Story Archive » Volume 18 » Issue 42 »

November 17, 2011

Are fire vandals the only ones to blame for the state of the river?

 

 

People are arrested for deliberately throwing matches and setting fire to the landscape but who bears responsibility for allowing fire-promoting conditions to become entrenched? The Todd River corridor is a conservation zone and the Alice Springs Town Council has responsibility for its management. The Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority has given council a certificate permitting it to carry out “fire abatement management works”.

To the casual observer it would appear that precious little has been done in this regard and many a mature tree in the river has borne the brunt of our neglect. With last summer’s heavy rains, couch and buffel grass increased their stranglehold on the river and as they hayed off they provided the perfect conditions for fire vandals, mostly unchecked right up to the base of the trees.

The Alice Springs News Online asked council if it had undertaken, prior to the warmer weather, fuel reduction in the river corridors, including the Charles. We also asked whether council is going to undertake future fuel reduction as the burnt out areas in the river corridors regenerate and hay off.

Director of Technical Services, Greg Buxton, replied: “Earlier in the year Council made a decision to implement a mowing blitz across the municipality in response to large amounts of growth brought on by unprecedented rain events during 2010/2011. This proactive initiative was successfully implemented and coupled with Council’s ongoing weed and growth program, which does include the Charles and Todd River beds, control of growth has been a priority for our teams. Alice Springs Town Council is working diligently to control growth and will continue to work proactively on this matter.”

Our photographs show otherwise. Taken by vigilant naturalist Alex Nelson they clearly illustrate the priorities of council, which are to create parkland-type areas along some sections of the river banks, and to control growth along the walking and cycle path. Protecting the mature river gums – some of them hundreds of years old – clearly has low to nil priority. Pictured: Top – As we prepared our report  the Town Council was at work in the river, seeming to do its best to preserve couch and buffel grass around the base of a mature tree. Above right – Keeping the edges of the walking and cycle path mown takes priority over the protection of trees. As the long grasses hay off the stand in the distance, surrounded by a  sea of thick grass, will be in danger.  Photos by ALEX NELSON.
KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Gongs for Centre’s tourism businesses at 25th Brolgas

 

Central Australian tourism businesses have taken out several category wins in the 25th annual Brolga Tourism Awards, announced in Alice Springs last night.

First time entrant Alice Springs Airport  won the Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism. Two other first timers won in their category: Alice Springs YHA  for Backpacker Accommodation; and Rapid Ascent, organisers of the Ingkerreke Commercial Mountain Bike Enduro for Festival and Events.

In contrast to these newcomers, MacDonnell Range Holiday Park took out the Tourist and Caravan Parks category for the 20th time in 25 years, while Ian and Lyn Conway, owners of King’s Creek Station, received the Tourism Minister’s Perpetual Trophy, which recognises long term personal and professional commitment and dedication.

But Shadow Minister for Central Australia, Matt Conlan, says the Brolgas “failed to mask the cracks that have developed in the Centre’s tourism industry over the past decade.

“The industry in Central Australia has been in decline for years and now some tourism operators say they could hit the wall if there isn’t a significant short term improvement.”

Pictured: Entrance to the Alice Springs Airport, showing recently installed public art work. FULL STORY »

Endangered possum pictured in the wild

An infrared camera at a bait station in Ormiston Gorge has captured remarkable first photographs of the endangered Central Brush Tailed Possum in the wild.

Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger Deon Grantham says rangers have monitored the site for a month and half.
He says the photographs are a major breakthrough as they provide clear evidence that possums are still present in the area.
“Until now, all we had was circumstantial evidence such as tracks, droppings or marks on trees, so we believed possums were present but we didn’t know much about them.”

The find opens up the possibility of further monitoring in other areas of the West MacDonnell National Park, possibly the last stronghold for this type of possum.

Source: The NT Parks and Wildlife Service. FULL STORY »

What the climate change chat skimmed over

 

Why is it that coal seam gas is being marketed as an alternative to coal in the transition to clean renewable energy? Haven’t the results of the industry in US been very detrimental to water, soil and quality of life for those in its path? These are a couple of questions that didn’t get aired at the visiting Climate Commission’s climate change chat but were aired quite properly in the conversations I had with people following it.

One friend was exasperated by the continued dominance of neoliberal economics in the conversation around adaptation to climate change. Why approach the problem of climate change with market based mechanisms? When quite clearly from the latest market ‘hiccups’ the system is profoundly flawed.

The ‘market’ is not omni-prescient as the recent government interventions into its realm demonstrate. Not to say that market based mechanisms don’t have a role to play as for business and industry they evidently speak the same language and quite fluently. But in terms of social justice that language loses in translation whatever lucidity it had for industry. As it filters through the system the market mechanism simply reinforces the existent power plays and hedged up system. FULL STORY »

Great ideas for the town. Now will someone please make them reality?

 

 

Using the $100m Julia Gillard earmarked for the “Malaysian solution” to build a center for asylum seekers in Alice Springs, which could become the source of sorely needed labour, and moving closely together the dates of the town’s iconic events such as Henley on Todd and Camel Cup, giving tourists a reason for staying longer.

These were two ideas floated, by Robert Gates and Peter Grigg, respectively, at yesterday’s public meeting called to seek ways of getting Alice Springs out of its doldrums.
About 70 people turned up for the brainstorming, briskly moderated by Chamber of Commerce CEO Kay Eade and hosted by the Town Council. When she asked how many business owners were present only eight hands went up.
“Where are the rest?” asked Ms Eade. “They are letting the town down.” Nevertheless, there was much food for thought. Of course, the value of the initiative will be gauged by what becomes reality.  ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Monte’s is proof that in business, if you have the formula right, success is assured. The dozens of pushbikes tied to the fence most days are pedal powered proof of this.
FULL STORY »

Court of good hope

A breakthrough in dealing with alcohol-related offending?

 

It’s a court like no other that I’ve been in: while everyone is waiting for the magistrate, there’s banter with the offender, about his tattoos, his girlfriend, his new job. They all join in, the legal aid lawyer, the court clinician, the police prosecutor and the correctional services officer. The offender is an open-faced, smiling young man in his twenties. He’s clearly well liked.

When Magistrate David Bamber enters, the good cheer continues. He speaks directly to the offender who responds for himself. The tone is conversational. The offender remains seated.

“So you haven’t had a smoke for four weeks,” comments Mr Bamber. He reads off the results of the defendant’s urinalysis: “You’ll be clean soon.”

This is the SMART Court, introduced in the Northern Territory this year. SMART stands for “Substance Misuse Assessment and Referral for Treatment”. The offender’s case would have been heard in the Court of Summary Jurisdiction and his sentence deferred while he’s been given a chance to comply with his SMART orders, among them total abstinence. There’s a system of rewards but also sanctions: non-compliance with orders can earn gaol time. Photo (from our archive): Many of the people appearing before the SMART Court have been convicted of medium and high-range drink-driving and other driving offences.   KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Only firefighters decide on how to deal with individual fires

 

Have firefighters watched some trees in the Todd burn? “Yes,” says Senior Station Fire Officer in Alice Springs, John Kleeman, but only when any further effort to fight the fire would be “to no avail”.

Have firefighters’ decisions on how to respond to individual fires had anything to do with agreements or instructions from the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA)?

“No,” says Mr Kleeman and “No,” says AAPA.

The Alice Springs News Online has spoken to Mr Kleeman and Dr Ben Scambary, the CEO of AAPA in order to clarify a heated debate that has developed in response to our report of November 7, ‘Spot a tree? Chop it down!’.

Pictured: A severely damaged tree in the Todd River, alongside Tuncks Causeway – but is it dead? KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »


Cool heads consider global warming

 

Perhaps because this can be a hot place anyway, there was little heat in the Alice Springs conversation with the Climate Commission; and perhaps because it’s an expensive place to live anyway, there was no whinging about the “great big tax”. The science was clearly accepted; people’s interest was in ‘where to from here’. People wanted to know about the impact of the Clean Energy Act on the poorest people in our region; about the advantages for sustainability of high density living; about population control; about carbon farming, carbon storage, and large-scale solar power stations. They had some of the nation’s best climate change brains answering, although when it got down to local specifics, such as the development of the Kilgariff subdivision and fire regimes in the desert, the information got a little thin. Pictured: Professors Tim Flannery and Lesley Hughes at the ‘Climate Conversation’ in Alice Springs on Wednesday. KIERAN FINNANE reports.  FULL STORY »

Alice metal bands launch their own label

Reigniting the local scene with national interest 

 

 

 

Not for these guys the move to the city, the haircut, the compromise that comes with chasing after airplay: they want to stick with what they believe in, the angry, high energy music of their youth – metal – and its roots in small town isolation and boredom. They are the various talents that make up the three born-in-Alice bands – Miazma, Uncreation and The Horror – and have come together to launch their own label, The Black Wreath.

This will be done with a live performance, of course, this Friday – 11.11.11 – at Annie’s Place from 7.30pm. But it will also stream live on the internet. There’ll be a six track EP to souvenir, recorded in their own studio
– a completely soundproof room-within-a-room, made mostly from found and recycled materials and including a control booth behind glass. They built it themselves, with everyone chipping in what they could in dollars, effort and skills. A collective, DIY approach is what the 13 are all about, staying with the connection they feel, having grown up and into metal music together.
Pictured: Top – Uncreation performing in Alice. Right – The Black Wreath studio. Photos by OLIVER ECLIPSE.  KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

LETTERS: Dr Boffa honoured. Offer in Todd Mall: Want a girl? How many generations, Steve? And the bicycle track’s missing link.

• Hal Duell comments on the missing link in town’s bicycle track network.

• Jonathan Pilbrow congratulates Dr John Boffa for being nominated NT Australian of the Year.

• Hal Duell is offered a girl – or two – in the Mall.

• Alex Nelson casts doubt on Steve Brown’s claim that he is a third generation “Alicespringsian” – and Mr Brown responds. FULL STORY »