CLICK here to subscribe to our free NEWS ALERT service.

Public cut off from MacDonnell national parks


West and East MacDonnell national parks (blue arrows) are in effect cut off from visitors as The Centre’s iconic cool weather approaches, and the facility on the Ross Highway, phase one, is for “suspected cases of COVID-19 who have been tested and do not have the ability to self-isolate at home, or the means to pay for commercial accommodation while they await their results”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

COVID-19 lock-up: Room service with a difference



Making the most of having to spend two weeks in a room: “I decided in my mind it is a wonderful room. It’s all a matter of attitude,” says scientist Jocelyn Davies (pictured). Report by ERWIN CHLANDA with JULIUS DENNIS. FULL STORY »

A touch of light: termite alates



“Eventually, with lightning and the ritual fanfare of galahs hanging from the power lines, the rain does come and we all rejoice. Winged termites on their nuptial  journey appear at the kitchen window and I go outside to see if I can locate any nests,” writes MIKE GILLAM. FULL STORY »

‘Sneaky’ drop in what govt pays rooftop solar producers



The Opposition says the government “sneakily dropped” by two-thirds the tariff it pays to private solar power producers “while Territorians were still trying to adjust to the biggest changes in their lives with COVID-19”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

The task ahead is rebuilding



As the pandemic is settling in around the globe, Kelly-lee Hickey (at left) and Jocelyn Davies say the next government will have to focus on picking up the pieces. JULIUS DENNIS presents part three of ALICE VOTES. FULL STORY »

Testing better than average but still unanswered questions


The NT is doing better than the national average in the number of people tested for COVID-19 but the government is mum on other questions, including what are the quarantine facilities in Alice Springs at present? How many people are quarantined there? ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Halve power, water bills: Mills




And come clean on feed-in tariff changes, writes the Leader of Territory Alliance, Terry Mills (pictured). FULL STORY »

You and the dunny door




Pulling or pushing, that is the question. GUEST COMMENT by PAUL LEWIS. FULL STORY »

COVID-19 calls for straight answers


The first casualty in a war is truth. In the Territory, when there is a crisis, it is transparency that gets the boot. Yet COVID-19 is a matter of life and death, and the public’s vital trust in the people managing the pandemic depends on how they are treating us: So far, so bad. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA. Photo: Health Minister Natasha Fyles. FULL STORY »

Government transparency is still essential



The seriousness of the COVID crisis doesn’t give the Government a licence to cut corners with Territory taxpayers’ money, writes Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro (pictured). FULL STORY »

Getting the crisis psychology right


Among other things, we need staging posts to get through the prolonged shutdown of our normal lives. In the northern hemisphere people, facing their long dark winters, have long understood this. KIERAN FINNANE talks to psychologist Louise Samways, Part Two. FULL STORY »

Aborigines may defy orders, come to Alice for food: CLC


The Central Land Council warns that unless governments ensure food supply in remote communities, residents will defy orders and continue to travel in and out of biosecurity areas to shop in Alice Springs, says CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard in a media release. Photo: Hermannsburg / Ntaria, 130kms west of Alice Springs on the banks of the Finke River. FULL STORY »

Make fracking pause last forever: cattle man



Territory pastoralists and Native Title holders welcome the announcement by Santos that it will abandon its exploration and fracking program for the McArthur Basin “beyond 2020,” write Daniel Tapp (pictured), Big River Station and Estelle Fararr, Roper Valley. FULL STORY »

Cafés, restaurants: Not letting go



As COVID-19 shuts down our streets, no industry has had to adapt to the new landscape as quickly as hospitality. JULIUS DENNIS speaks with some of the battlers. (By the way, the photo at right was taken before “social distancing” was introduced.) FULL STORY »

A fourth Central Australian case diagnosed



An Alice Springs woman who recently returned from the Gold Coast is in the care of Alice Springs Hospital after being in self-quarantine since her return.


UPDATE 3 April 2020, 9.45am: Now it’s four. FULL STORY »

Ross quarantine facility: advice to residents today



The facility is expected to be operational by 1 April. Hang on, that was yesterday. FULL STORY »

Feds should use NAIF to lift northern Australia’s economy



Nearly five years on, only $88.5 million has been released for projects in Northern Australia, less than 2% in total funding, write Senator Murray Watt, Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Warren Snowdon MP and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy (both pictured). FULL STORY »

COVID lockdown: Nearby residents not informed


Ross Highway and Ragonesi Road mandatory alcohol detention facility is being be used for suspected and confirmed Coronavirus victims. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. ARCHIVE PHOTO: Accommodation buildings in the grounds.


UPDATE April 3, 11.15am The Member for Namatjira, Chansey Paech, says he has spoken to residents in the area and conveyed their concerns to the government. FULL STORY »

Council meeting under COVID-19 lockdown

Held online for the first time, the formal rules mostly went out the window and a more relaxed atmosphere settled in. It helped that we were variously assembled in our home offices slash bedrooms or sitting rooms, and that to be heard everyone was allowed to but in. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Coping in the CV-19 world: what we can do for ourselves


Our face-to-face social lives, outside of home, have shrunk to contact with just one other person at a time!  And in any case we are supposed to stay at home as much as we can. KIERAN FINNANE asked Louise Samways, a local clinical and health psychologist, about her tips for coping and adapting. FULL STORY »

Government to pay for remote residents’ COVID isolation



The NT Government will pay for the 14 day quarantine – likely to be at a hotel – required by people from remote areas returning to their communities. Independent Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley says she was told this by Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker during a briefing this morning. Meanwhile cops at bottleshops were alerted to the $750 “hardship payment” due today.  ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

A touch of light: totemic caterpillars



After the rain native vines, succulents and button grass carpeted the bare ground. Most prevalent of all was the sticky tar-vine, Ayepe. This important food plant would produce the greatest peak of Ayepe-arenye caterpillars I’d ever seen in Centralia. Story and photograph by MIKE GILLAM.  FULL STORY »

Will 14 day self isolation strand bush visitors in Alice?


No 14-day self-isolation is needed for coming into Alice Springs from a Territory bush community, but it is for getting back. And where are interstate travellers required to quarantine? There are two versions, ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Stuart Highway roadblock between Colonel Rose Drive and the Adelaide turn-off.



US Marines Rotation postponed, but what about Pine Gap?

There is no such clarity on the movements of personnel in and out of Pine Gap, although on the face of it incoming personnel should be going into mandatory 14-day quarantine.


COVID-19 news: Alice Springs woman diagnosed



COVID-19 updates. Blow-by-blow, as the pandemic unfolds in The Centre. Photo: Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker (left) and Chief Minister Michael Gunner. FULL STORY »

Barkly Council adopts COVID-19 relief measures



Rates and charges reviewed, rates debt moratorium, civic projects brought forward to “keep the Barkly strong,” writes Mayor Steven Edgington (pictured). FULL STORY »

Council’s ‘buy local’ policy extended in favour of local traders

And rate payments deadlines are eased. FULL STORY »

Territory Alliance looking beyond COVID-19



We believe the Commonwealth Government, in working with financial institutions, should provide a business rental rebate of 75% which can be paid to landlords who accept 75% of rents as full payment, writes Terry Mills (pictured), Territory Alliance. FULL STORY »

COVID-19 infected is Harts Range police officer



He and his spouse drove 590 kms from Yulara to the remote community north-west of Alice Springs, refuelling at a location Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker would not reveal. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Do what I do: a lesson for the government, police


Beyond the distress to Atitjere (Harts Range) community, significant damage has been done to the credibility of the government’s messaging and the community’s trust in its ability to play by its own rules. COMMENT by KIERAN FINNANE FULL STORY »

When online shopping could be a life saver



As most places where people normally congregate are now out-of-bounds because of COVID-19, the supermarkets are one of the most likely places to contract the illness. But there is no need for that. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Return to community scramble to beat ban

If they do not leave today they will have to self-quarantine for 14 days. That would mean being alone and having no contact with family, they are being told.  FULL STORY »

Concerns for lost man with dementia



Daniel Plain is believed to have been last seen walking around Lyndavale Drive, say police. FULL STORY »

COVID-19 pauses Origin’s Beetaloo activity

Origin remains committed to the project, rescheduling further work to the second half of the year.  Their decision follows concerns raised about the safety of remote communities potentially exposed to COVID-19 infection from FIFO sources. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

UPDATED 26 March 2020 2.37pm.  FULL STORY »

Convention ignored in vote on Opposition



Terry Mills and Robyn Lambley (pictured) are no longer heading up the Opposition: “The collusion in the Chamber between the CLP, the ALP and the Speaker was nothing short of disgusting,” says Mrs Lambley. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

COVID-19 ‘ignorance’ as large crowd attacks police



Commissioner Jamie Chalker (pictured): “Frontline responders are leading the way to ensure the safety of people and to save lives. Mass gatherings go completely against the national messaging. There is a vulnerable cohort living in the NT. We are taking many steps to ensure that those people have a significant likelihood of surviving COVID-19.” FULL STORY »

CLP wants relief from payroll tax, power & water charges



This would create immediate cash flow, writes Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro (pictured). FULL STORY »

A touch of light: shield shrimps



These cartoonesque shield shrimps provide some distraction from the awful realities of the wider world, writes MIKE GILLAM who photographed them at the Ilparpa Claypans. This is the first in a series for the duration of the current pandemic. FULL STORY »

Gunner the statesman short on facts for Centre

While emulating Churchill with lines such as “I’ll have to ask even more of you” vital questions remain unanswered about how the Chief Minister will deal with the pandemic. And as far as the flow of information to The Centre is concerned, the Berrimah Line attitude is alive and well. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

UPDATED 24 March 2020, 3.52pm: Risk in testing only the sick. FULL STORY »

Amidst the turmoil, rentals stay the same

And you wonder why people are leaving? If there is lack of work and lack of jobs and high rentals why would they stay, as well as the problems in town that haven’t changed, writes Anna Ponder.

UPDATE March 26, 8.40am: Tasmania has announced a 120-day moratorium on evictions. FULL STORY »

COVID-19 testing in Alice: It’s a secret

Cloaking the location of a Coronavirus testing facility in Alice Springs in secrecy (if we have one at all) exemplifies the arrogance of a government out of its depth on many issues, now deplorably including one that is going to cost lives. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE March 26, 11.15am ABC: “The NT does not report testing numbers.” FULL STORY »

Central Australian survey to launch grassroots polling app



The general inaccuracy of polling leading into the 2019 Federal Election inspired a team, including Alice Springs News editorial contributor Mark J Smith, to create a tool for the public to analyse what voters may do on polling day. FULL STORY »

Jury trials suspended until at least June 5

Current trials where a jury has already been selected and empanelled will continue, according to a media release today. FULL STORY »

‘Social distancing’ is the wrong term

Governments and social media are using the term “social distancing” when what they really mean is “physical distancing, writes  Patrick Nelson, Regional Public Relations Officer, Charles Darwin University. FULL STORY »

Town library, pool close; non-essential Council events cancelled


Council has acted on the advice of the Australian Government, the Northern Territory Department of Health, and the Northern Territory Chief Minister responding to COVID-19. FULL STORY »

Gunner government to hide fiscal facts

Voters will go to the August election short on Budget information. FULL STORY »

Last drinks, and Henley on Todd cancelled


A few people (pictured) enjoyed drinks at Sporties in The Mall last night but as of noon the bar and restaurant and all of its ilk will be closed. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

NT closing borders to interstate arrivals

From 4pm Tuesday 24 March, strict border controls will operate at all access points – by road, rail, air and sea.


Fix the kids problems and our roads



Cr Eli Melky (at left) wants some parents brought to task for the trouble their kids are causing, and Ashley Manicaros (at right) says cattle roads need attention. JULIUS DENNIS continues his Alice Votes series. FULL STORY »

Youth curfew no longer an option, a necessity: Lambley



Coronavirus is a threat to the large groups of kids who are still roaming the streets at night, writes Robyn Lambley, Deputy Opposition Leader. FULL STORY »

Virus risk: US Marines should not deploy to Darwin


The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) has written to Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds,  pointing out the risk of allowing 2,500 USA marine personnel to start arriving in Darwin next month. FULL STORY »

Are frackers immune from COVID-19 rules?



The Chief Minister should have put more money into our local clinic. I don’t know why they’re pumping money into fracking companies, writes Gadrian Hoosan (pictured), of Borroloola. FULL STORY »

Aggravated assault in attempted handbag snatch

Police hunt for two youths. FULL STORY »

Big lay-offs at Lasseter complex



The casino, hotel accommodation, restaurant and convention centre, has laid off 155 casual employees, 45% of its workforce. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Does non-citizen travel ban apply to US personnel at Pine Gap?



Department of Defence has not provided a clear answer to the question. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

UPDATED 2.44pm.



Work on six storey accommodation complex to start in May



A six-storey accommodation building which will stretch from Todd Street to Leichhardt Terrace will create 150 jobs during construction. It is planned to start in May and be complete in November, says part-owner, Michael Sitzler. FULL STORY »

Gunner’s native title deal merely ‘flagged’: Lhere Artepe



Graeme Smith (pictured in his football days), a member of the native title organisation Lhere Artepe, says the acquisition of five areas of land in Alice Springs has been “flagged” by the NT Government, but there are no signed deals nor an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA). FULL STORY »

Coles milk sales limit puts Uncle Edy’s at risk



The jobs of eight workers are threatened as Coles is providing Uncle Edy’s only a fraction of the 140 litres of milk a week it needs for making coffee and icecream. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Robyn Lambley to join Territory Alliance


“I got to a crossroads.  I’m watching the town crumble around me … and couldn’t deliver as an Independent,” says Mrs Lambley. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATED 18 March 2020, 11.58am: Terry Mills has formally made the case to Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for Territory Alliance to be recognised as the official NT Opposition.


UPDATE 18 March 2020, 3.55pm: Territory Alliance is now the official NT Opposition. FULL STORY »

Bush towns making their own Coronavirus plans is ‘nonsense’



“Those lines around local decision making are government rhetoric. It is the normal rubbish that they peddle out. The reason why they are not making plans for remote communities is because it is not their priority.” Scott McConnell (pictured), the Member for Stuart, the vast and mostly remote electorate in Central Australia, is scathing about the Chief Minister’s approach to dealing with the threat looming in the bush of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic. FULL STORY »

CBD revitalisation no show all council’s fault?

“I don’t recall at any stage [council] being approached to invest” in the revitalisation project, says Deputy Mayor Matt Paterson. Meanwhile, Cr Eli Melky calls for council to fight with legal action any move to compulsorily acquire its assets for the national Aboriginal art gallery. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

UPDATE Friday 20 March 2020, 10.40am:

Council CEO Robert Jennings has provided clarification on council’s contribution to the revitalisation. FULL STORY »

Custody on communities for remote area arrestees refused bail


Their next court appearance will be on the next business day via telephone or video-link, in an effort to reduce unnecessary movements in and out of remote communities in response to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. FULL STORY »

Remote Coronavirus: Each community to work out a plan


Meanwhile the Police Association complains about “incredibly slow official response and lack of communication”. Google Earth Photo: Yuendumu, a remote community 300 km north-west of Alice Springs. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE 4.30pm Roadside breath testing suspended. FULL STORY »

Gunner’s native title deal not what it seems to be



Serious doubt is being cast over statements from Michael Gunner, in his “2020 – The Year Ahead” speech, by Fabian Conway (pictured) who chairs Irlpme, one of the three estate groups that make up Lhere Artepe. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Incoming Pine Gap personnel to self-isolate like everyone else



They are “subject to the same checks and requirements imposed by the Australian Border Force as all other international arrivals,” says a Department of Defence spokesperson. KIERAN FINNANE reports.  FULL STORY »

Coronavirus strategies in the bush still a work in progress


Overcrowding, poor hygiene and inadequate health facilities in remote communities are likely to present challenges. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE March 15 Northern Land Council ceases to issue entry permits.


UPDATE March 15, 4.50pm Gunner to release event assessment tool. Schools will stay open.


UPDATE March 17, 5.30pm Parrtjima rescheduled.


UPDATE March 17, 2am The Central Land Council has “appealed” to everyone to suspend all non-essential visits to remote communities.


UPDATE March 18, 4am Congress has 8000 masks. FULL STORY »

Five generations together in the one room



At a time of anxious news from around the country and the world, the story of a new life, a baby girl, and the great-great grandmother there to welcome her. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Corona bush solutions: Health workers from interstate



Decisive and urgent action is needed to prevent COVID-19 spreading to remote Australian communities, the council of the Central Australia Academic Health Science Network decided yesterday, writes its Executive Director, Chips Mackinolty. FULL STORY »

Pine Gap traffic and COVID-19


My questions on this issue have been placed at number 87 in the queue and will be answered in due course, reports KIERAN FINNANE.


UPDATED 13 March 2020, 5.24pm.


UPDATE March 14, 1.20am: No spectators allowed today at Traeger Park footy. FULL STORY »

Sun Cable to power on despite virus uncertainty



The whirlwind of global financial uncertainty triggered by coronavirus will not delay the ambitious multibillion-dollar Sun Cable project to supply electricity to Darwin and Singapore according to Atlassian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes (pictured). Report by MARK J SMITH. FULL STORY »