Story Archive » Volume 21 » Issue 5 »

January 31, 2014

That four-letter word: work

Work – mainstream, private, lucrative and honourable – may achieve for Aborigines what four decades of social engineering and handouts have not. Nigel Scullion (pictured with a Top End elder), the first NT based Minister for Indigenous Affairs, clearly does not want to amend the Land Rights Act which would trigger a national outcry by lower-case ‘l’ liberals. Yet he must bring into play Aboriginal assets that have lain idle for too long: Half a million square kilometers of freehold land, and thousands of working-age people on the dole. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

A way forward for Alice Plaza?

 

Is there a solution to the stalemate between the Town Council and Alice Plaza about the Plaza installing a grease trap on council land? KIERAN FINNANE reports on the latest round of questions and answers. Pictured: Patrons enjoying al fresco tables at Piccolo’s; the mostly closed doors of Alice Plaza’s  eastern frontage in the background. FULL STORY »

Elkedra jackaroo: station life in the 1950s

When at age 18 DES NELSON OAM (pictured) left his Cowra birthplace his boss warned, “I’ll give you six months, and you’ll be back”. To date, sixty years have passed, spent in the Territory. He’s only ever been back to Cowra for brief holidays. Here he recalls his earliest experiences of the place to which he has devoted his life and his first real experiences with Aboriginal people, the local Alyawarra, living on Elkedra Station where he had a job as a something of a jack-of-all-trades. FULL STORY »

The crucible of alcohol legislation

 

 

ALCOHOL WATCH #9 by Russell Guy.

Would this qualify as the shortest taxi ride in the world? Or just another vignette in the senseless saga of alcohol control measures in the Territory. Photo by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

New courts: new building project for CBD

 

Alice Springs is to get new Supreme Court facilities, doubling in size from one courtroom to two, with the existing courthouse turned over entirely to the busy Magistrates Court. FULL STORY »

Cover-up: Australia’s or Pilger’s?

UPDATED February 12, 6.55pm. See postscript in FULL STORY. 

Tomorrow is a day of remembering. It is the anniversary date of the apology by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the Stolen Generations. Marking the occasion in Alice Springs is another screening of Pilger’s Utopia. The organisers no doubt believe that Pilger’s film is a model document of remembering, but brief examination of a section of the film specifically about remembering history shows just how misleading his approach to this important process can be, writes KIERAN FINNANE. Pictured: Aboriginal prisoners on Rottnest Island in 1893 (crop).

  FULL STORY »

Offices? Court house? Either way no say for public.

UPDATE Wednesday 2:10 pm by ERWIN CHLANDA

Attorney General John Elferink says 14 Parsons Street would be a suitable location for new Supreme Court rooms and he has discussed the possibility with Michael Sitzler, of Sitzler Brothers, who owns the building. However, Mr Elferink says he had made it clear that the firm would need to seek any deal through the normal tender process, “like anyone else”.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Is there going to be an office building or a courthouse in 14 Parsons Street? Same thing, so far as the NT planning legislation is concerned. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Open speed limit starts tomorrow

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

A 200km stretch of the Stuart Highway will undergo a 12 month open speed limit trial, starting tomorrow, writes Peter Styles, Minister for Transport.

  FULL STORY »

After rocky start, life skills village seems on track

Horror stories about public housing: People from the bush are given a dwelling in town. Within days a horde of relatives descends upon it, the place is trashed, the neighbours are in uproar and the pollies running for cover.

Now Aherlkeme, a training facility south of the Gap, may have the answer. After a rocky start in July 2011 new managers are getting tough on rules. Passing life skills courses there are becoming a condition for getting public housing. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

UPDATE February 4:

Further details supplied by the Department of Housing, after enquiries from the Alice Springs News Online, are raising questions about the efficiency of the program. FULL STORY »

Pressure building on the grease trap issue

… but solution may be in sight

Council has come under new pressure over the grease trap issue with the Alice Plaza and it seems that there may be some progress. CEO Rex Mooney told councillors last night that Minister for Central Australia Matt Conlan raised the matter with Mayor Damien Ryan at the NRL match last Saturday. In consequence Mayor Ryan had requested that councillors be given a briefing. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

  FULL STORY »

Pilger’s polemic fails Australia and Aborigines

John Pilger’s recently-released film Utopia cannot rightly be called ‘documentary’ or ‘journalism’ if those words are still to have any standards attached to them. It does not ask questions, other than ones Pilger thinks he knows the answers to and to which he can lead his interviewee. It does not seek out or fairly treat a single dissenting point of view. It does not recognise complexity. It has all the irksome smugness – and the sing-song voice to boot – of a man in a pulpit who is quite sure of being right, writes KIERAN FINNANE. FULL STORY »

Stuart statue: should council give it back?

UPDATED February 12, 9.45am

 

It’s a gift that has come to haunt them and at least the executive seem to have had enough:  last night it recommended to town councillors that they give the John McDouall Stuart statue back to the Freemasons. KIERAN FINNANE reports on the latest in the four year long saga. Pictured: The statue being lowered into place for its temporary unveiling in 2010.

  FULL STORY »

Council applying a gag or streamlining?

New meeting procedure to avoid what is deemed unnecessary discussion had Councillor Eli Melky losing his cool at last night’s committee meetings. The procedure looks neutral enough but Cr Melky, whose comments are quite often verbose and pedantic, obviously feels targeted by it. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Single, unemployed, and back on my bike

 

 

When one grows up on a bicycle, like I did in the Netherlands, it is amazing how quickly one picks up the art of riding, even after an absence of thirteen years. FULL STORY »

Alice Plaza and the street: can we try a bit harder?

 

Businesses opening their doors onto the street is a make or break situation for Todd Street North, with the most critical premises being the tenancies on the eastern side of Alice Plaza.  If one solution is grease traps, allowing a cafe to open up in the location, is everyone trying hard enough to make that happen? KIERAN FINNANE reports.  FULL STORY »

Minister says ‘no’ to further Mbantua Festival grant

 

 

 

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has rejected a further request for a government grant for the Mbantua Festival held last year. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Festival chairman Neville Perkins. FULL STORY »

Snapping Henley on Todd out of its midlife crisis

 

The town’s three Rotary Clubs are calling on the public for ideas to snap Henley on Todd out of its midlife crisis. A budgie smuggler race – maybe with a doorstop thrown in – may be added to the program to return the madcap regatta – now more than 50 years old – to its former glory. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Pollies on Alice youth: he said, she said

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

 

While Chief Minister Adam Giles is touting government support to the tune of $2.5m for a youth facility at one end of Anzac Oval, Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie is deploring his shutting down of a youth facility at the other end. FULL STORY »

Alice Supreme Court matters up by 40% in 2013/14

 

 

Crime in Alice decreasing? Not at the serious end of the spectrum it would seem. Chief Justice Trevor Riley said today that criminal lodgements (formal accusations) in the Alice Springs registry of the Supreme Court are expected to be up by 40% in 2013/2014 compared to the previous reporting year. FULL STORY »

Prisons cost us four times national average

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

The NT’s imprisonment rate is five times the national average. The NT spends $553 per head of the NT population per year on our prison system, compared to the national average of $139 per head, writes Priscilla Collins of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency. FULL STORY »

Indigenous education review: no more ‘biliteracy’; boarding for secondary students

 

The draft review of Indigenous education in the Territory by consultant Bruce Wilson, released today, does not support “continued efforts to use biliteracy approaches”, and says secondary education for bush students should be delivered in the Territory’s major towns with appropriate residential support.

Pictured: Clontarf graduation barbecue in Alice Springs last year. The review recommends expanding the program and introducing one for girls.
FULL STORY »

‘They are afraid for their children’

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) visitors are meeting asylum seeker mothers who do not know if they and their families may be deported by force in the middle of the night to Nauru or Manus Island. Mothers have heard of the reports of violence on Manus, the risk of malaria on Manus and substandard living conditions on Nauru – they are afraid for their children, writes network member EMMA MURPHY.

  FULL STORY »

Hunter/gatherers vs the farmers

 

 

Whitefellas are not at some pinnacle of evolution that all other cultures seek to attain. When we meet Aboriginal people, it becomes uncomfortably evident exactly what have we given up for what we have gained, writes BLAIR McFARLAND in the final part of his series.

  FULL STORY »

A drunk costs the Territory 4.5 times the national average

Drunks costs the NT $642 million a year, or $4000 per person and four and a half times the national average. And wine growers in many regions are still paid pathetically low grape prices, and struggling corporate wineries keep posting ‘catastrophic’ earnings downgrades. ALCOHOL WATCH # 10 by Russell Guy. PHOTO: A graffiti with the Ku Klux Klan acronym at a drinking camp in Alice Springs. FULL STORY »

Three people and one event shine on Oz Day in Alice

Three people and one event are front and centre today in Alice Springs, honoured with Australia Day awards. They were Peter Lowson (pictured with his group of little Aboriginal drummers), teenager Jacilyn Lindner who captured a commercial opportunity, emergency services volunteer Michelle Thomas and the Australian Dirt Kart Titles. FULL STORY »

Councillors to have greater role in town planning

The town council has formed a committee that will deal with planning issues before submissions are made to the Development Consent Authority (DCA). FULL STORY »

Family home an asset while half the NT’s land is not?

A debate is raging over whether your family home should be regarded as an asset when the state decides if you get the pension or not. Writing in the Australian Financial Review, union boss Paul Howes (pictured) claimed this week it is no longer feasible or fair to ask taxpayers to pay pensions while the value of the recipient’s home is not taken into account. At the same time, the possession of more than half a million square kilometres is not taken into account in the allocation of welfare payments to thousands of people in Central Australia. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Alice Plaza: no plans to front the street

 

Will the Todd Street North side of the Alice Plaza open its doors onto the street following the revitalisation works recently completed there? This was one of the expressed hopes behind the works but it seems that the short answer is no. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Minister has no plans for replacing youth service

 

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

The lack of plans by NT Children and Families Minister John Elferink following the decision to defund the YSOS is a major concern for all people living in Alice Springs, writes Donna Ah Chee, CEO, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (pictured).

  FULL STORY »

Crunch time for Adam Giles

 

 

If the the NT Government can manage the Alice Springs economy through its downturn and rekindle its dynamics, they’ll be a Government of legend. If they fail they’ll be history. FULL STORY »

Disconnecting Alice

When people say there was no consultation on the revitalisation of the mall, when they miss the point of the Rainwater Reflection Pan (describing it as a “puddle”), there used to be a website where they could better inform themselves. I tried to log on recently, only to be told: “This website is offline indefinitely”. It was called www.connectingalice.com.au and I try to find out why it was pulled, writes KIERAN FINNANE. FULL STORY »

Centre operators win gold tourism awards

 

 

Alice Springs tourism operator Laurelle Halford (pictured) has taken out a Gold Award at the prestigious Qantas Australian Tourism Awards for her innovative audio guides. FULL STORY »

Elkedra jackaroo: blackfella, whitefella business

 

DES NELSON OAM arrived on Elkedra Station, some 500 kms north-east of Alice Springs, as an 18 year old in 1953. He continues his series of recollections, starting with a droving trip in the autumn of 1954, and detailing his many interesting and at times hilarious experiences with the local Alyawarra stockmen. FULL STORY »

Noted film maker owed money by Mbantua Festival

 

 

Noted film maker Rachel Perkins (pictured) says she is not a director nor office holder of the company that ran the Mbantua Festival last year which still has substantial debts to artists and suppliers including her.

See also UPDATE 1:40pm Feb 6 & 7:30am Feb 7.
FULL STORY »

Pilger review: Greens strike back

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

In “Pilger’s polemic fails Australia and Aborigines” Kieran Finnane enters into a polemic herself to discredit Pilger, but what exactly is it about Utopia that the writer disputes? The facts?  Is she saying it is all too complex and nuanced for anyone to understand or analyse, let alone criticise, writes Sarah Thorne, of the Alice Springs Greens Working Group. FULL STORY »

Where did we in The Alice all come from?

 

It’s been said a few times that another history covering the complexity of Alice Springs and Central Australia would be well received. I’ve discovered two captivating books detailing the multi-layered history of two famous cities, San Francisco and New Orleans, which could well be an inspiration for a local writer. FULL STORY »

Land councils a tool of oppression, not advancement

 

Control of Aboriginal lands by land councils stops advancement and halts progress for both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal Australians alike. The councils stifle and stamp out individual achievement of any kind by the time-honoured method of creating division and infighting. FULL STORY »

National Trust to sell house in 86 Hartley Street

The National Trust will put on the market the house in 86 Hartley Street (pictured) but Les Hansen House will not be sold. FULL STORY »

Film festival travels to Alice Springs Cinemas

MODIFIED 3.45pm, February 6, to include feedback from the festival on the reason for changing venue. 

 

For many years a fixture of the Araluen Arts Centre calendar, the Sydney Travelling Film Festival this year will be staged at the Alice Springs Cinemas. Owner Paul Darvodelsky is delighted: he’s a fan of “this sort of film” – arthouse and independent – and has made an effort to program them. Hosting the festival will be a way of getting the message across that the cinemas have broadened their offerings.

Pictured: Aaron Pederson in Warwick Thornton’s The Darkside, likely to be a special attraction for festival-goers in Alice. FULL STORY »

Hunt for teen robbers as another youth service may go

 

Police are seeking public assistance in relation to an alleged robbery by teenagers in Alice Springs early this morning as the Shadow Minister for Children and Families, Lynne Walker (pictured) expressed fears a further youth service may be shut down. FULL STORY »