ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
August 17, 2006. This page
contains all major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
MARTIN KNEW ABOUT MUTITJULU MAYHEM.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
A letter from a whistleblower alleges Chief Minister Clare Martin knew
in November 2004 - if not earlier - about children prostituting
themselves for petrol to sniff in the chaotic Ayers Rock community of
Ms Martin has neither confirmed nor denied the allegation.
The writer, who has since spoken to the Alice Springs News, notes Ms
Martin (pictured) claimed to have been “shocked” to hear about the
child abuse on the ABC program Lateline in May this year.
The letter, received by the News late last week, says in part: “In
November 2004 Chief Minister wrote to Paul Henderson, the NT Minister
for police about the social dysfunction and substance abuse epidemic in
Mutitjulu and significant human harm that it was causing.
“She emphasised the extent of sexual abuse and child neglect and
informed Minister Henderson that children as young as five had
contracted STDs and that young girls were prostituting themselves for
“She also informed Minister Henderson that two thirds of children in
Mutijulu were malnourished.
“In December 2004, well before the NT Coronial inquest that was held in
August 2005, the NT Chief Minister’s Department briefed Ms Martin about
ongoing violence and sexual abuse, including of children, occurring at
“The Chief Minister was also informed that according to Yulara Police
petrol sniffing was rife and that no one in Mutijulu, including its
leaders, was willing to confront the sniffers who were wandering around
the community with
petrol tins tied to their faces.
“In April 2005, ahead of an NT Community Cabinet meeting, the Chief
Minister and her fellow cabinet members were briefed by the Chief
Minister’s Department about the alcohol, marijuana and petrol epidemic
in Mutijulu that was resulting in significant human rights abuses, self
harm, violence against others and sexual abuse and child neglect.
“The Chief Minister and Cabinet Ministers were briefed that children as
young as five had contracted STDs, that young girls were prostituting
themselves for petrol, that two-thirds of the children were
malnourished, and that community governance and accountability were
“I am afraid of the costs to whistle blowers in the Northern Territory
so choose to remain anonymous.
“The briefing documents and correspondence mentioned above will testify
to the truth of this statement.
“An FOI request could reveal them. A question in the NT legislative
assembly would also be a useful exposition.”
The Alice News has asked Ms Martin’s media advisor, Fred McCue, whether
the allegations have substance, and if so, we requested copies of the
correspondence referred to.
Mr McCue did not respond to several contacts from the Alice News.
DIGITAL STORY-TELLING CAPITAL OF AUSTRALIA?
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Our public spaces would come alive, the secret life of nature be
revealed, our excellent events like Wearable Arts, the Beanie Festival
or the Finke Desert Race could work for us all year round.
Old Alice could be resurrected, Aboriginal culture celebrated.
The possibilities are endless with a bit of imagination and the
assistance of digital audiovisual technology.
The town has the film-makers, sound recordists and engineers, and
musicians to supply the content; we may need to import some technical
But quickly and for not very much money we could make a name for
ourselves as the digital story-telling capital of Australia.
It’s the vision of film-maker David Nixon who contributed this image to
give an idea of how digital projections could transform a place like
mall. The plain wall at the edge of the Flynn Church lawns,
of an eyesore at the moment, as a projection surface becomes an
Mr Nixon says cities like Melbourne are exploiting the latest
developments in digital technology in exciting ways, but spread over
the city the impact is diluted.
As a much smaller community, Alice has the opportunity to make a big
statement about itself and its identity by embracing new media
possibilities, he says.
“It would accelerate development in tourism, the arts, heritage and
take on reconciliation on a grand scale, instead of the hammering we’ve
been having lately.”
DEFT DESIGN FOR DESERT CAMPUS.
By KIERAN FINNANE
It’s a building that looks interesting from every angle, rising like a
stylised rocky outcrop from the surrounding landscape.
As you approach the Alice campus of Charles Darwin University, along
the Sadadeen connector road, the new university building, designed
by Alice-based Susan Dugdale Architects with Darwin company
Jackman Gooden Architects, almost exactly replicates the lines of the
hills in the distance behind it.
While striking, the building also sits into its site, looking like it’s
meant to be there.
This organic quality is only slightly marred by a render that is too
dark and that separates the main walls from the light-coloured upper
walls and roof.
I dare say this is not quite the effect that the architects were aiming
The approach to the building from within the campus is also
unfortunately cluttered, by a service building and carparks, but once
beyond the obstacles the building asserts itself with grace.
The entrance (above, right) is marked by a simple canopy structure that
lifts upwards as if on a gust of wind, responding to the upwards thrust
the core form of the building.
It’s not yet clear how users of the building might be directed around
it to make use of its grounds but internally the location is
beautifully exploited, with workstations beneath long low windows
looking out across open space to
the ranges on the southern side, and across the campus and town to
on the northern side.
The view to Mount Gillen from the ingeniously shaded second storey
balcony (top picture), let into the western wall like a ledge on a
cliff face, is spectacular.
For a building that has such an interestingly unpredictable exterior,
the internal layout is quite straightforward.
Simple functional work spaces open off a central axis, making the most
of natural light but protected, by the building’s north-south
orientation, from the harsh heat of the summer sun.
Bold, clever, far from prosaic, this is a building that responds to the
aspirations of its higher education purpose.
With construction a little behind schedule, it should be ready for use
in four to five weeks’ time.
LONGER STOP-OVER FOR GHAN PASSENGERS CHANCE FOR ALICE.
By ELISABETH ATTWOOD
The Ghan’s chief executive says the tourist industry in Alice Springs
is set to benefit in April 2007 from a new timetable and a
walkway which will link the train station to town.
The train will leave Adelaide on Wednesdays and Sundays and allow
visitors to stop in Alice for three or four days rather than two or
five before the train leaves for Darwin.
The Ghan will leave Adelaide earlier, at 9.30am, but will be slowed
down so “people can enjoy the unique landscape” says Tony Braxton-Smith
(pictured), the chief executive of Great Southern Railway, operator of
“When the Ghan first opened right through to Darwin, the focus was
between riding between Adelaide and Darwin, with Darwin flavour of the
“Over the last year there has been a shift to focus on Alice Springs as
a destination along the way,” says Mr Braxton-Smith.
He says the booking system doesn’t allow “accurate tracking” of how
many people are currently staying here for four hours, two days or five
“But market research and anecdotal evidence from staff says that now
half of our guests get off at Alice Springs and don’t reboard
immediately,” he says.
The busiest section of the route is between Alice Springs and Adelaide
and the reverse rather than Alice Springs to Darwin, says Mr
“Alice to Adelaide is always booked out first, and Darwin to Alice is
the least travelled sector.
“I don’t have any figures of how much more popular [Alice] is.”
He says that the timetable has been changed because of this, and also
because recent focus groups suggest travellers believe two days is too
short for a
stopover in Alice, and five days is too long.
He rejects critics who say passengers travelling on the Gold Kangaroo
package stopping over for four hours aren’t benefiting local business
in Alice Springs because they’re taken straight to the government-owned
Desert Park and not given an opportunity to visit shops and cafes in
“The idea is if Alice Springs has appeal, they will come back. It’s
plain that tourism in Alice Springs has had an exceptional period and
it’s partly because there are more people getting off The Ghan in Alice
Springs and not reboarding straight away.”
Mr Braxton-Smith announced the changes at a lunch attended by industry
delegates and government workers on The Ghan’s 77th anniversary.
He also announced that the NT government is funding a $330,000 path
between the platform and George Crescent called a Discovery Walkway,
being developed by Great Southern Railway and Tourism NT.
“It will run along the platform. The idea is to create a pleasant
visitor experience which meanders into town rather than simply a trek
through the industrial area.
“There will be information boards, shady rest spots and landscaping,”
said Mr Braxton-Smith.
The funding follows the $350,000 upgrade of the station completed at
the beginning of this year.
Mr Braxton-Smith said Great Southern Rail is “promoting the blazes out
of The Ghan and stopovers in Alice Springs”.
“We’re spending $2m on television advertising and also running the Red
Centre Campaign for a second year.
“We’ll continue to focus over the next 12 months on travel on this
route. We’re planning for further growth on it.”
The Red Centre Campaign is a brochure about the attractions Alice
Springs offers as a stopover which will be distributed nationally to
travel agents, with newspaper and industry advertising.
Local tourism industry people have welcomed the changes but say more
can be done.
“The four hour stopover doesn’t benefit the town much when visitors are
still being taken directly to the Desert Park which is government
"It's a shame those people can't have some time in the mall to use the
bookshops, souvenir shops, cafés and newsagents," says Danny
Brennan of Tailormade Tours, which has been forced to give up its
successful train tour because of the unreliability of The Ghan coming
up from Adelaide.
“We used to pick people up from the station and take them to the
Telegraph Station, Anzac Hill, Panaorma Guth and an hour in the mall to
“It was a great tour but not viable because we couldn’t rely on the
train from Adelaide coming in on time.”
Mr Brennan said that passengers need to be made more aware of the
beauty spots surrounding Alice Springs: “I think there should be blown
up pictures of the gaps, gorges and waterholes of the MacDonnell Ranges
on the train and
also at the station.
“If people could see those pictures, they would be able to see what
there is on offer here.”
Mr Brennan welcomes the new Ghan timetable.
“With two days, a lot go down to the Rock and don’t see anything in
“Three and four days would be better for us – people could go to the
Rock and still spend at least a day in Alice.
“The walkway is a good idea as well.
“Even though operators benefit from driving people from the train
station into town, any way to get people to visit the town is a good
Wayne Kraft, honorary ambassador to Alice Springs and owner of the
Overlanders Steakhouse, says the new timetable is “excellent news” but
it’s now up to tourism operators to make the most of it.
“We’ve now got to try to promote people to stay for seven days.
“If visitors do Ayers Rock and Kings’ Canyon they still won’t see
enough of Central Australia.
“The challenge is for the destination to get out there and pursue the
opportunity for seven days.
“We’ve got all the infrastructure and the product, it’s a matter of
cohesively promoting the place as a team and with support of Tourism NT
It’s impossible to judge the impact on visitor nights until the
timetable kicks in, says Daryll Hall, general manager of All Seasons
Oasis and All Seasons
“Hopefully it will make a difference. But until it’s actually running
and we have people coming through, we don’t know how it will go.”
Meanwhile, the NT still remains the only state not to subsidise train
tickets for pensioners. Great Southern Railway gives senior travellers
a 20 per cent discount but in South Australia, Western Australia,
Victoria and New South Wales this discount is between 33 and 55 per
cent thanks to the government subsidies.
Braitling MP Lorraine Braham said she’s been lobbying on behalf of
senior travellers for discounted fares.
“We’ve tried very hard. There are lots of people who would travel on
the train if they could get a discounted fare.
“I’m not sure why we still can’t get it. But we’ll keep trying.”
5 YEARS OF DOING IT BY HALVES (OR LESS).
COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The NT Labor government has shown in its first five years that it
doesn’t do things by halves, although some may wish it would: we’d be
Since Chief Minister Clare Martin’s first election win in August 2001
Alice Springs got the money for a half a heated pool.
It got two thirds of a football grandstand.
By year’s end, 12 months behind schedule, the town will have a mini
sewage recycling scheme (see report this issue): “dry weather”
discharge of partially treated sewage into St Mary’s Creek, flowing
under two busy roads, past a children’s home and flooding out near the
Pioneer Park race course, will stop.
“Wet weather” discharge will presumably continue, and so will the much
larger problem: the sewage plant’s stink, stupid use of prime land and
wanton waste by evaporation of two billion litres of water a year in
the driest part of the driest continent. Meanwhile the same
government-owned company, Power
and Water Corporation, has plonked a generator powered by a screaming
next to a residential suburb.
When it comes to providing cheap residential land the government has
achieved less than half of a half solution which, I guess, makes it
less than a quarter solution.
This is how it works: the government did a deal with the native title
organisation Lhere Artepe for Larapinta Stage Two. In the process
the government set a precedent for native title to be worth half of
freehold, an astonishing concession given that native title, as it
turned out, is worth zero in Yulara and Darwin: it couldn’t be proven
to exist there.
Lhere Artepe got half of the Larapinta Land, sold it to a developer for
$1m, and home construction is now under way on about half of those 40
blocks. None, it seems, will be used for public housing which may have
of the people Lhere Artepe’s represents.
The NT Government kept the remaining land, suitable for 44 blocks. When
the government required some of that land to be set aside for public
housing, the cause of ongoing conflict in adjoining Larapinta Stage
One, the land was
passed in at auction. Surprise, surprise.
But just as you may begin to suspect the Martin Government couldn’t
organise a pissup in a brewery, consider the ingenious way it dealt
with the erstwhile ballooning demand for housing, driven obviously by
people wanting to live in this town.
The half-hearted – nay, quarter-hearted – efforts to deal with anti
social behavior fueled by alcohol, and by the ongoing failure to
provide proper camping
grounds for itinerants, have driven quite a few people out of Alice,
the real estate market to plateau across most of town, and drop in
As the government is heading into the second half decade of its first
ever time in power, after a record 26 years in the wilderness, it will
be looking for Brownie points from Desert Knowledge.
In terms of bricks and mortar the Desert Knowledge precinct is the
biggest infrastructure project in town, $13.8m in 2006-07 (that’s
projected - let’s see how much of that will be spent), a remnant of the
Denis Burke era yet only now being cranked up in earnest.
Among the first buildings in the precinct will be the Desert People’s
Centre to house Batchelor Institute and the Centre for Appropriate
Technology (CAT), both of which have yet to prove themselves as
outstanding producers of brilliance in the desert.
Clare Martin is fully in favour of expanding the mining of uranium.
Clare Martin is fully against having anything to do with it once it’s
brought to the surface. That includes nuclear power generation
and waste disposal.
Does that mean she’s is favour of a nuclear industry? Well, half and
half, sort of.
One thing Ms Martin is going all out for, 100% one could say, is
removing ownership of our national parks from the general public,
giving the land to
the Aboriginal minority, effectively putting the Central Land Council
charge of major community assets.
Ms Martin gives the land council 10 out of 10, notwithstanding its 30
year failure to get its clients out of their social and economic
morass, and in some respects getting them deeper into it.
Would it be inaccurate to say the NT Government is failing to fully
honour its election promises?
Yes, it would. There are some it doesn’t honour at all, hand on
Clare’s heart that she will bring open and transparent government to
the NT: an army of minders, which the Opposition estimates costs the
public $10m a year, obviously
deep admirers of George W Bush handler Karl Rove, are both shielding
muzzling elected politicians, turning the NT into a remake of Animal
When the town rose up against the prospect of losing ownership of its
national parks, where were the Labor Parliamentarians during the
biggest single issue public meeting in decades, determined to “save our
parks”? 100 per cent of them were absent.
And that pretty much put paid to the euphoria starting in August five
years ago, when many of us thought we’d entered an era of spirited,
enriching discourse about the magnificent opportunities of this region
and action to bring it to its full potential.
Country Liberal Party arrogance was replaced with Labor arrogance. Only
the CLP never pretended they were running an open, transparent,
LHERE ARTEPE, ALDERMAN SAY‘NO’ TO CAMPS FOR ITINERANTS.
By KIERAN FINNANE
The proposed quick fix solution for accommodating itinerants, by
housing them in ex-Woomera demountables, may well create greater
problems than it solves, says Melanie van Haaren, long-time health
professional in the Centre
and an alderman on the town council.
She says she will fight “tooth and nail” any attempt to establish
another camp in town, describing it as “ludicrous” when there are
concerted moves to try to “remodel what we already have”.
She’s referring to Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough’s promised
reforms of town camps, announced in early May, that would see them
becoming part of
Alice Springs suburbia.
And it was Mr Brough who also offered the ex-Woomera demountables for
“There’s a feel good factor here for the Commonwealth,” says Ms van
Haaren, “but at the end of the day, Alice Springs will be left
struggling with the results of lack of planning.
“The social needs of the itinerants will be greater than our community
has the capacity to absorb and it will be left to us to find the
solution to a
problem not of our making.”
What does she propose should be done to accommodate bush visitors?
Ms van Haaren says there should be immediate greater investment in
Aboriginal Hostels to assist them to provide appropriate accommodation
rather than demountables.
“This should have been done 10 years ago,” says Ald van Haaren, also
calling for investment in an effective return to country program.
“These camps will encourage people to come to town without any sense of
long term commitment to our community and within 12 months they will be
“Meanwhile we are doing nothing to help people who do want to engage
with the community and make a life for themselves here but can’t
because of lack of long term accommodation.
“We are having a crisis reaction, looking at different problems in
isolation from one another and the three tiers of government are also
working in isolation from one another.
“None of it is bedded down in a holistic approach.
“For all its good intentions this quick fix approach will open a
Pandora’s box, multiply the issues and we won’t be able to put the lid
A holistic approach would see, among other things, a decentralisation
of health services.
“We offer an inadequate health service in remote communities,” says Ms
van Haaren, “with a skeletal level of staff.
“This forces people to come to town when they may not otherwise choose
to. Children wanting a secondary education also have to come to town.
“There’s very little effort to expand employment opportunities in
SEWAGE FLOWING INTO SWAMP: POO ONLY .00000028 PER CENT.
COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Excrement makes up only a tiny part of the sewage flowing into the
Ilparpa swamp, and from there into the St Mary’s Creek, flooding out
near the Pioneer Park racecourse.
Mark Skinner, of the Power and Water Corporation (PWC) says just one
tenth of a per cent of the sewage flowing into the “settlement ponds”
at The Gap is excrement.
As this makes its way along a string of ponds, algae eat bacteria and
reduce solids by 35,000 times, so that by the time it gets into the
creek, the percentage of excrement is just 0.00000028 of a per cent.
Mr Skinner says no effluent escapes into the swamp from any pond other
than the final one.
Local manager Alan Whyte says PWC has committed $10m to stop the
overflow, but is one year behind schedule.
The government-owned company was due to stop “dry weather” discharge of
the partially treated effluent at the end of last year, but this now
happen before the end of this year.
Mr Whyte says to date PWC has built a tank and pipeline worth
It has also let a tender for over $2m for the provision of the
mechanical and electrical equipment that will treat the water to a high
standard for storage at the Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) where a
is planned to use the treated effluent.
“In addition, in the last two weeks, tenders have been called for the
balance of the works to complete the project,” says Mr Whyte.
“These include soil aquifer treatment basins at the AZRI and innovative
locally designed buildings at the treatment plant.
“In the meantime, PWC has been actively managing the overflows to the
swamp in conjunction with government regulators and the community, and
dramatically lowered the mosquito numbers to negligible levels over the
past few years.
“PWC has undertaken the most rigorous environmental approval process
and scientific investigation from both local experts in the Department
of Environment, Natural Resources and the Arts as well as the CSIRO.”
Mr Skinner says the effluent will get further treatment when it seeps
into an aquifer underneath the AZRI land where it will be stored and
pumped out when the 100 hectare plantation gets under way.
Phil Anning, local head of the Department of Primary Production, says
the government is “working towards” an agreement with Matilda Maid, of
Cunnamulla, Queensland and Mildura, Victoria, a former senior partner
in Territory Grapes at Ti Tree.
Mr Anning says a preliminary agreement has been in place for some time,
but financial details have not yet been finalized.
However the deal, due “this calendar year”, will reflect that the
recycled water is a resource, not waste.
5 STAR BACKPACKERS HOSTEL BY JUNE ‘08.
By ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
Rumours that Melanka bar and backpackers is closing down have been
quashed by its new general manager.
He says the site will instead be renovated to accommodate a five star
super backpackers resort with up to 600 beds with ensuite bathrooms,
plasma televisions, state of the art kitchens, a giant swimming pool,
beach and landscaped waterfall.
The bar and nightclub will also be rebuilt.
“It’s all on the drawing board at the moment but it’s going to be the
jewel in our crown,” says Ian Loan of Gilligan’s backpackers hotel and
“At first we didn’t think Alice Springs was big enough but on the
numbers coming here we think it will be even more successful than our
Mr Loan used to work for Base, the first resort-style backpacker hotel
chain in Australia and New Zealand.
He says Gilligan’s is bucking the trend of the flat backpacker market:
it has bought land for six new backpacker resort hotels including in
Broome, Hervey Bay and Perth.
“We’re always busy and we’re expanding because we’re so successful.
“The market is evolving.
“Travellers are looking for a high quality hostel.
“Backpackers are university students taking a year out and they’ve got
money, they’re not penny pinchers.
“They want to be looked after and be comfortable.
“Gone are the days of price driven backpackers and old shower blocks.
“This could make a lot of other backpackers and bars here raise their
“Everyone is right behind us, including the council.
“We won’t change the name to Gilligan’s until we’re happy with the
Work will begin at the hostel’s quietest time of year in December and
is expected to be finished by June 2008.
Rooms at the neighbouring Alice Plaza Hotel will be converted into
dorms for backpackers during the development.
By ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
Frustration at being turned down for last year’s Bass in the Dust has
meant local metalcore act Nights Plague are ready to unleash at the
Headbangers Ball, this Saturday at the Todd Tavern.
The band were discarded for last September’s bash and are sceptical
they’ll be accepted this year.
“We’ve got our application in but we’re not expecting much,” says
drummer Karl Steller, who played with the band at the Crusty Demons
party last year.
“They just kept messing us around and in the end they said no, we were
too hardcore for it. At a festival event where there is supposed
to be a
wide variety of music they don’t look after the people who like metal.
“We understand that metal is generally a disliked kind of music, but
when we played at the two Malice in the Alice gigs earlier this year
they were packed.”
He says that the music scene in Alice Springs could be the healthiest
“This is the biggest music scene for a long time or even ever. There
are so many young bands getting their stuff together and doing really
good for themselves.The Headbangers Ball is important because it lets
in the under agers. Everyone should be allowed in.”
The band have recorded an EP, Sine Die, which goes on sale next month.
The Headbangers Ball is at 7pm at the Todd Tavern this Saturday, with
Exit Earth and Blacktide also playing (under 18s between 7pm to 10pm
with parental supervision).
WHEN NO NEWS WOULD BE GOOD NEWS.
COLLUMN by ADAM CONNELLY.
I guess if you were describing me, once you got through a few things,
you’d probably say I’m a fairly positive person.
On the whole that is a true statement. I’m a glass half full sort of
But sometimes even for the most annoyingly positive people, things can
get them down.
Sadly that’s the way I’ve been feeling of late. Not about my own
personal life but about the big picture issues.
I haven’t been able to look or listen to the news without getting a bit
frustrated about what is happening on our planet.
We humans sure have made an art out disposing of one another.
I have to admit that the suffering in Lebanon and Israel, Africa and
even closer to home gets to me from time to time and I’m not alone.
The problem is that writing a column about it isn’t going to get
anything done. That job belongs to other people. Elected
representatives who we charge with that responsibility.
These elected people who ask us to vote for them, they say “ all the
things you want done…let me do them.”
This is a good and noble thing. But then we burden them by calling them
politicians. I have an interest in the political but I think that the
inherent in politics hinders getting the jobs done.
NT Senators Trish Crossin and Nigel Scullion have both had the spectre
of a preselection battle hanging over their heads this month.
Now whatever your political persuasion, wouldn’t you prefer these
people focussed on the job of fixing the plethora of issues we have in
Territory instead of having to spend time shoring up support.
The hours our representatives work are incredible. They are so busy
attending library openings and business functions that I wonder when
they have the time
to think about ideas to make things better.
Which brings me to something that happened last week.
I was waiting for a movie to start at the cinemas and while outside in
the mall I saw a man talking to a small group of friends.
I don’t know this man but I have seen him around and every time I have
seen him he has been three sheets to the wind.
Not once have I seen this man sober.
The group was engaging in an inebriated rant. I love listening in to
Some of the funniest social comedy comes from such debates. So I was
keen to hunker down and watch this one unfold.
My excitement rose when I heard the opening statement. “You know what
they should do to fix the Middle East?” Oh joy of joys, this was going
to be a cracker.
But then something weird happened. From the mouth of this sozzled gent
came the most concise yet well reasoned ideas I had heard in quite some
It was a theory he called “The New History” and it outlined a way for
the leadership of both Israel and Lebanon to move on from the
conflicted history that has plagued them since Abraham.
His preferred method would involve the European community and
moderate islamic nations in Asia to broker the agreement. A
thoroughly well thought out argument. I found myself hanging off every
I began thinking that if not for the fact that for the most part this
man would be getting over hangovers, I’d vote for him.
Perhaps it was simply because he has had the time to think about these
things unhindered by the pressures of modern political life.
Maybe we need to cut our pollies some slack. I know that sounds
un-Australian but I do mean it literally.
Maybe we need to listen to people who have time to think about things a
little more than those who only have the time to fabricate a sound grab
the 7 o’clock news.
That’s my theory anyway. I think it’s a pretty good one, but I have
been a bit busy.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: STAFF HOUSING AT ROCK: ‘SO MANY OUTSTANDING
Sir,– I am writing in response to the article on employee housing
improving at Ayers Rock (Alice News, July 27). My wife and I were
employed by Voyages for three years up until the end of 2003 when we
left for bigger and better things. I held a position as a tradesman at
the resort during this time and progressed up to a managerial position.
Had I not held a trades position we would have been in “share/share”
accommodation [two people sharing a two room flat, with the back room
accessed via the front
During my time in the maintenance department it was regularly discussed
at our maintenance meetings [that we needed] additional staff to cope
the increasing work requests.
Whilst I was there the housing department had over 500 outstanding work
requests. These tasks ranged from damaged light fittings and fly
to hot water service repairs, electrical, water and gas repairs. The
serious/major the problem, for example hot water, the sooner it was
but a couple of handymen can only do so much.
For a staffing of sometimes nearly 1000 people and only eight tradesmen
how can you keep on top of the workload? It’s impossible.
May I also tell you that each hotel had its own maintenance department
and their staff were never available to the housing department as they
all had more than enough of their own work. The housing department
relied totally on the trades’ services from the “Giles Street Tech
It is true that if you did not like your housing there was “nothing we
could do”. You could apply for an upgrade but if someone in a higher
position had applied for it, even after yourself, you get nudged down
the list. It was a wait that would never eventuate.
Whilst we were employed there an employee was caught in the room of her
share/share whilst the room was on fire. She received some burns and
lucky to escape from it. This is because there is only one entry to the
room. If the fire is in the front room, you are stuck.
As for the housing maintenance issues being resolved “within three
days” I find this difficult to believe when there were so many
Leaking taps were also a major problem caused by the high calcium
content in the water. This was never seen as a priority to fix. “It’s
just a small drip.”
I’m not quite sure either where the $1m investment was! Sure there were
some new units built in 2002 but that was it and only supervisor
or above got a look in at these!
[The statement by Voyages spokesperson that] “Claims of three or four
people in one accommodation is incorrect” is incorrect in itself:
that’s exactly how it is. The staff member [in the article] who has
written their story of
events and conditions [tells it] exactly how it is.
ED – The Alice News has asked Voyages for details of the $1m per annum
expenditure on residential housing services as well as whether anything
is being done to address the security and privacy issues in share /
share accommodation. The information was not to hand at the time of
going to press.
Sir,– Is Labor’s stance on U-mining a joke? To increase uranium
production and export (enriched or not!) is to contribute directly to
the nuclear world race with its increased risks and its increased
wastes to be dumped somewhere... whether in the NT or elsewhere.
The economic return for Australia would make of us accomplices in a
man-made nuclear disaster.
It seems basic common sense to keep our ONE PLANET (the only one we
have) for all of us to live on and use the sun, wind, sea etc... to
produce the energy we are so keen to over-consume, with no
further green-house effect.
I would recommend to consider reduce Western World energy consumption
and certainly not increase uranium production!
Back to frontpage the Alice Springs News.