Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 31 »

August 2, 2012

A meeting of cultures and minds

It was a meeting of cultures, peoples and minds when the Institute of Aboriginal Development launched its diary and its calendar, Jukurrpa 2013, as a tribute to indigenous art, which features in all its splendor in the publications, and under the banner “50,000 years of stories from the heart of Australia”. PHOTO by Oliver Eclipse, tel 0400 181 658. FULL STORY »

Greatorex forum: where was the fourth candidate? And where were the voters?

It was a “job interview” and he didn’t turn up. First question to the other three contenders for the Legislative Assembly seat of Greatorex was, “Where’s the CLP candidate? Has there been any apology from him?”

This was the ‘meet the candidate’ forum for Greatorex, organised well in advance by independent candidate Phil Walcott to which all contenders were invited.

“If someone chooses to not turn up for the interview, well …,” said Mr Walcott, explaining that incumbent Matt Conlan (Country Liberals) had indicated that he would not attend via a letter to the editor in the Centralian Advocate last week.

Joining Mr Walcott to outline their platform and answer questions were the ALP candidate Rowan Foley and the Greens’ recently announced contender, Evelyne Roullet.

It seems though that the campaign is hardly setting the electorate on fire. About a dozen constituents turned up. Local media from three outlets were also in attendance.

Alcohol policies were an inevitable focus.

Photo (from left): Rowan Foley, Evelyne Roullet and Phil Walcott – but where is Matt? KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

What a week!

Will this election forum get some real answers? Three drug houses – look for the big green signs. Will the forum host  – the Chamber of Commerce – and the ALP candidates answer questions about fuel prices? Alice a fly-in, fly-out town? 20 sleeps till the election. ERWIN CHLANDA comments. FULL STORY »

Mandatory sentencing or not, that is the question

UPDATE Thursday, Aug 9, 11am

Trish van Dijk (pictured) has confirmed that her question to Adam Giles was about “mandatory sentencing per se”. It was not about the old regime that existed under the CLP when it was last in government, as suggested by Simon Walker in his comment below. She told the Alice Springs News Online this morning: “I just asked a simple question: Are you going to pursue mandatory sentencing? And the answer was ‘no’.”

 

Now you see it, now you don’t. The Country Liberals’ policy is to introduce minimum sentences for certain categories of assault. That’s mandatory sentencing, but according to candidates Adam Giles and Matt Conlan at yesterday’s Meet the Candidates forum in Alice Springs, mandatory sentencing is  “not happening”.

“We won’t be pursuing mandatory sentencing”, said Mr Giles to a question from Trish van Dijk at the forum. Mr Conlan joined in: “It’s not happening,” he said.

Today Mr Giles ‘clarified’ his understanding of the policy for the Alice Springs News Online: “Mandatory sentencing is a catch-all for everyone on all things. We’re talking about minimum sentencing for assault on front-line service staff.”

Yet clearly, if parliament passes legislation requiring minimum sentences for certain crimes, then that is mandatory sentencing. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

Photo: Adam Giles makes an impassioned point. To his right are fellow Country Liberals Robyn Lambley and Matt Conlan. Nearest to the camera are (from right) the Greens’ Barbara Shaw and Evelyne Roullet. The moderator, the ABC’s Rowan Barwick, is at far left. FULL STORY »

The ties that bind

With family at Three Mile outstation, Papunya: Alison Anderson in the pink top; to her left Sylvana Marks, to her right Makisha Anderson, nieces. Makisha’s mother Linda in the striped top; Alison’s mother Beverley, front ; Linda’s eldest daughter Natasha in green.

 

It’s an election campaign like no-one else’s: parties, policies and platforms seem to matter little compared to the ties that bind.

People from across the vast electorate of Namatjira (formerly MacDonnell) were expected to converge on Papunya for the annual Sports Weekend. I made a date two weeks ago to travel out there with the community’s most famous daughter and sitting Legislative Assembly Member, Alison Anderson.

The day of travel arrives and plans change. We’ll overnight first in Hermannsburg where she must attend a funeral the next morning. My swag and stores are added to the load – her Toyota has become a rolling campaign office – and we set out. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Alcohol sales in Alice dropped 12% between 2004 and 2011, but mail orders, online purchases not included

 

 

 

 

The total wholesale supply of liquor measured as pure alcohol has reduced in Alice Springs by 12% since 2004, according to figures from the NT Department of Justice.

The figures do not include alcohol obtained by mail orders or online purchases obtained from interstate which, according to anecdotal evidence, are increasingly popular.
The most significant drop was in the supply of wine casks and fortified wines, coinciding with sales restrictions and price increases.
See also Letter to the Editor from Dr John Boffa, from PAAC.
Photo: Campaigners against alcohol abuse tipping out grog in Alice Springs in 2007. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Spend big on a youth centre, says councillor

UPDATE Aug 21: Comprehensive comment below by Councillor Steve Brown.

 

A massive complex welcoming young people of all races, those on the edge of the law and those who are not, in the centre of the town, possibly the defunct Memo Club or on the still vacant Melanka site, is a proposal Councillor Steve Brown will be putting before the town council.

“We need to reduce the us and them thing,” he says.
The project would cost $30m to $40m and require funding from the Federal and NT Governments.

Image: Regional youth centres are common in Australia, such as the Coomera / Oxenford Youth Centre on the Gold Coast. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Keep your nose out of our business, candidate tells Amnesty International

Country Liberal candidate for Stuart Bess Price has fired a broadside at two local representatives of Amnesty International for sticking their noses into Aboriginal business and has threatened to make a formal complaint.

Amnesty also put its foot in it when Secretary General Salil Shetty visited the Utopia region in October last year.
Ms Price’s angry reaction follows a series of questions from James Milsom and Rachel Toovey, members of the Alice Springs Action Group of Amnesty International, to explore Ms Price’s stance on several issues, mostly about outstations in Central Australia.

“I have some urgent questions for you that I expect to be answered in full by August 9 (tomorrow),” Ms Price emailed them, “so that I can tell my people and all of the people of the Stuart electorate of all ethnicities what your agenda is and why they should speak up for themselves.” Photo: Bess Price (standing) on the campaign trail. 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 »

Real Action in the wrong direction?

The essence of the Christian faith is to see Jesus as the answer, but the Leader of the NT Opposition, Terry Mills gave a somewhat guarded response at the Australian Christian Lobby’s Make it Count forum in Darwin and relayed to Alice Springs recently.

It’s regrettable that the Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, declined to attend, because a cursory glance at political party advertising in the forthcoming NT Election reveals NT Labor favours “Moving in the Right Direction” while the Country Liberals descry “New Direction” with a caveat called “Real Action”.

Mr Mills spoke about the need for Christian voices to counter arguments so that he could have something to work with. In effect, he was calling for more citizens to involve themselves in the democratic process. This is to his credit, however, he has not responded to emails that I sent asking him about whether the CLP received campaign donations from the alcohol industry or its mates. COMMENT by RUSSELL GUY.

Image: This postcard in June 2008 promoting the need of ID to buy booze is testimony to the protracted discussion of alcohol measures in the NT. 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 »

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 »

From Papunya to Paris: the interest in Western Desert art just keeps going

Papunya Tula artists at the National Gallery of Victoria last year with curator Judith Ryan. From left, they are Bobby West Tjupurrula, Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa and Mike Tjakamarra. They are standing in front of a 1991 work by Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, Wartunuma.

A major exhibition on the origins of Western Desert art is set to open at the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris in October. Curated by Judith Ryan and Philipp Batty for the National Gallery of Victoria, Tjukurrtjanu opened in Melbourne last year, examining “a watershed moment in the history of art when a painting practice emerged at Papunya”. More than 160 of the first paintings produced there during 1971 and 1972 will be shown in Paris, together with almost 100 objects and photographs from the period.

The Paris exhibition is just one of the events occurring in the second half of this year that gives Papunya Tula Artists – the desert’s oldest painting company and still the benchmark of independence and achievement – reason to be optimistic. KIERAN FINNANE reports.  FULL STORY »

Tourist complains about LPG Autogas price: town lobbies don’t seem to give a hoot

UPDATE Saturday Aug 4 at 09:40am

The Alice Springs News Online has received information from a fuel retailer which seems to contradict assertions that it are the service stations which are ripping off the public.

 

UPDATE Friday Aug 3 at 11:30am

Alice Springs fuel retailers are continuing to line their pockets with record margins, showing no concerns for the public by failing to pass on available savings.
This is the view of Edon Bell, the General Manager of the Automobile Association of the NT which has more than 20,000 members.

 

POSTED Thursday Aug 2 at 11:46am

A self drive tourist visiting Alice Springs is outraged that he was charged in Alice Springs double what he is used to pay in Adelaide for LPG Autogas. He wrote to the Alice Springs News Online and we passed his concerns to the town council, the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Central Australia. It seems they couldn’t care less. ERWIN CHLANDA comments. 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 youngsters ponder becoming high fliers

If anyone in the audience had ambitions to become a corporate high flier they may well have changed their minds.

Bernard Salt, who addressed about 80 young people on the subject at St Philip’s College on Tuesday, sometimes gets up a 3am to write his column for the Australian newspaper, goes to work when his staff clocks on at 9am, puts in a 9 hour day and never parts from his iPhone, 24/7 and 365 days, in case a journalist wants to get a quote from him at 2am about the stock market heading north or south. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
PHOTO: Mr Salt speaking with Year 12 student, Rachel McCulloch. He was brought to Alice Springs by the Central Australian Education Foundation. FULL STORY »

Will Alice become a fly-in, fly-out town? Only 71 new family type homes in 5 years

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Is Alice Springs becoming a fly-in, fly-out centre? Statistics say it looks like it.
A growing number of people working or spending time here do not call Alice home. 
Only 71 “family type” three bedroom homes were built between 2006 and 2011, whereas a much greater number of flats, units and apartments were constructed.

However the FIFO workers aren’t engaged in the lucrative mining industry, but most likely in the public service, in government initiatives such as the NT Emergency Response and Closing The Gap, says Dr Andrew Taylor, Senior Research Fellow, Demography and Growth Planning, of the Northern Institute, commenting on the five year Australian census results just released.

Photo: On present trends, when kids pictured above in the 2010 Bangtail Muster reach their teens, their town won’t be much bigger, the racial composition will be much the same, they will head interstate to do their tertiary education, the population will be older and a booming tourism industry in The Centre will be the fond memory recalled in a Skype chat with their grandparents. 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 »

Alice houses marked as illicit drug premises

Three houses believed to be involved in the supply of drugs are now the subject of Drug Premises Orders following their identification during the recently completed Operation Caesar in Alice Springs. Three residences in Alice Springs now display Declared Drug Premises signs which give police broad powers to enter, search and seize evidence at these locations.

Pictured: A Declared Drug Premises sign on the fence of a house in Palmer’s Camp, Basso Road. 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 »

Centre poor cousin in road funding

Central Australia is getting merely crumbs off the table in “a significant investment in bush roads across the Territory” by the Federal and NT Governments.

Malarndirri McCarthy, NT Minister for Regional Development, and Warren Snowdon, Member for Lingiari, announced today they would be committing $16m and $90m, respectively, to a “new Regional Roads Productivity Package” to “encourage growth and development in a number of communities and local industries”.

The slice of that for Central Australia will be for “upgrading the gravel condition of priority sections” – no lengths or costs disclosed – of the Santa Teresa Way whose total length is about 70 kms. 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 »

Booze and parties: August 25 crunch time

With the death of Kwementyaye Briscoe in the Alice Springs police watchhouse in January (the image at right was produced in evidence at the inquest), and the recent death of Thomas Kelly in Kings Cross, there is a rapidly increasing public awareness of the fact that Australians have allowed a national drinking culture to escalate into unacceptable levels of alcohol-related violence and self-harm.

Control of booze abuse will be a major issue for the August 25 election, yet neither major party will answer questions whether they get financial support from the alcohol industry and if so, how much.

Campaign donation figures available to the public are often from companies or donors whose connections to the liquor industry are not clear, but neither Opposition Leader Terry Mills nor Chief Minister Paul Henderson will provide explanations.

Take-away is where the money is (70% of alcohol sold in the NT is take-away). Agitating for take-away sales-free days is asking for a trade-off in lives over profit. Unsurprisingly, restricting this supply is not a popular call. In formulating the NT Country Liberals’ alcohol policy, Mr Mills makes the prima facie claim: “It’s behavior that’s the problem, not the substance.”
According to McCuster Centre For Action on Alcohol and Youth, over the last 10 years about 15% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds were due to risky / high risk drinking.  On average, five Australians under 25 die from injury or disease caused by hazardous drinking each week and Indigenous people are more than twice as likely to die.

When an intoxicated Indigenous woman holds up her hand and stops a train besides the now ironically named, Little Sisters Town Camp, it could be that she’s saying “Stop!” to the free market grog trade decimating her community.
The tragedy is that it doesn’t stop there.  If this woman is pregnant, the unborn child is likely to suffer Foetal Alcohol Sprectrum Disorder.
Terry Mills faces the Australian Christian Lobby’s Make it Count Election Forum at CDU, Darwin next Thursday, August 9 at 7:30pm. The webcast will be streamed live to the Baptist Church, cnr Crispe and Brown St, Alice Springs.
Paul Henderson, NT Chief Minister declined to participate. COMMENT by RUSSELL GUY. FULL STORY »

Revitalisation works just about set to go

Parsons Street East, 3D rendering. Courtesy ASTC, CAT Projects, and Susan Dugdale & Associates. 

 

The architectural design for the redevelopment of the northern end of Todd Mall and Parsons Street is all but complete. The key visual features of the design are the moth-like shade structures, which will be placed in a number of clusters along the eastern side of the mall and the southern side of Parsons Street. Their central poles will be used to support much of the street furniture that at present clutters the street-scape. This includes CCTV cameras, bike racks, rubbish bins and lighting. Some of the moth wings will also become the canvas for public art work, the brief for which is also nearing completion. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Barry Abbott will not face jury trial

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

The case against Barry Abbott (pictured), former Senior Territorian of the Year and longtime worker with young people caught up in the justice system, will now be heard by a magistrate, not by judge and jury.

A preliminary examination to see whether the case should proceed to the Supreme Court was scheduled to start today. At the penultimate moment the prosecution conceded, as the defence had pushed for all along, that it could remain in the Court of Summary Jurisdiction. KIERAN FINNANE reports.  FULL STORY »