LASSETER'S CASINO TURNS 21: A WIN SOME, LOSE SOME STORY. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The Malaysian owners since 1996 of Lasseter's casino and hotel,
which came of age with a big bash on Saturday, have ploughed back into
the venture all its profits, increasing its value from less than $20m
to $50m Ð including a $10m grant from the NT Government for the
It is now turning over $28m a year, not including on-line gambling.
CEO Peter Bridge says the owners - the Tan Brothers, as they were called by the MC of the black tie ball, Barry Coulter - have no plans of repatriating earnings from Lasseter's, and are content to just let the property appreciate in value for the time being.
It's one of the big "wins" from the casino for the community, along with 360 jobs (making Lasseter's the biggest private employer in town), including so far 40 apprentices, annual local purchases worth $3m, and a yearly $5m tax cheque for the NT Government.
Not surprisingly Lasseter's needs to have no fear of the new Labor administration in the NT: Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne described the casino as an "important corporate citizen" which could expect "continued government support".
On the "losses" side of the town's gamble is the casino's failure to become what its creators 21 years ago touted: a magnet for high rollers and a major tourist attraction, free of poker machines.
This is readily acknowledged by Marshall Perron, guest of honour on Saturday, NT Treasurer in 1981, and later Chief Minister for eight years.
He says the Alice and Darwin casinos were conceived initially as "relatively small, high class facilities, and there weren't to be any poker machines in them.
"These were our original intentions and our original announcements."
This was the government's case against a powerful churches-led Alice Springs lobby concerned that the new casino Ð the first on the Australian mainland Ð would depend on locals for its earnings.
It didn't take long for the owners at the time seek a review.
Says Mr Perron: "Shortly after we opened [the casinos], Federal Hotels convinced us that it required poker machines to make the two casinos in the NT viable."
Today's reality, according to Mr Bridge, is that "65 to 70 per cent" of the casino's annual gambling revenue of $21m comes from locals.
Around $15m comes from slot machines.
"We cater for the people coming through the door," says Mr Bridge.
"If the trend goes more for poker machines then we follow that demand."
And the trend towards slot machines is continuing.
Says Lasseter's manager Bill Coffey: "People are moving away from table games into electronic games because of the features they have.
"They're much more entertaining than the old games."
So, was the town sold a pup when the NT Government first issued casino licences?
"I don't believe it was," says Mr Perron.
"You can only look at a situation and say, was it right at the time?
"If you proposed as many poker machines [as the casino has today] back in those days, I don't think the proposal would have survived.
"The NSW experience has always been that the more poker machines you have, the more people put money through them, and you do get an element, unfortunately, of people who find it difficult to control their spending.
CHANGED TIMES"The fact is, times have changed.
"The pressure has built up on governments to allow poker machines outside casinos, and after I left the government they flowed quite prolifically into the community.
"But that's democracy.
"If there is huge pressure from clubs which are in dire financial circumstances, and some Alice Springs clubs were at the edge of bankruptcy for years, one of the answers is to allow them to get some revenue from poker machines."
Could that not have been predicted when the Alice casino was mooted?
"I don't believe so.
"There wasn't a mentality across Australia where casinos and poker machines were an ordinary part of the communities."
But today, "if you go to any of the hotels and clubs in Queensland they look like clubs in NSW, they're just lined with pokies".
"Our society, in my view, has come to grips with the fact this is how we want our society and we just have to try and stop people from being irresponsible with it.
"It's a bit like alcohol, I guess.
"There is no way in the world you would allow alcohol in a society and could foresee the incredible destruction of lives.
"You would just say no.
"But it's just unthinkable today that you would say to people, you can't drink, it kills people.
"What we say is we'll just devise plans to stop killing people.
"You don't change society by taking those supposedly evil things off us.
"That just won't work."
Mr Perron says there were few, if any, problems with gambling when he left government.
"It was only with the proliferation of poker machines in recent times that the problem has expanded.REVENUE "Governments get a lot of revenue from casinos" and schemes dealing with problem gamblers "should be very well funded by government".
At present they are patently not.
Amity House, whose brochures are on display throughout Lasseter's Casino, and which is touted by Mr Bridge as the kind of responsible initiative to help problem players, gets $80,000 a year for its assistance to people whose gambling "habit" is out of control.
This budget, which is for a Territory-wide organisation, based in Darwin, is less than two per cent of what the NT Government gets from Lasseter's alone.
Amity has no staff in Alice Springs, has no after-hours service (an answering machine refers people in distress to Crisis Line) and offers telephone counselling only.
Yet Mr Bridge says: "We have great experience in managing any harm that comes together with slot machines operations.
"We do a lot of harm minimisation here, much more than we're required to by legislation."
Mr Bridge says fewer than two per cent of gamblers are affected.
There are "self exclusion policies" available.
"We would not be keen to see any proliferation of slot machines out there without some sort of assurances that there are safeguards in place.
"We've seen a great deal of harm down south where hoteliers are offering credit card facilities to players."
Amity counsellor and educator Rian Rombouts says the service deals with between two and five people from Central Australia per month, with problems Ð all emanating from pokies Ð ranging from suicidal depression, loss of self esteem, lying to their loved ones, and financial ruin.
"I only wanted to spend $50 and I walked out having lost $600.
"I don't recognise myself any more.
"I don't look after the kids, I don't buy clothes any more."
That, says Ms Rombouts, is the kind of plight she's dealing with.
"These people are in the grip of gambling.
"It becomes a family issue, and most of the time a mental health issue, depression, feeling guilty."
Lasseter's failure to remain an international tourism drawcard, in the wake of the proliferation of casinos around the nation, and the reliance on locals for the bulk of the revenue, has prompted one early anti-casino campaigner to comment: "The eggs that we said would hatch, have hatched."
Parish priest at the time Adrian Meaney made international headlines when he attacked the casino proposal, from the pulpit, while Chief Minister and practising Catholic Paul Everingham was among the Sunday mass congregation.
Father Meaney says he was later accused by Mr Everingham's handlers of having modified his sermon knowing that Mr Everingham was attending the mass.
In fact he'd written notes for the Sunday newsletter well before mass and before knowing that Mr Everingham would even be there.
He says far from addressing Mr Everingham "I didn't notice him in the pews.
"I got letters from all over the world.
"I rather enjoyed the whole thing."
Father Meaney says his fear that those who could not afford it, including Aborigines, would be drawn to the casino was one of his reservations at he time, and now a substantial part of the clientele is black.
"My reading of the social fabric was that there were enough problems in the town," he says.
"Why do we have to add to them?"
He says he was representing the Parish Council's views and "I never felt pity" about speaking his mind.
A parishioner passing around the collection box had put to him, "in a raised voice", that he "was getting a bit political".
"You get on with your job and I get on with mine," was his reply.
The congregation clapped, Father Meaney recalls.
Does he have any regrets about speaking out?
"Absolutely not," says Father Meaney.
"There should not be a casino in a town the size of Alice Springs, and with its number of disadvantaged people."
He says he resolutely declined an offer to visit the Wrest Point Casino in Hobart on a two-week junket with spending money, because he considered it as an attempt to bribe him.
Meanwhile, Mr Bridge's astute management of the casino and hotel complex has seen it embarking on new initiatives, a clear recognition of the limited gaming revenues available.
The company was an early entrant into the globally accessible internet gaming market from which it now makes a $1m a day in turnover.
The convention centre, built with a $10m subsidy and a $5m operational guarantee, will pass into Lasseter's ownership in 20 years' time.
Mr Bridge is taking the lead in increasing the supply of four to five star accommodation necessary for the convention business, having updated the hotel's original 70 rooms and added 70 new ones.
Another strategy that Mr Bridge says will continue is Lasseter's generosity to community organisations, with an impressive string of sponsorships.
GOVT SITTING ON ITS HANDS WHILE SKILLS SHORTAGE CRIPPLES CENTRE. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
While there is a chronic shortage of trades people in The Center,
the NT Government is failing to take advantage of a Federal skilled
migrants scheme which could fix the problem.
Federal Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Gary Hardgrave, says the Territory Government needs to get serious "about encouraging people to live and settle in the Alice Springs area.
In the 11 months to May 2002, 47 Territory visas were granted under the State-specific and Regional Migration Initiatives, compared to 72 in the previous 11 months.
Mr Hardgrave says the decline is due to the Territory Government not taking advantage of the state-specific schemes.
"The Commonwealth is always willing to work with the states and territories on regional migration initiatives," says Mr Hardgrave.
Minister for Central Australia, Peter Toyne, was not aware of the decline in skilled migrant settlement but says it is not "a good look" for The Centre given the on-going broad skills shortage here, in both professional and trades areas.
The News' further queries were handed on to the Minister for Business, Industry and Resource Development, Paul Henderson, but a reply had not been received at the time of going to press.RESETTLEDMeanwhile no refugees have been resettled in Alice Springs since July 2001 and further arrivals will depend on the results of a Department of Immigration review carried out next year.
Mr Hargrave says there are too few people being serviced by the Alice Springs Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) and its funding is under review.
The potential client base for the MRC was only 64 clients from July 1996 to December 2001.
This compares to, for example, the MRC in Launceston, Tasmania (population, 63,000) with a potential client base of 290 over the same period. That's proportionally twice as many.
The MRC protest that the decision is based on numbers only and not on the extent and value of services provided.
It's also a chicken and egg situation, they argue: without refugees being sent here, how can they provide a service?
For the Minister, the refugee issue is separate from skilled migrant settlement, and services to the two groups are separately funded.
He says that resettlement of refugees in Alice Springs has been put on hold for a number of reasons.
"There is some further development of local services needed to meet the needs of refugees who have survived torture and trauma.
"They also require assistance from members of the community to rebuild their lives and become full and contributing members of Australian society."Volunteers are an important part of this process, as are members of the same ethnic communities who share language skills."
Long-term employment prospects for refugees will also be looked at in next year's review.
Whatever the outcome, further refugee resettlement in Alice would not involve "large numbers of families" and they would be supported by the Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Scheme out of Darwin, with an "outpost or outreach service" in Central Australia if need be.
The MRC says if it ceases to operate, multiculturalism will have neither voice nor representation in Central Australia and Alice Springs will be set back 20 years.
The Minister says a decision has not yet been taken on the long-term viability of the MRC.
Meanwhile, volunteers interested in assisting refugee resettlement in the Territory, can contact Laurie Defrenne, Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs NT on 89463103.
The logo and the dancing man. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
In future editions of this column, I intend to take an important
global issue and describe how it relates to us here in the Centre. Yes,
I am serious. In one case, I plan to tackle global warming. In another,
we'll look at the small subject of globalisation in Alice Springs. So
while I am girding my loins for that one (which could take some time)
let's have a look at logos.Everyone loves a good logo. They are neat
and comforting and clean and reassuring. With their many applications,
they give us signposts in life. And if we work or live somewhere that
has a logo, they provide us with a sense of belonging.
Take that new one for the Town Council, for example. It looks so friendly on the sides of buses and trucks. It makes me feel like I live in the epitome of a happy and safe place.
A sort of Legoland in the scrub. Or Pleasantville populated by smiling people who warmly greet strangers. A town with rotund aproned shopkeepers who have fresh breath. I don't know what the component parts of the Council logo mean, although I did read the publicity blurb. But that's not the point. A logo is about creating a fuzzy warm feeling.
Getting a logo right is important, otherwise the fuzziness becomes confusion. I used to work for an organization that went through an expensive "rebranding" process. One outcome was that we decided to turn the letter "I" at the beginning of the name into a windmill motif. Proudly unveiling the logo, we found some mystified customers asking what that dog leg was doing sticking up there. The moral is that one person's windmill is another person's cocked leg.
A book was published a couple of years ago called "No Logo", written by a Canadian researcher called Naomi Klein. In it, she blasted globalisation and the growth of corporate power, documenting its effects on the disadvantaged.
We won't go into this now, but Ms Klein made an important point about the loss of unbranded space.
By this she meant those spaces that become filled with corporate logos to the point where we have nowhere to turn without the glare of someone trying to sell us something.
Some of us even become walking billboards. Examples are the front of sports shirts, product placement in movies, the names of public buildings (Colonial Stadium) and an increasing acreage of the internet (those annoying pop-up and banner ads).
Unbranded space is disappearing in Central Australia too, but the real problem lies elsewhere. For the logo party has a loud-mouthed gatecrasher called repetitive broadcast advertising. So it's not just the space that is been squeezed but the air time.
Take our TV networks. Those endlessly repeated ads for vehicles and home appliances. Giddy Goanna's new book. And one for tattooing.
Not only that, but they often come from Queensland, which is possibly the least likely place that I am going to visit next time I need a snake drawn on my spine.
Those little jingles about car dealers and toy sales in the Top End get inside your head and freeze dry your creative faculties. The same happens on the radio, although at least we are spared the visuals. One day, I will add up the time that I waste watching these adverts and make a claim for compensation. Double time on Saturday nights.
One question we might ask is why marketing in Queensland is so brainless. I have no idea. Another is whether certain products and services attract certain narrow breeds of advertising?
For example, cars are often illustrated by overweight dancing salesmen. Power tools go together with wide lens roving shots of racks of, well, power tools.
But the most important question is where does responsible advertising stop and consumer brainwashing begin? When does the flow of information to the consumer to enable him or her to make an informed choice actually start to alienate the very person it is trying to attract?
For me, this happens very quickly. The monotonous drumbeat of the advertising message penetrating my skull makes me consider the competition for these products much more seriously than I would have done otherwise.
Surely, straightforward information in newspapers or rationed and interesting adverts describing the benefits of a service is the way to treat the discerning consumer. Broadcast news on local events, with their sponsors mentioned. And public information bulletins aimed at children being shown before children go to bed.
Please, let's have more good logos and fewer dancing men.
Environment centres miss out on Landcare Council.
COLUMN by GLENN MARSHALL.
The composition of the new Landcare Council of the Northern Territory has been decided by the NT Minister for Lands and Planning, Kon Vatskalis.
There are two designated positions for community environmental non-government organisations (arid lands and tropical savannas). It is very disappointing that neither the Arid Lands Environment Centre nor the Darwin-based Environment Centre of the NT (ECNT) had their nominees appointed to these positions despite being highly qualified.
Both ALEC and ECNT have provided important perspectives on natural resource management issues in the NT for over 20 years, so for both to be omitted by the new Labor government seems to be a deliberate sidelining to remove our viewpoints from the front-line of debates.
The Landcare Council will act as the peak community and industry body advising the NT government on natural resource management issues in the NT. One of its main roles will be to oversee the development of an NT Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan that will prioritize actions in the NT, and will underpin allocations of Commonwealth and NT funding for the environment.
This new model attempts to overcome the short-comings of the previous environmental expenditure program (called the Natural Heritage Trust and funded by the part sale of Telstra in 1997). It funded various programs in Central Australia (and elsewhere) that did not fit into a bigger picture and hence could have done more to contribute to long term environmental improvement in the region. The Council will have 13 members and a Chair drawn from various sectors. It will include two indigenous land management representatives, two pastoral land management reps, two community environmental NGO reps, one community coastal management rep, one industry coastal management rep, one biodiversity conservation rep, one local government rep, one horticulture industry rep, one mining industry rep and one education rep.
From ALEC's perspective, we are fortunate to have two quality Central Australian appointees to the environmental positions, being Michelle Rodrigo of Greening Australia in the community environmental NGO role, and Colleen O'Malley of the Threatened Species Network in the biodiversity conservation role. ALEC is confident that they will represent the community well and we will be working with both members to ensure they are well-aware of ALEC's perspectives on Landcare Council issues.The Landcare Council will have an important input to many major developments that government and industries are seeking to progress in coming years. These include on-shore gas, land-clearing for horticulture in the Daly River, Ord River and Ti Tree regions and developments in Darwin Harbour.
These developments have big implications for NT greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity retention and sustainable development philosophies. ALEC will be seeking to ensure any developments are planned and progressed according to sustainable principles, rather than being driven by a panicked desire to grow the economy.
CATTLEMEN PLANTING BUFFEL GRASS WHILE AUTHORITIES
STILL 'LOOKING AT PROBLEM'. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
"Buffel grass definitely has a role in pasture production and is definitely a weed in a national park."
Resolving the tension between the two is a matter of "getting a balanced view" on a case by case basis, which results in an overall official "neutral" position, says regional director of the Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development (DBIRD), Phil Anning.
DBIRD is one of the government agencies to supply advice to the NT Pastoral Land Board, which considers development applications from pastoralists.
The board has before it an application from Aboriginal-owned Alcoota Station to clear an area of land and seed it with buffel grass.
This has been confirmed by the station manager, Christopher Nott, who would make no further comment.
Chairman of the board, Jim Forwood, would not comment on specific applications, but says the board considers eight to 10 clearing applications a year in the southern region of the NT and the preferred seed is buffel grass.
Mr Forwood says he understands the concerns of environmentalists, but buffel grass has not been declared a noxious weed in the Territory.
"As long as it is not listed as a weed, the board is not in a position to tell pastoralists not to grow it."
Mr Anning says buffel grass has advantages as a perennial ground cover and as productive pasture, but disadvantages if it grows where you don't want it.
He says distance from a national park is one of the factors considered in relation to specific applications.
He says the department does not actively promote the use of buffel grass in Central Australia.
A spokesperson for Parks & Wildlife, while also recognising the biodiversity impacts of buffel grass alongside its value as a fodder crop, says government action on buffel grass is coming in the form of Weeds Advisory Committees that are being established under the new Weeds Act.The local committee will offer "the means by which a holistic approach to buffel grass in Central Australia is established".The Centralian Land Management Association, a pastoralist-driven landcare organisation of which Mr Nott is the president, is aware of environmental concerns with the grass and encourages the use of alternatives.However, says acting coordinator Will Dobbie, stores of native grass seed are limited.
He says it is labour-intensive and time consuming to collect, a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
He says CLMA's store is generally only sufficient for its soil conservation work.
He says the buffel grass issue is on a "learning curve for everyone" but there have been cases where pastoralists have approached CLMA for seed, have used native grasses and have been pleased with the result.
"Sowing buffel grass was promoted by government departments from the Ôsixties through to the late Ôeighties," says Mr Dobbie."It's only in the last 10 years, and particularly since the last couple of wet seasons, that there's been a turnaround of views on buffel grass."
Mr Dobbie says there are not a lot of pastoralists who are still seeding the grass.
He says the areas that are being cleared and seeded are only a fraction of the 30 million hectares under pastoral production in the CLMA area (roughly from Tennant Creek to the SA border).
"I'm well aware of the reasons why people are concerned about buffel grass, but unfortunately there is a lack of scientific documentation to support their concerns."It appears to have a big visual impact, but the detailed impact at a species level is not well documented.
"Being a landcare group, the CLMA believe we should be trying to retain an intact landscape, to preserve its natural resources."But we also have to represent our members' views and interests.
"On this issue, we talk to individual land managers on a one to one basis."Until there's a readily available alternative to buffel grass, there's not much point doing otherwise."
However, the Arid Lands Environment Centre is calling for an immediate moratorium on the deliberate seeding of buffel.
Coordinator Glenn Marshall says the grass has been recognised as an "environmental weed" by the Commonwealth's Environment Australia and is now widely recognised in The Centre as a serious problem.
He says there needs to be an informed debate by all parties about the grass' implications for biodiversity.
"We need to examine and develop the facts and we need the resources to do that," says Mr Marshall.
ALEC is particularly concerned about the Alcoota application because of the applicant holding key positions on bodies dealing with weeds. Not only is Mr Nott president of the CLMA, he is also a member of the regional Weeds Advisory Committee and a representative on the Landcare Council of the NT.
Says Mr Marshall: "Chris Nott is the key regional pastoral representative on these bodies. He has demonstrated his personal support for buffel grass but is he also representing the views of pastoralists who consider buffel a major fire and biodiversity problem and has he informed himself on the long term environmental impacts of buffel?"
Mr Marshall says the pastoral industry in The Centre is considering selling itself as "clean and green":
"Being green is all about caring for country. Buffel grass is having serious biodiversity impacts and the industry may be struggling to justify green claims whilst buffel continues to be deliberately sown."
VALE BARDIUS GOLDBERG.
A man much to be admired; his own man, often too big for the social constraints and conventions that surrounded and frustrated him (the idea of needing a licence to drive seemed ridiculous to him), with little patience for fools and the small-minded, he was nevertheless utterly impressive.
In the best senses a big man. An Adonis, his physique was imposing and he carried himself with the bearing of a champion. But he was also a man of huge creative ideas and impulses, with each grand vision replaced by another before anything was fully completed.
He was a Michelangelo who needed his own Medicis (though he did enjoy the loyal support of such benefactors as Reg Harris). His money and he were soon parted, though, and his struggle to survive in a largely unappreciative world was constant.
Biggest of all was his heart. To those he loved he was overwhelmingly generous. He gave his time and labour with a reckless generosity and could be deeply hurt when it was spurned or unappreciated, which was sometimes the case. Others remember his acts of love and kindness Ð sunflowers for the sick, small gifts of his creativity, along with huge investment of time to projects for which his vision burned and to those fortunate ones who gained his commitment.
A driving vision in recent years was to creative a special place for blind children and, while other circumstances conspired to drag him down, he was sustained by the purity of this ambition.
While his right hemisphere was enormous, he had a brilliant mind and a keen interest in big scientific ideas, along with an occasional, unpredictable passion for politics.
His creative vision so often undermined by his own demons, he nevertheless left monuments to his vision. His great green cross, visible across the Todd as one drives towards Old Timers, is a massive cri de coeur Ð a statement in concrete of his spiritual longing for a God he struggled to find, for an environment made holy by creative endeavour, for a place in the cosmos for his beloved dogs.
Other monuments, like the Steakhouse, are rather more mundane, but add to our memory of him.His is survived by his daughter, Charlie, and by all those who loved him both for who he was and for what he contributed to our world.
THE BLOODS BOIL OVER SHELL-SHOCKED EAGLES. Report
by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
Reigning Central Australian premiers and arguably the top performing Aussie Rules club in Australia met their Waterloo on the weekend when a focussed West side literally took them apart at Traeger Park.
West downed Pioneer by 81 points, 22.10 (142) to 9.7 (61). In the game to follow, cake walks were off the agenda as South demolished a demoralised Federal, 32.22 (214) to 1.4 (10).
The match up between the two top sides, the Bloods and Eagles, was expected to be a tight affair. In their two minor round clashes to date both sides had enjoyed a win.
From the first bounce, however, West lifted the bar in the standard of football being played in the Centre. West focussed on possession and didn't allow the young troops upon whom coach Roy Arbon has relied to settle into their game.
The young Eagle runners were stalled by experience as coach Noel Teasdale had his chargers fired up and they ran with confidence and skill, kicking goals from all angles of the forward line and scoring eight majors in the first term. New comer from Darwin, Jamie O'Keefe, added venom to the West forward line and, with Jarrod Slater and Steven Squires in form, the Bloods could do no wrong.Both Aaron Kopp and Graham Smith, the traditional cornerstones of Pioneer's game, could not ignite the usual flame. And up forward Trevor Dhu was not the usual target in the goal scoring area.
In fact, it was the almost single-handed effort from Ezra Bray that got the Eagles on the board with a solitary goal for the first term, and kept them in contention.
In the second term West continued to attack and had the know-how to blanket any Eagles' venture into the forward line. The Bloods plugged a further five goals onto the board to lead 13.5 to 2.3 at the big break.
Adam Taylor ranged through the half forward line most effectively and on the wing Karl Gunderson became a dominant force creating an avenue from defence to attack with precision.
In the middle Minahan medalist Jarrad Berrington also stamped his presence on the game with penetrating attacks to a forward line which knew how to finish things off.
As with any game that Pioneers play, no one on the sidelines had written Pioneer off at half time. They were down by 55 points at the break, but no one underestimates the ability of Pioneer to revive.
The Eagles showed signs of such a resurgence early in the third term. Bray and then Craig Turner instilled a little electricity into the Pioneer game plan with successive goals and then big Daniel Stafford plugged one to create a feeling of an Eagle comeback.
Alas the surge was short lived as West regathered and countered the Eagle attack. Again it was Berrington, Taylor and Gunderson on the run who gave the Bloods the rebound and the forwards ensured the goals were to follow.
By three quarter time Wests had withstood any Eagles' retaliation and sat poised to win. They had 19.8 to 5.4 on the board and any Eagle zest was well and truly extinguished.
In the run home West scored 3.2 as against the Pioneer 4.3, but it was a matter of too little too late from Pioneer, as West claimed a victory which took them back to the top of the premiership ladder.
In Central Australian football finals fever has traditionally brought the best out in Pioneer. Last weekend they were beaten fair and square by an accomplished side, and as the Eagles look to the finals campaign of 2002, the loss may have been a sounding bell for all concerned at the club.
Results like last Sunday's only substantiate rumours about lack of dedication to training. No doubt the seniors and the young blokes at the club will be thinking hard and throwing their support behind Arbon in the run into the business end of the season.West, on the other hand, have realised from their win that Pioneer do have an Achilles Heel, and they have exposed it with determined play and a superior game plan. It will not be plain sailing to the premiership and Westies know Pioneer will bounce back, especially when they next meet on August 25. But for the present they are in the driving seat and on top. They should build on this advantage.
The late game on Sunday was a shame. Federal were a foundation side in the CAFL back in 1947, and deserve to be up there with Pioneer and Rovers, respected as the clubs who were there when it all started. Alas the performance of the club in the last fortnight has sounded what seems to be the death knell of the red and white colours. They had a team run on Sunday. But on the sidelines supporters were next to nil, and in the coach's box sat a lonesome David Gloede, assisted by Mark Wilton and the ever-faithful Kenny Martin.
The players who donned the jumper are to be congratulated for having a go. Indeed they have talent, but are in urgent need of some system in their play and the melding of the elements that make for an effective team.While Feds battled to stay alive, South took the opportunity by the horns and posted a percentage-gaining win which elevated them to third place on the premiership ladder. South scored 32.22 (214) to 1.4 (10).
Gilbert Fishook kicked six goals and was the Roos' best. Willie Tilmouth showed he lacks none of the class of years gone by, and both Donny Scharber and Shane Hayes impressed.
In the youth brigade, Malcolm Ross again showed that in any other league he would be an automatic selection for Under 18 representative play.
South have players capable of winning a premiership. On the sidelines Wayne Braun, Adrian McAdam and Willie Coles would make superb additions to a team already bursting with talent, if only they would give it a go!This weekend Souths meet arch rival Pioneer and it could well produce one of those memorable games. In the early game Federal face up to a percentage hungry Rovers.
MOVE OVER, WORLD CUP WINNERS! Report by PAUL
The Ross Park field was once merely a strip of couch grass used by the local primary school kids.
Now, during the week Eastsiders hit golf balls, walk dogs, and fly kites on the park. Then on Sundays that same humble couch strip becomes a field of dreams for potential World Cup players and others who merely reminisce.
Beyond the mounded paddock where the top players work out, the B Graders play their Sunday competition. It is a low-key affair compared to the premier league. But within the B Grade competition lie the essential ingredients of what sport is all about.
Red cards are almost unheard of, and the yellow card is seldom produced. All players take the game seriously, but afterwards enjoy the cameraderie of the occasion. They play the game regardless of gender, age, race or talent, for the enjoyment of a run on the paddock.
There is a place for all comers.
Juniors emerging from the Sunday morning Blatherskite Park contests are catered for. Memo Verdi, formerly ASSA, are mentored by Gio Morelli and are committed to promoting juniors.
The Gap Angels have taken their name from the annals of Alice Springs suburban history and provide a chance for the youth of the Gap area to participate. At the helm is Michael Presley and it is through their association with the Gap Youth Centre that the club has evolved. For the Angels it is the first year on the paddock, but they are certainly not the only new comers.
At the head of the competition's premiership table, and also in their first year in the competition, are the Buckleys.
From an RSL back ground also come two sides. The Sparks were originally an all female side headed by the talented Nicole Green and Tanya Dyer. These days the Sparks are a mixed gender operation, but still glisten with talent.
Meanwhile, the Scorpions are a men's outfit who in an era gone by also had links with Schwarz Crescent.
The other mixed team to run onto the "back" field at Ross Park are the Stormbirds. The Birds are again a mixed gender side, who have attracted renegades from both Westies and RSL. Like the other teams they cater for a broad cross-section of the community. There are men, women, juniors and "oldies" in the run-on side. Bernie Shakeshaft describes his position as the player who "fills the holes" once the team is on the park.
Antoinette Carroll, an ardent Irish fan, collects the game fees, is passionate about the green shirts and a week ago struck her first goal.
Rachel Farquharson is a junior who has represented the Open Women in the NT Titles.
Phil Hassel is an oldie who still enjoys the challenge in defence, and Anthony Hopkins is a goalie admired by all.
While the RSL, Tadex, Federals and TDC fight it out the A Grade premiership, the Stormbirds and the other five B Grade sides,are lining up in the background to enjoy a game of local soccer.
BOAT PERSON IN BATHTUB: FESTIVAL BACKS RED DUST. Preview by KIERAN FINNANE.
Talented musician and performer Katrina Stowe will add another string to her bow with her role in the one-woman play, "Dust" by Ann Harris, commissioned from Red Dust Theatre at the last minute by the Alice Springs Festival.
Stowe will play Lola, who in an un-named country jumps from a pier, intending to end her life, but instead lands in a bathtub which takes her on a journey across the world to the dusty heart of Australia.
As an illegal alien, Lola hands herself over to the authorities, expecting to be locked up.
White-skinned and English-speaking, she manages to elude the fate of other illegal arrivals to our shores.
"Dust" imaginatively tackles serious contemporary issues Ð "what it means to be Australian, to be alone and what price one will pay to begin again" Ð in keeping with Red Dust's auspicious beginnings.
Nothing if not ambitious, Red Dust have also accepted a second late commission from the festival, "Under the Rain Tree" by Michael Watts, author of last year's festival hit, "Train Dancing".
"Under the Rain Tree" is a two-man play: Ronald, a young urban Aboriginal, comes to the Territory to find his roots; these include his white grandfather, Lennie, who lives alone in a shack under a rain tree, by a bore on a remote cattle station.
The play follows the course of an evening the two spend together, with Ronald beginning to realise that colourful and endearing Lennie has gone crazy, harbouring all kinds of dark secrets.
Watts is writing furiously this week to meet a final script deadline next Monday. Meanwhile, director Craig Mathewson is still looking for the right actor to play Lennie. In the role of Ronald he has cast Steve Hodder, who so effectively played the ill-fated Ulysses in "Train Dancing".
That play was written and produced in just five weeks, which proves that good things can happen under pressure, but both Watts and Mathewson would have preferred a much longer lead time this time round.
Still, says Mathewson, in his 20 years' experience of theatre and film, he has only once had the pleasure of working at a relaxed pace and that was to do his graduation film in Los Angeles.
He says the short time frame will now galvanise the artistic drive of all concerned.
A third Red Dust project, which was to work with a group of young dancers, will now most likely be incorporated with "Dust", although it may yet survive as a short independent piece based on the life of Nijinsky, devised by the dancers themselves, led by young choreographer and writer Sila Cowham
Says Mathewson: "It's exciting that the festival and Year of the Outback have commissioned new works by Alice Springs artists and ultimately are supporting the consolidation of Red Dust Theatre."
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