Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 32 »

August 16, 2012

Mills pledges $2.5m for Youth Centre “transformation,” gets attacked over drunkenness measures

Country Liberals leader Terry Mills pledged $2.5m “to transform the Anzac Hill youth centre into a Police and Citizens Youth Club”.
It will “have access to youth workers and other appropriate support networks as well as organised activities and sports infrastructure,” he said during a whistlestop visit to Alice Springs today.
“The existing centre will be re-developed in stages [no time frame is given] and the upgraded facility will include a cafe operated by the PCYC.”

Asked how many blocks at the new Kilgariff suburb will be sold and at what price, he said the market would set the prices.

Will there be an amalgamation of prison and alcohol rehabilitation farms?

Mr Mills said these facilities would be for people failing to seek help.
“But if that is not sought [that would be] a breach of a court order and then there would be the intervention.”

But Russell Goldflam, president of the Criminal Lawyers Association, says this is tantamount to re-criminalising drunkenness.
Mr Mills said there would be 20 extra police in Alice Springs permanently, “not just when some problem arises that causes embarrassment for the government.”

He could not answer what new infrastructure the tourism industry could expect because the proposed new tourist commission had not yet been set up.

PHOTOS: Country Liberals leader Terry Mills and MLA for Araluen Robyn Lambley this morning, with reporters. A sketch of what the refurbished centre would look like.

FOLLOW-UP
As there was no opportunity for asking Mr Mills further questions this morning the Alice Springs News Online has emailed him these:-
• Would a CL government provide two more lots of $5m to the Alice Springs Town Council, as it requested, for the revitalisation of town centre? (The Labor commitment is for just $2.5m).
• What plans, if any, does the CL have for the development of horticulture and agriculture in remote areas to soak up the massive number of unemployed there? FULL STORY »

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 »

Town centre facelift would grind to a halt under Labor funding, says Mayor Ryan

Country Liberals suggest Labor “stuff-up”: Traeger Park TV lights are already there.

 

Alice Springs will get only half as much as its Town Council asked for, and much later than expected.

This is the response by Mayor Damien Ryan to the campaign promises made by Chief Minister Paul Henderson last Friday.
Mayor Ryan says the council asked for $5m in 2012/13 to continue the town centre re-development, but will only get $2.5m, deferred and over two years, 2014 to 2016.
“It’s pretty disappointing that the CBD doesn’t rate before 2014-15 which is a long way away,” says Mayor Ryan.
“You wouldn’t be able to start stage two with that small a commitment. We need to have the money in place.” ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Market last Sunday in Todd Mall. Funding as announced by the Chief Minister would curtail further progress on the long planned town centre upgrade.
FULL STORY »

Fund Solar City and Water Smart, not footy lights: Alice environmentalists

… and has civic duty ever been mentioned in the nuke dump debate?

 

“Investments such as the CBD revitalisation that have been decided a long time ago, now they actually have to get that happening,” says Arid Lands Environment Centre CEO Jimmy Cocking in a comment on Labor’s election commitments.
“It’s been talked about since I’ve been here, four and a half years, and still we haven’t seen a whole lot coming out of it.

“There have been some consultations, some draft plans, but what we need is a financial commitment from the Territory Government.

“I think it would be much better to spend money on this than on lights for Traeger Park.

“I’d like to see some more commitment to existing programs such as Alice Solar Cities and Alice Water Smart.

“I saw nothing in the policy commitments for that. That’s really important for us for that momentum to keep going.”

Mr Cocking was speaking this morning at a protest (pictured) against uranium mining and the proposed nuclear waste repository at Muckaty Station near Tennant Creek.
Meanwhile the current New York Review of Books raises a notion so far absent from the local uranium debate: Civic duty. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Labor would spend as much on a third set of footy oval lights as it would on the rest of Alice

 

The Territory Government, if re-elected next week, will spend as much on a third set of lights for Traeger Park as it will for the rest of the town.

Announcing election promises for Central Australia, Chief Minister Paul Henderson said in Alice Springs today it will cost $2.5m to upgrade the lights to broadcasting standard, so that AFL games such as the Indigenous All Stars can be broadcast nation-wide.

The same amount will be paid to the Town Council for the enhancement of the CBD and community parks.

PHOTO: Mr Henderson (centre) during the announcement today. He is flanked (from left) by ALP candidates Adam Findlay (Araluen), Rowan Foley (Greatorex) and Deb Rock (Braitling). ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Chamber slams Labor promises: football instead of stimulating business

Labor’s election promises for Central Australia lack incentives for economic development in remote towns, give no thought to stimulating private enterprise in those areas, and by failing to allocate sufficient money to Alice Springs itself, fall short in returning the town to the tourist destination is used to be.

This is the view of Kay Eade, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce in Alice Springs, pictured at the Greatorex election forum she moderated, with (from left) ALP candidate Rowan Foley and Independent Phil Walcott.

She says money promised for football fields in bush communities would be better spent on stimulating business: “Why do electricians drive in and out from Alice Springs to service these communities?” she says. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. 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 »

Alice singled out in German Foreign Office travel warning

 

 

 

The website of the German Foreign Office singles out Alice Springs as Australia’s only location mentioned in the chapter dealing with crime (Kriminalitaet) in its general travel advice (Allgemeine Reiseinformationen). ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Bread & circuses in Darwin, crumbs in the bush: do the numbers

How ‘worthy’ is Hendo’s Big Nite In?

 

Today, August 16, Territory Labor committed $10 million over four years to support local developments and initiatives in the Territory Growth Towns. It was billed by Chief Minister Paul Henderson (pictured on the ‘Team Henderson’ website with Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton, in sunglasses) as a commitment to “build a better future for all Territorians, no matter where they live”.

But it’s worth doing the math to make sense of just how much of a “better future” the Chief Minister envisages for those Territorians who don’t live in Darwin and do live in the so-called Growth Towns. These are all mainly Aboriginal communities off the Stuart Highway. There are 21 of them. KIERAN FINNANE comments. 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 »

Missed the Henley battle of the big boats? Watch it here!

Henley on Thames, move over, you don’t need water to have a regatta!

Henley on Todd has been proving that since 1962 with an annual race of bottomless boats and rowers who are more fleet of foot than arm.

And to wrap it all up the big boats are launched for a spectacular sea battle in which locals – including captains of industry – come head to head to head as pirates and Vikings. And all that at least 1500 kms from a decent body of water. If you missed it watch it here!

Henley on Todd is run entirely on a volunteer basis by the three Rotary Clubs based in the Alice. The entire proceeds – well over a million dollars over the years – are allocated to local, national and international humanitarian projects. Images by ERWIN CHLANDA. 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 »

Buying our 500 year old giants some time

 

Local Landcarers vying for top honours

 

Many Landcare groups around Australia focus on tree planting but in Alice Springs the chief concern of this small band of volunteers is tree protecting, by controlling weeds and preventing wildfires. Leading their David versus Goliath efforts has won a nomination to the National Landcare Awards for Tim Collins, chair of Alice Springs Landcare. He is one of 88 finalists.

Alice Springs Landcare came together because they could see the local landscape changing ‘before our very eyes”, says Mr Collins. You drive or walk around town and “you see the gaps”, he says: where once there was a magnificent river red gum, now there’s a blackened stump or an old giant lying there, shattered on the ground. And few young trees are growing to take their place.

The problem can be sheeted home to lack of adequate fire management and the rise of buffel grass which fuels wildfires, says Mr Collins. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Alice Springs Landcare chair Tim Collins removing slashed Buffel Grass in the Todd River as part of Green Corps training in 2011. Unemployed youth were trained in the use of machinery to create firebreaks, and the protection of trees from inadvertent damage. Photo by Tanya Howard. FULL STORY »

Car fuel: nice work if you can get it

Further details are coming to light about the high cost of automotive fuel in Alice Springs although the industry is still refusing to answer questions.

The informant mentioned in our report posted last week bought diesel on August 3 for about $1.53 a litre from an Alice Springs wholesaler.
According to FUELtrac the Terminal Gate Price (TPG) on that day in Adelaide was an average (across all companies) of $1.34.

The TPG is usually for full tanker loads (of at least 35,000 litres) for product paid cash on delivery (COD).
Transport to Alice Springs is believed to be 7 to 9 cents a litre. Assuming it’s 8 cents, that gives the wholesaler a margin of 11 cents a litre – three cents more than the retailer is getting. That’s a mark-up of $3850 for the 35,000 litres, of course delivered in bulk.
The Alice Springs News Online has asked the wholesaler for a comment. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

  FULL STORY »

Criminal Lawyers oppose One Punch Homicide law

The One Punch Homicide law was proposed by the Country Liberals following community concern arising from the tragic and violent death of Sgt Brett Meredith in Katherine. However, the trial of Michael Martyn, the man who caused Sgt Meredith’s death, resulted in a conviction for manslaughter. As a result, Mr Martyn is now serving a lengthy prison sentence. If that case illustrates anything, it is that the current law works. If Mr Martyn had been sentenced under the law now proposed by the Country Liberals, he would have been convicted of a much less serious offence, and in all likelihood would have received a lesser sentence. See Letter to the Editor from Russell Goldflam, president of the Criminal Lawyers Association NT. 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 »

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 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 »

Home at last?

 

 

 

Two years after the debacle over the erection of a giant statue depicting explorer John McDouall Stuart, the Alice Springs Town Council and McDouall-Stuart Lodge no.219 announced this morning that they have agreed to locate the statue “which was gifted to Council by the Lodge” at the western end of Stuart Park on Stuart Terrace. Further, council has made an an application to the Heritage Committee for approval of the placement, required because Stuart Park is part of the town’s Heritage Precinct. That committee will next meet in October. 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 »

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 »