LABOR STAR IN MONEY PROBE: VANSTONE ORDERS REPORT INTO DEALINGS BY ALISON ANDERSON. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Amanda Vanstone has ordered a report into funds paid by ATSIC to Papunya while the current ALP candidate for the electorate, Alison Anderson, was the ATSIC Regional Commissioner for the area.
Ms Anderson's husband, Steve Hanley, was the CEO for the Papunya council at the same time.
Both live at Papunya.
MLA MacDonnell John Elferink says he told Senator Vanstone that locals had informed him about an ATSIC grant of $50,000 to the Papunya council in 2001, for the grassing of a football oval.
Mr Elferink says it is understood that $8000 of that amount was later authorised for a football carnival, but that the remaining $42,000 appear to be unaccounted for.
There is no grass on the oval – only weeds, he says after inspecting the area two weeks ago.
Portions of a reticulation system are in place, but these were put there by the NT's CLP Government, before the 2001 elections, a move Mr Elferink says he had supported.
Mr Hanley, when contacted by the Alice News on Monday, declined to comment.
He would not disclose Ms Anderson's current cellphone number but undertook to pass to her our request to contact us.
We also left a message for Ms Anderson at the Aputula (Finke) community where Mr Hanley says she was visiting on Monday. Ms Anderson did not contact the Alice News.
Sentor Vanstone says: "I have asked my department, the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination, for a report on the matters raised."
According to a spokesman for the Minister of Local Government, Jack Ah Kit, Mr Hanley's position with the council ceased last year after the NT Office of Local Government had asked the council "to find suitable CEO following investigation in September last year."
An officer of the department, Peter Cole, was seconded as the CEO but he was thrown off the community last week, with just 24 hours' notice, according to local sources.
Mr Ah Kit's spokesman says Mr Cole was given "no notice".
"Our field officer will ascertain reasons for [the] dismissal when they go out," he says. The Alice News has learned departmental officers are at Papunya today.
The spokesman did not disclose the level of funding by the NT Government for the Papunya council.
NATIVE TITLE ROW FLARES. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
A deepening rift inside Alice Springs' native title body, Lhere Artepe, could put paid to negotiations with the Territory Government over the release of residential land at Mt Johns Valley, according to an insider.
Native title holder Bobby Liddle warns that the stakes are high: there is already violence, there could be deaths, and the estate group to which he belongs may apply for an injunction to halt the negotiations.
He says the Undoolya estate group are trying to deal in Mbantua land and that is "totally wrong".
He says the problem is that a lot of people "don't know anything".
"They should go and talk to the old people or at least read what Strehlow has written."
He says to get a land use agreement under the Native Title Act the government must in the first place take instructions from the affected native holders and in the case of Mt Johns Valley that means the Mbantua estate group.
Yet, says Mr Liddle, most families within the Mbantua estate group are not participating in executive meetings making decision about the negotiations because of abuse, actual violence and threats of violence.
He says the Kunoth, Liddle, Stevens and Rice families are no longer going to meetings. This has caused the continued deferment of Lhere Artepe's AGM, which was supposed to take place in November last year.
Mr Liddle says he has not told the Territory Government about the problems.
He says he'd been hoping top resolve the matter internally, but the situation is now "unworkable".
ALICE IN CHILDCARE CRISIS? Report by ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
Childcare facilities in Alice Springs are relying on non-qualified relief workers because of a chronic shortage of trained staff in town.
Vanessa Munro, director of the Eastside Childcare Centre for 16 years and in the industry for the last 20, is now the only qualified childcare worker at the centre.
She is training two girls at the moment but the rest of the 11 staff are either unqualified or casual relief workers.
There are 70 children on the waiting list and the centre can't enrol any more until they've recruited more staff.
"Staffing is the most difficult part of my job," says Ms Munro."We went through 12 full time staff members last year. 10 years ago we were struggling to find unqualified staff, five years ago we couldn't find qualified staff. Now we're struggling to find any workers. And it's not just childcare workers, it's directors to run these services as well.
"Recruiting from interstate is difficult – we had someone from Victoria but she left after 12 months. The isolation and extreme weather conditions here make it hard for people to stay.
"You get more money stacking shelves at a supermarket than working in a child care centre as an early childhood educator.
"An unqualified worker is paid on average $13.61 an hour after two years in the industry; a qualified worker who has trained for three years for a childcare diploma gets on average $16.33 an hour. An assistant director of a childcare centre receives $16.87 an hour and a director of the centre gets $21.43 an hour.
"That's not much when you think you have the responsibility of 11 staff and 65 families and children.
"The first five years of a child's life are the most important learning time. Our wages should be on a par with teachers – we train for three or four years which is the equivalent to a teaching diploma."
Bronwyn Truscott is the manager for Children's Support Services in Central Australia, responsible for providing support and training to workers in the sector. She says this issue is a national one – but particularly serious in Alice Springs, because of our transient population.
She says the shortage is preventing a choice for parents who wish to return to work.
With no childcare available they are either having to remain at home or rely on alternative care through family and friends.
Says Ms Truscott: "In the last five years we have seen a gradual but significant drop in numbers of people who are trained in child care but who chose not to stay employed within the sector due to the expectations and pressures placed on them through regulation, legislation and families.
"The stability of staff goes in cycles but the situation has progressively worsened over the last two to three years and now it's a serious issue.
"Some childcare services in town are having to lean heavily on non-qualified or relief child care workers. These workers are valued and required, however, to meet NT licensing regulations there needs to be a ratio of qualified and non-qualified staff within a service."
Ms Truscott says a solution must be found: "There has to be a salary increase, that's one of the keys to solving the problem.
"The social economics of today don't allow you to just work for the love of the job.
"As a worker you also need to be valued, respected and paid in accordance with the responsibility. This does not happen in childcare as childcare workers are undervalued and underpaid and are still perceived by some as babysitters.
"Services' management are in an unenviable position. To increase the wages of the workers, the childcare fees have to increase. This increases the pressure on affordability. However when you have someone looking after your most precious gift, a human life, isn't that worth respecting and paying for?
"Unfortunately though, I don't think we'll ever be able to fight the [problem of transience] in Alice Springs – it's the nature of the town."Services are advertising interstate for staff – however the cost is enormous and places further financial pressures on the childcare organisation."
Tracey Guerin is the director of the Alice Springs Family Daycare Centre which contracts home-based carers. The number of carers on her books has almost halved over the last 10 years.
"We aren't operating at capacity because we can't get enough carers. It has a lot to do with government policy. It's a catch 22 situation – childcare is more affordable because childcare benefit has increased in the last four to five years. This enables more women to make that choice to go back to work. But then they're stuck because there are not enough childcare places to go around.
"When I began here five years ago one of my objectives was to recruit more carers. There's been a lot of TV campaigns and marketing. But we still require more carers to meet the community need.
"I worked as a home-based carer myself when my children were pre-school age. Many women do it because they need a second income but want to stay at home with their children. It's a rewarding career choice."
The Lil' Antz childcare centre opened in Alice on March 1 last year "because of the shortage of childcare in town", explains director Alison Haggett.
The centre has 80 to 100 children on its waiting list. A move to new premises is planned but is 12 months away.
"The whole country has a high demand for childcare," says Ms Haggett, "but in Alice Springs, because we're a young population and a lot of people have two or more children, for the size of the town there's a lot of demand for childcare."
MAYOR FRAN TO BE MONITORED.
The potential for conflict of interest in Fran Kilgariff's roles as mayor and as Labor candidate for Greatorex will continue to be monitored, says Alderman Robyn Lambley.A motion put by Ald Lambley, requiring Ms Kilgariff to withdraw from all public and social engagements, limit her contact with the media and not discuss her candidature while undertaking mayoral duties, was rejected at the town council meeting last Tuesday.
"The next meeting isn't until 26 April so that gives us a month to sit back and watch," says Ald Lambley.
"I'm quite happy to leave it if she refrains from confusing the two roles. But if it does persist to an unacceptable level like the way it was, I will raise the motion again and this time it will get through.
I will make sure the 'i's are dotted and the 't's crossed. The success of the meeting was that a very clear message has been put to her that six alderman believe it's not acceptable to use the role as mayor to campaign.
"I sense she will be very, very careful now. She's a smart woman – she knows exactly who was and wasn't in support of her.
"I can unequivocally say there are six alderman who believe the way she was operating constituted a conflict of interest."
Ald Lambley made it clear her motion was not a personal attack on Mayor Kilgariff: "I have a great deal of respect for Her Worship. This is not a witch hunt.
"But I am happy to know that I and others are sending the message to [her] that it is impossible to split the two roles, that it's simply ultra vires. It's not about intention.
"You may not intend to be biased, it's about the perception and that's beyond your control."
Ald Murray Stewart agrees: "What was set out to be achieved was achieved. All we wanted was to ensure that the mayoral office wasn't lowered."
Ald Samih Habib wants the issue to be investigated further: "I think she will be more careful now.
"But we need to look at the legal side of the motion for the future – this may happen again and whoever it might be and regardless which party they are for, they should move to the side. For sure there will be conflict of interest."
However, Ald Ernie Nicholls says the matter should be closed: "She's got enough mileage out of this.
"The more it's carried on, the more she's loving it so we're not saying anything more about it."
WHAT FUTURE FOR BRAITLING AFTER THE NEXT ELECTION? Comment by ALEX NELSON.
Incumbency is the greatest hurdle for any political candidate to overcome in a Central Australian electorate. But all bets will be off after the next election when a redistribution of electoral boundaries is likely to occur.
This is due to growth of voting-age population in the Top End and stagnation in the Centre, with a net loss in the bush electorate of Stuart (as well as Barkly and Daly, while MacDonnell is stable).
Based on precedence, we are likely to see the seat of Braitling disappear from the scene.
The events connected to the redistribution of electorates in 1990 provide a salutary tale.
Central Australia lost an electorate, the seat of Flynn, in favour of creating a new seat in the Top End. (There are 25 seats in the Legislative Assembly, an increase on the initial 19 created in 1974, but unlikely to change again.)
The story concerns the rise and fall of the NT Nationals, a rebel conservative party led by former CLP Chief Minister Ian Tuxworth, Member for Barkly since 1974.
Barkly tended to be a marginal electorate but Mr Tuxworth benefited from incumbency and managed to retain it.
Mr Tuxworth's tenure as Chief Minister was troublesome, and it was the CLP's members' lack of confidence in him that forced his resignation in May 1986.
Deeply embittered, Mr Tuxworth and his supporters founded the NT Nationals and ran a virulent campaign against the CLP in 1987, with the aid of controversial Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen who barnstormed through the NT on their behalf.
However, only Mr Tuxworth succeeded in winning his seat, in a close contest with Maggie Hickey.
Times were tough for the CLP as it lurched from one crisis to another, and Mr Tuxworth's affable successor Steve Hatton was unable to contain the damage, finally being replaced by Marshall Perron in July 1988.
Matters worsened when Deputy CM Ray Hanrahan, the Member for Flynn in the Alice, resigned from office, necessitating a by-election.
The NT Nationals candidate Enzo Floreani took the seat in September 1988 and he confidently declared he "would do a Roger Vale" by holding onto it indefinitely (in reference to the then popular Member for Braitling).
In November 1989 Marshall Perron advised the CLP of the requirement for a major redistribution of electoral divisions, as rapid growth in the north had generated a serious imbalance in population quotas for the electorates.
A seat had to be transferred to the Top End at Central Australia's expense, and urgently, as Mr Perron required as much time as possible to optimise opportunities for calling the next NT elections.
The process required the NT Electoral Commission (then ensconced in the Chief Minister's Department) to call for public submissions to be forwarded by the end of January 1990. Being the height of the holiday season, this presented a problem in organising committees to work on submissions. I was the sole CLP branch member available in Central Australia to contribute to the party's submission.
Working for three days in Roger Vale's office, I devised a proposal to retain Araluen, Braitling and Sadadeen, enormously expand Flynn, abolish MacDonnell and Stuart, and create a new electorate "Tanami" stretching from the NT's southwest corner to Victoria River in the north.
Mr Vale supported my idea and persuaded Mr Perron to back it, and so it became the centrepiece of two CLP submissions, one each from the party and parliamentary wings.
These proposals prompted uproar from the ALP and the NT Nationals, for the proposals unabashedly aimed to disrupt the incumbency factor for those parties' politicians (as Northern Territory News reporter Frank Alcorta observed, "Heads I win, tails you lose").
The Electoral Commission opted for a "Solomon's" solution.
The Flynn electorate disappeared, necessitating adjustments of boundaries of neighbouring seats. The seat of Sadadeen, held by independent Denis Collins, was the most altered and was re-named Greatorex.
Araluen and Braitling, held by CLP members, and the Labor seats of MacDonnell and Stuart were only marginally affected.
The decision clearly favoured the two major political parties at the expense of the NT Nationals and an independent.
Bereft of his old seat, Enzo Floreani contested Araluen in October 1990 against sitting member Eric Poole but polled last.
Similarly, Ian Tuxworth's incumbency in Barkly was neutralised by the inclusion of pro-Labor Aboriginal communities, so he chose to run in the Top End rural seat of Goyder but was defeated by the CLP's Terry McCarthy.
Maggie Hickey took Barkly for the ALP.
The NT Nationals followed Mr Floreani and Mr Tuxworth into political oblivion, while independent Denis Collins narrowly avoided the same fate in Greatorex.
Given this history, and assuming the likelihood of current independent Member for Braitling Loraine Braham retaining her seat in this year's elections, her electorate is most vulnerable to vanishing after the next redistribution of electoral divisions.
CONWAY FAMILY REGRETS DEATH OF BURNS VICTIM AND HELPED CANADIAN RELATIVES.
The Conway family, owners of Kings Creek Station, say they regret the death of Cynthia Ching, the Canadian woman who was fatally burned on their station in April last year (Alice News, March 30).
Station lessee Ian Conway said in a prepared statement: "Cynthia Ching was a vibrant young woman who was well liked by everyone at Kings Creek Station, and her death has affected us all.
"We did everything we could to save Ms Ching's life, applying first aid immediately and arranging medical evacuation through the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
"My wife, Lyn, gave ongoing help and support to the Ching family.
"Mrs Ching and her daughter, Carolyn, stayed at our home in Adelaide for a few days until accommodation for the longer term could be arranged.
"Lyn also spent hours at the hospital supporting the Ching family and provided transport around Adelaide as required.
"In the following weeks, our family members and staff frequently communicated our best wishes to Carolyn, who had also visited Kings Creek Station, for her sister's recovery."
Meanwhile the Alice News put several questions to the Department of Health, and this is the only reply we received: "This matter is now in the hands of police and it is not appropriate for the Health Department to comment."
This is what we asked the department:
• Who says it is not "appropriate, at this point in time, to make further comment"? Is there a law preventing you from releasing further details, and if so, what law?
• Was the incident, resulting in burns to more than half of Miss Ching's body, reported to the police immediately and if so, exactly when, how and by whom? It appears the first police have heard of it was when Ms Ching died six weeks after the incident. Is such an even not required to be reported immediately?
• Was there a doctor on the RFDS flight from Alice to King's Creek and if not, why not?• Is it the department's view that the quality of the first response to burn injuries is crucial to the recovery chances of the victim?• Is the RFDS Pilatus [aircraft] equipped to "stabilise" a patient?
• How long had the doctor overseeing the evacuation of Ms Ching been on duty when he was notified of the emergency, at around 11pm?
• How busy was the hospital when the call was received and how many other doctors were on duty in the area in which the doctor in charge of the emergency was working?• What was the doctor overseeing the evacuation told about the condition of the victim?
ALICE EDUCATION NO BARRIER TO SUCCESS. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
Debating at the Eisteddfod and doing legal studies at Centralian College helped lay the foundation for her academic success, says University of New England arts law graduate Sarah Jefford.
Sarah, (pictured at right with Professor Ingrid Moses, Vice Chancellor of the University of New England) completed Year 12 at Centralian College in 1998, and began her degree in 2000, finishing last year.
UNE's Law School is only 11 years old, but has one of the largest law student populations in Australia (1786 students in 2004), with more than two-thirds of students studying by correspondence.
Sarah was on campus in Armidale (population 23,000, five thousand of whom are uni students) and made the most of university life. She was president of the UNE Law Students' Society in 2004, and as such gave the Valedictory Address at her graduation ceremony.
She was also awarded the New England Award, in recognition of herextra-curricular activities and contribution to the community.
Competing in the Sir Harry Gibbs National Moot Competition in 2004 aspart of the UNE team (this is like a debating competition where lawstudents argue a point of law), she was awarded 2nd Best Speaker.
Sarah says she decided to study law "partly because my Legal Studies teacher, Ian Sharp, was very good at his job – he gave me an excellent grounding in the area".
She says her education in Alice was no disadvantage, quite the contrary.
"Having met lots of country kids while studying in NSW, I can honestly say that I was very lucky to have gone to school in Alice – the surroundings and the opportunities (camping at Arltunga and Ormiston Gorge, for example), and the diversity of the town provided a unique learning experience.
"I studied at Anzac until Year 10, and then at Centralian. I was very lucky at Anzac, because the teachers (particularly Jen Geyer, Ian Sharp, Mark Redhead, and Saz Burton) were very encouraging and I received personal attention.
"Also the little things, like experiencing Aboriginal art and culture, and participating in the Centralian Eisteddfod, made it special.
"I think it can be perceived as a disadvantage to live in Alice because in order to study at university, you have to leave (or at least, you did five years ago, but perhaps not so much now with CDU having a campus there).
"For me, it wasn't really a disadvantage to have to leave, although I did suffer from homesickness at first. But the move was character-building, and I noticed that many of my NSW country peers were less open-minded about travel and more restricted in how they thought about their potential.
"I guess having to leave Alice meant I had to grow up, and realise that I was capable of anything I set my mind to."
The decision to study at New England was a good one, says Sarah, better than being "a small fish in a big pond"."It is unique compared with the city institutions, because of its size, and ability to balance social, academic, cultural and sporting activities. We were never treated as 'just a number', and never blended into the crowd. I knew my lecturers by name and was even able to babysit their kids!
"It was less threatening than making the move to a big city."Sarah is currently studying a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice at Monash Uni in Melbourne, and will be admitted as a solicitor in Victoria, in August.
She's hoping to practise in human rights law, particularly in relation torefugees and asylum seekers, but she is also interested in Indigenous legalissues, particularly land rights, and in family law and discrimination.
She has no doubt that her life experience in Alice Springs contributed to her interest in these areas of the law."My parents [Susan and Nigel Jefford] both worked in psychiatric health and Aboriginal health. I think they instilled in us a respect and appreciation for diversity, and awareness of discrimination.
"I think also the exposure to Aboriginal culture and the diversity of Alice contributed to my interest in that area of law. Simple things, like visiting Hermannsburg on school trips, gave me an understanding and appreciation of the culture."I have also been very upset by the Government's immigration policies and attitude toward asylum seekers, and that led to a general interest in the human rights area of law.
"I studied the subject while at university, taught by a human rights lawyer, and decided that was where I wanted to take my law degree.
"I'm particularly interested in international politics and human rights issues, so working with the UN or an NGO would be a dream come true.
"I have considered working in Alice, but at the moment am experiencing city life, having lived my whole life in Alice, and then Armidale.
HOME"I still consider Alice as home, and will think about going back to practise there, but not right now."
Apart from family and friends and uni staff, Sarah is particularly grateful to Bev Ellis at Dymocks in Alice for her support.
"She employed me back in 1998 and continued to give me work when I went home for holidays.
"The work kept me in food, clothing and text books for the five years I was at uni.
"She was always very supportive, (still tells me to eat my vegetables!) and my employment there helped me get a job with Dymocks in Armidale, and more recently, in Melbourne City."
CHARGE BUSH RATES AND OTHER WISHES ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT LIST. Report by ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
Mining and pastoral properties will be rated, and there will be headleases and subleases in towns on Aboriginal land if the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory has its way.
The association is circulating a "wish list" in the lead-up to the Territory election, calling on political parties to commit to these and other changes.
There should be no legislative barriers to local government rating of pastoral and mining leases, argues the association.
Nor should there be competition between local government and the Territory Government for the same revenue. It sees the calculation of pastoral property lease payments using local government rating methods as an example of such competition.
However, rates alone are not an adequate source of revenue, argues the association, "particularly in light of the responsibilities that local government is increasingly being asked to perform".
The association thus demands a fairer share of taxation revenue. "Both the Territory and Australian governments are gaining access to revenue which is in line with the growth of the Australian economy whereas local government is facing a worsening situation," says the association.
Community government councils, with more even limited revenue raising opportunities open to them, rely heavily on the NT Operational Subsidy provided by the Territory Government.
The subsidy has not been growing to any extent, says the association, and it needs to if councils are to adequately take on the responsibilities expected of them.
The association is concerned that local governments with operations on Aboriginal land have no security of land tenure.
The solution it sees is standard land use agreements for all councils on Aboriginal land, providing for a town "headlease", with individual "subleases" for single allotments.
Local government would seek subleases for the land over which it has responsibility, such as garbage dumps, roads, council offices and houses, depots, and so on.
The association also calls for adequate town planning processes for remote towns, not in place at present despite many of them growing at a rate faster than most of the major towns.
This often leads to "mistakes made over simple matters like standards not being followed with road widths, the absence of suitable drainage or the positioning of industrial sites next to housing" with the need for "costly remedial work in the future".
As local government is a major player in the provision of housing, the association also calls for representation on the Indigenous Housing Authority of the Northern Territory and be a party to bilateral agreements on housing.
As well, the association seeks commitment from political parties to make concerted efforts to obtain more funds for Indigenous housing in the Northern Territory.
The Territory Government should meet all costs associated with the provision of Aboriginal Community Police Officers, argues the association. At present local governments must contribute to the cost of employing them by providing housing, office accommodation, support and vehicles."This practice is discriminatory because communities with police stations or in major urban centres … are not required to fund these resources. Local government seeks an end to this cost shifting."
The association also calls for:
• a "road alliance" between the Territory Government and the association, to work towards an equitable transfer of funds and responsibility so that local government can adequately look after more roads in the future.
• increased funding for infrastructure development, such as schools, hospitals, clinics, stormwater drainage, water, sewerage, electricity, bridges and arterial roads.
• more transparent planning in the identification and allocation of resources for such developments.
• programs for providing staff housing for council employees in remote areas.
• increased funding for public library services and an end to cost shifting in this area.
• a thorough planning process and a reasonable timeframe for implementation involving the constitution of new larger local governments in the Northern Territory. "[The association] wants to see councils constituted as local governments (and not any other form of incorporation) and it wants them constituted in a reasonable time frame (not the 26 years it has taken to date to constitute community government councils)."
It reiterates its call for container deposit legislation similar to that operating in South Australia.
"Local government does not support the Territory Government or councils being signatories to the proposed National Packaging Covenant 2005 – 2010. Local government considers the Covenant falls well short of achieving suitable objectives involving the lifecycle management of packaging products."
The NT Planning Scheme proposed under the Planning Act should have strong local government input.
The association also wants to be able to charge developers for a wider range of contributions than is currently allowed under NT Planning regulations, as development often requires local government to provide a range of services and facilities beyond what can reasonably be financed from property rates.
Such capacity already exists with local governments in Queensland and New South Wales.The association calls for legislative review on a regular basis. Councils regulate activities in towns through by-laws yet many councils do not have them, or are waiting for them to become law.
It also wants better consultative arrangements to do with changes to legislation impacting on local government.
RATE CASH LOST. Report by ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
Vast areas around urban centres in the Territory remain unincorporated and land rates uncollected, while in every other state in Australia local government rates most properties, including cattle stations and mines, under a shire system.
The Local Government Association of the Northern Territory are now demanding the way be open to rating rural properties (see separate story this page).
In Alice Springs only homes within the municipality are subject to the local government rates.
By way of comparison, local government in Boulia covers 62,000 square kilometres of rural land, on the border of Queensland and Northern Territory. The council collects $485,000 a year from rural rates (minus 15 per cent for timely payment).
Boulia council charges two rates – the urban rate for the 300 units of land in town is charged at 21c in the dollar based on unimproved capital value. Services include water, sewerage, rubbish and emergency services.
The rural rate is charged at 3c in the dollar. This rate covers basic services like road maintenance, disaster relief and signage. The majority of the 300 rural lots are pastoral leases, with a couple of mining exploration leases.
Territory Minister for Local Government, John Ah Kit, says local and regional governance mechanisms will "inevitably" cover the whole of the Territory in the long term – "but it is something that must be voluntary and after proper consultation with all stakeholders".
"It would simply be un-Territorian to force people into governance arrangements that do not produce real benefits at the grass root level," says Mr Ah Kit.
"The Nyirranggulung Mardulk Ngadberre Regional Authority in the lands east of Katherine, for example, is moving to achieving just such an objective. At this stage they won't be rating mining and pastoral land.
"The general principle behind expanding local government into covering the whole of the Territory is that it be voluntary—not coerced.
"In many areas, for example, this will involve marrying the diverse interests for remote Aboriginal communities, pastoral properties, mining operations and tourism ventures.
"In the meantime, it is a continuing disappointment that the Commonwealth refuses to remove the inequities we face in roads funding, despite bipartisan support in parliament.
"The government and the opposition, along with groups such as the cattlemen are campaigning with the Commonwealth to remove the discrimination on remote areas road funding so that the NT gets funded equitably on roads."
Large areas of unincorporated land in the Territory means it misses out on an estimated $20m a year in road funding paid by Canberra to local governments.
Opposition leader, Denis Burke, does not support rating rural areas.
STRUGGLESays Mr Burke: "Many local governments are struggling to deal with the areas they've got. I don't believe the general population would support increased rates anyway.
"In terms of [roads] funding we need to be looked at under a different operation from the rest of the country.
"The NT government used to get funding from the Commonwealth for road maintenance. But when Labor were in power they changed the modelling – Warren Snowdon was instrumental in changing it, to poor effect.
"The Commonwealth under Labor gave funding through community councils. But community councils don't use the money effectively for unincorporated roads. We've been lobbying to give the money back to the NT Government, which is able to use it more efficiently, using economies of scale.
"For example, a council might only have one grader or none so it has to use contractors. The NT Government can use its purchasing power to spend the money more effectively."
Executive director of the Cattlemen's Association, Stuart Kenny, says rating rural properties "would have a devastating affect on the cattle industry.
"We already pay a lease to the NT government which has been increased by 200 per cent since the Martin Government came to power.
"The continued push for rating has been to access more road funding. But the argument for this is untrue. There is no benefit in better services for the rural sector by putting another tier of government and increased taxes over the most critical and significant regional industries in the NT.
"We would strongly oppose any move to rate the pastoral estate."
Curtin Springs pastoralist, Peter Severin, doesn't mince words: "The bludgers in town just think this is an easy way to get more money out of people.
"I wonder how many council people have gone outside Alice Springs to see what we do out here? [Rating rural properties] would be a hardship on the people out here."
THE RESONANCE OF RUST. Review by KIERAN FINNANE.
The beauty of the accidental or the haphazard; the richness of the encounter between objects and nature, including time; the revelation of the close-up view: these are some of the qualities brought to our attention by Deborah Clarke's exhibition, tRust, showing at Watch This Space.
Clarke is obviously taken with the aesthetics of the degenerative process: the way it works its magic on duco colours, subtly paring them back; the organic quality of rusting, its suggestiveness particularly of landscape, its elaborate textures.
This is her 'paint' as she creates digital images printed onto watercolour paper and canvas. The work in a material sense is thus a step away from what has occurred to the car body in situ, but through the ability of the photographic process to 'blow up' detail she becomes deeply involved with it.
One of Clarke's achievements has been to see a picture, the ghost of a story, in the most accidental detail. An example of this is Resurrection – Orroroo (pictured). Two holes in the metal surface look like vacant eye sockets, a look that does not see. Above and below them are two ornaments, perhaps once part of the car model name or logo. One is a star, in the shape of a Star of David; the other is a cross. Together with the aura of decay, they create an image resonant of the millennia-long conflict between Christians and Jews.
Another achievement has been to discern across the whole carcass a distinct aesthetic, which allows her to develop a cohesive sequence of images derived from it. Contrast, for example, the Port Noura Channel bus series on the southern gallery wall with the Pacoota car series on the northern wall. The images from the bus share an austere elegance and pallor, while the Pacoota images have in common an organic complexity and richness of colour.
What is fascinating, and it has obviously intrigued Clarke, is that the car bodies pull into themselves the qualities of the surrounding landscape. The bus lies in country some 90 kilometres north of Coober Pedy: you could have guessed as much from the pale pinks and mauves, the airiness of Clarke's sequence of images. The Pacoota car, on the other hand, lies deep in bushland in the West MacDonnells and on its surface Clarke has discovered an astonishing array of images that are virtually emblematic of this region.
On the whole this is a rewarding show. A reservation I have is that the printing onto canvas seems to muddy colour, mask fine detail, and the texture of the canvas itself seems to pull in a different direction from the evoked textures of the car bodies. Painterliness is not inherently a plus and I'm not convinced of the advantage of this technique.
Clarke will sit the show herself on weekends and welcomes the opportunity to discuss her work with viewers. (Gallery hours, Wed-Sun, 10-4).
JUDY BARKER: "I DON'T MIND BEING TAKEN FOR A FELLA." Profile by ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
Judy Barker has helped build dozens of houses across Australia and in Alice Springs – yet most nights she sleeps in the silver bullet caravan parked permanently next door to her business, Barker Hume Homes, which she co-runs with husband Phill.
"We work such long days it doesn't seem worth going home," she says affably.
Nine employees plus Judy (pictured) build the steel floor, wall and truss systems that make up the business. Originally set up as a building firm, the company had to diversify to stay alive.
"It was hard to compete for the scarce number of houses being built, mainly due to the short supply of land," explains Judy. "But we recognised early on the potential for supplying pre-fabricated building systems to the local builders, most of whom are bush-based with a couple located in town."
It's a business Judy understands thoroughly – she began as a builder's labourer, today working in the factory as well running the office. Judy also runs her own sideline business as a draftswoman, doing design and plans directly for clients or on behalf of builders. She says she gets a kick out of seeing her work spread around town.
"I love to come along and have a sticky beak as buildings go through the different stages – what they've done with colours, landscaping and just seeing how the design comes together in reality.
"I get a bit chuffed to think we started from a patch of dirt."
Judy is a woman who thrives on hard work and for whom the term "multi-skilled" could have been coined. Beginning her working life as a secretary from Adelaide, her next job was getting her hands dirty in outback Australia.
"When I wanted to go back to work after having my son, Jason, it was right at the time of the computer revolution and my skills were out of date after the three year break."
At the same time, Phill, who had been in the building trade all his working life, was finding it harder to employ tradesmen willing to work in remote areas. "So I joined in!" says Judy.
She learnt that there are things you mustn't mind on your first day as a builder's labourer – "the colourful language and being mistaken for a fella!"
"There was the initial shock of the dust, the heat, the flies, learning how to use the tools.
"But after a while it becomes familiar," she smiles. "And at least Phill and I got to see each other more, rather than him going off for jobs for long periods of time."
After a couple of years working in town and in rural South Australia, her first big bush contract was on the Georgina River, near the Queensland and Northern Territory boarder. "It was a long project – several houses and a school. A huge learning curve for me but fun too."
Judy is matter of fact about bringing up her young son in the bush.
"Jason was four by now. We lived in a van on the community for several months. We went to Mount Isa shopping – 400km away!"The family worked in the bush for five years, travelling throughout the country.
"Mostly we did domestic housing in country towns, stations and in mining communities. We towed the van around or sometimes the farms we were working on put us up.
"When we were working South Australia some of the mines back then were male-only so I wasn't allowed to work. I didn't mind, I took it as a chance to put my feet up.
"I could write a book on what it's like out there – and I'm going to some day!" laughs Judy.
"We were working in the Flinders Ranges once when we got flooded in. Phill and I were running around with the farmer, rescuing sheep. Jason liked it there because he got to watch the shearers. He's been out on bore runs, traditional hunting trips, he's been in working orchards, chook farms, all sorts.
"At Kadina there was a mouse plague. They got into everything – in the truck, our shoes, my hair. And in the building materials – when that house was handed over I'm sure the client didn't realise they were getting their own mouse population built in.
"While Jason was young enough, we enrolled him in local schools sometimes, or he did correspondence. I think he learnt more being out in the real world, particularly at that primary age. But I started to get concerned about his education as he neared high school age, and we wanted to settle again in one spot."
And so the move to Alice Springs.
"We'd been back and forth a few times for various jobs, and it seemed a good place to make a fresh start," explains Judy.
Throughout their time in the bush and now Alice, Judy and Phill have worked, lived and played together. So what's it like to have the same man as your husband, boss and now business partner?
"Everything I know I got from Phill. And while I do the administrative stuff here on my own, all the technical and structural aspects are for Phill's expertise. He has his department and I have mine, and in fact we actually work side by side less now than before.
"We've learnt to separate work from our private lives and we each have our own hobbies and interests."
Today business is doing brilliantly. The workshop is bustling with workers, and in the office, fax and phone alert regularly as Nikky the dog welcomes visitors.
Builders start arriving to pick up their supplies at 6.30am and work doesn't stop until late into the night.
"I work long days but they're satisfying days," smiles Judy.
"We've expanded the business now, and it's starting to do very well after a lot of years to get it off the ground.
"We only just manage to keep up sometimes. We've built a bigger shed and have extra staff now – we've added steel joinery to our range of services and it's gone well.
"The diversification helps carry us over the quiet times – much of what the company does is for government-funded jobs and the work tends to quieten when the spending year finishes and funding stops.
"Government decisions can affect the building industry too – land releases, interest rates, home buyers assistance packages and so on. Suddenly it's hectic again – typical of building industry, feast or famine."
Is it hard being a woman in an industry of mostly men?
"No. Not once they get to know you and figure out you're not completely ignorant. It can be an advantage sometimes, for instance when you're dealing with that young couple looking to design and build their first home. You can look at the project from two points of view – the builder's one and a mum's one. You can talk to the men about the nuts and bolts and the women about their kitchen design or what wardrobe set up will suit their kids' rooms.
"The expectation is that everyone is male in this industry. But the other day I went to see a local chippie on site and saw a woman on a scaffold hanging gyprock. The electrical contractors who do a lot of work here on our machines have a woman electrician. And we have a woman working with us here in the fabricating shop.
"The more women in the field the better I reckon. At least being called a bloke doesn't happen to me often now."
LETTERS: Mayor debate is defunct.
Sir,– After reading about the call from certain members of the council for Fran Kilgariff to step aside, a simple thought struck me. How much of this hoo-hah is caused by political affiliations?
Would it not be more beneficial for all concerned to concentrate on what the Alice Springs Town Council has on its plate in providing for the town, rather than taking up reams of newsprint and who knows what amount of electronic media time, on what is essentially a frivolous matter?
I believe we are still living in a democracy and as such we have the ability to amend / produce /implement laws with constituents' wishes in mind. Would it not be far easier for councillors Stewart, Lambley, Habib et al to simply put forth a motion amending the by-law that simply states that should any council member nominate for pre-selection or run for another public office, then in the best interests of the town they will immediately step down and have no further dealings as a council member?
I cannot comment on the other councillors, but would the cries for Fran's head be as loud if it was another CLP member looking to further their political aspirations as they have done previously? Probably not. Does the majority of the population think it's an issue? Probably not.
ALP should pay for by-election
Sir,– Now that the grandstanding effort to hobble our Mayor has been given the righteous flick, who among us is not relieved that for awhile at least we will continue to benefit from her good service?
My complaint is with the ALP. Like head-hunters from the wrong side of the Berrimah Line you raid this town. You show no respect, not for prior commitments and not for current responsibilities. Your action is a slap across the face of all local government.
And why make this move now, less than one year into a four year contract? Other equally tempting chances will come along. Warren will max out his Parliamentary pension in, I think, '06 or '07 and may decide to lay the burden down.
There will be another NT election in 2009.
The Alice Springs Town Council is a cash-strapped body, and by-elections cost good money. So I am asking the ALP if you do come away from Greatorex with a win and shoot through with our Mayor, will you guarantee the $40,000 it will cost Alice to replace her?
How we can make poverty history
Sir,– The powerful 8.7 magnitude earthquake, which struck near Sumatra this week further, illustrates the need for Australia and its aid agencies to continue to work towards ending poverty in our region.
The latest quake has ensured disaster relief in the region continues to be seriously overtaxed and will hold back the economic recovery, which is so badly needed after the Boxing Day tsunami. The Sumatra quake has intensified the spotlight now focused squarely on aid organizations, such as World Vision, as they endeavor to deliver aid and help rebuild the communities that were devastated by last December's tsunami.
In responding so generously and in overwhelming numbers to the Boxing Day Tsunami appeal, the Australian public has invested us with a 'sacred trust' to effectively and efficiently respond to the great humanitarian need that exits in the regions impacted by the tsunami.
The fact that so many Australians gave to tsunami appeals means that for the first time we have the moral imagination and possibly the political will to respond to poverty and suffering beyond our shores.
In a response as complex as this there will inevitably be mistakes. Every effort must be made to effectively and efficiently help those affected and aid in rebuilding communities.But we must resist the pressure to spend the money quickly, so quickly that it will not be used effectively.
I appeal to Australians to stay with us for the long haul.The stakes are incredibly high. If we can effectively deliver the humanitarian response we all want to see, we can perhaps take a first step toward enlisting the support of Australians to make poverty history in our world.
Tim Costello CEO
World Vision Aust.
Sir,– As a Pom who last visited Alice Springs in 1993, it is with some diffidence that I refer you to the "Share our tall story?" article (Alice News, Mar 16) and Mark Crummy's reference to the 'mulga walk' around the Rock.
When I circumnavigated the Rock during my visit, the walk was known as the Mala Walk. Has this changed since my visit or is 'mulga' a different walk?
Apart from that seeming peccadillo, I have absolutely no complaints about your marvellously entertaining and informative newspaper. Long may you publish.
Peter J Browne
ED – Thank you for your letter – this quote was taken directly from Mark Crummy, from the Northern Territory Tourist Commission.
Sir,– I may be on an impossible mission, but feel that it is worth trying. In 1970 my girlfriend's father, Norman Orton, was transferred by his employer, E Systems, from Dallas, Texas to Alice Springs.
Glenna and I were sweethearts since the seventh grade, and after they moved we wrote to each other every week. Late in 1973 she wrote that they were finally coming home (although she acted a bit apprehensive because she had grown to love your country). I was saving a surprise for when they arrived home – I was going to ask her to marry me!
On January 30, 1974, on final approach to Pago Pago International Airport, Pan Am flight 806 crashed short of the runway in a tropical storm, killing Glenna, her mom, dad, two sisters, and 92 other passengers and crew.
I found out about it in the newspaper, and spent the next six months in a state of shock.
I never knew any details until the arrival of the internet, and I still do not know where the Ortons were ultimately laid to rest. But I will find them.
It has been 31 years since the tragedy, but I still have a burning desire to know all that I can about Glenna's life in Alice, and the events leading up to the crash and its aftermath.
I would be interested in corresponding with anyone who might have known the Ortons, or who might have gone to school with Glenna. She was only 19 when she died. Thank you very much for your time.
Sir,– All past members of 106 Bty are welcome to attend the 106 Fd Bty RAA Reunion. The dinner is open to all gunners past and present.
It will be held July 29 to 31 in Gympie, Queensland. Phone Peter 0754 837591 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peter J. Tibbett
DIVING BLOCKS - MENTAL BLOCK? By ALICE SPRINGS NEWS reporter ELISABETH ATTWOOD who has swum the English Channel.
When I arrived last year in the hot desert town of Alice Springs, I was overjoyed to find a fantastic 50m pool oasis and joined the active masters swimming club that trains there, Alice Aussi. I have been a competitive pool and open water swimmer in England for 14 years, taking part in national meets and also a swim across the Channel from England to France.
I am really disappointed that the Alice Springs Town Council is refusing to put back all the starting blocks in the town pool.
The decision to only put back three blocks because the pool is deemed too shallow has been made by people who know absolutely nothing about swimming. It's a knee-jerk reaction to legal advice without listening to reason or advice from the sport's governing bodies.
The Council says it has a duty of care not to allow swimmers to dive into a pool that is less than 1.35m deep.
Of course we respect the huge responsibility that the council has to ensure the community is safe.
But the hard fact is there is no agreed standard of depth that pools in Australia have to adhere to by law.
Further, members of the Alice Springs Swimming Club are fully covered by insurance – releasing the Council from any responsibility should anything happen.
Pools across the country allow competitive swimmers to dive from starting blocks into shallower water than ours. Adelaide's pool is only three cm deeper than ours yet it holds international meets and the Australian Championships.
The national and international governing organisations for the sport – Australian Swimming and FINA – have both said the starting blocks should stay.
They understand that swimmers are trained from when they first start to swim to dive in a shallow manner – on an average we only go approximately 600cm under water, nowhere near the bottom of the pool. Diving is always done under the supervision of a qualified coach.
My coach, Max O' Callaghan, has been coaching here for over 20 years and has never seen a competitive swimmer have an accident from diving.
Troy Taylor, the men's captain of the Alice Springs Swimming Club, made the point at the Council meeting last week that swimmers from his club have dived off those blocks 3.5 million times over 30 years.
In Alice Springs, swimmers succeed in the sport against the odds – we're competing against others who have more than one pool to train in, a choice of clubs to join and far more opportunities to compete in meets.
By taking away the blocks, the council is making the challenge even tougher. You may as well close down the sports shops so we can't buy swimsuits or goggles.
People in Alice Springs rely on that pool. Young swimmers, masters, triathletes and other sportspeople dedicate so much spare time training twice a day and hundreds of kilometres a week to pursue their goals.
Parents of swimmers too, spend as much time on poolside as we do and considerable sums of money on expenses including club fees.
Alice Springs has produced outstanding athletes including some of Australia's national champions.
They have done so despite the system, not through it.
Please council, don't make achieving things in swimming any harder than it is already.
Australia is meant to be the world's leading sports nation. You, in the heart of Australia, should be more sporting over this issue.
Every day was like Sunday. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
Sometimes ordinary life can be amazing, but most of the time it's not. There's no point disguising the fact or putting on some kind of happy-clappy faćade. Between the exciting bits of life are big helpings of the equivalent of semolina pudding. You have to work your way through the bland stuff that sticks in your teeth until you get to the strawberry jam in the middle.
I was lucky over the Easter weekend because I hardly had to work at all. Instead I enjoyed the wonderful feeling of sinking into an armchair in a sunny room with a pile of my favourite magazines under one hand and two litres of healthy protein-rich fruit smoothie in a blender bowl in the other.
I guess I'm just an armchair fitness enthusiast. I would lift weights, but I'm far too busy drinking the smoothie.
The four days of Easter weekend I remember as one long Sunday with sleep breaks every sixteen hours. I did gingerly venture out for short excursions to buy more magazines or to mooch around hardware stores peering at black plastic pipe and little strips of miniature plants like beetroot and broccoli.
But apart from that, I laid back and thought deeply about a lot of things and I played with my children.
I know, as a way to spend your free time, it must sound scintillating. Well, what did you expect? Do you want me to say that I discovered an unknown fossil that will change the face of archeological knowledge of Central Australia?
Or I became drinking buddies with a group of exotic blonde Dutch backpackers who invited me to grow organic tomatoes on their smallholding near Maastricht?
Or that I abseiled down Mount Gillen wearing only K-Mart boxers?
None of that happened. Instead, I rearranged my hydroponics into a more space-saving configuration. I listened to repeats on Radio National about horrifying subjects like genetic modification and euthanasia. And I painted some inanimate objects like concrete floors and pergolas.
I didn't paint them as in depict them on canvas. What I did was spread discount paint on them. The experience was unspectacular, but it was alright.Isn't it strange how you can spend a satisfying long weekend doing exactly what you feel like doing and then have anxieties about whether you spent all that time in the best way?
Maybe anxious people of a certain age just get into a rut where their every waking hour has to be dedicated to achieving some goal or another. All this frantic running around from Monday to Friday. Then slam on the brakes and get into 'relax mode' on your days off.
For me it's impossible unless someone gives me a timetable that tells me when I am supposed to be relaxing.
Worse still, how about people that just have to spend weekends working on their 'legacy', that mysterious gift of wisdom and achievement left for future generations to admire. How many fifty-something men must have written books about their lifetime experience of quantity surveying or supply chain management that nobody has read except themselves when they did the proof-reading of the final draft. A waste of time, but at least it made them feel better.
Anxiety about inactivity is self-perpetuating. Get back to work on Tuesday and you're not supposed to say "I sat in an armchair, watched a DVD that I had seen before, drank milkshake and played video games with the kids". Instead, you have to muster a 10-minute story for your workmates about remote campsites that they have never heard of and encounters with desert wildlife that make 'Anaconda' seem like a stroll in the woods with Bambi.
Well, forget it. I would rather that every day was like Sunday.
RISKS AND RESPONSIBILITY: NOBODY'S FAULT. COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.
On a daily basis I have to mediate between my children when they get into fights and arguments about little things like toys, singing and the breakfast cereal.
When a toy breaks after a tug of war it is always the other child's fault.
When one child is singing another one will claim it gives them a headache and when the cereal box accidentally empties all over the kitchen bench after a struggle about who should be allowed to pour his cereal first no one is willing to take responsibility.
We make conscious decisions to do things and then look for scapegoats when things go wrong, even relinquishing responsibility for our own feelings and blaming others for the way we feel. I'm trying to teach my children that they choose to feel upset or angry and that they are responsible for their actions.
At times I blame the weather, my family and even Alice Springs for how I feel but deep down I know that is my choice not their fault.
I think I worry more about my children than my parents did about me and I don't think the world was a safer place back then.
As a child I played with my brother and cousins at my auntie's place on an island. We were not allowed to leave the house without our lifejackets on.
We could not be watched all the time nor could they fence off the sea so we had to obey that one rule. We used to do all sorts of dangerous things, climb trees, ride our bicycles at top speed down steep hills without helmets.
Be gone for hours exploring the woods and dirt roads of the neighbourhood and we did not get lost or seriously hurt. We were taught about danger and risks and how to live with them.
Living is a risky business but we cannot protect our children or ourselves by living in padded cells wrapped in cotton wool.
How are we going to experience life if we protect ourselves from it completely?
If we stay inside to avoid the sun and skin cancer, stay out of the pool to avoid drowning, don't go to a restaurant because we might get food poisoning, and don't meet new people because we might be rejected.
It is worth looking around at what risks are accepted. We require minimal supervision for a concrete skate park, but are almost paralysed by the 'risks' of supervised competition swimming practice.
If the object is to keep people alive and safe from serious bodily harm it is interesting that we still have an open speed limit on Territory roads.
We need to identify and evaluate risks and how to deal with them and to share responsibility.
The risks of huge liability claims are causing councils, governments and smaller organisations to cancel activities and events because the insurance premiums are too high.
If we allow this to continue, we may end up living in a world ruled by insurance companies and be unable to enjoy community events that enrich our lives.
Perhaps some of our risk management strategies need to be re-evaluated.
Our community will no doubt come up with a sensible and practical solution for the diving block dilemma.
It is not a complicated problem. It would be a shame if a town with our resourcefulness ended up with a 50 metre, eight-lane paddling pool with inflatable edges.
WORLD GAME KICKS OFF. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
The World Game celebrated the launch of winter sport on Sunday with a heart starter to a big 11 a side season to come.
The charity day at Ross Park allowed the youngsters to strut their stuff in the morning session. At high noon the Alice Allstars took on the Referees in a friendly that will go a long way towards developing a sense of respect and understanding by all players during the year.To hear the likes of Keith Pearson keeping the dream alive by claiming a hat trick, and David Hood proclaiming the fact that he was the most valuable player, verified the value of having such a game. The 5-3 score in the Referees' favour was a fitting result.
The day finished with a game between Vikings and Federal who had fought out the seven a side premiership in the week previous. In this Charity Shield match the Vikings were able to again claim the ascendancy when they scored two goals to one.The final of the Seven a Side competition was even more testing. The Vikings had the measure of Federal all season, however there was speculation from the kick off that the final could end with the underdogs on top.
The multi skilled Rory Hood put paid to the expectation, however, as he slotted a winning goal in the seventeenth minute. Hood ensured the 1-0 victory and then was personally rewarded by being named the A Grade's best and fairest, and along with Simon Danby, the competition's highest goal scorer.
In B Grade Buckley's proved their worth as minor premiers by holding out the ASSA, 2-1. Sam Spiroulos and Stuart Holloway sealed the game with goals, while it was Willie Devlin who scored for the ASSA. The concept of developing juniors through the ranks is sound and already paying dividends for Alice Springs Football. The leading goal scorer in B Grade for the season was Ashley Duddington, with Joel Goldring declared best and fairest.
The Stormbirds took home silverware in the C Grade competition when they proved too good for Alice Power. Tom Dutton and Michael Riley each threaded a goal into the net to give their side a 2-1 victory, with Zac Harvey scoring for the Power. Harvey was later rewarded as leading goal scorer for the season while Dutton was recipient of the best and fairest accolade.
The Junior Division saw Memo Verdi take home the flag after a 2-0 win over the Brat pack. Peter McGrath scored two goals and was voted the most valuable player in the final. Across the competition, however, it was Lachlan Farquharson who was the leading goal scorer and best and fairest.
Alice Springs Football will now begin its eleven a side season on April 23.
AUSSIE RULES, CENTRE STYLE. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
It may be a later than usual start to the AFL season, but the level of enthusiasm for the Australian code is at an all time high.On Thursday and Friday of last week the League's Junior Development Officer, Kevin Bruce, launched an entree to the game for youngsters from bush communities. Six teams from Yuendumu to Docker River gathered on Traeger Park to engage in a junior Lightning Carnival.
The Magpies, like Yuendumu's senior side of late, took home the silverware, but there is still much to look forward to in the junior ranks.
While resting between games the aspiring stars took in extra "knowledge" from the Education, Health and Police Departments.
This cooperation between government and the League, if continued, will enhance the chances of successfully introducing the values of Kickstart and Auskick to remote communities.After the dust had settled on Friday, NT Thunder coach, Damien Hale showed the value of having a coach who knows and accepts the whole Territory, when a development squad played a trial match. For many years Centralians, and especially those from remote areas, have found it tough to gain recognition at the elite level. The day when Sherman Spencer, playing as a representative of the communities league, kicked more goals than the whole of the Thunder, and yet was not considered to join the Territory side, is a standout example of past practices.
In 2005 one can confidently expect that Hale will recognise talent across the board and create pathways for potentially elite players.
With positives such as these, and the professional approach being injected into the local administration of the sport (evidenced by the success of the recent Richmond versus Fremantle clash despite severe impediments) things look rosy for this year.On the weekend the fruits of sound preparation will be unravelled with the staging of the Lightning Carnival. Already over 20 teams have nominated for the right to play on Traeger Park, and indeed an all up figure of 26 nominated sides can confidently be expected.
Last year history was set in the final when Yuendumu withstood a late charge from Santa Teresa, signalling that success in this carnival is not restricted to the presumed pre-eminence of CAFL clubs.
The carnival is the pipe opener to the season itself and round one begins on Saturday week with a replay of the 2004 final between West and South. In the curtain raiser Rovers will face Pioneer. On Sunday Yuendumu and Ltyentye Apurte will feature after Ti Tree and McDonnell Districts begin their season.During the year, a Town versus Country game is scheduled for May 21, while finals will begin at the end of August.
TOP FIELDS, GOOD RACING. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
The Alice Springs Cup Carnival looms and with top fields accompanying good racing, it seems all stakeholders will enjoy an April to remember.
In the Hourglass jewellers Trobis Two Year Old Plate over 1000 metres, Razor One with Craig Moon on board went to the line a two length winner over the fellow equal favourite The Tailer, with Whysall Road filling the placings a further two lengths in arrears.
At their last start Razor One had the edge over The Tailer and Saturday's performance showed it was no fluke.
The effort of Whysall Road was impressive as he gave ground at the jump and came home nicely.
The Dwayne Dunn Handicap also over 1000 metres renewed the faith connections had in the Pioneer Park flyer Scotro.
The top weight benefited from the weight claim by apprentice Matthew Hart and led in traditional style, having enough in the tank in the run home to defeat Darrowby Livewire by a length and three quarters. Galveston Storm did enough to accept the third place cheque, while the favourite Earth Legend let its connections down, finishing in fourth place.
The 1000 metre Paul Gatt Class Two Handicap provided something of a surprise when Super Slider saluted and paid $ 21.The four year old gelding Smartacus led and looked to have the race well in its keeping. Late in the running, however, the Ken Rogerson trained Super Slider found plenty and bounced out of the pack to peg back for the leader close to the line.
Super Slider went on to win by three quarters of a length, with Smartacus holding Terry Gillett's Mookta Gold at bay by a length and three quarters.
Last start winner and favourite Picayune gave the Racing Minister and fellow connections more joy when it took the honours in the Joe Bowditch Class Four Handicap over 1200 metres.
Kings Alley piloted the field and looked to have the race under control before Picayune made a last minute surge to claim the lead 50 metres from the line.
From there Barry Huppatz allowed the winner to stride to the post and record a length and a half win. Kings Alley finished second, with Orso a further two lengths away in third place.
At the last meeting conducted by the Alice Springs Turf Club Shrewd Ace came from the clouds to defeat Marzotto. It paid well on the day and smart punters didn't forget the performance. In the Johnathon D'Arcy Trobis Three Year Old Class Four Handicap over 1400 metres on Saturday the three year old gelding repeated the dose, albeit paying $6.
Kappa and Rattletrap set the pace and Shrewd Ace settled back in the field tracking Marzotto.
By the turn however Marzotto and Shrewd Ace had joined in the charge, and in the straight it was a ding-dong dual between the two.
Shrewd Ace got to the line but by a mere long head over Marzotto, with the favourite Kappa filling the placings, a length and three quarters in arrears.
The six event card was completed with the running of the Simon Price Special Conditions Plate over 1400 metres. In this event the Dick Leech trained Prince Paree snuck under the bookies' binoculars in starting at $ 21.
The seven year old settled back in the field allowing Trafford to show the way. In the straight, however, it was a different matter as the strong gelding surged to a two length win over Trafford, with Acela three quarters of a length further back. The race favourite Song Mekong could only manage a mid-field finish.
The races on Saturday were named in honour of jockeys invited to the Alice Springs Carnival that is now only a fortnight away.
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