Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 9 »

March 1, 2012

Haggle over empties and crushing questions about town council’s glass machine

What’s an empty beer can worth? The container deposit saga goes on.

While the depot operator says he’s still below break-even point, it seems the Alice Springs Town Council’s glass crusher – bought from Queensland with a grant from the NT Government – is a white elephant: it can do in just four days all the crushing the town needs in a year.

The council, after negotiations by the Mayor, rejected a joint venture deal with a local business which was buying a crusher, capable of also processing rocks and old concrete.

The deal would have saved the ratepayer more than half a million dollars. Council CEO Rex Mooney says: “There was no formal proposal” and the equipment bought by the local company would not be suitable.

Meanwhile beverage manufacturer Lion Nathan has issued a media release “firmly” rejecting allegations of profiteering in implementing the the NT government’s container deposit scheme and describing it as “expensive and poorly designed”.

And Environment Minister Karl Hampton says: “The glass crusher belongs to Alice Springs Town Council – any [questions about the] use of the glass crusher and plans should be directed to them.”

ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTOS: The “largest glass crusher in regional Australia” (top, courtesy Town Council) and Kym Schiller sorting empties into no less than 24 categories. FULL STORY »

Environment loser in container buy-back scheme starting next week?

The jury is still out in the debate whether the environment will be the winner in the introduction of the new container deposit scheme.
The Alice Springs Town Council’s cans and bottles buy-back initiative makes way next week for the government mandated container deposit scheme which started on January 3.
At the moment the council pays 5c for any can or bottle people drop off at the council’s depot, although some conditions apply.
The new scheme, paying 10c per item, doesn’t cover containers sold before January 3 nor does it accept wine and spirit bottles.
But Stewart Pritchard, the owner of the depot set up for the new scheme, says the range of containers is greater than the council’s scheme.
He estimates that the bottles not covered by it amount to just 5% of the container volume. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Tony Satour delivering empties to the council recycling scheme closing next week: Many glass bottles will not attract a refund under the NT Government mandated scheme. FULL STORY »

More money main means to fix education, no urgency on self-help: Gonski report

The Northern Territory is mostly on the bottom of the heap of national education indicators, and the nation itself has slid downwards compared with other countries.

The Gonski Report, the Review of Funding for Schooling commissioned by the Federal Government, makes dismal reading.
For example, the Territory has the nation’s lowest proportion – just under 70% – of the 20 to 24 year-old population with Year 12 or equivalent attainment (2008).
That’s for the non-indigenous population.
For the NT’s indigenous population the figure is 24%. The corresponding figure for the other states is at least double that (see graph). ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Huge real estate project at stalemate

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

A deal to develop 260 residential blocks, a retirement village and shops just outside The Gap is at a stalemate. The picturesque land, 150 hectares on the southern flank of the ranges, off Ragonesi Road, is owned by Ron Sterry.

The project has been limping along for some 10 years with some of the roads, sewerage and storm water drains in place, but no work in progress at present.

Last year a consortium of local and interstate interests made an offer to Mr Sterry with the intention of starting work immediately towards the completion of the development. The head of the consortium, David Cantwell, who co-owns a project management and certifying business in Alice Springs, says the offer is worth $15m. Contracts were drawn up following an undertaking by Mr Sterry to proceed. However, Mr Sterry pulled out of the deal at the “very last moment”. 

Mr Sterry says: “I rejected the offer because I felt it was not it was not good enough.” PICTURE: The picturesque site from the air.  FULL STORY »

Defects at pool ‘major problem’

Confidential report suggests they are …

 

Defects of the town pool have been described as a “major issue” in a confidential report to the Town Council. Consideration of council matters in confidential sessions is on the table as an election issue, with mayoral candidate Eli Melky accusing council of doing too much business this way. The report says the solar system has been leaking, despite having been repaired in early January,  and as such has been shut completely in order to prevent damage to the roof of the indoor complex.

High pressure in filter pots of the leisure pool “continues to be a major problem” and pool staff have “worked under crisis for most of the holiday period. The Plant remains a major problem.” FULL STORY »

Downward spiral or shuddering readjustment?

 

La Casalinga Restaurant, an icon of local dining, is now a solitary island in a sea of closed businesses along Gregory Terrace, at the southern end of Todd Mall in central Alice Springs.

Not all businesses have ceased operation – the last to go are two private Aboriginal art galleries, one moving to premises in the mall, the other to an address in Smith Street. The Smith Street/Hele Crescent area is in fact seeing something of a revival as the centre of the town goes through its shuddering readjustment.

L J Hooker is the property agent for the Gregory Terrace strip. Managing Director Doug Fraser suggested the twin evils of the European debt crisis and the high Australian dollar have impacted on tourist numbers to Central Australia and consequently on businesses geared to the tourism trade.

He said he could not comment on the “effect, if any, the number of vacancies have had on rental levels”.

It’s also worth considering that the first businesses to vacate this strip were tour booking agencies, the kind of business that would seem to be made largely redundant by e-commerce. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Further fields (in Todd Mall) were greener for this Gregory Terrace business.

 

UPDATE – COMMENT, February 22, 2012: Ald Stewart, and for that matter his colleagues, seem to be forgetting that the Town Council has a renewal process in train, funded to the tune of $5 million. But despite the hand-wringing about the on-going decline of the town centre, there is no sense of urgency about its implementation.  Where is the enthusiasm for and communication of its promise? Where are the early initiatives, such as tree planting? – K.F. FULL STORY »

Central Australia is perishing for a drink

This week’s Food for Thought is by RUSSELL GUY, commentator, writer and music promoter in Central Australia’s outback for 31 years. He is a frequent contributor to the comment sections of the Alice Springs News Online. He is also a keen aviator where “eight hours from bottle to throttle” is an unbending rule for pilots in command of an aircraft.

 

In 2006 – 2007, Australians aged 15 and over consumed on average almost 10 litres of pure alcohol per head.  In comparison, average consumption in the NT by the non-indigenous population was over 14 litres, and for indigenous it was more than 16 litres, but Alice Springs is way out in front at around 20 litres per head.

The NT Government says 70% of all alcohol sold in the NT is sold as take-away liquor and that hospitalisation rates due to alcohol are the highest in Australia.  The same research relates that alcohol-related deaths occur in the NT at about 3.5 times the rate they do nationally.  55% of road deaths are caused by high-risk drinking in the NT and that in 2009, there were 54,000 incidents of people taken into protective custody due to alcohol misuse. Adults who consumed alcohol, 30% reported drinking alcohol at a risky or high risk level and added that if the NT were a country, then it would be up amongst those countries in the world with the highest rates of per capita consumption.  Many studies have identified the correlation between high levels of alcohol consumption and shortened life expectancy.

Is it any wonder booze is shaping up as one of the main issues in the run-up to the local government elections next month? FULL STORY »

Cheap booze causes mountain of problems

 

The morning after, Alice Springs style: a mountain of wine casks in the dry Todd River, collected within just 200 metres of the footbridge (top left in the photo), put on display by the local alcohol control pressure group, People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC).

The group wants a “floor price” for alcohol pegged at the cost of the cheapest full strength beer, $1.20 per standard drink.

The booze sold by the Todd Tavern bottle shop (in the background of the photo), on the banks of the Todd, in these Renmano wine casks works out at 71 cents per drink, according to PAAC spokesman John Boffa.

But the manager of the Todd Tavern, Leonie Leach, says the correct price per standard drink for the Renmano cask wine is 90 cents.

Only the Todd Tavern and the Gapview Hotel are selling cheap cask wine. All other outlets in the town have voluntarily withdrawn the product from sale.

Alcohol restrictions are a major issue for the upcoming local government and legislative assembly elections.

Meanwhile at 1pm today (February 22) police arrested a disqualified driver who was allegedly drunk and had an unrestrained two-day old baby in the car, and on February 23 Opposition Leader Terry Mills said violent assaults in the Northern Territory are on the increase

(Place your comment on the FULL STORY page.) FULL STORY »

Scout’s Honour!

Build a bridge? Head off on a nature walk, play a few games, enjoy the sausage sizzle – that’s how the local Scouts will join more than 30 million of them in 160 countries to mark the day when Robert Baden-Powell started the movement in 1907.

It’ll all happen in Frank McAllister Park at Araluen between 9 and 12 on Sunday, February 26.

If you’re no longer under 18 but still youthful and keen to be involved?

“Great! We’re looking for leaders too.  Come on down and find out how you can help shape the future,” says spokeswoman Sharon Hutton.

Meanwhile today Sally Thomas AM made her Promise that she would be the Chief Scout of the Northern Territory.

The former judge is now the Administrator of the NT. She made her Promise in front of Chair of the Northern Territory Annie Black and the Chief Commissioner of Scouts NT Shane McCorkell (pictured).

In 2011, Scouting and Guiding combined had over 41 million members worldwide.

All groups meet at the Alice Springs Scout Hall on Larapinta Drive (on the right just past Lovegrove Drive when heading west).

Joeys (6-7 year olds) Thursdays 5.30-6.30pm; Cubs (8-10 year olds) Thursday 7.00-8.30pm; Scouts (11-14 year olds) Tuesdays 7.00-9.00pm; Venture Scouts (14-18 year olds) Thursdays 6.45-9.00pm. FULL STORY »

Hearing of charges against Barry Abbott again delayed

 

The hearing of charges against Barry Abbott, former NT Senior Australian of the Year, and four others was again put off today because the prosecution had still not received a full briefing from police.

There are aggravated assault charges against Mr Abbott, 67, and two counts of depriving a person of personal liberty.

He is best known for looking after young people in trouble with the justice system and particularly petrol sniffers on his outstation at Ilpurla.  Over the decades he has helped rehabilitate hundreds of youths.

He was arrested last October after a youth ran away from the outstation and came to the attention of police in Alice Springs. Police subsequently removed a further six teenagers and another from a nearby community and placed them in FACS care.

Mr Abbott’s co-accused – two younger men and two younger women – are facing multiple counts of deprivation of liberty as well as other charges. There are also aggravated assault charges against the men.

The matters had been listed for hearing on February 2 but postponed till today, again because the prosecution was not ready to proceed.

Magistrate David Bamber expressed some impatience from the bench, however as the missing prosecution material includes medical reports relating to the alleged victims of “serious harm”, it was not possible for the defence to object to the adjournment. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Mr Abbott outside the Alice Springs courthouse today. FULL STORY »

Getting serious about eating local

 

 

Last week was One Planet Week, a week in which to challenge our habitual resource use and to live in line with the resources of one planet. In Australia the majority of us consume at the rate of three to four planets … meaning we need to find that many more resources if we want to keep up our current lifestyles. For One Planet Week a partner and I set ourselves the challenge of eating locally for the week, not driving and using as little electricity as possible. This included no air con and in the heat that I’m sure you all remember of last week, this was no small feat.

Day one started well enough with mint-from-the-garden tea and eggs on Kankun but after day three of every kind of variation of these ingredients it was getting rather repetitive. Now I should probably state that I was not as committed to this challenge as my friend. I pretty quickly decided that discounted food in the specials bin was fair game as too was stuff going limp in the fridge or gathering dust in the cupboard. Dinner on day three was going to be OK … FULL STORY »

With the car rental firm Hertz, it all adds up

 

 

 

 

You’ve just made an online car rental booking with Hertz in Adelaide and you’re feeling pretty good: $35.20 a day isn’t too bad at all.
Then come assorted charges and GST which add $15.45 and that doesn’t make it nearly as good – bumping up by almost 50% the quoted basic charge.
But then, as you walk into the Hertz office to pick up your car, there’s a surprise that will make your hair stand on end.

PHOTO: A Hertz advert – their insurance premiums are no laughing matter. FULL STORY »