ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
April 3, 2002.



ALICE JUST A POOR COUSIN TO BOOMING DARWIN FESTIVAL? Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Just five months out from its scheduled dates, the Alice Springs Festival - one of the key components of Outback Central 2002 - has yet to have any funding released to it. Last week the town council knocked back direct funding of a director's position for the festival, and instead put their Outback Central contribution of $100,000 into the pot with the Federal and Territory Government contributions of, respectively, $850,000 and $500,000. This money will be distributed according to the recommendations of a community-based committee, chaired by senior public servant John Baskerville. A project officer will be appointed to assist the committee, which at this stage is meeting weekly. The three main components of Outback Central - the "premier event", as we keep being told, of the national Year of the Outback - will be a forum hosted by Desert Knowledge Australia; the Outback Expo, involving outback communities from around the country; and the Alice Springs Festival. The festival is the only one of the three that does not have the support of a permanent home base. Indeed, this year, without even a regional arts officer in place (the former officer having resigned last December and the position yet to be filled), it has had less support than it did last year. What the festival does have is an enthusiastic voluntary committee, who brought to fruition, beyond expectation, last year's diverse and vibrant inaugural event. Coordinator of that event, Sonja Maclean De Silva, engaged for four months last year, has been working without pay since the second week of January laying the groundwork for this year's event. This has included making submissions for funding, on behalf of the committee (an incorporated body, which she chairs) to the Australia Council, Festivals Australia, Arts NT, and the town council, and preparation of future submissions to Telstra and PAWA. In the absence of a regional arts officer, Ms Maclean De Silva has also supported a number of artists and community groups to develop funding proposals for events that will make up the festival's program. She is currently working on a submission to the Australia Council for support for the 2003 festival – it is the committee's vision that the Alice festival be an annual event. Their submission to the town council was for $100,000 to cover a 12 month director's salary and part-time administrative support, as well as a small budget to lend overall support to the events program. The council's Cultural Strategy and Plan identified an arts festival as a way of assisting "development of new niche markets, value adding industries and other opportunities" and stated that such an event should be supported from the annual budget as far back as 1999. Last year they allocated $10,150 to the inaugural festival. A further $10,000 came from Arts NT, which also offered substantial in-kind support, especially through the regional arts officer whose contribution was valued at $20,000. Arts NT's sponsorship of individual events amounted to $37,750. Local and interstate business sponsorship of the festival, generated by Ms Maclean De Silva in a matter of weeks, came to $23,000. In this Year of the Outback, just when the nation's spotlight will be on Alice Springs, council's main reason for rejecting the festival's submission, according to Mayor Fran Kilgariff, was that a full-time salary to support a 10 day event seemed "excessive". The Alice News asked Fabrizio Callafuri, full-time executive director of the Festival of Darwin for the last 10 years, now its artistic director, employed three quarter time and supported by a full-time administrator, what kind of preparation is involved in producing an annual festival. The Festival of Darwin, then the Bougainvillea Festival, won its first NT Brolga Award for excellence in tourism in 1987.In the Bicentennial year the event also won the National Tourism Award for festivals. After four consecutive Brolgas the Festival was inducted into the Brolga Hall of Fame. With a vision of becoming a cultural focus for the Arafura region and getting bigger every year, the festival now receives an operational budget of $120,000 from Arts NT, and $35,000 from Darwin City Council. On top of this the NT Government supplies it with an office and a 1200 square metre workshop space. It is then the job of the staff to raise additional funds to support the festival program, says Mr Callafuri. These come from three main sources: business and corporate sponsorship, amounting to around $80,000; Australia Council and Festivals Australia grants, which vary from around $40,000 up to $100,000, depending on a range of factors; and box office takings, which have grown to around $20,000. There are also substantial in-kind contributions, especially from the Darwin City Council's workforce. Altogether, the festival over the last five years has had an average turnover, including in-kind support, of $.5m.Says Mr Callafuri: "Whether the festival is a 10 day or three week event, at the end of the day you need someone to have their mind on the job most of the year round. "The Australia Council and Festivals Australia are the prime funding bodies for regional festivals. "They operate a range of funds, which in turn have a range of sub-categories, each of which has a separate closing date for submissions, falling in most months of the year. "Until you have your project proposals in front of you, you don't know which of these closing dates will be relevant to you." Mr Callafuri has also worked on a number of local government festivals interstate, with small budgets (under $50,000), employing a coordinator for around three months: "They have no chance of taking advantage of the funding opportunities that exist at a national level, so they can only do events that don't have a development time involved in them. "Alice Springs, like Darwin, has enormous potential to put up some good projects. "It may cost $50,000 to employ someone to coordinate it but you're guaranteed to get at least that and more back from the funding bodies. "It would be money well-spent." Meanwhile, Ms Maclean De Silva and the Alice festival committee, with an exciting program waiting to be developed, are having to hang fire. "It's so frustrating that this is happening in the year that Alice is becoming a national and international showcase," says Ms Maclean De Silva.



FLAGSHIP BLACK BUSINESS COPING WITH DIFFICULTIES. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Alice Springs' most prominent Aboriginal owned arts and tour business has offered selected creditors 75 cents in the dollar. But manager and part owner Paul Ah Chee says the Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Centre in Todd Street is sound and he expects the sale of part of the business will end current problems. A firm of accountants, acting "within our authority as the ATSIC appointed Business Agent", said in a letter to creditors of the company's parent organisation, the Pwerte Marnte Marnte Aboriginal Corporation (PMM): "The organisation has been able to secure a limited amount of funds for the payment of creditors." And in a letter to one creditor the firm of accountants says: "At this stage PMM have constructed a list of creditors it would like to pay first, of which you are one. "Others will be paid out of expected profits of the business during the next 12 months." Mr Ah Chee says he will be seeking to resolve the impasse by splitting off the successful tour business from the gallery, and selling a 75 per cent share in it to an Adelaide based gallery. He says an offer for 55 per cent is currently on the table and he is negotiating for the balance. Mr Ah Chee says the amount owed is about $60,000 and all except one of the local creditors, to whom the 75 cents in the dollar offer has been made, have accepted it. The company is continuing trading with these companies, on a cash basis. Mr Ah Chee says the Adelaide buyer is proposing to keep open the gallery in Todd Street. Mr Ah Chee is a member of the Australian Tourism Commission. His businesses have won two NT Brolgas, one Australian Tourism Award and an international award for socially responsible eco tourism. He says the company is Alice Springs' largest private enterprise employer of Aboriginal people, with a staff of 20, 14 of whom work in the tour arm of the business. He says the company has trained about 60 Aboriginal people in the arts and tour business since 1995.



YOUTH REFUGE: GETTING IT RIGHT NEXT TIME 'ROUND? Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

The Department of Health, one of the two major funding bodies of the Indigenous youth refuge, Aranda House, had practically no knowledge about the running of the now defunct facility. The department had an agreement to pay $101,000 a year for seven beds a day – or $40 a bed per day, roughly double the rate charged by backpacker accommodation in Alice Springs. Aranda House, run by the chronically troubled Central Australian Child Care Agency (CAACCA), was closed on March 19 because of cost overruns. The Alice News has received information that wages had blown out by almost $32,000 from $93,783 to $125,428 although the facility was largely staffed by volunteers. Other blowouts included $9289 for an unfair dismissal claim, and $5160 for legal fees without such expenses having been budgeted for. The building itself, in South Terrace, is leased from the Department of Correctional Services for a peppercorn rent. CAACCA chairman Brian White, despite several requests, failed to provide any comment to the News. The Health Department's head in Alice Springs, Sue Korner, says the seven beds were for children referred to the refuge by the department's Family and Children's Services (FACS), and also for "those kids who are picked up sometimes by the night patrol who fit the ‘at risk' criteria". "So it's not only the referrals from FACS." Ms Korner says on average, all seven beds paid for by the department (there are about 30 in all in the refuge) were used every night, but she was unable to say how many referrals were from FACS. "I think it would be around five," she says. Are there precise records of children referred by FACS? "Probably not, we don't actually sit down and record those … not at our end. "We are relying on the service provider end" for figures. Ms Korner says: "I have no idea what their total budget is. "Whether or not it's half a million I just don't know." She says the arrangement was purely on a fee for service basis. The department had received all it paid for, having now stopped funding after the third quarter of 2001 / 2002. "In the past we would have structured an agreement around how many staff does this employ, what does that mean in operational expenses. "We don't actually do that any more. "We negotiate up front for the service we want to purchase, ‘tell us how much that's going to cost us on a daily, quarterly or annual basis'. "We don't go down to what component of this is actually going into salaries or operations," says Ms Korner. "We don't monitor it at that level." In an interview with the News Ms Korner was asked whether she had a complete picture of the refuge's operation. Ms Korner said: "It's not something that often happens. "I mean there are a lot of organisations that receive funding from various sources, and not necessarily do we all have an understanding of what exactly those contributions are." Given that her department had been referring several children a night to the refuge, would she not want to know exactly what was going on there? "Absolutely." Does she? "Do we know all the time? Not all the time, no. "That's a very valid point" for the planning of future services. (Aboriginal Hostels is now looking for a new service provider for the refuge.) Says Ms Korner: "What should a future service actually look like, how do you manage the expectations of various funding bodies, and make sure that the organisation that does provide the services doesn't have so many competing reporting demands" are issues worth looking at. "It would come back to a better coordinated approach." She says her department had not had any talks with the other major funder of the refuge, Aboriginal Hostels, which contributed $130,000 a year. However, "we were part of the meeting to discuss this issue on the March 15, 2002, when all funding bodies advised Aranda House that there would be no more supplementary funding, and again on March 20".Says Ms Korner: "There needs to be better coordination, how to help these organisations to manage the expectations of various funding bodies. This goes to the nub of the problem. "The management of these organisations would not be pulled in so many different directions. "When an organisation such as Aranda House which had been established for some time has its funding reduced, it has no option but to either close or seek alternate funding sources. "If alternate funding sources are available, it can also be a double edged sword as it means that the expectations and criteria associated with the new source of funds may not be exactly the same as previously existed. "The organisation is then required to try and meet these new requirements and this can present some internal difficulties for the organisation in trying to respond to the various needs of the funding agencies."Ms Korner says CAACCA had been required merely to provide a "standard" six monthly report. She believed ATSIC was a contributor of major funds to Aranda House but in fact the commission had withdrawn its support some two years ago when CAACCA's spending record was being questioned. The News was unable to find out whether CAACCA had implemented recommendations of an ATSIC report at the time.

Column by ANN CLOKE: Todd Mall: bricks, bats and brickbats.

Coffees, al fresco, with Francoise and Jenny chatting about life, anything and everything …Last week I was here with Stephanie, Lori and other friends, small business operators, and we talked about the mall, prior to 1987, when Todd Street boasted a single lane south/north traffic flow. It was convenient for delivery vans, street cleaning, rubbish, security and police vehicles, and there was plenty of parallel parking which made it easy for people to "pop in" to the various shops.The Todd Street traders were asked what they thought about converting their street into a mall. There were pros and cons: Many traders were against the idea, but the Council of the day pushed ahead:It was flavour of the month: malls were IN around Australia. Feasibility studies were conducted in city centres such as Adelaide, Brisbane and Townsville. Most had malls, different demographics and a greater population base then the Alice.Some traders were worried about splitting the town into three separate shopping precincts, Todd Mall, Yeperenye Centre and the Coles Complex. Others were concerned (justifiably as it transpired) that converting Todd Street into a mall might create a dirty rubbish strewn walkway through the centre of town, attract unsavoury elements and anti social behaviour in general, especially after dark.Anyway, the street was dug up and after months of dust, noise and inconvenience to traders and everyone else, we had our mall.Many locals tendered to try to become the successful contractors: consultants, planners, engineers, designers, concrete suppliers, brick-layers, landscapers, plumbers, electricians, sail-makers and builders banded together to create Todd Mall. People bought bricks at $25 each and were presented with a little certificate which states that "the certificate holder is entitled to a named brick placed in the Todd Mall", and goes on: "Todd Mall is the focal point in the very heart of Alice Springs. Two blocks of fully paved and landscaped tranquillity where locals and tourists can shop and stroll, meet and absorb the atmosphere of this unique town."False advertising or perhaps the hype of absolute optimism? Either way, it's not quite what happens, is it? Apart from Sundays, market days. Is it time to consider re-opening our mall, either all, or part of it, to traffic? It's generally agreed that where there's activity there's less likely to be anti-social behaviour and vandalism. Opening the mall up to traffic would mean better access to the town centre and might make it tougher for hooligans to create havoc after dark. It's not going to alleviate the real problem, the lawlessness of undesirables. Owners should be encouraged to convert the levels above shop fronts into housing apartments which will then attract inner city residents and extra people means extra activity, which should act as a deterrent. Then again, most people are in bed by the time the rampaging, window breaking, property invasions (sounds so much better than "break-in", doesn't it?) and hooliganism begins.Some traders have resorted to securing their premises with heavy aluminium shutters and roller doors – this means that after hours window shopping is out, but plate glass windows will be in tact and all stock should be in situ when they open up the next morning One proprietor, Barry, said that he's seen me, with David, strolling down the mall. (I love our mall walks!) Barry is one of many people who want the mall left alone, so that people are able to continue to enjoy al fresco dining without petrol fumes and the hazard of moving traffic: He, together with other traders, thinks that extra night patrols are needed. Do we need to follow Port Augusta's idea? Introduce enforceable curfews for anyone seen loitering on the streets after midnight. The question then is: what do we do with the offenders? It was certainly bothersome to learn (Alice News, Mar 27) that Aranda House, the youth refuge run by the Aboriginal Child Care Agency, has shut down. Residents, ratepayers, traders and others helped finance the Todd Mall project. I've spoken to friends, and between us, we "own" quite a few bricks although, according to the certificate, "that property at all times in the said brick remains with the Alice Springs Town Council…". Todd Mall is the focal point of our town. It should be an attractive, inviting environment for shopping, dining, movie viewing, meeting, greeting and interacting with friends and family.Brickbat, it's not. The Alice Springs Town Council owns the mall, and like any other landlord should look to the police and law enforcers for suggestions of how better to protect this property. Whether it's employing around the clock security guards who patrol the mall on foot with guard dogs, installation of security cameras (which can only be effective if offenders are prosecuted once they're apprehended) or other ideas, something must be done because current policing policies don't seem to be working: Perhaps the real issue is whose job is it to protect our properties, the owners or the police?

KNOWLEDGE 'SALES' STILL DOWN THE TRACK. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) project officer Mike Crowe says the initiative is making good progress setting up networks, but "products for sale" are still some way down the track. He says DKA's present focus is – • the bid, to be submitted in May, for $21m in Federal funds and commercial partnerships to set up a Cooperative Research Centre (Alice News, March 27). The application is being drafted with help from CSIRO's Mark Stafford-Smith, the interim CEO of the bid funded by CSIRO, NTU and NT Government, in conjunction with a "broad based steering committee"; a Federal government decision is likely by the end of the year; • a workshop in late August, part of the year of the Outback Expo, to develop DKA across the nation's desert areas and overseas; • and the creation of an appropriate legal entity. "This is not a traditional static model of a secondary industry producing items for sale," says Mr Crowe. "We're talking about knowledge industry. The world knowledge market. "The sorts of exports we're talking about are knowledge exports, expertise, know-how, design. How to make things work." Mr Crowe recently took a road show, including the Mayor Fran Kilgariff, and representatives from Batchelor Institute and CLC, to Pt Augusta, Broken Hill, Mt Isa, Tennant Creek and Kalgoorlie. He says: "One of the examples we gave is that solar technology is being developed outside desert Australia because that's where the industrial base is. "But the knowledge we have is how to make solar power work in highly dispersed, small communities and cattle stations, and in many cases in a cross cultural context. "That's the knowledge we're thinking of exporting. "But if you want Desert Knowledge to turn over a million dollars tomorrow you won't get it. "Out of the expertise we've identified locally [including a workshop last October] we still don't have the critical mass to address a huge contract overseas." Mr Crowe says local suppliers are "developing their expertise but they're focussing on their own back yard," with insufficient excess capacity for an international contract. "The concept of Desert Knowledge Australia, based in Alice Springs, is to bring together the providers from across desert Australia." The road show, "which has been incredibly well received", aimed at getting "people to work together across that desert region". However, there remains a chicken and egg element: why set up DKA without being certain that there will be a market for the products it will ultimately produce? Is it worth setting up an elaborate structure without knowing the commercial value of its intended output? Should not the market guide the structure of DKA? Mr Crowe says the initiative can be "supply driven or demand driven". However, there is still no comprehensive register of assets (what is it that we have for sale), nor of the national and international demand. (There other nations with significant desert living skills. Israel, for example, has managed to turn large chunks of desert into highly productive land, a task that is still eluding us.) Mr Crowe urges patience: "We're not even at that point yet," he says. "We've created a network whose strength is that it has support from indigenous and non-indigenous community groups, and is based in Central Australia. "We're at the point now that we're offering that idea, and an opportunity for partnerships to the other communities across desert Australia. "We're inviting those people to come in August to workshop how we're going to develop DKA. "In tandem with that the team is working really hard towards the May deadline for the Cooperative Research Centre bid, and in that context networks and partnerships are being created, and potential ideas are being worked through. "In the midst of all that, asking me which products we're going to have on the market next week is a little out of turn." In any case, the structure so far isn't all that elaborate. Currently DKA is driven by "one and a half people" – Mr Crowe full time and committee chairman Ken Johnson half time – with help from "government and other sources". As reported last week, recruitment is under way for a full time executive officer (NT Government funded) and a full time support person (Commonwealth funded through Regional Solutions). Says Mr Crowe: "The NT Government support for the project has meant that agencies are participating as part of their core business. "Other agencies – local Government, indigenous groups, Chamber of Commerce – are also participating as part of their core business." At this point the part of the initiative focussed on marketable "knowledge products" relies on the faith that we can produce the goods, and the world will want them. Some concrete examples are beginning to emerge: "Best practice" desert buildings is one, says Mr Crowe, with the new Centre for Remote Health nearing completion, and the Desert People's Centre on the drawing board. The latter would be part of the proposed DKA complex south of The Gap, including Yirara College, CSIRO and the Parks and Wildlife Service. Mr Crowe says there is also the argument – a rationale for most teaching institutions – that research and study may not at all times have an immediate financial reward, but in many cases will have a commercial use later on. DKA, he says, is now laying the groundwork for that, "improving the quality of life for people across desert Australia; to harness that knowledge and market it internationally, where appropriate; and to encourage people to stay in desert Australia or move here". "The whole thing is a major networking exercise, broadening the economic base of desert Australia," says Mr Crowe. As response to the road show has demonstrated, "people see it as a concept that will work. "No, there isn't yet a specific project, but – by God – there are a lot of examples of what people want to suggest. "If we're trying to do it alone in Alice Springs, we are not going to have the resources to service international markets. "No, we haven't done a market test on this, but I'm damned sure there will be work internationally, given that a third of the world's surface is desert. There will be opportunities to export that knowledge. "If you're saying I don't know exactly what house design I'm going to sell to Morocco, you're right. "But I know if we're developing expertise in arid zone building design, then that's what we'll be selling."

CHOICE, OPPORTUNITY: GREAT EASTER SPORTS! Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.

If there was a sporting message echoed through the streets of Alice Springs over the weekend it was the value of choice and opportunity. At the velodrome on Dalgety Road, an amalgam of juniors and masters gathered from throughout the nation to attend the National Track titles. The velodrome is recognised as one of the best outdoor cycling facilities in the land and the weather conditions in the Centre were idyllic for top times. Hence it was no surprise to see almost 200 competitors at the track over Easter. With the completion of the titles yesterday, the cyclists ventured into the true Centralian vista with the Street Sprint from the southern end of the Mall, heralding a four day feast of two wheeled road racing. Today's road racing time trials are being conducted on the Ross Highway and tomorrow at 11am the Criterium street circuit around the Council Chambers precinct will be a must see for locals and tourists. The feature of Friday's racing will be the road race to Standley Chasm. At Arunga Park on Saturday and Sunday, petrol powered chariots contested the premium event in Formula 500 racing on the dish shaped, dirt track. And at Pioneer Park the traditional power machines of competition, horses, contested a racing card including five events and catering for 50 starters.In a contrasting test of skill, at the Alice Springs Golf Club, 140 would-be champions tackled the 54 hole Alice Open. Common to each of these sports was the ability of the people of the Centre to showcase the choice and opportunity that exists within our sporting life. The Velodrome, Arunga Park, Pioneer Park and the Golf Course are all venues that are rated as being up with the best in the land, and most acceptable for elite competition. At Traeger Park and Albrecht Oval also we saw an elite competition which in seven years has matured from embryonic stage to become a firm fixture on the Australian Cricket Board's calendar. The Imparja Cup provides Indigenous cricketers from across the nation with the chance to compete, on facilities that are recognised by the Australian Cricket Board as being of international standard. Traeger Park is indeed the ACB recognised pitch in the Territory, and has catered for an increasing number of touring sides in recent times, the latest being the West Indies, eighteen months ago. At Albrecht Oval, Alice Springs boasts a purpose built cricketing facility that draws the praise of all comers, be they players or spectators. It has character and class. The Imparja Cup had a modest beginning as a challenge match between players from Tennant Creek and Alice in 1995. Even two years ago it was merely a three way challenge with players from Borrolloola joining in and coming down by bus to have a hit. Last year the Super 8 formatted challenge endeavoured to take on a more national profile with teams from interstate invited. This Easter the Imparja Cup has grown into a truly national competition catering for play at two levels. The various states enter the Imparja Cup competition, and teams from within the Territory nominate for the Imparja Shield. To see teams like Tasmania dominating in the Cup, and the Tiwi Islands, fine tuning their skills with bat and ball in the Shield is in itself an outstanding accomplishment. So serious is the ACB about the Cup that they have had their Game Development Officer Megan Smith at the games throughout the carnival. Charlie King, as Chair of NT Indigenous Sport, has been here to play and promote the Cup. And the NTCE "heavies" Ralph Weise and Bruce Walker also have been on hand. The successful conduct of this competition is vital to providing choice and opportunity to Indigenous sports people. At the upper level, the ATSIC X1 versus the Prime Minister's X1 annual match at Manuka allows for elite exposure. Many of the players from that match have been playing on Traeger and Albrecht this weekend. From a Centralian perspective the Imparja Cup allows young Indigenous players to watch the game played at top level, to adopt role models, and to develop an interest in the game. Not all people are good footballers or softballers, hence the need to offer choice and opportunity. The social capital gained for the community by developing events and opportunities like the Imparja Cup speak for themselves. Greater participation will lead to greater appreciation of self worth, and a real contribution towards the solving of many of the social challenges facing rural Australia. That elite cyclists, speedway drivers, jockeys and horses, golfers, and Indigenous cricketers gathered in Alice Springs over Easter to both play and enjoy their sport, reflects the true meaning of Easter. It engenders feelings of belief in what can be achieved. For many youngsters innocently watching it may have meant a dawning of a new direction in life, involving a blend of aspiration, determination and self-confidence.

PIONEER PARK: CURTAIN RAISED.

Showcase time for the Alice Springs Turf Club is upon us with April being Cup Carnival month in the Centre. On Saturday the Easter card acted as a curtain raiser to the good times in store, with over 50 nominations received for a five event card.Indicative of the changing season at the park was the fact that Darwin gallopers appeared among the acceptances; trackside punting numbers were up; and sponsors entertained. In the lush surrounds of Pioneer Park, the Melanka Bar and Grill staff enticed all and sundry with tasty treats, the CLP hosted a party in the pavilion, while the YMCA put on a fun time for the kids in the Giddy Up Club. Even the Easter Bilby paid a visit. The Easter Egg Maiden, raced over 1100 metres attracted a field of 10. Anabel Jane, saddled up by Greg Carige, jumped from the ideal barrier five and proved too strong in the run to the line, winning by a length and a half. The 5-1 chance defeated Mr Soul at sevens who downed the fancied Racing Aces into third money by half a neck. Local hoop Terry Norton buttered up in the 1000 metre Bilby Class Four Handicap when he got Bronzed Ozzie (4-1) over the line by a short head. The win made it two in a row for the improving galloper, who outclassed the 7-1 chance Miss Janelle, with the 5-2 shot Swiftly beaten into third place by a length.The TROBIS event, the Cadbury Chocolate Class Four over 1200 metres for three year olds gave Barry Huppatz a chance to salute when he guided 6-4 starter Al Tayar to the line, a clear winner by three and a half lengths. Making a race of it for the minors were the hot to trot Norton on 10-1 chance Punk, who out gunned the well-supported Grey Desert (5-2) by a long neck. The other fancy of the sprint was Emmagh (5-2) who finished mid field.The Easter Saturday Class Six Handicap contested over 1100 metres proved to be a good thing for Darwin trainer Dick Leech, who prepared Aspen Star for the journey. The 5-1 chance prevailed by a length and a quarter over the similarly priced Bags Not, with Rockhound, also at the fives, a further length and a quarter away in third place.The feature race of the day was the Easter Handicap over 1000 metres. This attracted a field of 10, and proved to be an open betting affair. In the run to the line the Nev Connor trained, proven performer, Chalet's Magic with Brett Cornell on board, was too good on the day for stable mate St Milli, ridden by Terry Gillet. Both gallopers shared a starting price of 3-1 and raced to within half a neck of each other at the line. A length and a quarter back, 5-1 chance, Palooka (Norton) rattled on for third. Jim's Shout who attracted a lot of interest in the race, managed only fifth place. The Darwin performer Tordean, trained in the Top End by Stephen Brown, did not impress and ended close to the tail of the field. Now that the curtain has been raised, Centralians will revel in superb April racing culminating in the running of the Lasseters' Cup itself on May Day.


PINE GAP: WOMEN'S WRATH HITS BASE: GENDER, RACE ISSUES SEETHE.

Feminists have made powerful contributions to the anti-bases campaigns, both in Australia at Pine Gap and in the UK, at Greenham Common and Menwith Hill (which they re-named "Womenwith Hill"). SCOTT CAMPBELL-SMITH continues his history of the Pine Gap protests.

The women's peace camp at Pine Gap had its antecedent in the all-women peace camp active at Greenham Common, UK, a powerful, emotive and controversial protest action that brought together the peace movement, feminism and environmentalism in exciting and thought-provoking ways. Some Alice Springs based women (no pun intended) participated in the Greenham Common camp. At the same time, a group known as "Women for Survival" was developing nationally, growing rapidly after its first meetings in Canberra in 1982. Women all over the country formed and joined local branches (although there was no formal membership). Organisers from this group approached women in Alice Springs with the proposal to stage a protest camp at Pine Gap.Among their other tasks, local women were asked to provide an interface between visiting women and local Aboriginal politics. They were also asked to deal with practical matters such as permission to camp on the land and sacred sites concerns and to investigate the possibility of local Aboriginal women participating in the protest. In 1983, two months before the protest camp was to begin, two national organizers, one of whom had worked on the Greenham Common camp, came to Alice Springs to assist.Pam Ditton, a lawyer now based in NSW, was involved with the organizing in Alice Springs. She recalls: "We tried very hard to do that [the liaison with Aboriginal women] properly and I think we achieved a great deal. "It is the protest that had the strongest Aboriginal involvement of any I can recall [concerning the Pine Gap issue]. "In consulting with Aboriginal traditional owners of the Pine Gap area we discovered that they were violently opposed to the base on three grounds. "It closed off significant places. "And there was the Maralinga connection, so they considered it to be a dangerous place and fully expected that there would be bombs dropped on it. "They thought Americans should play war-games in their own country. "They were not necessarily interested in protesting, however. Although they eventually decided to participate in the opening march they decided not to camp out. "The Pitjantjatjara women were prevented from arriving in time for the march by rain, but they arrived later and were incredibly strong in their support. They arrived in time for the court hearings following the ‘Karen Silkwood' mass arrests and held a ‘pray-in' in the court foyer, which caused some cultural confusion. "There were also Aboriginal people from other states, and that caused some cultural confusion, as did the issue of Aboriginal men and their role in the issue and the protest. "Negotiating the race and gender politics was very difficult for local women. The debates around whether men could participate or assist in the protest were passionate and sometimes hurtful. "I think they were debates we had to have, however, and I think the issue was formative for many women in town, and for women all around Australia."Jenny Green, a linguist, was also involved at the time and recalls the event in similar terms: "Mostly I remember watching the complicated politics of race and gender, and in some instances being in the middle of heated debates. "Some women felt like they had to choose between feminism and anti-racism. It was a difficult learning experience for many women. "I think some people were really struggling with the realisation that the issues were a whole lot more complicated than they had previously thought and that they were broad community issues, not only gender issues." NEXT: 113 Karen Silkwoods!

MATES WITH CAKE MARK IRIS' 85TH. Report by DOROTHY GRIMM.

Friends of Iris Harvey did not want her 85th birthday to go unnoticed, so at 3pm last Wednesday, March 27, a small group gathered at her Todd Street premises, Arunta Art Gallery and Bookshop, to surprise Mrs Harvey with a cake, a good Australian pavlova, and birthday cheer. Mrs Harvey represents a slice of Alice Springs history as she has operated her shop for more than 44 years. Not only does she stock many books about Central Australia, some now out of print, but also carries a range of art supplies and has helped numerous artists over the years in many ways. Indeed in the midst of the birthday celebrations, she took time out to tell some young artists looking over her range of art supplies that she had received some information on a fast drying oil paint. Conversation ranged from times gone by in Alice to day-to-day chatter among people interested in getting to know one another better. Trying to find common ground, Mrs Harvey commented on what a wonderful job young signwriters at the time George Scott Brown and Ralph Peverill of CASAS signs had done in designing a logo which won her awards and which Mrs Harvey still has on some of her paper bags. All too soon the festivities and reminiscing ended, but for one brief moment one had a chance to feel part of what has given Alice Springs its reputation for being special and why Nevil Shute called his book, "A Town Like Alice".

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