I don’t have an argument with many of the proposals …

Comment on Cr Brown adapts Port Augusta solution to Alice Springs, calls for closer look at youth centre proposal by Alex Nelson.

I don’t have an argument with many of the proposals put forward here by Steve Brown but, as usual, I’m reminded of various attempts and proposals from the past to deal with these issues.
Steve Brown’s youth centre proposal echoes a suggestion I put forward over 20 years ago to convert the abandoned Turner Arcade at the north end of Todd Mall into a youth-oriented facility in which the young people of Alice Springs would have a direct say in its management and operation, and would expose them to real-life experience of business and commercial operation. I wrote specifically to Alderman Carole Frost about this idea – she was also the head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Alice Springs and was a prominent identity in the Alice Springs Branch of the CLP. I received a nice letter of acknowledgement in reply but the idea never proceeded.
A few years later Turner Arcade was bulldozed, along with the Shell Todd service station, to make way for the existing carpark at the north end of the mall, in conjunction with opening up that end of Todd Mall to traffic in the current cul-de-sac – all at the cost of $5 million to bring more people into that end of the town again. Hmm, sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? But I digress.
It was also in the very early 1990s that another attempt was made to create a youth complex (a Youth Multi-Function Centre) in response to the entrenched issues of youth crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour that was plaguing Alice Springs at the time. A committee was established, including Tangentjere Council, and a number of sites were listed for the proposed youth centre, including the abandoned water-slide site (now Mercorella Circuit) and the Transport and Works depot off Smith Street (from where the large shed for the Road Transport Hall of Fame was obtained). However, the timing could not have been more inauspicious – Australia was enduring the “recession we had to have” and the NT Government had enacted a program of freezing recruitment in the NT Public Service, slashing over 1220 positions in the process, and implementing wide-ranging cutbacks in expenditure all over the Territory. No prizes for guessing what happened to the Youth Multi-Function Centre proposal!
Finally, in regard to the treatment of Aboriginal people with the “gushing destructive paternalism of the past”, it’s perhaps salutory to take note of Albert Namatjira’s opinions on this issue published on the front page of the Centralian Advocate in October 1952, almost exactly 60 years ago. Namatjira was seeking citizenship rights equal to that of white Australians for himself and a few other Aboriginal people; but he expressed strong reservations about extending such rights to all Aboriginal people for he feared that “they will drink liquor like water”. In light of subsequent history he clearly knew what he was talking about.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Cr Brown adapts Port Augusta solution to Alice Springs, calls for closer look at youth centre proposal
In reply to David Chewings concerning the correct spelling of Tangentyere Council – jes, jou’re probably correct but I’m fairly sure the name was originally spelt with a ‘j’. That’s me, always living in the past! There’s nothing unusual about the evolution of spelling of Aboriginal names; for example – Aranda, Arunta and now Arrernte.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Turn rock-throwing into backflips: how community can help
I smile at the circularity of Rainer Chlanda’s preferred location of a youth hub without walls at the “courthouse lawns” (DD Smith Park), adjacent to the Alice Springs Police Station (the former Greatorex Building) and across the road from the local magistrates courthouse.
I say “circularity” because the first drop-in centre for youth on the streets at night was located in the old police station on that corner where the courthouse now stands. Established in 1976, it was named “Danny’s Place” and lasted all of no more than a year when it was forced to shut down to make way for the said courthouse.
And from that time on, youth drop-in centres, real or proposed, have bounced around from one site to another all through town; including an old house in the north end of Todd Street that was demolished to make way for an office block (now called Eurilpa House), the empty Turner Arcade – the last shop there was Grandad’s icecream shop, a once popular hang out for kids of my generation, also in the north end of Todd Mall (that was my suggestion, nearly 30 years ago) which was later bulldozed to make way for expanding Alice Plaza and new carparking spaces; and even the abandoned waterslide site in the early 1990s, which instead was demolished to make way for infill real estate development (Mercorella Circuit, near the YMCA).
We have decades of recent history of kids in trouble (or causing it) being shunted from pillar to post. As a society, history shows we’re not really fair dinkum about resolving this issue.
Sadly, there is nothing new in any of this – Rainer’s father and his colleagues were reporting on these kinds of issues 40 plus years ago, and it continues unabated to the present day.


Wakefield insists on Anzac Oval, ignores majority
@ 5 Minute Local (Posted June 14, 2018 at 5:41 pm): Definitely living up to your pseudonym. Your suggestion is not a new idea – it’s been raised several times since the early 1970s.
The last occasion was when the construction of the railway north to Darwin was being finalised in the late 1990s-early 2000s when there was significant lobbying of the NT Government to re-route the railway around Alice Springs, including by the Alice Springs Town Council.
I also took up the cudgels on this issue as an individual and was publicly criticized by a local CLP member, notwithstanding the same member several years earlier had himself advocated the removal of the rail yards out of the town centre and to re-route the eventual railway to Darwin via west of the town.
These pleas were rejected by the government as being too late or too expensive (it would have added about three per cent to the overall cost, from memory). There’s no prospect of this happening now.


Wakefield insists on Anzac Oval, ignores majority
@ John Bell (Posted June 13, 2018 at 7:51 pm): John, the only sacred trees on the Melanka site would be (or are) two old river red gums near the southeast corner adjacent to the intersection of Stuart Terrace and Gap Road.
None of the other trees I’m aware of on that site are local native species nor predate the construction of the Melanka Hostel.
This includes the towering lemon-scented gums of which the majority are now dying or dead as a consequence of lack of care and the extended dry conditions.
Consequently the trees don’t pose any significant issues for redevelopment of most of that area, at least as far as sacred sites are concerned.


Wakefield insists on Anzac Oval, ignores majority
@ Hal Duell (Posted June 12, 2018 at 7:59 am): Hal, I’m still in the process of collating information. Gathering the history pertaining to this location is rather like measuring a piece of string but it all adds up to demonstrating the considerable heritage value of this site, the extent of which I think will surprise many people.
The nomination for heritage listing of the oval and school will definitely proceed.
The fact that this issue has blown up in the NT Government’s face demonstrates the stupidity of over-reliance on advice from vested interests (with no regard for anything except their bank accounts) and overpaid outside “experts” who have no background in local knowledge.
Once again we see the consequences of the corporate amnesia that afflicts this town and Territory, and history shows it makes no difference which party is in power.


Cemeteries could be turned into parks
There is another method of burying the dead which is also held to be environmentally friendly, it is called “promession”.
According to the Wikipedia entry on this subject, it’s a system of disposal of bodies of much more recent origin (two decades ago) than alkaline hydrolysis (19th century).
It involves cryogenic freezing of bodies in liquid nitrogen to -196°C (in effect, crystallising them) after which vibrations are applied that shatter them in minutes into fragments.
This material in turn is freeze dried and all metal or other non-natural components (eg. fillings, artifical joints) are removed.
The final stage involves “the dry powder being placed in a biodegradable casket which is interred in the top layers of soil, where aerobic bacteria decompose the remains into humus in as little as 6 to 12 months.”
Invented in Sweden, it’s a method already expressly adopted in South Korea and has expressions of interest from up to 60 other countries.
I think promession also deserves consideration as an option for burials.


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