ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
October 8, 2009. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Big move for more housing. By
The NT Government is about to seek public comment on a change to the
Alice Springs town plan that will allow the development of urban
residential land south of The Gap.
At present mostly rural residential land is permitted there.
This would clear the way for a subdivision on the Arid Zone Research
Institute (AZRI) block, at the corner of Stuart Highway and Colonel
This land has room for around 1400 blocks, is owned by the NT
Government, unencumbered by native title and was identified at the
planning forum in June last year as being the cheapest to develop.
According to consulting engineers Qantec McWilliam the costs for
headworks (bringing services to the edge of the subdivision) would be
$3.9m, whereas the estimate for Undoolya was $209m, and Larapinta,
The forum was told that a subdivision at AZRI would yield 826 blocks
(800m2) for single dwellings, 347 (300m2) for multi dwellings, 280
(200m2) for medium density living, as well as 1.4 hectares for
commercial use, 9 ha for community use and 1.8 ha for “neighbourhood
Industry sources, speaking to the Alice News on the condition that they
be not named, say current development costs – not counting headworks –
range from $50,000 to $80,000 per block.
Prior to self-government, when the NT was under Federal administration,
government land here was sold for the cost of development, to stimulate
the growth of the town.
Last year’s forum focussed on the acute shortage of residential land
and its current exorbitant prices. Although the urgent need was
pressing, a year and three months have passed with meetings and
Meanwhile Lhere Artepe, the town’s native title body, is developing
land in Stephens Road, Mt Johns Valley. They lifted native title over
land owned by the NT Government there, in exchange for half the land.
The organisation’s CEO, Darryl Pearce, says construction work is
scheduled to start in January on Stage One.
It will include 23 single dwelling blocks of between 801 and 1315
square metres, four blocks for medium density housing between 1350 and
1530 square metres, and one medium density block of 15,341 square
metres where a multitude of units could be built.
Real estate agents Framptons, who are canvassing for expressions of
interest, are not disclosing the prices of the blocks, but there has
been speculation that they may cost up to $300,000.
The project is not without its irony: native title issues have been a
major factor in delaying the construction of new suburbs. Now native
title holders stand to profit from the high land and housing prices
resulting from the shortage.
Lands Minister Delia Lawrie in March commented about other projects
planned, or on the go.
However, the reality is much different to her upbeat version:-
• “Albrecht Drive (39 lots) including six lots for first home buyers,”
said Ms Lawrie. All are sold.
This project was a result of the first deal between the NT Government
and Lhere Artepe, in 2003.
There, too, roughly half the land was given to the native title owners,
who sold it to a private developer for about $1.1m.
• “Emily Estate, on the Ross Highway, has approval for 16 lots.” All
• “Coolibah Tree Estate on Ragonesi Road has approval for more than 60
lots in Stage One.” After a rush on that land late last year, when
several buyers paid deposits, the project seems to have stalled. One of
the buyers says developer Ron Sterry had asked people, who had paid
deposits of $10,000 each, to kick in more money.
The deposits are understood to have been put into a trust fund, to be
paid back if the project is delayed or fails. Mr Sterry did not
respond to requests for comment.
• “94 lots approved at Emily Valley.” Developer John McEwen says the
project is at an impasse: the Town Council is demanding that he
upgrades a causeway, not on his land but leading to it, to a standard
capable of coping with a 1-in-100-year flood (a Q100; the 1988 flood
was a Q20 to Q50 – people will argue that point).
Mr McEwen says that demand is unreasonable, and there would not be a
causeway of that standard “anywhere in the Territory”.
He says: “Completion of our subdivision would reduce the flow of water
“At present 33 cubic meters of water would leave our land every second
in a Q100.
“When the subdivision is complete there will be less than 18, because
of retention basins and other features we’re putting in.”
Mr McEwen says Power and Water had told him they would not be dealing
with matters concerning them until he has come to terms with the
council over the causeway.
The council’s position seems to be contradictory: in the absence of a
flood mitigation dam in the Todd, upstream from the Overland Telegraph
Station, a Q100 would obliterate much of the CBD, and may kill many
Yet the council has made no efforts to push for the dam’s construction,
currently blocked by a Federal ban imposed because of sacred sites (due
to end in 2012).
Ms Lawrie said the “Alice Springs Planning for the Future Forum Action
Plan ... will provide for future growth at AZRI and revitalise the
Minister for Central Australia, Karl Hampton, and Alice Springs Mayor
Damian Ryan are co-chairing the steering committee to drive these
changes. Its other members are Julie Ross (Chamber of Commerce),
architect Brendan Meney, Mr Pearce, real estate agent David Forrest,
former Mayor Fran Kilgariff, now Executive Director for Regional
Development, and planing department officer Tony Renshaw.
Lounge chair in the breeze. By
Stephen Schreiber (above) sat at home one night in his lounge chair,
pretending to have his feet on bike foot pegs out in front of him, and
to be grasping the sweeping handlebars of a big bike.
He was daydreaming about cruising the country in superb comfort, yet
being out there in the breeze, in touch with the elements. And then he
made his dream come true and bought a trike.
They look a bit like the front end of a Harley grafted onto the back
end of a Porsche.
Most are made by the same company, Oz Trike, and are powered by a rear
mounted 1600 VW engine, providing plenty of grunt for what’s still a
fairly light conveyance.
They are worth $38,000, give or take a few thousand dollars, depending
on the bits you stick on them.
“You’ve got to have shiny bits,” says Steve.
He was one of more than 100 trikers who last week came to
Alice for a national rally from all corners of Oz.
And the common basic design of a trike notwithstanding, each and every
one is a manifesto to individualism.
They carry between one and four people, the biggest ones have three
abreast on the bench behind the driver – rider?
The colors are stunning, and there is lots of chrome.
For 35 grand you can get a decent car, I put to Steve.
“I’ve got a very good car,” he retorts. “But it’s not a trike. You sit
there and relax, you recline.”
He’s done 1100 kms in one day.
“You ride for 12 hours and you still feel pretty good.”
Rain? “No worries. You put on your wet weather gear and keep going.”
Steve has a DVD player mounted on the handlebars with hundreds of
songs, and four speakers – two in the front for him and two in the back
for his wife.
On their trip, from Bundaberg via Mt Isa to Alice, and back the long
way via Adelaide and Sydney, they will be doing some 7000 kms.
Steve makes a full and frank confession on his website
www.geocities.com/sjschreiber_56/index.html (which has lots of links to
other triker sites): “I go to rallies with my wife.
“We load up the trike and the trailer and we’re gone and our sons can
now look after themselves.
“I have been riding for 30 years and six of those years are on the
trike which has just clocked up 100,000 km.”
Trikers are mostly mature gentlemen, around 30 and a few (hundred)
months, prefer leathers heavily adorned with badges declaring preferred
marques (VW, for example), or indicating places visited.
In a husband and wife team the wife is usually the one with shorter
hair, and not grey. Beards are practically obligatory (for gentlemen).
In Alice for five days they stayed at the MacDonnell Range Caravan Park
and visited Hermannsburg, Glen Helen, Ross River and Trephina Gorge.
Many say they’ll be back!
Photos (counter clockwise from top left): The shiny bits include a
chrome skull. All that sparkles is a VW engine. Colours: the brighter
the better. Crock eating miles. Bill Cullen came all the way from Perth.
Concrete blocks, Colorbond for
Kmart mural? By KIERAN FINNANE.
Even the Town Council did not know about it: a proposed treatment for
the Kmart wall, which seeks to avoid using only sandstone for a full
reinstatement of the mural, has been and gone from public display.
The Alice News became aware of the display last Friday, October 2, some
three hours before the deadline for public comment.
This was despite having asked chairman of the Development Consent
Authority, Peter McQueen, on the preceding Monday (September 28) about
a “new period of public comment” and what the focus of that would
Mr McQueen had replied: “The Applicant will be exhibiting the proposed
treatment of the wall.
“Yes there will be a period for public comment once the proposed
treatment is known.”
At that stage the proposed treatment was known and had already been on
display for 10 days (since September 18).
Mr McQueen has since explained that the timing for putting applications
on display is not a matter for the DCA; it is handled by the
Development Assessment Services of the Department of Planning and
He had assumed in relation to the initial enquiry from the Alice News
that the application had not gone on display and he only became aware
that it had when he received further enquiry from the News.
Our further enquiry was prompted when last Friday (October 2) at
lunchtime, stonemason Tim Newland, son of the late John Newland who was
responsible for the stonemasonry of the original mural, alerted the
News to the fact that the display was about to conclude, expressing his
disappointment in the options which were being put forward.
The News went to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure offices
in Alice Plaza at about 2pm.
Normally applications that are on display are each in their own folder
and available on a counter in the reception area.
There was none relating to the Kmart wall.
The News asked where the application folder was.
Staff did not know.
After searching in the offices, they were able to show the News a
letter from the applicant and the attached visual information, but they
could not find the folder, nor the accompanying forms and documentation
that are usual for applications on display.
To the News’ query on this matter, DPI’s Peter Somerville, via a
spokesperson, has advised that the public notice of the exhibition was
placed in the Centralian Advocate on September 18, with public comment
invited “up to COB 2 October 2009”.
According to Mr Somerville: “DPI staff correctly ensured that the
documents were available to the public during this timeframe.”
The written statement does not give any account of why documents were
not on display in the usual manner during the visit by the Alice News,
at least two hours before COB, on October 2.
The statement advises that no public submissions were received in
relation to the application.
Minutes of DCA meetings are available at the DPI office. The minutes
from the September 9 meeting at which the application was discussed
reveal that State Manager of the Centro Properties Group, Mario
Bocscaini, had attended the meeting together with Mick Betteridge of
Probuild, who presented samples of the “proposed alternative building
materials” (more of these later).
The minutes also show that Bob Eales attended on behalf of the Town
Council. Mr Eales is Acting Executive Engineer.
The News contacted council CEO Rex Mooney, asking him if he was aware
that the proposed treatment for the wall was on display.
He had no idea.
After further enquiry, Mr Mooney told the News that Mr Eales, despite
having attended the DCA meeting, had not understood that the treatment
was on display.
Mayor Damien Ryan, who has made loud and clear his commitment to the
full restoration of the original mural, also knew nothing of the
The original development permit for the wall (from May, 1984) gives
council a formal role in signing off on the mural, stipulating that the
sandstone wall “will at all times be maintained to the satisfaction of
the Town Engineer”.
When the News spoke to Mr Mooney last Friday the council had one hour
and 10 minutes left in which to make a submission, which they did.
Necessarily short, it states council’s objection to “the use of
materials other than sandstone in the wall” and restates their
requirement that “the developer shall reconstruct the sandstone wall
and reinstate the mural to its original design”.
The News contacted council’s two nominees who sit on the DCA, aldermen
Sandy Taylor and Brendan Heenan.
Although nominated by council, in their DCA role they are required to
act as individuals, not as council representatives, and they have no
reporting obligations to council.
Mrs Taylor was aware that the treatment was on display and expressed
surprise that the CEO and Mayor did not know.
She said the Central Australian members of the DCA are committed to
restoring the wall to what it was.
She also revealed that they had asked that samples of the alternative
materials be put on display.
There was no sign of these in the DPI office when the News was there
Mr Heenan was not aware that the treatment had been on display. Indeed,
he was under the contrary impression that the DCA had knocked back
As for the details of what Centro is proposing, there are three options
(drawing above), all of which only use the original sandstone for a
band along the lower quarter of the wall.
In options one and two, an approximation of the original image, showing
the profile of the ranges between Heavitree Gap and Mount Gillen, is
achieved using a mixture of Colorbond sheeting and splitface concrete
The third option, which is the one Centro favours, does not use
Colorbond sheets, replacing them with an alternative colour of concrete
The representation of the profile is rough.
In particular it completely fails to capture the “nose” of Mount
Heritage architect Domenico Pecorari describes the effect as
“pixillated”, and the colour of the concrete masonry as
“monotonous, simple bands of colour with nothing of the subtlety, the
fleck and gradation of the original”.
“It is a cheap and nasty version with zero artistic value,” says Mr
It is clear that Centro’s Mr Boscaini has no appreciation of the public
art role of the original mural.
In his letter to the DPI, enclosing the visual information for the wall
treatment, he writes: “The reason for the mural was to reduce the
impact of the height of the wall.
“We are of the opinion that with the construction of the [Bob Jane T
Mart building], the need for such a mural is not as necessary.
“Nevertheless, Centro is prepared to undertake the reinstatement of the
mural but on a basis that it be economically viable.”
Mr Boscaini seems to assume that the only view to the wall that counts
is from the Stuart Highway.
Mr Pecorari says “streetscape is still streetscape” and it is not
acceptable for people using Railway Terrace to see just a “great big
Mrs Taylor says she contested the applicant’s view that the mural can’t
be seen from the Stuart Highway: “It can be clearly seen from the Stott
Information provided earlier by Centro to the DCA suggested that
replacing the 20-30% of sandstone blocks lost to damage would require
reopening of a quarry which is “commercially unaffordable”.
But this is not the only option: Mr Newland says he has put to Probuild
the possibility of cutting the original sandstone blocks in half,
adhering them to panels, faithfully following the mural design, and
then fixing the panels to the wall.
Such an option immediately takes care of the shortfall of sandstone and
would also take care of some of the structural concerns, says Mr
National parks management will be
an ‘equitable partnership’ with TOs.
The Alice News put a number of questions on joint management in parks
to the Minister. The following written response was provided, via a
spokesperson, by Mac Moyses, Principal Planner, Department of Natural
Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport.
NEWS: What is the role of the traditional owners (direct or via the
land councils) in the management of the parks?
PARKS: The role of the Traditional Owners is to work in equitable
partnership with the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS), sharing
responsibility for the management of the parks.
Over the next few years it is intended that jointly managed parks will
have joint management committees comprising Traditional Owner and PWS
representatives, whose role will be to guide management of the parks,
at the level of endorsing management programs and setting local policy
The role of the land councils is defined under the [Territory Parks and
Wildlife Conservation] Act at Section 25 AO. Essentially their role is
to assist joint management processes, principally by consulting with,
and representing the interests of Traditional Owners in relation to the
management of parks.
[The Act also says the land councils have a role in the opinion of
Traditional Owners “as to appropriate legislation concerning those
parks and reserves”.]
NEWS: Can land councils influence joint management decisions right down
to who gets permits?
PARKS: A number of activities on parks are regulated by permits such as
research, commercial filming, public events and carrying out commercial
For our new jointly managed parks, local policy and procedure relating
to permits have been or will be developed by each park’s joint
Land Councils are not represented on joint management committees but
have a role in supporting Traditional Owners and PWS to ensure
effective operation of the committees.
In preparing local policy and procedure relating to permits, a
definition of “standard permit applications” is being developed in
which it is understood that delegated PWS staff, for example Chief
District Rangers, may approve permits without consultation with
Traditional Owners in accord with the guidelines set down for permits
for that park.
Larger proposals, such as a major commercial enterprise will
always involve consultation with the wider group of Traditional Owners.
NEWS: Are there agreed-to guidelines, applying within both agencies
[PWS and land councils], for considering permit requests or are they
decided upon on an ad hoc basis?
PARKS: See response above. Some parks have more developed guidelines
than others. It will take time and it is seen as a priority to develop
guidelines for all parks needing them, that are consistent with broader
PWS policy, the public interest and the interests of Traditional Owners.
NEWS: What specifically are the roles of the joint management officers
within land councils?
PARKS: [Their roles are]:-
• consult with Traditional Owners of parks to ascertain their wishes
with respect to their management and development;
• in partnership with PWS staff undertake negotiations, planning,
research, fieldwork and other tasks relating to management of parks;
• facilitate Traditional Owner input into Joint Management Plans and
related decision-making processes;
• enhance the understanding and awareness of Traditional Owners in
relation to parks management and development;
• consult with Traditional Owners in relation to allocating income
arising from joint management;
• support Aboriginal employment, training and enterprise development
programs relating to parks;
• assist in the monitoring and evaluation of joint management processes
NEWS: Where are joint management plans at for the parks in the East
MacDonnells [where parks were formally handed over to Traditional
Owners in June]?
PARKS: Joint planning discussions with the Traditional Owners of the
N’Dhala Gorge, Trephina Gorge and Corroboree Rock are substantially
The Joint Management Plans are being drafted and will be released for
public comment in 2010. It is more or less the same group of
Traditional Owners PWS have been working with for the three parks,
although Corroboree Rock is somewhat different and is moreover
culturally a men’s place.
NEWS: Do the plans already contain provisions for banning alcohol?
PARKS: The plans are being drafted and they say nothing in relation to
NEWS: Have extra staff been allocated to PWS for joint management? [We
understand there are 43 rangers employed on parks in entire southern
half of the Territory, compared with 45 employed by Parks Australia at
PARKS: In the Alice Springs PWS office at present we have two planners
focussing on preparation of Joint Management Plans, a Flexible
Employment Program Coordinator and a (recently vacated) Joint
Joint management has provided funding for additional positions in the
southern region. In the Alice Springs and Barkly areas, there has
been an increase in employment of Aboriginal rangers and trainees by
Alcohol bans in Macklin’s court,
says Hampton. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
NT Parks Minster Karl Hampton says it’s not his government but the
Commonwealth which decides on alcohol bans in parks whose ownership the
Territory Government has recently transferred to Aboriginal interests.
“The alcohol restrictions are a result of the Commonwealth intervention
[and are] not a result of actions by the Territory Parks and Wildlife
Service,” says Mr Hampton.It’s up to the Commonwealth which parks can
or cannot be exempt from that legislation.”
This contradicts claims by Alison Anderson, the independent Member for
MacDonnell and a previous Minister in the Territory Government. Mr
Hampton says he has told the Commonwealth Indigenous Affairs Minister
Jenny Macklin that “consumption of alcohol by responsible adults” in
national parks is considered acceptable by him and his government.
He says the NT Government previously had to seek exemptions from liquor
bans in the Nitmiluk and Devil’s Marbles parks: “These are cases in
point,” he says. “We need to sit down on a case by case basis with the
land councils and traditional owners and talk this issue through.”
West Macs comments invited.
Draft joint management plans for both the West MacDonnell National Park
and Watarrka National Park were released last week.
The closing date for public comment on both is November 13.
According to the Parks and Wildlife Service website joint
management plans describe the natural, recreational and cultural
values of a park and how the managers responsible – the joint
management partners – will ensure these values are properly protected.
They provide direction for the future management of a park or reserve,
and outline how the interests of the community, Traditional Owners and
conservation will be served.
Serious allegations against
shire. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Present and former employees of the MacDonnell Shire, a little more
than one year old and with an annual budget of $26m, have made
allegations to the Alice Springs News about rampant corruption,
bullying and incompetence.
They are – or were – senior staff in one of the shire’s 14 communities,
or in the Alice Springs head office.
All spoke on the condition that neither they nor their communities are
The shire’s first CEO, Wayne Wright, resigned in April, saying
“personal and family matters are the reason”.
One of the people contacting us suggested Mr Wright was under threat of
being sacked, but made a deal to resign involving a substantial payment
from the shire.
The terms of settlement have not been disclosed but it is possible that
a “no fault agreement” was invoked which is neither a sacking nor a
resignation, and which can involve a financial settlement.
Kerry Moir, head of the local government association, says this
arrangement – available only for CEOs – is “too easy in my view”.
She says: “It makes it too easy for a council or a CEO to simply say,
we don’t want this employment relationship any more, so let’s settle.”
The News understands at least one unfair dismissal case has been
One informant says in several of the communities there are serious
issues about the use of shire assets, especially motorcars.
Councillors and staff, accustomed to have unhindered access to these
assets when there were small independent councils, refuse to submit to
the more stringent controls mandated by the shire.
They lay complaints and “the shire is more interested in avoiding
complaints than investigating their substance”, says one informant.
One contact says people would use the shire workshop as they pleased,
“to the detriment of the shire”, and causing serious occupational
health and safety problems.
“They would come into the workshop and work on any vehicle, using
shire-owned tools and equipment,” says the contact.
He was also told to give free reign to certain organisations within the
community, adopting a “hands off” attitude to appease powerful elements.
When he insisted on stricter controls he was abused and threatened with
“You assume the hierarchy will back you,” says the man. “They didn’t.”
The problem is partly that a large number of people had to be recruited
in a hurry when the shire kicked off on July 1 last year.
Some of them had “fixed agendas”, have little more to offer than being
“Territorians of long standing”, had been using their power to promote
their own opinions, and had little if any formal education or training.
Another contact says: “Some of us are under a lot of pressure.
“Staff are being bullied and harassed by head office, trying to
pressure staff to quit their legitimate involvement in local
organizations or businesses.”
He says, “Some individuals are as corrupt as hell, stealing money.
“Processes required by corporate law are missing.”
Some people attached to the shire “are heavy drug users and dealers,
councillors come to meetings stoned off their faces, miss meetings or
turn up late.
“We’ve informed head office but there is no action.
“People are suffering because we don’t carry out our core service
delivery, including maintenance of houses.
“There should be audits but none are made.
“There are no rules, regulations, no induction packages.
“We’re at a loss about how do things.”
The contact says a massive $6m of the budget is spent on the head
office in Alice Springs.
The new CEO has so far visited none of the remote offices.
The News has been told at least two people have been sacked, on
spurious grounds, and one person has been transferred without the
The News has offered the right of reply to the shire. A spokeswoman
said a response is likely to be provided for the next edition.
Licensees move to reduce trouble
on their premises.
A patron committing an offence on licensed premises in Alice Springs
will henceforth be barred not only from the premise where the offence
took place but from all others that are members of the new Alice
Springs Licensees Alcohol Accord.
The accord was formalised on October 2 with support from the Chamber of
Commerce and after consulting with Licensing, Regulation and Alcohol
Strategy and the Northern Territory Police.
Founding members are Lasseters Hotel Casino, Bojangles Saloon &
Dining Room, Memo Club Alice Springs, Outback Security, Town &
Country Tavern and Gillen Club.
The offences being targeted by the "common barrings" are:-
• underage on licensed premises;
• failing to quit licensed premises;
• having drugs on a licensed premises;
• assaulting staff or patrons on a licensed premises;
• criminal damage to licensed premises.
The accord has established a three tier barring process.
The first tier would see the application of the existing on premise
trespass notice for 12 months, managed by the venue.
The second tier would see a common barring from all accord venues for
three to six months for minor offences.
For more severe offences, the third tier would see common barring from
all venues under the trespass notice for 12 months, renewable annually.
The accord has been benchmarked off several others operating throughout
Australia including the Mt Isa Accord which has been in operation for
In that time 10 key troublemakers were identified and received common
barrings from the Mt Isa Accord.
Other potential trouble makers have heeded the warnings and adjusted
their behaviour accordingly.
In the short space of 18 months the Mt Isa Accord has been credited
with a reduction in antisocial behaviour in and around licensed
premises by 45% and a reduction in assaults in the same areas of 50%.
Meanwhile June quarter crime statistics released on Tuesday by the
Department of Justice show a decline in house break-ins in Alice
Springs, but rises in assaults, commercial premise break-ins and theft.
The statistics relate to offences recorded by the police.
Assaults in the June quarter, with 303 recorded, were up 25% compared
to the same quarter last year.
House break-ins for the quarter were down by 23%, while break-ins to
commercial or other premises were down by 18%.
Motor vehicle theft and related offences, with 103 recorded, were up by
124% compared to the same quarter last year.
More cans from camps.
More town camps have become involved in the Cash for Containers
recycling effort, according to David Koch whose Territory Metals runs
the operation for the Town Council.
On September 10 we reported that only women and children from Karnte
Camp were exchanging cans for cash; now many others are getting
involved, including Little Sisters, Palmer, Namatjira and Ilparpa
As of this week the depot had collected over 1.5 million containers,
averaging 61,000 per day (they are open only on Saturdays and Mondays).
Many more cans are collected, but bottles are also picking up.
Returning five cents a piece to the collector, this amounts to a
$75,000 tab for the council.
WHOW, what a great project.
There has been an astonishing 92% reduction of cancer of the cervix in
the NT between 1991 and 2005, well ahead of the 60% reduction
This was part of the inspiration for three Alice Springs women, health
professionals working mostly out bush, to launch an even more effective
attack on the disease: they needed to bring health care, including pap
smears, to the people, rather than the other way ‘round.
It’s called Women’s Health on Wheels, or WHOW for short.
The upshot was their campaign for this $100,000 mobile examination
room, a 4WD truck that can go practically anywhere.
They all got truck licenses and this week they were showing off their
creation, paid for by the NT Government from a surplus of Federal
The three are Health Promotion Officer Lynette Windsor, Remote
Women’s Health Educator Sandra McElligott and Aboriginal Health Worker
Issues clouded in Araluen debate.
COMMENT by KIERAN FINNANE.
Consultation after the fact has contributed to disaffection amongst a
longtime group of users of the Araluen galleries, but their resentment
is clouding the issues.
Prominent local artist Dan Murphy (pictured) bought into the debate
with remarks in his launch speech for the opening of a group exhibition
featuring work by some of the disaffected last Friday.
The opening drew a large crowd, the biggest yet for Peta Appleyard
Gallery and testament to the strong interest in the collective known as
They are a group of local non-Indigenous artists who have banded
together to win exhibition opportunities for themselves. This showing
at the vibrant Peta Appleyard Gallery is a well-warranted exposure of
their work in an attractive and spacious professional gallery setting.
Dan Murphy is known for his hard work and passionate commitment to
working with Indigenous artists but on this occasion, speaking without
notes, he welcomed the Studio 12 show as a change from all “the dots”
that one sees in the mall. He referred to the ironic position of
non-Indigenous artists in Alice Springs as “fringe-dwellers” of
the art scene and he noted the importance of the Studio 12 show in the
context of the changes taking place at Araluen. (It should be noted
that this was not the basis on which Peta Appleyard put together the
Murphy described the changes at Araluen as based on race (“the colour
of our skin”) and claimed that artists, in their interaction with other
artists, do not see race, rather they see each other’s work. Many in
the gathering showed their appreciation of his remarks with applause
and calls of “here, here”.
But the link that he made between the challenges for Studio 12 and
other non-Indigenous artists to gain exposure and the changes at
Araluen demands some attention.
There is a reason why Alice Springs is on the map internationally in
the art world and that is because it’s the gateway for the Aboriginal
art flowing out of the deserts as well as the hub for many of the
support structures for this major Australian art movement.
No matter how accomplished and interesting the work of certain artists
from Studio 12, indeed how essential it is for its audience (and this
includes me), its reach and cultural significance are not of the same
It stands to reason therefore that the Araluen Galleries, as the only
public art institution in town, have to give a place of prime
importance to Aboriginal art.
This is not because it is produced by people of a certain race; it’s
because of the work itself and its standing in the national and
international visual art context.
Araluen Galleries have to give primacy, as any self-respecting public
art gallery would do, to what is without precedent, to what is truly
innovative. This space in the visual arts in Central Australia is
occupied by the best of Aboriginal art.
It has been argued by some of the disaffected that a separate
Indigenous cultural centre should be built. Even if it were, that would
still not relieve Araluen, as the region’s major public gallery, of
their responsibility to give primacy to Aboriginal art. They would be a
laughing stock if they didn’t.
However, it is not surprising that the changes at Araluen have gotten
people off side.
The draft management plan that describes them is no draft at all in
relation to the short term changes – they have already taken place, or
are in train, and they lay the groundwork for further change in the
As outlined in last week’s issue, the big bone of contention is that
the largest and most attractive of the galleries – Gallery Three, built
with a Centenary of Federation grant of $2.3m to the Friends of Araluen
– has been turned over to a permanent exhibition, Origins to
Innovations, charting the development of Aboriginal art in the region.
This has put the squeeze on the remaining gallery space to accommodate
the rest of the visual arts program, including long-established annual
and bi-annual exhibitions, such as the Alice Prize and the Alice Craft
Acquisition, as well as well-supported community shows such as the
Advocate Art Award, presented by the Central Australian Art Society
To compensate for the loss of Gallery Three new wall display space has
been added with the conversion of Witchetty’s into a multi-purpose
venue that can function as an exhibition space.
But this is not enough, according to some, and CAAS were forced to
limit the size and number of works for this year’s Advocate Art Award.
Witchetty’s is a compromise space. It is certainly not a space of
the same order as Gallery Three, which in its original form, with its
high southern wall and large unencumbered floor area, was a space in
which work could be presented in an exciting way.
However, at the risk of affronting some, I have to say that it was
inevitable that a non-selective show like the Advocate Art Award would
be moved out of the main galleries at Araluen. Whatever the
community-driven origins and early history of Araluen – and it’s a
precious story about Alice Springs – its evolution to become the
region’s only public gallery, playing catch-up really to the emergence
of contemporary Aboriginal art in the Centre, means that its role and
the standard to which it must perform have changed.
It’s a hard swallow when change is thrust upon you as a fait accompli
and then you are asked to give your opinion, as if it’s going to make
any difference. It may be useful to remember what a regular feature of
Territory political life this kind of process is – the arts community
is not being given special treatment.
And it is also important to recognise that non-Aboriginal art has not
been banished from the Araluen galleries. In fact since the
installation of the permanent Aboriginal display in Gallery Three we
have seen the Pamela Lofts exhibition, the Beanie Festival, and a
number of smaller shows in the small Sitzler Gallery that opens off the
In terms of process, Araluen staff, I suspect, are the meat in the
sandwich, just as Parks and Wildlife staff have been in the national
Small agencies, with limited resources, are put by the government at
the forefront of major change in social and political policy, often
driven by Ministers or their advisors.
Thus a primary consideration of the “draft” management plan for the
Araluen Cultural Precinct is the way in which it can deliver Indigenous
employment and economic benefit for the region – quite different from
the aspirations of those members of the community who drove the
creation of the arts centre 25 years ago.
In the longer term, according to the plan, the precinct may get a new
gallery but it is not clear what its focus would be.
In the meantime, the focus of the Museum of Central Australia is going
to change, with some material going to the Desert Park for display, and
a new emphasis given to “interpretation of the social history of the
The ructions in the arts community over the changes afoot in the
precinct are an interesting moment in this social history and,
returning to the current Studio 12 exhibition, The Witchetty’s that
was, a 1994 work by Iain Campbell, would be an excellent entree into
This really is a work that belongs at the precinct, reflecting earlier
changes there which have strong links to the current ones, and I hope
that some money can be found to acquire it.
Meanwhile, the Friends of Araluen are hosting a meeting to discuss the
draft management plan on Saturday, October 17, 2.30 for 3pm at the Andy
McNeill Room (Civic Centre).
The findings of this meeting will be reported to another, hosted by
RedHOT Arts, on Thursday, October 22, 5.30pm, also in the Andy McNeill
Alcohol in Alice three
years after ‘turning down the tap’. COMMENT by JOHN BOFFA,
Peoples Alcohol Action Coalition.
On October 1 this year Alice Springs had its three year anniversary of
the commencement of price-based alcohol supply reduction measures.
These measures have basically implemented a two-tiered floor price on
alcohol such that the cheapest grog is around $1 per standard drink
between 2pm and 6pm and then falls to only 50 cents per standard after
6pm – thanks to the continued sale of two litre casks.
Primarily as a result of this floor price approach Alice Springs has
seen an 18% reduction in the consumption of pure alcohol at a
population level and a higher reduction amongst the heaviest drinkers.
There has been a major shift amongst the majority of heavy drinkers
from cask wine to beer in cans, with a small number of heavy drinkers
waiting until 6pm and shifting to the cheaper two litre casks.
Most of this change pre-dated the introduction of other measures such
as the so called “Dry town”, income quarantining and the forced
prohibition of alcohol on the town camps.
The shift to more expensive forms of alcohol has translated into
significant harm reduction. Looking at data three years prior to the
restrictions and three years post the restrictions:
• the combined homicide/manslaughter rate has fallen by more than 50%;
• the suicide rate has fallen;
• grievous bodily harm has reduced by about 20%;
• the alcohol attributable admissions to Alice Springs Hospital have
• the alcohol attributable presentations to the Emergency Department
Unfortunately, it is still not possible to directly compare these
achievements with what has occurred in other regional centres across
the NT because the data is not publicly available.
However, the last alcohol consumption data that was available, up to
December 2007, revealed that Alice Springs was the only regional centre
where alcohol consumption was falling.
Since then restrictions have been put in place in Nhulunbuy and
Katherine which may also be working but this is not publicly known.
The recent report “Trends in estimated alcohol-attributable deaths and
hospitalisations in Australia, 1996-2005” from the National Drug
Research Centre received national publicity last week.
This report revealed an alarming increase across the nation in
alcohol-caused hospitalisations. The NT easily had both the highest
alcohol-caused hospitalisation rate and the largest increase over this
10 year period of any jurisdiction behind Victoria. But the period of
this report pre-dates completely the alcohol restrictions in Alice.
Since the introduction of the restrictions alcohol-attributable
hospitalisations here have declined against this trend. This is further
evidence of the effectiveness of the restrictions.
However, even with the reduction in hospitalisations due to alcohol
since October 2006, our rate of such hospitalisations in Alice Springs
is still far too high, due to the initial high baseline we began with.
The local evidence that we now have in Alice Springs of the
effectiveness of an alcohol floor price has been given expert backing
in the report from the Rudd government’s Preventative Health Task
This report has recommended that an alcohol floor price be considered
on a national basis along with a volumetric tax on alcohol (meaning a
tax rate based on the amount of alcohol in a product, making higher
alcohol content products more expensive, thus encouraging consumption
of lower alcohol content products) and a range of other measures
including a social marketing campaign and a ban on alcohol promotion to
young people under 25.
Such measures would see the consumption of pure alcohol fall by at
least 20% across the nation and many hospitalisations and deaths would
be prevented. Such measures would also lead to a significant further
decline in consumption in Alice where even after restrictions we still
consume alcohol at nearly 1.5 times the national average.
The reaction from the alcohol industry, the neoliberal media and other
apologists for the alcohol industry, such as our own “responsible”
drinkers lobby has been swift and predictable.
Witness the plethora of articles and editorials in The Australian about
the so called “nanny state”. The profits of the alcohol industry are
seriously under threat from these recommendations and unfortunately
many people in our society have learned to put private profits before
people. We are told we need to support economic growth at any cost even
when the cost is so clear and obvious as in the case of the economic
growth of the alcohol industry. Another obvious cost to this outdated
concept of economic “growth” is the destruction of our natural
environment and climate change.
The reason why governments need to act is not primarily to save the
drinkers from themselves – it is argued by some that they should be
allowed to kill themselves early if they so choose and government
should not try to limit this “freedom”.
Governments need to act on alcohol to protect the rest of the community
from the harms perpetrated by the excessive drinkers on us.
The victims of alcohol-caused homicides, rapes, suicides, grievous
bodily harms and especially child neglect need greater protection from
The argument is not a nuanced one about whether each individual should
be allowed to drink excessively if they so choose; it is simply about
placing reasonable limits on what individuals can do in relation to
alcohol in order to protect innocent others – especially, but not
exclusively, women and children.
Alice Springs, however, cannot afford to wait for a national agreement
on an alcohol floor price or a volumetric tax, as welcome as these
developments will be when they come.
Alice Springs has the highest alcohol-attributable harms of any region
in the country and one of the highest consumption rates in spite of the
18% decline. Further action on supply reduction needs to occur in Alice
LETTERS: Row over poisoned sacred
Sir,– A comment on the on-going saga over the trees alongside
Traeger Park’s grandstand: You are bloody joking, aren’t you?
Council? AAPA? Your decision, that the dead trees remain,
held up as a monument to a community’s ‘togetherness’, ‘repentance’ for
the presumed deeds of an individual.
A monument to monumental stupidity more likely!
A blatant, painful sign of the deepening divisions in our community. A
continuing sign of paternal disrespect for the beliefs and
customs of our town’s ancestors.
The Old People were a tough, hard-bitten, above all practical
people possessed of a fantastic sense of humour who would have
regarded the kerfuffle over these trees with much laughter and
well-mannered derision, for in their world you weren’t deliberately
rude to others even when you thought they were idiots. The dreaming
stories were possessed of many tales and beliefs about the
great river red gums but those tales and beliefs didn’t extend to
individual trees and most certainly not to the trees in question, trees
that were only planted there about 40 years ago as shade for our then
On many occasions I have been told of or witnessed traditional people
in their search for honey, game, making wurleys or for a myriad of
other uses, unhesitatingly fell much larger trees than those in
question at Traeger Park.
And I am absolutely sure, if they were still with us, and had they been
asked, they would have unhesitatingly felled those at the park in order
to protect the lives of those who mostly sit beneath them. Their great
This paternal decision made in what appears to be a rather pathetic
attempt to appease what amounts to a government bureaucracy, is utterly
ridiculous and makes a mockery of the Old People and their beliefs.
Instead of bringing us closer, it flies in the face of both black and
white Centralians, exacerbating the divisions between our
No one knows if these trees were poisoned. Looking at them it
seems likely, yet no proof exists.
For all of that, if indeed these trees were poisoned, the poisoning was
the action of an individual!
Not the actions of a community! Asking the community to carry this
Albatross around its collective neck because of the “possible” act of
an individual, for generations to come, is an act of sheer and utter
If anything at all can be learnt from this debacle, it is that it is
time the community as a whole revisited the Sacred Sites legislation
and rewrote it in such a manner that it operates to protect sacred
places as it was originally intended and that brings to heel the
manipulative behaviour intended to do nothing more than prop up this
Aboriginal people themselves need to take charge of these things, take
control from the bureaucrats, bring some common sense back, remove
these ugly safety hazards, remove what are rapidly
becoming symbols of division in our community.
Let the community as a whole show the way forward by planting some new
trees in their place, demonstrating for once and all that while some
may seek to divide our community their brief moment of success will
inevitably be overcome by combined community good will.
Together we can bring about a monument to our “togetherness”, not a
tombstone to our “divisiveness”. New trees in their place symbolise new
life, new hope, and the only decent way forward, side by side!
Sir,– Like many in the art community, I am concerned with the change in
direction of Araluen’s Gallery 3.
The catalogue of the first exhibition in the new gallery, Hidden
Treasures, states: “This new gallery has been specifically built
to display the permanent collection through a grant made to the Friends
of Araluen by the Commonwealth Government through the Federation Fund
and with funding from the Northern Territory Government.”
The present change in direction was done without any consultation with
the original stakeholders.
If we are going through a genuine consultative process I call on
the Director of Araluen to commit to restoring the original aim, and
for no change to be made until the development plan is signed off by
listen on ANZAC
Sir,– ANZAC Hill High’s School Council’s requests for their school to
be kept open as a separate campus after the merger with Alice Springs
High School have been swept aside by the Education Department.
The so-called consultation process has been a farce.
Karl Hampton was invited to the School Council’s AGM and didn’t attend.
Mr Hampton said on Tuesday, September 29 on ABC Radio that he didn’t
want to get involved in ANZAC High School issues, and wanted to leave
it to the Education Department to get on with the job of organising the
Mr Hampton, no matter what pressure you may be under to take no role in
this matter, you do have a responsibility to the people of the Centre
to at least represent their views if you can’t actually be their
The council is asking the Education Minister to honour the guarantees
it has previously given to the parents of the school.
Many of these people are solid Labor voters who believe in state
education, and feel the actions of the government will reduce their
choices, and create a more divided community.
The council’s petition is asking for ANZAC High to be kept open as a
separate campus, and that Maths, English and special education be
taught at both campuses.
I urge everyone who wants to support the continued success of ANZAC
Hill High School and its role in the town to sign the petition,
Solar through roof
Sir,– Just over 100 Alice Springs residents have committed to install
rooftop solar in the past 50 days during Alice Solar City’s 100 Days of
Solar campaign – a result that has far exceeded expectations.
This is evidence of the keenness of Alice Springs residents to be more
energy efficient, and having access to the financial incentive through
Alice Solar City has made it all the more attractive.
However, we are now close to our limit of funding and Alice Solar City
will no longer be accepting any new requests from householders.
Our original target was to have 225 of the smaller 1kW systems
installed in homes, but due to the demand we allocated enough funding
for 270 systems, around 90% of which are larger, 2kW systems.
The total amount of rooftop solar power installed will be in the order
of 500kW, again above our original projections.
Already 103 systems have been installed and the remaining grants will
be issued on a first come first served basis, meaning that the only
households eligible to be issued with funding include households that:
• have received a quote from BP Solar and are yet to sign, or
• have formally requested, or are in the process of having an
inspection and/or a quote being prepared.The remaining householders
will go onto a waitlist.
There is support available through the Green Loans program and the
Solar Credits scheme, and we can assist people with this information.
Alice Solar City
ADAM'S APPLE: Working to make
dreams come true.
They say that a man’s soul can be seen most clearly through his dreams.
I hope they mean his aspirations rather than his nocturnal REM. sleep.
If not, my soul is full of some pretty crazy stuff and may require some
therapy. Does anyone else have recurring dreams about flying monkeys?
The dreams of humanity are perhaps the most powerful ideas the world
has ever known. It is our dreams (and opposable thumbs) which separate
us from other animals.
Humanity has done amazing things. We have walked on the moon. We have
banished polio. We have invented and discovered and explored and none
of it would have been possible without dreams.
Dreams are the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary.
Without dreams all that remains is mediocre, mundane and middle of the
road. It is our dreams that propel us to achieve great things and every
person walking on the earth should be able to dream great things.
The problem with dreams is that for the most part they take a lot of
work to transform into reality. The space program didn’t happen
overnight and Dr King’s dream is still a work in progress.
Men and women have dedicated their entire lives to making dreams come
true and some of them have done so in the knowledge that it may never
I fear this notion of time is being lost. In a world that has moved on
from the MTV generation into an even faster Twitter generation, people
have lost the sense of time needed to fulfill dreams. They want their
Jessica Watson is a 16 year old girl from Queensland.
She has a dream of being the youngest person to sail solo and
unassisted around the world.
Now that’s a big dream. Personally, I can’t imagine dreaming of
something so great.
The problem is that Jessica can’t sail that well. On the way from
Brisbane to Sydney, before the start of her journey, Jessica
accidentally hit another vessel.
Now I know accidents happen on the ocean and Jessica isn’t the first
person to hit another vessel, but it is alarming to know that the
vessel Jessica ran into was a 63,000 tonne Chinese cargo ship. Now for
those of you who skipped maths class, 63,000 is bloody huge!
Of all the trials headed our intrepid Jessica’s way, surely a 63,000
tonne cargo ship should be easy enough to spot.
Jessica suffered a large amount of criticism due to the incident. But
just like her boat on that tragic evening, Jessica’s course could not
As you read this, Jessica is pulling into Sydney Harbour to prepare for
another attempt. A great example of persistence.
Jessica’s mother suggested that all the criticism was due to her
gender. I don’t believe that to be true. I think Australian’s would
love the notion of one of our gals taking on the world.
I believe the criticism is due to the fact that Jessica crashed into a
bloody big boat a few hours into her journey.
Perhaps like many people today, Jessica saw how easy success comes to
some. All you have to do is drop your knickers on reality television
and “blamo” – you are famous. Sleep with Mel Gibson and you could be on
the front page of every magazine in the newsagency.
The problem with wanting a dream now is that for the most part, people
need to learn the skills required to achieve them.
We dream big here in Alice Springs. It’s a town where dreams can be
fulfilled. There is however, a fair bit of hard work ahead of us. I
just hope we don’t run into a bloody big cargo ship on the way.