ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
November 18, 2010. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
To our home page.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
“Why did he shoot me?”
That’s what the victim of the May 29 Junction Waterhole shooting kept
asking, as he lay wounded on the ground – bleeding, pale, clammy, in
excruciating pain – and later as he waited for surgery in hospital.
The Alice Springs Magistrates Court heard this account by the victim’s
partner, given the day after the shooting in a video “walk-through” at
the crime scene.
The victim, Paul Wallace, also gave evidence.
He struggled to remember “with 100% certainty” much about what happened
during and after the altercation and shooting and has not been able to
identify his assailant(s).
The shotgun wound shattered his left shoulder, which has had to be
reconstructed, and “blew away” a significant part of his underarm. He
wears an apparatus on his lower left arm and hand without which he
cannot pick things up.
He also sustained a broken pelvis, and the tendon was torn off the
inside of a knee.
He is now employed as a teacher / mentor of plant operation, as his
injuries mean he can no longer work as a mechanic.
“I can’t walk too much”, he told the court.
Only one man, Reuben Nadich, is now accused of the attempted murder of
His committal hearing was continuing as the Alice News went to press.
Till Monday Benjamin Gaff was also facing the charge, but it and two
other related charges have been withdrawn by the prosecution.
It was expected that Mr Gaff would give evidence during Mr Nadich’s
committal but as it got underway on Tuesday, Mr Gaff’s family was told
that the prosecution would not be calling Mr Gaff as a witness,
although possibly the defence would.
On Monday, the Magistrates Court heard the committal of separate
charges against Mr Gaff and Jason Corp, concerning an alleged
aggravated robbery and cause of serious harm that took place at Tony’s
Auto-wreckers on the same night as the shooting.
Victim Jarrod Sellars told the court a king hit by Mr Gaff had broken
He said Mr Gaff also struck him with a shovel on the leg, and held the
shovel blade on his throat, applying pressure (Mr Gaff denies the
As well he said Mr Gaff kicked him in the head with steel-capped boots.
He told the court he thought he was going to die that night.
He said Mr Corp had elbowed him, stopped him from jumping over a fence
to get away, and had tried to choke him.
The court heard that Mr Nadich was present during some of the incident.
Mr Sellars said Mr Corp asked him about money and Mr Gaff told him to
“empty his pockets”.
Mr Sellars took money out of his wallet, $75, “all I had”, and said Mr
Corp took that money from him.
The court heard that Mr Sellars had had to go to Darwin for facial
reconstruction as a result of his injuries, which included a fractured
eye socket and loss of a tooth.
Both accused said they had been drinking heavily.
Mr Gaff said they had been drinking themselves “stupid”.
Mr Corp said he had drunk a carton of beer and three-quarters of a
bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon, though it seemed he had shared this
quantity with at least one other person.
Magistrate John Neill was satisfied that the matter should go to trial
before a jury and ordered Mr Gaff and Mr Corp to be arraigned in the
Supreme Court on January 31, 2011. Both men are expected to apply
for bail in the coming weeks.
Outback way OK.
The Mount Isa Chamber of Commerce is giving its qualified endorsement
to the Outback Way, the proposed east-west highway linking Brisbane
with Perth via The Centre.
Chamber president Brett Peterson says on the one hand, the road will
bypass Mount Isa by about 300 kilometers, taking the shortest route,
and it’s not clear what effect that will have on the town.
On the other hand, Mount Isa has carved out for itself an image as the
gateway to the outback, and it is Queensland’s largest regional city.
As such it’s likely to benefit from a greater visitation to western
Queensland which the Outback Way would generate.
Mr Peterson says the mining tax, as proposed by former Prime Minister
Kevin Rudd, sent shudders through the town with some mines rumored to
be going to a care and maintenance mode with massive job losses.
“We must push tourism,” says Mr Peterson.
The Chamber is forming a task force focussing on tourism, destination
marketing, industry development and training.
neglected as weeds take it over. By
An “expansion” of the noxious weed Mexican Poppy has led to a new low
point for Alice Springs’ iconic Todd River.
The blighted waterway and some of its banks are now overgrown not only
with buffel and couch grasses, but also with the nasty weed from
There is no-one doing anything about it, except in the immediate town
area, and even here the weed is present.
With every flow of the river Mexican Poppy is being spread towards the
The sand mined from the Todd is transported to depots around town and
to bush communities for use in concrete and bitumen, and outbreaks have
been reported from several locations.
Environmentalist Alex Nelson has photographed the weed growing in piles
of sand stored on industrial blocks in the town.
Regional Weeds Officer Chris Brown, with just one other staff, is
responsible for controlling noxious weeds in 580,000 square kilometres
of Central Australia.
Parks and Wildlife rangers also do some weed controlling, says Mr
Brown, and so do the Tjuwanpa Rangers in the Hermannsburg area.
The town council and NT Government weed inspectors are fighting
outbreaks north of the John Blakeman bridge (which is linking the
Stuart Highway with the Ross River Highway) but there are no controls
in the Todd south of that bridge.
“Infestations in that area are now heavily entrenched,” says Mr Brown.
“Efforts focus on prevention of spread and reports of incursions into
He says small amounts of Mexican Poppy, toxic to stock and humans,
according to Weeds Australia, have been in the Todd for some 20 years,
but after the recent heavy rains the river has become “heavily
infested” and the weed has taken root in several river systems in
“It’s really bad. Control in many of these areas is now no longer
viable, due to the high cost of control and ongoing maintenance.
“Mexican Poppy is now on some river banks as well, and spreading,” says
The outbreak is especially virulent where sand is being mined in the
Todd not far from the airport.
On the western side of the river there are several square kilometres of
densely growing Mexican Poppy, around one to one and a half metres
The sand miners are required to skim off and not use the top layer of
sand, and to cover their load on the trucks.
However, the intense infestation where the sand is transported from the
mine raises questions about the adequacy of these precautions.
There has been ample warning that a catastrophic outbreak would occur.
The Alice Springs News headlined its lead story on October 22, 1997
“Mexican Poppy, a noxious weed, threatens The Centre’s dry rivers”.
The report said: “Authorities failed to act on a report to the Parks
and Wildlife Service eight years ago about an infestation of the Todd
by Mexican Poppy, a weed now choking up the Todd and several other
river systems in Central Australia.
“The report to the service – then called the Conservation Commission –
was made by a former noxious weed inspector, Des Nelson, after
discovering an outbreak on November 11, 1988.
“Mr Nelson says he was told no action could be taken because Mexican
Poppy had not been declared a noxious weed in the Territory.
“Meanwhile Murray Fuller, the weeds officer with the Department of
Primary Industries and Fisheries in Alice Springs, says he expects the
poisonous thistle will infest all the sandy creekbeds of Central
Australia within five years, if the present rate of expansion isn’t
In the NT the Poppy was in the early 1990s declared a Class B/C weed
(“growth and spread to be controlled” and “not to be introduced to the
It is not a Class A weed (“to be eradicated”).
Mr Brown says Mexican Poppy seed is viable for seven years.
The only way to fight it is to destroy the plants before they set seed
– and do that every year for seven years.
He says it’s a mammoth task, well beyond his resources.
Mr Brown says earlier in the year there has been some interest to help
from the prison, currently holding around 500 people, but nothing has
come of that so far.
“We’re happy to help land care groups which want to play a part in
controlling Mexican Poppy,” says Mr Brown.
Mr Brown says the meagre resources at his disposal mean he needs to
focus on tasks likely to “make a difference” – for example, the
infestation by Athel Pine along 600 kms of the Finke River where 420
kms are now at a “manageable maintenance level,” he says.
But so far as Mexican Poppy is concerned, the horse has bolted.
issues in leaders forum.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
"If we're talking about Alice Springs as a whole community, we
all have to have the same laws."
Mayor Damien Ryan was responding to a question from the floor at last
week's leadership forum organised by Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA),
asking, "for Alice Springs to move forward", should we have one set of
laws for everybody or do we need different laws for some.
MC, ABC journalist Stuart Brash, jumped in: in the "prescribed areas"
(under the Federal Intervention) there are different laws.
"I don't agree with it," responded Mayor Ryan.
"The Intervention was designed by someone who doesn't live here.
"If you're going to change the law you need to talk to the people
you're going to affect."
Income management is now being rolled out for everybody, said Mr Brash.
Everybody in the Territory, qualified Mr Ryan – "We're a social
experiment for the rest of Australia."
He got strong support from the panel on this issue: the three
participants in the DKA desert leadership program – Donna Lemmon, Fionn
Muster and Lyndon Frearson – were all troubled by the race-based
provisions of the Intervention.
Mr Frearson particularly talked about the difficulty he had in sitting
at the same table with other participants in the program who are
residents of the town camps, knowing that when it comes to buying
alcohol to consume in their own homes, different laws apply.
(This is on its way to being changed – see Alice News, "Camps grog ban
to go", September 2.)
Only panel member Bess Price took a different tack.
The outspoken Warlpiri woman and her husband Dave Price have
consistently put on the record their support of the Intervention, in
the face of the overwhelming problems of, particularly, alcohol-fueled
violence in Aboriginal communities.
In the forum Mrs Price said that if there's going to be one law for
everybody, then the town camps have to become part of Alice Springs.
"Make them a part of normal life, then we won't have rampant alcoholism
amongst our people," she said.
While it was not raised in the forum, the Town Council's contribution
to entrenched separation of the town camps from the rest of the town,
through its Memorandum of Understanding with Tangentyere Council on the
delivery of municipal-type services, signed in 2000, is only now being
It took the Intervention and its architect Mal Brough to get this ball
Mrs Price continued: "I would like to have one law for everybody. But
then someone will say, 'It's got to be culturally appropriate'. Where
do you go?"
Mr Brash raised the push from some quarters for greater recognition of
Mr Frearson commented on the damage done by the breakdown of
traditional structures in Aboriginal communities but pointed to the
thorny issue of Aboriginal customary law recognition setting a
precedent for other groups in the community, whose customary laws
could, for example, turn back the clock significantly on the rights of
women and girls to equal opportunities.
Elsewhere Mr Frearson pointed out that it's no longer adequate to talk
about Alice Springs as a bi-cultural town, with such a conversation not
taking into account our rapidly diversifying multi-cultural
How to deal with the "problems of youth" was another issue raised from
Donna Lemmon, an Aboriginal woman, had previously talked about the
change in the town over her lifetime of 33 years, commenting on the
"disheartening" experience of washing being stolen from clotheslines,
cars being damaged in they're parked in the street.
Now she spoke about being brought up "the hard way".
"I used to get a big hiding if I did the wrong thing."
She sees a generation gap between her own and the current generation
and said "our kids lack respect".
She commended programs like Clontarf Football Academy and Girls in the
Centre but asked what should happen with the young people "falling
through the gaps".
They "need a big hiding", she said, "they need discipline", adding that
the "rights of parents have been taken away".
In another context she might have been greeted with a round of applause
for these statements, but here you could sense a collective gasp.
Mr Ryan expressed his disappointment in government not "picking up" the
youth issue, commenting on the numerous youth service providers in the
town but the apparent lack of a coordinated plan.
Mrs Price called on Lhere Artepe to take a more active role in
establishing the ground rules for behaviour, while Mr Ryan also said
parents should not be "let off" their responsibilities.
The young woman who had asked the question is also a participant in the
leadership program, Skye Thompson.
She spoke of growing up in the town when there were things like the
Blue Light discos for young people. Now there's nothing, she said,
expressing worry that her 13 year old daughter will get into "a rut" if
she stays here, but sadness that the young girl doesn't even want to
stay – she wants to go to boarding school.
Another question asked whether people rely too much on governments to
Mrs Price commented on people in remote communities having always had
government doing everything for them and having lost the ability to
"take control and do things for themselves".
Asked how young people in communities could be encouraged to take on a
leadership role, Mrs Price talked about the importance of reflecting on
"where we've come from".
"We haven't been able to look at ourselves in the mirror to question
ourselves," she said.
She spoke of the need for secondary education in the bush, and for
exposing young people to the world outside – "they haven't got a clue"
and they come into town and "lose their way".
The forum also took questions submitted online, including one about
whether the panel supported the recognition of Indigenous people in the
Ms Lemmon saw worth in it as an expression of the equality of
Indigenous people with other Australians.
Mrs Price said that it wouldn't make any difference to her people and
wondered about the point of making a big fuss about it.
Ms Muster was in sympathy with Mrs Price, supporting recognition in
principle, but asking what change it would bring about.
Mr Ryan wondered whether it would be like the former Prime Minister's
apology to the stolen generations – "Not a lot came of it".
Mr Frearson said it would be important as an acknowledgment of the
"weight of history behind the First Australians" but wondered whether
it would imply that the rest of the constitution is a white middle
Abbott offer a job to Abbott? By
Former Country Liberal Party (CL) candidate Leo Abbott would not
confirm nor deny that he was offered a government job, if the Liberals
won, on condition that he withdrew from the candidacy.
Mr Abbott was standing in Lingiari in this year’s Federal election
amidst a bitter party dispute over allegations against him of domestic
Despite a boycott from members of his own party, Mr Abbott made
significant inroads into the votes of long-term sitting member, Warren
Snowdon, in the formerly safe Labor seat.
Reports of the job offer come from well informed sources.
The offer is alleged to have been made by NT Opposition Leader Terry
Mills and his Federal counterpart, Tony Abbott (no relation to the
candidate). Tony Abbott’s office said the story “is totally incorrect”.
A spokesman for Mr Mills said he “won’t be feeding the rumour mill on
lodgings: rains delay completion. By
“Heavy rain over the last few months” has delayed the completion of the
temporary accommodation for Aboriginal people from October to December,
according to the Department of the Chief Minister.
The Apmere Mwerre Visitor Park on Len Kittle Drive will be managed by
Aboriginal Hostels Limited (AHL), employ 22 and accommodate 150.
It will be alcohol and drug free and allow stays of up to 14 nights,
and “in some instances” up to three months.
It will be staffed seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Fees will be, per
person per night: Camping $5 (children free); tent $7 ($2); cabin $14
($3) and self contained cabin $20 ($4).
“The facility will have a secure fence, controlled access through a
managed entrance and enforced rules and policies,” says the department.
“It will also be declared a private prescribed area which means no
alcohol can be taken on the premises.”
There will be dining facilities where visitors can purchase meals and
kitchen facilities in the self contained cabins and barbeque areas
where visitors can cook their own meals.
The Town Council “has been in negotiation with Power and Water to find
a suitable resolution” about the re-instatement of the road seal in Len
Kittle Drive (pictured), which runs along the show grounds, and on bike
paths along Bradshaw and Lovegrove Drives.
The traffic ways were dug up to install the new 66kv power supply to
the Lovegrove substation.
PWC has made an offer but the council, at Monday’s meeting, decided to
require a five year warranty and “the road be reinstated to current
Australian standards,” says CEO Rex Mooney.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Each new Cat’s Meow cabaret has its strength: this year, with
Soultrain, hats off have to particularly go to the music, both
composition and performance.
In keeping with the eclectic flavour of the whole event, the score drew
on many traditions and was impressive for its sheer diversity as well
as the flair of the band’s renditions.
Maestro Neill Duncan, band leader Stephanie Harrison and musicians,
take a bow.
The beautiful singing voice of Mei Lai Swan put its stamp on the show
from the start and a nostalgic shanty from Jordan VanderSchuit let us
down gently at the end, following the high-spirited grand finale,
featuring most of the cast.
Dance highlights came from the classically trained Hayley Michener as
the Centaur, and the Mirror Girls – Miriam Bond, Gabrielle Miller,
Kissilyn Labis, Emma Hurley and Francesca Jaiyeola – whose injection of
sexiness was matched by the strip dancers Christian O’Connor, Roman
Micairan and Swan.
Hip hop brothers, Jacob, Samuel and Aaron Crowe, delivered a fresh zing
of energy in the final scene. I only regret that we did not see
more from this trio.
For me the highpoint, as a piece of whole theatre, came with the aerial
sequence, Merbirds, led by Katelnd Griffin. It had everything – the
music was exquisite, it was charged with meaning and emotion, the
performance by all the aerialists and in particular Matt Leyland was
spectacular, and the prop-making and lighting were in perfect
‘Prop’ is probably not the right term for the puppet that looked like a
jellyfish and represented the plastic garbage clogging up the oceans.
Lit from within and appearing, with the aid of puppeteer Adeline Peyer,
to float effortlessly, it was beautifully ominous.
Leyland reaching for it from his apparatus expressed wonderfully the
struggle, frustration and failure to come to grips with its threatening
Environmental crisis, indeed doom, and the complacency of the rich
West, embodied by the characters Flora May (Swan) and Narci (Tammy
Brennan / Jack Batty), was the themic thread linking the 15 separate
Building on the theme, the countdown of the last 24 hours of life on
earth provided a greater coherence to the scenes of the second half.
Scripting, particularly of monologues, needed to be tighter. When
you’re working with stereotypes and archetypes, there’s no need for
elaboration. Once the characters are identified the focus in a cabaret
needs to move quickly to song and dance.
A protracted monologue (also difficult to hear) gave a lagging energy
to the opening scene which, combined with a very basic set design,
meant a less than magical entree for the whole, despite Swan’s lovely
And somehow a better balance between narrative thread and the
individuality of each scene needs to be struck – people could be
forgiven for feeling confused as one scene gave way to another going in
an utterly different direction.
Overall, however, the Cat’s Meow crew delivered another wonderful
night’s entertainment, full of colour, whimsy and wit – all power to
Growing a garden together ‘just a normal
thing of life’.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
The idea of turning a patch of “baking hot sand and prickles” into
productive and beautiful land is what brought the Stitfold family out
to Sunday’s launch of the Alice Springs Community Garden.
The garden would also be “a space to nurture something outisde of the
home”, said Mike Stitfold. Katja Lamb has a productive garden at home
but wants her kids to have “a sense that growing things is a normal
part of life”, shared with the wider community.
Carl Barrow was at the launch, curious to see what’s planned. He lives
on the western side of town and doesn’t know if he would be very
involved in this garden, which is on Eastside, in the Frances Smith
But he gardens at home: “It’s an important way to support the
An interest in healthy food and growing your own is what drew a group
of friends there, three of whom work as dieticians.
Jessica Abbott is also on maternity leave and was looking forward to an
opportunity for community involvement.
Grace Coleman commented that some children don’t understand where fruit
and vegetables come from, seeing them only as shop produce.
Local resident Wendy Mann likes to garden but doesn’t always have a lot
of success so she’s keen to learn what works and why.
The Town Council leased the site to the Arid Lands Environment Centre.
A conceptual site plan has been developed by landscape architect Jen
Clarsen. On Sunday she stressed that ALEC, through its community garden
steering committee, is looking for people’s input to the plan.
She pointed out the way water flows naturally across the site and the
importance of earthworks to capture that flow and allow it to
The soil is hard and alluvial and needs intensive reworking to become
productive, she said.
The Power and Water Corporation is donating water for irrigation free
of charge to the project.
Immediate plantings will be large acacias to encourage the production
on site of mulch.
But before that the site needs to be fenced and fundraising to help pay
for that began on Sunday with a raffle.
The steering committee has put out a prioritised wish list and will be
happy to receive donations (cash donations are tax deductible).
Ultimately the garden will comprise both individual and community group
plots, leased to applicants through a transparent process at a square
IAD an institute for Arrernte only? By KIERAN FINNANE.
A Council of Elders, to be elected tomorrow at the Institute of
Aboriginal Development’s AGM, will be asked to decide on whether IAD
will become an Arrernte organisation or retain its broader vision as an
organisation for all Aboriginal people of Central Australia.
The management committee has determined that IAD will refocus on
language and culture, as in its heyday in the 1970s, but at last week’s
launch of its new plans there were divided views over whether that
focus should be exclusively on the “Arrernte Nations”.
These are the Akarre, Anmatyarr, Alyawarr, as well as Central, Eastern,
Lower, Southern and Western Arrernte.
While chair of the committee Jody Kopp pushed quite strongly for an
exclusive focus on Arrernte, at least initially, prominent elder
Margaret Kemarre Turner repeatedly and with feeling called for a more
Her diagram of cultural learning, developed with her grandson David,
and published in her book “Iwenhe Tyerrtye – What it means to be an
Aboriginal person” has been put forward by IAD as its curriculum
It was described by CEO Janice Harris as a creation of “genius” for the
way in which it expresses an Aboriginal world view, and of how
knowledge of that view is acquired, that has clear parallels with
curriculum requirements in mainstream education.
The views of Mrs Turner could thus be expected to hold a fair bit of
Her position was strongly supported by Warlpiri elder Rex Japanangka
Granites who urged those present to “work together as Yapa people”.
If they did not they would become “nowhere to be seen but outer space”.
Mr Granites said the town is a base for many people and races.
He pointed to widespread intermarriage and the children whose heritage
comes from two language groups: “You can’t chop them up.”
Elder Maureen Trindle, who spent 10 years as a home liaison officer
with the Department of Education, argued that whatever is decided, it
is essential “to get the people here”.
She said the “most important thing” she saw while working for the
department was “the deterioration of Aboriginal people and culture”.
“Everyone says our kids are uncontrollable, their mothers and fathers
“If that’s the case then bring those kids here.
“If we’re genuine we have to make it our business to learn and relearn,
otherwise it’s not going to work.”
Jody Kopp said language and culture have to underpin education and
People can’t participate in learning unless they’re “personally well”.
A sound knowledge of language and culture is essential to health,
self-esteem, self-confidence and well-being: without it “our elders
feel powerless”, “our young people are disconnected and lost”.
She said it was not financially possible to service all language groups
– “we don’t have the staff and resources” – and argued the case for
Like Mrs Turner, her “Nanna”, she too believes it’s important to be
inclusive but “we need to get Arrernte right first before we can help
the other language groups”.
Ms Harris said the IAD membership would not be daunted by the
difficulty of the decision: the Council of Elders would show them the
She spoke about the restructure of the organisation around four
departments: language, performing arts (particularly designed to engage
youth), press (the publishing arm, a “mainstay”), and corporate
There were cheers and “deadlies” from young people to the announcement
about the performing arts department.
She said IAD would be approaching “Aboriginal business” to fund these
initiatives, mentioning in particular Lhere Artepe and Centercorp.
“We’ll become culturally strong through Aboriginal money.
“We feel strongly about that,” said Ms Harris.
People were also asked to express their views on a possible name
The current name had seen the organisation through 40 years of “hell”
and “glory” but should it change now?
Tomorrow’s meeting will tell.
IAD wants to shed its image as disorganised and crisis-ridden.
Its annual report for 2009-10 outlines the way it has gone about a
It has incorporated as an Aboriginal corporation and adopted a new
An external independent recruitment panel recommended the appointment
of former committee chair Janice Harris as CEO, starting January this
She and the management committee took on board the recommendations of a
review conducted by Ernst and Young.
They implemented major staff cuts – from 25 to 12 – and brought the
budget back into the black.
Earning before Interest and Depreciation (EBID) has gone from a net
loss of more than $.5m in 2007-08 to a gain of $76,379 in 2009-10,
according to the annual report.
Better management of its buildings and other property has helped.
Offices, training and meeting rooms were made available for hire.
Plans to renovate and lease a residential and office block are
An MOU with Frontier Services made the canteen available for the
preparation of food for Aboriginal school children in town, which
allows IAD students in the Food Safety Program access to a supervised
Prangs packed a long night with top action.
By CHRIS WALSH.
Casualties turned the Territory Metals NT Sidecar Title into quite a
long night but the crowd didn’t mind being entertained with plenty of
Locals Garth Thompson and Phil Anderson took out the number one title.
Chris Dess and Samantha Fidler came fourth overall with two top end
combinations taking second and third.
Once again, Steve Anderson did a fantastic job on the track, only for
the official practise to be rained out on Friday evening.
While the rain was pelting down, a quick committee meeting was called
and it was decided that if the weather improved, scrutineering would be
held mid-afternoon on Saturday, followed by a shorter practise time
This made for a nervous wait to see what would develop overnight but
the Gods must have been smiling down upon their three-wheeled warriors
and although humid, Saturday’s weather dried out.
The track was ideal and as the night wore on, it held up and became
better and better.
State titles for both sidecars and solos are only open to competitors
from within the state they’re being held in and usually have a maximum
of 16 contenders over 16 heats.
This allows every competitor to meet each other once and to start from
every grid position available.
Each state and territory’s third place getter becomes a reserve for the
number one and two place winners who will all meet at the Australian
This makes it very difficult to produce a draw for an odd number
without having back-to-back racing all through the program.
Currently there is a total of 13 sidecars within the NT, so they ran
over 13 heats with every heat being a back-to-back for someone before
contending in two semi-finals and the final race.
To allow time for refuelling and any other mechanical problems, Formula
500’s and Wingless Sprintcars along with Stockbikes, Quads and Division
1 Peewees from the Alice Springs Motorcycle Club raced between every
All of the sidecar competitors took part in the grand parade at the
beginning of the night, completing two laps before stopping on the
western side of the track.
The line-up was then introduced by Matt Henderson and presented with
their medallions by Chris Walsh.
There is definitely dedication to the sport with people coming into
town just for this event.
Darwin’s Joe White drove to Alice for the weekend and his passenger
Andrew Beattie now living in Tasmania, flew in on Saturday morning,
raced the night and flew home again on Sunday.
Shayne O’Connell also drove down from Darwin with his wife and small
His passenger Todd Wyatt flew in from Roxby Downs on Friday before
returning on Monday and Melody Carragher flew in from Queensland for
the weekend to swing for Cameron Miller.
This created another page in the book of Arunga Park‘s history with the
entire Carragher family racing against each other for the first time.
The combination of Brian and Janelle racing against their son Arlen and
his passenger Matt Sexton, and their daughter Melody alongside Cameron
made for a very special family reunion.
As an added bonus, Janelle’s brother Brad flew in from Port Headland to
assist in the pits for the night. He and his wife Sharon arrived
unannounced as a welcome surprise for the family.
This is the first race season for nearly all of our local sidecar
competitors and they’re all good mates, so there was plenty of the
usual jocular-type bantering, although this time it was mixed with a
raw and nervous excitement.
On the track, life became serious and everyone was out to try and win –
and try, they did, as right from the very beginning, the night was
On the start line in heat one, Marcus Seidel and Kyle Laverty broke the
tapes and were excluded, leaving three on the grid.
As the tapes went up for the second time, Kevin and Matthew Wooding
plunged forward with a wheel-stand as the two other bikes shot off the
Wooding was also excluded, leaving only two on the grid. Garth Thompson
/ Phil Anderson took first place and were closely followed by Steve
Heat two was almost a repeat performance, with Kris Laverty pulling a
massive wheel-stand off the start line, dumping his passenger Dave
Pirie just after the start and completing a lap without him.
They were excluded and the race was taken out by Garth Thompson / Phil
Anderson and the combination of Brian and Niara Metcalfe.
From here-on, the night’s action continued with plenty of thrills and
spills for all.
Cameron Miller and Melody Carragher’s race night was short-lived when
their bike came to a stop a few metres short of the chequered flag.
The crowd began yelling for them to push the bike across the line,
which once they did, gave them third place and their only point for the
It was discovered after the bike was pushed back into the pits that the
frame had split in half.
Brian and Janelle Carragher were unable to start in two of their heats
and unable to finish their 4th due to their fuel tank splitting and
losing fuel, however they had a great win against their son Arlen,
leaving them with three points for the night.
The team of Marcus Seidel and Kyle Laverty had a disappointing night
due to exclusion for breaking the tapes in the first heat, followed by
two unfinished heats and a third place.
Dave Totani and his passenger Darran Hyman came second in each of their
last three heats, giving them enough points to go into the first
There were a couple more exclusions during the night for various
reasons and for added fun, a couple of light hearted moments as well.
One such moment was when Brian Metcalfe pulled onto the infield and
unknowingly dumped his wife Niara in the mud, before taking off again.
There’s some great video footage of Niara frantically waving her arms
and Brian innocently riding off!
Another example was when Arlen Carragher pulled infield and bogged his
bike in the mud.
Competitors holding tenth to seventh place in the points were put into
the first semi-final as follows: Brian and Janelle Carragher on pole,
Dave Totani / Darren Hyman out of 2, Kris Laverty / Dave Pirie out of 3
and Kevin and Matthew Wooding out of 4.
The first semi was won by Totani / Hyman, followed by Laverty / Pirie
and Wooding / Wooding.
The second semi-final consisted of the 6th, 5th and 4th points holders
from the heats along with the winner from the first semi.
Across the grid was Arlen Carragher / Matt Sexton on pole, Dave Totani
/ Darran Hyman out of 2, Steve Sanders / Scott Doody out of 3 and Joe
White / Andrew Beattie out of 4.
This proved to be a good close race with contenders all bunched
together for much of the time.
The combination of White / Beattie came over the line first for a place
in the main final, followed by Sanders / Doody and Totani / Hyman. The
local combination of Garth Thompson and Phil Anderson were on maximum
points for the night, which allowed them to by-pass the semi’s and pick
their preferred grid position for the final race.
They chose to come off the grid from position 3, with Shayne O’Connell
/ Todd Wyatt choosing the pole line, Chris Dess/Sam Fidler choosing
position 2 and Joe White / Andrew Beattie out of 4.
As the tapes went up, Dess/Fidler had a great start, closely followed
by Thompson/Anderson and White / Beattie.
The O’Connell / Wyatt combination got off to a bad start in the soft
dirt on the pole line and had to play catch up.
Dess and Fidler were still in the lead as they came out of the second
corner when mayhem struck and they blew a rear tyre.
As they fought for control of the bike, Garth Thompson and Phil
Anderson passed them on the outside with Joe White and Andrew Beattie
coming up from behind on their inside.
As the tyre peeled, the bike pitched and connected with the left hand
side of the White / Beattie bike and their race was over.
Unfortunately, Samantha Fidler had her foot crushed between the two
machines as they connected and Andrew Beattie was thrown off the bike,
landing on the infield.
St John personnel were kept busy throughout the night with a number of
minor incidents and a couple of major ones.
The first calamity for the night happened as Greg Allen pulled his
Formula 500 into the pits after a race and everyone started yelling
“fire in the pits”.
The car came to a stop and fire extinguishers came from all directions,
as he tried to undo his safety harness and get out of the vehicle.
As it turned out, radiator coolant was spraying over him and he
received burns to his leg and hands.
He was transferred to hospital and also ended up with stitches in his
Another catastrophe occurred when Luke McDonald’s quad was tapped from
behind and hit the wall coming out of turn two.
This resulted in him being injured and transferred to hospital as
Later in the night Samantha Fidler and Chris Dess were also transferred
to hospital after their accident in the final.
Although there were a number of injuries, none of them are life
threatening and all of the competitors are recovering well with the
attitude of “S…t happens and that’s racing”!
LETTERS: Big Gigs give all a chance.
Sir – I write in response to the article “Fine tuning the big gigs”
(Alice News, Nov 11) particularly in response to the comment that tour
operators are “missing out” when big events are held in the town
because accommodation houses are booked out and they can’t get “their”
clients into them.
As CEO of the National Road Transport Hall of Fame and event manager
for our annual truckies reunion I would just like to remind everyone
that, as the catch cry goes, tourism is everybody’s business and we all
deserve a bite at the cherry.
I could equally say that I am disappointed that many of the tour
operators don’t bring their clientele to visit my museums when their
coaches are full and my museums empty.
People come to events such as our reunion, the Finke Desert Race, the
Masters Games and the Beanie Festival etc because that is their
particular area of interest.
I personally think Alice Springs has a bright future as an events
There is no denying we do our events extremely well and we are
fortunate to have a vibrant visitor orientated township in which to
host them coupled with a great team of dedicated community minded
businesses and volunteers who get behind each of these fabulous events
From our perspective, my organisation markets almost exclusively to the
There is a considerable amount of time, money and effort that goes into
bringing 8000 people to this town and I make no apology for wanting
them absorbed in our activities, functions and events while they are
As a self funded community based museum, that gets NO government or
council funding, events such as our reunion are vital to our continued
financial viability and growth, and ultimately, the economic and social
contribution we make to our town.
Having said that, we always impress on our participants that Central
Australia is a magnificent and unique destination and recommend that
they stay for at least a few days before or after our event.
However, we also emphasize the need for them to think well ahead and
book early whether it’s for flights, accommodation, hire cars or
We do this partly because we don’t want them to miss out when they get
here, partly because of the poor logistics of trying to arrange
everything at the last minute and partly to allow time for various
stakeholders to bring things like extra catering equipment, hire cars,
coaches and even personnel to town to cope in high demand periods.
I couldn’t get enough staff in town. I had to fly them in from
In preparing for our event, I called for expressions of interest from
caterers, tour operators and business houses who wanted to be involved
in our reunion at least three times in the twelve months prior to the
On each occasion I had a pretty poor response but for those that did
respond information about their product went out in our newsletter to
participants and they booked well ahead of arriving in Alice Springs.
We believe in spreading the love!
And we spread it all over Central Australia, and indeed Australia.
The Old Timers Museum in Coober Pedy took an extra $8000 in entry fees
that week alone.
Bojangles told me they had the best week ever on record.
One roadhouse sold an extra $50,000 worth of fuel and a local butchers
shop stayed open for a 24 hour period just so they could keep up with
our demand for steak.
We kept at least one chiropractor busy fixing the bad backs of old
truckies hell bent on reliving their youth and we even got a serve from
a local shopper because we bought every potato and onion in town.
The list goes on and on.
Tourism is indeed everybody’s business irrespective of what business
you are in and the fact of the matter is we simply can’t all win all
It’s all about seizing an opportunity when it’s under your nose.
Transport is the biggest industry in Australia and the trucking
fraternity is relatively affluent when compared to other industry
Generally they are not afraid to spend big on their recreation and
We are indeed fortunate that they have taken to heart Alice Springs and
the National Road Transport Hall of Fame as the home for their
Likewise with devotees to the many other unique events we host in the
That does not come by accident. It comes from smart planning and hard
work and the people who give their heart and soul to bringing them to
fruition delivering economic benefits for the whole of the community
not just the tourism sector.
Since our reunion Kenworth have committed to doubling the size of their
museum by 2015 and we have had initial negotiations, at their
instigation, with another major truck manufacturer about building
another comparable million dollar museum on site.
Its all onwards and upwards from here and the winner is the Alice
Springs community collectively and completely.
Sure, I agree that there are things that we, as a town, can do better
when we host these big events and I have had first-hand experience with
many of them including a few disappointments along the way. I am happy
to share them and my ideas for solutions with anybody who is
In the meantime my advice to people who feel they are “missing out”
when we hold these fabulous events is think lateral, don’t be afraid to
take a risk, partner up with some of them and most importantly of all,
never let a chance go by!
Liz Martin OAM
CEO – National Road Transport Hall of Fame
Whining over banks
Sir – I was watching Julia Gillard on National TV in China whining that
the Big Banks in Australia were not doing what she wanted.
Hello! Misters Rudd and Swan started the ball rolling before the Global
Financial Crisis struck in full, rocking back from a jaunt in America
and stating: “The Banks in Australia are strong”.
All this statement did was cause a run on the smaller institutions,
weakening them, strengthening the Big Banks and stopping lots of
pensioners and many others from getting their money.
Surely your readers remember this, I’m sure many of them were affected.
This was the first nail in the coffin of the smaller institutions.
Then they slugged in one more nail by backing up the Big Banks with the
Commonwealth backing of deposits while the smaller institutions were
left to founder as they did not qualify for the backing.
This further weakened the smaller institutions and increased the power
of the Big Banks.
Then there was Bank West and Saint George, both allowed by Misters Rudd
and Swan to be consumed by the Big Banks.
This has further weakened any competition against the Big Banks and has
further increased their strength.
Adding insult to injury, the sheep out there in never never land voted
Labor back into power. If you’re a Labor supporter, don’t whinge
about the position the Big Banks are in, you – by proxy – have allowed
this to happen.
ARROW: Lessons for The Alice in Cairns?
Surely being a part of an Australian community means you have a right
to certain treatment.
That the people that govern speak some kind of truth, that your
upholding of the status quo is meaningful, that the sacrifices you make
for the greater good are not in vain.
It would be nice to think this was the case in our happy home. What a
I have recently been to Cairns and the visit has shown how hamstrung we
have become by our negativity, how we have become so blinkered by the
actions of a few that we forget what is normal.
I have been a victim of this thinking before, when a relationship
becomes so abnormal that you accept behaviour that is unthinkable in
normal situations. I forget where I heard it first, but the saying “If
you hang around with crazy people long enough you become crazy
yourself” comes to mind.
Cairns is our close sister, being the main town near one of the big
four Rs of Australian Tourism, the Reef, the Rock, the Roof, and the
That is, the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock, the Sydney Opera House and
the Kanga, which can be found prone on the side of most highways.
They say that we are the only country that eats our symbolic creatures,
the kangaroo and the emu, and I believe that’s true.
I’m sure there is no country in the world but us that makes change
purses out of the scrotum of its heraldic animals.
Back to Cairns. As I was saying, it too is a town based around tourism,
albeit with a different focus.
They’re doing it a little tough at the moment as visitor numbers are
down a bit due to the higher Australian dollar and the time of year.
You wouldn’t know to look at the place – tourists everywhere, enjoying
a myriad of places to eat, drink and socialise.
The council spends its money on providing entertainment for its
I saw 400+ people doing a free Zumba class on the waterfront.
It was a spectacle enjoyed by both the people doing the class and the
spectators who flocked to see.
It had become an attraction in its own right.
So what is the point of all this you may ask?
I was looking for the differences between there and Alice, some things
I could take note of and bring back with me.
So, what did I see? What were the main differences?
Firstly, any number of places selling alcohol at all times of the day
and night, without having to provide any sort of identification unless
you were obviously very young.
The upshot of all this would be drunken anarchy in the streets, you
Certainly this is what we are told by people who wish us to have
restricted trading hours for liquor and who actually want to stop
businesses from opening because they want to sell wine with a meal. No,
just people enjoying a drink when and where they wanted.
So availability is not the problem then, it’s the people drinking to
excess. Makes sense.
Secondly, no rubbish strewn everywhere. A little bit here and there but
not vast rings of empty KFC wrappers and VB cans on the lawns out the
front of the RFDS.
I guess that’s how the council can afford the Zumba lessons, they don’t
have to pay to get mountains of rubbish removed each day.
And finally, no drunks in the centre of town, screaming, spitting,
fighting and begging on the way to self destruction.
The tourists were free to enjoy their stay unharrased and without an
appalling display to tell their friends about when they got home.
When I got home I was greeted by a man defecating on the side of the
highway near Civic Video, in full sight of the traffic, at 2pm in the
I wasn’t shocked, not any more. Unfortunately.
(CL, Port Darwin)
The refusal by Corrections Minister Gerry McCarthy to allow me to work
a shift at the prison is demonstrative of a “Government in fear all and
control all” mode.
I do not accept the assessment of health and safety risks which are
offered as an excuse.
As a police officer in the past I had repeated cause to go into prisons
as an outsider, and health and safety risks were never a problem then.
I believe the Minister wants to keep me away from rank and file prison
officers communicating to me issues in real time in their workplace.
As tipping more money into the troubled SIHIP program became a
necessity, more evidence that the program is failing to meet its
promised targets has come to light.
I was advised that the target of 2500 “fix and make safe” houses at an
average cost of $75,000 would not be met in the five year program due
to funding constraints and the target would now have to be reduced.
It is time that a full judicial enquiry is conducted into SIHIP
mismanagement and profiteering.
[On the refugees from Yuendumu] the Minister for Central Australia,
Karl Hampton, should be at the forefront of attempts to re-settle up to
90 people who fled to Adelaide because they felt their safety was
Mr Hampton has a duty to be involved in the safe repatriation of the
people but instead he’s chosen to opt out of the process.
It was his Government’s inability to guarantee their safety that
resulted in these people leaving in September.
ABS labour force figures out today show nearly 4000 new jobs have been
created in the Territory over the past 12 months.
Many of them have been supported by Territory Government initiatives
including record infrastructure investment of $1.8 billion in Budget
The figures also confirm the number of jobs in the Territory has grown
for six consecutive months
The labour force participation rate also rose and continues to be
highest of all states and territories.
The Territory’s trend unemployment rate remained steady at 3.1 per cent
All major states recorded an increase in their seasonally adjusted
The Chief Minister’s claims of a cultural change within the Territory’s
child protection system are in tatters – as is his credibility.
Paul Henderson has failed to take responsibility for the tragedies
outlined in the Four Corners report into the Territory’s child
He has been a part of Labor’s Cabinet from the start, and has defended
the very system that he now says is ‘the wrong system’, despite
overwhelming evidence that system was in crisis.
When the Children’s Commissioner’s annual report was released last
year, it showed notifications of child abuse had climbed by 68.8% from
the previous year (3668 to 6190) but investigations had increased by
only 20.3% (1970 to 2370).
When then Child Protection Minister Malarndirri McCarthy was asked
about this disparity in Parliament last October, she said she had
“noticed” that investigations were not keeping up with notifications.