Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 29 »

July 19, 2012

Eastsiders up in arms over Ross Park car park plans

Eastside resident Charlie Carter says locals are up in arms about the Alice Town Council’s apparent plans for turning another section of Ross Park into a carpark.
He says there has been no consultation with any of the residents adjacent to the park although the area (see photo above) has already been opened up for cars and sections have been roped off.

But council Director of Technical Services Greg Buxton says discussions “with all parties” – including residents – are under way and the use of the area is, at this stage, only a trial till the end of the season.

This is contested by park user M’Lis Scott who says she took this photo of the car park on the south eastern end of Ross Park on Saturday, June 23 at 12 noon “when soccer and netball was in full swing. I am there every Saturday as my daughter plays soccer at this time.” ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Decision expected today whether Liam Jurrah will stand trial in supreme court

Report #6. Posted 11.45am July 25. See earlier reports below.

 

Magistrate David Bamber has adjourned to consider the evidence in the committal hearing of football star Liam Jurrah, Christopher Walker and Josiah Fry.
Mr Bamber’s decision is expected shortly on whether the accused will stand trial in the supreme court. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Liam Jurrah to stand trial in the Supreme Court

 

The decision is “unrelated to guilt”, says his defence counsel. 

 

Report #7. First posted 1:00pm July 25. Updated 3.28pm July 25. See earlier reports below.

 

Liam Jurrah has been committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court on a charge of assault causing serious harm, as well as three further counts of assault on three separate victims.

This is also the case for his co-accused, Christopher Walker and Josiah Fry.

Mr Walker’s lawyer, Tania Collins, told the court Mr Walker will be pleading guilty to the ’cause serious harm’ charge.

Mr Jurrah’s family and supporters in the courtroom and waiting for him in the lobby accepted the news quietly but appeared downcast.
Outside the court defence counsel Jon Tippett QC told media that moving the case from the Court of Summary Jurisdiction into the Supreme Court is “unrelated to guilt”. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Liam Jurrah leaving court after he had been committed to stand trial. Ahead of him is Melbourne Football Club official Craig Lees. FULL STORY »

Half shot or full drunk?

Evidence in this week’s committal hearing of charges against Liam Jurrah, Christopher Walker and Josiah Fry, painted yet again a picture of Alice Springs town camps awash with alcohol, even though drinking is supposed to be banned there. When the grog wasn’t being consumed in the camps, it was being drunk “down the creek”, where drinking is also supposed to be banned.

There was no suggestion that this day – March 7, 2012 – was special. It was a Wednesday. Only one witness said it was his pension day.

For one man, drinking started before noon; for most of the others, it began mid-afternoon, after the take-aways opened. KIERAN FINNANE summarises the evidence of each witness in relation to alcohol consumed on the day. FULL STORY »

Picture of lawless Alice served to national audience, again

The doubtlessly biggest news story in Alice Springs was when – as it is now official – the dingo took baby Azaria Chamberlain.
The Liam Jurrah story is also pretty big but there are other significant differences.
If we manage to leave aside the unspeakable stupidity of Territory officialdom, and the almost biblical pain it inflicted on the Chamberlains, we can observe that their story put The Centre, The Rock, The Alice into the public view. That had its good side. A lot more is now known about our patch.

The Jurrah media coverage, albeit much smaller in scale, was different in message, volume, speed and reach. Unless you take the show biz view that any publicity is good so long as they spell the name right, you’d have to conclude that Alice just got another hammering. ERWIN CHLANDA comments. FULL STORY »

Liam Jurrah committal hearing has late start, waiting for witnesses

 

Report # 1. Posted 11:05am

 

A smartly dressed but worried looking Liam Jurrah (right) arrived out the front of the Alice Springs Courthouse this morning, to a waiting crowd of cameramen, photographers and reporters.
The star footballer, from Yuendumu and now playing for the Melbourne Football Club, stands accused (together with two others) of unlawfully causing serious harm, going armed with an offensive weapon at night and four counts of aggravated assault.
It was something of an anti-climax when the prosecution told Magistrate David Bamber that they were not ready to proceed immediately. A number of witnesses are coming in from remote communities, chiefly Nyirrpi, and have not yet arrived, Mr Bamber was told.
A couple live in town and the case may be able to start with their evidence shortly. KIERAN FINNANE reports. Photo at top: Jurrah defence team Jon Tippett QC (with sunglasses) and John McBride confronted by media outside the court. FULL STORY »

No intention of fighting Liam Jurrah, victim tells court, but another witness puts nulla nulla in the victim’s hand

 

Report #5. Posted 6:45pm, July 24. See earlier reports below.

 

Basil Jurrah, alleged victim of an assault causing serious harm, with which Liam Jurrah and his co-accused are charged, in his evidence today mostly stuck to his guns that he had no intention of fighting at Little Sisters camp, and was unarmed.
However cracks appeared when the trouble underlying the on-going feuds amongst the Warlpiri families of Yuendumu was mentioned.
He went to Little Sisters for “smoke and grog”, Basil Jurrah told the court. He denied getting weapons before he went.
Was it a lie that he had a machete in his hand, asked Jon Tippett QC, representing Liam Jurrah, in cross-examination this afternoon. Yes, said Basil Jurrah, who is at present in custody.
He agreed a fight took place and that he had seen Liam Jurrah and his co-accused Christopher Walker at Little Sisters, but to the proposition that he tried to fight Liam Jurrah, he said “I had no weapon”.

However final witness for the day, Douglas Watson, said Basil Jurrah was armed with a nulla nulla when he went to Little Sisters along with five cars full of other people armed and intending to fight. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Sticking our heads in the sands of the Todd (re-published with Maxine Cook’s comment)

It is remarkable how little comment there has been to mark the recent expiry of the 20 year moratorium that had prevented the construction of a flood mitigation dam on the Todd River north of Alice Springs, says letter-writer ALEX NELSON. He summarises what is known about the town’s susceptibility to flooding and notes that the Imparja headquarters (pictured above) would be inundated by more than a metre of water above ground level in a 100 year flood. The Civic Centre and the Alice Springs Public Library are equally at risk. FULL STORY »

Liam Jurrah evidence unfolds as angry mob stays away

 

 

 

 

Report # 4. Posted 2:30pm, July 24. See earlier reports below.

 

As the court adjourned for lunch on the second day of the committal hearing of charges against star footballer Liam Jurrah and two others, cross-examination had begun of Basil Jurrah, the alleged victim of their assault causing serious harm charge.
Judging by their demeanour, this testimony is of critical interest to the defendants. Liam Jurrah, for the first time, was leaning back in his chair, craning to see the witness and intently listening to his answers. His co-accused Josiah Fry did the same. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

 

Photos: Top – The grassy knoll opposite the courthouse, where yesterday an angry crowd had gathered, was a scene of peace and quiet this morning. Middle: Liam Jurrah. Below: Interstate camera crews from the three commercial TV networks had a quieter day until tensions between feuding Warlpiri familes built this afternoon.

FULL STORY »

Town council’s ‘regional’ landfill: cart before the horse?

Shift dump & sewage plant from iconic Gap, says Cr Brown 

 

The Town Council’s plans for a $5m upgrade of the tip, turning it into a “regional” landfill servicing the southern half of the Territory, is showing troubling signs of putting the cart before the horse.

Funds include grants from the Federal Government ($3.5m) and the NT Government ($775,000).

All centers which would be carting rubbish to Alice Springs would be in one of the two shires south of Tennant Creek.
MacDonnell Shire CEO Diane Hood says while there are talks about a regional waste management action plan “this has not yet been discussed in any detail” and “no budget has been assigned for this purpose as it will form part of future discussions”.
And Roydon Robertson, CEO of the Central Desert Shire, said when asked for a comment: “I don’t know anything about this story. I doubt its accuracy.”
Prominent councillor Steve Brown says the dump and the adjacent sewage treatment plant, run by the NT Government’s Power & Water, should be moved from their present location where they are a smelling eyesore in the iconic Gap, the entrance to the tourist Mecca Alice Springs wants to be. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. [This report brings together all previous reports and updates on this subject.]

 

Click FULL STORY for UPDATES on July 19 and 23.

 

IMAGES: Sketch of the entrance of the proposed upgraded landfill. • The dump (centre of the photo) is a blight on the beautiful Ilparpa Valley, says Cr Steve Brown. FULL STORY »

Testimony puts footy star at the scene of the alleged crime: Liam Jurrah was “hitting” victim with a machete

Report # 3. Posted 4:40pm, July 23. See earlier reports below.

 

The court heard today from two witnesses, Allan Collins and Esau Marshall. Their evidence in chief had been tendered in writing. Cross-examination by Mr Tippett went to two matters in particular: one, that they had been drinking – “half shot” as opposed to “full drunk”, they both said; two, that it was dark at Little Sisters Town Camp where the critical events unfolded.
Both witnesses put Liam Jurrah and Christopher Walker, whose nickname is “Mini Me”, on the scene as perpetrators in the attack on Basil Jurrah, together with a third person.

Mr Marshall, questioned by prosecutor Steve Robson in order to “rehabilitate” his evidence after cross-examination, said he had seen Basil Jurrah lying on the ground; Liam Jurrah was “hitting him” with a machete, and Christopher Walker had an axe and “was pounding it on Basil”, on his legs and his head. KIERAN FINNANE reports. Photos: An angry crowd opposite the courthouse kept in check by a large contingent of police. At left: One of the accused, Josiah Fry. FULL STORY »

Council plays swings and roundabouts

The intersection of Undoolya Road and Wills Terrace, looking towards the causeway across Todd River. Photo by Alex Nelson.

Is there really a case for a roundabout at the Undoolya Road – Sturt Terrace intersection? And how much support is there for it from the residents of Eastside?

Mayor Damien Ryan is having his doubts.

Papers presented to councillors at last night’s meeting revealed that only four replies had been received in response to council’s 1500 invitations to comment.

Three of the four opposed this expenditure of $300,000 of taxpayers’ money.

Mayor Ryan’s thought that, together with views he had heard by callers to local radio, suggested that the people of Eastside did not seem to want this roundabout.

Council’s Director of Technical Services, Greg Buxton, countered that non-response indicated “acceptance”. KIERAN FINNANE reports.  FULL STORY »

Angry crowd outside court as Liam Jurrah hearing gets under way

Report # 2. Posted 2:10pm, July 23. See earlier report below.

 

An angry crowd gathered outside the Alice Springs Courthouse as the committal hearing of charges against Liam Jurrah, Christopher Walker and Josiah Fry got underway.
Feuding Warlpiri families were shouting and raising their fists..

But prominent Yuendumu elder Harry Nelson (at right) was in the crowd, appealing for calm, saying they were not there for payback but to support their family member, Liam.
In the lobby of the courthouse, Mr Jurrah was happy to see family members, men and women, exchanging hugs and smiles. Outside the phalanx of media were waiting for him to come out.
A large detail of police moved in to calm the crowd.
In the courtroom, the less exciting matter of establishing the facts had begun. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
FULL STORY »

What’s in a name?

The Town Council’s discussion of street name proposals for the new Mt Johns subdivision was a revealing little snapshot of inter-cultural dynamics in Alice Springs.

The developers, Lhere Artepe Enterprises, a business related to the native title holders’ Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation, proposed two Arrernte names, Irrampenye Street and Werlatye Court, both of them after traditional owners born in the mid-19th century near where the Old Telegraph Station came to be built.

Deputy Mayor Brendan Heenan objected in particular to Irrampenye as very difficult to pronounce and spell (thinking of having to spell it when calling police or for a taxi). There was “no way” he could support it. He suggested further that it is too close to another Arrernte name in the Stirling Heights subdivision (which also involved the native title holders). KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Significant comment just posted about local cost of LPG gas for cars

Go to comments of this story. FULL STORY »

Criminal lawyers oppose Country Liberals on mandatory sentencing

It’s about heavier not fairer punishments and it does not deter offenders, they say.

 

Mandatory sentencing is strongly associated with the dying phase of the last Country Liberal Government. In many ways Terry Mills leads a different CLP into this election campaign, but it seems the leopard can’t lose this particular spot – a ‘lock ’em up reflex.

Earlier this month, responding to concern over attacks on taxi drivers Mr Mills announced what looks to be a one strike mandatory sentencing policy for assaults on anyone serving the public, not only taxi drivers but including “bus drivers, public servants, bank tellers, retail and hospitality workers”.

An assault on this broad category of victim – including, for example, bouncers at night clubs – will be defined as “aggravated” and attract a minimum sentence of three months. This beefs up the party’s existing two strike policy statement (see their website) for assault: as a second offence, any assault will attract a minimum of one month; an aggravated assault, a minimum of three months; and causing serious harm, a minimum of one year.

The core problem with this approach – whether to property crime as in the old CLP regime or violent offending –  lies with its failure to take account of an almost infinite variety of circumstances and human responses to them.

KIERAN FINNANE discusses the issues with Russell Goldflam, President of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the NT .  FULL STORY »

Harvesting rainwater to green our streets

An Alice Springs friend visiting Adelaide recently sent this photo which she captioned “Gutter dreaming” – her regret being the lost opportunities to green our town’s public spaces by harvesting rainwater.

This is relevant to the debate in Town Council this week about the pros and cons of concreting our street infrastructure, which has developed apace in recent years. Mayor Damien Ryan expressed his unhappiness at the prospect of another concrete roundabout, this time likely to be at the intersection of Undoolya Road and Sturt Terrace (see separate story). Council’s Director of Technical Services, Greg Buxton, defended the approach on the basis of deterioration to road surfaces caused by watering plantings.

But it doesn’t have to be like that, explains Mike Gillam, who on his commercial property in Hele Crescent uses an approved water-harvesting and retention system to cultivate a desert garden. The Alice Springs News Online asked Mr Gillam to explain what is going on in the Adelaide photo. FULL STORY »

Utopia artist claims top prize

 

 

 

 

Utopia artist Margaret Loy Pula has won the 2012 Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, it was announced today.  Her painting Anatye (Bush Potato), acrylic on linen, was chosen from 98 finalist entries for the $50,000 prize. The exhibition of finalist opens tomorrow at the South Australian Museum. The artist will have a solo show at Muk Muk Fine Art in Alice Springs in September. FULL STORY »

Kilgariff: housing for the people or a motza for developers?

The Territory elections are six weeks away with the price of real estate and housing, although falling, still one of the main issues.

Yet the development of the new suburb of Kilgariff, up to 1200 blocks south of The Gap, except for the head works, is still little more than a sign by the side of the Stuart Highway. FULL STORY »

An artist for our place and time

 

 

 

Pamela Lofts (August 9, 1949 – July 4, 2012) left behind important legacies in the fields of visual arts and children’s literature. Her ideas and vision reached beyond the Centre but for our readers it is her work in Alice Springs and the desert that is of particular interest and where, apart from her well-loved person, her loss will be greatly felt.

Our archive is not comprehensive but it does trace some of the lines of her legacy – her role as initiator and founding coordinator of Watch This Space (which endures to this day), her achievements as a children’s book illustrator and her career as an exhibiting artist (from 1992  held 27 solo shows across Australia, and was represented in almost 70 group exhibitions in Australia and internationally). We reinstate excerpts and images from the archive here in her memory. FULL STORY »

Thanks for more ‘us and them’, Ms Macklin and Mr Snowdon

 

 

 

 

The West MacDonnell Ranges national park, which belonged to all of us, which for many of us underpin our livelihood, and for quite a few of us are the very reason why we’re here, will today pass into the ownership of a minority. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Can Bess Price wrest Stuart from Labor?

Bess Price on the campaign trail, talking with Laramba resident Ronnie McNamara and Napperby pastoralist Janet Chisholm.

 

Is a swing on in the vast Northern Territory electorate of Stuart? It’s been held by Labor since 1983. Can well-regarded and outspoken senior Warlpiri woman Bess Nungarrayi Price wrest it from Labor for the Country Liberals? One voter doesn’t make up the 15% needed but Ronnie McNamara in Laramba is eloquent: “We tried Karl Hampton and before him Peter Toyne. Nothing happened. We need someone who can help us … We might vote for that Country party.” KIERAN FINNANE accompanies Bess Price on the campaign trail. FULL STORY »

Hell or high water

Updated July 18, 2012

In the wake of the Victorian Auditor-General’s report into that state’s drinking culture and its range of damning observations that point to its $4.3b p.a. and growing alcohol-abuse problem, there have been a number of other reports this past week, echoing concern about Australia’s dependence on alcohol. For example, in Western Australia, evidence given to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, revealed that one in five students at a Kimberley high school (20%) is believed to suffer from Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, where the mother’s alcohol consumption during pregnancy causes brain damage and other birth defects, similar to autism. Teachers are having to deal with this in the classroom. COMMENT by RUSSELL GUY. Photo: A traffic jam at the “Thirsty Camel” last Sunday afternoon in Alice Springs.
FULL STORY »

What a Week! Comment by Erwin Chlanda.

 

 

 

Labor’s land management doesn’t give a hoot about The People; is south of The Gap reserved for trash; on’ya, cops, for cracking down on alleged dope dealers; and a farewell to Pam Lofts. What a Week by Erwin Chlanda. FULL STORY »

Man sought after alleged sexual assault

 

 

 

 

Alice Springs detectives have released a comfit image of the man they would like to speak with following an alleged sexual assault in Alice Springs.
Detective Senior Sergeant Travis Wurst said a 21 year-old woman was attacked at about 11.30pm on Friday, July 6 near the Bloomfield drain way. FULL STORY »