ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
September 15, 2004.


ALDERMEN BAULK AT BEING GAGGED BY MEDIA POLICY. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Aldermen should not "dissociate themselves" from council decisions unless they resign, should make media statements only with the approval of the Mayor and the CEO, and if they give a live broadcast interview, they must be accompanied by the CEO or a council officer.
These are directives included in a proposed council media policy, and follow on the heels of revelations in the Alice Springe News of secret deals concerning the new civic centre based on leaked documents, now the subject of a police inquiry.
The directives, drafted by CEO Rex Mooney, are as restrictive as they are meaningless because the final clause in the draft allows aldermen to express to the media any "personal" views.
The proposal was the subject of a heated discussion on Monday, in a committee meeting before a public gallery which was denied copies of the full printed recommendations to which aldermen were referring during the debate.
The Alice Springs News has obtained a leaked copy.
Ald Murray Stewart said it was clear the proposal was surfacing because of "recent events" and declared he would not abide by the proposed policy if it stopped him from speaking his mind.
He said people who had voted for him expected him to have a view, and he would not be stopped from criticising "bad decisions".
Ald Stewart said it appeared the media policy was accorded an inappropriate priority given delays with much more important decisions, such as on litter and public safety, and was "squarely aimed at people taking a contrary view".
Forcing aldermen to promote views they do not believe in would only ensure that the council took a "propaganda approach" to its public relations.
Ald Stewart referred to "cohorts" within the council pushing though the civic centre decision at a meeting he called a disgrace and a sham.
He claimed aldermen had been "duplicitous", which Mayor Fran Kilgariff asked him to withdraw.
Ald Stewart Stewart refused to do so.
Ald Robyn Lambley, who chaired the meeting, at one point threatened to evict Ald Stewart.
Ald Dave Koch said he saw no reason to change the current media policy.
Ald Samih Habib said the policy draft was little more than a "piece of paper with writing on it" and made it clear he would continue making public comment as he pleased.
Ald Melanie van Haaren described the draft as "timely and reasonable".
Only Mayor Kilgariff spoke at length in favour of the draft, saying while aldermen had a right to express their own views, they should not "denigrate" the council and "bring down its reputation".
The issue will be voted on at the next full council meeting.


TIMOR TRIP NO HOLIDAY. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Students from the Catholic high school in Alice Springs will spend part of this year's Christmas break in East Timor, but it will be no tropical holiday.They will live in the boarding house of the Marist Brothers teachers college in Baucau, East Timor's second largest city, and will have no more money than their East Timorese counterparts, sharing their daily life in all respects.The experience is called an "immersion" and is expected to develop students' understanding of the differences between first and third world countries, and about the kind of structures, local and international, that keep those differences entrenched.
The students will spend some of each day in conversation with their hosts, who are all very keen to learn English, especially since the United Nations' involvement in the reconstruction of the country after independence was won in 2002.
Independence followed nearly three decades of struggle in which some 200,000 East Timorese lost their lives.
The Alice students will also visit local schools and hospitals and will deliver first hand the money their school has been raising to help these services.
Teacher Kate Fogarty accompanied a group last year and will return again this year.She says the biggest revelation for the students was the level of poverty.
"In one rural school we visited, there were 120 kids being taught in one room, from preschool age to teenagers, with one blackboard and a piece of chalk as the only resources."
In such circumstances, little wonder that learning is by rote and at a very basic level.
The students were also disturbed to see during their visit to a hospital many malnourished babies and patients with typhoid, a disease scarcely encountered in Australia.
Their first-hand experience, relayed to their classmates and teachers in Alice, has made the school determined to send more money with this year's group. The goal is US$4000, to be distributed in equal parts to the teachers college, the Canossian Sisters Centre for Young Women, an impoverished primary school in Kaisidu, and the Salesian secondary school in Baucau.
Their next fund-raising efforts will be a carboot sale on October 2 at the Sadadeen campus, and "paving the mall with gold" on October 15, when they hope, with the help of the community, to run a line of gold coins from one end of Todd Mall to the other.
Their sense of purpose was galvanised last week by a visit from Manuel de Lemos, a representative of the East Timorese Government.
"The students were interested to find out about the injustice of the Timor Sea treaty between Australia and East Timor," says Ms Fogarty.
"They were amazed to learn that the Australian Government gains revenue from the Timor Sea that is more than three times the entire annual budget of the East Timorese government."
The treaty, which was signed on the day of independence as an interim agreement and which the East Timorese have been pressing to renegotiate, is also the focus of activities by the Friends of East Timor in Alice, organisers of Mr de Lemos's national speaking tour, which took him to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, before coming on to Alice and Darwin.
Following independence, an early activity of the Friends was to send ESL teachers Angela Harrison and Inge Kraal for a two month stint in the fledgling nation, to teach English to women and youth associated with Fretilin (independence fighters, now a legitimate political party).
More recently though, at the request of the East Timorese, the Friends have joined their efforts to the national Timor Sea justice campaign.
Says Ms Harrison: "Timor wants revenue from Timor Sea oil and gas to be held in trust while the negotiations are underway; they want to hold monthly talks – instead of twice yearly which is all Australia is offering – so that progress can be made; and they want, not charity, but what is rightly theirs, to be decided according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea."
The next round of negotiations are scheduled for September 20.
For justice campaign activities, go to www.timorseajustice.org


TALES OF A TALL SHIP SAILOR. Report by ANAND MARSH.

Being a crew member aboard the STS Leeuwin, Australia's largest tall ship, was an unforgettable mix of hard work and fun.
I was one of 39 young Territorians, sponsored by the Office of Youth Affairs, to sail the steel-hulled ship which weighed 344 tonnes, had three masts and 16 sails.
The Leeuwin is usually moored in Fremantle and sails the coasts of Western Australia. But our adventure was called the Top End Explorer, which would take us 11 days and nearly 1000 nautical miles.
Starting from Darwin and circling back, the course went as far east as the Wessel Islands, west to Port Essington, and then around the northern shores of Melville and Bathurst Islands.
Our crew was made up of 52 people – 39 young people plus the official 13-member Leeuwin crew: the captain, first mate, bosun and his mate, engineer, cook and his mate, purser and five watch leaders.As I arrived on the ship I was allocated a bunk, and then it was all hands on deck as the food truck came and we had to unload all the food needed for 52 people for 11 days.
We were then divided up into four different watches – green, blue, white and red. Each watch had a volunteer leader who had been on the ship before.
I was put into red watch and my leader was James Fraser who turned 18 on the voyage. On board James was known as Harry, because he looked a little like Harry Potter.
There was a nice mix of people on board, with people from Gove, Darwin, Tennant Creek, Katherine and about six from Alice Springs. It was interesting to compare people from the different locations. I thought the Darwin crew seemed more relaxed and not as rowdy as the Alice Springs people!
We started to get to know each other by playing games within our watches and learnt how to tie, coil and use rope (lines), climb the rigging, and act as helmsman.
Each of the watch leaders pressed us to learn all of the 109 lines on the ship. At first I didn't have a clue, but it got easier as I divided them up into sections like halyards, sheets‚ and clews.
There was plenty to do on board. Every morning before lunch we had what was called happy hour. This involved cleaning the ship from bow to stern. Each watch had one of four areas of the ship to clean, and every day these were rotated between the watches. There was the deck-cleaning which involved hosing salt water onto the deck and scrubbing it, "brassoeing" (cleaning) each brass object on deck (like a porthole or bell), and wiping down vents.
One group had to mop and sweep the two toilets and four showers, and the final area of the ship to clean was the main saloon or eating area. It had to be swept and mopped, the rails "brassoed", and the tables and sitting blocks wiped down.
But the most important job of the day was actually sailing the ship. Each watch was on duty for four hours at a time. Two bow watches and a helmsman were on at a time, and were relieved every half-hour.
The weather log also had to be completed every hour. We recorded the wet and dry temperatures, the sea temperature, and the wind speed and force.
A bilge check involved looking in all the storage compartments below the living spaces to check for any water or fires.
But it wasn't all hard work. We also played a lot of traditional Leeuwin games. The big competition was the Leeuwin Olympics, which consisted of nine events. "Starving" sailors (eating baked beans on your knees without using your hands), "dress the dummy" (in safety gear), "Weet-Bix whistle" (eat a Weet-Bix with peanut butter, and then try to whistle), as well as charades, obstacle courses, karaoke, lasso challenges and "seal racing" (pushing a ball along the deck with your bandaged nose).
Another team challenge was to drop an egg from the futtocks (like a crow's nest) without it breaking. The aftermath wasn't clean, so I won't speak further of it, but I found these watch versus watch games definitely added a healthy competitiveness amongst the crew.
And seeing as it was my watch who usually won the games, we started to get big heads about it and act a bit superior… But it was just for kicks really. There were also two guitars and a drum on board and quite often people would sit around singing. I'm not much of a musician or singer, but I enjoyed listening. We were also allowed to climb the rigging for fun, and I really liked to get onto the highest point at sunset and take photos.
Once when I climbed up there the water looked like glass, as if it had a layer of oil on it.
When we arrived at our first port of call, the Wessel Islands, it was a big thrill as we hadn't seen land in a while. We passed through what was called the Hole in the Wall – a gap between two islands only about 120 metres wide. The land on either side was completely uninhabited, except for a covering of low-growing vegetation and a few names of ships which had passed through before us. After passing back through to the western side, we anchored for the night and had an on-deck barbecue.
We set sail in the morning for Port Essington, where we lowered the dories (dingies) and got ready to go ashore. Once on shore we walked about three kilometres around what was left of old Victoria settlement – a few remains of houses, a cemetery and a bit of a bunker in case of invasion.
Back on board, the sail between Port Essington and Bathurst Island was one of the best parts of the cruise. The water was glassy, the sunsets couldn't have been better and there were dolphins and flying fish riding our bow waves.
Next day when we arrived at Bathurst, a group of Aboriginal people showed us how to collect tucker in the mangroves. And a game of beach soccer and footy was irresistible to both parties, so we played about two hours' worth. That night the optional menu included the dugong, wallaby and longbums (a shellfish) that we had collected in the mangroves.
Then it was time for mutiny. Well, not quite. For the final leg of the journey the experienced crew handed the ship over to us, a group of 11-day experienced sailors. Among us we elected a captain and first mate to lead. Amazingly enough under this command we arrived at our final destination, Darwin, safe, sound and even early!
All in all we'd covered 362 nautical miles by sail and 636 using the motor (sometimes putting up the sails as well).
That night, anchored about 100 metres from our dock, we held "Sods Opera".
Each watch put on a performance, and any other individual could get on stage as well if they wanted. There were a lot of laughs as the performances came and went. A great way to spend our last night together aboard the Leeuwin.


BLACK HOUSING UNDER LATHAM: MORE MONEY BUT TOUGHER RULES. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

A Federal Labor government would spend more money on Aboriginal housing but would apply a set of criteria to the funding, principally the provision of training and employment opportunities.
At present Canberra is spending about $250m a year on indigenous housing and infrastructure across the nation, and Shadow Housing Minister Daryl Melham says this would be boosted by $75.5m over three years starting 2005/06.
All the funding would be subject to performance criteria which, however, are not yet defined.
"It's not just going to be unconditional funding," says Mr Melham.
"We would then sit down and discuss this with the Territory Government who themselves, I would think, want to pick up being the providers in the Territory.
"There would be conditions attached.
"We're interested in outcomes. We're not interested in throwing good money after bad."
In the Territory, according to a new NT Government report, there are 3082 "overcrowded" indigenous households and around 1790 Aboriginal dwellings require "immediate replacement".
The report says 33,119 additional bedrooms are needed.
However, there is broad anecdotal evidence that there are new or near new Aboriginal houses, in remote areas, which are empty; that the average life of an Aboriginal home is just seven years; and that people who already have a home were given a second one at public expense.
When asked whether he had statistics about those houses Mr Melham said: "I don't know what the purpose of these questions is.
"If you want the answers you have to talk to the Territory Government.
"I actually find some aspects of your questioning offensive because there is an assumption that you shouldn't do anything for indigenous people.
"I am not arguing, and nor is the Labor Party arguing, that there have not been failed programs.
"There have been programs in the past that haven't worked and we know they haven't worked.
"But one thing that I found, in all my studies, in all my discussions with communities, is that they are getting insufficient resources compared to the rest of Australia.
"If you want to make [the programs] work then you train and skill up Aboriginal Australians."
COALITION CUTSMr Melham says $470m had been cut in the 1996 ATSIC Budget "by this current government, which took away training programs for young people.
"What we have done in our announcement is tied to training and employment for a deliberate reason.
"We are not going to give the money in an unaccountable way, a way that can't be properly monitored and worked through."
Mr Melham says "a Latham Labor Government will ensure local Indigenous communities have a role in decisions about the planning and delivery of [housing] funding".
Asked which forums a Labor government would consult, such as local councils or land councils, he said: "I wouldn't be doing this with the land councils.
"[It will depend on] wherever the service provider is going to be.
"It may well be that we'll be doing this through the state governments, in some instances. "I notice that Tangentyere has a training program."


Aussie Hip Hop. Report by JULIA WINTERFLOOD.

Isolation: the word on every Alice kid's lips. And for those who live for live music, the dreaded "I" word is practically indispensable.Last Thursday I returned from a short trip down to Adelaide. I'd done the irresponsible teenager thing; disregarded school and work and endured 40 hours in total of the always enjoyable Greyhound bus service just to see my favourite band live.
The reasons for popular national and international artists playing only in major cities are understandable, but somehow we just can't help feeling ripped off when they fly over our heads en route to Sydney. The kids of our town really are crying out for more live entertainment.Yet there is no lack of live music in our town, in fact the local scene is flourishing at an astounding rate. The Alice Festival saw the likes of many outstanding musicians playing to full houses. Club Diva, featuring Tashka Urban, Kylie Wilson, Amira Pyliotis and many other sumptuous voices at Bluegrass on Thursday night was the best local concert I have been to.And Zenith, a four-piece from St. Philip's College, with members aged between 14 and 16 who were the closing act of Ignite the Stage, InCite Youth Arts' showcase at Witchetty's on Friday 10 were the epitome of young talent. Their brief set displayed such intensity that the entire audience was utterly transfixed by their mature and highly developed rock/roots style.Yes, the local Alice music scene is bursting with life, but it is a rare occasion when we can catch a band who is on high rotation on Triple J or whose video was on Rage last Saturday night.
Bass in the Dust, despite its arid zone name, broke the drought. It brought us an interesting blend of popular national bands straight from the national stage, who have never before been seen in Alice Springs, as well as the finest selection of local musicians.TZU, Hilltop Hoods, Resin Dogs and The Superjesus played the all-ages concert for the 1200-strong crowd.Out of Melbourne, TZU were relatively unknown in Alice. Using mics, turntables and a sampler, they mixed up their live format with well-rehearsed flows and impressive freestyle improvisations.
They were the first act who managed to get the crowd well and truly on their feet, and with humorous references to Alice and the Todd, the audience's reaction was sheer surprise at the quality and professionalism of this great little act.Hilltop Hoods were the definite favourites; their unique combination of funky beats and the experimental ethos of jazz topped with solid lyrics, tight rhythms and a localized viewpoint left the audience in desperate need of more.
Their interaction with the crowd also proved to be successful, and despite slight technical difficulties they were able to hold the crowd in absolute uproar.
With the success of their single "The Nosebleed Section" which came in at number nine in Triple J's hottest 100 at the beginning of this year, Hilltop Hoods have risen to the top of Aussie hip hop.Hilltop Hoods were so good that Corey McCann said he'd drive back down from Darwin next weekend if they were on again.His brother Paddy and their cousin Jordan are avid Hoods fans and made the long trip to Alice just to see them."Absolutely tops," said Corey. "Great to finally be the people in the front row."The intimacy of the event was a major highlight for many. Generally at festivals, because of their size, it is quite difficult to have a good view of the musicians, but Bass in the Dust managed to produce the same level of enthusiasm and adrenaline as festivals of a much larger scale.
Christine Anu was next on the bill, but she didn't quite match the popularity of the previous performers, and at one stage even retorted quite explicitly to a crowd member's negative comments.
Resin Dogs, an outfit renowned for their energetic and infectious rhythms, then woke up the crowd with their signature blend of cut and paste sampling, funk, hip-hop, break-beat and frenetic playing that had the audience reveling in the rave-like atmosphere. Never before had Alice experienced such a concentrated musical vibe.
Headlining act The Superjesus, with their thick blend of guitar rhythms and riffs, then delivered their familiar brand of pop rock with anticipated strength and vigor.
Lead singer and guitarist Sarah McCloud was a force to be reckoned with as she belted out single after single to a crowd that seemed eager for a change in style.
In fact, this was something a number of people commented on. Jayden McGrath, front man of previously mentioned Zenith, said he would have preferred more diversity in the line-up as three of the four national acts were more or less in the same genre.Other aspects that some people felt could have been improved were the restriction of passouts and lack of variety in food stalls.
Jessica McGill believed that nine hours at the same venue was asking too much of people. "It's a very long period of time to spend at the same place, and there wasn't exactly much to do during the time between the bands' sets."
Hannah Skipsey agreed. "Everyone congregated inside the Memo Club's hall during the intervals, and so it became really crowded and disorderly. There also weren't enough tables and chairs for people to sit at. And because the bar was inside there were quite a few drunk people."Intoxicated music goers were also a small hassle in the mosh pit, and this was furthered by the use of barriers that were far too small to be safe and effective.
Barriers need to be at least chest height to function properly in a mosh pit, and because the barriers used were only at waist height, many people were almost pushed over them completely. But I must admit, it was a lot of fun.
Personally I felt the only real let down was the deplorable lack of support for the local acts.
C-Kaliberation, Tecoma and Blacktide played to an audience of barely 100, although Cinco Locos managed to attract a slightly more enthusiastic crowd. Perhaps interspersing local acts between national acts would have raised more support.
Di Mills, artistic director of the festival, felt "really comfortable with the entire event. It ran smoothly without any major problems, and gauging from the audience's reaction and comments the day was enjoyed by all."
"The general support from the community was astounding. The success of Bass in the Dust is a testimony to the audience who were well behaved and appreciative.
"It can also be attributed to the way the community of Alice Springs wholly embraces the things it needs. Bass is proof that there is a definite need for more."Di congratulates coordinator Rosie Dwyer and assistant Jess Costar for their remarkable work and dedication, all the volunteers and unsung heroes, and the NT Government for their initiative. Bass in the Dust was a definite winner, so perhaps a biannual even is not out of the question?


PLAYFUL ALICE RENDEZ-VOUS. REVIEW by ANNE MOSEY.

At Alice Rendezvous 30 writers and artists have met to produce a rich and varied exhibition, reflecting the energy, playfulness and enthusiasm of other Alice Springs Festival events.
The exhibition of text and images in a multitude of styles, media and formats was developed by members of Watch This Space and the NT Writers Centre as part of the festival.
Writers and artists were paired independently, although some pairs chose their own partner.
The collaborative process took many forms, ranging from many hours of discussion and creative development over several weeks, to a more disconnected process.
It might be expected that the pairs who knew each other well would produce more unified and stronger work. This was certainly the case for Meg Mooney and Sally Mumford's piece "A Small Wonder" which was worked out in a series of delicate and whimsical lines in/on the sand – and for Suzie Lyons/Cait Wait/Linda Wells' work "Notice" also set in the sand of the Todd, with discarded clothing spelling out an SOS.
However other pairs of artist/writer who were strangers or only acquaintances also produced fresh and innovative works. Some of these were Renita Glencross/Jan Hill's work "Cuppa tea", a gentle group of tiny works around the theme of a bush/town tea party; Davina Edwards/Martin Proctor whose collaboration resulted in an amazing prolific collection of handprinted books titled "Touching Earth", and Kieran Finnane / Damian Smerdon, with spoken text and a series of images reflecting the texts set into a cube just balancing uneasily on one corner, "Varieties of Darkness".
While the pairs that were old friends had the familiarity of working within their known comfort zone, perhaps another kind of energy was generated by the necessity of moving outside of one's skin and into the mind/feelings of another person.
Some pairs also co-opted other artists/technicians into the collaborative process, which extended the range and power of their work. Jo Dutton/Dan Murphy/Sweatshop Number Three created a disturbing and haunting video using a powerful text by Jo and images of Dan's stitched-in-steel hart/hearts overlaid on the salt surface of Lake Hart, near Port Augusta's detention centre.
The most successful works were those in which the text – written or spoken – was completely integrated into the body of the visual form, so that the viewer was aware of the total message, rather than separated pieces of writing and art.
Kieran Sanderson and Leni Shilton's work "Waiting" was one example of these – the words of the text float across the woman's body like the child floating inside the womb. Other examples were the enigmatic and funny performance, "We've got it wrapped" by Franca Barraclough with Mardijah Simpson, and Jane Leonard/Craig Mathewson's work "Precipice (Waiting for Grace Uncut)". But some other works in which the text remained separate such as Julia Burke and Kate Lawrence's "Hold me" also produced a powerful effect. The content of their message was strong enough to carry the separated pieces, allowing both to be a response to the same idea.
Group shows in Alice often have an uneven response in attracting enough participants, but Alice Rendezvous seems to have fired the imaginations of many Alice Springs artists and writers and has done a great deal to end the isolation of visual from text-based art forms.
It is to be hoped that WTS and the NT Writers Centre consider another Rendezvous for 2005.
The exhibition continues at Watch This Space, 9 George Crescent, this Thursday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm.


LIGHT WEIGHT ON THE SCALES OF JUSTICE. Review by KIERAN FINNANE.

The least expectation that you can have of a play is that it will take you somewhere: that its characters will engage you in a journey they undertake before your eyes.
For the journey to be all but over when you meet them and for its recounting to be the main material of the play is not likely to be the stuff of good drama.
Unfortunately this was the case with the play, Justice, Red Dust Theatre's festival offering this year.
In each of the three short plays within the play, the main events of the characters' lives were over and what we in the audience were witnessing was the bitter wash-up of those events.
Nothing changed for the characters on stage, except ever so slightly in the third play.
In the first and second plays, even the potential drama of being in court was discounted by the verdict and the deliberations to reach it being deemed irrelevant.
The third play had the advantage of showing a more intimate encounter between two prisoners in a cell, and there was a degree of movement, from hostility to the possibility of friendship.
The creditable performances of the Red Dust troupe were always going to struggle with the stasis of the material they were working with.
Debuting playwright Danielle Loy (also performing in the play) undoubtedly has things to say but needs to let her characters take over and show us, take us into their lives, rather than merely telling us about them after the fact.
Red Dust can't be faulted on dedication to realise their goal of original theatre devised in Central Australia. Their presence has enriched the Alice Festival program since its inception, and despite my reservations about this current production, I'll look forward to the next one.


MAGPIES SWOOP TO WIN: SAINTS GO MARCHING OUT. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.

Yuendumu proved they were everything expected of a Magpie premier team when they again won the Ngurratjuta Cup against the eastern Arrente Santa Teresa-based Ltyentye Apurte on Sunday.
The Magpies won the 2004 title 10.7 (67) to 9.2 (56)A stream of well-wishers for both teams formed respective guards of honour for their warriors, with the oval a sea of coloured streamers, balloons and decorated cars. And with a crowd that looked to be over 4000, the grand final was set up to be one to remember.
Yuendumu morale was boosted before the game thanks to their under-17 side beating the Yuendumu Magpies 10.10 (70) to 6.3 (39). And the team was given an extra lift when Derek Ronson was awarded the best and fairest medal 2004 at the pre-match presentation. To add just another little touch of encouragement, Ltyente Apurte won the toss.Once the umpire's first whistle sounded however it seemed to be a different story. Simon Fisher junior took charge in the ruck and handed the ball on a platter to the Magpie crumbers who ensured that Preston Hargraves was well set up to put the first goal of the day on the board.Not to be put down, Ltyentye Apurte's Shane Mulladad responded to square the score. As expected, the Magpie's strength early on in the game came from their forward line with the Spencer brothers, and Wilson Walker on the prowl. Fourth forward dynamo Herman Sampson also came into the game early threading the third goal of the match. An evener from Kayne Conway gave the mission their two goals for the term while Yuendumu went on to register 3.4 for the quarter thanks to a late goal from Martin Petrick.In the second term, goal kicking legend for Yuendumu and Pioneer, Leo Jarrah created an air of anticipation. By half time the Magpies had needled their way to 5.8 while the Saints kept themselves in the game with three straight goals. The latter registered the first major score of the term off the boot of Matt Cavanagh, but from there the Magpies moved ahead as Petrick and then the big man Jarrah extend the lead to 5.8 (38) to 3.0 (18).At half-time coach Daniel Palmer made two telling moves for the Saints. He brought Donavon Malladad into ruck and placed skipper Darren Young at full forward. The influence of Mulladad was almost immediate, with his huge thumps out of the centre penetrating well into attack and in the direction of the running Ronson. Young, then Vivian Ronson and then Andrew Conway drilled goals for the Saints and by mid way through the quarter the scores were tied up at Magpies 5.6 to Saints 6.0.But the Saints felt the pressure of the occasion as they failed to capitalise on scoring chances, letting Yuendumu reclaim the lead. Talbot was inspirational as a running player and big Wilson Walker provided a target deep in attack and was able to score. Petrick and Sherman Spencer joined in the goal rush and Sampson racked up the points to give the Magpies a seemingly unassailable lead before the three-quarter break.
Not to be written off the Saints were inspired by Farron Gorey who took an absolute screamer at the point of the square. His delivery into attack resembled an up and under from Union but, not to be beaten, Gorey followed up through true centre half forward to take the ball from Young and post a perfect goal. The game for the next five minutes then became the "Darren Young Show" as he took two superb marks, only missing both from seemingly point blank range. On his third attempt Young scored the goal and the Saints were only ten points in arrears. The game reached a true crescendo when Graham "Scrubby" Hayes brought the scores to within four points.To Yuendumu's credit, while the Saints had frittered away chances in the dead pocket of Traeger Park, the Magpies surged to the northern end for one last time and nailed the coffin as a result of a Wilson Walker six pointer.So for 2004 the laurels of success go to the Western Desert and the home of the Magpie. Darren Talbot deservedly took out the best and fairest award for the Magpies while the game-turning ruckman Donavon Mulladad received the medal for his side.


VIKINGS SOCCER WINNERS. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.

The atmosphere at soccer's grand final clash between the S&R Vikings and Prime Cut Strikers at Ross Park at the weekend was electric.
At the end of the day the Vikings took home the premiership, winning 2-1.After a pressure-filled first half Mark Harvey broke the ice for Vikings putting them 1-0 up.
But not to be denied, Federal struck back in the 42nd minute thanks to the skill of Simon Danby.Riveting football continued in the second half as play see-sawed from one end of the pitch to the other.
The deadlock was finally broken in 54th minute when Adam Taylor netted a great goal to give the Vikings breathing space.
In the run home it was fitness that told in favour of the Vikings as Federal desperately endeavoured to equalise.To add to the 2-1 victory, Vikings had Damon Van Der Shuit honoured as the highest goal scorer for the competition. Federals' Neil Rutland was awarded the best and fairest accolade.
In B-grade, the Neata Glass Scorpions were at full strength for their game against Buckleys, but their hopes were put to rest after Tom Clements put two goals into the net in the first half. The successful strikes were decisive in the 18th and then the 20th minutes.
From there, last year's premiers had no answer to the defence against the Buckley's outfit, who were able to counter any offensive and hold the score to 2-0. Scorpions also fielded the leading goal kicker for the season in Christian Huen while the best and fairest award went to Federal Scorers' Josh Wiles.
In C-grade the sparks were flying from the outset when in the sixth minute a Gunnaz goal from Kadir Calisir put Scorpions on the back foot.
Marcus Becker found what was required when he netted a penalty to draw the game level at 1-1 and from that point Scorpions attacked with venom.
But to no avail as the Gunnaz settled and defended well. The team then made a move late in the half through the agency of Calisir to take a slim lead at the break. In the second half, the Gunnaz lifted a notch and soon took the score to 3-1 through the efforts of Tom Treagust.
This gave them confidence to run on and with Calisir striking a further two goals (making it four for him in total) Gunnaz took the premiership 5-1.Calisir was also leading goal kicker while Scorpions' Dean Horwood was voted the best and fairest C-grader in the Association.


Is work really worth it? COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

I spend a lot of time standing in line.
I wait behind people who are buying Lotto tickets or checking their balance at the ATM. I wait at the post office and I line up in traffic turning into the Yeperenye.
Waiting is a part of my every day, but I don't mind one bit because orderly queues are part of my culture.
I was lining up in the eight-items-or-less checkout the other day when I overheard two people exchange some healthy banter about a subject that often comes up in Central Australia: work.
One woman was explaining that she had a new full-time job and that the extra money was great.
The other was pointing out that full-time rarely means full-time for that particular employer, such is the slackness of the workplace.
It was a crisp exchange in which both sides accepted the conclusion in a cheerful way. Sometimes work is pretend work, they agreed, but we all have to make ends meet, especially in a week when the rates are due.
In a town where the second largest source of revenue to the economy is welfare payments, it's little wonder that we are forever talking about work. The locals harp on about the number of hours we do and whether we work hard enough or too hard.
Or we complain that CDEP is a bad thing one minute and then wish that there was more CDEP the next.
On slow-news days, the papers feed us charts about how the average Australian spends more time at work except people in crazy places like Japan.
Then we read another study that says that we have the longest holidays in the world except for the Pacific Islanders.
Some people compete with each other to work the longest hours. Others compete to do the least.
To make some sense of this, it's worth considering a debate on the nature of work that has been developing far away from our desert bubble.
The story comes from France, where a socialist government that has forgotten that the ‘seventies are over, instituted reduced working hours for everyone without cutting pay.
This happened during the buoyant economy of three years ago and now the government is reviewing the policy in the light of experience.
Shorter hours with the same pay? Pinch me, please. It must be time to get up for breakfast.
According to one major insurance company, the simple task of running a project in France is now almost impossible because nobody comes to work for a full week.
As statutory working hours have reduced, absenteeism has risen due to the resultant dent in the work ethic.
And to cap it all, executives who don't qualify for the shorter week get ten or more extra days off per year. So there's nobody to lead the projects either. No wonder there's a review underway.
Coincidentally, a new book has just been published with the title Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives by Madeleine Bunting.
Work has brought poverty, illness, worry and debt, she argues. Too many people subject themselves to long hours with low wages and now we are paying the price.
One answer is to live well on less, goes the book (at this point tripping back to another part of the ‘seventies where everyone dreamt of living on a smallholding and making scented candles from chip fat).
Bunting reaches her finale by arguing that, instead of defining ourselves so completely through work, we ought to rethink what we mean by success. I can't imagine many straight-laced middle managers buying that line, but she makes it anyway.
Alice Springs may be preoccupied with work, but all this bluster makes no difference to our worries about the subject.
In a high-cost town, the real point is not how many hours you spend slaving away, but whether you can pay the bills at the end of it all.
Here lies yet another reason why the best debates are those overheard in checkout queues.
steve@afishoutofwater.com


Feeling connected. COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.

I've just started listening to the radio when I'm driving.
Apart from having heard some terrific music and very interesting programs I've realised that it makes me feel connected to the rest of the country.
There are lots of other people out there hearing what I'm hearing and we are sharing that listening experience.
It's important to feel that you are part of something bigger and that you have a connection to other people. I recently spoke to a woman who is interviewing people as part of a national survey. She told me that a lot of people she'd spoken to, especially women, feel isolated in Alice Springs and believe they don't have enough support here. The reason they feel this way has mostly to do with being far away from close family.
But the other day I heard about a woman fighting cancer who lives with just her husband and two children. All their close family live overseas. Contrary to what one might expect, she doesn't feel alone. She says she has found a lot of support from both her employers and her husband's, as well as people around them in the community.
When you have no close family, your friends become your family and in this town a lot of people are in the same boat. I have a friend who is a single mother with no family in Australia, but is reluctant to leave Alice as she feels she has a great support network here.
It seems when you need people they are there for you. You may not realise it while everything is running smoothly and you are coping all right.
Sometimes you might have to admit you are feeling low and open up a little to people you don't know that well. Sometimes all it takes is a few friendly words over the fence or the counter.
I've noticed that a lot of the checkout assistants at our supermarkets are happy to talk. A few days ago I heard a customer and an assistant laughing over the fact the customer thought the checkout girl had asked her about her "frozen cat" as she bought cat food. What she actually enquired about was her "fussy cat", but it established a link between them.
I'm used to people asking about the size of my family when I'm buying lots of pasta, and I often hear myself telling perfect strangers how if I get a short haircut I will have nightmares. I realise I might come across as a bit peculiar at times but it doesn't worry me anymore. There is no point pretending when you live in a small town. It is OK to be "odd".
In the cities there may be a whole lot of people just like you and you can fit into a group. Despite that, feelings of isolation and disconnectedness are common in modern society. But in Alice you don't have to feel that way. People come and go but are generally happy to know you while you and they are here.
If you still don't feel connected, consider adopting a dog. The RSPCA are desperate for people to take on the cats and dogs that have been left in their care at the pound. Once you've got a dog you can join the Alice Springs Obedience Dog Club and talk about your canine friend to the checkout person when you buy its food.
We might feel like we are the only ones who have ever felt lonely, rejected or "peculiar" but individual as we may be, that's something we all have in common. We are not alone.


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