW and South Australia more than tree times and Victoria, twice as many.According to the figures as at September 30 last year, comparing the Indigenous to the non-Indigenous youth imprisonment rates, the NT had a ratio of 2.5.In the ACT and WA, proportionally 10 times more Indigenous than non-Indigenous youths were locked up; and in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and SA, about five times as many.In September last year, 10 Indigenous and six non-Indigenous youths were in juvenile justice institutions in the NT.

'BOUNDARY HOTEL' IS A BUSH LESSON FOR ALICE SPRINGS: COUNCIL CANDIDATE SAMIH HABIB.

The "Boundary Hotel" at Santa Teresa could teach Alice a lot about how to manage alcohol problems, says town council candidate Samih Habib.Mr Habib is opposed to restricting availability, especially as Alice Springs is a tourist town. He maintains the solution to public drinking is "wet" canteens outside the boundaries of settlements, and says, from his experience as a taxi driver, he understands that Santa Teresa has an informal example which is working well.If locals want to drink, he says, they drive as far as the airport, then take a taxi to town, buy their supplies and load them into the taxi which takes them back to their vehicle at the airport.They then drive back to Santa Teresa where they drink outside the community boundaries in the shade of a few trees, and sleep it off before going back to the community.He says strong policing in the community keeps drunks out, so that residents can live and sleep in peace."If people are given the responsibility to manage their drinking, they can do it," says Mr Habib."We can't keep holding their hands forever."Council's role in developing such a solution would be to lobby for it. It is important for council to have input on social issues, but they are not direct council responsibility, says Mr Habib.In his view, the first and foremost of council's direct responsibilities is to clean up our streets.This would involve the paving and landscaping of footpaths throughout the town, and keeping them tidy and clean, as well as redesigning Gap Road, the entrance to our town which looks "awful" and has become "dangerous" with increased traffic use.He says he has raised cleaning chewing gum from the streets of the CBD with council and has been told that nothing could be done about it.He has since learnt that it has been done in Darwin, so why not here?"Have you seen Coober Pedy lately?" he asks."Coober Pedy is tidier than Alice Springs! Whoever would have dreamed about it!"In residential areas, council could create incentives for people to look after their own footpaths. The residents of Cromwell Drive, where he lives, have done it, so why not the rest of the town? asks Mr Habib.He says it is time to act on the provision of a bus terminal for the town. He says coach activity in the middle of town is becoming dangerous, and having tourists wait on the footpath for their coach is just not on.He says land in the Western Precinct is available for this use, and suggests the bus terminal should be combined there with a new railway station, as the existing station has also become too small and dangerous.He says there has been a lot of talk about beautifying the banks of the Todd and developing them as a community park. Now is the time to do it.What about the presence of public drinkers?"They gather near the causeway, but might as well give them a nice clean place too!"Mr Habib advocates a police sub-station in Todd Mall. He says the presence in the Mall of the police van "I called for it in the beginning" has helped make the Mall safer, but the van comes and goes. A permanent police presence would be better."It's a beautiful mall, and if it was safer, tourists and locals would spend more time there."Recycling is a must, and Mr Habib suggests there should be recycling bins for glass and mulchable materials provided at the end of every street.He says Alice can learn from other councils, such as the Marion Council in Adelaide which mulches garden waste, bags it and sells it.He says council should push for long term planning. Alice in Ten is too short term."We need to look ahead for 20 to 25 years," says Mr Habib.Council lacks "business brains". There are too many government employees on council, says Mr Habib. He would bring to council the experience, common sense and drive of a business man, after 26 years in the building industry, as well as in a variety of other businesses: a petrol station, a car spare parts business, a supermarket, a take-away food outlet, and the taxi industry.He sees the current council as anti-development, citing their rejection of his proposal that a shade structure for the Gregory Terrace taxi rank be built, at no cost to the council."If the proposal is sensible and reasonable they should cooperate."The engineering department of council is unhelpful and unrealistic," says Mr Habib.But he also says council should look after the town's heritage buildings."If council thinks a building is important they should buy it themselves. It would be better than wasting $12m on a new Civic Centre," says Mr Habib.

FORGING A TEAM SHOULD BE FIRST TASK OF COUNCIL: CANDIDATE HELEN JORASLAFSKY.

After a 30 year career of teaching business studies and more recently management theory, Helen Joraslafsky says it is time to put some of what she knows into practice, as an alderman for the Alice Springs Town Council."Theory is not the same as practice, I know, but there are a lot of good points to management theory, particularly the emphasis on team work."Building a team is the first thing that has to happen on the new council under a new mayor."In my work as well as in community organisations I've tried to be a good team member, which means listening, working out everyone's strengths and using those to work together."I think I'm well qualified to put that experience to work for the council."Any organisation is going to get better results if everyone cooperates."Ms Joraslafsky says she has no one "hobby horse" but has a "good feel" for the town, after 27 years in residence here."I'm a small town girl. It was a lot smaller when I first arrived but it's still quiet and open compared to the city. That's what I love."Open spaces also lead to a social openness, says Ms Joraslafsky, which Alice still has despite the need for more rules and infrastructure to cope with its bigger population.She says if everyone works together, "we must by now have enough reports and consultancies to make a decision and do it".It is time for action on recycling: "It's not just a question of dollars. There's a value to it that's goes beyond the money."Alice showed it could clean itself up for the Queen, so why not all the time? she asks.She lives on Dixon Road and says it has never looked so beautiful as the day the Queen drove down it."A couple of days later there was litter everywhere."Education "not to drop it" is the key, she says."These issues are not new, they are on-going , but it's time they were resolved, and I'd like to have a constructive input in that."Ms Joraslafsky is committed to a gender-balanced society, and says a better gender balance on council will help in the development of a more constructive, cooperative approach to resolving issues.These include a better working relationship with the Northern Territory Government: "There has got to be room for some negotiation there."We all need to work with whatever and whomever to get the best for our town."Planning decisions should not be imposed on the town. It's our town, and local government representing the residents should have a say in planning."Ms Joraslafsky is unconvinced that council needs a new Civic Centre, and agrees with mayoral candidate Jenny Mostran who suggests that it may not be necessary for the entire council administration to be accommodated on the current Civic Centre site.The council budget must be balanced: "There is no need for the town to be in debt."She says council business goes beyond the basic "rates, roads and rubbish" role because it takes more than that for the town to be a good place to live in.She backs council's involvement in social issues such as the alcohol debate, and believes it is time to act on availability."Surely we don't need alcohol to be so readily available. We can plan our lives around reduced trading hours."Alcohol education would also be important "to help people help themselves".In achieving all of the community's goals, Ms Joraslafsky thinks that the energy and expertise of volunteers could be better utilised, and council could take a greater role in coordinating volunteers."They are often, though not always, older people and have a lot of skills and experience in areas important for the town."

JANGANPA: MORE THAN AN ART CENTRE. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Direct from desert communities to the art lover and collector: from today the Aboriginal art centres of Central Australia have their own outlet in Alice, following in the footsteps of their two Sydney-based galleries, at Fox Studios and Rose Bay.The bonus in Alice is that visitors will enter not only a gallery and showcase for visual art and a range of products featuring licensed Indigenous designs, but also a studio where Aboriginal artists and performers will be producing art and craft, and preparing song and dance for contract work.The Desart Gallery, in the old Repco building opposite Billygoat Hill, is also home to Janganpa Artists, one of Desart's 31 member organisations which represent some 4000 Aboriginal artists and craftspeople.After five years of operating out of the back of a vehicle, Janganpa, a group of Alice-based Warlpiri families whose primary work is traditional dance for live performance and film work, now have a studio base. It provides a rehearsal venue, a storage area for costumes, changing rooms, a meeting place and a studio where performers and their families also turn their hand to painting and crafts.Bush visitors from Desart art centres will be able to use the studio as a much-needed base from which to work while they are in town.An ablution block will be built at the rear of the building, and it is already equipped with a kitchen, where a good meal for all present is prepared each day. Native trees and bushes have been planted along the back fence, and a large sanded area prepared for dancing. This will mostly be used for rehearsal, but there may also be occasional public performances.The gallery and showcase at the front of the building have been set up by Desart Aboriginal Enterprises, the commercial arm of Desart Inc, as another step towards their goal of creating a more stable economic base for the growth of art centres.All profits from the gallery will go to Desart for use in artistic development and cultural maintenance projects by the art centres.The newest member centre is Artists of Ampilatwatja, who have already made their mark with innovative, finely dotted representational landscapes.A major work by a number of Ampilatwatja artists, which shows the evolution of their painting styles, has just been purchased from Desart as part of a $60,000 collection by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in Canberra."This has only happened because of Desart being able to auspice the development of art centres at Utopia and Ampilatwatja," says Development Officer, Tim Rollason."There is so much demand out there for support and we are starting to be able to do something about that, looking to have more field officers and expanding our area of operations."The Desart Gallery will showcase art centres with their own selling exhibitions, giving artists an immediate return for their work. They will also have work on display, with contact details for the art centres. The Desart Gallery will be officially opened tonight by Loraine Braham, Minister for Central Australia and for Aboriginal Development.Desart's Acting Executive Officer, Kate Yeowart, says Mrs Braham has been very supportive, especially in lobbying for Desart and Janganpa to obtain the lease of the building.

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