ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
July 3, 2008. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Scullion ‘stuffed up’: Mills canes Senator
over national parks give-away. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
“He has stuffed up. He knows that.”
That is the blunt assessment by Opposition Leader Terry Mills of his
CLP party colleague, Nigel Scullion, after he voted in the Senate last
week in favour of transferring to Aborigines the ownership of 13
national parks in The Centre.
“Senator Scullion not only failed to secure the support of the Federal
Opposition for the defeat of the Bill, he acted against his long-held
Mr Mills says he is disappointed that the Federal Opposition supported
“The Coalition misjudged the issues,” he says, possibly “in the context
of recently issuing an apology” to the stolen generations.
“After speaking to Senator Scullion I understood the lie of the
He says the Opposition actions “created barriers and divisions in the
Although the Opposition last week still had a majority in the Senate,
the Bill was passed to “schedule” the parks – including the iconic West
MacDonnells – as inalienable freehold land under the Aboriginal Land
Rights (NT) Act.
The move had been opposed for years by the CLP, local government in
Alice Springs, and 75% of people answering a survey by the Alice
Springs News (see extensive coverage in the Alice Springs News online
edition at www.alicespringsnews.co.au).
The handover of the parks, following a deal principally between Ms
Martin and the Central Land Council, was requested by the NT Government
for fear that the parks could be subjected to expensive and divisive
Mr Mills described this reasoning as “untested”.
He says once Senator Scullion, who is the Leader of the Nationals in
the Senate, had failed to get the Coalition’s support, his “opposition
to this Bill would have been symbolic.
“It could not have affected the passage of the Bill.”
Nevertheless, says Mr Mills, “I do not agree with his decision to pass
Senator Scullion is the only conservative politician from the Territory
He had earlier stated that Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson would have
no choice but to support the CLP’s stance on the parks.
The fact that he didn’t is clearly a matter of intense discussion now
within the CLP, which is going into an imminent election in the NT with
just four sitting members.
The Alice Springs News put to Mr Mills that the clear message from the
Liberal and National parties to the majority in the Northern Territory
is “you don’t exist for us”.
Mr Mills said he “more or less” agreed with that assessment.
“How conservative politics is structured and organised is high on my
agenda,” he says.
Senator Scullion drew a blank not only with the people he sits with in
the Federal Parliament.
A strategy to justify his own position also failed.
He had sought an assurance from NT Chief Minister Paul Henderson that
the parks – due to be leased back to the Territory Government for 99
years – would be run by a board with a majority appointed by the NT
Mr Henderson did not provide that guarantee – yet Senator Scullion
rolled over and supported the Bill.
Says Mr Mills: “The Territory needs more than assurances” about the
running of the parks.
“We need iron-clad guarantees that management will reflect the wide
“Assurances made by Henderson and not backed up by law are
Mr Mills admits that influencing the course of events now that the last
opportunity of stopping the transfer has been missed, would be like
But he’s working hard to plug into the national power game. He will be
raising the parks fiasco with Mr Nelson, “no doubt about that”.
Mr Mills says the planned mergers in Queensland and Victoria of the
Nationals and the Liberals will givean impetus for change in
conservative politics, right through to the Federal arena. “When it
happens, the CLP will need to capitalise on the change.”
give-away will hurt the very people it is meant to help.
Sir,- I am dismayed beyond belief with the current capitulation by both
the major parties to the same old wealthy, self-serving Indigenous
The handover of our parks smacks of Mugabe style economics.
Potentially those that could drive the ecological tourist industry,
thus providing jobs for Indigenous people, could be driven out in favor
of mates of the Indigenous hierarchy who in the past have illustrated a
high level of incompetence in serving themselves and not their own
These parks could echo the now deserted farms of Zimbabwe. Who
will lose may I ask?
Yes, the very people this is purported to assist.
I simply cannot believe that we are meekly surrendering to these
powerful Indigenous elites.
The CLP, rather than pursuing a reformist agenda which could see true
racial equality and integration, are pathetically trying to out-left
the Labor Party, ignorant to the fact that these crazies have gone so
far out to the extremities of reality that they are in fact pursuing
policies that will lead to racial, economic and social
Who would have thought, in the year 2008 we would still be placating
the same few capitalist Indigenous interests who are more than happy,
for their own purposes, to segregate black and white Australians by the
use of the permit system and to now create their own economic ghettos
that will further segregate and alienate black from white.
This lunacy has and will continue ensuring that the powerful become
more powerful whilst those on the floor will continue to live in
squalor, segregated and conveniently ignorant.
I am totally convinced, that if it wasn’t for the Indigenous origins of
those who are manipulating this agenda, the Trish Crossins of the world
would staunchly oppose this as being racially divisive and economically
Ald. Murray Stewart
Sir,- Frank Baarda (letters, Alice News, June 26) has a good sense of
humour and a clever turn of phrase.
I laughed when I read his letter, the wooden horse is a great
image, and an intervention without humour needs attention.
Yet, it is also sad that he attacks and makes fun of, the only
significant change in government policy in 30 years.
The intervention was certainly a blunt instrument.
However, for several years before it began I had a growing conviction
that only an earthquake would bring any change to the fear, violence
and abuse that cloud Aboriginal living conditions.
This unbelievably ancient, complex and beautiful culture was
being desecrated and people dying mostly at their own hand so fast that
friends and their children and former students of mine were dying young
or fostering too many children and grandchildren and nephews of totally
Frank sounds like the nightly news when he says “there have been no
convictions for child abuse”.
We all know that a report and conviction for child abuse are very, very
He would know too that the level of child abuse by some has long been
beyond description and the current government facilities i.e. FACS
could get nowhere with it – the case in Queensland was not an isolated
Obesity in Yuendumu as in most communities, is a big problem, so are
Income management has not come to your community yet. Well it also
needs fine-tuning and was always designed for besieged families and
there are so many of those.
Of course, many do not need it but should we ignore the plight of those
who simply used all their income for grog and were living under a
bridge being satisfied to survive on leftovers – or those that were
humbugged to death to handover cash for grog.
Some are now using money for a few new clothes for the first time in
years and to buy food from the store.
This is good news – 50% on food and housing: Mr Baarda, wouldn’t you
spend that much yourself on food, clothing and housing?
If this disadvantages good small stores like your own this needs to be
adjusted under the review.
Is the new bureaucrat at Yuendumu useless as some in other communities
are proving to be?
Another level of government is not what was needed.
Where could the intervention money really be helpful at Yuendumu?
Let us know Frank, how and where do things need change?
Don’t only be clever in columns, people like you who have worked for
years with Aboriginal people and seen it all first hand can offer
You know that Bess Price is right that losing three brothers to alcohol
is too many!
Warlpiri people are dynamic, clever and warm, good people but all the
children are not “well fed and happy.”
How can you help Frank Baarda? Be constructive, you have a lot to offer.
Carol Sharples Muir
Law into his own hands?
A man is alleged to have injured a youth fleeing after a foiled attempt
to break into a woman’s dwelling on June 20.
Police Superintendent Sean Parnell says investigations are under way to
establish whether the man, who came to the assistance of the woman,
should be charged.
A media release by police last week said a 30-year-old woman in
Telegraph Terrace resisted a home invasion in Telegraph Terrace.
“Both the woman victim and the alleged offender were taken to hospital
and received treatment,” said the report.
The youth, aged 17, was later flown to Adelaide where he was treated
for head injuries in the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
A spokeswoman for the Alice Springs hospital said this week it is
routine for people with head injuries to be evacuated to Adelaide.
She said the youth was due to be discharged soon.
This is how the initial police report described the events: “It is
alleged that a 17 year old male smashed a back window of the premises
and attempted to gain entry.
“When the victim called police, he smashed another window and then
tried to gain entry to the residence by forcing a back door.
“The victim kept the offender out by slamming the door on him several
“He is alleged to have thrown an object at the victim causing facial
injuries which later required suturing.
“About this time a friend of the victim had arrived and assisted in
subduing the offender.”
The spokeswoman, who also represents the Children and Families Service,
undertook to find out whether the youth was in the care of FACS and if
so, why he was in a position to commit the alleged offence.
No answer was provided before deadline.
New burbs at airport? Huge
development costs differences: will they determine where Alice grows?
By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Imagine a new residential development that is unencumbered by native
title, not affected by the Territory’s sometimes onerous town planning
controls, exempt from town council rates, and cheap so far as provision
of services is concerned, the so-called headworks.
A Caribbean tax haven?
No, it’s under your nose: just 15 minutes from the CBD, between the
airport and the Rangeview Estate rural subdivision.
The Alice Springs airport is, in terms of area, the biggest in
Australia, if not the world.
About 10% (400 hectares – see map) of its 35.5 square kilometres has
been flagged at the recent planning forum as one of the serious options
for the expansion of the town, and much more of the area when one takes
in possible uses for tourism and industry.
In a detailed submission on growth options for the town, consultants to
the NT Government Opus Qantec McWilliam described the airport land,
combined with the Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) area, as “overall
the most cost effective option”.
The larger of the two AZRI options provides for 826 single dwellings,
347 multiple dwellings and 280 medium density blocks.
Opus says the airport land has “very high yield in the long term” and
“high potential for commercial land”.
The estimated yields would be 1700 single dwellings, 650 multiple
dwellings and 320 medium density blocks.
Between the two of them, AZRI and the airport land could accommodate
some 15,000 to 16,000 people.
Opus also says there is an opportunity for a dual water supply from the
Power and Water Corporation’s sewage reuse plant.
An option to deal with more traffic through the Gap is a dual
carriageway “bridge” elevating the road through the Gap.
This would increase the flow of the Todd River and reduce, to a degree,
the risk of flooding in the town.
The headworks costs for the AZRI-airport option are $14,000 per block,
compared to $42,000 in Mt Johns Valley, for example.
Costs would be higher still for the Undoolya option, around $56,000 per
block, an estimated $210m all up, including $26m for new sewage ponds,
$137m for a water supply from Rocky Hill, and $40m for roads.
Undoolya would ultimately cater for 15,000 people, but most of the
headworks for the entire development would need to be done up front.
With the AZRI-airport option, Rocky Hill water is closer, the lines
from the soon to be built power station at Brewer Estate will run past
the front door, and sewage can be pumped up to the existing ponds.
Surprisingly, there is no talk about relocating the pongy sewage plant
which, if the AZRI-airport option is adopted, will be pretty well in
the middle of the town.
Soon Alice Springs will need to state its case to the government, and
it may well be this: you’ve spent squillions on the Darwin Waterfront,
complete with wave pool. Now it’s our turn. We prefer the scenery at
Undoolya, so don’t skimp on headworks costs.
The airport land belongs to the Commonwealth, and is under freehold
title, which extinguishes native title rights.
The land in Mt Johns Valley, by contrast, has a $10m price tag on it
for native title holders, using the deal for the Larapinta subdivision
as a guide.
The airport’s operating company, Alice Springs Airport Pty Ltd (ASA),
owned principally by Australian superannuation funds, is leasing the
airport land for 99 years.
Being Commonwealth property the NT Government has no jurisdiction over
the airport land, and NT planning provisions do not apply.
And the town council has no right to charge rates for Commonwealth land
although the airport is in the municipal area.
In reality, however, there are some compromises: the Commonwealth
sometimes pays ex-gratia (voluntary) council rates.
ASA CEO Donald McDonald says the Commonwealth being rate exempt “was a
suggestion at the forum but is not necessarily the view of ASA”.
Arrangements are likely to be made to fall in with at least some
aspects of NT planning laws, possibly over sections of the airport land
split off for residential purposes.
But one thing’s for sure: making some generous concessions here or
there is a lot better than being forced into complying with demands
from a string of authorities.
Mr McDonald, who’s about to embark on drawing up the airport’s third
five-year plan, says his company would be careful not to offend against
“acceptable” land use patterns.
This raises some questions.
The Opus plan presented to the forum shows along Colonel Rose Drive,
the northern boundary of the airport, land for “single dwellings”,
conjuring up anything from homes on quarter acre blocks to cluster
In one place along that road there is provision even for “medium rise
And east of the residential areas is one set aside for “tourism” –
which could mean anything from walking trails down to the Todd River to
hotels and caravan parks.
On the other side of Colonel Rose Drive are long-established rural
residential areas, mostly two hectare blocks (five acres).
Residents there have fought determined battles, by and large
successfully, to retain the character of their area and their
Mr McDonald told the Alice Springs News that community wishes would be
respected and where appropriate, there would be rural residential land,
which would mean two hectare blocks or bigger.
Says Mr McDonald: “The airport would be bound by any constraints that
the Federal Transport Minister includes in his approval of the next –
and current – five year master plan.
“It will be developed with consultation with the NT Government and the
Alice Springs Town Council.”
The airport’s current five year plan says: “The rural residential
development will mirror the existing private development on the north
side of Colonel Rose Drive.
“The proposal will respond to existing known demand for rural
residential developments [and] provide a range of lot sizes which will
take into account the capability of the land and other environmental or
But on the Opus plan there is no provision for rural blocks.
A government source says the Opus plan is merely one of a number of
possible scenarios, subject to a great deal more public comment.
Mr McDonald says he understands the Opus plan to be an indication of
what the NT Government has in mind.
But a high-level government source says it’s what Opus thought the
airport company had in mind.
There are a couple of eccentric restrictions on the airport land: all
prostitution and certain forms of gambling are banned, a legacy of the
involvement of independent Senator Brian Harradine in the drafting of
the lease conditions for Commonwealth land.
But there are also plans for tourism, agriculture, horticulture,
commercial activities, general industry and heritage uses of the huge
This is what, in part, the airport’s current five year plan has in
• Tourism opportunities may be developed for anything from bush
experiences to hotel or golf course development according to future
demand. There are no proposals to introduce any form of powered or
wheeled activities within this area.
• Land with potential horticultural use is between the tourism zone and
the aerodrome. It will remain unused until a viable operation is
• Two commercial precincts will largely be developed alongside the road
access as demand requires, for airport support and following
consultation on compatibility with the needs of the Alice Springs
• A commercial precinct adjacent to the Stuart Highway [on the corner
with Colonel Rose Drive] will serve mainly non-airport users including
residents and travellers on the highway. For example a service station,
supermarket or catering facility would be appropriate.
• An area west of runway 17/35 – the one running roughly north-south –
was identified in the previous plan as a possible transportation
centre, although distant from the Stuart Highway and not near the rail
line, this site does have potential to maximise an opportunity to
centralise freight make-up linking both road and air transport, close
to the airport. The land could also be assigned to general industry
• Heritage sites include buildings within the old Seven Mile Aerodrome,
the passenger terminal, control tower and Bellman Hangar.
A preservation plan is currently being prepared to protect these
• Commercial (non–aeronautical) land development [could include]
retailing areas ranging from neighbourhood convenience shopping to
regional centres [and] general as well as light industry.
ENVIRONMENT: Glimpse of Alice in
2030. By KIERAN FINNANE.
What will it be like to live in Alice Springs in 2030 – taking into
account climate change and other changes?
A group of researchers from CDU are attempting to paint a picture,
based as much on the imagination of local people as on scientific data.
In fact, information about the impact of climate change at a regional
level is “very uncertain”, said Stephen Garnett, Director of the School
for Environmental Research.
And he would be relying on local expertise to point to data in the
other areas that will be explored in the scenario modelling exercise.
Some 30 people, mostly from environment-oriented professions, gathered
for the first workshop of this exercise on Monday, convened by Rolf
Gerritsen, Research Leader for CDU in Central Australia. Dr Garnett
noted the lack of business people present.
The future can’t be predicted, he said, but by pulling together a lot
of different ideas and using the best data and knowledge currently
available, you can get close.
That knowledge is useful in talking to policy-makers and developing
contingency plans, allowing communities to be better placed to respond
to future shocks.
A simple example of scenario modelling is to look at relationships
between possible temperature rises, population increases and the demand
for electricity to power air-conditioning. At some point the demand
exceeds capacity, said Dr Garnett.
Discussion began around the scale of the group’s concern: did they want
to focus on Alice Springs alone? Nobody did. Areas within a 300 km
radius from town were considered to be the minimal area of interest,
with support for going further, to at least 500 kms.
Generally it was thought the APY Lands of the far north of South
Australia needed to be included.
Tennant Creek needed its own scenario but should also be taken into
account in the Alice discussion.
The eastern-most communities and pastoral lands of the NT were deemed
to be more oriented to Queensland.
There was no firm data on climate change to direct the discussion.
It would be hotter in summer and slightly cooler in winter, with less
frequent rainfall coming in “big lumps”.
In small group discussion these were some of the ideas canvassed:
• Economic and social factors would have bigger influences on Central
Australia than climate change over the next 20 years.
High water, energy and fuel costs would drive the economy into
“shutdown mode”; tourism, cattle industries would shrivel; there would
be a drop in population and a change in demographic, with far more
Indigenous than non-Indigenous people.
Alice under this scenario would survive “like Tennant Creek” – a
regional centre to serve local needs.
Social welfare would take over the major industries.
• With small communities impacted by the cascade effect of economic
change across the country, Alice Springs would become a magnet for
There was a lot of agreement around the impact being greatest for
• On the positive side, there was a lot of speculation around the
opportunities for the town and the region to become more
self-sufficient: to eat its own meat, grow more of its own fruit and
vegetables in dispersed locations, recycle its water, take advantage of
its renewable energy resources, become a model of desert living.
But the need for good information around these ideas was noted, for
instance, information on the impact of using recycled sewage water on
salinity levels and soil structure.
• On the pessimistic side there was gloom about the educational level
specifically of the Indigenous population. In 20 years’ time the people
at decision-making and leadership age would be the 20 year olds of
today who are generally poorly educated.
• A town of 25,000 people doesn’t count on a national scale, but on the
other hand, Alice does attract a lot of attention and “punches above
And because it’s small and off the national energy grid, there may be
an opportunity to “get it right here”.
• What happens in Alice and the region is subject to so many external
decisions. For instance, the tariffs for power and water are set by the
NT Government and their low level does not encourage conservation.
• Change may be driven by things getting worse: the hip-pocket will be
hit so hard it will lead to innovation.
• A worst case scenario was that we wouldn’t have learnt anything.
Looking at the present, what have we learnt, what are we passing on to
• Another was that the town would become a fly in, fly out mine,
Drawing from the discussions, Dr Garnett identified the following as
the areas in which to develop models: population change; tourism; fuel
costs; urban drift; water use; horticulture; energy; skills and
education; health services; infrastructure and its sustainability;
transport; federal policy (and other external influences); outstation
support; the federal Intervention in Indigenous communities; energy
efficiency policy; an emissions trading scheme; a sustainable pastoral
industry; food self-reliance; morale and social function; feral
animals; eco-system health; desert knowledge; mining; fire; wealth and
benefit distribution; the desert as dumping ground for waste and
prisons; migration (bringing skills and refugees); disease
(bio-security); governance (including the case for a separate territory
of Centralia); creativity and innovation; opportunities for cohesion;
opportunities for positive adaptation to climate change.
The models developed will come to the group for further refinement
before a report is drafted.
“Ultimately that is the purpose of the process,” said Dr Garnett, “to
get people thinking hard about how they might adapt to climate change
when it happens.
“The worst disasters are those that take you by surprise.”
ENVIRONMENT: Solar City alone
won’t get Town Council to 2010 greenhouse emissions reduction target.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
More than a year after the Town Council was taken to task over failure
to implement its own plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and 10
years after they signed up to Cities For Climate Protection, an
international campaign to involve local government in greenhouse gas
emission reduction, they are again considering how to go forward.
As part of the campaign, council’s local action plan (LAP) aimed to
reduce its own and community greenhouse gases by 20% by the year 2010.
A recent report by council’s environment officer, Reinier Laan, takes
stock of where the LAP is at, which is well short of the target despite
the Solar City project.
“It is not enough to rely on a few projects like the Alice Springs
Solar City Consortium to reach the LAP goal,” writes Mr Laan.
Through that project the community sector greenhouse savings are
expected to be some 12,900 tonnes, while the LAP target is 65,080
Mr Laan urges council to show leadership by further reducing its own
emissions from sources such as water, energy and waste.
He makes a range of suggestions for action including a green
procurement policy; encouragement of home composting and future
kerbside recycling; reducing park lawn in consultation with residents;
implementing policy to further reduce vehicle emissions; encouraging
greater use of public transport by private vehicle users.
He says a feasibility study is necessary to prioritise actions.
His analysis shows that just over half of the LAP’s recommendations for
council’s operations “are being completed”.
These included energy efficiency and lighting retrofit of council
buildings; reduction of water consumption in parks; and waste
reduction, all of which are ongoing.
A start has been made on further improvements in streetlight efficiency
(this is being researched) and on research into energy efficient
technology and alternative fuel use in council vehicles (the mayor
drives a hybrid car).
In the community a cycle program managed by council’s sport and rec
officer, management of the landfill tender to achieve waste reduction,
and a public library reference section on energy efficiency are
The NT Government is extending the local bus routes, but a start has
yet to be made on encouraging more people to use the busses instead of
Mr Laan gives these initiatives in the community, together with the
Solar City project, a 62.5% completion rating.
He comments that the weakness of the LAP is that it concentrates on
council operations and the residential part of the community, while it
is business that will be responsible for 80% of emissions in Alice
Springs in 2010.
Mr Laan says council needs to seek extra funding of $150,000 a year to
help implement its LAP goals.
And he recommends that council’s new Environment Advisory Committee,
chaired by Greens alderman Jane Clark, evaluate all LAP actions so that
the reduction target of 65,0000 tonnes is reached more economically.
He writes that the council is in “high danger” of not reaching its 2010
ENVIRONMENT: Uranium, Timor gas
‘our hope’. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The Territory’s uranium resources and Timor Sea gas are identified as
“substantial greenhouse-friendly energy resources” with “strong
potential” for expansion in the NT Government’s discussion paper on
Climate Change Issues.
They head the paper’s list of “strategic opportunities” for the NT
presented by climate change.
If uranium and gas were used to replace coal, says the paper, they
would lead to the avoidance of around 200 million tonnes of carbon
annually, equivalent to nearly 15 times the NT’s own emissions.
Moving agricultural production to the north is mentioned as a possible
opportunity – yet to be studied in any detail.
Emissions from the land clearing involved would be offset by
reforestation in the southern regions of the country, suggest the
Savannah burning, which substantially contributes to the NT being one
of the worst per capita carbon emitters in the world, is also presented
as an opportunity, with improved fire management practices culminating
in the ability to create carbon offsets.
There is no mention of renewable energy under the “opportunity”
heading, though elsewhere it is suggested that “renewables” will be
making an increasing contribution to our supplies of energy.
The paper is also upbeat about standards of living.
Costs are listed as higher prices for air-conditioning, fuel, air
travel and a vast range of goods and services.
But this doesn’t mean necessarily that our living standards or economy
will decline, it is suggested.
Using energy more efficiently – doing things like switching off lights
to switching over time to more energy efficient buildings or sometimes
walking to the shops instead of using the car – “should have no
negative impact on our standard of living”.
Revenue from an emissions trading scheme (ETS), if recycled, would
ensure a minimal negative effect from the ETS on economic activity,
says the paper.
It goes on: “The NT Government is determined to ensure that no actions
will be taken that threaten the continuing development of the
Territory’s economy in a carbon-constrained future.
“Ongoing economic growth will continue to deliver higher incomes for
the NT community. With higher incomes, energy costs become a smaller
proportion of the household expenditure.”
In its conclusions, however, the paper does recognise the need for:
“enhanced data and information” to plan for the impacts of climate
change; an examination of “the risks and vulnerability” for a range of
“human and natural assets”; and to build “adaptive capacity” for
ecosytems, communities and industries.
‘The nuclear non-solution’.
The NT Government’s discussion paper on climate change has an
inappropriate focus on uranium exports, environmentalists have charged.
Justin Tutty, from the No Waste Alliance, says the discussion paper
fails on three counts :
• it is preoccupied with the “nuclear non-solution”;
• it argues for some of the dirtiest polluters in the Territory to be
exempt from the anticipated emissions trading scheme;
• and, disappointingly, the significant potential of proven renewable
energy options is discounted and dismissed.
“We were shocked to realise the paper erroneously lists nuclear power
as renewable, and promotes expansion of uranium mining,” says Mr Tutty
Nat Wasley, from the Beyond Nuclear Initiative in Alice Springs, says
the paper is a throwback to the Howard government’s pro-nuclear agenda.
“In 2006, the Liberals defied public opinion to propose 25 unwanted
nuclear reactors in Australian cities,” says Ms Wasley
“They failed, because the evidence was stacked against them.
“And Territorians still have the proposal for a federal radioactive
dump looming, and there is strong concern that with increased uranium
exports, international pressure will see any national dump expanded to
house international waste.”
Where have all the young ones
gone? By KIERAN FINNANE.
The Youth Centre on Wills Terrace looks uninviting from the front –
high cyclone wire fence, security screen right around the front
building – but it has a committed board of volunteers running it, a new
friendly youth worker, and some great facilities.
Where else can young people play pool for free? Or do a workout for
free? Or just hang out together without being asked to move on?
“The kids know it’s there, but they think it’s never open,” says
president Marie Petery.
“I was at the recent youth forum and what did they say they wanted – a
youth centre in the middle of town, with pool tables, table tennis,
where they can go with no charge. That’s what we’ve got!
“But it needs a new face.”
The board has applied for the second time for capital works funding
from the Department of Sport and Recreation (they were knocked back
Their plans are to open up the centre at the front with decking, so
that kids can walk into the “teenage room” straight off the street.
Sport and Rec has a limit of $50,000 for capital works and the board’s
plans need at least $100,000.
If successful with the first application, they’ll go to the Federal
Government for the rest, says Ms Petery.
This amount would not take care of the other repair and maintenance
“The whole place needs a coat of paint and there are cracks in the hall
– you’re talking about a 50 year old building.
“Our canteen and the kitchen in the hall also need upgrades to bring
them up to scratch with health regulations,” says Ms Petery.
The facility is “owned by the community”. If you’re a Youth Centre
member (for a mere $10 a year) “you’re a part-owner”.
It’s on land leased from the NT Government for 99 years. Beyond the
physical upgrade, the centre also needs more paid staff.
At present Julia Valentin is the only staff member but the board is
hopeful of engaging another if funding comes through.
But to get the centre operating at full capacity and staying open later
at night it needs three staff, says Ms Petery.
It has been able to stay open largely thanks to the volunteers who run
the various structured activities – gymnastics, various martial arts,
boxing. At present hours are 1pm to 7.30pm.
Julia, originally from Germany where she trained and worked as a youth
worker, is focussing on the teenage room.
She’s dubbed it the Cool Cats’ Cafe but recognises that it’s not very
funky or cosy.
She plans to turn it into a more welcoming hangout for young people
aged 13 to 19, and has a donation of $300 to make a start.
“I’ve been told this place used to be buzzing – that’s what I want to
get happening,” she says.
During the school holidays she’s promoting the cafe as a hangout from
2pm to 4.30pm, Monday to Thursday, and on Fridays to 5pm.
There’s a sound system (youth can bring their own CDs); board games;
magazines; the canteen.
They can watch a movie, and Julia will open up the well-equipped gyms
if they feel like a workout.
Outdoors there’s a roller-blading area, a basketball court and a
And indoors a number of studios for the different physical activities
as well as the hall, which is sometimes used for concerts.
The centre is a place to be if young people don’t want to be at home,
says Julia, and much better than them being on the streets.
It offers the opportunity of being social and entertained, while Julia
is there as a point of contact if they need help in any way.
Julia’s approach is low-key, friendly, respectful: “If you show them
respect, they show respect for you.”
While there was no-one using the facilities when the Alice News was
there, there had been groups in through the week, 10 earlier that day,
eight the day before, mainly boys in their mid teens.
Julia hopes they’ll spread the word.
Licence to buy gun not good
enough to buy grog.
A man who showed an NT firearms licence at a liquorshop had it knocked
back as suitable form of photo ID.
Customers have been required to show photo ID when buying alcohol since
Grant “Roadie” Cawthorne also had rejected his contractor’s
licence issued by the South Australian Office of Consumer Affairs.
The firearms licence and the contractor’s licence are both government
issued and show Mr Cawthorne’s photo. Mr Cawthorne does have a driver’s
licence but did not want to show it for privacy reasons – because it
discloses his address.
Chris McIntyre, regional executive officer of Licensing, says the
problem is simply one of the software not recognising every last form
of photo ID.
The templates of the most common forms are “keyed into the system,”
says Mr McIntyre, so that the computer knows where to “read” the photo
and details such as name and date of birth. The computer does not store
any of this information.
The forms of ID recognised are: drivers’ licence; passport; 18+
card; and cards issued by Tangentyere Council, Julalikari Council in
Tennant Creek and the Larrakiah Council in Darwin.
“These cards are not primarily for buying grog,” says Mr McIntyre.
“They’re used for Centrelink, Return to Country and at some banks.”
On complaints such as Mr Cawthorne’s, Mr McIntyre says:
“People have been demanding that we target problem drinkers.
“Well, scanning photo ID is one way we can do that.”
He says that if a significant number of people were using others forms
of photo ID and “we were satisfied with the integrity of that form”,
its template would be keyed into the system.
But this is not warranted by a few instances.
Mr Cawthorne says he bought a cask of port for a tourist who was
attempting to buy two (only one a day is allowed). The tourist
complained about not being made aware of the liquor restrictions when
he made plans for his trip, says Mr Cawthorne.
Mr McIntyre says his department is trying to work with the tourist
industry, and has distributed some 10,000 postcards to tourist
accommodation in Alice.
“We are trying to portray our laws in a positive light,” he says.
Go-ahead for Civic Centre art.
The public art project planned for the corner of Todd Mall and Gregory
Terrace will go ahead, with the Town Council’s $150,000 being matched
dollar for dollar by the Territory Government.
The project is called the “gathering garden” and features seating
in the form of upturned coolamons cast in bronze and a central water
feature, also in the form of a coolamon, within colourful and shady
The concept is the work of Melbourne-based sculptor Julie Squires and
Central Arrernte / Warlpiri artists Marie Elena Ellis and Roseanne
Ellis, daughters of renowned Papunya painter Michael Jagamarra Nelson,
who created the design for the forecourt mosaic at Parliament House in
Canberra. They are pictured above with Geoff Miers who has done the
planting design, Bess Price who worked on the project development as a
cultural advisor, Ms Squires and her uncle David Price, who helped
provide local knowledge. Marie is at left, Roseanne, right.
• A mother and young daughter collaborative exhibition, KID, is showing
at Watch This Space.
ADAM CONNELLY: ET – go home!
I’d never heard of Marlinja before last week.It has a population of
112, the same amount of people who watch Battle of the Choirs.
I can’t point it out on a map. Partly because my knowledge of NT
geography is embarrassingly poor but also because it isn’t on many
maps. Regardless, the town of Marlinja made news across the globe last
Late on a Sunday evening, four Unidentified Flying Objects were seen to
fly around the town. Apparently bright lights were first seen
accompanied by a noise so loud it made the earth shake. The lights
hovered above the basketball courts before flying off into the outback.
Maybe we were visited by a species of life from another planet.
But by definition, UFOs are tricky things to identify. In fact, apart
from a few grainy black and whites and a conspiracy theorist’s
imagination, there really isn’t much in the way of hard evidence.
Not for want of trying. There are people on this planet, closely
related to those who talk about secret societies based in the Vatican
controlling the governments of the world, who dedicate their lives to
proving extra-terrestrial life exists.
They use sophisticated satellites listening for anomalies in radio
waves in outer space. They read books and surf the internet for
articles written by others equally committed to discovering life from
other planets. They talk about Roswell and Area 54 and now Marlinja,
Northern Territory will also be a part of this select group’s
I know people who are very interested in this field of endeavour. (I
suppose it might be a little difficult to just have a passing interest
in alien life. It seems to be an all or nothing kind of thing.)
I don’t tend to invite them to dinner parties to be honest. They seem
to only really want to discuss their latest theory. I know a bloke with
an exhaustive (in more ways than one) theory about crop circles. My
attention during the explanation waned somewhat a couple of minutes in,
but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with electro-magnetic lines,
interplanetary road maps and druids.
There is also a particularly virulent breed of bar fly in Alice Springs
convinced that deep within the bowels of Pine Gap there is a spaceship
or two. They talk of the big white globes as giant radio transmitters
to communicate with aliens. “I mean, why else would they build it in
the middle of nowhere? No interference you see?”
I really couldn’t be less interested. Maybe it’s because I really
didn’t think Close Encounters of the Third Kind was that great a film.
Maybe it’s because I have enough trouble keeping my own life in order.
But mostly it’s because if aliens turn up unannounced, the place is a
bit of a mess. Think about it. If alien life lands in the middle of New
York or London and announces to the world that they are from a planet
like ours and they come in peace, how does that really help us?
Europeans nearly killed Indigenous races across the planet because
someone on the boat had a cough. Can you imagine what funky alien
diseases these space travelers might bring?
As if we don’t have enough problems of our own. Now we have another six
billion beings with their own issues. We can’t even look after
Imagine if they want a tour of the place? We’d be like the host that
quickly shuffles guests past the main bedroom because that’s where they
threw all the junk 20 minutes before the guests arrived.
“And here we have Africa, moving on… have you seen Europe?”
To be honest I don’t think aliens are very congenial anyway. They cross
the galaxy, travelling light years in small space ships and then only
get sighted in places like Marlinja before scooting off again.
You never hear of people from Paris being abducted by aliens, do you?
Mostly it only happens to those living in rural communities in the
middle of the Louisiana bayou or Wycliffe Well.
“Alright Gwarx, ready for our big journey? Let’s travel 240,000 light
years. I can’t wait to get to earth and check out their barren
No, bugger them. If aliens want to come to earth, they should do the
right thing. Call before you turn up and stop being the moody bloke in
the corner at the party.
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