Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 30 »

July 26, 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Council asked to consider spectre of transport accident involving radioactive waste

The NT Fire and Rescue Service in their HAZMAT suits. Their role is to ‘identify, isolate and contain’. Photo courtesy NTFRS. 

The Alice Springs Town Council was challenged at last night’s meeting to take action regarding the proposed radioactive waste dump at Muckaty, Aboriginal land 120 kms north of Tennant Creek.

The key issue put to councillors was that local emergency services do not have the capacity to respond to an accident involving radioactive waste material on Alice’s road or rail networks. This was argued by a deputation from the NT branch of United Voice (a workers union), the Public Health Association and the Beyond Nuclear Initiative.

The Alice Springs News Online asked the NT Fire and Rescue Service to comment on this proposition. Their responsibility is to “identify the material, isolate and contain until such time as the lead agency takes over management”, we were told. KIERAN FINNANE reports.


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 »

Engineers rule?

The intersection looking east, with the child care centre on the left. 

“This council shouldn’t in any way, shape or form, question an engineer, we should take the advice as provided.”

So said Councillor Chansey Paech on the issue of the proposed roundabout at the intersection of Undoolya Road and Sturt Terrace.

He also expressed his belief that “the majority” of people in “that street” – Sturt Terrace? – support the proposal, despite no clear evidence before him. Of the four responses the council’s letter drop on the issue, three opposed the proposal (see previous report).

Cr Paech was picking up on the cues from council’s Director of Technical Services Greg Buxton and CEO Rex Mooney. KIERAN FINNANE reports.  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 »

A street by any other name …

Alice Springs Town Council last night approved new street names proposed for the Mt John subdivision, two of them being Arrernte words honouring past traditional owners of the area.

The phonetic pronunciation of these words will be part of the signage and this practice will be adopted for all future street name signage. 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 »

Recipient of Hampton’s unsolicited email “will take issue further”

The “unpaid professional assistant” of Bess Price, the Country Liberals’ candidate for Stuart, says her opponent Karl Hampton has sent electioneering materials to friends of hers who don’t live in the electorate.
The assistant, Ms Price’s husband Dave, says it appears Mr Hampton has used a mailing list belonging to Ms Price without her permission.
The whole thing is a bit of a family affair but tempers are rising.

Mr Hampton did not respond to our invitation to comment – but one of his minders gave a snutty reply. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

 

UPDATE JULY 30, 12:15pm

Hampton email recipient will “take this issue further”. FULL STORY »

Alice job market down but not out

An Alice Springs labour hire company says business is down compared to a year ago and job seekers outnumber available positions about five to one, says Chris Jackson, of Centre Labourforce and Recruitment NT.

Before the downturn 150 people a week were contracted through the firm, she says.
That figure is now down to between 80 and 100. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Q: How will the cycle be broken? A: ‘Got to work and stay at school, got to make a change.’

“When we’re all alone  ’cause our family’s gone drinking, we get bored ’cause there’s  nothing to do.

“We’re not excited about tomorrow, every day’s the same, we got to find a new way, a new direction to break the cycle.”

Their names are (from left) Danielle Breaden, Katrina Drover and Shania Austin, aged 14, 13 and 11 years; they live at Amoonguna, some 20 kms south of Alice and part of MacDonnell Shire; and these are the lyrics of a song they wrote and performed as part of the “Stay Strong, Live Long” project conducted by the shire council’s youth development team.

So, how do the girls think the cycle will be broken? Not by “going into town and roaming around, looking for some trouble”. They say they’ve got to “think about the future, got to work and stay at school, got to make a change”. – Kieran Finnane.

 

UPDATE July 30, 2012: See the fruits of this project for yourself. FULL STORY »

Alice architects selected for Venice Biennale

 

An Alice Springs architectural practice has been included in the Australian display for the 2012 International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in Italy. Tangentyere Design – Tangentyere Council’s architecture enterprise – was selected from among more than 100 architects on the basis of its unique ‘practice formation’.

The Biennale is one of the most important events on the International contemporary architecture calendar. Thousands of architects, designers, planners and critics visit the Biennale, in addition to the thousands of tourists.  Over 93,000 people visited the Australian pavilion at the 2010 Architecture Biennale.

 

Pictured: One of Tangentyere Design’s buildings, the Centre for Appropriate Technology, located in the Desert Knowledge precinct in Alice. The exhibition in which Tangentyere Design features is focussed more on the nature of the practice – the kind of work that’s done, the locations, the clients – than on the buildings. FULL STORY »

Old Timers Fete in its 45th year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunting for a bargain? Want to meet your mates? The Old Timers’ Fete tomorrow (Saturday) from 11am to 3pm is where it’s all at.

The fete, now in its 45th year, is run entirely by volunteers and each year raises tens of thousands of
dollars for Old Timers.

Photo: The book stall two years ago. FULL STORY »