Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 36 »

September 13, 2012

Selling parks again on the agenda

 

UPDATE, September 16, 2012, 2.20pm: With next to no discussion of the parks issue taking place in the open session of council meetings, it is not surprising that confusion has arisen. The draft report referred to in this article, identifying certain park assets for possible disposal and others for possible improvement, was included in the September committee meeting business papers but actually dates from 2004 … Read more in FULL STORY.

 

An issue which has previously generated a lot of heated debate, is quietly making its way through council’s Technical Services committee system, with a number of parks in the municipality now identified for possible disposal.

In an initiative driven by Cr Geoff Booth, council has for its consideration a draft list identifying six parks for disposal plus a further four for partial disposal, with an estimated return of $1.65m to council coffers. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Local residents rally to save Finlayson Park in June, 2001. FULL STORY »

Mills sidesteps Coroner’s recommendation

UPDATE, September 18, 3.30pm:  Shadow Minister for Police Kon Vatskalis has called on the CLP Government to implement Coroner Greg Cavanagh’s recommendation regarding reducing the supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets. However, he puts his own gloss on what that would mean: reinstating the Banned Drinker Register … read more in FULL STORY.

 

Chief Minister Terry Mills has side-stepped Coroner Greg Cavanagh’s recommendation that an urgent meeting of stakeholders be convened in Alice Springs to commit to “all available, reasonable measures to reduce the supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets”. As reported yesterday, this was one of two recommendations to government made by the Coroner in handing down his findings from the inquest into the death in custody of Kwemetyaye Briscoe.

Mr Mills’ response in a media release focussed on “the need for cultural change within the Northern Territory police force”. On the issue of alcohol control, Mr Mills said only that the “Country Liberals will increase the focus on mandatory rehabilitation”. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

  FULL STORY »

More events, more people = more business, safer streets

An on-going program of events – weekly or fortnightly – would attract more people into the CBD, supporting local business and creating a safer environment. The Town Council should be the instigator of such a program, employing a full-time events coordinator for the CBD, Councillor Eli Melky proposes. He won initial support for the move from his colleagues at last night’s meeting.  KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: A section of Parsons Street transformed by ‘video architecture’, as part of the Alice Desert Festival (see separate story this issue). The activities of an events coordinator could involve more than performance.

  FULL STORY »

Bushfires an even bigger heartache when they are started by fools

The big country we live in turns into a monster when it burns, thumbing its nose at our feeble efforts to regain the upper hand.
It’s the more agonising when the cause is human stupidity, carelessness or malice, as appears to have been the case a few days ago when part of the West MacDonnell National park, our greatest tourism asset, was turned into cinder.
An area of about 40 square kilometers was burned.
One blaze was started by the roadside near Redbank Gorge.
Another, ignited in dozens of spots for some 30 kilometers on the Glen Helen to Alice Springs road, was lit by sparks from a car driven on its rims. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

ABOVE: The Finke River (foreground) stopped the bushfire just short of a popular bush camp, and the Glen Helen Resort. Mount Sonder is in the background, charred bushland in the middle ground. LEFT: A curry wattle re-grows after a bushfire in the MacDonnell Ranges, near Ormiston. FULL STORY »

Community work orders for council’s fine defaulters?

 

 

If people who breach certain public places by-laws don’t pay their fines, the Town Council should seek the imposition of community work orders. So says Councillor Geoff Booth who wants stiffer penalties to back up enforcement of the by-laws. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Councillor Geoff Booth at his swearing-in earlier this year.

  FULL STORY »

Hard work finding the small steps of progress in Territory education

The preliminary NAPLAN results

 

You have to work hard to find a positive for the Northern Territory out of the preliminary results for NAPLAN – National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy – released on Friday. New Education Minister Robyn Lambley did, pointing to the percentage rate of improvement in the proportion of students at or above the National Minimum Standard in the Territory being stronger than in other jurisdictions. However, Mrs Lambley described the gains since 2011 as “marginal” and acknowledged that the Territory still has “the nation’s poorest education outcomes”, while longtime educator Ralph Folds says the results should be considered in the context of  the extensive additonal investment made in education, particularly in Indigenous schooling. In that light they are “disappointing”. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

  FULL STORY »

Country Liberals ‘not ruling out’ a floor price for alcohol

Key stakeholders in the Centre will meet about alcohol policy

 

UPDATE, September 18, 7.00pm: While they are “not ruling out” the introduction of a floor price on alcohol, the Country Liberals have “traditionally opposed it”, said a spokesperson for Deputy Chief Minister Robyn Lambley … read more in FULL STORY. 

 

Deputy Chief Minister Robyn Lambley would appear to be foreshadowing the introduction of a floor price for alcohol – whether Territory-wide or in Central Australia only is not clear. She has just issued a press release, calling on Police Minister Kon Vatskalis to say “whether Labor supports a floor price on the sale of take-away alcohol – a supply side measure Labor previously opposed when in Government”. – Kieran Finnane FULL STORY »

Lifeguards needed to keep aquatic centre alive

The new operators of the aquatic centre are struggling to get enough staff for the extended operating hours required by the Town Council last week.
Rob Heinjus, of the Adelaide based firm Casa Leisure, says he hopes permanent residents will show more interest in becoming lifeguards to make making the $19m facility work.
Around 12 of them are needed during the summer season, and three to four when only the indoor pool is in operation.
It’s hard to operate with itinerants such as backpackers or short-term visitors, he says.

Photo: The indoor pool of the aquatic center (courtesy Town Council). FULL STORY »

Briscoe Inquest: reduce supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets, says Coroner

“The NT Police shoulders a huge burden from alcohol sales. They cannot be expected to tackle the social problems that result, in the absence of further initiatives to stop the flow of alcohol in the community.” – Coroner Greg Cavanagh, Kwementyaye Briscoe Inquest.

 

Less than one month after taking power and ushering in a new era of Territorians taking “individual responsibility” for their drinking, the Mills CLP Government has been called upon by the Coroner to urgently convene a stakeholder meeting in Alice Springs to commit to “all available, reasonable measures to reduce the supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets”. This is one of two recommendations to the government arising from the inquest into the death in custody of Kwementyaye Briscoe, who died in the Alice Springs Watch House on January 4 this year. Coroner Greg Cavanagh handed down his findings today. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

No deposit home loans appear unlikely

 

UPDATE September 18, 3:45pm:

“The My New Home scheme is an interesting proposal – my only concern is that there’s often a difference between what governments, lending institutions and finance brokers say people can borrow and how much they should,” says Duncan Poulson, NT Regional Commissioner of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

 

Posted September 17:

The new government appears unlikely to implement the no-deposit, low interest scheme, My New Home, promised by the defeated Labor government – certainly not in a hurry. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Coniston: survivors and descendants recall the massacre in a new film

How could a man designated Protector of Aborigines end up leading a revenge party that would shoot at least 31 of them, including women and children, and probably many more, in retaliation for the death of one white man? It is a question that preoccupies a white Australian audience but the film Coniston does not try to answer it.  Nor does it look in much detail into the broad context of the infamous event it is concerned with – the last white on black massacre in Australia, starting at Coniston, about 250 kms north-west of Alice Springs, in 1928. The one hour documentary, that includes dramatised sequences, focusses instead on capturing the oral history of the massacre held by Warlpiri, Anmatyerr and Kaytetye people. KIERAN FINNANE reviews.

  FULL STORY »

Goodbye at last, Berrimah Line?

A possible cure for the Berrimah Line malaise is the by-product of the report by Alice-based remoteFOCUS – part of Desert Knowledge Australia – about fly-in, fly-out workers, presented to the Senate this week.
And this tonic would be far more potent than the pledges from either major party, invariably broken, that Central Australia will no longer be left out in the cold.
The answer could be a commission or authority, or a company established under the Corporations Act, wholly owned by the members, or some other legal mechanism, says Bruce Walker, the report’s main author.
He tailored the recommendations to the Pilbara, where governance is driven by a sustained mining boom, but says they could easily be adapted to Central Australia, which now has the welfare industry as its main business.
Dr Walker says the background to the decades-long desire of people in The Centre to have control over their lives is a litany of neglect, misunderstanding and disinterest. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photos from the report – landscapes in Central Australia and the Pilbara. FULL STORY »

Cr Brown adapts Port Augusta solution to Alice Springs, calls for closer look at youth centre proposal

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

A councillor has described the new government’s plans of spending $2.5m on refurbishing the youth centre, announced in the dying days of the election campaign, as “another short term token gesture,” suggesting the project should be deferred pending a closer look.
Cr Steve Brown renewed his call to spend up to $40m for a new centre, possibly on the Memo Club or the Melanka sites, and featuring a string of facilities and services for young people and the general public.
In a discussion paper he will present at tonight’s town council meeting, he is also making a call for regular questioning by the town council of local departmental heads about the activities of their instrumentalities, such as it is carried out at Port Augusta. Cr Brown also wants, for young people who are neglected, homeless or in trouble with the law, a bush camp with cattle and horses, modeled on initiatives by long-time youth worker Graham Ross, possibly at the government owned Owen Springs reserve.
Photo: Mr Ross (left) and Cr Brown inspecting a possible site for a youth camp west of Alice Springs, five years ago. FULL STORY »

Councillors want free wi-fi in Todd Mall

Councillors this week rejected a recommendation by officers not to install free public access wi-fi in Todd Mall, asking for more information. FULL STORY »

Feeding the chooks: slim pickings from a rushed doorstop with Terry Mills, his slip of the tongue and who heads the new advisory body?

 

New Chief Minister Terry Mills spoke about big changes in the government’s tourism promotion arm and gave details of the legislative foundation for obligatory alcohol rehabilitation during a rushed doorstop news conference in Alice Springs this morning.

Photo: Mr Mills (right) at the Desert Mob exhibition with Desart CEO Philip Watkins this morning.

 

Updates: Why did someone from the Top End, not Central Australia, get the top tourism advisory position? And Terry’s slip of the tongue. FULL STORY »

Chairman of new tourist commission on hunt for experts to fix industry

 

UPDATE on Saturday’s report: Interview with tourism supremo.

 

SATURDAY’S REPORT:

Both new tourism supremos announced so far by Minister Matt Conlan are Darwin-based although portions of Tourism NT, including new CEO Tony Mayell, will be moved to Alice Springs – where the organisation was located for many years.

Tourism Central Australia (TCA) chairman Jeff Huyben has not returned calls from the Alice Springs News Online but a local tourism figure, Deborah Rock, a former member of the TCA board and an unsuccessful Labor candidate in the August 25 NT elections, says it is still premature to criticise key people.
It will be interesting to see who else is appointed to the Tourism Commission to be set up, she says.
Mr Conlan yesterday nominated Michael Bridge (pictured) as its chairman. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
FULL STORY »

We need more than a new government

It’s about the size of Central Europe. Less than 48,000 people live there, half of them in the major centre. Six governments look after it. They do not usefully coordinate their services. Yet each year, measured per-capita, they spend an obscene fortune. They rule from capitals thousands of kilometers away. The two main racial groups are at loggerheads. More than a third of the people are on welfare. Public service is the biggest employer. Of the 1800-odd businesses, 79% are micro or small, and of these, 83% rely on government spending and a transient population. There is no coherent plan for that country’s future. What is its name? You guessed it – Central Australia.
But wait, there is hope and no better time than now to develop a vision for how this might be different.
Dr Bruce Walker (pictured) heads up Desert Knowledge Australia remoteFOCUS in Alice Springs which will release a major report on these issues next week. Here is a snapshot. PHOTO AT TOP: Aborigines were a key to the change of government. This is mobile polling station in the Karnte town camp in Alice Springs. FULL STORY »

The way it’s always been and the ways of the future

The old men from Amata stole the show. It wasn’t just their charisma but their focus – the young people of their community –  and their enquiring and imaginative outlook. Frank Young, Hector Burton and Ray Ken spoke to their ideas and work at the Desert Mob symposium on Friday. Willy Kaika and Barney Wangin were present in the auditorium and the men were joined on stage by a collaborator, the much younger installation artist Jonathan Jones, a Wiradjuri man from NSW.

The men are still painting – all of them except Young have work in the Desert Mob exhibition – but they have also turned their attention to teaching their young men to make their traditional weapons, kulata (spears) and spear-throwers.  As they worked they saw “how strong and powerful” the weapons would look in their art work, said Young, director of Tjala Arts and chairman of the community, who translated for the other men. They began to imagine a room in a gallery “full of spears, thousands of spears”.

KIERAN FINNANE reports from Desert Mob, the symposium and the exhibition. 

 

Pictured, from left: Jonathan Jones, Ray Ken, Hector Burton and Frank Young. In the photograph behind them, Willy Kaika (left) with Burton. FULL STORY »

It pays to read the fine print: were First Nations fear-mongering?

“They will take your vote, and take away your freedom! Lock you up, and give your children away! Make you pay for living on your land! Make you pay rent forever! Kick you out of town after taking your money! Control your Governance and say they now what’s best for you!”

That was the fine print on the back of the First Nations Political Party how-to-vote cards, a lot more dramatic and threatening than the spoken statements of Ken Lechleitner, co-founder of the party with Maurie Ryan, whom we have quoted in recent articles.

The Alice Springs News Online asked Mr Lechleitner if these messages to voters could be substantiated. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Ken Lechleitner, left, at the August 7 meet-the-candidates forum in Alice Springs. First Nations candidate Edan Baxter has the microphone. He has since resigned from the party. FULL STORY »

A canvas of stone and concrete

The stone walls and simple geometry of the Old Stuart Town Gaol last night became the canvas for a different kind of street art, known as “video architecture”. Aptly named, it doesn’t just look for a flat surface to mark or adorn, but actually responds to the form of the building, inviting you, creator or viewer, to re-imagine it.

 

Words by KIERAN FINNANE, pictures by ERWIN CHLANDA.

  FULL STORY »

APY lands get income management

The Australian Government will introduce income management in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the Top End of South Australia to help families ensure their welfare payments are spent in the best interests of children, according to a media release from Jenny Macklin, Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

A similar system operates in the Northern Territory under the Federal Intervention.
“Income management ensures that money is available for life essentials, and provides a tool to stabilise people’s circumstances and ease immediate financial stress,” says the release.
“Consultations in May this year with APY Lands communities clearly showed strong support for income management on the Lands.”

Picture: Minister Macklin in Alice Springs in 2008. FULL STORY »

Mind shifting

The Teenager and the Shark, installation by Drew Moynihan, partial view. In the background, a partial view of Kelly-Lee Hickey’s Detritus Theory. Photo by Leonardo Ortega.

 

Two ways of drawing you in, as if from different worlds: with one you can imagine yourself on a windswept shore, seeking protection within the flimsy shelter you find there; with the other, there’s the seduction of the curtained space you are invited to enter. Once inside, both engage you by the moving image. In one, it is you, the viewer, who moves as you take in the unfolding story, frame by frame. In the other, you remain still while video image and sound sweep you away.

Art is always experiential but very often viewers do not give themselves over to it. At Watch This Space in an exhibition called Shift two works excitingly create their own commanding space in which to be received. No question of a glance and moving on – come inside! KIERAN FINNANE reviews. FULL STORY »

LETTER: A lot of hassle for a litre of oil – motor home tourist won’t spend any more money here.

I would like to award Centralian Motors the thumbs down for wasting a day of my holidays. FULL STORY »

Asserting themselves through music

 

 

 

 

“Yuendumu has seen its troubles / We don’t need no more fighting / how about we, Warlpiri, start uniting?”

Three young hip-hop artists from Yuendumu went to the heart of the matter when they took to the stage on Saturday, as part of the line-up at The Hub, the “heart” of the Alice Desert Festival’s program.

The music was mostly of a different flavour but the Desert Divas, who followed Red Sand in the program, were equally proud and hopeful: “We know where we come from / we know where we stand … we’re making our future / creating a change” went the lyrics of their group song. – KIERAN FINNANE

 

Pictured: Tyrone “T-bone” Spencer, from Yuendumu. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association says live cattle exports on the right track

After last week’s industry and producer tour of inspection of live export supply chains in Sumatra and Java, David Warriner, president of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, congratulated Indonesian industry, importers and Australian exporters on the implementation of the new Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) in Indonesia. FULL STORY »

Bleak tunnel vision in new book on Alice Springs

 

 

 

UPDATED, 4 November, 2012, 3.37pm: RUSSELL GOLDFLAM offers a different assessment of the book. see FULL STORY.

 

With her book Alice Springs, author Eleanor Hogan sets out to write an account that moves beyond “the polarities of political debate and media perceptions of Alice Springs”. This is stated at page 38, when I was already beginning to have my doubts. At the end of reading the further 261 pages, in a handsomely produced small format hardcover, these are confirmed. She has focused almost entirely on one pole, the bleak one, of a town all but overwhelmed by Aboriginal tragedy and dysfunction, and deeply divided along race lines. Tell me if I’m wrong, but that is the dominant media perception of Alice Springs, and for all her efforts, Hogan has just added to it, in spades. KIERAN FINNANE reviews.

 

At left: The book cover – Alice Springs? No, it’s Roma Gorge in the West MacDonnells (photo by Ryan Tews.) FULL STORY »

LETTER: 150 Indigenous students in Batchelor Institute Central Australian graduation

More than 150 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from some 50 communities in all states and territories were honoured with awards at the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education graduation ceremony held at the Desert Peoples Centre last Thursday.
It was another milestone for the institute in its continuous commitment and development of adult learning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Pictured from left are Fiona Kitson, Coordinator Yvette Holt, Director of Batchelor Institute Adrian Mitchell and Paul Haines. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Time for a third sealed national route

Sir,- The Outback Highway Development Council Inc (OHDC) in the last two months has updated the WA, Qld and the federal governments and the federal opposition about the Outback Way project, which returns $4.70 into the economy for every dollar spent.
The meetings have been advantageous, with welcome support  from all levels of government. However the appropriate funding avenue needs further work, by us, the states and the Commonwealth.
Patrick Hill

Chairman OHDC Inc. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Charles Darwin University climbs to middle range

Charles Darwin University has markedly improved its standing in the Good Universities Guide, an annual rating system that compares Australia’s universities.
For the first time, CDU has gained three stars in the key categories of teaching quality and graduate satisfaction. This positions CDU in the middle of Australia’s 39 universities; an impressive achievement for the country’s youngest university, writes Martin Carroll (pictured), Academic Associate Professor and CDU Pro Vice-Chancellor. FULL STORY »

Land Council chairman fined over drink-driving

 

 

 

The new chairman of the Central Land Council (CLC), Phillip Wilyuka (pictured), was convicted and fined $500 and $40 levy and disqualified from driving for 12 months, commencing yesterday. FULL STORY »