ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
September 27, 2007. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Still no Labor policy on our
intervention billion. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
The answer to the $1.3 billion question is still under
wraps: What will happen to the Commonwealth “intervention” in response
to the Little Children are Sacred report if Labor wins the Federal
What parts of the Mal Brough revolution in Aboriginal Affairs would
Kevin Rudd retain, and what would he discard?
He’s been dodging an interview on the subject with the Alice Springs
News for three weeks now.
And Territory Labor president Warren Snowdon, the Member for Lingiari
(that’s all of the NT except Darwin), says the policy isn’t ready yet.
“We’ll formulate a policy in the next few weeks,” he said on the
But Mr Snowdon has foreshadowed in a pamphlet circulated in the bush
that CDEP, which he helped develop three decades ago, would stay or be
This has prompted CLP candidate for Lingiari Adam Giles to point out
that Mr Snowdon is at odds with his leader, Mr Rudd, who wants CDEP to
Little of this argy bargy is affecting the task force’s work on the
There are plenty of problems but Mr Brough’s single mindedness (and
lots of Federal cash) are ensuring that the initiatives are rolling
out, with adjustments being made where necessary.
Most significantly, two Labor Members in the NT Parliament, Alison
Anderson (MacDonnell) and Karl Hampton (Stuart; see interview this
edition), are out bush almost full time explaining the changes to “the
people on the ground” and, increasingly, giving advice to the
Between them Ms Anderson and Mr Hampton cover all of the rural southern
half of the Territory, more than a million square kilometers, the size
of Central Europe.
Territory Labor as well as the NT Government are making a big deal of
compulsory acquisition of administrative centers, and the waiver of
entry permits to them.
While activists, whose mandate and motive is questionable, are beating
this up into a land grab (and this allegation is being reported around
the world), the area actually involved is only about two tenths of one
per cent of Aboriginal land.
The titles are resumed by the Commonwealth for just five years.
On 99.8% of Aboriginal land won under landrights, indigenous ownership
continues and access permits remain in force.
While the stated commitment by the Federal government to the betterment
of conditions for Aborigines is at an unprecedented high,
self-appointed critics of the initiative want it to be axed.
It is described as “a cynical attempt to subject our people to further
genocide” by the National Aboriginal Alliance formed in Alice Springs
last week, by some 100 activists from around Australia.
Its local spokesperson, Pat Turner, has not responded to two requests
for an interview.
But the alliance’s web site calls for donations to a fighting fund and
says: “We call upon all Aboriginal people to walk in the footsteps of
our Elders whose legacies are now at stake and whose victories are
being wound back.
“We must stand united to seize back the power to shape our own
With national Labor in a prolonged state of indecision, the NT
Government is having two bob each way: It is glad about the mountains
of extra cash from Canberra (making up for Darwin’s neglect) while
pretending to be finding fault with Mr Brough’s initiative.
This is confined to attacking the discontinuation of the permit system
and the acquisition of administrative centers – both affecting a tiny
amount of land, limited in time and without practical consequences.
The NT Government is careful not to appear too excited about the $1.3b
announced last week.
Acting Chief Minister Syd Stirling called it “a good first
According to CLP Senator Nigel Scullion, the recent Federal
announcements are for new measures costing $740m, including $540m to
repair and build housing in remote communities over the next four
years; $100m for more doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and
specialist services; $78.2m over three years to convert CDEP positions
to “real jobs”; and up to $30 million - to be matched dollar for dollar
by the NT government - to assist them converting CDEP positions
to real jobs.
A further $18.5m will be spent over two years for 66 additional
Australian Federal Police.
By contrast the Martin government’s $286m and 223 additional positions
created over five years, to implement the first stage of its 20 year
Indigenous Generational Plan Closing the Gap, compares poorly with the
Federal Government’s $1.3b over four years.
Much of this effort is for education of the public about substance
abuse and violence, strategies of dubious value (Alice News, August
There are now two distinct levels to the intervention.
One is at the lofty heights of national politics as an election is
imminent, with the shrill National Aboriginal Alliance as a bizarre
sideshow. The other is the world of “the little people on the ground”
where Ms Anderson, Mr Hampton and the Federal taskforce press ahead
with an historic effort.
“Well of course there are a variety of views being expressed to us,”
says taskforce chief Major General Dave Chalmers.
“There are naysayers, there are people who have vested interests in
maintaining the status quo, in maintaining communities that are
depressed in poverty and subject to the violence that results from
“But when I go into communities and I talk to the women in communities,
to families in communities, people who are suffering the effects of
alcohol, of drug abuse, and of violence, then they are extremely
supportive of the intervention.
“They understand that a radical change has to be made in communities in
order to produce an outcome where people have safe and happy lives.”
If you haven’t heard a rumor
by 10am, start one.
As the intervention is rolling out across The Centre, the
rumor mill is also getting into top gear, or there is simply an
Mario Guiseppe, a spokesman for the Mutitjulu community at Ayers Rock,
wrote to the Alice News with a string of concerns. We asked Major
General Dave Chalmers for replies:
Guiseppe: Its got to the stage out here, where you have three WfD (Work
for the Dole) providers wanting 22 WfD clients’ signatures and who are
giving them uniforms, work boots, etc. and telling the clients this is
part of the new WfD rules. Problem is there are no supervisors, no work
plans, no vehicle for clients to carry out any work. Who’s putting in
their timesheets, who’s supervising them, are the clients to be
familiarized with operational health and safety (OH&S) issues?
Chalmers: There are two Work for Dole (WfD) providers.
There is one WfD activity operating in Mutitjulu (the provider is ITEC
and they are sub-contracted to CEA to be the sponsor
organisation). There is a supervisor and he is employed by CEA.
There are work plans, and vehicles for clients to carry out work (where
required) and the supervisor puts in the timesheets.
The Work for the Dole project is community clean-up removing rubbish,
cleaning and painting community facilities.
Another provider, Job Futures Anangu Jobs, is about to start up a WfD
activity doing laundry, cooking program and an opportunity shop.
The clients are familiarised with OH&S issues.
Guiseppe: The Mutitjulu Community was left with not one red cent when
the Administrator handed back over $300,000 to the Federal Government
for the 06/07 financial year after losing in the Federal Court of NSW.
The Administrator also failed the children the old and frail by not
applying for funding for 07/08 financial year when he was in
Administration of Mutitjulu, but he paid himself right up to his
Departure $ 25,000 per month on time every time.
The Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation is continually even up
to this day fixing up the Administrator’s cock ups.
Chalmers: The Commonwealth funds a range of services for the Mutitjulu
community. These are provided by a number of service providers
with some services formerly delivered by Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal
Corporation now delivered by other providers.
The Mutitjulu community continues to receive aged care, outside school
hours and vacation care and youth services.
Essential Services such as electricity, sewerage and water supplies for
the Mutitjulu community are provided by National Parks Australia.
The Mutitjulu Community Health Service and the Nyangatjatjara
Aboriginal Corporation continue to provide health and education
services respectively to the community.
The Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation along with other funded
organisations has a requirement to repay unspent monies to government
agencies each year and to seek new funding as appropriate.
The Administer fulfilled his requirements to do so and left a balance
of funds for the MCAC to continue to operate until the organisation’s
committee could determine its future.
To assist the community a Government Business Manager is in place in
Mutitjulu managing the provision of Australian Government services to
Other rumors: It seems there are some people earning substantial
amounts of money yet are receiving Centrelink benefits.
Apparently one artist got $200,000 for painting a Qantas jet, bought
five troop carriers and still gets the pension or dole.
Maraku Arts, Anangu Tours and even the National Parks Service are
apparently paying cash and the people get benefits.
Centrelink: Our customers have an obligation to tell Centrelink about
any income earned from employment.
Centrelink conducts regular data-matching exercises with other
government organisations, such as the Taxation Office, to ensure
customers are receiving their correct entitlements.
Centrelink also has Fraud Investigation Teams. The Fraud Tip-off Line
is 13 1524.
Other rumours: The following is small beer in the grand scheme of
things ... but does the govt pay $1500 a night per room at Titjikala
for putting up Centrelink staff in the five-star tent resort? Word is
that the tourism industry is hugely pleased about the high occupancy
rate with the taskforce in town. What’s the weekly rent bill?
Chalmers: The Government has not paid $1500 a night per room at
Titjikala. Titjikala community offered up the accommodation and we
agreed on a rate.
Will Arltunga be a ghost town,
again? By FIONA CROFT.
The NT Government seems to be scaling back its ranger staff at the
historic Arltunga Reserve, the gold field predating Alice Springs.
The two rangers have left and although a spokesman for the Minister for
Parks, Delia Lawrie, says they will be replaced, no advertisements have
been published yet.
The historic village, 120 km east of Alice Springs, is now in the hands
of a part-time caretaker, four hours a day, who has a three months
And the Publican at Arltunga, Guy Bossard, says: “People complain to me
about not being able to find rangers.
“They always had one ranger manning the office from nine to five on
CATIA executive member Ren Kelly says: “It is regrettable that the
internal staff movements of rangers between Parks has left the historic
Arltunga without a resident ranger.
“NT Parks has advised that they are actively pursuing a replacement and
the position is soon to be advertised.
“However we understand that in the interim a long term resident has
been contracted to provide the caretaker, safety and interpretative
Says Mr Bossard: “What I really believe is that [the reserve] will be
run by Aboriginal rangers under joint management in the future.
“I’ve written letters to Clare Martin and when Reno Grollo [the
Melbourne property magnate who now owns nearby Ross River] moved in she
went to visit him and drove past my place and didn’t even call in.”
Mr Bossard is selling up.
“I’m a proud Territorian originally from Katherine and fell in love
with this region.
“But when a multi-millionaire arrives the NT Government is falling over
themselves to get money from them.”
When Mr Bossard first arrived he said there was a “wonderful ranger
from Katherine, a born and bred Territorian.
“He removed six acres of buffel grass, now there is eight acres growing
out of control.
“The good rain last year washed the fences down on Loves Creek Station
and there are horses in the Park.
“Mexican Poppy, which produces up to 10,000 seeds per plant, is
“Since 1998 the park counted up to 16,000 people visiting a year.
“There there were just under 5,000 last year.”
Mr Bossard says the NT Government isn’t promoting the East MacDonnells,
just the West.
“The reason being bed taxes.
“With only 31 rooms at Ross River Resort, the government makes much
more out of Kings Canyon and Alice Springs than out of this region.”
Mr Bossard says he originally had a budget for advertising of $15,000.
Now he spends $2,000 per annum.
He has sent letters to Clare Martin but didn’t get a reply.
Mr Bossard says that when he first arrived ten years ago three rangers
were in place, living on site with spouses and children who lived on
“In the mid eighties this area was a big focal point,” he says.
“Now a caretaker is in place living in one of the duplexes.
“There is a three bedroom house and a duplex which has two bedrooms
He says the other accommodation is now run down as it has not been used
for over seven years.
Meanwhile Mr Kelly isn’t holding his breath that things will improve
He says: “In the same manner as most commercial enterprise in Central
Australia, NT Parks tells us that they also have difficulty in staff
recruitment, with longer lead times due to Government regulation.
“This is a matter of concern to CATIA that forward planning of staff
movements are in place to ensure that visitors receive the highest
level of attention and safety so that they go away with a memorable
Travelling to sell
intervention: Labor MLAs cover vast areas. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Two Territory Labor MLAs are quietly doing their bit to advance the
most resolute Aboriginal affairs initiative in history.
Day after day, Alison Anderson (MacDonnell) and Karl Hampton (Stuart)
are at the coalface, covering an area the size of Central Europe,
explaining the “intervention” to the “little people on the
Meanwhile the people who think they are not so little are doing their
best to put a spanner in the works. Alice News editor ERWIN CHLANDA
spoke with Mr Hampton (pictured).
HAMPTON: I’ve been out there since the announcement of the
intervention. Things are moving so quickly it’s hard to keep up with
it, in a lot of ways, and people out there are finding that as well.
NEWS: What particularly do they have a difficulty with? There is law
enforcement, medical care, administration of welfare money, phasing out
of CDEP, and stores.
HAMPTON: They have problems with the number of people coming into the
NEWS: How do you see your role in this?
HAMPTON: I’m putting all these measures on a whiteboard, sitting down
with mainly groups of people, using interpreters where required, and
just talking through what I know about these measures.
NEWS: Are you supporting the intervention?
HAMPTON: I’m supporting the measures that are long term and practical.
People in the communities are engaged in the process. I’m giving people
information so they can become engaged. The NT Government has been
clear on what we support.
NEWS: Run me through it again, please, what it is that you support and
what you don’t.
HAMPTON: We support the changes to the Centrelink payments and CDEP
[the transition to Work for the Dole and “quanrantening” for food and
other necessities of half the welfare payments] although we’d like to
see things slow down a bit. We support measures that create real jobs.
It’s a joint initiative between the two levels of government. We’ve got
to work with the Commonwealth on that.
We support the alcohol and pornography bans. A lot of people support
those measures when it comes to alcohol and extra police, and moving
into real jobs. And it’s got to be long term.
NEWS: Do you see the announcement by Canberra of a budget for the
intervention of a massive $1300m in the next four years, including
$600m in the first year, as a sign that it will be long-term?
HAMPTON: I think that’s a good indication. That’s a significant
contribution from Canberra.
NEWS: Is it something you expect Labor to maintain if they win
HAMPTON: That a question you’ll have to ask Warren Snowdon.
NEWS: What’s your expectation? The word neglect is most often used when
describing Aboriginal affairs over the past 30 years. On the face of it
at least, the Federal intervention aims at putting an end to neglect.
HAMPTON: That amount is a significant contribution, and that’s
certainly most welcome by people out there. They have been asking for
this level of resourcing and commitment for a long time – and so has
the NT Government.
NEWS: A flyer has been circulated by Mr Snowdon on communities in which
he appears to be signaling a return of CDEP if Labor gets in. Have you
seen that flyer?
HAMPTON: I’ve heard about it but I haven’t seen it.
NEWS: The initial agenda of the medical initiative wasn’t popular. But
the element of coercion was removed.
HAMPTON: I’ve been encouraging my electors to fully engage and work
with the medical teams, work with the police on the ground, they are
there providing another service. It’s a good opportunity. I’ve been to
Nyirripi, Willowra and Utopia, where there are now extra police on the
They and the communities are working together. It’s fantastic.
NEWS: There seem to be a lot of statements about the intervention by
people from outside the area. The group of around 100 activists who
formed the National Aboriginal Alliance in Alice Springs last week,
launching a vigorous campaign to stop the intervention, seemed to be
mostly from interstate. What do you say to these people?
HAMPTON: They are entitled to put across their viewpoint. There are a
lot of strong indigenous leaders in that group and I have a lot of
respect for many of them. You’d have to talk to them. As the Member for
Stuart I’m talking to my constituents, and encouraging [the taskforce]
to work with people on the ground. A lot of the changes are going to
happen on the ground between the people most affected by the
intervention and the people seeking to help them.
NEWS: What effect do you think the National Aboriginal Alliance will
have on the initiative? Some national and international media seem to
be giving the activists credibility. Le Monde in France, for example,
is reporting that the government is taking land away from Aboriginal
people. In fact it’s only the townships, the administrative centres,
just one tenth of one per cent of Aboriginal land, that’s taken over by
Canberra for five years. There is clearly disinformation out there.
HAMPTON: The National Aboriginal Alliance is entitled to its view.
NEWS: What’s the view of your constituents about the lifting of access
permits to the administrative centers?
HAMPTON: There is a very clear message from my constituents that they
don’t support the lifting of the permit system.
NEWS: Is it broadly understood that the permits waiver applies only to
the administrative centres, that means one tenth of one per cent of
HAMPTON: Most people understand that, and explaining it is part of my
NEWS: Permits have been lifted for a month now. Have there been any bad
HAMPTON: I haven’t heard of any yet.
NEWS: What is the attitude towards the compulsory acquisition for five
years of the administrative centers, a couple of square kilometers in
HAMPTON: People are concerned about the compulsory acquisition of their
NEWS: Aside from opposition to that in principle, are there practical
disadvantages flowing from the compulsory acquisition for five years?
HAMPTON: Not that I’ve become aware of in the three or four weeks since
the compulsory acquisition [began].
People are concerned abut how this happened. People were not engaged.
It was done over the top of them.
NEWS: The intervention has shown flexibility in all sorts of areas. Do
you think there could be a compromise on permits and temporary
acquisition? Are you talking to the taskforce about this?
HAMPTON: I met Major General Dave Chalmers once and I will be meeting
with him again soon. I’ll be raising issues with him.
What future for outstations? By
Tjuwanpa Resource Centre is just a few minutes drive from Hermannsburg,
on a rise with a view straight across to Palm Valley.
It’s a cluster of functional buildings – a few houses, a workshop,
offices, an art centre, a disused service station and cafeteria,
providing employment for and services to people living on Western
Arrernte homelands or outstations.
There are 40 of them all up, scattered across four and a half thousand
square kilometres of country, home purportedly for some 350 people,
although at the moment, according to CEO Jane Rosalski, only a fraction
of the outstations are occupied.
This is despite a quite massive investment in resourcing them: Ms
Rosalski cited, for instance, $4.5m spent over the last four years on
electrifying 20 of the outstations, linking them to the Hermannsburg
Tjuwanpa maintains over 500 kms of roads linking the homelands, and has
just been given $250,000 from FACSIA for a new front loader for the
Last year Tjuwanpa sank a new bore at a cost of $100,000 and spent
$300,000 on solar setups for five outstations.
But everyone at Tjuwanpa is now wondering about the point of all this.
With the Federal Government’s resolve to get children to school, they
recognise that some families will have to move, to Hermannsburg or into
The three little schools on the homelands for one reason or another are
all closed at the moment and for most families the daily travel to
Hermannsburg or other communities in the region is too exhausting or
too expensive or both.
Ms Rosalski and MLA Alison Anderson, doing the rounds of her vast
electorate last week, discussed their worry over a family on one
outstation where the children are not going to school: “They sit on a
mattress and watch TV all day.”
They also counted up the abandoned outstations; with dogs left behind,
surviving on horse shit, or starving; with gardens dying.
And counted up the outstations invaded by drinkers from Alice Springs,
since the dry town legislation came into force in the town.
They showed the Alice News the litter of cans left behind on the banks
of the Finke River and along the roads that was not there two weeks
earlier, they said.
For all this, there was an upbeat atmosphere at the resource centre,
amongst the people working there.
Mark Inkamala, chairman of the corporation and workshop supervisor,
showed the News five transportable ablution blocks that his team have
They were the brainchild of Ms Rosalski, a flexible way of alleviating
overcrowding at some of the outstations.
Andrew Porta and Phillip Fly both work full-time under Mr Inkamala,
carrying out repairs to machinery, doing general mechanical and
maintenance work at Tjuwanpa and on the homelands.
They are CDEP workers who earn top-up, as do 50 of the 160 people of
working age on the homelands. On CDEP a worker is entitled to their
benefit and up to $20,000 in top-up.
In the office two young women similarly work full-time for CDEP plus
They run the Centrelink agency, with 420 clients. Both have done
Centrelink training and, as native Arrernte speakers and well motivated
workers, are perfect for the job, says Ms Rosalski.
Sherona Richardson started the job earlier this year, after returning
to Hermannsburg from South Australia, where she’d been working in a
tuna processing plant at Port Lincoln. She liked travelling around but
after a while she’d become “homesick”.
Turning 24 next month, she went to year Nine at Yirara College.
Shona Windley, 22, went to Year 10, also at Yirara.
Shona had tried a number of different jobs – child care worker, shop
assistant, working at the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct – but she
prefers this one, which she’s been doing for one year and eight months,
as a “more professional job to do”.
She’s studying for a Certificate in Business with Batchelor Institute.
And Sherona is going to do her training as an Aboriginal Community
Police Officer, starting in March next year.
All of these people seem well equipped to face Mal Brough’s brave new
world, having already acquired skills and attitudes that allow them to
respond to work opportunities.
The art centre, under the guiding hand of Heather Shearer, is gearing
up after a period in the doldrums. The main activity of the last three
years has been to prepare entries for the Desert Mob Show, although
artists also sell their own work.
Ms Shearer says an art centre sub-committee was formed at last week’s
corporation meeting to work on long term strategies to promote the
artists’ “huge heritage”.
As for Tjuwanpa itself, Ms Rosalski sees there may be a future for it
as a training centre, working in with work-for-the-dole and STEP
“We need to utilise this point to go forward, to bring our vision
forward,” she said, taking Ms Anderson’s advice to get on the front
foot with the CDEP broker and making a phone call to her as we spoke.
“There can be hiccups with any change,” said Ms Anderson, about the
concerns over the end of CDEP.
“But once we got over them, there’ll be opportunities for these people
to engage in real employment.
“The time for consultation is finished.
“We need the opportunity for new growth.
“It’s like a bushfire that goes through the country and fresh seed
comes up behind.”
Done & Dusted. By DARCY DAVIS.
Last Saturday Bassinthedust brought together almost 2000 of Alice’s
music fiends, as desperate for a live music festival as the land is for
Despite the scorch of an approaching summer, the crowd did not dry out.
Exit Earth kicked off the day’s events, followed by local bands, Bloom,
Tara Stewart and the Roaring Sand Pods, Nights Plague and headlining
local act Through Bullets and Bravery (TBAB).
“Nights Plague tore the air open in front of them” said metal head and
TBAB bass player Jackson Smith.
National act Behind Crimson Eyes were also impressed by their
performance with a special song dedication to them during their set.
It would’ve been great to see the local acts playing between the
national bands for some real exposure and experience, rather than being
slotted in the roaring heat like barbeque meat.
The first of the national acts was the surprise favourite of the day,
Those who got into their primal tunes were up on their feet, and singer
Ezekiel Ox (Zeek) got down on ground level to recruit more moshers.
“This isn’t myspace – you can’t just turn this shit off,” he screamed
towards the seated members of the audience.
The stage force of Mammal got those in the crowd reverting to their
animal instincts. Towards the end of the set, when energy levels were
dropping, Zeek scaled the scaffolding holding the speakers and followed
through with a stage dive he had promised earlier, jumping over
security guards and missing the barricade.
Speaking to members of the audience after the set, it was clear that
Mammal had established a loyal fan base, keen to get them back.
Behind Crimson Eyes performed next and people gathered in their masses.
BCE have won over plenty of Alice fans after their gig at
Bassinthegrass and the release of their latest album “A Revelation for
Singer Josh welcomed these fans with open arms, literally, and gave
everyone in the front row a hug.
Despite a successful show, Josh managed to smash a stage light with an
ill directed water bottle power throw, leaving the crowd thirsty for
“Behind Crimson Eyes made my eyes crimson with tears when they left the
stage,” wept Matt Porter while friend Angus Morina nodded
Lowrider brought a funkier feel to the evening, with laid-back keys,
grooving bass and soulful vocals.
The mosh mania morphed into a funk fest.
Singer from Lowrider, Joe Brathwaite, expressed an affinity with local
band Bloom: “They had some great grooves goin!” he said.
“The vibe that bloom put out was spectacular,” said crowd member Gary
“I was surprised at the amount of warm feedback we received,” said
Tanya from Bloom.
“It was a buzz to be playing with such a professional set up.”
The Waifs were an obvious favourite, playing songs mainly from their
new album, Sun Dirt Water, but pulled out classics such as “London
Still” and “Bridal Train” later in the set.
Zeek from Mammal also had something to say about The Waifs: “They had
some great chops.”
Next up was TZU.
Hippies and hip hop heads alike got up to groove.
The band did great considering they haven’t performed together in three
Jet headlined the night but seemed to lack real conviction and
disappointed many fans.
“Man, I wish Behind Crimson Eyes had headlined,” cried a disappointed
Perhaps the comparatively small Alice crowd made it difficult to
perform – poor things.
Despite the crowd being smaller than last year, by all accounts the
show was still a great success.
“I was very happy with the conduct of the crowd,” said chief of
Northern Territory Major Events, Paul Cattermole.
“The local bands were fantastic, the police were terrific, the security
did a great job managing the crowd and once again Alice looked after
each other to keep this great event running smoothly.”
Like the Bush Bands Bash, it would be great to have Bassinthedust
become a nationally acclaimed event to positively promote the town, the
local bands and the surroundings and to highlight Central Australia as
the creative, innovative place that it is.
ADAM CONNELLY: Concert crowd
shocked by middle-aged dancer.
By the time you read this column, I will have officially turned another
I’ve noticed that those around me seem to celebrate their own birthdays
with increasingly less regard the older they get.
They seem almost to be ashamed of their birthday, as though they are
nothing more than a reminder of time’s winged chariot hurrying near (to
quote Mr Keats).
I now get as many furrowed looks as presents on my birthday for having
the nerve to remind my contemporaries of their mortality. Well, I’ve
had enough of the nay-sayers, those that choose to live life in the
realms of the glass half-empty.
To quote another British poet: “Hey! (Hey!) You! (You!) Get off-a my
Carpe Diem, fools! Time to embrace the age you are and be the best at
it as you can. Every second it takes you to read this column is another
second you don’t have.
But on your birthday you get to celebrate the fact you’ve survived a
whole bunch of those seconds.
Thirty one million, five hundred and thirty six thousand each year.
I’m not one of those people who looks upon youth as the magical
solution to life. I don’t feel the need to want to stay youthful.
I have a friend who rides his push bike for hours every day.
He eats low fat goop. He is constantly drinking water and owns a
library full of books on how to live longer.
He doesn’t do these things to stay fit so that he can live better, he
does it to live longer.
I have a fairly fatalistic (for want of a better word) outlook on life.
I will live for as long as God wants me on the planet. Not a second
more or less.
To me it’s not about cheating time. It’s about sucking the juice out of
the time you have.
It is good, however, to - on occasion - check the pulse of the time
line. To throw yourself into a situation that calibrates your age.
I did just that last weekend at the Bass in the Dust Festival.
Working for a youth radio station I thought I should go along and
observe our target demographic.
The scrum of kids pulsating in front of the stage was a heady mix of
newly discovered testosterone and estrogen.
The gawky, the gangly and the too-cool-for-school fueled on the
presence of their idols.
Emo boys tried their little broken hearts out to look interesting as
the Paris Hilton-like girls totally did their best to - like, you know
- look pretty and that.
Bogan kids tried to crowd surf and sneak beer in their over-sized
shorts alongside the bookish girls who looked as though the entire
world was critiquing them.
And there was I. The overweight, bearded, soon-to-be 32 year old bloke
in the old man hat surrounded by a sea of kids who haven’t figured out
who the hell they are just yet.
Standing there in the middle of all this juvenile humanity it dawns on
me that, while I really enjoyed my time as a teenage kid, I wouldn’t
swap places with them for quids.
In fact, I can’t help but remember that I had a stack of life learning
to do in my teens. I’m really glad I don’t have to go through all that
stuff again. I’m 32 and I’m just warming up.
Nonetheless, I am at the Bass in the Dust festival, out of my comfort
zone. What does a man in my position do when confronted by a situation
such as this?
The 18-year-old Adam would have felt uncomfortable and incredibly
self-conscious. The 23-year-old Adam would have tried his best to look
as good as he could. He had tickets on himself like most 23-year-olds.
The 32-year-old Adam danced like no one was watching.
LETTERS: Anti-social behaviour is
Sir,- Just when it appeared that our beautiful town of Alice Springs
was returning to normal, we again see the violence and rampant
vandalism returning, with cars being burnt on football fields, riots at
the football, women being molested on Gap Road, and then today I was a
victim of teenage louts.
I was alerted by the sound of yelling and assumed it was out on Gap
Road as it usually is. On investigation I found five teenage Indigenous
youths swimming in my pool.
The pool gate was locked with a large sign advising that the water was
being treated so my concern, apart from the fact that they were
trespassing, was that as I had just placed acid and other chemicals in
the water then the youths would possibly get burnt eyes.
On telling the youths to vacate the pool and leave our property
immediately, I was then abused with some pretty vicious and foul
profanities and threats, and told by the youths that I was a white
c... , that this was their land and I was the one who should f... off,
and we’ll be back to get you, you white c...
How can we possibly ever get total reconciliation between all
Australians, not just Indigenous versus the “others”, but between
all races, when these Indigenous youths show no respect for anyone
This must stem from their home life because I thought Australia
belonged to all Australians, not just a select few?
The parents of these youths obviously haven’t taught these louts that
we are all equal and that they do not have the right to use, abuse
and vandalise other people’s property just because they are Indigenous.
It is time the Indigenous leaders, who are so vocal to protest at
anything else that doesn’t go their way, to start talking to the young
indigenous people and make them aware that they cannot continue on the
aggressive way they are going against non indigenous Australians.
It’s not too late to change, but if it keeps going the way it is, the
tide will turn against them very soon.
Sir,- You might recall me writing a letter to you a couple of months
ago about wanting to “break legs” because I was sick and tired of
having broken windows.
It was a letter that you published and, I must say, I got a lot of
comment from it.
Obviously I had no intentions of going to break legs but I certainly
felt like it, and most of the comments from people that I received were
of a similar supportive thrust.
Since then, the dry town legislation has been brought in and the
general comment around is that it has made a difference, and that
drunks and troublemakers seem to have disappeared somewhat.
Well, in the first couple of weeks I thought so, too!
But I now think it was just that there was saturation policing - which
was good (but could well have been done under the two kilometre law as
However, of late I notice that it is reverting back to the old ways!
From a personal point, I have received three broken windows since that
letter I sent to you - two of these breaks in the past two weeks.
Also the other evening at around 8pm, there was a group of drunks
sitting drinking (as they usually do) beside my gallery by the Gregory
Terrace car park.
You could have heard them five kilometres away!
I politely asked them to leave because I really am tired of this
behaviour, I’m tired of having to clean the area up in the mornings,
and I’m tired of them using it as an ablution block!
All but one got up and politely left - where did they go?
Another dark place no doubt, as there is certainly no place in this
town to help get them off the streets and attempt to
rehabilitate them into good citizens!
Some halfway house between the streets and jail -it would be a step in
the right direction, I think!
Perhaps the Government could skim a couple of million off
the Darwin Green belt plan, or the upgrading of Darwin hockey
fields or some other Top End project, for something to help down
here? Do you think that might happen?
Anyway, back to the problem: Yep, the one that didn’t want to go abused
me for at least five minutes and tried to find a rock to throw at
Fortunately she couldn’t find one, so eventually wandered off into the
night yelling obscenities!
No doubt multitudes of your readers could write similar stories and I
invite them to do so.
Why? Because I think this is a fantastic town and I don’t want all
of this recent awareness and new attempts to improve the situation to
just fade away.
I think it is something that must continually be headlined and kept in
the face of our Government.
There will never be good long term solutions, for the public and the
perpetrators, if we don’t continually expose it.
So readers write your stories to the Editor, and hopefully he will
Let our politicians and law enforcers know on a regular basis so they
too will have it in the forefront of their minds - not just us!
Sir,- The time has come for leaders in Alice Springs to put the talk
about climate change into action.
Alice Springs has a plethora of reports such as the Alice Springs Town
Council Climate Action Plan, The CSAT Sustainable Arid Towns
Report and Power Water’s various efficiency reports.
These reports have been ordered by various levels of government over
the years in response to local outcry.
However, no action has taken place for YEARS.
The time has come for action now.
Climate change is real and we continue to waste, waste, waste.
I have been told that Power Water loses 14% of our water allocation
through LEAKS! This is not good enough.
Reports have been sitting on desks for too long now.
All levels of government need to start taking action and stop
passing the buck - just like Norm in the Life Be In It ads, you need to
get up out of that armchair and take action today.
A public meeting about climate change action will be happening in
the near future and I urge people to join us and let their voices
Sir,- Forty years ago equal pay was made the law of the land, and as a
result many Aboriginal stockmen were trucked off the cattle stations
and dumped in town.
Their families came with them, and town camps started their slow
The dole, or sit down money, was distributed along with the right to
buy grog, and I think we all know how completely that idea has bombed.
Then came land rights, the outstations movement and
But a working social structure still didn’t develop, not least because
publicly funded self-determination is a contradiction in terms.
He who pays the piper gets to call the tune, and public funding means
the government gets the call.
CDEP, or working for the dole plus extras, was the next magic bullet.
This has had some success but working for the dole is still the dole,
even with the extras.
Now the Federal Government, in what may be its most controversial
intervention, is bringing it down and replacing it with we don’t know
So where do we go from here?
Clearly it’s time to re-visit the original idea of equal pay and give
teachers’ aides, medical staff, coastal rangers, night patrol officers
and many of the other CDEP workers a real wage for any and all
essential work they do?
It is encouraging to learn that this is happening.
If we take the wages issue one step further, common sense tells us that
if homeland communities are to prosper the residents need to be given
all available government-initiated work.
If the resumption of leases is really about infrastructure
redevelopment, hire locals.
If houses are to be built, hire locals. For all maintenance
needs, hire locals.
And if the locals need training, train them.
If the army can build a TAFE school in Afghanistan with local labor, it
can come home and do the same thing right here.
But don’t just distribute more sit down money and then quarantine it.
It would be much better if sit down money is not distributed at
all. Offer work instead.
With the permit system’s bottle-neck now widened, business might start
People could build a life. Ask Noel Pearson. He’s the one.
Sir,- An Indigenous Land Use Agreement providing for the Rainbow Valley
park (Alice News, Sept 20) to operate under a joint management
agreement and joint management plan was signed by the Chief Minister in
The current draft joint management plan for Rainbow Valley Conservation
Reserve, which was recently out for public comment for six weeks, is
available at www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/management/plans.html
The reserve’s area is 2483 Ha. We expect that very few visitors will be
affected by proposed zoning and access conditions.
It is not unusual for the PWSNT to regulate visitor access on safety,
environmental or cultural grounds.
Similarly it is not unusual for Aboriginal traditional owners or sacred
site custodians to allow visitors to access culturally sensitive areas,
for example, Tnorala (Gosse Bluff).
The Reserve will continue to provide a superb experience, albeit with
an enhanced cultural perspective developed over time.
Subject to funding a longer walking track and sunset viewing
opportunities will be developed.
Camping will continue as at present in the short term and, subject to
funding, enhanced over the longer term.
The PWSNT will be preparing similar joint management plans for the 27
parks and reserves subject to the Parks and Wildlife Reserves
(Framework for the Future) Act.
Public input into these is welcome.
There is a statutory one month period of public comment on each draft
There were three public submissions on the Rainbow Valley draft plan.
NT Dept. of Environment and the Art
Sir,- I have just finished viewing the now famous 2007 Alice Springs
grand final on YouTube.
Congratulations to all the thugs and particularly the king hitters for
now sabotaging any chance the Alice had of entering a team in the SANFL
I hope both clubs unite and publicly appologise to their community for
such a pathetic display.
Sir,- A new Indigenous Economic Development Scheme (IEDS), launched by
former Macquarie Bank executive Bill Moss AM, has been swamped by
expressions of interest and support from the Australian public.
Mr Moss says he is delighted with the breadth of the response,
especially from the business community and the Aboriginal community.
About 40 companies and industry groups have asked for details of how
the scheme works and the vast majority of them have said they will
These include the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), The Tourism
Transport Forum (TTF) and Porosus Pty Ltd.
Bill Moss funded the now successful Gunya Tourism initiative in 2004, a
joint venture with the Titjikala community, 120 kilometers south east
of Alice Springs.
It has become the model for his proposal: business bankrolling cottage
industries as a way to create employment and reduce the many social
Support has come from indigenous leaders as well as communities that
would like to be recipients of the scheme.
High school attendance has gone from zero to 24 in four years.
Economic modeling in the Bill Moss Green Paper suggests that - for five
jobs created - the federal government would actually save over $3
million across a 10-year period, via direct savings on government
spending and accrued economic impact.
For each job created under the proposed scheme the Federal government
achieves a cash saving of $23,820 a year with a further $39,000 of
economic benefit to the economy.
Back to front page of the the Alice Springs News.