ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
February 9, 2005.


POWERFUL CHALLENGES. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Alice Springs used more electricity than ever before, 50 megawatts, on Tuesday last week.
It was the Alice equivalent to the moment when the Football World Cup TV coverage finished and millions of people got up from the couch to make a cup of tea, pushing electricity demand through the roof.
It was hot and humid. People came home from work, switched on their aircons and redlined them.
On February 14 last year something very similar clearly occurred: the consumption for that day was 49.76 megawatts.
Last Wednesday, consumption crashed, producing one of the lowest daytime summer power uses for the last 10 years, 32.5 megawatts.
Dealing with extremes is all in a day's work for Jean-Luc Revel, who's been working with the Alice power station for 36 years and now has the heady title of Manager Generation South.
What's more, isolation has a special meaning for the dapper Frenchman.
If Brisbane has a heat wave it can import power from Victoria.
When it's freezing in Germany it can buy electricity from Spain.
But Alice Springs' is an "island system": It's on its own.
During a flood in the 1980s the government was close to evacuating the town when the power station was inundated, shutting down the generators for 30 hours.
The sewage pumps had stopped. Drinking water was running low. Food was rotting in the freezers.
Since then an eight MW station, privately owned, has started operations in Brewer Estate, but the town can't live without its power house in the small valley between the golf course and Sadadeen.
Not only is Alice isolated from any power grids, it can't store renewable energy used for making electricity: Hydroelectric plants, for example, can use their own power to pump water back up the hill during low consumption periods.
Alice is using gas, and some diesel.
And now there are fresh challenges.
Although the town's population has been static for around a decade, we're using more power every year.
Unlike almost anywhere else, the main consumers here are private people, not industries, and it's private people whose co-operation will be needed to deal with growing problems.
Until around 15 years ago the peak consumption was in winter.
In 1975 the year's peak of 13 megawatts was in June.
Now the peaks are in summer, driven by the proliferation of reverse cycle air conditioners, supplementing or replacing the old "swampies".
These evaporative air conditioners, using far less power, are great in dry weather, but useless in humidity which has been plaguing the town from December to March in the last decade or so.
The Power and Water Corporation is obliged to fully meet the public's electricity demand. In fact the Alice plant can still meet the peak demand even if its biggest generator breaks down.
It has 14 machines, 12 of them powered by gas from Palm Valley. The other two run on diesel and are rarely used.
So now Mr Revel and his colleagues at Power and Water are grappling with the absurdity of having a generating capacity needed only a few hours a year.
After all, the purchase cost of the machines is $1m for every megawatt they can produce.
Today a massive truck-mounted 12 megawatt hour gas turbine generator, called Titan 130, is being commissioned, the third new machine since last year, although the two smaller ones will be sent to Tennant Creek in May.
Mr Revel says the options are limited.
The power section of the organisation can ask the water section to turn off their bore field pumps (having made sure their tanks are at an adequate level).
Given Power and Water's supply obligations, it'll be up to the public to consent to other measures, such as one scheme mooted by conservation groups.
In exchange for lower electricity costs consumers would agree to intermittent cuts to the use of their reverse cycle air conditioners, in a computer guided scheme delivering power 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, with different groups of consumers taking it in turns.
Mr Revel says night tariffs are offered elsewhere – but are unlikely to be a winner in The Alice: we need the power when it's hot, and that's not mainly at night.
Mr Revel says solar power appears an obvious option for the region, but still has insurmountable flaws: solar plants not only cost 10 times as much as diesel ones to build, "they can lose output very quickly", says Mr Revel.
The 0.23 megawatt solar plant at King's Canyon is a case in point. It can meet up to half of the resort's demand but a tiny cumulus cloud can obscure the sun for a few minutes, dropping the output by about half.
In that case the diesel generators need to kick in very quickly.


OUTBACK HIGHWAY PROGRESS. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Governments are finally talking turkey about the Outback Highway from Winton in Queensland via Alice Springs and The Rock to Laverton in WA.
Next week local governments along the way, and the Territory Government, the members of the Outback Highway Development Committee, will suggest to the Federal Government how to carve up the $10m over three years it promised before last year's election.
Boulia Shire CEO Michelle McFadyen says there is agreement between the members that the money should be spent to enhance "connectivity" – fixing the worst sections of the route first.
What the committee are putting to the Feds is that WA should get $3.1m, Queensland $4.4m and the Territory, $8.9m.
This adds up to $6.4m more than $10m, which suggests that the committee is made up of optimists.
They will have outback music icon, author and NT Administrator Ted Egan on their side who wants to make the highway a signature project for the 2006 Year of the Outback.
Driving from Alice to Brisbane via Boulia cuts 500 kms off the journey, compared to going via Tennant Creek and Mt Isa.
It's a great trip if ... and there's a big if.
The two main things consistently going wrong, especially at this time of the year, are the Georgina River flooding, which cuts the Donohue Highway about 100 km west of Boulia.
The other is the state of the road: in late December we found it not too bad on the Territory side, although it's dirt for more than 400 km east of Gem Tree.
But on the Queensland side it was in lousy condition, and not a whole lot better a year earlier.
The Boulia Council now has full responsibility for the road but it's clearly beyond its means to look after it adequately.
Ms McFadyen says there are just five ratepayers along the 241 km stretch from the border to Boulia, yet the road is carrying important traffic in and out of Queensland, including cattle transports.
"Two road trains at the wrong time can do $100,000 worth of damage," says Ms McFadyen.
As it is, the council spends a disproportionate amount of its shire road funds on the Donohue Highway, sometime to the detriment of the other 1310 km of shire roads.
Clearly, a good slice of the Federal money is needed there.
Driving east along the Harts Range to the south and, a little later, the Jervois Range to the north, is a dream, and the are lots of great spots for overnight camps.
We fueled up at the Harts Range Aboriginal community which has an excellent store, with ice, hot and cold snacks and most of the little things you've forgotten at home, that you've now had time to discover.
Fuel there is around $1.40 a litre.
Diesel and unleaded fuel cost $1.65 a litre at Tobermorey, about 350 km further east, on the Queensland border.
If the Outback Highway becomes a reality and popular with tourists, Tobermorey will need to look not only at its prices, but also at its bedside manner.
When we got there we met tourist Johann Esterhuyzen, an engineer from Sydney, close to the end of his tether.
Although he had arrived at a time when the petrol station and store were advertised as being open, he had been made to wait half an hour before being served.
When the young woman finished filling up his 4WD she asked us if we needed fuel.
I replied I'd tell her in a moment, upon which she disappeared in the small store, and put up the "closed" sign.
As it turned out, the Troopie's long range tanks easily took us to Boulia, and Tobermorey missed out on our business.
To say that Boulia, by contrast, is a welcoming town would be an understatement.
It's one of those outback Queensland places that despite their tiny size and incredible remoteness, refuse to get an inferiority complex.
The wide main drag, with its beautifully groomed median strip, is testimony to a generous approach to public life.
Boulia has two museums, one showing fossils millions of years old and the other celebrating one of the region's phenomena: the curator will soon have you convinced that you're in the Min Min Light capital of the world.
You get a swim in the Burke River before a reasonably priced meal at the pub whose dining room has a wishing well.
The official eastern start of the Outback Highway is either Boulia or Winton but Longreach is vying for the honor.
With its imposing Stockman's Hall of Fame, and its careful preservation of old buildings, Longreach, population 4000, stakes claim to being the center of the outback, a title more logically deserved by Alice Springs.
However, in The Alice the Labor government, merrily in the footsteps of its CLP predecessors, continues the destruction of local heritage by allowing the demolition of the Rieff Building.
The Alice Town Council is spending $11m on refurbishing its office building while the Longreach community maintains a museum of international note.
The Hall cost $8m to build (about $13m in today's money) and was opened by the Queen in the 1988 Bicentennial Year.
The $8m was Bicentennial funding. In 2001/02 the Hall received $4.5m in Centenary of Federation grants and $1.5m from the State.
All other expenses and running costs are covered by admission fees collected from 40,000 to 50,000 visitors a year, and subscriptions.
The Hall has 1200 items on display – from stock whips to a large wagon, large screen videos of dramatic landscapes and climate phenomena, to the talking drover and a great library.
You could easily spend a whole day at the Hall. Its cool, woody interior was a welcome retreat from the scorching January afternoon when we were there. Exhibits on a wide range of outback themes are arranged in discrete areas along spacious walkways, making their way up to the central attraction, celebrating the "unsung heroes" of the Australian cattle industry.
Touch-screen videos, accompanying exhibits and treating scores of subjects, are all equipped with stools. We looked in comfort at one on the history of traveling boxing troupes, combining archival footage and re-enactments; another on illustrious rough-riders; yet another, on the pioneering cattlemen of the Tanami Desert.
QANTASThere's an activity corner for children – drawers of exhibits they can open and shut; computers they can research on, drawing materials.
When you can't look anymore you can take a break at the Hall's café, before returning to, for example, a luxurious leather lounge in front of a videoed collection of very tall outback stories.
And, of course, Longreach is the first operational base of Qantas, marked by and out-of-service-hours 747 turned into a display at the airport, opposite the Hall.
It'll all be a lot closer to us when the Outback Highway becomes reality.
[Footnote: The proposed Outback Highway is 2696 km long and runs through three states. The NT has 664 km sealed and 592 km unsealed. WA has 829 km, all unsealed. Queensland has 376 km sealed and 235 unsealed.]


HOW WILL THE WORLD SEE US? Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
A final tourism industry workshop has been held this week to determine the initial "re-positioning" of Alice Springs to its national and international tourism markets.
A promotion campaign based on this re-positioning will be in the market in March and April, just two months away.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of people who live in Alice have no idea of how their town will be re-positioned, although "community input is vital", according to a spokesperson for the NT Tourist Commission.
"Initial findings will help inform and influence the pitch, content and style of the first phase of the Destination Alice Springs promotion," says the spokesperson.
Even a key figure in the tourism industry, Angie Reidy, former owner of Sahara Tours, now co-owner of the Outback Novotel (formerly Vista), and owner of the Desert Palms and Toddy's Backpackers, last week had no knowledge of what the NT Tourist Commission's Destination Alice Springs committee has been doing, nor what re-positioning they may come up with.
"I have not been consulted and, as a high-profile person in the industry for the last 15 years, I would have liked to have been," Ms Reidy told the Alice News.
Her main concern, however, was that the process seems to have taken so long, and if the community were to have any input, it would have to be quick.
"Our tourism season starts in June and an awful lot still needs to be done."
The importance of community ownership was recognised by Dale Hancock, manager of tourism development projects for the NTTC, at the Regional Outlook Conference in Alice late last year.
"One of the challenges will be to get ‘ownership' from the town of any collective positioning statement, of what Alice represents or could represent that is unique and different," said Mr Hancock.
However, he ranked community ownership as secondary to "a vision that tourists can relate to".
"We may come up with something that we think encapsulates the town, but will it deliver on what tourists see us as being, or deliver on what they really want from tourism or from Alice Springs?"
The market research consultants engaged to bridge this gap are Sustainable Tourism Services, the consulting arm of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism, responsible for, among others, the Gold Coast Visioning report.
CATIA general manager Craig Catchlove expressed confidence in the process that the consultants have led.
"I believe they have talked to enough people from broader Alice Springs as well as tourism people.
"The to-ing and fro-ing has been open and frank.
"It's fairly well recognised by all players that Alice Springs has an image issue.
"Locals understand that it is a great place to live but that message doesn't get out there.
"We are simply lumped in as part of the Central Australian experience and if people have limited time they will chose Uluru over Alice Springs as the place to have that experience," said Mr Catchlove.
He says the vision for Alice that emerges from the work done to date will be "massaged" to fit with "Brand NT".
The "refresh" of that brand by the Tourist Commission, a separate project to Destination Alice, is about coming up with an "overall umbrella brand for the NT" that will best communicate with the Territory's key tourism markets.
"The new evolved look and feel" of Brand NT will be incorporated into the promotional activity for Alice, as well as each of the Territory's five other priority destinations, according to the Tourist Commission spokesperson.
The Alice promotion will be the first to roll out, with each destination having "its own special appeal and messages, but the look and feel of the material will have common themes".
Expenditure on the Alice promotion will mirror the investment commitment to other recent destination promotions such as Darwin, which was just over $750,000.
Meanwhile, the Territory is the major focus of a $500,000 (285,000 Euro) campaign to travel to Australia by STA Travel, one of Germany's largest student and backpacker travel companies.
The German market is one of the three most important markets to the Territory and has been dropping over the last few quarters, according to the Tourist Commission.
"The German economy is now picking up so we want to capitalise on that and Germans also tend to travel in our off peak times.
"The NT tourism industry supports this push to rebuild the international backpacker sector."
The commission spokesperson also says two Japanese charter flights will be arriving in Alice during April/May, bringing 740 passengers expected to inject over $500,000 into the local Alice economy.


ALICE ON FOOT. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
There are many Alices but not many obvious ways for people visiting or new arrivals to find out about them.
A new tour business designed to tell visitors and newcomers "the things they'd like to know but that few can tell them" has been launched under the name of "Foot Falcon".
As the name suggests, there's no bus involved. It's a walking tour of places in the CBD in the company of local woman Linda Wells.
She's lived in town and on Central Australian communities for the past 16 years. She has a passion for the Centre's history, both black and white, as well as a deep personal connection through her Aboriginal daughter.
What she offers tourists is an opportunity for conversation with an informed local.
"I don't talk about Arrernte culture – those stories are not mine to tell – but I can talk about my experience of living here with Arrernte people and about my personal knowledge of the town and my research into its history."
An encounter with a tourist in a pizza shop inspired Linda's initiative.
"The tourist was fascinated to learn that Arrernte people have their own language, that there are many Aboriginal languages spoken in Central Australia.
"She was also horrified by some of what she had seen in the streets but I was able to tell her that there are many Aboriginal people who have rich and meaningful lives."
Linda meets her guests at the chess set on the council lawns and from there they walk down into the river (feedback says this is the highlight); along the river to Parsons Street where she shows them the old Pioneer Theatre; down the mall, which offers the opportunity to describe the lost battle to save Marron's Newsagency; through to the Hartley Street School, where the battle was won; and on down to morning tea at the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
She has copies of historical photos with her and takes the time to tell stories, recite poetry and have plenty of discussion.
"People are often disappointed when they come to Alice, expecting a real outback town but seeing mostly only its present-day suburban face.
"I can't change what they see but the tour is a kind of exercise in understanding how it came to be like it is, and underneath it all, as I think Wenten Rubuntja says, the town is still dancing."



The rising tide of coffee. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

As I was saying, over Christmas I was standing in a coffee shop down south.
In response to a question from the man behind the counter, I told him that I lived in Alice Springs. This led him to be amazed, in several different ways, that not one of the 260 Gloria Jeans coffee outlets in the country was located in our town.
Clearly, his own town was on the cutting edge of fashion and technology. In contrast, Central Australia must still be passing through the prehistoric Cretaceous Period, a time long before access to proper telephones, news media and Spongebob Squarepants.
Come to think of it, where are all these ultra-hip coffee shops located?
I have only ever seen three and those were in the walls of airport terminals. But don't tell me. I can guess. There's probably 20 in each capital city with the exception of Hobart and Darwin.
Then there's another 100 distributed evenly around boom conurbations like Maroochydore and Terrigal.
The rest are tentatively located in country towns such as Shepparton and middle-of-the-road university places like Churchill.
This means that standardized coffee, cute little cup holders and a selection of sweet and savoury muffins the size of scatter cushions have not yet made their way to friendless towns like Atherton and Karratha.
Neither have they reached across the desert to Mount Isa, the Alice and certainly not Tennant Creek.
So the world is actually less globalised than I thought it was. By now surely every town should have a mall full of shops and cafes representative of international companies.
Get a map from each of the coffee franchises showing a dot where they have a branch and lay the maps on top of each other until the dots colour the map more densely in some places than others.
Hey presto, this is the tide of standardized food and drink washing towards us. But while Starbucks may be everywhere, it's not in Alice Springs.
In saying this, I am fighting a natural desire to give in to the rising waves of coffee. There are worse ways to drown. But while the coffee down south was good and the muffins large and fruity, there's a more worthy aim at stake.
For if Alice Springs has a larger proportion of local businesses than other places, then I'd like it to stay that way.
Or, to be more accurate, I would like it to stay that way after we get Body Shop and Target and Myers and Rebel Sport and a shop that sells only DVDs of situation comedies. Oh, and one that only has soccer shirts.
Seriously, I'll manage just fine without the cup holders. Not far into the future, local coffee shops will be a novelty.
The same goes for tailors, greengrocers and bookshops. Independent local newspapers will disappear too, so make the most of this one.
In response, hack writers will compile guides on how to find and appreciate small local cafes.
The books will have titles like ‘Around the world in eighty local retail experiences' and ‘Muffins off the beaten track'.
A new but sad hobby will spring up, as bearded men with round glasses and a soft spot for speciality beers and organic cheese use the books to collect photos of the shops and autographs from the owners.
Write a list of those features of Alice Springs that you appreciate the most and hot beverages probably wouldn't appear.
But we ought to be proud that we can still drink coffee and eat cakes in one of over 20 local cafes.
There's a need for products that you can rely on being exactly the same in whichever city you buy them. But a little more diversity is better.
steve@afishoutofwater.com


In cold deep water. COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.
My youngest daughter has just started school. It has been excitement and trauma all in one. I feel she is too young to start at five but in many ways she is ready. I was seven and a half when I started school because we started in August of the year we turned seven. Where I grew up, seven was early enough. Here five is seen as the right, normal age.
Although it is easier to go with the flow than to paddle against the current, I sometimes wonder if we as a society should not examine what we are doing and why a bit more. And not be so afraid to upset the order of things.
While structure and form are important, their part should not be at the expense of content.
It is important for children to learn how to read, write and calculate but what is the rush? We do most things for them until they are at least 15 anyway, so it is hard to argue that you need to be literate by the age of seven to cope in the world.
It takes time to mature emotionally, to cope with being one of many in a large group, to follow instructions and rules and to accept that you are not the most important person in the room to anyone but yourself. There is a lot more to being human than acquiring skills to perform certain tasks.My youngest daughter was always happy until she was about two and a half years old. She had all her needs met and I was always there for her.
Then her little brother arrived and she suddenly had to share and was forced to become more independent. Her moods would go up and down and still do, especially if she is forced to grow or adjust to something new quickly.
Our method is to throw our children into the deep end and hope that by shouting encouragement from the side-line they will learn all by themselves to swim in life. In reality you would never throw your child into a pool without teaching him or her to swim in little steps.
Primary school teachers are gentle and understanding and doing a wonderful job, but it is still a great shock for many five year olds to find themselves at school. And one of the first lessons they will learn is that they will have to cope on their own.
That they are expected to be emotionally self-sufficient and that they have to get on with things.They may be fine and seem to cope with all the challenges and then one day they become teenagers, and their hormones and still developing brain in conjunction with added academic pressures all become to much for them.
They know how to read and write and they know that they are on their own in the cold deep water. Now what? Where are the coping skills for depression and the big questions in life like, why are we here, where is my place in the world, am I just one in a group or have I got any importance in myself?
Alice has recently lost two young lives to suicide. I feel for their families. I wonder where we as a society have gone wrong when so many of our teenagers choose to end their lives when they have only just begun?
Maybe we have failed to convince them that we are there for them as individuals, that we care about them and not just their performance.
Cookie moulds will give you the right shape, but if you don't put the right ingredients in the cookie dough it will all fall apart.
We need skills to cope with the outside world and we need skills to cope with ourselves. It is worth reflecting on that childhood issues are the focus of many a therapy session as adults.


LETTERS: Mayor wasting her time: Leak probe will lead nowhere.
Sir,– Big brother Darwin's local government inspector has certainly made a comical entry into the inquiry over the so-called leaked document to the Alice Springs News. During his centre stage appearance at the January 31 Council meeting, he confessed that despite some six months having passed by since this alleged incident, he still did not know what he was investigating.
At a meeting with council staff the following day, he also indicated that the statute of limitations covering such offences has or is about to expire. So it appears that the poor man is well and truly on a hiding to nothing.
At the August 2004 council meeting when the resolution was passed to establish a police inquiry, I articulated that in the middle of any feisty political debate, leaks of this type and strong verbal jousting are par for the course and therefore an inquiry of this type would be perceived as divisive, invasive and will serve only to continue the storm well and truly after the dust should settle.
Unfortunately, my politically savvy and commonsensical words were not listened to, hence the current farce.
Mr Clarke, since the system has locked you into this no-possible-conclusion inquiry, I ask you to consider the following matters. Who indeed has committed a crime? If someone was to break into my house intending to steal property or harm my family, I assure you that I am more than happy to cop any charges associated with giving the instigator all I have got and more.
Our council in not disclosing information outlining alternatives to constructing an eleven million dollar Civic Centre was in my view the instigator.
The person who leaked this information to the Alice Springs News and therefore to the rate payers, should be congratulated.
Mr Clarke, you also, in my view, are operating outside of the council resolution's intent. The Aldermen and Mayor who voted for this inquiry specifically asked for a police inquiry.
When the police showed no interest, you should not have been asked to take on this matter without another resolution to that effect.
I also pose the following questions [to Mr Clarke]. Why is it that you did not receive from our offices, a letter about the issue until December 6, 2004?
Why is it that you did not meet with us until January 31, 2005? And in light of the indication that, due to the statute of limitations, no one will be charged, who is paying for your travel and accommodation expenses? It had better not be this town's ratepayers!
The intent of the act covering confidential information is there to protect people and their character and companies where disclosure of assets or capital interests may compromise them. The document at the centre of this farcical matter should have always been a public document. I intend upping the ante over so called confidential business in this town.
I am first and foremost a ratepayer who deserves to know nothing that the rest of the town doesn't know. I have always believed that anyone who believes that their position gives them the automatic right to have in their possession information that is not shared by others is intellectually up themselves.
The town will be pleased to know that the current relationship between aldermen is sound and cooperatively workmanlike.
So if it is at all possible, Mr Clarke, could you please jet back to Darwin and leave Alice Springs alone. With the greatest respect, this is none of your business.
Murray Stewart
Alderman
Alice Springs Town Council
0407 256 428

[ED – The Alice Springs News joins with Ald Stewart in commending the person from whom we received the leak, for displaying courage and responsibility.
Should Mr Clarke seek a meeting with us he will be afforded every courtesy, but no information whatever concerning the identity of the "leaker", who is assured that their secret is safe with us.
The same has applied to many past whistleblowers whose information the Alice Springs News has published, after corroborating the information to the best of our ability.
It will also apply to all future ones, whenever people entrusted with political power are failing to meet one of their fundamental obligations: to be open and transparent to the public they are meant to be serving.]

Oppression was real

Sir,– In reference to Sandy Taylor's response (Alice News, Feb 2) to Alec Kruger's article Alone on the Soaks of Loves Creek (Alice News, Jan 26).
Ms Taylor, who are you to validate our father's statements as ‘true' or ‘untrue'? His story is told from a perspective through his own lived life experience.
Your comments regarding ‘nobody in the past talked about oppression', they just got on and made the best of life and survived – even somebody like you should and would remember that the past Government policies and Protection Acts were something which were unable to be spoken about or against, therefore, hardly anybody challenged the system or talked of oppression until when Aboriginal people were given rights such as equal citizenship and the right to vote in the 1960s and 1970s.
As for the education system being adequate, you may need to take a look at how many people live in remote areas and how many of those children are able to access the school system, particularly high school.
The colleges that you have mentioned in the article have only come into existence in the past 10 or so years and are experiencing many problems that exist within our education system. These problems do not only occur in the Indigenous world, but across the universe.
In closing, we find your response and the tone of your reply offensive and disrespectful. You would have had to live that life experience and have been part of the grass roots community to be able to experience oppression, the disadvantage and cruelty of the Government system within those days. And, our father has done this and lived and survived to tell his story in this changing world.
Anita & Melly Kruger
Alice Springs

Speak up, Warren!

Sir,- This is an open letter to Warren Snowdon:-
Dear Warren, I wonder if you have really looked at the photos of Mamdoub Habib when he landed back in Sydney. Because that hammering is what we Australians are doing to the inmates at Baxter Detention Centre.
As one of only four Territorians with the right to speak in this nation's Parliament, will you now speak out on behalf of those inmates?
And will you also ask the question about the private firm, Australasian Correctional Management? They have had authority in our Detention Centres, and as I understand it, they are a private Yankee firm with corporate links to an outfit called Wackenhut. And Wackenhut has brought into our lives both Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. I can only hope all you pollies in Canberra were dining with a long spoon when that contract was let.
At the height of World War II, anticipating public opposition to the release of British fascist Sir Oswald Mosley, Winston Churchill said: "Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. The foundation of all totalitarian regimes, whether Nazi or Communist, was arbitrary imprisonment without trial."
Back when the world was young and so were we, the ALP actually stood for something. Beazley recycled will probably bottle it as he did before. The world grows weary of moral wallflowers. Please SPEAK OUT.
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Bad night out

Sir,– I have written about the following events, in a letter dated January 24, to the licensee of the Todd Tavern and to Shane Ride Security.
On Friday evening, January 14, two friends and I decided to dine at the Todd Tavern Pub Café. We arrived at the venue at 8.30pm and were told that our timing was fine and that meals were served until 9pm. We ordered our meals, bought our drinks and found ourselves a table outside – al fresco dining at the top of the mall on a warm Alice evening. How pleasant.
As soon as we had sat down we realised that the waiting staff were packing up tables and chairs, dragging them around and making quite a racket. Not only was it unpleasantly noisy, it made us feel that the evening was over and they wanted us to leave.
Another table of diners arrived and the waiting staff had to actually reinstate some of the furniture so that these diners had somewhere to sit and eat their meal.
Our meals arrived before 9 pm. Sara went in to get salad to find that it had already been put away. One of the waiting staff offered to get her some salad and came back with a big plate for each of us covered with lettuce. Two of us even got the very occasional piece of tomato, cucumber or onion amongst it.
As soon as we had begun eating our meals, various waiting staff began to hover around and ask us if we had finished yet. It was all starting to feel a bit like Fawlty Towers.
We resisted this pressure, did finish our meals and intended to finish our drinks, including the bottle of wine we had purchased, wondering why the Todd Tavern has a pub café and serve meals up until 9pm when it is so obviously an inconvenience.
At one stage one of the waiting staff approached us and said that as they were closing up, would it be alright if we moved into the front bar to finish our drinks. We replied that it would not be alright. We didn't want to move to the front bar. It has a totally different environment to the one we had chosen.
We sat for a little while longer, finishing off our drinks and it was then that our pub café experience really reached its crescendo. A security guard, who we had not met or had any dealings with previously, came storming out and the first thing he said to us was, "F… off". When Sara said "I beg your pardon", he said it again.
He swore at us, abused us and threatened us. He said we were making fun of the establishment and the girls (presumably the waiting staff). We were not and this was absolutely not our intention.
He went on and on in the most unpleasant manner. We told him we would like a few more minutes to finish our drinks. He told us they closed at ten, it was now ten to ten and there'd be no more time. When Linda pointed out to him that it was very poor hospitality he told her, and I quote, "I don't give a f… about hospitality." That much, she told him, was obvious.
Security guard number 15 then proceeded to take our table away from under us; then he came back to forcibly remove us from our chairs. Not looking forward to such an unpleasant experience Linda and I stood up; however he did forcibly remove Sara from her chair.
We went around to the front door, asking to speak to the manager. Of course, number 15 met us at that door, denied us entry, told us we would not be seeing the manager that night and to come back the next day. Sara told him she had a right to see the manager to which the man replied, "You have no rights".
We wish to complain about the behaviour of security guard number 15 in the strongest possible terms. His behaviour was offensive, unprovoked and illegal. It is the sort of provocative behaviour that can escalate into dangerous incidents. That kind of thuggish, bullying behaviour in security guards is supposed to be a thing of the past.
The Todd Tavern and Shane Ride Security have a Duty of Care to ensure patrons' safety. This was breached on the evening in question.
We recently met the licensee and are not satisfied with his response. We feel a reasonable minimum response would include: a sincere apology; a refund; an assurance that security guard number 15 no longer be allowed to behave in that way at the Todd Tavern.
Adrian Scholtes
Alice Springs

[ED – The Alice News contacted the licensee of the Todd Tavern and Shane Ride Security to offer each a right of reply. Neither had taken up the offer at the time of going to press. Shane Ride Security is no longer owned by Shane and Michelle Ride who operate Shane Ride Locksmiths.]


SURPRISE UPSET YIELDS BIG DIVIDENDS! Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
Punters got value for money at Pioneer Park on Saturday when the five event card produced a surprise upset in the last and some worthwhile dividends during the day.
In the first, the Redbank Wines Special Conditions Plate over 1000 metres, Queen of the North made an impressive return to form. Darwin hoop Paul Denton wasted no time in taking the mare to the lead after Compass Boy, the anticipated speedster missed the start.
Darowby Livewire tracked the leader in third place to the 500 metre mark, when the pressure was felt by both Compass Boy and Darowby Livewire.
The Queen maintained her rating at the head of the field and proved more than able to answer the challenge when Ready and Go made chase in the straight. Song Mekong rattled home in third place.
The 1000 metre Colemans Printing Class Two Handicap‘ proved a race with a difference before the gates opened. Mookta's Gold was edgy in preparing to enter the barrier, and bolted from attendants to end up on the Stuart Highway. Then once in the gate Skippin and Jumpin jumped and reared, resulting in a second scratching.From the flashing of the red light it was Smartacus who set the pace, kept honest by Admiral Harry.
Rubyrule settled third on the fence while the favourite Greimoto sat at the rear of the field. In the straight Rubyrule was able to take command, while Greimoto loomed. Rubyrule proved to have too much petrol in the tank and went to the line a sound winner, paying $7.80.
Smartacus held on to take second place while Greimoto collected money for third.
The ZIB Insurance Brokers Open handicap was raced over 1400 metres. Murphy's Law and Richotto enjoyed the front running in this event, with Bright Vision tucked in on the fence and the outsider Redison travelling three wide.
At the turn Richotto tired, and while Murphy's Law battled on along the fence Redison showed plenty. He simply kept going all the way to the post to prove too strong for Bright Vision and Murphy's Law. Again the dividend of $7.30 was well received by punters.
The Readymix Maiden Plate, a Trobis event, was raced over 1200 metres. Predictably Lunchclub and Sandover led early, with Catwalk Babe in third place and Gaelic Dance nicely positioned in fourth. At the 150 metre mark, Gaelic Dance made his move and powered to the line. Also impressive in the run to the line were Do What We Do and North Skye who filled the minor placings. The dividend this time, at $6.30, was again appreciated by astute investors.
For some it was in the last of the day that the champagne corks popped, as the rank outsider Play Again Sam greeted the judge and paid a princely $20.80. Being the true roughy in the 1200 metre XXXX Gold Class Four Handicap, Play Again Sam was hunted up to the lead from the start and in coming across from the outside did a great job to dictate the pace. Indeed Play Again Sam was left alone in the running and appreciated the gallop. Orso and Athese Gold were impressive in the latter stages of the race, as was the run of Fire Joe. Fire Joe claimed second place from Orso at the line.
Racing at Pioneer Park will resume on Saturday week.


CRICKET: FEDS IN CHARGE AGAIN. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
The finals line up for the cricket flag took changed complexion again on the weekend when the round of two day matches commenced.
Over January West surged towards the top of the ladder, with reigning champions Federal losing games and so diminishing their lead in the run to the minor premiership.
Although there's been one day of play, Federal has been able to bounce back, taking charge of the competition. As a result of dismissing the Blues for a mere 89 and taking first innings points by being 2/152 at stumps, they have Rovers on the ropes.
At the crease Feds have Blain Cornford looking squarely at a big century, being 86 not out. In recent years Cornford has developed his game in the Adelaide competition, and he will certainly be a key stakeholder in the Federal push for successive flags.
Rovers have had their stocks bolstered with the return of Matt Pyle and development officer Jason Bremner, but were still on the backfoot on Saturday due to the absence of Darrell Lowe.
The Feds team will be keen to extend their lead quickly this Saturday and then push for outright victory by dismissing Rovers for a second time.At Albrecht Oval the tussle between second placed West and RSL Works, who are third, is one of intrigue. Works did well to peg West back to 154. At resumption of play this week Works will be keen to push on to take the first innings points. They are well placed being only 1/47, with the middle order having an opportunity to prove their worth.
West on the other hand will be looking for an inspired fielding performance, realising the result of the game could be a significant influence on the minor premiership standings. Rory Hood and Peter Tabart could well be the key to Wests' fortunes. Both are seasoned bowlers who could well penetrate the RSL batting order, and deliver a first innings victory.

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