ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
June 24, 2010. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
mining super tax and us. By ERWIN
The Federal Government’s proposed 40 per cent resource super profits
tax (RSPT) would hit the Territory hardest because mining makes up more
than a quarter – 26.1% – of its economy, a far greater slice than in
any other state.
So saays Scott Perkins, Executive Director of the Northern Territory
And he challenges the notion that under the profit based royalties
system, mining companies evade making a fair contribution to the
community, even if they shift their profits overseas: payroll tax,
stamp duty and other charges, construction of infrastructure, and
charitable contributions must be taken into account.
In The Centre, the Newmont owned gold mines in the Tanami Desert,
north-west of Alice Springs, are a major contributor to the NT economy
In 2009 they earned $362m from 287,000 ounces of gold, paid $20.3m in
royalties and employed 921 people.
About 610 of them live in the NT, including 310 in Central Australia,
says Newmont spokesman Brian Watt: “The value added to the Australian
economy in 2009 for the Tanami operations was $243m. $171m was spent on
goods and services, local and national, and the total payroll was about
Of Newmont’s total workforce, 202 were employed by Newmont and 719
worked for its contractors.
Mr Perkins contests claims by an anonymous email circulating from
email@example.com that the “Swiss mining giant Xstrata ...
paid NO royalties for 13 years at McArthur River Mine in the
“Not one cent for all the lead, silver and zinc they exported ...
that is what mining giants like Xstrata have done for Australia.
“Bled it dry of minerals and government funds – and contributed
Mr Perkins says: “It’s obvious that there was controversy arising from
the impact of profits based royalties on Xstrata’s MacArthur River base
“However, the company has implemented a community benefits trust which
makes multi million dollar contributions in the Borroloola region.”
NT Resources Minister Kon Vatskalis did not respond to two requests for
comment on issues raised in this report, notwithstanding the fact that
his Federal Labor colleagues are the ones planning to bring in the RSPT.
His government now charges mining companies royalties on the following
formula: 20% of the gross realisation, less operating costs, less
capital recognition deduction on eligible capital assets expenditure,
less eligible exploration expenditure, less additional deduction “as
approved by the Minister”.
In the 2010/11 NT Budget, “royalties, rents and dividends” are
projected to make up 3.6% of the expected $5b revenue.
That is a small figure, but the taxation revenue (of which the mining
and associated industries presumably pay a quarter) is also just 9.1%.
As is well known, the vast bulk of the Territory’s revenue, 77.4%,
comes from Federal grants and subsidies.
As the Alice News reported on November 12, 2009, in a report about
“Royalties for Regions” in Western Australia, the contribution from
royalties to the Territory’s budget is much smaller than it is in WA,
which raises about $2b in mining royalties each year, some 10% of the
WA has a production (“ad valorem”) tax, explained Rolf Gerritsen,
research leader at CDU in Alice Springs.
That is a tax pegged on the value of the ore produced.
The main argument in favour of the Territory’s regime has been to
encourage entry of mining ventures.
It has been important, said Prof Gerritsen, in some small mining
projects where there are high risks, like the gold mines around Pine
“So arguably we have got more mining investment than we might otherwise
have, though I doubt that state / territory tax measures are crucial
for investors’ final decisions to proceed.”
The NT does receive the Commonwealth ad valorem royalties on ERA at
Jabiru and Alcoa at Gove – a deal made at Self-Government, when they
were exempted from NT Acts.
This financial year mining royalties from the NT’s “resource rental
regime” will yield an estimated $160.5m, the largest slice (28.4%) of
the Territory’s own-source revenue pie, said our report last year.
Mr Perkins argues that the RSPT will put the Territory even further
behind the eightball than it already is because of its “remoteness,
lack of infrastructure, lack of workforce”.
He says Minemakers Limited wants to develop its wholly owned Wonarah
rock phosphate deposit straddling the Barkly Highway east of Tennant
The resource is estimated at 1,258 million tonnes which makes Wonarah
Australia’s largest JORC compliant rock phosphate deposit.
(The JORC code provides minimum standards for public reporting to
ensure that investors and their advisers have all the information they
would reasonably require for forming a reliable opinion on the results
and estimates being reported.)
Mr Perkins says although the prospect is on a highway, the company is
planning to build a $300m railway line to connect up with the
north-south Ghan line.
“The new line would still be there a hundred years after all the
phosphate is gone,” says Mr Perkins – it would be a community asset
quite apart from royalties.
He says the 40% RSPT is proposed to cut in when the return on
investment exceeds 6%: “It’s another complete tax over the top of
[other taxes], another layer of cost, exactly at time when the
shareholders make their money.
“It takes cream off the top.”
Mr Perkins says the public should take seriously the decision by
Xstrata, “with immediate effect”, to suspend $586 million of
expenditure to develop both the $6b Wandoan thermal coal project and a
$600m project to extend the life of the Ernest Henry copper mine.
“Together these two projects in Queensland would have created 3,250 new
jobs which are now at risk”, according to Xstrata.
Mr Perkins says because of the Territory’s inherent disadvantages,
mining investors are hesitant to put their money into the place: you
can find a “rich little deposit” elsewhere in Australia, near labour
markets, transport links, and short distances to the end user, and the
project will get the green light.
“In the Territory, under the current taxation regime, you have to have
a huge mongrel size deposit to make money out of it.
“And with the RSPT it would need to be an enormous deposit.
“A board would say to a mining manager, show us how we can make a
profit and we’ll go and get the money.”
Under the RSPT, says Mr Perkins, this is going to be a lot harder.
And Mr Watt says: “We are continuing to study the effect of the RSPT on
our Australian operations and specific impacts on mines such as our
operations in the Tanami.
“However, we are very concerned that application of the RSPT as it is
currently presented will make Australia one of the highest taxed mining
provinces in the world.
“Our operations provide jobs and income for thousands of
Australian families and support hundreds of local businesses across
“Such a high rate of tax strikes at the heart of our international
competitiveness in an industry that operates locally but competes
Liquor litter charge gone. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Town Council revenue for 2010-11 won’t include money raised by a liquor
But expenditure on the charge may yet still include legal costs.
Council’s solicitor Chris Turner has informed lawyer acting for a
number of licensees and property-owners affected by the charge, Peer
Schroter, that council will “not be declaring” the charge in the coming
In his advice Mr Turner said the decision had been made “in light of
the Northern Territory’s very recent announcement that it will
introduce container deposit legislation”.
The decision is “wholly consistent with [council’s] public statements
when introducing the charge that it would review the ongoing nature of
the charge in the event of the enactment of such legislation”, said the
Mr Schroter told the Alice News that his clients, through his office,
“have requested the Town Council to advise whether it is prepared to
rescind the existing liquor levy charge to dispose of the current
Supreme Court proceedings”.
At the time of going to press he had not had a response.
Meanwhile, council has released its draft municipal plan, including
budget. It aims to increase its rates-based revenue by 5.4%.
Rates in 2010-11 will contribute 63% of council’s revenue, up from last
year’s proportion of 57%.
The lower figure in 2009-10 reflected major unexpended grants carried
over from the preceding year.
Residential property owners are facing rate hikes, some as great as
20%, reflecting big increases in unimproved capital value (UCV), as
assessed by the Valuer-General.
This assessment is undertaken every three years. Over the last three
the average increase of UCV in Alice has been 46%.
The inclusion six months ago of town camps in the municipality’s
rateable land – they make up .6% of the town area – is making a
contribution to council’s revenue.
In the current year the minimum rate of $855 was applied to the 210
town camp residences; in 2010-11 the minimum rate goes up to $901. At
present these rates are paid by the NT Government.
For land in the CBD, Commercial and Specific Use Zones average rates
Young, confident and going for it. By KIERAN FINNANE.
down, people leave and we worry about the future of the town, but there
are also new arrivals and new businesses opening up. This is the second
article by KIERAN FINNANE on entrepreneurs in new businesses. (See last
week’s edition for her story about a new communications and events
business, All the Perks, specialising in Indigenous events.)
It’s a smoko shop with, not surprisingly, an international flavour:
between them Ron and Fatima Norris (pictured) bring a real Top End mix
of cultural influences into the kitchen.
Fatima’s parentage is mixed Pakistani and East Timorese; Ron’s is Papua
At the start of the year the couple and their three school-aged
children moved to Alice from Darwin to take over a then ailing business
owned by Fatima’s father and step mother, Ray’s Snack Bar on Elder
They could see its potential and believed they could get it back on its
feet – what with Fatima’s friendly service and money-handling savvy
front of house and Ron’s love of cooking at work out the back.
Also going for it are a good location, roominess inside, its outdoor
seating area that locks up securely at night, and plenty of parking.
“It had become known as an Indian curry take-away, but not everyone
wants to eat a curry,” says Fatima.
“It’s a smoko shop in an industrial area – so it has to have everything
that you’d expect of a smoko shop and then you can add the extras.”
The first week they started trading they had hardly any stock, but set
about making burgers, fresh-cut sandwiches, their own pies and main
meals as well as making sure they had the usual smoko fare – fried
Their takings were modest and they invested all the money back into
stock, broadening the range.
Week by week they’ve built the business up. It’s still not where it has
to be but last week they had their best ever day, taking nearly
fourfold what they were in the early days.
In just four months their strategy seems to be working.
They had to learn how “to stay just one step ahead of the customers”,
“We thought we needed to have the bain-marie completely full. We were
cooking so much and having to throw food away.
“Now we’re trying to cook as we go and introduce more choices as we get
“Our regulars tell us they’ve noticed the difference, each time they
come in there’s something new.”
Fatima worked for 10 years in Darwin’s casino, starting out as a
trainee dealer and working her way up to become a supervisor and then
pit manager. It was night work, of course, as was Ron’s job as a crowd
They couldn’t have done it without family support, especially from
Fatima’s mum, helping to look after their children.
One reason they took on the snack bar was to change their working
“This business suits us and our family – we can work together and we’ve
got a routine, the same routine.”
They close the doors at three. One of them picks up the children from
school. They all chip in to get the cleaning done before going home for
And for the first time in years they can enjoy weekends and long
weekends as a family.
Fatima’s father, a welder by trade and in business just across the
road, is helping them financially until the snack bar starts to pay its
way. Fatima believes that won’t be too far off and she and Ron will
then buy the business from her father.
There’s no real mystery to making it work.
“We’re young and we’re prepared to work hard. We’re confident.”
Fatima finds all of her past work experience – at the casino, in retail
management and office administration – useful. She knows a lot about
communicating with people, about serving them, about money, and while
she’s had to learn a lot about meeting the health and safety
requirements of a food handling business, much of it is also common
sense, she says.
And Ron loves cooking.
He treats hamburgers as an artform.
He’s introduced “breakfast pies” – bacon and egg, bacon and cheese,
bacon and tomato, all in a puff pastry case.
He also makes his own meat pies for lunch, but uses a pre-made shell.
“We’re surprised at how well they’re going because we know we’ve got
competition around town.”
They still do curries three times a week, but they also have other
Mondays are for Asian food, such as Mongolian Beef and fried noodles;
Tuesdays, Portuguese and Spanish dishes, such as Fijuada, a dish of
pork and beans; Wednesdays are for fans of meatballs; Thursdays,
Italian, with Lasagne always a big seller; Fridays they do a roast.
“We try not to have the same things from week to week. Someone might
always buy lunch on Mondays and would soon get sick of it if we only
did Mongolian beef, so the next week we’ll do an Asian chicken dish.”
At the moment they can cope themselves but they’re nearly at the point
where they’ll have to employ someone.
“The last four months have been a bit of a struggle but we know we’re
making progress. We monitor everything, record all our sales and we can
see the improvements.
“We know our prices have to be on a par with similar businesses or
slightly cheaper as we’re still trying to bring customers back, but in
the end we should be able to make good profits.”
As for Alice, they’re getting used to it.
Fatima had lived in the same house in Darwin all her life, so leaving
home and family members was a wrench. But her dad and his second family
are here, so it’s not as if everyone has been left behind.
The summer heat is different – “like an oven” – but of course that’s
over now for quite a few months.
The children were missing their old friends but they’re making new ones
and getting involved in sports.
In the long run what they’ll do depends on the snack bar making money.
If all goes to plan, Alice will become home.
The Alice News could not find any register of new businesses but an
interesting stat is the number of new business names registered in
Alice Springs between June 1, 2009 and May 30, 2010: 236, according to
a spokesperson for the Department of Business and Employment.
Registering a name doesn’t mean that a business has started trading or
is still trading. The name may also be for a sole trader, that is
non-employing. These make up 58% of all Alice Springs businesses,
according to the 2008 Economic Profile.
Another item of interest is the greater small to medium business
confidence in regional NT relative to Darwin, according to the recently
released Sensis Business Index.
Confidence in Darwin was reported as 46%, while in the NT regions it
was at 70%. The NT as a whole, along with the ACT, had the highest
level of business confidence in the country.
‘Perfume Creek’ is flowing again.
This month there has been no local rain but nonetheless two discharges
into St Mary’s Creek from the sewerage ponds that the Alice News
noticed – the creek was flowing on June 1 and again on this Monday
past, June 21.
Our photo shows the creek as it was last Monday just east of the
railway, making its way to where it crosses under the Stuart Highway
and flows past St Mary’s.
Unfortunately it can’t show the smell.
As the News understands it Power and Water’s discharge licence allows
only a wet weather discharge regime.
According to information on its website, it completed its last
anticipated pulse discharge into the swamp – which flows into St Mary’s
Creek – in September, 2007 (subject to any wet weather events).
We asked Power and Water to explain why there was an overflow,
attaching our photo to the emailed request.
A spokesperson supplied the following: “Power and Water has undertaken
a controlled discharge from its wastewater treatment facility at
Ilparpa, in accordance with its wastewater discharge licence and
with the appropriate permission from the Environment
“The need to discharge resulted from high rainfall earlier this year.”
‘Safe and sober’
new grog front. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The majority of Aboriginal people do not drink grog.
This is an important idea to work with in helping Aboriginal people
deal with their drinking problems, says Reverend Tracy Spencer, program
manager and therapist with the Safe and Sober Support service, run by
Congress Grog Mob.
If clients know that there are a whole lot of sober people out there
who can support them, who can be an example to them, it makes a big
difference, she says.
Safe and Sober is not an abstinence program.
It’s up to people to choose whether they will give up grog completely
or not. Some know that not drinking at all is the only way to go, some
can choose to drink safely.
“Either way it’s a major rethink, not only for Aboriginal people, but
right across Australia,” says Rev Spencer.
Safe drinking is now defined at no more than two standard drinks per
day and “standard drinks” are small compared to what many people
consume as a single drink: three quarters of a can of heavy beer, 100
ml of wine.
Guidelines used to differentiate between men and women, four drinks for
men, two for women, but these were revised last year by the National
Health and Medical Research Council.
The council says: “At low-levels of alcohol consumption, there is
little difference between the risk of alcohol-related harm for men and
women, both over a lifetime and on a single drinking occasion.”
Rev Spencer adds that drinking should also be confined to five days a
week, with two days grog-free, however this is not part of the official
There’s a cycle of behaviour change commonly experienced by people
wanting to give up grog.
The first stage is where are others are worried about your drinking but
In the next stage, you’re starting to think about it, motivated by
perhaps your health, your kids or your partner, finacial worries or
In the third stage, you are starting to make a move. This is not
something done in isolation – there are plenty of people around you,
including family who are wanting change.
This is when it’s particularly important for people to understand that
the majority of Aboriginal people do not drink, says Rev Spencer. A
client might fix their sights on this group or on the group who drink
From here there are the stages of doing it (changing your drinking,
having a plan and supports), sticking to it, and for some, relapse and
fresh learning about how to say no.
One of the tools Safe and Sober workers use is a storyboard that
represents a community of Aboriginal people – groups of non-drinkers, a
group of responsible drinkers, another of people who drink all the
time, and in the middle, children who are possibly being exposed to
alcohol and its consequences.
The AOD (Alcohol and Other Drugs) worker, all of them Aboriginal and
trained in this technique, tells the story of each person in this
“community” – the grandmother who has never had a drink, the young
person who is starting to drink, the older man who has become a daily
heavy drinker, the child who is looking on, while the client listens.
The stories reflect what is known about drinking amongst Aboriginal
people in an average community, “with less than a quarter who drink
“When the stories are all told it is clear that there are only two safe
choices,” says Rev Spencer, “low-risk drinking or no drinking at all.
“It’s quite a meditative process.
“At the end the AOD worker asks if the client knows something about
“People end up telling you their story, identifying themselves with one
of the narratives – that was me then, that was my grandfather, my
uncle, that’s me now.
“Our approach is that the client has their story and then there’s the
story of grog in their lives, and it’s possible for these two stories
to part ways.
“Is there anyone in their family who doesn’t drink, who can serve as an
example? They might be able to draw on the strength of that person.
“With a sense of who they are and a purpose, people can develop tools
to protect themselves from grog.
“There are a lot of internal and external protections that need to be
built to work through the addiction and keep grog at bay.”
That’s why Grog Mob are a multi-disciplinary team, made up half and
half of therapists, who between them have a range of approaches, and
Aboriginal AOD workers.
At present there are 10 staff and another 10 are being recruited in
time for relocation to larger premises at the rear of the old Imparja
building, hopefully in August.
The Aboriginal staff are all strong well-recognised individuals, four
out of five, locals.
They are responsible for ensuring that treatments are culturally
appropriate and act as advocates for the clients’ social and cultural
support, liaising with agencies such as Territory Housing, Centrelink
and employment agencies.
Territory Housing is now referring people with alcohol-related tenancy
problems directly to Grog Mob.
Sometimes it is visitors rather than the tenants themselves with the
problem. In this case the Safe and Sober helps the tenant to think
about how they can make clear to visitors that grog is not welcome at
Centrelink can help in a number of ways, such as setting up Centrepay
arrangements for clients to pay their various bills.
Grog Mob workers also accompany Centrelink on their “place-based
service” for homeless people, going into the hils and creeks around
town to offer assistance to the people they come across.
There are a lot of different things that can be done to help clients.
Bush trips for men and women, get them away from the grog and out into
country. The AOD workers can host the group on country appropriate for
them; and at times a client plays host on their country.
They talk around a campfire, cook up some ‘roo and work towards very
explicit conversations about grog.
Sometimes regular clients bring along a person who is not necessarily
on the books but whom they think might benefit from the program. The
AOD worker then takes the opportunity to ask if they can catch up later
and have a talk.
The person might be in the early stages of change.
“We can start working with them on their housing problem, for example,”
says Rev Spencer, “and start asking them about what they might have
tried before to get away from grog.
“We might refer them to another program, at DASA or CAAAPU, but we will
work with them whether they are in a residential program or not.”
There are a number of alcohol rehab services in town, each with its own
approach, but there is a coordination reference group meeting every six
weeks, with 16 members, one from each service as well as
representatives of the relevant agencies such as police and NTFC.
This “enhances” the whole system, says Rev Spencer, with effective
referral between services.
Safe and Sober is doing a prisoner “inreach” service, working with
prisoners sentenced to less than six months for grog-related offences.
(People with longer sentences already have access to rehabilitation
services, both education programs and an alcohol awareness course run
This is a first – until now these prisoners have not had access to any
The prison authorities identified 77 people and out of this group 30
put their hands up to go beyond the information session, whether it was
to do group work or casework.
“It’s a good start. These are people whom we want to target, who’ve
been caught drink driving or committed assaults while they’re drunk.”
All up Safe and Sober at present has 120 active clients.
Some have already made progress.
Rev Spencer tells of one man who decided to move his family from town
to live at an outstation on his homelands in order to get away from the
grog. Luckily the outstation is near a community where his children can
go to school and he has started working for Parks and Wildlife.
He still has an occasional drink but seems to be managing it.
She tells of a couple whose children were taken by NT Families and
Children (NTFC, formerly FACS).
This was the motivator for change, to get their children back.
Safe and Sober assigned a caseworker to each one.
The man has taken part in bush trips – he hadn’t been out bush for
quite some time.
His awareness has grown to the point of participating in an on-camera
interview that can be used in the program, talking about why it’s
become important to him to stop drinking.
Recently he turned down a bush trip because he’d borrowed a friend’s
lawn-mower and wanted to clean up his yard.
It was a good sign, says Rev Spencer – a sign of change in his life, of
having a plan and setting it into action.
And he’s mostly not drinking.
“Hopefully it will get to the point where our workers can start
advocating for reunification of the family,” she says.
She speaks of the progress being made by a group of women from one of
the town camps who want to do something about their drinking. They’ve
done a number of bush trips but have asked for other experiences around
town. These have included a visit to the recent opening of the Desert
They wanted to know how people were able to get involved “with a place
Senior AOD worker Debra Maidment has a background in employment and
training and building on their interest, took them on to the Desert
Park where a number of local Aboriginal people have jobs.
Now the women want to take her on a bush trip: show her their knowledge
of bush medicine.
All this has a happened in a matter of six weeks, says Rev Spencer.
On the day that we spoke the service had been contacted by a young
woman who also had had her chid removed. She was really anxious. An AOD
worker went to visit her to talk about what could be done and she has
decided to work with a therapist.
Grog Mob don’t wait for people to come through the door or to be
referred. They’re trying all sorts of ways to “engage where the problem
is the greatest”.
“There are a lot of entry points to the service,” says Rev Spencer.
Medical referral, from Congress, the hospital or a GP, is an obvious
one but they have also started work with a group of vulnerable
schoolchildren affected by other people’s drinking, helping them to
express their feelings and develop ways of protecting themselves.
From this contact they are now also involved with those children’s
parents and can think about undertaking a style of family therapy.
“Caring for kids is a great motivator,” says Rev Spencer.
“The adults can see the trouble that grog is causing and are unhappy
She says the service has seen a number of older men who had realised
that grog was stopping them from fulfilling their expected roles as
“We can draw on the positive aspects of Aboriginal culture to motivate
Each week the service also does what they call “brief interventions”
(basically giving information about grog and what it can do to your
life) at the sobering up shelter and the police watch-house.
“A lot of what we do is opportunistic
“It may look a bit chaotic when you come in here but a key
characteristic of our service is flexibility – responding to where the
Drinking, by numbers
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2006 National
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, around half of all
Indigenous adults (49%) reported having consumed alcohol in the week
prior to interview, of whom one-third (16%) reported drinking at
risky / high risk levels.
A higher proportion of Indigenous men than women had consumed alcohol
at risky/high risk levels in the week before the survey, except among
those aged 55 years and over where the rate was similar for males and
females, at about 10%.
For all Australians the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey
(NDSHS) estimated that 82.9% of Australians aged over 14 years, had
consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months, with only 10.1% having
never consumed at least one standard drink of alcohol.
Indigenous Australians constitute 2.6% of Australia’s population.
However, they experience health and social problems resulting from
alcohol use at a rate disproportionate to non-Indigenous Australians.
See Wilson M, Stearne A, Gray D, Saggers S (2010): The harmful use of
alcohol amongst Indigenous Australians. www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au
Bums in beds but who are they? By ERWIN
It’s a puzzle: Visitor nights in Alice Springs are fairly steady – a
slight drop in domestic callers and a rise of 20,000 from overseas.
Yet tour operators are complaining that business is poor and massive
discounting is going on, even now at the supposed peak of the season.
So whose bums are in the beds of our accommodation houses? A frequent
answer is public servants and business travellers tied up with the
Is there a flood of backpackers chasing easy jobs here?
As these low budget travellers and intervention staffers would hardly
be coming here in response to advertising, why spend an enormous $50m a
year on Tourism NT?
For the record, in 2009 the numbers of domestic visitors making
overnight trips, (as opposed to visitor nights) were 220,000 in Alice
Springs and 145,000 in Petermann (which includes the Ayers Rock
The numbers for international visitors were 166,183 and 183,116,
All figures were down on the averages of the four preceding years.
questions about government appointed regulator. COMMENT by ERWIN
As a dozen families stung by the Carey – Framptons housing scandal are
making a complaint about the real estate agency to the Agents Licencing
Board (ALB), the Alice News is able to cast light on that regulatory
It's not a pretty picture.
Although we are dealing with the same board and complaining about the
same company, the issues pursued by us and the unfortunate families are
in no way connected.
We are publishing this account because there has been widespread
concern with the performance of regulatory bodies, especially those
concerned with land use, construction and housing.
The public interest in these issues is beyond doubt as land prices in
Alice Springs in recent years have reached a debilitating level,
creating hardship for many people, restricting economic growth,
stifling business and even forcing people to leave town, or stopping
them from settling here.
Our case with the ALB started last year when our Head of Sales, Jo-Anne
Day, offered our advertising services to a land developer.
He invited her, by email, to contact Justin O'Brien, a real estate
agent working for Framptons First National Real Estate.
Ms Day rang Mr O'Brien and a conversation took place which prompted me
to make a formal complaint to the ALB.
I told the ALB that Mr O'Brien said, words to the effect: "I have
spoken to my boss. While the Alice Springs News is telling people not
to use real estate agents, Framptons will not be advertising with you."
Ms Day attempted to discuss the issues with Mr O'Brien, including our
circulation, advertising rates and readership, but he cut her short.
Mr O'Brien's reference was to an initiative by the Alice Springs News
to offer advertising space to people wishing to sell their homes
As we do with all our clients, we promote the virtues of the News –
high circulation, outstanding production values and being a locally
We also point out to vendors that they are most likely to save money
using this option.
This is a straight out commercial, legal, competitive scheme.
Mr O'Brien and Andrew Doyle, his "boss", may not like competition, and
that is their privilege.
But the question arising is, were they obliged not to be motivated by
prejudice when being entrusted by a client to sell his land?
Section 65(1)(da) of the Agents Licensing Act says: "A licensed agent
who ... fails to exercise due skill, care or diligence when dealing
with any person whomsoever in the course of conducting business as an
agent ... is guilty of a breach of the rules of conduct for agents."
Real estate agents' conduct is not just prescribed by convention, but
Although most people would consider the meaning of this section of the
Act to be a no-brainer, the ALB dismissed our application for
disciplinary action because "it was of an irrelevant nature".
No explanation was given in the letter signed by Carolyn Parsell,
Deputy Registrar of Land, Business & Conveyancing Agents, dated
March 8, 2010, some five months after we lodged the application.
We have since asked Ms Parsell to tell us what she understands the
meaning of Section 65 to be.
But it's also what happened between the lodgment of our complaint on
October 5, 2009 and the decision, that gives rise to serious concerns.
The decision was based on a report by Martin Clive-Smith, investigation
officer, and Chris McIntyre, Deputy Director Licensing (South).
Attached to that report were written statements by Mr Doyle and Mr
O'Brien; and a "file note" of a conversation between the land vendor
and Mr McIntyre.
Neither the investigation report not the attachments were shown to me,
nor was my comment sought, before the decision was made.
The documents were given to me, upon my request, after the decision had
This unfortunate omission, which I understand is contrary to normal
procedure, resulted in some critical mistakes.
The investigation report quotes from Mr O'Brien's letter: "My
conversation with Jo-Anne Day is not accurately represented by Mr
Chlanda in his email ..."
And then he says this: "I did also explain that while her paper was
encouraging the public not to use real estate agents we would not be
advertising in her paper."
This, of course, is almost exactly what I had said in my complaint, yet
the investigation report quotes only the first part of Mr O'Brien's
statement – the false allegation of inaccuracy – and not the second.
Mr O'Brien said: "I did not hang up on Ms Day."
I did not say he had. I said he had cut her short.
Mr O'Brien said: "She ended the conversation."
After telling her Framptons would not be dealing with the Alice Springs
News, what did he expect Ms Day would be talking to him about?
Mr Doyle and Mr O'Brien were in a situation clearly defined by Section
65: they were dealing with Ms Day, referred to them by their client,
wishing to make a pitch for one of only two print advertising media in
town. As they are acting as agents they were obliged to behave in a
manner prescribed by the law.
Yet the ALB clearly found nothing wrong Mr Doyle's and Mr O'Brien's
assertions that they were free to do as they pleased.
Mr Doyle said in his letter: "We choose which publication we intend to
use, the same as we choose which sign writing business in town we use,
it's our business, it's our money and we spend it with the businesses
we want to."
Mr O'Brien: "I contacted our Vendor and discussed our current
marketing, he indicated that he was very happy with proceedings ... we
and our vendor were very happy with the response to our marketing
His client's being "happy" or otherwise is in no way relevant. The word
happy doesn't appear in s65(1)(da) nor, so far as I know, anywhere else
in the Act.
At that time of sustained shortage of land and huge demand, the
legendary drover's dog could have sold land. Another developer, using
the Alice Springs News as his preferred medium, received deposits for
20 blocks, with an offer of five more.
Mr O'Brien also states that he had explained to Ms Day "that what we
were paying for our advertising was in fact cheaper than what her paper
had to offer".
As he did not give her the opportunity of making an offer, how did he
know what we had to offer? Mr O'Brien was displaying lack of "due
skill, care or diligence" by making assumptions that may not be true.
Mr McIntyre and Mr Clive-Griffin say in their report they "cannot
identify where a breach of the Act or Regulations has occurred".
This comes as no surprise given the sloppiness of the investigation.
Yet the Board minutes of the February 25 meeting state: "The Board
agreed with the investigation report conclusion that there was no
breach of the Act or the Agents Licensing Regulations."
No such conclusion was presented to the ALB.
Mr McIntyre attached to the report a "file note" of a conversation he
said he had with Framptons' client.
Mr McIntyre misspells his name.
The note says in part that the client "met with Frampton's reps prior
to the land release and discussed with them the marketing strategy that
they were offering and he was happy with it.
"That marketing strategy included website promotion and advertising in
the Centralian Advocate. It did not include advertising in the Alice
Mr McIntyre is clearly talking about a strategy devised by Framptons
and accepted by the client, no doubt in the expectation that the
strategy was based on sound and professional research.
Yet in his report to the ALB Mr McIntyre says the client "confirmed
that his marketing strategy did not include the Alice Springs News".
Now Mr McIntyre portrays the strategy as having been devised by the
client, not by Framptons.
Mr Clive-Griffin, supported by Mr McIntyre, claims "this complaint has
been thoroughly investigated". The opposite is true. They had spoken
neither with Ms Day nor with me.
They attached to their report Mr Doyle's letter which is full of
gratuitous insults and falsehoods, without giving us the right of reply.
That is a scandalous denial of natural justice.
The co-author of the investigation report, on which the Board relied,
Mr McIntyre, gives an early display of his flawed understanding
of Section 65 in a letter to me of October 12, 2009.
He says: "On the surface I do not believe that Framptons have breached
the sections of the Act in their conduct in this instance.
"In my opinion, you were not a client and in his dealings with you in
this instance Mr O'Brien was not acting in the capacity as an agent
therefore has not breached Section 65(1) of the Act."
Again, which part of "whomsoever" does Mr McIntyre not understand?
A claim in Mr Doyle's letter that his business had been "harassed" and
had "continually placed pressure" on it by me is pure fabrication.
To the best of my recollection, my last meeting with Mr Doyle to
discuss advertising was well over a year ago. I made an appointment and
put my case. My conduct was at all times courteous and professional.
(Late last year Mr Doyle and his co-principal David Forrest asked me
for a meeting about an editorial matter. I met with them, obtained
information and published it. Advertising was not discussed, as it is
proper to keep entirely separate the business and editorial operations
of a newspaper.)
Mr Doyle takes issue with us seeking advertising for "financial gain".
Of course we do. The Alice Springs News, like most privately owned
media, derives its income from selling advertising.
Equally facile is Mr Doyle's assertion that his advertising campaign
"was all funded by our [namely Framptons] company".
The commission charged by real estate agents in Alice Springs is around
4% or $12,000 for a $300,000 block of land.
Mr Doyle says his firm sold 27 allotments in just two days.
Framptons (and others in the real estate industry) are among the many
beneficiaries of the presence of the Alice Springs News.
Now in our 17th year of weekly publication, we are the first ever
sustained and credible opposition to the erstwhile print media monopoly
by the overseas-owned Centralian Advocate.
The competition we introduced into the marketplace has enormously
benefited local commerce, by keeping down advertising costs.
This is how Framptons and other agents, most of them intermittent
clients of ours, can buy space in the Advocate for just a quarter of
the Advocate's casual rate, according to credible industry sources.
The News offered the ALB and Framptons the right of reply.
Framptons responded, through its solicitor Peer Schroter: "It is
extremely germane and pertinent that, notwithstanding the matters you
agitate in your proposed article, the fact is and remains that the
appeal you launched against the decision of the Agents Licensing Board
to reject your complaint was voluntarily discontinued and withdrawn by
yourself. This of course has the effect of not disturbing the original
decision of the Agents Licensing Board to reject your complaint on the
grounds that in its opinion your application was of an irrelevant
nature. For the sake of balance and completeness, we request that these
facts are clearly pointed out in your article."
The News withdrew the appeal because, as it was explained to us in the
course of the process, the appeal would have been in the form of an
administrative review that deals with procedure and not with facts.
We are confident that the ALB is wholly at liberty to overturn its
decision without legal action, which – as was explained to us – is
likely to be associated with considerable costs.
for art firm fraud.
A woman, mother of three children aged 13 months to five years, has
been sentenced to five years imprisonment for forgery and
stealing from her employer, Desart, the advocacy body for Aboriginal
art centres in Central Australia.
As the offences were committed during the operational period of a
suspended sentence for stealing, that suspension has been revoked and
she must now also serve the earlier term of imprisonment, some of it
concurrent with the new term.
All up she is looking at seven years in gaol with a non-parole period
of four years.
Justice Stephen Southwood said the woman’s prospects of rehabilitation
were “not good”.
He recognised that the woman’s children would suffer hardship while she
is in gaol, but said they were “at an age where they can be
appropriately cared for either by the offender’s mother or some other
The woman, Roseanne Rita Payne, has been convicted of 46 criminal
offences, all of them offences of dishonesty.
She also has a history of substance abuse and problem gambling.
She was 14 years old when she came from Queensland to Alice Springs
with her mother.
Justice Southwood noted that she was “subject to family violence as a
She left school at 16, going on to complete Certificates I and II in
business studies at Centralian College and has since worked in a
variety of positions.
She has received treatment and counselling for depression and
Justice Southwood accepted her depression and problem gambling as
“mitigatory factors” but went on to say: “The offender’s thought
processes were not so disordered that she did not appreciate either the
nature of her conduct or the factors that predisposed her to engaging
in such behaviour.
“She must have had some insight into her problems and condition.
“She knew what she was doing was wrong; there is a significant element
of self indulgence in the offender’s criminal conduct; the offences
were premeditated and involved a degree of planning; the offending
occurred over a significant period of time and was the antithesis of
spur of the moment offending; the offender had received a significant
amount of counselling and treatment and she was aware she could obtain
further counselling and treatment; and the offender has some capacity
to control her gambling as is demonstrated by the fact that she has not
been gambling since she committed these crimes.”
Her previous sentence, of which she served 14 months, was for stealing
Employed at Desart as an administration officer, Ms Payne on multiple
occasions used the internet banking passwords of Desart employees to
take over $200,000 from Desart accounts.
She also falsified invoices and forged signatures.
It was during her absence on maternity leave that an unusually large
invoice was noticed and an audit conducted that revealed the misdeeds.
Her offending caused considerable stress to the staff of Desart as well
as financial hardship.
art gallery finds a home among tradies, contractors. By KIERAN FINNANE.
In amongst the industrial facades of Hele Crescent a second art gallery
has opened its doors.
Its name, simply 8 Hele, as well as its refurbishment of the old Dona
Plumbing building, speaks of owner Mike Gillam’s passion for the
evolving character of the street he lives in.
8 Hele is just along from his creation Silver Bullet, a unique cafe and
haven for artistic expression and Central Australian flora. Sadly its
doors rarely open these days.
The gallery shares many of the values that Gillam put into the Bullet.
While its neighbour, Raft Artspace, at the rear of the same building,
is as elegant an exhibition space as any in the country, 8 Hele is full
of interesting idiosyncracy.
Its old commercial / industrial signage is partially preserved on the
front windows, underlining Gillam’s respect for the fine skills of
tradesmen, whose creative expression he fostered first at the Bullet
and now here. It also reflects his commitment to maintaining the urban
environment as a place that speaks its history even while it changes.
Inside, remnant floor tiling, ceiling trusses and the gallery furniture
reveal the same interests. No white plinths here. The exhibit supports
are almost as interesting as the art presented on them – currently
sculptural work using recycled materials.
Opening artists are an interstate favourite, Neil Rogers, as well as
Faye Alexander, Rick Howarth, Simon Holding, Ian Ross, Dan Murphy and
There’s also enough high clean white wall space to show in large format
Gillam’s own masterful photographs – images that open your eyes to
change and detail in the landscape and the urban environment, making
you wonder if you walk around, eyes half closed.
The lighting system is described as “hybrid” – “solar lighting” falls
plentifully through the shopfront windows. As for the electrics, Gillam
can proudly boast that the two end galleries, which are windowless, use
a total of 150 watts, boosted by ingenious passive energy means.
The gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Local performing arts have experienced a huge injection of energy and
fresh ideas, with original performances over the last three weekends.
First we had Circosis, with their first full-length show, A Circus
Affair, featuring the delightful Mister Kiko and Sarita (Andrew Cook
and Sarah Mason) but also, as they promised, a range of other talents,
including impressive films by Dave Nixon and a charming animation from
The next weekend many of these supporting acts popped up again in other
guises in the Burlesque Funraiser, under the artistic direction of
This show was raising money to stage a performance by Cat’s Meow
Cabaret. I recently wrongly stated that the cabaret were headed for the
Darwin Festival, confusing them with Dusty Feet who are the ones who’ve
earned this northern gig.
I also said we can look forward to seeing Cat’s Meow in the Alice
Desert Festival – wrong again. Their show is set for November this
year. So many of the key players have other festival commitments that
it was decided to move Cat’s Meow out of the festival program. But we
can still look forward to them, in their fourth iteration!
The Burlesque show, where some of the above-mentioned were joined by a
whole lot of others, was a madcap, titillating crowd-pleaser.
Highlights were the appearances of a trio of young men under the name
Brolesque, and a bunch of young women dancers, showing plenty of
humorous street attitude in a striking, rather dark piece choreographed
by Sila Crosley and Kissilyn Labis. Three of this group, including
broke out to do one of the best satirical pieces of the show, as three
'bogun' girls out for a night on the town.
Michener also showed her talent again last weekend, in the
live performance opening the Reeldance Film Festival, choreographing
seven young dancers, including herself, from Duprada Dance Company in
an entertaining, atmospheric piece called Violins at Play – very
contemporary violins. As well she performed with Dusty Feet, in
their piece, Bloodwood.
A group of young men, calling themselves Diverse Styles, brought
something different to the stage with a robust hip hop performance.
Their moves are so entertaining and acrobatically impressive they risk
upstaging other acts, but the ‘violins’ had enough of their own sass to
make their mark.
Behind both the Burlesque and the Reeldance weekend has been the drive
of Melissa Kerl, who came to town two years ago to teach dance at OLSH.
She spoke last year to Araluen director Tim Rollason about what more
could be done to foster a dance culture and audience in Alice Springs –
Reeldance, a touring festival of art, dance and film, was one of the
things they came up with, building into it an opportunity for live
Araluen then engaged Kerl to coordinate the event.
As she noted at the opening performance, dance culture is already rich
in town: She, Michener, the indefatigable Lynne Hanton and plenty of
other impressive, energetic talents continue to add to its
It’s hard to pinpoint where all this exuberant determination to perform
has come from, but the Alice Desert Festival has surely had something
with it, providing the context, the production support, and building on
it from year to year.
on a bender.
Exhibitions seem to be going on a bender in Alice Springs.
And why not, with seemingly abundant venues in which to showcase local
expression, it has become increasingly easier for emerging artists to
demonstrate their work to the public eye.
Oliver Eclipse’s Mojocar to Yuendumu was unleashed last two weeks ago –
the red dirt covered floor Watch This Space gallery trampled over as
swirling glasses of red wine were downed – fun to watch.
But charging for drinks is the sure fire way to keep the ‘free
thinking, free drinking’ floaters from taking refuge.
Oliver has a truly gifted perspective behind the lens, from the
landscapes, both local and international, to the Absinthe-coated lens
of art house photography.
“Natural History” shows an image of the Natural History Museum in
England. A gargoyle monkey statue overlooks an M.C. Escher like room
complete with shifting staircases. This could be a metaphor for the
creation Esher and H.R. Giger might conjure, if they spent a night out
on it then suddenly awoke next to each other the next day.
Then a few staggers left and you are standing in front of a picture of
poolside Bondi Beach.
Oliver’s exhibit finishes this Satuday, and the artist is at the
gallery till then, happy to speak to the public about his eclectic and
magnificent body of work.
Staying in the vein of the photogenic subject, The Red Vacuum opened at
Olive Pink Botanic Garden last Friday evening. A collaborative
exhibit contributed by seven local artists – Fiona Rogers, Tina Po,
Lucy Scott, Jeska Matteson, Scott Foyster, Vanessa Marijanovic and
Oliver again – the show draws its muse from the notion that the red
centre draws many people of a creative bent to its core.
The Red Vacuum shows a balance of mediums, each artist has their own
corner and walking around the wall gives the clean perspective between
design and quirk, with photography and installation given the stronger
Patience is definitely a virtue for the voyeur, with the number of
pieces numbering very high in a room a little too constricted in size
to separately showcase them all.
The garden now twice in as many weeks has played bush tuxedo wine
waiter host to local exhibitors. Barefoot in Ethiopia by Rachael Glasby
has just finished a two week run there. The artist’s recent trip to
Africa pushed out this series of images through the birth canal of her
Each photograph centred around village life in Ethiopia. The pictures
captured an essence and feeling reflecting the photographer having
spent a substantial amount of time among the people.
The past month has definitely lined the art house bar with mouthful
upon mouthful of shutter speed shot glasses.
Distilled and bottled 100% proof of the diversity of artistic points of
view in Alice.
The past is always present when you’re full of bourbon and can’t sit
still or full of bourbon and can’t stand up. Trying to remember the
events of the previous night, today with the jungle inside your head.
A true art decomposes all thought. When you leave an exhibition with
your own blank canvas in mind, it beats most nights spent with a blank
mind at any bar table. Or maybe not.
A special thanks given to Red House recordings for their well after
midnight one man mutant jazz session last Friday morning.
School is cool, holidays are better!
Yes folks, it’s that time of year again – the winter school holidays.
Four weeks of R&R for the schoolies while parents tear out their
hair trying to find people to look after them while they’re at work.
It wasn’t such an issue when I was a kid, some mums worked but a fair
shake (mine included) were house wives, now rebranded domestic
goddesses or some such thing. They stayed home while dad went to work
and you and your mates had someone to keep an eye on you during the
You sussed out which friends were available and pretty much just
revolved through the billets until it was time to return to the grind.
Now most parents work and trying to make everyone even remotely happy
is nearly impossible.
It’s not so bad for my lot now. I’m a full time student and my son Leon
is old enough to be more self-sufficient during the holidays. But it
wasn’t so long ago that holidays were not so eagerly looked forward to.
I’d take the poor child to the ‘holiday program’ that we had managed to
find space in, feeling guilty that he had to go somewhere he didn’t
want to be and resentful that I felt guilty for being a ‘bad
This is one of the drawbacks of being the modern man with feelings, a
conscience that even Jiminy Cricket would find overly sensitive and
tell it to man up. It wasn’t like the holiday program locked them in a
cupboard all day, they did stuff … it just wasn’t much fun.
Which is a shame, because there is so much fun to be had in Alice at
this time of year.
We have cracker night, which is supposedly to celebrate becoming a
Territory but really is just an excuse to let off a stack of fire works
and then go looking for the spooked dog in the morning.
This is closely followed by the Alice Springs Show with all the rides,
dodgy prizes and hideously expensive show bags full of not a lot –
found at all regional fairs – mixed in with the giant local
bulls, flying pigs (not this year alas) and clear blue skies that make
our show so excellent.
Got any money left? Then it’s time to go to the Camel Cup and see the
crazies risk life and limb racing, not just riding, one of the most
ornery, funny and tasty beasties to live in the desert, the Camelus
Dromedarius (or one humped camel). More on this subject soon.
But there is one event on this holiday that everyone should go and see,
not just because of its practical use on the long, cold winter nights
but because it is unique.
A festival for beanies – what a strange concept you might think. Not
so, I say, it is one of the things that makes Alice great. People enter
works from all over the world and blow you away with the ingenuity and
imagination they show in executing their craft.
This is an opportunity to catch up with people you may not have seen
for a while and, of course, purchase a new beanie.
Last year I didn’t need a new beanie but decided to get one as my old
one lacked flair and pizzazz. It was functional but it lacked form,
practical but not pretty. So I dove in with everyone else at the long
table full of marvels and started the search. It took a while but that
was OK, I had time and I knew the right beanie was waiting for me to
I’m wearing it now, its bright blue and grey, with beads and a tassel …
the tassel has a bell on the end. Perfect.
protection system ‘broken’.
Sir – The damning self-assessment contained in the Department of Health
and Families submission to the Board of Inquiry into Child Protection
makes a mockery of the Government’s assurances that the agency is being
The submission has been made public days after the Minister, Kon
Vatskalis, fronted Estimates and spoke of change within the Department,
during which he said:
“I would not say we are perfect, I would not say we are very, very
good; I will say we are doing better than we were doing before.”
It turns out the Minister was talking nonsense – and he knew it.
In October, former Minister Malarndirri McCarthy also tried to hide the
systemic problems when she told the ABC’s Stateline program:
“We’ve improved in terms of the statistics and being able to remove
The former Minister added that the Government would initiate drastic
change if it’s needed.
Eight months later there’s been no change, only talk.
The agency’s submission says the system isn’t just bad – it’s broken –
and confirms the massive schism between government rhetoric and reality
when it comes to child protection.
It highlights significant problems in funding, resourcing, staffing,
training and the safety of child protection workers.
During Estimates, the Minister provided a confused summary of where the
Government’s additional child protection budget would be spent.
It was unclear as to where the extra resources were being deployed or,
indeed, how many actual child protection workers would be added to the
system, and when.
This reflects the lack of structure and system that has plagued child
protection in the Territory.
The Minister should stop talking and prevaricating and do what his
Department recommends – and that is get on with the crucial business of
fixing the Territory’s broken child protection system.”
Shadow Child Protection Minister
DHF welcomes release of submission
Sir – The Department of Health and Families has welcomed the public
release of the 200-page submission it lodged with the Inquiry into the
Child Protection System in the Northern Territory in April 2010.
The inquiry into the NT’s child protection system has presented a
valuable opportunity for our specialist staff in this field, as well as
those in the Department at large, to provide input on how the care and
protection system could look in the future.
DHF has cooperated fully with the Inquiry and is prepared to be
questioned by the panel should this be deemed necessary.
The DHF submission examined all areas of the child protection system,
such as workforce retention and development, intake, statutory
intervention, out of home care, legislation, the role of the
non-government sector, role of other government agencies, services in
rural and remote locations and support for families, including services
for Indigenous children and families.
Our detailed submission also analysed how the roles of health
professionals and the non-government sector might be strengthened in
their provision of primary universal prevention services to support
It is critical that any reforms to the NT’s care and protection system
are implemented in a spirit of true consultation with local communities
and in alignment with relevant national initiatives.
Approaches adopted at the local level need to be informed by
evidence-based practice, a better coordinated approach across
government services and adequately reflect local community need.
This public inquiry into the NT’s Child Protection System will provide
further impetus to build on reform initiatives to the NT’s child
protection system that have been occurring over the past seven years.
It represents an ongoing commitment to developing a quality care and
protection system in the Territory.
Acting Executive Director of Families and Children
Signs and markers
Sir – Last week Charlie Carter queried the “authorization” of the Red
Centre Way “gateway sign” recently erected at Flynn’s Grave (with
another at Yulara, plus three other interpretive signs).
Tourism NT is the driving force behind the project, which was funded by
the Federal Government at a cost of $500,000.
The grant for the signs was announced by Martin Ferguson, Minister for
Tourism, at a launch for the Red Centre Way regional tourism project at
the Alice Springs Desert Park on March 2, 2010.
They sure didn’t muck around – it’s only three months between
Ferguson’s announcement and completion of construction of the signs.
There are still boot-prints evident on the steel girder of the Flynn’s
Grave sign, high above the ground!
This surely is an all-time record for a government-funded project to be
completed from go to woe, isn’t it?
Charlie Carter raises valid concerns about the level of consultancy for
this project. It’s half a million dollars of taxpayers’ money spent on
these signs – was the project put out to tender?
It provides an interesting contrast to the way the distinctive Tropic
of Capricorn marker was built beside the Stuart Highway 30 km north of
It started as a Bicentennial community project sponsored by the
Centralian Advocate, Rotary Club of Stuart, and Murray Neck
Retravision, commencing on November 21, 1986, as a competition for
design sketches from the public.
It attracted 35 entries by the closing date, January 23, 1987, and most
of these were displayed at the town pool on Australia Day for the
public to inspect and vote on them.
The final decision was made by an expert panel of judges by April 3,
1987, who chose the design submitted by Chris Marcic, then (as now) a
part-time announcer for ABC radio.
The design was modified, and construction commenced in mid-August 1988.
Materials, services, and funding were donated in part by local
businesses involved in the construction and by the public.
The monument was officially “opened” on November 27, 1988, slightly
over two years since the original announcement. And it cost about
$10,000. What a contrast between then and now.
Incidentally, this week marks the winter solstice, with the sun at its
furthest distance from us at the Tropic of Cancer in the northern
hemisphere and now commencing its trek back to our marker on the north