POLLIES HAMMERED OVER NUKE DUMP. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Can CLP Senator Nigel Scullion stop the nuclear dump? And if he can, will he? That's the bottom-line after a week of extraordinarily robust politicking.
Senator Scullion says "I don't have the numbers" but Warren Snowdon, his ALP opponent in the House of Representatives, says he may well have.
In any case Senator Scullion is breaking with his own habit of not signalling his voting intentions: he says he will cross the floor if a string of amendments he'll put up aren't accepted by the government which last week introduced legislation emasculating the Territory completely in any efforts to frustrate the construction of the dump, and to do anything meaningful with the bipartisan opposition to the project.
Meanwhile invectives were flying back and forth.
€ Senator Scullion drew into question the intelligence of NT Chief Minister Clare Martin for suggesting French nuclear fuel rods will be stored in the NT: "She's a complete idiot. Where does she get that rubbish from?" € Mr Snowdon called Mr Scullion a "bullshit artist" and said he sounded "like a sick pup" for suggesting he can't tip the scales in the Senate.
€ Ms Martin accused Prime Minister John Howard of "political bullying at its worst".
€ Independent Member for Braitling Loraine Braham accused Ms Martin of "hysterics and stamping of feet" while doing little of use to stop the dump.
€ Senator Scullion said the dump "will be shoved down our throat" by the ruling party in Canberra, with whom he normally votes, and now sees his role as making the best of a bad deal.
€ Mr Snowdon claimed Senator Scullion's proposal for other sites in the Territory is "like saying which gas chamber do you want to go to?"
€ And media had a feeding frenzy with Senator Scullion and his Lower House mate David Tollner being hung, drawn and quartered for allegedly letting down the Territory.
Senator Scullion says his amendments will propose the following:-
€ Allow the NT Government, as well as the Northern Land Council and the Central Land Council, to nominate sites in addition to the three Commonwealth-owned sites proposed at present, and to charge an annual lease fee for the site ultimately chosen. Private freehold land would also be suitable, but not pastoral land.
€ Enshrine in the legislation that there will be no high level nuclear waste no higher than "intermediate".
€ Indemnify the Northern Territory against "anything that may happen".
It's not good enough, says Mr Snowdon: with the support in the Senate of the Democrats and the Greens, who Mr Snowdon says will "absolutely" vote against the Bill, and of Family First Senator Steve Fielding, about whom he isn't sure, the Bill would fail if Senator Scullion crossed the floor and there would be no dump, amended or otherwise.
Senator Scullion says his take on the situation is that the Democrats are not certain to be against the Bill.
He says he spoke to Andrew Murray and would be "astounded" if he has given undertakings to Mr Snowdon.
Senator Scullion says he expects Senator Fielding to vote for the Government: no dump means no new reactor and an end to the production in Australia of nuclear pharmaceuticals used for, among other things, the early detection of breast cancer no doubt a major issue for Family First.
"We'd be back to mastectomies on a large scale," says Senator Scullion.
This is vehemently contested, but it is symptomatic of the irrational heat of the debate that the finer points are obliterated.
For example, Senator Scullion and Peter Tait, vice-president of the Medical Association for Prevention of War Australia in Alice Springs, agree that nuclear isotopes used in medical care would need to be imported if Australia didn't have its own reactor.
It's the emphasis that puts the two poles apart.
Senator Scullion says Australia would need to "stand in line" with a number of countries if radio-isotopes were obtained from abroad, coupled with unacceptable uncertainties and delays.
But Dr Tait says: "It is absolutely untrue and unethical for Senator Scullion to claim that any Australian requires a nuclear dump in the NT to continue to access nuclear medicine.
"The call for this dump is so that the proposed new reactor at Lucas Heights can get its operating license.
"Radio-isotopes can be imported or locally made in cyclotrons.
"Other non-reactor technologies can be used for some diagnostic procedures."
How long would we have to wait? Which diagnostic procedures? Neither Senator Scullion nor Dr Tait are making this clear.
Mr Snowdon says putting the dump on one of three Commonwealth owned sites in the NT two of them near Alice Springs is "not a decision based on science and what's best for the environment [but] on political expediency and where the government thinks it will have the least impact politically."
Senator Scullion says to that he couldn't agree more - that's why he wants additional site to be available.
Mr Snowdon says in the early 'nineties a number of sites had been identified across Australia, none of which are in the NT, and the best sites are in NSW and Victoria.
The Howard Government was in breach of assurances at the last Federal election that there wouldn't be a nuclear waste dump in the NT "and we'd be treated the same way as any other state or territory in terms of our rights.
"Both of those undertakings have been reneged upon, so we've been told lies by John Howard and his representatives here in the NT."
Senator Scullion says at no time did he or David Tollner MHR ever promise there would be no dump in the NT: "Minister for the Environment Ian Campbell said the dump wouldn't be on the Australian mainland."
TOWN COUNCIL, NT GOVERNMENT DEAL IN DOUBT. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
Alderman Melanie Van Haaren called on the town council, at its committee meeting on Monday, to not sign off on a partnership agreement with the Northern Territory Government until "it serves the region and demonstrates a best practice approach to regional development".
Ald Van Haaren expressed fear about the impact on the town of "de-regionalisation" leading to an "exodus of mature public servants and their families".
"The Centre is no longer seen as compatible with career progression," she argued. "This affects recruitment, social capital and the economy."
She said the government's approach to regional development at the moment is to fund one-off projects "it's very ad hoc and unsustainable".
"Why can't Alice Springs be a base for policy development?" she asked.
"We shouldn't sign off, we should go back to the drawing board and get some very practical agreements and workable commitments on how the government will help us to grow."
Mayor Fran Kilgariff acknowledged that there were a number of things that needed to be taken up with the government, nominating the "lack of depth" in the public service.
Ald Stewart said: "This government has done to Alice Springs what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans, everyone's heading north."
In the end a majority of aldermen voted to ask council officers to prepare a report "with a list of things affecting the capacity of Alice Springs".
PETROL SNIFFING TIMEBOMB. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
New medical research may uncover hundreds of brain damaged petrol sniffers in Central Australia whose care may cost the already overextended public health services millions of dollars a year.
"It could be dynamite," says Blair McFarland, from the Central Australian Youth Link-up Service (CAYLUS).
"Imagine if we can roll out Opal fuel that can't be sniffed, and we can then test all the people who were sniffing, we may find that there are 250 people out there who need full time care because they've got brain damage, at a cost of $250,000 a year each.
"That's what is potentially out there.
"Now the Aboriginal community has to support those people themselves."
Mr McFarland says there is still no sure way of assessing the extent of impairment caused by sniffing which is estimated to cause one death a week in Central Australia.
But a $625,000 grant has been made to Dr Sheree Cairney, of the Menzies School of Health Research, for a three year study of former sniffers, assessing their remaining capabilities, with tests specifically developed for use with Aboriginal people.
In a cruel twist, that grant is spending 15 times more on testing survivors than the $40,000 Mr McFarland is struggling to get for an extra recreation worker at Yuendumu, in a bid to keep young people there alive.
He says sniffing has been linked to eight attempted suicides in Central Australia in the last fortnight alone.
He himself cut down a Yuendumu boy attempting to hang himself.
Mr McFarland says Dr Cairney's research is vital and has his full support, but there needs to be much more money for saving lives.
"There are between 500 and 700 current sniffers and possibly that many again ex-sniffers on Aboriginal communities who may have brain damage we're unaware of and who need medical assistance and care.
"At the moment that's completely hidden."
Mr McFarland says: "Without in any way detracting from the importance of Sheree's work, I would suggest that there should be a hell of a lot more money spent on the other end of the problem.
"There aren't any well developed treatment resources."
Mr McFarland says researchers will have trouble finding people to test who've stopped sniffing.
"They can't test people who're off their face.
"There first have to be more resources to get people off petrol."
He says Opal provided no other fuel is available is 75 per cent effective.
With Opal fuel as the sole measure, sniffing was stamped out in Maningrida 17 years ago. In Port Keats it was stopped overnight 10 years ago.
Mr McFarland wants Opal to be the sole available fuel, except for diesel, in the wider Central Australian region, taking in Coober Pedy, Laverton, Balgo and Tennant Creek.
He says a scheme to put the price of Opal on par with conventional fuel would cost $7m to $10m a year, a difference the Federal Government could "easily" cover by reducing the excise it collects around 45c a litre.
The BP-produced Opal costs 30 cents a litre more than conventional fuel but higher production would result in economies of scale, reducing the margin to 15 cents a litre.
Mr McFarland says Canberra spends $3 billion a year on subsidising diesel for the mining and pastoral industries, 300 times more than the life-saving initiative would cost.
In fact, subsidising Opal may be cheaper than paying the massive costs of caring for severely ill sniffers. Mr McFarland says Access Economics has been commissioned to report on "how much the taxpayer can save through prevention."
The report will "hopefully" be ready late this month, in time for the Senate enquiry into petrol sniffing.
"Take the Seven Million Dollar Man in Yuendumu. He burned himself very badly and spent 18 months in intensive care, getting skin grafts and bone straightening.
"He cost us, the taxpayer, seven million dollars," says Mr McFarland.
"At the moment I'm working with the community. They've got some money. I'm trying to get $40,000 from the NT Government to add to that money so we can have a youth worker in the community.
"They have lots of sniffers and only one youth worker. A couple of weeks ago a young man tried to commit suicide, tried to hang himself.
"I pulled him down.
"The nurse said he's probably finished, but he didn't die. They sent him into Alice Springs and then flew him down to Adelaide where he was in intensive care for two weeks, costing $10,000 a day.
"Now he's OK, they're going to release him back to the community. That little episode, as a guesstimate, cost $100,000, and here I am struggling to get $40,000 to prevent it happening again.
"There were eight attempted suicides by petrol sniffers in the last fortnight in remote communities. They all cost us about $100,000."
One now deceased sniffer had to be evacuated twice to Adelaide with burns.
"The first time he was there for six months."
At $10,000 a day that's $1.8m.
"The individual then went back to the same circumstances, burned himself again really badly, on his hands, went down to Adelaide again, came back, and a few weeks later died, from sniffing petrol in an enclosed space."
What did his community do to stop him?
"Lots of people tried.
"In the community where the young man tried to hang himself, he did that after the parents told him off for sniffing.
"That's what happens.
"The parents try and stop the kids sniffing and the kids either beat the parents up or the say, well, I'm going to kill myself if you don't give me money for petrol.
"They buy petrol on the black market."
Mc McFarland says to a sniffer, paint and glue are poor substitutes for petrol.
"Petrol is the big one.
"In communities which introduced Opal, sometimes there is a little flurry of activity to get other substances, but none of them have anything like the kick of petrol.
"If you sniff glue, you get a bit high, but it's not that sort of major kick.
"Same with sprays.
"It's like super light beer compared to good whiskey."
Dr Cairney's grant comes from the National Health and Medical Research Council and follows ground-breaking work by her showing that the circumstances under which sniffers can recover with abstinence.
She explains her future research: "If we find that people can recover to a certain extent but they'll still have executive functions deficits or memory problems, then there's no point trying to get them to do tasks or jobs where they have to use their memory or their executive functions.
"We're better trying to get people to work on jobs within their capacity, not exposed to things they can't do.
"We're doing a 10 year follow-up of ex petrol sniffers.
"We don't have any data like this, no understanding what the long term outcomes are for petrol sniffers."
Dr Cairney says the cases of more than 100 people, some of whom may be dead, who had been sniffing heavily for about 10 years, will be studied.
The work's focus will be on "what made some people recover and what made some not," and what were the most important points in the initial recovery phase, when people need the most care and how long it takes.
She says there is no knowledge about how to treat a sniffer who's stopped sniffing, nor how to recognise, and deal with, the extent of the brain damage.
"If you check into a hospital with a heart attack they will know exactly what to do.
"Heart attacks have been widely researched around the world. Same with alcohol. But we have no understanding about petrol.
"We need a coordinated approach to attack petrol sniffing.
"You need to know the medical and social story."
There's research around the world on abuse of other inhalants not petrol.
Says Mr McFarland: "The money Sheree got was from a source not accessible for funding ground-level activities, but [the research] is crucial to give us the capacity to do realistic brain functions testing of Indigenous non-literate non-English speaking sniffers.
"Without this research, there is no way to get support for these people, who we think have serious brain damage that justifies care packages from disability funding sources."
Neither Chief Minister Clare Martin nor Health Minister Peter Toyne agreed to be interviewed on these matters.
GREAT ART IN NEW HOME. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
Despite heavy rain in the region and reports of flooded roads, hundreds of visitors joined residents of Yuendumu, 290 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs, in a party last Saturday to celebrate the opening of the new purpose-built Warlukur-langu art centre.
This came in the same year as the centre's 20th birthday, with exhibitions in every capital city as well as Alice marking the occasion.
Newmont Mines, operators of the Granites gold mine on Warlpiri traditional land, contributed $100,000 to the building fund after "schmoozing" by the savvy management team of Cecilia Alfonso and Gloria Morales, with assistance from Alice-based Christine Godden.
The Commonwealth, through the now defunct ATSIC, came up with $208,000 and Warlukurlangu matched this with over $200,000 of their own funds profits generated from the sale of artwork.
The Northern Territory Government has since come to the party with a pledge of $25,000 which will allow the art centre to build a security fence, while a $3000 Community Benefit Fund grant will pay for the shipment of a storage system. Little wonder Warlukurlangu the name means "belonging to fire" is described by John Oster, executive officer of the advocacy body Desart, as "the shining example of what can be achieved when an art centre demonstrates good practice".
What's the secret? First and foremost, the reputation established by a core group of fine artists, including "living legends" Paddy Japaljarri Stewart and Paddy Japaljarri Sims, who continue to paint in the art centre every day.
They are joined by the centre's top-selling female artist Judy Napangardi Watson, as well as Shorty Jangala Robertson, Liddy Napanangka Walker, Bessie Nakamara Sims and Betsy Napangardi Lewis. Nonetheless, Warlukurlangu's profile was flat when Ms Alfonso arrived on the scene four years ago, with a Masters in Art Administration from the University of New South Wales up her sleeve, as well as two years' experience in an Aboriginal print gallery in Sydney.
She was joined by Gloria Morales, who had 10 years at the National Gallery of Australia behind her, no doubt making the management of the centre one of the most professional in the country.
By coincidence both women are of Chilean origin. "When I arrived, I found the art centre falling down around my head," says Ms Alfonso. "But Gloria and I, we can make things happen.
"She says they are both committed to "really making a difference in people's lives, giving people something to do". There are days when they want to "pull our hair out" but fundamentally the work is "very rewarding".
The art centre is the biggest employer in the community, with some 400 artists on the books. Last year they produced 1900 paintings, and sold over 2000 works, including prints. Turnover came to $1.25m.
All people asking for canvas are given it, but how much and how quickly they get more depends on their work selling.
And "all work eventually sells", says Ms Alfonso. This is partly due to appropriate pricing, but also to quality control exercised by the art centre.
Ms Morales looks at each and every canvas and gives feedback on it. An artist will be asked to "try harder" if the canvas is hastily done.
Artists are given cash up front for their work but it must be "sellable", says Ms Alfonso. "We have to be realistic.
"We are a business with a heart we help people a lot, give them lunch every day, pick them up, take them on trips, do our work with good humour but the bottom line is that we are a business."
The artists' colour palette is unrestricted, and over the years has become increasingly bright, with artists choosing whatever colour they want.
Paints are mixed in conjunction with the artists by the management team.
This ensures that the paint is well mixed, says Ms Alfonso, but it is also a measure to protect the centre's assets. "Imagine if 400 people were in the mixing room, it would be the biggest mess!"
Last year we spent $80,000 on paint alone. "Artists can have as much as they need but we have to make sure there'll be some the next day."
Works are priced for turnover. Apart from the core group of collectable artists, Ms Alfonso says the art centre has a strong reputation for producing high quality medium range work.
Shorty Roberston's grandson, Sebastian, and Paddy Stewart's daughter, Queenie, are both selling very well from exhibitions curated to specifically promote the centre's emerging artists.
This gives Ms Alfonso reason to be optimistic about future of Warlukurlangu. "Younger artists are coming in every day asking for canvas.
"While the old people are here they will continue to dominate, but they wanted the art centre in order to pass it on to the younger generation.
"I think the space has to be vacant for the younger people to move into it, so on my optimistic days I think this will happen with the natural cycle of life."
Visitors are welcome at the art centre at any time, no permit required. There are two big "happy and welcoming" signs on the Tanami Highway, seeking to draw in passing tourists.
Many collectors are regular visitors, and two one from Holland, one from America were at the celebrations on the weekend. They make it their business to visit at least once a year.
Is the future then to sit back and reap the rewards of having become a "destination art centre"? "We've always got more plans," says Ms Alfonso.
They have just finished building a third staff house; they are undertaking maintenance on the two old staff houses; in the coming year they intend to start servicing artists at Nyirrpi, 160 kms away; they are busy organising a full interstate exhibition schedule; and on Monday Ms Alfonso travelled with six of the artists to Canberra for them to have surgery on cataracts.
"Gloria and I want to do everything necessary for the art centre to keep going when we leave," she says. For the foreseeable future administration of the centre will have to be in the hands of someone from outside the community, hopefully eventually an Aboriginal person.
"People here can't say no when family members ask them for money. That's a real problem and our artists are well aware of it.
"They want an outsider who doesn't have those obligations to manage the business.
"But at least half of our management committee are in here every day painting.
"They know exactly what's going on in the art centre and are very strong and active in its operation.
PICTURED ABOVE are artists Shorty Jangala Robertson, and "living legends" Paddy Japaljarri Sims and Paddy Japal-jarri Stewart listening to the speeches. In 1983 Stewart painted 20 of the 36 Yuendumu School Doors, seminal to the development of Warlukurlangu.
BLACK ART: $12M NEEDED. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
Desart, the advocacy body for art centres in Central Australia, estimates $12m is needed to improve their infra-structure.
Before the last election the Commonwealth committed half that amount from the Aboriginal Benefit Account but as yet no money has been released.
Desart has been asked to supply policy advice, including a prioritising of needs. These range from provision of equipment to the provision of staff housing 15 are needed across Central Australia, with many art centre managers sharing housing with staff of other services or living in two-room dongas.
Desart is also working on the development of a code of conduct for the Aboriginal art industry, with a major meeting next week in Darwin involving the ACCC as well as a number of Territory Government departments. The advocacy body has a three-year Art Centre Leadership Project underway, to strengthen to ability of art centre committees to manage their business.
This includes the development of a strategic vision for each art centre. Says Desart executive officer John Oster: "The artists need to consider questions like why they are painting. Is it to earn income or is it to pass on culture? Depending on the answer, what are they going to have to do to keep going, to manage their centre, to bring young people into it?
"These are the same questions strong and robust organisations need to ask themselves everywhere.
"Every time we go to a meeting, artists tell us they are worried about passing on their culture, engaging young people in the art centres. They don't know if the young people are listening."
Once again Warlukurlangu are doing a good job with this. They run a school holiday program at the art centre.
And they have a reasonable number of practising artists in the 25 to 40 year age group, a very important group for succession."
A STRAIGHTFORWARD SOLUTION. Report by ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
Two local inventors, Alex Nelson and Mal Crowley, will appear on national ABC television on the New Inventors program, after being named joint Outback Inventor of the Year.
Bernie Hobbs, presenter of the program, came to Alice in August to find the Outback Inventor of the Year and instead found two, Alex (pictured) for his environment-friendly seedling planters, and Mal, for his feral cat trap.
Alex came up with his idea 25 years ago and believes his planters have the potential to revolutionise growing plants and even food crops in harsh conditions all over the world, including Central Australia.
He devised them after seeing the plastic ones used at the forestry nursery formerly at the Arid Zone Research Institute.
"They often damaged the roots and caused a condition called transplant shock which damages or kills the plants," says Alex.
"The less damage there is to the roots of a plant when it is planted in the soil the greater chances of survival. By using the tubes you avoid transplant shock because the tubes go straight into the ground.
"It is so simple and straightforward."
The planters are empty toilet rolls dipped in molten beeswax to make them water resistant.
"Air is expelled from the tube while it's in the beeswax," explains Alex.
"The tube hardens within a minute and is ready for use."
The tubes are then filled with soil and seeds or seedlings are planted in them.
Then when the plant is strong enough the whole tube can be planted in the ground.
The tubes are biodegradable and disintegrate after a few weeks depending on the moisture levels.
Alex first tried the tube planters in his garden and was "delighted" with the results.
He used to work for Frank McEllister, an expert horticulturist at the Arid Zone Research Institute: "He said that every successful garden in Alice Springs is 90 per cent failure," says Alex.
"But this can significantly increase the success rate in places where things wouldn't normally grow."
Alex experienced a 90 per cent success rate in his garden. He then used the planters for a larger project, planting 13 River Gum seedlings at Fenn Gap.
"It worked brilliantly.
"I planted the River Gums right at the hot time of year in an exposed situation but I only lost one. They grew up straight away."
The tubes could help with the vegetation of remote communities in Central Australia and beyond.
"I don't think it's a patentable idea," says Alex, "but this humble little device has the potential to turn deserts green.
"Everything depends on the dedication of the people who use the idea but it's incredibly cheap and simple. Anyone can do it.
"Remote communities or third world communities in arid or semi arid regions could benefit from it.
"It could be used for food crops like melons or plants grown for firewood, for browsing by livestock, windbreaks, landscaping or site rehabilitation."
Alex Nelson will appear on the New Inventors on November 2.
Mal Crowley's invention won't be featured until next year.
QUEENSLANDER WINS BIG ALICE GOLF PURSE. Report by ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
Rain over the weekend failed to dampen spirits at the PGA Ladies and Legends Australian Open held at the golf club over the weekend.
In fact, the cloudy skies and mild temperatures made the course more comfortable for the players.
The $30,000 professional purse prize money for the 54-hole competition was won by Neil Wall from Queensland who led the three-day tournament from the first round.
His consistent scores of 70 for round one, 71 for round two and 75 for the final day brought his final score to an equal par of 216, two ahead of his nearest rivals. Although on equal points of 145 after the first two days, Kenneth Oung's final round score of 73 pipped Allan Cooper's 74 to bring him to a par of 218.
Garry Merrick, the former resident professional golfer at the club in Alice Springs, finished seventh with a par of 222.
One of the game's big hitters, Merrick was expected to place higher, as was Randall Vines from Queensland (the PGA Champion of 1972 and 1973) who ended the game in 12th position.
The competition is part of the National Seniors Order of Merit, an annual rankings list which will be decided in December.
Joanne Bannerman and Vikki Tutt tied for the highest placed female golfer of the weekend, both finishing 19th on a par of 236.
Young player Tutt performed well to place 19th she is still a trainee professional, two years into a three-year program.
It was the second time the Ladies and Legends Australian Open has been held in Alice Springs, and organisers hope the club will be able to host the event again in 2007.
"It's a magnificent course here in championship condition," said Melville Proud of the PGA.
"This is one of the best professional events in Australia because of the professional organisation by the club and a world standard golf course" with a par of 218 for the three-day event.
RACING: GIRL PROVES PRECIOUS FOR LEFOE. Report by ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
On Sunday Pioneer Park saw jockeys Craig Moon and Gary Lefoe both ride to winning doubles, and leading trainer Leanne Gillett extend her lead in the premiership with another double victory. Race one, the three-year-old Class One handicap over 1200m, saw Moon win on Go or See.
The jockey was happy to share the lead sitting out four wide during the run, the horse kicked for him on the corner and he was able to win comfortably by three lengths from Wazzy who settled on the pace but weakened in the straight.
Third in was the unlucky Table One, who after missing the start by four lengths then suffered when his jockey dropped the whip at the 400m mark. But the youngster was noticed running on strongly and he may be one to watch.
Race two saw the Class B handicap over 1200m go to Akhaton, ridden by Gary "Soft Hands" Lefoe.
Lefoe redeemed himself with punters this week after previously being beaten on the horse due to an ill judged ride.
Lefoe tracked the speed to the corner before asking the mare to go she came on to win nicely from Very Strange who tried hard, with Danskel running on for third.
The Class Four handicap over 1200m was won in strong fashion by She's a Card.
The mare tracked the two stablemates Doberman and Grand Cognac who set a suicidal pace in front, and as they weakened she pounced on straightening and won well for jockey Wayne Orbell.
Second was Hot Magic who ran on and Grand Cognac who held on for third.
The fourth race was a Class Two handicap over 1000m, and proved to be the second leg of Lefoe's double.
A very confident display by Lefoe on Our Precious Girl saw him get up in the last stride to win by a head over the pacemaker Regal Rose who looked home 100m out, and third was the weakening Abetacrew.
The last race of the day was the Alice Springs Cricket Association's handicap over 1400m. Craig Moon got his second winner when Fire Joe graduated to the open class with an easy win.
Settling midfield the horse tracked up along the fence and raced away in the straight from Abra who battled hard.
Third was Apiary who had a nice run but failed to finish off on the day.
CRICKET: MEMO ROVERS RETURN. Report by ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
Memo Rovers played themselves proud in A grade cricket on Saturday, beating this year's premiership favourites Federals by two runs.
Federals won the toss and batted first at Rhonda Diano Park, making 121 all out. The team underestimated the strength of Rovers, using the game as an opportunity to trial some of their younger players.
Rovers' improved bowling and fielding meant the wickets kept falling a changed opening lineup saw Jakob Roth and Michael McPherson start the game, but it was captain and coach Brendan Smith who got the most Federal men out, four for 22.
Rival Federals' captain Tom Clements scored the highest number of runs, making 35.
When it was Rovers turn to bat, Jarrod Wapper for Feds took the most wickets, three, but the Rovers men kept pushing and finished the game 123 for nine.
Nick Clapp made the most runs for Rovers, 29.
Brendan Smith was delighted with the win: "It was quite a stressful game and our batting let us down a bit we put ourselves under pressure.
"But we bowled quite well and fielded well which was what we wanted to improve on.
"The result should give us a lot of confidence."
LETTERS: Aboriginal ownership could control parks.
Sir, With regard to the proposed Aboriginal Ownership of West Macs National Park, I would like to make two points.
A large proportion of visitors to the Centre list 'Aboriginal Culture' as a high priority. Visiting an Aboriginal owned Park will help to fulfill that desire for many.
For some it will be a sufficient level of cultural experience. It will be good for Alice tourism.
Secondly, World Heritage listing of the West Macs National Park is the single most important boost Alice tourism could have.
Aboriginal ownership of the Park as a guarantee of its cultural value will be a crucial element of the World Heritage application, and its possible success.
Alice Springs Town Councillors please take note!
Cash for regional businesses
Sir, Local businesses have just two days left to apply for a share of $200,000 from the 2005 Yellow Pages® Business Ideas Grants program, open to Australian small and medium businesses and closing on 21 October (this Friday).
One winner will be chosen in each of four categories: Best Small Business Idea Award Metropolitan (1-20 staff); Best Small Business Idea Award Regional (1-20 staff); Best Medium Business Idea Award Metropolitan (21-100 staff); Best Medium Business Idea Award Regional (21-100 staff). Each winner will receive a $10,000 cash grant and $25,000 worth of Sensis® advertising, which includes Yellow Pages and White Pages® advertising.
Up to 12 finalists will each receive a $1500 cash grant and $5000 in Sensis® advertising. This year we want to showcase and reward small businesses that are developing new ideas, processes or practices. We are looking for ways innovation has helped businesses save time, improve the bottom line, or to gain a competitive position in the market.
Examples of innovation include:
€ using the internet in a unique way;
€ clever marketing that has provided a return on investment;
€ new ways to improve customer satisfaction;
€ different ways to keep staff happy;
€ innovative methods to improve production.
Entry is free; forms are available at www.businessideasgrants.com.au or by calling 1800 886 680.
Peeling back the layers. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
In Australia, special adulation is reserved for actors who become successful in Hollywood. This means that none of us who listen to the radio, watch television or read magazines and newspapers are ever far away from the next earnest interview with Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Geoffrey Rush or, everyone's favourite, Nicole Kidman.
Their pronouncements from California are greeted with a hushed reverence that is usually only reserved for cricketers. For this reason, I am hugely relieved that cricket is not played in the USA. Otherwise, an even greater proportion of every news bulletin would be devoted to furry-lensed interviews with incoherent men in floppy caps.
Every time Nicole Kidman pops up on the radio or telly, it's like receiving an unscheduled phone call from your busy and popular sister who lives overseas. You think you know her well, but somehow you don't.
She's such an over-achiever that she always slips into the conversation a reference to the latest skill that she has acquired. Last time, she had mastered the mandolin and was learning an African language while casually mentioning that she recently won gold in the state synchronised swimming championships. Meanwhile, you wonder why you can't synchronise your weekly grocery list and always have to go back a day later for the items you forgot.
Being a reasonable substitute for a sister, I listen to Nicole with hushed reverence too. The other day she explained how life has provided her with a helping of both joy and pain. It is the baggage of life, etched on her personality. It represents the combined layers of experiences that make her up. If you don't easily walk away from these experiences, then they resonate within you.
This piece of psychobabble must have come from a bearded therapist in LA, but it doesn't matter. These words were enough to make me rush out and buy one of those magazines that lurk near the checkouts at Foodland and have actresses with marriage problems or eating disorders on the cover.
I wanted another helping of emotional vulnerability, for Nicole's insight had made me look differently for a while at people around me. What kind of resonating layers do they have, I wondered?
Better still, it gave me a whole new way in which to pigeon-hole other people. As time passes, the shoddy way that I categorise people changes. When I was a political warrior, people were either with me or against me. After that, I started to see other people as either old or young, then overweight or not, then either well-off or financially struggling.
Before long, everyone I meet will be classed as either gravely ill or a picture of health. The analysis has become more self-serving and cynical of late. Don't ask me what I think about global warming or the threat of bird flu because I am still working out whether you are porky or not.
Resonating layers of hurt are much harder to gauge than porkiness. As casually as I could, I asked some people about this subject, not wanting to pry or make them think that their intimate personal lives would find their way into this column. But of course, none of us want to talk about painful personal experiences and even less so in a town where someone is your friend today and gone to Adelaide for good tomorrow.
And yet when you do get past the larrikin exterior or the barbecue babble of interesting people you meet, then the effort is worth it. Sometimes you share a private experience with someone else and they do the same. A piece of one layer is revealed and maybe a forgotten emotion is uncovered. Then we all get back to talking about the footy and the cost of petrol.
The joys of being out of range. COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.
Until recently I had not realised the impact that mobile phones have had on modern society. Although most of my friends in Alice have mobile phones and I own one myself, I haven't regarded them as important or essential, but maybe convenient, especially while on holiday interstate. I've got my landline and as family and friends are only a short walk or drive away I don't use my mobile phone much.
In Stockholm everybody has a mobile phone, and they use it all the time. Not only can you chat with or text friends, you can find out the time table for public transport and access lots of other information. However it is impossible to find a public phone, and if you manage to find one a phone card or credit card is necessary in order to use it. The minimum cost for a phone card is about $10. I had to borrow a mobile phone to survive while I was there.
On several occasions the location and meeting time wasn't finalised until the last minute by phone. If I missed a train it was good to be able to let people know I was late and if I couldn't find someone in a crowd I could always phone them. But it seemed to me odd and a bit ridiculous when one morning my aunt phoned my dad from the driveway outside his house instead of knocking on the door. Wherever I went mobile phones were going off and people around me were talking but seldom to anyone present.
Mobile phones have obviously become an integral part of life. How did we ever manage without them? Naturally we want to stay connected in our busy lives even if we have little time to actually socialize, and we can choose to hide or avoid people by not answering the phone, something which is difficult to do if they pop round to see if you are home and knock on the door.
I've read that you can buy a coffee machine that you can switch on by sending it a text message and I've heard of heaters and air-conditioners that can be switched on in a similar way. It should make life much easier.
Breaking up with someone must be less traumatic than when you had to meet face to face and tell them. Now all you have to do is text "it's over" and change your number. Eventually we should be able to minimise physical exertion and emotional strife. I cannot help wondering what the developed world is developing into and what having a high standard of living means. Will we all be happy when everyone on this planet has a mobile phone, a digital camera and a big screen TV?
I have asked people I have met during the last few days what they appreciate most about the geographical area in which they live, and they have all answered the natural environment and the people. "Country" and "people" top the list yet many of them are preoccupied with gadgets, especially mobile phones. I had dinner with an old friend and during our two hours together she picked up her phone at least eight times. It is more important obviously to be available to all your friends at all times than to be fully available to the one sitting at the table in front of you.
I've been spoilt by living in a corner of the world where it is still possible to be out of range, where a short drive out of town will cut you off from the interruptions of the advances of the technological evolution. It probably won't last, but I will make sure I enjoy the scenery and the company while I can.
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