ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
October 29, 2009. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Politics, a Q100 and you. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Community leaders are speaking out about the urgency of
protecting the town from an increasingly likely Q100 – a flood in the
Todd River of an intensity occurring once in 100 years.
It is likely that such a flood would cause major loss of life and
extensive damage to property.
Says Mayor Damien Ryan, who is looking forward to several major
projects in the town, most of them located where a major flood would do
most damage: “If you invest in the town you also have to protect the
And commenting on the fact that it’s Canberra’s call to lift a
moratorium on building a flood barrier across the Todd, he says: “It
should be the community’s call.”
It would be heard if “enough voices in the community express concern”.
And Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in the Territory, Adam
Giles, says: “If the engineers say that the only way to protect Alice
Springs in a Q100 is by the construction of a wall at Junction
Waterhole, then it would be incumbent on public officials to take
measures to protect Alice Springs residents.
“If they don’t they might be complicit in not protecting people.”
But Chamber of Commerce head Julie Ross says members replying to a
survey on the issue stated “a dam would be ‘nice’ but sincerely doubted
it would happen due to the previous hurdles”.
The only contribution to the debate from NT Minister for Central
Australia, Karl Hampton, was this: “Effective flood mitigation measures
are already in place.
“This includes the use of modern technology by flood forecasters to
better predict the height of flowing water in the Tood River within
Apart from the obvious dangers of a Q100 it already has a
significant impact on the cost of buildings in a construction industry
already stressed by endemic shortage of development land and resulting
exodus of trades people.
It is now required for all new buildings – even extensions to existing
homes – to be 300 mm above the Q100 level (see map).
Fill costs $20 a cubic meter and $10 for compacting.
For an average home, to raise the land by one meter, would add about
$30,000 to the cost of building.
This cost would be saved if the Q100 were reduced to just a “banker”
flow of the Todd.
A barrier could be built at Junction Waterhole that would contain the
river within its banks by regulating the flow with sluice gates.
This would mean flooding for a short time upstream of the barrier –
something occurs naturally – but the area would be dry again after a
few hours, or maybe a couple of days.
The barrier is currently under a 20 year moratorium, ending in 2012,
imposed by former Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Robert Tickner
(Labor), because Aborigines demanded the protection of sacred sites.
Construction of a barrier had already started under NT Lands Minister
Max Ortmann, but had to be halted.
NT hydrological experts have stated a barrier at Junction Warterhole is
the only method of protecting Alice Springs from a Q100, a view that
has faced no credible challenge.
Climate change is expected to lead to a small decrease in rainfall but
it will come in increasingly heavy downpours – the kind of conditions
that will lead to a Q100.
Mayor Ryan says: “The town is ebmarking on another huge range of
development, infrastructure in town camps, the Melanka proposal,
hospital extensions, the oncology unit next to the Dustbowl.”
All these would be affected by a Q100 in some way.
He says the town is keenly aware of the traditional significance of the
Aboriginal identity Barb Satour had once told him it’s “a river that
runs upside down.
“All the time there is water underneath the sand.
“But when it runs on the top to the massive extent of a Q100, we need
to address not only the flow, but the blockages we’ve created.
“The Taffy Pick bridge [the casino causeway], even in a small flow, is
really a wall, and an impediment for the water to get out through The
“The town will need a second all weather bridge.”
The current bottleneck at the only bridge, at Stott Terrace, is a
danger for people needing urgent medical transport.
“We need to control a furious flow of water through the town, and we
need to remove some impediments” causing water to back up, says Mr
Asked what the town could do to have the Federal ban overturned, Mr
Giles says: “The town council and the NT Government would have to lobby
the Federal Government to make sure we can go ahead with a barrier, to
have appropriate resources and approvals to go forward and build that
“It’s not a matter of going to Lhere Artepe [the native title
representative body in Alice Springs] and saying, you’ve got to build a
“You go there and explain the problem.
“People at Lhere Artepe and the traditional owners aren’t silly.
“If they know their people, as well as everybody else, are at risk,
they would want to protect their own people and their sacred sites
which would be washed away in a one in a hundred year flood.
“It’s got to be a collective approach.”
Any lake would be “a second stage of discussion but we first need a
wall to catch the water,” says Mr Giles.
“We’re not talking about building a water skiing park.
“We’re talking about building a concrete wall so if the water does
come, we can manage the risk well enough so that the town won’t get
flooded and people won’t die.”
Mr Giles says not only would there be risk of loss of life, “there
would also be the social impact of blocked sewage systems, unable to
take the water away quickly.”
The result would be risk of diseases.
“You see that when there are floods in Asia – health risks because of
inadequate sewage systems.”
He says it’s his understanding that the town’s sewage system can handle
only another 100 or so further homes.
The Alice News also asked the following people for comment on this
issue, but they had not provided any by time of going to press:
Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin (who told us it’s now
a matter for Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett – we sent him a
request for comment); Tourism Central Australia; Lhere Artepe CEO Daryl
Pearce and the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority. The Alice News is
happy to report on their views in next week’s edition, as well as on
feedback from readers.
Council supports five storey
complex. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The Town Council supports, with some conditions, an exceptional
development application being granted to allow five storey development
on the Melanka site.
Council’s support for the proposal is subject to the following being
done to their satisfaction:
• a traffic flow study and planning by a qualified traffic engineer
taking into consideration Stott Terrace, Hartley Street, Stuart Terrace
and the adjoining existing laneway;
• provision of 357 car parks;
• timelines and sequence for construction of stages A, B, C and D;
• having an arborist report in relation to the excavation of the
underground car park and its interference with existing tree root
• the normal requirements of council, such as storm water and drainage.
The debate and vote on the motion were conducted in the confidential
session of Monday night’s meeting, but there was discussion of the
building height issue in the open meeting.
There was some dissent to the majority support for going to five
storeys. Alderman Jane Clark said the development should not go ahead
without a “wider public debate” on the issue.
Ald Melanie van Haaren said the development was likely to be a one-off
and would “look out of sync” with the surrounding area.
Ald Sandy Taylor remarked that the opportunity for three storeys is
available under existing legislation and that very few businesses have
taken advantage of it.
Ald Liz Martin said she would hate to see the Development Consent
Authority make a blanket approval for five storey development.
However each application should be seen on its merit and she could see
some merit in this application because the town is at “a desperate
stage” regarding accommodation.
She said she had some concerns regarding the proposal, including
Deputy Mayor John Rawnsley did not speak on the issue.
Ald Samih Habib said the town needed to move forward and that increased
heights will happen one day so they might as well happen now.
Ald Brendan Heenan said five storeys needed to be looked at, as long as
the building is “below the tree line”.
Because of the expense of land, he suggested that no-one would build a
two to three storey building on the site, or else to make the project
viable, they would build out the whole block with no landscaping.
He suggested that such a development, bringing more people into the
CBD, would make it a safer place.
Ald Murray Stewart warmed to Ald Heenan’s theme: he said if the project
gets off the ground he’d like to reincarnated in Alice in 25 years as
“an upwardly mobile young person” and live there: “It will encourage
life in the CBD.”
He described housing and development as the “number one issue”
affecting the town and that this type of development is an “expedient
way of moving the town forward”.
Mayor Damien Ryan suggested that community attitudes regarding height
limits had changed over the last 25 years.
He said he is “not totally against five storeys”, adding “if I was a
developer, I’d go broke at three”.
The height restrictions debate has taken attention away from other
aspects of the proposal. One is that the developers are hoping to get
around requirements to protect the property from a Q100 flood.
The proposal says the development “will have a minimum floor level of
habitable rooms at 300mm above the flood level for the site”.
Although they don’t spell it out, this clearly means that the
commercial tenancies at ground level would go under in a Q100, while
people in the upper floors would have a nice view of the waters rushing
The early demolition of the old Melanka Hostel, leaving the site vacant
for the best part of a year, exposed the many mature trees there to
On the trees the Town Planning Report put forward by the proponent
says: “The majority of the existing established trees on the site are
to be retained.
“Proposed landscaping will be incorporated to be in keeping with the
“Refer to proposed landscape report and plans prepared by FORM
Landscape Architects for a full description.”
The News has carefully read the landscape report and it specifies only
four trees to be retained – all of them big old gum trees.
There are about 60 mature trees on the site.
The report presents themed landscaping plans for the areas around seven
buildings on the site.
One gum tree is to be retained for buildings one and two; another for
building three; another for building four; none for buildings five and
six; one for building seven.
Council to forge U-mine views.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
The Town Council will set aside time to develop a position on a
possible future uranium mine at Angela Pamela, 25 kms south of Alice.
A majority of aldermen supported a motion by Ald Melanie van Haaren to
do this, with only Greens alderman Jane Clark voting against.
Ald Clark is known for her opposition to uranium mining so this
She told the Alice News that she did not want to agree to such a
broadly termed motion that had not been through the debating that
happens in the committee process.
She was not sure how supporting the motion would benefit her cause.
Earlier aldermen had heard a presentation on risks associated with a
uranium mine by Arid Lands Environment Centre spokesperson Jess
Mr Abrahams said that the proximity to town of a possible uranium mine
at Angela Pamela was unprecedented in Australia.
He said that if this proposal gets the go-ahead, it’s likely that other
uranium mining proposals will too, pointing to deposits at Hart’s
Range, Nolan’s Bore, Napperby and Yuendumu.
Does Alice Springs want to be the uranium-mining heart of Australia, he
asked, and if so, what are the impacts and is it worth the risk?
He requested that the council lobby the Territory and Federal
Governments that it is not worth the risk and join ALEC and the
Environment Defender’s Office to call for the Environmental Impact
Assessment to be done now, not later when other processes have been
completed making a mine approval a virtual fait accompli.
Ald van Haaren later argued that it made no sense for council not to
have a position in relation to such an important issue.
Govt offices musical chairs.
The southern side of Gregory Terrace between Hartley and Bath Streets
has become a Politicians’ Row.
It is dominated by the electoral offices of Labor parliamentarians,
with Independent Member for MacDonnell Alison Anderson the
Now the Chief Minister’s Department is moving into the office on
the corner of Gregory and Hartley, currently undergoing refurbishment.
The Chief’s office remains at 12 Gregory Tce.
The Alice News asked what was to become of the vacancy in the
government-owned Greatorex Building, where the department was
There’ll be none once the governmental musical chairs is completed.
The Department of Planning and Infrastructure is moving into the
Greatorex Building, allowing the Department of Education to occupy
their premises in the Alice Plaza having quit their Gap Road premises,
sold to the Central Desert and MacDonnell Shires.
Slowly moving to growth
towns. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Bob Beadman, Coordinator General of Remote Service Delivery, will
report to government at the end of November on the progress of its
Working Future policy set to see the creation of 20 “growth towns” in
remote areas of the Territory.
The present mix of Territory and Commonwealth policies and funding
commitments “holds the promise to turn things around once and for
all”, says Mr Beadman.
His role to date has involved “inordinate hours of talking” to the
heads of government departments and the shires about implementation of
A key strategy of the policy is to develop a regional transport
“Surveying the scene” has begun with two consultancies let by the
Department of Planning and Infrastructure, says Mr Beadman.
“In my view there has to be an emphasis on roads and busses – and do
something about the state of the roads first before we go putting
little busses onto them.”
He says the Territory has been underfunded by the Commonwealth for road
maintenance and development since 1991, when a too hastily prepared
submission under-estimated the scale of the need.
He says South Australia has since successfully made its case for a big
injection of roads funding – “starting with satellite imagery, drilling
down to corrugations”.
The Territory needs to follow suite.
No progress has yet been made on township leasing in the Northern and
Central Land Council areas (in contrast to the Tiwi and Anindiilyakwa
Land Council areas) .
Without township leasing there’ll be no business migration, an
essential facet of normalisation: “It’s inescapable that I express some
views on that,” says Mr Beadman.
In many instances government services are delivered by third parties,
often on annual funding.
“It’s a generalisation but those grants rarely meet the full cost of
the service, for example, the housing of the employee.
“There’s also a huge associated administrative burden and the annual
funding cycle means that by the time contracts are offered it’s for
less than 12 months and they’re very hard to fill.
“Combine that with lack of housing for staff and you start to see the
Mr Beadman says there is no doubt that there is a huge infrastructure
backlog in remote communities, but redressing it is not the key to the
success of Working Future.
“The key is engagement of local people and by engagement I don’t mean
consulting till they’re dropping, I mean picking up the toolbox.”
He said the lifting of the remote area exemption for Newstart (dole)
recipients was an important move in the right direction.
The Alice News put it to him that there has been little evidence of
“breaching” – stopping payments to those not taking up work when it is
available – since Labor came to power federally (see
“I’ve heard that too,” says Mr Beadman, “but in the end public servants
have to start implementing the rules, even though there might be some
Council staffer mourned.
Town Council CEO Rex Mooney expressed sadness at Monday night’s meeting
over “the accidental passing of a highly respected member of the
community, Paul Quinlivan”.
Said Mr Mooney: “Mr Quinlivan’s passing was a tragic accident, as he
lost his life trying to save the life of someone else. There is no
greater sacrifice than for a person to lay down their life for another
“This sort of bravery and selflessness was typical of Mr Quinlivan’s
“He gave much of his life towards helping others and speaking out on
the issues he believed in.
“Mr Quinlivan worked at Alice Springs Town Council from April 2003 to
June 2004 as the Indigenous Services Officer in the Public
Library. He was a well known and active member of our local
“He never hesitated in expressing his view, in particular with the
planning of the redevelopment of the Civic Centre.
“Alice Springs Town Council thanks Mr Quinlivan for his hard work and
contribution to the community. Our sympathy are with the Quinlivan
He disappeared in strong seas at Pebbly Beach on the south coast of NSW
on October 10 while trying to rescue a young man who had been swept off
Value adding to Araluen. By KIERAN FINNANE.
A cafe offering excellent food, beautifully situated in the grounds or
up high, offering a view to the ranges, with indoor and outdoor spaces,
would make an enormous difference to the appeal of the Araluen Cultural
If the precinct became a meeting place (for lunch, coffee, a drink) not
only would its other activities benefit but its whole ambience would be
A local example that proves the point is the huge boost to the Olive
Pink Botanical Garden when an attractive cafe with good food and coffee
began to operate there and a lot of additional activity has followed.
The idea of a cafe at the precinct isn’t new but its importance was
stressed in a “visioning” workshop for the arts sector on the precinct
draft development plan.
The workshop was convened by RedHOT Arts to formulate a “partnership
response” to the plan.
The development of a “coffee shop” is mentioned in the plan – “linked
to” the redevelopment of the foyer.
Presumably this means that its view would be onto the carpark, which
even if “softened and enlivened” would still be a carpark.
The more imaginative vision of a garden cafe, or one in an elevated
position with a deck, is the kind of “value added” thinking RedHOT
director Wendy Hee was hoping for from the workshop, urging
participants to adopt a “language of contribution and offer”.
Participants heard about the transformations of mausoleum-like
galleries interstate by clever programming initiatives: school holiday
programs, special nights for singles, hiphop events, regular artist
talks, late night openings, even all night opening in the case of the
recent sellout Dali exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Employment of a public programs officer could bring about this kind of
transformation for Araluen.
Again, a local example is bearing fruit: the Town Council is behind the
night markets in Todd Mall and the upcoming Tucker in the River event,
to name a couple of initiatives, and have employed a community projects
officer to help make these things happen.
An outdoor performance space would also help draw people into the
precinct. Both the Circus Lawns, at the back of the centre, and the
grassed area in front of the curved wall of the Strehlow Research
Centre were put forward as attractive options, but needing some
investment in staging facilities as well as seating.
There is no mention of a fully-fledged outdoor performance space in the
plan, though there is mention of a courtyard area being developed in
front of the foyer, as part of the redesigning of the carpark.
Infrastructure doesn’t only mean buildings: digital media can amplify
enormously what the precinct has to offer.
Digital media has not been given any attention in the plan.
The hugely popular Wearable Arts Awards, Beanie Festival and Cat’s Meow
Cabaret, for example, could live on in screen projections, whether
large or small.
And digital story-telling could extend the way in which the precinct is
a place of encounter – with artists as they create their work, for
There was strong agreement that liveliness of the precinct will come
from the full gamut of community cultural activity there and with that,
tourists will follow, as they do anywhere else in the world.
Community cultural activity thus has to be put at the heart of the
development plan and a board or “a vibrant visioning committee” needs
to be driving the plan.
The most controversial aspect of the plan to date – the use of Gallery
Three for a permanent exhibition on the history of contemporary
Aboriginal art – moved down the agenda in this forum.
Putting the debate on a positive footing, it was proposed that
Araluen be helped to find funds, including possibly philanthropic
funds, for a purpose-built exhibition space to showcase Aboriginal art.
Will it be a board or advisory
In the public discussions on the Araluen development plan the terms
board and advisory committee are being used almost inter-changeably but
they are very different entities.
An advisory committee has no formal powers, while a board does.
In the last major overhaul at the precinct (in1998-99) there existed an
Araluen Advisory Committee which was proved to be powerless.
On particularly controversial aspects of the changes at that time
– the decision to use the rehearsal room and the kitchen at Witchetty’s
as storage areas for the paleontological collection – the committee was
This was despite the then director (David Whitney) having been on the
record as saying: “It’s very easy for arts centres to be isolated
from their community. The [advisory] committee is one way of reducing
that isolation.” (See www.alicespringsnews.com.au/0611.html)
An example of a board is the one established under the Museums and Art
Galleries Act 1999 (NT) for Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern
Its primary responsibility is to “hold” on trust for the Northern
Territory the cultural and scientific collections of a range of museums
and art galleries in Darwin and Alice Springs (Museum of Central
Australia, Connellan Hangar, Kookaburra Memorial).
The board also has a role in promoting community involvement in museums
and art galleries and has the power, providing funds are available, to
acquire an object for inclusion in a collection and to dispose of an
It can also accept gifts, bequests, sponsorship or other funding.
Significantly for the current debate about the Araluen Arts Centre, its
collections are not held by the MAGNT board.
There are two separate community collections housed at Araluen, begun
in the early 1970s by the Central Australian Art Society and the Alice
Springs Art Foundation. They were donated to Alice Springs Town Council
in 1989 and 1990 (the Town Council owned Araluen up until 1996, when it
handed it over to the Territory Government).
Apart from site specific works commissioned for the centre (such as the
stained glass window designed by W. Rubuntja) Araluen has been building
a collection from acquisitions from the annual Desert Mob exhibition
since 1992 and have made further acquisitions with financial support of
the Federal and Territory Governments, the Town Council and individuals
As well it has works on loan, including its small but precious
selection of Papunya boards (owned by Papunya community).
Calls for energy efficiency before new
Araluen Arts Centre needs a complete energy efficiency audit before
money is spent on the planned new solar powered air-conditioning plant,
the workshop heard.
For instance, is the roof fully insulated?
The department (NRETAS) provided the following information:
An energy efficiency audit has been conducted on the building.
Some of the actions already undertaken to improve the building’s
• weather strip on all doors throughout the building;
• insulation in Gallery 1 ceiling space;
• insulation in Gallery 1 store ceiling space;
• insulation in work rooms ceiling space;
• glazing and tinting of all windows to reduce/light and heat;
• reduced wattage of all light globes in the galleries;
• creation of an airlock for the galleries air conditioning system by
installing a glass wall between the galleries and the foyer.
The News asked whether further energy efficiency works are planned,
such as insulation under the roof throughout the entire building.
The departmental spokesperson could not provide specifics but
said efforts to improve the building’s energy efficiency, in
line with the energy efficiency audit, will be ongoing in 2009-10.
The works for the solar-powered air-conditioning are scheduled to
go to tender in early 2010.
No ‘immediate’ change at Sitzler
The future of the small Sitzler Gallery, off the foyer, is not
discussed in the Araluen Art Centre development plan.
An exhibition of works on paper opened there on Monday, drawn in
particular the Alice Springs Art Foundation collection (owned by the
Local artists Christine Godden, Rod Moss, Myrtle Noske and Sally
Mumford are represented along with nationally recognised artists John
Wolseley, Mike Parr, Deborah Paauwe, Helen Geier and Jennie Nayton.
The Alice News asked if there were plans afoot to change either the
structure or the programming of the Sitzler Gallery.
A departmental spokesperson replied: “There are no immediate plans to
change any structure of the current Sitzler Gallery.
“[It] is a community accessible exhibition space for small exhibitions
by local artists or small travelling exhibitions.
“Programming will be flexible, allowing scope for exhibitions that make
use of unforeseen opportunities or tie in with community projects that
may arise at relatively short notice.
“The gallery is fitted with data cables allowing for Internet and
computer access, thus allowing for the presentation of experimental and
installation works along with artwork encompassing new and cross art
form media. The gallery will be utilised during the annual Desert Mob
event held in September to October each year.”
Wrongly accused. By ERWIN
When Keith “Tassie” Goodluck died on June 18, 1989, his heart was
broken by claims that he had wanted to “blow up and cut into small
pieces” one of the jewels in The Centre’s tourism crown, Rainbow
Valley, some 100 kms south of Alice Springs.
Most recently that claim was made, in the Alice Springs News of June 18
this year, by legendary camel man, Noel Fullerton, who had the Camel
Farm nearby, and conducted tours in the region for many years.
But the truth, says Mr Goodluck’s widow, Joyce, is that her husband
held a mining lease over the spectacular rock formation, not to turn it
into a quarry, but to protect it and create a visitor attraction.
There was no other form of land tenure available to achieve this aim,
Mr Fullerton was occasionally credited with discovering the spectacular
rocks in the late 70s, although Mr Goodluck had acquired his interest
in Rainbow Valley – which he so named – in the late ‘60s.
Mrs Goodluck says the rumour of the rock formation’s imminent
destruction was also fuelled by a report in the Centralian Advocate,
some time in the ‘70s.
Mr Fullerton recalls an intervention by Terry Karger, the lessee of
Orange Creek Station, on which Rainbow Valley is located.
He contacted the Member for Stuart at the time, Roger Vale, who
arranged the purchase of Mr Goodluck’s lease “for 12,500 pounds, I
think”, as Mr Fullerton put it.
Mrs Goodluck says it was in fact $8000.
She says Rainbow Valley “was taken off us by the Conservation
The false rumours of Mr Goodluck’s intentions persisted over the
decades, despite his prominent role in the local tourism, transport,
mining and retail industries.
Mrs Goodluck says her husband was “very upset” about the claims but
“just gave up” fighting them.
“He wasn’t going to pursue the matter any further.
“When they took Rainbow Valley away from him he thought, well, that’s
It was the quarry claim “that upset him, more than anything.
“He was a great conservationist, he really was,” says Mrs Goodluck.
“He loved the Territory, he loved Alice Springs.
“He was in the tourist game right through.
“He eventually moved on but he was bitter to the end.”
Mrs Goodluck says her husband was hurt not so much by Mr Fullerton’s
claims, but by “government, more than anything, the Conservation
Mr Goodluck, born in Tasmania, came to The Alice in 1946 or ‘47, and
worked with tourism pioneer Len Tuit.
He transported copper on road trains in Tennant Creek, and managed
tourist camps in the early ‘60s for Ansett Pioneer at Glen Helen,
Serpentine Gorge, Ayers Rock and Palm Valley. With Ivan Wiese and Ian
Lovegrove he started Northern Transport.
He and Mrs Goodluck, who had three children, also ran a pet food shop
in Todd Mall, where the Aurora Hotel now stands, selling camel meat for
Mrs Goodluck, born in Alice Springs on New Year’s Day of 1940, lived in
the town until she moved to Hervey Bay three years ago.
Cheap, clean and safe
but never enough to go round. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The Australian and Territory
Government recently announced the creation of 100 new temporary
accommodation beds in Alice Springs for Indigenous people. All will be
in managed facilities – a new 49 bed facility in Percy Court (south of
the Gap), 40 beds for renal patients at The Lodge in Bath Street, and
eight more beds at the Salvation Army hostel in Eastside.
In a two-part series, KIERAN FINNANE
looks at how managed accommodation works at existing facilities run by
Aboriginal Hostels Ltd.
In principle it’s short term accommodation, maximum stay three months;
in practice many residents are long-term, because there’s nowhere else
for them to go.
Ayipirinya Hostel has been home to Ruby Reid and her husband since last
They’re from Blackstone, across the border in WA.
He’s a renal patient and she’s his carer.
When the Alice News visited, Ruby had packed their bags – they were
going back to Blackstone for a longed for visit, but her husband would
have to return in just a few days. His son would be coming with him to
look after him until Ruby’s return.
“Once renal patients come into town, they’re here for the long-term,”
says Jean Ah Chee, Regional Manager for the last eight years with
Aboriginal Hostels Ltd.
At present renal patients make up about a quarter of the hostel’s
clientele. Ayipirinya isn’t supposed to be for renal patients but it
takes the overflow from the dedicated 40-bed renal patient
accommodation facility, Topsy Smith Hostel, including those patients
who come with family.
Topsy Smith, in Renner Street, takes only the renal patient and their
In both hostels, as well Sid Ross Hostel on Gap Road, if residents need
care, a family member or another agency has to provide it –
Aboriginal Hostels does not have the resources to provide more than
clean, safe accommodation and three square meals a day.
Sid Ross provides short-term accommodation for medical patients other
than renal, with most of its 40 beds pre-sold to the hospital and other
health services for their clients. A couple are kept in reserve for the
clients of small health services.
At Ayipirinya, to satisfy the rules about maximum length of stay, after
three months residents have to produce a letter from Territory Housing
to say that they are on their waiting list.
The wait for a pensioner flat at present is almost three years (35
months), for a two-bedroom house, 31 months, and for a three bedroom
house, 41 months.
In any case, says Ms Ah Chee, “a lot of our residents couldn’t cope on
“They need to be in supported accommodation.”
The “catchment area” for residents is vast: from the Barkly in the
north, to the Pitjantjatjara lands in the south (Pitjantjatjara people
are in the majority at Ayipirinya), west into WA, east into Queensland.
Some residents are on the waiting list for aged care.
Others simply want the freedom from humbug that the hostel provides –
the staff are there to deal with anyone who doesn’t follow the rules.
No alcohol, no drugs, no drunks is the bottom line.
The manager, gentle giant Aaron Perkins-Kemp-Berger, lives on the
premises and there’s also a night attendant on duty .
“There’s trouble every now and then, but it wouldn’t even be once a
week,” says Mr Perkins-Kemp-Berger.
“This is like a small community,” says Ms Ah Chee.
“Anything that you get happening in the wider community you may also
“I deal with the trouble,” says Mr Perkins-Kemp-Berger. “People feel
Anyone causing serious trouble, such as domestic violence, is served
with a trespass notice.
The hostel has 96 beds in a combination of double rooms and cabins
(able to sleep four).
Occupancy is at over 90%. It would be 100% – like the Sid Ross and
Topsy Smith Hostels – except that sometimes a bed is not used, if for
example a cabin is occupied by a mother and two children.
There’s a permanent waiting list of 70 odd, says Mr
Perkins-Kemp-Berger. They’re mainly wanting the double rooms which
don’t turn over very often.
Ayipirinya won’t take singles but there “a big unmet need” for
accommodation of single men and women of all ages, says Ms Ah Chee.
Aboriginal Hostels is the biggest operator in the Territory of
short-term accommodation for Indigenous people, with 657 beds all up,
around half of them in Alice.
Their local capacity will increase in the new year when they take over
the Mount Gillen Supported Accommodation in South Terrace.
Ms Ah Chee expects this hostel to open its doors in mid-February, with
an estimated 50 beds.
All Aboriginal Hostels residents must pay for their accommodation.
Rates for those receiving Centrelink benefits are tied to the level of
the benefit – about 60%.
For those who are employed the cost is $41.60 a night – $291.20 a week.
“That’s not bad if you take into account that they’re getting three
meals a day,” says Ms Ah Chee.
Workers can ask for a cut lunch to be provided.
Ms Ah Chee recognises the need for a workers’ hostel, indeed a need for
every kind of accommodation.
“We recently had eight staff looking for accommodation for themselves,”
she says. In the meantime, they are making do – “like everyone
else in the population”.
Aboriginal Hostels seeks to employ Aboriginal people.
At Ayipirinya about 90% of the staff are Aboriginal; at Topsy Smith
it’s 100%; at Sid Ross, it’s about 65%.
But, as anyone who watches the positions vacant pages knows, there are
always unfilled vacancies.
Ms Ah Chee says staffing is a constant preoccupation. Their jobs,
except at the Hetti Perkins Home for the Aged, do not require a high
level of skill: staff are trained as required. They simply need to be
The hostels are run on a tight budget: for the 96 bed Ayipirinya,
staffed around the clock, there’s a manager and two assistant managers,
a cook and two kitchen-hands, three cleaners, two night attendants and
The hostel provides bed linen, changed once a week. Otherwise residents
do their own laundry. Access to the machines is free, in contrast to
the general rule interstate.
“It’s free in order to encourage the residents to wash their clothes,”
says Ms Ah Chee.
NEXT WEEK: Meals, pool and fire pit: A
place away from home.
Artists take play in different
directions. By KIERAN FINNANE.
You can see why the two shows currently sharing the walls at Watch This
Space have been hung together.
Both source their material in remote Aboriginal communities; both
represent human stories with dolls or doll-like forms.
But the artists are looking at what they’ve experienced and how they
want to represent it very differently.
Sue Taylor’s Same, Same and Different uses the visual language of
fairytales to ‘tell’ her stories.
Silhouettes, one white, one black in each work and skillfully cut from
cloth, are disported playfully in an imaginary pink land where not only
It is clear that Taylor has been charmed by her experiences with women
from a world and culture very different to anything she’d known before,
and in turn she charms us.
Each work is accompanied by a short story, evoking particular
encounters on an unnamed community where she worked in an aged care
They share the bright, vivid, optimism of her images and observe many
details about community life. There is a feeling though, in part due to
the anonymity of her characters and their place, that Taylor has willed
her experience onto another plane, a feeling of things being unsaid or
not possible to say.
There could hardly be a more contrasting impression made by the
playthings used by Anne Mosey in Discard.
She collected the dolls and doll parts over 20 years while living
on remote communities in NT, WA and Queensland,
If there’s humour in the way they have been configured – a head stuck
into a leghole, strange little lumps added to make breasts, pink
‘skin’ painted brown – it’s a dark humour.
In the damaged dolls, crammed in various combinations into glass-lidded
boxes, it’s impossible not to see a metaphor for human experience.
Choose your layer of reference – the fallout for a nomadic people
crammed into settlements, the encounter between cultures, the loss of
innocence, the neglect and abuse of children, but also in the
persistence of a gaze, a smile, glimmers of resilience and hope.
Will they go or stay? By
It’s small, it’s hot and it’s in almost the middle of nowhere yet here
we are smack bang in the centre of Australia, living our lives. Will we
stay or will we go is the big question many young people have to
Bree Ahchee, 15 years old, has lived here her whole life.
“I thought it was fun to grow up here because I have never known
“I like the town because I’ve made lots of good friends, I know my way
around and I like the weather. “When I finish school I want to go
elsewhere for uni and experience the big world but Alice springs will
always be home.
“My parents love the natural beauty and after traveling overseas many
times they always came back, so they obviously like it.
“I think Sydney’s too crowded and Melbourne always seems to be in
construction, Alice is home.”
Amy Clifton, 16 years old, has also been in the town since birth.
“I suppose it’s all right,” she says, “could be better but I love the
smallness of it.
“I think it could be improved with more teenage entertainment, more
shops and things to do.
“One of the fantastic things is the community, so if you need help or
get into trouble there is always assistance where you need it.
“Like when I first found out I was paralyzed from the waist down from a
rare disease everyone in the town got together, raised money and
supported me and my family. “This wouldn’t be so likely in a larger
community and it’s truly amazing to see the incredible support.
“The town is a great place to grow up in, but I’m not going to stay.
“As soon as I finish Year 12, I’m off to uni interstate where there are
a wider range of opportunities.
“Nevertheless I will definitely come back to visit friends and family.”
Tasmin Saint (16) is also a life-timer, till now anyway.
“I grew up here, a bit of me will always live here I think. I love it,
fife is chill.
“It makes going to a city more exciting, people are friendly and there
is a great community spirit.
“I’m not staying here when I finish school but will always come back to
visit my friends and family.
“We need more things in the community for the youth to take part in
which will be a distraction from violence, drugs and alcohol.”
Cameron Colombet joins the born-here group. He likesAlice but will
leave, at least for a while.
“There’s a good bunch of people, nice and small, easy to get around and
a nice landscape,” he says.
“I think it was/is a good environment to grow up in.
“Mum moved here when she was about 12, and Dad even earlier, at the age
of one from Darwin. “They both grew up here and never left.
“I don’t think I will follow in their foot steps because I want
something new, but who knows I might end up back here after leaving for
a few years.
“It’s not that bad to live in so I’ll return to see friends and family
and perhaps live”.
Olivia Morgan’s experience is a bit different. She’s been in
Alice for three years now, moving here when she was 12.
“It was hard leaving my friends and coming to a place where I didn’t
know anyone but at the same time good getting a fresh start just before
“My first reaction getting off the plane was it was SO red and the
first day of school all I wanted to do was leave, but then I made
friends who showed me around the town and made it easier to adjust.
“When I finish school I’m going to leave but I will come back to visit,
it’s not like I’ll be gone for good.
“I mainly like the lifestyle and how laid back everyone is compared to
the big cities, it’s small and cosy.
“There’s not really many things for under 18s to do in terms of a night
out so they have to try and make their own fun which sometimes turns
into a hectic situation.”
Lucinda Reinhard, 15, spent her early childhood in the remote community
“Growing up there was awesome! I was really young so unaware if
anything bad was going on that we hear about in some remote
“I loved the freedom, as you could run around anywhere without people
worrying about you because it was so small so everyone knew who you
were and you would never find yourself lost. “It was like there were no
rules, I could kick my shoes off and play around for as long as I
Coming into town around the age of five she adapted to the changes.
“I like the sense of community within the town and there’s more
opportunity with sport and jobs. It can get boring at times, sport
being one of the only real activities that teenagers have to do but I
love it mainly for its size”.
Moving from Alice to Melbourne when she was 13 for a year was a big
change that wasn’t welcomed.
“It was horrible, but my circumstances were different because of the
fact that I didn’t want to move, I’m sure if I did it would have been
different. I liked the city but the distance to go see friends made it
hard to cope with.
“Then moving back to Alice this year was great – it was like I never
The smallness has its pros and cons.
“The night life can be boring once you have done it once,” says
“A good side of the town is everyone knows everyone. And a bad side?
Everyone knows everyone,” says Allanah Jansons.
Lucinda joins in: “As there is a lack of new people our age once you
know everyone it gets boring and that’s how fights start.
“But is it that lack of new people or that lack of activities to keep
the youth of the town occupied?
“Because we are a small town you would expect there to be limited
activities compared to a city but when you find yourself searching for
things to do on a weekend people may get caught up with the wrong crowd
and take part in reckless behavior simply for entertainment which leads
back to gang violence and general misbehavior within the youth of the
town,” she says.
Amy agrees: “It’s too easy to access drugs and alcohol and if there
were more things to do these options would become less popular.”
Georgia Weinert challenges this: “But even in the larger cities the
youth still resort to reckless behavior despite more variety of
Bree says there’s definitely not enough things to do: “We should have
an arcade or a water-park but I don’t think that has anything to do
with the problems, I think that probably comes from the environment
they grew up in, home and family wise.”
All the people I spoke to are extremely keen to be let loose on the
world. Whether we will come running back to familiar grounds only time
Ella Carmichael who moved to New Zealand just before grade 11 has
experienced what many of us think we want. She says coming back after
two years caused mixed emotions, but in the end she was glad to be back
even with majority of her old friends now living interstate.
Is it our generation or the character of our particular crop? Popular
opinion is that once we hit the 18, 19, 20 mark we’ll be on the plane
out and we’re assuming that the future will be mainly elsewhere.
Beatrice Jeavons is a Year 10 student
who did work experience at the Alice Springs News.
Mutant juice. By POP VULTURE
The spirit of the desert festival seems to be reverberating through
this October. Artists and musicians are finding medium and muse both
through perseverance and accident.
New band Rocket Sauce is a glowing example of the latter. Beginning as
a collaboration of local musicians including Dr Strangeways members,
CAAMA technician and session guitarist Matt Hill and the eclectic vocal
percussionist Mal Webb wielding the brass, Rocket Sauce is set for the
local music scene stratosphere.
The ensemble played to a near full house at KI warehouse on a recent
Friday, rounding out a solid bill that included seasoned groups such Dr
Strangeways and Tjupi Band. Rocket Sauce’s stylings are cut from reggae
dancehall, a kind of morphing evolving free jazz riding on the back of
rhythm borrowed from early day reggae and fleecing the beat you can
associate with mid-70s east London Ska, and vocal exploits that border
on electronic. Such is the mutant juice that is Rocket Sauce.
You need to try and imagine what would happen to Dixieland style music
if it was plugged into a distortion pedal and fed ecstasy. And then you
may have some understanding of how this music actually moves. This
particular sauce should simmer a while.
Adding to the artistic condiments, Lucy Hope’s debut exhibition titled
“I stole the Rabbit” was unveiled the same weekend.
The exhibit swam against the stream of convention, choosing to have the
doors open to the public as the installations and hangings took shape
throughout the week, as opposed to having the viewing saved until the
official opening night.
This proved a worthy move, as curiosity did often get the better of
As for the actual imagery, I found this collection very easy to behold
– portraits of mostly women with elaborated facial features similar to
Japanese anime. Lucy’s unique quirk was to cover each canvas in a
different type of tea before using different watercolours, pencil and
inks to create a series that seems to demonstrate quaint rebellion
beneath the guise of youthful innocence.
Lucy transformed the usually barren space next to the Alice Springs
Cinema into what oddly resembled something from a Kubrick set. As
scores of viewers, young and old, flocked about the freshly adjusted
space, you couldn’t help but feel that in retaliation to rising rental
conditions (sometimes what goes up doesn’t come down) more of these
guerrilla style exhibition spaces could be on the cards.
ADAM'S APPLE: Selling Alice.
In the SBS series Madmen we look into the
testosterone-fueled world of the New York advertising executive circa
It was an age when men were men and women were wives and
secretaries. It was an age when the man was king and the biggest king
of all smoked Marlboro.
It was a time when bourbon was sipped at the office, it was a time when
the ashtray was built into the desks and it was a time when you could
judge a man by the suit and how he wore it.
For the man’s man it was the apex of the empire. Pretty soon the sexual
and the scientific revolutions would turn the ordered world of the
Madmen upside down.
The show is immaculately written and superbly acted and is one of those
television shows that makes the 23 other hours of pap a day endurable.
But Madmen is a little hard to watch. Misogyny, racism, infidelity and
homophobia fill each scene like a menacing mist. The conflict within
the viewer occurs because despite the terrible attitudes that these men
carry against women, gays, Jews and “coloured” people, they remain
incredibly cool. One of the coolest of the cool, Don Draper says to a
client that he isn’t selling cigarettes, he’s selling happiness.
The job of the ad man is to focus on the happy, to connect a consumer
with an idea about a product rather than the product itself. In Madmen
Don Draper does this with Lucky Strike and with himself.
Do you really want an iPhone for the features it possesses? Or do you
want it because you think it will make you happy, cooler, more up to
Are we really convinced that extra absorbency will allow us to play
volleyball on the beach?
Advertising is about making us feel like we want a product to be part
of our lives. From the style of clothes we wear to the type of peanut
butter we eat on the type of bread we toast, all of it is marketed to
fit into our idea of our life.
Sometimes however, the advertisers get it horribly wrong. The recent
brouhaha over the naming of the new cheesy version of Vegemite was one
such occasion. The iSnack 2.0 seemed to want to make the humble yeast
spread modern, with it, and hip. Three words never used by the modern,
with it and hip. The name became less popular than Adolf and people
from every Australian community railed against this slight on
traditional Aussie values.
But it hasn’t been the only failure to capture the popular imagination.
Other products have gone the way of the iSnack 2.0.
Remember the depilatory cream that was sold on infomercials back at the
turn of the century? Nads was an all-natural, all Australian hair
removal cream first made in the garage of a mother’s house for her
daughter. What a story. What an awful name to call a hair removal
cream. Did someone get paid to come up with that name? I’d want my
Then there are products that defy the name of the marketing. The Golden
Gaytime was scoffed by tradies and footy players alike. It was just a
delicious frozen treat and despite the obviously antiquated moniker, is
still one of Australia’s favourite ice creams.That’s why I wasn’t too
concerned about our latest push to get people to come to Alice Springs.
Alice Springs: Get A Life, could be seen as one of those slogans that
might not get the Madmen agencies jumping for joy. One could, as I did,
misconstrue the meaning of the slogan and momentarily take offence.
However I get what the slogan was trying to do.
Maybe in this new modern world we should take a look at Alice Springs:
Get A Life and adapt it for other campaigns. Maybe Alice Springs: So
Hot Right Now could be a winner.
Whatever the slogan, like the Golden Gaytime, Alice Springs sells
LETTERS: Why cloudy, cold
Germany has left us behind with solar power.
Sir,– Your recent article on solar power in Alice Springs and
developments overseas (Germany in particular) simply reinforced the
point of how far behind we are in this and other areas, and the urgent
need for us to keep in touch with the developing technology, or
get left behind as the rest of the world moves on.
We don’t seem to be doing that in a practical sense. One of the leading
research institutions in Germany (Fraunhofer Inststitute) at Freidburg
is one of several bodies which operate in an environment of
frequent cloud and long winters, yet manages to be at the forefront of
the emerging solar industry.
Imagine how they would react to our almost limitless sunlight and
one has to wonder if any attempt has ever been made to have them
conduct their research here.
Sadly they are shifting their expertise to the USA and albeit the
market there for the products is much larger, it seems to be the case
that we have lost another golden opportunity to promote international
first class research facilities here.
Many years ago there was a proposal put to government via Infratril who
then owned the airport, to build a high tech village adjacent to the
airport to capture such technological advances and to capitalise on
them in the form of employment and royaltries on the end product.
Sadly no realistic action was taken, and the concept was treated as pie
in the sky, but imitated by the technology park in Adelaide and
Since then we have seen the movement of major initiatives in solar to
China (Solartech) for want of a long term vision here, adding to the
list of Australian enterprise lost overseas.
We are about to witness the same thing occur with feral camels, where
UAR interests are about to play a major role in WA in commercialising,
and Egyptian interests trying to do the same in SA, while we madly pull
triggers and leave them to rot (and incidentally, leave around a half
million of our neighbours to the East, North and Northwest to fend for
themselves with insufficient food – a national scandal.)
Currently there is a major International conference taking place in
Friedburg, Germany, (International Solar Summit 2009) looking at solar
buildings and if ever there was a place on the planet in need of such
innovation it must be Alice Springs, yet I doubt if anyone from the
bodies here attended. Perhaps they did not know.
And where is the money to come from to implement such strategies? Much
of this could have been generated here had the high tech avenue been
pursued, with the airport proposal.
Nuclear is not the answer as the Germans are showing. They have taken
the decision to take nuclear power plants offline and thus given their
solar industry a huge boost, based on research and technology, and the
EU decision to reduce carbon emissions.
Research from private companies in the area have risen from six
million Euros in 2000 to 249 million in 2007, while we dally around
with obsolete technology and seem content with that.
Who has looked at the Dysol technology for example, or invited them
The German experience has been done also in spite of the German
Government withdrawing the subsidies for homeowners, and the largest
manufacturer of solar cells had a sales increase of 65% (270
milllion euros) in the first quarter of 2008.
They too are sending their efforts to the USA and again the
question must be asked, what has been done to induce them to come here
to do the research?
They are now looking at producing cells with conversion
efficiencies of over 40%. And to rub salt into the wound they
will probably be using some of the rare earths to be mined at Aileron
to do that. Our solar panel efficiencies are currently around 20%.
They have technologies hanging on the sides of buildings and installed
in windows and glass panels which provide much of the energy
requirements of the buildings even in that climate. We are just so far
behind because of the way we think, and possibly our lack of basic
scientific knowledge and its applications.
There is also a move to tap the solar resource of the Sahara and
transmit the energy under the Mediterranean to Europe. They have
inverters (converting solar dc to ac) approaching 100%efficiency.
Why is not some of that research being done here?
After all we have an enormous solar resource, as well as Geothermal,
but lack the vision, or because most of our research is related to
government funding, it is not commercial in its thinking.
Germany is also commercialising low transmission losses in electricity
distribution by using nano technology – something of vital importance
to us here. An obvious example is linking the enormous Geothermal
resources in the Top End with those in SA via the rail corridor
and then placing solar farms along the rail track.
We could and should be a net exporter of non-carbon, non-uranium
based energy and leave the uranium in the ground where it belongs.
For me, the thought of having a working uranium mine less than 20 km
from my front door is appalling and completely unnecessary.
Sir,- Hard as it is to write a Letter to the Editor that is critical of
that editor’s comment piece, I feel your question: “Can we afford to
say no?” (October 22) cannot be left unanswered.
Looking past the tenuous link you make with the loss of heritage
buildings in the past (what was that about, mate?), I must say that I
do not know of anyone that is saying “no” to the re-development of the
site, but there are some very valid concerns about “how” it is proposed
to be done.
By the developer’s own admission, this project will be the BIGGEST our
town has ever seen. Don’t you think, then, that some very serious
consideration ought to be given to just “what” is being proposed?
The developers are asking permission to construct a much taller
building than is currently permitted under the NT Planning Scheme.
Surely you are not suggesting we should accept unbridled development,
without any regulation, and adopt an “anything goes” attitude?
As alluring as that “bucket of money” may seem, regulations, be they
for car-parking requirements or for the provision of toilet facilities,
are there for a reason. Whilst they are in force, they ought to
be complied with.
concerned that this particular development proposal and the issue of height restrictions are being dealt
with together in a perhaps deliberate effort to confuse
At this particular point in time, the
five-storey / 18.5 metre high proposal is simply not permitted under
the NT planning Scheme.
If necessary, let’s first have a public discussion about whether we
need to change the height limit at all and then, if it is amended,
let’s consider this particular development proposal on more than its
seductively glossy presentation.
ED – In our report in the Alice News last week, far from
advocating “unbridled development, without any regulation, and adopt an
anything goes attitude”, we stressed that there should be a rigorous
examination of the project, with information coming direct from the
proponents rather than from a real estate agent intermediary. The
comment piece offered a perspective specifically on the “building
height campaign”. Mr Pecorari’s views on this issue were given generous
space on the front page.
Sir,– Further to my letter about sacred trees (October 8) and in reply
to a letter by the AAPA board member Mike Gillam (October 15).
Mr Gillam refers to my previous letter as a “vitriolic spray”. He
evidently didn’t pick up the true tone of my letter.
I was attempting to convey in printable fashion my deep disgust, and
anger, at the short-sighted decision-making by so-called leaders
in this debacle. And because these so-called leaders have been standing
“so resolute” and not listening I felt that a good proverbial kick in
the backside was required to get their attention. I make no apology for
What AAPA is about to create is an ugly monstrosity, as a perpetual
memorial not to an Aboriginal sacred site but to a “poisoner”! How can
you possibly be more divisive than that?
My point is that as a community, we must by pass this act. Move on, by
removing, and replanting. Creating an ugly steel monstrosity, that
would be required to support the dead trees, would be an ugly
commemoration of an illegal act, depriving all of our community very
valuable viewing and future development space in our town’s most
popular sporting ground.
The trees are expendable, our community spirit is not!
I draw the AAPA’s attention to these extracts from its vision statement:
• In all circumstances the authority strives to achieve “practical”
outcomes in its operation by recognising and respecting the interests
of site custodians, landowners and developers.
• Minimising unnecessary controversy over the existence of sacred sites.
• Better relations between Aboriginal custodians and other Territorians
over sacred sites.
How do you think you’ve gone so far, AAPA?
AAPA is part of the Northern Territory’s public service and as such
subject to all its provisions and constraints. Perhaps in the interests
of common good, it’s time the relevant Minister stepped in and brought
about a whole of community resolution. A resolution that doesn’t fan
the flames of community disharmony and disrespect, which to date AAPA
has been unequalled in creating.
ASHS murals to go?
Sir,– I recently spent some time at Alice Springs High School and
enjoyed wandering around looking at the many murals. They
represent many hours of heartfelt work and should be an
inspiration to the generations of students who have attended the
school. I’m sure many in Alice have fond memories of mural
projects over the years.
I was very upset to hear that these murals are due to be painted over
when the transition to middle schooling happens at the end of the
Surely there needs to be some sort of consultation before such a thing
I consider the murals to be a part of the history and heritage of Alice
Springs and hope that the Education Department reconsiders.
Grog policies failure
Sir,– The Labor Government continues to fail the people of Alice
Springs, with alcohol restrictions not curbing alcoholism or
The Henderson Government admits that 65.5% of assaults in the town last
year were alcohol-related, which just highlights its failed policies.
There are numerous alcohol restrictions in Alice Springs, yet the
number of drunks going in and out of protective custody increased by
91% in 2008/09.
It’s estimated that to date this year around 13,000 people have been
taken into protective custody.
Alcohol Courts have failed, with only eight people successfully
completing a Court ordered treatment program in the first 18 months of
operation, and embarrassingly low numbers since then.
Declaring town camps ‘dry areas’ has also failed, with residents in
many town camps openly drinking.
Despite saying it wants to reduce the number of take-away licences in
Alice Springs, the Henderson Government has done nothing. There
have been no ‘buy backs’ of liquor licences.
Alice Springs residents must produce identification when buying alcohol
yet the entrenched problems remain undiminished.
The list of Labor’s failures in the area of alcohol and law and order
is a long one, yet, it continues to unfairly impose its policies on the
people of Alice Springs.
The ban on alcohol sales before 2pm and the restriction on the sale of
fortified wines until 6pm just transfer the problems to a later time.
Those who abuse grog get drunk later in the day, making it harder for
Police and security personnel to deal with at night.
Some alcoholics are drinking Listerine and cooking essence while they
wait to top up with grog later in the day.
Earlier this year, the Responsible Drinkers Lobby of Alice Springs
published a report recommending that sales of take-away alcohol return
Along with the Lobby, we believe the proposal has widespread support.
There have been a range of positive outcomes in Port Augusta following
‘dry area’ changes, and take-away alcohol is sold there from 9am.
We look forward to debating this area as part of a motion calling on
Government to improve law and order in Alice Springs.
Jodeen Carney, Matt Conlan, and Adam Giles
Country Liberals MLAs
CLs ignore evidence
Sir,– The People’s Alcohol Action Coalition categorically refutes
assertions by the Country Liberals that the alcohol restrictions in
Alice Springs since October 2006 “have failed to curb alcoholism or
The restrictions have had a big impact, with pure alcohol consumption
having fallen by a significant 18 percent across the population.
They are putting us on the right track towards a safer, happier
There were 17 fewer homicides and manslaughters in Alice Springs in the
three years after the restrictions were introduced, compared with the
three years prior to their introduction.
During the same period the combined murder/manslaughter rate for the
rest of the NT increased.
There has also been a large reduction in alcohol caused suicides and a
reduction in serious non-homicidal assaults such as grievious bodily
harm, over this period.
The populist and ill-considered proposal by the CLP for take-away
alcohol to be sold from 10am would see a massive spike in alcohol
With a two-tiered floor price effectively in place with the cheapest
grog off the shelf until 6 pm, there has been a major shift amongst the
majority of heavy drinkers from cask wine to canned beer.
Evidence shows price is a key factor in the amount of alcohol people
consume, and the resultant harm. When alcohol is very cheap, people are
more likely to drink at risky levels.
The local evidence about the effectiveness of Alice Springs’ alcohol
‘floor price’ has been confirmed by the national Preventative Health
Task Force report. This report recommends an alcohol floor price be
considered on a national basis. PAAC strongly supports a ‘floor
price’ of $1 per standard drink.
Restrictions on the sale of take-away alcohol on specific days have
been effective in reducing consumption and harm in remote Australian
communities. PAAC supports the adoption in Alice Springs of a
‘take-away free day’ every week. Such a ban would be evidence-based,
non-discriminatory, and would save Governments substantial money.
Addressing this problem as a matter of urgency, is an essential and
vital part of the jigsaw for Closing the Gap as well as reducing high
rates of dangerous drinking among non-Indigenous people in the NT.
Dr John Boffa