ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
December 8, 2004.



GET OUT OF TOWN, LAND COUNCIL TELLS CLP CANDIDATE. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Anna Machado, CLP candidate for Stuart and store manager at Willowra, was given less than eight hours by the Central Land Council (CLC) to leave the community north-west of Alice Springs.
The CLC usually supports Labor candidates in NT and federal elections, including the sitting Member for Stuart, Labor's Peter Toyne.
Dr Toyne said: "I have taken no action against individuals at Willowra and certainly have not sided with any group.
"My one concern has been to help resolve the destructive feuds which have held the community back in recent times.
"As to Anna Machado's status as my political opponent, I will be looking to the hard work I have done in servicing the Stuart electorate to gain my ongoing support – not to political dirty tricks."
The Central Land Council said today that on behalf of traditional owners at Willowra it has asked the store managers of the Wirliyajarrayi Store to leave the community.
CLC Director David Ross said: "Let's be clear – the CLC is acting at the request of the community."Willowra has been torn apart with strife in recent months and community members felt that some underlying issues had been exacerbated by the store manager's intervention in community matters.
"The situation at Willowra has been inflamed by the media attention generated by the store managers.
"Many members of the community felt ashamed and embarrassed by this focus on their problems and the situation often worsened after these stories.
"The issue of the store is unrelated to the family conflict which has involved the CLC Chairman William Brown."
CLC lawyer David Avery hand delivered a letter to Ms Machado at 10.15am last Friday, saying in part: "You are required to leave Willowra Community before 5pm today.
"You are also advised that you do not have a permit to enter Aboriginal land in the CLC's region."
However, Ms Machado stayed put until at least early this week: "I'm staying here," she said on Monday.
"The only people wanting me to go are William Duncan Brown, and his family."
She says Mr Brown had for some time been threatening to get her thrown out if she did not accede to his demands for cash loans from the store, "which are unconstitutional".
Ms Machado says she has a permit issued by traditional owners.
Under NT legislation supplementing the federal Land Rights Act, traditional owners are entitled to issue permits.
And besides, says Ms Machado, as a political candidate she is entitled to be on Aboriginal land.
Meanwhile a large contingent of Aboriginal people, including Clarke Martin, Davey Presley and Delvene Martin, travelled to Alice Springs on Monday to confront the CLC.
Ms Martin said later Mr Avery had "walked away" from a meeting and refused to listen to the deputation.
Mr Martin said: "We want Anna to stay. She is telling straight story, good story. We like people like that."
She had been running the store for two and a half years and they were satisfied with her work.
"We will give her a permit," said Mr Martin.
Ms Machado says the CLP is "doing everything in their power to help me."


RACIST PAMPHLETS ARE OUT OF STEP WITH SPIRIT OF THE ALICE. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Two racist stickers were stuck to the electorate office windows of Member for Greatorex Richard Lim over the weekend.
The tiny stickers show caricature figures of ethic origin with a ‘Chinaman' as the most prominent. The slogan reads, "We have support of ALP, Liberals, Nationals, Communists, Democrats and big business.
"We are taking your homes and jobs and soon we will have your government."
Dr Lim described the placement of the stickers as a cowardly act of racial bigotry.
Given their size, he thought the message was directed at him personally, rather than at people more generally.
"If these people have a problem with me, they should come and see me.
"They are probably johnny-come-latelies to Alice Springs."They should realise that people of various ethic origins have lived here for decades and have every right to be here and go about their daily lives in peace."He pointed out that people of Chinese origin have been in the Territory since 1868, contributing significantly to the Territory's social fabric and business community.
"Without Chinese input Darwin would not have been settled," said Dr Lim.
"They came from Singapore, Hong Kong and China to establish market gardens and provide indentured labour on the railway and gold-mines."There are now seventh generation Territorians of Chinese origin."
Dr Lim, also of Chinese origin, was born in Malaysia, and migrated to Australia in 1963.
"It is most likely that I have lived longer in this country than these bigotswho cowardly put up those stickers in the dead of night," said Dr Lim.
He served on the Alice Springs Town Council for eight years and as a member of the Territory's Legislative Assembly since 1994.




ANSWERS, NOT AIRFARES. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.

The Alice Springs News won't accept your offer of airfares for one of our reporters to cover Parliament where you currently hold the majority and call the shots, Clare Martin.
We're puzzled that you should first have made such an offer to the world's most powerful, and American owned media organization, which owns our opposition newspaper in Alice Springs.
It accepted your offer although surely it could afford to send a reporter to Darwin without the taxpayer's help. Sure, you later offered to match this for us, and the ABC, which I understand has also declined it.
This, Clare, is why the Alice Springs News is saying thanks, but no thanks. It's one thing to accept a ride on a minister's aircraft, together with other media, once in a blue moon to cover a special event (we went once this year).
It's entirely another to accept money for the routine coverage of politics from one of the players who's meant to be under the scrutiny of that coverage. When we travel for work we almost always pay our own way. You see, the Alice Springs News is tiny in a global sense but we're big on our patch, Central Australia, with a circulation 50 per cent greater than our opposition's. Equally important, we're big on independence, for asking the hard questions and – by and large – getting the hard answers.
Why should we allow that independence be compromised, or be to be seen to be compromised?
No doubt you will now say, no, no, no, if we had accepted the airfares offer we could have reported objectively and fairly and so on.
This sort of protestation would have sounded a lot more credible were it not for your administration's growing tendency to manipulate the media, flying in the face of your early hand-on-heart assurances of open and accountable government.
You have built around yourself and your ministers an increasingly irritating shield of minders, handlers and spin doctors. You're trying to have a one-way information flow, by media release.
That works for you, at least partially, because there is a section of the media which doesn't believe in independent research, or doesn't bother to do a great deal of it. Those media get your government's handouts, frequently put their reporters' by-lines on them, and – bingo – another hole is filled between the adverts, or the commercial breaks. Joh Bjelke Petersen used to call it "feeding the chooks".
We think information must come from a bona fide source, not as hearsay from an intermediary.
One of your minders, new in town, has told me that we journalists – and, by extension, our readers – had it too good for too long: elsewhere, he assured me, access to politicians is even more limited.
You'll get no deal from us on that: in a place where a population the size of an average capital city suburb has a "state" government all of its own, access to pollies is a right we'll continue to insist upon, not a privilege doled out at your discretion.
We've told your minders, if the comment doesn't come from the minister, with a reasonable opportunity for follow-up questions, it's a "no comment" from your government, and you'll wear the political consequences. Let me give you some examples.
Your Employment Minister Syd Stirling has been dodging questions from us since August last year about the "work for the dole scheme" and the fact that our real unemployment isn't eight per cent (the official figure for Lingiari), but 25.
Your Police Minister Paul Henderson claims the principle of separation of powers stops him from giving directions to the Police Commissioner. He won't explain how come the Police Administration Act says: "The Commissioner shall exercise and perform all the powers and functions of his office in accordance with the directions in writing, if any, given to him by the Minister."
Your Family Minister Marion Srcymgour won't answer our questions about the life and death issue of petrol sniffing, which in our region is killing a child every month. I could go on.
Don't give us airfares, Clare. Give us answers.


NEW BROOM NOT ENOUGH? Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Shadow Minister for Education Richard Lim has criticised Minister Syd Stirling for inaction in response to the review into the Central Australian Office (CAO) of the Department of Education.
Dr Lim raised the matter last Thursday, during the final sittings for the year of the Legislative Assembly.
He commended the appointment of Rita Henry and Paul Newman to their respective roles of General Manager South and General Manager Schools, but was concerned that the appointments had been the extent of the Minister's implementation of the report.
He was also concerned that Ms Henry is on leave until next year, leaving Mr Newman acting in her role as well as his own.
"How on earth can we expect the General Manager Schools acting in the role of General Manager, [to] do his own job and the General Manager's job, and at the same time readdress the grievances that are still outstanding?" asked Dr Lim."The report was quite specific; that it was impossible for the General Manager Schools to be accountable for the oversight of the operations of some 55 schools [and] education centres."
Dr Lim said the summer recess was the time for CAO "to get on with it" while they were "without the additional load of managing schools"."The review recommended an implementation plan with clear time lines," he said.
"…between June and August at least phase one should have been implemented.
"By February to March 2005, according to the time line recommended by the review, everything should be in place, and a review of the overall achievements of the CAO should have been done then."Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne called Dr Lim "Mr Hypocrite" for his comments, although he was asked to withdraw the comment by the Deputy Speaker.
Said Dr Toyne: "[Dr Lim] has to be a bit careful here about how much he pushes the moral high ground because he has absolutely none."There are a lot of teachers who have suffered through the period that he was on his watch long before it came to this Minister to assess the situation and determine to do something about it.
"This Minister has done something about it. We now have a document in front of this House with recommendations that will allow this problem finally to be addressed."With the new senior appointments, Dr Toyne felt "the cavalry has finally arrived at the pass" to achieve a change in culture within CAO.
"Next year will be ground zero in finally getting a support office there that is going to allow teachers to get some confidence that they can contribute professionally to the evolution and continued development of education in Central Australia," said Dr Toyne.
Mr Stirling, rejected Dr Lim's concerns about the CAO being understaffed to address outstanding grievances.
"Those long term outstanding grievances are the province of … the Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment once they are formalised as grievances," said Mr Stirling.
He said greater resources had been provided to the OCPE , who "are now building in early intervention strategies … the most effective and efficient strategy that they can employ".
[Quotes are from the uncorrected Hansard.For details on the review of CAO see Alice News Oct 13 and 20.]


LETTERS: Heritage, boardroom speak.

Sir,– The Rieff must go, apparently because it is not compatible with the "commercial development" centre owners have in mind.
That reasoning is redolent of the big boardroom speak we hear whenever community values come in conflict with the white world's "business machine".
But Yeperenye Pty Ltd is Aboriginal owned, isn't it?
So are we witnessing, at last, the emergence of a black economic consciousness that earns our respect?
After all, we routinely sell out our own culture in the name of economics, and have been encouraging (almost begging) blackfellas to join in ever since the term "assimilation" was first spoken.
So perhaps we should be celebrating Yeperenye Pty's hard-headed business attitude?
Is it not an inspiring case study in how a black-owned business can invoke the same "rational economic principles" as white?
In the late 40's the Rieff building itself was a modern shopping facility selling furniture to settlers.
I wonder if, at the time of its construction, there was a similar mourning over the change of character that it introduced to the sleepy end of Hartley St..
Isn't it a bit precious for us to decry a "loss of heritage" when a successful Aboriginal business uses our own economic arguments to justify demolishing one of our commercial buildings which helped demolish the Aboriginal heritage that once embued this special spot in the world with an irreplaceable significance? Our "old Alice heritage" once demolished someone else's heritage.
Is that what we want to preserve?
Surely change is the only constant.
As a heritage debate, the Rieff question could be a lot sharper if it focussed on the type of change that we, as a polyglot community, will encourage or discourage.
80,000 shoppers a week walk into Yeperenye Centre.
Is there a petition to stop shopping?
Where do I sign?
Is there popular consensus to bulldoze Maccas or Pizza Hut?
Personally, I would be driving the dozer, but mine is only one voice.
As a community, we have already acquiesced in the most fundamental of cultural changes.
I think casting a glass museum case around the Rieff, just because it reminds us of a very partial and embarrassingly valorised particular history, is aiming too low. We need to work together for a deeper sense of identity and ambition than "display-case preservation" provides. I wonder if one day there will be a petition to protect the last surviving KFC outlet or KMart parking lot.
John Brisbin
Alice Springs

And the winner is ... water!
Sir,– Glenn Marshall's campaign to promote efficient water use in Alice Springs is to be commended.
Before the tapping of Mereenie Basin water, a much smaller Alice Springs depended on the Town Basin for its supply.
Water restrictions were enforced in the 60s as the basin was shrinking alarmingly and saline water was encroaching on the edges of potable water.
Now, with the talk of re-introducing restrictions due to the ephemeral nature of our water supply, I suggest there could be a better way.
Instead of enforcing restrictions with the threat of punishment for non-compliance, why not take a positive approach and reward people who obviously take measures to avoid excessive water usage.
A competition could be established for the best water savers who might, for example, have their water bill rescinded for having made use of appropriate garden plants or artificial turf for lawns, used water-saving shower heads or recycled grey water.
A plaque could be attached to the fences of those proven to be good water conservationists.
Des Nelson
Alice Springs

Loo lid closes on Charles

Sir,– On behalf of Charles River, I would like to thank the NT government for moving it out of the electorate of Braitling where, for the past three and a half years, it has suffered the indignity of being a rubbish tip for thousands of illegal campers and the biggest latrine in the Territory.
The council has spent squillions of ratepayers' money in the Charles, clearing wrecked cars and other filth, but without the constant efforts of the rangers and police, it would have been far worse.
It needs to be said that while Charles was in the electorate of Braitling, at no stage was the Independent member for that area seen to make any attempt to remedy the situation.
Now that we are in the electorate of the Minister for Central Australia, I do not expect to have any further reason for complaint.
Gerry Baddock
Alice Springs
Land Council weed success

Sir,– It's time people in this town speak up about what a good job the Land Council does.
I've been out bush controlling weeds with the indigenous community from Engawalla (on Alcoota Station), concentrating on Utopia.
I have to say that if it wasn't for the fantastic assistance of the CLC, the Engawala community and the local pastoralists, we would not have covered nearly as much country and controlled nearly as many weeds as we did.
We all worked together for a common goal and we achieved it.
Controlling weeds in the Sandover catchment isn't as big as some of the other issues discussed in this paper but it has been great to be part of such a successful collaboration.
We all have to live and work together in this town and the antagonism evident in recent letters in this paper just drives a wedge in our community.
Peter Barker
peterbarker@ozemail.com.au


WHEN THE TRUTH IS TOO BAD TO BE TRUE. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

"Given the absurdity of the question, I have no intention of supplying you with information" was the reply from Chips Mackinolty, media adviser to Housing Minister John Ah Kit, when asked how many houses built for Aboriginal people with public money were permanently or mostly unoccupied.
But Des Rogers, a board member of the Indigenous Housing Association of the NT (IHANT) and a former chairman of it, says "quite a number" of houses are unoccupied.
Meanwhile Mr Ah Kit told the Housing Ministers Ministerial Council in Adelaide an additional $100m per annum should be spent nationally by the Commonwealth towards the Aboriginal Rental Housing Program.
There is strong anecdotal evidence that there are vacant houses and outstations.
Many pastoralists – although reluctant to go public about it for fear of reprisals – have stories of abandoned remote settlements.
Says one: "There are lots of unoccupied Aboriginal homes.
"Outstations have been built by ATSIC and NT Housing when the previous government was giving a lot of land back.
"Some were never lived in, are no longer lived in or are just holiday camps – from tax payers' funds.
"In particular in the Nicholson River area, in the Barkly Tablelands, there are not only houses that are unlived in, but also health clinics that are unused.
"Some of the reasons for this are that the Aboriginal people didn't know where they wanted their houses to be and someone else made the decision – which was wrong.
"In the immediate area of Ali Curung there are 13 houses unoccupied."
A frequent bush traveller told me he often stays in new but abandoned houses, and as a light aircraft pilot I've seen several of them in the bush.
Mr Rogers says the houses are empty "for a variety of reasons".
These include the death of a former occupant, but also because people don't have a sufficient income and "can't survive" in the location of the houses.
"I'd really be only taking a stab in the dark," says Mr Rogers, "but there is a significant number [of homes] which aren't occupied at all or only occupied on special occasions.
"The IHANT board needs to be responsible for the money they spend."
Mr Rogers says there should be an enquiry about more suitable accommodation types on homelands, possibly relocatable structures and "$30,000 transportable shelters rather than $300,000 homes".
Mr Rogers says it's estimated that 30 per cent of the NT population is Aboriginal but it may be more than 40 per cent, the error resulting from the high mobility of Aboriginal people.
He says the cost of catching up with the Indigenous housing need in the NT could be as high as $150m.
He says this year $38m was spent for new construction.
"It's an unusual year because we've got some extra money.
"Normally it's around $20m," says Mr Rogers.
Meanwhile Mr Ah Kit says, "At long last there is a commitment to expand the range of options for additional funding, and a serious move towards rationalising programs.
"It is the Australian Government that is responsible for massive program duplication, and this must be addressed.
"I agree that all jurisdictions need to lift their game – and we are well on that road through the Indigenous Housing Authority of the Northern Territory."
He says his demand for more funding "is not a grab for money – it is a plea for decent living conditions for Indigenous Australians".


CRICKET: FEDERALS CONFIRM TOP SPOT. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.

Federal nudged yet further ahead at the top of the premiership table when they fielded themselves into a creditable win over West in the first of the one day cricket round at Albrecht Oval on Saturday.
Then on Sunday RSL Works recorded a win over Rovers with plenty of time to spare.
Feds batted first, with skipper Michael Smith wasting no time in dictating the terms of the game. While fellow opener Brendan Martin fell early to the bowling of Rory Hood, caught Peter Tabart for 11, Smith continued to play through the order to eventually fall LBW for 94 off the bowling of Tabart. Otherwise Federal bats offered little support in the campaign as Craig Galvin's 15 was the only other score to climb into double figures. They were dismissed for 143 off only 39 overs.
Inflicting damage from the bowling attack was Peter Ryan who returned the memorable figures of 4/3, including a hat trick in the tail picking up the wickets of Jarrad Wapper, Chris Clements, and Allan Rowe.
Peter Tabart was effective, taking 3/19 off his allotted overs, while single wickets were picked up by Rory Hood, Jeremy Bigg and Darren Clarke.
West had a seemingly meagre challenge on their hands and looked as though they were going to cruise to victory when they were 5/95. Tabart and Simon Vaughan set up an opening partnership of 35, when Vaughan fell to Marriott LBW for nine.
Tabart then pushed the score on in company with Hood before Wapper's lethal attack had him caught Martin for 27. Hood went on to score 36 before Tom Clements caught him off Rowe for 36. In the mid order Kevin Mezzone compiled 12 and Jeremy Bigg 18 before the guile of Tom Clements set in.
He plucked three wickets before Smith cleaned up the innings, dismissing Thomson.
The credit for dismissing West, however, must go to the Federal field who missed only the most difficult of chances, and with discipline restricted the scoring rate, so encouraging their bowlers.
Wapper led the way with the ball, taking 3/17 off his nine overs; Tom Clements returned 3/22; and the other four wickets were shared between Marriott, Smith, Rowe and B J O'Dwyer.
West were dismissed for 130 in the 39th over, so giving Federal the win.
Rovers won the toss on Sunday and elected to bat. With Matt Forster absent from the RSL line up the Blues would have seen some glimmer of opportunity. However the RSL attack showed it had plenty up its sleeve when they took all 10 wickets in a matter of 33 overs. Rovers were dismissed for 117. Matt Salzburger registered 3/14 off six overs; Wayne Eglington 2/26 off eight; and Tom Dutton - Waterford 2/14 off six.
For Rovers Matt Pyle opened and compiled a meaningful 30 and did receive assistance from Darryl Lowe with 16 and Jason Bremner with 13, but when all is said it was never going to be enough to be competitive.In a mere seven overs Luke Southam whacked 58 runs off the Blues bowlers. This opening display in itself wrapped the game up, with Scott Robertson being the best of the other batsmen scoring 21. RSL achieved their target, drawing stumps at 4/120, with Gavin Flanagan being the standout bowler, taking 2/12 off six overs.


FAITH, HOPE AND CHRISTMAS. COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.

When you're feeling stressed, tired or fed-up, it may seem the whole world is plotting against you.
Everything that can go wrong, does.
The car breaks down on your way to an important appointment, people are rude to you and the children help themselves to cordial which ends up all over the kitchen floor.
This past week I have been feeling exhausted with the heat and had a sick husband and school-tired kids at home.
But instead of encountering all kinds of unpleasantness, people have seemed more helpful than usual and problems have been easily solved.
Like a run of green traffic lights just when you needed them.With only a few weeks left till the BIG holidays, it is easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of hopes and expectations, Christmas cards, presents, travel preparations, parties and food.
We tend to put a lot into this season to make it perfect as if our lives depended on everything being just right. In the process we get worn out and wound up. Not an easy state to enjoy things in.
Despite our best efforts at making it a happy and peaceful time, we sometimes end up feeling bloated and disappointed.It is easy to be distracted by the bright lights and tinsel and forget the cause for our celebrations, turning Christmas into a spectacle to endure rather than a chance to reflect on the relationships that matter in our lives.When I was little and had no money of my own, I used to wrap up something from my room and give it to my parents for Christmas.
They happily played along and were always thrilled with my presents.
These days I find it increasingly difficult to buy presents for them.
They have everything they need and can buy most things they want.
What can I give them to show how much they mean to me?
I'm bound to fall short of my own mark. But they just need to know that I'm thinking of them and that they still matter.
Alain de Botton in The Consolations of Philosophy writes that "we don't exist unless there is someone who can see us existing, what we say has no meaning until someone can understand, while to be surrounded by friends is constantly to have our identity confirmed."
We need to feel remembered and loved and we need hope.
The 45c Christmas card stamp this year is of the holy mother and child symbolising God's love for his children. But it is also about hope, a new beginning for humankind.
When I was feeling a bit frazzled and low recently, people at the post office, MVR and children's dental services gave me hope through their unpretentious kindness.
Like the baby in his mother's arms, all of us are able to bring hope and make a difference in each other's lives.


BUYING A CAR A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

Being in a place far from home is excuse enough to forget any personal beliefs you once had.
Morals, those basic ideas of right and wrong, get left behind.
You probably think I'm a dork or some other Australian technological insult, but I'll tell you this story anyway.
I recently visited a car dealership for the first time in my life.
That's right, up to now I had completely missed out on the whole car-purchase thing.
Not only that, but I managed to avoid it for 25 years.
Car dealerships were a no-go zone and I didn't even notice them, which is hard in Alice Springs.
Shock, horror, how did this possibly happen?
How can anyone avoid the delights of owning a metal box with an engine and some flashy gadgets?
Well, it's quite simple.
While most young people can't wait to get their sweaty mitts on a vehicle, at that age I took no interest.
Instead, I bought a treadly.
It was fast in town, it kept me fit and I avoided long and boring car journeys.
I caught the train or bus instead, accompanied by a personal stereo and a non-fiction book.
I lived this way very happily for 25 years until I arrived on the shores of this fine land.
Suddenly my teenage children started to have contrary opinions and they wanted to be taken places.
The desert environment and culture may have been a whole new experience, but no way did it compete with being introduced to the used car lot at Peter Kittle.
If you buy a car for the first time, you face some problems.
For instance, you don't know what to ask the salesman.
I tried, "Er, what colours does it come in?"
Features like "dashboard console" or "underbody spoiler" are indecipherable.
You peer at bits of the vehicle, like the mudflaps, as if they are critical to your purchasing decision.
After a while, you yearn for the simplicities of handlebars and pedals.
As I was saying, living in a far-off place is reason enough to shed the values that you once held dear.
You don't need them because you're a long way from home and you can pick them up again later.
So teetotallers have the odd drink, people who hate television buy a gynormous flat-screen version, those who used to take a stand against elitist schools suddenly think they're wonderful.
You get my drift.
One of my core beliefs used to be that car ownership stands next to mobile phone abuse and picking your nose as an anti-social habit.
I said that you would think I'm a dork, but there it is.
Now I've been unravelling my moral fibre so fast that I will soon be unrecognisable to my old friends as the radical, pick-a-fight-over-nothing person who once irritated them so much.
I have only visited my cousin once since living in Alice Springs and his single comment on my demeanour was "you seem so relaxed".
Relaxed?
How insulting.
I'm not relaxed.
I'm a seething cauldron of moral indignation and political correctness.
How dare he say that?
This is how fights with the rellies start at Christmas.
Wait until I tell him about my car purchase.
Like everyone else, including people at work, parents at cricket matches and the man who is helping me to insure it, he'll say, "Nice cars, those Subarus". He'll have forgotten how annoying it is to be mocked for selling out in your middle age because he sold out in his late teens.
At least I hung on for a while.
Two things are certain.
I'll regret buying a car and I'll retrieve my moral fibre later.
steve@afishoutofwater.com

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