June 18, 1997
The NT Tourist Commission last month signed a new three-year contract with TV host Daryl Somers, the Territory's "tourism ambassador".
However, there are provisions for the contract to be reviewed after 12 months, and the commission says his role may change in the light of a review under way now, looking for new ways of lifting the ailing tourism industry.
Trade sources in The Centre, who asked not to be named, say the host of "Hey, Hey, It's Saturday" should get the flick because he is irrelevant to the Northern Territory. He's seen as appealing mainly to young people - not the well-heeled middle-aged people who ought to be the target of promotion. Somers has fronted advertising for the NT Tourist Commission (NTTC) since 1994. The commission claims there are no plans to dump Somers but says it is "reevaluating" promotion strategies. The NTTC will not reveal the fee paid to Somers.
Also looking at improving promotional strategies is a group of local businessmen and women working with the NTTC. Tourism Minister Mike Reed has approved a special NTTC allocation of $750,000 with the specific purpose of promoting the town of Alice Springs - as distinct from the region.
Although some of the advisory group's members belong to the Central Australian Tourism Industry Association (CATIA), the group operates outside the association whose charter includes representing the Ayers Rock Resort.
Meanwhile figures released by the commission reveal that fewer than half the people visiting The Centre come to Alice Springs. During last calendar year, 601,000 people travelled to the "Centre Region" - not including Tennant Creek - but only 273,000 visited The Alice.
The region's only major destinations outside the town are Ayers Rock and King's Canyon. The Alice had a three per cent drop in visitor nights and a seven per cent drop in tourist expenditure.
In the region as a whole, visitor nights rose by five per cent, and expenditure, by four per cent, with the benefits clearly going to Ayers Rock. The region as a whole had a four per cent rise in commercial accommodation sector revenue, while in the town it dropped nine per cent.
When compared to the previous year, international visitors spent 11 per cent more in the region despite a drop of a whopping 40 per cent in the town.
Labor tourism spokesman John Ah Kit, in a comment on NT tourism generally, says ABS figures show "a big fall" in occupancy rates and takings by hotels, motels and guest houses with 16 to 25 rooms. Mr Ah Kit says the drop in the year ending in March was from 16,422 to 12,651.
"Room occupancy rates, takings from accommodation and other indices of activity all dropped, as did employment.
"These statistics confirm what smaller accommodation suppliers throughout the Territory have been saying: This market segment is receiving fewer guests, especially in regions outside Darwin."
Meanwhile the southern region's tourism lobby, CATIA, is getting a $260,000 Federal grant for a new information and interpretation centre now being built at the site of the old government infant health clinic, right next to the town council's offices at the southern end of the mall.
Federal Member Nick Dondas says the grant is the biggest in the NT which will get a total of $435,000.
CATIA will also receive $506,400 - the same as the Darwin Region Tourism Association - as its share of the "bed tax", according to Mr Reed. He says a total of $1.6m will be distributed to the industry, with $316,500 going to Katherine and $253,200 to Tennant.
The NT Government keeps three quarters of the Tourism Marketing Duty which will raise $6.3m this year - up from $5.8m last year and $3.8m in 1992-93.

Now may be the time for school councils of Territory Government schools to negotiate a role in assessing the performance of their school principals.
The performance criteria for principals who have recently taken up new four year contracts have "still to be negotiated and worked through", according to Ken Davies, President of the NT Principals' Association.
The principals themselves, like other senior public servants, will negotiate their performance outcomes with their immediate supervisor, the regional superintendents, says Mr Davies.
In his view, the superintendents would see an obvious role for school councils in this process. However, he says ultimately it is up to the employing authority, the Commissioner for Public Employment, to put school councils formally into the performance management loop.
The commissioner would have made an assumption that incumbents have already responded to a set of performance criteria when they were originally selected into the job, says Mr Davies.
School councils would have had input into the original duty statements and would have been represented on selection panels, in all probability chairing the panel. This continues to be the case in filling new positions. A spill of all positions was never part of the deal, he says.
"In any change in a system there is always a catch-up process," says Mr Davies. "Schools themselves, like all sections of the public service, are still in process of implementing performance management systems.
"This has to be completed by the end of this year and principals are not yet fully in that loop.
"But let me say this, any principal operating without school council support these days would be doing it pretty tough.
"By the same token, we shouldn't assume that devolution means the same sort of relationship between a school council and a principal as exists in private schools.
"In the government school system principals are treated like senior public servants, accountable primarily to their supervisors. To go outside that structure would be to go outside existing public service conditions.
"It is now up to school councils and COGSO to negotiate their role in the process with the Minister and Secretary of the Department of Education and the Public Employment Commissioner," Mr Davies says.
Bruce Simmons, President of Anzac Hill High School Council, comments: "It will be very difficult for school councils to have credibility if they aren't involved with the 'performance management loop'.
"As I'm sure Ken Davies would agree, unless we create win-win relationships, our school communities will be the big losers."
Outgoing Education Minister Fred Finch did not respond to a request for comment.

Comments from over 1000 people responding to questionnaires circulated by Stuart MLA Peter Toyne reflect the community's apparent angst over racial tensions, crime and perceived inequalities.
Many went well beyond giving simple answers: "If our indigenous get handouts from a nation from five plus generations ago, then why can't we get a payment from England for deporting us for stealing bread ... hankies ... and God knows what?" says one respondent.
A sample of other comments:
"I believe that Alice Springs community as a whole needs to come together to work this problem out, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. It's time people started to take responsibility for their own actions."
"Introduce hard labour into the jail, the worse the offence the harder the labour. Make the jail a much more obnoxious place."
"Aboriginal people are disgusted at how gutless the white leaders, policy makers and enforcers are. They reject weakness. Be fair but hard, as it was with their tribal life. Make people earn and be responsible."
"The anti-social behaviour in Alice Springs will stop when the Aboriginals request and insist we stop selling them alcohol. If you speak to any Aboriginal, all they will tell you is how alcohol is destroying themselves and their culture. "Programs, treatment, accommodation, patrols, restrictions, control and enforcement cost money and all it does is make the average tax payer bitter, and then hatred sets in because nothing so far has worked."
"Myself and my mother from Perth were abused by a group of drunks on the Flynn Church pathway to the Mall. I no longer support late night trading and discourage my visitors."
"My uncle was abused and racially taunted by a drunk outside Hoppy's store and tried to start a fight. [My uncle] was told by the shop-keeper: ïThat fellow's always picking fights, just keep away from him.' Why is this person still on the streets if he is so dangerous?"
"Police patrols must start at noon or when the takeaway outlets open, before people are drunk and fighting and swearing."
"Stop camping at Todd River opposite Stuart Highway shops. Introduce Singapore laws for garbage spreading, loitering and begging money at shopping centres. Try to convince Aboriginals that water and soap are not dangerous to their health."
"There is a high rate of truancy amongst Aboriginal people and an acute disinterest by parents in making their children attend school. This ultimately leads to grown ups who are illiterate and who have no interest in getting a job."
"Until Aboriginals stop blaming all and sundry for their problems, and take responsibility for themselves, and teach their children responsibility, nothing will change."
"Mr Toyne, it's fine for you to cast aspersions on what the CLP government has or hasn't done, but what did the Federal ALP do when they were in power except throw more and more money at the problem? You can't help people who won't help themselves."
"Make drunks locked in police cells clean up areas where they have messed up the day before."
"If something is not done soon to combat problems in this town, more and more people will leave. Wherever you go these days you seem to be confronted with drunkenness, violence and abuse, and it's bringing this town down. We have given ourselves another 12 to 15 months to see whether things improve. If they don't, then we'll be following our friends and moving away."
"Set up an Aboriginal-owned brewery where the profits go back into Aboriginal communities. Think about it."
"Aboriginal people have to accept responsibility for their own problems, by taking care of drunks and petrol sniffers in their own communities."
"I would really like to see reconciliation in Alice Springs, but until the racism against non-Aboriginals is halted, reconciliation is a pipe dream."
"We feel very strongly about the disgusting state the Todd River is always in. It is very discouraging for tourists and locals to see such a potentially beautiful waterway treated with disrespect."
"Enforce hygiene at supermarket liquor outlets. Parents must be held accountable for their children (petrol sniffing!) Not us. Stop the dumping of community outcasts in Alice Springs. No more bull-shitting do-gooders."
"Although I think Pauline Hanson is a bit overboard, I do agree handouts only feed the problem. Why should you help yourself when others will do it for you?"
"Kill the Blacks!"
"Stop blacks urinating, swearing and drinking in public."
"Authorities should put the responsibility back on individuals to care for themselves - to enable self pride/respect - instead of wasting more of our money on ineffective programs."
"As Australia was settled initially by the English, why shouldn't compensation for Aboriginals be paid by England?"
"The bleeding heart do-gooder attitude has to stop. This town is divided because there is one set of rules for whites and a different set of rules for the blacks."
"Pauline Hanson has some very good thoughts and one hell of a lot of us agree with some of what she has the courage to verbalise."
Mr Toyne says: "Pauline Hanson and vigilante type people don't represent the majority of the Alice Springs community."
"The bulk I would characterise as being hard-bitten, but not racist. They are saying, Look, we've had a gutful of this problem and we want it fixed; we don't want any more feel-good programs, we want some really hard-edged action."
"They want someone to get in there and do some real work for a change. Every word that has been written to us is being recorded. It's not just going to be chucked in a bin."
Mr Toyne says he plans to publish the submissions in their entirety in a document for distribution to Aboriginal and government organisations, the town council and other pertinent authorities.
"It gives us a clear indication of what locals are privately thinking and feeling."
This is signified by strong agreement by over 50 per cent of households and disagreement by less than 10 per cent. Statistical results of the survey are so far documented as follows:
Introduction of new crime prevention measures - 25 disagreed, 288 strongly agreed.
Introduction of an anti-truancy strategy - 21 disagreed, 365 strongly agreed.
Introduction of a permanent Juvenile Squad - 49 disagreed, 276 strongly agreed.
Increasing police patrols - 25 disagreed, 314 strongly agreed.
Extended programs for young people - 93 disagreed, 224 strongly agreed.
Control of petrol sniffing - 48 disagreed, 288 strongly agreed.
Strengthen Tangentyere Council's night patrol - 37 disagreed, 301 strongly agreed.
Encouragement of Aboriginal people to return to their home communities through job creation and training programs - 23 disagreed, 359 strongly agreed.
Improvement of short term visitors' abilities to get home through contract bus services - 103 disagreed, 208 strongly agreed.
Replacement of take-away alcohol sales with home deliveries to bona fide addresses - 254 disagreed, 149 strongly agreed.
Strengthening of treatment programs for habitual drunks - 66 disagreed, 253 strongly agreed.
Provision of accommodation for family members who come to town with seriously ill relatives - 132 disagreed, 158 strongly agreed.
Reduction of trading hours and outlets for alcohol sales - 176 disagreed, 251 strongly agreed.
Enforcement of the 2km law while providing licensed venues - 52 disagreed, 343 strongly agreed.
Provision of sporting venues out bush and the restructuring of Centralian football to conduct more games at rural venues - 39 disagreed, 312 strongly agreed.
Strengthening of education-training-employment programs in Alice Springs - 48 disagreed, 281 strongly agreed.

To work in television, whether you're Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, you have to have "fire in the belly", says Imparja's new Chief Executive Officer, Corallie Ferguson.
"It's an intense, multiple deadline work schedule so you have to be keen," she says, emphasising the importance of a team effort.
"Everybody has their area of expertise, and senior management people are especially important, but you can't operate alone."
Within this framework, her other key commitment is to "Aboriginal succession" at Imparja.
Some 33 per cent of staff, working in all areas of the station's operations, are of Aboriginal descent, including Janine Matthews, presenter of Yambah's Playtime; Rachel Ellis, Jon Braun and Alan Dowler, of the news team, and Joanne Lane as Human Resource Manager, the most senior among them.
Six Aboriginal trainees will complete their three year traineeships in a range of roles by the end of March next year.
While this Major Employment Strategy (MES), a joint Imparja and DEETYA initiative, will not be renewed, other approaches promoting Aboriginal succession will be put in place.
Most of the six trainees will be offered jobs at Imparja if positions are available, says Corallie, but they will also be free to take their skills elsewhere, following in the footsteps of a number of other Imparja trained television professionals.
The station, 10 years old this year and financed originally by a Bicentennial Authority grant of $2m and other public funding, now operates on a commercial footing similar to other regional telecasters.
It receives a subsidy from the Federal Government via ATSIC for the cost of its satellite signal ($2m in 1994-95 - but Corallie says "it's not that now") but is otherwise self-supporting and all profit is returned to the company.
Golden West, based in Perth, and Channel Ten, based in Townsville, receive satellite subsidies from their respective state governments.
Imparja's income is generated by the sale of airtime and, to a lesser extent, by sales in other areas, such as engineering.
The station is wholly Aboriginal-owned with CAAMA holding a majority of the shares - 13 out of 23.
The remaining shares, one each, are held by the Central, Northern and Tiwi Land Councils, the Pitjantjatjara Council, Warlpiri Media (based in Yuendumu), the Top End Aboriginal Broadcasting Association (TEABA), and by CAAMA in trust for the Kokatha and Maralinga peoples, based at Port Augusta; ATSIC holds two shares.
Shareholders have never asked for nor received a dividend.
The spread of ownership reflects the size of Imparja's broadcast footprint, the largest commercial footprint in the southern hemisphere, extending from Melville Island in the north to Kangaroo Island in the south, to the highlands of Victoria and to western New South Wales.
The sheer size of the area is the ongoing challenge for the station to produce a meaningful regional news bulletin.
"Covering the broadcast area is vital to the existence of free to air television," says another recent arrival, News Director Kevin McQuillan.
"Pay TV offers unfiltered entertainment, irrespective of where you are. Only free to air TV will put the resources into responding to regional interests."
The newsroom, with three journalists including Kevin, is capable of generating up to five stories a day, but the majority of those come out of Alice Springs.
At present "stringers" based in Darwin and Port Lincoln are also contributing stories but that still leaves a lot of wide open spaces.
Kevin, formerly Network Editor with SBS and Executive Producer of the ABC's First Edition, says that, apart from more resources, good planning is necessary to "allow people to work as intensively as they have to over long periods".
"All the signs are that things will click. We have good staff - cameraman Alan Dowler is one of the best I've worked with."
"They and senior management want to succeed," he says. Meanwhile, other programming remains much the same - "cherry-picking" from the Seven and Nine networks, with the Winter Olympics next February an upcoming highlight.
While CAAMA's original vision for Imparja intended a high level of weekly Aboriginal programming, the expense of field production and other considerations have set limits on this.
The current regular Aboriginal programs are the CAAMA-produced Nganampa Anwernekenhe (Thursdays, 8pm and Sundays, 11am) and BRACS, a selection of remote community productions (Sunday, 11.30am).
Ten years down the track, the focus of Australia's only indigenous television station is frankly commercial, with Aboriginal ownership and succession its most important distinguishing features.

Labor would revamp town planning procedures by introducing appeal rights for objectors, allow town councils to appoint members of the Planning Authority, and making the process more transparent.
Shadow Minister for Lands Clare Martin says under a Labor Government, all land use objectives and town plans will be systematically updated, following a widespread consultation with residents, developers, planners, business and local government.
"Under our plan, all residents and business where rezoning and development applications occur will be notified," says Ms Martin.
"They will be advised as to how they can be part of the decision making."
"All decisions made either by the Minister or the Planning Authority (PA) will be published and reasons for the decision made clear.
THIRD PARTY "Third party rights will be defined and limited third party appeals will be allowed."
Under the present law, only applicants - developers - can appeal to a tribunal against a decision by the PA; objectors don't have that right.
Ms Martin says: "The Minister will not have the power to appoint the local government representatives of the Planning Authority.
"This will be done by Local Government themselves."
"We will also ensure any contact between the Minister, his or her office and the Planning Authority on development applications is documented and available under the Freedom of Information Act."
"This will prevent any pressure being placed on the Planning Authority by government."
"We have a plethora of residents' groups established because they feel they have been left out of the planning process."
"In Darwin, the Lord Mayor has resigned from the Planning Authority and other well-known community members have gone public with their frustration over how planning occurs."
Greatorex MLA Richard Lim says Ms Martin "is trying to lead people up the garden path as usual."
"I was on the Planning Authority [then the Town Planning Authority] for seven of the eight years I was associated with the Alice town council, and I do understand the process.
"Currently, the PA consists of five members, one from Central Australia, plus three appointments by the Minister from nominations submitted by the Alice Springs town council."
Dr Lim says the Alice town council rejected demands from the Minister to nominate a non-alderman.
"As a result the council can dominate any issue that comes before them."
He says the council has a planning and development committee, meeting usually a few days prior to the PA meeting, but the PA can change or alter any resolutions. Dr Lim says: "Many residents' groups are formed because town council members are not responsive to the community."
"That's because the majority of PA members are also aldermen."
"For instance, I am the Member for Greatorex which takes in the east side of Alice Springs."
"There is a resident's action group called the Eastside Resident's Association (ERA)."
"We have constant dialogue. At the time of the cluster dwellings controversy, we considered the problem together, listened to all sides, and we finally took our views to the PA and a mutually satisfying decision was made."
ERA chief Andre Burgess says her organisation had had a meeting with the Minister, but there had been no recognisable result.
"We would welcome a review of the planning process," Ms Burgess said.
"Planning is probably one of the biggest issue facing us as a community as we go into the next century."
Ms Burgess says through the new PA chairman John Maley, "we have been given a good hearing.
However, there are problems with the Planning Authority."
The fact that a position on the PA, despite council nominations, was left vacant for "so long" was unacceptable.
"This is one issue Mike Reed could have acted upon," says Ms Burgess.
"As a community group, we have forced our way in to have a say in the planning issues.
"It needs to be a more accountable process. We have joined in on the consultative process because we took the initiative to do so.
"Alice Springs is a unique place. You can't just go on dividing off all the blocks and squashing in as many developments as possible, making it look like the Gold Coast - forget it!"

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