ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
November 14, 2001.



SAVE $700 ON SOLAR HOT WATER. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Territorians installing solar energy hot water systems could now earn a $700 rebate from the Power and Water Authority. The rebate, designed to promote renewable energy use, is back-dated to April 1 of this year, with a 12 month period during which to claim. Grant Craker, Alice Springs manager of the solar hot water systems wholesaler Solarhart, told the Alice News that the amount of the rebate depends on the energy type of the unit being replaced. Replacing an electrical system earns the greatest number of points, or Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), issued by the Australian Greenhouse Office. A maximum of 33 are allowed, each worth about $25. The typical household's 300 litre system, replacing electricity, earns 28 RECs or $700. Replacing an existing solar unit earns a lesser number of points, while replacing a gas unit earns nothing. Solarhart has been offering rebates through Energex, an interstate power company, buying RECs here to offset their emissions elsewhere. Now, Territorians will have a choice, between Energex and PAWA. Mr Craker says the PAWA rebate is fractionally higher, some 65 cents per REC. The NT Government is also offering a rebate of $400 to first home owners and builders of new homes installing solar within three months. "This, together with the RECs rebates, totals $1100, nearly half the cost of a $2500 unit," says Mr Craker. His company is offering to help their dealers' customers complete their rebate forms. "The forms aren't easy to follow, a number are being returned because they are not completed correctly, so I'm happy to help people with this, it's an after sales customer service thing," says Mr Craker. The rebate scheme is one prong in PAWA's strategies "to meet the Federal Government's two per cent renewable energy commitment by 2010", but these as yet are hardly extensive. Funding has been approved for the installation of solar panels at Kings Canyon and Bulman (in the Top End) in order generate electricity in those areas, and for the development of a small power station on the Adelaide River flood plains, which will use the noxious weed, Mimosa Pigra, to generate electricity. Announcements on buy-back rates for PAWA customers installing solar photovoltaic generators and wishing to sell electricity into the grid are promised soon. Meanwhile, buy-back schemes have been in place in other states for several years, according to Glenn Marshall of the Arid Lands Environment Centre, who was asking in these pages back in May, why PAWA was "dragging the chain". PAWA's PR proudly states that PAWA "was one of the first signatories to the Greenhouse Challenge with a view to reducing greenhouse gas emissions". "However, it should be acknowledged that, as users of natural gas, PAWA is one of the cleanest generators of electricity in Australia," says the PR. That may well be so, but opportunities to do more are being wasted, says Mr Marshall. Australians, when land clearing is taken into account, are per capita the highest greenhouse emission producers in the world, and Territorians, per capita, are the highest of any Australian state. "That means, that on the whole planet per person, we are it!" says Mr Marshall. He says the main reason for the NT's high per capita emission rate is the Nabalco bauxite mine at NhulunbuyWarren Snowdon, speaking before the election, told the News that if Nabalco switched from fuel oils to gas, as he said they are keen to do, the Territory's greenhouse emissions would be reduced by 25 per cent. Mr Marshall also says that maximising our opportunities with existing technologies and changing some of our energy-wasting behaviour can reduce emissions by half. ALEC's Cool Communities project will be on hand from January to help individual householders conduct an energy audit and work out an emission reduction and money-saving plan. But without the force of law, will the challenge be taken up on a significant scale? Australians are in the hot seat on this one. The returned Coalition Government is holding out on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, wanting a global system in place before it does so. (Labor had promised to ratify the protocol.) For the protocol to come into force, it needs to be ratified by 55 countries representing 55 per cent of global emissions, says Catherine Fitzpatrick, an Australian who is senior climate change specialist with Canada's David Suzuki Foundation. Visiting Alice Springs recently, Ms Fitzpatrick told the News that without the US, which produces 25 per cent of the world's greenhouse emissions, it would be "very difficult but not impossible" to have the protocol come into force. Without the US and Australia, Canada and Japan coming on board at next year's Rio Plus Ten meeting, to be held in Johannesburg in September, it will be impossible. The protocol, developed in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, by an international representative forum on climate change, aims to commit countries to emission reduction targets. At Kyoto the US agreed to reduce its emissions to a level seven per cent below that of 1990 by 2012. "At the moment I think they are 18 per cent above," said Ms Fitzpatrick. "Canada's keeps going up. "Australia's lobbying, especially by the coal industry, actually got to increase Australia's level by eight per cent. I think they're 20 per cent above, but they have another 11 years to reach the target. "The UK is on target, they agreed to reduce their levels by 20 per cent, and they started pretty well straight away whereas Canada, Australia, Japan and the US for the last five years have said we can't do it." Ms Fitzpatrick says Europeans have seen the reduction targets as an opportunity "rather than something to be terrified of". "They see it creating jobs, saving them money, they see themselves becoming more internationally competitive." There are also some success stories, even in the recalcitrant USA. Said Ms Fitzpatrick: "In Northern California, they decided they want to protect the remaining last five per cent of red woods. "They realised it was going to put some forestry people out of work, there was really no alternative, but they could make a lot of money out of eco-tourism. "The forestry workers didn't want to get into eco-tourism, so it's not always that easy, but what does work quite well is that people who work in the oil and gas sector have a lot of the skills that are really good for retro-fitting buildings for energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy technologies. "A lot of the skills from the fossil fuels sector can be applied really nicely to this new industry." The US has also seen strong growth in the wind industry. According to Ms Fitzpatrick, wind in the US is now becoming competitive with coal. With or without national leadership on greenhouse reduction, Ms Fitzpatrick argues regional communities can still achieve a lot. "We have to ask ourselves how do we start changing. "For example, how does the Alice Springs Town Council look at the implications of climate change, how does the new Labor Government in the Territory start building climate change into every aspect of their operations?"

DESART IN TROUBLE.

Desart Gallery in Bath Street has "temporarily" closed its doors while it is reviewing its financial situation. The gallery is the enterprise arm of Desart Inc which assists and advises 39 Aboriginal art centres in remote locations throughout Central Australia. ATSIC, the principal funding body for Desart, says it has requested information from the organisation. Executive Officer Rose Wallis says only the gallery, which is "self funding", is in "a very difficult position", while Desart Inc itself is not at risk. She says the art centres that are members of Desart will "miss the opportunity of selling their art works through this wholly owned outlet". "They will now need to sell their output through other commercial outlets." Desart is assisting the commercial development of the centres and the setting up of their own marketing. Ms Wallis, who is part of a new management team appointed only six weeks ago, says the gallery was opened two years ago. "We're hoping to open the doors again in the future," she says.

PLONK CLAIMS DISMISSED BY BOOZE CHIEF. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Liquor Commissioner Peter Allen has supported comments from an Alice Springs alcohol reform group describing as "inaccurate" claims that about 1000 bottles of fortified wine are being sold in Tennant Creek each day. John Boffa, of the People's Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC) in Alice Springs, was responding to media reports quoting an un- named "liquor industry source". The report followed the announcement of an alcohol control trial in Alice Springs, starting on January 1 when the sale of wine casks of more than two litres will be banned. There are fears that drinkers of cask wine will switch to sherry and port sold in glass containers. Says Dr Boffa: "The most recently available published figures fail to show anything close to the alleged level of sherry consumption. "What they reveal is that consumption of fortified wine rose in the period 1995 to 1998, but after that it appeared to have plateaued during 1998 and 1999 at the rate of about 38,000 litres per year for the whole of the Barkly region."This equates to about 47,500 bottles for the whole of the Barkly region (which includes Elliott, Borolloola and Wycliffe Well), for the whole of the year – a deal short of the alleged 1,000 bottles per day for Tennant alone! "Certainly there is excessive and dangerous consumption of fortified wine by some Tennant Creek drinkers. "But the mere delivery of the large number of port bottles to Tennant Creek in one three month period, if it occurred, does not mean that all of the bottles were sold in that period. "Some of them may have been stockpiled or left over for sale in the following period, or on-sold to other areas." Mr Allen describes Dr Boffa's statement as "reasoned and accurate". About Dr Boffa's statements on wholesale purchases Mr Allen says: "Again I concur with John's figures and his reasoning. "Liquor figures are based on purchases by licensees from wholesalers. "John has said it all." Dr Boffa says the Tennant Creek "Beat the Grog Committee" applied some years back for limits to be placed on the sales of fortified wine to overcome the "substitution" problem. "The Licensing Commission declined to implement this request. "Although the pure alcohol content of fortified wine is twice that of cask wine, four studies of the Tennant Creek arrangements, including one completed last year, all reached the same conclusion: that the total amount of pure alcohol contained in the extra fortified wine and spirits being sold was well below the total amount of pure alcohol previously being sold in wine casks. "So there was a significant overall or net reduction in the amount of pure alcohol being sold and consumed in Tennant Creek. "This is not to deny that there are some people in Tennant who may be damaging themselves with excessive consumption of alcohol now, as there were before the trials. "But it is evident that the number of people in this category would be less now. "Nor is it to deny that the consumption patterns may have changed since the last evaluation, and that there may be a need for community groups to monitor these changes and make new recommendations to the Licensing Commission to achieve better outcomes if they see this as appropriate. "The point is that the net consumption of pure alcohol has continued to decrease in Tennant up until the time of the last evaluation; and this decreased average consumption has been accompanied by a continued decline in the number of serious injuries recorded at the Tennant hospital, despite any presence of more broken glass in certain areas." Mr Allen says the most recent evaluation of the grog trials in Tennant Creek will be made public on November 31. Dr Boffa says his group wishes to dispel any apprehensions that Alice Springs "is in danger of being engulfed by a tidal wave of port wine and broken glass". "It is not inevitable that these problems will occur here, as there is a good understanding of the potential problems and a willingness on the part of community groups and agencies to work with the Licensing Commission to monitor developments and take steps to contain problems if they begin to occur. "It is PAAC's understanding that fine-tuning can and should take place during the course of the experiments beginning on January 1. "For example, if there appear to be deliberate efforts at marketing cheap fortified wine or spirits to problem drinkers, the community groups could advise the Commission of this and ask it to impose a daily or weekly sales quota to govern the total amounts of particular products being sold at the offending outlets. "Other tactics could include restricting takeaway sales of these products until a later time in the day; banning the sale of certain products altogether or on particular days; or a combination of these measures."

WARREN SNOWDON TO STAY IN CANBERRA.

Despite a national decrease in the vote for the ALP there was an "unprecedented" five per cent swing to Labor in Alice Springs at the Federal election, according to Warren Snowdon who seems set to become the first Member for Lingiari. Speaking at a party for campaign workers late on Saturday Mr Snowdon estimated that 46 per cent of the usually conservative town had voted for him. He said in the Sadadeen booth – in the Territory electorate of Greatorex held by Territory Opposition front bencher Richard Lim – the CLP's Ron Kelly was just seven votes ahead of the ALP. Meanwhile Mr Snowdon says in the largely Aboriginal bush booths he had received strong support, estimating a 75 per cent Labor vote in the Territory electorate of MacDonnell. This was a "salutary lesson for Comrade Elferink" – who retained the seat for the CLP in this year's NT election. Mr Snowdon was the Member for the Northern Territory, a seat now divided into two.Solomon is essentially made up of Darwin, and the sprawling Lingiari takes in the rest of the Territory. Counting in Solomon was still too close to call early this week but the CLP's David Tollner was in front. The likely outcome for the NT is one ALP and one CLP member each in the Senate and the House of Representatives, cancelling each other out in crucial votes, neutralising the Territory's political clout in Canberra. Mr Snowdon told the group of party faithful on Saturday that he was "sad" Kim Beazley would not re-contest the Federal Labor leadership, describing him as a "great mate" and "sympathetic" to the needs of remote areas.

LETTERS: Democracy, where are you?

Sir,- Associate Professor Donald Rothwell (Alice News, Nov 7) makes valuable points about the "war against terrorism" and how it flouts the very cherished principles we seek to defend. However, so far I have not heard discussion of the question "how does the Australian nation become committed to war?". Can our Prime Minister engage us in war on his own whim? This certainly seems to be what happened in this case. Surely for something of this importance a process is needed where the parliament can consider all the implications for Australia. Surely this is what democracy is about.
Peter Tait
Alice Springs

Sir,- It's been nearly eight weeks since the tragic events of the morning of September 1 unfolded like Hollywood movie script: aircraft crashing into the unofficial symbol of capitalism (the World Trade Center), jet liners falling out of the sky for no apparent reason, the Pentagon attacked and both the White House and the newly elected American President targeted. No, this was much better than a Hollywood script; it was Tom Clancy at his best. Nearly 7000 casualties either dead, injured or unaccounted for. The politicians and media report that it could have been worse. Oh yeah, goodonya.... unless you were one of the 7000 odd. The sickening and cowardly acts of so few have affected so many. What of the aftermath and repercussions? Over 1000 people detained indefinitely for "questioning". Personnel of every law enforcement agency, peace officers and the armed forces are on a heightened alert, expecting the worst, hoping for nothing! Don't even start with the whole Anthrax thing. Cool name for a metal band formed in New York in June 1981, the feeling a little different two decades later in the same city. It was all a huge eye opener for this desert rat who was born and bred in "the Alice". I have lived and worked here in Boise, Idaho for the past six years and if I could put it all in one sentence it would be the witnessing of raw emotion, both good and bad. From patriotism, heroism and compassion to racism, intolerance and spitefulness. I watched the stories unfold, from where total strangers in New York were taking in victims who had lost their homes and putting them up with free room and board, to the idiot who gunned down a customer at an Arizona petrol station because he felt (in his words) "it was his duty to eliminate the raghead terrorist". For fear of doing "an Anthony Mundine" in the eyes of anyone on either side of the fence, here are some of my observations. Bear in mind, these are only my thoughts and should be treated as such. Where does all this start? Americans are a fiercely proud and patriotic nation. Founded on the principle that it is the land of the free and home of the brave. The majority of Americans believe that it is the best place on earth to live, play and work, and rightfully so. Tell me if any other nation does not think in the same light – Australia certainly does. The US is a bona fide military superpower and is an economic "600 pound gorilla" with its mighty "greenback". Australia has a well-earned and proven reputation of having one of the fiercest fighting armed forces in the world. We have the Aussie dollar that is better known as the South Pacific Peso. With the "status" of being a world force from both an economic and military standpoint come the expectations that the US becomes not only the mediator of disputes that trouble the world, but increasingly the United Nations' police force in both domestic and international disputes. The US has reluctantly taken on the role of being the world's "school head master". We can sit here for years and go back and forth in regards to the pros and cons of US foreign policy, their successes and failure and so forth, but the fact of the matter remains that the US is dammed if they do and crucified if they don't. Just like at any school, the headmaster tries to mete out appropriate reward and punishment to those who deserve it, and just like school kids, there are plenty of us who will react both positively and negatively to a given situation regardless if the headmaster got it right or wrong. Sometimes we just have to accept the decision. As someone once commented about the Westminster system, "it's not perfect, but it's the best we've got for now". If it is in fact proven that Osama bin Laden and his followers were (a) behind the attacks, and (b) trying to prove a point of eliminating "the infidels from the holy lands", their actions have turned world opinion against them. Each individual will eventually be judged either by the courts, the Khoran, the Bible, their peers or more importantly by their loved ones. Just make sure you don't add to the casualties of September 11 with your words, actions and ignorance. Hopefully I can follow this up with an observation on reactions by my mates here in America and the community in which I live and work. How people coped with what will become my generation's Gallipoli, Pearl Harbor, assassination of JFK, Neil Armstrong's moonwalk, Vietnam. Make no mistake, this will be history, but for all the wrong reasons.
Mark Fitzgerald
aussiefitzy@hotmail.com

Sir,- In reference to the Iwupataka Land Trust report (Alice News, Oct 24), I would say to the people of the Iwupataka Land Trust, to not allow anyone to spoil their land with hobby farms or by over-exploitation of tourism. I have seen many beautiful, natural areas in my home state of Queensland ruined by such schemes. Please do not let it happen there.
Zillah Jackson
zjackson@powerup.com.au

Sir,- I feel that the rights of 18 to 25 year olds in respect of Centrelink are rudely discriminated against. I thought that at the age of 18 years, you became an adult with all the rights that all adults have obtained through voting, such as the right to drink and smoke, and the right to go to adult entertainment. Also, if you do something wrong and you go to jail, you will not go to juvenile jail, you will go to the adult jail. If war breaks out you can be forced into the armed forces and to fight for the country. You have the right to be fully independent of family even if you do live at home or away from home. You have the right to make up your own mind what your life is to be, not to be held down by laws that take it away from you. But the rights of 18 to 25 year olds have been taken away from them. When an 18 to 25 year old has no job and wants to obtain some help through Centrelink – such as New Start, Homeless Allowance, Dole, Austudy – he must obtain his parents' financial assessment, how much they earn, what assets they have, etc. This all adds up to one thing. The 18 to 25 year old will not obtain what he wants or the help he needs if his parents don't sign and fill out the form, or if they don't write a letter to say why their adult child has left home or been told to go. This is not right. Where are his rights to be independent? Why does he vote?
Graeme Watkins
Alice Springs

TWO WINS. Column by ANN CLOKE.

When I owned my real estate business, I wished that Melbourne Cup Day would be declared a national holiday. No-one ever wanted to work. Excitement was synonymous with the track: the fun way to celebrate the Cup was to head to the Turf Club and enjoy the atmosphere, local horse races, great hats, on-course betting and all the things associated with racing. Last Tuesday, Melbourne Cup Day I was sitting, relaxing (no business or staff worries!) having a coffee with Trish. I'd put my bets on (all three of them) when June, friend and fellow Kiwi, asked, "Have you backed Ethereal?" A New Zealand mare trained by a lady! I explained that I WAS going to but it was almost odds on: "We HAVE to back it," June insisted, "for Kiwis everywhere!!"June hadn't yet placed her bets so I wandered back to the betting shop with her and put a few dollars each way on No 13, E… and so it was that I backed the Melbourne Cup winner (thanks June!!). In the lead-up to the Election, I was one of many who spent time sitting (on a chair, not a fence) outside the Australian Electoral Commission office, handing How To Vote cards out for the Libs. Most days it was 35 degrees, gusty and steamy… then, Friday, cooler and damp! I wasn't alone – others were handing How To Vote cards out for their preferred party, Labor. Claire noted that four years ago when she promoted Warren, Leichhardt Terrace was being dug up, car parks and roundabout under construction – this time the roadworks are happening at the eastern end of Leichhardt. Maybe it's an election thing?A delegation of young people from Timor were amused to see opposition camps with tables and posters set up side by side. And we interacted with each other! Not so in Timor, they said, everyone would be fighting. They were here to observe our election process, see democracy first hand, before Timor goes to the polls in March 2002. Handing out how to vote cards was a bit like the real estate process: you had to be a) alert (Alice needs "lerts"); b) quick (catch the voter early); c) assertive (make sure the voters know there are choices); d) thick-skinned (ignore the rude voters). Some people were brusque… they knew for whom they were voting, and that was that: "What about your preferences?" "Are you deaf, lady? I told you I KNOW what I'm doing!" (Go to d!) One voter said she wanted to see Warren win locally, but she hoped John Howard and the Libs held federally – a dilemma indeed! I was asked which leader I hoped would win. I replied, and was told: "Oh, I don't like him, then again, I don't really like the other one either!!" It's three years until the next Federal election: whatever your political persuasion, we have a result. There can only be one winner, and with the international troubles which inevitably overflow to Australasia, we must hope that the calls made for the unity and betterment of all Australians are heeded.

HEY, BROS, DICTIONARIES ARE GAMMON! STEPHANIE HARRIRSON checks out Youth Speak in The Alice.

On a recent trip to Adelaide with my family and a friend of mine, I met up with Hoody, an ex-Alice Springs mate who (when he saw me) exclaimed that the new skirt I was wearing looked "Fat!" While I was thinking Jenny Craig, Kim Beazley, Weight Watchers and about physical violence towards my friend Hoody – just joshing! Only mucking! – he explained what he really meant was " Phat!", which, according to the Macquarie Dictionary, is slang for excellent, cool, all okay – as in "everything is phat! ". This incident with Hoody got me thinking about the slang words we use in Alice compared to other parts of Australia. An encounter at the 28 Days concert we went to a couple of days later in Adelaide then got me thinking about the way we speak in Alice. At the concert, a guy we were talking to was trying to guess where we were from by the way we talked, and he finally came to this conclusion – "You're truckies aren't you?" Yeah, whatever you reckon mate, brrrt, scraps, not even! I suppose that, like a lot of people in Alice Springs, I've adopted a number of words and phrases from Aboriginal-English. "What are youse mob doing tomorrow?", "Catch ya later bros!", "I'm too shame!" – that sort of thing. This way of speaking is really common in Alice now. Maybe that's why that bloke thought we sounded like truckies! I was on the phone to a friend in Melbourne the other day and she asked me why I didn't like doing a particular thing and I said it was because I was "too shame". She didn't have a clue what I was talking about and what I meant by "shame", so I had to explain to her it means embarrassed or ashamed. "We never say that!‚" she said, "we just say we're too shy." I asked her about other slang words they use down there. She said that to say something is really mean, you say "That's real slack‚" or "That was really harsh". She also said that they had people from Sydney staying at their house last week and they had an argument about what things were called. In Sydney they call casual shoes you wear down the street "sneakers" and in Melbourne they call them " street shoes". In Rockhampton they call thongs "pluggers". In Alice Springs we just call them shoes! You can almost tell which part of the country a teenager is from just by the way they're talking, but there are some words that are used nation wide. I guess that a word just starts in one state and then works its way across the country. I notice it whenever I talk to my friends from Melbourne and Adelaide; the slang they use down there is sometimes so different to the Alice Springs slang (and visa versa), but the words all mean the same thing! Ones most people are familiar with are words like "heaps cool", "sweet", "ace", "awesome", "unreal", "tops". However, now there are some new words which also mean something that's really great, like "sick", "wicked", "narly"‚ and "rad". (No wonder parents get confused about what their teenagers are on about sometimes). Most of these words are common here in Alice Springs. I asked one of my ex-Alice friends in Western Australia about the sort of slang words they use over there to describe things. She told me that a surfy kid is a "grommet", surfers are "wax-heads" and a social outcast is a "derro". A few of the names people up here in Alice call outcasts are " nigel", "loser" and "loner". My friend also told me I should check out the November issue of Chick magazine if I wanted to follow up slang words. I found the article where they "interrogated the amp-meisters" at the "Rusty Gromfest" (oh yeah!) on the words they use that always leave people scratching their heads. Here are some of the weirder ones: "De", when something goes wrong: "Desmond" or "Dessi" and "Ronnie", a payout name for someone; "Devoed", gutted or really down (all from NSW); "Spiri-loush", something's good (WA); "Cool gayness", like radical, but sarcastically (QLD); "Bay", saying hello to your mates, and "Ta Micky", if something is just too good or too much (NZ). And I thought "Phat" was strange! Those ones certainly left me scratching my head! Here's a few more that my friend Caitlin from Rockhampton told me. I couldn't believe she actually used them! If someone's a fool, they're a "stainer"; if something's dodgy, then it's "sketchy""; if you're just messing around with someone, you say "g-up". (If you don't get that one, don't worry – neither do I!!) Here in Alice, if someone's a fool some people call them a "tool" or a "tosser", and they're the polite ones! If something's dodgy, well, it's just "dodgy" and if you're just messing around with someone, we say we're "just mucking with ya". As always, it's hard to explain the meaning of some slang words. I have a tough time trying to explain to my friends in other states the meaning of "gammon" because its actual meaning can be used for a lot of different things. Consulting my trusty dictionary again, "gammon" means not only cured ham, but also deceitful nonsense or bosh. And I guess nonsense is the right word! However, it has another meaning which I'm sure you all know – "heaps c—p!". Someone told me the other day that they think "gammon" was brought down to Alice from Darwin many years ago. If you can think of any other slang words that you can add to my ever-growing list, please let me know! Note: You can reach Steph via the Alice News. See the details on our masthead.

CAMP DOGS SHOT, NOT EUTHANASED: RSPCA. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

The RSPCA says the town council appears to be shooting stray camp dogs rather than "euthanasing" them in its own facility, managed by the society, in Len Kittle Drive. RSPCA president Anne Buckley says in1998 nearly 2000 camp dogs were put down but so far this year the number is only 275. The council says since June 2000 (17 months ago) only 30 dogs "have been shot humanely at point blank range by by-laws officers under controlled circumstances". "The officers are trained in the use of firearms and how to use them humanely to minimise the suffering of an animal. "Only uncontrollable or diseased unregistered dogs are shot. "These dogs will not find a home through the RSPCA which otherwise would euthanase them after 48 hours." Says Mrs Buckley: "I've been trying to drive this home to the town council, to clean up these dogs in town." She says the council claims not to have reduced its budget for the program. "I saw them net a dog under the sails in Todd Mall. "It was euthanasia day. "They knew the vet was out here. "That dog wasn't brought out here. "A lady followed the council van to the dump. "It had a live dog in the back. "It came back without the dog in it. "We don't know what they did with it. "That happens on a regular basis. "Another couple of ladies rang me because they saw the dog catchers chasing dogs up the river with a gun, trying to shoot them, in town, in the built-up area. "We've got a system here that's worked well for years. "The figures prove it." Mrs Buckley says it appears the council thinks it's cheaper to shoot the dogs rather than having them put down by a vet, who is on contract to the council, under the supervision of the RSPCA. "The animals they are picking up are not coming through the shelter. "The council says the camp dog program hasn't fallen off, well, it has. "We have evidence of it," says Mrs Buckley. The program should be linked with community health initiatives, sterilisations, mange treatment, as well as health and hygiene education for the people owning the animals. The council says from January to December last year by-laws officers took 734 dogs to the pound, and from January to November 2001 the number was 501. "Given there are almost eight weeks to go this year, the number of dogs taken to the pound is similar to last year. "When by-laws officers conduct a major sweep of stray and diseased dogs, such as in April this year, when 79 dogs were destroyed in a week, many are taken directly to the vet rather than to the RSPCA." NEW SHELTER Meanwhile, Mrs Buckley says although the local RSPCA's dispute with its parent body over sharing NT Government funding is still not resolved the Alice group is pressing ahead with its new shelter. The group is now independently incorporated and has raised $400,000 in the past 10 years. The animal welfare campaigners are looking for hands-on helpers with the construction work, from builders to landscapers – or people willing to conduct further fundraising. Mrs Buckley says the group has secured a lease from the town council for land for the new shelter, adjacent to the current temporary one at Blatherskite Park. The new facility will house up to 40 dogs and the society's offices. As the funding fiasco continues, with the NT body owing the local group some $30,000, according to Mrs Buckley, volunteers do much of the group's work. This includes inspection duties by up to four people, working to enforce animal cruelty laws in a huge region stretching into WA and SA. Cases range from feral horses maltreated during mustering to the discovery of starving cats and a dog which died in a vehicle from heat exhaustion while its owner was in the pub. Mrs Buckley says the group has about 80 members and she would like more, especially to help with the construction of the new shelter.

CRICKET: THEY'RE SWINGING IN THE RAIN.

Rain has been the curse of turf cricketers in the Centre in recent years. Until Saturday, the one day round and day one of the first of the two day matches had been played, and on the best pitches seen in Alice Springs. However the downpours of late last week made it impossible for grounds staff to prepare the pitches, and so the two games in progress were declared draws.West were in a commanding position against Federal, yet reaped no reward.The Bloods were chasing the Demons score of 136, and had put together 41 without loss by stumps. Had West batted on this Saturday they would have no doubt gained the first innings points and could have possibly pulled off an outright. This would have put the Demons in the hot seat well and truly at the bottom of the ladder. As it is Allan Rowe and his men heaved a sigh of relief when the rain clouds built up last Thursday.In the game at Albrecht Oval Rovers were also sitting pretty. Through Matt Pyle with 96 and skipper Mark Nash, 53, the Blues had amassed 243 in 66 overs. Setting RSL a big challenge, the Blues then placed themselves in an even better position by snaring two RSL wickets for 22 before the close of play.But they too had to be pleased with their efforts without any premiership points reward. As it now stands West, Rovers and RSL form the top three, with Federal needing wins before Christmas to stay in the race.This Saturday another two day encounter begins. The top sides Wests and Rovers will go head to head at Traeger, while RSL will play Federal at Albrecht. Both West and Rovers should go into their game confident. West have the Territory "gun" Ken Vowles in top form with both bat and ball. Backing him is skipper Jeremy Bigg, spinner Peter Tabart and a class opening batting pair, Shane Law and Robert Wright. In countering this line up Rovers are led by a fellow who knows how to "have a go": Mark Nash is in form with the bat, and can weave magic with the ball. The Blues' 243 at Albrecht was a confidence booster in itself and given Matt Pyle can continue in form, he has a host of quality batsmen to partner him down the order. RSL have regained the services of Geoff Whitmore to strengthen their batting line up. Gordon Hartley and Graham Schmidt should be able to get the RSL off to a solid start, with Chris Turner, Ty Radfield, and Alex Fior to follow, then Luke Southam down the order. With the ball, RSL have Matt Forster and will be hoping for the recovery of Scott and Cameron Robertson to bolster their attack. In the Demons' quarter, the results may not be on the board, but they have the capacity to do well. New recruits Jamie Chadwick and Roger Weckert have shown glimpses of their real ability. If they can chime in after Rory Hood sets up the innings, the Demons will be formidable. This week they should also regain the services of their sheet anchor, Jarrod Wapper. The Feds' bowling line up is dependent upon Hood, Wapper and Allan Rowe, and although a little light on, it's on par with the overall bowling standard in town.

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