ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
March 12, 2009. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
interested in Centrecorp, royalties on track – Snowdon. By ERWIN
Federal Member Warren Snowdon says it’s up to the Central Land
Council (CLC) to decide whether or not it tells Federal Parliament to
whom it pays mining royalties, estimated at $35m a year.
This is notwithstanding that the CLC is operating under Commonwealth
legislation, is a Commonwealth statutory body, and the money it
distributes comes from the Commonwealth, in the form of mining royalty
And Mr Snowdon says he has “no interest in pursuing” Senate questioning
of the affairs of Centrecorp, the secretive Aboriginal investment
company in which the CLC has a majority shareholding, and which is
rumoured to have control of assets worth $100m.
Mr Snowdon spoke to the Alice Springs News on Sunday after CLC director
David Ross failed to give answers to NT Senator Nigel Scullion, and
took on notice further questions put to him by Queensland Senator and
Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis, during the latest Senate
Estimates hearings (Alice News, March 5, www.alicespringsnews.com.au/1605.html).
NEWS: The question raised by Senator Brandis was what happened with the
mining royalties administered by the CLC. Senator Scullion had asked
who received payments over the past three financial years, but got no
SNOWDON: The royalties don’t belong to the land council. As I
understand it, royalties go to organizations which are set up by
traditional owners. They determine what happens to the royalties.
NEWS: So in your view there is no need for the land council to tell
Parliament to whom it paid royalties.
SNOWDON: It doesn’t pay royalties.
NEWS: I understand it collects and then pays royalties.
SNOWDON: Royalties are made available by the Commonwealth Government to
the land councils for distribution to organizations which are
incorporated and set up to administer the funds. The land council
oversights the administration. That is all.
NEWS: Is your view that the questions Senator Scullion asked and that
Senator Brandis is now pursuing, should not be asked?
SNOWDON: I don’t mind what questions people ask.
NEWS: Should they be answered?
SNOWDON: The Opposition was in government for 11 years and did not ask
NEWS: Now they are asking them.
SNOWDON: Obviously it was OK then and now it is not. I don’t think they
are relevant questions. The organizations are run responsibly. There
have been issues in the past, prior to the setting up of these
incorporated bodies, issues that needed to be responded to. I am not
aware of any concerns expressed by the recipients of the royalties and
the royalty associations themselves. They should be the ones you should
direct the questions to, not me.
NEWS: My question was, should Senator Scullion receive an answer?
SNOWDON: It’s a matter for those people who receive the royalties. The
land council will respond to questions it is legally required to
NEWS: It hasn’t given an answer so far.
SNOWDON: It may not be required to do so. That’s a decision they will
make, not me. I have great confidence in land councils and NGOs to
administer their affairs properly. Mr Ross is able to make a judgment
whether the questions should be responded to.
NEWS: The Centrecorp issue has come up again in the Senate Estimates
hearings. Mr Ross is, in fact, a public servant who works for an agency
attached to the Commonwealth department headed up by Jenny Macklin ...
SNOWDON: No he doesn’t. The CLC is a Commonwealth statutory authority.
It has its own rules.
NEWS: It answers to Jenny Macklin’s department.
SNOWDON: No. It answers to the Federal Parliament through its annual
NEWS: But it doesn’t seem to be giving the answers, for example, about
how many boards Mr Ross is sitting on, what Centrecorp is doing with
the money in which it has an interest. The questioning is laboriously
dragged out in Estimates sessions, six months apart and half an hour at
SNOWDON: [The questioning is done] by people who have no interest in
the concerns of Indigenous people, nor investing in them. From what I
understand, Centrecorp is not a public corporation, it’s a private
company and therefore it is able to invest in all manner of investments
... as it has done [extensively] in its home town. And that’s a good
Mr Snowdon says he “read part of the transcript” of the Senate
Estimates hearing on February 27 when Senator Brandis questioned Mr
Ross for the second time.
“I have no interest in pursuing this,” says Mr Snowdon.
Mr Snowdon was an opponent to the NT Intervention under Mal Brough,
Indigenous Affairs Minister in the Howard Government.
Now he is giving qualified support to the Intervention model just
extended for three years by the current Minister, Jenny Macklin.
SNOWDON: There are some very positive aspects but there are clearly
people who remain implacably opposed to some aspects of it.
NEWS: What are the aspects in the current intervention you’re not keen
SNOWDON: What I’m keen on or not keen on isn’t relevant, quite frankly.
After 18 months of intervention there is still criticism from some
quarters and some of it has a strong foundation.
NEWS: Which one?
SNOWDON: Aspects of the income maintenance, but there are also people
speaking very strongly for the Intervention. We’re seeing the housing
deficiency being addressed. We’re talking some hundreds of millions of
NEWS: Not much of it will be spent in Central Australia. [See “Centre
poor cousin in $.6b housing scheme,” Alice News, April 17, 2008, www.alicespringsnews.com.au/1511.html]
SNOWDON: It’s done on the basis of where the need is greatest.
NEWS: What’s the difference between the Mal Brough and the Jenny
SNOWDON: A lot more consultation. There was no consultation with
Brough. There is no longer the intention to appropriate land in the way
Brough was appropriating land. We’re now reaching agreement on the
issue of leasing of housing on communities. We’re in the process, I
think, of finalizing negotiations here in town with Tangentyere [about
the town camps]. People had some legitimate concerns about what had
originally been announced by the former government.
NEWS: But there are still going to be leases and the housing is still
going to be run by the NT Government.
SNOWDON: There will be leases which will be made available to the NT
Government for public housing.
NEWS: Why is it taking so long?
SNOWDON: One of the things here is taking people with you. It’s been a
particularly difficult issue here in Alice Springs. Tennant Creek
people have reached agreement and are now getting the benefit of $50m
in Commonwealth investment.
NEWS: Do you support the basic model that the land is going to be
leased to the government housing authority, which will build and manage
SNOWDON: The important thing is that the underlying title remains with
Aboriginal people. [Although there was always provision for it],
historically no government, Commonwealth or Territory, sought leases
for their own housing. What we’re seeing here is a remedying of a
stupid mistake by previous governments. Aboriginal people can now be
confident that the leases they give will be for 40 plus 40 years or 20
plus 20 years.
NEWS: What’s your preference as to time frame?
SNOWDON: I don’t have one, that’s up to the individual parties. What’s
imperative is that people can be assured that they are not losing their
[The Tangentyere website says: “On 24th June 2008, the Executive of
Tangentyere Council, representing all Housing Associations of the town
camps of Alice Springs, voted unanimously to enter into 40 year leases
with the Australian government, with further negotiations about the
management of housing to be undertaken with mutual goodwill.
“The Australian Government has committed $5.3 million to begin upgrades
as soon as possible.
“A total of $50 million has been offered by the Australian government
for housing and infrastructure upgrades.”]
NEWS: What will be the role of Tangentyere in this process?
SNOWDON: I’m uncertain about the current negotiations but Tangentyere
will still have an ongoing role, absolutely.
NEWS: What will it be?
SNOWDON: Providing services, as they have done and are continuing to
NEWS: Do you think they’ve done a good job in the last 25 years?
SNOWDON: Given all the circumstances I think they’ve done a very good
job. [Consider] the failure of the [CLP] Northern Territory government
to engage or recognize the town camps, and the failure of successive
NEWS: The NT Government gave them their leases.
SNOWDON: But no money.
NEWS: Tangentyere is getting $23m a year, from what we can make out.
SNOWDON: They may be getting $23m a year but there clearly has not been
enough infrastructure, nor enough recognition given to the very heavy
demands placed on the town camps by people traveling in from out bush
over many, many years.
Camels: Waste or sell them? By
Shooting 400,000 camels, leaving them to rot in the bush, their bones a
risk of spreading botulism, or setting up an abattoir near Alice
Springs, creating a new industry with 70 jobs, and the win-win
situation of reducing the feral animals’ ballooning numbers, as well as
striking a blow in the combat of world hunger.
It sounds like a no brainer, says cattle man Gary Dann, but that’s the
choice facing the NT and Commonwealth governments.
Mr Dann says it reportedly costs $50 a head to shoot camels, or $20m
for the herds roaming the NT, north-west of SA and the adjoining desert
Mr Dann says for $15m a multi-species killing works for cattle and
camels could be built south of Alice Springs.
He is suggesting as a site a limestone hill near the entrance to the
Brewer industrial estate.
The land is part of Northern Territory government owned Owen Springs,
on the South Stuart Highway.
The drainage is ideal, says Mr Dann, power and water are close, and
across the road is the Alice Springs jail, whose low-risk prisoners may
be a ready resource of unskilled labour, roughly 70% of the works’
Mr Dann says a throughput of 1000 beasts a week – 50,000 a year – would
make an adequate dent into the feral herds now causing widespread
“We have buyers for the meat lined up,” says Mr Dann.
He says there would be no problem finding stockmen to muster and drove
the camels which can walk 100 kms a day, going from outlying areas to
This reduces the need for road transport, expensive and stressful for
He says about recruiting stockmen and drovers: “I’ve got a few blokes I
can set up, and I can name three of four teams ready to start.”
The work and training to do it would be ideal for the large number of
unemployed Indigenous people in the The Centre.
Trap yards with water and salt licks would be the most cost-effective
way of mustering, once the animals are domesticated.
Some animals would be taken to slaughter, others left for a breeding
herd to ensure an ongoing supply of stock.
The meat would be for human consumption, including export.
Mr Dann says camels have now been gazetted as game, animals that can be
field shot for human consumption, like kangaroos and wild pigs.
Guidelines still have to be approved.
He says there have been outbreaks of botulism in the VRD, which can be
fatal, after wild donkeys and horses were culled by shooting them from
helicopters, and the carcasses were left to rot.
Mr Dann currently slaughters cattle in the Wamboden abattoir, north of
Alice Springs, for his Charbray Meats butchery in the Yeperenye Centre,
after an excellent rain season has provided high quality, organically
bred beef herds in Central Australia.
Crusher made in Alice. By
They’ve got the smarts – having built their own crusher – and the drive
to rid the bush of the thousands of abandoned cars, washing machines
and refrigerators that make parts of our region look like a junk yard.
But red tape and lack of incentives to offset the falling prices for
scrap metal are taking their toll.
Russell McDonough and Nicky Jettner, of Alice Springs Metal Recyclers
(ASMR) in Ghan Road, have been operating out of Alice Springs for four
Says Ms Jettner: “Out in some of the communities they bury all the
scrap metal. It doesn’t make sense burying materials like this when
there are companies digging in other areas of Australia for the same
“Communities are calling us to go out and collect their scrap metal. We
used to go out bush all the time, but without some assistance we are
struggling to get by.”
In an age where looking after the environment has become such a
priority, Ms Jettner cannot believe that the Northern Territory
Government has not taken it upon themselves to support companies like
ASMR to go out and clean up the bush.
“Throughout the Territory we know there are huge amounts of scrap that
can be recycled, but the cost of getting out to the communities and
remote areas since the economic downturn has been near impossible.
“Scrap metal recycling businesses in Alice Springs would be booked out
for the next two years, if we could get some financial assistance to go
out there and collect it,” says Ms Jettner.
Prices for scrap have fallen from around $300 per ton during mid-2008
to around $100 per ton now.
Decreases in the price of fuel have helped but there are still costs
for accommodation, away from home allowance, wages, licenses, and
registration to be covered.
ASMR at present are barely breaking even.
Mr McDonough has built and designed his very own self-loading car
press, known as “The Crusher” – there is no other like it in the world.
A qualified diesel mechanic, he decided to make the press in 2006 at a
time when scrap metal prices were much higher.
The Crusher can prepare, crush and load more than 100 cars in a day,
which can then be transported to Adelaide for recycling.
From there the recycled metal is sent to China and more often than not
is used in the production of the cars, refrigerators and washing
machines that may end up back in Central Australia.
Previously ASMR had relied on a machine provided by an interstate
company, Sims Metal. When it became unviable for Sims to continue
transporting their car press to Alice Springs, ASMR were facing the
prospect of buying one of these monsters. Brand new it would have cost
half a million dollars, maybe more, money they simply did not have.
Transporting cars uncrushed was not an option – the costs would simply
be too high.
Making his own was “hard work”, says Mr McDonough.
“I always believed we could build it – there were a lot of sceptics
mind you,” he says.
It took him about six months on and off over two years.
He and his small team in the ASMR yard built everything themselves,
mostly using recycled materials.
It ended up being a fairly expensive process, though nothing in
comparison to the cost of a new machine.
“The main manager from Sims came to Alice Springs and said our crusher
was better than theirs,” says Ms Jettner proudly.
Since then ASMR have bought an excavator with a grab attachment, which
Mr McDonough modified, that can get in and remove engines and other
parts of a car that would otherwise have to be removed manually.
These parts are placed in a metal container, later collected and
transported to the recycling plant with the main cargo – trailer upon
trailer of crushed cars.
Scrap crash eases
There was a crash in the scrap metal market back in November for around
three months, says David Koch, trading manager of Territory Metals.
Sims and One Steel, two of the major scrap metal buyers, appeared to
have temporarily ceased purchasing at the end of 2008.
However, these companies have recently started buying again.
Territory Metals, located near the old abattoirs at the end of Smith
Street, have been operating in Alice Springs for five years, recycling
all sorts of scrap from washing machines to old railway
Mr Koch says “prices are a around third of what they were a year ago”.
They now pay 40 cents per kilo for cans, when they used to pay $1 per
The drop in price is across the board – copper, brass and aluminum have
all decreased in value.
The London Metal Exchange says prices are not likely to rise by much
during the next 12 months.
At Territory Metals, Mr Koch says, “we just hope prices stabilize and
increase slightly in the future”.
Transport costs remain high, despite the drop in fuel prices, because
of Alice Springs’ distance from markets.
Mining: good news and bad. By
The economic downturn is putting a halt to
some mining projects in Central Australia, but others are going ahead.
Mining of deposits at Harts Range, 170km north of Alice Springs, and
the Peko Tailings Project, some 14km southeast of Tennant Creek, are at
a stand still – just two examples of projects carrying the
critical rider “pending finance”.
Fortunately at least one new project and two exploration companies in
Central Australia are continuing their activities.
Arafura Resources Ltd will begin constructing their rare earths mine at
Nolan’s Bore in 2010.
Adelaide Resources Ltd will carry on exploring for gold and copper in
the Tennant Creek area.
And Emmerson Resources Ltd are also continuing exploration in the
Tennant Creek area.
At the moment these three companies all have money in the pot.
Arafura is progressing the Nolan’s project, some 135km north-west of
Alice Springs, which is expected to have a life of at least 30 years.
Subject to regulatory approvals the company has recently negotiated
financial support from the Chinese company, East China Mineral
Exploration and Development Organisation (ECE).
“Without strategic partnerships like ECE we may not have made it
through the current economic situation,” says Arafura’s managing
director, Alistair Stephens. “Partnerships like the one we have with
ECE are necessary for mineral exploration developments.”
The future operation will “create jobs” and the mine will “put itself
on the global map” for rare earths, used widely in efficency
applications including hybrid transport.
“We have no intention of this being a fly in, fly out operation,” says
Procurement for construction should begin later this year and
commencement for mining should start late 2011.
“There will be some external contractors. However, the intention is to
source as much as we can locally from the Alice Springs region.”
At this stage it is anticipated that 50 to 100 full time positions will
be required when the mine is fully operational.
Arafura expect to extract 20,000 tons of rare earths per year, meeting
about 7% of the world’s demand by 2011.
The main international markets for rare earths are in Japan, China and
It is likely that Arafura will sell the small amount of uranium
recovered, but at present that is not confirmed.
Total expenditure has been put at $600m for the mine and the plant, but
Mr Stephens expects costs to come down due to the competitive market
and efficiency gains.
The mine will also produce phosphoric acid, a major component in
At present, Australia imports 500,000 tonnes a year. Nolans could
supply 180,000 tonnes of that.
Adelaide Resources Ltd has not been put off by the economic downturn.
Even though there are “challenging times ahead, the company is in good
shape”, says Chris Drown, managing director of the company.
“We have $7m in the bank, we can continue with our exploration
programs,” he says.
Half the drilling costs of one of the Adelaide Resources 2009 NT
exploration programs will be financed by the NT Government’s Bring
Forward Discovery program, which offers incentive funding to mining
Confident that Adelaide Resources is searching in an area where large
deposits of gold and copper are to be found, Mr Drown says, “We are a
lot more cautious [in the current climate] in what we are doing, but
‘Rover’ is our flag ship project”.
The Tennant Creek area has historically been a place where large gold
deposits have been discovered.
“It is an attractive target area because deposits in the area typically
show good grades of gold and copper.”
Adelaide Resources expect to re-commence drilling in April or May.
Emmerson Resources Ltd (ERL) hopes to start drilling in the Tennant
Creek area in April.
According to their December 2008 quarterly report, ERL had a
reserve of $11.5m.
Not so lucky, mining manager at Olympia Resources Ltd (ORL), Roley
Carroll, says his company is “still investigating mining opportunities”
at Harts Range.
However, at present the “availability of funds has dried up” and the
deposit – garnets and Alumino-magnesio-hornblend minerals (garnet sand)
– will remain undisturbed.
When production eventually starts, the extracted product will be
transported by truck to Alice Springs, then to Darwin by train.
The open pit mine would be expected to have a life of 15 to 20 years.
The extracted product would be predominantly used to produce abrasive
sand, used in sand blasting.
Scheduled construction was due to start mid-2009 but the economic
crisis means ORL are unsure about future developments.
“We’re no orphans,” says Mr Carroll, who is aware of plenty of other
companies in the same situation.
Competing against international markets like Africa where the workforce
is paid significantly lower wages, the heavy Queensland rains, and the
copper price at a level it was at 30 years ago, are all contributing
factors to the slowdown in the mining industry, says acting manager of
the Peko Tailings Project, John Baker.
“There is a lot of competition internationally. Australians won’t
work for peanuts,” says Mr Baker.
“Due to the economic downturn, the project has officially shut down for
The Peko Tailings Project has access to five million tons of a
combination of gold, copper, colbalt and magnetite.
Halfway through last year the total product was valued at $900m.
Since the downturn the value has dropped by $400m.
The Peko Tailings Project is continuing some work with the gold
deposits, but it’s uncertain how long this will last.
“The price of gold is fairly good, but if you produce gold you usually
produce copper too.”
Mr Baker says the price of copper is now around $2000 a ton, “the same
price it was 30 years ago”.
Until now, some $7m has been spent on stages one and two of the
Construction of a pilot plant and the installation of a magnetite
separation plant was scheduled for mid-2009. Now there’s a question
mark over an estimated 30 construction jobs.
If the project is revived the life of the mine is expected to be six to
seven years, with approximately 15 people working at the plants.
Stage three would involve installing a gold and copper plant, and at
stage four, a cobalt plant.
In all the cost of development would come to around $17m.
Who will care for aging
population? By BEVERLEY JOHNSON.
Low pay leading to staff shortages leading to burnout of existing staff
– it’s a merry-go-round that aged care services, as well as the elderly
themselves and their carers, would dearly love to get off.
Sharon Davis is the NT Regional Manager of Frontier Services,
responsible for Old Timers and remote community care facilities in the
Mrs Davis says trying to fill shifts in the workplace is a permanently
“We burn out a lot of our staff, because of the shortage.”
Caring for the elderly is a demanding job, not always pleasant and
“We are always worried about staffing levels and how to maintain our
staff. We need to encourage younger people that caring for the elderly
can be fun and it is a privilege to work with these people.”
The general perception of aged care has to change. It’s “just not
a sexy job”, says Mrs Davis, and something needs to be done to change
the “negative image”.
Finding staff has been made more difficult since CDU discontinued
part-time training courses and distance learning incentives. People
used to be able to train in their own time and plan their shifts around
this, but it’s is no longer possible, says Mrs Davis.
Old Timers has been given some government funding for training
programs, but the problem is finding the people who want to be trained.
“With an ageing workforce it is scary.”
In order to continue to provide quality care Old Timers simply have to
find workers from elsewhere, who sometimes stay and sometimes go.
“It is a risk we have to take,” says Mrs Davis.
“If we had the option we would always choose locals over interstate.
“It would be much nicer to have the local staff who those being cared
for can recognize, such as someone who a person taught at school, or
someone known from the church or within the community.
“The bottom line is our funding from government for wages is not
Old Timers is in the process of recruiting a training manager to run a
training program in Alice Springs. Preferably the applicant will be
Alice Springs based. There has been “some interest,” but the general
feedback is that the “wages on offer are not enough”, says Mrs Davis.
There are Indigenous as well as other Australian residents at Old
Timers and the proportion of Indigenous people is expected to
increase. Where they can Old Timers do employ Indigenous staff,
but Mrs Davis says there are simply not enough ready and trained for
this kind of work.
“It is really difficult to engage local people.
“If something drastic is not done we will not have any work-ready
Older residents are also concerned about the impact of low pay and
staff shortages on quality aged care services.
Noel Thomas and his wife Wendy have been in Alice for 20 years, 10 to
15 of them in the workforce, and are now retired here
Says Mr Thomas : “In my opinion the services are
deficient in every area.
“If we have a huge deficiency in the workforce now, what will it be
like in the future?” he asks.
With community aged care, which aims to help the elderly stay in their
own homes, Mr Thomas says there are problems with communication.
“Carers are not showing up. People are not being told about the
Raelene Beale cared for her father, Wallace (both pictured above), for
five years after he had a stroke in 2003.
Mr Beale suffers from vascular dementia, a condition that deteriorates
the body and causes memory loss and is now at Old Timers.
After her day at work Ms Beale goes to sit patiently by her father’s
side, attending to his needs and keeping him company.
She wanted to keep her father at home and continue caring for him as
she has been but says caring is “exhausting work” and without
sufficient help it can be “extremely draining and isolating.”
The aged care system can be hard to grasp, knowing where to go and who
to speak to and what things mean, says Ms Beale.
Over the years it has been hard to find out exactly what she and her
father are entitled to with each specific aged care package.
The Alice News also spoke to a man, who did not want to be named,
looking after his wife at the Old Timers Village.
“Carers need more help in the home, so we can keep our loved ones with
us, rather than having to put them in homes,” he said.
“The assistance we have received has been good but there just are not
enough people available to help.
“Caring full time is exhausting. I would be up three or four times each
night for my wife. It would be good to have more people around to help
take the pressure off a bit.”
Ms Beale says a plan to better market aged care needs to be put in
place, to draw and keep younger people in the industry.
“Aged care needs a re-birth,” she says.
Why are we not creating incentives for students to work in aged care,
rather than working in tourism serving drinks from behind bars?
Why do we not actively get under-graduates working in aged care
services, especially those in medical training, by subsidising their
HECS – this could be an answer, suggests Ms Beale.
With people working longer and retiring wealthier and healthier, Mr
Thomas argues that the government needs to provide greater incentives
to encourage retirees to live their later years in Alice Springs.
The desert climate is an advantage, soothing to older people’s aches
and pains, but nonetheless there have to be adequate services.
Mr Thomas says community aged care needs to undergo huge
“infrastructure changes” and there needs to be more done to promote
community aged care as an exciting and worthwhile career.
Workers in the mortgage bracket need a better income that aged care
“They would rather work at Coles or Woolies for an extra $5 per hour,”
says Mr Thomas.
Margaret Gaff, chair of the NT policy group for the advocacy body
National Seniors (which has more than 400 financial members in Alice
Springs) is emphatic that agencies working so hard to provide aged care
are under great stress.
“On a long term basis the double-shifts and extra hours due to lack of
staff can be arduous,” she says.
She says the low levels of pay do not reflect the hard work and
difficulties that carers endure day after day.
She says 71% of the NT aged care agencies report having staffing
difficulties, which is more than anywhere else in the country.
This is a state, territory and federal government issue as well as an
agency issue, says Mrs Gaff.
“We need to look at the whole industry.
“At the moment things are static as I understand.
“But by 2020 the number of people over 75 years will virtually double.
So we need long term planning and that comes back to the federal
“Under the Howard government there was TAFE training, which encouraged
more people into community service work.
“A lot of people joined up, especially young people, but they ended
taking different jobs elsewhere, due to low levels in pay.”
Taxation levels for the low paid should be reviewed, argues Mrs Gaff
and the whole aged care industry “must ramp up its capacity”.
Mall pokies: What a
The review of the licensing application by the Town and Country to have
10 poker machines in its premises on Todd Mall was heard, and the
license granted, just three days before Chris Burns, Minister for
Racing, Gaming and Licensing released a statement to the media saying
that the government will “cap the number of pokies in the Territory”.
The Licensing Commission say they did not have to notify objectors
about the review of the application, which had initially been denied,
and they didn’t.
As reported last week, Alice Springs resident Jocelyn Davies had
objected to the application and was outraged to hear that it had been
reviewed and approved without her knowledge.
Says a spokesperson for the Licensing Commission: “The Commission may
advertise reviews but is not required under the Act to do so and did
not in this case.”
The doors onto the mall at the Town and Country have been closed this
The News reported last week that they had been consistently open, with
the poker machines inside easily seen by passers-by.
Says a spokesperson for the Licensing Commission: “The machines will
not be turned on until [the Town and Country] comply with location
requirements and the licensee has been told to ensure that [the
machines] cannot be seen from the street.”
The owners of the pub did not respond to a request for comment.
CCTV monitoring may go to
The Town Council may have driven the installation of CCTV in Todd Mall
and now its million-dollar extension (funded by the NT Government) into
other areas of the CBD, but Mayor Damien Ryan is reluctant to answer
questions on its efficacy.
Those questions should be referred to the police – council’s role is to
capture footage for the police, he says.
Council CEO Rex Mooney, however, says the system is improving.
Its role is “preventative” – “offenders are aware of the cameras” – and
“evidentiary” – the footage is “useful in the courts”.
The system will deliver a “high degree of satisfaction”, says Mr
Mooney, “particularly if and when monitoring is taken over by police in
Superintendent Sean Parnell, of the Alice Springs Police, says the
force’s preferred option is to have monitoring done centrally and by
“professionally trained operators”.
Transferring the monitoring function to police in Darwin is being
He says to date the Alice system has been of “limited value” to police
investigations, mainly because of the part-time monitoring.
He says it can be difficult for police to get hold of the footage “in
real time” – as an offence is occurring or even on the same day.
They told me: Go take a flying
leap! By BEVERLEY JOHNSON.
Efforts to reduce our carbon footprint are dwarfed by the emissions
from air travel and while a visit to family and friends can’t easily
replaced by a video conference, many a government meeting surely could.
On January 29, I began enquiring into the number of flights being made
by government officials in the Northern Territory.
Richard O’Leary was Director of Communications during financial year
I asked him about total expenditure on air travel in 2000, 2005
and 2008, in an attempt to see whether it is increasing or decreasing?
I also asked about the the purposes of the travel.
Mr O’Leary told me I should contact the 28 agencies within the
government departments and address my questions to them.
In a quick search on the NT Government website I was unable to locate
these 28 agencies.
I then directed my questions to the media advisors of each Minister,
each Minister being responsible for a number of different departments
and thus their agencies. I expected that the media advisors would
either respond directly, or forward my request to the appropriate
In order to have a point of comparison I also spoke to Jill Bottrall,
media adviser to the South Australian Premier, Mike Rann.
We discussed Government Air Travel and the main reason it is needed
within the South Australian Government. Flights have to be taken
by the Government for business developments overseas, to “help
stimulate the economy,” says Jill Bottrall.
Ms Bottrall said travel is an unavoidable part of government business.
Instead of flying all over the country why don’t public servants
communicate through systems like Skype, iChat and video
conferencing to save on unnecessary air miles?
Installing the facilities would cost money, said Ms Bottrall; video
technology is used in health services for remote areas and could “quite
possibly be used more” in the future.
But for most government meetings, it simply is not practical, she
argued: people need to discuss items in person; phone hook-ups don’t
work; Ministers are in and out of rooms all day; there are separate
meetings, private meetings, this is “the nature” of the business.
This discussion with Ms Bottrall turned out to be far more than I would
get from anyone in the NT (although the Department of Health and
Families issued a general statement).
January 30 I received a response to my initial questions from five of
the media advisers for NT Ministers, including from the current
Director of Communications, Geoff Fraser.
Each gave a similar response: “I believe my colleague Richard O’Leary
has spoken to you about this matter.”
February 2, I contacted Mr O’Leary again, explaining that I had
contacted the media advisers for each department.
“The appropriate people to contact are the agency representatives.
There are 28 agencies which come under the umbrella of Departments –
which means some Departments have more than one Minister – therefore
you’ll need to contact the agencies directly. I’m sorry if this has
caused any inconvenience.”
I requested the contact details for these 28 agencies.
Prompt reply: “The NT Government switch number is 89995511 – they can
connect you to each agency… thanks, Richard.”
So I called the switchboard.
The operator could not give me the contact details of the 28 government
agencies. We went through the list of contacts I had found on the
website. Between us we could only find 21 agencies. Unable to help any
further the operator directed me to Heather Slaven who works directly
for Chief Minister Paul Henderson. Ms Slaven re-directed me back to
February 3 I emailed Mr O’Leary:
I had contacted the switchboard as he’d advised; I had found 21
agencies on the website; the switchboard given me the details of two
more departments missing from the online list (Regional Development:
Primary Industry Resources, and the Department of Justice); this
brought the total to 23; could he please direct me to the missing
Mr O’Leary called that afternoon. It turns out there are in fact only
23 agencies – ha!
February 5, I received a statement from the Department of Health and
Families, explaining that most air travel by the department is for
Air travel is used for “transporting doctors, nurses and other
front-line staff to places where road travel would be time consuming,
Aircraft are also used to transfer patients needing to access higher
level care within a short timeframe. However, “for some time” the
department has encouraged staff to use communications technology (such
as tele- or video-conferencing) when this can be substituted for
February 6, Terry Mills, Country Liberal’s Opposition Leader released a
media statement, “calling for the establishment of a high-level
Efficiency Committee to scrutinise areas of Government spending in a
bid to eke out much-needed savings for Territory taxpayers.
An Efficiency Committee could look at such shameful wastage with a
dispassionate eye – and advise the spendthrift Chief Minister and his
cabinet on possible savings.”
February 7, I contacted the Shadow Treasurer John Elferink. He
suggested we put the enquiry on the message board that goes out across
the NT Government, but this can be a long process.
I decided to email each NT Government Minister directly.
The first response I received was from Natasha Fyles, media adviser to
Minister Karl Hampton: “The appropriate people to contact are the
I spoke to John Rawnsley at Minister Alison Anderson’s office. Mr
Rawnsley advised that I go to Parliament House in Canberra, to seek an
overall figure for the NT government expenditure on air travel in
previous years. That could be a start.
On February 11, in response to an email from me, Terry Hanley,
Secretary Public Accounts Committee at Parliament House wrote, “I do
not have access to the information you seek. I would suggest that
in the first instance you contact the Dept of the Chief Minister.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Leaked report canes IAD.
A confidential report on financial management systems at the Institute
for Aboriginal Development (IAD), leaked to the Alice Springs News,
shows funding for the Indigenous Education Programs at the institute in
2007 was overspent by more than $400,000.
The review, by a Certified Public Accountant, was concluded in
Its purpose was to examine IAD’s financial systems, policies and
procedures and report any shortcomings and deficiencies to the
It found “serious issues” in the institute’s Financial Acquittal and
Assets Register for Indigenous Education Programs (IEP), with
overspending in four separate programs.
The smallest overspend was $508.77, and the largest, $419,590.02.
The total overspend was $441,077.50.
The review noted: “This will have a detrimental effect on the
institute’s ability to balance its end of year accounts and will likely
cause a deficit to be reported for 2007/2008 financial year.”
The review also reported on a carry forward of federal government funds
worth over $100,000 that had not been processed.
The amount ($114,803.09) had not been entered onto the 2007 Audited
Financial Acquittal; instead a nil amount was indicated.
The review commented: “The auditor should be held accountable for such
a significant financial reporting oversight.”
A group of prominent local Aboriginal people, members of IAD, including
its former chair, Neville Perkins, OAM, is calling for the suspension
of funding to IAD and an “urgent independent audit investigation” of
its financial operation and management.
Mr Perkins has taken his concerns to the Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister for Employment, Education and Workplace Relations, Julia
The Alice News made several attempts to contact former director and
current chair of the IAD management committee, Janice Harris, but had
not received a reply at the time of going to press.
See also: www.alicespringsnews.com.au/1602.html
Divine geometry links
us to the earth.
The Ever Present Past is the alluring title given to the latest
offering from Peta Appleyard Gallery – an exhibition of limited edition
lithographs, screenprints and etchings from the Sandover region.
Master printmaker Basil Hall, of CDU’s Northern Editions, collaborated
with the artists to make the prints at the “turn of the millennium”.
The 21 works, under the title Apmer Mwerrangker (Beautiful Country),
are to go on tour, including to international venues.
Naryan Kozeluh, who has worked closely with the Sandover artists over
many years, spoke movingly at the opening on Saturday:–
There are too many kumanjays, and it is to those beautiful old men and
women who have now passed away that I’d like to dedicate this
We stand in the middle of an oral tradition where everything is
interconnected and nothing is hidden.
If we can understand the power of a silent language and the images that
nurture it, then, perhaps it strikes at our own hearts and awakens
something deep within us.
If we look at the images we see the very ancestors who created and
populated all that surrounds us. Apmer (country) is at the very core of
Modern society has constructed a world of concrete and steel to protect
us from the natural world. These images were created to bring us closer
to the very earth beneath our feet.
Kangaroo, Possum, Emu, Morning star, Caterpillar, Bush Plum, Honey ant,
Kame; the poetry of names and the power of silence all contained within
the boundaries of etched metal plates, paper and printing.
These artists are some of the pearls of the Alyawarr and Anmatyerr
homelands, known to us as simply Utopia.
Divine geometry, as the famous French photographer Henri
Cartier-Bresson once said, “you’ve either got it or you haven’t and if
you have, then it will come out in everything you do”.
Here are some examples of that Divine geometry.
Pop Vulture with CAMERON
BUCKLEY: A blissful hand grenade of a film raises bar for comic
The genre of comic book (or in this case graphic novel) transfer to
cinema is becoming not just a broken down record player, but a broken
down record player in a room full of broken down record players in a
suburb purposefully reserved for broken down record players.
So when a blissful hand grenade lands, to blow apart the preconceptions
of the cynically critical eye of this genre’s audience, other cinema
goers need to know about it.
Riding the coat-tails of the past decade’s adaptation successes (Sin
City, Iron Man, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight), Watchmen has
This movie will dissolve and recreate the image of the superhero.
The picture is set, grippingly, in a world that could have easily
existed – atomic conflict stretching the Cold War into the better part
of the 1980s, President Nixon in his third term, superheros that kill,
rape and neglect to the point of self destruction.
It has been said that this film was partly created in fear of the
comic’s cult following tearing holes in its every frame with
Although Watchmen isn’t suitable for mass consumption, sometimes the
consensus needs art jack-hammered into their frontal lobes.
The production was placed on back burners for many years, until Zack
Snyder, of 300 fame, took the reins and made a triumphant landmark, a
magnanimously perverse look into a maverick reel to reel that was long
Pop Vulture rating: 832/1000.
Young artists in fine form. By
The audience for the launch of the first magazine devoted exclusively
to Australian Aboriginal art were treated to a performance by dancers
from Bangarra Dance Theatre at Araluen last Saturday.
The dance came in two parts, with a trio, two men and a woman,
delivering a muscular choreography drawing its inspiration, it seemed,
from the natural world, followed by a solo male dancer (at left) whose
presence had more mythological aura.
As he moved plumes of white ash or pigment rose from his body like a
halo into the light – an arresting image.
A second treat was to hear from Daniel Walbidi (at right), a 25 year
old artist from Bidyadanga, a community near Broome.
He spoke of the desire and sense of personal responsibility to share
his culture that has driven him to paint, and also of the importance of
magazines in overcoming his “limited access” to the art world.
Magazines had enabled him to see what his “countrymen” were doing, in
particular work from “this country” (the Centre), including that of
Emily Kame Kngwarreye, had “ignited” his desire to paint.
The new magazine couldn’t have hoped for a better endorsement.
Mr Walbidi went on to thank all present for “embracing” Aboriginal
people, culture and art – a touching and unusual gesture from an
Aboriginal speaker in my experience.
These five young Aboriginal artists – the dancers and Mr Walbidi – gave
a fine impression of the on-going vigour of Aboriginal culture and its
encounter with contemporary forms and the outside world.
Guest speaker Judith Ryan, senior curator of Indigenous art at the
National Gallery of Victoria, spoke of the way Aboriginal art had
achieved a “reconception of the continent” for all Australians; of it
having thrown off the ethnographic tag and taken its place in the
“global mainstream visual culture”; of it being a “tradition of today,
not yesterday”; of the “political” meaning in its assertion of identity
and connection with the land.
Aboriginal art demands “serious art historical inquiry”, she said, and
the magazine would go some way towards responding to that, “rather than
giving vent to the perpetual concerns of investigative journalists
intent on exposing instances of corruption and greed”.
(This last was an unfair shot, I thought, as these “perpetual
concerns”, whether or not they’ve been wrong-footed, have been driven
as much from within the Aboriginal art industry as by journalists.)
The magazine, a lavishly illustrated quarterly with its major articles
translated into French, was available for sale from yesterday. Its
editor-in-chief is Steve Bush, the man behind Art World Magazine.
LETTERS: Under attack from
Sir,– A recent document published by the Desert Knowledge Cooperative
Research Centre (CRC) addressing the feral camel issues and the
environmental impact of the feral herd has a series of three
photos highlighting feral camel damage in the desert zone.
Plates (a) and (b) are without any doubt camel damage to the trees as
the damage shown is high in the trees.
However, plate (c) shows damage done to mulga trees a mere few feet
from the grond.
Anyone familiar with the eating habits of camels and cattle would
know that this damage was created by cattle, unless if there is a herd
of midget camels wandering around the desert eating the plants and
trees from such a short height.
I suppose this is possible but I’ve never seen such an animal in many
years of camel trekking throughout many of the arid zone regions in
Also, in the same report, a smashed toilet is photographed and reported
as camel damage. I have seen similar damage done to toilets in many
locations around Australia, including island communities in Arnhem Land
where camels do not exist. There are five large rocks in and around the
If anyone can inform me how a camel could use these rocks to destroy a
toilet to such a degree, I would be interested to know such
On the same page is a photo of a windmill totally pulled down to the
ground. What biomechanics would a camel need to create such damage,
considering such structures are designed for extreme weather conditions
and harsh environments?
There has been a staggering figure of $20 million flagged from the
Australian Federal Government to address the feral camel issues in the
desert regions of Australia.
The very amount is an indication of the seriousness of the rising feral
This ‘one hit wonder’ of cash is quickly heading towards a massive
culling program but based on the cost of previous culling programs,
this would eliminate no more than 300,000 head of camels from the
landscape. with no opportunity for using the meat, leather and other
products from the culled camels.
Given the current growth rate of the feral camels in Australia being an
extra 100,000 per year, in three years’ time, the government would need
to once again inject a similar dollar figure (not taking into account
inflation), just in order to maintain the feral camel numbers to what
they are today – estimated at 1.4 million.
Is the Australian tax payer prepared in these financially trying times
to accept such a direction to address this issue, or is there a more
economically and environmentally favorable way?
Would it not be more favorable to challenge the government to use three
quarters of the $20 million in training programmes for local Aboriginal
communities in camel mustering, handling and processing of camel meat
for overseas and local markets, along with developing the necessary
infrastructure for this emerging market.
There are the cashed up buyers for camels wanting hundreds of thousands
of camels but currently being hindered by the lack of infrastructure
for the removal and processing of camels and the red tape involved at a
state and federal level. There are three main buyers with the finances
for such volumes of camels and they have been waiting for many years
for the infrastructure issues to be addressed.
The other quarter could be used for culling programmes as directed by
the traditional owners on the Aboriginal lands where necessary, such as
for the preservation of sacred sites and public safety.
Sir,– Regarding ‘Where are mining millions ?’ in last week’s issue, why
should we hold David Ross of the CLC accountable?
He could never have conceived such an elaborative, convoluted and
Perhaps a legal rats nest might think of such skullduggery, but I
cannot imagine who that might be?
Let’s not hide, come out little weasels, into the bright sun. Convince
us you have nothing to hide.
You know who I mean, those weasel puppeteers, who use people as puppets
and when the crap hits the fan all shout, “Not me … not me, I was just
Sir,– The streets of Alice Springs were out of control again last
Tuesday night as gangs of youths as young as nine and 10 years old were
on the rampage. Large groups of drunken adults were fighting on the
council lawns and Leichhardt Tce for hours.
My wife and I were called out at 10.30pm as the security patrols in
Todd Mall reported via Alice Springs Police smashed windows to our
premises once more.
The security patrol advised that they were unable to contain the youths
who were fighting and taunting them from about 9.30pm onwards. Every
time they moved them on they retaliated by kicking and punching the
windows of the nearest businesses.
I rang the Alice Springs Police for assistance and this is what I was
told by the operator: “I am sorry but we’ve only got two units on
tonight, all hell has broke loose, one unit is with some bloke who has
been stabbed and the other is attending a woman who is being punched in
the face! We will send someone as soon as possible.”
I wrote this at 9am the next day and there still had not been anyone
attend as far as I know!
I believe there are hundreds of people in roaming the streets of Alice
who have not returned home to their communities since the AFL football
match on the weekend.
I have been told the “return to country” program was not put in place
ED – Mr Strike sent his letter
last Wednesday to politicians on both sides of parliament, the mayor of
Alice Springs and to public servants.
Sir,– Back in those heady days of protest in the 1960s, a spokesman for
the Black Panthers made the observation that they were not asking the
US government for freedom.
They had been born free.What they were asking for was that the
government take its foot off their necks.
The Intervention is an example of our government trying to take its
foot off the necks of First Australians.
If individuals are unable to read and write, have no numeracy, are in
poor health from diet and substance abuse, and are unemployed and
unemployable, the vagaries and changes in government welfare policy
will be all their life.
If added to that cocktail is an inability to communicate in the
national language, then any chance of escaping a life of welfare
dependency will be close to zero.
The former Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, has been
castigated for his rough implementation of the Intervention.
But how else was he or anyone to cut through the Gordian Knot of Big
Man politics that had led First Australians up such a cul-de-sac?
Our current Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, has
softened the rhetoric and put a kinder face to it. But to its
great credit the Rudd government will continue the
Intervention. I think in time Mal Brough will be
acknowledged as the visionary he was and those who opposed him as rocks
in the road.
ADAM'S APPLE: The nan in my
I am on a quest. A quest akin to the those of Jason or Frodo Baggins or
even Grant Denyer on Australia’s Got Talent.
A quest to find the ultimate, the pinnacle, the apex. A quest
that is less about the final destination and more about the journey.
I do not know how long the journey will take or where it will
lead me, all I know is that it must be taken and with vigour.
My grandmother unwittingly set me on my course. As a child I
would be dropped off at her home in the wee small hours so that mum and
dad could get to work. During my time with my nan she showed me things.
Things that every young boy is shown at the appropriate time. Things
that would one day form him into a man.
It might appear strange to the women reading this but our
grandmothers are just as essential in the formulation of the man a boy
becomes as any male influence.
Nans are from a past era. They have doilies and wooden ducks on
the wall. They know how the world works and will tell you freely
without parental judgement.
Nans haven’t read all the latest literature on parenting. They
don’t need to. They’ve been parents for decades. They couldn’t care
less what the Australian Journal of Infant Medicine says about
effective ways of beating a fever. They know that the only way to beat
a fever is a lot of sleep interspersed with flat lemonade and a musk
They know that please and thank you are good words for a young
man to say and they also know that wearing the crocheted turquoise
cardigan they made you will prepare you for manhood in ways no book or
three day seminar ever could.
My nan was born just before the Great Depression. She was raised
in a time of great nation building. Hard work, sacrifice and struggle.
She fell in love during World War 2. She raised five kids in the 50s
and 60s suburban fibro utopia of inner south western Sydney. A world
that no longer exists.
She has seen in her 81 years more than a third of white Australian
history and through it all she swears blind that she’d prefer bread and
dripping and a cup of Bonox to bruschetta and a soy latte any time.
And that’s the point really. My nan and nans like her have lived
a full and wonderful life without the unnecessary complexities modern
life requires. Nan has never owned a computer or even a debit card.
Life for my nan is uncomplicated but at the same time brilliantly rich.
There’s no need to calorie count in my grandmother’s world. All
you have to do is get out of the house, do some hard work and don’t eat
too many vanilla slices. I wonder how many billions of dollars might
have been saved by the western world if they just took a bit of notice
of what nan had to say. How many life coaching, diet books might not be
choking the book shelves of people across the world if nan had got
Nan’s philosophy is “work hard and eat well”. And eat well we did
at nan’s house. It is here that my quest begins. It may once again come
as a surprise to non-male readers but a man’s appetite is forged by the
women in his life. If your man likes his eggs drowned in tomato sauce,
it’s probably thanks to his nan.
Man food is the natural evolution of nan’s kitchen. Now when I
talk of man food I don’t mean frat house food. There is a common
misconception that something like a beef and doughnut, double decker
pizza is man food. It is not. That’s just disgusting.
No, man food is simply gastronomy meeting masculinity. And I am
on the quest to find the ultimate man food.
All I know so far is that it is probably a meat based dish. I’m
fairly certain bacon is involved and the ability to cook said dish with
a beer in one hand is probably a pre-requisite.
I haven’t found it yet. I think I may have found a couple of dishes
that make it into the top ten but the holy grail is out there
Like all good quests, I pretty sure the grail isn’t that far away
from the starting point.
Sure a quest might take you around the globe but most end up near the
beginning. I’m sure the ultimate man food is here in Alice Springs.
Come on blokes. Call your nan. Let’s uncover the mystery together.