ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
October 7, 2010. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
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U-mine decision under cloud. By
A Country Liberals insider says the party’s decision to follow the
Labor government and oppose the Angela Pamela uranium project near
Alice Springs was forced by the actions of Member for Greatorex, Matt
The insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says the Shadow
Cabinet met in Parliament House at lunchtime on Tuesday last week.
There was some discussion about the uranium mine, but no decision was
Mr Conlan left the meeting and without any mandate from the Cabinet,
says the insider, gave an interview to ABC Radio, saying his party was
also against the mine, a position the Labor government had taken
earlier that day.
Part of the interview was broadcast that evening.
According to the ABC, Mr Conlan said if the Country Liberals were in
power they would have made the same decision to scuttle the project,
the proposed mine was too close to the town and did not have the
support nor the good will of the community.
Asked to comment, Mr Conlan told the Alice Springs News he would not
breach Shadow Cabinet confidentiality and said: “We all came to a
decision and we’re all in agreement.”
That is a surprising statement as one Shadow Cabinet member felt
compelled to contact the Alice Springs News and articulate disapproval
of Mr Conlan’s actions.
However, John Elferink, former Member for MacDonnell and now for Port
Darwin, says: “What happens in the Cabinet is confidential, but once a
decision is made it is a decision of the Cabinet.”
He also says: “We treat the Angela Pamela issue as a unique decision
and it will not change our policy or approach to any other mines.”
Mr Elferink said last week: “We are mindful of the reputation of the NT
as a place to do business as a miner.
“We understand the way the industry may interpret a decision of this
The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC), welcoming Mr Henderson’s
decision, said it would “inspire other communities, not just in the
Territory, but around Australia, that a campaign of concerted
opposition can stop a uranium mine in their area.
“A precedent is now set for the residents of Batchelor, neighbouring
the Area 55 deposit, and the traditional owners of Bigrlyi near
Yuendumu, and of Nolan’s Bore near Ti-Tree, as well as the many
communities in Western Australia faced with uranium mining.”
Asked why he and not Opposition Leader Terry Mills had made the
announcement, Mr Conlan said he had made it “during a press conference
on a range of matters in my capacity as Shadow Minister for Central
The News sought comment from Mr Mills but he declined, citing Cabinet
The events brought to at least a temporary halt an acrimonious issue
that has split the community and has reached new lows in public
administration, politics and debate.
ALEC described the planned mine as “dangerous and dirty” without
offering any independent evidence in relation to the specific Angela
Says ALEC Project Officer Jess Abrahams: “The recent history of leaks,
spills and accidents at other uranium mines both in Australia and
overseas give us serious cause for concern.
“A 2003 Senate Inquiry found the sector characterised by a pattern of
underperformance and non-compliance, an absence of reliable data to
measure the extent of contamination or its impact on the environment,
an operational culture that gives greater weight to short term
considerations than long term environmental protection.
“Cameco’s own 2007 Annual Report documents 22 such accidents,”says Mr
“The potential for contamination of the Mereenie aquifer via surface
recharge at the Rocky Hill bore site from a failed or leaking tailings
dam up hill at Angela Pamela is a legitimate concern.
“The issue of water consumption for the mine is another, not to mention
radioactive dust and radon gas from the open-cut pit blowing towards
“All of these concerns have a scientific basis now vindicated by the
Northern Territory Government and Opposition’s opposition to the mine.”
The Australian newspaper compared the Northern Territory with Panama,
accusing the government of pulling the plug on the Canadian mining
giant Cameco and its Australian partner, Paladin Energy, before
“processes and hearings had been exhausted”.
The paper draws attention to the by-election on Saturday and quotes an
analyst: “It shows you have to be careful in jurisdictions with a
limited gene pool.
“The NT government is behaving more like a parochial local council” and
he suggests the scuttling of the project may be a sop to the Greens,
throwing them a sacrificial lamb to shut them up on the subject of
“Whichever way you cut it, Cameco is out of pocket big time,” says The
Paladin announced ominously that it is “considering its options in
advance of further discussions” with the NT Government.
Chief Minister Paul Henderson’s announcement appears to have the effect
of taking a major decision about uranium mining out of the
Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon said: “No action is required by the
Commonwealth because there has been no request made by the NT
Government to the Commonwealth to approve a mine.”
While ultimate approval of a uranium mine is in the hands of the
Commonwealth, under a bilateral agreement the processes leading up to
that point are the charge of the NT Government.
With his announcement Mr Henderson has stepped outside of these
processes, which in the case of the Angela deposit, are far from
Mr Snowdon says his own opposition to the mine is “well known”.
He also announced that the Federal Government has cancelled a study,
promised during the election campaign, of the impact of Angela Pamela
on groundwater supplies for Alice Springs.
“This study by Geoscience Australia would have ensured any future
decisions were informed by science, as well as broader community
“The study would have looked at proposed mining and processing methods
at Angela, as well as assessing the groundwater and hydro geological
characteristics and data for the area, reviewing baseline information
such as water levels and quality, and identifying any knowledge gaps,”
says Mr Snowdon.
Paladin CEO John Borshoff says he is surprised about Mr Henderson’s
He says in 2008 the NT Government selected the Paladin and Cameco joint
venture from 37 applicants as the preferred one, and the NT Government
granted it an exploration licence.
“Relying on encouragement and positive support from the government
Paladin pursued the joint venture in good faith … spending many
millions of dollars.
“The project is still at the exploration phase and work has been
progressing with environmental and hydrological studies,” says Mr
Borshoff, and Paladin always expected the government would consider the
project “on its merits”.
Another Paladin spokesman, when asked whether the company would sue the
NT Government, said: “I could not possibly comment on that.”
Cameco Australia’s manager Jennifer Parks says the company was invited
by the NT Government to explore the Angela Pamela uranium deposit south
of Alice Springs.
As a result the company has spent “millions of dollars”.
Ms Parks says there has not been any discussion, at least so far, about
demands for compensation if the work is stopped by the NT Government.
“We haven’t even discussed that with Paladin (Cameco’s joint venturer).
“We need to work out what our options are.
“We have not really considered compensation.
“We’d like to have a meeting with government first.”
That is likely to take place on Wednesday next week.
Ms Parks says Cameco has not closed its Alice Springs office and is
still deciding on its options regarding Angela Pamela.
“We have not made that decision,” she said last week.
“We’re looking at what we want to do with the project.
“All companies have a profile with different exploration and
development strategies, time lines, economics, all sorts of things come
Ms Parks says, for example, in terms of exploration Cameco currently
does more “green fields exploration” whereas its partner, Paladin, is
more focussed on advanced projects.
Cameco’s multi-million dollar program so far has included completing
two drilling programs. A third one is being considered.
“Every phase of drilling gives information that helps with planning the
next phase,” says Ms Parks.
There have been “no surprises”: the work to date has confirmed
exploration results done by the German company Uranerz in the ‘70s and
Ms Parks says the company last year had independent market research
conducted in Alice Springs which showed that the people wanting the
mine and exploration were in a small majority.
Tourism Central Australia and the NT Chamber of Commerce has also done
membership surveys, both showing a small margin in favour of Angela
Pamela project (Alice News, September 30).
U-lobby: It’s not over yet
The uranium industry wants a meeting with Chief Minister Paul Henderson
over the future of the Angela Pamela and other NT uranium projects.
Australian Uranium Association CEO Michael Angwin says: “The
established processes for assessing resource developments remain in
place in the Territory, for all uranium projects.
“Decisions in accordance with those processes still have to be taken.
“The Commonwealth is also involved in approving uranium projects in the
Territory and we have full confidence the Commonwealth’s processes will
be followed to allow decisions on the environmental and other merits of
any uranium project, current and future.
“Notwithstanding the views expressed by the NT Government last week, we
expect the Territory Government to stick to its own processes in
future,” Mr Angwin says.
by-election: Questions on notice. By
The Araluen candidates took on notice questions from the Alice Springs
News when we spoke to them on September 9 (Robyn Lambley, Country
Liberals) and September 23 (Adam Findlay, Territory Labor).
Here are their answers.
NEWS: In Western Australia, the fee for extinguishing native title is
about 5% of the freehold value. In Alice Springs it is 50%. Is this a
lesson for the NT Government grappling with a crippling housing
shortage and cost?
FINDLAY: Native Title is one of the many issues in the release of land.
People have concerns about land release and affordable housing. The
Government is making a good start by fast tracking the release of
Kilgariff that will deliver another 1000 lots for housing, and 15% of
that will be for affordable and public housing.
LAMBLEY: The NT Government valuing native title at 50% of the freehold
value of land is inflating the cost of land making it unaffordable for
Compared to the levy of 5% in WA, the NTG levy of 50% seems
unnecessarily high. Why is the NTG imposing such a high fee to
extinguish native title? Who benefits from this income?
What are the real costs involved in this process and how much is
Transparency in government is essential.
We are all fed up with cover-ups and back door deals.
NEWS: After the events in Yuendumu is there not time for clear
legislation banning payback and the excesses of tribal punishment?
FINDLAY: The Attorney General Delia Lawrie said recently that physical
violence is not acceptable in any form, and I agree with that.
NEWS: Should the government delay the handover to Aboriginal interests
of the national parks remaining in public hands – the West MacDonnells,
Finke Gorge and King’s Canyon – pending an independent examination of
the legal opinion underpinning the handover policy, leaked to the Alice
FINDLAY: No, I do not believe the parks handover should be delayed.
Joint Management is a good thing and it means jobs for Indigenous
Territorians and they can be out there promoting and sharing their
culture and land with people.
NEWS: In your door knocking, what do people say about Angela Pamela?
FINDLAY: They are happy with the [government’s] decision. They
were not comfortable with uranium being mined so close to their homes
[and] the town’s water supply. I think Alice Springs people are pretty
environmentally minded, but are open to ideas that bring economic
for a ‘higher’ rise town centre and call for a moratorium south of Gap. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Alice Springs architect Susan Dugdale says nobody needs to believe more
in a town plan than developers.
But she says local developers clearly don’t believe in the Alice
Springs Town Plan as is evidenced by the number of exceptional
development permit applications that are being made.
Ms Dugdale says she herself, over the last year or so, has put in two
exceptional development permit applications for every one normal
She says this reflects a permissive political culture around
development, but also a problem with the town plan.
Alice needs a town plan that can take it through the next 10 years,
that has the strong backing of the community as well as developers,
that is so good that we would “stick to it” and no exceptional
development permits would be allowed.
Ms Dugdale was speaking at the panel discussion that launched Coalition
For a Better (FAB) Alice last Saturday, held at Olive Pink Botanic
Garden as part of the desertSMART EcoFair. About 30 people attended the
The coalition is intending to work on a community-driven town
plan over the coming year, and are calling for a moratorium on
development south of the Gap until that work is done.
Ms Dugdale said she supports the relaxation of height limits in the
Central Activity District (CAD), going from the current three storeys
to five or six.
She said increasing densities would keep the town compact, which she
sees as environmentally “very sound” – reducing car travel, for
She said it would also beneficially change the character of the town:
putting dwellings for an extra 2000 to 3000 people in the CAD would
create a very different place, compared to putting them in the suburbs.
However she does not agree with the height limits change being brought
about on a project by project basis.
It should be part of a cohesive town plan, that addresses social,
cultural and environmental values as well as more conventional planning
issues, she said.
It was suggested from the floor that the predominant character of the
town is still low-rise and that plenty of existing single storey
buildings could have a storey or two added, making for a gradual
movement towards a higher-rise CAD.
But Ms Dugdale said the number of applications for buildings over three
storeys shows that the time has come for going to five or six storeys,
although such buildings should be carefully “modulated”, stepped back
from the street frontage at ground level, from heritage buildings and
possibly from parks.
She expressed her frustration with the number of committees and
planning reports over the years that have gone nowhere, calling for all
the worthwhile ones to be brought together in a single coherent
document to preserve that “corporate memory”.
She also expressed qualified support for aspects of the two planning
reports currently out for public comment.
These are the Alice Springs Central Activity District Built Form
Guidelines and Residential Capacity Report, both of which can be found
on the Future Alice website.
She said the reports, though short and simplistic, contain “some good
principles”, citing particularly their emphasis on built form – “the
town that we see” – rather than land use or building function.
Government needs to know that the community understands and wants this
emphasis, said Ms Dugdale.
Jonathan Pilbrow, Central Australian Policy Officer for NT Council of
Social Service (NTCOSS), was also on last Saturday’s panel.
NTCOSS’s key interest in the planning area is in homelessness and the
provision of public and affordable housing.
He said NTCOSS has made previous submissions to the Territory
Government, requesting that social inclusion statements be made part of
the planning process, similar to environmental impact statements.
“We need to know how planning decisions are going to impact on the most
vulnerable people in the community,” said Mr Pilbrow.
Ruth Apelt, of the Arid Lands Environment Centre, said the extension of
time for submissions (until October 29) on the two planning reports
offers a “real opportunity “.
She said ALEC had asked for a seat on the Planning for the Future
steering committee, which has no community-based representatives.
Its members are Minister for Central Australia, Karl Hampton;
Mayor Damien Ryan; Darryl Pearce representing Native Title holders;
Julie Ross, Brendan Meney and David Forrest, representing business and
Industry; and Manager of Regional Development Fran Kilgariff as well as
Acting Director Regions Ann Jacobs, representing government services.
ALEC’s request was declined “at this point”, said Ms Apelt.
She said for a long time the minutes of the steering committee’s
meetings were not on the Future Alice website, as had been promised,
but they have recently been posted.
She said: “They reckon they’ve got a vision, we want to hear what it is
within the next few weeks” – before the deadline for submissions.
Ms Apelt said she has asked for a public forum with members of the
committee to be organised.
She said Alice’s senior town planners, Ray Smith and Peter Somerville,
were involved with last week’s five day conference about the future
city of Weddell in the Top End and so were too busy to attend the panel
discussion in Alice. Hopefully they too will attend the public forum.
council too secret.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Elected members of the Town Council are apparently not allowed to see
reports from services which it manages.
An alderman has asked for the reports from JASP Security, which
provides late night patrols (9pm to 4am) in the CBD, including Gap Road.
The firm is engaged by council with funding from the Department of the
Regular reports about their activity are provided to the Interagency
Tasking and Coordination Group on which council has a representative,
Craig Catchlove, director of Corporate and Community Services.
When Alderman Samih Habib Bitar was denied access to the reports by
council CEO Rex Mooney and, he says, by the Department of the Chief
Minister, he came to the Alice Springs News.
We asked Mr Mooney: “Don’t you think that aldermen should have access
to information that comes before a committee on which there is a
Mr Mooney explained that “through a special arrangement with the Chair,
aldermen are given copies of the confidential minutes of the [ITCG]
meeting” but he said he was “not in a position to comment further”.
He referred the News to the Chief Minister’s Department.
Its communications unit immediately passed on the query to police, as
the ITCG is chaired by Commander Anne-Marie Murphy of the Alice Springs
Cdr Murphy explained that “a [council] representative provides a verbal
report on the private security patrols that are managed by the
She said: “The NT Police do not have a response in relation to the
Alderman relationship or expectations from the ASTC that would be a
matter between the Aldermen and Council.”
Over to Mr Mooney, but he maintained his position: “The reports are the
property of the funding agency, i.e. The Department of Chief
“The Department was asked for permission to release the reports to
aldermen – it was denied.”
In the wake of this enquiry, the News received information from an
anonymous source that three aldermen had walked out of the confidential
section of the last Ordinary Council meeting.
With two aldermen already absent, the walk-out brought the meeting to a
close as there was no quorum.
Our information named the three as Alds Habib Bitar, Melanie van Haaren
and Murray Stewart.
Ald Habib Bitar confirms that he left the meeting.
He says “everything is in confidential, all types of issues, including
He says council should be “more transparent”, should be run “as a
public organisation, not a private organisation”.
And he says the effort – he doesn’t say whose – to “build up a
friendship with the royal mob in Darwin” comes at the town’s expense.
Ald Van Haaren is taken aback that we have received information about
what happened in confidential but, as she “doesn’t like being
dishonest”, she also confirms that she left.
She declines to comment on what happened but does say that “in general”
too much business – more than is required under the Local Government
Act – is considered behind closed doors.
She says she has been diligent over the time she has been on council to
have as much business as possible discussed in open meetings.
Are there inter-personal tensions between elected members and / or
staff as a result of the walk-out?
Ald Van Haaren says business is continuing “as normal” and that she
feels reassured by Mr Mooney’s undertaking to scrutinise everything
that goes into confidential to ensure that it meets the criteria
established by the Act.
Ald Stewart says his departure from the meeting was not “a walk-out”,
more a “strategic withdrawal” in order for things to “cool down”.
He says the discussion had become heated and one colleague was
In general he also thinks too much business goes into confidential, and
that there’s pressure behind closed doors to reach a consensus and to
make “tidy press statements”.
“It’s not allowing the public to see the process,” says Ald Stewart.
“People need to know what we are thinking and feeling.”
He declines to be specific but says recent matters that were in
confidential and should not have been concerned the town’s sports
ovals, law and order issues, and some technical services matters.
Council’s agenda for the last meeting shows that a report on the Master
Plan for Alice Springs Sporting Facilities and another on Municipal
Audit Prioritisation were among several items in confidential.
Ald Stewart also says council needs to go on the offensive with respect
to some dealings with the NT Government and that Mayor Damien Ryan’s
approach is too “caring and sharing”.
“His behind-the-scenes approach is simply not working.”
Ald Stewart says if elected members could “breathe and exercise their
talents more”, that could galvanise public opinion and create greater
pressure on the NT and Federal Governments.
The News puts these comments to Ald Liz Martin to get an alternative
She notes that the three disaffected aldermen have all had experience
on previous councils.
She says perhaps there’s a different management style within the
current council but it’s not one that she’s unhappy with.
Mayor Damien Ryan says the CEO already scrutinises everything that goes
into confidential for its compliance with the Act.
He points out that every member can move to bring matters that are in
confidential into the open section of the meeting. (Such moves can, of
course, be defeated.)
About his own attitude towards confidential matters, he says: “I
understand what the Local Government Act tells me to do and I will
follow that as long as I have this job.”
and Alice longtime safe ground for CLP. BACKGROUND by ALEX NELSON.
The current by-election for Araluen is only the second in that
electorate’s history. Both were two-horse races between CLP and ALP
candidates; they were contested by male and female candidates; and the
ALP was the clear underdog both times.
The retiring member, Jodeen Carney, has left politics on the grounds of
ill health. She had been the Shadow Attorney-General, amongst other
In 1986 the retiring member, Jim Robertson, also left politics due to
ill health; he had been the NT Attorney-General from 1982-84 – it was
his favourite portfolio.
Both Carney and Robertson were effective debaters in the NT Legislative
Assembly; Robertson was regarded as the only CLP member equal to the
performance of Labor Opposition Leader Bob Collins.
In the NT elections of December 1983 the CLP stormed to victory,
winning 19 seats, including all four Alice electorates.
Robertson won Araluen with 62% of the vote (another 18% was won by
independent conservative – and first CLP leader – Goff Letts). Araluen
was a solidly blue-ribbon CLP seat.
Paul Everingham resigned as Chief Minister in October 1984, replaced by
Ian Tuxworth, the Member for Barkly.
Tuxworth was keen to establish his own stamp of authority but his
idiosyncratic style and ideas quickly ran foul of entrenched party
powerbrokers, especially Paul Everingham and Graeme Lewis. The CLP had
essentially split into two antagonistic camps by late 1985.
Early in 1986 details emerged about Tuxworth having wrongly claimed
$9943 in travel allowance in 1982. Tuxworth had arranged a loan at the
time to repay the money but technically he had committed an offence.
The ALP, under Bob Collins, gleefully exploited the issue.
Tuxworth, no match for Collins, naively admitted to having been
“morally wrong” to claim the allowance. The issue immediately became a
scandal that engulfed the CLP and was the backdrop for the Araluen
by-election in April 1986.
However, there was keen interest for CLP preselection, with 10
nominations. The most high profile nomination was Magistrate Tim
Hinchliffe, widely expected to win.
So it was a complete surprise when the head of the Tourist Bureau, Eric
Poole, won. He is (to my recollection) the only senior bureaucrat in
the NT to have become a politician since self-government.
Labor chose Alderman Di Shanahan as its candidate. She was a formidable
opponent with a high public profile, well regarded, articulate and
The ALP campaigned strongly, highlighting Poole’s patchy management
track record in the Tourist Bureau and maintaining focus on the travel
In early April a bombshell struck the CLP – Senator Bernie Kilgariff
announced he would retire from politics at the next federal election.
The ALP tempted Araluen voters with a siren lure – it was safe to vote
for Labor because it wouldn’t change the government but would send a
strong message to the Darwin-centric CLP Government.
So how did the voters of Araluen respond on April 19? A lot of them
didn’t – one third failed to vote, although this was considered normal
for a by-election.
Poole won comfortably with 56% of the votes but Shanahan attracted a
The by-election had a profound influence on the course of Territory
politics. Tuxworth’s elation at the CLP’s success was short-lived.
In an attempt to quell the undermining of his leadership, Tuxworth
sought to expel Graeme Lewis and federal member Paul Everingham from
the CLP. Instead, it was Tuxworth who was forced to resign as Chief
Minister, his tenure the shortest on record.
Poole held Araluen for 15 years, retiring at the NT elections of 2001,
which the CLP lost for the first time. He was replaced by Carney, a
central figure in the dumping of Loraine Braham as the CLP Member for
Braitling (Braham retained the seat as an independent).
Carney became the longest serving female politician in opposition in NT
politics, just ahead of Labor’s Maggie Hickey, who replaced Tuxworth as
the Member for Barkly.
To my recollection, Poole’s victory in 1986 was the CLP’s last
successful by-election campaign until 1999, when Terry Mills won the
seat of Blain in Palmerston.
For Labor the 1986 Araluen by-election result boosted confidence. Di
Shanahan contested Araluen 11 months later, in the NT elections of
March 1987. She again polled well but by now Poole had consolidated his
grip on the seat.
Shanahan made one more bid for office, in the Flynn by-election of
September 1988. This time she topped the poll and the CLP came last;
but distribution of the CLP’s preferences went to the NT Nationals
candidate Enzo Floreani at her expense.
The NT Nationals were led by Ian Tuxworth.
With due respect to former Labor candidates in the Alice, it is,
however, the case that Di Shanahan was the most dedicated, persistent
and accomplished of all Labor candidates to have contested an Alice
She consistently campaigned and polled well yet failed to win after
Consequently Labor has (with few exceptions) largely dismissed its
chances of winning seats in the Alice as a lost cause … and that has
not necessarily worked in our town’s favour.
pulls collectors over suspicions of duress. By KIERAN FINNANE.
A team of direct marketers, signing on donors for the charity ChildFund
Australia, were suspended by their contracting company last Friday when
allegations surfaced that they may be taking advantage of potentially
The Alice Springs News received information that “three local
Aboriginal people” had been escorted by “so called charity workers”
into the Westpac Bank on Todd Mall “trying to get the customer to
obtain bsb and bank number”.
The informant, who did not wish to have his name published but did sign
a statutory declaration affirming what he had seen, said he was
concerned that the “charity workers” may be “taking advantage of people
who probably are in need of charity assistance themselves and who can
barely speak English”.
He told the News that the “charity workers” had a desk set up in the
The News went to the shopping centre and spoke to two men at the desk,
one wearing a ChildFund t-shirt, the other not. Both wore name tags
identifying them as “authorised collectors” for a company called Appco.
The tags also bore the corporate names Phoenix Direct Pty Ltd and
There were no contact details for Appco but there was an ABN number,
which the ASIC company search site showed belongs to Appco Group
Support, which bills itself as “the largest face-to-face donor
recruitment agency in the world”.
Among the list of clients listed on its website are well-known
charities and NGOs, like UNICEF and Oxfam.
The News asked to speak to the men’s manager.
The older of the pair said they worked for themselves: “We’re all
The News told the two men about the information that we had received,
that it potentially concerned people who could not speak English very
well, and were thus vulnerable to being taken advantage of and not
being able to give informed consent.
The older man told the News that he was “pretty sure they [the other
team members] wouldn’t sign up anyone like that”, and that he “would
not mislead anyone who doesn’t know what they’re doing”.
The younger said they “don’t sign up anyone unless they’re working”.
He said he didn’t “approach any Aboriginals – they approach us, they’re
interested in what we’re doing”.
The News asked what they were signing people up for.
The older man described it as “helping out once a month” for amounts
“anywhere between $22 and $126”.
The News asked to see printed information about the activity.
The older man showed a laminated card.
In bold type it stated the financial commitment in daily amounts, with
the monthly amounts in less obvious type, starting with the highest
level of sponsorship being sought, $4.14 per day, $126 per month which
sponsors three children, going down to $1.38 per day, $42 per month,
which sponsors one child.
Throughout our conversation particularly the younger man seemed
agitated. He did not want to give the name of their contracting company
nor his own name but consented when the older man said, “she’s going to
find out anyway”.
At the conclusion of our conversation the older man said: “Whoever’s
going into the bank has to stop doing that.”
The News then called in to see the manager of Westpac Bank, Raymond
Lee, telling him what we had been told and about our conversation with
the two marketers.
Mr Lee said it was against bank practice to allow anyone to accompany a
client to the teller’s window, with the exception of welfare agency
staff if a teller was experiencing great difficulty in understanding or
communicating with a customer.
But he said he would make enquiries about the situation.
He later confirmed that one teller had given account details to two
Aboriginal customers who were in the company of the ChildFund
collectors before realising that these collectors were not welfare
At the third approach, the teller asked the ChildFund collector to
leave the bank, said Mr Lee.
He expressed his disappointment that the News would seek to publish
this information, while the regular charitable and community work done
by the bank staff – supporting for instance the service club
fundraisers, the Camel Cup and Henley-on-Todd, as well as the Salvation
Army – generally goes unacknowledged.
With the bank’s confirmation of events, the News was ready to ask
ChildFund Australia about their fundraising practices.
The News, of course, had no way of knowing who the Aboriginal people in
The News was also perfectly willing to accept that Aboriginal people
may want to give to a charity.
The concern was that the ChildFund collectors were accompanying
Aboriginal individuals into the bank – behaviour suggesting that the
collectors themselves were unsure that the particular Aboriginal person
knew what to do.
It is a concern that Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia, shared.
He told the News he was “very alarmed” about the situation we were
describing and was seeking information about it.
Not long after he informed us that the team had been suspended by their
In a written statement he said that in the conduct described there
appeared to have been several breaches of the Fundraising Institute’s
“Principles and Standards of Fundraising Practice” – “namely the
prohibition against using undue influence, the requirement regarding
potential effect on a prospective donor’s financial position, and the
requirement not to take donations from vulnerable persons”.
He said “if the breaches of practice are substantiated we expect that
the team members involved will have their employment terminated”.
He also expressed surprise about the possible breaches because of the
conditions around the contractor being paid for the sale: the donation
has to continue for at least three months before the commission is
paid, which helps prevent the sign-up of “ghosts”.
The News asked Mr Spence whether he thought it appropriate for a
charity to use direct marketing techniques for signing up donors.
In his written statement he said: “This form of ‘face to face’
fundraising practice has generally been conducted ethically and
professionally throughout Australia for many years.
“It has served ChildFund and many other major Australian charities well
and enables us to deliver education, water, health and other services
for children in developing countries.
“It is deeply regrettable that standards of practice appear to have
been broken on this occasion.”
down under. By
Vehicles with smooth, glossy, plain colours contrasted well with the
vehicles covered in more intricately and defined details when they
lined up for the NT Quarter Mile Titles at the Alice Springs Inland
Dragway on the weekend.
And it’s not just what meets the eye: you get treated to an acoustic
knee-trembler that stays with you all week.
Classes included Junior Dragsters, Street Cars and Bikes, Super Streets
and Sedans, Modified Eliminators and Bikes, Supercharged Outlaws,
Doorslammers and Top Alcohols (the ones you put in your tank), from as
far as Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and the Top End
vied for points along with our many talented locals.
Husband and wife racers Steven and Debbie Reed also attended with their
Top Alcohol cars.
Steven is a three times Top Alcohol Australian Champion and Debbie ran
second in the 2008/2009 season.
In 2009 they created a first for drag racing history as a husband and
wife facing off in the professional category final of Round 5 of the
Australian Top Alcohol Series in Perth.
Debbie took the win from Steven resulting in the couple holding the
number one and two positions in the National Championship.
Winners for the weekend included Greg Taylor in the Modified Bike
category with a time of 9.01 seconds and a speed of 142.59 miles per
Junior Dragster, Monique Stewart won with a time of 8.61 seconds at
The top Doorslammer which was run over the one-eighth mile was taken
out by Scott Maclean over 4.53 seconds at 164.59 mph.
In the Supercharged Outlaws Craig Pankhurst broke out, allowing Matt
Watts the win with an overall time of 7.48 seconds and a speed of
Debbie Reed defeated Steven Reed over the one-eighth mile in the Top
Alcohol class. Her time of 3.92 seconds and speed of 185.95 mph was way
in front of his 4.20 seconds at 180 mph.
On the actual drags strip, the Starter’s Control Zone is the blue
painted area which is located between the two race lanes and behind the
starting signal lights.
The Starter is in charge of the competitors and he remains inside this
area for the entire race meeting.
As nobody is allowed to be in front of the vehicles during their
warm-up burnouts, a safety zone area at the rear of the Starter’s
Control Zone is situated between two waist-high solid concrete walls.
The pit crew move into this area during the burnouts and after the
vehicles have formed up on the starting grid.
The highlight of the day for me personally was being given the
opportunity to stand in the Starter’s Control Zone along with several
other sponsors and VIP’s to experience the “feel” of these top alcohol
Adding to the excitement was the knowledge that the two vehicles
involved would be Steven and Debbie Reed.
Sponsors and VIPs such as Ray Henry, Dave Douglas and his partner
Chris, and about half a dozen others made their way to the area and
once everyone was assembled inside the zone, ear plugs were offered and
the two cars were guided into position.
Words can’t properly describe the intensity and noise of these two
machines as they revved up and then surged down the track.
As the two vehicles sat stationary in position and prepared to take
off, the noise itself created vibrations which engulfed my entire body
from head to toe and from inside to outside.
When I say “vibrations” it’s more like a deep rumbling type of
Perhaps if you can imagine the sound of thunder gathering up and going
through your entire body as a feeling rather than a sound, you may get
a very vague idea of what I’m trying to explain!
In addition to this, the rush of sheer adrenalin booting through my
body at the same time was the most amazing sensation.
The air was already thick with tyre smoke and as the two vehicles
revved their engines, it became even thicker with methanol fumes - my
eyes began to stream and I could almost taste the stuff.
I watched with a mixture of excitement and anticipation as the lights
turned green and they were both gone before I could blink!
Ray Henry’s comment to the crowd: “That was just awesome!!”
A big thanks to the many sponsors of the weekend including Dave Douglas
Tyre City, Tourism NT and Stuart Caravan Park.
wants a poisonous cesspit in the middle of their loungeroom?
Tell ya what Alice, I got a little business proposition for ya.
Quietly does it, readers, nice and slow.
I’m writing this in a darkened room, blinds pulled down and the air con
is flat out. I have had my restorative berrocca and a couple of litres
of water, hopefully my head won’t explode, I don’t want to have to bend
over and scrape up the bits.
Collingwood won though!
It gets better – I was invited round for a birthday BBQ after the game,
good company, great food and knackered me.
Didn’t last too long and poured myself into bed after an eventful day.
It started at the EcoFair in the morning, warm, wonderful and a
complete contrast to the wet and nasty weather the week the event was
originally scheduled for.
Well done to the festival organisers for moving the date, it made for a
much more enjoyable experience and let’s face it, it’s a bit hard to
extol the virtues of solar-powered anything when there is no sun.
Colin and I were giving the first performance of our new production,
Thonglines, near the café and we were both excited and a bit
The new songs went down well with the crowd despite a few technical
difficulties – typical, I had tested everything beforehand but a lead
still played up.
Many thanks to Matt who looked after the sound for us and all the
people involved in the fair.
Also I think the behind-the-scenes people involved in the festival
should take a bow, it went well considering the “beyond our control”
weather circumstances and it was nice to see Scott (festival organiser)
looking relaxed and having a massage after all his efforts.
It’s a nice venue, Olive Pink, and I hope to play there again.
One thing I must point out though was the very un-eco friendly snarl of
cars out the front – all up and down the roads and just chucked willy
nilly, here and there.
Parking was definitely an issue that could be addressed next time, how
exactly I don’t know – I’ll leave that to the clever people.
What defines clever? Is it natural smarts, an education, a mix of both
I’m not sure but it seems that some so called clever bastards are
trying to bully us as a town as they pull the wool over our eyes.
Who in their right mind thinks that a uranium mine in your backyard is
a good idea? No matter how you try and spin the proposition it still
stinks. Like a poisonous cesspit in the middle of your lounge
room, common sense tells you it’s not a good idea.
Then factor in the fact that we get our drinking water from underground
and common sense starts to get a bit worried, why have we even
progressed to the drilling and exploration stage – it’s a suicidally
Believe me, the people who are going to profit from this will roll out
all sorts of charts and statistics and probability equations that will
support their point of view.
They will reassure and back pat and talk about economic benefits. And
if this is not enough, they will produce flow charts and start applying
pressure on the government.
They want to get their way and they will try the carrot before the
stick but, and this is a big but, when it all goes to shit they will
say: “Sorry, we were wrong” and leave.
Leave us with a contaminated environment; leave us with no safe water.
Leave us to ponder why greed was such a good idea.
So, let’s not ask the clever people what’s best. Ask a three year old.
Give them a glass of water, get a piece of dog poo from the garden and
drop it in. Then ask them to drink it and see what kind of
reaction you get.
They’re not bloody stupid. And they’re not clever. I hope that we can
be the same.
Housing shortage drives people out of the Territory.
Sir – Recently published Treasury documents have identified a lack of
affordable housing as a key reason why more people are leaving the
Territory for interstate than migrating here from elsewhere in
In the March quarter, 375 more people left the Territory to live
interstate than moved here.
In the December quarter, 332 more people left the Territory than
The Treasury document puts this down to several factors, “the
completion of several major projects in the Territory, declining levels
of housing and rental affordability over the year and the strengthening
of the national economy”.
In other words, the high cost of buying or renting a house is forcing
people to leave the Territory.
While an overall increase has been recorded because of local births and
the arrival of new residents from overseas, net population growth is at
the lowest level since 2004.
This drain in population has contributed to the number of unfilled jobs
in the Territory climbing to 4300 in the August quarter – up from 2900
nine months ago.
When people move interstate for cheaper living and jobs are unfilled
it’s a sign the governments policy settings aren’t right.
Labor has failed dismally to release enough land to meet the growing
As a result, the median house price is $530,000 and the average rent on
a three-bedroom house is $571 a week – the highest in the country.
U consultation OK
Sir – Your latest front page headline which screams “Uranium What
consultation?” (Alice Springs News 30/09/10) brings into sharp focus
the most pressing issue facing this town in regards to our progress as
Your article is just a whinge on behalf of those bodies who indeed have
been consulted over this uranium business for some years now.
What about the people of Alice Springs who have never been genuinely
We the people were never asked and that is the prime reason why the
community of Alice Springs does not support Cameco’s nuclear agenda.
The whole dirty exercise has split families and friendships and
alienated many good neighbours.
Miraculously, the Henderson government has done the mother of all
backflips and listened to the people.
Those of you who think you have some power i.e. town council, business
and tourism organisations must learn a lesson from this very democratic
You can do nothing sustainable except go round and round the same old
circles without the people on side.
Go the Luddites
G’day Erwin – Penny Whiley, the philosophy teacher who has recently
embraced new technology for distance teaching (Alice News 30/9/10)
should be proud to call herself a Luddite.
This much-maligned group of English social activists were mostly
spinners and weavers working from home.
Where they were able to afford to buy and use new machinery in their
own workshops they were happy to do so, and take advantage of their
The concern which led to the much publicised and misunderstood smashing
of the new machines, was who controlled the technology and how it was
used, rather than its invention.
They were hunted down by the military and lost the argument, some taken
captive and others forced into factories under miserable conditions as
wage-slaves. Since many were transported to Australia as convicts we
should recognise them, together with others like the Tolpuddle Martyrs
who were transported for forming a trade union, as working class
heroes, and one of the reasons why the “Fair Go” is part of our
Penny Whiley’s action in embracing new technology and taking control of
it for the social good is in the spirit of Luddism, we should certainly
not allow the term “Luddite” to be misused as a put down.
All in a name
Sir – In reference to the article dated September 30 regarding the
“Three Old Ladies in Chewings Street”: I would like to point out that
the Gorey’s Arcade mention was named after Linda & Allan (Ginty)
Gorey not after Natalie Gorey.
A Kindergarten was built in honour of Natalie Gorey.
Green good business
Sir – Alice Springs businesses looking to become greener can now apply
for funding of up to $30,000 to install a solar photovoltaic (PV)
system on their roof.
Alice Solar City is offering an incentive to a maximum of five
businesses only, as part of its 2010-2011 Commercial Services Program.
Few things say ‘Green’ to customers as clearly as having panels on your
roof, and with rising energy prices, an investment in solar power will
only improve in value over time.
We are looking for PV projects from 5kW to 10kW and above in size,
preferably spread across a range of business sectors.”
Since Alice Springs became a Solar City, the number of businesses
running on solar has gone from zero to 24, which is a fantastic
The most recent business to install solar, Alice Lodge Backpackers, was
also the first to take advantage of the Bulk Purchase Scheme.
Manager P J Bedford says: “Our 1.7kW system will save us around $600
per annum, and reduce our carbon footprint by almost two tonnes of
greenhouse gases per annum.
“As a bonus, the system will pay for itself in under 4 years!”
Businesses who wish to take advantage of the $30,000 funding offer for
PV systems over 5kW will need to become registered with Alice Solar
City and demonstrate a commitment to the premises where the system is
to be installed.
Alice Solar City
Sir – “Town planning activists say they are banding together so the
future of Alice Springs isn’t left in the hands of business and real
People who can’t telling people that can what to do?
One of the Dotsons
(banned and banished from England)
Las Vegas, USA.