ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
February 14, 2008. This page contains all
Dry town a farce. By KIERAN FINNANE.
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Anti-social behaviour In Alice Springs is increasing “inexorably”, back
to its levels before Dry Town legislation was brought in, police
Commander Bert Hofer told the Town Council on Monday.
The usual responses of picking up drunks, tipping out liquor, issuing
infringement notices, offering a domestic violence service, are doing
little more than shifting the problems around the town, said Cdr Hofer.
And he quashed expectations of aldermen that there would be extensive
police support for town council rangers policing illicit camping and
littering, arguing that their effort was poorly targeted.
Cdr Hofer says police are looking for new ideas and he has asked his
female ACPOs (Aboriginal Community Police Officers) to identify strong
local Aboriginal women, with whom he wants to hold a forum.
He said police numbers are basically up to strength: establishment is
130 officers, with 127 personnel currently available.
Of these, 29 officers work solely on issues of anti-social behaviour.
But of course, there are not 29 on duty at a time; they work rostered
shifts between 6am and 2pm, and have days off.
Cdr Hofer said every available officer has been rostered on for the
football weekend (Lightning Carnival) at the end of the month, which
always draws a lot of visitors from bush communities.
“We will saturate the town over that period” he said, but reminded
council that this kind of effort is only possible for a couple of days.
He said special alcohol restrictions will be in force over the weekend
(no cask wine, no full strength beer in bottles), but police had to
push hard to get the measure in place.
Have police got enough manpower, asked Alderman Samih Habib.
“The entire Territory force could do with more police,” said Cdr Hofer,
referring, for example, to the need to participate in the policing
efforts of the Federal Intervention.
“If I had another 300 police, I could use them.”
He said police respond to all reports of anti-social behaviour,
including breaches of the Dry Town laws, unless more pressing matters
are taking their attention: “We can’t be everywhere at once.”
He contested the assertion, in a report by council’s director of
corporate and community services, Craig Catchlove, that police over the
last three weeks had not responded to numerous calls to address public
drinking and violence on the lawns in front of the library.
Police records over the period showed that they had dealt with 23
incidents at the location, of which 11 attendances were the result of
proactive “hot spot policing”.
Cdr Hofer’s comments were almost entirely about problems caused by
Aboriginal people determined to drink, no matter what nor where: they
find hideaways around town or go to the Todd River, Teppa Hill and
When police intervene they simply get more grog and move
He spoke of a recent incident when police on an evening shift came
across a relatively large group of people, residents of Larapinta
Valley town camp, drinking in the Todd River.
Liquor was poured out, an infringement notice issued and they were told
to move on.
The very next day officers on the morning shift came across the same
group back in the river, with more grog.
Would drinking clubs, like the defunct Tyeweretye Club, help in his
view, asked Ald Habib.
Cdr Hofer replied by way of anecdote: in his first week in Alice he had
visited the Gapview Hotel at 1pm on a weekday afternoon.
Some 200 Aboriginal people were drinking in the bar.
At 2pm, when the botteshop opened, “you could have driven a Mack truck
through the bar without injuring anyone”.
People bought their supplies from the bottleshop and dispersed in all
manner of vehicles.
These people had certainly demonstrated their preference to drink
Mayor Fran Kilgariff asked about the impact of town camps and
communities becoming dry.
The “general view” of his officers is that prohibiting drinking on town
camps has had the affect of moving “unsavory elements” into town, where
they escape the regular patrolling of the camps.
Ald Melanie van Haaren asked if he would support an “inter-agency
taskforce, a protocol” – involving police, council rangers and
Tangentyere Council personnel – to deal with the issues.
Cdr Hofer said the three already work together.
However he contested the usefulness of police accompanying council
rangers on their trawl of the river at 6am, formerly scheduled three
Cdr Hofer said there are some, but not many, drinkers in the river at
this time, and use of police resources there does “disservice” to other
areas of town.
Police are currently doing only one horse patrol a week in support of
the rangers, to increase to two in March.
In turn, rangers accompany police three times a week, at around 2pm, as
they enforce Dry Town in the river.
Ald Murray Stewart questioned the police’s commitment to a partnership
with the council – a point CEO Rex Mooney later tried to hose down,
describing the horse patrols as an “unqualified success”.
Cdr Hofer said Ald Stewart was being “disingenuous”: the river patrols
are designed to enforce council by-laws regarding littering and
camping, yet camping is not banned after 6am.
“If the Alice Springs Town Council have difficulty fulfilling your own
functions, you can’t blame me.”
Ald Stewart said council is “constantly under pressure” over
anti-social behaviour issues.
“Come and sit in my office,” countered CDR Hofer.
Council’s case was not helped on Tuesday morning when rangers and
Tangentyere staff failed to meet the horse patrol at the arranged time
This was due to “an unfortunate internal communication breakdown”, said
Mr Mooney, “for which we apologise most sincerely.”
Tangentyere staff were apparently off due to illness.
Later in their meeting on Monday aldermen discussed a report by Mr
Catchlove on council’s by-laws that support the Dry Town legislation.
The legislation is the sole responsibilty of the police, said the
report: the council currently has no by-laws prohibiting drinking of
alcohol in a public place.
There are no by-laws designating “Move-on Zones”.
Enforcement of existing camping and littering by-laws has been
“effectively curtailed” by the police decision on the river runs.
“ASTC rangers [there are six] are not permitted to do these runs
without police in attendance due to the extreme danger in which they
would be put,” said the report.
New by-laws, including one that will ban camping without a permit 24/7,
are currently being drafted to be considered by the next council (to be
elected on March 29).
The report says: “Rangers could be given the same authority as police
(by the NT Government, but they are reluctant to do this) and be given
the resources and training to take on this task, but the effort and
expense do not seem warranted when the relative numbers of rangers to
police are taken into account.
“Increasing the number of rangers would be cost prohibitive, requiring
either money to be taken from existing programs or requiring increased
There was consensus among aldermen about the need for by-laws with more
“backbone”, but also an unwillingness to expose their rangers to
There was shared frustration about the lack of progress on the issues
despite what they considered to have been a lot of hard work and
However Ald David Koch said he “thinks” that the town is safer today
than it was five, 10 and 15 years ago when he suggested that it was “an
open slather war zone”.
How clever really is this bit of
desert knowledge? By KIERAN FINNANE.
The NT Government has given its Power and Water Corporation (PWC) yet
another two years to complete Alice’s water “reuse” scheme, just as the
scheme has – ironically – scored a gig at the World Conference for
Intellectual Capital for Communities in Paris in May.
This latest extension follows an earlier two year extension which
expired at the end of last year.
The cost of the scheme, to avoid discharge into the Ilparpa Swamp and
other public spaces of partially treated effluent from the sewage
ponds, has grown from $6m to $10.4m, and still does not have an “end
user” of recycled water, such as a grower of fruit or other
The Paris gig is proudly trumpeted and is no doubt a PR triumph, but
just how impressive is the “intellectual capital” behind the scheme?
The technology involved is old: a 10km pipe taking effluent to ponds
just off the South Stuart Highway where the fluid seeps into the ground
before being later pumped back to the surface for irrigation.
Its proponents acknowledged back in 2004 that it was “not rocket
science” and had been around for decades, widely in use in the United
States (1500 major projects) and Europe. (See our web archive, July 21,
The PWC last week declined to answer any of the Alice News’s questions,
referring us only to their website.
Their partner in the scheme, the Department of Primary Industry and
Fisheries, also declined to answer questions.
We specifically wanted to ask them about the potential end users they
were now talking to.
The original “preferred end user” has pulled out and there’ll obviously
be no “reuse” of the water until others are signed up.
Mike Crowe of Desert Knowledge Australia – who received the Paris
invitation while he was attending an Arab Knowledge Economy Association
conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – was at least more communicative.
We asked, given all of the above, why the scheme is deemed
The point is, he says, there is “intellectual property” involved in
knowing what you want, seeking out the international expertise on the
matter and adapting it to work up an appropriate local solution.
“We are not pretending in any way that there is new technology
involved,” he says.
“The interest at the conference was in the process.”
Alice Solar City and Bushlight, also showcased at Jeddah, are other
local examples of similar processes, says Mr Crowe.
On the specific problems associated with the water reuse scheme, Mr
Crowe says he is “not across that level of detail”.
The scheme came into being largely because of community and especially
local resident and environmental group outrage over the
mosquito-infestation of Ilparpa swamp.
The infestation was caused in substantial part by the overflow of
effluent from the sewage ponds into the swamp, encouraging reed growth
and hence mosquito breeding, and from the swamp, from time to time,
onto public areas. (See website, October 31, 2001; August 14, 2002.)
In reponse, the NT Government imposed a discharge licence on the PWC,
with a December 2005 deadline to stop all dry weather discharges.
That deadline came and went and still the overflows continued, most
noticeable each time they reached St Mary’s Creek, under a licence
extension to December 2007.
Now the PWC have a new five-year licence, granted on January 10
(information provided promptly and comprehensively by the Department of
Natural, Resources, Environment and the Arts).
The licence sets no conditions for dry weather overflows until the “SAT
ponds” are commissioned.
These are the “soil-aquifer treatment” ponds at the Arid Zone Research
Institute where the effluent will slowly infiltrate the soil and be
stored in naturally-occurring underground channels.
The new licence gives Power and Water until January 31, 2010 for the
full commissioning of the SAT ponds.
First must come the commissioning of the DAF (dissolved air flotation)
plant, which treats wastewater before it enters the pipeline.
Its commissioning has at least begun, according to Power and Water’s
website, with the clean water produced “currently being returned to the
The licence sets a deadline for January 31, 2009 for the commissioning
of the DAF plant.
The covering letter for the licence, from Lyn Allen, Executive
Director, Environment, Heritage and the Arts, notes an “88% compliance
with discharge limits” under the previous licence.
“Some of the poor compliance was from lack of required monitoring,”
says Ms Allen in her letter.
“It is anticipated PWC will continue to improve discharge compliance.”
Other areas for improvement in the Environmental Management Plan (EMP)
for the sewage ponds pointed to by Ms Allen are:
• reactivation of the rehabilitation plan for Ilparpa Swamp;
• water recycling;
• salinity management.
Power and Water have three years to provide the next draft EMP.
The friendship of saying ‘sorry’
will be good for whole country. By
“Throughout my journey I managed to keep moving forward through huge
fear of change: the friendships shown me along the way were my saving
“There’s not often much friendship in politics, but Kevin Rudd and this
new government apologising to the Stolen Generations allows the
friendship that Australians showed tremendously 11 years ago to
Indigenous writer and poet Ali Cobby Eckermann identifies as one of the
Stolen Generations. Yesterday, when Mr Rudd marked his first day in
Parliament as the new Prime Minister with the long awaited “sorry” on
behalf of the Australian Government, Ali was going to celebrate, down
at Titjikala where she works as the art centre coordinator.
“I’m going to open up my house for breakfast, I’m going to wear the
Aboriginal flag over my shoulders as a cape, like people do on
Australia Day, I’m going to drag a TV out into a public place and share
the day with my Titjikala family and friends.
“I think it’s a day that should be celebrated. A lot of hard work by
Indigenous people and the whole country sits behind it.
“Acknowledgement of our past and new friendship will help each other
overcome our pain and denied history. People talking honestly with each
other is a stepping stone to a better future for Australia.
“I watched the Bridge Walk [on May 28, 2000 in Sydney] with my aunty.
She said it was one of the best days of her life, she was so glad she
had lived to see it.
“She passed away not long after.”
For Ali, one of her joys yesterday was that her own natural mother, Mum
Audrey, had lived to hear the apology.
Audrey was removed from her Aboriginal family when she was four years
old and taken to Koonibba Mission outside Ceduna.
It was one of the removals made with “good intentions” for, as far as
Ali has been able to find out, it was done to offer the bright child an
She went on to become the first Aboriginal student at Concordia
Lutheran College in Adelaide and later the first fully qualified
Aboriginal nursing sister to work at Port Augusta Hospital.
But she carried emotional scars from the removal that Ali implicates,
together with social and religious pressure, in her surrendering, at 19
years of age, her baby, Ali, for adoption.
Ali grew up as one of five adopted children in a loving but stern
Lutheran farming family, where despite the kindness of her parents, she
never felt she fully belonged.
She knew of her Aboriginal heritage but, apart from one of her adopted
brothers, she didn’t know any Aboriginal people.
As she grew older, being Aboriginal became a label that she wore and
endured, for she and her brother copped the usual racism.
She was often in trouble and became quite wild, eventually leaving
home, entering a “mad relationship” and falling pregnant.
At age 19 she also surrendered a child, her son, for adoption.
“I was worn down into giving my son up. The church had a big influence.
I don’t think I was ever asked how I felt, what I wanted to do.”
Later, when “drugs and alcohol didn’t work anymore and nothing I knew
was making sense, with the help of some very kind people, I realized I
needed to meet my family”.
When she met Audrey “it was the first time I’d ever seen anyone who
looked like me. Walking into that mirror – we have the same eyes – was
Four years on and she was ready to seek out her son, Jonnie.
It’s harder to be the mother in this situation, she says: “I needed to
forgive myself for 18 years of separation.
“I’d never had any more children. I was afraid they wouldn’t stay with
me. The maternal part of me had shut down when I walked out of that
“To feel it opening up again is terrifying.”
But she was “braver and wiser”: “I didn’t waste any time. From the
start Jonnie and I were honest in coming to a new relationship
And she also benefited during this time from the support of her “two
She says Jonnie, now 25, has at times struggled with his “new”
“Being younger than I was when I met my mum, he feels more
‘ping-ponged’ between his two families, and only growing older or
starting his own family will lessen this conflict.”
He lives in Palmerston, has studied Indigenous Cultural Land Management
at Batchelor Institute, but at present has taken some time off work to
“He too has survived his first ‘mad relationship’ but he too has a
solid group of friends around him, and it is obvious to me when I visit
him that they love and respect him.”
Yesterday her dearest hope for herself and Jonnie was that “the
inter-generational pain and trauma begin to lessen”.
Her thoughts were also with her adoptive mother, Mum Frieda, with whom
she has always been close.
Ali says the journey towards recovering the family she had lost – not
only Audrey but a vast extended family as well as a niece whom she
raised as a daughter – has only strengthened her on-going relationship
with Frieda: “The healthy benefits didn’t just happen for me and my
Aboriginal family, they were also there for my adopted family.”
She believes her adoptive father would have been happy to see this day.
After his death in 1997 she and Frieda found many newspaper clippings
falling out of his books, about, among other issues, the affects of
removal on Aboriginal children.
He’d never talked to them about the subject; it was not then the sort
of thing that got discussed in a farming community in the mid-north of
South Australia, says Ali.
Times have changed now. She and Frieda recently met an old school
teacher of Ali’s. They talked of the past. The teacher said she could
see, all those years ago, that Ali and her brother had been struggling:
“starched into their childhoods” was her phrase.
They had a beer and lots of laughs, and a long, honest conversation.
This openness with a relative stranger was “a first” for Mum Frieda. It
was one of the moments of friendship that Ali values so much.
This personal experience makes her optimistic about the benefits for
the wider community of the Australian Government’s apology. “Family can
only do so much; friendship can soften the edges.
“I couldn’t have done what I’ve done with just family; I needed a
shitload of friendship.
“Everything is not as frightening if you can talk about it.”
This is a step she hopes people will take more easily after yesterday’s
apology: “Build friendships, which open the door to everyone,
Indigenous and non-Indigenous, helping each other.”
Mum said she wanted to give me a hug this morning
for all the smacks she gave me when I was a child
Mum said she used to get so angry
Mum said I was so different from the other children
Mum said she didn’t know what to do back then
Mum said I hope you can forgive me.
She held open her arms
This adopted mother of mine
This woman with white skin and white hair and white heart.
I climbed inside the embrace
This adopted daughter of hers
This woman with brown skin and brown hair and brown heart.
I said Mum I forgave you a long time ago.
© Ali Cobby Eckermann
10 January 2006
McAdam goes to back bench.
The NT Government’s decision to exclude Top End Shire from local
government reform prompted Member for Barkly Elliot McAdam’s
resignation from the Cabinet on Tuesday.
“Mr McAdam (pictured) has given everything to the tough job of
implementing the important Local Government reforms – but we’ve both
agreed it’s time to give someone else a go,” said Chief Minister Paul
Henderson in a press release.
“No-one has worked harder for Local Government reform, and he has also
been an outstanding Minister for Housing.
“The Cabinet has supported my decision to proceed with local government
reform with the exception of the Top End Shire.
“Unfortunately Mr McAdam said he can’t support that Cabinet decision
and we have mutually agreed that a new set of hands completes the
reform package where it’s needed most – the bush.”
In the same release Mr McAdam said, “I support the Chief Minister, the
Cabinet, the Government and all my colleagues – but it’s time for
someone else to have a go.
His replacement in the ministry was to be announced within 24 hours
(but after the Alice News went to press).
Clark gets parks facts wrong,
says finance secrets are OK, brawls with
sport identity. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
The Alice Town Council is asking for a police investigation into the
leaking to the Alice Springs News of details about the new rubbish dump
contract, according to a reliable source.
The source says Ald Jane Clark moved a motion in a “confidential”
meeting late last month to demand the probe.
She has since announced she would be standing for Mayor at the council
elections on March 29, following an endorsement from the Greens.
Ald Clark declined to confirm or deny that she had moved the motion to
call in the police.
CEO Rex Mooney raised the Alice News’ request for confirmation and
comment at Monday night’s council committee meeting.
“Council confirmed that, in accordance with its practice, the issue is
‘commercial in confidence” and therefore does not wish to comment,”
said Mr Mooney.
The controversial dump tender had been decided and awarded to an
interstate company at the time the News received, and published, the
“confidential” information in our issue of December 20 last year.
It meant the demise of the local firm Bowerbird, sparking off a lively
Ald Clark, whilst declining to discuss the dump tender, defended
council secrecy in connection with ratepayer funded contracts.
The Alice News put this to the mayoral candidate: “As a matter of
principle, if a tender is awarded, is there any case for keeping
details from the public which, after all, is paying for the tender?”
CLARK: Certainly. It’s commercial in confidence. [Disclosing details]
may compromise the future ability of a company to operate if their
prices are publicly aired, and we don’t do that.
NEWS: Are you saying that the ratepayer has no right to know how rate
money is spent, once a tender has been awarded, specifically excluding
any disclosure of details before the contract is let?
CLARK: Confidential information remains confidential.
NEWS: It’s up to the aldermen to decide what is confidential and what
is not. In the case of a decided, awarded tender, would you vote to
make public the details or not?
CLARK: That would depend on what is in front of you on the day.
NEWS: As a matter of principle, when a tender is decided, and public
money has been committed, would you vote for the details to be made
public or not?
CLARK: It’s proper for commercial in confidence information to remain
commercial in confidence.
Meanwhile, Ald Clark also got her facts wrong (in her comments in this
paper last week) about the ownership of a national park, and has became
embroiled in a dispute with prominent fitness and bicycle tracks
advocate, Noel Harris.
He complained to aldermen and media on December 28 about mess in the
town’s creeks, left by people flouting the Dry Town laws.
Two days later he emailed Ald Clark, asking for a meeting.
She replied on the same day, saying: Unfortunately I must decline your
offer to speak on the phone or meet with you. I do not want to do
When asked by the News why, as an aldermen, she had declined to speak
to a constituent about an issue of ongoing public irritation, Ald Clark
said: “He used the ‘f’ word. He used profanity.”
NEWS: He used the work “bullshit” in his email. I have a copy of it.
There was no other profanity.
CLARK: It was a pretty abusive letter. If people want to talk me in a
civil manner I’ll talk to them, but I don’t have to talk to anybody.
NEWS: Was it the word “bullshit” to which you took exception?
CLARK: I can’t really discuss this. There is certainly a lot more
information that you don’t have.
NEWS: We’re giving you the right of reply to give us any relevant
CLARK: I have very good reasons for not discussing [matters] with Noel
Harris. I’m not going to go into it.
Mr Harris, when asked for a reply, said: “This is a blatant lie. I did
not use the ‘f’ word.
“There was no profanity other than the work ‘bullshit’ in the email of
which I sent Ald Clark a copy.
“I never spoke to the woman, neither in person nor on the phone.
“In an email I asked her to speak to me and she won’t.”
NOT HANDED BACK
The News pointed out to Ald Clark that Rainbow Valley national park had
not been “handed back to traditional owners” as she had claimed in last
CLARK: That’s right, but park management is not a local government
issue. I do support the principle of handing back national parks to the
Indigenous owners. That’s a personal view and has no bearing on a
council role. The previous council [which rejected the handover,
proposed by the NT Government, of Territory national parks to
Aboriginal interests] got into dangerous territory. It was taking a
stand on issues we were not well informed on, and over which we have no
power. We should not have wasted our time with issues that have nothing
to do with what we are elected for.
NEWS: So you don’t subscribe to the view that the council is a powerful
lobby for the town, putting its views to the government on issues of
vital importance, such as the national parks, which are a key asset of
CLARK: I made my point when the council voted against the parks
hand-back. We had to vote but we didn’t have all the background
NEWS: Why didn’t you get the background information?
CLARK: It’s not our place. We get briefed by our staff on issues that
are related ... I don’t know why we didn’t get the information. It’s
not anyone’s place to give the town council that information. We’ve got
to focus on what we’ve got to do. I said we can’t make this stand. We
don’t have the facts.
NEWS: Have you asked the government for the facts in the meantime?
CLARK: No, I haven’t asked them.
On Monday Ald Clark gave the News this statement: “Just another aspect
on parks – until we get our own local parks (which are directly under
Alice Town Council realm of responsibility) clean, shady and
functioning, we should not be wasting valuable time chatting about
Australian Government issues.
“The previous council commissioned a comprehensive open space plan for
the Eastside which has largely been left on the shelf for six
“This should attract our attention and fill us with a sense of urgency
because it is council’s responsibility.”
Rellie Rally and a few ideas for
improvement. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
A typical cost for bulk road freight from Adelaide to Alice Springs is
29 cents per kilo.
The distance is 1616 kms.
A liter of fuel weighs 0.7 of a kilo, which means – all things being
equal – it costs 0.012561881 cents per kilometer to transport fuel from
Adelaide to Alice Springs.
On January 28 a liter of diesel cost $1.47 at Pt Augusta and $1.69 at
Pimba, just 175 kms up the track, a difference of 22 cents.
If that hike were to be justified with freight costs alone it would
mean the motorists is slugged (again taking into account the specific
gravity of fuel) 31.42 cents a kilo or 0.179591837 of a cent per liter
That’s more than 14 times as much when compared with the Adelaide to
Alice transport costs.
We put that question to the manager of the Pimba Roadhouse, but he did
not respond to our invitation to comment.
My family and I, over Christmas, travelled 6086 kms in our Troopie 4WD,
towing a bike trailer, to Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra, Mt Gambier and
We spent $1675 on diesel. The cheapest price was at Pt Augusta
(on the way back), $1.47 a liter.
The dearest was Coober Pedy, $1.60, just before Christmas.
The long range tanks came in handy: we could avoid Erldunda which was
charging $1.75 for diesel on January 29.
In Alice it was $1.59 on that day.
The Erldunda Roadhouse displays the following sign: “We do not supply
“Please do not ask for drinking water as refusal may offend. Remember –
we are situated in the driest part of Australia.”
So that’s a reason for refusing a traveller drinking water?
Erldunda Roadhouse also did not respond to an invitation to comment.
Outback hospitality at its very best, no doubt.
LETTERS: Canberra now listening
to locals on NT intervention.
Sir,- The Central Australian Youth Link Up Service (CAYLUS) has
welcomed a recent federal government commitment of funds to support
youth services in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern
We say the allocation, which was made as a part of the NT Emergency
Response, demonstrates that the new federal government is listening to
remote communities and moving from concentrating on a punitive approach
toward implementing preventative measures.
The funding will help support development of remote youth services and
will make a real difference to the wellbeing of children and youth in
remote communities. With the roll out of Opal fuel, policing, welfare
quarantining and health checks, young people in remote communities have
been through a lot of change but an essential component of that change
needs to be providing young people with better day-to-day opportunities
in their communities.
This commitment of funds is a good step in that direction.CAYLUS, which
works with youth programs across the region, has identified a $17
million shortfall in funds for youth services in the region. The
service is calling on state and federal governments to meet this need
as a matter of urgency.
The recent declaration of a national emergency in the region has
demonstrated the situation of remote youth and their families.
Basic youth programs are a way that remote communities are making a big
difference for their young people.
WORK & CREDIT
Sir,- There is an old saying: “There are those that do the work and
those that get the credit.”
With that in mind, I am very encouraged that Damien Ryan has offered
himself as a mayoral candidate for Alice Springs.
He is a generous and committed employer of young people (including my
He takes a pro-active interest in the educational destiny of
Aboriginal youth at Yirara College. He is also respected by other
Aboriginals he has contacted and served in past business
Damien promotes Alice Springs as a community in many other unflagged
and unassuming ways.
He is a town promoter rather than a career self promoter.
I hope he gets to be mayor.
Sir,- In light of the somewhat blasé comments on town planning
by some mayoral candidates I would like to vigorously support the
suggestion that the Alice should take control of its own planning, as
it is in most similar towns across the country.
Decisions about our town’s future directions should be made by those
who live here with a commitment to its future, not by a far away
bureaucracy whose only interest appears to be the suppression of any
external growth that might necessitate giving up their entertainment
In the past week Minister Delia Lawrie has openly admitted to holding
up, slowing or stopping land release in Alice in order to support land
Yet in Darwin she is releasing thousands of blocks and Darwin is
Alice is strangled, and in a very dangerous place. The deliberate
strangling of a market to artificially inflate prices always leads to
A strong market is brought about by strong growth, not by greedy market
manipulations similar to insider trading, which quite frankly ought to
be the subject of similar criminal charges.
For Alice to protect itself from these manipulations it must have a
town plan that sets out the structure of the town, along with an
orderly land development and release strategy.
This will give certainty to our future growth. Nothing assures the
stability of a market more than a well set out, progressive, planned
Town planning needs to be easily accessible to the public to which it
applies and be open to the desires of its community; instead of being
the bastion of cold aloof officialdom, it should exude an air of
enthusiasm and cooperation welcoming investors and new ideas that adds
to the development of our unique community, while protecting the
investments of those already here.
I believe the body responsible should be the town council.
Alice finds itself in its present state because we have failed to take
charge of our own destiny. I think it’s about time we did.
Sir,- Almost a year after the closure of the Laver Court laneway was
proposed by local residents, the matter has finally been laid to rest.
On January 30, the Local Government minister, Elliott McAdam, wrote to
the Mayor, Fran Kilgariff, to inform the council that, pursuant to
council policy on the matter, the particular laneway had been
categorised as not for closure. Therefore, ministerial consent had not
been given to the closure.
As your readers may be aware, there has been much heated debate in
council on the merits of this particular proposal, debate which led to
the responsible and correct course of action, the development of a
policy. We now have (revised) policy No. 147 which will guide
elected members to a more informed and rational discussion around the
table in the future.
On the matter of Laver Court, I applaud the sustained efforts of
Malcolm and Sandy Trull, who have been firm and articulate in their
opposition to the proposed closure. It has been an issue that have may
have led to neighbourhood tensions and animosity.
Mr Trull informs me that one of the proponents of the laneway closure
has moved house, and the new residents actually classed the laneway as
a community asset when deciding to purchase property and live in the
On a personal note, I am relieved that the laneway will remain open for
pedestrian use. I regularly use it in my work in disability support.
Laneways are for people, however they move through the suburbs. They
are also a no-cost way to keep people exercising, which has to be a
good thing for personal and global health. Reducing recourse to the
motorcar as a personal transport option has got to be an energy-smart
spin-off, and should be supported by this community and its civic
Alderman Meredith Campbell.
Sir,- I’m so glad Kieran Finnane wrote such an honest article with
regard to the Musee du Quai Branly (Alice News, Dec 6, 2007). I was in
Paris earlier last year and encountered that very same sentiment.
I had lunch with MQB’s Director and it was clear that for the most part
we are still the European exotic curiosity as he could not see the
connection between living culture, Indigenous performing Culture and a
“nice painting”. It was so disheartening to then see how our living
cultural treasures work had been placed and I’m glad that someone
finally cut through the hype.
Yirra Yaakin (Aboriginal Theatre Company)
Sir,- The first students in Australia to start a new national course
for enrolled nurses are right here in Alice Springs! Henge Education in
partnership with an Adelaide-based training organization have imported
the course to the Territory thereby giving Territorians access to the
cutting edge of nurse training, before other states.
Another first, unprecedented across the country, is that these
students will be ‘remote ready’ upon completion – the course is packed
with additional content to prepare them for the bush.
There is no doubt that the new training course, coupled with a strong
focus on primary health, will result in the best graduates in this
country. They will stand out from the crowd as their training from the
outset is geared towards ensuring they are able to work in isolated and
specialized fields – the sort of nurses required not only here in the
Territory but in all of regional Australia.
“Territory-bred” enrolled nurses will lead the way – and earn Alice
Springs another blue ribbon for innovation.
Melanie van Haaren
Sir,- As a tourist I enjoy Alice Springs enough to
return every every few years since my first visit.
A problem tourists have to deal with is being annoyed by drunken street
people around Todd Mall.
The worst I have found is between the Uniting Church, Post Office
In a store near the Post Office I saw a man drag his
filthy fingers through a large tub of potato salad
then stuff it in his mouth.
Since then I avoid food from open self-serve containers.
USA (email address supplied - @aol.com)
Sir,- Recently the City of Port Adelaide / Enfield placed a plaque at
Glanville Hall, Semaphore South, SA, acknowledging the years that it
was St Francis’ House from 1946 to 1960. Glanville Hall is now an
historic heritage building.
In 1945 Father Percy Smith, the first resident Anglican priest in Alice
Springs in 1933, brought six Aboriginal boys to Adelaide with the
consent of their mothers to further their education. These boys
were Charlie Perkins, David Woodford, Peter Tilmouth, Malcolm Cooper,
Bill Espie and John Palmer.
Father Smith bought Glanville Hall for the Anglican Church, dedicated
it to St Francis and began his home for inland children. It was a
different approach to try and assist Aboriginal children gain a
Some of the former residents of the Home include the late Dr Charles
Perkins AO, Dr Gordon Briscoe AO, Dr John Moriarty AM, Mr Les Nayda AM,
the late Rev Ken Hampton OAM, Mr Bill Espie (Queen’s Medal for
Bravery), Mr David Woodford, Mr John Palmer, the late Mr Peter
Tilmouth, the late Mr Malcolm Cooper, Mr Harold Thomas (Artist), Mr
Vincent Copley (Port Adelaide League Footballer), Mr Richie Bray (Port
Adelaide League Footballer), Mr Brian Butler and many others.
The City of Port Adelaide / Enfield is now in the process of
transforming Glanville Hall into a convention centre and as part of
that photographs and captions tracing the history of Glanville Hall
when it was St Francis’ House will be part of that perpetual
photographic display. In addition a booklet outlining the history of
Glanville Hall is to be produced.
Glanville Hall was built in 1857 for Captain John Hart who among other
things was Premier of South Australia in 1865-66, 1868 and 1870-71.
It is unusual for an independent statutory authority to formally
acknowledge work with Aborigines initiated by a denomination of the
John P McD Smith
Port Adelaide SA
Sir,- In November last year the Alice Springs Town Council received a
raft of letters from year six OLSH students regarding the lack of
recycling in our town. These letters were clear, sensible and
practical in their approach.
They looked widely at issues like the mindless waste, the effect on
animals and the environment and much more. The time has come to act - I
would like to see these kids look back and tell their kids that things
changed and they made a difference.
I remember having similar concerns when I was in year six, and that was
33 years ago.
Just reducing my own waste, which I have not properly recycled over the
past 33 years, would have had a significant effect on the environment.
The kids are motivated, most adults are motivated, so let’s just do it.
Our waste dump will need to be relocated in 20 years at the current
level of use. Let’s set a waste reduction target so that the dump does
not have to be moved for 50 years or longer.
Alderman Jane Clark
Sir,- I know this is a long shot but I wonder if your readers could
possibly help me. My name is Steve Duncan and I live in Scotland.
I am trying to contact old friends James and Fiona Neil who have lived
in Alice Springs for many years now.
I served in the army as a musician with James (aka as ‘Spud’) many
years ago and have lost touch over the years. I guess he must be
about 50 years old now.
Last I heard they have three children and James plays guitar and drums,
and also tries to sing!Steve Duncan
Sir,- My 12 year old son Raymond, who eventually wants to live in Alice
Springs, is seeking a pen pal over the internet.
Is there an astronomy group or school science club that he could e-mail
and ask questions? Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Shedrick Jay Wilkins
Portland, Oregon USA
ADAM CONNELLY: Pollies below the
Berrimah Line don’t represent the
Matt and Jon Bennett are sons of a preacher man.
For the formative years of my childhood these two brothers were my best
friends and like many preacher kids they showed me ways of getting into
trouble I had not yet imagined.
They came from a place called Ottumwa, Iowa in America. A humble, rural
town whose only real claim to fame is that Radar O’Reilly from M.A.S.H
called Ottumwa home.
If you look at the Ottumwa Courier on the internet the news is less
politics and crime and more snow related stories. They have the same
zeal for a good snow story as the Darwin tabloid has for croc
Through the Bennetts I met many great Americans during my childhood.
This meant that during my time at university when it was not just seen
as the trendy thing but also the socially acceptable thing to speak
poorly of Americans, I had to find ways of exiting conversations.
Here in Alice Springs we have the same conundrum. In a time when
Australians are well within their rights to form a poor opinion of the
one super power left on the planet, we here in Alice Springs find many
“seppos” among our good friends.
[ED – “Seppos” is apparently rhyming slang: Yanks = Septic Tanks,
abbreviated to “seppos”. The Aussie Words site adds the note: “Does NOT
mean we think you stink!”]
Having said that, if you are an American reading this column let me
inform you that, like you or not, we Australians think you’re a bit
weird. No seriously … quite peculiar.
No greater example of your country’s strange ways is the unfolding
melodrama currently masquerading as the method for choosing your
For a country that fought a war in order to break away from the British
tradition, America has in its stead put into practice a governmental
system with more pomp, more ceremony and more complexity than any other
on the planet.
The coronation of the Queen had less pomp; the election of the Pope is
In fact placed alongside the US presidential race, finding the next
Dalai Lama looks like a walk in the park.
We Australians look upon all the hubbub of Super Duper Tuesday and the
New Hampshire Primary and the electoral caucus with a mix of amusement
“They say they are the paragon of democracy, but you don’t even have to
vote?” we think to ourselves.
And all this to-do is lavished upon the populace in order to elect
whom? What amazing, brilliant and inspiring person comes from this
process of conventions, delegates and primaries?
To be perfectly honest America, there wasn’t that many of us in love
with the last guy you chose. So whom have you offered up to lead our
free world this time?
On one side you have a 70 year old Vietnam veteran who wants to single
handedly catch Osama Bin Laden, or a Southern Baptist minister who
plays guitar and has a fetish for Chuck Norris.
On the other side you have an African American man who’s whiter than I
am and a woman who’s more of a man than I am.
Perhaps it’s our convict heritage or the fact that we’re quite a
distance from everyone else, but one thing we Australians have figured
out is that no matter how much money you throw at an election, you
still end up with a candidate that will probably disappoint.
So why spend all that cash? Why make the placards? Why go to all that
But we must be careful with our criticism. Sometimes our own methods
are a bit ludicrous. Take for example the recent change in the
leadership of the opposition.
The reason for Jodeen Carney’s ousting wasn’t that she was performing
poorly or that she was somehow unfit to perform her duties.
No, the reason given for the change was that the leader lived in Alice
Springs and was therefore incapable of effectively running the party.
As though you have to set up a swag on the floor of parliament in order
to be the leader of the opposition.
We only have 200,000 people in the Territory yet the argument is that
the leader must live in the “capital”.
So sorry Fay, Matt, Marion, Elliott, Karl and Alison, any aspirations
you had of making a real difference, any thoughts you had of leading
policy or making the Territory better from the leader’s chair, forget
it. You don’t represent the right people.
It’s like saying that Kevin Rudd can’t be Prime Minister because he
wasn’t born in Canberra.
The lesson that can be learned from all of this stupidity is simple. If
you are a young person with a passion for politics, with a zeal for
making changes for the better, don’t move to Darwin, move to
Their most successful politician was a peanut farmer from Kingaroy,
current population 7260.
Back to front
page of the the Alice Springs News.