ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
May 21, 1997
HEAD OF ABORIGINAL HEALTH ORGANISATION UNDER
Alice Springs police say John Liddle, the head of the Central
Australian Aboriginal Congress in Alice Springs, will be charged over
alleged drug offences.
A CIB detective says he is investigating the finding of three cannabis
plants and a quantity of cannabis leaf allegedly discovered on a
property at Ilparpa owned by Mr Liddle.
The Alice News understands that charges may be be laid by the end of
this week by way of a summons.
When contacted by the News, Mr Liddle claimed to know nothing about the
matter, and demanded to know where the information had come from.
Told that the information had been confirmed by police, Mr Liddle said
he would ring the Alice Springs Police.
Mr Liddle, born in Alice Springs, is a high profile member of a well
known Aboriginal family and a former chairperson of the Alice Springs
Regional Council of ATSIC.
He became the director of congress last year which is the town's
major Aboriginal health organisation.
It operates a welfare department, dental and medical clinics, as well
as a child care centre.
TELEVISION SET FOR BATTLE AS DEREGULATION IS IMMINENT
Alice Springs will get its own Star Wars with the July 1 deregulation
of telecommunications, if local TV activist Les Brooks has his way.
As Austar is scrambling to sign up locals as paying viewers before the
change, Les is touting a huge range of free to air programs that will
Galaxy is working with a distributor company named Austar,
whoÍve set up an office in the Yeperenye Centre.
Austar, an American owned company, using a large satellite dish, will
receive the Galaxy signal and then retransmit 11 different TV channels
from Galaxy to individual homes in Alice Springs by microwave.
Subscribers will pay an installation cost of around $100 and $39.95
monthly for the Austar service.
A decoder box, smaller than a VCR, sits on top of the household TV set,
and accepts a smart card, which is purchased by the subscriber.
A microwave antenna to receive the signal will also be installed for
When asked for a start up date in Alice, an Austar spokesman would only
say: "Our Alice Springs rollout is scheduled for the month of
Asked if preparations were on schedule, he said: "On past performances
elsewhere in Australia, I'd have to say we've frequently been late.
With the recent advent of TV signals going digital, Galaxy / Austar
utilises for 10 TV channels and 8 radio channels the same amount of
space on the satellite (one transponder) as was previously required for
- say - Imparja TV alone.
An important change is that advertising will be permissible on pay TV
channels after July 1, and Austar will have the ability to insert local
advertising for Alice audiences.
After deregulation the interesting question is who else will make
It would be absolutely astonishing if Foxtel (25 or 32 channels) and
Optusvision (23 channels) didnÍt join in what is sure to be a
battle royal for subscribersÍ dollars.
Rupert MurdochÍs Star TV going into Asia is already on satellite
with 46 channels and after July 1 would not be barred from distributing
its programs in Australia.
Although no one wants to preannounce their intentions, international
reception engineer and TV guru Brooks says: "After July 1, the
skyÍs the limit.
Anybody can offer a free-to-air or pay TV service.
"Optusvision have already booked space on the satellite and are
currently test broadcasting."
He says other countries might also decide to compete such as Japan,
Malaysia, France, China, US, Egypt, Portugal or The Philippines, all of
whom presently have their signals on satellite.
The UK is currently running tests and may also be a player.
Viewers here could watch these free to air services from overseas now
by buying a 1.8 metre satellite dish for around $1,100 plus
installation costs, then there are no ongoing subscriptions to pay.
"People just don't believe the TV bonanza that's coming," says Mr
Four years ago we had two channels here. Then I was instrumental in
bringing SBS and Channel 10 into town."
Les has also done extensive survey and reception work for Austar: "I've
been the only person to receive Austar between Adelaide and Darwin for
the last nine months, and I can tell you, I've had a lot of friends."
CATHOLIC COMMUNITY IN SHOCK AS MARIST BROTHER SCHOOL
PRINCIPAL IS CONVICTED OF SEX OFFENCES
The large Catholic community of Alice Springs is in deep shock over the
criminal conviction last week of Marist Brother John Dyson, the former
principal of the Catholic High School, for indecently assaulting young
Several parishioners, all of whom asked the Alice News to refrain from
publishing their names, and some of whom say the church had lied to
them by withholding available facts for several months, were outraged
that the present principal of the school, and its campus head,
travelled interstate last week to support Br Dyson.
Several in the Catholic community suggested instead that the two should
have been offering counselling to the student victims.
For eight years from 1988 until August last year Br Dyson, 47, was
principal of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School (OLSH) in Alice
Springs and a highly regarded and forceful member of both the diocese
and the Alice Springs Catholic community.
But serious allegations from Br Dyson's past, when he was a teacher and
dormitory master at Assumption College in Kilmore, Victoria, finally
caught up with him in Alice Springs.
Although reports of sexual abuse by Dyson against three College
boarders, boys aged 14, were reportedly known by the Vicar General of
the Catholic Church in Victoria, the church in the NT claims it was
unaware of these allegations.
That position changed abruptly when police from Victoria arrived in
Alice Springs to question Dyson on August 15 last year.
Br Dyson withdrew from the school and resigned his position that same
Many in the Catholic community here were surprised at the sudden
departure of the high school principal, but were told that Br Dyson had
gone on "stress leave."
It was only on Thursday last week when Br Dyson pleaded guilty in
Seymour Magistrates Court to four charges of indecently assaulting
three boys, that parents and others in Alice Springs learned the news
from television reports that evening.
The court was told that Br Dyson's attacks on three vulnerable children
in his care were "like a monster attacking his prey".
One of the victims, an orphan, in a statement to the court recalled Br
Dyson had regularly sexually abused him at night, sometimes up to five
times in a week.
Br Dyson was sentenced to 12 months prison after pleading guilty to the
charges, but had his sentence suspended to serve the term in community
Br Paul Gilchrist, present principal of OLSH, Alice Springs flew to
Victoria to appear as a character witness for Br Dyson, and a written
reference was also presented from Bishop Ted Collins, in Darwin.
The Alice News has learned that Monica Davies, a former close associate
of Br Dyson, also went interstate last week to offer her support.
Last Friday a letter from Br Gilchrist was sent to all parents of
children at OLSH announcing what it termed "some rather unpleasant and
difficult news," about Br Dyson's conviction.
Attached to Br Gilchrist's letter was a copy of a letter from Marist
Brothers in Victoria written by Br Des Howard addressed to the Catholic
School Community of Alice Springs.
In his letter Br Gilchrist says: "I am aware that this news (of Br
Dyson's conviction) will come to you as a shock, and it is a most
distressing situation for us all, especially the victims of the abuse
and those who feel betrayed by this revelation."
The letter claims that "Marist Brothers had no prior knowledge of these
allegations until they came to our attention through the police
investigations on 15th August, 1996." It goes on to explain that the
church was "not able to bring this matter to your attention before now,
but because the matter was before the courts we were not permitted to
comment about the case prior to today."
In fact, unless a court order suppresses such details, the name, age,
occupation and nature of charges in relation to an accused can always
be reported under Australian law.
To say the Alice Catholic community is in shock over these revelations
and the way in which they've been handled would be an understatement.
The Alice News has spoken to a number of prominent Catholics in town
and their reactions have all been very similar.
An Alice businessman whose son attended OLSH said he was "shocked and
appalled. I would not like to think that the church hides such things.
"It's rotten stuff, and as Catholics we all feel very embarrassed about
"None of us knew anything about it beforehand, but it did seem strange
to me at the time when he (Dyson) left town so quickly."
A long term employee of Centralian College, a woman active in Catholic
community work, said: "Putting him inside is not going to do anything.
"I think that having to live amongst the community will probably put
him through more hell than if he was locked up.
"I just feel very sorry for him and his victims."
Northern Territory Bishop Ted Collins says: "At the time the religious
societies here didn't have a clue that he (Dyson) had these things
"He was a high profile bloke who'd done an important management role in
Perth before he came to Alice.
"We certainly scrutinised him. We just don't take anybody. Our whole
Catholic education system is geared in that way."
Asked what precautions the church has in place to try and prevent
further occurrences of this kind, Bishop Collins said: "We have been
working at national Bishops' conferences towards a plan for the past
"Now quite apart from this present case, we have a
comprehensive and important document, issued in December 1996,
[called] Principles and procedures in responding to complaints of
sexual abuse against personnel of the Catholic Church in Australia."
The document has resulted in "contact persons" appointed in every
diocese to "take details and immediately pass them on to the
appropriate church authority."
However, Bishop Collins could or would not name the people in the NT
with whom complaints could be lodged.
A structure has been set up to deal with complaints of sexual abuse
within the church to include, in addition to contact persons,
"assessors, victim support persons, and accused's support persons."
Bishop Collins says: "There is also provision in this structure for
liaison with police."
Commenting on his own reaction to the Dyson case, the Bishop said:
"Everyone has been absolutely shocked because he was such a high flyer,
such a nice guy, and so competent in so many areas.
"I was at a Catholic school in Darwin this morning and the principal
there, who knew Br Dyson, was saying she was absolutely flattened.
"He was the last person I would have ever suspected of this sort of
"Maybe you have to say you just don't know what someone's capable of."
13,000 A YEAR IN CUSTODY FOR DRUNKENNESS
While public concern about crime in Alice Springs is reaching new
heights, the number of many offences is actually going down, according
to Police Commander Robin Bullock, although the total number of reports
Commander Bullock told the Alice News: "Normally in Alice we're taking
about 13,000 people into protective custody in a year, which gives an
example of the ongoing nature and size of the problem.
"But we need to look at where these people are coming from, and if
there are people from out of town coming into Alice, how do we
repatriate them? The nature of the problem is beyond police capacities.
"There's a whole community approach needed to deal with what is
essentially a very deep seated problem in this community."
On the question of enforcement of the two kilometre law, Commander
Bullock says: "Over the preceding 10 days we have actually tipped out
in excess of 120 litres of wine and 34 litres of beer from people
apprehended in contravention of the two kilometre law.
"The reality is that the law is being enforced, but what people are
failing to accept is the nature and size of the problem."
Asked then about the visible groups who continue drinking within two
kilometres of licensed premises, Mr Bullock said: "We have to
prioritise the matters we're dealing with.
"There are sometimes matters of a more serious nature than a report of
people drinking in public, but of course we will respond to the drunks
report. But if for example there's been an accident, then we have an
obligation to attend to those sorts of things first."
believes police will be in a better position to address the town's
problems when additional staff graduate from their training in July.
"We will then be at appropriate levels when we receive eight more
constables and 16 auxiliaries.
"There may be some attrition of existing staff between now and then.
"When the new staff finish their training in July, we have to relocate
them from Darwin, and then get them up to speed in this location."
Commander Bullock said he'd found the Alice Town Council, which he
recently addressed, "very supportive and understanding, and I passed on
to them as I do to the rest of the community our commitment to deal
with the problems as best we can, but there has to be a co-ordinated
"The problem [of alcoholism] is not the sole responsibility of the
"We have to deal with the consequences of it, but we do not have
management of the reasons for these problems."
IAN BUILDER CONTINUES HIS REVIEW OF ALICE SPRINGS
The eighties boom in real estate was followed by a slow start to the
nineties - but then the market took off like The Alice has never seen
it before. Agent and auctioneer IAN BUILDER continues his
The turnover of properties out-classed the eighties and the seventies
by a mile and has become extraordinary since the mid nineties.
The reason lies in growth of the town's population, due in part to a
recent expansion of the Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap and a
gradual demand from the Department of Defence for land in certain
"Apart from that, it's got me beaten," says Ian.
"There must be a lot
of people coming into town in the service industries as we don't have
the other things that I can think of that would bring people in.
"But it's happening."
If the railway line comes to pass that will also lead to at least a
temporary demand for accommodation in Alice Springs.
Have there been any dangers during this period of exceptional growth?
"I've often felt a bit peeved about having to develop all these units
around the place," says Ian.
"If land becomes more readily available then units might lose value
more quickly than anything else.
"Apart from that, if we've got around 28,000 people here now and we
retain our natural growth with a little bit of an impetus from outside
then I would expect we'd go along like most other towns in Australia.
"There's a floor price wherever you are for the cost of development and
building. Our costs are recognised as being much higher than in areas
along the coast because of the cost of carting in all the gear.
could say our costs are probably 25 to 30 per cent higher than down
south and that's only if we're building in town.
"Since 1970 when I first came here, it's always been an exciting place.
The town has certainly had its hard times but we've never felt the real
pressures of credit squeezes like we've seen in other areas of
"I doubt that we'll be protected from that in the future."
Ian says there's always a surprise around the corner, such as the
development of Aboriginal housing in the Larapinta Valley up to Jay
Prior to native title he thinks the government would have been wise to
have actually made parcels of land, taking from 50 to 200 house sites,
available to developers as they saw the challenge for it.
have been strategically placed in relation to where head works are
likely to be in the future.
Instead of the government determining when to begin the next
subdivision, they could have said we have a requirement this year for
so many houses for welfare, for defence, for something else.
The developers could have taken up the challenge.
In Ian's view
development in the industrial land has gone the same way as development
of unit sites, that is towards the development of industrial estates.
The best example is in Smith Street where there are a number of
industrial sheds on about 18,000 square metres of land.
There has also been a similar development on Lovegrove Drive, Elder
Street and George Crescent and another, on a larger scale, is underway
in the old railway housing estate close to the town centre.
These industrial estates provide for the needs of smaller operators who
require good quality workshops and a bit of land or the service
industry requiring sheds of 200 to 400 square metres.
"The days when we needed much bigger parcels of land for specialist
contractors are no longer with us," says Ian.
"But they may come back and where would we go for bigger parcels of
land, perhaps south of the Gasp?"
Better planning, especially in the rural areas, is a must, in his view:
"With the right planning we could probably reduce the size of the
blocks, particularly if there's some water available.
we've been developing the good old-fashioned way of straight roads,
with nothing nice about the subdivisions, the land's all little squares
on a map.
"Everyone builds up on the farthest corner so you've got four
houses stuck in the middle of 20 acres.
"We should be seeing rural
areas with nice winding roads, good places for people to ride horses
and do all sorts of things which are supposed to be available in rural
"Horses, motorbikes and dogs all have a part to play, but there should
also be big areas for gatherings in a nice setting, picnic grounds,
"We've probably missed opportunities for all this but as the town
expands we'll see more rural developments, hopefully off the flat
country and a little more interesting."
It's also clear, says Ian, that in this arid part of Australia we have
to develop landscaping around our housing that does not rely heavily
"We need to conserve water, learn how to utilise it more
effectively. I've seen some ideas, for instance, about using our grey
water (washing, bath water, etc) but people should get some financial
benefit from it.
"We need to do it on a broader basis than letting one
individual do it and the rest not.
"So, for example, if you're going to build a subdivision of 20 or 30
homes, you build in an incentive for people to use their grey water."
Commercial buildings have also experienced a substantial recovery in
A number of complexes including the Commonwealth Government building
went up in the late eighties.
All the private buildings were struggling
to get tenants in, particularly for their first floors and parts of
their ground floors. "The local investors were really in a bit of a
mess," says Ian.
Now, in 1997, most of the areas that were vacant are taken up. There's
probably no more than three or four per cent of retail and office space
"It's very healthy for Alice Springs to have recovered like it
has from the problems of the eighties," says Ian.
"If we grow to 40,000 people, we'll probably go looking for a satellite
somewhere - that was mooted a few years ago, moving into Undoolya.
"But maybe the area south of the Gap will take precedence.
depend on what we do with our sewerage pond system.
"Before too long that will probably have to move well away from the
town. Then there would be a lot of land ready for development for all
sorts of uses.
"We've got a new power station being completed in the Brewer Estate,
and our water supplies originate south of the Gap.
There are better opportunities to take up development south of the Gap
rather than breaking up all the works that are currently in place east
of Alice Springs.
"Maybe we will come back into Undoolya from the south
rather than the other way round.
"Whatever happens, somehow this town
just keeps on going."
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