BIG DROP IN CRIME. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne says property offences in
Alice Springs for the September quarter of this year are down by 25 per
cent on the September quarter last year.
There were a total of 767 reported offences in the September quarter, down 280 offences or 27 per cent on the June quarter this year.
The most significant reduction was in the category of "unlawful entry with intent" of dwellings.
There were 37 reported offences in the September quarter, down by 56 per cent on the previous quarter and 62 per cent on the same quarter last year.
Unlawful entry of other premises also showed a dip of 55 per cent (40 per cent down on last year's figures).
Property damage was down by 25 per cent; other theft by 17 per cent.
Property damage, however, remains the most prevalent property offence, at 43.8 per cent of the whole, followed by other theft at 36.9 per cent.
Unlawful entry of dwellings accounts for 4.8 per cent of the total, and of other buildings, which includes business premises, 4.4 per cent.
Dr Toyne says with the release of these figures today the Territory Government is keeping its election promise of announcing regular and extensive crime information to the public.
With what Dr Toyne claims to be "the first believable crime statistics since self-government", the inaugural issue of the Northern Territory Quarterly Crime and Justice Statistics gives the Labor government an enviable report card, with property crime in Alice Springs across all categories showing a marked decrease.
This is in line with police figures referred to by Acting Commander Trevor Bell in this issue of the Alice News.
Dr Toyne describes these statistics as well as those for sexual assault as "encouraging" but says "there is still a lot of work ahead of us".
Dr Toyne says the reductions reflect well on changes in policing and on the liquor restrictions and complementary measures in Alice Springs.
"The police have told me that the reduction in take-away grog sales hours has allowed them to work more with, for instance, juvenile offenders.
"We are gaining ground there."
Offences against the person in the September quarter showed a 21 per cent drop from the previous quarter, falling in all categories.
Assaults fell by 19 per cent. Sexual assaults, with four recorded offences for the quarter, fell by 50 per cent on the previous quarter and by 73 per cent of the September quarter of last year.
PIES, SHIRTS: TRADERS BACK YOUTH WORKER EDDIE
Night Patrol coordinator and vice-chair of the Central Australian
Aboriginal Child Care Agency Eddie Taylor is challenging Todd Mall
traders to help him combat youth crime and anti-social behaviour in the
Before Christmas he wants to put on night-time barbecues for young people, with food and drinks donated by the traders as a gesture of good will.
In return, he'll be asking the young people to respect the traders' property.
Would that work?
Mr Taylor believes so: "Kids tend to respect that stuff," he says.
A longer-term plan is to ask traders to support the wages of two youth workers who would be present in the mall during business hours.
If a business were experiencing problems with young people on or near their premises, staff could call the youth workers on a mobile phone.
The youth workers would talk to the young people to resolve the situation. In particular, if they were of school age, they would liaise with their school to return them there.
"There are some 40 traders in the mall," says Mr Taylor.
"If they all put in five dollars a day, we'd have the money to top up a CDEP base wage and put some good youth workers on."
ATSIC has funded the Youth Night Patrol's current activities until 2004. This allows three casual staff to do the rounds of the CBD in a mini-bus on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, from 8pm till 1am, picking up young people aged 17 and under and dropping them home. The staff also take the opportunity to talk to their passengers and see if they can help them with any problems.
But there's much more that could be done and should be done, says Mr Taylor.
He's applied to the town council for financial assistance to put on two part-time youth workers, who would work on foot in the CBD at night, getting to know the young people on the street, and being able to offer counselling and support.
He's also starting to get support from the community.
The Baptist church has offered to help with the barbecues.
Lightning Ridge Opal Mines in the mall has donated t-shirt uniforms to the night patrol staff.
And the Gourmet Bakehouse in the Coles complex is donating pies and pasties every Thursday "to give the kids a feed".
"The kids aren't starving, but it's a gesture from the Bakehouse. Instead of throwing the food out, they want to give it to someone who'll appreciate it."
Mall traders the Alice News spoke to were either interested or supportive of Mr Taylor's proposals.
Linden Garner runs two businesses in the mall, including the "What's Hot" shop alongside the Alice Springs Cinemas.
He has constant problems with shop-lifting.
"It's part and parcel of operating a business in Alice Springs," he says, "not just in the mall. In fact, the mall traders are among the few who sell thing that appeal to young people who haven't had to push security mesh on our windows. All the suburban shops have had to."
Shop-lifting has nonetheless caused him to install a $10,000 security camera system, "which I probably can't afford", yet he's surprisingly sympathetic towards the young thieves.
"I'm interacting with some of these kids and from what I can gather most of them are bored shitless.
"In this town for kids over the age of seven, if they don't want to play team sports, there's nothing for them to do.
"The skate park has been taken over by bikes and bullies.
"There are hardly ever any Ôblue light' discos.
"Girls can go to the cinema and have a meal with their friends, but boys want more excitement and some of them find that in vandalism and stealing.
"This is an isolated town, where kids can't easily travel short distances to have a different kind of experience. So we need to provide more avenues for kids to express themselves, to have lots of things other than sport on offer.
"And schools need to recognise that not everyone can be taught in the same way.
"If kids aren't interested, then it won't matter how many youth workers you have, you won't get them going to school."
Mr Garner says he's not "allergic" to Mr Taylor's ideas but wants to hear more detail and above all be assured that they're not just "bandaid solutions".
"I don't think we'd get much respect from a barbecue, partly because a lot of the problems we're dealing with are caused by people who are transient.
"For the youth workers I'd need to know more about the job description.
"I'd want to know who they are reporting to and what kind of things they are reporting to establish what the issues are and how the problems are going to be resolved.
"It has to be a long-term process, a process that can be built on."
Mr Garner is impatient with the town council's procrastinations and calls on private enterprise to come up with the fixes. He says the evidence is already there to support the installation of a camera surveillance system, primarily to ensure safety so that people, locals and tourists alike, can enjoy the mall even if the shops are shut. The council's $10,000 study into the matter he describes as "a waste of money".
He also says he has seen a lot of towns smaller than Alice Springs with better facilities for young people.
"We were probably the last town of this size in Australia to get a skate park!"
At the other end of the mall, Michael Hollows at the "Aboriginal Desert Art Gallery" says he would think about supporting both of Mr Taylor's initiatives.
"I'd like to look at a proposal," he says.
Ironically, Mr Hollows says some of his problems are caused by the Youth Night Patrol, when the mini-bus stops just opposite his gallery. He says young people waiting to be picked up have caused damage to his windows by leaning on them or throwing things, even if it wasn't intentional.
He also says shop-lifting is a constant problem.
"We've even stopped calling the police, we were spending too much time on the phone!
"Ever single day someone comes to steal something."
A particular woman made a speciality of stealing boomerangs. He says one day he saw her tuck some under her t-shirt. He confronted her and she lifted her t-shirt to show that there was nothing there. He says he lifted her breast and six boomerangs fell to the floor.
Was she angry that he had touched her like that?
"Not at all," he claims. "She just walked out.
"There was no point ringing the police, I can't force her to wait, she would have just left.
"Now when she tries to come in, I stand in the doorway and won't let her past."He says some of the young people who come in and attempt to steal have been sniffing petrol: "Their eyes are completely dead, and they can be dangerous."
Around the corner, Bob Vigar runs the gift shop, "Under the Gum Tree". He's sceptical about the barbecue: "I don't think it would work. These kids have got a big chip on their shoulder. The only way to get around that is through education and long-term programs."
The youth worker proposal he described as "the most positive thing I've heard in years".
"I'd like to hear more details," he says, "but my problem is not only with Aboriginal people or with youths.
ÔThe person who stole the remote-control cars [reported in last week's Centralian Advocate] was a white adult male.
"In fact, from what I've seen there are more white people pinching things, while Aboriginal people are the ones with the chip on their shoulder who'll tease and taunt."
Further north along the mall is the Lightning Ridge Opal Mine shop. It's set back from the main thoroughfare, which appears to protect it somewhat: it suffers only occasionally from petty theft or broken windows.
Managing director Nick Le Soues, in business in Alice for 12 years and who donated the Youth Night Patrol t-shirts, says he did it out of sympathy for his colleagues in businesses fronting the mall.
But he also has some sympathy for the young trouble-makers:
"I watch with a mixture of horror and sadness these young people who go through life with no education, suffering poverty and homelessness.
"If they've got no education, they'll be unemployable and angry.
"It's a vicious cycle and so sad if they can't get out of it."Until we can encourage or force parents to send their kids to school, the cycle of poverty and lawlessness will persist."
To Mr Taylor's proposals, he says, "Count me in!"
Mr Taylor, a well-known Aboriginal figure who grew up in Alice, doesn't claim to have all the answers. He's troubled by the apparent influence of black American culture on Aboriginal kids.
"They're wearing bandanas and when they're talking it's Ômother fÉer' this and that. It's not the same talk and the same happy kids as when we grew up.
"It's something in the music they listen to and the films they see.
"We've got to offer them something different, take them out to cattle stations, try different things, have a few basketball courts at different spots around town, including one on Larapinta Drive, half way out."He says there are always some young people who don't want to be taken home, even at 1am. He estimates that around 20 stay behind, looking for excitement, which they may find watching a fight out the front of Bo's or Melanka.
He says a high proportion of the young people he deals with carry knives "for protection".
He estimates 20 to 25 out of a group of 60 would have knives, including children as young as nine, boys and girls.
He says if some of their problems are not dealt with, the town will start to see gangs and territorial fighting "like we did years ago".
What about family responsibility in all of this?
Mr Taylor totally agrees that families have a responsibility, but claims it is being undermined by "do gooders" whom he does not name. He says they undermine family authority by talking to young people about their rights, but not their responsibilities.
JUVENILE PROGRAMS WORK: POLICE CHIEF.
Break-ins to businesses and homes in Alice are dramatically down
this year compared to last.
Last year between July and October there were 104 "unlawful entries" of businesses, 175 of homes.
This year over the same four-month period there were 47 and 49 respectively.Police Acting Commander, Southern Region, Trevor Bell, puts this decrease down to a number of factors, including the Juvenile Diversion Program, operated by the police and working in with a number of other agencies in a "whole of government approach".
He says young people, formerly operating in groups to break and enter, are being identified and drawn into programs offering them education and skills."This is changing their offending behaviour. We are seeing less repeat offenders, which is a benefit to them and to the community," he says.
General disturbances, that is people being a nuisance but not committing a crime, are also down. Last year police patrols recorded 600 disturbances, this year, less than 400.
The public reported over 1500 last year, which has dropped to 1300 this year.
Assaults are also down: 150 occurred in a public place last year, compared to 104 this year.In private premises, 298 occurred last year, dropping to 107 this year.
"That's still far too many, more than 200 in just four months, but at least they're coming down," says Cmmdr Bell.
Criminal damage identified by police patrols show an increase, from 36 incidents last year to 47 this year. However, criminal damage reported by the public dropped from 320 last year to 270 this year."We are certainly seeing a reduction in a lot of crime and we are hopeful that that is sustainable."The way we are policing the town has changed and the liquor restrictions are having a bit of an effect.
"We are keeping the drunks out of the centre of town, which has shifted some problems to the town camps. We are going to the camps more often but we are also trying to work in partnership with the Tangentyere Night and Day Patrols."The night patrols still basically take the drunks away to the sobering-up shelter, while the day patrols are trying to work with them and their families to change their behaviour, getting them into rehabilitation and so on."
What about young people on the streets late at night?Cmmdr Bell says the police do try to take them home rather than wait for trouble, but sometimes the situation at home can be more dangerous for the young person than the street.If that is the case, he says, police contact Family and Children's Services or the night patrol to try to find somewhere to place the child overnight, and contact agencies the next day to make appropriate arrangements."We are very mindful of situations like that but it can happen that police are not aware of the dangers before the child gets left," he says.
THE GREAT TELSTRA DEBATE: SNOWDON VS SCULLION.
Labor says don't sell.
By WARREN SNOWDON, MHR Lingiari
The Estens Report hasn't fooled anyone about the reality of Telstra's services in the bush, least of all the people who live here.
It's a false representation of telecommunications service levels put together by a team who mostly visited capital cities and didn't even come to the Northern Territory.
Nearly all submissions to the inquiry showed that Telstra is failing to provide the bush with the services demanded and expected by capital city populations.
Despite this, I am unsurprised that the report tried to paint a rosy (and entirely unrealistic) picture of telecommunications services across rural Australia.
Since it was first announced in August, I have warned that the Estens Inquiry was going to be a whitewash.
The problems were clear: it was stacked with National Party members Ð including Dick Estens, a close friend of the Deputy Prime Minister Ð and given just over two months to report. But even this Clayton's inquiry was forced to highlight major failures in remote areas of the Territory.
Finding 5.1 states "Remote Indigenous communities remain the most disadvantaged telecommunications users in Australia and face unique difficulties in accessing adequate services."
Given it didn't come here, it's not surprising that the Inquiry received only six submissions from the Territory.
This wasn't good enough. Telecommunications services are too important to be dismissed so lightly Ð the views of Territorians needed to be heard.
For this reason, I sent the Lingiari Telstra Survey to households throughout my electorate about three weeks ago.
The response so far shows that the community wants to have a say on this issue.My office has received over 600 responses Ð more than the total number of submissions the Esten's Inquiry received nationally. Based on the rate the responses are coming in, I am hopeful of receiving up to 1000.
While the final figures aren't yet available, more than 94 percent of the respondents oppose the full sale of Telstra.
The majority are unconvinced that Telstra's mobile, Internet and connections services are up to scratch, and only 20 percent say that the time taken to deal with faults is "good".
The message from rural and regional Australians is clear Ð don't sell Telstra.Labor hears that message, and remains committed to keeping our telecommunications company in our hands.
The CLP says sell.
By NIGEL SCULLION, Senator for the NT.
As Senator for the Northern Territory my position on the future of Telstra has always been to not discuss any sale options, until such time as Territorians have both access to equitable telecommunications services and we have put in place a legislative and regulatory framework that will ensure that services in the bush maintain that equity with the rest of Australia.Before we can do anything though we need to have an understanding of the present state of the level of services in regional and remote Australia. The Esten inquiry was set up just for that purpose.
The enquiry found that there are indeed some areas that need to be improved. Most of the issues raised related to internet and date speed problem.The inadequacies identified with the date speeds must be addressed prior to progressing with any sale discussions.This is consistent with my position and also consistent with what the Coalition Government has said all along.I am also still working on ways to extend mobile phone coverage along the Stuart Highway.The Esten enquiry found that further coverage may be difficult or not cost effective to provide. New technologies are emerging all the time that may provide a solution to providing extended coverage.
I will keep pursuing the telecommunication companies to investigate these innovations and provide phone coverage to travellers on our major highways.A further area where I have held discussions with Telstra is the issue of emergency phones on the Stuart Highway in areas where there is no mobile coverage.
This has been implemented on the Stuart Highway in South Australia and may well be an effective interim measure until such time as technology allows for full highway coverage by mobile phones.
SPIN DOCTORING THE SWAMP. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
In a clumsy attempt at spin doctoring the NT Government owned Power
and Water Corporation (P&W) has announced it will contribute
$200,000 over three years to the rehabilitation of the Ilparpa Swamp.
But P&W is mum about when it will finally start spending the many millions needed to put an end to the sewerage plant's threat of fatal mosquito borne diseases, the waste of billions of litres of water, and of prime land, and the foul smells.
The swamp is currently copping the uncontrolled overflow from the sewerage treatment ponds.
P&W has a Ð very generous Ð "discharge licence" from the Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment, right up to 2007, another five years.
On the score of effluent reuse, so far all eggs are in one basket, selling or giving away treated effluent to a horticultural venture Ð yet to be set up.
"National advertising for interested parties took place in April this year and the response was very encouraging," says P&W's Randall Scott."We received a number of proposals, but as it is a major commercial venture based on re-uses of treated effluent, there is a reluctance to announce any progress prematurely."
But ALEC's Glenn Marshall says it is common knowledge that P&W is talking only to one party, and even if these negotiations come off, there's no guarantee that the venture won't fall over sometime in the future.
"There is a vulnerability in having only one proponent," says Mr Marshall.
"It's critical the other two potentially viable reuse options are also vigorously pursued."
Mr Marshall says these options are pumping treated effluent back through the Gap for use on the golf course and other sporting fields, and to use highly treated effluent for indirect potable reuse.
On current investigations this would involve injecting treated effluent into an aquifer south of the town, leaving it there for several years, then extracting and mixing it with our town water.
In any case, it's clear to the Ilparpa Swamp Rehabilitation Committee Ð of which ALEC is a member Ð that permanent rehabilitation of the swamp is not viable until all effluent overflows cease.
But will they Ð even in five years' time?
Note the language of the P&W spokespeople: "The aim is for zero release in dry [how dry?] weather conditions from the sewage ponds Ð an expectation consistent with the Discharge Licence," says Mr Scott.
Or: "The strategy for reuse of the effluent for horticulture and other purposes has an objective [which may or may not be met?] of achieving [when?] zero release to the Ilparpa Swamp under normal [what is normal?] operating conditions."
And: "Discharges will cease except when extreme rainfall events exceed the hydraulic capacity of the ponds." How extreme?
Does that mean the outflow of sewerage from the plant itself will go on forever?
But is it only "to manipulate water transfers and maximise reuse of effluent for beneficial purposes" serving the swamp Ð or will the present uncontrolled outflows continue?
But, wait: "There is an ongoing program to provide information to public forums, provide media updates, obtain feedback from the community and create opportunities for constructive participation by stakeholders," says one P&W blurb.
Does that mean further media releases with more escape routes than known to Osama bin Laden?
So are there one or more parties to the horticultural scheme?
"The strategy for reuse involves more than one end user."
Yes, thank you, the strategy may well do so, but have more than one potential end user actually put up their hand?
Responds P&W: "Many aspects of this project are still under early-stage negotiations.
"It's an important major project and we are not in a position to offer further comment as doing this may jeopardise the negotiations." Ah-ha.
"The project is progressing on schedule [what is the schedule?] with the development of engineering concepts and preliminary design [what do these entail?] to establish firm cost estimates.
"At this stage it is premature to make any announcement on cost or details of the infrastructure for effluent reuse.
"The engineering investigation and concept design is being undertaken for various options and commercial negotiations are in progress.
"Power and Water is very encouraged by the progress to date and will provide further information when it is in a position to do so."
We can't wait.
Can we get a copy of the Ilparpa Swamp Management Plan?
"No. The management plan is still with Native Title Holders hence cannot be released until it comes back from them endorsed."
P&W is clearly one branch of our "open" government with a creative concept of transparency.
WHY THEY CAME. Report by JENNIFER BARRETT.
There should be a cultural centre in town where tourists can see
Aboriginal artists at work, suggested Dutch tourists visiting the
Centre for the first time.Harry Steuten and Marja DeGreef came "Down
Under" to visit Harry's relatives who live near Melbourne.But they
wanted to see Alice Springs as well "because we had been reading about
"It's also the heart of Australia," said Harry.
They were struck by the Aboriginal art being sold in galleries in the mall but wondered why they never saw people making the art.
"It would be great if the town council could establish somewhere in the town centre where Aboriginals could create art so the tourists could see them actually making something," said Harry.
They did enjoy the didgeridoo show they saw and they also appreciated the town's trees and flowers (many more than in their hometown), the food Ð "good quality for a reasonable price" Ð and the easygoing atmosphere.
"The traffic here is so disciplined," said Harry."In our country, everybody is rushing. It is very pleasant to be driving here."Marja liked "the general atmosphere" but "yesterday evening when it was a little bit late, Todd Street was very quiet and we felt a little bit uneasy", she said."But you don't have the feeling that there are pickpockets here."
It had taken the pair a while to adjust to the heat: "When we come back it would be in the winter time."Maeve Armstrong lives just outside of Dublin, Ireland and will be in Australia for three weeks.She said she was just as interested in Alice as in The Rock and she was particularly interested in Aboriginal people."I suppose I was curious about the Aboriginals because they are similar to the Irish Travellers [gypsies]," she said.Maeve has worked with the Travellers in Ireland and said that most of them were nice people, but they tended to be stigmatized.
"I was in Canada and noticed there was a lot of racism," she said.
She wondered if it would be the same in Australia.
"It seems as though there's a real huge divide between the two communities but I've met some Australians here who mix quite well with the Aboriginal community."
Maeve liked "the feeling that even though Alice is a town, it's miles from anywhere"."And I like the whole romance of the Flying Doctors thing. That really shows that there's a great sense of community."I think I could easily stay here for quite a while because there is a lot to do, but a lot of people seem to go in and out.
"It's hard when you're not here for long Ð you haven't had a chance to really take it in," said Maeve.
Stefanie Pracht, from Germany, was one of those just passing through, "because my tour starts here to Ayers Rock down to Adelaide".
She is in Australia for two months, in Alice Springs for two days.
Not having been here long enough, she didn't know whether she liked Alice Springs or not, but "I couldn't imagine living here because it's in the middle of nowhere".
She saw Australia as a safe place for women to travel on their own and she also wanted to be in a country where she could speak English.
Geutjes Riet and her friend Gerda Wjnberg came from Holland to Australia, to catch up with Gerda's daughter who is backpacking here.
They're making the most of it, holidaying for a month, stopping in town "to see the Aboriginals and the village of Alice Springs because there are so many cultures here".They had booked a three day safari for Uluru, the Olgas and Kings Canyon, but they still would have come to Alice if the surrounding attractions did not exist, they said.
"And it's very relaxed here, our town is stressed and hurried."
Clickety-clique: Alice Balkan. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
Several times I have heard it said that Alice Springs is a town full
of selective and exclusive little groups of people.
We're a bit like the Balkan nations except not at war and not as well-dressed. Or we're like Year 12 but without the hormones.
For one view of social groups, there is an Australian movie doing the rounds at the moment called Blurred. It is about Schoolies Week. I won't be going because just watching the trailer made me exhausted. In my own Year 12, which now feels like a place in time just before the Cretaceous Period, nothing half as exciting happened. But there is one feature that my Year 12 had in common with all the others: cliques.
I remember leaving school and not looking back for even a second. No tears and no regrets. Goodbye, cliques, I thought. Hello, solitary world in which I can stop worrying about not being part of a selective group. Then I became a hermit, lived in a bedsit and didn't wash very much. But, hey, that's another story and I'll spare you the tedium.There are some interesting books on the subject of cliques. Perhaps "interesting" is not quite the description. Dry as a bone might be better. But, during the advert breaks in television dramas, they did help me to understand the role of cliques. Scanning the pages I found key words like "stigmatise", "ingratiate", "alignment", "elitism", "subjugation of the in-group" and my favourite, "curry favour", which sounds like an NT version of a popular Indian dish. All these words tell you much about the subject, without having to read even a whole sentence. Which is the way I like it.
According to one clique-studier called Keith Graham, who wrote a recent book called (wait for it) Practical Reasoning in a Social World, a clique is "a number of individuals who know each other well and tend to engage in exchanges which presuppose a great deal of prior acquaintance with their interests, their sense of humour and their ways of relating to one another. Such a group of individuals may collectively exclude other people from their social exchanges "Hope that you understood that better than me. The point is that such a group might be a political clique, a spiritual one, sporting, based on class, race or gender. All of these groups exist in our town, or any other for that matter. We all belong to them. This is not something that I like to tell people, but I was a Toastmaster once and therefore part of a serious clique. We were supposed to be an open house public speakers club but we had a code of dress and behaviour that excluded the vast majority of outsiders.
¥Ê¥Ê¥ÊI remember a friend of mine turning up as a guest. He was dressed in his everyday clothes, which made him and his girlfriend look like Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. Entering the room and surveying the suits and ties he gazed open-mouthed as the rest of the group stared down their noses at him. "I didn't realise," was all he said.
Maybe this is typical of an Alice social group, but I doubt it. The behaviours of cliques owe much more to the freezing and thawing of outsiders in or out of the group, than anything as blunt as a stare. The techniques are subtle. You make patronising noises to people who don't belong and you cosy up to those who do. Someone should write a book about cliques. But, then again, they already wrote a truckload.
In Alice Springs, how much evidence is there for the allegation that the cliques are more, well, cliquey than elsewhere? Surely the very idea of a clique is un-Australian. How can it survive alongside mateship, the fair go and the Aussie battler? And here in the Outback? Impossible. But the true test of a clique comes when you try to join one.
So here's the strategic withdrawal. A fish out of water is not best-placed to reveal the truth about Alice's cliques. I think I'll leave that to people with better social skills and a stronger stomach than me. But I'll gather intelligence from a safe distance and let you know if I find any illuminating truths. We could even start a selective group of people who are interested in the phenomenon of cliques and collectively exclude other people from our social exchanges.For my money, cliques, like politics and conversation, are just a part of getting along with people. At school, I was never part of the groups of teenagers who had all the fun. And I used to complain about them being cliques. If I do that now, then the problem is not the cliques, but my own shortcomings. It was probably true then as well, but it took me a geological age to find out.
The best kept secret. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.
There's no doubt that people living in isolated places run the risk
of becoming somewhat insular É
Following on from last week's comment about trans-Tasman relationships, I thought I'd explore further my idea of an Alice /Aotearoa alliance Ð a bilateral tourism venture.
New Zealand is being promoted internationally, and quite successfully, as a "safe" destination. According to the Christchurch Press (Nov 9, 2002), thousands of Britons surveyed, and asked what they must see before they die, put America's Grand Canyon at number one, our Great Barrier Reef second, third was Florida's Disney World and the South Island of New Zealand was number four. This study was conducted mid-year and Bali was 49th on the wish list. Alice Springs didn't rate a mention ÉDual citizenship has allowed me to call two stunningly beautiful and totally unique parts of the world "home" for years.
I try to get back to New Zealand at least once a year Ð it's only a short trip, three hours or thereabouts, over the Tasman. Cross the West Coast and then the spectacular Southern Alps, mostly snow-capped, even in summer (!), and that ache of home-coming grows as we fly over the patchwork fields and farms of the Canterbury Plains and descend into Christchurch. When David joins me we do "side" trips (the Bay of Islands, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Picton) so that he doesn't get bored with seeing Mummy, Dad and other family members ÉMany friends, prior to heading across the Tasman, ring to ask me when they should visit, where they should go and how many weeks they should allow to see and "do" both South and North Islands.
New Zealand friends visiting Oz also ask us for input re their proposed itineraries, and we ensure that the Centre is at the top: A for Alice and Action.Someone once said, "Find a job you love and you'll never have to go to work again!"
I thought, "Here's an opportunity!"A boutique touring company, Cloke's Connections perhaps, promoting two favourite places, the Red Centre and New Zealand.
A town like Alice, appealing in its isolation, steeped in mystery, atmosphere, history, and rich in culture and landscape needs an alluring archipelago like Aotearoa, a wonderland of national parks, rolling hills, lofty mountains, glaciers, lakes and fiordsÉ
And New Zealand travellers, bored with coastal experiences, need to know what the Outback has to offer.Let's explore new markets whilst positively targeting the Kiwis, keep negotiating with Virgin Air and other operators, and really push the Red Centre Holiday concept. People are still travelling but some are choosing places close to home. The NT is almost an unknown destination except to those of us who do know.
There's no point living in the country's best kept secret without sharing it Ð we know that the Alice is vying against other equally exciting destinations in Australia and elsewhere.Interestingly when I rang Qantas, the Spirit of Australia, to confirm flight details to Sydney, the message was, "Thank you for calling Air New Zealand". There are so many parallels between the two airlines and the two countries É
As we descended into Alice on Monday, I felt very happy, between those bouts of parochialism, to be home again É
Bargain! COLUMN by GLENN MARSHALL.
Lawn sales are a cherished institution of Alice Springs.
Virtually all of us have lawn-saled early on a Saturday morning, and most of us have held a few to clear out the shed, make a few bucks for Christmas or sell up our worldly possessions to leave town.
To celebrate the uniqueness of Alice Springs' lawn sales, and to cap off National Recycling Week last week, the Arid Lands Environment Centre has joined forces with the Bowerbird Tip Shop and 8CCC community radio to commence the 8CCC Lawn Sale Show each Saturday from 6.30am to 9am on FM102.1.
This good fun program assesses the form guide for the week (the Advocate lawn sale listings) then hits the road to report back live to the studio via mobile phone from various lawn sales.
On-the-spot interviews enable those holding the lawn sale to talk up their wares, whilst punters are asked for their opinion of each lawn sale and reveal to the world the best bargain they snapped up that morning.
For those who ring in to the studio (8952 7771) with the best bargain of the week or funniest thing seen, there is a $5 voucher to the Bowerbird Tip Shop Ð worth the equivalent of $50 at a hardware store.
Last Saturday's winner was Rob Burdon who rang in to report two unused 1970-era plastic time capsules on offer at a Kurrajong Drive lawn sale. They were surely snapped up by an astute bargain hunter.
The morning also saw frantic lobbying of the roving reporter by those conducting lawn sales, with offers of cup-a-teas and free goods in return for favourable air-time. It didn't work. The bloke trying to flog off a shovel for $25 deserved to lug it back to his shed at the end of the morning.
Lawn sales are far more than a chance to recycle though. The thrill of hunting a bargain is the highlight of many a hard-core lawn-saler's week. And you always run into a few mates for some casual banter on a Saturday morning.
You get to gaze in awe as someone straps a three-seater couch onto the top of their roof-rackless Corona before driving off.
You get to see the bared soul of other householders as reflected through their off-casts. And to top it off, you can generally get yourself a good feed of pikelets, snags or muffins at a lawn sale somewhere. See you at the lawn sales next week.
Pioneer Park racing is in fine form. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
in the Centre is really booming, with fields still at a high point
after the Spring Carnival and plenty at stake for both bookies and
punters in the run into Christmas.
As a bonus, the Alice Springs News will from this week give what used to be in sporting papers, with local photographer Stephanie Moody on course to capture the position at the finishing post and maybe reveal an insight to a winner of the future.
On Saturday, alas, the four event card ended with each race being easily won: Alice's favourite son in the saddle, Tim Norton was able to record a treble, and aspiring local trainer Nigel Moody saw two of his chargers salute the judge.
In the first race, the New Zealand bred mare, Queen's Image, made every post a winner in the 1400 metre Kenny's Best Pal Class Five Handicap.
The mare was taken to the lead early by Norton and didn't miss a beat in the run to the line, winning by eight lengths, after starting at 11-4.
In second place was the horse from Westies, Mention That Name, at the each way odds of 9-2, and filling the minors one and a quarter lengths away was the 11-8 chance, Coppers Edge.Veteran trainer, Nev Connor, may have had to keep his lips sealed after the first but in the second race, the 1000 metre North Reef Class Three Handicap, he had all pistons firing. Shadow Boxer shot the field to pieces by five and a half lengths with Ben Cornell on board. Staring hot favourite at 4-6, Shadow Boxer made the race a training gallop and was followed home by the long shot Navigator at 25-1, with Botanica further off the pace, third at 15s.
The 1000 metre Dymock's Alice Springs Handicap was the third race on the card, and with it came success for Minister Jack Ah Kitt who has an interest in Son of Grace. After three runs at Pioneer Park, and each of them ending in minor placings, followers were rewarded when the Son (at 6-4) returned to scale after winning by two lengths.
In second position was even money chance, Swiftly, who had headed Son of Grace on the turn only to be "mown down" in the straight. The 5-1 chance Kucite picked up the cheque for third.
Norton then completed his treble in the last by booting home 7-2 chance Dark Lindt. Since the Cup Carnival, Dark Lindt has shown promise and Saturday's race stamps the galloper in contention for more prize money.
Nigel Moody celebrated with his training double as the winner crossed the line, 4 3/4 l in advance of Sancay at 4-1, followed by 6-1 chance Wolf Trap.
Westies, Feds fall into holes. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
The Westies boys simply couldn't match it with RSL on the Albrecht
wicket on Sunday and so went down on first innings points in A Grade
Set 207 to win, the Bloods could only muster 123 before being dismissed. Similarly on Saturday, Federal succumbed to the pressure of a chase by not being able to make 204 after starting the day at 0/63 against Rovers.
Saturday was publicised as a game Federal had in the bag, but their chances were soon put in the back pocket when "Junior" Greg Dowell captured a hat trick and buried the Feds' talent.
When opener Tom Clements was on 46, Dowell snared an lbw decision, to claim a major scalp. Next ball "Junior" struck again, with another lbw, taking out Jamie Chadwick. It was a dismissal that was crucial to Rovers' fortunes but at the same time disappointing for Chadwick who leaves for Darwin this week and will not take to the crease again for Feds.
Dowell's third trick was to bowl Matt Allen for a further duck and so have Feds reeling. Brendan Martin was something of a saving grace for the Feds as he compiled 40 before being bowled, and late in the order Jamie Laughton and Sean Wingrove, with 29 each, gave the batting some semblance of respectability.
Having lost on the first innings, Federal then had Rovers at the crease and to their credit were able to take 10 wickets before the close of play. Rovers finished the day all out for 150.
While this gained Feds a point or two, the outcome had greater ramifications for Westies who had to face the music against RSL the next day. The telltale 10 wicket demise late Saturday on the Albrecht pitch lived up to all indicators on Sunday.
Westies needed to make 207 for first innings points.
A super start by RSL's Cameron Robertson saw trump card Ken Vowles back in the pavilion for a duck when skipper Jeff Whitmore accepted a catch that could have been the one to win the match.
Fellow opener Adam Stockwell continued his good form by scoring 53 before falling lbw to Graham Schmidt, and at the other end there was little support. Down the list a youngster who has a tonne of potential, Leith Hiscox, held things together to score 25. but otherwise Westies folded.Robertson steamed through 12 overs to take 3/36; and Graham Schmidt cleaned up the tail, ending the day on 4/26.
RSL took the first innings points and then opted to bat out the last hour of play. The tactic to play the game right out until six o'clock is something RSL skipper Whitmore has resorted to in recent weeks, and it will be interesting to see if it returns him dividends, especially if the season becomes a tight points struggle.
REGAL EAGLES SQUASH KIWIS. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
Rugby Union stepped up a further notch on Saturday night when a
contingent of players arrived from Yirara College to participate in
juniors from 4.30 at Anzac Oval.
The new arrivals took the junior squad up to some 30 players who, under stalwarts of the game, went through basic drills before watching the "big boys" run on.
The games proved to be good learning tools for the juniors but in terms of top class rugby were probably on the second line of the betting.
The Cubs and Devils ran on in the curtain raiser and in essence the game was one sided. Devils did not score until late in the game when they registered five points in the last two minutes of play.On the other hand, Cubs were able to score two tries in the first half and finish the game with three tries and a conversion Ð 17 points.
Stephen Barr continued his good form with a try early and Paul Veitch buttered up to score a try and conversion. In the second half it was the flamboyant Aaron Harre who sealed the game for the Cubs.The late game had all the makings of the first, when at half time Eagles led the Kiwis by a mere two points, 5-3. Kiwis, who performed so well against the Cubs, were tipped to give the Eagles a run for their money, but the second half revealed the other side of the Eagles' play.Like a new machine, the old Misfits (as they were known) showed what they can do and rattled their score from five to 34 at full time, without a response from the Kiwis.
The game was probably won in the forwards where the Strahan brothers, like book ends, dominated proceedings. The elusive Brendan Adams, who ran the full length of the paddock for the try of the night, was Man of the Match, and new comers Michael Geraghty and Neville Jones proved their worth. Tries for the Eagles came from Tui Ford, Mal Hill, Craig James, and Adams, with pocket dynamo Jonno Swalger scoring two. David Kerrin and Bob Wong did the right thing with the boot.
The CARU are now packaging a side for the representative trip to Katherine. Alice should be well represented, with Joe Dixon and Russell "Bear" Ward hotly tipped to form the non-playing "brains trust" of the tour.
STEVE HODDER: POLITICAL SPITTER, HYPOCRISY HITTER. Profile by KIERAN FINNANE.
"I see myself as being not so much a story-teller as an
information-giver," says rap poet Steve Gumarungi Hodder.The
information is contained partly in the act of getting up and doing his
thing. In Newcastle, north of Sydney, where he recently performed in
the TINA (This Is Not Art) Festival, for some in the audience it was
their first contact with an Indigenous writer.
"I know there are a lot more Indigenous artists out there but they don't often get up," he says."People are not hearing our stories as much as they could or should."We need to let them know that being Indigenous is not just what they see in the mainstream media."
The information is also of course in the actual poetry. As Hodder says, they are not story poems so much as commentaries. They drive home a point; they're hard-hitting but not vitriolic. Their energy comes from an awakening consciousness meeting the right art form at the right time.
Reading "black armband" histories like Henry Reynolds' Fate of a Free People set the ball rolling:
"Puttin' on our black armbands Ôcause / history's ignorance is finally comin' down / in every city and town / 2 many truths untold / but as the Earth revolves / we can slowly find resolve / Ôcause now's the time 4 this nation / 2 create a new mould."
The poem's called "Fate 2 Choose". In another section it reveals how intensely Hodder feels his themes:"Black tears runnin' down my face / 4 all the years U mob been runnin' down my race / I got wisdom & the untold truth / but it's playin' on my mind like a hole in the tooth.""This is history from our point of view," says Hodder.
"I've read a lot of Henry Reynolds now, it's a good reference point."
Not all of Hodder's poetry is focussed on black themes. His rap about refugees is one of the best pieces of engaged poetry I've heard in Alice, and he's also got a beauty about Pine Gap.
He gives himself the tag of "DezertFish". He was born in Cairns but he grew up in Alice. His mother, whom he describes as his "unofficial editor", is English-born. He credits his father, an Aboriginal songman from Mornington Island, with his "performance side".
This mixed background, together with his experience of growing up Indigenous but away from country (in order to access education and other services and opportunities) has equipped him to see things from multiple viewpoints, he says.Important early creative experiences were involvement with the Araluen Youth Theatre (now defunct) and having a bit part in "Comedy of Errors" directed by Bryn Williams, which went to the Adelaide Fringe Festival.
Later, doing a black and white photography workshop with Mike Gillam opened up the "Pandora's box" of his creativity: "He taught me to analyse things metaphorically, visually, symbolically."
Another leap forward came when he was cast by Craig Mathewson in Michael Watts' play Train Dancing, which went to the Adelaide Festival's main program earlier this year."Since then the door has really opened up É or at least widened," says Hodder. He has just returned from a galvanising trip east, where he attended a national meeting of Indigenous thespians and theatre groups in Brisbane, went on to the TINA festival and finally to a regional arts conference in Albury.
He is brimming over with ideas and ambitions for Indigenous performance in Alice Springs.
The Brisbane meeting launched Black Stage, National Indigenous Theatre Alliance Ð "an avenue for letting professional companies interstate know that we've got performers out here".
But the Newcastle experience was even more exciting. It was very grass roots and involved lots of workshops which seeded lots of ideas about how to develop performances that don't need a lot funding.
"I saw one day plays, written in the morning, developed and rehearsed during the day, performed in the evening."Young people here could commit themselves to performance instead of doing negative stuff É or nothing at all."
In Newcastle, Hodder also experimented with setting his rap to a beat. He intends to present the results at a spoken word event, Sunset Sounds, this Sunday, in the Todd River, down from the Totem (6-8pm). He'll be joined by other writers, including Amanda Markham and Danni Powell, as well as local musicians.
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