ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
December 13, 2007. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Stewart running for Mayor. By
Outspoken alderman Murray Stewart will be running for mayor in the town
council elections in March next year.
He says he has a progressive agenda, and is close to the conservative
lobby group, Advance Alice.
But he claims he will not ask for their support because their objective
should be to be a watchdog over people in power.
After a rocky start in council, when Ald Stewart was a frequent
impatient interjector – “I don’t regret any of that, it was the style
required for those times” he claims – he has now settled down to a more
But he is seen as a loner, not joining any bloc.
The first-time council member has changed his mind after announcing in
June that he would stand only for aldermen, not for Mayor, because he
was about to become a third-time father, his business (physiotherapy)
was expanding, and he wanted to further his career as a blind
He now says: “These considerations and desires have not changed.
However I have had amazing support and encouragement from my wife and
family who have urged me to stand.
“My running coach has also given me his unyielding support, suggesting
that even if we have to train at 11pm, I could get both jobs done.”
The Alice News put to Ald Stewart questions now appearing on our web
site, www.alicespringsnews.com.au, as part of a survey, “What Alice
The survey seeks the public’s opinion about what it wants the town
council to achieve with its own resources, or what it should pressure
the NT and Federal governments to do, possibly supported in the
lobbying by Tourism Central Australia, the Chamber of Commerce and
The questions and topics have been submitted to us, over time, by our
The News will announce the interim results of the survey in our first
2008 edition on February 7, and update the topics in the light of the
answers received up to that time.
“There will be a style revolution if I become Mayor,” says Ald Stewart.
“There will be more access to and from elected members.
“My office will be in the town’s coffee shops and offices of other
“Any Mayor tied up with ceremonial occasions has no time to drive the
corporate responsibility of developing the town.
“I’d be passing on to aldermen the rituals, in line with their
These were the topics put to Ald. Stewart, and his responses:-
TOPIC: Open up cheap residential and industrial land.
STEWART: This should be the goal of all levels of government. However
firstly we should stem the tide of those young people who are choosing
to move away from our town. We should grant a two year rate exemption
for all first home buyers. I’m not full on development crazy. A balance
needs to be found between progress and lifestyle, but we should aim for
a population of 40,000 to 45,000.
TOPIC: Put tourist promotion into the hands of locals who know
the game and get bang for buck.
STEWART: I couldn’t agree more. Out with the long-haired
advertising agents from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and hooray for
locals promoting themselves. All of us are potential flamboyant
advertising agents. We should be given the license to promote the
miracle that is Alice to the world. Production of our marketing
should occur here in Alice Springs. The best placed people to do it are
Tourism Central Australia [formerly CATIA] and they should be funded
for the purpose by the NT Government.
TOPIC: Double the available water supply, including through
STEWART: The truth is, it is not five minutes to midnight in Alice when
it comes to water supply. We have got time to promote best
practices when it comes to water management, conservation and recycling
to preserve our wonderful lifestyle and grow our economic and
agricultural base. The technology is expensive, but this will improve.
We have time to do things right. All natural resources should be
treated with respect.
TOPIC: Immediately move the power station, the garbage dump and
the sewage plant well outside the town.
STEWART: It’s a no-brainer, of course these things should have been
done many years ago, as a part of sensible town planning.
TOPIC: Develop, in collaboration with private enterprise, tourist
facilities in the West and East MacDonnell National Parks.
STEWART: The answer is yes. The parks do not live up to the
expectations of modern tourists. This is not to say we should
take away adventure and ruggedness. We need places for rubbish
collection, proper toilets. A friend of mine encountered giant rats in
a toilet. It was like an episode out of Jaws.
TOPIC: Leave all national parks in public ownership but set up an
Aboriginal park management advisory body.
STEWART: National Paks are for all Australians, both black and
white. The parks are a symbol of togetherness, integration and
I don’t want to see a divided Central Australia which I fear would
occur by the handover of our parks to any population segment.
TOPIC: Put in place flood mitigation that will reliably save the
town from catastrophic loss of life and damage resulting from storms
increasingly likely to occur because of climate change.
STEWART: Yes. This should have been attended to years ago.
TOPIC: Create farmlets at Rocky Hill, near the new gaol and on
Arid Zone Research Facility land so that small fruit and veg growing
enterprises can be created, both for the local and interstate markets.
STEWART: I agree.
TOPIC: Build one or more recreation lakes within a 100km radius
of Alice Springs, which can also be integrated in the water supply.
STEWART: Love to see it but the debate may change when our new swimming
complex is built. It will be simply magnificent.
I’ll be interested to see where this debate goes once the town begins
to experience its value. I’ll wait on that.
TOPIC: Convert the Civic Centre to a place where visitors are
welcomed, including a museum celebrating and providing an introduction
to The Centre’s natural beauty, art, culture and skills in living in a
This would include expanded space for Tourism Central Australia, and
facilities for social and other functions for visitors and locals
Move the majority of the town council bureaucracy to office
accommodation elsewhere in town.
STEWART: We have just spent $11.5 million to house our town council
As you know I was a big supporter of re-location at that time however
the debate was run and I lost.
I’m not convinced that this exercise wouldn’t lead to significant
additional costs to the rate-payer. Now that we have a base, we should
However, I have significant plans to put to the people and to Tourism
NT that would ensure the civic centre and the entire CBD becomes more
vibrant, innovative and tourism friendly. Stay tuned.
TOPIC: Advance regionalization of the NT Government: achieve
greater autonomy for The Centre, with senior bureaucrats being brought
back to Alice Springs.
STEWART: I believe one of the central roles of any new mayor should be
to lobby, with every tool available, governments and corporate
Australia in order that they understand the attractiveness of
re-locating government departments or corporate bodies to a town like
It would make fantastic economic sense and for us, it would provide
extra reasons for young people to stay and to grow families.
TOPIC: Place the responsibility for town planning in the southern
region of the NT with Alice Town Council.
STEWART: I’ve always been a believer that our locals should be charting
our own future. The proviso is we would need to be properly
compensated from the NT Government, thus ensuring there is no
additional cost burdens on our rate payers.
TOPIC: Set up an Aboriginal cultural centre, featuring bush foods
and corroborees, alongside the Desert Park.
STEWART: Anything that sells Aboriginal culture and draws the world to
us I am in favour of.
TOPIC: Work with Centrecorp and other Aboriginal interests.
STEWART: Centrecorp have extraordinary funds that could make a big
difference to ordinary people. I would hope that I could assist in
ensuring that those funds flood down to where they are needed most.
TOPIC: Require shopping centers to have public toilets, and provide
further public ablution facilities around town, including showers.
STEWART: Providing a tourist friendly Alice Springs is an obligation
that we all should share.
The right leadership will act as a stimulus for this to occur. In terms
of public ablution and showering facilities, I think we are getting
I would like to do my own personal audit on the current facilities
before I go so far as to suggest any compulsory approaches are
TOPIC: Create and enforce public conduct standards.
STEWART: The most destructive form of promotion or perhaps demotion, is
the word of mouth denouncing of one’s town.
We simply have to draw the line in the sand when it comes to the
offensive and unsightly conduct on our streets.
We have to herald in a new era of accepting responsibility for one’s
actions. Our closed circuit cameras and extra police will form a
part of this response.
I believe a part of any new mayor’s charter should be to put extreme
pressure on our judiciary to remodel its approach to sentencing, thus
reflecting the values of the common man and woman in the street.
In order that this should occur, the new mayor should also lobby both
the NT and Federal Governments to provide rehabilitation facilities
which would be a compulsory requirement, and far away from the
temptations that have drawn offenders down an ill road.
There is a perennial question about by-laws and how can they be
stiffened to cope with these problems. By-laws need to be tested under
the Local Government Act and the council’s by-laws people.
Drunks are wandering around, trashing Adelaide House at the moment.
TOPIC: Create two camps for visitors from bush communities, whilst
strictly enforcing laws against unauthorized camping, littering and
STEWART: I’m against this approach. Creating isolated ghettos is what
has brought about many of our problems.
TOPIC: There should be stringent take-away alcohol restrictions.
STEWART: We have to draw a line in the sand. I’m a big believer in
linking alcohol sales to licenses for buyers. We need to detect people
with drinking problems and have compulsory rehabilitation.
A legal and intellectual atom bomb has to be dropped on it. There will
be casualties. Supply restrictions, in a lot of ways, make it worse. We
need to stop problem drinkers from drinking, full stop.
Public art: Two on the short
list. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Two contenders have been short-listed to take further their proposals
to transform the north-west corner of the Civic Centre site with a
public art project.
They are an Alice Springs-based team of artists, designers and
architects (Pamela Lofts, Sonja Peter, Pip McManus and Sue Dugdale) and
Victorian sculptor Julie Squires.
The project is intended to “pay homage to Aboriginal country, to Alice
Springs’ inhabitants and its visitors” and to “positively contribute to
the global attention” Alice gets.
The town council is commissioning the work, providing 50% of the total
budget of $260,000, with the expectation that their contribution will
be matched dollar for dollar by Arts NT.
The brief for the project has been developed by an advisory committee,
chaired by Alderman Meredith Campbell. The brief emphasises community
consultation as a “key to the success of the project”.
The committee considered 11 expressions of interest, of which two came
Ald Campbell says the committee was impressed by the preliminary
consultation already undertaken by Ms Squires who visited Alice Springs
at her own cost prior to submitting an expression of interest.
“She’s interested in ideas from the ground up,” says Ald Campbell, “and
in engaging others in the work and passing on her skills.”
Her concept for the 120 square metre site is called “The Gathering
Garden”, appealing to the committee’s aim for the site to become “a
place to be, rather than a thing to see”, says Ald Campbell.
Ms Squires proposed that the garden would include a number of
sculptures in the form of coolamons, that would bear designs and text
reflecting the different inhabitants of the site.
If this were the central image of the project, would that not give it
an essentially Indigenous character and is this what the committee
Ald Campbell says that she strongly suggested to Ms Squires that she
“broaden her focus” in the development of her proposal to the next
stage. The local team emphasise “symbolic references to the history,
the diverse cultures of the town and the wider desert / arid zone
environment” as “paramount in the resolution of the work”.
Their themes are “community (diversity, unity), environment (desert,
water, river, inland sea), culture (story, art, song, language), and
As well as the collaborative development of an artwork acting as “a
focal point within the site”, they canvass as possibilities to be
• the dramatic use of large slabs of coloured local sandstone, offering
the potential for carved designs, such as ripples to reference the
inland sea, and texts;
• a soundscape;
• water misting as an interactive component via movement sensors;
• creative lighting;
• landscaping providing rest areas and play areas;
• plantings to make the connection with Olive Pink, who once lived on
the site, and with the Botanic Garden;
• transplanting of date palms to reference Afghan history;
• sinuous pathways suggesting “rhythmic storylines” and creating links
to the Todd River.
However Ms Campbell says the team’s proposal to involve the public in
further consultation over the development of their concept for the site
is what centrally interested the committee.
Their expression of interest relies mainly on their combined CVs in
this regard, while they also indicate that they will make presentations
and invite comment in the usual ways.
All have had a range of experiences in developing work with and for
Indigenous groups such as the social history exhibition celebrating the
CLC’s 30th anniversary (Pamela Lofts) , but other projects on which
they’ve been involved include the “Greening of Swanson Street,
Melbourne (Sonja Peter) and the 1997 Darwin Mall redevelopment (Pip
Ms Dugdale has been responsible for a number of striking architectural
projects around the town, including the extension to the Alice Springs
Cinemas, the renovation to the facade of the Yeperenye Shopping Centre
and the Charles Darwin University building.
The two finalists must now develop a to-scale maquette and drawings of
their proposals and submit a detailed budget.
The committee will make its recommendations to the council in February.
Council members, as they near the end of their term, will make the
Work cannot begin before the success of the Arts NT grant application
is known (mid June) and is hoped to be completed by the end of 2008.
... but not everybody is happy. By
When the Alice Town Council set up the process of commissioning, for a
quarter of a million dollars, public art for the 120 square meters in
front of the civic centre, the aldermen could have said: “We will pick
something. Our decision is final. No correspondence will be entered
into. If you don’t like it, get over it.”
Maybe they should have said that.
Around the world, spending public money on public art is fraught with
Apparently in a bid to avoid that on their own patch, the city fathers
and mothers set up a process that, on the face of it, is very
democratic and involves the public in making the choice.
Only in fact it doesn’t, and that makes things a lot worse.
One of the artists who put in a bid is Archie St Clair, Alice born and
bred, well known in cattlemen’s circles as a mustering pilot.
He sustained serious injuries in a helicopter crash 13 years ago, and
is still recovering from them today.
The chopper went down because, as is alleged in ongoing litigation, a
non-standard bearing had been fitted.
Undaunted, Mr St Clair taught himself to make life size – or bigger –
bronze statues and sculptures, and set up a studio, complete with a
foundry, in the small town of Grapevine in Texas, USA.
Overcoming his still severe disability, he has since acquired an
international reputation, with commissions in the USA, Europe and
In Australia he created the mounted stockman in Katherine and the
When the Alice council invited expressions of interest earlier this
year, Mr St Clair put his hand up, suggesting a bronze statue of Albert
Namatjira, double life size.
There were 11 submissions. Only two made it to the town council’s short
list: a group of four women artists, designers and architects from
Alice Springs, and a woman artist from Victoria. (See main story.)
Mr St Clair’s didn’t, and he and his supporters in The Alice are not
In the normal course of events, missing out is part of every artist’s
But this is different, says this quintessential battler.
The council’s invitation of expressions of interest says: “Effective
community consultation procedures are the key to the success of this
project. Engagement of the Alice Springs’ community in collaborative
community processes will be an important determinant to the success of
And: “The Public Art Advisory Committee will advise on this process in
accordance with Alice Springs Town Council’s Community Consultation
That framework contains nothing that would exclude Mr St Clair. In fact
it says that “public art” is something that is “created by a single
artist, a group of artists, a team of appropriate design professionals
in collaboration with an artist or in collaboration with members of the
community through a community cultural development process”.
And “art” is “an object or experience of significant and / or aesthetic
value which is created or presented as art by an arts practitioner or
Nothing in the invitation document defines “effective community
What are they? When do they kick in?
Given that they are the “key” to the project, how come there was no
public consultation about the elimination of nine of the 11 applicants?
A preview of the two remaining applicants’ proposed work is soon to be
on public display at the council.
The other nine don’t get a look-in, and neither did the public get a
chance to have its say on the rejected proposals.
Ald Campbell says Mr St Clair “did not convince the committee that he
had demonstrated evidence of methodology of community consultation”.
Mr St Clair counters that his idea “reflects community values” – the
principal brief for the project, prominent on page one of the council’s
He says Mr Namatjira is the “most recognized Aboriginal artist
well-known to the community.
“He awakened the Western art world to recognize the best known desert
landscapes in and around Alice Springs.
“As a native Aborigine who was exposed to Western culture and Western
style of painting in watercolors, he had a distinct style of expressing
his love of the land.”
What’s more, Mr St Clair says he’s consulted, both directly and through
his Alice friends Ian and Francoise Builder, with his considerable
network in The Centre.
Mr St Clair also says he and Mrs Builder tried to put questions to the
council’s Community Cultural Development Officer, Jasmine Lance, to its
Corporate and Community Services Director, Craig Catchlove, and the
chairperson of the council committee overseeing the project, Ald
They got no responses before the decision on the short list was made.
Ald Campbell disputes the claim that Mr St Clair and Mrs Builder
attempted to contact her.
Mrs Builder, on Mr St Clair’s behalf, attended a meeting to get
information about the project, but no explanation was given about
Ald Campbell says the council members don’t have “much background” in
the arts, and relied on “volunteer expertise in the community”.
The members of the organizing committee include figures from the arts
world who are respected, but a cross section of the community they are
not: apart from the council members they are an architect (Andrew
Broffman, Tangentyere Design), a Community Cultural Development Officer
(Lucy Kenneth from Red Hot Arts), a Native Title Holder (Elaine
Peckham), an Art Organization representative (Lisa Stefanoff of the
Institute of Aboriginal Development), an arts NT Regional Officer
(Sonja McLean) and Sylvia Neale (town council library).
Sue Dugdale, a member of the shortlisted group of four, ceased to be a
member of the organizing committee in April, and “has nothing to do
with the expressions of interest,” says Ald Campbell.
However, she also says the public art project was first discussed in
“Is there a case of insider trading?” asks Mr St Clair.
No, says the council’s Craig Catchlove: “The criteria for the
expressions of interest were formulated well after Ms Dugdale’s
Ald Campbell says Mr St Clair’s problem, as was the case with the other
unsuccessful applicants, was that he put forward a design, rather than
a concept for a design.
And “the committee thought he was too mono representational, not
speaking to a broad enough church”, says Ald Campbell.
By selecting Namatjira Mr St Clair was emphasizing a “Western Aranda
icon, excluding other elements of the community”.
Ald Campbell readily admits that there are “challenges” with this
project, the council’s first foray into public arts.
“We had difficulty, to say the least, with the framing of the
“It was a case of suck it and see.”
Ald Campbell was surprised about Mr St Clair’s difficulties in getting
responses from the council.
The project coordinator, Jasmine Lance, was always “available to flesh
out” any details, she says.
LETTERS: Grabbing the Tiger by
the tail: Now a bus company bites back.
Quote for the week: “By naming
the Territory’s Warren Snowdon, a determined critic of the
intervention, as Defence Science and Personnel Minister, Rudd binds
this main mouthpiece of the antediluvian Left to cabinet solidarity and
removes his voice from the debate [on Indigenous affairs].”
Nicolas Rothwell, The
Australian, December 8, 2007.
Sir,- I refer to the letter (Alice News, December 6) by Ross Pollock,
Airline and Tourism Consultant, and the former operations and business
manager of the now defunct Aboriginal Air Services, that has been sent
to Chief Minister Paul Henderson and all government members.
In his letter Mr Pollock makes reference to Dyson Cobb and Co. and asks
why a company with no airline or airport handling experience ended up
with a contract for handling Tiger Airways at Alice Springs Airport,
and why did it rely entirely on Qantas to provide its airside ramp
services with no fallback position?
This statement infers that the Dyson Group of Companies (Cobb and Co)
is in fact responsible for the ramp services and thus the deferral of
Tiger Airways services to Central Australia.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
No contract has been offered, accepted or declined by our company or
any other to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing - we
completely reject Mr Pollock’s defamatory and incorrect assertions.
Mr Pollock was featured on the front page of the Centralian Advocate on
Friday, November 30, displaying the ground handling equipment of
Aboriginal Air Maintenance Services that he indicated would be capable
of servicing Tiger’s needs. Further, it was quoted that AAMS general
manager Vince Carter and airline consultant Ross Pollock said they
repeatedly approached Tiger about doing the ground handling. Surely, if
these services were readily available, Tiger would have accessed them
instead of seeking expressions of interest from other Alice Springs
businesses including ours, given they had only three weeks to arrange
this service to meet the first flight.
As the Central Australian manager for the Dyson Group I would like to
set the record straight.
Dyson’s was approached three weeks prior to December 1 to possibly
assist in the handling of Tiger Airlines logistics. I am also aware
that several other local companies were approached prior to this by the
national ground handling contractor for Tiger Airways to provide ramp
services in Alice Springs.
I am sure each of these companies looked at the business proposition
quite seriously. Given the initial limited flight arrivals and turn
around times, providing these services would require companies that
have staff with other income bases and flexibility; this was seen as a
positive to local employment security and the basis of the approach.
The Dyson Group of Companies is very proactive in Australian tourism,
and our NT operations are a major commitment and division within the
company. Dyson’s will assist in whatever way possible to increase
exposure of the Central Australian destination and aspire to fulfil the
expectations of all our visitors.
We have no issue with Mr Pollock, Mr Carter, AAMS or any other business
promoting themselves to Tiger Airlines but we strongly object to being
wrongly portrayed in the process and will seek to protect our rights
Sir,- I am a history addict involved in the tourism industry.
The fascinating thing about Central Australian history is that it is so
recent, yet there is no single repository or publication about the
history of Central Australia.
I have also been privileged to have experienced a guided tour of Pitchi
Richi by Elsa Corbett, a wonderful lady who has devoted her
life to preserving the site since her husband Leo died 36 years
ago. But let’s not get too emotional about the significance of Pitchi
Richi and the usual few hundred heritage and art
fraternity enthusiasts turning up for the recent open day.
Undoubtedly, the sandstone sculptures by William Rickets and their
settings by Leo Corbett are all valuable pieces of art and it is a
miracle that they have been preserved relatively intact after so
long in the open.
Whether these artworks require the same 12 acres for display exposed to
the elements to deteriorate even more for years to come, or whether
they would be better preserved in a gallery somewhere indoors is
Some of the pioneer artifacts collected by Leo during his travels over
many years have immense historical significance and are definately
worth preserving but, once again, do they really need to be on display
in that precise location rusting away?
The fact that Pitchi Richi was one of Alice’s first tourist attractions
before the war is noteworthy but there are other tourist
attractions of the era and later that are perhaps equally or
more significant and deserving of heritage listing ahead of Pitchi
Hearing Elsa explain how the art and artifacts were collected
by Rickets and her husband and her unstinting devotion to their
preservation is an emotional experience in itself, but does the
entire site and its contents deserve to receive heritage listing and be
allowed to deteriorate further in an isolated corner of Alice
Springs that few will ever see, or would they be better preserved and
displayed in a purpose-built enclosure where thousands of tourists
could see them in an appropriate environment to which they are
It’s a decision I wouldn’t like to have to make but perhaps one the
Heritage Council has got right.
In the meantime, it is sad to see Pitchi Richi and its history closed
to the public and the art and artifacts detriorating more and more as
each day passes.
Sir,- The Arid Lands Environment Centre-Beyond Nuclear Initiative
(ALEC-BNI) welcomes the incoming Labor Government’s commitment to
repeal the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act that overrode
Territory laws to force a federal radioactive dump on the NT.
People at each of the targeted sites clearly stated opposition to the
Howard Government’s proposal, and have fought consistently over the
last two and a half years to increase national awareness and opposition
to the plan.
It is a big relief that their land and communities are now spared the
burden of hundreds or thousands of years of radioactive waste storage.
Though the proposed NT sites are now off the drawing board, the BNI
will continue to carefully monitor the situation and work closely with
the Government to ensure that the scientific inquiry and consultation
processes for radioactive waste management are rigorous, accountable
and community focused.
We call upon the Federal Government to undertake an open public inquiry
to assess all aspects of radioactive waste production and management in
Australia, and that any process should include the option of returning
the spent fuel waste to Lucas Heights when it returns from overseas.
The waste produced at the OPAL nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights will
remain at the facility for a minimum of 10-20 years before it is sent
overseas for reprocessing.
There is no need to build another dump site for returning waste as well
as managing the waste at this facility.
Lucas Heights is where the nuclear scientists trained to deal with
these materials are situated.
Transport is an important factor in radioactive waste management
The numerous freight and transport accidents on Territory and
interstate roads over the last couple of years highlight the risk of
trucking highly radioactive materials across the country, through
hundreds of communities, to remote locations.
ALEC-BNI will continue to work with and support communities along
potential waste transport routes, to ensure that their opinions and
concerns are fully acknowledged and acted upon by the Federal
Government in any radioactive waste management process that is
We look forward to the repeal of the draconian Radioactive Waste
Management legislation and to working with the incoming Government on
this important national issue.
Beyond Nuclear Initiative - ALEC
Sir,- The election results [November 24] shows how out of touch the
Liberals and the CLP are with other Territorians on issues such as IR
laws, climate change, interest rates, nuclear waste dumps, etc, and
(more importantly to me) Indigenous Affairs.
The two men responsible (John Howard and Mal Brough) for the
“Invasion” (Intervention) into Northern Territory Aboriginal
communities and townships had their butts spanked and now are part
of history and folklore.
Long Live Democracy.
Sir,- Why is it that Alice Springs remains one of the most isolated
regional centres in Australia?
The QANTAS monopoly is of course the correct answer and they will
continue to hold us to ransom if Tiger Air cannot break the
stranglehold of this uncaring, exorbitantly priced airline.
With the news of the intended arrival of Tiger Airways my daughters and
I booked to travel south in January to attend their grandmother’s 70th
The release of affordable airline tickets from Alice to Melbourne meant
for the first time in 10 years that as a family we could afford to fly
Regardless of the fact that Tiger Air may have contributed to the
delayed flights out of Alice the poignant question is how much longer
QANTAS can justify its exorbitant prices? On Tiger Air I was able to
purchase three return tickets for approximately $600 yet when booking
with QANTAS one return airfare was the full $600.
While Alice is home to our immediate family, all our extended family is
interstate, so an illness or death becomes a major financial burden on
top of the stress of distance from family in times of crisis.
Meanwhile our family on the East Coast regularly travels from Brisbane
to Melbourne to attend family events, as they are able to purchase
affordable family air travel.
In a time of such global communication it seems ironic that as
residents of Alice Springs we are trapped within our own local
Unless, of course, one has a couple of spare thousand dollars to pay
QANTAS for the outrageously overpriced seats on its flights to other
major centres within Australia.
Surely QANTAS with all the extra money it has gained from Alice Springs
commuters over the years would have rewarded our community by offering
to support local projects and give us a fair deal.
From their response to the OLSH plea for help with the interstate chess
tournament team obviously their allegiance remains with ripping off our
community at all costs.
Here is a wonderful opportunity for our new Chief Minister to show his
commitment to the people of Alice Springs by eradicating the QANTAS
monopoly. As a family we implore other disadvantaged travelers to speak
It is time for change.
Jo, Amy and Kat Sherrin
Sir,- My name is Marisa Horan. I am looking for information about Alex
Wilson. He was my grandfather. I read about him in your paper in an
article about the Coniston Massacre by Dick Kimber (Alice News,
September 10, 2003).
I would like to talk to anyone that knew something about him. My family
comes from Yuendumu. I have not met them yet but would like to. (My
family name is Wilson).
Sir,- I am hoping to hear from WW2 veterans living ‘down under’ and
people who served in essential services, war work, and so forth. I am
half way through compiling a book of letters and have received many
replies from veterans here in the UK (Chindits, Desert Rats, RAF, etc).
I would love to hear from ex-pat veterans and also ‘born and bred
Aussies’. What are your memories of WW2? To the expat veterans - why
did you leave the UK, have you been back? What do you think of the UK
today and of Australia?
For the Aussie born, what are your views on how Australia has changed
over the last 60 years? And anything else you would like to say.
If you would prefer to remain anonymous please state this in your
I hope to hear from some of you soon; you can respond to:-
Nick Pringle, PO BOX 1110, Newcastle Upon Tyne,Northumberland, UK, NE99
2XL or email email@example.com
Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
Sir,- A two-handed vaudeville act by the new Chief Minister, Paul
Henderson, and the Minister for Local Government, Elliot McAdam, has
left the new Labor Government profoundly embarrassed.
The extraordinary scene of the Chief Minister and the Minister for
Local Government getting the number of shires wrong is the latest folly
in what has become a running farce. If they don’t know how many
shires will operate in the Territory after the forced amalgamation, how
can anyone have confidence in the process?
Equally damning is the fact the enabling legislation was pulled on the
eve of its passage through Parliament. Elliott McAdam has
repeatedly and doggedly claimed that there has been widespread, genuine
consultation with ratepayers about the forced local government
amalgamations - but now the new Chief Minister says we need another
three months of consultation.
Simultaneously the Chief Minister asserts there will be no substantive
changes to either the time line or the structure of the proposed
changes. By opting for more token consultation, Paul Henderson will
only deepen the Government’s wounds from this process.
I suspect the real reason the enabling legislation was pulled is
that it is a dog’s breakfast.
This Bill was the ninth version the Government had produced but,
without genuine consultation, the tenth version will be no better.
Meanwhile, the events last Friday night at the taxpayer-funded
Christmas function of the new Minister for Sport, Matthew Bonson, once
again sees Territory Labor sending all the wrong messages to the
I’ve no doubt people are indignant that a Minister of the Government
hosts a Christmas party at taxpayers’ expense that results in all three
emergency services being called and end ups with one of the guests
being taken into protective custody.
Territorians would rightly expect a measure of control to be
exercised when taxpayers’ funds are being used at an event involving
alcohol. Instead, Territorians get yet another example of Government
excess and indulgence and have to pick up the bill. These events don’t
seem to concern Minister Bonson in any way – he apparently thinks that
is just the way things are done in the Territory.
It’s true that alcohol abuse is a common occurrence in the Territory,
which is exactly why Government ministers need to be setting a good
example for the rest of the community. Last year more than 26,000
people were taken into protective custody as alcohol abuse continued to
rise in the Territory.
The Labor Government blames the rising assault rate on alcohol abuse,
and claims to be concerned about alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour
- yet has a Minister hosting a party more suited to a university
dorm than a Minister’s electorate office.
Paul Henderson erred when appointing Matthew Bonson to his front bench
– this is just further proof of that error of judgement.
Leader of the Opposition
Sir,- The Henderson Government has skewed the workplace balance in
favour of the unions with the passage of its Work Health laws through
the Territory Parliament, which grants unrestricted union access to
every Territory workplace whether or not they have a union member on
site. Under the guise of work place safety, the Henderson Government
has opened the door for unions to trawl for members on worksites across
The Territory will be the only jurisdiction in Australia that allows
union officials to enter a worksite without notice and without
reasonable suspicion of a breach of Occupational Health and Safety
Unions previously required permission from the employer to enter a
worksite but now all a union official will need is potential members at
the site and OHS training to gain unrestricted access.
Now, if someone wants to join a union, that is their right and I’ll
defend their right to do so. What I cannot support is the
implementation of a belligerent pro-union intrusion into the Territory
that will significantly change the culture of the Territory workplace.
This change will result in an aggressive workplace recruitment drive by
unions. It needs to be remembered that the Labor Party will financially
benefit from increased union membership.
When introducing the Bill the Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, stated:
“It is fair to say that the main areas canvassed in the various
submissions focussed on the consultation processes between employers
and employees, particularly with regard to health and safety
representatives and authorised union OHS representatives.
“In drafting this legislation, Government has taken into account the
various positions of stakeholders on these issues and has ensured the
appropriate checks and balances are in place to address the expressed
With the Territory Construction Association, Chamber of Commerce,
Housing Industry Association, Civil Contractors Association and the
Minerals Council all vehemently opposed to these changes, it is obvious
the power of the unions prevailed.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Sir,- How many more public service positions will be downgraded by this
government? The previous Chief Minister frequently rambled on saying,
“what we want is effective decision making in Alice Springs”, and spoke
of upgrading some senior positions.
However, the recent downgrading of the position of Assistant Director
Southern / Deputy Fire Chief clearly shows the government’s lack of
support and acknowledgement of the vital role such positions play in
lobbying for a fair deal for the Centre.
There are a number of people holding senior positions in Alice Springs
who are retiring.
Will these positions also be downgraded, and decision-making shifted to
Will the Chief Minister show his support and maintain the current
levels of seniority in the Centre and not force effective personnel to
move to Darwin or take a reduction in their positions?
Having just been through an election campaign focusing on the
importance of our labour force, it’s ironic that a Labor Government
treats its own workforce in this way!”
Independent Member for Braitling
Breath tests not unusual where 6
Random breath testing at the the intersection of Larapinta Drive and
Namatjira Drive is regularly conducted by Hermannsburg police, says
Superintendent Sean Parnell, in the wake of the fatal single vehicle
rollover that killed six people and left the driver critically injured
late on Friday night.
Police had attempted to stop the vehicle for a breath test as it
approached the intersection, coming from town.
When the vehicle failed to stop, police activated lights and sirens and
did a U-turn to follow the car.
They found it overturned approximately three kilometres away.
It appears the driver lost control of the vehicle on a right hand bend,
causing it to roll a number of times at the Hugh River causeway.
Four men, aged 20, 23, 24 and 30, and two women, aged 27 and 37, died
at the scene, while the 31-year-old male driver was taken to Alice
Springs Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
The driver was arrested and placed under police guard at the hospital
where he underwent surgery.
All occupants of the car are believed to have been residents of
Hermannsburg and for cultural reasons their names will not be released.
The deaths will be treated as deaths in custody as required under the
Northern Territory Coroner’s Act.
Police are appealing to the public to help in ascertaining the
movements of the vehicle – a white Ford Falcon with Northern Territory
registration – earlier in the night.
Anyone who may have seen this vehicle travelling towards Hermannsburg
about 9.30 pm on Larapinta Drive is asked to call 131 444.
Meanwhile, police continued their focus on illegal drinking in town
camps, taking some 130 people into protective custody on the weekend,
some of whom were from town camps.
“This time last year we weren’t locking up people from town camps
because drinking there wasn’t illegal.
“It’s positive for the women and children that we are able to now,”
says Supt Parnell.
Imparja chief vague on future of
There will be a change to the local news service offered by Imparja
CEO Alistair Feehan denies that the local news service will be dropped
– “you’ll always have local news” – but confirmed that there are
At present a sprinkling of local news reports are included in an edited
national network bulletin, presented by a local newsreader.
Mr Feehan was not prepared to discuss what the changes entail.
“People at the station know what’s happening, that’s all that matters
to me at the present time,” said Mr Feehan.
Thumbs up for Year 10 at senior
college. By KIERAN FINNANE.
“More opportunities” was the common thread to comments from Year 10
Centralian College students about their move to the senior college this
The move was controversial, especially amongst parents, when it was
first mooted in early 2006 but it’s been all good, according to
students Lucy Barlow, Matt Gosch, and Toni O’Brien (pictured at right).
All three have taken advantage of the greater accessibility of
vocational (VET) courses as well as the possibility of studying at
higher year levels if they’re up for it.
Lucy, formerly an Anzac Hill High student, has completed Certificate I
in Hospitality and will do Certificates II and III next year. She also
had a taster of Cooking which she’ll go on with.
And she’ll be doing Year 12 History next year when she’s in Year 11,
reducing her workload for the final year.
Matt, also formerly from Anzac, has done Philosophy this year.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do that at Anzac – there’s a better range
of subjects here,” he says.
He’s thinking of doing Advanced Maths Studies in Years 11 and 12 and
took part in extension study maths workshops held on weekends earlier
in the year.
He’s also done a VET IT course.
Toni, a former Alice Springs High student, has done Certificate I in
Hospitality and has been attending a Year 11 Tourism class.
“And there are more classes that I enjoy here,” she says.
The move from their middle schools to senior college was “a bit
confusing” at first, especially for the Anzac students who were not
used to an open learning classroom.
This didn’t worry former ASHS students, who were used to this style of
classroom, says Toni, but there were still differences – new people,
more of them, different ways of doing things.
“The teachers were patient with us as we were introduced to the new
structures,” she says.
Students from Anzac and ASHS were “reluctant at first” to mix, says
Lucy, but soon that changed. She and Toni became friends, for example.
“And if you took a Year 11 class you met a lot of those students,” says
They all appreciate the more relaxed atmosphere at the college but “we
knew we had to come to school”, says Lucy.
“If we didn’t they would call and check up.”
Toni values having more independence: “We’re not babied here.”
They observed few “discipline” problems; what there was – “a few
fights, of course” – was dealt with straight away.
Offering students “additional opportunities” was one of the main
reasons behind the move, says college principal Joanne Earl.
“This is definitely what has happened, not just through the curriculum,
but through the significant access to vocational courses.”
The college has also created a new course for Year 10s, Central
Australian Studies, and has specialist maths, science and music
“That’s not to say that there are not opportunities in the middle
schools, but this is a key focus for us and our resources are
Being able to work with Years 11 and 12 students and to see the way
their programs operate is also very useful for Year 10 students, says
Ms Earl (pictured), as is the opportunity to develop leadership
roles. Year 10 students participate in equal numbers on the
student executive, for example.
Making up around 150 of the 500 plus students at the college, with an
expected increase in 2008, the Year 10s are “part and parcel” of the
school, take part in the college social and cultural activities, share
a common lunch break, share the grounds and facilities while they also
have their own “home base” in which to feel secure. This was
particularly important for them in the first semester, says Ms Earl.
One of parents’ key concerns was “pastoral care” in a school
environment noted for its more “adult” atmosphere.
There is plenty of supervision and pastoral care, says Ms Earl.
Absences are rigorously followed up: with the intake of Year 10, the
college gained a home liaison officer to monitor attendance, with a
particular focus on Year 10. Every student also has a teacher allocated
to them as “coach”; the coaching program is part of the timetable.
The Year 10 school day also ends at 3pm, as it does in middle school,
although there are “optional extras” after that hour.
Third term attendance for all year levels averaged at 90%.
“That’s good,” says Ms Earl.
Has the change been mainly one to do with improving resources and
efficiency? Not at all, says Ms Earl.
“It has been very much about pedagogy.
“There are appropriate ways to deliver education to Years Seven to Nine
that are different from what you can and should do with Years 10
“We are responding to the needs of the different age cohorts.”
The success of the move was underlined by the achievements of eight
students in Year 10 with straight As, and “there was another
large group close behind”.
Ms Earl couldn’t put a figure on the average – this kind of
number-crunching isn’t done before reports are completed.
But “we do know that the students are ready to progress to the next
level” because of the close communication between their teachers and
the Years 11 and 12 teachers.
The new year at the college will kick off with the hosting of a
professional development day involving all maths teachers in government
schools in Alice Springs, including all primary school teachers (as
they all teach maths).
This is to ensure that teachers at every level know what is
necessary for their students to achieve in order for them to progress
to the next level.
“This is responding to the Territory and Australian Governments’ focus
on improving literacy and numeracy across the board,” says Ms Earl.
School enrolments not yet
responding to intervention. By KIERAN FINNANE.
School enrolments have not changed significantly since the Federal
intervention in the Territory’s Aboriginal communities, says the
Department of Education’s Sharron Noske.
Ms Noske is Deputy Chief Executive of Planning and Resources for the
She says the department is monitoring the situation closely.
“The latest data from the 2006 Census indicates that there may be up to
2600 remote and urban children across the NT who are not enrolled.
“DEET is working in partnership with schools, communities and other
government agencies to confirm the actual number community by
“Preliminary work is indicating that DEET enrolment data is sound,
however, this is being crossreferenced with other data sources.
“The NT has a highly mobile Indigenous student population and
historically, enrolment numbers do not reflect attendance.
“Attendance numbers have for many years fluctuated on a seasonal basis
in many remote schools and this pattern continues.”
The department says that average attendance rate in remote schools is
currently around 68% (an attendance rate of at least 80% is
required for students to make progress).
The Alice Springs News put to the department precise information from a
reliable source about school attendance at Ntaria (Hermannsburg).
According to the department Ntaria “has an attendance rate near the
However, according to our source, for term three it was well below the
average, at just 44%.
Enrolment was reported by the source as 142, while daily attendance in
term three ranged from 31 to 105, giving an average of 63.
The News asked the department to check their figures.
A spokesperson said: “I can assure you that the attendance rate for
Ntaria School in Term 3 was well above the 44% that you have quoted.
“I can also confirm that Ntaria School’s current attendance rate is
near the NT remote schools’ average of 68%, as previously stated.”
The News understands that attendance in term four has improved as a
result of a “no school, no pool” policy.
The News’s source indicated that the main growth of enrolments at the
school is in the early childhood age group, with 70 of the students,
half of the total, in the pre-school to Year Two classes.
The source says the school needs their pre-school position upgraded
from half to full-time as a minimum, although another full-time teacher
would be ideal, allowing the school to run a dedicated half day
The department says the latest data from the 2006 Census indicates that
there are very few, if any, children of compulsory school age in the
community not enrolled at Ntaria.
Says Ms Noske: “It is worth noting that, with 40 outstations linked to
Ntaria, there is, at any point in time, a number of families in the
community on short term stay and this continuously affects the
population of the community and, in turn, enrolment and attendance at
“Ntaria School community remains firmly focussed on increasing
“Most recently the school reviewed its teaching programs, ensuring the
delivery is relevant and engaging to students.
“The school operates a number of attendance incentive programs and
recently initiated an aquatics program aimed at children who attend all
week and exhibit appropriate behaviour at school. This approach
is working well.
“The school also has a local community member employed in the home
liaison officer position who works with families to track student
absenteeism and mobility, reinforce the importance of education and to
encourage regular school attendance.”
Meanwhile, Ms Noske says the process of preparing remote schools for
possible increased enrolments and other implications of the Federal
• a dedicated team to provide additional support to small remote
schools to deal with enrolment and the monitoring of attendance;
• a tailored support package including literacy materials designed for
students with limited schooling experience.
• a mobile pool of additional teachers and support staff to work with
school communities including initial assessment of student ability.
• a school attendance team and awareness campaign.
• additional resources and infrastructure including 15 additional
classrooms, 22 teacher houses, six extra mobile preschools and upgrades
to Community Education Centres.
Feeling connected. REVIEW by KIERAN
To walk into Jenny Taylor’s “Burning Bush” exhibition, in the Sitzler
Gallery at Araluen until February, is to take something of a tour of
the artist’s processes as she made work, consciously or unconsciously
wrestling with her burning question – “what is required of us when we
look at country?”
The collection of charcoal drawings of the underside of animal paws at
the entrance to the gallery prepares the viewer for an unusual take on
Firstly, this perspective (from beneath) has to be sought out.
Secondly, from cat to mouse, from echidna to wallaby, the paws
are rendered at the same scale – each has their place in country, there
are tragic implications for our tendency to relativise, to lament the
endangered bilby, for example, and not even notice the rodent
extinctions under our noses.
Inside the gallery I found these themes – the search for awareness and
understanding, the challenge to complacency when looking at
country – pursued strongly in some of the small sculptural works.
But aesthetically the show goes in many directions. And although it’s
possible to see how the different directions go to Taylor’s burning
question, the overall impression is diffuse.
This is a risk in relation to Taylor’s intention for the show,
which is to prompt people “to feel again their close connection with
The ready sale of landscape works on opening night was in no doubt
evidence of people feeling connection, but the presence of these very
accessible works – accessible in their subject matter, its treatment
and also in price – I suspect got in the way of viewers’ engagement
with the rest of the work.
It’s quite hard to shift gear, mentally, aesthetically, from, for
instance, the “burning country” series to the “small prophets” on the
plinths below; from the “skyline” paintings to “Medicine cabinet” and
then to the “small prophets” on canvas; and so on.
It’s especially hard when work is for sale: personal taste filters
would lead many viewers, I suspect, to overlook a lot of the
ideas-based work in favour of the more immediately recognisable and
I would have preferred to see this show as an installation, with its
lines of enquiry more clearly focussed and with less work shown (there
are 176 pieces in this solo show!).
The sale of work (of course the artist has to live) and perhaps the
display of additional work could have come at the end of the exhibition
period, rather than at the start, so that the immediate engagement was
with experiencing the work and engaging with and reflecting on its
ideas, instead of with acquisition.
My keystone works for an installation would have been the incredibly
moving “Stick Nest Rat Shrine”, “Medicine Cabinet” (pictured above) and
“The water is wide series”, the delightful “Peep” series, and
both “Small prophet” series, the charcoal drawings, and a strongly
edited selection of the paintings, with the work presented as a whole
environment (for eye-opening experience and contemplation) rather than
as a collection of objects.
I would also have given thought to how to present Taylor’s texts as
part of this whole.
She writes succinctly and beautifully and where she has presented texts
they work well (if you take the trouble to read the small print on the
discreet labels) to amplify the experience of the work – enabling us to
better see “the life in things, and [see] our own lives as inseparable
from that”, a process to which Taylor has made, despite my reservation
over presentation, a subtle and original contribution.
ADAM CONNELLY: Centre celebrity.
For those of you with less than a passing interest in the gossip
magazines, Tara Reid was in the Territory last week.
She’s one of those celebrities less famous for her acting and more
famous for simply being famous.
She has been plastered over the glossy trash mags for the best part of
a decade in various states of consciousness.
While I’m sure she would prefer us all to know her for her great work
in such watershed films like “Josie and the Pussycats”, truth be told
most people would know Ms Reid as the woman who was photographed at
Puff Daddy’s birthday party with one of her augmented boobs hanging
She might also be remembered here in Australia as having dated Mark
Philippoussis for a spell.
Which isn’t the claim to fame you might think. Dating an Australian
bloke who has a prodigious talent and done absolutely nothing with it …
tell me an Aussie woman who hasn’t done that.
We Australian men are pretty good at wasting our talents. I blame the
Playstation and our genetic disposition to the love of beer.
Ms Reid was in Darwin this week to host the annual Hooker’s Ball.
Those of us from Rugby playing states might be able to rationalise the
Hooker’s Ball as some sort of front row forward themed night.
(For those from Aussie Rules playing states, the Hooker is the man who
“hooks” the ball in order to win possession in a scrum.)
But we’d only be grasping at moral straws.
No, Ms Reid was there to host a party in which the patrons dressed as
prostitutes. Because young men and women in nightclubs need an excuse
to wear less and act like prostitutes!
I wonder if it works the other way round. Do sex workers throw “drunk
23 year old boofhead” parties?
Whatever your thoughts on the Hooker’s Ball idea, Tara Reid was a
public relations dream. Darwin was highlighted in gossip news across
It was a perfect marriage. Tara Reid is the celebrity custom-built to
fit Darwin’s image. Blonde, a bit sweaty, cosmetically enhanced, a good
drinker and a bit of a wreck. Darwin and Tara, like lamb and rosemary.
It makes me think that we here in the Centre are getting a bit of a raw
deal when it comes to our guest celebrities. Sydney got David Beckham,
Darwin got Tara and curiously Brisbane got Sir Bob Geldoff.
I’m pretty certain that the last couple of celebrities to grace our
town have included Darren Lehman and Pauline Hanson.
Top blokes and absolute superstars no doubt but not the glam A-listers
Alice Springs deserves.
But who? Who would be the perfect celebrity endorsement for Alice
Someone who can capture media attention on the one hand but also
compliment the character of the town.
Someone beautiful yet robust. Social but secluded. Someone who doesn’t
mind a party, a drink and a laugh. Someone political but a bit
Someone who doesn’t like being told what to do or how to do it.
Angelina is a bit too “right on” for the Alice, she’s probably right
Beyonce is definitely Gold Coast material. Nowadays Madonna needs to be
close to a synagogue, so no dice there. Britney has a couple too loose
in the top paddock.
Probably better suited to Adelaide. She loves iced coffee and pie
floaters and let’s face it, she’s as crazy as a serial killer – she’ll
fit in fine.
Nope the only celebrity who fits all the necessary requirements is none
other than Pamela Andersen.
Stop throwing things at me and think about it. The press would go nuts!
She’s a party gal, a bit rough and worn round the edges and shares a
physical attribute or two with some of the natural wonders around
Central Australia. She even has skin the same colour as the dirt around
See! A perfect match.
Let’s make it happen. Someone get Tourism Central Australia or whatever
they call themselves these days on the phone. She could come to the
Camel Cup (insert your own “hump” joke here).
Back to front
page of the the Alice Springs News.