Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 18 »

May 3, 2012

SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE, FURTHER UPDATE: Youth in court should not have been in Alice Springs at time of alleged offending.

A youth charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle – the same stolen vehicle that was allegedly used in relation to the alleged sexual assault of two European tourists last week –  should not have been in Alice Springs.

The youth had come before Magistrate Greg Borchers in March on other matters and was ordered to live at an outstation with his grandparents, and not to leave unless he was ill, had permission of his parole officer or was in the company of those grandparents.

Today the court heard that the youth was arrested at another grandmother’s house at a town camp in Alice Springs.

Magistrate Borchers, hearing a mention of the unlawful use of a motor vehicle charge in the Youth Justice Court today, urged the police to give “serious consideration” to charging the grandmother for “complicity” in assisting the youth to breach orders of the court.

Another youth, charged with two counts of sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of deprivation of liberty as well as a string of other offences, appeared briefly before Magistrate John Birch also in the Youth Justice Court today. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Bangtail Muster shows Alice Springs community is vibrant and very well

Red tape may scuttle a 50 years old institution.

 

Alice Springs folk turned out in their thousands, as participants and spectators, for the annual Bangtail Muster this morning, as though to show the world that the community in the heart of Australia is alive and well.

The town once again has had devastating world wide publicity after the alleged rape of two overseas tourists, and a string of other brutal crimes.

But on this May Day holiday, blessed by the town’s trademark magnificent weather, young and old turned out to celebrate the achievements of Alice Springs – its great sporting clubs, child care, schools, music and above all, community spirit.

There was also a sprinkle of trade union members to mark Labour Day.

“Our Community” was the theme picked for this year by the organisers, the Rotary Club of Alice Springs. 40 floats were entered.

The Muster is their annual fundraiser for the local Youth Centre and is one of the Centre’s major events.

The story behind the Muster goes back to the old days when cattle production was the main industry of the Centre and stockmen would cut off the ends of the tails to record the number of cattle mustered.

Pictured is Celine Ociones, 17, carrying a statue of Santo Nino, the holy child, Little Jesus.

She leads 21 dancers and musicians from the Mabuhay Multicultiral Association which has about 60 local families as its members.

Meanwhile, the Rotary Club of Alice Springs this year ran the Bangtail Muster parade at a loss, probably the first time in its 50 year history, because of NT Government requirements for a traffic management plan and licensed staff to implement it. Story and video by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Salvos find not just the usual suspects are in trouble

Falling on hard times in Alice Springs these days isn’t exclusive to the usual suspects: a pregnancy or an accident can turn a two-income family into a single income one, and the town’s exorbitant rents can tip that family into crisis.

“The poor can’t buy a house here.
“It doesn’t take much for repayments becoming too hard, or heating and power bills,” says Captain Michael Johnson who with his wife Elizabeth, also a captain in the Salvation Army, heads up that stalwart aid organisation in The Centre.
They’re gearing up for their annual doorknock on May 19 and 20, and are still looking for volunteers (call them on 8951 0200).
The Salvos in Alice will be spending more than $1m this year, as usual “way more”  than the doorknock yields, says Capt Johnson.
The local Salvos run two men’s hostels which are “pretty well always full”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Captains Michael and Elizabeth Johnson in the Salvos’ Thrift Shop. FULL STORY »

A quarter of tiny works Budget goes to expand gaol

 

Central Australia is getting $40m in new capital works spending in the Territory’s 2012-13 Budget.
This is not counting re-votes from previous Budgets.

The Centre’s slice is just 3% of what Treasurer Delia Lawrie describes as “a huge $1.3 billion infrastructure investment across the emergency services, education, health, roads, corrections and housing sectors”.

A quarter – $10m – of Central Australia’s new allocations will be spent on the Alice Springs Correctional Centre (at left, Google Earth), $5m on the Alice hospital and $5m on the Mereenie road, the Red Centre Way.

Meanwhile the Opposition says Territorians will pay in excess of $1b in interest repayments “as a result of the Labor Government’s failure to reign in debt”.

Peter Solly, General Manager Tourism Central Australia, says the Budget “recognised the importance of providing additional funding to the tourism sector to stimulate demand and support the industry in response to the Global Financial Crisis [but] the real value of base funding to the tourism sector has not kept up with inflation”. FULL STORY »

Courtroom Two: the day after the long weekend before

It was apparently a normal day after the weekend before at the Alice Springs Magistrates Court, perhaps a little busier given that this was a long weekend. The word was also that there had been a recent royalty payment that had brought people into town.

The police prosecutor arrived in Courtroom Two with a trolley as big as a baby buggy, full of files. These were the fresh matters. The files in the stands on bar table were the matters already scheduled (13 domestic violence, two Smart Court, 59 criminal, and 11 Youth Court).

Half of the defendants were in the watchhouse, Magistrate John Birch was told. Only one lawyer is  allowed in at a time, so there was a bottleneck with the paperwork.  That was hardly surprising, said Magistrate Birch, given that there were 150 people on the list!

Defence lawyers, from Legal Aid and Aboriginal Legal Aid, milled around, attempting to bring matters on.

There was confusion over files. The court orderly was sent in search of other defence lawyers, returning to report that she couldn’t find them. She also had to announce numerous non-appearances. Some of these matters were dealt with anyway (“ex parte”), the offenders convicted and fined, their files put away. Many matters were adjourned to allow time for defence lawyers to make representations to police prosecutions; others because the facts of the matter were to be contested.

In the midst of all this, some parties appeared and matters were heard – sorry tales that flesh out some of the offending behind the ‘law and order’ debate, tales of people, young and not so young, male and female, and their failings. On this day and for as much of the list as I observed all of the defendants were Aboriginal. This is not always the case. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Council debate happening in closed meetings

Public gets the polite rehearsed version

 

Councillor Steve Brown’s move to create a Town Council body to monitor the effective delivery of government services in Alice Springs inched forward at last night’s end of month meeting.

The concept is similar to one operating in Port Augusta, reported on by the Alice Springs News Online in the wake of the council election campaign as part of an interview with outspoken Mayor of Port Augusta, Joy Baluch.

The concept was promoted in the campaign by candidate John Reid.

Removal of standing orders last night allowed a mild-mannered discussion of the subject, with no sign of ‘gangs’ of four or five. The end result was that councillors will put their heads together with Corporate and Community Services Director Craig Catchlove, pooling the information they have gathered. At the urging of Cr Geoff Booth, it was decided that this will start at an early morning meeting in the coming week.

He, Cr Brown and Cr Eli Melky all wanted it to be seen that council is doing something “urgent” (Booth), “immediately” (Melky) to address the “considerable anxiety” (Brown) in the community over law and order issues and economic decline.

Apart from questions to a deputation from the National Trust (about which we will report separately) this subject was the only one discussed in the open section of the council meeting, during which everyone was on their best behaviour, with the meaty business of council finances and budget priorities having been dealt with in an early morning (closed) meeting. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Cr Geoff Booth during his swearing-in with Local Government Minister Malarndirri McCarthy. He wants immediate action, but will it come at the expense of  transparency allowing public input? FULL STORY »

Kids enemy No 1 in law & order debate – or the main victims?

PHOTO: We chatted with this group of youngsters yesterday and they were happy for us to take this picture. It was a nice Saturday morning in the Mall, and they were hanging out together, having fun. One boy, clearly suspecting that people would think they are up to no good, said: “Are you going to give this photo to the police?” Another said he would look up the story at school on Monday and took the Alice Springs News Online website address. A third boy, when asked where he is from, replied: “Alice Springs. I own it.” One boy said, with a big laugh: “My name is Damien Ryan.” We’ve obscured their smiling faces because there was no opportunity of getting formal permission. We’re sorry about that, and will be happy to provide the un-redacted picture to the boys.

 

Down here on the ground in Alice Springs, black children, driven to crime by hunger and fear, are fast becoming enemy number one, or victim number one, depending on who you’re talking to.

There’s not much public knowledge about just who these kids are,  nor how many of them there are.

We have a land, sea, men’s, women’s and all manner of other councils, but do these kids have a voice?

Here’s a look at a couple of current initiatives: are they going to make a difference?
The drunks “send in the kids. For the kids it’s excitement,” a burgled restaurant owner explained during the recent town council election campaign, dominated by law and order issues. The loot was a few bottles of spirits. The cost of smashed property was in the thousands.
“We’ve had $1800 worth of damage done here and all they took was bread and cheese,” said a candidate seeking re-election.
Meanwhile up there in the stratosphere, the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) are making submission to the Attorney-General’s Department Public Consultation on the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), while Canberra will be spending $1.5b, from mid next year, on a new Remote Jobs and Communities Program. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Juvenile in court on two charges of sexual intercourse without consent

A youth was charged in Alice Springs Youth Justice Court this morning with two counts of sexual intercourse without consent.
He was remanded in detention and the matter was adjourned to July 2.
The police prosecutor stated about 24 further charges would be laid and applied for an extended brief, which was granted.
The defence lawyer made application to close the court, which the prosecutor said he would not oppose. Magistrate David Bamber heard the application in closed court but ruled against it.
However he suppressed the youth’s name and all details tending to identify him, due to his age and the nature of some of the offences.
The youth’s father was  in court. The youth looked across at him a couple of times but otherwise kept his eyes on the floor.
Other charges against him include aggravated entering a dwelling with the intent to commit an offence, two counts of stealing, aggravated unlawful use of a motor vehicle, damage to property, aggravated robbery and two counts of deprive a person of personal liberty. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: The Youth Justice Court (formerly the site of a pizzeria). FULL STORY »

Female tourists sleeping in car alleged to have been sexually assaulted: all three suspects now charged, rifle still not recovered.

UPDATE Saturday, May 5, 3.05pm: Detectives in Alice Springs have this morning laid charges against two 17 year-old youths who Police believe were involved in the alleged sexual assault of two tourists in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Detective Acting Superintendent Travis Wurst said one of the youths has been charged with Sexual Intercourse Without Consent, Acts of Gross Indecency, Deprivation of Liberty, Assault and Threaten with a Firearm along with numerous other offences: “The other youth has at this stage only been charged with the Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle (similar to the one pictured) in relation to the alleged sexual assault but we hope to lay further charges as the investigation continues.”
A/Supt Wurst said the firearm allegedly used in the incident has not yet been found.

 

UPDATE Friday, May 4, 6.50pm: Alice Springs Police have located a green Toyota Ascent (similar to pictured) allegedly stolen and used during a sexual assault in Alice Springs on Wednesday.
Detective Acting Superintendent Travis Wurst said the vehicle was found in Ntaria [Hermannsburg], about 130 kilometres south west of Alice Springs.
Police believe the weapon used during the alleged sexual assault was also used in an attempted armed robbery of a taxi early on the same morning.
“The three 17 year olds arrested for the sexual assault are also believed to be involved in this crime.
“A firearm was used to threaten the driver and occupants of the taxi before the offenders fled. Nothing was stolen from the taxi.
“There were three passengers in the taxi who Police would now like to come forward.”  FULL STORY »

Chamber flicks arts & cultural centre project to underachiever Tourism NT

A committee of the Alice Springs Chamber of Commerce has hand balled the proposal for a national indigenous art and culture center to Tourism NT, which appears to have put it on the back burner.

Liz Martin, who runs the highly successful National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Sprigs, says the town may lose a major opportunity to Queensland where she understands a similar project is being mooted, apparently assisted by major mining interests.
“We should grab it by the horns and run with it,” says Cr Martin who serves on the town council’s Tourism, Events and Promotion Committee and was its chair person for the last three years of the 11th Council.
Says Tourism NT CEO John Fitzgerald: “Tourism NT has not taken over planning of the proposed centre.”

Pictured: The sensational Canning Stockroute exhibition which enthralled visitors in Canberra and Sydney and indicated what a major national indigenous museum could be like, and what it could do for Alice. Photo by Tim Acker, Canning Stock Route Project.  ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Alice Prize: what will catch the eye of the unpackers?

In a first for the Alice Prize, the unpackers, in the tradition of Sydney’s Archibald, will get to choose their favourite work. The unpackers, members of the Alice Springs Art Foundation which runs the now biennial prize, are in many cases artists themselves, so their choice should be interesting.

In another first, a work of live performance art has been selected among the finalists. The artist, Janet Meaney, will perform ahead of the opening for the judge, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Nick Mitzevich, and again on opening night, while a video and other elements will be on display in the month-long exhibition.

Painting and photography continue to dominate the entries but work in other media includes four video works. The 65 finalists – 20 of them from the Northern Territory – were chosen from among 382 entries by preselection judges Daniel Mudie Cunningham, senior curator with Artbank, and Helen Maxwell, curator and art consultant.

As always the viewing public will be able to vote for the People’s Choice, a prize worth $1000, named in honour of a past member of the foundation, Tammy Kingsley.  A bequest of over $300,000 from Ms Kingsley’s father allowed the purse to be increased in 2001 from $5000 to $15,000.  Traditionally the prize has included a residency for the winning artist but it won’t this year, although the purse has increased to $25,000.

The Alice Prize – the 37th  this year – is one of Australia’s oldest contemporary art prizes. It opens at Araluen on Friday, May 11.

 

Pictured: Alice Prize unpackers (from left) Steve Anderson, Mardijah Simpson and Julie Taylor, the coordinator of this year’s prize, will get pick their own winner. FULL STORY »

Old Hartley Street School looking safe for next decade

A compromise may have been reached that will help the National Trust keep the Hartley Street School – one of the few heritage buildings in the Alice CBD –  open to the public as a museum.

Following a deputation to the Town Council on Monday night by members of the local McDouall Stuart Branch, an offer has been made on the future leasing arrangements of the building, owned by council and leased to the National Trust for a peppercorn rent for the last 24 years.

The lease expires on July 31 this year. Critical to the negotiations it seems is the income the trust is able to generate from two tenancies in the building, some $36,000 a year when both are let (there is one vacancy at the moment).

The trust was hoping for a new lease for 10 + 10 years over the whole building, and to retain the sub-lease income.

Committee and branch members turned up in good number of Monday night, with chairman Stuart Traynor and long-time committee member Dave Leonard articulately putting their case.

Questions from councillors concerned what the tenancy income was spent on and whether it was spent in Alice Springs (Deputy Mayor Brendan Heenan), the condition of the building (Crs Heenan and Geoff Booth) and the long-term sustainability of the volunteer effort (Cr Eli Melky).

This last was a “very tough question”, acknowledged Mr Traynor, the “Achilles heel for heritage conservation”.

Cr Melky also wanted to know what the branch would do if they didn’t get the tenancy income: would they accept a 10 plus 10 year lease without it? KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

 

Pictured, above: Dave Leonard (left) and Stuart Traynor in the Hartley Street School museum, kept open by volunteers six days a week. • Left: From the street the museum gives an idea of what the mid-20th century Alice looked like. FULL STORY »

The Y withdraws from town pool management

The YMCA has withdrawn from its aquatic centre management contract more than two years before it was due to expire in July 2014.
The Town Council is now calling for tenders, seeking “professional and experienced managers of aquatic and leisure facilities for the contract which will commence on Sunday 1 July, 2012″.
This follows disclosure of financial difficulties first reported by the Alice Springs News Online and more recently, an intervention by WorkSafe in the handling of chlorine gas cylinders.

Earlier problems had been described as “major”.
Council CEO Rex Mooney says “council and the current contractor have agreed that a new management tender is in the best long term interest of the operations of the facility.”
Chair of YMCA Central Australia Fiona Davis says:  “YMCA Central Australia would like to thank Alice Springs Town Council for the guidance and support with Alice Springs Aquatic and Leisure Centre, which is a wonderful facility and a valuable asset for Central Australia.” FULL STORY »

Three day trek on foot to reach art centre: revise your definition of ‘remote’!

We’re used to the word ‘remote’ in Central Australia but try this for size: to reach the string of five art centres that make up Omie Artists you must trek by foot for up to three days, often (for seven months of the year and then some) in torrential rain, across flooding rivers, clambering up muddy mountain sides and slithering down again. The company’s valiant manager, Brennan King, with six Omie security guards, necessary to protect him from attack by ‘rascals’ from the neighbouring tribe, make this journey several times a year. The artists’ work – among the last traditional barkcloths being produced in the world – has to be brought out the same way, rolled over PVC pipes and hoisted on the shoulders of the art centre coordinators.

How remarkable then for these works, steeped in the law and lore of the Omie tribe of Papua New Guinea and many of them a tour de force of design brilliance, to arrive on our doorstep here in the dry centre of Australia and to resonate so strongly with us.

This experience we owe to, apart from Omie Artists, RAFT Artspace in Alice Springs. Its curator Dallas Gold wants to take the pulse of contemporary art in our region (in its expanded definition) and give us a sense of its dynamism, diversity, achievement and promise. This is the third exciting show in a row at RAFT, each stop opening up a window onto a world rich with beauty, ideas, observation and spirit.

The Omie are few in number, King says about 1800 according to a census done by the Omie themselves in 2009.  Around 70 artists are producing barkcloths. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 


 Pictured, above left:  Omie dance a welcome celebration for Brennan King’s arrival at their newest art centre in January 2010. • Above: Pig tusks and teeth, and fern leaves by Linda-Grace Savari. Photos courtesy Omie Artists. FULL STORY »

Three new businesses in three weeks

Breathing new life into the CBD  

 

There are ripples of activity at either end of Todd Mall. At the southern end, a new travel shop is shouting out from the corner of Gregory Terrace and Todd Street, the first business to open there after a string of closures and relocations. And at the northern end, there’s a new cafe, Ziggiz, and this week Piccolo’s restaurant relocated to where Oscar’s used to be.

No-one can have missed the artwork on the travel shop, but inside there’s more to it than its new look and the usual booking service. The core attraction is access to Wicked Campers. The shop’s been open about two weeks. Customers are coming in off the street and online. There’s a good mix, says Manager Sara Bangs: “We’ve had a  couple in their sixties taking a car, it’s not just for backpackers.”

Asher Tuzewski is the man behind Ziggiz cafe, tucked into a little shopfront of the cinema complex. It opened about three weeks ago.

They start early, by 7.30am, and go till late, the exact time depending on what’s happening at the cinema.

“In the cities you can go to a cafe day or night but in Alice Springs there was nowhere like that. We’re the only non-alcoholic venue open late. It’s a cultural readjustment.”

The cafe’s presence makes a contribution to improved security in the north end of the mall: “We’re an extra pair of eyes in the area and we’ve been able to help clamp down on some issues.”

Asher, who grew up in Alice, sees the cafe as part of a big picture: “I want people to believe in this town.” KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured, top: Signage you can’t miss, the new travel shop on the corner of Gregory Terrace and Todd Street. • Above: Ziggis cafe, a welcome new presence at the northern end of the mall, often a hot spot for anti-social behaviour. FULL STORY »

The perspective of one year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This coming Saturday marks exactly one year since I arrived in Alice Springs. I rolled into town in the morning and in the afternoon headed out to Ross River for the Wide Open Space festival.

I remember feeling rather overwhelmed by the colourful crowds after a solid six months at a rather remote truck stop further up the track. In the end I met a couple of amazing women and the journey that this last year has been was off! I’m happy to be marking the anniversary by being a part of the festival. This time I’m operating a coffee cart and the buzz and frenzy of last minute organistion is setting in, with lists that seem to get longer the faster I tick things off!

It’s recently been a pleasure to watch Alice Springs ‘warming up’ in this cooler weather with the arrival of visitors and Wide Open Space festival-goers. I’ve noticed the town’s benches are now rarely empty, often occupied by visitors having a snack, a chat or a coffee. I looked down the mall the other day and saw in the bright light quite a number of people wandering around, looking to check out the sights. More than a couple of times I’ve been waved down by a map and with gestures and finger-pointing sent people off in the right direction, I think! FULL STORY »

Grog, residential land, law & order: More power to Alice under Country Liberals, says Terry Mills.

Central Australians would get much more influence over their affairs if the Country Liberals gained power in this year’s NT election, says Opposition Leader Terry Mills.
In an interview with the Alice Springs News Online yesterday he said locals and the town council will have a greater say about town planning, and stakeholders will be involved in decisions over tourism promotion.

Alcohol control measures will “bring back peace to the streets of Alice Springs” and will have strong mandatory elements. There is no mention of a take-away free day nor a floor price.
The big shires may be broken up so that decision making is brought “closer to the people”.
And while policies have yet to be fine-tuned, Mr Mills promises cheap residential land to enable young people to “get a stake in the Territory”.
He spoke with editor ERWIN CHLANDA. Photo: Mr Mills addressing protesters outside NT Parliament during its sittings in Alice Springs in last year.
FULL STORY »

Alice Prize: unpackers pick their winner

What work among the 65 Alice Prize finalists caught the unpackers’ eye? Now we have the answer.

It’s Train, a digital archival print (pictured above), 1.7m wide, by Bronek Kozka from Victoria.

Announcing the unpackers’ choice, a first for the prize, the Alice Springs Art Foundation says this artwork “requires close examination to fully engage with the clever imagery it contains”.

They quote from the artist’s statement:  “. . . this image uses portraiture as a window to examine the aesthetics, the technologies and the people of the future.”

The exhibition opens at Araluen next Friday, May 11. FULL STORY »

It’s an A for 400 self-drivers to The Alice

Why an A’van? That’s easy: you can fold it down to half its height in 20 seconds and it won’t cause the fuel-guzzling drag a normal caravan does.

The A’van – starting price $25,000 – is strong. None of the walls are made from canvas.
The triangles on either side fold on top of each-other, and so do the quadrangles front and back, all resting on the bench tops inside for towing.
They are great for two people on a trip of a couple of weeks (although too small for extended living, having no bathroom, for example).
Why these simple advantages spawned a veritable cult – very benign, to be sure – is a bit of a mystery, until you discover the friendly like-mindedness of the owners.

Photos: Like Doctor Who’s telephone box – it’s so much bigger inside: June Hicks in her A’van in Alice today, at the MacDonnell Range Caravan Park. Chilling outdoors in The Alice after  couple of days of rain. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Government debt drag on shire finances

Take a look at the Central Desert Shire’s “Accounts receivable” summary and you begin to get a picture of the complexity of shire operations.  Their debtors range from small local businesses, a plethora of Aboriginal organisations and other NGOs to government departments. Most of it is quite in order, within the normal 30 day turnaround for accounts. But over $500,000 has been owed the shire for more than 90 days and a big swag of this is owed by Territory Housing. As at February 29 the amount was $403,992.06.

Some of that has since been paid. However invoices for over $300,000, relating to work done in 2010-11, are still being verified, according to a statement from the department.

At the last council meeting  CEO Roydon Robertson told councillors that a number of shire CEOs had met with the head of the department to try to resolve their “massive concerns”, as a result of which a working party was being formed.

This has apparently helped. KIERAN FINNANE reports.  FULL STORY »

Shire vacancies set to be filled

All vacancies will be filled on shire councils, with enough nominations coming in by today’s deadline. In fact in Central Desert, MacDonnell and Barkly Shires supplementary elections will have to be held as there are now more nominations than vacancies.

In the Anmatjere Ward of Central Desert Shire four people have put up their hands for three seats. They include two former councillors, James Glenn and Dianne Martin. Mrs Martin stood in Southern Tanami Ward, where she lives, but missed out there. You have to live within the shire to stand, but not necessarily within the ward. Southern Tanami is adjacent to Anmatjere.

The other two nominees for Anmatjere Ward are Marlene Tilmouth and Benedy Bird.

In MacDonnell Shire’s Rodinga Ward, where there is one vacancy, Rosalie Riley and Louise Cavanagh have nominated.

In Barkly Shire, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, its former president, did not stand March 24, but has now nominated for a councillor position in the shire’s Alyawarr Ward. There are two vacancies and four nominations. The others are Timothy Jakara Price, Leslie Morton and Eileen Bonney.

 

Pictured: Candidates in the Anmatjere Ward supplementary election: Dianne Martin (left) and James Glenn. Both served as councillors during the first Central Desert Shire Council. FULL STORY »

Dollars for the bush in NT budget

The sealing of the 157km Namatjira Drive, which began in 2006, will finally be completed in early 2014, according to Minister for Lands and Planning Gerry McCarthy. On Tuesday he announced $5m worth of funding will be in this year’s budget for sealing the final 7km stretch. Work won’t start however till mid 2013.

The drive must be one of Australia’s most scenic, connecting with Larapinta Drive west of Alice Springs, heading along the MacDonnell Ranges to Glen Helen and beyond from where it heads southwards to Gosses Bluff. An estimated 41 to 183 vehicles travel the road per day.

The on-going sealing of the Tanami Road will also get an allocation of $2m in the budget. The Tanami runs from the Stuart Highway to the WA border, a distance of 703 kms. Sealing began in 2004. To date some 220kms have been sealed, in six separate stretches. The $2m will cover another 4kms. FULL STORY »