ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
April 7, 2011. This page contains all
major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
To our home page.
Title Holders pull the rug from under Lhere Artepe Corporation.
A group of 25 native
title holders, including Rosalie Kunoth-Monks (pictured) is calling for a probe
the management of Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation," the immediate
appointment of an interim administrator, an investigation of "Lhere
Artepe and its subsidiary companies" and "another AGM to legitimately
appoint Lhere Artepe members, directors and officers".
The group also says the sale of Native Title land should be put on
hold, including "all matters
related to White Gate and families of White Gate and the land thereof".
THE STATEMENT: Ian Conway, Native Title Holder, called a special
Central Australian Native Title Holders on April 6, 2011. At this
meeting 25 people gathered to talk and tell of their concerns for
their representative body: Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation Icn:
Mr Conway started the discussions: “Things that are going on at Lhere
Artepe Corporation and related entities are not what Lhere Artepe was
originally established for.
"Lhere Artepe Members are asking questions about operations of
Lhere Artepe and not getting answers. "We, Native Title Holders
and Lhere Artepe Members don’t know what’s going on!
"Decisions are coming from one small group. We don’t know what the CEO
is doing, even on a day to day basis."
Ms Kathy Martin expressed concern about how Lhere Artepe not operating
to its objectives: “It’s not about money! Money is not mentioned in
objectives. Part of one objective is ‘to relieve the poverty,
misfortune, disadvantage, distress, dispossession and suffering of
native title holders’.
"Lhere Artepe’s focus is on money for greed, there is no mention
of money in this objective.”
Ms Raelene Smith talked of an example: “The appalling conditions of
White Gates camp, where our families live in tin sheds with no water,
no heating. They are sick with pain and hurt. Lhere Artepe is not doing
Other questions asked included: Is White Gate a set up to move our
families away so Alice Springs can build for others and not our people?
Lhere Artepe seems to be selling our most important thing; the LAND.
Once we lose our land we have nothing!
Mr Baydon Williams at the meeting said he brought a message from the
Elders. They are "angry". They are angry with Lhere Artepe not
protecting the Dreaming Story shared between surrounding communities
and Alice Springs.
The meeting showed considerable commitment to taking action and the
• Facilitation of an emergency meeting to probe performance issues of
the management of Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation Icn: 3991 and all
• The Office of Register of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) to appoint,
immediately, an Interim Administrator for Lhere Artepe Aboriginal
Corporation ICN: 3991
• The appointment of an independent investigator to investigate
Lhere Artepe and its subsidiary companies to seek relevant
information which will enable Lhere Artepe Directors (Executive) to be
fully informed of the financial dealings of the Lhere
Artepe and its subsidiary Companies
• To reconvene another AGM to legitimately appoint Lhere Artepe
Members, Directors and officers.
Put a hold on the sale of Native Title land. This includes all matters
related to White Gate and families of White Gate and the land thereof.
ED – The Alice Springs
News points out that, according to a lawyer acting for Lhere Artepe
Enterprises Pty Ltd, the various entities bearing in part the name
'Lhere Artepe" are not legally related entities. See Summary and
paddock to suburb of
Kilgariff: Blocks for $250,000? By KIERAN
looking not so
Posted April 7 1445 CST
The provision of affordable housing has been the
main rationale in the push to develop a residential subdivision at
Kilgariff, on AZRI land south of the Gap, 10 kms from the town centre.
Now the Kilgariff Enquiry By Design Forum, an intensive four day
planning process, has raised questions about affordability.
While information presented to the public at the close of the forum was
under the rider of "everything is hypothetical", the suggestion was
that an 800sqm block would sell for $250,000; 600sqm for $195,000; and
These estimates were based on indicative land prices for the blocks of
and $28,000 respectively. (The land is government-owned.)
Add to this headworks costs at $20,000 per block irrespective of size
(the cheapest in the country, the forum was told); internal development
costs of $100,000, $73,000, $57,000 (very expensive compared to
Melbourne's average of $35,000-$40,000); and developers' profit,
estimated at 40%.
These prices drew the ire of Janet Brown, contributing from the floor.
She said they would put the land out of reach of low-income workers,
the very people that Alice Springs needs to keep its economy going. She
said such prices would be "unfair to our children", indeed unfair to
the town which is being devastated by housing shortage. She recalled
the "great start" afforded to many in Alice Springs who in earlier
decades had been able to buy government-owned housing. She said the
scenario for the AZRI land seemed to have changed dramatically since
the 2008 Planning for the Future forum.
Mrs Brown also decried the recommendation of the forum that there
should be no "conventional Territory Housing", that is public housing,
at Kilgariff in the short-term. Along with Jonathan Pilbrow, of NT
Council for Social Services, she questioned "the judgment of people on
welfare" that that implies.
A key objective for the forum was to make
recommendations on the kind of social mix to be aimed for at Kilgariff.
The short-term scenario envisages 860 lots in staged release to
provide 1200 dwellings for a population of some 3200 people by
Wendy Morris, the visiting planning expert who together with Stephen
Bowers had led the forum, said that there had been a lot of discussion
of this issue, with eventually a unanimous view being reached that
excluding public housing in the short-term would encourage a "positive
start" at Kilgariff and avoid isolating people with a high need of
social services. However the forum supported the provision of
"affordable" housing, and more of it than the 15% target figure
Mr Pilbrow suggested that the same kind of people as live in public
housing would also be candidates for affordable housing.
Ms Morris said "not quite", referring to "more robust" candidates. Jan
Berryman, a participant in the planning process, said these would be
working people on low to moderate incomes with a car. There was also
support for Territory Housing funds to be used in an "innovative" way
to assist affordability.
Provision of some basic social infrastructure would require government
subsidy, at least in the early stages. This was estimated at $3m for a
corner store doubling as a community meeting place; $300,000 per year
for a bus service; $.5m for a cycle path from Old Timers to the
northern end of Kilgariff; and rebates for the installation of water
tanks, necessary in part for stormwater control. The return to
government from the sale of the land
should be used to fund these works, said Mr Bowers. ( A primary school is
impossible to justify in the early stages, but there could possibly be
The forum had also considered the possible impacts of Kilgariff on the
existing town of Alice Springs and recognised the need for a parallel
process of revitalisation and intensification (infill)
north of the Gap.
Ms Morris acknowledged the participation in the process of people with
strong concerns about it. These concerns were around lack of demand,
its remote location, the risk of limited community facilities, land
suitability, and a preference for urban infill.
Domenico Pecorari, one of these people, said there was a real danger
that Kilgariff would become "the main game" and draw funds and energy
away from development in town. Ms Morris agreed. She said Kilgariff
would not solve "the tourism
problem" (no doubt referring to poor perception of Alice Springs for
all the well-known reasons); for that, we have to "fix the existing
city" and she said that would be a "strong message to government" from
Mr Pecorari commended the Enquiry By Design process but said that it
had been applied to Kilgariff "in a bubble" and needed to be applied to
the whole town. Ruth Apelt also questioned the resources put into
planning Kilgariff compared with the single-day Planning for the Future
Forum in 2008, which had only considered reports on greenfield
development and had not looked at all at urban infill. On this basis
the whole planning scheme had been changed and a decision made to
develop the AZRI land. She said that if the recently approved
residential development of the old drive-in site goes ahead, it will
soften demand for the Kilgariff blocks and that the Intervention driver
for urban drift is likely to change. She also said that the Kilgariff
option now looks expensive and won't respond to the housing needs of
low income workers and Indigenous people
She would prefer to see examined the potential redevelopment of the
railway yards, which would have a revitalising effect on the town
centre while providing for lower income housing. Mr Bowers
pointed out that, apart from the yards being privately owned, such
conversions are typically very expensive as the yards have to be
relocated and the land in all likelihood decontaminated before the
project could proceed. Ms Morris suggested that "smaller morsels" could
be bitten off first to revitalise the centre of town. (There is an
existing residential capacity study focussed on the CBD – google
'residential capacity' in our story archive.)
Ann Jacobs, local head of the Department of Lands and Planning, said
the dissenting message would be taken back to government, but Kilgariff
"is a big project for us" – "it will be our first project that we'll be
As previously reported headworks are underway; sewage and power will be
completed by August / September, the forum was told, with roads, water
and trunk drainage following, probably by Christmas. Recycled water
from the SAT ponds will be used for watering public open space, but is
unlikely to be reticulated to homes, as a "third pipe system" would add
too significantly to the cost.
A Heffernan Road rural resident expressed great anger over the lack of
consultation with existing landowners in the area and concern over the
what she saw as the likely impact of anti-social behaviour on the
Mrs Jacobs in reply referred to "quite a big buffer" between Kilgariff
and the Heffernan Road blocks, and while the impact on the rural area
was an issue to consider, the town's need for more housing was "what we
are moving to".
The work of the forum will now be distilled into a master plan for
Kilgariff and be made available for public comment.
Costs by developers 'out of our control'
Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton attended the closing public
session of the Kilgariff Enquiry By Design Forum.
The Alice News asked him for his view on the provision of public
housing at Kilgariff.
He said he doesn't personally have a view, that it is up to the
community to bring their views to government, which is what the Enquiry
By Design process had been about.
"Through that process government can make an informed decision on
future land release," said Mr Hampton.
We put to him that there had been angst expressed in the forum about
likely price of the blocks and asked whether his government would be
committed to finding a way around such prices?
Mr Hampton pointed out that the prices "shouldn't be quoted" (they were
He said while it is possible that government can play a role in
ensuring affordability "a lot of things are out of our control in terms
of costs by developers".
Would government consider developing at least some of the land itself
to keep costs down?
He said government needs to look at all options available.
Would he push in Cabinet for government to look at something like that*?
He said he is "not in position" to do that.
Why not, as Minister for Central Australia?
He said, not being Minister for Lands and Planning, he doesn't know
detail of different models.
"It's complex, I would have to go away and look at what the different
* An alternative suggested in later discussion would be for government
to ensure that two or three developers are involved, creating a
competitive situation which would contribute to keeping costs down.
paddock or suburb? By KIERAN FINNANE.
Posted April 4.
Creating a "community, not a subdivision" is the challenge for
Kilgariff, the intended greenfield development on AZRI (Arid Zone
Research Institute) land south of the Gap, said Lands and Planning
Minister Gerry McCarthy yesterday.
He was speaking at the opening public session of the Kilgariff Enquiry
by Design process, getting properly underway today. Interim designs –
which some 40 individuals from a cross-section of Alice Springs will be
developing under the guidance of trained "team leaders" – will be
available for public scrutiny this evening (5pm at the Convention
Centre). The full "outcomes" will be presented to the public on
Wednesday evening (4.30-7pm).
David Ritchie, CEO of the Department of Lands and Planning, told
yesterday's gathering of around 80 people that the growth driver for
Alice Springs is its role as a hub for services to a wider region with
an existing population of 18,000, three-quarters of whom are
Aboriginal. In the past natural growth of Alice's population has been
moderated by people leaving, but this changed in 2008, he said, with a
rapid increase of some 600 residents. (He didn't say so but it is
broadly believed that these are mostly Aboriginal people.) This is
predicted to taper off to some extent but growth will remain higher
than it has been.
Dr Ritchie said it is estimated that 75 new dwellings a year are
required to meet demand, and "by any estimate" that requirement is
unlikely to be met other than by greenfield (vacant land) development.
Hence the AZRI / Kilgariff solution, where construction of headworks
Dr Ritchie said the "measure of success" of Kilgariff will be that,
given a choice, people will want to live there rather than north of the
What will it take to bring this about?
In the long term – 20 years hence – up to 1200 dwellings are envisaged
for the site. In the short term, the "best bet" scenario, based on a
modest growth rate, will see 75 houses a year built there over the four
years from 2012, tapering off to 47 year up to 2021.
These figures were given by Wendy Morris, one of the two planning
experts leading the Enquiry by Design process. She predicted 833 houses
on the site by 2030.
It was suggested from the floor, by visiting academic Tarsha Finney,
that a population of 10,000 is required to support community
facilities. With an average house occupancy of 2.6, that makes for a
population of just over 2000 in 2030. So how will 'community' be
Ms Morris acknowledged that there will be no school in Kilgariff "for a
long time" – even drawing on the existing student population south of
the Gap would not help get over the threshold required, she said.
She also said it would be hard to get retail onto the site, as a
population of 750 is required to support a corner store, though on this
issue the existing community south of the Gap may help.
In group discussion later it was suggested that a school of 100
students, in the tradition of small country schools, could be viable,
especially if combined with childcare and pre-school. It was also
suggested that the services could cater for the needs of the Desert
People's Centre staff and student population. And it was argued that
passing trade could support a service station and convenience store if
they were located close to the Stuart Highway.
Ms Morris had earlier pointed to the interface with the Stuart Highway
as a critical issue, and to walling it off, as has been approved for
the old drive-in site, as no solution at all: "Do we risk creating an
isolated and hidden residential estate?" she asked.
Ms Finney, playing devil's advocate, suggested that the scenarios of
Kilgariff becoming a haven for "middle class white flight" or,
alternatively, "a poverty sink" (a low income ghetto) had to be
explored. A senior public servant acknowledged this as "the elephant in
the room", and also said Kilgariff was a response to the needs of
middle to lower income householders.
It had been suggested earlier, by Vicky Critchley who had carried out a
consultancy looking at opportunities at Kilgariff for sustainability,
that a target of 15% "affordable housing" be set, with a further target
of 20% "adaptive housing" (designed with potential for remodeling to
meet changing needs). Ms Critchley spoke of "key workers" being housed
at Kilgariff, and under the heading of "economic sustainability" also
spoke of responding to the needs of Indigenous business and workers,
pointing to the very high rate of Indigenous unemployment in Alice
Springs – 16.3% (34.9% if CDEP is included).
Ms Morris had also spoken of housing "key workers" and Indigenous
students from the Desert People's Centre, and asked how a diverse
social mix would be brought about without the problems often associated
with public housing at present.
These are just some of the issues that will no doubt be teased out in
the coming three days.
Will Labor profit from housing misery?
Comment by MLA for Braitling, Adam Giles
Suggestions that future land sales at Arid Zone could have a starting
price of more than $250,000 for an 800 square metre block are
By the Government’s own admission, this land has been selected because
it’s owned by the Territory Government and its proximity to essential
services would allow for lower headwork costs and, as a consequence,
cheaper land prices.
When the Territory Government presented modelling for potential land
sales, they assessed the average headworks cost per lot at $23,500.
That included water, sewer, power, stormwater and roads. How can they
now want to charge $250,000 per block?
This cost estimate is particularly concerning when compared to other
potential blocks to be developed at Larapinta priced at $140,000 per
lot, South Sadadeen $34,500 and Mt Johns $35,000.
A new stage satellite suburb in Undoolya was also costed, not on a per
lot basis, but at approximately $14,000 per person for a population of
Centralians have every right to question the proposed $250,000 per lot
for the AZRI subdivision. There is nothing affordable about it.
Government should be stimulating the local economy through release of
low cost land not price gouging Centralians and profiteering.
I again call on Karl Hampton to stand up for Centralians and stop Labor
pocketing the money of Alice Springs families to fund election promises
in Darwin’s northern suburbs.
Alcohol ID system a dud? By ERWIN CHLANDA
The alcohol ID system, under which buyers of alcohol must
present a photo ID which is scanned and processed under government
legislation, is seriously flawed, claims a liquor merchant in Alice
He says the system malfunctions three to four times a day because the
data are transmitted over a wireless system which frequently cuts out.
The source says he has been told the government will not spend money to
go to a landline method of transmission.
A Department of Justice spokesperson says: "A handful of licensees are
experiencing network connection issues with the current Alcohol ID
system in Alice Springs.
"Network congestion and signal interference is the major cause of this
"Disconnections are detected by a service provider and the Licensee is
contacted in order to manually reconnect.
"The Department of Justice, in conjunction with the service provider,
has successfully trialled a more reliable communications device that
will automatically reconnect thus eliminating the need for the
licensees’ staff to do so manually.
"These devices are expected to be deployed shortly."
Risky main character for Alice author's
second novel. REVIEW by
Alice Springs author Jennifer Mills has been brave in the choice of
main character in her second novel, Gone, recently released by UQP. The
adopts the name of Frank but so deeply uncertain is he of who he is, of
the past that made him and of his connection to the world around him,
that the reader wonders if he even knows his given name. In any case we
never learn it, or if we think we do, the possibilities are frightening.
There is an unnamed boy who figures in his memory. The novel opens with
this boy being forced by his father to go into a water tank fouled by a
dead possum. This is a potent piece of writing and sets an expectation
of what is to come – that the book will be pervaded by the overpowering
stink of death and fear.
But what follows presents a terror of a different order, that
experienced by someone who has only the most tenuous hold on a sense of
who he is and his place in the world. This is not easy material. How do
you engage readers with someone who is literally falling apart,
constantly slipping away from himself and from who and what is around
He has a photo of a place that he thinks may be his childhood home and
a vague notion that it may be somewhere in the west. On his release
from prison (or is it escape, as he is still in prison garb?) he heads
westwards, thumbing rides.
This gives the novel its structure, each chapter corresponding to a day
on this journey. With each day 'Frank' comes into contact with people
who give him a ride. They introduce a certain texture to our experience
of this journey, but so closed is Frank to relationships with others,
that nothing much happens in the novel for a long time. We have
sketches of a panoply of characters dotted across the less than
engrossing landscape of the Sturt Highway, interspersed by the memories
of what we presume is Frank's depressing, often cruel childhood.
A change occurs about a third of the way in, corresponding with Frank's
turn northwards from Port Augusta. All who have made this journey will
know the sense of entering another country as Port Augusta is left
behind and Mills's book lifts with this emergence into the desert. Her
descriptive powers have richer material to work with. Indeed the desert
and its summer heat take on a dramatic presence as powerful as any
At the same time the childhood memories become more scarifying and a
great sense of unease sets in. We become less and less certain of what
has actually happened to Frank, but whether real or not, past or
present, his experience is one of cruel abuse, neglect, abandonment and
Despite all this, Frank reveals a certain amount of grit and
determination. He has small triumphs to counteract to some extent a lot
of despair. There are acts to which he will not stoop. He survives.
We leave him somewhere in the north-west, around the Halls Creek area.
It is possibly his destination or was, but what he expected to find is
no longer there. There is a suggestion that this will free him, that it
offers a new beginning but this comes in the last quarter page of the
book. I am not sure Mills has given us enough here to relieve the
overwhelming impression that life will defeat this man.
Mills is a woman in her early thirties who leads, from what I know, an
unconventional and adventurous life, her well-earned opportunities as
an emerging author taking her frequently away from Alice Springs,
interstate and overseas. This is the second novel for which she
has chosen a central character living on the margins of their society
(somewhat so for May in The Diamond Anchor, utterly so for Frank) and
who is not a strong actor in their fate. Things are done to them, and
Mills's focus is on how they survive with their wounds. I have found
both novels rather depressing and, if other readers react in the same
way, this is a big risk for Mills as a writer. I wonder what would
happen if she began her next work from the point she wishes for Frank
at the end of Gone – starting with the moment of shaking free from the
past and beginning anew.
In her father's footsteps
Elken Maxwell, now residing permanently in Australia, was in the Red
Centre last week retracing the footsteps of her adventurous father.
Back in 1955-56 Ted Bumiller was the first man to travel around the
world in a Jeep. A recently graduated architect, he used his own
savings to buy the Jeep that would become wheels and home for the next
12 months. En route he met Elken's mother, Gunhild, in Denmark –
a fruitful encounter as, before the end of his 45,000 mile odyssey, she
let him know that she was expecting their baby.
Apart from his first child, Ted also brought home film and slides, from
which he made his first film: By Jeep Around the World. He
went on to make 17 more films, taking them on screening and speaking
tours around the USA.
He and Gunhild would have four daughters, Elken being the youngest.
However the three younger girls would never have been born but for the
action of Aboriginal people in the Australian Outback. Ted was
often travelling in remote country without roads and somewhere along
the way he ran out of fuel. He left the Jeep behind and set out to get
help, carrying only a small canteen of water. Help was a lot further
away than he expected and eventually he passed out from dehydration. He
would have died had Aboriginal people not found him.
the 1980s he came back to Australia to try to find these people
but was unsuccessful. He passed away five years ago. Elken's pilgrimage
to the Centre was in memory of him, to relive his strong sense of
connection with this land and to be grateful to it and its first
peoples: "If not for them, I wouldn't be here today."
– Kieran Finnane
Nancarrow's Arrows: Keeping the
balls in the air
I’m starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by the pace
of my life and the juggling I have to do trying to keep all the balls
in the air. Trouble is I can’t juggle, two balls is all I got – I am
speaking about my metaphorical balls by the way.
I am a believer in signs and portents and I see them all around me now,
reflecting my sense of things stalking in the shadows. Then the moment
arrives when I know that some one is out to get me.
I get to the railway crossing at 8.05 in the morning to see the boom
gates 'for my safety’ are down and there is a sodding great freight
train going ever-so-slowly through Alice. Are the people who plan this
total numpties? Or are they just so bloody arrogant that they can’t be
arsed about the disruption they cause? My thought is, either they live
a long way away and don’t really appreciate how infuriating they are
being, or they are already at work at the train station and don’t give
Living in Alice means we don’t ‘do’ commuting, everything is less than
10 minutes away and when we get held up for 10 minutes, we are 10
minutes late. If I wanted a 25 minute commute I would move somewhere
else where there would be bill boards to read on the way and so
on. Oh dear, it’s going to be whingey column again, I can feel
What's the go with the swimming pool? I kind of expected to be swimming
in the nice new bit after couple of years of digging stuff up and dust
(and more recently, mud). Now it turns out they have broken the old bit
and the whole thing is a shemozzle. (Hells bells, the spell check let
me have 'shemozzle' without the angry red line of non-conformity – I
never knew it was a real word.)
Hmm, what else? Guy Sebastian, yep that works.
Why have a go at Guy you might say? Well for starters I’m not – I
haven’t met him, so I can’t say what he is like. Or can I? Seeing as he
likes to have his two bobs' worth in the media, I guess I can comment
Sebby was having a whine in the papers a while back about how
other long term Australian musos had mocked him at the APRA awards and
how he was better than them cause he'd sold more records than they had,
It was at this stage that I started to laugh – he had completely missed
the point. It wasn’t about who sells more songs than who. Integrity and
credibility do not always walk hand in hand with success and to people
who don’t have a manufactured ride into the charts, his very presence
is annoying. Let alone when they hand out awards and free grog, bitchy
singers in tight black jeans put down their guitars and sharpen their
claws for war.
Which I can understand.
Not long after I started gigging I played on an album that had
potential to ‘go places’. Joe Camilleri produced it and we recorded in
Sing Sing studios in Melbourne, which is one of the classic rock
studios in Australia. Vikka and Linda Bull both guested as did Joe. We
were promised wonderful things at the record label.
What happened to us, this fledgling band of brothers and sisters? The
record sank like a stone never to be seen again. The key person who was
our go to guy left and his successor wasn’t interested – we weren’t his
So to every muso whose album stiffed, or whose record label blew smoke
up their bottom whilst preparing the knife for the back, I get it. And
to Guy, a message of wisdom from my dad about the industry. Don’t start
believing your own bullshit.
LETTERS: How can there be ORDER if there is no LAW?
Posted 1350 CTS Wednesday
businessman Steve Strike sent this email to members of the Territory
Government, including Chief Minister Paul Henderson, and many others,
at midnight. By 1pm today he had no answers from the Government.
the Opposition contacted him this morning. Police are saying they will
Tuesday, 6.21pm – A very distressed women from The Thai Room Restaurant
informs me that some youths have gone on a rampage in Tuit Lane next to
Todd Mall in Alice Springs and trashed her new Honda CR-V. On
inspection I find garbage strewn about Tuit Lane the windscreen
completely smashed in and panel damage on her car. It appears that the
offenders continue their rampage into Todd Mall. Who knows what is
6.25pm – I call 131444. It's that police phone number that never works!
No one there but a lengthy recorded message stating what a wonderful
job police have done lowering crime in the last 3 years.
6.31pm – Still no answer, so I call 000. I get an operator in Adelaide
who after statutory requirements transfers my call to Casuarina
[Darwin]. The operator is not interested in my call unless I can see
offenders or someone is being murdered. I hang up.
6.33pm – I try 131444 again. Same Government SpinSpinSpin. No one is
6.48pm – I finally connect with a human. Another operator in Casuarina.
That operator states they cannot transfer me to Alice Springs Police.
They need full particulars of the incident and they will file a report
to Alice Springs Police. Alice Springs Police will dispatch a unit as
soon as possible.
7.30pm – Still no response from Alice Springs Police. I have been
standing in Gregory Terrace now for an hour hoping to flag down a
Police Unit. There are no Police on the streets.
7.35pm – One of the staff from the Thai Room physically drives to the
Alice Springs Police Station to report the crime.
7.51pm – Police unit finally arrives.
One and a half hours for an on the ground police response on a Tuesday
evening. Is this good enough? Why cant the people of Alice get a local
response from local people? Why do we have to physically drive to the
Alice Springs Police Station to get a response?
How does a tourist get help in situations like this? What if the crime
is more serious? Ringing 000 does not guarantee you will get help. The
operators dont even know where Alice Springs is. Once transferred to
Darwin by the 000 operator that operator has no knowledge of Alice
As far as communications are concerned there is a shield that
physically prohibits a caller from connecting directly to the Alice
Springs Police Station at this time of the day. Should a community that
is in dire straights with Law and Order tolerate this? Is it good
After a week of political spin doctoring in Alice the pressure is off,
the Darwin Brigade goes home and everything returns to normal!
Alice resumes as a town in crisis!
What makes youth gangs tick
Sir – Youth gang activity, like we
see in our streets at night, has a long history and is currently found
throughout the world. The precursors are always the same; they
include lack of parental control, non attendance of school, and
belonging to a minority group whose members have limited employment
We all have human needs – self
respect and the respect of others, challenges that we can meet with
success, belonging, and a personal control of our own lives. We,
the broader community, fulfill these needs by going to school, holding
a job, raising a family, and getting along with our neighbors.
With street kids that’s not the case.
They don’t cope with school;
few in their family have jobs; marriages and family relationships are
often brutal; and they feel despised by the broader community.
During the day they wander
around town, with no money to spend, being moved on from place to place
by security personnel or police, not belonging, looked down on, and
But at night they own the
streets. They are in control. They belong to the group
(gang). They have self respect and they gain the respect of
outsiders at the point of a knife. The challenge of breaking in,
stealing, and outwitting the police is fun and exciting. Winning is
great, and loosing is no big deal, as they have learned the ropes of
the criminal justice system, and they are not threatened by it.
For us youth gangs are a
problem, but for the gang members it’s not the problem, it’s the
So how do we stop it? We
don’t. As long as the precursors exist (minority groups with no school,
no jobs, and no life) it will continue.
However, as with all crime, it
can be controlled by the police at an acceptable level, and maybe this
is the best that we can hope for, because until we help them to become
a part of us, they will continue to be seen by us as "them", outsiders
in our community, outside the law, and outside of our control.
An unintended consequence of slowing trains?
Sir – The construction of the
railway to Darwin, finally achieved in 2004, was a long-awaited
development anticipated by many to derive much economic benefit to the
Northern Territory. The railway has yet to fulfill this dream but there
are certainly many more train movements, of freight as well as the Ghan
passenger service, through our fair town.
In recent weeks there’s been some
grumbling about the length of time trains travel through the rail
corridor in town, and it’s transpired they are proceeding more slowly.
The inconvenience for motorists is not the only effect of slower rail
movements – it’s also killing gum trees along the rail corridor.
At a time when Central Australia is
so green it almost hurts your eyes, sick and dying vegetation stand out
in stark contrast. Recently I’ve noticed from casual glances when
traveling along Telegraph Terrace and the Stuart Highway south of town
that there are a number of chlorotic (yellowing) and defoliating trees
along the rail corridor. This intrigued me, as I’m familiar with trees
displaying symptoms of poisoning (I had been involved with a tree
herbicide trial on Alcoota Station in 1987/88, when working at AZRI).
My first suspicion was that there
had been an over-zealous application of herbicide along the rail line
for weed control. An excellent example of this kind of mishap occurred
in the summer of 1997/98 when several trees on the AZRI boundary along
Colonel Rose Drive began to sicken. Discreet enquiries with my former
work colleagues revealed that a staff member had misread the label for
a herbicide used to treat the firebreak, and had applied the chemical
at ten times the recommended rate.
It was very embarrassing and never
publicly revealed but of course nobody lived on that land so there was
no need for the public to know, was there? The dead trees remain
standing along Colonel Rose Drive.
However, closer inspection of the
trees along the rail corridor, extending from St Mary’s Creek to
Larapinta Drive opposite Billygoat Hill, reveals a very different cause
of poisoning. Herbicide can be ruled out as there are stretches where
trees are dying yet the undergrowth (mainly buffel grass) is green and
healthy, or vice versa.
More telling, however, is that not
all tree and shrub species are equally affected. Eucalypts and
corymbias (bloodwoods, including ghost gums) are by far the worst
affected in closest proximity to the railway, followed by beefwoods
In contrast the wattles (Acacias)
and she-oaks (Casuarinas) are barely affected at all – I observed only
one of each type that was sick. Significantly all bar one of the
ironwood trees (Acacia estrophialata) near the railway are healthy –
this species is usually highly susceptible to herbicide poisoning.
However, the eucalypts of all types
and species are subject to massive and rapid die-back, and the apparent
cause is the exhaust fumes of train engines as they pass by slowly –
this seems to have tipped the balance against these trees. There are
some examples where the cause is clearly evident, as the canopies of
the trees are worst closest to the railway but comparatively healthy on
the opposite side.
Many of the sick trees were
established in a major beautification project along the rail corridor
in the 1980s. Ironically, in recent weeks there has been another big
beautification project with hundreds of young trees established along
the rail corridor by Telegraph Terrace, and the overwhelming majority
are eucalypts. These trees are unlikely to flourish in the short term.
Other dying eucalypts are naturally
occurring trees, and some of these are very old. Several large river
red gums display clear signs of distress, most noticeably a cluster of
tall trees by the turnoff to the causeway at Heavitree Gap.
Interestingly the river gums by the
road and rail in Heavitree Gap itself show no signs of ill health; it
appears they are saved because the Gap acts as a funnel that amplifies
wind, and also being in shade for much of each afternoon means the air
is cooler, which lifts the hot exhaust gases from the trains out of
harms way for the foliage.
There are also several old Coolabah
trees in the rail corridor in proximity to Billygoat Hill that display
dieback; and this has potentially serious legal implications as these
trees are considered sacred by Aboriginal traditional custodians.
The sudden recent manifestation of
this problem means that at present very few trees have actually died;
it’s very obvious, however, that many of them are close to perishing
and more are just beginning to display symptoms of ill health.
If nothing is done to resolve this
problem it’s likely the overwhelming majority of eucalypts, and a few
other species, in close proximity to the rail line in and near town
will be lost by year’s end.