FLYING DOCTOR "MANTLE OF SAFETY" BECOMES A CROP TOP EVERY NIGHT. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service has three aircraft in Alice Springs but only one is available at night, a money saving move by the NT Department of Health that may have cost Canadian tourist and holiday worker Cynthia Ching her life.
She suffered third degree burns to more than half of her body on the evening of April 15 last year (Alice News, March 30).
It took 14 hours to get her to the burns unit of the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Under the contract with the department, the RFDS has only one flight crew available at night, and that was busy with another evacuation when Ms Ching, 29, was injured.
The department has still not responded to several questions put to it by the Alice Springs News three weeks ago.
But the Adelaide burns unit - one of the best in the world - has said the highest possible standard of treatment in the first few hours is crucial to the survival of people with serious burns injuries.
John Setchell, the Health Services Manager of the RFDS, says the service works under instructions of the health department's District Medical Officer (DMO), working at the Alice Springs remote health unit.
On the fateful night the only available RFDS aircraft, a Pilatus PC-12, was flying from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock to retrieve a child with pneumonia when it was "tasked" at 11pm to pick up Ms Ching, diverting on the way back, "if the condition of the child allowed it," according to Dr Stechell.
At that time the plane would have been only a few minutes' flying time from Kings Creek Station, just 50 km to the west of the flight track.
Ms Ching had been given first aid at scene of the accident by a local nurse who, according to Rafael Ching, the victim's father, had informed the DMO of Ms Ching's critical condition,.
She was finally loaded onto the aircraft at 1.15am the next morning and taken to Alice Springs.
Dr Setchell says the RFDS was asked at 6am to fly Ms Ching to Adelaide.
She was loaded onto the same PC-12 four hours later and arrived in Adelaide at 1pm on April 16.
During the next six weeks the shockingly injured woman lurched from one crisis to the next.
There was not enough skin to graft.
Parts of her body had to be removed in a bid to stop infections.
It all failed.
She died on May 27.
There was no doctor on board the flight retrieving the child and Ms Ching, only the pilot and a flight nurse working for the RFDS.
Dr Setchell says it's the DMO's call whether or not a doctor is dispatched.
All a health department spokesman would say is it that it is normal routine to fly patients to Alice Springs first "to be stabilized".
The PC-12 is equipped with sophisticated medical equipment, as well as radios allowing "remote consultation".
On the flight from Kings Creek Station to Alice Springs, says Dr Setchell, Ms Ching was given intravenous fluid and analgesia (morphine).
Questions the Alice News wants to raise with the department include these:-
Was this an occasion for following "normal routine"?
Could Ms Ching have been flown to Adelaide from King's Creek?
The flight time would have been three hours, getting her to top level care some 10 hours earlier.
Could the child have been picked up on the way from Kings Creek Station to Adelaide - a minor diversion - and also taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital?
What would have happened to either critically ill person if their locations had been hundreds of kilometers apart? How long had the DMO been on duty?
ALP CANDIDATE IS IN MORE HOT WATER. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Assets that couldn't be located, CDEP time sheets that weren't signed and purchases that were made without authorisation are among the irregularities disclosed in the audit report, leaked exclusively to the Alice Springs News, of the Papunya Community Council during 2003-04.
The report also refers to "grants and contributions received in the current and prior periods which were obtained on the condition that they be expended on specific purposes, but which are not yet expended in accordance with those conditions".
During the report period the current Labor candidate for MacDonnell, Alison Anderson, was the regional commissioner of ATSIC, the council's main funding body, and her husband, Steve Hanley, was the council's CEO.
Information in the audit by the accounting firm Deloitte raises questions about the CDEP "jobs for the dole" scheme, suggesting that there were some 50 participants.
However, sitting MLA for MacDonnell John Elferink (CLP) says his own observations indicate that there are no more than four or five CDEP employees, and people on the community he has spoken to confirmed this.
Mr Elferink says the financial affairs of the council, and possibly other Aboriginal councils in the region, should be subjected to an independent Federal investigation.
The audit report also indicates that some $150,000 of ATSIC money earmarked for Warumpi Arts was spent elsewhere, and gives no details to whom $179,000 - nearly $100,000 more than budgeted - was paid in "artists payments".
The arts company, representing contemporary Papunya dot painters, the work of whose forebears is now sold around the world for six figure prices, was the only productive venture in the impoverished community, otherwise dependent on welfare payments.
Warumpi Arts has now folded.
Mr Hanley, who has since been replaced as CEO by order of the NT Department of Local Government, could not be contacted last weekend.
But, when asked earlier about another ATSIC project in Papunya, the grassing of a football oval, funded in 2001 and still not completed (Alice News, April 6), he told the Alice News he would make no comment
Meanwhile Ms Anderson's phone number is clearly a secret closely guarded by the Territory Labor Party, her status as the endorsed candidate notwithstanding: The Alice News has several times asked ALP secretary Brett Walker for Ms Anderson's number but he still has not provided it.
All her previous contact phone numbers known to the News have been cancelled.
Deloitte partner W R McAinsh said in his report:- "Approximately half of all assets could not be located or were vehicles which were clearly scrapped.
"We were not provided with explanations for the large number of assets missing or scrapped.
"We could not locate any minutes of meetings held.
"The Local Government and Associations Act require that at least an annual general meeting be held and that written minutes must be kept.
"When viewing [CDEP] time sheets to verify payroll, we noted that some of the time sheets were not signed by employees.
"We suggest that these checks and controls are important to give you assurance that only valid employees are paid for work actually done."
The Alice News understands that CDEP payments are made by individual cheques, made out to the various CDEP participants, and mailed to the Papunya Council.
These cheques are then cashed by the local store which at the time was owned by the council and has since been purchased by Mr Hanley.
The report also says: "A number of the suppliers' invoices which were selected for testing carried no evidence of being approved for payment by management.
"Even if there is an approved purchase order we suggest that there should be hard evidence that each payment has been considered and is in order to be paid." Meanwhile Ms Anderson travelled to Kintore with Warren Snowdon, in an aircraft chartered with entitlements enjoyed by Mr Snowdon as the Federal Member for Lingiari.
Mr Snowdon was officially opening a Yirara College annexe.
Asked whether Ms Anderson was electioneering for Territory seat of MacDonnell an aide to Mr Snowdon said she had come along "as an advisor".
The aide said any further information would need to come from Mr Snowdon. The Alice News asked for a message to be passed to him to call but he didn't.
"ON TRACK" DRUGS PROJECT OFF TRACK. Report by ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
A brand new $200,000 drugs and alcohol refuge unit for young people is lying empty because there's no money to employ anyone to run it.
And while agency and government department blame one another, young people in need have nowhere to go.
The unit was completed at the end of last year, as part of a project called On Track run by Alice Springs Youth Accommodation and Support Services (ASYASS).
The project involved building a unit to house four young people being treated for an addiction to drugs, alcohol and other substances, and, says ASYAS manager Sara, for ongoing support programs.
The project has now been suspended.
Says Sara: "The project was set up as an immediate and long term response for young people who've identified they have problems with alcohol and other drugs.
"Government agencies supported us to submit two applications for funding, one to build a unit and one to provide for operational funding for the project."
Funding for the unit was awarded at the beginning of 2004 and construction was finished in January this year.
In April 2004 ASYASS was given what they understood was the first instalment of funding for the project - $87,000.
"This was after I attended a meeting with the former director of the Department of Health's alcohol and other drugs unit," explains Sara.
ENCOURAGED "He assured us that money had been allocated and set aside to fund the project and encouraged us to go ahead with it.
"Of course the first instalment was expended.
"We employed two full time staff providing outreach services until the unit was finished and they also ran a day program.
"A third member of staff was also employed to coordinate the project.
"At the end of last year I got on to the department to ask when the next lot of funding was due.
"I was told that the $87,000 was only ever intended as one-off funding."
In the meantime, in September of last year, the director of the funding agency at the Department of Health had stood down over matters unrelated to this.
His absence appears to have contributed to the "miscommunication" that left ASYASS in an embarrassing situation.
Says Sara: "It's left us with two employees with no jobs and a breakdown in the project that was achieving so much.
"The department has made it clear there will be no more funding of the project.
"I'm really disappointed considering the government's very vocal support for programs for young people like this, especially with the election coming up.
"There's been a huge need for many years for some sort of rehab program in Alice Springs - there's nothing in the Northern Territory for people under 18 suffering these problems.
"We're proud of the work we've done with young people already on the project.
"They've worked really hard to say no to alcohol and other drugs but are saying it's really hard for them to maintain the focus and commitment when they have to go back into an environment where drugs are available.
"We're a model specifically developed for young people in Central Australia with very strong community support but no money to run the program."
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Community Services says: "In early 2004, ASYASS received an initial grant from Department of Community Development Sport and Cultural Affairs under the Community Harmony program [formerly the Itinerants Strategy].
"This money was for the addition of a four-bed residential unit to ASYASS' refuge facility. It was made clear at the time to ASYASS that it was responsible for all recurrent costs of the program.
"Also in early 2004, ASYASS was given another $87,000 under the same program to develop a service model for young people with substance misuse habits.
"ASYASS was informed any further decisions on funding depended on the service model.
"Eighteen months later, the Department received the service model in the mail this week, but there is still no acquittal of how ASYASS spent the $87,000.
"The Department will now consider the quality of the service model."
COUNCIL DRAIN ON RATEPAYERS' PATIENCE. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
The sound of a chainsaw brought Schaber Road resident Theresa running to the front gate: town council workers were attacking the witchetty bush growing at the side of her driveway.
It's been there for years but all of a sudden it has to go - part of routine maintenance of the table drains, according to the council.
Theresa (who did not wish to be further identified) requested that the workers stop - which they did - and then called the council.
As she was voicing her concerns, neighbour Peter Bannister was complaining on local ABC radio about council's devastation of his verge, reported by the Alice News the day before.
That was apparently enough to get acting CEO Mark Blackburn, the council's engineer, Henry Szczypiorski, and two members of the works staff out to Schaber Road - denuded on one side, still vegetated on the other - to discuss the issue.
The street meeting was joined by reporters from the Alice News and the ABC.
The discussion went like this:
Resident: The trees have been there for years, so why now?
Council: They're in the drain.
Resident: This tree isn't in the drain, it's on the side.
Council: But look at the debris in the culvert, if the tree wasn't there, that debris wouldn't be there.
Resident: You used to use a slasher to reduce the height of the grasses.
Council: Sometimes we have to shape the drain [using a grader]. It's routine maintenance.
Resident: I've been here for 13, 14 years and you've never done this before. There'll be nothing to hold the soil.
Council: The soil will soak up any rain and there'll be growth overnight.
Mr Blackburn undertook to speak to Mr Szczypiorski about which trees would have to go - "He's the expert."
The response was that the nearby stand of whitewoods could stay but the acacias further down would have to go.
Resident: Why the difference? Council: On top of the rise the water will flow away, but further down the trees will impede the efficiency of the drain.
Resident, pointing to the dip in the road: The water is going to pool down there - where's it going to go?
At the time Mr Szczypiorski didn't have an answer to this question. He later told the Alice News that he thanked the residents for bringing this to council's attention.
"The existing drainage design may have had some degree of storage and this may be the situation here," said Mr Szczypiorski.
"Council will continue to monitor the situation."
Mr Bannister took Mr Blackburn over to his side of the road: "Our trees weren't growing in the drain, they were well above it, so why did they have to go?"
Mr Blackburn: "Those trees were removed because of line of sight reasons."
The trees had been growing on the corner of the T-intersection at Schaber Road and Colonel Rose Drive. "Line of sight" had not been mentioned before, neither to the Bannisters nor to the Alice News when we made inquiries last week.
Mr Bannister said he had discovered that it was possible to request that council leave the verge in front of a resident's property alone.
Mr Szczypiorski said that would be by negotiation: "We can't pass the responsibility of maintenance of our infrastructure on to residents."
Jane Bannister said the road, which runs along the crest of a rise, never floods, and she's never seen water flowing in the drains. Mr Szczypiorski: "Council doesn't have the right to stop maintaining an infrastructure item because of a belief that it's not used."
ITINERANTS OUT OF CONTROL: BURKE. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
"If we win Alice Springs we win government," a humble Denis Burke told about 60 Central Australian CLP faithful last week in the lead-up to the NT election which he predicts will be soon - "I lay 10 bucks it's on June 4".
After being pushed out of the top job by a rebelling Alice Springs branch (but later winning it back), he pleaded: "If you hate me please think of the CLP.
"In Alice Springs, the history and loyalty of the CLP needs to be drawn back up again.
"I know I've made mistakes in the past, and know that I've burned friendships, and I don't blame people for saying, I'm not voting for him again.
"I give you a commitment we won't let you down next time round.
"For the first time in a long time, I don't believe it will be the Northern Suburbs [in Darwin] that'll get the CLP into government.
"I'm confident [in winning] some Northern Suburbs seats.
"What I can't do is lose Richard's seat [Dr Lim, Greatorex, up against Alice Mayor Fran Kilgariff] ... or Jodeen's seat [Araluen].
"We can't lose John's seat [Elferink, MacDonnell, facing ex-ATSIC commissioner Alison Anderson].
"If we can hold those seats, and win Michael Jones' seat [the challenger in Braitling], we've won the election."
And prompted by a person in the audience: "And Anna Machado [Stuart, standing against Peter Toyne] will be doing a very good job in a very difficult seat ... I am a realist ... we will do our best for our candidates.
"If I can hold those seats that we currently hold, and win one down here, we've won the election."
Mr Burke left no doubt that law and order is still uppermost in his mind.
He says the issues raised by the Chamber of Commerce are the same as were identified by CLP polling, with "do something about the itinerant problem" a major concern.
"It is right endemic throughout the NT.
"Not only chronic problems with people who are suffering from chronic alcoholism, but also people being badgered and humbugged in the streets, people breaking the law and defecation in the streets, it's just getting worse and worse.
"The influx of people from communities into the towns and cities is going to get worse - or more, whichever word you are going to use.
"The tolerance of that comes predominantly from the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report many years ago, when police were told - and there is now a culture in the police force, we're told - don't worry about minor misdemeanors.
CRIMES "The police needs to be given the strength and the capacity to deal with all of those crimes that offend the Summary Offences Act, predominantly.
"If we say it's a crime but we won't worry about it, we're going to have a worse and worse problem.
"We'll introduce a zero tolerance approach to itinerants and all anti-social behavior.
"That is not throwing itinerants into jail.
"That is police having the capacity to fine someone, to be able to do it by writing out a warrant, by giving that person a fine.
"And if that fine is not paid, obviously a warrant will be issued by the court, probably by a JP, it could be a community court with Aboriginal JPs on it, but certainly, a fine will be imposed, and the fine will be paid or a warrant will be issued, and if the person breaches that warrant they'll end up back in court and they'll end up in jail eventually if they are chronic people who just refuse to pay.
"It's the only way, I believe, you can deal with that sort of problem.
"So, that's it. That's the approach we'll have there.
"There will be a three strikes [policy] for property offenders.
"Domestic violence will be treated in the same way as assault.
"But at the same time we recognize that there are people who also need to have their self esteem built", Mr Burke foreshadowing a policy announcement about relevant programs for young people.
Other policies foreshadowed by Mr Burke were:-
Wage subsidies for apprentices.
Incentives for school leavers to do their tertiary education in the NT.
Weatherproof major roads, especially beef and mining roads.
An alternate water supply for Alice Springs, coupled with or additional to a recreational lake.
A new tourist resort - Mr Burke doesn't say where - and an office of the NT Tourist Commission in Alice Springs.
Decentralized decision-making in the public service: "We [the CLP government] were too centralized in the past when it came to Alice Springs, but nowhere near what's happening now. The public servants working in Alice Springs need to have far more autonomy, for more authority, have a far more independent budget, and work directly to the Minister for Central Australia, on priorities that are set in Central Australia."
The CLP, at its best, was when Ministers knew what Territorians wanted - "OK, they made a few mistakes but they got a fair few right" - and saw many things through.
"We need to get back to hands-on Ministers, department CEOs who talk directly to Ministers, with their own budgets. Nowadays it's becoming just a burdensome bureaucracy."
Establishing Alice Springs as the centre of Aboriginal arts, with a yearly or biennial art expo.
Release "affordable" land in stages. Mr Burke hints it will be on the basis of the CLP brokered development by the Larrakia in Palmerston "where we didn't give away land, we didn't give the Aboriginal people 50 per cent of the retail value, we sold them the land at unimproved capital value.
They joint-ventured and that development is now in the third stage and it's resulted in many millions to the Larrakia."
(Lhere Artepe sold their interest in the 85 block Larapinta subdivision for just over $1m.)
A population growth target of 2.5 per cent a year through "packages and incentives": "We've achieved two per cent before."
If the target is met additional revenue for the NT under Commonwealth Grants Commission modelling would amount to $60m a year.
No slash and burn to government departments but "we would be looking to ensure that service delivery is enhanced.
Some of the departments are too big, too monolithic, service delivery is up and down".
However, "we don't believe there is any need for large increases in departmental funding".
Three Alice Springs Ministers in a nine member Cabinet to "break down the Berrimah Line real quick".
A business advisory service.
"Abstinence based" programs to deal with alcohol and drug abuse.
Not going back to fighting over native title again.
Given that it costs $25,000 to recruit a single nurse, examination of a scheme proposed by Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Lim to subsidize HECS fees for job takers, for an extended time, who have studied in the NT.
NT GOVERNMENT IS "SWIMMING IN MONEY". Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The year after he lost power the NT was "literally swimming in money", says Opposition Leader Denis Burke.
The additional money from the GST has boosted the Budget from around $2b to $2.6b. In fact the additional $600m is $237m more than forecast. On top of that, Mr Burke says the Territory's own tax revenue rose from $213m in 2001 to $280m in 2004.
His government had just $20m "to play with".
But he claims his successor, Clare Martin, isn't using the GST windfall at all cleverly.
"Put it into infrastructure," says Mr Burke, "one-off projects that strengthen the economy, or into tax relief where you can get more capacity for business."
Instead, he says, Ms Martin is creating "recurring costs" by building a ballooning bureaucracy.
"The Labor government has put [the additional money from the GST] overwhelmingly into recurrent operational costs, which is waste, and that's going to be a problem if the GST shrinks.
"The GST grows because of the efforts of us all.
"In the last few years that effort has been in NSW and Queensland predominantly.
"The housing boom in those states, WA and Victoria has filled the GST coffers - every cent of which is going to the states and territories. But if that [revenue] starts to shrink, of course the money that comes to us will start to shrink as well."
Immediately after self government, under Chief Minister Paul Everingham, "we had a very generous funding arrangement between the Commonwealth and the NT: "Over time these surpluses were whittled away. But now, with the introduction of the GST, we find ourselves essentially in that situation again."
This "river of GST", Mr Burke says, would have fixed in six months any $125m "black hole" lamented by the Labor government at the beginning of its term.
The CLP, with a Budget smaller by $600m, built a school every year, "to keep up with the demand of families, predominantly in Palmerston, which was the growth area". Labor hasn't built a single school.
The recently announced population growth of 0.7 per cent was the first since the ALP came to power. The population trend is "not only out of whack with the rest of Australia, it's predominantly new births.
"The people who are wealth producing or taxpayers are going south. Mainly those births are Aboriginal births and that, in the short term, is a cost issue, it's not an issue of increased revenue from people attracted here."
TANGENTYERE: CONSTRUCTING CONFIDENCE. Report by ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
Five communities across Central Australia are benefiting from 10 new houses built by 20 members of their communities, under a three-year project managed by a private company in Alice Springs.
Tangentyere Constructions is headed up by Hans Mouthaan, the manager, who has 30 years experience in the building industry - he worked for 11 years in senior management for a leading home builder in New South Wales.
"People tend to be negative about Aboriginal enterprises but this is a good news story," he says.
"We're not run on a grant, we're private enterprise and if we don't do the job right, we won't get the contracts."
The three-year program employs four apprentices from five communities - Papunya, Hermannsburg, Santa Teresa, Laramba and Ampilatwatja.
Tangentyere Constructions is contracted as a project manager by the NT Government to oversee the work done by the apprentices and provide a builder-trainer. The apprentices themselves are employed and paid by their communities to work on the projects. v The trainees are half way through the program which finishes in August 2006.
They have already completed Certificates I and II in General Constructions and are now working on Certificate III.
They are assessed regularly by Charles Darwin University with examiners spending up to a week observing the progress of the apprentices.
The skills learnt by the trainees are predominantly concreting skills and also roof cladding, setting of joints in internal linings, welding, basic fabrication, internal wall framing and fitting of door frames. All these skills are taught in the bush, but apprentices are also brought into town for block releases to teach skills that can only be taught here.
"We employ the apprentices full-time under a trainee scheme. It's no different to any other employment," says Mr Mouthaan.
The communities employ the apprentices for 70 per cent of work, only hiring other contractors for specialised tasks like blockwork. v "We've only had one or two of the apprentices drop out of the program, due to different social reasons.
"We're very well supported by the communities and by the Central Remote Regional Council - it was their vision to see something like this happening." How much does the project cost?
"It's not costing any more than those houses constructed under a capital works program," says Mr Mouthaan.
"There's no reason why I would tell you what our fee is - I'm not going to let my opponents know what sort of fee they've got to put in to beat me for the next round of tenders.
"Last year, rumours written about us were outlandish - apparently I was being paid $1m to run this.
"The training program by its nature is very transparent - there's a lot of scrutiny from all directions.
"The government wants a competitive outcome."
Every month Tangentyere Constructions has to report to the NT Government on the progress of the projects, to monitor whether they are running to time and to budget. Photographic updates of the houses are also sent.
"In 2004 100 per cent of the projects were completed on time and on budget," Mr Mouthaan says.
"You've got to have good business sense. There's no guarantee that we will win the next round of training programs when it goes to tender. That's what business is all about."
Is 12 months for the 20 workers to build 10 homes a reasonable length of time?
"Qualified construction workers can knock up a house in 22 weeks. But the best ways to get outcomes are on structured training programs," says Mr Mouthaan.
The company, set up by Mr Mouthaan on his own, now employs five staff.
Mr Mouthaan was formerly building manager for 14 years at Clarendon Homes in NSW, "one of the biggest building companies in Australia", turning out 1000 contract homes a year.
His experience in the Centre is very different but "a very rewarding exercise", he says.
"It sounds really corny but the really good thing about this job is seeing the handover done by the apprentices to the people of the community moving into the home. You can see the pride that these fellas have got."
GALLIPOLI HERO HELPED SHAPE ALICE. Report by Comment by ALEX NELSON.
The template that set the pattern of development for Alice Springs today was created during World War Two, when the town was under tight military control.
The Alice was the headquarters of the Darwin Overland Maintenance Force (DOMF), under the command of Brigadier Noel Loutit (pictured), which oversaw the evacuation of civilians from the Top End and the transportation of troops and supplies to the north.
The town was also the base for the Allied Works Council and the 109 Australian General Hospital (with 500 beds), and also for the civil administration of the NT during the war.
The presence of these organizations transformed the Alice from a sleepy outback town of about 450 residents to more than 1000 civilians and 3000 personnel of the DOMF.
Noel Loutit was in direct control of 8000 personnel and 3000 vehicles in total in the Territory, which facilitated the movement of nearly 195,000 soldiers through Alice Springs between September 1940 and October 1944.
The logistics of this operation necessitated major new developments for the Alice, including the construction of a reticulated water supply, a new powerhouse located in the Sadadeen Range, the site still used today, and the establishment of the airport to the south of town. (The old airport, located where the Aviation Museum stands today, remained in use for civilian purposes.)
Tented camps sprung up around the tiny township, and these became the precursors to the suburbs that have spread out from the CBD.
As the Alice was the railhead for the Central Australian Railway, with as many as 56 trains per week (in addition to regular services) in 1942-43, there was great demand for labour, and Loutit made full use of Aboriginal work gangs to meet the shortfall - this was to have a profound effect on local race relations, raising the question of equal pay for equal work in the post-war society.
Noel Loutit was well known prior to taking command in Alice Springs in 1940, for he had a distinguished record as a soldier in World War One.
Lieutenant Loutit, 21, was one of the initial 4000 soldiers to land at ANZAC Cove at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915.
With two others, he pushed inland about 3.5 km and glimpsed the sea of the Dardanelles, their ultimate objective, before being driven back by the Turkish defenders.
These three were the only Australian soldiers to view their objective in the entire nine month long campaign, where Loutit served for the duration. ("Heroic Anzac saw the goal", Peter Forrest/Centralian Advocate, April 26, 2002).
After the war, Loutit returned to his home state of South Australia.
He rejoined the army when the Second World War commenced in 1939 and, initially as a lieutenant-colonel, was posted to Alice Springs one year later to command the DOMF. It was during this period that he had the greatest impact on the Alice's future, for he was effectively in complete control. His tenure was not without its difficulties, for he maintained strict security that was unpopular with local residents, and was often in conflict with Administrator Charles Abbott, also based in Alice. He also had to contend with the dissatisfaction of his own personnel and of other troops, of whom many preferred to be stationed elsewhere. Nevertheless, he maintained excellent relations with his men, and his command of the DOMF was overall a great success. He was by far the most influential person in the Alice during the war. Noel Loutit returned to Alice Springs after the war when he opened a general merchandising and agency business in Todd Street in March 1948, a period of time that saw considerable expansion of small business in the town. He was elected unopposed as the inaugural chairman of the Centralian Tourist and Information Organisation (precursor to CATIA) in October 1953, a lobby group seeking to promote tourism in the Alice. Loutit sold his business to Elder Smith & Co. in the late 1950s and retired to South Australia, where he died in 1983.
When it comes to heritage, Alice Springs displays a peculiarly ambivalent attitude.
The town has a vanishing small built heritage from a short historical period (in contrast to most other towns in Australia) but does commemorate many individuals who have contributed, for better or worse, to the tapestry of our history.
However, there are some whose contributions have been overlooked, and Noel Loutit must be in the forefront of these.
Given his distinct role in our town's history, and his rare record as an original Anzac who managed to view the Dardanelles, it would be appropriate to name the road going to the top of Anzac Hill in his honour (an earlier name for Anzac Hill was "View Hill").
[Much of my information on Loutit is derived from Alice Springs, Its History and the People Who Made It, by Peter Donovan, published by the Alice Springs Town Council in 1988.]
BOARD TO CONSIDER CERTIFIER'S LICENCE.
The licence of one Alice Springs' only two building certifiers is under review after he was fined in a Victorian court in March.
William David Cantwell, of Territory Building Certifiers, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court to 16 charges under the Victorian Building Act 1993.
His registration by the Victorian Building Commission was suspended for two years.
It is understood Mr Cantwell's registration by the Northern Territory Building Practitioners Board occurred via "mutual recognition" of his Victorian registration.
The chairman of the NT board, Penny Whinney-Houghton, says: "It is up to the NT Building Practitioners' Board to consider the issue of his licence."
Mr Cantwell was fined $3000 with $6000 costs by the Bendigo court, and $250 by the Victorian Building Commission.
The commission stated the matters raised against Mr Cantwell "demonstrated a pattern of conduct and showed the practitioner was not a fit and proper person to practise."
Mr Cantwell said the events happened in 2000 and 2001.
"How do you go back to 2000 and 2001 and prove whether you put in a piece of paper or not?
"I defy anybody to be scrutinised about something allegedly done five years ago.
"I don't know if I am guilty or not."
The commission listed "23 counts of failing to notify council of appointment within seven days; seven counts of issuing building permits retrospectively; two counts of failing to forward certificate of final inspection to council within seven days; eight counts of failing to give inspection dates to council within seven days; 21 counts of failing to give building permit documents to council within seven days; seven counts of failing to forward occupancy permit to council within seven days; five counts of failing to identify practitioners on building permits; incorrectly identifying the nature of work on the building permit; requiring a certificate of final inspection instead of an occupancy permit."
GEORGE MUIR IS CHARGED WITH SOCCER MONEY THEFT.
A man has been charged with stealing from the Central Australian Junior Soccer Association, since absorbed into the Football Federation Northern Territory.
George Muir faces court over two counts of stealing:
Once on October 11, 2002, an amount of $5000;
and again on January 9, 2003, an amount of $4660.
The case was part heard in Alice Springs on March 17 before Magistrate Birch and adjourned to May 17.
It's weird outside the Territory. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
I took my children to see an art house movie. The children call them Araluen movies'. Before we went in, my son asked what an art house movie is, so I gave him an earnest explanation of how art house films have higher production values, a welcome rest from car chases and fierce independence from mainstream Hollywood commercialism. When I finished he said: "So they're not very good then?"
This is the clue I needed in my never-ending quest to understand Queensland. The truth is that Queensland is like an art house movie. It has ordinary life made quirky and filmed by a bloke with a wobbly tripod. It's the land of the drive-in pedicure. It's a huge place where everyone has been sucked into the bottom right-hand corner and they can't get out because their superannuation might be harmed. It has huge tropical fish tanks in the shopping malls as if tropical fish are unusual to Queenslanders. Nobody looks at the fish. The fish become lonely.
Recently I went there. In a taxi, I had a yarn with the driver. Without any prompting from me, he listed all the places he had ever been. He must have mistaken me for someone who was interested. In return, I told him about my home town in England, which happens to have the same name as a much-disparaged place in Queensland where they sell bigoted fish and chips.
When the journey ended, I proffered a friendly gratuity but the driver tipped me instead. "That's for coming from Ipswich," he said. This was the first time I have ever been paid for being born in a drab town with no redeeming features. Then the taxi driver on the return journey switched the meter off early, unnecessarily reducing what I owed him.
Look, I know I'm decrepit, but I'm not yet in need of charity. Maybe Queensland shines kindly on bald people. But I prefer to think that this was another scene from an art house movie.
Most shops in Queensland have a backpacker behind the counter. I am certain that every pigtailed European in the Northern Hemisphere ends up there, loves the idea of the Barrier Reef, runs out of money and gets a job in an international franchise. It is the only place outside Denmark where you are guaranteed to be served Danish ice-cream by a Dane.
Except Tasmania, where they have fake accents. I went into a lunchtime cafι that had a healthy salad bar. I worry about flatulence but I still ordered the Mexican bean salad from the kindly lady who was serving. "I don't know what you mean," she said, as if I was ordering it in Mexican. "Can you just give me the number?" she demanded. "OK", I replied, "I'll have Salad Number Two". Here is proof that one day life will be better if both the staff and the customers are replaced by robots. Then we wouldn't actually have to speak whole sentences to each other. We could just press the button on their forehead marked 2' if we want indigestion later.
Sometimes I get so perturbed. For example, I went for a beer with a work contact. We had just met. He bought a jug of beer and he didn't give me any. I thought jugs were for sharing. Soberly heading back to the hotel, I saw a road sign that said Through traffic creep straight'. How can traffic creep? Don't the normal standards of international signage apply in Queensland either? One thing is certain; it's weird outside the Territory.
This is why it's best to stay home and I'll be doing that on every public holiday until 2006. If you want Araluen movies go to the Araluen, I say, and not to a neighbouring state.
What's the meaning of an easy life? COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.
Recently I spotted an old Jaguar in town. It made me think of something my brother said when he was four and had just inspected a relative's brand new Jag: "Oh, it must be a car for the disabled because it has got electric windows."
I now drive a car with electric windows. I'm not disabled and neither are most of the other drivers with these windows, but we seem to value things and situations where we have to do as little as possible.
Every time I make soup I can hear my mum saying, "Leave the soup making to the pros". It is much easier to open a can or a packet than to chop vegetables. It saves time but I don't get the same sense of achievement. To feel that I'm really nurturing my children I have to cook foods from scratch.
Celine Dion mentioned in an interview that she would sometimes like to be able to trade her life with that of an everyday woman as it would seem more real. Something both the audience and the interviewer found hard to believe. Who would choose dirty dishes over a gala dinner?
But it is about feeling connected and alive. The taste of the authentic and pure even if it is scorching heat or foul smells. Many of the most fulfilling experiences are found in situations of adversity.
Experiencing hardship can help us to relate and feel empathy and give a sense of purpose and meaning to our lives. Yet it is the easy life that is portrayed as the ideal. Not having to do anything, lounging by the pool with a drink, planning your next holiday.
Often life seems too hard, as my teenage daughter likes to point out. So many expectations, duties and responsibilities. But also there can be a sense of lack of self-worth and purpose.
Despite remote controls, drive-throughs, electric windows, instant soup and readymade everything, we are not happy. What are the important things we are doing that we need all the time-saving for? What are the strenuous activities we need rest from?
Maybe there is much more to Desert Knowledge than energy and water use. Perhaps sustainable living is also about our relationship with the natural and physical environment. A realisation that although we live in a high tech society we still need real contact with the elements, to let our muscles as well as our minds work.
In our search for a better life and when we dream of winning the lottery what are we really looking for? Not a horizontal life in bed or on the beach, surely? Rich folk look for meaning in charity work and community projects. Feeling that we are playing an active and meaningful part is essential as the natural connection, the dirt under our feet or in our hands.
Alice Springs keeps me grounded. No pretences and not always pleasant, but honest in its harsh reality. We should show others who visit us that a life here is not only possible, but fulfilling.
That the Centre is not just a quaint remnant of times past, a curiosity or a location on the heritage map, but a vigorous and dynamic community.
WEST DOWN PIONEERS, AGAIN. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
West have jumped out of the blocks well once again, claiming a second victory for the season over arch rivals Pioneer.
West scored 11.6 (72) to the Eagles 6.12 (48) in a game with contrasting accuracy in front of the goals.
For the Bloods Kevin Bruce booted six goals and in dominating across half forward was able to maintain an open road to goal for his side.
At first was Pioneer who paved the way, establishing a 13 point lead at the first break, with the young brigade proving too elusive for the more bulky West outfit.
By half time the game had become more balanced, with West drawing to within 11 points of their opponents. As with their game against South it was in the third quarter that West was able to gain control of proceedings. They delivered 4.2 for the term while the Eagles were held to a single behind.
Mick Hauser, Mark Bramley and Rory Hood set up the West phalanx, and as with most duels against Pioneer Adam Taylor had sparks flying, albeit to his nose's peril.
West ran the game out to score another 4.1 in the final term compared to Pioneers' 2.2.
However, Pioneer unveiled a crew of new players including Top Enders who will provide plenty. Andrew Baker played a top game, while the experience of Karl Hampton (who has returned to the mother ship to complete his career) was as usual most consistent. Donald Mallard, Wayne McCormack and Greg Drew also featured in the best players.
In the curtain raiser Federal enjoyed a win over the Rovers, who again showed the road to success is going to be a long one. Federal recorded a win in all three grades.
In B Grade Federal recorded a 98 point win, but were empowered with the presence of Damien Timms, Gordon Mallard, Daryl Ryder and Lionel Buzzacott.
The A Grade clash was one sided as Federal blew Rover away in the first half. They booted 9.1 in the opening term to their opposition's three behinds. Then by the big break Federal rested, leading by 51 points.
A further six goals to three in the last half indicated that Federal needed the run, but nevertheless their 18.8 (116) to 8.7 (55) win was a positive start.
David Atkinson continued on from last season with five goals, as did Brendan Forrester. Martin Patrick, James Braedon and Rury Liddle were assets on field.
For Rovers four goals came off the boot of Darren Porter, while Kenny Morton, Adam Davis and Nick Clapp made their presence felt.
Sunday football returned more entertaining results. Central Anmatjere were able to sneak home by the barest of margins in their one point win over Southern AP. The 11.15 (81) to 12.8 (80) scoreline indicates the standard of the game.
In fact it was the last quarter that brought the crowd to their feet. Central Anmatjere held sway at three quarter time, leading 8.12 to 7.7. However in a barnstorming run home Southern AP went right to the line with 5.1 to 3.3. Leroy Churchill, Harry Wilson and Steven Brumby set up the charge, while for Central Anmatjere it was Martin Hagan who stood out with three goals and a best on field performance.
Western Aranda, led by Clinton Ngalkin and Oliver Wheeler downed Plenty Highway 17.16 (118) to 12.8 (80). The team from the west had Malcolm Kenny and Darryl Ryder each kick five goals, while the spoils were shared in the Plenty Highway camp, with David Bird, Joseph Webb, Ian Neil, Donny Scharber and James Drover each contributing two goals.
RACING: BIG DAY BUILDUP. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
Ladies Day at Pioneer Park was dominated by Darwin hoop Paul Denton, who booted home three winners.
Craig Moon who set the scene in the first when he stole the 1400 metre Betta Electrical Class Six Handicap by two and a quarter lengths. If You Say So under the control of David Bates led with Chigwidden taking the sit on the fence.
In the straight Chigwidden showed its true form by taking the leader on and charging to the lead. At the post Chigwidden claimed the money from If You Say So, with the favourite Picayune having to settle for third.
The Peter Sitzler Memorial Class Four over the 1000 metres saw Smartacus claim the lead from the jump only to be challenged in the straight by Geiger Blue who went on to score by a half length, with the fast finishing Top Value claiming second prize and Smartacus holding on for third.
The little rattler Scotro once again jumped and led in the 1100 metre Darwin Horse Floats, Weight for Age but once again didn't look the horse of times gone by.
Scotro led by some two lengths at the turn but couldn't match the challenge issued by Queen of the North over the final 100 metres. Queen of the North out muscled the past champion to go to the line a winner by a head, with Shadow Boxer coming from mid field to claim third place.
In the JetSet Alice Springs Maiden raced over 1200 metres, Waringa Flyer gave Paul Denton his first of three winners. In the running Crowne Pilot and Little Mischievous set the pace, with Waringa Flyer settling back and on the fence. At the turn the pressure was applied and Waringa Flyer showed strength as he recorded a half length win over Quiet Joyson, with Smytzers Storm filling the placings.
The favourite Sportnut then completed Denton's treble, taking the Hour Glass Jewellers Class Eight over 1200 metres. Fiery Prospector led early and piloted the field into the straight a good two lengths in front. By the 150 mark however the leader felt the pinch and was challenged by Sportsnut.
Sportsnut had sat nicely off the pace all the way and found the run home a breeze. Rumbellara got within a half length of the winner at the post, with Fiery Prospector holding on for third.
The most impressive win of the day came from Swepscay. In the Murray Maintenance Services Class Two over 1200 metres the pace was hot early, with Sweet Chicago, Regal Rose and Daka's Babe charging through the paces.
Swepcay remained patient as Spicy Sound took control but 150 metres out the winner found plenty and charged to the lead to win by five and a half lengths. Valinch came home in second place, with Spicy Sound hanging on for third.
The race of the day was the last, the Chief Minister's Cup over 1600 metres. The weight for age event saw Doolam Player butter up after last week to win by a short neck. Doolam Player was happy to take the sit in the running while Southern Renegade, Trafford and Brave Decision set an honest pace. By the 600 metre mark Trafford broke down, soon after Southern Renegade ran out of puff leaving Brave Decision at the helm on the turn. Song of Mekong, an equal favourite, then gained ascendancy only to see Doolam Player put in the winning claim. The fast finishing Prince Paree came second, and Song of Mekong, third.
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