ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
April 26, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Behave in town, or get sent
home: Aboriginal politician. REPORT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Alice Springs should have rules of conduct for visitors and those
offending against them should be forcibly moved back to their
This was claimed by MLA for MacDonnell Alison Anderson (ALP), a
prominent Indigenous leader, at a meeting of of 70 "community leaders"
According to Alderman David Koch, who was at the meeting, Greatorex MLA
Richard Lim (CLP) applauded her suggestion.
And Minister for Central Australia Elliot McAdam said this week Ms
Anderson's proposal "should be looked at carefully.
"She understands the bush."
The meeting was convened by Mayor Fran Kilgariff who barred media and
the public from attending.
Ms Anderson's comments were relayed to the Alice Springs News by
Advance Alice convener Steve Brown, who was there.
He says Ms Anderson told the meeting she was "utterly ashamed,
absolutely appalled of my countrymen", whom she had observed in the
Mall displaying "loud and abusive behavior".
They should have a home and a job as conditions for being in Alice
Springs: "She said words to the effect, if you can't abide by the
rules, get out of town," Mr Brown says.
Ms Anderson could not be contacted for comment.
It emerged during the meeting that the Chief Minister, who was present,
had no idea that the "return to country" program, run by Tangentyere,
had been de-funded by the NT Government.
The scheme, taking bush visitors back to their communities, is
continuing on a user pays system that isn't working, last Friday's
meeting was told. And Tangentyere Council has since advised that fewer
than 50 people have used the scheme since last October.
William Tilmouth, director of Tangentyere, said in a statement this
week: "When our program first started in 2000, there were hundreds of
visitors from remote communities camping in the Todd River and other
public areas in Alice Springs.
"After our Return to Country workers started helping them return home,
there were only 30 people left.
"However, the service was de-funded in 2006 by the NT Government."
The Alice News has learned that there are an estimated 500 people
illegally camped in parks and vacant blocks around Alice Springs, in
violation of council camping and littering by-laws that are not, or not
adequately, enforced by the council.
The Return to Country program is subject to a memorandum of
understanding between the town council and Tangentyere.
It was apparently not explained to the meeting why neither organization
had protested (or protested sufficiently to be heard) to the Chief
Minister about the funding cut.
Mr McAdam says he's now in discussions with Tangentyere about options
for increasing transport services to bush.
Mr Brown says the meeting made him confident that, at last, decisive
action will be taken by the NT Government and the town council, and
that the town's many problems are no longer swept under the carpet.
On the other hand he was dissatisfied with the chair person, Reverend
Tracy Spencer who, Mr Brown said, clearly had her own agenda and
steered the discussion in line with her own objectives.
He said this applied especially to the proposed youth curfew.
According to the communique release by the Mayor after the meeting,
proposals for a curfew should be subjected to a "six month review ...
to determine whether there is a need for it," in effect consigning the
measure to a delay of at least a year, if it is brought in at all.
Says Mr Brown: "We'll be pushing for it a lot sooner. Most speakers
were in favor."
Other highlights pointed out by Mr Brown and Ald Koch:-
• NT politicians admitted they were stunned by the events of Tuesday
last week, when a crowd of 750 business people and their staffs booed
• Just about everything discussed at Friday's meeting was long term,
despite the declared intention of seeking "an immediate improvement to
the level of anti-social behavior in the community".
• There was a suggestion of returning community football to just one
weekend in four in Alice Springs, and three a month in the bush.
At the moment all games are played in town, with an accompanying rise
in over-crowding on the camps, illegal camping and anti-social conduct.
Mr Brown says it seems any changes would be subject to football league
consent, although the town council controls Traeger Park, and has power
to do something immediately.
Mr McAdam says this issue, too, should be seen in conjunction with Ms
• Police establishment numbers now seemed to have been reached. They
were down 50% quite recently.
• Cameras in the mall should be installed urgently and be monitored
around the clock. Police won't be doing the monitoring.
However, Mr McAdam has told the Alice News ongoing government support
for the running of the system is now under consideration.
Ald Koch says the preferred model is one used in Ipswich: the town owns
the system and provides staff for the monitoring.
"Ipswich police are invited to sit in the control booth if they wish,"
says Ald Koch.
"Courts will accept evidence from police if they have seen an offence
on real-time CCTV systems with high resolution monitors.
"The NT government had resolutely declined to partially fund the CCTV
"Now we have a commitment for $150,000 from Clare Martin.
"We can go to tender in six to eight weeks."
• An official from the Licensing Commission announced at the meeting
that a report on the dry town proposal would be released when they are
"good and ready," as Mr Brown put it.
"I was horrified by that attitude," he said.
"Why did the Chief Minister not say to the official, 'I will have that
report on my desk at the end of this week or you will be looking for a
"Who is running this place?"
• CATIA president Steve Rattray had a shot at Advance Alice for
appearing in a Seven Network current affairs story about violence in
Mr Brown says Mr Rattray claimed the TV program would damage the
But Mr Brown says the current problems should be fixed before tourists
are enticed to visit: "CATIA is hiding its head in the sand, having
tourists smashed to gain a lousy dollar.
"No $2.2m [a special grant from the Chief Minister to promote Alice
Springs] will ever recover what tourists frightened by thugs in the
street are telling their friends.
"We have to deal with that problem, and be seen by the country to be
"We can't ignore and hide from the problems," says Mr Brown.
"The truth has to be out there, rather than cold bloodedly and
callously risking people's lives."
Ald Koch was unimpressed with the results of the meeting: "We've heard
it all before, two years ago, four, six Ð how far back do you want
"The Chief Minister and the Police Minster say police is now up to
"Bear in mind, we were told the same thing by the then Police Minister
12 months ago.
"The meeting set out to create five actions that can be done in the
"We have not come up with anything like that.
"It turned out be a talkfest with a lot of the people there only
interested in their smaller agendas, not the big picture."
Mr Brown said: "Media should have been admitted to the meeting.
"I didn't know they were going to be shut out.
"I made no commitment not to disclose any details of the meeting."
And now, here come the
sniffers. REPORT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The town is experiencing another invasion of undesirable people,
similar to the drinkers drifting in from "dry" communities.
Now it's the sniffers, deprived of their substance of choice as Opal
fuel is taking over in the bush, while in Alice, sniffable Premium
Unleaded is freely available. Papunya is due to be declared a town free
of sniffable fuel next month.
Blair McFarland, from Tangentyere's Youth Link Up Service (CAYLUS),
says Alice has its own fuel addicts and "we only see a bit" of sniffing
coming in from the bush.
But North Stuart Highway car dealer Peter "Brooksie" Brooks (pictured)
says in just one week, his yard has been broken into by sniffers in
some 30 incidents: they forced open fuel caps, syphoned out fuel, and
left behind hoses obviously stolen from elsewhere.
"It's the worst ever," he says. He's now putting up a back fence and
getting a large dog.
Insiders say a house in the litter strewn Hoppy's Camp across the road
has been taken over by sniffers. Two babies from the camp were taken to
hospital with breathing complaints after being exposed to petrol fumes.
While the government is making promises of future action, it's
incapable of implementing its own measures. Mr McFarland says
provisions for mandatory treatment orders are so convoluted that not a
single one has been issued. He says three departments Ð health,
police and justice Ð need to be involved, and it's clearly just too
Equally, "authorized persons" can be appointed with the power to take
fuel off sniffers, and take them to a safe place, even if they haven't
committed a crime.
Yet in 18 months not a single "authorized person" has been appointed.
The natives are revolting.
Interview by ERWIN CHLANDA with the Minister for Central Australia.
Central Australia Elliot McAdam spoke to Alice Springs News editor
ERWIN CHLANDA after a turbulent week, when the small business sector of
the town, and people tired of unresolved law and order issues,
expressed their feelings about the government in no uncertain terms.
NEWS: In my 32 years as a journalist in Alice Springs I've never seen
such relentless and ferocious anger directed by a crowd at a politician
as was the case last Tuesday. What's more, Clare Martin copped it from
some 750 small business people and their staff, the people who make
this town function. There was no give and take. During the sustained
booing, no-one said give the woman a go. They just weren't having a bar
of the Chief Minister. You were standing behind her. What was you take
McADAM: We live in a democratic society. People were very passionate.
They do have concerns. I didn't see them as demonstrators. I saw them
as committed, passionate people who care about their community. That's
the challenge for government, to put in place strategies to overcome
some of these issues, from an economic perspective. I think Alice
Springs is doing reasonably well. That's the advice I have.
NEWS: What will you do to regain the hearts and minds of the people in
Central Australia, because you sure have lost them.
McADAM: What I saw in the demonstrations we had, and there were
significant numbers, was a lot of committed, caring, passionate Central
Australians, black and white, who care about their community, and who
want to make a difference. As a government we have to engage and work
as hard as we possibly can.
NEWS: Specifically, what are you going to do?
McADAM: Already a lot of things have been happening. The figure I saw
this morning was $100m in capital expenditure, part of it private
NEWS: Over what period and how much of it is private sector investment?
McADAM: There was $91.3 million worth of major capital works on the
books during the December quater of last year [work that was happening
town at the time] of which $58 million is NT Government spend and $33
million is private sector investment.
This does not take into account residential construction, renovations
or other significant private sector business investments.
Clearly, we must be getting something right in promoting tourism. The
advice I've received is that there is an expected five per cent
increase. Bookings are looking really good for this year. But again,
the government can only assist organisations on the ground, such as
Alcohol is the single most contributing factor to the anti-social
behaviour, the high level of violence and crime.
There is only one way to fix it up: you work together. Those things you
don't fix up over night.
NEWS: How come the Office of Central Australia in Alice Springs was so
completely unprepared for what happened on Tuesday? It was entirely
predictable. We had it [the call for a strong demonstration] on our
online edition on Thursday the week before. Yet Clare Martin strayed
into a cyclone without being given any weather forecast.
McADAM: It's now called the Office of the Chief Minister.
McADAM: They have a role of conveying to government issues of concern.
NEWS: It doesn't look like they are doing that.
McADAM: The Office of the Chief Minister does a very, very good job.
They are down on staff at the moment.
NEWS: Dongas Ð where to from now? The fear is they will attract
undesirable people, who may not even be able to go inside the these
camps providing temporary accommodation, but who will hang around and
be a nuisance, and possibly be a danger, in the neighborhood.
McADAM: There are very strict conditions, including no grog. At the
moment the majority of the people are landing on the town camps. The
government has approved the exceptional development permits [for the
NEWS: In the Development Consent Authority hearings you had 120 people
saying no and only one saying yes. By giving approval against the
recommendation of the Development Consent Authority (DCA), Delia Lawrie
flew in the face of the people of Alice Springs. Are you happy with
McADAM: The bottom line is government looked at this in the context of
need, in terms of the challenges Alice Springs is facing, and in terms
of a shortage of supported accommodation options.
NEWS: What runs does the government have on the board with respect to
McADAM: I believe the Chief Minister's alcohol management plan is
working. The dry areas initiative driven by the council is under
consideration by the Licensing Commission. That's a government
initiative. Improvements to the town camps is also a government
initiative, going back to 2005.
NEWS: It's also $50m from Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mal
Brough. For this money to become available, some portions of the town
camps will have to be transferred, by way of 99 year sub-lease, to
Territory Housing. Some Aboriginal activists seem to be against that.
What's your position on this?
McADAM: As I understand it is to do with infrastructure upgrades,
roads, power, communications.
NEWS: This will be a town council function, I believe. But wherever the
money is spent on housing, the land will need to be under lease to
Territory Housing, and there are some objections to this. What's your
McADAM: We're still negotiating with Tangentyere in respect of the
whole leasing type arrangements, and in regards to the Territory
NEWS: What are the ideas being discussed?
McADAM: They are about leasing. Leasing a proportion of the town camps
for public, private and low cost housing under a Territory Housing
framework. The current view is that the camps are a Commonwealth
responsibility. What we are saying is there should be a municipal [town
NEWS: Tangentyere is rejecting the notion that wherever the $50m is
spent on housing, the land should be in the hands of Territory Housing,
and not, as currently, under lease to the camps' respective, private
housing associations? Do you have a view on that?
McADAM: That's exactly what we are negotiating. There will be an
ongoing role for Tangentyere as an organisation, in respect to its
municipal as well as housing models.
NEWS: Are they doing a good job now?
McADAM: I believe Tangentyere is doing an excellent job under very
difficult and trying circumstances. But it's incumbent on the Territory
and Commonwealth governments to take some responsibility as well.
Governments are very good at passing the buck but not passing the
NEWS: Well, the Commonwealth is passing $50m for the camps and $20m for
the new transient camps. That's not too bad.
McADAM: That's only because of the things we're doing. It's like our
reform of local government in the bush. We're trying to provide a
framework of certainty in the third tier of government, equal
NEWS: I heard that pastoral properties will be rated. What's the
McADAM: We're splitting the Territory into nine shires, including two
in the southern part. Rating will apply.
NEWS: How much will it be? What would you compare it with?
McADAM: I can't compare it because we're waiting for the data, for
NEWS: What will the level of rating depend on?
McADAM: We've given the Cattlemen's Association $30,000 to look at a
range of issues, and I would imagine it would include rating. We're
waiting for their response. There has to be equity.
NEWS: The thing that springs out is that there will be shire councils
with members elected on the one vote, one value principle. Because of
the numbers in the pastoral industry compared to people, mostly
unemployed, in Aboriginal communities, it's likely that the people
providing the bulk of the rate revenue will have very little say over
how it is spent.
McADAM: Each of the shires will have wards.
NEWS: Will the wards have roughly equal numbers of voters?
McADAM: That's work that still has to be done. One vote, one value is
the principle we have in mind but there is some capacity of looking at
other arrangements in terms of representation.
NEWS: How would that work, give me an example.
McADAM: All I know now is that each shire will have six to eight wards.
One vote, one value, that's the main principle, we're committed to
that, but there could well be other arrangements. I can't predict what
it will be, but I'm flexible enough to look at unique circumstances as
they may apply from shire to shire.
NEWS: How much will the cattlemen be paying in rates?
McADAM: At present a levy applies to pastoral properties based on their
unimproved capital value. There has been an increase of two per cent.
It's not for me to say whether that's fair or not. This is not about
any financial impost across business, industry and/or communities.
We're not about hindering development. It's about bringing the rest of
the NT into a local government framework, a recognised form of local
government that provides a lot more opportunity.
Young lawbreakers must not
be charged unless it's serious. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Young people breaking the law must not be charged, unless the offences
are serious or unless their history makes them unsuitable for
"diversion" Ð basically ways of making amends for their offence
without going through the courts.
This is a requirement of Territory legislation, the Youth Justice Act,
introduced in August last year.
The legislation will presumably mean an increase in the numbers being
offered diversion, which, prior to the new Act, had declined markedly
since the program began in September 2000.
Originally a Commonwealth funded program designed to counteract the
worst affects of mandatory sentencing, it is now funded out of the
police operational budget.
"Serious offences" are specified in an annexe to the Act.
They include homicide, certain types of assaults, robbery, home
invasion, certain types of criminal damage to property, certain drug
If the offence is not one of those specified and the offender is a
youth, the arresting officer must either: give the youth a verbal
warning; give the youth a written warning; arrange for a Youth Justice
Conference involving the youth; or refer the youth for diversion.
However diversion can be offered to youth committing a serious offence
if the arresting officer considers it is "in the interests of justice".
It can also be considered as an option even if a youth has been
charged; for instance, it may be requested by defence counsel at the
first court hearing.
Offences precluding diversion have expanded since diversion was first
introduced, which may partly explain why in 2005-06 just 38% of young
offenders were offered diversion, compared to the 66% in the first 24
months of the program.
There may also have been a rise in serious crime committed by young
offenders, although Sergeant Mal Guerin, in charge of diversion in
Alice Springs, could not provide statistics in relation to this.
Neither could he provide statistics on recidivism (repeat offending,
surely a key measure of the program's success). These were collected
during the first 24 months of the program but apparently not since.
In other respects, prior to the new Act the statistical profile of the
candidates for diversion had not changed greatly: in the first 24
months, 60% were Indigenous; in 2005-06 it was 72%.
In the first 24 months 80% were male; in 2005-06 it was 77%.
Neither had the number of apprehensions risen: in the first 24 months
there were a total of 2922 apprehensions, compared to 1337 for 2005-06.
Sgt Guerin says most youth offered the chance of diversion take it.
He says the perpetrators of recent random attacks that have angered the
community are unlikely to be offered diversion unless theirs is a first
offence or they meet the diversion criteria in other ways.
Anger management programs are among the options that can be considered
for such offenders.
Assessments of offenders recommended for diversion are made by case
managers Ð in Alice Springs, staff from Relationships Australia.
They look at the young person's background including family support,
educational standards, alcohol and drug issues, and at what they say
about what was in their mind at the time they committed the offence.
Family support of the young person is an important factor in successful
diversion, says Sgt Guerin.
Lack of it reduces their chances "drastically".
Most candidates for diversion are supported by at least one parent,
though occasionally some are in the care of FACS.
Are parents called to task over the young person's offence?
Sgt Guerin says parents or a responsible adult have to sign an
agreement about the outcomes from diversion.
"A lot of parents don't know about the offending behaviour until the
child gets caught.
"Generally they want to help their kid and in being part of the
diversion process they have taken the first step."
Unlawful entry, stealing and less serious types of assault are the main
offences committed by candidates for diversion.
Offences motivated by material need - like stealing food because
they're hungry, or clothes because they haven't got any - are the
exception rather than the rule, says Sgt Guerin.
He says most unlawful entry offences that the unit deals with are
motivated by getting hold of alcohol.
"Occasionally there can be venting of anger but it's usually combined
with substance use or abuse."
Most of the substance abuse amongst the offenders is "bingeing
behaviour" rather than chronic.
Sgt Guerin says the generalities hold true whether the offender is
black, white, male, female: "The issues are the same."
The fundamental principle behind diversion is "restorative justice":
"It's about repairing the damage you have done."
Sometimes an offender pays reparation but this depends on their ability
to pay. Parents sometimes have paid on the young person's behalf, but
"this takes away responsibility from the child", so it's best if the
young person is going to make an effort to pay their parents back.
Victims' wishes with respect to diversion may be taken into account,
but "the legislation directs the application of juvenile diversion in
most cases", says Sgt Guerin.
Victim-offender conferences were part of 35% of diversions in 2005-06
(4% were verbal warnings, 36% were written warnings, 25% were family
conferences ). It is completely voluntary for the victim to
participate. Sometimes instead a statement is read on their behalf.
The response of most victims is positive, says Sgt Guerin:
"Victim-offender conferencing is a powerful tool. The victim can see
that the youth is facing up to what he or she has done.
"It's not possible for the young person to sit there, staring at the
floor, they have to participate. The person conducting the conference
is trained to be able to get them to participate.
"We're not about making things easy on the young offender. We're about
getting results, getting them to change their offending behaviour."
Sgt Guerin says a good part of the unit's time is also spent on
educating their fellow officers, about the requirements of the new
legislation and about the benefits of diversion.
The unit is staffed by three officers including himself.
The arresting officer is part of the team that makes recommendations
about the suitability of an offender for diversion.
Sgt Guerin says a lot of officers are now aware of the kinds of
situations a young person may be dealing with, contributing to their
photographing, thinking, writing, learning. REVIEW by KIERAN FINNANE.
Boots & All brings together a range of work by Deborah Clarke in
response to walking the Larapinta Trail, a 230 kilometre track through
the MacDonnell Ranges, running west from Alice Springs.
The title also describes the artist's approach to her showing of this
We variously see sketchbooks (including diary notes), prints from the
sketchbooks, digital photographs, poems, a range of composite digital
images, slide shows, including one with a soundtrack, animations that
reveal a computer-based method of nocturnal drawing - she's gone in,
boots and all.
There is a quantity of work here, a vast number of observations and
visual responses from five seasons spent on the trail, ranging from
descriptive to meditative, from sweeping vision to intimate views, a
range only possible with time spent, with the gradual accumulation of
experience and knowledge.
Her net has been cast repeatedly, energetically, which is underlined by
the use of different techniques. This multi-layered exploration has
then received a museum-like installation, complete with "specimens" in
glass boxes (the sketchbooks) and the display of more peripheral
objects (the hiking boots).
All of this has its own appeal, engaging us with a practice - of
walking, drawing, photographing, thinking, writing, learning.
Considering the artworks individually, Clarke shows a strongly
developing drawing practice. Drawings she has exhibited previously have
been controlled, meticulous.
The sketchbooks reveal a much more experimental approach, working up
from description to very expressive, exploratory pieces, at times
In returning to the studio some of Clarke's tendency to meticulous
The larger images on display are composite digital images.
She has photographed the lively sketches, using Photoshop to erase the
traces of the sketchbook like the spine or the binding, and has blended
them with segments of photographs. These are not necessarily from the
same place as represented in the sketch but this is not made explicit.
The drawn lines and inked surfaces contain and largely obscure the
Clarke says the technique "mimics the process of familiarity", but I
think it might represent it, rather than express it. I think it keeps
the emphasis on the surface rather than delving in and for this reason,
I much preferred the sketches themselves, where a real delving is going
My other reservation is with respect to the slide show that dominates
the main space of the gallery. It does not display Clarke's visual work
to advantage, so it seems mainly to be there to support the soundtrack,
which includes readings of Clarke's poems.
Yet the sound quality is not great.
Otherwise the show has plenty to offer.
At Araluen's Sitzler Gallery until May 13.
The Gold Tooth
Berrimahsaurus vs the Two Tone Whip Snake. By DARCY DAVIS.
I sat in the public gallery of the freshly opened Legislative Assembly
in Alice Springs.
Members of the Indigenous choir got up to sing a song, followed by the
Lord's prayer. Primary school children from various schools around
Central Australia were watching intently, careful not to say a word, on
their best behavior.
I got the idea that this would be a demonstration of politicians also
appearing at their 'representative' best.
However the atmosphere of the hallowed room was greatly affected by the
protest that had taken place outisde, about the law and disorder in
The Chief Minister, Clare Martin, spoke glowingly of the positive
developments in Central Australia, the new look Alice Plaza, extensions
to Yeperenye shopping centre and the Imparja building, as well as the
boost in tourism, with visitors staying an average of five days as
opposed to the previous four, and the increased investment in Central
Australian tourism promotion.
Leader of the Opposition, Jodeen Carney, then rose to her feet in a
bluster of parliamentary expletive. She told of the terrors on the
street, the footloose Aboriginal youth, the morose opinions of
civilians she had spoken to and the generally morbid state of the town.
Ms Carney had so much to yell across the room in only two minutes that
it looked like her mouth mightn't be able to catch up with her thoughts
and there would be such a pressure build up that her head might fly
right off her neck.
Rows of children flinched at the force of fiery fork-outs from the
flaming lips of the female member. As I flicked through the
Parliamentary Program, I paused on JC's page: "I am delighted that the
Territory Parliament is sitting, once again in Alice Springs - home. It
is an opportunity for residents of Alice Springs and the region to
learn more about the Parliamentary process, and see first-hand what
happens while the Parliament sits."
Member for Braitling, Loraine Braham, then stood and spoke
unassumingly. "There are always issues in any region of the world, but
Alice Springs generally is a good place to live. It doesn't help the
situation when the people of the town are being constantly bombarded
with how terrible things are here.
"I have worked in education for over 20 years; I understand how it
works and the way to combat youth issues. Many of the issues that the
Member of the Opposition spoke of begin in the early childhood and
primary school years and this is where we need to begin to address
"It was interesting to observe how the two different members spoke,"
commented the Chief Minister.
"One on a spiel of abuse about the town she is standing to represent,
all statements, declarations, no solutions, while the other speaks
entirely positively, confident of solutions."
Leader of the Opposition stands up: "Yell, Yell, Retaliation!"
"Yell, Yell Back," from the Chief Minister, interrupting the last yell.
"Bloody yell!" I thought.
Amid the swirl of invective and counter accusation, I took a couple of
slow blinks. In the blurry transition, like that of the Target
underwear ad, the occupants of the assembly became marvelous members of
Before my eyes the Marion Scrymgour transformed into a Dark Banded
Whistler, Clare Martin became a Gold Tooth Berrimahsaurus, Sid Stirling
a Balding Womblu, Minister for Hares, Jane Aagard (Speaker) a Gold
Throated Northern Minor Bird, Elliot McAdam (Barkly) a Warramungun
Cockatoo, Richard Lim a Barking Tree Frog, Jodeen Carney the Two Tone
Whip Snake, Alison Anderson the Bob-Tail Papunya Perenti, Delia Lawrie
the Donga Monitor Lizard, Fay Miller the Reverse Motilus Fruitbat.
And still the audience watched wide-eyed. Must have been like an
excursion to the zoo for those lucky school kids É Imagination
is a good thing, isn't that what they taught us, Mrs Braham?
Not the middle of nowhere!
Kevin Buzzacott, an Arrabuna Elder, has been fighting against Olympic
Dam uranium mine in South Australia since it
began in the 80s.
Inhabited, an exhibition of photos and recordings, is a response to
then Environment Minister Brendan
Nelson's description in 2005 of potential nuclear waste dump sites in
the Territory as "in the middle of nowhere".
It aims to reveal "the myth of uninhabited and lifeless places that is
created by politicians and industry promoting
nuclear activity in Australia". The idea that the outback and the
desert is "the middle of nowhere" shows that the
notion of Terra Nullius, brought on by European invasion, has never
left us, say photo-artist Jessie Boylan and radio
show producer Bilbo Taylor. They argue that traditional owners and
Indigenous communities suffer most directly the
impacts of the nuclear industry but their voices are the least heard.
MINING Their images are the result of journeys
with Friends of the Earth into the Australian outback, and meetings
with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples directly
affected by uranium mining in Australia. With the current nuclear
debate the wishes of the inhabitants are too easily
dismissed, say the artists. "Visiting these remote landscapes and
meeting the local people revealed a rich culture and
vibrant country," says Jessie. "I wanted to take these powerful stories
from the communities wishing to protect their
country and culture from the imposition of uranium mines and
radioactive waste dumps and bring them to the city." Opens
at Watch This Space, May 4, 6pm. Shows to May 20.
The weekend that was, plus
the one after this. By DARCY DAVIS.
The Alice Springs Youth Centre played host to both newly formed and
well-accomplished local youth bands at last Saturday night’s Small Day
In, a National Youth Week event.
The Moxie and Nights Plague performed as well as a newly formed
punk/metal band, Through Bullets and Bravery. Singer Greg Pierson is
ex-Nights Plague and guitarist Brenton Wilson, ex-Dr Strangeways.
It was good to see Sweet Surrender coming back onto the music scene
after going into what must have been a ‘writing hibernation’.
New band Misled Remedy was born out of a CDU music class and played a
few covers and an original.
Despite the great new bands bursting onto the scene, the Youth Centre
was probably not the best spot for the gig.
The concrete basketball court and parallel corrugated iron sheds didn’t
provide the best acoustics or atmos, but without The Promised Land,
there isn’t much of an option for a music venue for the youth of Alice
Meanwhile, the Melbourne Comedy Roadshow is coming to town!
Performing are Australian acts Harley Breen, Terri Psiakis, Tommy
Dassalo and Sam Simmons (you might have heard his weekly segment
on Triple J’s Top Shelf with Robbie Buck) as well as Russell Howard all
the way from the UK.
“My acts are a mix of high brow humour and satire, delving into pop
culture and post teenage issues,” said performer Tommy Dassalo.
“They’re fairly universal themes, so I reckon it’ll be relevant to the
Alice Springs crowd as well as the Melbourne bunch I’ve been performing
to in the past couple of months.”
The Roadshow will be in town for two nights at the Araluen Centre, May
4 and 5.
Delia says DCA gave her option to say yes.
Sir,- At the 'No Dongas Delia' rally held at the parliamentary sittings
in Alice, both Minister Delia Lawrie and Minister Elliott McAdam
addressed those protesting against the placement of Woomera dongas.
Mr McAdam was asked where he stood with regards the Dalgety Road site,
given the claims that it was a men's sacred site.
He advised that as the statutory body, Aboriginal Areas Protection
Authority (AAPA), was undertaking measures to address the claim, it
would be inappropriate for him to interfere.
A Northside Action Group (NAG) delegation later met with the Minister
and asked him if he would accept the AAPA outcome if they reported to
him that the claims of a men's sacred site were valid.
The Minister was reluctant to comment.
Ms Lawrie was asked why she had ignored the 98% of participating
residents who had rejected the donga sites in the form of submissions,
petitions and attendance at two Development Consent Authority (DCA)
She informed the rally that the Cabinet Ministers looked at the issues
facing the Alice Springs community and took into consideration the
overall needs for temporary supported accommodation.
Therefore it would appear that the rejection by the 98% of residents
who took part in the consultative process was never considered.
It is worth noting in the "Moving Alice Ahead" advertising feature in
the Centralian Advocate, there is a project referring to "Residential
and Industrial Land Availability". It says, "the community will be
engaged in the decision making".
Do Clare Martin and her Ministers really believe we can ever expect to
be such fools again?
Clare, the people of Alice have integrity even if you believe
Ms Lawrie further informed the rally that she had been given the
opportunity to proceed with the donga sites when the DCA provided the
option in their report "É if the Minister should wish to approve
one or both of the applications, the Authority (DCA) would strongly
recommend that appropriate conditions are imposed".
Ms Lawrie said this was unusual as the DCA have previously advised the
Minister that they either support or disapprove applications.
As a result of the options presented by the DCA, Ms Lawrie said she
approved the applications albeit with the appropriate conditions
What is of greater concern is that two aldermen from Alice Springs Town
Council were on the DCA panel to represent the residents of the town
and particularly the 98% of those who rejected both sites.
This, I believe, would have to be one of the greatest
misrepresentations and one that has created mistrust with both local
and Territory governments.
Ms Lawrie concluded by saying that the donga sites would act also as a
safe haven for young girls in danger of being raped.
Can Ms Lawrie or Mr McAdam or any other person in the government tell
us up front who the proposed sites are really catering for?
The Northside Action Group are holding a public meeting tonight,
Thursday, April 26 at the Velodrome on Dalgety Rd at 7pm.
All Northside residents are urged to attend to be updated on the
Parliament rally outcomes and future plans andstrategies of the group.
Sir,- I sent the followingÊletter to the Centralian Advocate and
the editor there sees fit to not print it. What happened to freedom of
speech and democratic viewpoints?
After reading the reporting by Erwin & Kieran, I think that the
Alice Springs News is representing the people of Alice Springs a lot
more than the Centralian Advocate and certainly the News is not afraid
to irritate the local and state government fat cats!
Why is it, whenever there is a law and order issue or a delay in
reaching a crime scene in Alice Springs, immediately the police are
You do not have to be a mathematician to realise that if we have 150
police in a town of 28,000 people, that leaves approximately seven
officers to cover the entire area on each eight hour shift ... and that
is working seven days a week!
And these problems don't just begin on Friday and end on Sunday, they
So, let's give the police a fair go: a bit more assistance and
community awareness and involvement.
If the government departments stopped or at least had a tighter control
on some of the never-ending handouts of money, accommodation and other
services to the section of the community who are causing these social
issues, and made them face up to the same problems other homeless and
poor Australians have to, then possibly the families would leave the
big cities and towns and go back to the 'land' which they are always
This would mean that all these young Indigenous people would at least
learn some of the lost culture which doesn't include senseless
thuggery, robbery, rape and eventually murder.
I know many, many Indigenous people both in business and through
genuine friendship, who are extremely decent citizens and who have
expressed their concern at the social problems in Alice Springs.
These problems are brought on by lazy, drunken, brawling parents who
couldn't give a damn about where their young are at 2am.
Finally, those who know me and my familyÊwould also know that I
am certainly not racist ... just sick and tired of the council's and
After being an expatriate Queenslander who loves Alice Springs and has
adopted the Territory for 18 years, I'm damned if I am going to give up
Sir,- I see Alison Anderson has had a great idea to stop
alcohol-related problems. Heard it on ABC last week.
"No take away grog" - nobody can drink in their own homes even.
What the bloody hell will they come up with next!
Sir,- An enormous vote of thanks must go to all the people who found
the time to confront the Martin Government and demonstrate our anger
for its deliberate destruction of Alice Springs, especially given the
barefaced effrontery of Clare Martin's assertion that she shares our
In case there are people who are not aware of the Martin Government's
scheme to relocate 5,000 to 10,000 bush people to Alice Springs, leaked
in January 2006, I ask the Alice Springs News to reprint its front
pages of February 16 and March 23rd, 2006 [we refer readers to our
website - ED].
And since the Town Council furthered that scheme by its failure to
implement the by-laws that would have controlled the situation then,
please reprint front pages Feb 23, and April 20 and 27, 2006.
Alice Springs News must take full credit for trying to alert the town
to the disaster we are now facing, and again thanks to the people who
It was such a pleasure to see Clare Martin hoist with her own petard.
Sir,- Grog restrictions have cause unaddressed social problems for
people living in the northside Braitling area, despite the Chief
Minister saying there have been improvements, such as a reduction in
sales of pure alcohol.
People are asking me, 'Can I send my child to the shops after school
safely?', something that never crossed their minds before.
• change the hours of takeaway sales, especially the sale of fortified
wines / casks;
• close down Hoppy's Camp - a camp that harbours many drinkers that
disrupt any hope of safe living for the residents;
• light up the Northside Shopping Centre car park, crossing and
• get the Town Council to enforce their litter and no-camping by-laws;
• close the lanes where drinkers hide; and • offer controlled drinking
clubs in communities.
Substitution has caused problems.
The reduced sales of pure alcohol may look good, but the effect of
increased sales of other types of alcohol on innocent families is bad.
MLA for Braitling
Sir,- The Central Australian Youth Link Up Service (CAYLUS) has called
on the Commonwealth Government to continue youth services to Mutitjulu,
Imanpa, Docker River and Aputula.
Casework and community services, funded through NPY Women's Council
from the FACSIA Reconnect program, will cease in June this year with
funds instead being redirected out of the region. Commonwealth
Government representatives have indicated that they view the upcoming
provision of youth services by Mission Australia in the region as
taking on this role.
NPY Women's Council continue to play an important role for youth and
families in the southern part of the NT.
The services delivered through their Reconnect program are essential
and no other agency will be able to deliver these services with the
knowledge, background and cultural expertise delivered by NPY.
Let's not lose this.
Warning for kerb crawler
Sir,- On Wednesday of last week I took my usual morning bike ride along
This is something I do regularly and I am joined on the road by other
cyclists, walkers and runners. Ê Ê
On this day I was "joined" by a white Hyundai Excel (90s) two door
hatch with a P plate, with a very dark and very bad window tint (big
The car went past slowly, bipping the horn and then slowed to a stop
300 metres ahead of me, turning off lights and flashing them on and
I rode past well to the right. They again went past doing the same
thing and repeated the behaviour about three times (probably more,
sometimes at high speed, sometimes low speed). Ê
At one point they kept going and I stopped for a while to let them get
well enough ahead, hoping they would get bored. They didn't. ÊI
doubled back and stopped when I saw a guy I see running every morning.
ÊHe was wondering what the hell they were doing too. Ê
So I stayed with him while he ran and they went past again. ÊThis
time it was a couple of kilometres ahead and we thought they had gone.
But no, they had parked about 10 metres in the bush and were sitting
there with their lights off. ÊWhen they saw us they resumed
driving past us. Ê
We let them go again and went through Stirling Heights, my lights all
out and Neil's running light out and him being kind enough to carry my
bike 100m through the bush.
Then we came down Kramer St. I thanked Neil for his help and went
straight to the police station. I hope he reports it too. I didn't get
Neil's last name and I would like to thank him again through this
This letter is to alert the public to this particular car driver's
behaviour. ÊTo the driver of this car, you have made me more
angry than anything. Ê You are a sad and patethic human being who
needs to get a life and perhaps find something constructive to do with
The driver of this car needs to be aware that all of Alice Springs
Cycling Club have the description of your car. Ê
Both bike shops that I deal with are aware of you and your car.
It has also been reported to the police.
SUE WOOLFE: No small talk.
I grew up in a little township where going shopping was a social event.
The local butcher (this was in the Dark Ages before supermarkets)
solved the marriage problems of his female customers while he wrapped
up their mince meat; sometimes he held group counselling sessions for a
crowd of sad housewives, him on one side of the counter expounding a
husband's point of view, the ladies on the other nodding and saying,
"Yes, I see, that's where I've gone wrong".
The grocer reminded you that you'd forgotten to buy your bread and knew
you liked the crust a little burnt.
The chemist knew about everyone's rashes and lay awake worrying about
Then my family moved to speedy Sydney, where you can be arrested for
Creating A Public Disturbance if you dare hold up the check out queue
to ask the assistant how she is.
The trouble with speedy cities is that despite all your attempts to
stay slow, it's infectious.
It's de rigueur to be busy, you must wear busyness as a badge of
honour, otherwise you simply don't rate.
You never invite anyone home because you can't spare the time to clean
up your mess before they arrive, and you're much much too busy to wash
up the dishes after they leave.
You're too busy to play sports or games so you go to the gym, but you
drive there and you drive back home, even though it's just down the
You're cranky, that's also a city badge of honour. You have not only
road rage but queue rage, crowded street rage, and even traffic light
button rage (you elbow your way through the dolts standing near the
button, who haven't lifted a finger to press it).
You weep when the traffic lights go red and in a long street with lots
of traffic lights, that's a lot of weeping. You plot to run over the
toes of skateboard riders who get in your car's fast path.
You give old ladies death stares when they fumble in their purses
getting on the bus.
And when you finally get home out of the hurly burly, you abuse
telemarketers who interrupt your lonely dinner and tell them that they
should get a proper job.
In my second week in Alice Springs I'd begun to calm down.
Now I'm almost able to restrain clearing my throat loudly at the
post-office staff when they chat to customers about their widowed mums,
or in the bank when the teller asks a customer about her child's
I'm learning to get on my bike to visit friends and have a cuppa
instead of phoning them - which means I look at their faces instead of
just staring into the inside of my head.
And visiting is pleasurable because I haven't wept at 45 sets of red
lights along the way.
At the Sunday markets I asked a new friend if I could help with her
stall. In Todd Mall between 9am and 1pm, I had more conversations with
passers-by than I've had in a Sydney year.
And we weren't talking small talk, it was big talk.
The subjects ranged from the jewellery on display, of course, to love,
art practice, love, non-art practice, love, art, politics and back to
love - we weren't just passing time, we were solving Life's Problems.
I'm afraid I wasn't much help on the stall.
I'm beginning to live in Alice Springs.
ADAM CONNELLY: We're the
I was never the popular kid in school.
Don't get me wrong it wasn't like I was the smelly kid or the hairy kid
or even the kid that liked lizards too much for comfort, I had friends
but I wasn't the "prom king".
No, I had to be content with being the kid the popular kids said hello
to in the halls but never invited to the super cool parties.
The elusive super cool parties. The Holy Grail of high school social
excellence. And to mix historical metaphors for a moment, like Jason
and his Argonauts, we performed all the trials and tests in order to
prove ourselves worthy of the invitation.
Which now, as for the most part a self assured man, seems a bit
ridiculous. Why on earth did I want to hang out with the dumb kids? And
they were, they were morons. There's no polite way to say it really.
But they were cool morons so we all fought for their acceptance.
It was year 12 before I was deemed worthy to attend such a party. All
that hard work swallowing my self worth and pride had finally paid off.
I had a blast. I really did. Dancing with all the pretty girls. Telling
jokes. I was the centre of attention. Hang on. Why was I the centre of
attention? I wasn't one of the cool kids.
I looked around and realised that most of the guys at the party were
bored and stoned. This wasn't fun for them anymore. They sat in the
corners of the room or on lounges and stared off into the ether.
A half a million people will make there way from all corners of the
globe to come to Alice Springs this year. That's an awful lot of
ridiculously large backpacks and ridiculously small denim shorts. Half
a million and the vast majority of that number will be here in the next
six months. The weather is bearable and the next six months coincides
with the Northern Hemisphere's holiday period.
The next six months is Alice Springs Gravy period. The time where the
businesses in town make as much coin as they can cashing in on the
influx of German 22 year olds named Heike and 27 year old Brazilians
Both Heike and Roberto are here for the authentic Australian
experience. They'll go to the rock and to Wattarka and they'll learn
about Indigenous culture and hopefully they'll hang around long enough
for us to keep a handful of German Euros and Brazilian Reals.
They are the new blood in the super cool party of Alice Springs. They
are the ones the girls dance with and listen to and because they have
something we want (foreign banknotes) they get the run of the place.
I don't think this is a particularly bad idea. On the whole those who
come to visit are a fantastic part of the Alice Spring experience.
Sometimes, however, I feel like we are living in a plastic town.
"Hey there and welcome to the magic of Alice World. Just as magical as
Disneyland and slightly less expensive than Movie World.
"Here you'll find a cornucopia of exotic delights all under the
watchful eye of our mascot Humpy the Camel. Look, here's Humpy now.
"Humpy will guide you through the many wonderful lands inside Alice
World to make your trip all the more special."
Red Centre this and Desert Sand that, to entice Heike and Roberto.
I don't want to sound like I'm down on business. Nothing of the sort.
The small business community has in the last couple of weeks
especially, shown themselves to be a significant part of the backbone
of this town.
My point is that sometimes I feel we are becoming a caricature of
ourselves in order to woo the cool kids.
In my opinion, we are the cool kids. We live in this amazing place but
we skew our lives in order to attract those who don't.
Promise me this please. To the next business to open in town that isn't
directly related to tourism: please don't use the words desert, red,
rock or camel.
Please don't adorn your walls with knock off Aboriginal art and please,
pretty please, no fake memorabilia.
We know where we live, that's why we live here.
Back to front page of the the Alice Springs News.