In 1989 I lived in a unit in a backyard …

Comment on CLC members want forensic probe into their organisation by Alex Nelson.

In 1989 I lived in a unit in a backyard of a property in Hartley Street neighbouring Centrecorp. I was astonished to observe a senior town council alderman, also a prominent local CLP identity and former real estate agent, regularly accessing that property where I learned he was employed.
This dumbfounded me, as this was a period of time when the NT Government (CLP) was in constant furious conflict with the land councils and other Aboriginal organisations across the NT.
I misread the situation next door, as I assumed this was a small but positive step towards finding common ground between the CLP and the Aboriginal organisations (incidentally, David Ross had become the Director of the CLC for the first time, replacing Pat Dodson who had returned to WA and was appointed a commissioner for the Black Deaths in Custody inquiry in that state).
In 1990 I was the chairman of the CLP’s Flynn-cum-Greatorex Branch. On several occasions I divided proceeds from combined branch meetings with the Centrecorp “employee”, himself the treasurer of the Alice Springs Branch, in his office at Centrecorp.
I became quite familiar with the internal layout of the building; and at one stage the floorboards in his office were replaced with expensive jarrah timber.
During that year this person was preselected as a CLP candidate for a new electorate in town (following a redistribution of boundaries).
As a local branch chairman, I was a member of the collegiate panel (in whose creation I had major role) to choose the CLP’s candidates for the seats in Central Australia.
This particular individual won preselection by one vote over another nomination for that seat. Interestingly, in his comprehensive application seeking nomination as a CLP candidate, he made no reference to his position at Centrecorp.
In fact, this fact was never publicised for many years except for one occasion when he was quoted in a Centralian Advocate article reporting the announcement that the tourist lodge development at Kings Canyon would proceed (a project in which Centrecorp was involved from the beginning).
It so happened that our recommendation of the candidate for the seat of Stuart was rejected at the CLP’s Annual Conference in Darwin that year; and I was the unwitting patsy that relayed highly sensitive information about this person (which I’m now certain was wrong) to the party’s leaders that led to that decision.
The meeting chose to appoint two people to oversee the completion of the preselection process for Stuart; and one of those appointed was the Centrecorp employee. In due course I ended up being requested (via the Office of Chief Minister in Alice Springs) to be one of two CLP candidates for Stuart in 1990.
The Centrecorp employee narrowly lost his campaign in Alice Springs; he continued in his roles as a town council alderman and CLP functionary, at one time serving on the party’s Management Committee (not to mention his membership of many other committees in town).
This person (along with his close friend in the Office of Chief Minister in Alice Springs) sought preselection as a CLP candidate for the 1994 NT election campaign.
They were key figures in the attempt to pervert the party’s preselection processes to achieve their aims but ultimately were unsuccessful. On one occasion the Centrecorp employee illegally gained access to private bank accounts of certain members appointed to the preselection panel which led to these people being removed from it (all of this was reported exclusively in the Alice Springs News during 1995).
All of this is just to illustrate there have been serious conflicts of interest involving Centrecorp which stretches back more than a quarter of a century, almost back to its inception in the mid 1980s.
There is no question that there badly requires to be an official inquiry probing the Central Land Council, Centrecorp and its various affiliates and subsidiaries but I warn this will likely blow out to be the NT’s equivalent of the Fitzgerald Inquiry of Queensland in the late 1980s.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
@ Robert Hall (Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:20 am): In October 1983 the annual Alice Art Prize was held at the Nurses Lounge at the Alice Springs Hospital. The NT Government sponsored a special category, The Golden Jubilee Award, to mark the 50th anniversary of the official renaming of the township of Stuart to Alice Springs.
The controversial winning entry was by Dr Jenny Gray, whose work of “a nine-panel quilted piece in satin” depicted the progression of a nuclear explosion behind Mt Gillen.
In the front page story (November 2, 1983) about this award, Dr Gray was described as “a member of a world-wide organisation of doctors, the Medical Association for the Prevention of War.
“She said its main aim was to inform the public of the medical consequences of nuclear war, in the hope that people would urge governments towards disarmament.
“World-wide membership stood at 35,000 with 1000 members in Australia. Eight medical practitioners in Alice Springs belonged to the association.”
This event occurred more than a month prior to the women’s protest at Pine Gap that year and clearly shows that Robert Hall’s claim to be the sole representative of MAPW in the Northern Territory at the time appears to be incorrect.
As it turns out, the greatest moment of danger from nuclear conflict during the entire Cold War occurred on September 26, 1983 – probably about the time Dr Gray was stitching her quilt for the Alice Art Prize – and it had nothing to do with Pine Gap or the Americans.
A Soviet spy satellite alerted a military command centre in Moscow that the US had launched a few nuclear missiles towards the USSR. The officer on duty, Stanislav Petrov (who died a few months ago), chose to regard this warning as a false alarm thereby averting a nuclear catastrophe.
It turned out that the offending Soviet satellite had interpreted sunlight reflecting off clouds as missiles that had just been launched from America.
Nobody in the West knew anything about this event until after the collapse of the Soviet Union nearly a decade later.


Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
@ Steve Brown and @ Hal Duell: I don’t know the personal circumstances and timing of Russell Goldflam’s family leaving Nazi Germany; however, historically Jewish people were fleeing or being expelled from Germany prior to the commencement of the Second World War in September 1939 and long before Japan’s entry into the Pacific theatre in December 1941.
Some of those refugees made it to Australia before the war or very early in that conflict. A notable example was the British passenger ship Dunera which transported German and Italian “enemy aliens”, including Jewish refugees, sailing to Australia from July to September 1940, a period of time that saw the fall of France and the Low Countries to Nazi Germany and the onslaught of the Battle of Britain – this was more than a year before the USA and Japan entered the war.
One person on board that ship was Doug Boerner, who came to Alice Springs during the war and made his home here (he passed away in 2000).
Russell Goldflam has written an eloquent contribution for the Alice Springs News Online and provides a very interesting perspective which isn’t personally familiar to me. I don’t agree with all that he has written but I see no need to respond with the vicious rudeness expressed by at least one correspondent to this story.


CBD planning: The vibrants are at it again
Last weekend (Saturday, 14 October) was the 30th anniversary of the official opening of the full pedestrian Todd Mall.
Interesting to read what was published on the Centralian Advocate’s front page about Todd Mall on that occasion: “After a long and tedious 12 months of noisy machinery, frustrating dust and some inconvenience to the public, the new-look Todd Mall opens officially today. And what a mall it has turned out to be!
“It has ushered in a new era in the town’s development and growth. Some people may have had some misgivings on the outcome of a project they believed was unnecessary.
“But we are happy to say that the mall has assumed an essentially Centralian character which has pleased most people – and the tourists seem to love it.”
The editorial opined: “This newspaper has always maintained that Alice Springs needed a full mall to give the town a lively centre. Today that mall is a reality.
“Big problems were predicted when a full mall was mooted. Some traders felt they would lose business if people could not park in the street and deliveries would be made very difficult.
“While the matter of service lanes has never been properly addressed, customer parking has been provided in adjacent areas and through a good-sized car park within the Ford [now Alice] Plaza.
“There is also a big car park in the Yeperenye Shopping Centre opening next Tuesday – and that is only a short stroll to the mall.”
The editorial went on: “So early in 1986 council commissioned the architects to design and document the project.
“The wisdom of council’s decision to use a local design has been proven – the end result is suitable for our unique area.
“Today locals enjoy the traffic-free ambience of the mall almost as much as the tourists.
“It is fitting that the International Malls Conference is being held in Alice Springs this week. We hear that, generally, the delegates also think our mall is just great.”
Ouch!!
@ Bob Taylor (Posted October 17, 2017 at 10:05 pm) – The Post Office was relocated to its current site in 1977, prior to then it was on the corner of Railway Terrace and Parsons Street. At that time Todd Street was undergoing reconstruction to become a semi-mall with a one-way street from south to north (opened in 1978).
Historically the proximity of the Post Office to Todd Street was unnecessary; and indeed would have been most undesirable as it would have worsened the traffic and parking problems then being experienced in an extremely busy and chronically congested main street in the commercial centre of town. That is simply unimaginable today.
Your suggestion for a multi-storey car park south of the current Post Office has been made before at least twice as I recall (in the 1980s and again in 2001); and I suggested Hartley Street have one-way traffic with angle parking in a submission to a town council commissioned CBD traffic study in late 1987, exactly three decades ago. There was no response.
Alderman Les Smith made a similar suggestion about a decade later.


Master plan for town, reconciliation plan for Australia Day
@ Domenico Pecorari and @ Steve Brown: The first site chosen for the Anzac Memorial was to be an area set aside at the (then) new cemetery established west of town in 1933 – today’s Alice Springs General Cemetery on Memorial Drive.
There were objections to this location, mainly that it was a considerable distance out of town and access was via a very rough track.
According to an account published in 1952, a veteran by the name of Jack Novice suggested that the top of View Hill (or Stott Hill) next to Wills Terrace would be a good location for the memorial. This idea was challenged on the basis it would be too difficult and costly to transport materials to the top of the hill but Novice claimed he had been able to drive his vehicle to the summit easily enough although there was no track at the time.
Dr D R Brown tested this claim by driving his A-Model Ford to the top of the hill without difficulty whereupon the decision was taken to proceed with construction of the war memorial on that site.
The energetic Reverend Harry Griffiths became the driving force behind this project, designing the obelisk and presiding over its official dedication on Anzac Day of 1934 on the top of what now became Anzac Hill.
I’m unaware that any Traditional Owners were consulted about this project – this was an era and time when such considerations just didn’t arise; moreover, Aboriginal people required permits to enter the town area at the time and had no right to be present within the town at all after sunset each day.
If there is permission from TOs for the Anzac Memorial now, it’s almost certainly been obtained long after the fact of its existence.


Master plan for town, reconciliation plan for Australia Day
The flags were installed on Anzac Hill in 1989 as part of a major upgrade of the memorial. It was late that year the Central Land Council first suggested the Aboriginal flag also be flown there but this was rejected by the Alice Springs Town Council and met with local opposition.
It’s relevant to recall the long-running heated debate over Aboriginal affairs at the time, with many contentious issues such as the replacement of the Sacred Sites Authority with the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, excisions for living areas on stock routes, agitation for separate smaller land councils, and control of the Strehlow Collection.
All of this controversy generated public enmity that wasn’t favourably disposed towards the suggestion of the Aboriginal flag flying on Anzac Hill that was first made 28 years ago.


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