ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
October 25, 2007. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Solar city hits straps. By KIERAN
Next time the World Solar Challenge goes through Alice
Springs, the town will be proclaiming itself a Solar City.
Its status will be confirmed by having Australia’s biggest solar energy
power station, expected to be up and running along with the rest of the
Solar City consortium’s projects by 2009.
But will solar Alice be a greener Alice?
The project plans to replace 5% of energy generated by fossil fuels.
This will be achieved by a combination of solar energy generation and
greater energy efficiency.
Chair of the Solar City Consortium, Grant Behrendorff, says 5% to the
layman may not sound like a great deal, but within the energy industry
it is considerable.
Alice has an energy consumption of 240 GW a year, which will be reduced
by 10 GW a year: “That’s a lot of energy,” says Mr Behrendorff.
Solar energy generation will be achieved by a combination of
The consortium aims at removing barriers to a greater take-up of solar
hot water systems.
Alice already has 60% of households with solar hot water. One barrier
to further take-up is the longer time it takes to install solar hot
water, compared to installing electric systems.
“If your electric hot water system breaks down today, you can get it
replaced tomorrow,” says Mr Behrendorff, “while a solar system will
take a number of weeks.
“So we intend to make loaner systems available to tide people over
until their new solar hot water system can be installed.”
The consortium also hopes to see 225 rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems
installed by Alice households.
These generate energy which is fed into the grid, the value of which is
taken off the householder’s energy bill.
A major barrier to their take-up at the moment is the cost of the units
(approximately $13,000 for a 1KW system, fully installed).
The consortium aims to reduce the cost by more than 50% and to also
provide, for the life of the project, a more attractive buyback tariff
for the energy generated (received as a lower energy bill for the PV
Doesn’t this create a somewhat artificial environment for the new
Yes, says Mr Behrendorff, but other green technologies, like hybrid
cars and “clean coal”, are also being assisted in this way, driven by
the environmental urgency to come up with solutions for reducing
Four iconic solar installations will put the Solar City stamp on the
urban landscape of Alice Springs.
These will be located at the Araluen Cultural Precinct, the town pool,
the sewerage farm, and the airport.
While the technology is not new, Mr Behrendorff says the applications
are all innovative.
He says solar-powered air-conditioning at Araluen will be the first of
its kind in Australia.
“We are having to go overseas to get the kind of system we need,” he
says, “ and even there they are not at all common.”
Solar heating of the water in the town pool will “a first, as far as we
know” for a large pool.
“There is some technical risk associated with it. That’s partly why
Alice Springs was chosen by the Federal Government as a Solar City,
because of the innovation and the risk-taking in our bid,” says Mr
“We’re breaking down barriers, proving that things can be done.”
A solar power station at the Ilparpa Valley sewerage plant will be the
largest power station of its kind in Australia, similar to the one at
Hermannsburg, but two to three times larger.
It will also be the first time in Australia that a solar power station
has been connected to a large grid (the interface between a power
station and a large “stable” grid or a small “weak” grid is different).
Another plus, says Mr Behrendorff, is the synergy between the power
generation and the evaporation ponds used to treat the sewage. The heat
given off by the generation will be fed into the ponds, assisting their
evaporation and their microbial processes, making them more efficient.
There will be a smaller but “unmissable” solar power station at the
Alice Springs airport.
Its precise use is yet to be finalised but its placement will add to
the branding of Alice as a Solar City for incoming visitors.
In town, a Smart Living Centre will provide a one-stop shop and
showroom for all enquiries concerning solar energy and energy
A search is on for a suitable location at the moment and the centre is
expected to open in February.
Householders will be able to volunteer to take part in a smart metering
trial, where they can opt for low tariff energy use in off-peak hours.
“This won’t suit everyone, but will be attractive to some
householders,” says Mr Behrendorff.
Householders will also be encouraged to have energy audits to help them
work out ways to become more energy efficient.
Apart from new light globes, solutions include painting your roof white
and installing insulation.
Energy audits for larger users, including commercial users, will
require bringing in external specialists.
The consortium will assist with this, achieving savings by coordinating
several audits per visit.
There will also be incentive schemes attempting to induce long term
behavioural change in consumers.
For example, if a household demonstrates that they have reduced their
energy consumption by 10% over 12 months, the consortium will offer a
further 10% off their energy bill.
Likewise, if they reduce consumption by 20% over 12 months, the
consortium will match it with a 20% discount on their bill.
“A number of studies show that people can be very enthusiastic at the
start of energy-saving schemes, but with the structure of our scheme we
are trying to get people engaged over the longer term,” says Mr
Greater gains are expected from energy efficiency than from the
The Federal Government Solar City grant of $12.3m will be spent over
What is the vision after that?
By then Alice consumers are expected to have become “energy champions”
and the industry and infrastructure to have been given enough of a kick
start to be self-sustaining, with the town “a model for the rest of
Australia and the world to follow”.
Mr Behrendorff says Alice is unique among the Federal Government’s
Solar Cities for being driven by a community-base consortium.
The three major partners are the Town Council, the Territory Government
and Power and Water Corporation, joined by Tangentyere Council, the
Chamber of Commerce, the Desert Knowledge CRC and the Arid Lands
Having all these partners at the same table and under contract to work
together on this project makes it a very powerful group, says Mr
Their contributions as well as the participants take the Solar city
budget to $40m (more cash than in-kind, says Mr Behrendorff).
Mayor Fran Kilgariff has recently spoken of $100m worth of activity in
solar energy related initiative sin the Centre.
This figure refers to Solar City ($40m), Bushlight ($40m), the Solar
Technology Demonstration Facility at the Desert Knowledge precinct
($3m), remote power stations (some $10m and growing).
Minister snubs MLA from his
own party. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
The NT Government’s stonewalling of issues surrounding the
controversial sewage reuse scheme has reached new heights.
Alison Anderson, the Member for MacDonnell, says the Minister
responsible for the Power and Water Corporation, Kon Vatskalis, is
denying her information she is seeking in order to clarify issues
raised by the Alice Springs News over several months.
Ms Anderson, a government backbencher, asked why the Power and Water
Corporation (PWC) had been granted an apparently excessive timeframe by
the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to build a minor sewage
recycling facility, stopping or reducing the discharge of only
partially treated sewage into public land.
Ms Anderson also asked for a copy of a PWC report setting out
circumstances under which the corporation will continue the discharge,
even after the completion of the facility.
Ms Anderson says although both the main sewage plant and the recycling
facility are in her electorate, south of The Gap, Mr Vatskalis did not
answer her questions.
The Alice News asked Ms Anderson to intervene when the newspaper, on
October 12, was denied a copy of the “wet weather discharge plan”
provided by PWC to the EPA, showing “modeling of a wet weather
The News told Ms Anderson: “In essence PWC wants a license from the EPA
to continue the otherwise illegal practice of discharging partially
treated sewage into public areas, such as St Mary’s Creek, even when
the water reuse scheme is completed.
“We still don’t have a copy of that plan.”
We raised with Ms Anderson the question why the pollution watchdog, the
EPA, extended from two years to four a license for PWC to pollute.
The first discharge license granted to PWC by the EPA ran out at the
end of 2005 – a more than generous time frame, two years, to complete a
It is a six kilometer pipeline, ending in ponds where the partly
treated effluent seeps into the ground water, is cleaned on the way
down by seeping through sand, and pumped back to the surface to
irrigate a horticultural plot.
(After six years of planning the government still does not have an “end
user” for the recycled water.)
In reply to her enquiries Ms Anderson was sent an email the Alice News
had received some three weeks earlier, and most of which we had
We wrote to Ms Anderson that the email failed to give a direct answer
to our question, except that the permission to extend overflows
was based on “Power and Water’s original estimate of the time
required to complete the project”.
In other words, whatever PWC asked for, it got.
We put this to Ms Anderson that such a privilege would hardly be
extended to any other polluters: “The EPA (an NT Government
instrumentality), in dealing with the polluter, the PWC (also an
NT Government instrumentality), and in consultation with NT Health
(also an NT Government instrumentality) is guided by the
assertions of the polluter when ordering measures to stop the
“Has the EPA obtained independent advice, for example, on how long it
would reasonably take to stop the pollution (namely, by building a
But Mr Vatskalis remained mum both towards the Alice News and his own
Meanwhile Natural Resources Minister Delia Lawrie this week announced
the first stage of a Water Allocation Plan for the region ensuring that
no more than 25% of accessible groundwater is used during the next 100
“There is a plentiful supply of underground drinking water in Alice
Springs, but experience in southern states has shown we must act now to
protect the supply,” says Ms Lawrie.
“The water plan will allow residents and farmers to continue using
water at a sensible and cautious rate.”
She says: “The water plan is still in the early stages and a long term
Alice Springs Water Advisory Committee will be formed to oversee its
Terms of reference under which it will operate are being drawn up and
Government is seeking nominations.
Looking back on the brawl. By
Pioneers Football Club, which proudly turned 60 this year, is in an
intense phase of soul searching.
Anything like the notorious brawl at the end of the grand final six
weeks ago, which landed 14 club members before the league’s
disciplinary tribunal and several of them in a court of law, must be
avoided at all costs, says the softly spoken club president and
ex-player, Harold Howard.
Mr Howard spoke to the Alice Springs News after the tribunal’s hearing
on Monday night was unexpectedly cancelled.
“I hope [such a brawl] doesn’t happen again. None of us want to see it
happen again,” he says.
Yet he concedes that “tensions are high” between the Eagles and the
premiership winners, two years in a row, Wests.
“It’s been a pretty big deal for us.
“We’re obviously going to sit down and talk at our AGM.
“Things will be put in place to stop this from happening again.”
The mass brawl came as a surprise: “The two teams have been pretty
close in the last five or six years.
“It’s always a tough game.
“Both clubs have played hard and fair footy,” says Mr Howard.
“Two grand finals in a row now we’ve had players sent off.
“I’m not saying it cost us the games but it obviously didn’t help our
Mr Howard says the brawl was no more serious than what goes on in sport
all around Australia.
He puts the blame for the escalation of the response squarely on the
publicity the mass fight received, mainly through the world wide
An amateur video of the brawl placed on the site by the Alice News had
76,285 viewings and attracted 439 comments before the News pulled the
graphic footage the day before court hearings started.
Some of the comments were “disgusting”, says Mr Howard.
“You wouldn’t talk to your dog like some of the things that were on
“Westies came out and said this is not the way the Westies footy club
thinks about Aboriginal people, but unfortunately, a lot of stuff on
YouTube came from Westies footy club, because they knew too much about
“Alice Springs has an Aboriginal and a non-Aboriginal population.
“Considering the things that are going on in Alice Springs now, we just
don’t want to add more fuel to the fire.
“We’re the mugs here.
“It’s been portrayed in the media that we started the whole lot, that’s
the way it’s been put out there in the papers, and on YouTube.
“It looked terrible for us.”
Mr Howard says Pioneers have been “an honorable club for 60 years.
“We don’t deserve to be treated that way.
“The other club released that [video] stuff ... there is nothing we can
Mr Howard says videos are clearly the main evidence before the
“There were four – four that I was shown,” he says.
“The videos show Pioneer people striking but there’s a few Westie
blokes involved in there too.
“They only see Pioneer blokes strike Westie fellows, but they’re all
involved in it, one way or the other.
“I think there should be more Westie people brought up [on charges], 14
to one, that’s totally unfair.
“We got a bum steer, I reckon, we got shafted.”
Has this imbalance been raised?
“We were going to do that tonight,” said Mr Howard.
Will Pioneers fight the charges?
“Definitely. The Pioneer footy club is behind all the players and
“We stay strong as a club. We need to do that.
We need to look after our players and officials, our life members,
whoever was involved in it, and we stick by them.”
Shortly after the tribunal hearing set down for Monday evening had been
due to begin the Australian Football League Central Australia (AFLCA)
announced that the hearing, and possibly the following one, had been
cancelled “because of circumstances beyond our control”.
On Tuesday the league said the hearing was postponed “due to the
general manager having problems beyond the control of the AFLCA”.
The hearing will now be on Monday next week.
The puzzling cancellation infuriated the accused, all of whom had
turned up, from ex-captain Graham Smith, who came all the way from
Tennant Creek to face the charges, to Owen Cole, as the head of
Centrecorp one of the town’s most prominent businessmen.
“We as much as anybody would like to see the end of it,” says Mr
“We need to get on with it, preparing for next year. Get some closure.
“We’ve had a lot of meetings since that brawl to get to today. We are
disappointed [the hearing was cancelled], as everyone else is.
“It’s a lot of effort, for us and for people who are helping us out,
Under league rules the accused are not permitted legal representation,
but can be helped by an “advocate” when they face the tribunal.
Apart from the abrupt cancellation Mr Howard is pleased with the way
the league has handled the issue: “We asked the AFLCA for an
investigation by a person from outside Alice Springs, and they did
that, they brought in Alan Roberts.
“That was a good and fair thing.”
The worst outcome of the tribunal process would be a ban on the club,
such as was imposed on Souths for all of 2006.
“As the president of the Pioneer footy club I wouldn’t like to see us
“That would be the worst case scenario.
“And I don’t think we should be.
“There is equal responsibility here, not just the Pioneer footy club,”
says Mr Howard.
The second grave consequence may be that Alice Springs, currently
tipped to be the home ground for the Territory team when it joins the
national competition, may miss out on that privilege.
Mr Howard suggests that without the avalanche of publicity there would
hardly have been much of a fuss about the brawl.
“It happens all over Australia.
“This one has obviously been put out there, as the worst things that’s
ever happened in football in Australia. And that’s not right.
“These brawls happen all the time,” says Mr Howard.
“Is it the focus on Alice Springs? I don’t know.
“I couldn’t say what needs to be changed at the moment.
“Obviously we’re going to talk to the AFLCA about it.
“But it has been blown way out of proportion, because things like this
happen, not only in Aussie Rules, and all over Australia.”
Resort getting into STEP. By
Reform of CDEP is “appropriate in Darwin, appropriate in Alice Springs”
but needs a case by case assessment in remote communities, says NT
Employment Minister Paul Henderson.
The scheme “has been in place for a long time.
“In some communities, it probably has become a goal for young people
rather than a pathway to a career.
“We need to work with CDEP to make some change,” said Mr Henderson
during this month’s Legislative Assembly sittings.
The NT Government, in line with national Labor leader Kevin Rudd,
supports “transitioning people into full-time jobs … where there is a
market economy,” he said.
“But at Titjikala, Ngukurr, Milingimbi and Maningrida, there needs to
be more consultation, common sense applied, slow down.”
Speaking to the Alice Springs News earlier this week, Mr Henderson said
Indigenous people moving from CDEP to Work for the Dole or STEP
programs are worse off by some $60 a week and queried how that can be
good for the Indigenous families the Federal Government is professing
to be concerned about.
He said each community needs to be a subject of a jobs audit so that
governments know exactly what jobs are out there. The Federal and
Territory Governments between them can only convert to “real jobs”
about 2000 of the 8000 jobs being done by CDEP.
What’s to happen with the remaining 6000 CDEP participants? he asked.
He said major private enterprise employers, from the mining, tourism
and pastoral and horticultural sectors, need to be engaged.
Some remote communities are indeed located near labour markets, with
Mutitjulu the prime example.
Things are improving at Mutitjulu, he claimed, citing some 15 people
now working “every day” at the Ayers Rock Resort.
This has come about not as a result of the Federal Government’s
intervention and its particular focus on Mutitjulu, but rather as a
result of Voyages’ corporate efforts, he said.
A spokesperson for Voyages told the Alice News that the number of
Mutitjulu residents employed by the resort fluctuates and at present
stands at eight.
They are working full-time on landscaping the grounds at the resort.
A STEP (Structured Training Employment Pathways) contract was put in
place between the resort and the community in August last year. It aims
to get 37 Indigenous staff at the resort, in a mix of full-time,
part-time and apprenticeship positions.
The current staff began work on a respite centre in the community, a
project of the Mutitjulu Foundation, created by donations from Voyages’
guests, matched dollar for dollar by GPT, which owns Voyages.
The centre was opened on September 13 last.
Rumour or reality for Anzac?
By KIERAN FINNANE.
After a meeting with Education Minister Paul Henderson on Monday, Anzac
Hill High is none the wiser about its future beyond 2008.
School council chair, Faith White, said the council was told what Mr
Henderson had earlier told the Alice Springs News: Anzac Hill, the same
as any of the 159 government schools in the Territory, does not have
“carte blanche” for its future.
Middle schooling will be fully rolled out there next year, as it will
in secondary schools throughout the Territory, but Mr Henderson cannot
say what will happen in 2009.
That the school may then be used to create a “youth intervention
centre” is being treated as a rumour but is not being ruled out.
Mr Henderson told the Legislative Assembly earlier this month:
“The call from the people of Alice Springs is [for] a more proactive
intervention and a facility, a centre, in Alice Springs to engage youth
who are on the street undertaking antisocial behaviour and finding a
way to provide interventions for these kids to turn them around and get
them back into school and back into the community.
“Now, a lot of work is being undertaken across government looking at
what this centre may actually look like, how it would operate, where it
would run from. No decisions have been taken yet on any of these things.
“Government is looking at all of the facilities that government owns in
Alice Springs. As taxpayers, I think the people of Alice Springs would
expect that we look at the best use of those facilities, and a lot of
work is being done to that regard.”
The “youth intervention” project is being driven out of the Chief
Minister’s Department, not the Education Department, Mr Henderson told
If there were to be changes for Anzac Hill High, Mr Henderson promised
an open and accountable discussion, but would not be drawn on a
Ms White said the school council did not ask for a timeframe.
She said the council would endeavour to ensure Anzac’s future by
building on numbers of enrolments and good educational outcomes.
She encouraged parents to think about enrolling their children at the
school, for its advantages as a small school, with committed, caring
staff and proven excellence in some areas. She pointed to recent awards
for its achievements with the Accelerated Literacy program and its
Excellence in Family School Partnerships award.
Around two thirds of Anzac’s students are Indigenous and many students
are from long-term Alice families: “We’ve got a good group of kids
there, they all mix in together,” she said.
Both the Member for MacDonnell, Alison Anderson, and Member for
Braitling, Loraine Braham, questioned Mr Henderson in the recent
sittings about Anzac’s future.
Mrs Braham asked the government to put on the public record its “real
intention” about the school.
And Ms Anderson urged openness and transparency.
“Our teachers are important people; they are there to teach our
children and not to stress out over whether the school is going to be
closed down … As a government, we must allay all these fears.
“If it is scaremongering, we must assure the people of Alice Springs
this will not happen.”
Meanwhile a small gathering of Indigenous parents at Sadadeen Primary
School were joined by just as many senior Alice Springs educators (from
general manger to principals) and Education Minister Paul Henderson
himself to launch a “campaign” to boost school attendance by Indigenous
children. The campaign comprises postcards, stickers and posters as
well as free call 1800 numbers for notifying absences.
Bringing home the importance of attendance, Mr Henderson told parents
that if their child missed a day’s school per week for all of their
compulsory schooling, they would miss out on two years of education. At
least 80% school attendance is required for learning to progress, he
Snowdon road money mainly in
the Top End.
Only $28 million has been specifically allocated to Central Australian
roads out of an $81 million funding program announced by Labor on
The package, announced by Labor’s Transport spokesman Martin Ferguson
and Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon in Alice Springs, will comprise
$52m from the Commonwealth with the difference of $29m coming from the
NT which, according to Mr Snowdon, “is a fine example of how, when
Federal and Territory Governments work together, the whole community
Mr Snowdon said this “would provide both a solid foundation for
regional economic development and safer and more reliable
inter-community links” and “will benefit pastoralists, the tourist
industry, mining and remote communities”.
Significantly more than half of the funding package, some $50m, has
been allocated to roads servicing regional and remote areas in the
northern half of the NT, including $20m for a high level crossing of
the Daly River, $15m on upgrading the central Arnhem Road, and $5m (or
$6m) for a bridge across the MacArthur River at Borroloola.
In Central Australia $10m has been allocated to the Plenty Highway and
$4m for improvements to the Maryvale Road.
Mr Snowdon claimed: “The massive boost to funding of strategically
important roads in the Territory highlights the absolute lack of
support for these roads and other infrastructure and services from the
Howard Government’s eleven years in office.
“One of its first acts when it was elected in 1996 was to scrap a
similar programme set up by the previous Labor government and since
then there has been all but nothing from John Howard’s tired and
“This is a positive partnership that offers a down payment on the
Territory’s future and security for communities, tourism and mining
alike,” Mr Snowdon said.
LETTERS: Drowning under the
dust, the mud, the blood and the beer.
Sir,- As I write to you my posture is deliberate and confident. My mind
is sharp therefore my words will be more definite than ever
In 2004 I believe this country failed to send a protest message about
our involvement in the Iraq war.
Our vote could have potentially seen a better and more stable world for
This Federal election presents a unique opportunity to vote for or
against an issue that will directly affect the life and the future of
Central Australians and its Indigenous people.
The non-urban Indigenous culture is hierarchical.
There is a dominant class, essentially male, that rule over the
under-class who unfortunately are in the vast majority.
The dominant class, who are educated, have formed and built
corporations and have infiltrated many of the community councils.
They have utilized the pathetic circumstances of their brothers and
sisters to line their own pockets and to shore up their power
History clearly illustrates that powerful images of the impoverished
are cash cows for those who choose to use them.
For those who are subject to this manipulation their lack of health,
educational and social circumstances leave them totally vulnerable to
dictatorial suggestion and profoundly corrupt practices.
A stark example of this shameful manipulation was on display for all of
us to see when recently the Tangentjere Council and its leaders
recommended to its followers to shun a $60m offer which was a once in a
lifetime opportunity for the town camp residents to avail themselves of
living circumstances which the rest of Australia take for
I firmly believe this shameful direction was given because the $60m was
not going to the council that has so obviously failed them.
I further believe that the leaders feared support of this offer would
have seen the dissolving of the lopsided influence they have over their
own people’s lives.
This was a victory for greed and a wholesale defeat for the notion of
The Labor Party at both the NT and Federal levels has disgracefully
utilized this hierarchical structure for political purposes.
The party’s immorality when it comes to Indigenous affairs knows no
The Federal and Territory Labor parliamentary wings, not wanting to be
wedged on this issue, voted for the emergency response.
But their actions on the ground have been deliberately obstructionist
and oppositional, pitching opposing perspectives toward and with these
thuggish vote-organising Indigenous organisations.
By any standard or measure the permit system, which has led to
Indigenous segregation and the CDEP scheme which is nothing more than a
Government funded patronising sheltered workshop system, have failed
For anyone outside of these organisations to suggest otherwise, you
would have to question whether they are yet another white “do-gooding”
opportunist or whether they have arrived here in the Territory on the
latest space ship.
Quite simply, votes for Labor are votes for the gravy train whose
drivers are the educated Indigenous fat cats.
Meanwhile those same votes will again consign the subservient majority
of Central Australian Indigenous citizens, particularly the women and
children, to a life drowned under the dust, the mud, the blood and the
Alison Anderson, I have found your stance on this issue to be both
brave and admirable.
All that’s left for you to do now is to do what I have done – become an
Independent and resign from the party which has detached itself from
core values such as racial integration and true get-off-your backside
Sir,- It was with astonishment that I read Rev Tracy Spencer’s letter
in last week’s Alice News in which she stated that the Synod of the
Uniting Church meeting in Darwin condemned the recent Federal
Intervention into the Northern Territory.
Leaving aside for the moment the separation of church and state, what
exactly are they condemning?
Are they condemning the voluntary health checks and the focus on
children who not only are not attending school but are not even
registered in the education system, who are being raised in such toxic
squalor and on such a miserable diet that a future of kidney failure
and premature death awaits them, who live in constant fear of human
Are they condemning the resumption of leases for five years so the
dilapidated infrastructure on remote communities can be rebuilt? Is it
the revoking of the permit system of less than one percent of
Aboriginal land to facilitate this rebuilding that is being condemned?
Perhaps they are condemning the rollback of CDEP and the welfare to
nowhere road that this offers. “Sit down money” says it all. Who
in the world will ever stand up when paid to sit down?
Surely they are not condemning the crackdown on drugs, alcohol and
pornography, as imperfect and inconvenient as that crackdown is.
Returning to the separation of church and state, I fear we are skating
onto thin ice when religious organisations enter the political debate.
The Select Brethren are reportedly making waves on the east coast
again, and internationally we have the terrible specter of the
Jihadists, the Zionists and the Rapture Evangelists tearing each
other’s eyes out and dragging the world into their bitterness.
The letter mentions the need for respect and adherence to the twin
pillars of dignity and human rights but skirts accusations of betrayal.
Prior to the Intervention the dignity and human rights of so many of
those living on moribund remote communities and in squalid town camps
were in the toilet. It would have been a continuance of betrayal not to
Of primary importance now are all Territorians pulling together so the
Intervention can be made to work. It can be made to fulfill its promise
to provide scope for lives to be lived in dignity and with full access
to a healthy, educated and productive future.
Any lesser outcome will diminish all of us.
Sir,- The Todd Mall Markets have been running for a long time and is
managed as a non-profit organisation.
For all those years we have supported local charities, such as the
Flying Doctor service and Red Cross, through to individuals that need a
Each year the committee looks for appropriate “targets” and always
helps local Alice Springs events.
As an organisation we pay rates to the town council and, in turn, the
stall-holders pay us a stall fee each market.
Next to advertising costs we have no expenses (committee members work
for free) so the thousands of dollars left over are given back to the
local community several times a year.
Tourists and locals alike, shopping and spending money at the Todd Mall
Markets, directly contribute to the well-being of this town.
Everyone is a winner at the Todd Mall Markets. Every Sunday the Todd
Mall Markets are on and most of the local traders in the mall are also
open for business. The town is alive on a Todd Mall Market day!
Lately, the town council health inspectors have been very active
inspecting and helping our food stall-holders to comply with all rules
We can’t thank them enough for their assistance - they are doing a
great job and, again, everyone is a winner.
At the Todd Mall Markets you will find that the stall-holders are made
up of all classes of Central Australian society, people that have
something to sell or a service to provide for locals and tourists
alike. It’s all positive!
Come and have a look for yourself and see what’s there and who is
There are four markets left for this year - November 4, 18, 25, and the
Christmas market on December 2.
Willem de Gunst
Todd Mall Markets Committee
Sir,- Why is the NT Government using taxpayers’ money to fund election
Last week I asked the Chief Minister: “How can you justify the use of
government funding to influence voters in a Commonwealth election; and
how much do you intend to spend?
“Territorians are getting a flood of election material which
should be authorised by the party or individual concerned.
“These flyers are printed and authorised by the NT Government -
obviously being funded by you and me.
“Is this a legitimate use of our money?”
These are simple questions but there was no direct answer from the
MLA for Braitling
Sir,- Recently I received a letter from my pen-friend in Latvia, and
was amused by her observations about politics in her country.
I think she is worth quoting, so here is her description as written
verbatim in her halting English: “You wrote that you had to go to court
for not voting.
“That surprised me because, in my opinion, this is the human right to
decide to vote or not.
“Luckily we don’t have such law, otherwise I would have to go to court
more than one time.
“Even last time I went just because to leave less chance to win the
parties those are interested in Latvia as a part of Russia or to bend
to its will.
“So I voted for less unpleasant party, besides we can strike out
persons we don’t like.
“It seems that people who enter our parliament (calls Saeima) get sick
with some special infection, they changes sometimes dramatically.
“You just look on person and can’t recognize the person you knew
“Actually the name of the virus is – Money + Authority.”
In response I quoted observations of Australian politics written by
another woman: “It is not dishonesty which brands the Australian
“He is either brainless on matters of State because of lack of
experience, or he is in the bondage of salary and party, and dare not
use his brains if he possess any.”
Further: “Because of the types of men elected to membership in the
State and Federal Parliaments, the most shameful scenes ever witnessed
in a civilised country constantly disgrace almost every session, making
it impossible for any self-respecting citizens, with any sense of
justice or honesty of purpose, to contest elections.”
These acid comments were written by Jessie Ackerman in her publication
“Australia from a Woman’s Point of View” published in 1913.
Democracy in Latvia today is slightly older than was federal politics
in Australia as described by Ackerman almost a century ago but it seems
that it is much the same anywhere at any point in time.
One is inevitably reminded of Winston Churchill’s famous maxim recorded
in Hansard from that most venerable of parliamentary democratic
institutions, The House of Commons, in 1947: “No one pretends that
democracy is perfect or all-wise.
“Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of
Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time
Sir,- Last Thursday at 8.55am I was driving out of Sunset Court,
turning left onto South Terrace. To my surprise there was a vehicle
traveling rather quickly towards me on my right.
So what, you may ask? Surprise? Why?
Well, it was a clearly marked Australia Post delivery van driving
along the footpath!
Mr Postmaster, could you please advise your van drivers that it is not
the done thing to drive along the footpath in an area where there
are often young families walking their children, not to mention other
legitimate footpath users.
But that’s not all.
A mere five minutes later I had turned left from the highway onto
Larapinta Drive when I was confronted by an Alice Springs Taxi’s mini
cab which was also driving along the footpath!
My guess is that he had driven north along Bloomfield Street
wanting to beat his mates to a fare, he then drove along the footpath
and eventually onto Larapinta Drive - a mere short cut!
Perhaps the proprietor of Alice Springs Taxis would also like to chat
with his boys and girls.
I would have thought that these people are professional drivers and
therefore would obey the law.
Perhaps the almighty dollar is the law - or am I simply an old
fuddy-duddy who ponders the consequences of a serious injury caused by
this type of irresponsible driving by so-called professionals?
Next time I will ensure I get number plate details and ring the police
ED - Australia Post’s Kathleen Van Haeften said when invited to
comment: “Australia Post does not condone unsafe work practices in any
form and will look into this incident.”
Alice Springs Taxis declined to comment.
SPECIAL COMMENT: Literacy
going backwards for remote kids.
Sir,– National testing (MAP) shows declining remote
educational outcomes. The Territory Government says that kids are not
attending but that is not new ... and schools are supposed to get kids
to school anyway.
The decline in outcomes has happened at the same time as a lot of new
money has been put into remote schools – salaries, staffing, housing
Two factors are apparent:
(1) NTDEET has become Darwin-driven, which is OK if the decisions and
programs from Darwin work, but one in particular (Accelerated Literacy)
has been a disaster.
(2) Accelerated Literacy (known in the bush as accelerated illiteracy)
is a federally inspired program introduced a few years ago with great
It was going to leapfrog a whole generation of remote students into
sound literacy – you don’t hear much about it doing that now.
The program is based on the idea that if you learn to read one novel
really well then you can read others (a process called transfer).
So students spend several months focussed on the single novel (why has
Problem is that remote kids hate it and those who memorise the single
novel (Aboriginal kids are good at ‘reading’ a memorised book – even
one held upside down) actually can’t pick up another and read it.
This program ousted a much more promising one based on choosing
something that the kids were interested in such as a footy match and
then talking / reading / writing / researching that event.
This is a program called language experience within First Steps, a West
Australian program, and the Ann Morrice literacy cycle is similar (see
Bush teachers are now much more controlled in what they do.
They have no flexibility and must teach inappropriate programs like
The cluster principal model for small schools ensures they comply even
though they can see the futility of this program, and many teachers are
leaving out of sheer frustration with it.
To their credit some Alice Springs based schools, such as ASHS, have
resisted implementing the program, but they have the relative autonomy
to do so.
Bush schools do not.
As to how this disaster happened, the Accelerated Literacy (AL) program
is an example of our government putting politics before education.
The Curriculum Branch in NTDEET did not wholeheartedly support AL.
They doubted the literacy theory it is based on and knew that it was
such a resource hungry program (in training teachers to use it) that
they would need to stop most of their other programs that were
producing results, albeit slowly.
But the government had political needs, ie a quick fix that would
reassure the electorate that it was setting about improving outcomes.
It needed a big new program.
Syd Stirling (then Education Minister) made a lot of grandiose claims
for AL supposedly based on “trials” which have since been discredited.
So the government went for AL against the advice of many of their
They may have achieved some political points at the time but they have
done tremendous damage in the longer term, as the national benchmarks
tests are now revealing.
ED - The Alice News offered NTDEET a right of reply.
Paul Newman, General Manager Schools Central Australia, provided the
In NT urban locations, achievement of national literacy and numeracy
benchmarks is comparable with achievement in all other Australian
In remote and very remote locations, the achievement of the 2006
national reading benchmark by primary school aged children has also
Furthermore, the number of Indigenous learners achieving the Northern
Territory Certificate of Education increased from 58 in 2003 to 124 in
While much remains to be done, these results are not symptomatic of a
decline in remote educational outcomes.
There are four DEET-endorsed literacy approaches.
Accelerated Literacy is one of these approaches, and schools determine
which approach they will implement.
Achievement of excellent educational outcomes continues to be a
priority for the Department of Employment, Education and
To this end, the department works closely with schools throughout the
Territory to ensure appropriate literacy and numeracy skills programs
are in place.
Accelerated Literacy is a high-expectations approach to the teaching of
It provides teachers with a structured framework and is most successful
• allied to a whole-school commitment to literacy across the
• whole school professional learning,
• explicit teaching,
• and high teacher expectations.
Preliminary research indicates that addressing the needs of ESL
learners, and on-going professional learning in remote locations is an
However, teachers are committed to improving outcomes.
Schools that have successfully implemented Accelerated Literacy are now
showing evidence of literacy improvement in a range of areas.
These include improved achievement of national literacy (and
Accelerated Literacy is being implemented in schools across a range of
It was successfully trialled in the Northern Territory in Alice Springs
in the 1980’s.
Since those early days, the program has been further developed.
It has been introduced to over 60 schools across the Northern Territory.
ADAM CONNELLY: It’s big and
Andrew Jackson was America’s seventh president, an imposing character
and a political giant.
In today’s age of poll led politics and 10 second sound bites, Jackson
is a reminder of a time when the leaders of nations were statesmen.
Jackson is the only US president to have been a prisoner of war, having
been captured by the British. He oversaw the admission of two states to
the union and appears on their twenty dollar bill.
He was dubbed “Old Hickory” in reference to his toughness and believed
that his cabinet should be shuffled around every so often to avoid
While Jackson was in the White House he threw public parties. He was of
the firm belief that the public should be able to talk to the
President. Soirees were held that were designed to make the White House
feel like the people’s house. Anyone could come and many did.
At his last public party, Jackson had a huge block of cheese weighing
in at over 630 kilograms brought into the White House and the entire
thing was consumed in less than two hours.
Things have changed since the days of Andrew Jackson. Can you imagine
George W. Bush opening the doors of the White House for a public party?
In today’s world there would be a dozen metal detectors to get through,
assuming the three background checks were executed and passed with
The whole process would be orchestrated for maximum press coverage and
any questions you might want to ask would have to be submitted in
writing three months prior.
Other things, too, sure have changed since then. The United States now
has 50 states to unite and none of them have African slaves working the
cotton fields. One thing though has remained the same.
For thousands of people all over the globe the answer to the problem of
getting more people to show up to something lies in the building of big
Jackson had his cheese. People came from miles to savour some of the
Lined along the national highways of this country big things entice the
tourist to come and gaze at the wonder of the oversized thing.
I’ve visited my fair share of big things in my time.
I’ve seen the big merino in Goulburn, the big trout in Adaminaby, the
golden guitar in Tamworth, the big banana in Coffs Harbour, the big
prawn in Ballina, the big Ned Kelly in Glenrowan.
I’ve seen the big spud in Robertson and the Anmatjere man in Aileron -
plus a fair few more. They are littered across the landscape of this
country and people for one reason or another come to see them.
It doesn’t even need to be so audacious or on a community scale.
Individuals employ the same techniques. Have you ever visited a
person’s home not because you particularly like them but because they
were showing the footy on their massive plasma screen television?
The people of Alice Springs on occasion bring up a need for a big thing
to increase the tourist market.
I’m not sure if CATIA has an official position on the construction of a
big thing, but around the bars the conversation takes place.
I have a couple of ideas.
What do you think of a big green VB can?
It’s very Alice Springs and for the practical among us it could be
hollow. We could fill the big green VB can with all of the other green
VB cans that you can find around town and when full the council could
put it on the back of a truck and cash in the cans in South Australia. T
he money earned by the initiative could go towards funding the pool
Or maybe we could design a big wooden horse on big wooden wheels that
from time to time we could fill with police and soldiers and doctors as
a gift to Central Australian communities.
Just a couple of ideas.
Prime development with the lot
– except for water. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
It’s a mystery.
On the Willowra Road, about 45 kms from TiTree, is an outstation called
It has five brick homes and two large metal clad ones.
They’re all empty and apparently have been for years.
Given that there is a dramatic shortage of housing, especially for
Aborigines, that makes it a very irritating mystery.
It’s around $3m worth of real estate doing nothing.
Alice Springs retiree John Hagan, a former pastoral inspector and the
manager of Brunchilly Station for 26 years, provided the Alice News
with the photos on this page.
He visited Yanginj a couple of weeks ago.
Mr Hagan says the buildings are still in good repair.
Most had a solar hot water system.
Some of these have gone now.
And so have the residents, all of them.
The best guess is they left because they had no water. Locals say the
Power and Water Corporation, which won’t comment on the matter,
apparently got it wrong: there is no adequate bore and the community
relied on a soak which has dried up.
So who’s to blame? Who spent taxpayers’ money on this folly?
“Just confirming we don’t manage this outstation,” says the Department
of Local Government, Housing and Sport.
“So sorry can’t help you out with your questions this time.”
The TiTree based Anmatjerre Council isn’t in charge either, says its
project officer, John Major.
He says Yanginj is still one of the council’s wards, but is currently
unrepresented – because it’s empty.
“I recommend that you speak to the Central Land Council in Alice
Springs if you want more information on this,” says Mr Major.
“There would be people at the CLC who would be able to answer most of
The CLC is usually tirelessly castigating governments for failing to
provide adequate housing for Aboriginal people.
But, alas, it too didn’t bother to reply to our request for comment.
Freedom just another word ...
Artist Tony Wade, showing his second solo exhibition, this time at
Watch This Space, spoke movingly about his work at the opening last
A prisoner at the Alice Springs Correctional Centre, Wade has
discovered a way to escape a life of boundaries:–
“Out at the prison we have the boundary fence, the interior walls and
fences, gates and doors and the padlocks and keys. We even have little
yellow lines on the floor that cannot be crossed.
“In a world full of boundaries I was lucky enough to find the one thing
that had no boundaries. And that was art.
“Art has been my saviour. When I paint, I feel boundless and free and
this is a marvellous thing for me to have in my life.
“You won’t find anything depressing in my art, it’s a celebration of
“Painting has stopped me from becoming institutionalised and it has
added some balance to my life.
“My art is a little different from what you may be used to but it is an
expression of my life.
“It is a reflection of my First Fleet convict heritage and the culture
that comes from that. It is the land around me as I see it and it is
about what I remember from the outside world.”
The exhibition is on until November 11.
Have tent, will travel: Bush
by bus. By veteran bush walker GWEN HEWETT.
walker Gwen Hewett continues her adventure series from Marble Bar ...
where a surprise is in store. The first sequel appeared on our October
There is no marble here.
The extraordinary rock is actually jasper and it is the mottled effect
The magnificently restored courthouse here is a reminder of the glory
days of gold mining in the late 19th century.
The Old Tin Shed Hotel has not been altered - a refreshing “blast from
Of particular interest is a wall of memory, recording early residents’
names, ages, occupations and sometimes the cause of their deaths.
A museum at the nearby Comet gold mine, now idle, displayed the beauty
and variety of mining endeavors.
This locality was the home of mining magnate, the late Lang Hancock.
Bumping and bouncing on the dirt tracks again, we headed for the
Karajini National Park in the Pilbara region.
The grandeur of these gorges with their sheer, vertical chasms gouged
out of the land over millions of years with colours of iron red,
dazzling in the sunlight, is amazing.
At one point four gorges meet, a truly unforgettable sight of immense
Camping in the Pilbara amid the spinifex without a camp fire was a bit
daunting, and next to us a group of not so hardy campers packed up and
left because of the cold.
Not us though - “THE RECYCLED TEENAGERS’’, as we were named by the tour
Pan-fried steak went down very well, as did an early night, especially
since (little did we know) that the following day’s travel was to be
Although all on board are members of an Adelaide bushwalking club, the
trip was not a walking tour.
However, every opportunity to walk was taken, and the gorge walks were
especially welcomed by the more hardy walkers.
Nixon the guide dog was a strong performer, but not in the gorges. He
endeared himself to everyone and, though no one approached him when he
was in the harness, he proved to be a good traveller and companion.
A slight detour into the mining town of Tom Price had us on the look
out for the highest mountain in Western Australia. At 1004 metres, it
was well worth the scramble up the track to see the vast open cuts in
A slight glitch occurred when something broke on the trailer as it was
being attached to the bus and this delayed us for several hours in the
As Rabbit Flat could be called an oasis in the desert, so could the
town of Tom Price, but what a difference. No shortage of water here,
leafy and green, very welcoming to the miners and their families.
As our Happy Hour supplies needed replenishing, this was the place to
do it. No restrictions or limit per person here as in Alice Springs and
Broome. Imagine the response when it was learnt that cask wine was
available at half price. Several shopping trolleys transported the life
saving, medicinal elixir to the cargo hold of the bus.
It now eventuated that the long day’s travel was followed by a very
short night’s sleep.
Leaving the Pilbara, the land became flatter again and we were back in
cattle country, not unlike the Tanami region.
As we neared the coast on our way to Exmouth, red sand dunes appeared
again and, as darkness fell, our driver - every so often - had to slow
down for wandering stock (surprisingly sheep, not cattle). Although no
campfire at Exmouth, there were some home comforts at the caravan park,
and the nights were a little warmer on the coast.
The first impression was the flatness of this region. Yet a few
kilometres down the coast where we took a cruise up the Yardie Creek
through a high gorge, we learnt that the Cape Range National Park is
not far from the coast.
The famed Ningaloo Reef is the main attraction here. It is said to be
equal to or better than the Great Barrier Reef.
The ocean was crystal clear, a stunning shade of aquamarine; and the
reef is a magnet for scuba divers, but it is such a long way to come by
road. A joint Australian and American naval base is here as well as an
NEXT: Heading inland.
Back to front page of the the Alice Springs News.