ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
August 9, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
No action on killer floods. By ERWIN
Flood mitigation in Alice Springs could do with a Mal Brough approach.
On January 18 this year 246mm of rain – nearly 10 inches, more than the
area’s annual average – fell on Numery Station, 215mm of it in the six
hours from 3pm.
If that downpour had been 150 km to the north-west, it’s likely that
many lives would have been lost in Alice Springs, and massive damage
done to the centre of the town.
For this would have sent a one-in-100 year flood crashing down the Todd
Such a disaster is growing more likely with the intensifying of global
It’s a catastrophe the town continues to be exposed to although there
is a simple remedy.
But nothing is being done to protect Alice Springs from a major flood.
The biggest floods since 1921 occurred in 1983 and 1988, each killing
three people, and causing millions of dollars worth of damage.
Yet these were just one-in-20 and one-in-50 year events, respectively.
After more than a decade of stalemate on flood mitigation, locals could
take courage by the resolute approach to unresolved issues by Mr
Brough, the current Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, currently
masterminding a taskforce seeking to stamp out child abuse in
Experts agree the only protection from a one-in-100 year flood is a dam
at Junction Waterhole, five kilometers north of the Overland Telegraph
But for the moment construction of a dam continues to be blocked by one
of the town’s most absurd, divisive and dangerous conflicts.
The dam was first raised in 1979 as a way to create a recreation lake
at the Telegraph Station.
This soon came under attack from Aboriginal custodians who objected to
their sacred sites being inundated, and who didn’t like the idea of
water being taken away from plants and animals downstream, all the way
to the Simpson Desert, where the Todd River floods out.
A bitter conflict raged for some time, climaxing with an occupation of
the site by Aboriginal activists.
A clash occurred on the location of the proposed dam between women
responsible for the sites, and Territory Lands Minister at the time,
the CLP’s Max Ortmann.
Nevertheless on November 12, 1989 the Territory’s Aboriginal Areas
Protection Authority issued a certificate allowing the construction of
a dam at Junction Waterhole with flood mitigation as the sole purpose,
while ruling out a permanent lake.
That dam would contain water during the rare, brief but increasingly
ferocious floods, and be almost completely emptied out as the rain
The flow would be regulated by culverts, keeping the Todd within the
town between the banks, right up to a one-in-100 year flood, the
international standard for flood mitigation works.
But the hard-fought agreement between sacred sites custodians and the
Territory Government was short-lived.
With work already under way, the Keating Government’s Aboriginal
Affairs Minister Robert Tickner on May 16, 1992, prohibited for 20
years in the Junction Waterhole area damaging or defacing any rock;
bulldozing, grading, drilling or excavating, or any other act that
would, or was likely to, injure or desecrate the area or part of the
area; and the killing, cutting down, damaging or removing of any tree
in the area.
This put paid not only to a recreation lake, but also the flood
mitigation dam agreed to by the relevant Aboriginal people.
In 1990 the Territory’s Power and Water Authority released a 100 page
environmental impact statement, plus 300 pages of appendices, making it
clear that there are other possible flood mitigation measures.
While there has been action on a range of other measure coping with
minor floods, and new buildings are required to be raised, only one
measure, the Junction Waterhole dam, would be capable of coping with a
one-in-100 year flood.
Despite the growing urgency of this life and death matter, leaders
(Alice Mayor Fran Kilgariff and Minister for Central Australia, for
example) remain broadly ignorant of the issues, or unavailable for
The town’s native title body Lhere Artepe has not made comment nor been
available to answer questions from the Alice News, despite several
Junction Waterhole is just outside the municipal boundaries, and thus
outside Lhere Artepe’s reach, but its 30 core members are clearly
associated with the custodians of sacred sites near the proposed dam.
However, prominent Aboriginal leader Betty Pearce says she believes
nothing has changed in the attitude of the custodians from when they
issued the certificate 18 years ago.
Mrs Pearce was go-between for two senior Aboriginal men, now dead, and
the NT Government.
Their message was, and still is, she says, that a dam for flood
mitigation is OK, but a lake, submerging sacred sites permanently,
would be opposed vigorously, even with appeals to the United Nations
under its provisions for indigenous peoples, says Mrs Pearce.
The flood risk was known to the early residents of the town, according
to water expert Graham Ride.
He says a newspaper dispatch from 1882 reports that Alice, then called
Stuart, “is situated near the junction of two creeks and in smart
rainfall the water flows through the town.
“A phenomenal rainfall and storm period might wipe out the town.”
There are compelling recent studies dealing with the consequences of
the new dangers.
A 2004 report by CSIRO “Climate Change in the Northern Territory” says
Alice Springs will have drier conditions in future, especially from
July to October.
But an investigation of the trends in heavy daily rainfall during
September to April, between 1910 to 1989, showed increasing rainfall
intensity in the heaviest 10% of events each year, with “statistically
significant trends at Darwin, Waterloo, Brunette Downs and Tempe
Downs”, the last south-west of Alice Springs.
Says the CSIRO report: “Most climate models indicate that extreme
rainfall will increase due to global warming, even in regions where
mean rainfall decreases slightly.”
In October 2005 Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers, told an
Alice crowd of 150 that there would be “a marked change in rainfall and
more extreme weather events, hurricanes, heat waves, prolonged
Much of this has been borne out by massive floods in Australia and
elsewhere in the world.
Last week, when the Alice News asked her to comment, MLA for MacDonnell
Alison Anderson said consultation on a flood mitigation dam should be
But none of this is stirring Territory leaders into action.
NT Minister for Central Australia Elliot McAdam told the News in
November last year: “My understanding is that effective flood
mitigation strategies are in place.
“I would not be advocating any form of dam at this point in time but
clearly, this is an issue that needs a lot more discussion.”
What sort of discussion would he like to see?
“The discussion would have to be about science.
“That’s the bottom line. I’m not aware of any studies saying that a dam
would be the solution to the flood mitigation strategy.”
Dire warnings aren’t galvanizing the Mayor into action either.
In October 2003 she said she is unconvinced that a dam would work,
calling for “an informed debate in the town about the value of levee
banks, how all areas of the town can be protected, and not just where
it is easy and cost effective.”
She said it needs to be investigated “whether people want to see banks
all along the Todd and whether the traditional owners want to see that
happen as well.
“The dam has been touted as the ultimate solution.
“I am not sure in my mind.”
But by Show Day this year, nearly three years later, there had been no
debate, informed or otherwise, and Ms Kilgariff still hadn’t boned up
on the issues.
In an interview with the Alice News she said: “I’m not sure that I
agree with you that [heavy rain] might occur more often. Things that
I’ve read and heard said it’s actually going to be drier here.
NEWS: The overall rainfall is going to be less but it’s going to come
in far heavier downpours.
KILGARIFF: In the Top End, not necessarily in the desert.
NEWS: Tim Flannery and the CSIRO report say otherwise.
KILGARIFF: The question [of a flood mitigation dam] is not one for the
town council. It is a native title and a sacred sites issue and a
Federal issue as well.
NEWS: As the Mayor what would you like to see happen?
KILGARIFF: I haven’t read the report for a while, but there were huge
concerns with the original design of the dam.
There was a question whether it would actually work, whether it would
I’d like to see a whole lot of technical data showing that the dam
would actually be efficient.
NEWS: The Power and Water report gives all the other options and says,
on balance, only a dam at Junction Waterhole would provide protection
in a one-in-100 year flood, which is the international standard. That’s
what the report says, I can show it to you.
KILGARIFF: Well’ I haven’t seen that report. [Ms Kilgariff says the
town has rejected levees on the banks of the Todd and deepening its
bed.] People are very concerned abut the environment, the look of the
NEWS: What is it that you want?
KILGARIFF: I would have to read the report and do an analysis. You
would need engineering studies. Is it possible from an engineering
point of view?
NEWS: Yes. The report says so. It’s an engineering report, 100 pages
[plus some 300 pages in appendices]. Four years ago you called for an
informed debate. We haven’t had one.
KILGARIFF: The land tenure issues are changing rapidly. That would have
to be resolved before anything can be done about a dam.
NEWS: What are the land tenure issues?
KILGARIFF: The land tenure issues are probably what they were then, and
now we have native title legislation which would make it even more
complex. If the native title holders are not in favor of something
happening there then it wouldn’t happen.
Neither the council nor the NT Government have asked for a fresh look
at the Federal Government ban ruling out a dam until 2012.
But CLP Senator Nigel Scullion said in October 2003 that there are
provisions for a review of the Tickner-imposed moratorium, half way
through its 20 years.
And NT Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Lim said in October 2003 the
issue should be reopened immediately, but NT Planning Minister Kon
Vatskalis said: “This is an Act of the Commonwealth and the NT
Government has no jurisdiction over it.”
And as there is no other suitable site for a Todd dam “it is therefore
no longer considered an option,” said Mr Vatskalis.
Senator Scullion said consultation by the Territory’s CLP government at
the time leading up to the ban had been “severely criticised”.
And Dr Lim said the CLP government was “insensitive when it negotiated
13 years ago with sacred sites custodians. Cultural issues were not
taken into consideration”.
Dr Lim was Alice Springs’ Deputy Mayor at the time of the initial
negotiations with custodians.
Not too much between fest ears.
COMMENT by KIERAN FINNANE.
If there are ideas guiding the programming of the Alice Desert Festival
then it will be up to festival goers to discover them.
At the launch of the program last Friday not a single idea was
mentioned, unless you count the idea of Alice Springs as a “can do”
town as something more than a cliche that doesn’t bear much scrutiny.
In fact “no can do” has made our town notorious and has laid the way
open for the current Federal intervention.
There was no hint from those who spoke at the launch – Mayor Fran
Kilgariff, MLA Karl Hampton, festival general manager Eugene Ragghianti
– that there is major upheaval in our region; no hint that the way our
society in Central Australia has been organised for three decades has
been found to be severely lacking at a level of basic human rights as
well as basic societal functioning; that this in part has been down to
a blindness in our human relationships, as well as in our governance
No hint that the festival, in terms of depth, might have something to
gain from taking this on board, and in turn might have something to
offer – be able to inspire, to challenge, to connect, to clarify.
There was talk of celebration of Indigenous culture; no talk of white
Australian culture and its place in this region; no talk of the
encounter between the two and what that can achieve; no talk of shared
culture, even though the festival does promote as a “pre-festival
event” Red Dust Theatre’s Barracking. The cultural step forward of a
play co-authored by an Indigenous and a white Australian, with
well-fledged white Australian and Indigenous characters, on shared
cultural ground (footy) and being taken on tour to a number of remote
communities as well as to larger Territory centres before ending up in
Alice, deserves acclaim.
What we did hear at the launch was the usual over-the-top nonsense –
about the thousands of people who converge on Central Australia for the
festival, about the way the Territory is taking the lead with its
festivals, about the Alice event being set to rival Adelaide’s.
The absence of ideas or claims of a significant, relevant role for the
festival would be easier to forgive if there hadn’t been a
process kick-started this year that very plainly challenged the local
arts community to “reimagine people’s lived relationships with ‘place’,
‘community’, ‘culture’ and the ‘environment’”.
The process, driven by a dynamic thinker and doer, Kieren
Sanderson, got underway with a two day “ideas incubator” back in
March, against a backdrop of public anxiety over a number of incidents
ranging from brutal murder to random mugging attacks and vandalism, and
with the donga debacle in full swing. A more perfect study of a failure
of “can do” spirit than the latter I can’t think of.
The incubator was followed in May by a three week program of art and
performance throughout Alice Springs, under the title Shifting Ground.
It aimed in part to break down preconceptions about how our public
spaces might be lived, to reimagine them as places that acknowledge in
exciting ways complex history and environment, as places where we can
come together in all our difference, as places where ideas and new ways
of being can develop to take forward into everyday life.
Thus, during Shifting Ground, as you perused the local library shelves
you might have stumbled across an art video that, in a light and
playful way, tried to get you thinking about what knowledge is and
where it comes from; as you walked down Reg Harris Lane you might have
seen an installation of video and drawing that tried to get you
thinking about shelter and how one size does not fit all when it comes
to this basic human need; as you went for pizza at Casa Nostra, you
might have stopped to listen to the oral history of that building and
that business, a reminder that the town was not so long ago a very
different place; as you walked your dog at the clay pans, you might
have puzzled over the appearance of a large white cube and a little
woman (a guest artist from Israel) beavering away inside it, digging
down through its floor and bringing the earth to the surface, to
inhabit her ‘house’.
As you drove along Ilparpa Road, you, a carload of young men, might
have been seriously affronted by art being made on a landscape scale at
the old quarry, so affronted that you came back at night and destroyed
Art can touch raw nerves and this incident, which actually happened and
at one level is to be deplored, is a useful reminder of how powerful
artistic expression can be and of how powerful in turn can be the
forces aligned against it.
You might have been someone who had often visited art galleries, seen
theatre and listened to live music, but who had never been to a poetry
reading or a sound installation. At Shifting Ground’s “smorgartsbord”
at the Desert Park you might have discovered that you not only enjoyed
the poetry readings or the sound installation or both, but that
thoughts that they provoked stayed with you for days to come.
You, an Aboriginal artist, might have been sitting on the grass in Todd
Mall, trying to sell a painting to passing restaurant patrons, when you
heard your language being spoken in one of the films being shown on the
You might have noticed the swelling audience for the film. You might
have been glad for a moment that a whole lot of strangers wanted to
listen to the story from your place that was being told. You might have
been glad that your kids could see that.
Now all or some of these experiences and more might happen during the
Alice Desert Festival – there will be plenty of artistic fun happening
in public spaces, particularly in the mall and at the Civic Centre, as
well as a little seriously different stuff like the Sounds Unusual
events. I’m sure people of very varied tastes, including me, will find
in the program appealing events that they want to experience.
But will they find an experience – of inspiration, challenge,
connection, imaginative understanding, new ideas – or the articulation
of such an experience that they can take forward into this new,
confronting future that we’re going to be part of, heads in the sand or
not? This is certainly not being promised by the festival
program. In the 60 second commercial, previewed at the launch, the
stamp is “laid back”.
In the program itself it is clear that the concept of the festival is
basically that of an umbrella for a whole lot of disparate creative
activity, most of which would take place anyway. The festival is really
no more than a marketing tool for this loosely aligned activity.
You’d never guess that major social change, the focus of national
attention, is unfolding not on our doorstep, but in our very hearth.
We’ll just kick back and take in the sun and fun.
Getting serious about saving
water? By KIERAN FINNANE.
As Alice Springs, sitting in the middle of the desert, has the dubious
distinction of being the highest per capita water consumer in the
country, the recent announcement by Natural Resources Minister Marion
Scrymgour of subsidies for plumbing in rainwater tanks and greywater
diversion devices here should be welcome.
But how much of an impact will these devices have on water savings?
And is this the best policy decision on water efficiency that can be
made at this point in time?
In 2002-03 the Power and Water Corporation made a concerted effort to
fix leaks in our water infrastructure.
This came in response to “system losses” of 472 litres per connection
per day reported in 2000-01.
“System losses” means water that had been pumped up from the borefield
but not accounted for by metered and estimated uses of it or by meter
error. It is water for which PW cannot recuperate any costs, “non
revenue water” (NRW).
The NRW in 02-03 had had more than doubled compared with the NRW of the
previous three 12 month periods.
Efforts to cut NRW included leak detection. A major leak in Ilparpa
Swamp was found, as well as others.
NRW was reduced to virtually nil but is now on the rise again.
PW’s most recent analysis (05-06) shows 14% of the water that is mined
is unaccounted for.
That’s 351 L / connection / day for 11,200 connections (National
Performance Reports for water utilities for 2005-06 at www.wsaa.asn.au/
Extracting all this water from 150 metres underground only to lose it
seems an enormous waste of water and energy.
Although it was planned that a mobile leak detection unit based in
Darwin would operate in Alice Springs twice a year, this has not
The Alice News’ questions to PW about why this has not happened have
not been answered.
The Alice Springs Water Efficiency Study Stage III, which has just been
posted on the web, says “active leakage control and pressure management
are emerging as one of the most cost effective water efficiency options
for urban water management”.
Water pressure in the system is approximately 45m, deemed “higher than
required” and there is only one pressure reduction valve in the system
(in the Gap).
With NRW 351 L/connection/day and UARL – which are unavoidable losses
related, in part, to water pressure – calculated at 76
L/connection/day, the study says “there appears to be significant
opportunity to reduce NRW through active leakage and pressure reduction
Leakage control and pressure reduction are part of the preferred
scenario for a water efficiency program in Alice recommended by the
The study has calculated the relative costs of various water efficiency
measures and recommends a scenario embracing all those that have a unit
cost of up to and including $0.78/kL.
The unit costs of a greywater rebate and a rainwater tank rebate are
calculated at $7.91/kL and $21.54/kL and were thus excluded from the
PW’s Alan Whyte is due to make a presentation to the Alice Springs Town
Council about water restrictions on Monday, August 13 (meeting starts
It will be interesting to see whether this presentation will include an
announcement about leak detection and pressure reduction.
The Arid Lands Environment Centre will also be watching to see whether
it includes plans to take measures commonplace now in the eastern
states, like formally restricted hours for watering gardens, for which
they have been campaigning.
Meanwhile, COOLmob’s Scott Large, who’ll be conducting household water
audits and giving advice to householders about where their subsidised
plumbed-in rainwater tank can go and what appliance it should be hooked
up to, says it’s good to see the Territory Government committed to
higher level of water savings.
The News asked him how much water the moves are expected to save (we
asked this of the Minister too but had not received an answer before
going to press).
This is surely the point when it comes to making policy decisions and
spending money on water savings.
The subsidy program has had $100,000 allocated to it.
Good question, says Mr Large, though not one he can answer.
COOLmob’s audits, which are charged at a mere $10, do a full breakdown
of a household’s water use and identify how much can be saved by what
Mr Large says that by collecting their own water in a rainwater tank,
householders start to pay attention to how much they are using.
“It’s part of an awakening process, of people managing the resources in
their houses a bit better.
“Individual management of usage is core business for COOLmob, but it’s
only part of the whole water efficiency process.
“We definitely need a multi-front approach given that we are the
highest per capita users.”
PICTURED is a water tank at the nurses’ quarters on Telegraph Terrace.
Householders will be able to get a subsidy to “plumb in” their water
tanks, connecting them to an appliance in regular use.
But how much will this do to offset the massive system losses of water
through leaking infrastructure and excessive pressure?
"Old larrikin" remembered. By
“I’m the second or third eldest son of the old larrikin, I can’t
remember,” said Graham Ross, speaking at the launch of The Versatile
Man, the life history of his father, Alexander Donald Pwerle Ross,
published by IAD Press.
“All the sons call him the old larrikin,” said Graham, recalling the
many stories that could be told of the “old bugger”, “some a
little rude and rough” but promising (disappointingly) to keep them for
It would have been quite a gathering afterwards of the sizable Ross
clan, remembering their larger-than-life father, grandfather and
The family tree shows him to have fathered 20 children.
His life history, developed by author Terry Whitebeach from a series of
taped interviews conducted by herself and others, focusses mainly on
his early working life, particularly in the cattle industry.
He began working in stock camps at the age of eight, someone who had
only to be shown a thing once and he could do it.
A number of speakers, including Graham, indicated how much more of a
family story remains to be told. Graham particularly wanted to draw
attention to the women of the family, his mother (Lorna Purvis) and
Lorna was the mother of 11 of Don’s children.
Hettie, who ran the homestead at Neutral Junction Station, is
touchingly evoked in the opening pages of the book: apart from her
various qualities, including being a good runner, Don said of her, “She
was a lovely mother. She used to make me happy”.
No mother could ask for more of a tribute.
Don’s father was a Scotsman, Alec Ross, who didn’t have a lot to do
with his son. His namesake, Alec, Don’s first born son, was removed
from his family, as a child of mixed race.
“They rounded up all the half-caste kids”, Don was told on his return
from a trip to Adelaide. Had he been there he may have been able to
prevent it but there was “no one there to defend” his son.
Father and son were not reunited until Alec himself was a father of
He spoke at the launch, remembering the letters and pocket money his
father used to send him, promising that one day all would be OK and he
would return to Alice.
“When I met him it was just like I’d known him all my life,” said Alec.
The book was launched by friend of the family, Frank Bern, also a man
who’d been taken from his family, at the age of five. He remembered
meeting Don when he was 17 at a footy game at Anzac Oval in Alice: “We
said g’day and we been together ever since.
“He became a father to me. He taught me how to live properly, he gave
me a family – his family.
“He was my friend, father, everything, a true gentleman ...
“I think about him all the time.”
Daughter Jenny Lake remembered him as a great story-teller, speaker of
seven languages, particularly fond of children (“that’s why he had so
many”) and getting on well with everyone, especially women, whom he
called either “luvvie” or “old girl”, depending on their age.
Granddaughter Chris Ross, MC at the launch, said there are things in
the book that the family didn’t know, for instance that Don never went
to school, was self-taught, that he owned Neutral Junction Station at
one time (paying cash for it just after the war).
She said his voice comes through in the book, vindicating the decision
of Terry Whitebeach and editor Margaret McDonell to allow the book to
read as a series of long conversations – “creating a clear channel for
Brough juggernaut rolls on.
A war chest of nearly $600m this financial year, maintaining the entry
permit system over more than 99% of Aboriginal land and a lash at the
authors of the “Little Children Are Sacred” report for failing to
recommend adequate measures “to immediately secure communities and
protect children from abuse” are the hallmarks of Mal Brough’s
legislation going through Federal Parliament this week.
And on Tuesday the Aboriginal Affairs Minister announced a $20m deal
with Julalikari Council in Tennant Creek in return for them
facilitating 99 year subleases to the NT Government within eight weeks.
Negotiations had taken just two months.
In Alice Springs Tangentyere Council rejected a $60m deal offered by Mr
He said on Monday: “I expect the legislation [five Bills, including two
appropriation Bills] to be voted on by the House by tomorrow [Tuesday]
night before it moves to the Senate, where I am hopeful debate will be
concluded this week.”
The legislative package is mainly specific to the NT but also in part
to welfare reform in Cape York and the broader package announced last
month by the Prime Minister.
The removal of customary laws as a mitigating factor for bail and
sentencing conditions is a direct intervention into the Northern
Territory’s power to make laws relating to punishment of offenders.
And as the NT Cattlemen’s Association pointed out last week, several
measures make obsolete the NT Government’s local government reforms,
combining into nine shires a host of small councils.
The association’s Stuart Kenny says: “The Australian Government’s new
administration will manage these communities and totally eliminate the
need for the drastic, wholesale local government reform package that
the NT Government has been trying to railroad through with ridiculous
In Mr Brough’s words, his Bills provide for “the appointment of
Government Business Managers in Aboriginal townships to manage and
implement the emergency measures” and “better management of community
stores to deliver healthier and more affordable food to Indigenous
The legislative package also includes:-
• alcohol restrictions to stem the instances of family violence and
sexual abuse of children;
• computer audits to detect prohibited pornographic material;
• five year leases to better manage investments to improve living
conditions in townships;
• allowing for land tenure changes so that town camps can become normal
“Restricting alcohol is fundamental to tackling abuse in indigenous
communities,” Mr Brough said.
“The ‘rivers of grog’ was highlighted as a key issue by the authors of
the Little Children Are Sacred report.
“Leasing the townships for five years will allow us to immediately
improve conditions in the townships without the encumbrances that have
undermined housing and infrastructure investment in the past.”
Mr Brough says none of the Welfare Payment Reform measures “will cause
families to lose any of their payments.
“The Government will quarantine various income support payments and
direct them to provide basic necessities such as food, clothing and
shelter for their children, rather than supporting substance abuse and
“The measures relating to the NT are critical to reducing the amount of
ready cash available in communities for alcohol, drugs and
A further Bill amends existing legislation to support and complement
the legislation and welfare reforms, including an imposition of bans on
pornography and changes to the permit system.
“Having considered carefully submissions to a review on the permit
system, the Government has decided not to scrap the system, but rather
lift the requirement for permits in townships and access roads and
airstrips,” Mr Brough said.
“The permit system has not protected communities from the ‘rivers of
grog’ and children from abuse.
“It has helped create closed communities which can, and do, hide
problems from public scrutiny.
“The permit system will continue to apply to more than 99 per cent of
Aboriginal land, including sacred sites and homelands.”
Mr Brough said the legislative package represented the most important
policy initiative in Indigenous Affairs in decades.
“The Little Children Are Sacred Report highlighted horrific abuse of
children in remote communities,” Mr Brough said.
“I was astounded that the report’s authors provided no recommendations
designed to immediately secure communities and protect children from
abuse. The legislative measures being introduced tomorrow will achieve
“As I’ve said from the start, the Government’s approach to the
emergency in the NT is in three phases; stabilising; normalising and
“The legislation gives expression to many of the things that need to be
achieved in the first two phases of our response before communities
have established the key outcomes required for the emergency response
to be withdrawn.
“Further, long-term measures will still be required by all parties; the
Australian Government, the Northern Territory Government and the
communities themselves to ensure that all these measures provide
sustainable long-term benefits to Indigenous people in remote
communities in the NT.”
Mr Brough also hit out at comments from Chief Minister Clare Martin
that compulsorily acquiring town camps has nothing to do with
Said Mr Brough: “When I met with the Town Camp Taskforce last year in
Alice Springs, they advised me that there had been an average of one
murder per month in Alice Springs.
“In May this year, two women were murdered in separate incidents in the
“In my first meeting as Indigenous Affairs Minister with [Ms Martin]
last year she nominated the Alice Springs town camps as her highest
priority because of alcohol and drug-fuelled violence, abuse and
“How can she now turn around and say the government’s measures have
nothing to do with protecting children?
“The hypocrisy is astounding and underlines more than anything, the
appropriateness of the Howard Government’s intervention in the NT.”
NT Cattlemen’s Association’s Mr Kenny says the Australian Government’s
emergency strategy for NT indigenous communities reinforces the fact
that many existing small local governments are “mismanaged, technically
insolvent and in need of a sweeping new approach to improve social and
Mr Brough’s intervention “will give the NT Government the appropriate
time needed to evaluate the results of the Federal Government’s reform
in Indigenous communities and also time to consult properly with the
industry sectors that have been earmarked to financially prop up this
local government experiment.
“The NT has a population of less than 210,000, to create nine mega
shires to administer local government is simply ridiculous,” says Mr
Major parts of Mr Brough’s plan cover:-
Law and Order including night patrols: $64.7m in additional funding.
Improving Child and Family Health: $83.1m.
Welfare Reform and Employment initiatives: $205.8m total. Welfare
reforms will involve quarantining 50% of welfare payments to ensure
money is spent on children, food etc and up to 100% of FTB if children
aren’t going to school. CDEP participants will also be progressively
transitioned into real jobs, training or mainstream employment services
including Structured Training and Employment Projects (STEP), Work for
the Dole, the Personal Support Program and language, literacy and
Supporting Families: $32.8m covers enhanced child protection services
and more safe houses and an expansion of alcohol diversionary services
for youth and additional childcare.
Enhancing Education: $24.4m aims to ensure there is sufficient school
capacity (related to the welfare changes) together with school
breakfasts and lunches.
Housing and Land Reform: $85.1m includes funding for a range of
activities to improve living conditions including community clean-up,
building repairs and the acquisition of townships leases. Compensation
is by special appropriation and not included in the bill. Also included
are funds to provide accommodation for government staff located at or
visiting remote communities.
Other support: $91.3 m includes a broad range of other support and
coordination measures including funding the Emergency Response
Taskforce and Operations Centre, putting Government Business Managers
into communities and community engagement and volunteer programs.
Compensation: A special appropriation has been made in the relevant
legislation to provide for payment of compensation for compulsory lease
acquisition. “However, given the difficulty in estimating the amount of
compensation costs there is no specific funding identified in the
Bills,” says Mr Brough.
Four generations of talent. By
In 60 years the Pioneer Football Club in Alice has won 29 A grade
premierships, a proud record to reflect on at this Saturday night’s
sixtieth anniversary celebrations.
What makes the club so long-lived and successful?
In part it must be down to genes. This Aussie rules club has fourth
generation descendants keeping up family traditions.
Says former player Cameron Ross: “Our dads and granddads played – no
changing of the guard. They were committed to Pioneers.”
Faron Peckham is proof of the genetic talent. He’s the grandson of one
of the original team members, Henry “Twinkle Toes” Peckham. Currently
playing A grade, Faron is one of the leading goal kickers.
Another is Willy Cole’s grandson, Ritchie, who had a stint with
Collingwood and is now on the Essendon A list.
In 1989, ‘90 and ‘91 the club won the local grand final three years in
a row, just as they had back in in 1947, ‘48, ‘49.
With the last premiership flag claimed in 2000, club members reckon
this is the year to do it again and capture the elusive thirtieth.
Ronda Ross, now vice president, became secretary of the club 41 years
She reminisces about the good old days when you could drive into
Traeger Park and sit on your car bonnet with your feet up on the fence
to watch the game.
Some families would bring Sunday roasts and “the kids could play in the
bull dust and all of us women can umpire and coach, we like to get up
close and personal”, Ms Ross laughs.
The club was “built on old Milton’s woodyard block which was owned by
the Liddles”, says committee member Raylene Brown. “Dallas Spears
helped to get the club up and built in the 1980s.”
Before the clubrooms people would celebrate or commiserate after the
matches at someone’s house or at “the slabs” on the north Stuart
Highway, with a big fire and party.
“Mothers and aunties were a great support, keeping the club together
and taking turns washing the teams’ green and gold guernseys,” says
Michelle Dhu, club secretary.
Cynthia Mallard, committee member, says they’re “the only Aussie Rules
club to have a female majority on the committee – that’s kept the club
Iris Mahomet and Lina Totani Mercorella were past club presidents.
The club has also always fielded teams in hockey, basketball, and
“The girls playing hockey could hardly concentrate on their game and
would run across to check on the footy scores,” says Ms Ross.
Some of these girls married football players or had relatives that
“Pat Miller [nee Liddle], the Assistant Administrator, she’s a Pioneer
girl. Lots of kids grew up on that ground,” says Ms Ross.
Attendance at Traeger Park has dropped but Tootsie Howard remains a
dedicated supporter. She’s sat on the hill at Traeger year after year,
barracking for the Eagles.
“It used to be a family day out, more bush mob with a lot more people
here. There were bigger crowds. We were winning flags and playing with
some great players at the same time,” says ex-player Kenny Cole.
“Auntie Barbara and her sister Lorraine Pepperill and the Trucking Yard
gang were always there cheering us on, they rarely missed a game,” says
He has played about 160 games so far with Pioneers. His first was in
1989 and he’s played in eight grand finals with five wins. He played
with West Adelaide from 1990 to 1992 and Essendon from 1993 and 1994.
But knee injuries have taken a toll and Mr Ross says he’ll retire this
Several other players have gone on to play in the SAFL and the AFL.
Richard Cole was with Collingwood and is now with Essendon. Lancey
White and Paul Ah Chee played for Adelaide.
Kumantjay R. Foster played for Port Adelaide. Cameron Ross played 50
games in Darwin.
Ex-coach Roy Arbon’s sons are currently playing in the AFL, Matt
Campbell for North Melbourne, and Joel Campbell for North Adelaide.
Says the proud father: “They’ll want to come back and play in a Pioneer
premiership before they retire.”
One of the club’s greatest players, Darryl White, took part in three
premiership grand final wins with the Brisbane Bears, playing 286 games
with them over 14 years.
He also played in four Aboriginal All Stars games representing
Australia in Ireland with the modified Gaelic and Aussie rules
His mother, Cynthia Mallard, says her son’s children haven’t ventured
into football yet, but they’re into their sport, learning foot skills
in soccer, and they love their basketball too.
Her other son, Ryan Mallard, won the Muldoon Medal in 2003.
“As soon as they could walk they’d be carrying around a football,” she
says of her boys.
Pioneer family names include Liddle, Ross, Cole, Hampton, Egan, Ah
Chee, Campbell, Kopps, White, Espie, Miller, McCormack, Lake, Measures,
Taylor, Stokes, Sevallous, Bray, Foster, Sylvester, Rawson, Ansell,
Williams, Ray, Kimba and Pepperill.
A lot of talented players have come down from Darwin to play in their
off season and some notable players from Hermansburg have helped out
including from the Moketaringa, Wheeler, Armstrong and Inkamala
families, while Gus Williams came over to the club from Federals.
Other players, including stockman Alec Kruger, were flown in from
stations by mustering planes to make up the numbers on the day.
Mainly an Indigenous club, the first “whitefella” to play for Pioneer
was Jack Rawson. John Caboney, Don Bateman and Russell Rove were
Goal kickers with the highest tally include Trevor Dhu who kicked 25
goals in one game, Normie Hagan with 24 and Phillip Ah Chee, 22.
Winners of the most Best and Fairest awards are Mickey Liddle, Lance
White, Graham Smith, Shane Hayes and Craig Turner, all with three each.
MLA Karl Hampton played his 280th and final game two weeks ago.
“I felt pretty emotional playing with my son Josh for our one and only
“I grew up down at The Gap watching Pioneers at Traeger Park,” says Mr
The three McAdam boys all played AFL, says Ms Mallard: “For a town so
small we’ve produced our fair share of talented players.”
Ronda Ross remembers other great moments:
“Freddy Pepperill could take a mark on his chest up in the air.
“Sean Dowling took three or four screamers every game – unorthodox
horizontal marks over the pack.”
The Lakes were good backline players, she says.
“The closest games were in the ‘70s. At one final Pioneers were down by
nine goals at the beginning of the last quarter and won by one point,”
“Although it’s a different type of footy now we had the fastest and the
prettiest players like Martin Kardara, Lindon Espie, Fred Sevallous -
the ‘skeeter’ brigade, they were buzzing round everywhere.
“The ‘50s had the graceful Frankie Perrez and the ‘60s and the ‘70s had
Johnny Pepperill, the Campbells and Graham Ross, the fitness fanatic
ruck and coach. And the ‘90s had Graham ‘Chisel’ Hampton.”
Ex-player Paul Reid recalls Lloydy Bray as “one of Pioneer’s greatest
who could kick a goal from 70 metres out.
“He went south. We called him the cloud buster, his kick was that big
he’d nearly bust the cloud.”
“You’d have to get JK Rowling to write the book,” says ex-player Steven
Trindle, grandson of Don Stokes.
Mr Arbon, who coached A grade for eight years, including to four
premierships in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001, thinks the secret to
players’ success over the years has come from “learning within
But times are a-changing. He says girls are busy doing their own thing,
not like before when they watched every game.
“Boys have to leave the game to find the girls and [to go] partying.
Lots of kids I see on the street that could be playing – kids give it
away and I’m not happy.
“They’re a big part of family.”
Captain of this year’s team Shane McAuliffe is related to the Cole and
Foster family and says growing up in Tennant Creek he’d always wanted
to play for Pioneers.
And as for the hoped for thirtieth grand final win, the anniversary
might be the spur needed.
“It’s going to take discipline,” says Mr McAuliffe. “We’ve got
the blokes to do it, we can go all the way, the talent is there to win.”
Whales humping or pushing the
envelope? By DARCY DAVIS.
“Sounds like whales humping!” shouted Dad once I’d pressed play on the
Sounds Unusual CD I’d just purchased at Afghan Traders.
“Sounds like a hearing test,” said Mum with her face screwed up like a
I tried dancing to the sounds, but my moves were incongruous.
I must seek answers, I thought. I couldn’t derive anything from this
music, there were no words, no audible melody, no sign of a pulse,
just… unusual sounds.
So I caught up with Robert Curgenven, one of the five names on the back
cover, to find some answers.
“You’ve really got to listen for detail,” explained Robert, “approach
it without expectations, meet it halfway.”
“I didn’t judge it,” I assured him but asked how one might go about
dancing to these sounds.
“People sit down at the gigs, so that they can fully appreciate the
sounds,” said Robert.
“We often have people lie down and shut their eyes.”
I guess that makes sense, different music has to be approached in
different ways. You mosh to rock music, cut your wrists to Emo music
and do ballet to classical. For a style of music that is so dependent
on how the sounds and frequencies produced react with the listener, you
wouldn’t want to get caught up in the sound you are creating with your
Surround sound is also used at many of the gigs.
“We try to create not so much a ‘soundscape’, as a landscape of sound.”
I still had many important questions to ask him. Do you think that
people who get off on CDs of birdcalls and waterfalls will enjoy this
What genre would you call it?
“I like to call it New Music or Contemporary Classical.”
What sort of venue might you perform such music in?
“We’ve tried to move beyond a venue.”
“Out bush, in nature, free from noise pollution, where only the
acoustics of the outdoors will affect the sound.”
Is this music popular anywhere?
“Yes, it’s very popular in Europe.”
I had cleared up a lot and the music made much more sense to me.
While I could understand where Mum and Dad were coming from with their
whale and hearing test comments, it still struck me how narrow minded
and judgemental people can be.
Everyone seems to have their own view about the way things should be.
Anything unconventional is often quickly struck down, simply because
it’s not how we know it.
What’s to say that music can’t consist of sounds we haven’t heard
Isn’t pushing the boundaries how music has developed over the years?
Pushing the boundaries is how everything has developed.
Will music of the future simply be a series of sound frequencies that
stimulate the senses and create a state of mind?
Oh, wait. It already is.
When you think of everything as a frequency, resonating at different
levels and lengths, everything is sound. Everything is music.
Surreal Estate is a concert with artists featuring on the Sounds
Unusual CD at Undoolya Creek, featuring an audio controlled laser show
on Saturday, September 8.
Sounds Unusual are also putting on a Soundwalk with Anthony Magen
(September 14), where people go on a silent walk to appreciate the
sounds of nature and silence.
Their CD is available at Afghan Traders, Jackson’s Drawing Supplies,
Arid Land Environment Centre and Watch This Space and costs $10. All
profits raised by the CDs will pay for the shows and the cost of the
artists’ travel to the NT from various parts of the world.
LETTERS: Booze ID cards don’t
Sir,- I do not agree with the proposal for an ID card system to be used
to buy alcohol.
In this proposal there is no long term strategy, it will not work and
will be very costly with no guaranteed outcome to fix the habitual
The whole town suffers because of a few hundred people who have an
alcohol problem that needs a long term solution.
We need to remove habitual drinkers for a period of time to try
to break the cycle of drinking, but not to put them in jail.
If a person is picked up drunk the first time they would be be given,
say, a two week period in a drying out facility with some work to
help break the dependency on alcohol.
If they are picked up again then the time frame should be double, and
The cycle of drinking needs to be broken with help from experts
in the community who have the expertise to run programs for the people
dependent on alcohol.
Also work should be part of the solution, gardening, bush tucker for
sale to restaurants and interstate markets, growing for the flower
market, maybe a plant nursery to give the people incentive and to see
the results of their work in their rehabilitation.
This facility needs to be about 25 km from town with land and water
available to be able to cultivate a garden.
The whole town should not have to pay the penalty of restrictions.
Limiting the hours of alcohol for sale makes it very difficult for our
tourist visitors, 430,000 per year, for pensioners, for people who have
no cars, for people who need to shop in the mornings and people who
don’t want to be out at night, and for the majority of people in Alice
For many years we had 10 am opening.
Then a few years ago some wise people said we need to break the cycle
and we should have 12 noon opening it will be better for
Guess what? It made no difference.
The same wise people then said we should make
the opening hours 2 pm so people could have lunch before the bottle
Guess what? I will leave it to you to
decide if there is any difference.
I was born here in Alice Springs over 60 years ago.
It’s a great town, I won’t be leaving but I’m always sad to see long
term residents leaving town because of all the problems we have.
Sir,- There are a number of stakeholders in the development proposal
for the town pool, all with varied and conflicting requirements for the
new pools, particularly the 25m pool.
The council has endeavoured to please all parties, however this has led
to too many compromises, producing a plan that doesn’t fully satisfy
Our club believes that a better outcome for all parties is achieved by
heating and partially enclosing the current main pool, and building a
smaller, hydro-therapy pool in a fully enclosed structure.
This negates the need to build a third half-sized pool.
The council has stated that the grant cannot be changed to cover the
We cannot see why this would be the case - enclosing the current pool
achieves an indoor pool.
We believe the best method to enclose the current pool is for a
traditional roof structure with operable walls that can be opened in
summer months. Another cheap option to enclose the pool, suggested by
Sally Luchich (pool manager), is to use a pool dome system.
Heating the current pool provides an excellent means to incorporate
Alice Springs Solar Cities.
A covered main pool does require some heating over summer, however this
will be provided by the Solar Cities dishes, which during these months
will have excess heat that needs to be utilised.
Incorporating Solar Cities also provides an avenue of additional
funding to the development.
Central Desert Canoe Club
Sir,- In your article “Outstation Movement” (News , July 19) Dick
Kimber comments about my late father, Milton Liddle, and Roy
Mr Kimber is reported as saying “Milton Liddle worked at the woodheap”
and “Roy Dubois was a taxi driver”.
In fact Milton Liddle was a wood merchant and taxi proprietor and,
along with Roy Dubois, a private property owner.
Both Milton and Roy were ex servicemen from the 1939-45 World War and
from the day they were honourably discharged went into business for
Roy established the first taxi service covering the whole town and
including trips to Jay Creek and Hermannsburg.
He purchased a secondhand Ford sedan from Don Chalmers, a station owner
from the east of Alice Springs, and continued to operate a taxi service
up until his death in the late 1970s.
Milton at one stage part-owned a taxi with Roy and part-owned another
with Mort Conway, after selling out his share of Angas Downs Station to
his younger brother, Arthur, in 1953.
Milton became a tour operator, taking tourists to Ayers Rock, Palm
Valley and other sites.
He also operated a rental business, hiring out 4 x 4 Landrovers.
He was the main wood supplier for Alice Springs for the best part of 20
We should not overlook the pioneering efforts of Aboriginal businessmen
like Milton, Harold and Arthur Liddle, Roy Dubois, Bill and Alec
Turner, Percy Lake, Ted Kunoth, Donald Ross, Jimmy Carter and the boss
drovers like Mort Conway, Tom Williams and Dick Palmer.
They were the ones that paved the way for the ever-growing middle class
Aborigines in Alice Springs, who are now subject to unfair criticism by
some sections of the Aboriginal community.
Sir,- On Sunday August 19 at 2.00 pm sharp in the Catholic Church,
Hartley St, the Alice Springs Choral Society and orchestra will present
a performance of Handel’s Messiah, a masterpiece of choral music.
Guest tenor Philip Griffin from Adelaide and selected choir
members will sing the solo items, and the concert will be under the
direction of Ron Klumpes, the Society’s Founding Musical Director.
The orchestra will be led by Clare O’Brien, a very talented former
member of the Alice Springs Strings Group, who has just returned from a
successful tour of Europe with the Australian Youth Orchestra.
Since Handel composed it in 1741, Messiah has rightly become the most
popular Oratorio ever written.
It is performed on a regular basis around the world, and is universally
loved for its tunefulness and its inspired text.
Alice Springs Choral Society
Sir,- Reforms of CDEP must recognize its strengths as well as its
weaknesses as a platform for job creation, skills training and
community development in the Territory’s Aboriginal communities.
We are calling on our Parliamentary colleagues and community
organisations to help us to identify ways to reform and
strengthen CDEP, not scrap it completely.
We have always supported strategies to ensure Indigenous people can
take up employment with decent entitlements.
We recognise that there is scope to improve CDEP to ensure it provides
a basis for engaging Indigenous people in real jobs and helping to
For example, government and municipal responsibilities are being
carried out using CDEP wages and the program only extends to 15 hours
of work per week.
We will make every effort to make all sides of politics understand the
importance of CDEP here in the Territory particularly and for
Aboriginal communities elsewhere in Australia.
We believe that all Governments should act immediately to give proper
wages and conditions and a decent future to all those people who are
working in public sector jobs currently funded by CDEP – the rangers in
land and sea management, the aged care workers, the health workers,
child care workers, municipal workers and the teachers’ aides.
If the Howard Government could find the money to convert CDEP positions
in urban centres to jobs, then it can find the money to fund these jobs
properly and keep funding them.
CDEP should be used to move unemployed Aboriginal people from welfare
to work through projects that benefit their communities. CDEP reform
should not be used to cut people’s entitlements.
The aim is to ensure more people are employed on decent wages.
Simply cutting their payments will not help them get work.
CDEP providers have established significant physical and other
infrastructure, such as workshops, training courses and personnel. It
would be better to build on this infrastructure and reform employment,
training and community development programs to get people into
employment and strengthen local communities.
The Howard Government must work with the local communities affected to
Member for Lingiari
Sir,- Throughout History, there are countless examples of what in Nazi
Germany was known as ‘Auf der flucht erschossen’ (shot whilst
It goes like this: you tell a detainee that you’ve just interrogated
that he is free to go and then you shoot him in the back.
How much more civilised have we become!
Kevin Andrews suggests on Friday that Dr. Haneef should and may leave
On Monday the Minister declares that Dr. Haneef’s speedy departure
heightens his suspicions and vindicates his actions.
Metaphorically Dr. Haneef was shot in the back.
Sir,- The Howard Government has cut expenditure on Aboriginal needs by
about $5 billion since 1997.
The AMA estimates that it will cost $1.6 billion over 4 years to remedy
Another $3.5 billion is needed to fix infrastructure, a fundamental
factor in the crisis.
This Government promises to spend “tens of millions”.
That means for every $1,000 that is needed, Government will spend $10
Balance this against the budget surpluses at the Government’s
They exceeded $20 billion in the last three years.
Labor is no better.
Rudd has no criticism of Howard’s plan or of his track record.
He has matched Howard’s “tens of millions” by offering $30 million for
Aboriginal communities have nothing to gain by voting either for
Howard or Rudd.
The Greens’ and Democrats’ Indigenous policies are years ahead.
We will gain from voting for a minority party in this year’s election.
Madonna William (nee Bonner)
Sir,- Just wondering if you could help me track down friends or
relatives of the late Max Shepley, who worked as a air traffic officer
at Ansett Ailrines in the 1970s. Formerly a Pioneer coach driver,
and cattle drover for 40 years; he appeared in numerous movies
with his friend Chip Rafferty.
I worked with Max in the Alice and caught up with him in Adelaide after
his retirement not long before he died. I am writing a book on the
outback for Penguin Books and would like to add a chapter and
photos of Max. I am particularly keen to catch up with his family.
Outback Ambassador, Year of the Outback 2006
Back to front page of the the Alice Springs News.