BURKE CLINGS TO JOB. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The NT Government has had a "dream run" in part because of "internal distractions within the CLP, that have limited the effectiveness of the party's ability to deliver a strong opposition".
This was claimed by Len Notaras last Friday night in an exclusive interview with the Alice Springs News.
The following day he did not re-nominate for presidency of the Country Liberal Party (CLP), the position he had held since the party's defeat two years ago after more than a quarter of a century in power.
He says he's retiring for "family and professional reasons".
Dr Notaras' comment followed what he called a "vigorous" debate earlier on Friday, in the CLP's annual conference held in Alice Springs, about the performance of beleaguered Opposition Leader Denis Burke.
Dr Notaras said the conference, attended by 70-odd delegates, had carried a motion supporting Mr Burke by "a very substantial vote".
But insiders say Ð and Dr Notaras didn't deny this Ð that the "yes" votes were only marginally ahead of the "no" votes plus the abstentions.
Asked whether his "dream run" comment was a criticism of Mr Burke, Dr Notaras said: "Well, it can be, but one would hope that with this fairly resounding re-endorsement, or endorsement of confidence, he can get on and move forward.
"If I hear one thing over and over, it's not that we've got to get rid of somebody or introduce somebody new.
"It's rather, in inverted commas, get our act together and our focus together, and offer a credible choice.
"There has been virtually no Opposition."
Dr Notaras says the party "needs direction and focus, and with the focus, and appropriate direction, we will do some very good things."
His departure was another milestone in the party's troubled recent past, culminating in a Parliamentary leadership challenge earlier this year.
That move had vigorous support from the Alice Springs branch, the party's biggest and most powerful, smarting from the interference by Burke supporters in the preselection process prior to the 2001 election.
But Mr Burke survived the challenge when Alice Springs MLAs Jodeen Carney and Richard Lim Ð reportedly at first supportive of the challenge Ð deserted the rebels.
In 2001 Burke supporters in the party's Central Council overruled the Alice branch by rejecting its choice for Araluen, Peter Harvey, and preselecting Ms Carney.
She narrowly retained Araluen for the CLP Ð formerly a blue ribbon seat.
Says Dr Notaras: "Jodeen mentioned as late as today [Friday] that her seat is only held by a hundred and something votes, 130 or 140 votes, and there is a massive challenge in that.
"It was a very safe seat. So that is significant."
Party insiders say by scuttling the recent leadership challenge Ms Carney was repaying the Burke faction for her preselection, and she is now angling for the job of Deputy Leader, following the announcement last week by Mike Reed that he would quit politics soon.
When asked if Ms Carney would be chosen, Mr Burke told the Alice News: "It's not a decision for me to make.
"The Deputy has two roles.
"One is to support the Leader, but also to carry the issues that concern the Parliamentary wing.
"Deputy's position is very much one that has to be decided by the Parliamentary wing and the last thing a Leader would do is to influence that in any way.
"It works against you.
"I reckon there are a number of candidates there who would want to be Deputy.
"And if we're talking about Alice Springs, I would think that both Jodeen and Richard [Lim] would be interested."
Dr Notaras made it clear he thought the "perceived" heavy-handed interference by Central Council in the Carney preselection was "potentially" a mistake.
He said: "The two years I have been president the matter of Jodeen's preselection hasn't been raised, but what has been raised from time to time is the need to acknowledge the critical importance of branches and their influence.
"Branches need to be heard and heeded. They are after all the grass roots of the party.
"It is an issue as far as I am concerned, and will be an ongoing issue, irrespective of who is the president and how the new management committee shape up.
"It's a very important issue.
"Branches do need to make that decision, and I don't think anybody should be put in a position without consultation unless it's one that everybody agrees with."
With Dr Notaras' departure the CLP in Alice Springs is losing an influential supporter.
He was the first ever CLP president in opposition, had three general secretaries in two years and oversaw a major move of headquarters.
The doctor, lawyer, senior administrator of the Darwin Hospital and former soldier says the Alice "has been, in a sense, my own seat of influence.
"They are the people who actually voted for me and proposed me a couple of years ago, and sustained me in the job for a couple of years."
The new party president is Paul Bunker, a real estate agent from Darwin.
The head of the Alice branch, David Forrest, also a real estate agent, is one of the vice presidents.
Meanwhile the rumblings of discontent amongst Central Australian CLP members are far from over.
One party heavy says a change of government remains unlikely with Mr Burke at the helm.
The 2001 campaign had cost the party more than $1m and $250,000 is still owing.
He says there should be no problem in raising such a comparatively small amount Ð but the traditional CLP donors in business have no confidence in Mr Burke.
The party member says one way to fix the problem would be to "take the C out of CLP", hinting at a possible return to influence in Territory politics of former Chief Minister Shane Stone, now chairman of the Liberal Party.
Another insider says for the first time in the party's history several sitting MLAs spoke out against their Leader during the conference.
They were Peter Maley, Sue Carter, Terry Mills and John Elferink, and there was "some confusion [about] what side Richard Lim was on".
OPPOSITION LEADER TROUBLE MAGNET. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
There's no doubt, Opposition Leader Denis Burke has turned over a new leaf, possibly because things just aren't getting any better, a supportive motion by the CLP on the weekend notwithstanding.
To prove he's a changed man he planted a kiss on my cheek (true story!) while addressing some 200 cocktail party guests last Friday.
He's announcing that "the days of litigation are over" Ð a reference to the court battles fought by his party's successive governments against Aboriginal land rights claimants over the decades.
In fact, says Mr Burke, there should be more land releases in collaboration with native title holders, such as negotiated by the former CLP government in Palmerston.
And a CLP government would "need to do a lot more in Alice Springs."
But will it all work?
Chances are Mr Burke will soon be doing battle with two mayors standing as independents Ð Fran Kilgariff in Braitling and Jim Forscutt in Katherine.
And if he loses Katherine Ð soon to be vacated by his Deputy Ð he said "I'll be out of here," according to a delegate at the weekend's CLP annual conference, held in Alice Springs.
Mr Burke will be up against it in a contest with Ms Kilgariff, popular, "born and bred", and daughter of former Territory Senator Bernie Kilgariff.
And then he needs to award this week the Deputy Leadership to either MLA for Araluen Jodeen Carney Ð according to insiders, broadly disliked within her own branch Ð or MLA for Greatorex Richard Lim. Inevitably he'll make a foe of the one who misses out.
ATTACKMeanwhile the ex-soldier clearly thinks attack is the best defence: he says it's time for Braitling MLA Loraine Braham to declare her intentions.
He claims there are clear signs that like Mike Reed, she, too, will resign soon: "The indicator I got was, firstly, she turned 65 last week in Parliament, and she announced to the people at her birthday party that she gave a guarantee she would be in Parliament for the next sittings.
"Now, someone who's going to stay in Parliament for term, at a birthday bash like that would take the opportunity to say a bit more than ÔI'll be here for the next sittings'.
"But that wasn't the threshold indicator," says Mr Burke.
"Fran Kilgariff comes out and says, for the first time, I'm going to stand as an independent for a Territory seat.
"That to me means I want a decision before the mayoral elections, so if I lose I can go back to the mayoral run.
"Put it all together, worst case, Loraine says she'll be there next sittings, I say I'm only giving you till the next sittings.
"If she wants to guarantee more, let her say it.
"If she can't guarantee more I work on worst case," says Mr Burke.
"I do believe the Braitling thing will be decided well before the mayoral election."
These will be on the last weekend in May next year.
Says Mr Burke: "I believe Loraine will need to either confirm that she is staying, or be seen as a very temporary Member of Parliament."
At last week's launch of the Alice Festival Ms Braham said she would retire when she is "good and ready" but declined to make any further comment.
EASTSIDE PROJECT: RANGE WAR LOOMS. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
"Why should the people on the holy hill of Alice Springs, wanting to play the godfather role in controlling the prosperity of the town, have their land protected more than anyone else's land?
"And why is Geoff Miers, wanting to play the role of the high priest, saying so?"
With typical colourful turn of phrase, developer Samih Habib has gone on the attack after the Development Consent Authority (DCA) hearing a fortnight ago into his re-zoning application for 33 Cavanagh Crescent.
A decision about the re-zoning is now in the hands of Lands Minister Kon Vatskalis, after the DCA forwarded its recommendations to him.
Mr Habib was overseas when the Alice Springs News (Jul 23) reported on the Eastside Residents' Association's objections to his plans.
Mr Miers is president of the association (ERA) and one of the signatories to its submission to the DCA.
Mr Habib is staggered by the point made in the submission that the present residents of Cavanagh Crescent enjoy a degree of exclusivity not to be found elsewhere in town and protection of this privilege is warranted.
"Why?" asks Mr Habib, " and why at our expense?"
The current zoning of the land is RL2 ("rural living" Ð blocks no less than five acres) and Mr Habib is applying for an SU ("specific use") zoning.
He says he originally intended to apply for R1 (residential). However, he says he was advised to apply for SU.
"That will give the Lands Department more control over what I do, they can dictate where I build and so on," he says.
To the ERA's blanket opposition to building on hilltops, he says his development will not be against the skyline, as the land actually sits lower than surrounding hilltops, including Cavanagh Crescent.
Further, most of the development will be below the level of the existing road into the block.
The boundary of the land sits well back from the ridge edge and the dwellings will neither be seen from below nor be overlooking the houses in
the Greenleaves development at the end of Burke Street.
Mr Habib also says: "There is no more flat land left."
He points to various hilltop developments around town, in the Larapinta area, in the Golf Course Estate?
"If we can't build on hilltops Ð and in fact I'm building on the slopes Ð there's no place for the town to grow and if it doesn't grow, there'll be no jobs for our kids and no facilities for them to enjoy.
"We can't sacrifice growth and prosperity just for a few individuals."He says virtually the only people able to see the development will be the nearest neighbours, Peter Kittle and family.
Mr Kittle says he would not object to three to four residential blocks "properly done" on the site, but objects strongly to Mr Habib's proposed 11 blocks.
"Properly done" means widening Cavanagh Crescent; and disposing of sewage off-site, in other words through the town system.
Mr Kittle, who has lived at Cavanagh Crescent for 25 years, says in that time he and his wife have narrowly avoided nearly 10 head-on collisions on the road, which is only two thirds the width of a standard road and has a blind corner.
He says even three to four blocks, let alone 11 blocks, would significantly increase traffic on the road and heighten the dangers.
He says Mr Habib knew full well that people in the area would object to his proposals: "Everyone was dead against it and no-one hid that from him, so I can't understand why he went ahead."
Mr Kittle hopes that the Minister will "listen to the people", but also says he objects to "someone in Darwin who never comes here" making the final decision.
"In most other jurisdictions in Australia the town councils make town planning decisions. The situation in the Territory is an anomaly in my view."
Mr Habib says his plans present two options on sewage disposal: one involves re-use of grey water on site; the other is connection to the town system. He is happy to go with whatever option is recommended.
He says he is also happy to upgrade Cavanagh Crescent to required Australian standards, as well as to upgrade water delivery to the site.
While the ERA had concerns about the variety of possible uses that an SU zoning would allow on the land (bed and breakfast, home occupation etc), Mr Habib says his intention is to build only single-storey dwellings, one per block.
To their concerns about the environmental impacts of private gardens, he says the answer is to "only plant natives".
He says 32 people have already expressed their interest in buying the blocks once they have been developed.
Mr Habib says there are some people who object to everything: "Next thing, they'll be suing NASA for trespassing on the moon."
HOME TRUTHS AT FESTIVAL LAUNCH. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
It was an occasion flavoured with politics and purple champagne: Alice Springs Festival kicked off with its official launch last Friday at Purple Shades of Mary.
"If there's any support you need, we'll be there," Minister for Central Australia, Peter Toyne, told festival organisers.
Festival committee chair, Clive Scollay, acknowledged the government's support to date as small but significant, while warmly welcoming their provision of a shared arts space in the old Repco building, currently being renovated, which will be the future home of the festival.Independent MLA Loraine Braham received numerous plaudits for having come to the rescue with free office space for the festival.
NOT READYStepping up to the microphone, Mrs Braham took the opportunity to comment on her rumoured retirement: "I'll go when I'm good and ready."
She said that the festival, which is growing "like Topsy", in the future will be "bigger than the Finke""It should be on the international scene," said Mrs Braham.
In a point directed at both the Territory and local governments, separately targeted this year over their limited support for the festival, she said: "Let's make sure that next year we know what the budget will be."Mayor Fran Kilgariff encouraged those attending to think about standing at next year's local government elections: with a few more supporters on board maybe they could talk council into recurrent funding for the festival.
ANGRY ARAB AND NAUGHTY KEN: ALICE STUDENTS IN NATIONAL MOVIE AWARDS. By KIERAN FINNANE
Two media students from OLSH College in Alice Springs have snaffled an award each at the Bond University Film and Television Awards.
Rohan Naismith in Year 12 took out the comedy prize, while Dimity Slater in Year 11 won in the "Other" category.
Dimity's film, "Barbalicious", is an animated satire around feminine body image, using Barbie and Ken dolls. There's Ð of course Ð the gorgeous busty blonde who gets the guy, and the less busty, much less confident brunette who Ð and here's the cutting point of the film Ð is considering having breast enlargement.
But on the operating theatre table she reconsiders and the busty blonde, transformed as surgeon, gets flattened for her troubles. Ken likes this new assertive brunette, even if her breasts are small, but she tells him where to go.
The film is set to the lyrics of Foo Fighters with "You make me break out". It includes pertinent lines like "I don't want to live like that", though a female voice would have been better.
What makes the film particularly engaging is the clever animation using the Barbies. It is quite transforming of the dolls to see them getting into a fist fight, or else in a doctor-patient relationship, drawing and considering diagrams of breast enlargement.
The theme is a long-standing one but Dimity approaches it with a light, up-beat touch and makes her ideas work.Rohan made his film, "Let's Look Out", in the lead-up to the war on Iraq. He and his two fellow media students, Kelvin Hayden and Angela Schilling, were told to make three separate pieces that would form part of a whole.
They resolved to do an advertisement, a community service announcement and a news bulletin, all three drawing on the national and international hype around the breaking war.
Rohan has Kelvin dressed as a stereotypical Muslim Arab, delivering, with the right amount of hysteria, a message designed to protect Iraq from "a capitalist threat".
He cuts away from Kelvin's monologue to scenes rendering the "essence" of capitalist societies just by using what's at hand Ð at school, around the town Ð and it works really well.
Much of the script is an over-the-top take-off the Howard Government's "be alert, not alarmed" anti-terrorism package delivered to households around Australia.
We're told to be on the watch for capitalists, identifiable by their "extreme lack of colour coordination" and "overwhelming stubbornness". They're also inclined to eat "strange dogs in a bun".
The humour combines wackiness with a topical political edge Ð delivering to Rohan a well-deserved win.
ELDER SAYS EDUCATION IS 'GREAT'. Report by DOROTHY GRIMM.
"Education is one of the greatest things you can have, I wish I had some," Arrente traditional owner Bobbie Stuart told people at the Batchelor Institute graduation ceremony last week.
The importance of education was stressed by speakers and students alike throughout the ceremony, as certificates and diplomas were presented to men and women of all ages in a variety of fields including business and community studies, education and humanities, and health and sciences.
During her address ATSIC Commissioner Alison Anderson thanked the students for setting a good example to young people and children by going to school and furthering their education.
"Education is critical to the future of Indigenous people," Ms Anderson said."Education equals opportunity for employment and life.
"In the Northern Territory indigenous education has not always been a priority, it has been put into the too hard basket, but the NT Labour Government's commitment to indigenous education appears to be progressing well.
"Attendance in schools is improving but still the sad reality is that many are not able to complete high school.
"Your achievement today goes against the trend."
Ms Anderson also said more needs to be done to see young people get to this point where they receive certificates and other forms of recognition for their educational accomplishments.
RESPONSEBatchelor Institute student Pauline Gordon from Grafton, NSW, who received a Diploma of Social Science (Community Work) as well as an Advanced Diploma in the same field gave the response by graduate.
"One is never too late to get started," Ms Gordon said.
"I was 69 years old when I started studying.
"I came up here to learn more about Aboriginal culture.
"In the last three years I have listened to the stories. Education means different things for different people; education does not always meet the needs of those at the grass root levels.
"Education is only another form of survival in white society.
"Education can pull people away from their own culture.
"Our law of the land still exists; it is still important to take young people back to the bush and show them how to exist on the land.
"We didn't need books; our education was oral.
"Good things and bad things can be learned from the past; one can learn from history and go forward, hand and hand in peace.
"People cannot take away from you what is in your mind.
"Always remember who you are; where were the values long ago.
"There are differences between spiritual things and materials things.
"For examples trees provided most of our needs; old people built homes from trees; trees sheltered people when the rain fell; trees provided weapons and so forth.
"And most important, Jesus Christ died on a tree to save us."We can learn from the ecosystem; we can all learn to be role models but the most important thing to remember is that it is never too late to learn," said Ms Gordon.
Mouths wide shut. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
Why do people always have their mouths open in travel brochures? Is this what happens when you go on holiday?
Your jaw becomes even slacker than usual and somehow you just can't keep it closed?
If I walked past the wreckers yards on Ghan Road with my mouth open, maybe it would create the same effect. I would cheat the rest of my body that I was having a good time. Could it be that visitors to Central Australia do this, emulating the travel brochures? I need to find out.
Then again, I could be behind the times. I used to believe the conventional wisdom that the best way to answer the telephone was to smile when you are speaking.
For years, customer service courses have taught formerly fresh-faced people that the smile on your face transmitted to your voice.
So if you are fed up with your job or your tiny wages, just grimace and the customer will never know.
Maybe now I should answer the phone with my mouth open, transmitting that holiday feeling to the person at the other end. I'll try it out, starting tomorrow. It may be hard to speak with my mouth wide, but I'll have a go anyway.
This is a subject that becomes more complex the further you delve into it. People in travel brochures for exotic locations are supposed to be affluent achievers. So, could keeping your mouth open be the key to success in life?
Mouth gaping makes you a thinner, financially secure, more self-assured person with a vast network of wonderful friends.
Someone who is never phased when they put the crispbread next to the cat food in Woolworths.
All this pondering has made me realise that the state of the mouth is important in my culture. This may not be a revelation to you, but it's a big step for me.
There are unwritten cultural rules of presentation in Western culture that our parents drummed into us. First there's the please and thank you. Say them lots or you might cause offence. Then there's the ability to empathise with someone, even if you don't empathise at all. After that comes table manners; elbows off the table, no belching, don't mention bodily functions, hold your utensils in the right way, pretend you enjoy the food, and so on. The list is endless. It's no wonder we become weird in the teenage years.
Last but not least is the mouth. Don't speak with your mouth full. In company, mop the surrounds regularly with a serviette.
Think about the shapes that you make with your mouth and try not to make unexpected noises out of it. Keep your foot well away.
All of this is fine, but it doesn't answer the question of why people have their mouths open in travel brochures.
I think I'll visit the travel agents of Alice Springs and ask them. I even picked up a bus timetable recently and there was a picture on the front of a woman carrying a rucksack with, you guessed it, mouth wide. I was worried that she might become dehydrated.
Travel is supposed to broaden the mind, but in my experience it causes frustration among travellers who wish that the locals understood their culture. Years ago, after a stand-up row with a queue-jumping Bulgarian peasant in a post office in Bulgaria, I realised that queues are not important in many other countries.
My version of polite doesn't rate very highly. Then a market trader hissed at me and I understood that what you do with your mouth has different meanings in different places.
This is all too complicated, but there is one overwhelming lesson that I have learned about the mouth since being in Alice Springs. If you keep it open for long enough, a fly will enter. So shut it.
Getting personal. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.
I had talked myself into ignoring the comments re my style of writing, my alleged negativity and my being in general (Letters to the Ed., Alice News, Aug 20) because it was (big yawn) "old hat".
Then the phone rang, and a friend who'd been away and only just caught up with the latest happenings in the News, said that the letter writers obviously didn't know anything about me and that I had her support.
So I changed tack, and decided that maybe I should address my critics Ð especially as it all got a bit too personal when, as per Stedman's letter, "this area was built on Aboriginal labour, and yet the elderly ex-stockmen who wander the streets now make up a part of the group that Cloke so obviously despises", I was accused, in a presumptuous, almost libellous manner, of despising certain groups of people.
For the record, I do not despise any group of people: The Centre was founded by people from all over the world, different nationalities and walks of life, explorers, pioneers, pastoralists, stockmen, cameleers, miners, teachers, nurses, missionaries, men and women who came to check out the interior, and eventually build an Overland Telegraph Line.
I have always accepted and respected the input that everyone, Indigenous and Non-Indigenous, had in the founding of Alice Springs, and I have acknowledged the positive input and impact that the many Indigenous people working and living within our community today have. Unfortunately, history doesn't usually have a lot of bearing on current events.
Whilst history is useful in understanding present day predicaments and attitudes, it doesn't always provide the answers for going forward. If we are to have a mutually rewarding future for people of differing cultures, new thought processes and approaches will be necessary, as the historical approach hasn't, to date, been all that successful.People may be unaware of what (else) is being published interstate Ð pick up any paper, better still, save the trees, and go on line to see what the nationals, The Australian or Melbourne Age, are publishing.
The Northern Territory, in particular the Red Centre, is big news out there, whether it's Clare Martin's two liner stating that trialing child curfews as proposed by Gallop in Western Australia would not be appropriate in the Territory (The Oz 28/8/03), or a full page spread on the extremely depressing health predicament of the majority of children, living out at Yuendemu, who suffer from trachoma, or the on-going saga of Bromley Bear, Uluru and copyrights.
I guess, because of our isolation, demographics and problems unique to the region, the Territory will always be newsworthy.
When I write the up side of living in the Alice I read that "the positives of the column are glossy and insular reminding one of a tourist brochure": There are some weeks when a win is simply out of the question É
As I was weeding the flower beds, enjoying yet another spectacularly colourful sunset over the Alice, I wondered why I felt the need to address my critics because it certainly won't change whether they like or dislike my column, nor will it alter my way of thinking, doing, saying, being or writingÉMum instilled in us, as we were growing up, that if we were going to attempt anything, to do it whole heartedly Ð go for it "boots and all", whatever the venture.
Alice Springs has been mine for the past 25 years:
If this is the greatest hurdle I come up against this year, as friends and others battle health problems, rebuilding of lives after personal and family losses, then, in the whole scheme of things, I am extremely fortunate.
As for the throw-away comment about a "champagne lifestyle", I've never touched that particular stuff, so I can't comment.
Many writings tell us that there are two paths to life, but only one has a heart.
And we're living in it Ð the heart of Australia, hopefully because we've chosen to be here.
I'm sure everyone is enjoying an exciting build-up to the Alice Springs Festival, an affair not quite as large (thank heavens!) as last week's Notting Hill Festival, when a million plus people partied in London Ð but equally grand, colourful, vital and vibrant, as the people around the Centre join in the fun.
ROOS SET TO TAKE IT TO THE EAGLES. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
The Super Roos from the South are set to draw back the crowds to Traeger Park as they surge towards another premiership this year.
While minor premier Pioneer enjoyed another run in the park by downing fourth-placed Rovers by 134 points, 27.17 (179) to 7.5 (45), it was South's effort against West which captured the attention. They accounted for the reigning premiers 12.10 (82) to 8.5 (53).West were far from full strength when they ran on, reporting some nine players unavailable for the contest. And in the first stanza the lack of player strength and camaraderie showed. The Bloods looked lethargic against a running Roo side who scored five goals to one for the term.
Although the game evened in the second quarter South were able to go the change rooms at half time, leading 7.5 to 2.2, 33 point leaders. Their heads were high with the dominance of big men Brenton McMasters, Shaun Cusack and Malcolm Ross, aided by the run of the Maher brothers and Ben Abbott.
The only concern faced at that stage was the loss of Willy Tilmouth. He left the field with a knee problem and should he be sidelined for the finals, the Roos will be without a real trump card.
The third quarter revealed a rejuvenated West, who put some order into their game. The inspiration came from Andrew Wesley who must have consistently taken some of the most telling knocks in his constant endeavour for the ball. This set a precedent for the Bloods, and key players began to function. The Bloods scored 5.1 as opposed to 2.1 for the term and were right in the picture by orange time. Assisting Wesley were Mick Hausler and Josh Flattum in defence, and a dashing Danny Measures.
Wests were only 15 points down at that final break and charged into the last quarter looking a real chance. They penetrated the scoring zone regularly and had their chances to go that one step further but for the stoic defence of the South back line led by McMasters. Time and again the big fellow took telling marks at half back, or beyond, to repel the West attack.
After the Bloods crept to within nine points of the lead, South surged and put paid to any sniff of victory by West. Again it was Cusack commanding the Roo forces up in front of the goals, and they ran away in the dying minutes of the game to record a 19 point win.
The victory took Souths into second place on the ladder. This gives them a double chance, and must give them the incentive to think big.
The late game was always going to be a battle for Rovers. On Saturday the core of their side, in playing for Western Aranda, had staged a remarkable second half to claim entry into the Country Competition's grand final.
Hence the Sunday game came down to being a rest day, or one in which to run out the bruises.
On the other hand, despite losing Lachlan Ross and Trevor Dhu at the tribunal hearing during the week, Pioneer ran on with a complement of young players keen to continue Pioneer's finals tradition.
The two sides ran the ball evenly for the first five minutes, before Ryan Mallard marked at centre half forward and goaled accordingly. To Rovers' credit they responded by getting the ball to Geoffrey Miller senior, who in plying on Traeger Park in A Grade with his son, squared the score. Of the Pioneer goals in the first quarter Mallard chalked up three, and the Eagles rested at the break with a 5.3 to 2.1 advantage.
The second term belonged to Mallard as he booted five goals in his side's seven, putting any chance of a Blues win in the too hard basket. Pioneer had a 10 goal lead at half time and looked ominous.
Mallard continued to dominate in front of the posts in the third quarter, with Joe Cole, Matt Campbell, Wayne McCormack and Geoff Taylor creating countless opportunities. And back down field there was the incubator himself, Craig Turner. Turner has enjoyed his best season in years, and should start firm favourite for the Minahan Medal. On Sunday he dominated the aerial duels, and by either astute handball or prodigious kicks he set up the attack for the Eagles. By the three quarter time break, Pioneer were 21.9 to 5.2, home and hosed.
The premiership favourites finished the game with a 6.8 last quarter as opposed to a tired 2.3 from the Blues.
Mallard scored 15 goals for the day and was voted as the Eagles' best. But bags of goals like that are not produced single handedly. The Eagles were selfless in their forward play, continually looking for their goal sneak who has a mad chance to kick 100 goals for the season, given big games in the finals. He completed the day with a season to date tally of 85 goals and is assured of at least two finals appearances.
For Rovers the day was tough. Karl Hampton stood out as a consistent contributor, as did Edric Coulthard, Oliver Wheeler, and both Sherman and Garth Spencer. They could also take heart from the three goals that Graham Malbunka scored and Jamie Tidy's efforts in scoring two majors.
It is semi-final day on Sunday. Pioneers play South, with the winner progressing to the grand final and the loser having a second chance. In the elimination final between West and Rovers there are no second chances. The loser says goodbye to 2003.
Next Monday night, in Mona's Lounge all supporters are welcome to the Minahan Medal count.
DARWIN HEROES NOW BOLSTER FIELDS IN ALICE. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
Racing at Pioneer Park kept the punters on their toes on Saturday, when nominations included horses which had done the Red Centre proud in the recent Darwin Carnival.The first race on the card., the 1400 metre Wests Class Five, attracted a field of six, with Wolf Trap being sent out as the favourite. At the jump the outsider Keltic Kid got the upper hand and showed plenty of initiative, while Wolf Trap and Mr Cardin settled mid field. In the straight Keltic Kid kicked, making every post a winner, and it was only Merits who could mount a challenge. Resolute riding from Barry Huppatz ensured that Merits got to the line by a neck, from Keltic Kid, with Mr Cardin third.The second race should have been named the Scotro Special, rather than the Pioneers Handicap, as the little dynamo had it all his own way over the 1000 metre dash. He started in the red and ran accordingly, smashing the course record despite carrying 62 kg. Mookta's Reward ran an honest race to finish second, albeit over six lengths in arrears, and By Joe completed the placings. Mookta's Reward actually missed the start and could be one to watch, especially if Scotro's connections decide to send the speed machine south over the Spring.
The third race of the day over the 1100 metres, the Rovers Maiden, saw the two favoured performers Crown Pacific and Criterium lead the field into the turn. From there Criterium grew another leg and took control, winning by a length and three quarters from Crown Pacific, with Clad rattling home for third.
The last of the day was the 1200 metre Souths Class One Handicap. Volcanic Pearl was treated well with the inside barrier and didn't let the faithful down. Wild Knight and Classic Khan had the field covered early but on the turn Volcanic Pearl got the split and came home two and a quarter length winner over the half neck that separated Classic Khan and Wild Knight. Two runners who performed well in Darwin certainly, Geodude and Saratoga Boy, looked tired in the running.
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