ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
February 10, 2011. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
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Dam is still a puzzle. By KIERAN FINNANE.
It looks like
community debate on how to protect the town from flood – widely feared
to be imminent last weekend – will return to where it was more than 20
years ago, if a poll of Town Council by-election candidates is anything
to go by.
Most have more questions than answers and little knowledge of the
clearest information before the public – the Power & Water report,
Alice Flood Mitigation Dam, October 1990.
The report examines in detail a range of options, including multiple
small dams and levees, but concludes that a single mitigation dam some
five kms north of the Telegraph Station is the only viable and
effective way to protect the town from a Q100 flood.
It should be noted that a mitigation dam is not the same as a dam
doubling as a recreation lake. It would fill only in times of flood,
with the water steadily released as the threat abates.
The Alice News has consistently kept the flood mitigation debate in the
public domain, especially since the extraordinary rainfall event on
Numery Station, 150 kms to our east, in January 18, 2007, when 246mm
fell, most of it within six hours.
Had this occurred in the Todd River catchment it would have produced a
catastrophic flood, possibly greater than a Q100.
At this time last year, flood threat anxiety was again fresh in
people’s minds from a January 7 flow of the river and we revisited the
issue with political representatives in all tiers of government.
The town’s greatest protective measure then as now, was an early
warning system, even though the Power and Water report warns that there
could be less than an hour’s notice of a Q100 – the kind of flood
likely once in 100 years – “and if it occurs at night, an
efficient evacuation would not be possible”.
Now Alice Springs has once again “dodged a bullet”, according to Todd
Smith, manager of the Bureau of Meteorology’s NT Climate Centre.
Ex-tropical cyclone Yasi dog-legged around the town, southwards over
Finke before moving westwards.
Had rain such as fell at Ernabella last Sunday – “174 mm, nearly a
year’s worth of rain in one day” – fallen in the Todd catchment there
would have been a significant rise in the river, says Mr Smith.
It took 205mm on March 31, 1988 to produce the worst recorded flood in
Alice, when the Todd rose to 3.95 metres.
Memorably the CBD was inundated and this was only a Q20.
Potentially, something comparable could have happened last weekend,
says Mr Smith.
So against this backdrop, the Alice News asked the now seven
by-election candidates for their views on how best to protect the town
Eli Melky can’t understand why the river isn’t dredged more often to
allow greater flows.
“Would dredging have made a difference in 1988?” he asks.
He would need to learn more to be convinced a dam would work and would
not itself present a risk to the town in the event of being breached.
There’s little we can do about protecting existing buildings, he says,
but we can make sure that flood risk is taken “very seriously” in new
subdivisions such as Kilgariff.
In the existing flood prone areas we can “protect life with a very good
early warning system”.
This also gives people time to protect their property.
He says people in flood prone areas should ensure they have adequate
And an education program, starting in high school, should train people
in how to prepare for disasters – flood and fire.
Mister Shaun says he’s “no expert” but perhaps a dam and levees should
be put back on the agenda.
In the meantime, though, people should familiarise themselves with the
information that’s out there.
He says he spoke to a lot of people last weekend who did not know that
there is a flood information document for Alice Springs.
It includes a map of flood zones.
“Not many people know where these zones are,” he says, and more could
have been done to bring this document to people’s attention.
He thinks there may be a need for “penalties” for people entering the
river “in flood time” – “not just the countrymen, but a lot of other
people in the water for fun”.
“Is it going to take a death for people to realise how dangerous it
(There is a by-law allowing rangers to order people from the flowing
river and people have died: a man drowned in the fast flowing Todd just
last year; the floods of 1983 and 1988 killed three people each.)
Mr Shaun would also like to know how well council was prepared to
protect the municipal assets – did they have their own supply of
(The Alice News put this to council: Greg Buxton, Director Technical
Services says council was ready to sandbag if advised to do so by the
Counter Disaster Committee, however it was not required. Sandbags were
placed at an IT entry door at the Civic Centre to counteract poor
drainage rather than flooding.)
Jill Hall says, failing a dam, she doesn’t know that there’s anything
that can be done to protect Alice from flood threat.
“I’d love a dam, everyone in Alice would love a dam, but it’s never
going to get built,” she says, referring to the 20 year moratorium put
on a dam project at Junction Waterhole, just north of the Telegraph
The moratorium was imposed under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Heritage Protection Act and expires in 2012.
Even if that obstacle were no longer there, a dam is beyond the reach
of the council, she says.
Council could lobby the NT Government on the issue, but for Ms Hall
“cleaning up the town and revitalising our parks” are bigger priorities.
Janice Knappstein says building a dam would be a “big help” in view of
the likelihood of higher rainfall in the future due to climate change.
But she recognises the difficulties in the way of that – getting
Aboriginal traditional owner agreement and the large amount of money
She’d also want to be assured that a dam would not have a negative
environmental impact downstream of the town.
In the meantime, authorities do a pretty good job warning and
protecting the townspeople, she says.
Craig Pankhurst says it is time to take another “sensible look at a
“It would play a major role in reducing damage from a big flood.”
He would be happy to see purely a mitigation dam but he thinks all
options, including any possible adverse affects downstream, should be
part of the discussion.
A dam that was permanently full could be used to supply water for the
town and double as a recreation lake, he says but he recognises that
there are cultural considerations.
It would be an expensive exercise but a catastrophic flood would also
have huge economic costs.
He says there also needs to be a “good look at silt reduction”
particularly in the Charles River and the town drains.
The silt comes from erosion in the hills, which are Crown land, so
council needs to partner with the NT Government to tackle the problem,
Counter disaster planning is well-organised, says Mr Pankhurst: “The
public should feel confident in that regard.”
Steve Brown says the town must have a dam and he would settle for a
mitigation dam, despite his personal preference for a recreation lake.
Aboriginal people would benefit from the dam, like everyone else in
town: the benefits to the whole community need to be weighed against
the losses, he says.
But there are some other immediate “musts” to mitigate flood threat,
says Mr Brown: the removal of the casino causeway (Taffy Pick Crossing)
and its replacement by a “proper bridge” is becoming ever more
necessary as more development occurs in Mt Johns Valley.
In his view, there should also be dredging to deepen the river bed.
The last candidate to join the race for the single vacancy on council
is Peter Flink. After a career in the Army and later in retail, he
first came to town for work in 1996, and returned in 2002, working for
a while before retiring.
Now he’s involving himself in community life, serving on things like
the Finke Desert Race committee and the Masters Games committee.
He has not given flood threat any thought and in any case, like Ms
Hall, sees higher priorities for council: working with the government
and police on law and order, “trying to get kids off the streets”, and
attending to the “aesthetics” of the town.
He thinks the performance of the current council is “all right”: “I
can’t see any problems at the moment.”
Related recent articles in our web archive:
& The Centre: A push for reversing the flow. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
It would cost just half of one percent of the Territory’s annual budget
to build a National Centre for Indigenous Art and Culture in Alice
John Oster, the executive officer of Desart, the organisation
supporting dozens of Aboriginal art centres in Central Australia, puts
a $20m price tag on the project.
The proposal has been discussed informally for some years but it is now
on the NT Government’s 10 year agenda for museums and galleries.
Julie Ross, head of the Chamber of Commerce, says it would be
“fantastic for Central Australia” and suggests it should be much more
than a gallery.
Aboriginal people should be producing their art there, give workshops,
have contact with tourists and teach children.
“It would be a huge drawcard,” says Ms Ross.
Similar to the Desert Park, the centre should be located at the
northern base of the MacDonnell Ranges, but close to town, just to the
west of The Gap.
“The ranges would form an ever changing backdrop,” she says.
To make the project happen “we would need to lobby the NT Government
much harder than it’s been done in the past.
“And the town council would need to lobby the Federal Government to
become involved,” says Ms Ross.
She also suggests the Alice gallery could exist as a branch of the
Canberra one, and the two galleries could swap exhibits.
Mayor Damien Ryan says discussions about two years ago about new
tourist attractions had put the centre amongst the three top priorities.
Federal and NT funding would be needed.
Mr Ryan says the council had no views on location and he could not say
what financial contribution the council would make.
Mr Oster says much as tourists from the world over flock to the
pyramids in Egypt, despite its challenging climate and social
conditions, Alice Springs would benefit from a show place “valuing and
promoting the world’s oldest living traditional culture.
“The centre would impress people of all races,” says Mr Oster, becoming
not only a tourist magnet but also a symbol of pride and purpose for
local Aboriginal people.
But he is not optimistic about the prospects of Federal funds being
available any time soon, in the wake of recent natural disasters.
The Katherine Regional Cultural Precinct, another project in the 10
year plan, may be a guide for how the centre in Alice Springs could be
The precinct has a $4 million commitment from the Territory Government.
The Katherine Town Council has secured Australian Government funding of
$3 million and has contributed $220,000 to the project. As yet there
are no such commitments for the centre in Alice.
The report says conceptual work for the centre was undertaken in
2009-10 by government agencies, including NRETAS, Tourism NT and
Department of Chief Minister.
“The concept features in various plans, including Territory 2030 and
Strengthening Tourism for Alice Springs, the Red Centre (2009) and the
Araluen Cultural Precinct Development Plan 2010 – 2015,” says the
report now up for public comment at www.nt.gov.au/nreta/consult/
Mr Oster says his “first inclination” is that the centre should be at
Araluen where it would complement the Strehlow Centre and existing
“Araluen has the space for it, but the community may have other things
Chairman of Tourism Central Australia Jeff Huyben did not respond to
requests for comment.
It’s beauty that
makes Aboriginal art great. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
The new Indigenous art wing of the National Gallery of Australia in
Canberra is likely to always be much grander than the National Centre
for Indigenous Art and Culture proposed for Alice Springs.
But the gallery in the capital, built at a cost of $107m and opened
last year, could be a feeder for the centre in Alice, enticing visitors
from the world over to come to the region where much of the most
acclaimed Aboriginal art actually comes from.
The Canberra collection has more than 7000 works and more than 500 are
on display at any one time.
“It’s arguably the largest collection of Australian indigenous artwork
in the world,” says Senior Curator Franchesca Cubillo, one of three
Aboriginal women from the NT, including Alice Springs’ Kelli Cole, who
make up the curatorial team.
The collection was started in the 1970s and the gallery opened in 1982.
As the collection grew the gallery became increasingly cramped.
Just a metre from the Aboriginal Memorial consisting of 200 Top End
hollow log coffins, there were paintings from The Centre on the
The memorial now has its own space and the paintings occupy a suite of
large, uncluttered rooms.
Ms Cubillo is very clear about the purpose of the exhibition: above all
it is to show the beauty of the works.
“We want people to find out more about the art and the culture,” she
“But we want them to first experience that visual aesthetics because
for so long it was seen as ethnographic art.
“People had come to Indigenous art through an ideological context.
“It’s almost like people have been educated to such a great extent now
that they expect to see the extensive labels, the dreaming story
associated with that piece of art.
“What we’re doing here, we’re actually causing people to think about
the artwork purely as fine art.
“And then there is that extra layer of information in the catalogues.”
Ms Cubillo says visitors are “overwhelmed by the richness: “They are
surprised at the diversity and beauty and complexity.”
She says many had assumed bark or dot paintings to be ancient and not
Artists from The Centre are very prominent in the gallery: Papunya and
Hermannsburg have dedicated spaces.
The earliest works out of the Western Desert, the beginnings of the dot
painting movement, are on show in a cylindrical room where people are
“surprised how beautiful and sophisticated” they are.
“Even though they are on masonite and chipboard, we have some beautiful
works by Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Tim Payungka, Clifford Possum’s
Bushfire 1 and Bushfire 2.
“There has been no fine arts training. These artists [early in their
careers] haven’t travelled internationally, not even interstate to see
other works of art.
“This was coming straight from the artists, from their cultural
And so while the size and scale of the paintings increased, their value
grew from $60 to $600,000, the colour changed and the figurative
emerged, such as the footprints, the essence of the art practice from
the beginning remained.
The Centre’s and Top End’s pieces in the Canberra gallery, powerfully
dominating the current selection on display, are in contrast with the
works from urban, non traditional artists.
The urban art message is often political, using text and caricature.
But Ms Cubillo says: “All the artwork is political.
“A bark painting or a Western Desert dot painting, they are title deeds
to the country.
“They are dreaming stories of that artist from that country.
“They are asserting their ownership and their authority.”
So 30 years after the establishment of the Tent Embassy outside the Old
Parliament House, across the lush gardens the Aboriginal message now is
emanating from one of Australia’s most esteemed places – and so is the
invitation to see the beauty of the nation’s most prominent
The fantastic 80s.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
For someone born and bred in Alice and whose parents and grandparents
lived here, Dianne Logan has no nostalgia about the old Alice Springs.
She loves the town as it is, from its setting beneath the magnificent
MacDonnell Ranges to its latest buildings. The way it looks is the
result of progress and she believes in progress.
She remembers the ‘80s – the decade in which much of the old Alice
disappeared – as first and foremost an exciting time.
“The ‘80s were fantastic for business,” she says, recalling with pride
the “very modern” hairdressing salon she had in the Bonanni Arcade, at
the back of Polkadot.
Dianne’s grandfather, Len Owen, arrived in town in 1939 to become an
early mail-carrier between Alice and Tennant Creek.
Her father, Garth Owen (“Buckethead” to his cricket and footy mates)
drove trucks to and from Darwin during the war, meeting her mother,
Dawn, at the end of the decade when she arrived in town on her way
They were an enterprising couple. Garth set up his own agency,
supplying dry goods and wine mainly to cattle stations, and later
opened an Italian restaurant, La Tosca, on the site of the present-day
Dawn went into business with Edna Maskell, opening the textile and
haberdashery shop Polkadot, which was in a number of locations before
it settled where it is today.
Little wonder then that Dianne has spent most of her working life in
her own businesses.
Another role model for her was Lizzie Milnes who took her on as an
Lizzie owned the building on the right-hand side of Reg Harris Lane and
all the businesses in it. The salon, Paulina’s, was at the back, there
was a coffee shop at the front, and a dress shop in between.
When Dianne finished her apprenticeship, she hoped to go overseas, but
Maureen and Doug Parks had bought the Gillen shopping centre and asked
her to open a salon there.
She was reluctant at first, but her mother urged her to do it and said
she’d stand behind her.
She called it Rag Doll and was in Gillen for seven years before she
moved to the Bonanni Arcade.
This was a time when hairdressing was dominated by the name of Vidal
Dianne went to Los Angeles to do a Sassoon course and attended the
annual world hairdressing cups and international seminars – “to stay
motivated”, she says.
From a small town in the middle of the country she made a name for
herself on the national hairdressing stage, each year asked to be a
judge at Australia-wide hair industry awards.
She started a hairdressing competition in town, from which the winner
would be sent to compete in the nationals, with a chance to go on to
These were also the years of hair and fashion shows In Alice, including
the three Concours d’Elegance events.
After seven years in Bonanni Arcade, Dianne sold Rag Doll to Adelaide
businessman, Ferris Trabilsi.
She then started a new business, dealing in salon supplies, at first in
Alice, and later spreading to Darwin.
In the meantime, she’d met her husband Gary, a well-known local
plumber, who also had an eye for business. He wanted to buy the Midland
Motel. Again Dianne was reluctant – “over my dead body”, she remembers
But they went ahead and ran it successfully for a number of years until
in 1994 a sudden grave illness ended Gary’s life. He was only 47 and
their daughter Nikki, just seven years old.
Dianne had begun to enjoy being in the tourism industry and was on the
board of the industry body CATIA (TCA, now Tourism Central Australia).
Gary’s death changed everything, of course.
“We had good support staff which allowed me to keep going for a while,
but I felt like I wanted to get away.”
She and Nikki travelled for a year and lived in Sydney for a while
before Dianne returned to Alice six years ago. She worked with Trevor
Espeland at Raine & Horne until that business was sold.
Now once again she has set up in business herself, doing event
management and catering.
Starting with her father’s restaurant, where she worked part-time as a
kitchenhand and waitress, and then Lizzie Milnes’ coffee shop, where
she waited on tables while doing her apprenticeship, she’s had a long
association with the local catering scene.
Again she looks back to the ‘80s as a high point – the fantastic chef
at Puccini’s, the proper silver service and fine food at the then
“In the ‘80s we were able to get great staff here.
“The service was as good as anywhere around Australia.
“I still believe that in this industry you have to dress to a certain
standard, and to focus on looking after the customer, not on talking to
She’s been sad to see the closure of several restaurants around town,
most recently, Oscar’s in the mall.
Yet she’s optimistic about the business future, with large companies
like Harvey Norman and Dick Smith prepared to open stores here.
And she’s upbeat about the appearance of town it’s mostly “neat and
tidy”quite apart from its new buildings.
“That’s progress. I’ve been part of that.”
Gondwana closing. By KIERAN
In its 21st year Gallery Gondwana is closing, due to shut its doors as
soon as April.
It is the oldest existing Aboriginal art gallery in Alice Springs and
one of the oldest in Australia.
Its operation is synonymous with owner Roslyn Premont, who, the Alice
News understands, will be leaving town to live in Fiji, the home of her
husband, the artist Rusiate Lali.
Ms Premont closed her Sydney gallery of the same name in mid-2009,
returning to the "main game"in the Centre, expressing "a sense of
renewal, excitement in being able to work with the artists, in being
more deeply in touch with the people and country where the art is
A commercial gallery, Gondwana has been notable for its work with art
centres, in contrast to the majority of the commercial galleries in
It has also had a varied exhibition program, that at times has included
non-Indigenous artists and certainly Indigenous artists from other
parts of Australia.
There are only two other local commercial galleries that work in this
way – Peta Appleyard Gallery and Raft.
Ms Premont has also represented artists not associated with art
centres, in particular Dorothy Napangardi and the late M. Napanangka
Gibson, who have major reputations.
(The Alice News has just learned that Napanangka, who came to extra
fame as 'Nana' in Warwick Thornton's film Samson and Delilah, has died,
with her funeral to take place later this month. Another great artist
has passed on.)
The gallery closure comes at a time of other business closures in the
mall, a worrying trend.
In the cultural landscape of Alice Springs, Gallery Gondwana will be
missed. – Kieran Finnane
Brainy bunch: Pips is ahead.
By ERWIN CHLANDA.
St Philip’s students attained an average Australian Tertiary Admission
Ranking or ATAR (formerly TER) of 75.67.
This is the score which is used for entrance to university courses.
OLSH students had an average of 68.25 and Centralian Senior Secondary
College (CSSC) 68.14.
CSSC’s Bevan Botha topped the NT with an ATAR of 99.8 – the first time
a CSSC student has done so in 10 years, which is as far back as this
kind of record goes.
St Philip’s had two students in the NT Top 10 – Kyle Giumelli and Caleb
Pannell with 99.15 and 98.7 respectively – and a third student in the
Top 20 – Louise Robertson with 99.35.
OLSH’s Sam Heckarthorn was dux of his school with an ATAR of
When politics stink: $266 for public poo.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
At a guess there would not be too many election campaigns in Australia
with defecation in public as an issue.
It was raised by candidates Eli Melky and Steve Brown in last week’s
report about issues in the forth-coming council by-election.
Both suggested that part of the problem is that there are not enough
freely accessible public toilets available.
The Alice News asked the Town Council how often council workers are
having to clean up human faeces in public places.
Greg Buxton, Director Technical Services, says he can’t answer the
question with specific detail “as when the crews clean, they clean the
entire area from all litter and waste” without keeping a tally of waste
He says “anecdotally” they could be dealing with human faeces in a
public place “up to two times a week”.
Council has four clean up crews, with one specifically to cover the CBD
area on a daily basis.
“When they come across rubbish (including defecation) it is cleaned up
straight away,” says Mr Buxton.
Public toilets at sporting facilities are cleaned three times a week.
Public defecation and urination are covered by a by-law, with penalties
of up to $266.
Mr Buxton advises that the Exeloo automated public toilet is open 24
hours and located in the Hartley street car park.
Public toileting is not solely a public places issue, of course. Tucked
away corners of private property in the CBD are also used for
toileting; the Alice News has observed and been told of many instances.
Territory on your mind?
Two works by Alice Springs authors are among the four vying for the
title of NT Book of the Year, which will be announced by Gerry
McCarthy, Minister for Arts and Museums this Friday at a function at
These are The Hard Light of Day by artist Rod Moss; and Iwenhe Tyerrtye
– What it means to be an Aboriginal person, by esteemed Aboriginal
woman and elder MK Turner OAM.
Their competition comes from The Rooftop Sutras by Levin A. Diatschenko
– tales set in a mythologised “Suburbia” – and Twinkle by Nick Bland,
an illustrated children’s storybook.
Territory Read is supported by Chief Minister’s Office with a $5000
purse for the NT Book of the Year.
This year the awards also feature the Angus & Robertson Children’s
Literature/Young Adult Fiction Prize; and the Absolutely Books
Non-Fiction Prize. The winners of these categories are also eligible to
win the overall prize.
A panel of interstate and NT literary figures had the task of selecting
a short list out of this year’s submissions.
The panel included celebrated novelist Arnold Zable, Byron Bay Writers
Festival Director Candida Baker, current winner Marie Munkara,
Centralian author Michael Giacometti and outgoing NTWC Executive
Officer Sandra Thibodeaux.
Territory Read is now in its third year.
Past winners were Marie Munkara for the novel Every Secret Thing and
Andrew McMillan for An Intruder’s Guide To East Arnhem Land.
Three generations on speedway track. By
It may have been a ‘first’ for Arunga Park: three generations of the
one family on the race track.
The occasion was the Territory Metals NT Sidecar Title last November 13
at Arunga Park Speedway.
Along with Formula 500s and Wingless Sprintcars, support for the
sidecar division was given by the Alice Springs Motorcycle Club’s
stockbikes, quads and Division 1 Peewees.
The family were the Thompsons.
As most speedway fans would know, Mike Thompson has been racing on and
off at Arunga Park since the 1980s in a variety of divisions. He was
also one of the founding members of the Alice Springs Karting Club and
is still an active member both on and off the track.
At present, Mike is a part of the new Wingless Sprintcar division – a
section which is gradually growing in numbers and great to watch.
Mike and Michelle’s eldest son Garth has also been involved with
speedway on and off for years and in various divisions.
In 1993, as a 14-year-old, Garth stepped into the driver’s seat of a
Super Sedan and gave some of the big boys a run for their money. His
other speedway divisions have included sprintcars and sidecars and he’s
had many years of go kart racing.
Garth also raced sidecars for a short time but the bike divisions
gradually died at the speedway, leaving a car-only track for several
years. This situation has now had a complete turnaround and the sidecar
section is back in force with a strong presence both in the pits and on
the race track. Garth has returned to the section and on November 13,
with his passenger Phil Anderson, he became the Territory’s number one
The next generation has arrived at Arunga Park with seven-year-old Jack
and four-year-old Jet riding in the Division 1 Peewee section.
Jack is the son of Mike and Michelle’s middle son Warren, and Jett is
the son of Garth. Both boys have ridden the park twice so far and seem
to enjoy their time on the track alongside their co-riders.
The club’s committee is keen to host this division whenever
permissible, as many of them show the promise of becoming future solo
and sidecar riders.
The Division 1 Peewees were scheduled to ride at Arunga Park again last
weekend but due to the inclement weather, all racing was cancelled.
Weather permitting, the committee is hoping to re-schedule both the
sidecar and streetstock series Round 2 and Neil Anderson Burnout
competition this Saturday night.
LETTERS: Council guilty as charged, says
Sir – A by-election is a unique opportunity for sitting elected
members to be delivered a report card on their current performance
levels and overall political standing in the community.
Your last edition’s front page, featuring the aldermanic candidates who
come from all walks of life, told it as it is.
When it comes to the no.1 issue in town, law and order, the community
is completely over the backroom style of governance which effectively
has dissolved the council into being nothing more than an extension of
an ineffective, weak NT Government.
Our Mayor at the last election was truthful – this was always going to
be his style.
The facts are, three years on, this very style is not washing with the
people of the Alice.
Damien is one of the hardest working individuals I have come across and
I know his heart is glued to our town, but in my view, his approach is
one of extreme political naiveté.
Tightly stage-managed conversations in times of crisis are precisely
the games governments want you to play.
These are the moments when real leaders stand out from the pack and
apply true pressure by outing the wrong-doers, in this case an
inept NT Government. Such strength results in a
proactive response as it would be politically
foolish for the government to take on a popularly-elected
I am genuinely excited by the mayoral fibre shown by town leaders
who. time after time, on the basis of merit, present themselves to the
town’s media and its people to take on issues and
governments as they stridently put their town first.
In doing so, they put governments and their bureaucracies on
These are the leaders who ultimately bring home the bacon.
The other message delivered by the by-election candidates is that we
Once again, in my view, they are correct.
When we have good news to deliver, our message is so bureaucratic that
no-one understands it.
Our perceived faux pas often are exposed after long periods
of confidential bugger-ups and therefore our explanations fall on deaf
Quite simply, confidentiality should be reserved strictly for those
matters prescribed under the Local Government Act.
I know within the ranks I will be criticized for these statements but
this is what the six candidates are telling the town.
Surely they and their followers can’t all be wrong.
ED – The Alice News offered Mayor Damien Ryan right of reply. He
indicated that he would share Ald Stewart’s letter with the other
elected members but had not taken up our offer at the time of going to
Shaded play area may encourage
Sir – While working for the NT Government’s Water Resources Branch in
2010, I administered a small water efficiency grant program for schools
in the southern NT.
M’bunghara School (Alice Springs News, February 3) applied for support
to replace leaking toilets and taps, and to install some working
bubblers for their students.
As part of the grant conditions, the school also ran a unit of water
education, which produced a wonderful poem and play about being
Waterwise in the bush.
The teacher at this small outstation school proudly invited me to visit
the school and celebrate the end of term with them.
One student performed a reading of the poem, demonstrating advanced
literacy and confidence with the topic of water conservation.
We also viewed a DVD recording of the Waterwise play, a slideshow
narrated by the children with a strong Waterwise message. Both of these
educational performances were recorded on DVD and presented to Water
Resources staff on the day.
There were 10 students at school on the day we attended, and at lunch
time several parents and siblings from the outstation joined us.
My overall impression was of a small and successful school, operating
in extremely remote conditions.
Over the years, students from M’bunghara have benefited from their NT
Government education, and some have progressed to study further at
All remote schools are challenged by access to good teachers and
resources, as well as the many complications of community life.
However, there is no reason to limit the opportunities for those
schools by denying them good infrastructure where possible.
Perhaps a good shaded play area will increase attendance at school by
making it a more comfortable place to be in the heat.
The M’bunghara school Waterwise play and poem have now become part of
regular programming on the satellite TV service ICTV (Indigenous
Community TV), sending water conservation messages across the remote
regions of NT and WA.
These broadcasts were also nominated for recognition in the remote
indigenous TV awards 2010.
As Term 1 progresses, I’m sure the current teacher at M’bunghara will
strengthen relationships with the families and attendance will rise
back to the average of 82%.
Alice youth detention facility not
The Central Australian Youth Justice Committee (CAYJ), made up of
representatives of non-government organisations who work with young
people involved in the criminal justice system, do not believe that
“there is a demonstrated need for a youth detention centre in Alice
This is “a very costly option” and “not the highest priority for
juvenile justice funding”, they say.
This was misreported in last week’s Alice News, as was their position
regarding making breach of bail an offence with a monetary fine and
maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.
“We believe that current laws are sufficient and that it would be more
effective to adopt best practice bail programs, which target young
people who have stringent bail conditions”, assisting them to comply
with those conditions and in relation to employment and
The Alice News regrets the errors.
Below is an outline of CAYJ’s concerns in response to the recent
announcements by Attorney-General Delia Lawrie and Minister for Central
Australia, Karl Hampton on “justice and police initiatives to make
Alice Springs streets safer”.
CAYJ shares the concerns of the government, the business sector and the
wider community about the recent level of crime in Alice Springs.
However, we are concerned that some of the measures announced may be
ineffective, costly and premature.
We welcome a review of our current system but clearly the review should
have taken place prior to the announcements.
Over the years CAYJ, along with the government’s Youth Justice Advisory
Committee, have provided numerous reports and recommendations in
relation to cost effective problem-solving approaches to youth crime in
We are disappointed that many of these have not been taken into
There have also been a number of submissions made from the NT into the
National Inquiry into Indigenous Juveniles and Young People in the
criminal justice system, whose findings may well be useful for
improvements to the current NT system.
Instead of a youth detention centre in Alice, CAYJ supports the
establishment of a more appropriate short term holding facility for
young people on remand to replace the outdated Aranda House facility.
In addition further funding is required for initiatives such as youth
camps for those involved in offending.
We are greatly concerned about the location of the proposed youth
detention centre at the Alice Springs gaol. It is not good practice to
house children and young people in an adult facility, and we have a
responsibility to follow best practice principles.
There is a large body of research that highlights that imprisonment is
not an effective use of public money. Investment in proven preventive
measures addressing the welfare needs of young offenders would be far
more cost effective in the long term.
Any decision made about the establishment of a youth detention centre
requires broad consultation over a period of time with all relevant
CAYJ welcomes the announcement that the Territory Government will
expand the juvenile alcohol and other services operated by Bush Mob and
re-locate the service to a larger facility.
The announcement of the provision of juvenile safe houses, to enable
police to take kids off the street at night, is not in itself a new
There are existing safe places for young people to be taken to, as well
as provisions for young people considered at risk to be taken into the
care of NT Children and Families.
Further safe places may be a welcome addition, however, little detail
has been provided and any such developments must occur in consultation
with the NGO youth sector.
The announced measures also fail to address (yet again) any additional
funding for after hours youth recreation services.
They concentrate on punitive measures rather than providing greater
support to existing early intervention programs.
It is well documented that it is a minority of young people offending
and/or re-offending and intensive targeted strategies are required to
address this offending behaviour.
However, there should be cost effective additional after hours
activities to cater for the majority of young people who are doing the
The programs that are available are under-funded despite evidence that
they should receive greater funding.
There are many reports from recent years which support this.
CAYJ is concerned that in the lead up to these most recent
announcements there has not been significant engagement with NGOs who
work with young people involved in the criminal justice system.
Antoinette Carroll and Jonathan Pilbrow
on behalf of CAYJ
ARROW: Escaped drowning by the skin of his teeth.
I thought that the excitement would start to wear off now that I’m back
home and holidays are over. Not so. Even worse, there has been little
excitement for the adrenaline expended.
I drew the line at sand bags but other wise I have the full flood kit
ready to rock and roll, dib dib, dob dob and all that jazz.
Not that I was ever a boy scout, it all seemed a bit twee to moi, but
previous experience showed that the desert had a few water tricks that
it liked to play and I wanted to be ready. At the time of writing, the
flood warning was a fizzer and I now have a stockpile of tins of vile
ravioli bolognese to eat by candlelight. I already tried a tin and
nearly coughed it up. Ick.
I have had a couple of rising water moments in Alice, most notably for
me in the rain period of 1999-2000. I had wondered at the pattern of
rocks that seemed to flow through the back garden of the rental
property I was staying in, but only idly.
With the addition of torrential rain its true character was
revealed. It was a water course in its former life and now its
banks were brimming and bubbling – all the way to the back fence that
now trapped the water as effectively as the Hoover Dam.
The house was set back quite a ways and the yard was large, so it took
a while to reach crisis point, but with the water rising fast and only
a couple of centimetres from my back door I had to go out and save the
day. My super hero moment. Trouble is, what was I going to do?
Eventually I staggered back into the house looking like a drowned rat,
covered in mud but triumphant – I had managed to cut a trench to ensure
that the water didn’t get any higher but I couldn’t make the main pond
drain. We had a waterside property for a week!
We were lucky, there was something that could be done but elsewhere
around the country folk haven’t been so lucky.
The whole time we were in Europe people were asking whether we had been
affected and we had to point out that even though the flood covered a
massive area, it was still a relatively small part of Australia and
thankfully we were OK. So I guess I shouldn’t complain about the rav
Another time I was sitting at home one rainy, windy night in Adelaide
watching the ABC news at 7pm. There was a piece on the flash flooding
south of the city that had some footage of locals sandbagging their
front steps in the driving rain. Imagine my surprise when images of my
dad appeared in his old blue rain coat, swinging sand bags for all he
The creek had burst its banks and there were people floating past in
small boats as he worked.
When I spoke to him later I asked why he didn’t call and he pointed out
quite sensibly that he had been bloody sandbagging and didn’t have
time! Fair enough.
The only good thing I can say about the weather is that the cyclone in
North Queensland caused absent wife to become Kirsty again. She came
home when it looked like Cairns was going to be the landfall position
for the storm of the century. We had been through so much on our
holiday that the prospect of a Category 5 cyclone was too much.
I just said “come home” and she could. If only it was that easy for the
rest of the people who have suffered so much …