Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 20 »

April 19, 2012

Oops, he’s gone again

UPDATE 7:15pm, May 30: Oops, he’s gone again. NT Police are seeking public assistance to apprehend teenaged escapee Ian Pope (pictured) who escaped from Police custody this afternoon in Alice Springs.
Commander Michael Murphy said 17-year-old Ian Pope escaped when he was being escorted between the Court House and the Police Watch House at approximately 5:10 pm.
“He was last seen running towards the Todd River from the CBD wearing a black hooded jumper, long jeans, bright fluoro shoes and a black hat. He is also handcuffed to the front.
“I urge Ian Pope to surrender himself or anyone that knows of his whereabouts to contact Police as a matter of urgency.
“We are appealing to the public to be on the look out for this young man and report any sightings immediately,” said Commander Murphy.
Police do not consider Ian Pope to be a threat to safety but caution people not approach him.
Anybody who knows the whereabouts of Ian Pope or who may have seen him is urged to contact Police on 131 444 or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

 

UPDATE 5:30pm, May 29: Alice Springs Police have this afternoon located and arrested a 17 year-old youth who had escaped from custody on May 19. Commander Michael Murphy said the young man was apprehended in a town camp after members of the public had sighted him and called Police.
“This is a very good example of Police and the community working together to minimise harm in the town and reduce crime.”
Commander Murphy said the youth will be charged with escaping lawful custody and there is the possibility of further charges once he has been interviewed by Detectives. [Police release]

 

UPDATE 12:50pm, May 21: The Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (CAALAS) shares community concerns about the recent escape of seven young detainees from the Alice Springs Juvenile Detention Centre. “The events of this weekend serve as an unnecessary reminder of the shortcomings of youth detention facilities in Central Australia and the pressing need for a purpose built facility,” says CAALAS Principal Legal Officer Mark O’Reilly.

 

 

UPDATE 4:50pm, May 19: Only Ian Pope (pictured below) is still at large.

 

UPDATE 1:00pm, May 19: Camphoo, Jebydah, Lovegrove and Russell have been recaptured.

 

Police are seeking public assistance to find seven youths who escaped from the Alice Springs Juvenile Detention Centre.
A Justice Department spokesman said they are considered dangerous but they do not include the three juveniles on remand for the recent alleged rape of two European tourists in Alice Springs.

The seven are believed to have entered a ceiling space at the detention centre to access a rear storeroom which enabled them to reach the outside where they breached the centre’s perimeter fence shortly after midnight.

Centre staff “were alerted soon after and called in the dog unit from the Alice Springs Correctional Centre which tracked the group for several kilometres but lost the scent at a town camp,” the spokesman said. FULL STORY »

Sweetness and light in council meeting as factions keep truce

Sweetness and light continued to prevail in Monday’s meeting of the town council committees, with not a hint of belligerent factionalism.

The jolly consensus allowed councillors to breeze through a big agenda probably in record time – at least so far as the meeting open to the public was concerned. Even wild man Eli Melky didn’t pick a single fight, instead – “wearing his Rotary hat” – effusively thanked the council for supporting the hugely successful Bangtail Muster parade, and the council technical staff for their efforts, well beyond their call of duty, to keep the re-opened pool running.

The councillors asked for more than is contained in a report about Port Augusta’s successful fight against anti social behaviour.

PHOTOS: Top – The town council got a gong for its assistance to the Bangtail Muster parade. Middle – the photo councillors have in

their wallets these days: Tough Port Augusta Mayor Joy Baluch. The Alice town council is taking a hard look at her grog and crime control measures. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Town council grapples with Falconio poster: Author hits out at Mayor Ryan

 

Posters in Alice Springs offering $40,000 for disclosure of the “whereabouts” of Peter Falconio were the subject of a curiously cautious debate during the town council committee meetings last night.

Mr Falconio disappeared near Barrow Creek in 2001 and Bradley John Murdoch is serving a 28 year sentence for his murder.
Keith Allan Noble in his book “Find! Falconio – dead or alive” claims Mr Murdoch may be innocent. Cr Eli Melky started the discussion by referring to a “recent attempt to capitalise on an unfortunate incident regarding a victim in or around Central Australia, I prefer not to mention the name” and asking council do something “if there is misleading and false advertising offering rewards” which may be in conflict of “stringent legislation”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

 

UPDATE May 17, 2012 07:30am: Meanwhile the author of the poster, and a book about the case, Keith Noble, has described remarks by Mayor Damien Ryan as “rubbish”.
Dr Noble, who gives his address at a location in inner city Vienna, Austria, says in a letter to the Mayor: “No doubt you are critical of those residents for posting the posters in Alice Springs.
“Your ill-conceived remarks surfaced on an English newspaper website” quoting Mr Ryan as saying that Dr Noble’s reward offer was a “cheap stunt”.
He says: “Yes, it is only A$40,000 (£25,000) but people have spoken to me about contributing more so the reward can be increased.
“But I think that your remark really relates to your inaccurate belief that the poster is part of a book promotion effort.” FULL STORY »

Shires fill final vacancies

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks misses out

 

Former president of Barkly Shire and prominent opponent of the Federal Intervention, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, has lost to Eileen Bonney and Timothy Jakara Price in the supplementary election for the Alyawarr Ward in Barkly Shire. Mrs Kunoth-Monks did not stand for the general election but threw her hat in the ring when not enough candidates came forward to fill the vacancies in Alyawarr Ward.

Participation in the vote was low – 25%

In the Central Desert Shire’s Anmatjere Ward James Glenn (who sat on the first shire council), Marlene Tilmouth and Benedy Bird have been elected. Former councillor Dianne Martin, who stood and lost in the Southern Tanami Ward and then stood again in the supplementary election for this neighbouring ward, missed out.

Participation was at 34%.

In MacDonnell Shire’s Rodinga Ward Louise Cavanagh won convincingly over her sole rival, Rosalie Riley, 76.6% to 23.4%.

Participation was at 32.6%. FULL STORY »

Alleged grog running cabbie may lose car; passenger who bought grog fined $120.

UPDATE 1:30 May 28: Police have now disclosed that the taxi’s passenger, described as a 34 year old female, was issued with a liquor infringement notice, an on-the-spot fine. That means the owner and purchaser of the liquor was fined $100 plus $20 victim levy under Section 75(1)(c) of the NT Liquor Act targeting anyone who “consumes, sells, supplies or otherwise disposes of liquor in a general restricted area.”

Meanwhile, forfeiture of the car may be part of the penalty the driver is facing.

 

UPDATE 10:10 May 24: Police are now seeking legal advice about the responsibilities of taxi drivers carrying passengers who have alcohol in their possession.

The Alice Springs News Online this morning put the following question to Police Commissioner John McRoberts: “If – say – a German tourist and his wife took a taxi, bought a bottle of champagne in a bottle shop, and then went to Anzac Hill to watch the sunset over a glass of bubbly, would the taxi driver be obliged to stop them from doing so?

“What would he be required to do? What would the police do to him if he did not act as the police requires?

Bear in mind that Alice Springs is also a prescribed town [with large signs at the entrance] where drinking in public is prohibited.”

A spokesperson for the Commissioner replied: “The Police are currently seeking legal advice. Once there is a clearer position, I can let all the enquiring media know.”

 

Police will be seeking the forfeiture of a taxi whose driver is alleged to have taken alcohol to a “prescribed area” in Alice Springs.

They have seized the taxi under the Commonwealth Emergency Response Legislation and charged the cabbie.

“The 50 year-old man was followed by police after his taxi was observed at a drive through bottle shop just after 2pm yesterday,” says Superintendent Catherine Bennett.

“The whole community must take responsibility for minimising harm done in the town.
“Police will allege the driver of the taxi was aware the town camp was a dry area and chose to ignore the large sign at the entrance. “

 

UPDATE: Samih Habib Bitar, director of Alice Springs Taxis and former alderman (pictured right), says all drivers know that it is illegal for grog to be taken into town camps. He says sometimes people try to hide grog amongst their groceries. “It’s up to the driver to check,” he says, “to make sure their boot is clean. The company tells everyone to check.”

On the possible penalty for a breach, he says “we all must pay for our mistakes” and hopes everyone “learns a lesson” . FULL STORY »

Councillor pursues plan to scrutinise performance of government agencies, NGOs

Above: Cr Steve Brown at the turnoff (in progress) into the new suburb of Kilgariff. He says council should make sure the development of affordable residential land there becomes a top priority for the NT Government.

 

Publicly funded institutions will be getting marks on a monthly basis for what they are doing – or not doing – for Alice Springs, if newly elected Councillor Steve Brown gets his way.

“We’ll be marking them up or down,” he says, “and the results will be made public.”
This evaluation of “key performance indicators” will embrace Federal, state and local government instrumentalities and departments, as well as the myriad of local non-government agencies (NGOs) funded from the public purse, including Aboriginal organisations.
Performance will be judged from the perspective of the town council “because it is the town’s principal elected body” and would be in charge of the initiative. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Namatjira: for the man and now the project art was a catalyst for change

 

Behind the sell-out theatrical tour of Namatjira, which has its final Australian performances in Hermannsburg and Alice Springs this week, is a three-year project for social change through art. Longer than that if the start is counted from Big hART’s Ngapartji Ngapartji project. I ask Scott Rankin, Big hART’s director, how he thinks the company’s involvement with people in The Centre has contributed to social change over this time.

Complex problems require solutions on many levels, he replies. The social change debate is mostly focussed on “quick fixes” to force change through action that is mostly “siloed” into a single government portfolio.

Big hART’s approach is to work at the grassroots level, with individuals. What is required from community and government is to support those individuals – he calls them “entrepreneurs” – who are effecting change in their lives, going beyond the usual “soft Left versus hard Right” adversarial approaches to the issues.

Art and culture are used as catalysts and perhaps never more pertinently than in the Namatjiira Project  which has at its heart an emblematic story of a man effecting radical change, through art, in his life, the lives of those around him and indeed the cultural and social life of the nation.

Namatjira, the theatre production, is in its own way an emblematic story, as the most successful current touring production in Australia. It shows, says Rankin, that good art, attracting widespread attention and acclaim in the country’s big cities, can come out of remote Central Australia. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

 

PHOTO: Hamming it up big time – in the 2010 Alice showing of the work-in-progress Derek Lynch as the Queen (left) and Trevor Jamieson. FULL STORY »

Centrelink holds key to alcohol and crime mayhem but gets no seat at the Police Commissioner’s round table

COMMENT by RUSSELL GUY

 

At recent meetings in Alice Springs, the NT Police Commissioner met with NT government departments, but not with Federal departments or non-government, community-based organisations.
The key Federal departments that he failed to involve are those controlling Centrelink and the new Remote Jobs and Community Programs (RJCP) which replaces CDEP from July, 2013.
These departments are critical to solving alcohol-related, anti-social behavior, by re-evaluating welfare entitlement and creating employment opportunities. RUSSELL GUY comments.

Meanwhile, Federal Member Warren Snowdon (pictured at left) has not responded to a request for an interview with the Alice Springs News Online, exploring to what extent a multi billion dollar program for indigenous people in the Territory will be fostering self-help.

 

PHOTO AT TOP: Aboriginal dingo trapper in the 1960s. Was he self-taught or had he participated in the kind of program Mr  Snowdon has announced? “$19.1 million to create 50 extra Aboriginal Working on Country ranger positions in remote Northern Territory communities over the next four years.” FULL STORY »

Grog stats may be useless as they do not include online and mail orders

The volatile debate on alcohol reform turns largely on the volume of consumption and how various measures affect it.

Trouble is, the stats are seen to present an incomplete picture as they do not capture the apparently growing online and mail-order purchases that come to the consumer direct from interstate.
Said Deputy Mayor Brendan Heenan during the recent local government election campaign: “There are statistics that less alcohol is being sold now. I don’t believe them. Go to the post office and watch how much alcohol comes in, pallets and pallets of mail orders from south now, tonnes of the stuff, every day.”

The Alice Springs News Online requested information from the NT Justice Department at about noon yesterday. It has not yet been provided. When it comes to hand we will update this report.
Blair McFarland, manager of CAYLUS (Central Australian Youth Link Up Service) which campaigns strongly on substance abuse issues , says so far as he knows, figures about alcohol obtained from interstate by mail order and online are not included in the NT consumption statistics, which – again, so far as he knows – represent wholesale trade in the NT.
Mr McFarland says, relying on figures interstate, the online and mail order proportion is around one percent of the total.
Prominent alcohol activist and medical doctor, John Boffa says: “The short answer is that only some of the sales are included when the wine company or other company is registered in the NT.
“[The government does] not have a way of monitoring all of the internet sales.” ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: The yard of the Alice Springs post office which, some claim, transports large quantities of alcohol not accounted for in NT consumption statistics.

 

UPDATE May 10, 12:40pm: The NT Department of Justice has now provided a partial response to questions we asked yesterday.

They were: Does the department have figures of alcohol obtained via mail order or online, and delivered via Post Australia?
If you do please supply them to me.
Are mail order or online purchases of alcohol from interstate and delivered to the buyer direct captured in the NTG stats made public?
Answer: DoJ is aware of small amounts of alcohol being purchased over the Internet.  These amounts are insignificant in comparison to the 2.73 million litres of pure alcohol sold in 2010.

Online retailers can use the Banned Drinkers Register (BRD) online and since its launch on 26 March, three interstate licensees have adopted the system with the first sale recorded on 8 May 2012.

Follow-up questions to the department: That clearly means that the government does not know the quantities and they are not reflected in the NT alcohol statistics; is that so? How many mail order and online retailers from interstate are supplying the NT?

 

UPDATE May 10, 4:20pm:

The department replies: Whilst we don’t know specific quantities, from discussions with cartage agents, especially in Alice Springs, quality bottled wine is being purchased in very low quantities in comparison to what is sold in the Territory.
The majority of online liquor sellers don’t sell into the NT.  Coles and Woolworths despatch their online liquor sale products from the NT and so already use the BDR. In developing the BDR online, we wrote to 10 organisations that offer online liquor sales into the Territory – including Coles and Woolworths, letting them know that the BDR was available online. FULL STORY »

Two packed houses get shot in the arm from the play, Namatjira

Laughter, more than tears, tells this foundation story of black-white relations.

 

What did we feel coming away from the show of the theatre production, Namatjira? That things will get better, that they are better – between black and white Australians and for Aboriginal people themselves. And this was despite the sad, even bleak last scenes that show the unrelenting pressures on famed Arrernte watercolour painter Albert Namatjira as he tried to manage his success in the white world and his position within his own large family and wider clan; and despite our recognition that these pressures in many ways are unchanged today.

So how better? By the very fact these two outstanding Aboriginal performers, Trevor Jamieson and Derek Lynch, and all their collaborators, are able to trace this foundation story of black-white relations through laughter, more than tears, and through a rich narrative, not ideology, sentiment and slogans. And by the fact that they have drawn sell-out houses around Australia; that 850 people, mostly remote community residents,  traveled into Ntaria / Hermannsburg  for the staging of the play there last Wednesday night; that Araluen sold out two shows on Saturday and could probably have sold out a third. We are hungry for this – being able to laugh at ourselves, at our collective foibles, clumsiness, ignorance as we deal with one another, being able to rejoice in the creativity and friendships that bridge the gaps. For the revelatory story of the show is the friendship (much more than mentorship) between Namatjira and the World War I veteran turned artist Rex Battarbee – the ways that art opened up possibilities for them both, became the bridge between them and the ground for a friendship that endured. KIERAN FINNANE reviews.

 

Pictured: Derek Lynch (left) and Trevor Jamieson, with artists from the Namatjira family in the background. Photo by Grant McIntyre, courtesy Big hART. FULL STORY »

What future for the Aboriginal art economy?

In the global economic downturn all artists are doing it tough. How will the Aboriginal art industry ride it out? A CRC project will attempt to come up with some answers.

 

In any picture of the Aboriginal economy, especially on remote communities, the art industry would have to be seen as the shining light, for the way that it has engaged large numbers of people, bringing them purpose, cultural prestige, income and opportunity.  So why is it, in particular, the subject of a seven year research project by the CRC for Remote Economic Participation?

It’s not the only focus for the CRC of course – there are 12 research areas all up – but Aboriginal Art Economies is a flagship project with a $1.5m budget and will run for the entire seven years of the CRC’s life, with the final years devoted to “rolling-out” the research findings in practical ways.

Perth-based research leader Tim Acker has hands-on experience of the industry stretching back 15 years. He was for instance a manager of the famous Warlayirti Artists in Balgo, WA and more recently was one of the co-founders of the Canning Stock Route Project.

Mr Acker acknowledges that the Aboriginal art industry is the “single most obvious and long-term success story to come out of remote Aboriginal Australia”, but he says it is still “characterised at pretty much every point by some form of fragility”: “The way art is produced, the community circumstances, the art centres, the connections between artists and galleries, the GFC and the overall downturn in the art market in the last few years, all those things have put into sharp relief that there is nothing fixed about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art sector.”

And some of fragility has come about because the industry it has been “too successful”, he says. For example, there are issues of over-supply and in this regard, the marketing of art on the internet has been a double-edged sword. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured above: Nancy Nyanyarna Jackson working on her painting in the Warakurna Artists studio. Photo by Rhett Hammerton FULL STORY »

What’s your poison?

Some people in this town seem to be on a permanent quest to find new ways to hurt themselves.

As sniffable fuel and paints have been made harder to come by, anti-perspirant sprays seem to be the latest craze.

I collected these cans in the laneway at the rear of my home in the Old Eastside, in the space of a few days during last week.

The back row of spray cans appeared in just one day, and I came across a young Aboriginal girl sitting by the fence as she was sniffing the last one.

She didn’t seem to be affected much but perhaps she hadn’t been alone sniffing all of them.
The remainder I collected over the next three days. The small “Playboy” spray can and the cut-off VB can I picked up in the Todd River. This ties in with Blair McFarland’s alert over this issue last week when about 100 of these spray cans were picked up, mainly in the vicinity of K-Mart.

This sniffing outbreak seems to be over, I’ve not come across any more spray cans this week. ALEX NELSON reports. FULL STORY »

The cockies are back!

Ken Johnson’s efforts in controlling exotic grasses and allowing native vegetation to re-establish on the east bank of the Todd in town have paid off with one spectacular dividend.

For three days running now, a flock of Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos have been attracted to this area, hanging around for hours at a time. They’re attracted to the seeds (not least the prickles!) which they are munching out on.
I’m fairly sure they first turned up only three days ago, as I walk across the river every day and never noticed their presence earlier. The other give-away of their initial presence was that they caused quite a stir amongst the local crows, which are not used to the presence of black cockatoos in this location. There was a bit of a barney going on! It all seems to have settled down now. ALEX NELSON reports.

PHOTO at top (in the rural area of Alice Springs) by ERWIN CHLANDA. Urban cockies by ALEX NELSON. FULL STORY »

Alice Springs News Online: your marketplace for opinions

RECENT REPORTS ATTRACTING THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF READERS’ COMMENTS

Grog mayhem is exhausting Alice Springs. NEW LETTER TO THE EDITOR.

Power struggle on Town Council: a sign of things to come? (46 comments)
Female tourists sleeping in car alleged to have been sexually assaulted. (40 comments)
Grog stats may be useless as they do not include online and mail orders. (15 comments)
Kids enemy No 1 in law & order debate – or the main victims? (11 comments)
Grog, residential land, law & order: More power to Alice under Country Liberals, says Terry Mills. (11 comments)
Also, look for your favourite topics, writers and comment providers by entering their names into the search box under the masthead. With commentators use both names between inverted commas (e.g. “Fred Nurk”). Note to those correspondents who only provide a pseudonym or their first name: Google might ignore you, or rank you low. Our story archive, instantly accessible right around the world, contains some five million words and stretches back to 1997.
FULL STORY »

Liberating work in the wide open spaces

My last piece was a little gushy at the marking of my first year in Alice Springs. I was in the throes of a busy week leading up to the Wide Open Space festival and was excited to be celebrating the anniversary with my own coffee cart stall, ‘Monkey Beans’. I had caught myself thinking that it was a perfect way to appreciate my seasoned perspective of this place a year down the track. Essentially sentiments of feeling like part of a community were rambling on. Sentiments that I shared with a friend at the festival recalling how this time last year I was wandering around the festival rather bewilderedly. She said, “Yeah, I remember seeing you, you looking pretty lost.” Which for some reason pretty much cut the conversation short!

Back to Monkey Beans, that  also served 100% banana ice cream (hence the name!), Moroccan spiced pumpkin and capsicum bread (which I was up till very late on Thursday night baking) and the A-team that made it all happen! I was lucky to have another barista extraordinaire and another enterprising lady who was the face of the stall, a face that quickly became a morning favourite amongst the caffeine in need. Setting up the little stall was like setting up an extension of my lounge room. I found seeing this aesthetic in the amazing surrounds of the Ross River intensely gratifying. FULL STORY »

Last of the nomads wins prize with ‘sublime’ 21st Century painting

UPDATE, May 19, 2012: Alice Prize: a journey through art of ‘the time we are in

Go to FULL STORY for Kieran Finnane’s walk through the art with the Alice Prize judge.

 

The Pintupi artist Yukultji Napangarti – one of the so called Lost Tribe of nine people whose first contact with the outside world was in 1984 – has won the Alice Prize with a hypnotic untitled work that “elevates paint on a surface to something sublime”.

So said judge of the prize, Nick Mitzevitch, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia.

“To me that’s what great painting is all about,” he said.

This is the 37th Alice Prize, one of Australia’s oldest contemporary art prizes, open to artists from around the country. Presented by the Alice Springs Art Foundation it opened tonight at Araluen and will be on display till June 10.

Mr Mitzevitch regarded Napangarti’s painting as “by far the most sophisticated and superior work in the exhibition”, and this despite the standard of the prize, and painting in particular, being “generally high”.

He said the work “sums up what landscape painting is really about in the 21st century”, even though it draws on thousands of years of Indigenous tradition.

Yukultji Napangarti and her family occupy a special place in Australian history, being the last known nomadic people to ‘come in’ from the desert, making contact with other Pintupi people in the tiny settlement of Kiwirrkurra in Western Australia in 1984. Her three brothers have also gained recognition as artists.

KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured, top: Yukultji Napangarti. Photo courtesy Papunya Tula Artists. At right: The winning work (detail). The artist’s statement says the lines represent the sandhills surrounding the waterhole and soakage site known as Yunala, as well as the tubers of the silky pear vine, also known as yunala.  FULL STORY »

Liam Jurrah on four more assault charges

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Four new charges have been laid against footballer Liam Jungarai Jurrah, all of aggravated assault, and against four different people.
This was revealed when he appeared in the Alice Springs Magistrate’s Court this afternoon for a preliminary examination on two charges, “unlawfully cause serious harm” and “armed with an offensive weapon at night”.
Defence counsel John McBride told Magistrate John Birch that he was having discussions with the prosecution about further witnesses, civilian and police, and possibly a doctor.
The court was told that the events, from which the charges arise, in the Little Sisters town camp near Alice Springs’ Heavitree Gap, had involved two groups and most had consumed alcohol.
It is alleged one man was injured with a machete.

Drawing by ROD MOSS. Defence counsel John McBride on his feet, Magistrate John Birch on the bench.

 

UPDATE 4:40pm: Magistrate John Birch has now varied Mr Jurrah’s bail conditions so he can play football in Darwin on the weekend before his three day oral committal hearing to begin on July 23.
Mr Jurrah will be allowed to travel from Melbourne to Darwin on July 19 “and remain there with a football manager for the purpose of undertaking his employment,” Mr Birch ordered.
“On the July 22 the defendant is to travel from Darwin to Alice Springs with a football manager for the purpose of attending his court appearance on the 23 July 2012.
“While in Alice Springs the defendant is to reside at a hotel and not leave those premises between 7pm and 7am.”
Meanwhile Mr Jurrah’s co-defendant Christopher Walker has been remanded in custody to July 23 for a three day oral committal. The alleged charges are the same as Mr Jurrah’s. FULL STORY »