NOISE REPORT: GAPING HOLES
By ERWIN CHLANDA
A secret report into noise from the Power and Water Authority’s electricity generating station in Alice Springs fails to disclose facts that may be crucial to the success of a class action being prepared by residents.
The report leaked to the Alice Springs News gives only averages over three weeks of increased noise from a gas turbine generator parked in the open, and within 300 meters of homes in the Golf Course Estate.
It does not disclose noise peaks which may contravene the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act.
It is understood that the legislation is vague and regulations still have to be formulated.
However, NT noise control authorities are guided by laws in NSW which are regarded as “best practice”, and prosecutions are launched if an “intrusive” noise is more than five decibels (dB) greater than the background noise.
The authors of the report, interstate consultants Hayes McKenzie APW, are measuring noise in two locations, Range Crescent (in the Golf Course Estate) and in Kilgariff Court, in Sadadeen.
The report says when the Titan and two other turbine machines are running, the average noise in Range Crescent is up to 2.9 dB greater than when only the piston engines inside the power station building are in use.
However, that is an average of 2978 readings taken over three weeks.
The News has been told by a resident that an officer of the Department of Environment, investigating noise complaints, has taken his own readings and found the noise at times to be significantly higher than five dB above the background noise.
Average readings appear to be meaningless because, as the report itself explains in great detail, the level of “intrusive” noise heard by residents is intermittent, and dependent on wind direction and strength.
It is the noise peaks, about which the report is silent, which could be the subject of litigation.
The authority (PAWA) commissioned the report last year. It runs to 63 pages plus appendices, and tests are still being done.
Residents complaining about the noise concede that they chose to live near the power station, putting up with the noise of the piston engine motors inside the power station building, a noise the report regards as “background noise”.
It was the installation of the turbine machines last year that sparked the controversy.
Power station generation manager Jean-Luc Revel gave the Alice News comprehensive information about technical aspects.
He could give no details on policy nor financial matters.
PAWA chief Kim Wood and Environment Minister Marion Scrymgour did not respond to requests for information.
A spokeswoman for Ms Scrymgour says: “Advice has been provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Power Water on the levels of sound attenuation that will be required to keep noise below the nuisance threshold.”
KITTLE'S EMPIRE SET TO EXPAND
By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Alice-based Peter Kittle Motor Company is negotiating to buy two more Toyota dealerships in Adelaide.
The company bought a dealership at Para Hill in Adelaide late last year and Mr Kittle, born and raised in the Territory, relocated to the city to manage the new business.
“Negotiations are in train and we are hopeful for a positive outcome,” said Peter Davey of Peter Davey Toyota, with dealerships at Prospect and Cheltenham.
Mr Davey in turn has purchased a “fairly large dealership in Victoria”.
If the deal goes ahead it would certainly make Peter Kittle Toyota “a large entity”, said Mr Davey.
CHILD CARE CENTRE MAY BE SAVED
By ELISABETH ATTWOOD
The Gap Child Care Centre could be saved from closing after an emergency meeting of parents and government representatives last Wednesday.
At the meeting staff threatened to resign unless a solution to the crisis was found. Fifteen new parents who were not on the original management committee then stepped forward as an interim working party to come up with short and long term solutions for the childcare centre.
As reported in last week’s Alice News, the entire management committee resigned two weeks ago because of the centre’s financial and staffing problems. It is hoped a new management committee will be elected at a special general meeting, expected to be held in three weeks’ time.
The meeting last Wednesday was attended by childcare representatives from the Commonwealth and state governments, and the mayor, Fran Kilgariff.
The NT government promised that the centre’s acting director, Alison Breheny, will remain in the position until a permanent director is appointed.
Ms Breheny works for the government’s childcare licensing commission.
“We got an undertaking that she will be acting director for the foreseeable future but she is being expected to do her current job as well as at the Gap. We are concerned that is not sustainable,” says Elke Wiesmann, one of the former committee members who says she will stand again.
“Too many staff and parents have already been burnt out by this over the years.”
Ms Wiesmann was pleased with the number attending last week’s meeting but says the problems of the centre aren’t over.
“It remains to be seen how much time everyone is prepared to put in.
“But opportunities have come out of this crisis which we should grab with both hands.
“I’ve got five more months before my son goes to school and I will work on a long-term solution and contact other childcare centres to see if they’re interested in implementing a more central model for community-based childcare.”
In response to last week’s story, director of The Toy Library, Kaye Clapin, says her organisation has not been consulted over a merger with the Gap Child Care Centre but some of its staff members have volunteered to help out.
The Toy Library is a member of the Early Childhood Providers Group which is made up of directors of childcare, playgroup and three year old kindy centres in Alice Springs.
“We work together to help each other and build a community,” says Ms Clapin.
Ms Clapin also maintains that community based childcare can work in Alice Springs.
“The Toy Library is governed by a voluntary board of management and its efficient community based style of governance has given families in Central Australia access to early childhood programs for 27 years.”
PUBLIC LANDSCAPING, ALICE SPRINGS STYLE!
Report by ELISABETH ATTWOOD
The NT government owned area between the Stuart Highway and the railway line near Heavitree Gap has been turned into a dustbowl following work by the Department of Planning and Infastructure last month.
The department cut down saltbush which was “trapping litter and had the potential to inhibit flows in the drain”, says Geoff Christensen, regional manager for construction.
He would not comment on the dustbowl effect that resulted.
“We are working with Greening Australia to provide the natural grasses to replant in the drain and surrounds between the Stuart Highway and the railway line,” said Mr Christensen.
Grass and herbs seeds will be supplied by Greening Australia to the department within the next week, says Peter Barker, regional manager of Greening Australia Northern Territory.
“Greening Australia believes drains should remain vegetated otherwise erosion will occur. Having said that, replacing this vegetation with other Indigenous vegetation is the next best thing.
“I don’t think there is any major damage to the land.
“We’d have to assess the country to make an educated guess on how long it will take to recover.”
The department will start planting the native grasses within the next week to help bind the soil together and stop the dustbowl effect, says Mr Barker.
“ If we get rain relatively soon, we could see some growth coming up immediately. If we don’t have any rain or irrigation, it could be months,” says Mr Barker.
After the saltbush was cut down it was left in piles and set alight by itinerants. There was smoke haze in the area for days.
“We removed the hazard by burning the saltbush in a controlled situation,” said fire station commander John Kleeman.
“It took several days to burn because saltbush is slow burning and tends to smoulder.”
FIASCO AT ROCK: NITPICKING TO HIDE ALP CLUELESSNESS?
COMMENT by KIERAN FINNANE
There are lots of questions to be asked about the latest state of affairs at Mutitjulu, the beleaguered community at the foot of the Rock, but Senator Trish Crossin’s contribution to the debate, targeting senior public servant Gregory Andrews, steers wide of the mark.
Mr Andrews was the project manger for the Mutitjulu Working Together Project, a whole of government approach to the community’s problems, for 18 months before his appointment to the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination in Canberra.
He has been extensively quoted in the Alice Springs News (Aug 31, 2005) for his insights into how to dismantle welfare dependency at Mutitjulu, ideas with obvious broad relevance for Central Australia.
Mr Andrews has also argued that governments must prevent widespread human suffering and the waste of public money by sacking ineffective or corrupt Aboriginal councils, and making reform an essential condition for funding (Alice News, April 20).
He counters the argument that intervention is seen as a new form of assimilation, saying that “many people in dysfunctional communities are already being assimilated into a deepening culture of addiction and violence”.
His evidence to Territory Coroner Greg Cavanagh, investigating three deaths from petrol sniffing at Mutijulu, received widespread media coverage.
In his findings the Coroner singled out Mr Andrews for commendation: “I must say that I have rarely met a more qualified, committed and emotionally and culturally supportive advisor in terms of Aboriginal substance abuse problems than Mr Andrews. His work is simply outstanding.”
Yet Sen Crossin in a release last week charged Mr Andrews of giving inaccurate evidence to the Senate inquiry into petrol sniffing, demanding that he correct the record or face being accused of misleading the Senate.
From a quite lengthy verbal submission by Mr Andrews she singles out the following:
“Mr Andrews [suggested] that the Coroner Greg Cavanagh did not support the roll out of opal fuel, when in fact he did.
“In his evidence he said that had lived in the community when he really lived at Yulara, and that ‘young people were hanging themselves off the church steeple on Sunday and their mothers were having to cut them down.’ Another gross misrepresentation of what has happened in this community.”
In the context of what has been and is happening at Mutitjulu and in the context of the serious research and policy work conducted by Mr Andrews and the thrust of his comments to the senate committee, this is really nit-picking and a sad case of shooting the messenger.
Why does Sen Crossin not give consideration to any of the constructive ideas put forward by Mr Andrews? Perhaps because they show up the dearth of fresh ideas on Indigenous policy from her own camp.
Nonetheless the latest moves at Mutitjulu seem to have produced a fiasco, with first the appointment on July 19 of a high flying corporate recovery specialist, Brian McMaster, to administer the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation, just six months after it came into existence.One day later legal action began contesting that appointment.
This is the third administration of Aboriginal corporations at the Rock ordered this year, following that of the Mutitjulu Community Health Service and the Nyangatjatjara Aboriginal Corporation. The administration of the latter is also being contested in court.
In the case of Mr McMaster, a court order on July 20 has limited his powers “other than for the purpose of carrying on the corporation’s day to day activities and receiving and paying recurrent receipts and expenses”.
In particular he “was not [to] enter into any new contracts, employ any new staff or terminate the employment of any staff”.
MHR Warren Snowdon has suggested that the court action is over “a question of due process and the right of the community to reply to detailed allegations”.
The Alice News asked the office of Indigenous Affairs Minister, Mal Brough, about the process leading to the appointment, particularly about the Section 71 Show Cause Notice and apparent lack of a Section 60 examination that is supposed to precede it under the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 .
The News also asked what the specific governance issues at Mutijulu are and whether essential services funds were being withheld and why?
The questions about process were not answered though no doubt they will be in court. A spokesperson made the following statement: “The Australian Government’s priority is the residents of Mutitjulu.
“The Department did not release funds to the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation because of significant issues to do with governance of the corporation. For example, some services paid for were not delivered.
“Our concern all along has been and is the effective delivery of services for all residents of the community.
“Essential services are provided by Parks Australia and have not been affected in any way.
“Centrelink entitlements have continued to be paid.”
Other questions must surely be about the apparent failure of the Mutitjulu Working Together Project which has seen since September 2004 an intensified problem-solving focus on Mutitjulu, involving the community council, the Central Land Council, the Territory and Australian Governments, as well as the Ayers Rock Resort and the NPY Women’s Women’s Council.
All this effort and increased funding support, for instance for the establishment of a police post in the community, and still the latest chaos.
Where did it go wrong and what are the lessons that can be drawn for a brighter future for remote communities?
NT GOVT SLOW TO BACK LOCAL TV DRAMA SERIES
By KIERAN FINNANE
The NT Government poured $330,000 into the flop TV series The Alice but is slow to confirm it will give money to an Alice Springs production getting strong interstate support.
Double Trouble, CAAMA’s big first in Indigenous and Territory film-making, began pre-production on Monday.
It’s the first TV drama series for a mainstream network by an Indigenous production company, as well as the first such for a Territory company.
The 13 half hour episodes have been presold to the Nine Network for free to air Australian broadcast and to Disney for Australian, New Zealand and PNG distribution.
The Australian Children’s Television Fund will look after other international distribution, with positive interest expected from Germany, France and Canada.
The Film Finance Corporation has backed the series with investment of over $1m, while the NSW Government film office has put in $243,000.
“All we’re waiting for now is for the NT Government to match NSW,” says executive producer Rachel Clements.
The series, the brainchild of longtime CAAMA producer Priscilla Collins, takes its cue from the Hollywood film, The Parent Trap. It tells the story of identical twin Aboriginal girls brought up separately in Sydney and a remote Central Australian community, who meet and agree to exchange places.
“It’s about the fun, colour and adventure of Aboriginal childhood,” says Ms Clements, “only the good stuff, the kind of publicity and cultural awareness the Territory needs like never before.
“It’s going to make local kids stronger, make them walk a little bit taller.
“There’s never been a break for a Territory production company like this and CAAMA is the only one big enough to bring it off.
“We desperately need the extra funding although we’ll make this series and it’ll be brilliant no matter what.”
Ms Clements, who was trained at the Australian Film Television and Radio School and whose experience includes stints with Miramax and MTV in London, has already begun to pare her budget back, line by line to cover overages, particularly in airfares.
Despite a strong showing of local talent, including award-winning cinematographer Allan Collins who will shoot the series, inevitably some personnel and cast will need to be flown in. Disappointingly, Qantas has declined a sponsorship deal and meanwhile, airfares have gone up.
Initially CAAMA asked the Territory Government for $330,000 – the same as their contribution to flop series, The Alice.
CAAMA was asked to resubmit and did so, requesting a reduced amount, the same as allocated from NSW.
In other states, such submissions get allocated a project officer within the state film office, who remains the point of contact and conduit for information throughout the process. And funding decisions are made by film office boards, whereas in the Territory any request for funding over $15,000 has to go before Cabinet which makes for an agonisingly slow process.
Frustratingly, there has been no information from Arts Minister Marion Scrymgour’s office about the progress of CAAMA’s submission. At the eleventh hour “we are still clock watching”, says Ms Clements.
Ms Clements says a recent three day workshop at Hamilton Downs, run by the NT Film Office, focussed on Aboriginal film-making in the Territory and how it could reach a mainstream audience.
“And here’s Double Trouble being handed to them on a silver platter. If not this production, then what?” she asks.
Most of the series will be shot in the Centre. Even the Sydney interiors are planned to be shot here. The production will go to Sydney only for the city exteriors and then for post-production, part of the deal they made with the NSW film office.
While the lead roles have gone to South Australian girls after a nationwide search, most of the cast and about 12 of the 20 person crew are expected to be locals.
“The production will provide fantastic training and career development for many people. There’ll be hundreds of thousands of dollars spent at local businesses and a fantastic knock-on effect for local tourism,” says Ms Clements.
“We’re really hopeful that the Territory Government will realise this and give us their support but it’s frightening to start pre-production without knowing for sure.”
Minister Scrymgour did not reply to a request for comment.
THE ART OF BOOK MAKING
Report by ELISABETH ATTWOOD
Books made from clay, glass, sequins, buttons and even in the shape of a T shirt:a creative book making exhibition called Turn the Page, to be shown as part of the Alice Desert Festival, has been launched at Dymocks.
“It’s the second year we’re running it,” says Bev Ellis, the organiser.
“Last year’s entries were absolutely fantastic, they were just beautiful.
“Tourists and locals would wander in and get so excited looking at them: they had to wear gloves so they didn’t damage the books.”
Entries must be a book with at least four pages with some text inside “but the only limit is people’s imagination” says Ms Ellis.
The exhibition will be held between September 1 and 10 at the bookshop.
ELISABETH ATTWOOD looks at what's on in Alice
ALICE MUSO 'SAVES' THE AMAZON
Luc Floreani, a musician born in Alice Springs and now based in London, has launched a charity single in Britain to save the Amazon Rainforest.
Called Breathe, the single was released at top club Home House in London, and Floreani is flying to the Amazon in late September to film a video and documentary after performing gigs in New York and Los Angeles.
“The launch was amazing, a real success,” says Floreani who has also been made patron of the charity Saving the Amazon Rainforest Organisation.
“We’re on track to raise the funds to buy 500 acres of Amazon rainforest: it’s been renamed Breathe Wood. “We’ve picked the area and the deeds are in place: we just need a few more copies of the single sold!
“The documentary we’re filming is based on the destruction on the rainforest and we will interview forest dwellers and scientists.”
Floreani says he’s been advised to have three bodyguards to take care of him and his party while in the Amazon but remains passionate about his work.
The southern hemisphere’s biggest urban club event, the R n B Superclub, swings its sexy hips in Alice on Saturday night. DJ Def Rok returns to Melanka (he played at the Superclub’s last gig here) and is joined by MCJayson.
The Promised Land delivers again on Saturday night when top local acts, the Super Ralene Bros and Nokturnl, play from 8pm, 5 Stuart Terrace.
The final performance of Ozzy of Bojangles' Sunday afternoon duo, the Wizard and Oz, gets columnist ADAM CONNELLY all teary.
It was the end of an era for Alice Springs: the final performance
last week of the perfect Sunday afternoon duo, the Wizard and Oz.
It was a fantastic evening of reminiscing and music and laughs to cap off two years of fun Sunday afternoon fare.
All the regulars and semi regulars were there to farewell Ozzy.
Everything was going fine until the final song. The lights dimmed, candles lit the stage as Sean expertly plucked the guitar. The crowd swayed side to side, on the whole in time with the music and the Ozzy began to sing.
“Somewhere, over the rainbow ...”
Oh would you stop it! It was as though the entire crowd collectively remembered the final scene from Bambi. Not a dry eye to be seen. There was hugging, the rubbing of shoulders and the wiping of tears.
At that moment I remembered that Sean and Ozzy were the first people outside the bloke at the hotel reception to talk to me in Alice Springs.
I flew in to town on a Sunday and went to the “famous Bo’s pub”.
I remembered how friendly they both were to a poor lost city kid a long way from home. With that picture in my mind and “if bluebirds fly above rainbows” in my ears, I too shed a tear.
Being a long way from home and in a place so foreign makes you appreciate the little kindnesses as well as the grandiose gestures of the people here. The lift home or the dinner cooked throughout my first year and a bit away from home.
I have never made friends so close, so dear, so quickly. Despite all the problems this town faces daily, perhaps in spite of them, a concentration of warm generosity and kindheartedness flourishes.
I have met some of the most wonderful friends here in Alice Springs.
So I guess that goes some way to explaining why it seems more severe a cut when one of them leaves.
When people say they aren’t good at goodbyes I often think, “well you haven’t seen me have you?”
I am fairly god awful at goodbyes. And I don’t need a Judy Garland song to start me off either.
Over the first seven months here I became fairly close to a girl who became my housemate. We were both from Sydney and although we looked at things from a different angle we shared similar thoughts on things. Hang on! Have you noticed that I’m writing about her in the past tense? I called her last night. It’s not as though she’s passed on. But at the time, when she told me she was leaving it almost felt like it. At the airport I cried like a giant bearded child on their first day at school.
All credibility out the window and I didn’t care who was looking. A six foot three, 320 pound mass of sniffling, red faced blotchiness. I’ve looked better sure.
I guess the advantage is there aren’t too many people game enough to say anything to a big bloke in an emotional state. At least not to my face.
Alice Springs is at times a tough place to live. You can’t help feeling a connection with the friends you make here.
It’s as though you’ve both gone through a unique and trying experience. Not like Kakoda but you do feel like you’ve lost a commrade when they’ve gone.
We’re too far away from everything. The isolation of Alice Springs which is so poetically beautiful on one hand seems so brutally vast when you’re missing friends.
I have an idea though. I’ll invent a pair of shoes. Possibly out of a precious stone that will transport me to wherever I want to go just by clicking the heels. Brilliant idea… now if I only had a brain.
SPORT with ELISABETH ATTWOOD
HOCKEY'S FAMOUS FIVE
It’s a story you couldn’t make up: five lads playing hockey together in Alice who’ve made it to three national grand finals.
They were under 15 and under 18 national champions: but unfortunately missed out on making it three in a row last weekend at the 2006 nationals in Canberra, beaten 4-2 by Victoria.
Dash Hewett, Cameron Finlay, Jamie White, Daniel Versteegh and Miebaka Dede have trained together from their early teens, building skills and friendships that see them still together (with the addition of Miebaka’s brother Belema) ten years later.
“It’s an exceptional story,” says Jason Butcher, the NTIS hockey coach. “They are the most successful and historic team ever to have represented the Territory in any sport: no AFL or rugby team have done what they’ve done. “It’s unique to play in a final let alone win two. They are core players from a place with a competition that relies on four club teams that often don’t field 11 players. They’ve managed to beat the best in Australia, and Australia has the best hockey players in the world.”
Butcher called the team was “sensational” at this year’s nationals.
Finlay and Belema Dede are the only players who still live in Alice Springs: Hewett and White play in Perth for city teams, Versteegh plays in the local competition in Darwin and Miebaka Dede plays on the Gold Coast.
The team met just a day before the national championships.
NT vice captain Dash Hewett says their history is what makes the team so successful.
“I reckon it helps a lot. We know how each other plays and we’ve pretty much stayed in the same playing positions. We all trained with Darryl Byerley in Alice Springs who was the regional development officer. He was brilliant. We worked with each other and challenged each other when we trained.For its size, Alice has had a good amount of good players.”
NT GO KART TITLES 'BEST IN AUSTRALIA'.
The country’s leading go kart drivers have given the Alice Springs club a big thumbs up after competing here last weekend in the NT titles.
“This is the best state title I’ve ever been to in Australia,” said Dennis Burford Burford, now in his fifties, who took third place in the KT Heavy division at the weekend behind son Michael.
“The rest of the clubs in Australia should stand up and take a look at the Alice Springs club as they are leading the way in dirt go kart racing in this country.
“To run 10 classes over two days, running eight races each is a feat that no other club in Australia can achieve,” said Burford.
He also commented that the Arunga Park track is unique in Australia because of the drive (grip).
Most of the drivers have already confirmed their attendance at next year’s NT titles.
Rob Blaschek of the Alice Springs club says: “Over the entire weekend the feedback from the interstate competitors was great.
“Our facilities, track layout, surface and atmosphere are the best in Australia.
“The most common word I heard about our track from these guys was ‘awesome’!”
The most successful locals on the weekend were father and son team Bradley and Tony Connor, with son Bradley winning two number one plates and Tony one.
In his first season, former off road racer Chris Wallace has successfully made the switch to go karts, winning the number two plate in the very fast KT twin class with a consistent weekend’s racing.
Local female Rebecca Rawlings had a dramatic rollover in heat six of the KT Light class, at the second turn of the first lap.
Despite the kart falling on top of her, Rawlings suffered only bruising and kept racing to finish third in the KT Ladies class.
She says one of her biggest thrills was holding off Australian number one Lisa Walker for seven laps in round three, before Walker squeezed past her in the final turn.
“I didn’t know how far back she was,” says Rawlings who held the NT number one position for three years.
“I could hear her and I knew it was a matter of time before she would overtake me.
“It’s up there as one of my best races this weekend.”
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