ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
December 7, 2006. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
CENTRE "WORST IN THE WORLD" FOR STABBINGS . By KIERAN FINNANE.
The recent flurry of stabbings in Central Australia are part of a
steadily increasing trend, earning the region the tragic distinction of
having "the highest reported incidence of stab injuries in the world".
Dr Abraham Jacob, in a study presented to the recent Provincial
Surgeons of Australia conference in Kalgoorlie, described the average
incidence - 390 per 100,000 population per year- as "staggering" and
Dr Jacob analysed the 1550 stab injury admissions to Alice Springs
Hospital in a seven year period (July 1998 to June 2005).
He found that 99.99% of victims were Aboriginal, 53% were females, and
victims were most commonly injured in town camps and homes.
31% (481) of the victims were under the influence of alcohol. 20% (311)
presented with repeat stabbings in the period of study.
Generally, Dr Jacob's study found the demographic features in the
Centre "quite different from other published Australasian and overseas
Specifically, he compared the incidence in the population served by the
Alice Springs Hospital - 50,000 people - with the incidence in the
population served by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) in Sydney
RPAH treated 395 stab injuries over 11 years, compared to ASH's 1500
over seven years.
This makes the Central Australian rate 60 times worse than the RPAH
The mean age of the victims in both centres was roughly comparable: 34
years at RPAH, 31 years at ASH.
Victims at RPAH were 94% male (just 6% female) compared to ASH's
shocking 53% female victims.
Most stabbings treated at RPAH had occurred in streets, bars and night
clubs in contrast to the mainly domestic settings in Central Australia.
More stabbings in the RPAH population were fatal: 15 compared with the
three fatalities at ASH. At RPAH the fatal stabbings were most commonly
to the head, chest and abdomen; at ASH they were to the thigh, chest
The most common site of all stab injuries presented at ASH was the
thigh (38% or 605).
Stab injuries to the abdomen were "significantly low", less than 1% or
Says Dr Jacob: "Traditional punishment is still practised in Central
Australia and thus explains the high number thigh injuries.
"A particular pattern of traditional stab injuries was also noted;
medial thigh to kill, posterior thigh to permanently disable, and
lateral thigh to punish.
"Rampant alcoholism and social and family breakdown are thought to be
significant contributors to the high incidence of violence in Alice
In Alice Springs last Friday a 37-year-old man was arrested after he
allegedly stabbed his ex-wife in the back a number of times at Old
Timers Camp. As she walked towards the ambulance that had been called,
he allegedly hit her over the head with a wheel brace.Ê
The man was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated
assault and one of failing to comply with a restraining order.
In a separate incident a 22-year-old woman was taken to the Alice
Springs Hospital after her ex-partner allegedly hit her over the head
numerous times with a socket wrench.Ê
This occurred in a unit in Tilmouth Court.Ê
The woman's head wound later required 25 staples. As the News went to
Press the offender was still being sought by police. Ê
The last weekend of November saw seven people stabbed in the Centre:
five in Tennant Creek (all on a Friday night) and two in Kiwirrkurra
(in WA, just over the border with the NT), one a seven-year-old boy who
died from the injury.
One of the Tennant Creek victims was airlifted to Alice Springs
Hospital, while both Kiwirrkurra victims were brought in to Alice.
A 16-year-old boy was charged over three of the stabbings in Tennant
BROLGAS FLIGHT NEAR STALL . By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Only our very own Fiona O'Loughlin could assert that "old semen" and a
near-menopause pregnancy produced her co-host, Natalie Gruzlewski, from
Channel Nine's Getaway, and get away with it.
No doubt the plucky Alice comedienne saved the 20th Brolga dinner
guests from crushing boredom driven by relentless self-congratulation.
I mean how often can you hear the words "and the winner is" and still
And yet there was plenty of scope for cheeky reality checking.
There are nearly as many categories as there are entrants.
The evening could have featured a multiple choice quiz why only 59 of
the 1000 NT tourism businesses, or 6%, enter the awards:-
 Always the same.
 Don't mean a thing because the consumer doesn't get a say.
The Convention Centre's big hall was bathed in spooky black light and
intermittently immersed in nausea inducing - especially when you've had
a few - colored light beams crawling across the walls and ceiling.
Bets could have been laid as to how many people in the room were
daredevil entrepreneurs, and how many were public servants?
Or have a test closely related to the above: who paid the $160 a head
for dinner out of their own, or their company's, pocket and who didn't?
You got chook or steak.
End of story.
The chook was on the dry side and the steak was, well, it was just the
way it was: you might have thought you were in the rarefied domain of
international hospitality, but the choice of rare, medium and well done
And if you had been at the St Philip's Year 12 formal the night before,
your choice - or non-choice - of the main course would have been
exactly the same, except for the trimmings.
Journalists, including me, got in free to the Brolgas but we were
corralled at media tables, easy prey for government minders bent on
keeping us "on message".
We asked in vain to be seated with people from the coalface of the
industry so we could pick up a yarn or two.
Notable exception: at our table, Tourism NT's Jeanette Button was most
Fiona kept things moving.
In the inevitable housekeeping section she explained that there would
be no break in the award announcements during the main course.
Last year proceedings had dragged on for so long that winners in
sections 23 to 32 were almost too pissed to make it to the stage, she
Fiona hinted at a dalliance with the Minister for Tourism Paul
Henderson - who is sooo much taller!
And she brought Natalie down to earth when she suggested all people in
the room were winners.
Except, of course, those who don't win a Brolga, chirped Fiona.
And at least one of those isn't a happy camper at all.
He says he might seek legal advice, not to contest the judges' right to
make a choice, but because an enterprise was lumped into his category
that didn't belong there.
Charlie Carter runs Trek Larapinta which takes small groups walking on
the 200 km Larapinta Trail, camping in the bush. In the world of
adventure it's the real thing.
Charlie, and fellow small operator Gecko Canoeing - Nature-based Tours,
missed out on the Ecotourism Brolga awarded "to recognise ecologically
sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas
that foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and
Says Charlie in an email to chief judge Bob Woodward: "Please explain
how the Alice Springs Desert Park [which won] complies with the
"Quite clearly it doesn't have Ôa primary focus on experiencing
"Despite the best efforts of the staff, the Ôhabitats' are, and
will remain, manmade.
"The aviaries, the nocturnal house and the bird display are not
And that, says Charlie, doesn't even touch on the issue of a Brolga
going to a government owned attraction with access to huge lots of
public money, competing against a small battler in a contest supposedly
designed to encourage private enterprise.
Mr Woodward's personal assistant, who declined to give her name, said
he is not available for comment due to a "confidentiality agreement".
Meanwhile Tourism NT, which had provided us with Mr Woodward's
telephone number, made no mention of any such agreement.
Another puzzle only partly resolved was why there would be awards in
categories with only one entrant. There were nine such categories.
Mr Woodward said on the night there is a point system and entrants must
reach a certain total.
One seasoned Brolga goer observed that some businesses win every year
and therefore no-one else enters into that category.
This, of course, knocks the rationale of the awards on the head, which
is for businesses to submit to the scoring of the various aspects of
their operations by an experienced peer, and so pick up hints about how
But the winds of change - hopefully not sweeping away Fiona - are going
to touch the crusty Brolgas.
Some states are campaigning for the Australian Tourism Awards, also
submission based, to be changed to another judging system, yet
And that would mean the state awards would need to fall in line.
The Brolgas are "owned" by Tourism NT, formerly the Tourist Commission.
They used to pay the NT chamber of commerce $75,000 to run the event.
This year it was brought back "in house" to Tourism NT and cost
However, according to a spokesman, that included workshops for the
industry to help with the submission process, judging costs for the 16
judges and Mr Woodward, and "costs of Tourism NT attending Australian
Tourism Awards, seeking changes".
Would an email to the national awards have sufficed and saved the
taxpayer a few Ks?
Wash your mouth out with soap!
ALDERMAN ATTACHED TO "ANGRY" LOBBY SET TO RUN FOR MAYOR. By ERWIN
"There is a very high level of anger in the community that needs a
focus. "We'll give it one," says Steve Brown who's spearheading a group
now called Advance
Alice, seeking to drag the town out of its current slump. Mr Brown is a
member of the pioneering family at White Gums which makes up about a
third of the
current membership of 25. He says the main objective of the
non-political group will be putting to the Federal, NT and local
governments demands formulated at
frequent public meetings. Mr Brown says there isn't enough time to call
a public meeting before Christmas but the first one will be held early
in the new year.
He is the president of Advance Alice, Alderman Murray Stewart, who has
mayoral ambitions, is the vice-president. Ald Stewart says given his
of Alice Springs, "it would be churlish to walk away from the
challenge. If the election were tomorrow the people of Alice Springs
would want me to stand." Mr
Brown says a constitution is being drawn up for the group which is
likely to be fielding or supporting candidates in the next town council
under consideration by the group already are:-
¥ CCTV cameras in the mall and a youth curfew: members supported
these moves from the council public gallery.
¥ Disagreement with the new speed limits, in part because they
would end car testing in the NT, worth millions of dollars to the local
economy. The group says unlimited speeds should continue to be
permitted on the Stuart and Barkly Highways, outside towns.
¥ The location in the northern industrial area of one of the two
proposed camps for itinerants: the NT Government or the Alice Springs
Town Council should find a new location for the Federally financed
facility. Mr Brown says the current heated debate should not overlook
the fact that several Aboriginal hostels and accommodation places are
running smoothly and without disturbances throughout the town.
¥ Opposition to the proposed hand over to Aborigines of ownership
to national parks: "We'll be making this very well known, in the NT and
around the country," says Mr Brown. ¥ The council should fix the
basketball courts. Mr Brown says the group doesn't see itself as a
"defacto Opposition" nor as a continuous knocker.
"We'll pat the government on the back when deserved," says Mr Brown.
We're a positive group, offering alternatives to governments that will
help the town advance." When people "have something to say, they have
to say it." As suggested by Ald. Stewart the group is now working on a
web site, and seeking suggestions for a town flag, "so we can hold the
banner up high and promote the town," says Mr Brown.
MORE QUESTIONS ON DONGAS . By KIERAN FINNANE.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough apparently sent his regards to
Alice Springs through public servant Brian Stacey but he also
apparently sent the repeat warning: that if there's a "bunfight" over
the proposed short term itinerant accommodation sites, the Commonwealth
will take their money elsewhere.
It was salt to the wounds of many who attended a public information
meeting on Tuesday morning, already feeling that they haven't been
consulted on the issues.
One speaker pointed out that it's not the Commonwealth's money to take,
it's taxpayers' money.
Loraine Braham was applauded when she described the "threat" as
"disgraceful": "Everyone is entitled to have a say."
Speaker after speaker expressed their objection to the implied threat -
despite Mr Stacey's denial of any intention to threaten.
Melanie van Haaren, a town council alderman, said the Commonwealth's
attitude certainly didn't make people feel comfortable in putting
forward a view.
She said the broader community has never had the opportunity to have
input to the proposals, which have been the work of "select groups
behind closed doors". Like several other speakers, Ms van Haaren
nonetheless acknowledged the "enormous" need for more accommodation in
Her concern was that the maximum three month stay would not be enough
to cater for those who need to stay longer, in particular renal
patients, whose disease "does not go away".
How temporary or permanent the arrangements would be emerged as a key
concern for many speakers, with a lot of suspicion that both facilities
would ultimately become permanent town camps.
Until some progress is made with the "normalisation" process in the
town camps - described by Barry Chambers, chair of the meeting and of
the town camps taskforce implementation committee - people would appear
to have difficulty in imagining any other possibility, even though
there are in town of a number of other facilities catering for
And the vagueness of many details of the current proposals is not
reassuring: in answer to a number of questions from Mrs Braham, the
meeting learnt that the facility is planned as a short term solution,
possibly five, possibly 10 years, depending in part on "the life of the
demountables"; the land is "likely" to be leased as a term lease from
the NT Government; there was no figure given for the value of the land;
Indigenous Business Australia is "likely" to own the facilities "in the
Tony Connole of Centralian Motors wanted to know how many of the dongas
would be kept in Alice Springs, and how many would go to bush
Mr Stacey said that hadn't been sorted out yet.
Mr Connole said he'd been told by Senator Nigel Scullion that there
"may be bricks and mortar" going into the facilities.
Adrian White of consultants Qantec McWilliam, on the panel, responded
that if there's a shortfall, more transportable buildings will be
Concern about management not only inside the walls of the facilities
but in the surrounding area was expressed by several speakers.
"Would you like to live close by?" the panel was asked by Dallas
Spears, who has a business on Dalgety Road and lives in Cliffside
Court, 300 metres away.
Mr White said the site was presented to the consultants by the NT
Government: "Our report did highlight its location."
Mal Crowley reported that the Steiner School had previously enquired
about the availability of the Dalgety Road site for its school. It had
been denied, he said, because of petro-chemical contamination of the
site during World War II.
Mr White said Qantec has identified some contamination; the Development
Consent Authority will investigate and if necessary have it removed.
Old Timers resident Margaret Baker described the problems she and
fellow residents have when bush visitors come to town for festivals,
particularly in relation to abandoned dogs.
Indeed, no thought appears to have been given to the accommodation of
dogs in the facilities, a point made by Rod Cramer, chair of Alice
Springs Rural Areas Association.
Director of Nursing at Old Timers, Mary Miles, spoke of the problems
the aged care facility experienced when the Tyeweretye Club was in
operation, not from within the club, but from people who were not
admitted to it.
She said Old Timers reduced their security costs by $30,000 once the
club closed down eight years ago.
She said anti-social behaviour in the environs of Old Timers is the
biggest problem they have to deal with.
Where would staff to manage the facilities be recruited from? asked
more than one speaker, pointing to the difficulties in hiring staff
that so many businesses are experiencing.
This also appeared to give the panel food for thought: after
hesitation, Mr Stacey said "we'll have to think about that - we'll have
to tender nationally".
As for policing of the areas surrounding the facilities: "Our police
can't control the 2km law as it is," said Tanya of Dixon Road. "Are we
getting more police?"
Mr Chambers couldn't "respond directly" but assured her that the police
"are fully aware of the issues".
"When security is not available, will you bring the army in?" asked
"Highly unlikely," said Mr Chambers.
One of the most surprising details to emerge, however, was the loose
criteria for eligibility to use the facilities. They were being
described as for "low income earners", Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
Would people be means tested?
No. All a person will have to do is walk through the gate.
So, as Richard Lim said, the term should really be "low-cost"
Eric Sultan stated his worry that, given the shortage also of low cost
tourist accommodation, the facilities will end up being used by
LETTERS: Dongas - Are we so used to complaining that we can't just say,
Sir,- I am convinced that the new Managed Accommodation for short term
visitors to Alice Springs has the potential to revolutionise the town.
We have been screaming out for housing for years and now the Australian
Government has offered us the solution on a platter - paid, organised
and immediate. So why are people nitpicking about the location? Is it
that we are so used to complaining that we can't simply say - thank
Both locations are isolated from neighbouring housing yet close enough
to town to be convenient. Residents will be able to get their children
to school and will be able to access shopping, the hospital and more.
Imagine if you were a responsible Aboriginal resident of an outlying
You will at times need to go to Alice Springs and know that when you
get there, you won't be welcome at many accommodation houses or you
could stay at overcrowded unsafe houses with family.
It is very difficult knowing that you could be exposing your kids to
antisocial behaviour, danger, sickness and humbug.
It is not easy.
We have a duty to provide for our visitors a safe environment where the
user pays, police and other services have free access and the whole
environment supports good, clean behaviour.
Why on earth are the Aboriginal organisations and service groups not
jumping for joy and putting in submissions of support?
Visitors from outlying areas and communities spend huge amounts of
money in Alice Springs and we need to value their vital economic input.
We also need to provide good services and a warm welcome for those who
are responsible law abiding citizens.
ED- Jane Clark is an alderman on the Alice Town Council.
Save our laneways
Sir,- Readers may have recently read or heard about the closure of the
Laver Court laneway in Sadadeen. I strongly object to its closure,
mainly because I use it regularly and live very close to the park that
In the seven years I've lived in the area, I haven't experienced any
anti-social behaviour in the park or in the 13 laneways in the area.
But I also object to the manner in which it is being closed. I heard
the Council CEO, Rex Mooney, saying on radio that council have a
laneway policy and due procedure has been followed. He said there had
been community consultation and that claims of anti-social behaviour
had been investigated. I strongly disagree with his claims.
I'm concerned that the Laver Crt laneway and other laneways can be
prematurely closed before there is adequate consultation with local
laneway users, and an investigation of the anti-social behavioural
claims, and ultimately before there is a discussion of alternative
I assumed these kinds of measures would be taken, perhaps as a part of
the council's Policy No 147 for laneway closures, quoted by Rex Mooney
and mentioned in council report No 67/06ts.
I have tried unsuccessfully on several occasions to see the policy.
Council's Technical Services have indicated that it is unavailable to
the public because it is currently being created.
Other than a single letter drop to 100 in an area of 147 households
affected by the closure, and three planning type notices in the local
newspaper (which I missed) there has been no notification of the
progress of the closure application.
Council's Community Consultation Framework states that during
consultation "participants will receive feedback about inputs
I responded to what I thought was an informal "invitation to comment".
I rang council to see whom to address the letter to. During this phone
call, I was told there was plenty of time to respond if the application
to close the laneway proceeded.
The next time I heard about the closure proposal, was in an article in
the Centralian Advocate (Oct 20), which reported council's planned
motion to close it, despite a recommendation from its own staff,
Technical Services, to keep the laneway open due to a high level of
objection to its closure.
But, it seems, aldermen made a Ôknee-jerk' decision upon hearing
what has been described as a "highly emotional presentation" from the
laneway closure applicant. The following week in a Technical Services
Committee sitting, aldermen acknowledged that there was a need for an
appropriate policy after the Darwin City laneway policy was sighted,
but said they couldn't alter their decision.
This is not true, aldermen thankfully can rescind poor decisions (where
would we be if they couldn't!).
I call upon aldermen to give a fair and balanced hearing to both sides
of this laneway closure [debate], and to open dialogue about
alternative strategies, such as erecting signs in parks and laneways,
reminding people about noise levels, or investigating temporary
The properties adjoining the laneway also adjoin the park. Maybe noise
from normal park behaviour, like children kicking balls, kids laughing
on playground equipment, is being mistaken for anti-social behaviour.
Council also needs to safeguard against the potential for false claims
being made by closure applicants in pursuit of increasing the value and
size of their property for financial gain. Though I am not implying
that this has occurred in the Laver Crt application.
Finally, some recognition needs to made of the role of laneways in the
original town planning, that is, providing pedestrian access in road
locked suburbs. In Sadadeen, of the 13 laneways, six directly access
parks. It's also been said they are a part of a one in 100 year flood
Let's look at as many alternatives as possible before we lose our lanes
to the community forever. After all they are public land and are not
council's to give away.
ED - The town council has agreed to review its laneway closure policy
but, so far, have not rescinded their decision on the Laver Crt laneway
Sir,- The ALP have adopted the CLP's approach to native title claims in
spite of their policy of negotiation rather than litigation.
In the past 12 months the ALP has litigated in five cases challenging
native title claims or the expansion of native title in the Territory.
The cases were:
¥ The Territory v Alyawarr, Kaytetye, Warumungu Wakaya Native Title
Claim Group & Anor. This claim was an attempt to seek leave to
appeal to the High Court to review conclusions of the Federal Court
regarding the interpretation of native title.
¥ The ÔNewcastle Waters Matters', actually six separate
matters. These (with one exception) represent the Ôpolygon
claims'. These matters remain on foot.
¥ Griffith & Gulwin v NT. This matter reflects the three
separate claims over the township of Timber Creek.
¥ The Larrakia People & Ors v NT of Australia and Ors. This is
the native title claim over Darwin and the appeal will be contested by
the Territory as well as the Federal Government.
¥ Johnny Jango v NT. This was the compensation claim lodged for
loss of title at Yulara. The applicants have filed an appeal and the
Territory is fighting the claim.
The Territory Government is demanding that people prove their claims
against the Territory.
The CLP has always said this is good policy.
These matters must be discussed in Cabinet and it would be very
interesting to know if the Aboriginal members in Cabinet, Marion
Scrymgour and Elliot McAdam, agree with the decision to fight native
title claims so vigorously.
It is distinctly possible that this approach is part of the reason
there is so much internal discontent with the Chief Minister.
Leader of the Opposition
Tired old stereotypes
Sir,- I wore a red ribbon on World Aids Day, Friday, December 1.
Wearing a red ribbon is a sign that as a community, if we remain
vigilant, we can stop the spread of HIV and end prejudice.
Around 22,000 Australians have been infected with HIV. People must be
accepted on their merits and not discriminated against because of a
The NT Anti-Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to treat people
unfairly because of any impairment - including HIV/AIDS.
It is also against the law to ask people for information about their
medical records that is irrelevant and intrusive.
On Monday, December 3 the commission celebrated the abilities of all
Territorians on this International Day of Disabled Persons.
All Territorians have the right to full participation in their
community, regardless of whether they experience a disability.
Approximately one in five Australians live with a disability. In the
NT, this proportion is even higher, with more than one in three
indigenous persons living with a disability.
As a community, we need to shift our focus onto a person's abilities
and what people can do, and refrain from assumptions about what people
can't do based on tired old disability stereotypes.
We know that there are times when people with a disability may need
extra assistance in order to achieve full participation and to enjoy
the same benefits and quality of life as everyone else.
For this reason the NT Anti Discrimination Act requires that we
accommodate the special needs of people who are disadvantaged.
The Act also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person in the
areas of work, accommodation, education, goods and services, clubs and
insurance and superannuation on the basis of disability.
The NT Anti-Discrimination Commission offers t training packages.
Territorians are invited to contact the expert and friendly staff at
the commission for general information about discrimination issues, to
confidentially discuss a complaint, or to obtain more information about
training which can be tailor-made to suit all requirements.
FREECALL 1800 813 846.
NT Anti-Discrimination Commissioner
ADAM CONNELLY: One man's cult is another man's cringe .
Picture if you will the navy blue sky of a Saturday pre-dawn.
The stars and the moon still visible and prominent in the sky. Yet to
the east, the horizon is stained with green and orange, foretelling the
sunrise. It's cooler but not that cool. The birds' calls are yet to be
drowned out by the noise of the everyday and the air is at its
A Saturday, pre-dawn in Alice Springs is a beautiful thing and
something many of us don't see too often. In fact, on the odd occasion
that we do see it, it generally means we are coming home from a far too
large night and aren't really in the frame of mind to appreciate its
pleasantness. Thoughts of sleep and kebabs rise highly in our
appreciation rather than the vistas before us.
There are those people for whom the early hours of Saturday are a
regular sight. Those who take Germans and Japanese on large busses need
to wake early. Those who serve us the Friday night food and drinks make
their way home at this time too.
But there are a small group of people who are just waking from a good
night sleep at this time. In fact if you listen carefully you can hear
them in the quiet. The shower running, the kettle boiling. You can hear
this small group of people doing very everyday things. But these people
are far from everyday.
They are about to leave their homes and wander the streets of our town.
The streets where you live and raise your children. They wander for
hours getting their fix. Welcome to the world of the lawn sale junkie.
The lawn sale seems perfectly innocuous. A family wanting to move, or
thin out the junk room, figure they can make a buck or two by getting
rid of some old mattresses and some daggy seventies crockery. They
advertise in the appropriate media - a newspaper or the lawn saler's
favourite, a light pole. Early on the Saturday morning these mum and
dad operations place their wares across the lawn and then they sit
behind the card table and wait.
With newspaper clippings in hand they come. Out of the shadows, from
sedan and wagon sometimes with trailer in tow. These people who live
off the bargain.
Buying other people's old stuff at a haggled price is the same as a
gambler's high when the jackpot bells ring on the pokies. The same high
as an adrenaline junkie who has just thrown themselves off a cliff or a
Woe betide anyone who stands between a person and their addiction.
I've never really understood the appeal to be perfectly honest. From a
purely definitive point of view I find it difficult to get worked up
about something called a lawn sale in a town so bereft of lawn.
The idea of waking up on a Saturday before I have to seems a bit wrong.
Dragging myself from Flynn Drive to Dalgetty Road via The Fairway to
look at the crap other people have accumulated doesn't really get my
But I have been to lawn sales and they are fascinating viewing. People
are so incredibly passionate about the bargain. They will elbow others
out of the way in order to have a look at the old strip heater or more
worryingly, the ÔLet's Swing Ô66' vinyl record.
The Alice's fascination with lawn sales is intense and unlike anything
I've seen outside this postcode. Neighbours held a lawn sale recently
and told me that in the first hour, between six and seven, they had
sold over eight hundred dollars worth of crap. Eight hundred!
I relayed this information to another friend at a party and she told me
that "the best ones are the American ones". The theory being that
Americans don't want to ship anything back home with them so, as the
annoying man in the TV commercial says, "it's all gotta go!".
I can't believe regular everyday folk have theories on lawn sale
strategy. To me the idea of rifling through other people's stuff and
then debating its worth, does not a pleasant Saturday morning make. But
it's not like I'm going to tell people to stop. I've seen them throw
small children by the wayside to get to a bargain, there's no way I'm
getting in the way.
CHEFS TO THE RESCUE OF FINE FOOD . By KIERAN FINNANE.
"You're 60 years old and you've never handled quail eggs!"
That could only be a chef talking. In fact it was Beat Keller (Keller's
Swiss and Indian Restaurant) having a joke at Alfred Kastner's expense.
Alfred (the Austrian-born head chef at Bojangles) is a man of imposing
size and moustache: he was gently and with utmost concentration sliding
the eggs in their tiny dishes into the poaching stock and then
Beat, equally imposing in size and with a voice to match, joined him
and silence fell. There were 75 eggs, not much bigger than their
thumbnails, to be poached in double quick time.
Behind them Lynne Peterkin, former chairman of CATIA, multiple Brolga
winner for her bed and breakfast establishment and freshly graduated
chef, was scooping the eggs onto a Chinese soup spoon, lined with a
mustard leaf. Jason Slink (first year apprentice at Bojangles) then
drizzled the egg with truffle oil.
As each tray was completed, it was delivered to Hanuman's Jimmy Shu and
assistants, who added the quail eggs to the entree plate, already
adorned with three other delicacies, including Jimmy's delectable
oyster in a lightly spiced custard.
The wait staff (Keller's and Hanuman's), under the guidance of maitre
d' Helen Dixon (Keller's), then marched the entrees out the door.
Meanwhile, Kinman Lee (Keller's) was preparing potatoes for the
marvelous mash that accompanied the main course of saddle of beef,
itself slowly roasting in the giant oven.
Alex Brown, pastry chef for the occasion, had worked through the night
on her desserts and petits fours, snatching just one hour's sleep at
2.30am. But still she managed a smile and a joke as she busily assisted
wherever she was needed.
Outside in Hanuman's elegant dinning room 75 patrons of the Central
Australian Food Group's gourmet Christmas luncheon completed the fine
food experience, savouring flavours, enjoying good wine and each
They had parted with $150 a head to do so, an expensive meal, as Jimmy
acknowledged, inviting them all in recompense "to gatecrash" Hanuman's
own Christmas party the next day.
The money the food group raised will be used to fund their industry
lobbying activities. And lobby they must to avert a future where fine
food, cooked from fresh ingredients by someone who knows and loves what
they are doing, will be a thing of the past.
Beat told patrons that a whole industry of pre-packaged food is waiting
in the sidelines for this day; restaurants will become mere plating
The critical missing ingredient in the current industry is young people
joining the ranks. With the apprentice chef dropout rate in the
Territory at 73%, existing restaurants struggle to get staff and, if it
is not turned around, restaurants as we know them will cease to exist
in anything like their current number and range.
This looming threat has galvanised the food group into action. All of
them gave their talents and labour freely to make this fund raiser
happen, supported by their generous wait staff and sponsors.
Each of the senior chefs is the other's competitor in business and
professionally, yet on Sunday an atmosphere of cooperation, mutual
respect and good cheer reigned in Hanuman's kitchen.
While Jimmy had been maestro of the entrees, Beat took over for the
plating of the main course.
The full complement of chefs lined up in front of the large trays
containing each of the ingredients, kept warm over gas burners.
"You have four minutes," Helen announced, working off the running sheet
that had been developed the night before, along with the table
allocations, the duty roster and the kitchen plan.
Beat called for a sample plate. This was for the chefs to see what was
to go where and for Helen to show to the wait staff, so that they in
turn could answer patrons' questions.
Swiftly a sample plate was made to Beat's satisfaction and then the
production line swung into action.
Alex served the mash, Jimmy the meat, Jackie Kerr the carrot, Lynne the
beetroot and so on.
Beat served the wild mushroom sauce before it was topped it off with a
sprig of fresh rosemary.
"Tell that Austrian to cut the meat properly!" he roared, again a joke
at Alfred's expense. "We are in Aust-ral- ia, not Austria!"
The banter served mostly to keep the tempo up. Occasionally one person
would have tongs in the air, waiting for the next, but it didn't last
for more than a few seconds.
The whole 75 meals were served in 19 minutes (Jimmy watched the clock).
This was a human precision instrument at work, with professional
training at a premium - these chefs don't normally work together but
they know exactly how to do it when required.
A rare pleasure to watch and a proud tradition to belong to.
WRITING TAKES PRISONERS BEYOND THEIR WALLS . By KIERAN FINNANE.
When Clifford Rankin entered prison at 18 years of age, six years ago,
he couldn't read.
Last Thursday at the Alice Springs Correctional Centre he stood in
front of a crowd of 50 or so, including in the front row Minister for
Justice Syd Stirling, and in a calm, clear voice read a statement about
petrol sniffing, his "personal view".
"I couldn't believe I could read in front of everyone I didn't know,"
Clifford told the Alice News.
He left high school, in Katherine, at age 17. He remembers school as a
time when he was angry: "You all better than me."
He didn't sniff himself but did get into serious trouble which landed
him in gaol.
He decided to change, and one part of that was to prove to himself that
he could read and write.
"Leni [Shilton] helped me. She's a lovely teacher. She told me I could
do it. She believed in me and I believed in myself.
"A couple of years later and I could read and write."
Clifford is up for parole in the middle of next year.
"I'm planning what I'm going to do, where I'm going to stay. I'll try
to get a job on a cattle station.
"I'm looking forward to supporting myself, I need money, I need a
"I'll see my daughter. She's 11 now. I've been in gaol most of her
He writes with a message: "I believe Aboriginal people can live for a
very long time if they get rid of the petrol problem because it is
destroying our culture ...
"I know and understand the government is trying to help but I feel they
need to do more than just talk."
Mr Stirling said he got the message. He said he would make sure the
government would do more than just talk.
Clifford told the News he wants young people to make sure they do "a
lot of education, sport, something with their life".
"Don't go on the wrong track.
"Stay out of grog and petrol sniffing.
"And love each other, love the persons around you, people will love you
if you change. If you don't, you're stuffed, you will drown in sorrow."
The occasion was the launch of a booklet titled Behind These Walls,
authored by students of the creative writing course run at the prison.
Under the guidance of teacher Leni Shilton, through publishing and
broadcast opportunities, audio presentations and competition entries,
the students are getting their stories, poems and plays out there -
"beyond these walls", as Leni said.
Simon Smith has already come to the attention of a wider audience with
his story ÔI lost it all', a harrowing account of violence done
to him because he was young, black and getting Ôabove his
station'. The vicious assault sent him spiralling down into a desperate
decade of drugs and crime.
The story was presented as an audio performance during the 2005 Alice
Desert festival; was published in the Alice News in January this year,
and has since been broadcast on ABC Radio National.
ÔGrandpop's lighter', included in Behind These Walls, shows
Simon's story-telling skill in a lighter vein: it's colourful, crass,
funny, with a strong voice. Little wonder that his talent has been
recognised by the NT Writers Centre, who have offered him a mentorship
with novelist Philip McLaren.
Meanwhile, Simon has been out of gaol on parole which he breached by
"smoking some ganja".
"I was naive enough to think it wouldn't matter," he told the News.
Now he must serve his full term.
"I didn't expect six years but I deserved it," he said.
"I needed this time, it was the only option other than to die by all
He's relieved that while he was on parole he got to see "the oldies" -
"the grandparents who raised me up".
The News asked him about support he received while on parole.
He said his parole officer was on holidays.
His parole conditions placed him in Tennant Creek where he couldn't get
work other than CDEP. There was work available out bush - road
maintenance, fencing - but he wasn't allowed to leave town.
He did CDEP four hours a day and then was confronted by the drinking
culture, something his parole conditions obviously forbade.
"The only thing to do in Tennant was to drink. Everywhere I turned -
mates, family - that was all everyone was doing."
He suffered anxiety attacks: "It was all too much after being inside."
There was some help available from the Aboriginal health service,
Anyinginyi Congress, but, Simon said, they were always busy and he
didn't want to "make a nuisance" of himself.
Back inside with 11 months to go he's got a pretty full program:
working towards a collection of short stories, working on a novel
titled The White Butterfly Curse. It's "a mix of old and new" drawing
on Aboriginal and Islander traditions which he learnt as a kid moving
He's also studying a certificate course in business, knowing that "it's
hard to get a job when you come out from prison".
Having done his full term, there will be no conditions when he is next
released. He'll be free to choose where to live.
He also feels that "being Aboriginal" there's a lot of help in larger
centres: "I'm going to use this advantage," he said.
He'd written a few songs before prison, but "it took the cells" to
discover how much he liked writing.
"I got to know myself, there are no masks in a cell. I had to face
reality. It took me one and a half years."
He also pays tribute to Leni: "She fine tuned that writing, she's
"There's a whole new world in writing, nothing can hold you back, no
barriers unless you are trying to write the truth. But with fiction
you're absolutely free."
All of the prisoners the News spoke to had stories of transformation to
Frenchman David Peneau said he felt prison had made him a better man:
"It's made me more patient with myself and given me a sense of
"You have no choice, you have to share a dormitory, which was a
challenge for me because I like to be by myself.
"I had to learn to mix with everyone.
"I learnt a bit about Aboriginal culture."
David came to Australia as a tourist. He thought he might he might get
a glimpse of Aboriginal people "in the bush with spears - a tourist
thing". He was certainly not counting on a spell in prison as a way of
developing his awareness.
How did it happen? A "stupid mistake" made when he was very drunk. It
cost him two years of his young life, six months on bail, and 18 months
inside. He has three left to serve.
"This is one of the best prisons," he said. "There are no gangs. It
could have been a lot worse."
But on the whole life in gaol is "very boring, frustrating and hard
when you think about the outside, but you try to make the best of it".
David has taken the opportunity to improve his English, to draw, read
(he was not a reader before his time on bail), learn to play the
guitar, learn to weld.
And he feels fit - from eating a balanced diet, not smoking, not
On his release he will be deported immediately: "I want to get on with
my life, earn some money, travel some more. I won't forget this
experience but I want to put it aside."
He's learnt the importance of one day: as he writes in his poem of that
title, "One day can be one life / One day carries one's hope / One day
to make it through / One day was already too much / One day to judge a
East Timor-born Nelio Serra, who together with Leni is credited with
the editing and production of Behind These Walls, has completed
Certificate III in creative writing and is about to start Certificate
IV, which will qualify him to tutor the course himself.
He's also completed 20 other modules of study since he's been inside,
serving a seven and a half year sentence.
He's got 10 months to go and said he's determined to keep going with
Certificate Four, a two year course, once he's released.
He told the News his son, born after he was gaoled, has given him
inspiration, "a different outlook on life".
He's written three "poetry novels" under the title The Thought of a
Ruffian for his son. They explain "this six year period of my life and
his life". Together with a CD titled The Ruffian's Gospel, Nelio wants
to enclose the books in a glass frame, that his son can open up when
he's older, "if he wants to".
Behind These Walls includes a play jointly written by Nelio and Simon
Smith. Called Conscience, it shows a prisoner wrestling the devil (of
blaming everyone else) and the angel (of accepting the consequences of
It is transparently autobiographical and Nelio is clearly still engaged
in the fight: he told the News that he found his sentence "pretty
excessive, not justice".
His alter ego in the play, Julius, similarly is baffled by his "fate":
"Now who would have thought after so many years / That the chapter of
my life would end up like this / from a child with dreams to the man
with the criminal career ... The world to me still seems a mysterious
place/ walk the road of uncertainty and follow my destiny".
The end of the play prefigures Julius' demise on an unsettling note:
"Let me depart with defiance and glory / Unforgiven or not / Hated or
loved / It was my life ... my choices ... my story".
Launching Behind These Walls, Trish van Dijk, an official visitor at
the prison and a former teacher there, spoke of the value of creative
expression in understanding one another's experience. The experiences
of the prisoners are hard and complex. Their writing shows a number of
the men grappling with prison life and what has led them there. But
there are also flights of imagination that make a bid for, as one of
them, Anthony Jarc, puts it, "a certain kind of freedom".
Interested readers will be able to find a copy of Behind These Walls at
the town library.
SAUSAGES AND CONDOMS. By DARCY DAVIS.
Sausages and condomsÉ sounds like a romantic evening with the
Well no, in fact, they were part of the Youth Outloud for World Aids
Day festival last Friday night on the Uniting Church lawns, Todd Mall.
And there was quite a turn out, despite the freak storm that afternoon.
Because the event was aimed particularly at Indigenous youth, it was
appropriate for young Indigenous performance group Drum Atweme to kick
off the night with their energetic drum beats.
To follow up their successful gig alongside Hilltop Hoods, local hip
hop act Groove Cartel (formerly known as Crossfader Crusaders) set the
mood with rhymes relevant to issues faced by Central Australian youth -
"as old mates I led astray / we're still waiting for better days".
As the sky grew darker and the barbeque got frying, the inflated
condoms draped around the place took on an eerie glow, and if the
message was not yet clear, it was soon to be when Condom-Woman made her
Dressed in a purple condom ring top-hat and a multi-coloured/flavoured
condom-made frock with a drooping condom frill - combining wearable art
and HIV Aids awareness - Condom-Woman far surpassed Condom-Man in
Between acts, quiz questions were asked for giveaway show bags, but
with questions such as "Can wearing a condom stop you from getting
pregnant?" they weren't mind benders.
"We just wanted to have a big youth event to get the kids down and have
some fun," said event coordinator, Nick Butera.
"I think we've given away lots of prizes, had lots of fun and raised
plenty of awareness."
There was generally a positive reaction by the youth to the event.
Whether it was the free food and giveaways or a genuine interest in the
event I don't know, but there seemed to be real understanding and
enthusiasm for the gathering and questions such as "True or false, STI
stands for sexually transmitted infection?" were answered with
It was particularly good to see Imparja news host Ryan Liddle go down
to the church lawns to draw the raffle and support this awareness
campaign. Being an Indigenous man himself, it was great for youth to
have someone to look up to in that situation and in a small town like
Alice Springs, awareness and understanding is best taught by example.
POOL DANGER .
The ochre coloured coping tiles at the town pool's water level
(pictured at right) are not rounded on the edge beneath the water and
are causing people to cut themselves.
"There have been heaps of cuts," says Kim Donovan, president of the
Alice Springs Swimming Club. "The tiler was meant to fix it before the
Mrs Donovan said there are also "huge sections" of broken tiles that
"could cut a little kid's finger off". She says pool management and the
town council are completely aware of the problems.
"We have been trying to go through the right channels," says Mrs
Donovan, "but we've got our big carnival this weekend, with 50 kids
from all over the Territory coming in. It's scary. Everyone knows about
it and nothing is getting done."
Mrs Donovan also says the brand new lane ropes have been breaking.
"Two have snapped and the others are causing lots of cuts. Everything
seems to have been done on the cheap."
Responding to enquiries from the Alice News Mayor Fran Kilgariff said:
"All sharp edges as far as we know were fixed and tiles replaced before
the Masters. There is one tile that has fallen off in the last three
days and we have got the contractor onto it.
"New poolropes were provided to the YMCA before the Masters and the
pool manager has confirmed that all of them are operational."
However Sam Dalby, parent of swimming club members and vice-president
of Swimming NT, told the News on Tuesday that the sharp tiles have
definitely not been fixed and that last week one of the club members
had cut her foot on one of the edges. She also said that "certainly
last week one of the ropes had snapped and bits were fraying off others
Back to frontpage the Alice Springs News.