ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
August 26, 2010. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
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Abbott scores in bush. By
Despite a boycott from his own colleagues, the Country Liberals’
Parliamentary wing, Federal candidate Leo Abbott increased his party’s
vote by 6.64% in Lingiari, two candidates preferred, with about two
thirds of the vote counted.
Accused – by inference at least – of domestic violence, a charge that
Mr Abbott denies absolutely, he blitzed the remote areas, inflicting a
13.27% loss of first preference votes on Warren Snowdon, the Federal
Member of the area for most of the last 23 years.
Not surprisingly, Mr Abbott did relatively badly in Alice Springs where
MLAs Jodeen Carney and Matt Conlan, taking their lead from Opposition
Leader Terry Mills, announced they would not support him on polling day
(see reports this issue).
In the two party preferred vote, Mr Snowdon’s vote plummeted an average
of 34% in Central Australian bush seats (mobile polling), and 29% in
the Top End.
He lost about 10% in Katherine and 6% in Tennant Creek.
Mr Abbott says: “The message came from the bush.
“People say nothing’s been done for them in the past 20 years.
“That was people themselves talking.
“I went out there to give them a new person to represent them, somebody
that’s born and bred in the Territory.”
Mr Abbott says tribal land councils to replace the Central and Northern
Land Councils were among the issues raised repeatedly.
Mr Snowdon is well connected with the Central Land Council.
“This is not a new thing,” says Mr Abbott.
“People have been talking about this for a long, long time, over 20
He says other issues he encountered in visits to all major communities
of the electorate during four months of campaigning:-
• Income management is seen as discriminatory, and stopping people from
attending major gatherings such as the Barunga festival.
• SIHIP: locals want to play a bigger part in the program, instead of
getting people from outside.
• The government is not listening to them. People are not getting
consulted properly in the communities. “They want to be because they
live there,” says Mr Abbott.
• Economic development: not being able to do anything out there, things
like abattoirs, tourism. Katherine wants to get its abattoir up and
running. People are asking why build a new abattoir in Darwin.
Katherine is at the crossroads of the beef trade between WA, down the
NT and Queensland as well.
• Education: some people want bi-lingual schools, others are saying the
cultural side should be coming from the home.
• Health: renal units are needed out in the communities.
• Land clearing: locals want to be able to get into different
votes as CL self-immolates. By
“Great. Now we have the choice between Warren Snowdon and a wife
This was the statement of an undecided voter at an Alice Springs
polling booth on Saturday, according to a volunteer working there.
The voter may have come to his conclusion – unsurprisingly – from
statements made by Country Liberal MLAs Jodeen Carney and Matt Conlan,
and some media.
The two Parliamentarians had sent emails to constituents, informing
them that they would not be supporting their party mate and candidate
for Lingiari, Leo Abbott, at Alice Springs polling booths in Saturday’s
Federal election (Alice News, August 19).
They were taking their cue from Opposition Leader Terry Mills.
Said Ms Carney: “For many, many years, I have taken a strong public and
private stand against any form of violence against women.
“It is for this reason, and as a matter of conscience, I cannot
support this candidate.”
Mr Conlan sent out a similar email.
Asked to explain her stance Ms Carney, who tendered her resignation
last week, replied: “I do not propose to comment on these matters.”
Mr Conlan replied: “Please refer to my statement from last week. I wont
be making any further comments on the matter.”
It was the low point in one of the most bizarre chapters of the party
that for a quarter of a century ran the Territory, until it lost power
to Labor in 2001.
It was also a scary demonstration of how a Domestic Violence Order
(DVO) can be used to blacken a person’s reputation.
DVOs are frequently sought and granted, and are a common strategy in a
variety of disputes, says Peter Maley, Mr Abbott’s lawyer, who says he
and his client are now “genuinely considering our position regarding
Says Mr Maley: “You can take out a DVO on anyone.”
He says one DVO was taken out on Mr Abbott in November 2008, withdrawn
in March 2009, and was never served on Mr Abbott.
He says he has no knowledge whatever about it.
A second one, last year, was breached by Mr Abbott by sending text and
email messages to the “protected person”.
The magistrate hearing the case, Greg Borchers, described the messages
as “not in any way threatening” and said they expressed Mr Abbott’s
affection for the protected person and sought her agreement to speak to
Mr Abbott says he and his former partner were traumatized by the death
of their child.
The Alice Springs News has listened to court records of both
There was confusion in the court about whether the earlier application
was ever served and during the months November 2008 to March 2009 an
interim order was in place until the application was withdrawn.
In the hearing of the breach of the second DVO the police prosecutor
said Mr Abbott was unknown to police and his defence lawyer said he had
no criminal record and had never come before the court.
Mr Maley says in neither case had the allegations been tested and they
are completely denied by his client.
Police had been aware of them but considered there was no case for
charging Mr Abbott, says Mr Maley.
The fact that allegations made to obtain a DVO are not tested in a
court, and may be possibly be untruthful and even vexatious, guides the
way courts deal with access to documents.
The News sought access to the statutory declarations supporting the
applications for DVOs against Mr Abbott.
We were told by the Criminal Registrar in Alice Springs, Shane
Flattery, that he had not let anyone inspect the file and was not about
to change his mind on that because the material in the file had not
been subject to court scrutiny, it was not evidence and not proven.
Yet that material was used in media attacks on Mr Abbott, and clearly
influenced Mr Conlan, Mr Mills and Ms Carney, a lawyer.
The events led to a major row between Mr Mills and the organizational
hierarchy of the party over who was told what and by whom and when.
• Mr Mills claims Mr Abbott had not disclosed the full facts
surrounding the DVO to the party committee that preselected him.
• Alice Springs delegate and party executive member Steve Brown, who
attended the meeting, which was not open to politicians including Mr
Mills, says Mr Abbott had disclosed all the circumstances of the DVO,
and his breach of it.
• Mr Mills says the party had failed to exercise due diligence by not
getting to the bottom of the matter.
• But neither he nor his Parliamentary colleagues explain why they
Says Mr Mills: “This is not a debate about the nature of the DVOs
themselves, it’s an issue about making these matters known to those who
made the decision, and that is the preselection panel.
“There was an admission that this information was not disclosed ... to
This was contested by Mr Brown (Alice News, August 19) and another
person present at the preselection meeting in Darwin in May.
Mr Mills, who was not permitted to attend the meeting, says: “There are
members of the preselection panel of central council who declare that
they knew [the circumstances of the DVO].
“However, there are any number of central council members who declare
they did not know.
“The party president has issued a statement to that effect.
“He chaired that meeting. What had been generally talked about was,
yes, there was matter related to domestic violence but it was vexatious
in nature and had been thrown out.
“It was an order and it had been breached.”
The News put to Mr Mills that the preselection panel had the
opportunity of examining in more detail the facts put before it.
Why, given this sensitive issue had been raised at the meeting, was the
matter not investigated further?
Mr Mills says the second issue is “that the party did not follow
through on due diligence.
“This is why I can’t support the action [of sticking to the
preselection of Mr Abbott].”
We asked Mr Mills if he is critical of the party having failed to
exercise due diligence?
Having been made aware of the issues in some form, they failed to
“That’s what put me at odds with the party because I’ve called them out
publicly on this.
“I hold the party principally responsible” for the damage the issues
are inflicting on it.
“What we need is a proper system that follows through due diligence so
that all members have all the information and they can make a good
On the one hand Mr Mills is at pains to explain that Mr Abbott’s
failure to fully inform the party is the issue, not what is contained
in the allegations surfacing in some media.
On the other he is clearly motivated by fear that the improperly
published material may damage the Country Liberals.
We put the following issues to him:
A DVO is easily obtained, it is not tested, and it is now claimed, by
Mr Abbott, to have been entirely untrue.
The police, who lodged the application for the DVO, did not see any
need for charging Mr Abbott.
Would it not have been a good idea for those Members of Parliament, who
hung Mr Abbott out to dry in the final stages of his election campaign,
to first acquaint themselves with these facts?
Replied Mr Mills: “The nature of the matters that flow from the
revelations last Friday ... the issue is there has been a breach of the
process ... no-one in the party was responsible for the material that
got to the newspaper [the NT News].
“However, you don’t have to be blind Freddy to work out what the Labor
Party are up to.
“They had already planned to put this material out.
“If there had been a clear disclosure way back when the decision was
made there would have been room to maneuver.”
If the party failed to exercise due diligence, why did the
parliamentary wing, under his leadership, also fail to exercise it?
Mr Mills replied that picking candidates “is the exclusive
responsibility of Central Council”.
Liberals boss – no reason why Abbott shouldn’t run again. By
“At this point I see no reason why Leo Abbott should be rejected at the
next Federal election,” says David Koch, chairman of the only Country
Liberals branch in Alice Springs.
“Personally I believe he was an extremely good candidate.
“But with a democracy in the Country Liberals, it’s up to the branch
whether they put him through the preselection process again and stand
Mr Koch, who says he’ll be standing for re-election as branch chairman,
says he is “extremely pleased” with the result. Leo polled particularly
“Probably he didn’t spend sufficient time in the more populated
“Not being able to put a face to the poster may have reflected on him a
Mr Koch doesn’t get too excited about the row between the party and the
elected members, calling it “venting of the spleen which happens from
time to time”.
But he leaves no doubt that “there will be significant discussions
about the election and the problems that occurred during the election
“Yep. There will be plenty of discussion about that.”
The elected members’ protest “was a knee-jerk reaction”.
“The party was aware of Leo’s past. To me domestic violence is
abhorrent, but [Mr Abbott’s] case was a very minor breach.
“By degree this was a minor infringement.
“No conviction was recorded.
“When someone does a police check to enter the [Pine Gap] base, to be a
publican, a security guard, that comes up as a clean sheet.
“If there is no recorded conviction then the gentleman has a right to
expect to be accepted as a clean sheet.
“At the meeting, I believe, Leo stated that he had breached a DVO, he
gave a very brief run-down of what it was, and generally, I think, the
membership accepted his explanation.
After MLAs Jodeen Carney and Matt Conlan announced they would not help
with the election chores last Saturday because of Mr Abbott’s domestic
violence order, about half of the normally active party helpers stayed
There were 17 people manning seven booths.
“It was tight,” says Mr Koch.
“Core people who have the branch, the party and Central Australia at
heart” manned booths, two people at a time, working all day and also
Leo Abbott seemed to be less of a controversial figure than his
namesake Tony: “Out of the whole day of polling, in the booth I was in
which was council chambers, we had only four people commenting about
Leo, but we had probably a dozen people commenting about Tony Abbott
getting rid of Turnbull.”
Mr Koch says normally the party can provide a captain for each booth
and volunteers working in three hour shifts.
What will it take to clear up the mess?
“We haven’t got a mess,” says Mr Koch, “the branch is very strong.”
Although there was a late start to visible support for Mr Abbott – it
took a while for posters to go up – Mr Koch says the party and branch
support was no less than the support for Adam Giles in 2007.
Mr Koch says the process for the selection of candidates is advertising
for applicants, a selection process through the branch which puts
forward a candidate, followed by confirmation by the management
committee and Central Council which has one or two members from each
branch – Alice, Tennant, Katherine, Darwin, North Darwin, Calder,
Trower is currently being formed.
to blame. COMMENT by ROLF GERRITSEN.
The real story in Lingiari is not whether the DVO problems of
Leo Abbott caused the swing to Labor’s Warren Snowden in Alice Springs.
The real story is the large swings against Mr Snowden in the Remote
Mobile Polling booths. Some of these swings were extremely large.
My interpretation of these is that there was a significant Aboriginal
protest vote against the Intervention and that if a Federal Labor
Government continues the Intervention in its present form it could
permanently erode the historic support Aboriginal people have provided
Where that plays out – a shift in the Aboriginal vote to the Country
Liberals, increased volatility in the Aboriginal electorate, or the
emergence of an Aboriginal political party – will be interesting to
[Professor Gerritsen is Research Leader, Central Australia, at Charles
value: WA 5%, Alice Springs 50%. By KIERAN
FINNANE and ERWIN CHLANDA.
Native title costs much less in Western Australia than in Alice Springs
– roughly 10 times less.
A “soft” rule of thumb for the amount of compensation is 5% of the
subdivision sale value, which gets paid to the Aboriginal corporation
holding the native title rights, in exchange for extinguishment,
according to Declan Morgan, acting director of the Department of
Regional Development and Lands in WA (DRDL).
In Alice Springs, under the two deals made so far – Stirling Heights in
Larapinta and in Stephens Road (pictured), Mt Johns Valley – the town’s
native title holders received about half of the freehold value.
Some of the vast areas of unallocated Crown land north of Perth has
been determined as native title land, and some of it is under claim.
Registered claimants have the right to negotiate over “future acts”
before their claim is determined.
Mr Morgan says the benefits of land release are generally well
recognised by both sides, and deals are getting done.
Specified time frames in the processes keep negotiations moving.
Even if compulsory acquisition is the route taken, he says some kind of
negotiation still has to take place, as native title rights can’t be
removed “without giving something back”.
Other gains can be added, such as direct access to a number of lots in
the subdivision, he says.
An example are two Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) signed
earlier this year, resolving native title and compensation issues over
approximately 5300 square kilometres of land in and around Broome (see
also break-out below).
According to a media release from State Attorney-General Christian
Porter, huge population growth in the tourist town had seen the median
house price jump to more than $635,000 in 2009.
The ILUAs freed up 1875 hectares for residential, tourism and future
airport development as well as heavy and light industry.
In return the Yawuru community received monetary benefits of about $56
million as well as land valued at about $140 million to be used for for
development, cultural and social welfare purposes.
Meanwhile over the weekend regional development moved to centre stage
on the national policy agenda, with regional-based independents looking
likely to hold the balance of power in a national minority government.
The Royalties for Regions scheme in WA has significant runs on the
board as a model for regional development and was the subject of keen
enquiry by participants in a recent a cross-border “virtual” meeting (a
phone hook-up) hosted by Desert Knowledge Australia, with land release
for housing and infrastructure development as its theme.
The meeting heard from Steve Burgess of the DRDL.
Royalties for Regions was brought about at the end of 2008 by a
power-sharing deal between the state Labor government and National
Party leader Brendan Grylls, with the government committing to
returning 25% of mining and onshore petroleum royalty revenue to
So now when there’s land release, there’s also money for development.
Depending on the area, government may call for expressions of interest
from the private sector.
But in remote areas, where the cost of development can be more than the
market value of the land, the government can resort to its development
arm, LandCorp, to fulfill its “community service obligation”, said Mr
A recently announced example of the kind of work the scheme is bringing
about is a $20m project to revitalise the town of Newman in the East
Pilbara, growing it from a permanent population of 6000 and 2000
fly-in/fly-out residents into a significant sub-regional service centre
for up to 15,000 people, according to a media release by Mr Grylls as
Minister for Regional Development.
The virtual meeting was to hear from Darryl Pearce, executive officer
of Lhere Artepe, the local native title holder body.
However Mr Pearce left the meeting before it was properly underway,
Varying values of Native Title
A back-of-the envelope comparison between the Broome native title
arrangement and those in Alice Springs is revealing:
The native title holders in Broome are getting $56m in cash and $140m
worth of land, a total value of $196m.
The government gets 1875 hectares of development land. For the purposes
of the comparison, let’s treat it all as residential land. You can fit,
comfortably, six dwellings on a hectare, leaving room for roads and
parks. That means 11,250 blocks.
Divide the cost of $196m by 11,250 and you get a cost per – undeveloped
– block of $17,422.
In Alice Springs the de facto value for native title – now confirmed
over two subdivisions – is 50% of freehold.
A developed block in Alice these days costs $300,000. Take off $50,000
for development. That leaves $250,000. The native title holders’ half
share of that is $125,000.
That means the native title holders in Alice Springs get 7.2 times as
much as their counterparts in Broome.
one summer at a time?
Yuendumu pool will definitely open this summer with the traditional
owners’ royalty body (GMAAAC – Granites Mines Affected Area Aboriginal
Corp) making $100,000 available for operational costs.
Together with the NT Government’s allocation of $49,000, announced
recently by Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton, the funding
has been welcomed as “fantastic news” by CEO of the Mt Theo Program,
However, neither grant represents a long-term solution. Annual
operational costs are estimated at $250,000.
Will we be wondering again next year where that money is going to come
only for aggressive dogs.
Town Council rangers under no circumstances will use batons when
dealing with the public, says CEO Rex Mooney.
The baton training referred to in last week’s Alice News (“Tourists,
river campers watch out: by-laws will be enforced”) is for “the express
purpose of dealing with aggressive dogs in extreme situations”, says Mr
The Alice News regrets the error.
shooting victim yet to identify perpetrator.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
The hearing of a bail application for one of the accused in the
Junction Waterhole shooting of May 29 this year was halted last
Thursday when Magistrate Greg Borchers disclosed that he had heard a
previous case that had made reference to the applicant, including
evidence “detrimental” to his personality and character.
The application was being made by lawyer Tony Whitelum on behalf of
Reuben Nadich who is accused of attempted murder, intending to cause
and causing serious harm, and recklessly endangering life.
The victim is a 44 year old white man, who, the court had previously
heard, sustained “extensive injuries” and had undergone open chest
surgery to remove 12 gauge shotgun pellets from behind his heart, with
further pellets to be removed.
The Crown objected to the bail application, saying the “presumption”
was “neutral”, and had begun to outline the Crown facts regarding the
offences of which Mr Nadich is accused.
These allegedly place Mr Nadich and co-accused Benjamin Gaff at Tony’s
Auto-Wreckers on Ghan Road on the evening of the shooting.
At the mention of the auto-wreckers, Mr Borchers interrupted to
disclose that he had heard cases, “of which there were many”, against
the proprietor of that auto-wreckers.
He said in those cases, the Crown had made objections to a possible
partially suspended sentence on the basis that the proprietor had,
while in gaol, agreed to employ Mr Nadich.
He said the Crown had produced evidence regarding Mr Nadich that was
“detrimental” to his “personality and his character”.
He said that the mother of the proprietor, who was operating the
auto-wreckers while the proprietor was in gaol, had provided a letter
saying that “they would have nothing to do with Mr Nadich”.
Yet the Crown in this application was alleging that Mr Nadich was “at
the very place” where Mr Borchers had heard “he would not be”.
Mr Borchers said both the prosecutor and Mr Whitelum needed to consider
whether they would be of the view that he might have “some preconceived
ideas” because of his knowledge of what took place at the
He mentioned in particular the charges faced by the proprietor, which
were “substantiated” and which dealt with drugs and the ownership of
drug-making materials, including documentary material and other
Mr Whitelum said it would be his preference that Mr Borchers not hear
the application and it was stood down.
It resumed on Friday in front of Magistrate David Bamber, when the
court heard that the victim of the shooting has not identified anyone
accused of the crime.
The court also heard of alleged admissions made by Mr Nadich to
“independent persons” about the events leading to the shooting.
One person, Mr Nadich’s girlfriend at the time, said that he and his
co-defendants (Mr Gaff and Jason Corp) “had gone somewhere out bush to
test the gun.
“They were in Ben’s car. Reuben did not tell me who was driving the car.
“Ben doesn’t usually let anyone drive his car.
“They took out the gun powder from one of the shells and shot Reuben in
“Later that night I had a look at Reuben’s right arm – he has a tattoo
on it – and noticed that it was badly grazed.
“Reuben told me that after he’d been shot with the gun, they got back
in the car and were driving home when they stopped and saw a man and
lady having sex in a car.
“When they pulled up, the man got out of the car and started swearing
“The boys started swearing back, the man threatened to go and get his
gun, he turned around and was walking back to the car when Reuben got
the gun, pointed it at the man and pulled the trigger, hitting the man
in the arm.”
This statement was read to the court by lawyer acting for Mr Nadich,
Tony Whitelum. He cast doubt on the credibility of her statement,
describing it as “Version Three”, and cast doubt on the strength of the
Crown case as disclosed, which appeared to rely on the alleged
admissions by Mr Nadich from, in particular, this witness and another.
He said: “Now if this lady has been schooled by Mr Corp, it’s not a bad
story to have her give because it also gives everyone a bit of a shot
at self-defence if Mr Gaff and Mr Corp were involved.”
Mr Whitelum also read from a statement made by a male witness who
worked at Tony’s Auto-Wreckers and placed Mr Nadich there with his
co-defendants on the night of the shooting.
He said about this man’s statement that he had admitted earlier
fabrications because he wanted “to cover” for his friends, Mr Corp and
Mr Whitelum said: “If anyone was wanting to deflect the charges away
from anyone, it would be him deflecting them away from his friends.”
He said this male witness offered a “very strange explanation” of
events: “He says Reuben said, ‘I shot someone’.
“My immediate reaction was shock, I didn’t believe it.
“Reuben said to Jason, ‘I was afraid for my life because after he [the
victim] said he had a machine gun in his car and he started walking
back to it, I panicked and shot him.”
Mr Whitelum said the statement was “setting up a spurious sort of
defence for those who may very well be, who are in my submissions, the
ones who are responsible.”
He said there is no forensic evidence to connect his client with the
car used in the incident or the gun.
The court had earlier heard from the Crown that the gun had been traced
to another witness – Mr Gaff had given it to that person to hide.
“He thinks nothing of it, places the gun in his apartment,” said
prosecutor Roman Micairan.
“A few days later unfortunately someone breaks into the house and
steals the gun.”
Mr Whitelum dismissed this as a “furphy”.
He said this gun is not the gun used in the shooting, but another gun.
He said the shotgun used in the shooting is referred to by the male
witness at Tony’s Auto-Wreckers.
“He says he saw a gun at the auto-wreckers and with the tacit consent
of Mr Corp, he took it and hid it in the wreckers and later he gave it
up to police,” said Mr Whitelum.
The court also heard that Mr Nadich’s then girlfriend feared for her
safety and that this was the reason why her initial statements had not
necessarily told the full story.
Mr Whitelum said the woman said she was not completely truthful because
she was afraid for her life “if the people involved find out that I’ve
told the police what I know”.
However, he said that in this statement the woman is referring to
another incident, an assault on another man, that allegedly took place
on the same night at the auto-wreckers.
“J. sat [another woman] and I down together and in relation to [this
man] getting beaten, said ‘Blackfellers did this, hey, ‘cause if the
cops find out the truth about what really happened, you are both dead.
“J. was serious and I honestly believed J. would kill [the other woman]
Mr Whitelum referred to a further threat made towards this witness.
Then he said: “When she says my client said certain things to her, that
is said because she’s frightened and if she says my client is the one
who did it, then she won’t be killed by these other people.”
Mr Micairan was concerned about the possibility of Mr Nadich
interfering with witnesses if he were released on bail.
He said Mr Nadich had texted his girlfriend on June 1 saying: “If the
cops ask about me, you know nothing, OK?”
Mr Micairan also said Mr Nadich had lied to police in his electronic
record of interview.
He denied having seen Benjamin Gaff on the day of the shooting; denied
having ever driven in Mr Gaff’s car and having driven with him on that
He said he also denied having seen Mr Gaff at Tony’s Auto-Wreckers,
although he admitted to having been there on the evening of the
The lies go “to consciousness of guilt,” said Mr Micairan.
The court heard about unresolved drug offence allegations in South
Australia in relation to Mr Nadich, over which an arrest warrant has
Mr Whitelum referred to the situation of his client in SA as “quite
peculiar,” but his apparent non-appearance in a South Australian court
to answer the allegations was one of the reasons cited by Mr Bamber in
refusing the bail application.
“It raises concerns that he may not appear in court here,” said Mr
Bamber, especially as any conviction for the current offences would
bring “very lengthy gaol time”.
The fact that Mr Nadich was on a suspended sentence for drugs offences
in Alice Springs at the time of the alleged attempted murder was also a
reason to refuse bail, said Mr Bamber, pointing to a risk that “he may
commit further offences”.
The offences of which Mr Nadich is now accused are “extremely serious,”
“The allegations involve the use of a deadly weapon against members of
the public going about their business.”
He said that the veracity of detailed admissions given to two persons
could not be tested in the court at this time, but admissions can
provide strong evidence.
He said that there was some suggestion of Mr Nadich attempting to
influence witnesses and this was also a concern.
Mr Nadich was remanded in custody.
Trial dates have been set for November 15-19.
Night of the year. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The rise and rise of dance in Alice Springs put its stamp on this
year’s Wearable Arts Awards.
Presentation was much more than a prance or a strut – just about anyone
who could shake their booty was shaking it!
Mistress of the art was Miriam Bond – fresh back from Africa – in
the post-interval entertainment, but from the word go, with a
high-spirited performance full of cheeky fun by David Keene as the
“Male Order Bride”, dance was the name of the game.
Choreography consultant Melissa Kerl, who also directed the
entertainment, can take a bow.
The moves, combined with the suave lighting and digital backdrops
individually crafted for each entry, the great choice of music, the
smooth transitions between the 40 or so entries, a pacey presentation
(though possibly a little too pacey – sometimes I wanted to linger),
all made for a fantastic theatrical event.
A brilliant solution was found for the MC – the droll Noah Pleshet was
filmed, delivering his amusing commentary seemingly from a little
cupboard, looking down to the entries on and off stage.
The wearable crowd pleasers were the ones making jokes or puns, telling
stories or sending a message.
“Male Order Bride” was one, with designers Marge Coogan and Laurel
Glegg punning of course on “mail order bride”.
Keene was in bridal gear made from recycled postal products (stamps,
bubble-wrap), dancing to the Elvis song, “Return to Sender”.
“I Finke i could be a grid girl” was one of the best-loved (co-winner
of the people’s choice award, highly commended in the Fantasia award).
This tapped into a local near-obsession over sexy young things
attaching themselves to the Finke Desert Race. Kali Kennedy, designer
and model, used motorbike farings to make her witty anti-dress,
complete with headdress featuring a pair of lights that could flash on
“Johnny’s Girl” (winner of the Fantasia award) looked back to the
toilet roll covers featuring a doll torso in a spreading skirt that
used to adorn “our nanna’s loo”. Modeled by Nyika Scholastic, it was
designed by Gab Flynn, Naomi Morick, Paula Melville and Glynic Cacavas.
In this and another entry the team used expired and sample
medical stock from the hospital, to the somewhat shocked hilarity of
Love of the bush, for its lifestyle and its inspirational beauty, was
nicely staged by two entries – Swagability Designs “for bushwalkers who
like to wear their art” (by The Canvas Collective, modeled by Jody
Hunwick-Miller, Kirtsen and Diana) and Wonderous, a homage to the Sturt
Desert Pea (by Paula Moggs and Sam Adams, modeled by Mikayla Moggs,
Sam Adams, Tamra McBeth Riley and Clare Hockridge).
There’s no doubt that the message of two anti u-mine entries went down
well with the crowd.
One, “Will u b Mine?” (highly commended in the New World Sustainability
award), designed by Anne McCarthy and Linda Chellew and modeled by
McCarthy, focussed particularly on the impact of the possible mine on
water supply. As McCarthy turned away from the judges, the lights went
down and a glow-in-the-dark skeleton appeared on her back.
The other was equally as blunt: “Do not ask for whom the bell tolls ...
The bell tolls for thee” was designed by Steve Browne and Kate Willson
Waite and modelled by Browne. He crossed the stage at a funereal pace
(one of the few moments when the night’s high energy was turned down),
dressed as the Grim Reaper. He eventually turned to point a bony finger
to an accomplice in the audience who screamed and followed him, donning
a jacket emblazoned with “Angela Pamela”.
The standard of entries was high, possibly more uniformly so than in
previous years, but the ‘wow!’ factor was a little down.
There was no real ‘knock your socks’ off entry – partly due to the
repetition of some core ideas. There were many midriff bodice and skirt
combinations made from recycled materials, and many entries working
with “the lot” – throwing in as much colour or as many flourishes as
This was, through no fault of their own, the case with the Master Class
entries. They had to use 80% of the jumble of materials thrown into
their “Master Box” and the end results struggled to make a singular
impact, despite the high order skills of these designers – Philomena
Hali (who won), Carmel Ryan and Colleen Byrnes.
Next year I’d like to see them given some very beautiful, but
restricted materials – then watch out!
All of the Master Class entries had a nod to haute couture as did a few
entries in other classes. Particularly worth a mention is the “Non, Je
Ne Regrette Rien” entry by Margaret Gatti, Simone Guascoine, Jill
Jansons, Nina Jansons and Amanda Perry, modeled by Sarah Graham. This
full-length silk sheath dress beneath a full skirt, stitched and
appliqued, and a bolero jacket was a wonderfully elegant entry,
genuinely “Actually Wearable” in that award category.
ARROW: Knowing the future is not what it’s cracked
up to be.
It is said that the curse of being human is to be able to see the
Animals have a vague idea; our dog certainly knows when walkies time is
approaching. But he can’t anticipate events, look at a calendar and
say, “On Tuesday the 14th I have an exam / must front the magistrate /
get married (insert your event here)”.
Sometimes the anticipation is wonderful. As Christmas approaches when
you are a kid the events build up and the days stretch out until the
great day is finally upon us and boom, pressie time.
Holiday dates draw near and you can dream about long days spent at
Bondi beach, basking, swimming and taking clandestine peeks at the
Then there is the other side, when knowing the future causes stress,
sweats and heartache.
How do people live on death row? Looking at their daily planner and
saying to themselves, “No need to re-subscribe to sports weekly after
I can’t begin to imagine what that must be like and when I think of
those poor buggers in Bali I shudder. Yes, what they did was wrong but
making them wait while faceless others decide whether they live or die
is punishment above and beyond the crime.
The fact that the Federal police set them up to be taken in Indonesia
is disgusting and immoral – they should be ashamed of what they did.
But for all our planning and scheming, we are pawns of fate. Sometimes
things blow out of nowhere and “BOOM” – we are sitting on the side of
the road looking at our wrecked car or being told that we no longer
have a job and please pack our things and leave. These things are still
unpredictable and are probably best left that way. If you knew all the
bad stuff in advance, you wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning!
I am a cheery and optimistic person by nature and until not too long
ago the only thing I had to worry about was an upcoming semester at uni
with a statistics course to deal with.
I don’t trust statistics; they can be manipulated by people with an
agenda to represent favourably whatever it is they are trying to sell.
Plus I’m rubbish at maths so the stats module had me down a bit.
Then bam, out of the blue came the life changing event. Kirsty (wife)
rang me from work and said, “Remember that job interview I did a month
ago that I never heard back about? They just called and offered me a
job … in Cairns”.
This is followed by “they want an answer as soon as possible”.
Typical, stuff around for ages then they want an answer yesterday. The
irony that the job is in Cairns is not lost on me; this was my ultimate
destination when I set out from Adelaide so many years ago, before I
stopped in Alice for a couple of weeks.
Things were different then, I was footloose and fancy free, just a
couple of suitcases and some guitars. Now we have to worry about the
house, kids, dogs as well as ourselves.
We talked to each other, then family and friends and couldn’t find a
way to make all the pieces fit so everyone was happy, within the
When a problem is so big and encompassing, the only way to work through
it is to break it down into manageable bits. The first bit was the job.
I said to Kirsty you have to take it and she did.
So my beloved flies away in a couple of weeks and I will do my best to
get by while we try and make the other bits fit here in Alice.
Like John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re making
LETTERS: ‘Right’ to drink argument misses
Sir – Manning Clark, our celebrated national historian once said, “You
cannot understand Australia unless you understand alcohol”.
If “a fair go” remains a living tradition that originates in
Governor Philip’s first fleet decree that
provisions be shared fairly by all, then it is just as
plausible that alcohol traditions from the Rum rebellion in
Governor Bligh’s time also endure.
Alcohol traditions warp and exploit the fair go in my
For example the exclusion of an Aboriginal right to drink on equal
terms with Europeans has been seen, and is still seen by many as a
fair go and democratic rights issue.
For some, it even stands there with land rights because
both freedoms commenced at the same time.
However the politics of alcohol is rarely fair because the
democratic rights to sell and freely consume, ignore the
democratic duty of elected governments to care
for alcohol outcomes in police, incarceration and health and
I am three decades Territory tired of the dynamics of rights
and responsibilities arguments that arise every time the
glaring human and genocidal cost of alcohol is
articulated by ‘do gooders’. In other words, people of
credibility and integrity and service, who describe a deplorable
community issue intelligently.
I am tired because the debate is always a theatre, and the power
bottom line a maintenance tradition of old status
Bugger bad tradition! Let’s see and work for some new and better