Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 10 »

Thursday March 8, 2012

Sporting identity lashes out at real estate figure over boycott of children’s charity.

The chair and founder of the Desert Sports Foundation, Murray Stewart (pictured), says Framptons Real Estate principal Andrew Doyle had withdrawn two teams from his company from a children’s charity event.

Mr Stewart says he had a call from one of Mr Doyle’s staff this morning saying Mr Doyle did not wish to “give money to Murray’s charity”.
The exchange followed the publication yesterday of a comment by Mr Stewart and his wife, Brigida, on a story in the current Alice Springs News Online edition.

Mr and Mrs Stewart expressed support for the News following this week’s Supreme Court decision in a defamation case brought by the other Framptons principal, David Forrest.
Mr Stewart says Mr Doyle phoned him yesterday, expressing his annoyance over the Stewarts’ comment.
Mr Stewart says after the cancellation today of the Frampton teams’ participation he left a message for Mr Doyle about the matter but did not receive a response.
When asked by the Alice Springs News for a comment Mr Doyle emailed today: “It’s not true, publish at your own peril” and later provided a further comment.
We put this to Mr Stewart and he has subsequently spoken to Mr Doyle.
Of that phone call Mr Stewart says: “He said, with great clarity, ‘following the phone call I had with you yesterday, I’m not prepared to spend David Forrest’s money on that’.” ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Alice Springs News loses defamation case

The Supreme Court this morning decided in favour of David Forrest, a principal of Framptons First National Real Estate, who brought a defamation action against Alice Springs News Managing Editor, Erwin Chlanda, and the publishing company, Erwin Chlanda Pty Ltd.
The decision is in the sum of $100,000 plus interest. The issue of costs is yet to be decided.
The action arose from one article that was part of news coverage over a period of more than a year, of a situation affecting some 12 local families, home buyers, clients of the Framptons New Homes scheme and collapsed building company, Carey Builders Pty Ltd.  The home buyers suffered significant financial losses and anguish.
This is not the end of the story but at this time I make the following statement:-
It is the first time in my half century working as a journalist that I have had to stand trial for defamation.
The arduous experience of conducting my defence without legal representation, and with a minimum of legal advice, is motivating me to do as much as I can to get behind the current push for reform of the way our society deals with defamation.
The present system is a great impediment to freedom of speech.
There is a vast gulf between what the law and the courts can demand, and what the readers expect from us, the journalists, and our duty to inform.
Rich people are vastly more likely to win than poor people. They can set on to journalists and publishers, lawyers receiving extraordinary levels of remuneration in a rigid court process that can result in the ruin of a medium and its staff.
With the recent Finkelstein Review, these issues are well and truly in the public arena nation-wide.
This case cost my wife and colleague Kieran Finnane, our family and myself not only the small amount of money we could afford for limited legal advice, but more than a year of sustained effort and anxiety.
We will be doing our best to assist reform efforts that will serve our readers, the people we write about and our profession.
The Alice Springs News Online will continue publication and maintain its five million word (and growing) online story archive dating back to 1997. (The hard copy archive dates back to 1994.)
Erwin Chlanda, Editor

 

See also prominent author Barry Hill’s comment on how the loss needs to be put in context. FULL STORY »

Police seek public assistance after girl, 15, attacked, woman found dead

UPDATE

 

Detectives from the Southern Investigation Division have released the name of a person who may be able to assist with inquiries into the suspicious death of a woman on March 6.

And police have also released descriptions of two men they are searching for in relation to an attack on a 15-year-old girl on the same day. FULL STORY »

Solar-powered butterflies and robo-bees

 

One morning this week I arrived to work to find the entire mall off power. This meant that we couldn’t roll up the electronic security shutters and open for trade. It also meant that I could have stayed in bed an extra half hour.

Following last week’s eating locally challenge it was good to be challenged in anther way that brought to light the incredible dependency we have on electricity. I guess we all know that in theory without power things come to a grinding halt pretty quickly. I mean we didn’t have any candles at the café, so to even be able to see inside we needed to buy some, but none of the supermarkets were able to trade either.

As I sat out the front of Soma waiting for the whir of the electrics to resume I wondered what sort of back up security systems the banks have and what does Alice Solar City really mean? My thoughts took me to solar-powered plastic butterflies, advertised as a “must” to bring your garden to life by a local nursery. Really? I’m pretty sure that without the real deal pollinator squads, the feeding of the world’s soon to be seven billion people is set to become an even greater challenge.

Photo: Solar-powered plastic butterflies or the real thing? I know what I’d choose. FULL STORY »

Big field for local government elections in Alice, candidates short in the bush

In Alice Springs, which has 14,239 eligible electors on the 2012 roll, there is keen participation in the local government elections on March 24, with five candidates vying for the position of Mayor and 15 for the eight positions of Councillor.
It’s different in the bush: In the Central Desert Shire, (2583 electors), the Akityarre and Northern Tanami wards had only as many nominations as vacancies.
In the Anmatjere Ward a supplementary election will be required to fill three remaining vacancies.
In the Southern Tanami Ward an election will be held on March 24, with six candidates for four positions.
In the MacDonnell Shire (3314 electors), the Iyarrka and Luritja Pintubi wards had only as many nominations as vacancies.
In the Rodinga Ward a supplementary election will be required to fill one remaining vacancy.
An election will be held for the Ljirapinta Ward, again with six candidates for four positions.

PHOTO: The last time Alice Springs voted in a town council election was a year ago when Eli Melky was elected alderman in a by-election for one vacancy, contested by seven candidates. FULL STORY »

Do-it-yourself rescue of battling outback town

A shop for $100,000, a house for $50,000.

 

South Broken Hill and Alice Springs have a lot in common so far as their problems are concerned.

They couldn’t be more different in their quest for solutions.

Empty shops, people leaving town, public facilities needing a facelift, the outback magic failing to lure the tourists in the numbers aspired to.

It seems The Alice could take a leaf out of South Broken Hill’s book.

The poor cousin of the iconic mining town, South Broken Hill is separated from the main part of the city by a hill. As if out of sight, out of mind, the symptoms of decline set in two decades ago: shops in the main street closed. Some were turned into dwellings, some just stayed empty. Of 21 shops only 16 are occupied.
Now the push is on to get new tenants, and some short-time occupancies have been offered to artists and exhibitions.

In the long run the vigorous community action is aiming to turn Patton Village into a buzzy place for locals and a magnet for visitors. Bell’s Milk Bar owner Jason King, as one of the leading lights, is spreading the message around the nation, especially through the Desert Knowledge Australia Outback Business Network. He says local government and the state government are regarded as stakeholders, “but we have to drive the changes.

“To bring Patton Village back to life, its people will have to do it.” ERWIN CHLANDA reports. 

 

PHOTO: Its own community will bring South Broken Hill back to life. No-one else will. FULL STORY »

Top End cash for containers depots close doors

 

 

NT Recycling Solutions yesterday closed the doors of its three depots operating in the Darwin area under the Cash for Containers scheme.

The firm says it paid 10 cents refund for more than two million containers but the reimbursement from the drink manufacturers have either been not paid or not in full: “NTRS advised the Government of these issues early in the scheme’s existence however they failed to make any significant efforts to help us resolve the matter until several weeks after the issues arose.”

This follows serious concerns about the scheme expressed by the Alice Springs based operator.

The Darwin firm urges collectors to contact the Minister responsible for the administration of the Act, Karl Hampton (pictured)  “and voice their concerns over the failure of the scheme to date”.

In a statement issued to media on Friday Mr Hampton said the government has offered to pay for the dispute to be mediated and is advised that mediation will take place next week. It has now been confirmed that it will be before Tom Pauling, former NT Administrator, early in the week.

 

PHOTO at top: Part of the depot in Smith Street, Alice Springs. FULL STORY »

Progress with Bunnings warehouse

The Development Consent Authority will next week consider a development application from the hardware giant Bunnings planning to build a warehouse on the North Stuart Highway in Alice Springs.
Bunnings CEO Peter Davis says: “If approved, this development will create more than 110 jobs for local residents.”
A spokesman for the department says the land at the corner of Stuart Highway and Power Street is zoned Light Industry. As warehouse and showroom are permitted uses, the application does not need to be exhibited to the public.
The application deals with minor setback (alignment) and car parking issues. FULL STORY »

Wanted: big fresh tourism ideas

 

 

Out of a lot of ideas put on the table there were no new major ones at a poorly attended meeting on Tuesday.
It was called by the government’s Tourism NT, in the lead-up to its new strategic plan.
Tourism in Alice Springs had mostly dropped from 2009/10 to 2010/11, according to figures released this week by Tourism Research Australia.
Domestic visitor nights declined 5.9% although visitor numbers rose 6.3%.
International visitor night declined a massive 21.3%, and visitor numbers, 5.7%.
Long-time industry figure Ren Kelly, who attended the meeting, says the 20-odd people present put forward a national indigenous culture centre, an idea raised many times before.
The idea of a cultural festival, similar to the one staged to mark the centenary of federation, was also raised again.
The spectacular event featured hundreds of corroborre dancers from across Australia, performing on simple sand stages, and stealing the show from stars including Christine Anu, who were performing on a vast stage some of which was flown in by cargo aircraft at massive expense.

Meanwhile the Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered almost $50,000 back-pay for 136 hospitality workers in Alice Springs.

Pictured: Arrernte men doing Alice proud at the Yeperenye Festival in 2001. From our archive. FULL STORY »

How the new counting system may give us a more diverse town council

A new system of counting votes may result in a more diverse town council after the elections on March 24. Diversity certainly isn’t a feature of the Mayoral poll: To a man – pardon the pun – the five candidates are male, white, middle-class, middle-age small businessmen.

The only apparent distinction is that the four challengers of incumbent Damien Ryan have links, some tenuous, with the vocal Advance Alice movement, and that they all want to get rid of Mr Ryan. How this will translate into preferences as the campaign unfolds remains to be seen.

However, the new voting system is very likely to generate more diversity among the eight councillors, to be chosen from a field of 15 candidates representing much of the town’s broad social spectrum. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Mayor Damien Ryan – strong on ceremony but soft on leadership, his critics claim. FULL STORY »