Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 45 »

November 15, 2012

Cr Melky stands by price gouging comments, TCA lobby disagrees

 

 

 

 

Cr Eli Melky is standing by comments he made at Monday’s town council meeting about price gouging by the accommodation industry during the Masters Games, but Tourism Central Australia (TCA) says it is common practice to vary rates according to demand. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

 

Cr Melky as a competitor on the Masters Games website: See you in 2014? Maybe not. FULL STORY »

Price gouging could threaten future of Masters Games, says Cr Melky

Councillor Eli Melky has criticised the local commercial accommodation industry for raising its tariffs to double and triple the normal rates during the Masters Games. Speaking at last night’s council meeting, he said such a practice threatens the sustainability of the games. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Charles Darwin University told to lift its game in Alice

 

Darwin based CDU bosses who came to Alice Springs to gauge what the locals thought of their university got some robust messages about north-of-the-Berrimah-line decision making, the lack of meaningful co-operation with Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) and the failure to entice young people to do their tertiary studies in their home town.
Vice-Chancellor Barney Glover and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Sharon Bell (pictured), busy adapting to new online teaching opportunities and looking north to buzzing Asia for business, met with 30-odd representatives from education, academia and NGOs in Alice Springs, some of whom made it clear that Charles Darwin University will need to look a lot harder in the other direction as well. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Sands in Todd more stable than you think (re-published with Maxine Cook’s comment)

 

The river bed of the Todd is more stable than many assume. I have two photos taken from exactly the same vantage point on Meyers Hill (originally called Nannygoat Hill). The first was by John Flynn in 1926. I took the second this year. In my photo there is a prominent “island” covered in buffel grass on the eastern side of the riverbed. This island is also observable in Flynn’s photograph, although it was devoid of vegetation at the time. ALEX NELSON comments.

 

At left: John Flynn’s photograph, held by the National Library of Australia. FULL STORY »

Country Liberals: Resolve takes the place of frustration

The Alice Springs contingent at the Country Liberals’ annual general meeting on the weekend.

 

The mood was celebratory, to put it mildly, at the annual meeting of the Country Liberals (most people still call them CLP): Lots of smiles. Lots of banter in the Convention Center’s foyer where the 100 or so delegates and members from all over the NT mingled between sessions.

You could see it was the party that had just captured the Treasury benches, spending around five thousand million dollars a year, after a decade in the wilderness. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Some expert answers to questions by ‘the real people’

 

The most recent expert study on alcohol and the various attempts over the years to reduce its harms in Central Australia again claims – based on statistical information –  that per capita consumption and hence alcohol-related harms are on their way down. Interestingly, consumption in The Centre, widely thought to be the nation’s basket-case when it comes to grog, is actually lower now than Greater Darwin’s.  Some might think that is cause for a modest celebration. KIERAN FINNANE looks at how the report deals with typical objections to the data and at what it has found.

 

Pictured: Police tipping out grog being consumed in a public place. The report found that declaration of Alice as a Dry Town did not have any significant effect on reducing consumption of alcohol. Photo from our archive, taken in early 2008. FULL STORY »

Mataranka station woman to take on Warren Snowdon

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The Country Liberals have picked their candidate to take on Warren Snowdon in the huge Federal seat of Lingiari – all of the Territory except Darwin.
Tina McFarlane describes herself as having a rural background, a small business owner, running a property in Mataranka.
The unsuccessful candidate was Lawson Broad, raised in Santa Teresa and educated in St Philip’s College, now working for the Chief Minister. The party has a new president, Braedon Earley, from Darwin, raised at Roper River, a former hotel owner now working as a “consultant and adviser”.
Alice CL branch president Daniel Davis is one of the party’s two vice-presidents, with Ross Connolly from Darwin the other.
STORY and VIDEO by ERWIN CHLANDA: Lawson Broad; Ms McFarlane after the announcement and in an emotional encounter with fellow Tory politician Bess Price (Member for Stuart); Mr Lewis applauding Mr Abbott and the Federal Opposition Leader in full flight.

 

FULL STORY »

Papunya Tula Artists celebrate 40 years of achievement

Forty years ago to the day yesterday Papunya Tula Artists was registered as a company in the Northern Territory. Its cultural triumph over those decades barely needs restating. Right now master works from its founding years are the subject of a major exhibition at the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris. Two of its artists, Walimpirrgna Tjapaltjarri and the late Doreen Reid Nakamarra were featured in Documenta at Kassel in Germany earlier this year. Some of that brilliance is also there in the anniversary show that opened last night at the company’s elegant gallery in downtown Alice Springs. Words by KIERAN FINNANE, video by ERWIN CHLANDA.

 

Pictured: Senior artist and past company chairman Bobby West Tjupurrula.

 

FULL STORY »

Mills says secret ballots may be the best way for bush communities to decide on alcohol

Chief Minister Terry Mills is in Alice Springs for the Country Liberal Party annual meeting. ERWIN CHLANDA asked him to comment on three issues.

KILGARIFF: Given that the suburb is being built on land that is owned by the public, is there a good case for blocks – at least some – to be sold for the cost of developing them, around $70,000, although residential real estate currently costs up to five times as much?

ALCOHOL IN REMOTE COMMUNITIES: As the weaker people in bush communities may come under pressure from the more powerful, should there be secret ballots to decide whether alcohol should be allowed?
There is confusion about MANDATORY ALCOHOL REHABILITATION: Is it a criminal or medical measure?

 

FULL STORY »

Outlook for the Alice: a mixed bag

Visitors who have boned up on Central Australia are likely to be expecting workers with black faces at the airport. They did – but none of these four were indigenous: Taxi drivers Harpreet Singh (from India) and Bruce Mahiangu (Zimbabwe), and security guards Gladys (from South Sudan but now – when asked where she’s from – proudly saying “Australia”) and Sam (Liberia). The town’s cosmopolitan character has been enhanced by an injection of nearly 2,000 overseas migrants who had arrived in Australia during 2006 to 2011. They found The Alice to be a great place to find a job, a forum was told this week.

 

The population of Alice Springs, after a slow growth between 2001 and 2009, is now declining.

Old people are leaving. The proportion of working age people is on the way up.
There are gains in education. Many people from overseas are now working here.
Small bush towns seem doomed and the uncertain prognosis for our region is to have a non-indigenous population of just under 30,000 and an indigenous one of 20,000 by 2025. It’s a mixed bag, reports ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

A bridge between two worlds: the art of Papunya Tula and the Alice Springs community

 

“This is an exhibition about my home, Papunya, and my law and culture, and about my youthful years, when I sat with all my dear fathers and uncles and grandfathers, and watched them as they painted the first boards and early canvases in Papunya and its camps … But it is also an exhibition about Alice Springs, the town that first saw and appreciated and loved western desert art … This exhibition is a bridge between these two worlds: a precious bridge.”

 

Alison Anderson, Papunya’s most famous daughter and now NT Minister for Indigenous Advancement and Regional Development, today added her own “unique perspective” to the exhibition of that name, mostly drawn from local private collections, that she opened at the Araluen Arts Centre. She called on those who love the art to be happy with its “beautiful surface”, to not try “to see behind the veil”, to not delve into its “inner secrets”. (Ms Anderson is pictured speaking with visitors to the show.) FULL STORY »

Enquiring eye and discerning hand

 

 

In her drawings showing at Araluen, Neridah Stockley allows her enquiring eye to alight on what is around her – in the studio, the shed, the kitchen –  and to lead the pencil in her discerning hand towards the essential line, form, pattern to be found there. The same approach is used in her landscape drawings and drypoints. Just how far does the mark-making have to go to get to its ‘destination’?  KIERAN FINNANE reviews and speaks to the artist. FULL STORY »

Ngurratjuta artists are the new owners of the Desert Park gift shop

 

A shot in the arm for the watercolour movement … and chance for visitors to have contact with Aboriginal people

 

It’s an opportunity that will surely be the envy of many: the Ngurratjuta art centre has bought the gift shop at the Alice Springs Desert Park. It will be used to exhibit and promote the work of its artists, and provide an income to their enterprise from its trade in the full line of gifts and souvenirs. The Desert Park is also keen to have the artists painting on site and this looks set to happen from late March next year, as the cooler weather arrives. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Coordinator Iris Bendor installing the watercolour display at the Desert Park shop.

  FULL STORY »

Is NT turning back the clock with its plans for compulsory rehab?

The Great Alcohol Debate: Most developed countries have long ago turned their back on forcing detox and treatment

 

“Forced detoxification” is neither “effective” nor “ethically acceptable” as a way of treating addiction, according to an editorial published under the name of 10 Australian and international researchers in the latest issue of Addictions, the top international journal of addiction studies. The editorial mainly takes aim at the compulsory detention and forced detox of drug users in developing countries but gives a brief overview of the approach in the developed world. Some of its points have relevance for the current debate in the Northern Territory on compulsory rehab for problem drinkers as proposed by the Country Liberal Government. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

  FULL STORY »

Our children at the bottom of the barrel

 

 

 

UPDATED 8.10am November 7: The Minister comments

 

Some 200 Central Australian children bound up in the child welfare system are victims of policies that are arguably based on race politics and implemented often by inexperienced and overworked staff of the NT Department  of Children and Families (DFC), according to sources with long and intimate connections with the system. Robyn Lambley, the Minister for Families & Children Services of the new NT government, says: “Our aim is to identify and support kinship carers on communities to care for Aboriginal children rather than bringing kids into town and placing them routinely with non-Aboriginal families.” ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Is the Town Council getting ready to relinquish its role as trustee of the Todd River?

 

 

There are signs of council wanting to relinquish its role as trustee of the Todd River. In the last meeting of the Environment Advisory Committee, council was asked to take “leadership in the management of the Todd River”. Jimmy Cocking, coordinator of the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) and a member of the advisory committee, says this wording is a “watered down” version of what he was seeking, which was that council take the lead in forming a working group of all relevant decision-makers with a view to better management of the river. However, when the issue was raised at the Town Council’s subsequent meeting, Councillor Steve Brown, who chairs the Environment Advisory Committee, said council does not want to take a lead role in forming such a body; the river as Crown land is NT Government-owned and this should be their role. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: The river lapping the Wills Terrace footbridge: at all times it’s a challenge to manage. Photo from our archive. FULL STORY »

Santa Teresa school principal dies in triple fatality car crash

 

Two school principals from  Indigenous Catholic Community Schools were killed in yesterday morning in a triple fatality on Tiger Brennan Drive in Darwin.
One was Greg Crowe, principal of the Ltyentye Apurte Catholic School in Santa Teresa in Central Australia.  He was aged 72.

The other was the principal of Murrupurtiyanuwu Catholic Primary School in Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island, aged 50.  She had been principal for nearly 23 years. He name was not released for cultural reason.
Bishop Eugene Hurley (pictured) said: “We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident where the lives of three people were taken.  Two were principals who we knew and loved well and the third was a taxi driver whose family I don’t know.

“The community of Wurrumiyanga has lost a school principal and a leader in her own community.
“Santa Teresa has lost a principal and a much-loved member of the community. He has worked as principal for the past five years.”

– Media Release from the Catholic Education Office.

 

  FULL STORY »

Aboriginal peak organisations warn governments against allowing more grog on remote communities

The Great Alcohol Debate: bring back BDR or similar, they say 

 

Aboriginal peak organisations of the Northern Territory have called on governments to “base alcohol policy on evidence not politics” and to “bring back a system (such as the Banned Drinkers Register [BDR]) to restrict the supply of alcohol to problem drinkers without resorting to criminalisation”. They have pleaded with governments “to heed our warnings about the risks of allowing more alcohol to flow into remote communities”.

 

Source: APO communique. FULL STORY »

Win-win for sacred sites and job seekers

Town Council not keen to collaborate

 

A work program giving Aboriginal people accredited skills in horticulture is also in the process of  “cleaning up” 21 registered sacred sites around town, including this important caterpillar site at 6 Gap Road, opposite the hospital. Works supervisor is John Stuart Newchurch, an Arrernte custodian for Alice Springs. The program is the result of collaboration between custodians and the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, supported by funding from the Australian and Territory Governments. But the Town Council, being asked only for in-kind support, is reluctant to get on board. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: John Newchurch (centre) and trainee Richard Moore spraying buffel grass at 6 Gap Road this week. FULL STORY »

The Great Alcohol Debate: Still waiting for the detail

Action on alcohol by the new Territory Government is still lacking detail, despite all the attention the issue got in the Legislative Assembly.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice John Elferink, making a Ministerial Statement on Alcohol and Crime on October 31, lauded former Chief Minister Marshall Perron’s  Living with Alcohol program:  “Risks were taken, innovation given a chance and home-made programs were promoted.” Not all of them flourished though because “clear analysis of the outcome allowed for a rigorous assessment and many programs were stopped on these criteria”. Reading Hansard you can’t see whether he blushed when he went on to criticise the former government for not taking “a leaf from this book”. KIERAN FINNANE comments. FULL STORY »

The Great Alcohol Debate: Macklin’s minimum standards

Proposed minimum standards for Alcohol Management Plans in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities have been released for comment by Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin. Under Stronger Futures legislation Ms Macklin has the power to sign off on the plans, a power that will be relevant to any move to introduce alcohol or stronger strength alcohol on communities, as has been mooted by the new Territory Government. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

  FULL STORY »

A remote Australian century ‘at a glance’

 

With one photograph or more on almost every one of its 250 plus pages, At The Very Heart – 100 Years in Remote Australia is a book to dip into for the stories or themes that catch your eye. Mine searched for the Alice Springs context and delighted in this band of assertive children. They don’t seem to be very happy with the prospect of moving to St Philip’s boarding facility – “a bigger jail”!

The book celebrates the centenary of  Frontier Services, the organisation which grew out of John Flynn’s Australian Inland Mission. Organised around the broad themes of Flynn’s project and, in keeping with its focus on the photographic record, it offers ‘snapshots’ of information about that work rather than a narrative. Luckily the photographs are sufficiently rewarding, conveying a sense of the vastness of the country and its inherent challenges to which Flynn and all who worked in his spirit responded so well. KIERAN FINNANE reviews. FULL STORY »

Taking poetry to the people


What happens when you set up in a popular cafe, with books of poetry scattered around and a little sign that says ‘Cafe Poet’?

Wonderful things. Like catching a man’s keen glance at the books as he passed with his wife. “Do you like poetry?” Sue Fielding asked. He soon let her know how much by reciting in Welsh many stanzas from the work of Dafydd ap Gwilym – “the Shakespeare of Wales”.

On another occasion residents of Flynn Lodge, an aged care home, had been for a walk in the cafe gardens with their carer. Sue asked if they’d like to hear a poem. “Yes, yes,” they said. She chose “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

  

Pictured: Benitta Robertson (left) shares a poem with Cafe Poet Sue Fielding at the Bean Tree cafe in the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Mandatory sentencing causes gross injustice

The Northern Territory Government’s proposal to radically expand mandatory sentencing is unfair, unprincipled, unworkable, unnecessary and unaffordable, writes Russell Goldflam, president of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the Northern Territory. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Scrapping of educational facility

How can a government make a unilateral decision to scrap an educational facility which is in partnership with a world renowned scientific organisation asks Ian Jamieson, of Cairns, a former Territorian of thirty six years and educator. FULL STORY »

Salt mine south of Alice a step closer

Australia’s first underground rock salt mine is one step closer, with Tellus Holdings starting the environmental approvals process with the Territory and Australian Governments, including extensive community and stakeholder consultation, writes it managing director, Duncan van der Merwe. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Flying Cattle Class

In the early hours of Sunday morning 199 high quality heifers from Bunda Station in the NT took to the air in a 747, on route to a new life in Indonesia, writes Luke Bowen from the NT Cattlemen’s Association. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Removing sand from the Todd makes no sense as a flood mitigation measure

The removal of sand from the Todd as a flood mitigation measure is based on no scientific evidence whatsoever, and in fact is contrary to the best advice, writes Charlie Carter, of Alice Springs. FULL STORY »

COMMENT: Does Tourism Central Australia still have a pulse?

The local tourism industry is in a prolonged crisis but it has no voice. Two members of the Town Council are making damaging allegations of price gouging by hotels, threatening the future of the Masters Games, but Tourism Central Australia (TCA) is mum. No answer to our request for comment 24 hours ago. FULL STORY »