As a fresh-faced young lad newly-arrived in the Alice from …

Comment on Sit-down money: Pointless jobs for the dole by John Bell.

As a fresh-faced young lad newly-arrived in the Alice from the city down south in 1967, my first job in the NTA District Office was to implement the Training Allowances Scheme in the remote communities of Central Australia, as far up as Hooker Creek.
With my Darwin colleague Brian Chin, who implemented the scheme in the Top End, over the next five years I saw the development of the scheme’s job-creation attempts in all of its spectacular futility.
The politics of it all was fascinating. Liberal Minister William Wentworth introduced the Training Allowances Scheme to keep union influence and agitation out of a challenging and fragile work environment.
In the form of below-award training allowances, a bonanza of cash money began to flow into communities like never seen before. To paint rocks white on the roadside.
Then the Whitlam Labor government came to power, and the creek-flow of cash become a flooding river of gold. Still painting rocks white in the brave new era of outlying home camps and Toyota Dreaming.
I saw the mind-boggling scams, the cover-ups, the hare-brained community projects dreamed up in Canberra, the practical difficulties facing community staff, the sheer lack of worthwhile “jobs”, the challenge to stay honest and optimistic, the rampant political correctness attitude that demanded good people keep their mouths firmly shut or lose their jobs.
For a naïve young white city boy who came to Alice fired up to work with Aboriginal people after meeting the incomparable pastor Doug Nicholls, it was a culture shock to beat all culture shocks.
I can say now, with the benefit of a lot of years that have flowed under the Causeway Bridge since then, that I feel for all Aboriginal people in those communities, together with their community staff and the fair dinkum community-based job creating agencies who face the reality every day.
I take my hat off to them all. I am so thankful that I had the privilege to be there at a unique time, to see the reality.
Back down here in the Big Smoke, I can see that the city mob generally, including the majority of politicians, would not have a clue about what makes remote communities tick. Not even the foggiest.

Recent Comments by John Bell

Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
@ Alex Nelson. Jewish refugees pre-WW2. I have never forgotten the story of the SS St Louis, told to me in 1955 by my grade 5 teacher at St Pius X primary school, Sister Mary Gangolfa, a Missionary Sister of the Sacred Heart, recently arrived in Oz from the Black Forest to teach the sons and daughters of young WW2 veterans.
Nearly 1000 desperate Jewish women and children sailed from Hamburg in 1939 to escape the Nazis. They headed for Cuba, where the ship was refused landing. No one wanted them. Because they were Jews. Shunned, they returned to Belgium, where many eventually died in WW2. I can understand why Russell has become a peacenik, with no disrespect using that word. It’s an admirable cause.


Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
@Nadine Williams. “We are the future, we are the link”. Such wonderful inspiring marching music lyrics!. Reminds me of the Good old days of peace activism and the stirring calls to arms (so to speak)…”Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” circa 1968. I can see Kim Jong un joining in….singing at the top of his voice…as today’s born again ICAN Nobel Prize peace activists march on the UN – that paragon of global justice – to demand that all countries get rid of their nuclear warheads. I always loved Puff the Magic Dragon. Ah,nostalgia. Here am I at three score years and eleven, trying to persuade that other paragon of justice -the AFL – to get rid of Collingwood Football Club. In the interests of world sanity.


Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores
Russell writes a nice heartfelt article. Emotional and committed to the notion that he and his fellow self-named “peaceniks” are enlightened and inhabit a black-and-white “Us against Them” world where they have always been pitted against those hateful “conservatives” who are warmongers who refused to see the light in all the peace causes down the years.
But my experience has been that life is shades of grey. Vietnam halted the Communist drive down through SE Asia long enough to let Malaysia and Indonesia overcome the insurgency.
My South Vietnamese friends Tom and Than Dong will tell you of genocide cleansing throughout their old Montagnard village countryside when Hanoi took over and the oppressed people have since learned to keep their mouths shut on fear of death.
My left wing American friends who did contract work at Pine Gap will tell you that the facility does good work to ensure world peace stability.
And the Amerixan community in Alice has been a socially binding force for good in the Centre.
My German friends from the Black Forest will tell you that the Wall came down because the West fought the good fight but they warn the reality of world Communism in Russia remains an ever present and constant evil.
The best way to describe our world where the vast majority of us “progresives” and “conservatives” know the reality and we all work towards peace in our own ways – is that our daily lives and values are a good mix of “fifty shades of grey”. Not peaceniks v warmongers.


Gap Centre is the centre of The Gap
I would like to commend both Centres for their incomparable work with the young people of Alice down the years.
They have all been magnificent in their selfless work and countless Alicians must have great stories to tell about them.
I would like to pay special tribute to the late Mrs Joan Higgins and Alan, her trusty sidekick of many years at Wills Terrace, and Graham and Ronda Ross down at the Gap.
I have had the great privilege of seeing them in action, giving amazing help to kids in need, 24/7, 365/12. Such good hearts. Alician Treasures.


Same sex marriage campaign in the bush takes to YouTube
Peter. It looks like you have me sorted as a bigoted, born-to-rule white male heterosexual No voter – in no uncertain manner.
To make matters worse, I was also born an Essendon AFL third generation supporter and will go to the death as a True Believer, maintaining the faith in the Mighty Bombers. Your mind is made up. So be it.
However, your comment makes me wonder what your moral judgment is of a No voter who happens not to be white (eg Vaughan) or neither white nor male (eg Theresa)?
Do they have any redeeming qualities as No voters, or are we all No vote bigots with no empathy etc? How do you rationalise their No vote views?
I ask these questions in good faith. I am genuinely curious to learn your thoughts.


Be Sociable, Share!