SOME LIQUOR TRADERS 'PUSHING PORT'. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
The Drug and Alcohol Services Association (DASA) is accusing some
liquor merchants of a "disgraceful level of port pushing" in a
deliberate attempt to undermine the month old trial of liquor
There is agreement amongst observers on both sides of the debate that Stanley Tawny Port has replaced five litre casks of Fruity Gordo as the product of choice for problem drinkers in Alice.
The Evaluation Reference Group (ERG), chaired by Dr Ian Crundall, meeting for the first time last Thursday, identified "product substitution" as a major negative effect of the trial to date.
The ERG based their views on feedback from the public - some 15 letters and emails - and observations of the group's members.
They represent local and Territory governments, business organisations including licensees, and Aboriginal organisations.
Dr Crundall said there were consistent comments about drunks being more aggressive, which he thought was related to the higher alcohol content of what they were drinking, combined perhaps with the frustration of not being able to buy wine.
Licensee of the Gapview Motel, Elio Carrabs, said his business had two of "the biggest weeks ever" in the month of April, by a margin of "thousands of dollars".
"The restrictions were supposed to cut down on drinking but we are still selling the same volume of alcohol if not more," said Mr Carrabs.
"A pretty standard buy is two tawny ports, that's one litre less of liquid but a higher alcohol content.
"Jim Beam is also selling well.
"Drinking is starting later but the higher alcohol content means they catch up fast and at the end of the day they are still in the same state of intoxication."
Mr Carrabs was referring to Aboriginal customers, who make up about half of his clientele. They are the chief patrons of the bottleshop during the day.
Non-Aboriginal patrons come mainly after work, he says, to buy a bottle of wine or a carton of beer.
The Gapview was not among the bottleshops surveyed between 2 and 3pm last Thursday by DASA president Anne Mosey.
In her view, Liquorland in the Coles complex was the worst offender in "port pushing".
They had, she reported to DASA, a "very large stack of Stanley Tawny Port, about 1.5m high and wide, to the right of the sales counter" displaying a large yellow label marked "Special" and priced at $12.99.
Woolworths was offering several shelves full of Stanley Tawny Port at $10.49 per cask, "the cheapest price of those checked".
The bottleshop at Milner Road Supermarket, owned by Tangentyere Council, had a one metre high stack of the product bearing an A4-sized sign, "Everyday Discount $14.95". This was the highest price of the bottleshops surveyed.
There was a similar stack, not labelled with a price or special sign, at the Heavitree Supermarket.
The bottleshop at Bi-Lo had sold out of the product when Ms Mosey visited.
At Northside Foodland's bottleshop Ms Mosey was shocked to see food essences (vanilla, almond etc) in 375 ml bottles on special for $5.50, being promoted alongside the Director's Special Port.
DASA manager Nick Gill reported this to a licensing inspector.
"How cynical can you get?" he asked.
"This stuff has roughly a 60 per cent alcohol content.
"Staff at the DASA shelter have been telling me that some people are coming in smelling as if they have been drinking methylated spirits. I believe they have probably been drinking these essences.
"This push of tawny port and food essences is not a simple example of profiteering.
"My belief is that the licensees have a vested interest in the liquor trial proving unsuccessful."
The News understands that the food essences were voluntarily withdrawn from the shelves after discussions with a licensing inspector.
Mr Gill said he was "very pleased".
Foodland's Paul Venturin was unavailable for comment.
Licensing Commissioner Peter Allen, who on Monday was unaware of the case (inspectors are employed by the Racing, Gaming and Licensing Division of the NT Treasury, not by the commission), said nonetheless that it is not illegal to sell food essences.
"Because of the high alcohol content of the products, it would be a breach of licensing conditions to have them on general supermarket shelves.
"We require the large bottles to be sold in bottleshops."
Woolworths store manager, Ivan Williams, told the Alice News that that any promotion done by Mac's Liquor in Alice is common to the whole of South Australia.
"From Broken Hill to Metro Adelaide, the Riverland and Alice Springs, the promotions are the same.
"There are no promotions specific to Alice Springs."
Mr Williams said the ports were not in a prominent position in the store, but were on the shelves where the now banned five litre casks of wine used to be.
Manager of Liquorland in the Coles complex referred the News to Liquorland's Adelaide headquarters for comment. At the time of going to press, the Adelaide office had not responded to our request.
Meanwhile, police in Alice have not experienced any decrease in protective custody apprehensions since the introduction of the liquor trial.
There were around 1000 apprehensions for the month of April, Acting Commander Tom Svikart told the Alice News.
"That's up by about 50 per cent on March [figures for April last year were not yet available].
"It's important to say though that this new regime has only been in place for one month, and we need at least a three month period to get a clear idea.
"It was also a month when a lot of people from communities were in town."
The Lightning Football Carnival, held on April 13 and 14, drew 3000 to 5000 visitors, according to the ERG.
Despite the high numbers of drunks, Cmmdr Svikart said police were not receiving an elevated level of complaints about anti-social behaviour.
He said this might be because of more proactive policing and because drinking is happening later in the day.
The ERG also reported less anti-social behaviour during business hours in the town centre as a positive result of the trial, as was the perception that families were "being less harassed for money to buy alcohol".
On the negative side, apart from the increased consumption of fortified wines and spirits, was an increase in broken glass; an increase in violent behaviour; and, alcohol consumption continuing later into the night.
The ERG will be formally reporting to the Licensing Commission and Minister Syd Stirling at the end of June. This report will include police and hospital statistics.
The News asked Dr Crundall whether adjustments to restrictions would be made if the trial continues to show high consumption of fortified wines and spirits.
That would be up to the Licensing Commission, he said.
"It is certainly within their jurisdiction to vary the regime," said Dr Crundall.
"No one would want to see the situation deteriorate."
MODERN SEWAGE PLANT IS ON THE BACK BURNER. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
A government drive to stimulate horticulture industries in Alice Springs is raising questions about its commitment to replacing the controversial sewerage treatment ponds with a state of the art facility.
While reserves in the currently used Mereenie and Roe Creek basins are dwindling, much of the town's eight billion litres of sewage a year is disposed of by evaporation, with no commitment to a drinking water quality recycling scheme.
PAWA is advertising nation wide for agricultural users of treated effluent, but it seems clear this will come from the existing evaporation ponds system.
Darryl Day, general manager of PAWA's water services, says there are no plans for a recycling plant capable of producing water fit for the town's reticulation system.
"We will continue to review the best technology and over time there will be changes," he says.
Plans for use of irrigation water are driven by agricultural demand Ð yet to be established Ð while the remainder of the water conservation management relies on reducing demand.
This has been successful to a point, with average residential use dropping from 539,000 litres in 1998/99 to 432,000 litres in 2000/01 per property.
However, this strategy leaves little room for the town Ð whose population has been static for several years Ð to grow in the future.
For years there have been complaints about the foul smelling sewerage ponds and surrounding swamps, wasting hundreds of hectares of prime real estate, and breeding disease-carrying mosquitos.
The government has plans for a new bore field, at Rocky Hill, about 30 km south east of the town, for more than $40m Ð a cost, according to some sources, similar to that of a recycling plant.
Mr Day says he cannot readily quote the cost of an appropriate water purification plant.
He could not give an estimate of how much longer the bore fields in use now will last, but says it will be at least for the "current generation".
The government is touting opportunities for citrus and grape growing in the Alice area such as has been developed highly successfully in Ti Tree.
But that region has cheap land and is north of the frost line.
Mark Skinner, Power and Water's regional coordinator for water services, says which way PAWA will jump with its water supply options "is very dependent upon what these expressions of interest turn up in the next month."
It is not clear what the government will do if this campaign fails or is only partially successful.
Mr Skinner says: "If people want to use only half of the water, then what do we do with the other half?"
Asked whether in the driest part of the world's driest continent, one answer is recycling, Mr Skinners says PAWA is looking at that.
He says there are several underground basins available where recycled water could be stored before being pumped back into the town, and one under the Old Timers was "identified because it's the closest to the ponds".
A key question is to what degree the effluent should be purified Ð to drinking water quality or just for irrigation use Ð a consideration affecting the complexity and the cost of recycling.
At this point the government is looking only at the cheaper option, staying with the ponds and discarding the option of a state of the art purification plant.
This would rule out the production of drinking water, and limit the use of the treated effluent to irrigation of sporting fields, parks and orchards.
Mr Day could not say what percentage of the total water demand this would represent, but conceded it was a minor portion of the nine billion litres of water used in The Alice annually.
In any case, most sporting fields and parks are currently watered from town bores.
These play an important role in keeping down the water table, which has risen significantly with the urban spread of Alice Springs, leading to, among other problems, death of the gum trees in the Todd.
Mr Skinner says part of the reason for the "non potable scheme around the town was in fact to keep that town basin down, limiting the need for additional water from the sewage ponds".
The town basin "fills and empties very quickly.
"Three to four years ago, before we had these last rains, a number of those bores were in danger of going dry."
At the moment "we're at the stage where the water table is getting too high: "It brings a lot of salt to the surface which doesn't do any good."
Mr Skinner says the present sewage ponds system works.
"It is designed to overflow into that swamp.
"That's why the ponds were chosen to be there."
He says similar systems are in use elsewhere in Australia: treated effluent flows from settlement ponds into reed swamps and is channelled into waterways "if there's a river nearby", or it is left to "soak into the ground water".
In Alice water coming out of the ponds, "after it has gone through these reed beds, is very good quality water.
"We've proven it's better than the swimming holes people swim in.
"The problems with those reeds is they harbour mosquitoes.
"If it wasn't for those mosquitoes we'd be saying we'll just fence that off, and those reeds are doing a nice job, thank you very much."
Meanwhile Mr Skinner says a long time leak, discovered recently, in the Ilparpa water main, has probably wasted 160 million litres.
Mr Skinner says while water pressure in the Ilpapra area has now greatly increased since the broken water main has been fixed, PAWA remains committed to constructing the Ilparpa water pumping station.
"Since the mid-1990s, Power and Water has been closely monitoring water pressure in that area.
"Over this time the minimum water pressure in summer has been steadily decreasing.
"Given this data, and the fact that several developments in the Farms and Emily Hills areas are fed from the Ilparpa water main, a decision was made to build the pumping station.
"This will ensure that water pressure is maintained during the summer months and for further developments in the area over the next 20 to 30 years."
Mr Skinner says PAWA is currently in the process of improving its monitoring capability of water flows and pressure in the Alice Springs system.
"This monitoring system, combined with the data collected from customer meters, will enable Power and Water staff to more clearly identify which parts of town might be affected by water leakage, slow meters or water theft."
He says a leak in a water pipe at Roe Creek bore field was discovered during a recent fire.
"One of the fire fighters containing the fire reported the leak and it was repaired immediately," Mr Skinner said.
"The hole in the pipe was approximately the diameter of a biro and we are unable to determine how long the leak was there."
COLUMN by ANN CLOKE: Waxing, waning and weaning
of Alice moons.
How long does it take to wean oneself off the Alice? Friends who
have relocated still talk passionately about the Centre, "when we" days
and carefree nights.
David and I made the most of our Sydney interlude É we negotiated trains and buses, enjoyed sights and spectacles, Elton John in concert, those harbour lights which Boz Scaggs made famous some years ago, dined with friends and generally soaked up the city atmosphere.
Whenever we're away we always extol the virtues of living in a town like Alice.
One young lady told us that she thought she would travel the world first and leave Australian touring until later in life. Someone else added: "Why do we need to travel anywhere else in Oz when we have everything here in Sydney?"
Which is possibly why every Indonesian person, especially those in Bali, thinks that everyone from Australia lives in Seeeddneee.
And, obviously, millions of people do!
David and I kept getting caught up in the runaway swell of people all trying to board the same train, coach, jet-cat or ferry that we were trying to get on.
It's exciting and invigorating for a few days!
There's a resurgence of the move to try and attract city dwellers "back to the bush" where they'll benefit from the dollar's greater buying power and enjoy a better quality of life at a less hasty pace.
How can we attract people into the desert?
A few weeks ago David and I partied with others, at Carolyn and Neville's house, welcoming Caroline, a mutual friend who moved from the Alice to Brisbane about four years ago.
It was Good Friday and as promised, a full moon rose. I thought about one of Elizabeth Jolley's earlier novels, My Father's Moon, as we toasted family and friends afar.
Samantha's Mummy, Estelle, a good friend of Caroline's arranged a surprise visit from Townsville. Her early years of married life were spent living on cattle stations around Western Australia and the Top End. It was refreshing to hear how much she was enjoying revisiting the Centre and to listen to her impressions after a longish absence, reconfirming also that issues vary little no matter where we live: anti-social behaviour, crime, drugs, alcohol and substance abuse and local happenings in general.
Trudy, Bill and children are pleased to be back in the Centre after a two-year sojourn overseas. Cheryl, David and sons arrived back after living for two years in Far North Queensland: the change and challenge were great, but they were happy when an opportunity presented itself for David to re-transfer to the Alice.
Leonie and Wayne returned recently after a year or so interstate Ð they've also found it easy to slip back into life in the Alice.
A couple of weeks ago David and I had dinner with Mel and Bette, visiting from Adelaide, and just a few weeks away from celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
They were reminiscing about the Alice that they knew 49 years ago, when they lived in a large older style home in the Old Eastside, before sealed roads, sewerage systems, air conditioners and supermarkets.
They had last touched the Centre 20 years ago, and couldn't believe how Alice Springs had grown. They were looking forward to spending a couple of days here and renewing old acquaintances (unfortunately some, like Reg and Marge, were interstate).
Marlene and Andy are extremely pleased to be back after a two month break down south. As Andy said, "There's no place like home É"
Friend Caroline said that the highlight of her trip (apart from seeing all of us!) was horse riding along the Todd with fellow equestrians. She'd forgotten how special Alice is: our moon, so much bigger and brighter than the one which hangs around other parts, the impact of our magnificent countryside with its dramatic landscape, the light, colours, textures and enormous skies,
"It would be so easy to return," she mused. "It's a good thing I'm happily settled in Queensland É"
COLUMN by GLENN MARSHALL: Does global warming
offer Alice an opportunity?
Alice Springs just experienced its hottest April on record.
Get used to it, because global warming is predicted to increase central Australia's temperatures by up to six degrees in the next 70 years. Can you imagine 47 degree days in January?
It is the result of spiraling global energy dependence that has seen the extraction and burning of 300 million years of stored carbon (oil, coal and gas) and its release into the atmosphere as a "greenhouse gas blanket" in only 300 years.
The juggernaut is a massive one Ð the world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent immediately if global temperatures are to stabilize (at a higher level) in 100 years time. Meanwhile ourselves and our kids in Alice Springs will witness more summer floods, more buffel grass, less winter rains, more fires, less native plants and animals, more diseases from mossies and a host of other financial and social implications.
Imagine living on a South Pacific island that will vanish under the sea by the time we are old.
Australia's political and industrial response to combat global warming has been shameful. Despite Australia having the highest per capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the world, the federal government bailed out of the Kyoto Protocol earlier this year following George Bush's unilateral American lead, leaving European Union countries, Canada, Japan and other nations to continue without us.
Instead Australia is going to rely on "voluntary industry programs" to achieve our stated target of an eight per cent increase in emissions by 2010 (compared to 10 per cent decrease targets of other nations).
It is clear, however, that industry is not innovative enough or willing enough to push hard. A leaked government report last week showed Australia is heading towards a 30 per cent increase in emissions by 2010, a shameful outcome for the only nation on earth that has a dedicated (Australian) Greenhouse Office.
What about in the Northern Territory? We have the dubious distinction of being the highest per capita emitters in Australia, therefore giving us the title of world's worst greenhouse polluters per person. This figure is significantly influenced by our low population and the high use of diesel at Nabalco's Groote Eylandt mine.
Elsewhere, the use of natural gas in larger NT towns is better than coal-dependent towns in Victoria, but the possible on-shore development of Timor Sea gas will once again skew our greenhouse emissions massively. It is critical that the NT Greenhouse Unit (recently established by the Territory Government) sets stringent emission levels for all new heavy industries that are established by Timor gas. This will undoubtedly be in the face of strong industry threats to set up elsewhere if they aren't given free reign to minimize costs at the expense of global warming and the Territory's environment.
In Central Australia we have the opportunity to create a thriving economy from the global greenhouse catastrophe by focusing on one of our most substantial assets Ð the Sun.
We have some of the highest sunlight hours, cloud-free days and solar intensity in the world and these can be captured to develop a thriving Solar City of Alice Springs within a wider Central Australian Solar Region.
Much of the town's future energy needs can be met by installing large solar electricity concentrating dishes and rooftop photovoltaic panels (both of which are already commercially available), in conjunction with a vigorous energy efficiency program to reduce our energy needs.
Such solar energy systems are already being installed by PAWA in Aboriginal communities around Alice Springs. Major spin-offs will then arise including solar-based manufacturing (probably not high tech solar panels, but support infrastructure such as switchboards), renewable energy conferences, research and development programs (CAT recently commenced such a program for renewables in remote communities, called "Bushlight") and development of specialist solar installation businesses such as Ecoenergy and Suntec.
The niche market will be in making solar energy systems work in remote locations and then promoting ourselves as a demonstration site for others to learn from, a product that is not yet offered anywhere in the world. This vision was presented to Desert Knowledge Australia last year by the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC), Brendan Meney Architects and CATIA and has now been developed to the point where funding is being sought by Desert Knowledge to conduct a feasibility study of the Solar Region concept.
ALEC is confident that it can be made a reality, and Alice Springs can become a world example of how to combat global warming through community vision and action.
SPEEDWAY: NATIONAL SHOWCASE IN THE CENTRE. Report
by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
In the post-war years life was simple. There was a shortage of materials, people were industrious. Malvern Star bikes were available and the better off kids had one. For many in the suburbs and the bush however the only way to have a bike was to build your own.
In the Ôfifties and Ôsixties kids would scavenge in the local dumps for old bike parts. Often among the claimed treasures was a buckled rim that needed to be re-aligned, a chain requiring lubrication, or handlebars that were ready for modification. In the end the local lads had the essentials for a "new" treddly!
The finished product was snazzy! A small front wheel and a regular size at the back, or vice versa; handle bars of grotesque proportions resembling those of motor bikes of the era; and a paint job with enamel from the back of dad's shed, which gave the machine a character of its own.
Those were the good old days, when kids raced their homemade speedsters on paddock tracks imagining they were speedway heroes.
Gone is the freedom to search the dump for treasures, but throughout Alice Springs the baby boomers have not forgotten the thrill of reconstituted metal made for gladiatorial feats on the dirt.
Arunga Park is our outback colosseum, and it is here that boys with their toys gather to race to the death (of the vehicle), after months of rebuilding their stock cars from scratch.
At present in sanctuaries of steel, which are surrounded by museums of spare parts, petrolheads, who ply their mechanical trade for the fun of it, are spending countless hours at the art they developed as schoolboys. They're now moulding machines of over six litres, to fit over the chassis of a Ford, Holden or whatever, ready for the distinctive enamel paint job that will have their street stock looking the ants pants at Arunga Park.
There is good reason for the grease monkeys to be hard at it this week, for on this weekend the Australian Street Stock titles are to be run and won on our track on the North Stuart Highway.
The titles were scheduled for Darwin, but with tropical Territorians unable to host the event, the entrepreneurs from Alice took over and have attracted the best street stock racers in the nation.
The Todd Tavern and Ross Engineering are sponsoring the festival of fumes, with practice sessions scheduled for tomorrow.
A Calcutta, and the chance to buy a driver, will allow supporters get into the act tomorrow night, and racing will get under way over Friday and Saturday nights.
In all 53 drivers have nominated for a tilt at the National Title. Australian No.1 driver Barry Edwards will be here to defend his crown. Mick Dann, who has the runner-up position, will be striving to go one place better. The top operator from South Australia Mark Lincoln will keep them honest, and the NT's Kevin Quinlan from Darwin should be prominent.
On the local scene our Alice Springs champion, Peter Harris, who recently claimed the title from Quinlan, with Colin Hyde third, will be a crowd favourite.
Meanwhile in the sheds around town the job is still far from over! Tony White is hard at it repairing his ED Falcon after taking on the wall in the Alice titles.
Prior to that event, Dale Reid rolled his XF Falcon five times in practice and so has been burning the candle at both ends to be able to re-appear in his "new" XF.
Grant Harris has replaced the panels on his EA Falcon and given the machine a new paint job, while on Ghan Road Max Owen has made full use of the treasures in his wrecking yard.
Max has been hard at it rebuilding car 77, which is piloted by his wife Lucinda. After two laps of the Alice titles she hit the wall and the Ford came off second best. The shattered vehicle rode the bump and held itself together until lap 21 when the front end eventually just fell apart.
Lucinda will not be the only female on the track at the weekend. She'll have Carmen Harris in car 17 for company. Both ladies will be driving XF Falcons, and will keep the blokes honest.
RULES ARCH RIVALS CLASH AT TRAEGER. Report by
On Sunday Federal ran on against an arch rival, Rovers. The Blues
started as favourites, and had some old favourites grace the field.
At full forward, resplendent in new boots, was Nathan McGregor. He did the old side proud by spearing two goals through the centre, but would regret the several he missed from point blank range.
Also returning was Robbie Cameron, a veteran of the halcyon days of Rovers, who obviously enjoyed the occasion but may not be looking to another 100 games with the club.
For Feds Daniel Palmer made a return and strengthened the forward pack. More importantly on the boundary Michael Graham put on the coach's blazer. Graham who had a distinguished career with Sturt and South Australia, then in Darwin, has the knowledge needed to breed success.
In the first term both teams put in well, with Feds able to establish a two-point lead at the break.
In the second quarter however it was Sherman Spencer's turn to put Souths on the map. He dominated in the forward line, booting three goals and setting it up for the Blues to score five goals to one for the term and establishing a 22 point lead.
A low point of the quarter was when Carl Hampton and Craig Turner were jointly given a 10-minute yellow card, taking two real contributors out of the game.
Come the premiership term, the Blues took full control. They plonked another six goals through the middle and scored only one miss to set the win up. In reply Federal only scored two goals one. Carlson Brown was instrumental in the Rover attack by scoring three of the goals for the quarter.
In the run home Rovers put on another four goals to two, with the goal sneak McGregor showing glimpses of his true potential. Alas he missed two point blank opportunities, but then resurrected himself to score a pearler from 50 metres, which would have had the good folk of hometown Freeling in South Australia reclaiming him as a legend.
The day finished well for Rovers with a 17.8 (110) to 7.10 (52) win. Brett Wright played superbly for the Blues. Sherman Spencer provided the half forward drive; Damon Prenzler was prominent; and Jamie Tidy and Brendan Smith were again doing the hard work.
For Feds the honours went to Darren Young. This lad has a tonne of potential and could be considered for the big time. Craig Turner played a true big man's game, and captain Darryl Ryder provided inspiration.
In the late game the standard lifted many notches and from the first bounce the game was on.
Trevor Dhu who has already broken all the goal-kicking records, immediately established ascendancy in the forward lines with two goals to give the Eagles a lead.
South at the critical time were hit hard when Alby Tilmouth was taken from the field on a stretcher. This possibly put South off their game for a while as Robert Taylor, Dhu and Graham Smith banged home further goals.
Gilbert Fishook kept the Roos in the game with a goal and followed with another late in the quarter.
By half time it appeared that Pioneer had the game sewn up. However South came out blazing in the third quarter and made the Eagles feel a little like budgerigars. In the forward line Herman Sampson hit his straps; Fishook continued to fire; and Malcolm Ross exerted his influence. Mid-way through the quarter it was evident that the Roos meant business and they duly forged to a 14-point lead before the three-quarter time siren.
Coach Roy Arbon must have mixed a secret potion with his words to the Eagles, because after the break they came out in full flight. Dhu set the scene with an early goal.
Darren Talbot replied with a six pointer for the Roos, and then Adam Taylor hit the post for Pioneer. On the kick out Robert Taylor took advantage of the situation, collected the ball and goaled.
Meanwhile South trump card Adrian McAdam, who had already played soccer, reeled from cramp. Another goal from Dhu put the Eagles in front and from there they lifted. Graeme Smith drove the ball out of the centre to see Norm Hagan, then Dhu and finally Smith himself drive the last nails into the South coffin.
Pioneer won 19.12 (126) to 17.7 (109) in a great game early in the season.
This weekend Rovers face West in the late game, and Federal play Pioneer in the heart starter.
TREASURES FOR ALICE: NEW CRAFT. Review by KIERAN
The annual Craft Acquisition, opened last Friday, has added nine works to Territory Craft's permanent collection, among them three by Territorians.
Acquisitions adviser Grace Cochrane, curator of Decorative Arts and Design at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum, was looking for "good ideas, good designs, and good resolution through the skills people bring to them".
She also took into account the needs of the collection, and of course, the constraints of the acquisitions budget.
This was around $4000, some three-quarters of which was raised from local sponsors, with the remainder coming from Arts NT.
The acquisitions cover a range of crafts, with ceramics and jewellery well represented.
Two of the three ceramic acquisitions are quietly elegant pieces, one a vase by a "senior and well respected" ceramic artist from Canberra, Janet Deboos, the other a tea set by Kaye Pemberton, a past resident of Alice Springs, now also in Canberra.
It was not surprising to learn that Pemberton has studied under Deboos, who teaches at the Canberra School of Art.
Their pieces are distinctive but share an interest in function Ð "the process of making pots and the rituals of using them" Ð and in multiples of a form, and both show a command of technical excellence.
"For a long time people were interested in turning craft into art, making sculptural forms, now there's a strong interest from a number of people working in ceramics to actually start dealing with function again," said Ms Cochrane.
Of Deboos, she said: "She has a status because she is good at what she does, she exhibits well and widely, she's influential. The work is very good, she knows exactly what she's doing.
"It's a good work to have in the collection because of what she represents and because of what that work represents."
She described Pemberton's set as "beautifully formed, very generous, very well thrown", remarking on the interest of the murini clay insets.
The third ceramic acquisition, a jug by Victorian Fiona Hiscock, is different in character, making a bigger, more decorative statement, but is also interested in function. The jug and a related bowl, are forms that normally you would see in tea set size. Instead, Hiscock has enlarged it.
"She's exploring the rituals of daily life, the forms we use for eating and drinking but in oversize versions," said Ms Cochrane.
The jewellery acquisitions share an environmental orientation. Alice jeweller Willem de Gunst used Harts Range-sourced kyanite with sterling silver to make his bracelet, which Ms Cochrane chose for its "strong, simple setting".
Kath Inglis from South Australia worked with PVC in her set of three "Skin Deep" bangles: "They're an example of a direction that a number of jewellers have had for some time, working with alternative materials. She's dealing with it really well, carving the PVC to create a surface of little spokes, using colour in different proportions with each bangle.
Victorian jeweller and metal smith Leah Teschendorff's interest goes beyond materials. Her set of three tiny boxes is titled "Environmental Weeds Series I".
"She's talking about the human impact on the environment. On each box she's engraved words like Ôcolonisation' and imprints of introduced weeds. In one that is open, there's a tangle of something like blackberry.
"They're exquisitely made, with a political or environmental message."
Darwin-based Thomas Dinning also demonstrates an interest in the environment with his jewellery boxes, the smaller one of which was acquired. It uses eucalypt species from around Australia, emphasising their natural colours and textures: "Very nicely made, nicely finished, good design, it works really well."
Although Ms Cochrane noted the strength in the Territory of textile crafts, the textile she recommended for acquisition is by a Queenslander, Kay Faulkner.
It would appear to be responding to The Centre though, in its orange and rust colours and title, "Tracking the Centre I".
It is technically impressive, achieving a complex double weave in wool and acrylic on the loom, combined with an intricate shibori dying process so that some squares in the chequered design display diagonal stripes.
Although not recommending them for acquisition, Ms Cochrane also expressed interest in the textile explorations in two pieces by Alice craftswoman Philomena Hali, involving shibori as well as heat setting of dyes, stitching and pleating.
A "bush toy"Ð stockman and bullock Ð by Justin Hayes from Keringke Arts was acquired.
"I've seen this work for some time in photographs. This piece is using recycled materials not wire, it's very lively, very well made, original to this area and appropriate to the collection," said Ms Cochrane. She commented that many craftspeople in the Territory are dealing with their environment, whether through their choice of materials and colours, or in their reflection of particular places and themes.
It is something she has also noticed in Western Australia, where there are a number of people working in ceramics and textiles responding to "the space of their environment".
BUZZING FOR SAFETY.
Telecross is a community service, launched in June of last year by
the Australian Red Cross in the NT and Telstra Country Wide, to help
the frail aged and other people who live alone and are at risk.
Every morning staff from Telstra's Darwin Arafura Call Centre come in early and in their own time call Telecross customers to check on their well being.
The service also operates in Alice Springs.
Telecross program manager for Red Cross NT, Janine LeCornu, says the service provides wonderful comfort to those involved and peace of mind to their families and friends.
The service operates each day and calls are made between 7.30am and 9.00am.
Telstra Country Wide area general manager, Danny Honan, says the program gives Telstra staff a chance to give something back to the community.
"We were amazed at the interest the staff took in being involved with this project.
"Each call only takes a few minutes but makes such a big difference to these people's lives," he said.
All calls are completely anonymous and free to those who register with the Red Cross.
To register for the Telecross contact 8924 3920 Darwin or Alice Springs on 8952 6762.
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