ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
October 5, 2006. This page
contains all major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
FOOD LED RECOVERY FOR ALICE?
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Caesar Salad with bush tomatoes, instead of the croutons, wattleseed
icecream with a sambucca jelly: you’re as likely to get it at the
Yasawa Island Resort in Fiji as you are in Alice Springs even though
the bush tomatoes and the wattleseed were harvested in Central
That’s because Athol Wark, who back in 2004 with Hanuman’s Jimmy Shu
was the Territory’s first culinary ambassador, now works for the resort
four months a year, tantalising its elite guests with some of the
flavours of Australian wildfoods.
That’s great for the international reputation of an
Australia-identified cuisine but the unfulfilled potential of Alice as
a gastronomic destination is a “wasted opportunity”, says Mr Wark.
He knows he is not alone, acknowledging first up “the 65,000 year old
tradition of Indigenous cuisine”.
Fellow chef Beat Keller, as chair of the Central Australian Food Group,
is working to galvanise energy around a food tourism initiative.
Proceeds from the Food Group’s stall at the Masters Games and later a
Christmas lunch will go into a fund to promote the cause.
Peter Yates, of wholesaler Outback Bushfoods, apart from helping
maintain the supply of wattleseed and bush tomatoes to the food
industry, has also developed an ingredient, Wakalpuka Dukkah (a
blend of roasted and
ground wattleseed, sunflower and sesame seeds and spices) that Mr Wark
been cooking with at gastronomy events around the world.
Rayleen Brown of Kungkas Can Cook uses bushfood flavours in the
multitude of events she caters for, from school festivals throughout
the region to
professional conferences in town.
The Alice Desert Festival’s Bushfoods / Wildfoods competition, run for
the last two years, has been important in raising the local profile of
flavours unique to our region.
And, no doubt, with the greater involvement of professional chefs in
the competition, being championed by Mr Keller, more restaurants will
be using bushfoods and wildfoods on their menus.
But the endeavour has yet to gain the kind of momentum that would see
Alice Springs identified with a food experience.
“Every state in the country has food tourism, why not us?” asks
Mr Keller. Bushfoods are taking off interstate but if you came to Alice
Springs and wanted to find out about them, where would you go?”
“We need a food trail,” says Mr Wark, “an experience lasting over four
or five hours.”
“It could start, for example, at the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens where
they grow all these food plants. You’d have a guided walk and morning
tea, then you’d walk or ride into town to visit a number of restaurants
offering unique outback gourmet experiences. You could work in some
story-telling with some of the iconic people from Alice Springs.
“All this would be fee paying. The operators would make money and
visitors would leave, having gained knowledge and a memorable, unique
“This has huge potential for destinational marketing.”
Tours where food is not the central focus and accommodation houses
should also promote wildfoods, argues Mr Wark.
“You can have normal Eggs Benedict in Sydney and Brisbane. If you come
to the desert, you’d like to have something different.
“It could be a Lemon Myrtle Eggs Benedict with camel bacon. Bacon
doesn’t have to be pork, it’s just cured meat, it can be done with
camel. Or else buffalo sausages. Or pancakes with the wattleseed syrup
that Peter Yates
has developed with Serendipity.
“For lunches serve wattleseed breads and bush tomato chutneys. For
dinner work with Australia’s unique meats – kangaroo, crocodile, emu,
barramundi – and value add with Australian flavours.
“I’m not someone who can sit around and wait for things to happen. I’m
doing this in Fiji and people are loving it. It should be done here.”
Mr Wark will crust lamb with saltbush, chicken breast with Wakalpuka
Dukkah. He is not a purist, though. His recipes are a fusion of all
kinds of native Australian tastes with traditional European
“There’s not quite enough to work with to finish a dish that’s unique
to Central Australia,” he says. “For instance, there’s no local
no seafood. That’s why I went with ‘wildfoods’ from all over
At Yasawa he’s created a wattleseed espresso semifredo, served in a
capuccino cup with a cinnamon donut on the side, to appeal to his
“It’s a hit!”
But the focus should not be solely on the tourist market. Catering for
the local population would ensure excellence, he argues.
“In Alice the hospitality industry caters mainly for the non-returnees
so they don’t have to try too hard.
“I think they should capitalise on the interest of the people in town
who would come back if they had a good experience.
“People in town deserve more. It’s a market the industry can capture.”
He’s convinced the Alice Springs public want to know about food and
would get behind special events.
“I’d like to see our unique locations used. For instance in the river
you could have the world’s longest buffet.
“There’d be a whole lot of stall holders, you’d buy tickets, $4 or $5
for tastes from each stall and a glass of wine or beer. I’ve seen
work in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart but we could do it with a difference.
“Everyone loves food, we can make that work for us, link it with
cultural festivities, like the Alice Desert Festival. We could have two
of these a year – we could cater for our American residents by doing a
version of their food festivals in our environment, like a New England
Clam Chowder in the middle of the Todd.”
It all sounds enticing, so what is stopping the idea from taking off?
It comes down to seeing the economic benefit and everyone coming to the
table, the hospitality and tourism industry as well as the town council
and Tourism NT. We need a consistency of attack.
“In 2004 Jimmy Shu and I did a lot of things overseas and interstate
but then nothing happened to pick up on what we had started – such a
Mr Keller reports similar experiences: he and Jimmy Shu showcased
Territory products and flavours at the Australian Tourism Expo in
Adelaide in June
but, he asks, where is the marketing, the local activity that responds
the interest they created?
Because of the industry’s intrinsic link to Indigenous people and
culture Mr Wark sees widespread social benefits.
“The wildfoods industry needs to give recognition to the people and
culture it comes from.
“This isn’t about me. Without these people’s knowledge I wouldn’t be
able to do what I do.
“For every social problem we’ve got, let’s come up with a good idea and
run with it: let’s help ourselves out of the gutter.”
There are two immediate structural issues: sustainability of the
bushfoods/wildfoods supply and a skills shortage in the hospitality
“Sustainability of supply is a real issue.
“There are all sorts of questions to be asked and I know the industry
is asking them and Desert Knowledge is attempting to answer them.
“It starts with how will the next bush foods crop be supplied – for
chefs to use but also for the general public.
“Later this month I’m going to the Louis Vuitton Food and Wine Film
Festival in Hawaii together with Juleigh Robins from Robins Bush Foods.
“There’s no point me doing these showcase dinners unless I can say
here’s the product.
“And then there are the longer term questions and questions of ethics.
“Will we propagate?
“Will we use genetics or would that lose the special appeal of
bushfoods or wildfoods?
“Will we allow these foods to be grown overseas?How do we store the
foods?How do we package them, transport them?”
On the skills shortage he and Mr Keller want to see local chefs working
Mr Keller is organising a working lunch with the chefs at the end of
this month to nut out an approach.
LEADERLESS ALICE SPRINGS ... WHERE TO NOW?
By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Just for the sake of the argument, let’s assume the NT Government is a
nasty, Darwin centred regime, hiding behind a towering Berrimah Line,
a fortune on things like a wave pool for Darwin but a pittance on
developing The Centre?
What if Transport Minister Delia Lawrie were in Melbourne right now,
meeting with “international road safety experts,” while starving our
of repair funds with the result that local transport operators call
All purely hypothetical, of course, unheard of, practically, but what
if? Would our masters in Darwin have to fear the wrath of Central
Not a lot.
Alice Springs has – potentially – three main lobbies: the Alice Springs
Town Council, the Central Australian Tourism Industry Association
(CATIA) and the Chamber of Commerce.
The Alice Springs News has sent a kind of development manifesto for
comment to all three of them (see opposite page), as well as to Elliot
McAdam, the new Minister for Central Australia (he’s working on a
reply, pointing out he’s just taken over the job), and Opposition
Leader Jodeen Carney (no answer so far).
The issues contained in this manifesto have been put to the Alice News
by our readers over the years.
They are expressed in a summary form, and not in order of priority, as
most subjects have a myriad of additional angles attached to
Some issues are fresh. Some are older than the The News, now nearly 13
years in weekly publication.
Some are much older.
Some are issues of convenience, others are matters of life and death.
Some demands expressed here in the positive are as vehemently put in
the negative by members of our community: but either way, our leaders
have a view, and put it to the – very distant – NT Government.
But alas, would the leaders of Alice Springs please stand up?
We had a comprehensive reply from CATIA’s chief Lynne Peterkin, but
focused entirely on tourism aspects.
The chamber’s Terry Lillis commented only on the need to accelerate the
development of an international airport in Alice Springs, and is
cooperation of Voyages, which runs the Ayers Rock Resort, to rely on
Springs for its overseas tourists. He also says the major dirt roads –
Tanami and Plenty highways - need to be fixed urgently: “This only
to happen if the government and the mining companies can enter into
meaningful dialogue,” says Mr Lillis.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff says: “Because of the number and complexity of the
issues, and the fact that Council does not have a position on all of
these matters, I have taken the opportunity to forward your [manifesto]
to all aldermen
“I will be happy to make comment when I have received their opinions.”
So far only Aldermen Melanie van Haaren and Murray Stewart sent us well
Ald Jane Clark had previously given us her thoughtful views about the
future of Alice Springs as a private person, and a descendant of an old
Australian family, which we will run here.
One conclusion from this exercise so far is that the leaders don’t seem
to be acting as a coordinated force, capable of putting significant
pressure on the government.
In fact, the town’s leaders – should we call them that? – don’t even
seem to be swapping notes in any meaningful way.
All they can do is savagely bashing the government – with a feather
1 CATIA does not have a policy relating to park ownership however,
access to parks should not be restricted whoever has ownership.
2 What is meant by “development”? The West MacDonnells National Park is
already a prime tourist attraction. CATIA is pushing for World Heritage
status and has the support of the NT Government and Aboriginal groups
3 It is agreed that some upgrading of infrastructure is necessary but
“a string of new resorts”? Come on, who is trying to destroy one of our
most wondeful natural assets?
4 CATIA would agree with this statement.
5 No comment. Any revolution in Aboriginal affairs will not be brought
about by CATIA!
6 CATIA has been working for nearly two years to get the necessary
funds and the agreement to upgrade Alice Springs airport to handle the
charters from Japan effectively and to be prepared for an increase in
flights. At this point we have funds from the NT Government, a
from NT Airports and an assurance of Federal funds supposedly directly
the prime Minister. We are currently waiting for this final
Meanwhile, JAL, the operator of the Japanese charters has committed to
some of the necessary equipment and basing it at Alice Springs Airport.
CATIA, this indicates a committment to the continuation and expansion
Re Alice becoming a hub for regular international flights – great
thought but realistically this is unlikely, especially in the short
just consolidate the charter market and get that growing.
7 Good luck on this one!
8 This would be great but what real reason can we give the NT
Government for doing this?
9 & 10 CATIA has no comment.
11 CATIA would certainly like to see the sealing of the Mereenie Loop
Road completed sooner rather than later.
12 As a tourism body, CATIA’s concern is anti-social behaviour which
reflects negatively on tourism. The underlying problems of substance
abuse are not within our jurisdiction.
We do not think that prohibition works and have objected to any further
restrictions on take away liquor trading hours. We also object strongly
to the continued use of erroneous figures to sensationalise an already
dreadful situation. There are only 11 takeaway licences in Alice - not
the 90 plus which is touted by many politicians and journalists.
However, we do not have any suggestions as to how to solve the problem.
13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 CATIA has no comment on these statements.
19 Who is still going on about a dam at the Telegraph Station? Surely
the town has moved on from that one! This is a personal comment - not
THE VIEW FROM THE TOURISM INDUSTRY.
LYNNE PETERKIN, the head of the Central Australian Tourism Association,
gave the following responses. They correspond with the numbers in the
on the facing page.
TOO FEW ANSWERS TO TROUBLING QUESTIONS.
This is how Alderman Melanie van Haaren responded.
A big YES to these points:-
• We should develop parks, especially the West Macs, as the prime
tourism attraction in Central Australia.
• The establishment of facilities for international flights to Alice
Springs must be accelerated and given priority.
• CDU should establish a fully fledged campus in Alice Springs, though
we may be better to negotiate with Flinders or a combination of CDU and
Flinders to give added strength and credibility. Works well for
• We need to escalate alcohol control measures until crime, public
misconduct and ill health is reduced.
• I either disagree or don’t know enough about the other suggestions to
comment, but believe all should be bought to the attention of the Alice
in 10 committee for consideration, and that Council should respond as
an entity to the list as it is reflective of local opinion.
Instead of simply reacting to issues in Alice Springs and focussing on
tourism, the town council needs a long term “healthy home life plan”
Jane Clark, who has lived in Alice Springs for 26 years.
Although an alderman, she is speaking here as a long term resident and
not on behalf of the council.
Ms Clark’s family has been here since 1929. Her grandfather built the
Ghan track and her grandmother was a founding member of the Country
“I would like to put something back in recognition of all my family has
gained from this place of significance unique in Australia,” says Ms
“We need to have a social and physical infrastructure based plan for
the future comfort of the people who live here not just the tourists.
can’t continue to be knee-jerk in our responsibilities.”
“There are huge opportunities for people in Alice Springs that aren’t
available in other places in Australia, like a strong career path and a
good lifestyle for families. We have one of the youngest populations in
a high number of people in their twenties and thirties but many are
leaving: we need to look at how to keep them here.”
Earlier this year council rejected Alderman Clark’s proposal that it
consult experts to plan for the social and physical infrastructure of
Instead, “the next business plan for council in 2008 will be, once
the work of well meaning but untrained councilors and council staff,”
She was inspired after attending a talk from planners in Wyndham near
Melbourne which has a similar population makeup as Alice Springs: it
has a high birth rate with a majority of young people.
“In Wyndham they are looking at what will stimulate business and the
population and less at financial statistics and tourism that we always
look at. Tourism will benefit by default if we have a well planned
Ms Clark says that to stop young people moving away for further
education, courses must be improved here.
“I’ve worked with Centralian
many years as a lecturer in IT and I think that since it changed from
Centralian College to CDU, the education is not as relevant to the
population as should be.
“CDU needs to engage with the business community a lot more to find out
what training needs of businesses are.”
Ms Clark suggests a greater number of VET courses should be available.
“Mechanics and hairdressing courses are good but there is not a lot of
IT training or building trade skills being taught.
“There is a good work opportunity for people in IT but the training is
patchy: you can’t finish your entire certificate here and companies are
always sending people interstate to upgrade skills which means it is a
expense to train staff.”
Ms Clark says there are huge career opportunities for people who want
to stay here for the long term.
“Alice Springs is the place to jump up through a career path. If you’re
living in Melbourne there could be 50 people eligible for a job.
But if you come to Alice and have the skills and are prepared to stay
for the long term, the opportunities are unlimited.”
As career people start to have a family, childcare needs to be
carefully examined in order to retain young families.
“We have a high birth rate in Alice Springs and surrounding communities
and we’re bucking the trend of an ageing population that other small
“But when childcare facilities are coming to council with financial
problems, we need to consider a long term solution. The problem is not
going to go
Ms Clark says the council needs to lobby the NT and Australian
governments for more childcare places to be funded, and for centralised
administrative support to be provided for existing centres in Alice
“Training for childcare workers should be heavily subsidised by the
government or free, and new profitable childcare centres need to be
built in the next few years,” she says.
Ms Clark says that spending more attention to “streetscaping” in
neighbourhoods will make families want to remain living here.
“Upgrading the mall is a good thing but better facilitated
neighbourhoods are more important. We need good footpaths, prickle free
parks, make streets inviting so people run around the block rather than
drive to the football oval.
“It’s important people feel safe and secure in their community and to
make it useable for people living there.
“If Alice is a great place to live, there will be a much better
workforce because people will stay longer.”
And providing for an aging population is also vital in retaining
families as they grow up, as well as catering for our current older
“Four families have recently told me they’re leaving town to be nearer
their parents who are getting older. They would prefer if their parents
could live here but there aren’t the services like medical services,
care services or extensive bus routes to support them.
“And people who are getting older who live here are planning for their
“Council needs to step back and plan properly for the population not
just tourists or the mall, which are both important but only part of
the whole picture.”
Ms Clark hopes to get her ideas into action early next year, contacting
groups like the Chamber of Commerce and CDU to be involved in greater
planning of the town. She has also recommended that council organise a
summit with former mayors and aldermen to use their “wisdom and
background” for future planning.
“The work of council should be to understand our social infrastructure
and needs and to lobby the NT and Australian governments for a fairer
of funding and services to meet the needs of our town, but we can’t do
without good professional needs analysis.
“We have time to do it before the next business planning cycle if we
start research now.”
PLANNING NOT KNEEJERKING!
Alice Springs as a whole has to lead the way in reforming itself, says
Alderman Murray Stewart.
The Darwin Government clearly doesn’t need our vote to remain in power,
therefore, we need to become self reliant and commercially
We need progressive action when it comes to industry development,
education, law and order, and employment.
Our local council needs brevity and needs to embrace those who are
action-oriented and unique.
If we lead the way with reformist action-orientated ideas, Darwin and
Canberra will eventually have to support them.
Having a racially based handover of our parks will be disastrous
particularly for indigenous people.
For example, despite their wealth, how many Indigenous people do
Any tourism industry or developments must always be based on dynamic
Anyone with any degree of commercial savvy would understand that
to sell this part of the world to the rest of the universe should
involve engaging with and employing more Indigenous people.
Underpinning this should be a non-racial approach to management.
Alice Springs should develop from the ground up an academy of sport,
art, music and tourism which would be about positively exploiting the
abundant Indigenous talents, thus producing careers.
The strictly theoretical approach to indigenous education has clearly
Small desert towns throughout the world have developed their own
Why is it therefore, that we are still heavily reliant on welfare and
tourism to prop up this town?
Surely designing solar concepts and perhaps alternative small town
vehicles of transportation could be possible, perhaps something in
between a golf
buggy and a rickshaw?
After all, most of us live within three kilometers of our place of work
and it never ceases to amaze me why people, sometimes only one to two
per vehicle, take their big 4WDs into town thus clogging up our
parking reserves, not to mention the excessive use of petroleum oils.
When it comes to law and order, children who come from disheveled,
undisciplined and undesirable circumstances, should never be short
changed when it comes to the gift of structure and boundary
Children need, want and expect this from those who are their guardians
and leaders and this is where we are failing them.
It is time that policing became an Alice Springs community
We must open our hearts to our children and ensure that our town
provides them with a plethora of sport and recreational activities,
artistic outlets, and zones of expression.
Our empty, disused parks could be developed into theme concept reserves
in partnership with our young.
Allied to this should be a firm approach to law and order and accepting
responsibilities for one’s actions.
Our streets late at night are not the place for our children
vandalising property, and harming others should not be regarded as
acceptable in any
way and those who digress, particularly where minor crimes are
should be compulsorily placed in a community based program which would
of an initial period of containment isolation, 48 hours.
The tail end of this program should be about self-esteem building,
providing a platform for fitness and health and establishing a clear
direction, topped off with a contractual obligation between that young
and society to make the best of what they have got.
I am currently in the process of building on all of these themes with a
group of committed people.
I have no desire to be bogged down with bureaucracy and with pleasing
I simply intend involving myself with action-orientated people who can
and will see these things happen.
How far do we think Steve Irwin (RIP) would have got with animal
conservation, if he had referred all of his plans to some governmental,
Let’s just do it.
THE ISSUES: WHO THINKS WHAT?
1 We need to retain ownership of national parks in public hands.
2 We should develop parks, especially the West MacDonnells, as the
prime tourism attraction in Central Australia.
3 This would include the promotion and facilitation of the
establishment of a string of new resorts, and promote the creation, by
private enterprise, of activities ranging from trekking to 4WD routes
and motorbike adventures, horse and camel riding, camping, ballooning
etc, and experiencing traditional Aboriginal culture. Tasmania is a
great example of how to do this well.
4 Insofar as it enhances the role of the parks as assets promoting the
broad social and commercial development of the region, we need to
the participation of Aborigines in their management and the running and
owning of concessions.
5 This should be part of a broad revolution in Aboriginal affairs: we
must move away from nurse maiding perpetually dependent and supposedly
incompetent people. We must forge a partnership focussing on the vast
commercial potential of this region and the enjoyment of its superb
environment by all races.
That will require, over time, a fundamental change of personnel dealing
Aborigines, in government as well as NGOs. Bureaucrats and social
have over 30 years brought about failure and misery on a massive scale,
ignored or suppressed the extraordinary resilience and resourcefulness
the Aboriginal people in The Centre.
6 The establishment of facilities for international flights to Alice
Springs must be accelerated and given priority. The Alice is ideally
become a hub for national and international flights in and to
As the owner of the Yulara airport, the NT Government must prevent any
towards international flights there, but the Ayers Rock Resort will
from an upgrading of Alice Springs.
7 The NT Government should spend $10m a year to acquire cattle station
land to expand the parks estate, and create commercial incentives for
Aboriginal land holders to add some of their land to the parks estate.
8 The government should return its parks administration to Alice
9 The government should put 50% of the Tourism NT budget, around $20m,
at the disposal of Alice-based community interests, such as the Chamber
of Commerce, in consultation with the Town Council and CATIA.
10 We should make continued public support for Desert Knowledge
conditional upon its demonstrated benefit to the social and commercial
development of the region.
11 The government needs to double expenditure on road construction and
maintenance, including the Mereenie Loop, the Tanami Road and the East
12 We need to escalate alcohol control measures until crime, public
misconduct and ill health are reduced to levels no greater than the
13 Charles Darwin University should establish a fully fledged campus in
Alice Springs, with comprehensive courses and local staff, enticing
families with tertiary education age children to stay in town.
14 The Larapinta residential development has set the value of native
title rights at half the freehold price of land. This needs to be
reversed. The clear intention of Federal laws is that the value of
native title rights
should be set on a case by case basis. Native title claims over Yulara
Darwin have recently been rejected by the court.
15 The government needs to remove onerous conditions from the
development of the second half of Larapinta so it can go ahead and land
prices in the town are reduced and affordable housing is created
through an increase in supply.
16 The government needs to replace the evaporation sewage plant with a
fully fledged recycling facility, requiring just a couple of hectares.
can then rehabilitate the freehold land presently used for the
ponds, some two square kilometers, and sell it for residential housing.
would further lower currently excessive land prices in the town, and
for the recycling facility.
17 The government needs to close the rubbish tip, rehabilitate it and
start a new one at Brewer Estate. The power station should also be
moved to Brewer Estate.
18 The government needs to make a comprehensive assessment of the state
of the town’s sewage pipes and start a replacement program, if and as
19 The government needs to put in place effective flood mitigation for
Alice Springs which, on present indications, requires the construction
a dam upstream from the Telegraph Station. This can either be a dry or
wet dam. Failure to do so will have catastrophic consequences for Alice
Springs and its people as global warming will cause rainstorms to
more frequent and ferocious. 100 year floods will become 50 or 20 year
‘COME CLEAN ON COMMUNITIES’
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Minister for Central Australia Elliot McAdam has called on the
Commonwealth to “make its position known very clearly” on the future of
remote Aboriginal communities and outstations.
He made the call at a NAIDOC forum hosted by CAAMA on Monday. The
Commonwealth’s representative at the forum, Ross McDougall, head of the
Indigenous Coordination Centre in Alice Springs, had said earlier that
he was not aware of “any policy whatsoever of removing remote
The forum had heard from CAAMA news director Paul Wiles, quoting,
unquestioningly, The Australian’s Nicolas Rothwell, on fears that the
Federal Government’s policies will empty remote communities and send
people into the
Mr McDougall said the government does not have the resources to fund
outstations where people used to, but no longer live: “That is not the
case for the
hundreds of communities throughout Australia where people do live,”
Mr Wiles questioned him about the situation at Mutitjulu, which, it has
been claimed, is being starved of Federal funds since the appointment
administrator in July.
Mr McDougall told the forum that funding for services continues to be
He later told the Alice News that the activities of the administrator
are restricted pending the outcome of legal action brought by the
council over the appointment of the administrator.
The administrator is not allowed to enter into new contracts which does
limit what could normally be done, said Mr McDougall.
He said basic services, such as power and water, sewerage, and rubbish
collection, are being provided “to a greater or lesser extent” under
He said the normal process of an administration involves first “fixing
problems” and second, “putting in place changes so that the
can get on with its business”. He said the second phase has been
by the legal dispute.
On another issue, the forum heard from Walter Shaw, representing
Tangentyere Council, that the town camp leases will not be applying for
dry area status.
“The town camps have never closed the gates on remote visitors,” said
Lhere Artepe’s Betty Pearce had asked, given the town council’s
determination to press ahead with dry area status for Alice, “Where
will the drinkers
“We desperately need areas for people to drink,” said Mrs Pearce,
expressing concern about drinkers camping on the outskirts of town, out
of sight –
“their children are at risk”.
“There’s already a big problem near the gliding strip,” she said.
David Evans from the Amoonguna health clinic also expressed
concern about the prospect of more drinkers moving into that community,
just a 20 minute drive from town.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff later told the News she had expected the town
camps to become dry: “We have said we would support this.”
She acknowledged there will be an issue about where people can drink
once the town’s public areas become dry (which in theory they already
are under the “2km law”).
“If they don’t come to the notice of our rangers or the police, they
will slip through the system,” she said.
She hopes the “dry town” media campaign will circumvent the problem, by
making people aware that it will be hard to come into Alice for the
purpose of drinking.
She told the forum that Alice Springs is set to become “an Indigenous
in 10 to 15 years’ time.
“Where we live will no longer be a town where white people set the
she said, welcoming the opportunity now of being on the town camps
taskforce implementation committee and having the finance and “people
at the table”
to make changes.
Mr McAdam took on board “the positive comments by the mayor”, urging
everyone to deal now with the changes ahead: “If not, we are in for
difficult times. No government or organisation can still operate in
LIFE’S A GAMBLE.
By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Gambling earned the NT Government over $43m in 2004-05, over $3m more
than was estimated.
The estimate for 2005-06 is over $49m, in excess of $6m more than the
Meanwhile, Minister for Racing, Gaming and Licensing, Chris Burns,
announced the government’s latest grants to community organisations to
address problem gambling.
Amity Community Services has received just under $38,000 to promote
Gambling Awareness Week next year.
Anglicare has received more than $427,000 over three years to maintain
and expand existing programs for addiction and financial counselling
That means these “amelioration grants” in the first year will amount to
little more than half of one per cent of the revenue.
The announcement was made more than a week after Shadow Minister for
Family and Community Services, Richard Lim called for tighter control
on the expansion of gambling services and improved assistance for
problem gamblers, following the release of the Australian Bureau of
Statistics Review of Gambling Activity in Australia.
The review showed that the Northern Territory suffers the highest
gambling losses per adult of any state or territory, more than 29%
greater than the national average, according to Dr Lim. “The
social cost of gambling is widely recognised,” Dr Lim said in a release
dated September 21.
“The government must find a balance between the right of individual
Territorians to gamble and the responsibility of the government for
“When the last study was released in July 2001, just as the Martin
Government was coming into office, the net takings from gambling per
adult across the Territory were $1079, with the Northern Territory
ranked third in gambling takings behind New South Wales and Victoria.
“This is in sharp contrast with [the latest] statistics of $1250 in
gambling takings per adult Territorian, a marked increase of over 15%,”
said Dr Lim.
Said Dr Burns in a release dated October 1: “More than 70 per
cent of Territorians gamble at one time or another.
“It may be at the TAB, on lotto, the pokies or in a casino.
“Many people enjoy gambling and don’t experience any problems. But for
about one per cent of Territorians gambling can become an issue.”
The official figures, of course, do not include the losses by hundreds
of Aboriginal people across the outback who gamble for piles of cash
after each welfare pay-out.
PINE GAP NOT‘PROHIBITED’?
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Defense counsel for peace activists who broke into the Pine Gap spy
base argued that they could not be charged under the Defense (Special
Undertakings) Act 1952 because a threat against Australia could not be
Justice Sally Thomas in the Supreme Court in Alice Springs on Tuesday
heard legal arguments relating to the charges against the four
Christians Against All Terrorism involved in events at Pine Gap on
December 9, 2005.
The four – Jim Dowling (from Dayboro), Adele Goldie (Brisbane), Bryan
Law (Cairns) and Donna Mulhearn (Sydney) – were charged with indictable
offences under the Act of unlawfully entering a prohibited area.
The maximum penalty for that is seven years imprisonment.
They were also charged with operating a camera in a prohibited area
(maximum two years), as well as Commonwealth Crimes Act charges of
trespass and damage.
Three pleaded not guilty to all charges, while Jim Dowling refused to
plead, not recognising charges brought againt him for “resisting war
A plea of not guilty was entered for him.
Defence counsel, in a legal team headed by retired Federal Court judge,
Ron Merkel QC, argued that the Crown could not prove that the area
offences allegedly took place was a prohibited area at the time and
that hence an acquittal should be directed by the court.
She argued that two very clear preconditions of that section need to be
satisfied with regard to the area being a prohibited area: it needs to
be necessary for the purpose of the defence of the Commonwealth to
declare it as such.
And the Minister needs to decide that the area is a prohibited area for
the purpose of the Act.
It could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the declarationof
the area was necessary for the purpose of defence of the Commonwealth.
She argued that the language of the section is very plain and
unambiguous, reflecting that objective fact must be present as a
She argued that the Crown would need to “read words into Section 8” to
succeed in its case, but said that would be “impermissible”, referring
Counsel for the Crown told the court that the words “where the
Minister is satisfied that it is necessary” would need to be read into
the relevant section of the Act, because without those words the
section would be unintelligible.
“Who else would make the decision?” he asked.
“It would be a nonsense to say that anyone else but the Minister would
“These additional words are required.”
He went on: “The hardship the defendants will suffer is self-inflicted.
“They were warned not to trespass, they chose to do so.
“To impute invalidity to the statute would not see justice done.”
The case is adjourned to Thursday next week.
A SNAKE IN THE KITCHEN AS THE ALICE HEATS UP.
by COLUMNIST ADAM CONNELLY.
To me Alice Springs is just as seasonal as Darwin. Sure there isn’t the
mystique surrounding the wet and the dry but we do have very definite
I have spoken about them previously. There’s the cold and the hot.
For those new to town, you’ve missed the cold so welcome to the
The first hot that I experienced was last summer. Surprisingly enough,
it was quite hot.
My focus was on getting through heat the likes of which I had hardly
ever experienced previously.
This year I know what’s coming. Heat, hot winds and uncomfortable
nights trying to sleep. And I’m OK with that. I came through last
unscathed and I have no doubt, as far as the conditions are concerned,
can do it again.
But now my mind is alert to some of the other quirky little
idiosyncrasies that come with the Alice Springs summer.
I was talking to Rex the reptile guy. He was saying that he is readying
himself for a really, really busy summer of snake catching.
“Oh! Delightful”, was my reply. Having let the heat go in my mind, I
let in the idea that this summer is snake season. Not that last summer
was any different, just that I hadn’t thought about it.
Since then, in almost every other conversation, friends have lovingly
shared their “snake stories”.
One such tale was from a kid who told me about the time last summer
that they found a Death Adder in the sand at the bowling club. WHAT!
Snakes are getting in on the crackerjack action too now.
Another friend told me of the time she was faced with a mulga snake in
The only snake I want to see in my kitchen is the one that sits at the
bottom of the door to keep the draft out.
I have been told that statistically in Central Australia, you’re never
more than 250 metres away from something that can kill you.
Most of my life, I haven’t been herpaphobic (afraid of snakes) because
they haven’t been around me.
But when they pop in for tea on a Tuesday evening, it’s going to put a
dampener on my week to be honest.
In my opinion snakes are like ex-girlfriends. I don’t mind them
existing I’m just happier when they’re in a different postcode.
How has a vibrant and bold town like Alice Springs developed in a place
surrounded by a menagerie of animals that can kill you!
Getting back to Rex the reptile guy for a moment. His shows tell you
that unless you provoke a snake, chances are you are pretty safe.
Look, far be it for me to argue with a man that knows more about the
subject than I ever care to, but can I get that guarantee in writing?
That’s the thing about snakes. They are emotionless, fast and if they
decide to bite you, chances are that’s not a good day for you. A dog on
the other hand, shows that it’s angry. It gives you some “get out of
the way” warning. Not snakes.
And snakes aren’t the only creatures in our vast ecology that have the
potential for doing me harm. There is talk of bird-eating spiders. I
your pardon but who in their right mind is a fan of a spider that can
a bird! One more evolutionary step and they become baby-eating spider
then we are all in trouble.
White tip spiders, and the ones that look like daddy long legs but are
really dangerous and can jump at you! Is this earth as I know it or
sort of sci fi nightmare?
I think we should do a great service for the hundreds of thousands of
tourists who come here every year. At the airport, and on the roads in
and out of
town, we should erect a sign which says: Welcome to Central Australia –
Touch Anything – You Could Die.
I know I’d sleep better at night.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
Sir,– Re speed limits in the NT: what the bloody hell can we do about
the “rumours”being floated? What the hell would a bloody Monash
academic know about NT conditions?
“True”statistics would show that bugger all accidents are caused by our
All these bloody “blowins” from Victoria and NSW, including the chief
commissioner, are only going on their previous states, which as we
know, have enormous
populations compared to us. Whenever I am there in a car I feel it’s a
more people aren’t killed and all this at 100ks or less.
I do a considerable number of ks in a year and only ever feel unsafe
when I am near bloody tourists who are probably only doing a speed
their limits wherever they come from.
Sir,– The comments by Professor Ian Johnson from the Accident Research
Centre at Monash University saying that the speed limit on Territory
Roads should be 100 km/h is likely used by the Territory Government as
a smoke screen
to introduce speed limits in the Territory.
What the government appear to be doing is flagging the introduction of
a slightly faster speed limit so that they can claim that they have
protected Territorians from people like Professor Johnson.
It is the job of the Accident Research Centre to find danger and they
put a great deal of effort into doing so. It is the job of
to balance those risks with the demands of daily life.
The open speed limit on Territory roads is an expectation that
Territorians have for good and practical reasons.
Professor Johnson says that it would be better to be on the road for an
extra four hours than travelling at 140 km/h.
An extra four hours driving means driving at night and in this part of
the world that really is dangerous.
Meanwhile, the rumours that the international airline that has the
Northern Territory in its name, Qantas, is planning to pull out of the
all together continue to persist among its staff in the
Qantas must make its position clear.
I continually hear speculation that Qantas is moving to make its budget
carrier Jetstar the sole carrier in the Northern Territory.
The lack of denials by the carrier does nothing to allay the fears of
The Territory has a huge stake in the Darwin and Alice Springs
conventions centres and the incapacity for people travelling to the
Territory to do
so on anything other than a budget carrier will have a detrimental
on the ability of those convention providers to service the market
The taxpayer’s exposure in this instance is substantial.
Shadow Minister for Transport
Sir,– I have just recently returned from a nine day holiday in the NT
and spent four of those days in and around Alice and Ayers Rock.
I was appalled at the amount of rubbish that I saw on my drive out to
Ayers Rock and cannot believe that, one, people pollute our
so much and, two, that the state / local governments don’t do something
about cleaning it up and posting notices declaring that rubbish
from vehicle windows is illegal.
I saw many multi-lingual signs declaring all sorts of things along the
way, but very little relating to rubbish disposal and fines that are
What makes it worse is that I have a sneaking suspicion that it is not
just tourists from overseas that are responsible for the littering, but
our own homegrown tourist and, most alarmingly, the local popoulation.
We have such a culturally interesting countryside and some very special
local treasures that are a wonder to view, yet we have them polluted
with cans, bottles, tyres, batteries and numerous other bits of
Territorians, make the most of the wonderful countryside that you have
and lobby your governments to put up more signs to make people aware of
the damage they are doing by polluting your land, and also start fining
people, be they tourists, or even worse those from within your
Dale J Wise
Sir,- Some of the references to the Alice Springs Regional Outline
Structure Plan 1985 (Alice News, Sept 28, page 5) were potentially
Our association, at both the May 2004 and August 2006 hearings in
relation to proposals for NTP 4014 (“White Gums”), referred to and
structure plan in our submissions, within the context of local planning
This document said “An Outline Structure plan is ... more preliminary,
presenting all alternatives being considered for future
The primary intention in producing this Outline Structure Plan is to
provide opportunity for comment ...”
In other words, nothing more than a (albeit quite necessary) discussion
paper. The so called “Commonage - White Gums” alternative was
of five considered, the others being Undoolya, Owen Springs (near the
Brewer Plain (east of the Brewer Estate) and Emily Plains (east of
As your article correctly alluded to, of these, only the Undoolya
option made it past round one.
We are nonplussed as to why anyone would now wave this discussion paper
about as though it were a Policy document.
Alice Springs Rural Area Association Inc
ED - The Alice News stands by its story. Commonage - White Gums was an
option for residential development but – as we reported – “subsequent
planning has identified Mt John Valley and Undoolya Valley ... as the
of further urban expansion”.
We misled no-one and no-one is waving the 1985 document about as a
The point of the report was that it’s not the first time the White Gums
option has come up for discussion.
Back to frontpage the Alice Springs News.