6 WORKING, 394 MORE NEEDED
By KIERAN FINNANE
Six Aboriginal men from Ti-Tree have just completed a pruning
contract for local grower Kahl Table Grapes: 100 more jobs could be
available if they had “work ethic and skills”.
Anmatjere Community Council CEO Neil Feazey says council’s goal is to eventually get all those people off CDEP, off welfare and standing on their own two feet.
This would come not before time: the industry, going strong for three decades and peaking in 2001 with a turnover of $20m, is forced to recruit 300 people from interstate to do the picking, despite the rampant local unemployment.
It has to be taken step by step, says Mr Feazey: “If we can get 20 working at harvest time, we’ll be doing well.”
Harvest starts early November and goes through till just after Christmas.
Pruning begins each year in mid-May and goes through till the end of June, requiring a workforce of about 100.
The council’s achievement, in collaboration with the Department of Primary Industry and the grower, appears small but better a small success than a big failure, argues Mr Feazey.
“We have had people working full-time for wages during harvests in the past and it hasn’t worked.”
“The grower wants a certain return,” he explains: so much harvested for so much money.
Individuals on wages weren’t providing that return, but the council felt they could manage a contract that would.
In someone else’s hands such a contract might have involved three workers.
The council would involve six, at no extra cost to the grower, in order to “maximise the development of the local workforce”.
The council believes in principle in the lifting of the remote area exemption that allows people in communities more than 90 minutes from towns by car to be “temporarily exempt” from having to work or carry out training in exchange for benefits.
But Mr Feazey says he’s not sure of the fine print of lifting the exemption and council “can’t afford to have 50 people on CDEP without meaningful work and the possibility of managing and supervising it.
“It’s a fine balance to strike,” he says, “between having meaningful work that we can manage as opposed to another sheltered workshop.
“People don’t realise what is involved.
“The work on the farms is not next door, it’s five kms away, 60 kms away.
“If people were left to their own devices, they wouldn’t get there.
“We have to provide transport, we have to get them out of bed, look after the logistics, provide the equipment.”
There was no additional fee in the contract for council to do this; they did it because “we loathe the fact that 300 people from Victoria come in for the harvest while local people are sitting down.
“We’re trying to prove that local people can do it but at the moment they need support.”
While industry response has been good, Mr Feazey says council were still “on our knees” to get the contract. They did this by providing a work gang to clean up the farms after fruitfly infestation.
“We did it as a community service, to try to win some kudos,” he says.
“Out of that we got the pruning contract.”
What’s next? Two of the pruning gang, have started horticulture apprenticeships with the Territory Government; the Anmatjere council is sponsoring one of the positions.
The other four have returned to five half days a week on CDEP.
“What we didn’t want was after three weeks’ work was them going on the grog for two weeks,” says Mr Feazey.
“We’re trying to get away from that boom bust cycle.”
He also says the four would much prefer to be beginning apprenticeships themselves than returning to CDEP work.
But meanwhile there’s talk of more work coming up with planting.
“We’re trying to get people to express their ambition,” says Mr Feazey, “to think past next pay day.
“The welfare to work position of the government is starting to bite. We’re using that to encourage people.
“We’re telling them the stick is coming, and we’re trying to get the carrot happening, to encourage people to change voluntarily.
“But if 100 people suddenly had no dole there’s not 100 jobs I can get them to do.
“It’s limited what council can provide out of programs like housing maintenance, municipal services, aged care.
“The horticulture industry is our big target, albeit seasonal.”
By KIERAN FINNANE
The solar technology for Alice Springs to become largely self-sufficient in electricity is becoming more affordable, but our sun-drenched town is unlikely to build an energy export industry because of its distance from the national grid, says Greens Senator Christine Milne.
She argues Australia must cut its use of fossil fuels for electricity generation, although she fails to provide hard figures for the cost of, for example, reduction in the use of coal, nor a sober assessment of the political fallout of large increases in the cost of power.
On a recent visit to the Centre, Sen Milne told the Alice News that new technology can cut the cost of photovoltaic units (PVs) by 75%.
It is being developed by researchers at the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems at the Australian National University (ANU), and commercialized by Origin Energy in South Australia.
Earlier this year householders told Alice’s Solar City bid organisers that they want solar-generated electricity to be more affordable (Alice News, March 2).
Organisers put the cost at $15,000 to $18,000 for a PV able to supply 20 per cent of an average household’s electricity. PVs convert sunlight into electric current which is then fed into the electricity grid, offsetting the householder’s energy bill.
At the current price of electricity it would take more than 50 years to recoup the cost of such a PV, possibly more than its lifetime.
But Sen Milnes says the ANU’s “SLIVER” technology is “a huge breakthrough”.
It has taken “the wafers of silicon that make PVs, sliced them very thinly, and turned them on their sides so that they cover a much larger area”.
What’s more these slivers can be embedded in the building fabric, for example, on awnings and window blinds, so their application is more flexible than the heavier older units.
“This isn’t experimental technology, “ says Sen Milne, “it’s ready to go but is being held back by lack of government support.”
Sen Milne says Alice should also take advantage of solar thermal power generation, technology that has been around for some time, and that can be “hitched” to gas fired power stations like Alice’s, replacing gas for much of the time and falling back on it only in extended periods of cloudy weather.
Solar thermal plants involve huge arrays of mirrors that focus sunlight onto a central point where a solution such as sodium chloride is heated to a very high temperature and used to boil water that drives the electricity-generating turbines.
Palm Valley gas, which is presently used, will be depleted by the end of the decade.
Future gas supplies, recently secured, will come from the Blacktip Gas Field, 100 kms west of Wadeye in the Bonaparte Basin, extracted by Eni Australia Limited and “more than sufficient to meet Power and Water’s gas supply needs long-term”, according to Minister for Essential Services, Paul Henderson.
Solar thermal has an additional advantage, says Sen Milne’s policy advisor, Oliver Woldring, in that it can increase the energy content of gas by about 25 per cent.
Sen Milne says the Cooperative Research Centre for Coal in Sustainable Development - not a place where you would expect to find pro-solar propaganda - estimates that solar thermal arrays covering just 35 square kilometres could cater for all of Australia’s present electricity needs.
A recent report by the CRC says that the cost for solar thermal power “is presently twice that for wind and unacceptably high compared to fossil fuels.
“But it’s expected this cost will decrease rapidly in the next 10 years, mostly due to mass production associated with overseas projects”.
This potential provides “a strong driver for accelerated development of the technology”, says the report, adding that Australia has the potential to development “a world leading position” in the area of large scale thermal storage, indispensable to continuous generation with solar thermal as the source.
Sen Milne says the CRC has acknowledged that solar thermal generation has the capacity to provide baseload power at an equivalent cost to coal by 2013 – just seven years away.
Alice has certainly got the space, given land owner and native title holder cooperation, and the sunlight for a solar thermal array.
A McDonnell Douglas built plant has variously been mooted for Yulara, Tennant Creek and Katherine, but cost has always knocked in on the head.
Now a partnership between the US firm and Israeli interests is working on a system using an innovative air receiver and special optics to reflect, concentrate and convert sunlight to provide the high temperatures necessary to directly power gas turbines in a combined cycle to generate electricity. A gas turbine is providing much of Alice Springs’ demand and a second one is planned.
But a major hitch for large scale power generation from renewable energy, so abundant in The Centre, is its distance from the national grid.
In the last election campaign the CLP promoted the possibility of a transmission line connecting Darwin to the national grid – for importing not exporting electricity. The proposal, which failed to gain any traction with the electorate and was pooh-poohed by the government, was costed at $1.3b. (Alice News, June 15, 2005.)
There are other areas in, for example, western New South Wales, that have similar advantages of space and sun and are already connected to the grid.
What is worth thinking about, however, according to Sen Milne, is the development of industries using the excess power that could potentially be generated here.
She says ideas like this need to be pulled into an energy, industry and employment strategy for rural and regional development around Australia.
The Senator is critical of the Howard Government for failing to develop such a strategy, instead simplifying the Australian economy over the last 10 years to “take us back to what Doug Cameron has suggested is ‘a quarry, a farm and a nice place to visit’, dig it up, cut it down and send it overseas.
“Their only strategy is to continue to back coal mining, uranium mining, minerals extraction and that’s right across the country.
“When the boom ends or when the rest of the world decides they are no longer prepared to buy coal because they’re putting a price on carbon and the greenhouse effect, then what is Australia going to do?”
Sen Milne cites the Roaring Forties windfarms in Tasmania, which are going offshore to China because of the federal government’s refusal to extend the mandatory renewable energy targets.
She says: “China is building itself a competitive advantage gobally in the manufacture of environmental management and renewable energy technologies and creating thousands of jobs and an export market.”
She says Germany has turned its back on nuclear energy and brought in a law “making energy wholesalers buy renewable energy from whoever wanted to sell it to them at a fixed price for a fixed period of time”.
So that meant German banks would lend people money to cover their roofs with photovoltaic cells because they knew they had a market for the energy at a fixed price and for a fixed time.
“Then the economics kicked in,” says Sen Milne. “That’s how the Germans have driven their solar revolution.”
She says China has set its renewable energy target at 15%, India at 20%, the UK at 10% while Australia is “at 2% and phasing out”.
“We are losing.
“So, what I’m arguing is that by addressing climate change, the greatest threat facing the world and Australia, we will solve one of the big problems of the Australian economy.”
This means investing heavily in research and development of renewable energy, which could be the basis of a new export market.
“The main argument the government uses is that there has to be a level playing field, they can’t keep subsidising all of these renewable energy industries.
“They fail to acknowledge that coal is heavily subsidised because costs of coal are externalised. If you internalise the cost of carbon emmissions then everything else absolutely becomes completely viable.
“Their argument that Australia has to go nuclear to address our baseload needs is completely wrong. Lots of technologies can produce baseload and peaking power.
“All we have to do to make the other technologies economically viable is to put a carbon price on coal.”
In this she is backed by the International Energy Agency which last year, in its review of Australia’s energy policies, described “environmental sustainability” as “Australia’s greatest energy challenge”.
Although Australia is on track to meet its Kyoto target of 8% emission growth from 1990 to 2008–2012, mainly through land use and forestry practice changes, its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP are 43% above the IEA average.
The IEA noted that Australia is taking “a technological approach to reducing emissions from its energy sector.
“While new technologies will be a key component in tackling the long-term problem of climate change, there is no certainty when and to what extent the necessary technologies will be developed.
“Such technologies would most likely require a carbon price signal to facilitate their implementation.”
Sen Milne does not state what financial and political consequences would flow from a cut to the “heavy” subsidies for coal.
Sen Milne supplied a copy of research by the CRC for Coal in Sustainable Development which looks at the costs of producing electricity by the various renewables compared with the cost of coal-fired generation.
The research draws on studies from around the world and takes into account many variables.
It concludes that wind energy and biopower are the most competitive with coal: wind by 2020 and biomass in the “medium to longer term”.
Photovoltaics will be competitive by 2030, but as it is a discontinuous source of generation (it doesn’t work at night), the research authors conclude that solar thermal may be the go.
MINDERS RUN COUNTRY
by ERWIN CHLANDA and KIERAN FINNANE.
What’s the point of a government minister coming to the Alice Show
mingle with the locals when he isn’t prepared to answer questions about
hottest issue affecting his portfolio right now?
Ask Chris Burns.
Or better still, ask his minder, because that’s who’s doing the talking for the government these days.
The Alice News saw Dr Burns, in safe proximity of the ALP stall, on Saturday and after some small talk asked what the maximum permitted noise emission is from the government power station, right next to a residential suburb, and now equipped with a screaming turbine generator, parked in the open and driving the locals ‘round the twist.
We’d learned that a complaint has been lodged under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act which says “A person must not cause an environmental nuisance”.
This created the delicate situation where the government is investigating an offense allegedly committed by a government instrumentality for which Dr Burns was responsible on Alice Springs’ bright and sunny Show Day, albeit in an acting capacity.
The interview didn’t go at all well. It went something like this.
Dr Burns: You have to ask James Hook [a minder].
News: Oh, where is James? Gone off to have a beer, maybe?
Dr Burns: No. He’s in Darwin.
News: Oh well, you’re here, I’m here, you’re the minister and so I’m asking you.
Dr Burns: Send me the question in an email and I’ll send you an answer.
News: No, that’s not how it works. When you give me an answer it is likely to prompt another question and you then answer that question and I ask you something else and so we’re having an interview, rather than a protracted exchange of emails that would bust my deadline.
Dr Burns: The answer is no comment.
News: Please yourself.
What a tragic contrast that was to Dr Burns’ valiant leader, Clare Martin, then in Opposition, when she stood up bravely for the public’s right to information.
That was in Parliament on April 4, 1999, and she was getting stuck into her predecessor Denis Burke: “Let’s have freedom of information legislation,” Ms Martin exclaimed.
“Let’s knock out every single exemption and show Australia what the Territory can do.
“What a challenge! Let’s show Australia.
“If the Chief Minister’s objection to my freedom of information bill - Labor’s freedom of information bill - is that it has too many exemptions, and would not allow, if we brought it in, the community a decent access to what the government is doing, then let’s knock them all out.
“And we will have an awesome piece of freedom of information legislation.
“You can’t keep whingeing and whining. You’re a whingeing and whining government who won’t tackle the real problem.”
Tragically, now that Ms Martin herself is in Government, its army of minders spin the answers.
And you don’t have to scratch hard to find the spin in recent media releases put out by Peter Toyne’s minders.
“More Reporting Pushes Up Alice Springs Crime Stats” they have him claim, wearing his Justice Minister hat.
The March quarter figures show “increased reporting had led to a corresponding rise in the number of assault apprehensions, the number of people on remand and the number of convicted offenders”, according to the media release. The release does not produce any evidence for the interpretation it proposes.
The police media release on the same stats trots out the same line: across the Territory “the [19%] increase in [offences against the person] figures [was] driven up by the number of assaults reported to police”.
In Alice Springs the increase was 44 per cent.
There’s another statistic coming out of Alice Springs, not mentioned in the releases of course, that has a bearing on this 44 per cent: the hospital has experienced a 20 per cent jump in the demand for surgery in the last year which hospital general-manager, Vicki Taylor, puts down to “a lot of injuries resulting from alcohol consumption” and “family disputes” arising with more people staying in town (as reported in the Alice News of June 29).
Injuries speak louder than “reports”.
Meanwhile, minders have Dr Toyne as Health Minister also squeezing credit out of the extraordinarily high level of demand on the Territory’s hospitals.They are “the busiest” and “the best-funded in Australia”, trumpets a recent release.
The Territory had 481 admissions per 1000 people in 2004-05, up 20% from 1998-99 (401 per 1000), and more than double the national average for 2004-05 of 203 per 1000.
The release then goes on to use strangely triumphant language to report on the way bed provision lags behind the Territory’s high level of demand: “Dr Toyne said the Territory also topped the rankings with the amount of expenditure spent on public hospitals and the number of hospital beds per capita.
“Per thousand people, the Territory provides 3.7 beds, which is far above the Australian average of 2.6,” he said.
Of more relevance surely is the gap between provision and demand: the national 2.6 beds per 1000 looks closer to meeting the demand of 203 patients per 1000, than 3.7 beds per 1000 do to meet the demand of 481 patients per 1000.
In other words, the Territory has more than twice the demand, but only 1.4 times the beds.
Again Alice Springs Hospital general manger, Ms Taylor, paints the local picture. To note just a few points she made during a recent presentation to the town council:
• 128 renal patients need the 110 renal treatment places the hospital can currently provide and the demand is going up fast;
• there has been a significant increase in admissions for gastric illness (although the trial of a rotavirus vaccine may offer some relief);
• and from 2000 to 2005 there was a threefold increase in admissions for petrol sniffing harms, including patients in pediatric and maternity wards.
All this and more against a backdrop of continued difficulty in staff recruitment and retention especially over the Christmas period and a major rectification of the hospital redevelopment (glossed over in the release, of course).
Why can’t the minders simply let the facts speak for themselves? Then we can all get on with the business of trying to turn some of our challenges around.
DOES COMMUNITY RUN CHILDCARE WORK HERE?
By ELISABETH ATTWOOD
Questions have been raised about the viability of community based childcare in Alice Springs following the threat of closure of the Gap Community Child Care Centre.
The Gap’s entire management committee resigned last Thursday after it was unclear whether qualified staff would be at work to supervise the centre.
Community-based childcare centres are meant to be run by an annually elected management committee of volunteer parents who employ a paid director and childcare staff. Every parent who sends their child to the centre is part of the association that holds the centre’s license.
The management committee is elected by the parents and oversees the running of the service, including its finances and is responsible for meeting national standards of care. It also makes policy and fundraises but is not meant to get involved in day to day management of the service, that is, anything a paid staff member such as the director is employed to do.
However, because of the shortage of staff, parents of the Gap committee have had to carry out jobs like bookkeeping and payroll.
The latest director of the centre resigned on June 27 after only six weeks in the job, leaving the centre without a manager or any qualified childcare staff.
The centre has also accrued a “significant debt” thought to be over $30,000 owed to the tax office and general creditors, of unpaid staff superannuation and payroll liabilities. The extent of the debt is still unclear and is being examined by a financial investigator appointed by the committee on May 8.
Elke Wiesmann, a committee member since March, says the community childcare based model simply doesn’t work in remote regions like Alice Springs.
“Governments are saying that we have to run the childcare centre like a small business but the model is not working.
“It is a model that demands a lot of spare time from parents who have full time jobs but are being drawn into getting involved with the day to day management of a child care centre.
“The government says parents want community based childcare centres. They ask parents the question: ‘Do you want private or community based childcare?’
But they don’t ask ‘Are you able to spend a lot of your spare time to keep the centre afloat?’
“If they asked that question then they’d get a different answer.”
Excessive demands are being made of parents because of the difficulty in retaining and recruiting staff, says Ms Wiesmann who has a son, Louis, four, at the centre.
“It is invariable with the skills shortage in a place like Alice Springs. The director of the centre is expected to be a business manager but is not paid much over $50,000.
“The government holds up Bath Street as a well run community based childcare model. But four years ago they were in our position. All it takes is for a director or a few key staff to resign and the place keels over. Six years ago Braitling was in meltdown.”
Over 100 parents use the Gap facility but only one responded to the centre’s most recent plea for help and at last Thursday’s crisis meeting when the committee resigned only three parents attended.
Ms Wiesmann says it’s not just Alice that has such problems.
“I spent two years in Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley on a community-based management committee. I worked very hard to set that centre up with the women there but it was the same problems: recruiting and retaining staff and parents too overstretched to troubleshoot all the time.”
Ms Wiesmann says a better model would be for childcare centres to be run centrally.
“My idea is that there should be a regional childcare authority: a statutory authority with a professional board with parents and staff representatives running all the centres.
“Then the centres could afford proper wages, staff development and an accountant.
“There could be a parent sub committee for each centre but being run centrally would mean parents wouldn’t get drawn in to day to day troubleshooting.
“Delia Lawrie [Minister for Family and Community Services] has said she is disappointed that the Gap is closing. That is not true: we never said it is closing, just that the management committee can’t be responsible to keep it open.
“It is not her job to express disappointment in her constituency. It’s her job to help.”
The only private childcare centre in Alice Springs is Lil’Antz which has made two offers of a takeover to the Gap including one only last week, according to Ms Wiesmann.
“It’s much easier for governments if childcare is private. No sooner had our committee resigned last Thursday, than the licensing body [the children’s services unit of the NT Department of Family and Community Services] met with them [Lil’Antz].
“Maybe that’s why the government hasn’t offered help. They want to implement their preferred option of privatising childcare and be done with a crisis-ridden model.”
Alison Haggett, the director of Lil’ Antz, said: “We are in negotiations at the moment so we can’t comment on anything.”
Isabelle Kirkbride has been on the Gap committee for 18 months. Her little boy is three.
“The whole model of community based childcare is very difficult to work with. Our volunteer committee needs to put in a lot of work for the operational running of the centre which is not what it should be about.
“Without a director or qualified childcare workers it is unfair for staff to take full responsiblilty for the safe welfare of children. And the management committee shouldn’t also have to bear this responsibility.
“We’ve been asking for support from government childcare services but only been offered bandaid approaches. We don’t want to go down that road again.”
Shelley Forbes, director of the Alice Springs Child Care Centre in Bath Street, was away as the Alice News went to press but a former committee member for two years, Ariel Couchman, says Bath Street went through similar problems as the Gap three years ago.
“It didn’t get to the stage where the centre might close but there was financial problems and staffing problems. Well-intentioned people are trying to do the payroll and finances on top of everything else and nearly all the problems relate to that.
“More funding from the government to allow staff to do professional development would help retain staff and help centres be run more effectively. It’s hard to attract directors with enough skills already for the job: our preference was someone who had experience on the floor with children but a director is a very different job from a childcare worker.”
Vanessa Munro has been the director of the Eastside Childcare Centre for 16 years and in the industry for the last 20. She says implementing a new model for community childcare would be difficult.
“The community-based childcare model has worked. What other model is there? Governments aren’t going to run a childcare service. There are two choices: community based childcare or private.
“But if parents want it, they have to be prepared to put the time and the effort in to make it work.
“Will our centre be closing? No.”
A public meeting was held at the Gap last night after the News went to press but it was expected that the town council (responsible for the infrastructure) and representatives from the childcare licensing body and Family and Children’s Services would attend. Options to be discussed included the centre merging with the Toy Library or the Bath Street Child Care Centre, or be run by the town council.
The NT Minister, Ms Lawrie, said: “I am disappointed that the committee thought it could just tell parents that the centre would not open.
“ The Department of Health and Community Services will work with its Federal counterpart to put in place a temporary solution to keep the service functioning.
“One of our highly qualified and experienced public servants will be assisting in the management of the centre until a director can be appointed.”
Alison Breheny of Children’s Services has been acting as assistant director at the Gap for two weeks but last week the Gap committee were told she had to go to Tennant Creek on Monday and Tuesday to patch up a problem with a childcare centre there.
“This would have left the Gap without anyone to supervise the staff, all of whom are unqualified,” says Elke Wiesmann who explains this was one of the reasons why the committee resigned.
“The government is not properly resourcing this: they don’t have enough people to monitor centres and who can step in in a crisis.
“No one was able to give us an answer whether the centre would open last Monday and Tuesday when the acting assistant director was due to work elsewhere.
“In fact I was told only on Friday that she would be able to work at the centre after all, but no one was able to give us that undertaking at our last meeting [on Thursday July 13], so we felt it was unsafe to keep that centre operating without the promise of any qualified staff.”
COUNCIL DECLINES TO ACCEPT GRANDSTAND
By KIERAN FINNANE and ELISABETH ATTWOOD
Angry aldermen on Monday night voted to not accept handover from the Territory Government of the new grandstand at Traeger Park until security fencing is in place and the government guarantees funding of Stage 2, expected to be another $2-3m.
“Can we say to the government, thanks but no thanks?” asked Alderman Jane Clark.
CEO Rex Mooney confirmed that council “has the ability to not accept or to attach conditions”.
Aldermen also expressed anger over the naming of the grandstand without any community consultation and affront at not having been invited to attend the opening ceremony.
“We have been snubbed, but that’s politics,” said Ald David Koch.
Alds Murray Stewart, council’s sporting facilities representative, and Geoff Bell, a board member of the AFLCA, in particular were astounded that they had not been invited.
Delia Lawrie, the NT Minister for Sport and Recreation, opened the grandstand on Saturday despite its incompletion.
Stage one was finished on Friday: the grandstand’s structure, changing rooms and seating for 225, budgeted at $1.2m blew out to $3m.
The further funding is needed to pay for the coach, timekeeper and media boxes, and a function room behind the seats, says Tim Baker, general manager of the AFLCA, who says he is “disappointed” it’s unfinished.
“We’ll try and bargain with the town council and the AFL to try and get it finished off.
“It will get finished but how long it will take is the million dollar question.
“It would be great to have it done before the next AFL game in March.”
Delia Lawrie said: “The government commitment was always to build the grandstand and we have met that commitment.
“There is now the option of another party such as the town council or the AFL to add on to it.”
Ms Lawrie said the reason for the project running $1.8m over budget was because of “a lift being installed so everyone in the community can access the grandstand and increasing cost of construction in the Territory”.
After council’s decision last Monday a spokesperson for Ms Lawrie said:
“We will work with Alice Springs Town Council and are confident that they will agree to accept this fantastic new Grandstand. The Territory Government has spent $5.5 million on upgrading Traeger Park in recent years.
“We are not going to build a fence around the grandstand. There is a perimeter fence. If ASTC want to build a fence that would be up to them.”
On the naming of the facility, the spokesperson said: “While there were many individuals who are worthy of acknowledgement, the Bowden and McAdam families are seen as two families that have made significant contribution to AFL and sport in general in the Central Australian community.”
However, aldermen’s objection was not to the honouring of the Bowden and McAdam families, described as “tremendous Territory families” by Ald Stewart.
The objection was to the lack of consultation: “How would Darwin like it if a group from Alice turned up to rename their Marrara Stadium?” asked Ald Stewart. “This is an insult to everyone on council and the community of Alice Springs.”
The former stadium was named after Ted Hayes, member of the pioneering Central Australian family.
“Was the Hayes family consulted?” asked Ald Stewart.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff, who together with council CEO Rex Mooney, was invited to the opening, says the name Ted Hayes must be retained somewhere in the park grounds. She is otherwise not concerned about the lack of consultation.
She was absent during Monday night’s discussion and does not share her council’s indignation or concern over the security fencing issue and funding of Stage 2.
She is unconvinced that fencing is needed for reasons of vandalism but intends to talk more to AFLCA.
On the funding, she says “it will take some time to negotiate” and meantime, “if the grandstand is there, it should be used”.
Council’s director of technical services Eric Peterson said on Monday that no provision appeared to have been made for cleaning the grandstand.
Minister Lawrie’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on this issue.
RECORD BULL PRICE
By ELISABETH ATTWOOD
This year’s supreme champion bull at the Alice Springs Show sold for a bumper $4750.
Andrew Bennett’s poll hereford from Bendulla stud in South Australia was named supreme champion by the judge Bruce Creek, an Angus stud breeder.
The selling price for animals at the bull sale and also at the Roe Creek sale on the Thursday was the highest for three years because of the high standard of beef being grown, said Craig Jarrett, the Territory livestock manager for Landmark.
“They have been the dearest sales we’ve had.
“The quality of the cattle is improving every year and a lot of interstate buyers are surprised at the quality if they haven’t been here before.”
Mr Jarrett said the highest cents per kilo sold by Landmark was $1.96, for Mount Riddock’s 331kg steers which sold to Rockdale feed lot.
Mr Jarrett said buyers came from across Australia, with cattle being sold to New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria as well as within the Territory.
And the number of entries into the cattle show was “overwhelming” said Nicole Hayes, the organiser of the competition.
“We had over 100 entries and we also had new events like the cattle branding and the kid’s calf classic and best kept yard.”
She said increased rainfall compared with last year could have been the reason for the increase, but she was surprised by the numbers as the land still remains dry.
The carcass competition was also reintroduced, a competition judged by two local butchers for the best slaughtered animal.
“It hasn’t been on for a few years but this year it has been supported well considering how dry it has been,” says Ms Hayes.
One of the biggest crowd-pullers was the cattle branding event.
Bill Hayes of Undoolya Station was asked to judge in memory of his father, Ken.
“It was started in Central Australia at the show grounds by my dad. His idea was to keep the old sport going and have fun showing it to people,” said Mr Hayes.
Cattle branding is carried out in a more mechanical way on stations today, but the crowd at the show loved watching representatives from the different local stations catch and brand the beasts the old fashioned way.
“It was Becky and Steve Cadzow’s idea to bring it back this year,” says Mr Hayes.
“I’ve never judged anything before, I’m usually competing, but I really enjoyed it. And it was that popular, I hope it will keep going.”
The results of the major categories at the cattle show were: the Centenary Cup (pen of two steers) won by Donald Holt of Delney Station, champion heifer was won by Dick Cadzow, Mount Riddock Station, the carcass competition by Jamie Evans of Hamilton Downs and the quickest cattle branding was by Eddie Nunn of Macumba Station. In the main children’s category, the Perpetual Encouragement Award for children between eight and 15 years was won by Toni Braitling.
“She put a lot of work into the show and also showed natural ability,” said Nicole Hayes.
PUBLIC TOILET BLOCKAGE
By KIERAN FINNANE
The plumbing may be working but the newly built public ablution block at the just opened $10.4m Civic Centre remains closed as council ponders how to manage the facility.
No one has come forward in response to call for a tenders so council must now look at in-house management.
On Monday night aldermen confirmed their intention to have the facility permanently staffed and to charge a nominal fee for entry but came across an unexpected stumbling block.
The facility has no accommodation for a permanent staffer. In particular, there is no room within it that could be airconditioned.
Alderman David Koch was irate as the plans had specified, he said, a staffed facility.
“What planet are we on?” he asked council officers. “Now it is going to cost us more to do it!”
The other problem is whether or not to also charge a fee at the nearby library toilets.
Director of Corporate and Community Services Mark Blackburn said library staff had indicated that if a fee were to be charged at the main facility then it must be charged also at the library, otherwise the library would be left dealing with demand to use its toilets by all who did not want to or could not pay.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff requested that a report be prepared on how the library would manage its toilets, especially vis a vis children.
The proposed indoor heated swimming pool was also the subject of speculation at Monday’s meeting.
Ald Koch expressed cynicism about the $8m granted by the Territory Government stretching to cover the cost of a worthwhile facility, given the slowness of council’s processes.
“With building costs going up at 20 per cent a year we’ll end up with a duck pond,” he said.
He also didn’t recall council asking for a pool: “We asked for money to repair aging infrastructure but the pool came up at a ‘strategic time’,” he said, referring to the last Territory election campaign when the pool was promised.
Ald Jane Clark said council representatives had been on a steering committee examining the options for such a facility.
She said the preferred option of a heated pool co-located with a gym was expensive but would earn an income whereas a heated pool on its own, as is now expected, “will be a drain”.
CEO Rex Mooney was more optimistic, expressing satisfaction with the 6.75% interest that the $8m is currently earning: “There wouldn’t be a local government authority in Australia with $8m in the bank,” he said.
RUNWAY WORK FOR DOMESTIC FLIGHTS - AYERS ROCK RESORT
Voyages, owners of the Ayers Rock Resort, have confirmed that they
“looking to expand the capacity of the runway to accommodate larger
However, “this does not involve the creation of an international airport”, says a spokesperson.
“It is focussed on expanding the capacity of the existing operations in relation to the operation of the resort.
“This project has yet to receive the relevant approvals and we anticipate commencing works late this year [or] early next, subject to approvals and finalising the scope of works.”
The NT Government are majority owners of the airport at Yulara.
Local tourism industry lobby group CATIA do not want to see Yulara with capacity for direct international flights before Alice Springs has cemented its position in this regard.
See our lead story in last week.
LUCID VISIONS AT TWO MILE
Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
For the second time in roughly six months the artist-run Watch This
Space has collaborated with Araluen to present work by its members at
the Araluen galleries.
The current show, The Other Side of Two Mile, is a smaller show than the earlier Converge but again presents an interesting range of artists working with diverse approaches and in a variety of media.
They were brought together in an artists’ camp at Two Mile (upriver from Glen Helen) organised by Watch This Space for the last Easter break.
The nine local artists worked alongside Sydney-based and nationally reputed Euan Macleod. Macleod did not instruct or direct but simply went about his art making, right there in the camp and in the environs.
The participating artists appear to have followed his example, each finding their own way to respond to the country they were in.
At Araluen there is only one example of Macleod’s work, a dramatically felt, highly textured landscape featuring craggy ranges that dwarf the artist at his easel alongside a 4WD.
But in another good move, the Space is showing more of Macleod’s work produced at Two Mile, from this Friday until August 20.
Meanwhile, following the camp the Alice artists entered into another process, when Araluen curator Tim Rollason and former curator Alison French visited them in their studios to discuss which work they would develop for the exhibition.
This has made for a focussed showing from each.
Jenny Taylor’s eyes turned downward, eschewing the horizon and the vast spaces so often capturing the attention of landscape artists here, to explore the rhythmic play of light and shadow across the ground and vegetation at her feet.
Sue McLeod was also taken with light and shadow though on a larger scale, painting three landscapes in a rather sombre mood and one breaking through as if with regained optimism.
Astri Baker, whose past work has been mostly figurative, has produced some expressive and confident abstract works, their perforated layers somehow earthbound.
They contrast with the airy views of Neridah Stockley: she must walk in country with her face tilted back. She likes to paint the tops of hills cutting their shapes into spacious skies.
Andrew Moynihan’s work looks like nothing else: he found his images through intense reverie, recorded in a poetic text on the gallery wall.
The text refers to “little pink cave bats”.
These became tiny terracotta figurines put to “welcoming” beds in the landscape and later installed in the gallery, suspended from the ceiling as “guardians” above the elegant structures supporting the photographic documentation of what he did with the bats at Two Mile.
The singularity of his installation rises to the challenge of his inspiration, the “lucid visions [that] streamed within”.
Columnist ADAM CONNELLY wonders if the latest anti-smoking campaign
is turning men into monsters.
Is it me or has the world around us gone a bit nuts?
I’m not talking about big crazy like the Middle East or Mumbai or for that matter Mutitjulu. I’m talking about the little crazy, the more “creeps under the radar” crazy.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve just returned from holiday but over the past week or so I’ve come to the conclusion that things aren’t quite normal.
On second thought maybe what I’m seeing is normal and I haven’t noticed before. I don’t know.
Allow me to explain.
Do you ever see things other people don’t? Hang on, before you call the men in the white coats I don’t mean seeing old lady apparitions in the hallway at night or little green men. If you are seeing those things, seek help now!
I mean do you on occasion see the perfectly everyday and think things are a bit off kilter?
Do you ever find yourself asking the person next to you, “Did you see that?”?
I’ve been doing a bit of this lately and I’m worried.
For example, I was waiting in the queue at the local minimart the other day when I saw the guy in front of me ask for a packet of his preferred brand of cigarettes.
The checkout operator must have reached for a packet which depicted an ulcerated mouth and rotting teeth as part of the new get tough on smokers campaign.
Not wanting to carry around such a grotesque image the man asked “ Can I have the one with the sick kid on it instead?”
What just happened there? Here’s a regular, law abiding family man who has just requested a picture of a little girl gasping for breath, a little kid requiring medical assistance.
We’ve turned men into monsters!
It rained last week. As the first drops fell upon the parched townscape, something truly nuts occurred.
From every door of every business, everyone walked out into the rain.
It was like a scene from some post apocalyptic film.
Hordes of you pouring out to feel the rain on your face. Don’t you shower?
I know we don’t get much of it but you have all seen rain before. Surely it’s’ a sensation you have all felt.
For a minute or two it looked like you were all waiting for the return of the mother ship.
Another example of the utter nuttiness of the past week or two is a friend of mine who has gone on a camping holiday to Broome.
After packing the troopy with all the essential for a great trip, my highly functioning and intelligent friend thought a good way to spend a quiet night in before heading off in the morning was to watch a DVD. A DVD called “Wolf Creek”!
No stop me if I’m wrong but there may not be a more ridiculous film to watch before heading up the Tanami than one which tells the story of a crazy serial killer performing acts of torture on unsuspecting travellers on remote stretches of highway in the Northern Territory.
What’s wrong with “Shrek”? I could go on citing examples of little displays of utter nuttery.
What’s going on Alice Springs? Is it lunar? Some sort of planetary alignment perhaps or maybe the weather?
Maybe it’s me.
All the big crazy I was talking about earlier might be too much for my head to handle so it’s decided to switch to safety mode and sweat the small stuff instead.
Whatever it is, I hope I don’t keep the dose I’ve caught.
Not sure if they make straight jackets in my size.
In our lead LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Opposition Leader Jodeen Carney
says the decision by CoAG to remove customary law/cultural practices as
a source of mitigation in sentencing is a confirmation of a twice
rejected CLP policy.
Sir,– The decision by CoAG to remove customary law/cultural
a source of mitigation in sentencing is a confirmation of a twice
rejected CLP policy.
I have repeatedly called upon the Chief Minister to stop playing politics with this issue.
It is frustrating beyond words to see her government reject a policy twice only to sign up to the same policy at CoAG when she is under the scrutiny of Australia’s gaze.
Fortunately, as I have already indicated, we will again bring a bill before the Parliament at the next sittings. We look forward to support from the government. This can be done and dusted by August.
While I welcome the government’s change of heart, I want to see the change in action before there can be any celebration. As everybody well knows we have been waiting over five years for promised whistleblowers legislation, an effective FOI, an ombudsman to be funded, and it seems yet another six months before there is any detail on a 20 year plan.
I will continue to offer support to sensible and credible plans that the government comes up with.
The Chief Minister still has not done me the courtesy of replying to the letters that I have written to her about these issues so that we can move forward.
Thanks to ASH
Sir,– During May and again in June it was necessary for me to travel to Adelaide for cardiac treatment. Each occasion was proceded by a stay in the Alice Springs Hospital.
I can not praise enough the staff of the hospital.
It is a tremendously busy place but those who work there maintained good humour and gave care and kindness which was greatly apprecieated.
On my second trip I was evacuated by Royal Flying Doctor plane. Again I could not express enough my gratitude for such an efficient event.
The great little Pilatus plane took off at 9am and landed at midday. I was accompanied by a sympathic nurse and what a great pilot we had!
Often when a commercial plane lands it feels like a truck driving on rocks. The Flying Doctor plane landing was the smoothest I have ever experienced. Not a thing could be felt. I would like to say a big thank you to all those who wished me well, to my great family for the help from the members, and to those who said prayers for me, grateful thanks – they worked!
Sir,– My husband found a ladies Roxy wallet at a domestic Sydney Airport car park, on June 25. The wallet has receipts from Alice Springs Kmart and Coles, cash and some jokes, but no ID.
The owner should contact me.
Free tax help
Sir,– Volunteers trained by the Tax Office are now available in your area to help low income earners prepare their tax returns free of charge.
The volunteers have been trained to help people with straightforward tax returns, baby bonus applications as well as those eligible for franking credits who do not have to lodge a return.
Tax Help is a free service designed to help people on low incomes, especially those preparing their tax return for the first time.
The program, now in its 18th year, helped more than 75,000 people last year including those from Indigenous or non-English speaking backgrounds and those with disabilities.
Tax Help is available by appointment at community-based facilities such as senior citizens, Indigenous and ethnic community centres until the end of October.
To find out if you are eligible or for the contact details of your nearest Tax Help centre, phone 13 28 61.
Assistant Commissioner, ATO
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