ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
November 21, 2001.



COURT CASE MAY DELAY ALICE GROG INITIATIVES. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

A trial of alcohol supply restrictions due to start on January 1 may be delayed indefinitely by court action mounted by liquor merchants. Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne says the industry has hired a barrister and is now intending to appeal against the ruling by Liquor Commissioner Peter Allen. Industry spokeswoman Diane Loechel, of the Todd Tavern, would not comment in detail but said legal action is an option. She says traders have asked to appear before Mr Allen who is understood to be arranging a hearing in the near future. The one year trial will include a ban on wine casks bigger than two litres, delay bottle shop sales from 12 noon to 2pm, and prohibit the sale in bars of alcohol other than light beer before 12 noon on weekdays. Dr Toyne says traders had "one at a time" applied for a hearing by the Liquor Commission. "We've indicated to the Liquor Commission that they have our absolute full support as a government for the decision they made," says Dr Toyne, a long time campaigner for alcohol reform. "Everyone is entitled to their day in court and they're clearly wanting to do that. "We will apply our full resources to put the government's position. "What the retailers have to understand is that we're the ones who pick up the tab at the end of all this. We have huge outlays for accidents and emergencies at the hospital, and for police work. "It has escalated. We're not a group that have got no rights in the matter. "The government will definitely put its case, along with anyone else. "I am very confident that the strength of public support behind the [Liquor Commission's] decisions will carry them through these hearings and appeals. "I am just concerned that we will have delays because of them."

THE AFTERMATH OF THE DESART GALLERY CLOSURE. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

"These guys out here have very few chances. "There's art, sport and music," says Ampilatwatja art centre coordinator for the past three years, Narayan Kozeluh. While there's clearly no money in sport and not much in music, in the past year art has brought half a million dollars into the model community some 320 km north-east of Alice Springs. Ampilatwatja has a population of 500, including a whopping 120 artists. There is no sniffing, no rubbish and few alcohol problems. Now the community's major non-welfare income is under a cloud with the closure of the Desart Gallery in Alice Springs (Alice News, Nov 14). Mr Kozeluh says he is preparing a report to ATSIC raising some serious questions – not for the first time – about its funding of Desart Inc. Both he and David Ogilvy, manager of Warlukurlangu (Place of Fire) Artists at Yuendumu, which also turns over $500,000 a year, describe the shutting of the gallery in Bath Street as "disastrous". Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne says: "What was ATSIC doing? "They were apparently aware of the financial problems in that organisation for a long time. "It's yet another case where we are failing to apply strict commercial principles to an operation using public funds. We can't afford these failure rates because they just give everyone a bad name," says Dr Toyne. "There needs to be a very strong review of what organisations like the land councils and ATSIC are doing to support enterprises." Meanwhile an insider, who did not wish to be named, says the closure of the gallery was an unnecessary panic move over what amounts to little more than a minor cash flow problem of around $100,000 in a $200m industry. "The creditors are mainly the art centres," says the source. "No-one's breaking down the doors of the gallery demanding money. "The sensible thing would have been to trade out of these difficulties." Desart executive officer Rose Wallis, in the job for less than two months, will not comment in detail, only saying that the gallery, which is "self funding", is in "a very difficult position". ATSIC isn't saying much either. The emerging picture has worrying similarities to the notorious string of failed Aboriginal enterprises:- • ATSIC supplies funding. • ATSIC provides no day to day management support or supervision, doing nothing further than, presumably, looking at the annual audits. • Disaster – or just a minor hiccup – strikes. • ATSIC sends in its auditors, usually a hired private firm of accountants, who are absolutely unaware of the intricacies of the enterprise, and are merely looking at the bottom line. • Worried it may be seen to be wasting public money, ATSIC pulls the pin. Some more taxpayer's money has gone down the gurgler. In the case of Desart the source describes this process as an "arse covering exercise". ATSIC says it is not funding the gallery, owned by Desart Aboriginal Enterprises Pty Ltd, but Desart Inc, which is continuing to operate. It gets $250,000 a year from ATSIC.Questions have been raised whether Desart Inc funds – coming from ATSIC – have been used for the gallery. ATSIC says this is an issue currently under investigation. The source says ATSIC auditors told Desart Inc to close down the gallery. ATSIC says it suggested to Desart Inc to get legal advice. An ATSIC spokesman says: "It is not our job to tell them to close down the gallery nor to stop trading." As usual the objectives of Desart are full of good intentions. Aboriginal art is ballooning as an Australian export industry. Some of its practitioners – often illiterate tribal people living in humpies – are amongst the nation's top arts income earners. Yet massive amounts are creamed off by "carpetbaggers" and the copyright of designs is ripped off by souvenir manufacturers. Successive sales escalate the price of single paintings into tens of thousands of dollars while the painters received a pittance. Mr Kozeluh says in the normal course of events an artist would get $1000 for a painting sold in Sydney for $3500. Enter Desart. It is now representing 39 remote art centres in the wider Central Australian region. On the financial side Desart Inc is responsible for distributing ATSIC money to some of the centres, usually "operational grants" covering staff wages. For example, Ampilatwatja gets $52,000 a year. Says Mr Kozeluh: "Desart handled all our bills. "They ran everything, all our finance. "We need to look further into this, investigate why the enterprise hasn't been monitored more closely. "ATSIC drops money into it and then walks away from it. "You feel it at this end. "With all meetings ATSIC has, all the fluff that's flying around at the moment, they have not been out here." Mr Kozeluh says he's been telling Desart "for months" that things weren't going well. The centre is considering setting up its own, independent sales organisation, possibly in cooperation with Urapuntja (Utopia). On the other hand, if the successful art centres band together, those less advanced would be left behind with little prospect for development without an organisation such as Desart. Some centres, such as Warlukurlangu, have a direct deal with ATSIC. Mr Ogilvy won't disclose the level of ATSIC funding but says it is for "some of the staff". Desart got into trouble soon after it decided to go beyond its largely administrative and representative role and opened an art gallery in Alice Springs some two years ago, in the former REPCO building, corner Stott Terrace and Bath Street. Both Warlukurlangu and Ampilatwatja sold only a small portion of their output through this now closed gallery (less than five per cent and around 10 per cent respectively). Their main trading is with local and interstate galleries, increasingly overseas via the internet, and – in the case of Warlukurlangu – around 50 per cent with tourists passing through Yuen-dumu under a relaxed entry permit system. However, both centres see the gallery as a vital facility: a showcase in Alice Springs, and a base where artists can call in during visits to town. Says Mr Kozeluh: "It's important to have a base where art centres can work together, to show their art. Desart was the only marketing opportunity for some of the centres." And it wasn't just in The Alice: Desart dabbled in a gallery in Sydney, also now closed. Mr Ogilvy says that gallery was a big hit for Warlukurlangu which sold 21 of 25 works in one exhibition. However, the galleries flopped, and the reasons why are now the focus of a great deal of soul searching. Mr Ogilvy, whose centre represents 300 artists, says the damage lies partly in the public perception of the failure: "If a major Aboriginal art gallery like that closes, which has higher ethical standards, it's rather sad and a loss. "Public confidence in the product is shaken." There appears to be no suggestion of criminal conduct but a lot of questions are being asked about competence. The galleries – described by Ms Wallis as "self funding" – clearly were not. Mr Kozeluh says he wants to know whether Desart Inc money went into the galleries, whether "Peter was being robbed to pay Paul". The gallery income was from sales commissions. The source says the galleries, essentially run by well meaning volunteers, were answerable to the artists, who ultimately are the owners of the organisation. The Desart galleries were "taking on an industry", seeking the maximum return to the artists: "There was no fat," says the source. On the other hand, rather than shutting down the galleries – or at least the one in The Alice – the artists would no doubt have agreed to bump up the commissions.

TERRITORY WORKS ON TRACK DESPITE LABOR DEFEAT IN CANBERRA.

Eighty days into its first ever term of office the NT Labor government is headlong into a string of initiatives. Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne says the finishing touches are being put on the mini budget to be announced next week. Law and order reforms with particular emphasis on drugs are on the drawing board, and negotiations over native title in Alice Springs are getting into top gear. Meanwhile Dr Toyne says the defeat of Labor – who were going to put $11m into the Central Australian Desert Knowledge project – in the Federal elections won't affect the NT Government's commitment to the initiative. Says Dr Toyne: "We'll be going ahead hammer and tongs in this term of government. "We'll be looking at increased funding levels next financial year once we've got through our initial budget problems."He says the next law and order initiatives will include "pretty stringent laws" about the manufacture and distribution of drugs, giving police "wide powers" and increased resources, and bringing in "stronger provisions for the rehabilitation of drug users." These will be introduced early next year along with the repeal of the CLP's anti social behaviour Act. "Forty per cent of property crime is related to drugs," says Dr Toyne. Approving Methadone treatment is "a work in progress. We haven't come to a conclusion".
• Mini Budget: "It won't be draconian:"We won't be looking at slashing and burning."
He says the Martin Government has brought in an unprecedented openness about the state of the Territory's finances. • Capital works: Details – including timing within the first term of the government – about $5m worth of works on Traeger Park, and the troublesome sewage plant (pictured above), will be announced before the end of the year. In the short term the effluent overflow will be directed into the Todd but the long term solutions will include reusing the water for horticulture.
• Minor new works worth $16m throughout the NT will be announced, with about $4m spent in The Centre, mainly road works and repair and maintenance to buildings. Dr Toyne says the Native Title framework agreement "is now the top priority. "We've indicated to the Central Land Council (CLC) that we want to start talking turkey. "We know the place is land locked and we've got to get out of this current situation as quickly as possible. "The CLC have come to the table with some creative ideas and attitudes."
• Owen Springs: No decisions about its use have been made. A hand over to Aboriginal interests is "improbable because we're aware of the very large number of [other] interests already indicated," ranging from motor sports, pastoralism, residential and Parks and Wildlife.
• Public service reform: The Office for Central Australia has been "received very well". "We are actively looking at making some of the positions in Central Australia more senior. "We're also thinking of moving units of the government down here." Dr Toyne is not ruling out the transfer of whole departments to Central Australia. (The Tourist Commission and the parks authorities were headquartered here but moved to Darwin by CLP governments.)
• Commercial opportunities on Aboriginal land: "We don't see any sense in endless litigation to try and figure out comparative rights to access and use of land. "We're moving towards very coherent processes. "The challenge for the land councils is now to respond to these new conditions, put up a creative process with the kind of attitudes you need for these sorts of agreements. "Everyone has to trust each other and everyone has to take some risks. "We're going to find a balance between the different sectional interests and move the place on as a whole. "The land councils have been waiting for these opportunities for 26 years [of CLP rule]. "We're ready to deal, and to deal fairly, but they have to understand that we represent the interests of all people in the Territory," says Dr Toyne. "I think joint ventures on Aboriginal land are very much the way to go. "Long term leases [such as the CLC is proposing for a horticultural project at Utopia] maintain the freehold status of land but allow commercial activities of sufficient length of time to provide security for investments. "That's clearly the way to go. We'll just have to pursue that as hard as we can go."

GROWING PAINS. Column by ANN CLOKE.

Friends sometimes accuse me of looking at life through rose-coloured glasses – I don't own any grey ones! Last week I thought I'd walk the mall, have a coffee (or two) and take a critical look at Alice.In this politically correct age we're not allowed to make judgements, so I won't mention loiterers, drunks, obscenities being screamed at full volume, dogs, litter or offensive smells. That was in the carpark, and early! There is anger in the town and there have been a number of particularly unpleasant incidents lately: indecent assaults, murders, bashings, drug related break-ins, home invasions and senseless acts of property damage. We're not talking city stuff here – this is where we live, Alice Springs. It would be naēve to assume that our community will retain its small town status and feeling of absolute security as the country's best kept secret is discovered. (Have you been to Alice Springs? It's a wonderful town with employment prospects, incredible landscape, great weather and lifestyle). People from all walks of life gravitating to the Alice may bring with them different complications (old baggage?) so, suddenly, we have new issues to contend with… Friend, Julie, remembers the first time she locked her car – it was back in the 1970's. There were new groups of people around and there'd been a couple of "incidents", so she thought she'd rather be safe than sorry.On Saturday morning, David and I had breakfast in the mall with friends, Ruth and Carl and their little boys. My brother Norm joined us and introduced Ken and Bianca, recent arrivals from Western Australia, here for work. Bianca was so excited. She couldn't believe they were actually in the Centre: she'd always wanted to visit and isn't Alice Springs such a beautiful town, so vital, so spiritual, and what glorious weather!And yes, they'd heard quite a lot about the town and were told (by others) about our social problems. That certainly didn't put them off the prospect of relocating to the Centre: "Name one town without problems. The quieter they seem to be, the weirder they are."Bianca is impressed with the visible police presence: she added that at least we seem to be trying to address issues, rather than stick heads in the sand. I lunched with Cate. She was re-elected to the Chair at the CATIA (Central Australian Tourism Industry Assoc) AGM on November 9. We sat, people-watching and talked about our town, local issues, positive and negative, holidays (Cate and Jen enjoyed a brief interlude in Tasmania – beautiful, but chilly in summer) and tourism. Krafty, always optimistic, joined us for five minutes, and he concurred. Where else would we rather be? Sometimes we need to remember what first attracted us to the town: the relaxed lifestyle, sense of community, magical landscape and big skies. Alice is experiencing growing pains: there's a new sense of awareness.Even without (rose coloured) glasses I'm lucky – I know all the reasons I love living in the Alice.

STRUTTING THEIR STUFF. Report by STEPHANIE HARRIRSON.

Take six girls, make-up, music, and an hour of fun, and you have one of the Alice Springs Models and Casting Agency's classes. Keely, Kristen, Jessica, Manekha, Kate and Samantha are six out of the agency's 30 students and last week I went to one of their rehearsals to see exactly what they get up to. The agency is self-run by Janet Simpson who took over from Bryn Williams in 1996. Janet was once a professional model in Alice Springs and the Northern Territory and is a qualified make-up artist. "The models and casting agency is basically just a fun afternoon for kids to be with their friends and make new friends," she said. The agency isn't aimed at modelling so much as teaching the students more self-awareness and the ability to express themselves more openly and confidently. However, they also learn about that particular area of the fashion industry at the same time! "The students learn many things," Janet said."They learn about grace and confidence of movement, head to toe grooming, catwalk posture, basic body posture and movement, vocal and visual expression and the expression of confidence and self-esteem." Sounds like fun! Three classes are held every Tuesday afternoon of the school term with students aged from seven to around 15. Janet likes to keep her classes small as she prefers to work closely with all her students. "It's more of a regular social thing," said Janet, "more of a fun afternoon than anything else." "We get given lollies every week!" the girls all said. The girls I spoke to found out about the agency through letters sent to their school and their friends. They've all been in it since the start of the year as enrolments are only taken in the second week of term one each year. Kate, 13, said, "My parents made me join so that I can have better posture and learn how to speak and walk better. "Also, so I'd start wearing skirts instead of basketball shorts!" Manekha, 12, said, "We learn how to put on make-up and how to walk properly. One time Janet made us carry CD covers on our heads. We kept dropping and breaking them!" During the class I attended, the girls rehearsed their dance sequence to Madonna's "Music" that will be part of their Presentation Night performance. And if it's glitter and hairclips the girls like, then that's what they're going to get! A few of the things on the list of what to wear at their Presentation Night next week: glitter gel, hairclips, butterfly clips and false eyelashes. Hair dryers, crimpers and curlers are on the list of things to bring. But no hairspray: some people are allergic to the stuff. Even with all this valuable experience behind them, Janet doesn't think many of the girls will pursue a career in modelling. And while the girls think it would be an okay job to do, they've got different plans for their futures. Keely, 10, and Kate both want to be forensic scientists or actresses; Samantha, 13, wants to be a detective; Manekha wants to be a singer or an actress; Kristen, 11, wants to own a cattle station; and Jessica, 11, wants to be a hairdresser. Go girls! In the agency the girls do fashion parades, photo shoots and demonstration work throughout the year. "People ring up when they have a ‘do' on and need models," said Janet. "The majority of the time they're looking for women, so the girls aren't employed. But they do get hired for parades and functions where they want models for children's or teenagers' clothes." The Models and Casting Agency has already done two fashion parades this year. Their third and final parade for the year will be in the Alice Plaza on December 8. Why don't you go along and see the girls strut their stuff!?!

CRICKET SET FOR OUTRIGHT RESULTS!

Dominance by the bowlers at Traeger Park on the weekend turned what was expected to be a high scoring extravaganza into a game poised for an outright result.West and Rovers met on the town's premier pitch which in recent weeks has shown to be a strip made for the batsmen. West took first use of the crease only to see the wickets tumble through the order. Openers Shane Law and Rob Wright failed to get the Bloods off to their usual solid start. Blues skipper Mark Nash had Law caught by Matt Pile (five) and Wright fell to a catch to Craig Murphy off the arm of Tye Rayfield for four.Nash then made further in roads in the West attack by dismissing Brian Manning (nine) and David Clarke (six) which put the pressure on the "run machine" Vowles. Unlike performances to date Vowles failed to consolidate. On 18 he fell to a Gavin O'Toole catch off new recruit Paul Isbel. Isbel has come to Rovers from Margaret River in the West and impressed on debut finishing with 1/10.With Vowles back in the pavilion the West tail could do little to curtail the rout. Jeremy Biggs and Adam Stockwell added five a piece before falling to the venom of returnee Kym Mason who picked up three wickets in succession. Also joining in the celebration was Craig Murphy who declared himself to "be back" in scooping up the tail. The only resistance in the bottom order came from Peter Tabart who was defiant with 10 not out at the close of the innings. Maybe consideration could be given to Tabs batting up the order!After the fall of 10 wickets West had put together a mere 68 and were looking right down the barrel. Nash and Mason had three wickets each to their name and Murphy added two to his career tally, and the innings had been closed after only 42 overs.The Blues took to the willow full of confidence. Matt Pyle got away to his consistent start and Jamie Carmen looked secure until young Sean Cantwell had him caught by Shane Law for nine. Pyle went on to make 23 before Vowles had the umpire put his finger up for an LBW appeal. Indeed this decision was the first of another three LB's given in Vowles' favour during the innings. Vowles seemed to be pitching up slow cutters, harmless enough in appearance but deceiving the batsman. At the other end Jeremy Biggs was striding out with consistent line and length. His pace was enough to unsettle O'Toole who was caught Law for 14 just prior to drinks. Early in the late session Vowles had Rayfield dismissed "plumb" for 14. This was Rayfield's fourth consecutive Leg Before dismissal, and the matter may be worth consideration in the nets during the week. The show went on and Biggs struck for a second time when he clean bowled Shane Trembath for five. At this point the Blues were only three runs off, taking the first innings points and four wickets had been lost.Vowles persevered with his gentle approach and in dismissing both Nash (five) and Isbel for a duck to LBW decisions, Rovers' lower batting order was exposed. Peter Kleinig offered stoic resistance in cracking 20, but otherwise the tail did not wag. Mason although accruing a duck could well have gone first ball as he declared himself later to be "plumb" to the mystique of Vowles. Probably the only dismissal worthy of being declared bad luck was that of Murphy: when backing up at the bowlers' end he was run out off a deflected straight drive.In a space of 32 overs the Blues had been dismissed for 94, thus making for a second day's play of intrigue next Saturday. At Albrecht Oval a more expected afternoon of cricket prevailed. However it was far from without interest. At the toss Matt Forster elected to bowl, which in the light of the Albrecht track, weather conditions at this time of the year, and RSL's lack of strike bowler BJ Rowse, seemed surprising.Allan Rowe didn't waste any time in enthusing the Demons as a result of this decision and bat Feds did. Rory Hood and Matt Allen again opened the innings with Hood once again failing to build the innings. He was dismissed for eight when caught off a Cameron Robertson delivery. Allen progressed to 17 before falling to Wayne Egglington, but from there the Feds' batting line-up produced some respectability. Star of the middle order was Craig Prettejohn. "Buckets" was no doubt under the hammer to perform and that he did. He contributed 50 before giving Egglington a second scalp. Peter Smith also picked up two wickets, both vital. However it was not before Roger Weckert amassed 45 and Jarrod Wapper, 39. Tom Clements showed some form with a handy 27, while in the tail Shane Lynch and Allan Rowe hit 17 and 15 respectively.This enabled the Demons to set RSL a target of 247, good in any one's language!RSL went to the crease in the last minutes and were able to score 20 without loss. They are on the chase and on Saturday all will be revealed.

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