December 17, 1997

The Alice Springs News wishes its readers and advertisers a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
The easy-going nature of residents of The Alice will guarantee that we'll accomplish the former without much difficulty; the latter, however, will be a tough battle.
Our fate in 1998 will be entirely the result of the determination and resourcefulness of Alices people.
Make no mistake, no-one else is going to help us turning around the disaster our local tourism industry has become; halt the progression toward civil war fuelled by alcoholism, petrol sniffing and abysmal race relations; nor put a stop to the colonial style government under which we are relegated to taking orders from our masters in Darwin.
Never in my 23 years in The Centre have I seen so much despondency and pessimism as I witnessed in 1997.
We must put a stop to this - starting now.
The dying year has been marred by a further deterioration of the democratic process: Parliamentarians, rather than taking the demands of their constituents in The Centre to the seat of power, have become the carriers of orders from it to us underlings.
The Opposition has hardly inspired trust: Stuart MLA Peter Toyne excepted, it has been drifting without any recognisable agenda and has even lost the "unlosable" seat of MacDonnell.
The worm, however, has begun to turn.
The annihilation of local government at Yulara, the old gaol fiasco and even the stupid plans for draining Redbank Gorge have crystallised the bottom line issue: either we'll fight or we'll go under.
The Alice will need to work hard not to lose focus on this main game in the face of the looming Federal election.
Its potential for a Wik - native title inspired racist campaign is overwhelming.
There are Territory forces which have time and again turned racism to their political advantage, obscuring all other issues.
If we let them get away with it again, it will be to our peril.
The Alice News , having reached a position of dominance in terms of circulation and commercial advantage for its advertisers, will continue fine-tuning its operation in 1998, our fifth year of service to The Alice.
But the News won't deviate one iota from its fundamental objectives announced in a flyer in December, 1993 - three months before our first edition, appearing as scheduled on March 3, 1994.
At that time we said in part: "The News will focus on the researched background story, the investigative piece, the feature article that puts together the confusing puzzle of news stories.
"Without fear or favour, and independent from political and corporate masters, we'll be dealing with the matters that make or break our town. "Opinion, news reporting and advertising will be clearly separated.
"The heart of each edition will be an investigative piece.
We'll go beyond the immediately available facts, probe, ask questions."
We look forward to bringing you much more of that next year.
We don't publish in January because as a free delivery publication, we don't want to create security problems by piling up copies in letter boxes of homes whose occupants are away on holidays. 
Our first 1998 edition will appear on February 4.
We look forward to seeing you then!


PICTURED ABOVE: The Glen Helen lodge in the MacDonnell national park west of Alice Springs.
The link between national parks, tourism and the economy - more significant in the NT than anywhere else in Australia - is a key focus of the just released Parks Masterplan.
A second major theme of the plan is a new look at the relationship with Aboriginal people, acknowledging the power of attraction of indigenous culture and emphasising greater cooperation and opportunities for traditional owners to create an economic base for themselves.
A lot of space in the plan is devoted to the issue of accommodation within parks.
The West MacDonnell Park is one that is identified as having potential for "high quality formal accommodation".
The plan also says developments need to be large enough to generate a sufficient cash flow for sustainable management of their infrastructure (sewerage, water, energy, rubbish disposal, architectural form, landscaping, erosion control and quality visitor programs).
The plan also comes down in favour of involving the private sector in operating camping areas within parks.
While this would be an expanded opportunity for commercial operators, the plan recommends a tightening of control over tour operators in parks.
At present only tours originating in a park come under Commission control.
The plan proposes the introduction of a system of accreditation of tour operators, administratively linked to their current vehicle licensing arrangements with the MVR.
The 15 year plan estimates that during the 1998-99 year, tourism will earn $800m for the NT - with parks as the industry's main drawcard for an expected 1.5 million visitors, staying 7.7 million nights.
Tourism is already the Territory's largest employer, and second largest income producer.
Over 70 per cent of all visitors come here to experience the natural environment, and over 65 per cent of overseas visitors come specifically to experience national parks, with Uluru- Kata Tjuta the most highly visited, followed by Kakadu and Litchfield.
The plan quotes research by NT Tourist Commission (NTTC) which indicates high visitor satisfaction with the low key atmosphere of many Territory parks.
Tourists' key desires are to be informed, stimulated and educated.
The plan recommends that closer monitoring of visitor impact and satisfaction be undertaken by the Parks and Wildlife Commission in collaboration with the NTTC.
It is acknowledged that, to date, visitor satisfaction has had little impact on the Commission's strategic planning.
There will be a change of focus, so that visitors are seen as customers "with legitimate expectations of levels of service".
The other main elements of the park development strategy are defined as:
augmentation of the parks network to enhance its range of opportunities;
further enhancement of high-profile parks to maintain high standards of environmental management, while delivering a high quality, sustainable tourism experience, via in particular the development of appropriate accommodation and camping facilities within parks and of visitor facilities, such as "Icon Tracks" like the Larapinta Trail;
the establishment of three "greater" national parks, two of them in Central Australia (a key proposal of the now two-years-old NT Tourism Development Masterplan, and still on the drawing board);
the establishment of remote parks for adventure tourism.
The plan does not appear to outline a strategy for the realisation of what is nonetheless stated as a key aim, which is to bring all national parks under Territory management regimes for coordinated planning and development.
(Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Kakadu are managed by the Commonwealth.)
The development of new parks in the Top End and Katherine regions is already underway in several areas; the Barkly region also has the Davenport Range National Park, south east of Tennant Creek, in train.
The plan's emphasis for Central Australia is to sustain the viability of the Ayers Rock experience by easing the pressure on the destination.
This could be done by better promotion of Kings Canyon in the Watarrka National Park and Mount Sonder in the West MacDonnell National park.
Opportunities for new parks in Central Australia are identified as: south of Alice Springs along the Finke and Hugh Rivers; at the Alcoota fossil field, to the north east of Alice, for specialised tourism; and, dependent on the desires of the traditional owners, in several mountain range areas under Aboriginal ownership.
The plan takes a positive and optimistic approach with respect to Aboriginal land holders and their role, current and future, in park development.
It outlines the extent of Aboriginal land ownership - as of February 1996, it stood at 41.57 per cent of the Territory, with a further 8.3 per cent under claim and land acquisitions likely to continue.
"Much of this land is, or will be, of conservation and tourism interest," says the plan, and "Aboriginal people can be expected to continue to assert rights and interests in land and marine areas set aside as Territory parks."
The plan acknowledges, on the one hand, that many Aboriginal people have indicated their desire to play a major role in conservation ad park management, and, on the other, "conservation may not always be the first choice for Aboriginal land holders."
Nevertheless, says the plan, "the general Aboriginal concern for "Caring for Country" and conservation objectives of this Masterplan will often be in accord," and the "Caring for Country" initiatives of the Northern and Central Land Councils are seen as having "much to offer".
The theme of "Reflecting Culture" is one of the five proposed in the plan's vision statement.
"Joint management arrangements with Aboriginal people will be the norm," says the plan, " together with employment of Aboriginal people in a range of roles within the park system.
"Such employment will recognise the knowledge and skills of traditional owners and custodians, who will occupy senior positions within the Parks and Wildlife Commission."
A key recommendation of the plan is that the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act be amended to give greater prominence to Aboriginal involvement in parks and to provide for the declaration of Indigenous Protected Areas (a concept proposed by the federal agency Parks Australia as part of the National Reserves System).
These would be declared only on the instigation of Aboriginal landowners, but not on land subject to unresolved claims under the Land Rights Act or the Native Title Act.
Proposed criteria include:
conservation as a principle land use;
demonstrably effective long term conservation management;
voluntary participation of indigenous landowners;
the presence of significant conservation values;
involvement of the Parks and Wildlife Commission in some capacity, at least in the development of a Plan of Management; For Aboriginal people, the benefits are outlined as:
improved long-term management of natural and cultural resources;
enhanced employment opportunities through land management and possibly tourism activities;
the ability to determine arrangements for Aboriginal involvement and control in a range of formal or less formal management mechanisms;
improved opportunities to implement and strengthen traditional laws and cultural practices; The benefits for park management would be:
a strategic framework for flexible arrangements between Aboriginal people and the Commission for mutually compatible ends, with financial assistance from the Commonwealth Government;
an expansion of the total area of land under conservation management. Management options for IPAs could include:
formally constituted Boards of Management with Aboriginal custodians holding executive powers and majority control (as is already the case in the Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) and Gurig (Coburg Peninsula ) National Parks);
contracting the Commission as manager;
the Commission providing specific conservation management assistance and/or training;
simple recognition and accreditation of Aboriginal conservation initiatives, to enable them to be incorporated as a part of the Territory's contribution to the National Reserves System.
"The emphasis would be on flexibility," says the plan.
Options which contributed most to Aboriginal self-determination would be favoured."
The Commission will seek consultation with Aboriginal organisations in the review and amendment of the Act.


New CATIA chief Steve Byrnes in the Royal Flying Doctor Service radio room.
Dragging the Alice tourism industry out of its worst slump, redefining the relationship between the regional tourism bodies with the NT Tourist Commission - constantly under fire for its failure to perform despite its massive budget - and coming to grips with a new regime at the Ayers Rock resort are just some of the objectives for Steve Byrnes in the New Year.
The Alice manager of the world famous Royal Flying Doctor Service - a prime tourist attraction in itself - was elected unopposed to head the region's tourism lobby, the Central Australian Tourism Industry Association (CATIA).
Mr Byrnes spoke with Alice News editor ERWIN CHLANDA.
News: The tourism industry in Alice Springs has been in decline now for several successive years so that our annual bed occupancy rate is now down to 44 per cent.
What are you going to do about it?
Byrnes: CATIA has responsibilities within the partnership agreement with the NT Tourist Commission (NTTC).
News: Aren't you a watchdog over the NTTC which is obviously not doing its job?
Byrnes: That's your opinion.
News: The figures bear it out.
Byrnes: It's not only the figures here for Central Australia or for the NT but for Australia in its entirety which has had a dramatic decrease in tourism, especially from overseas.
[The trade in] Central Australia is not down as much as other areas.
The Gold Coast, at certain times, is 50 per cent down, Cairns is down significantly.
We've had a downturn in the domestic market because of the economic situation in the eastern states.
People are taking shorter holidays and are staying close to home.
They feel they can't commit themselves long term.
While people feel they have to see The Centre at some stage of their lives, they're putting it off at the moment.
News: Is it not true that we have much more to offer than the average Australian destination?
We're more famous, more beautiful; would you say that?
Byrnes: You and I would, we're Central Australians, we're Territorians and we're very proud of our area.
News: Aren't we right? Byrnes: We're right to the degree that we have a different destination.
If you're talking to people in Cairns, for example, they're just as parochial.
We have the difficulty of being an expensive destination.
We're now looking at the incentive and convention markets.
We have a reduced capability to take big conventions.
Araluen can seat only 500 people, and a lot of the other venues are around the 200 seats mark.
The town council has provided funding, using CATIA's expertise, aiming especially at the conventions and incentive market.
News: That's been the objective for three or four years and it's still not working.
Byrnes: It goes back some time but it's now in place.
There were some discussions about the best way of doing it, rather than spending dollars willy nilly.
Secondly, the research department of the NTTC has indicated we should go after the more affluent tourists.
Byrnes: Daryl Somers, the current front man for our promotion, hardly appeals to the affluent person.
Very few of the rich would watch his show.
Does he fit the bill?
Byrnes: You'd have to ask the NTTC that.
News: I'm asking you. Byrnes: We're an industry association, looking after Central Australia in conjunction with the NTTC.
News: Do you see yourself as a lobby keeping a critical eye on the NTTC, even telling it what to do?
Byrnes: I find telling people what to do doesn't always work.
The Somers campaign is a positioning campaign devised by the NTTC.
The regional tourism associations (RTAs) don't really have that much of a say in it.
We are here for our membership.
News: Has the membership raised any questions about the Somers campaign?
Byrnes: I've been the chairman for only two months.
Nobody's spoken to me about Somers.
To my understanding the NTTC has scaled down the use of Somers.
News: Given that you're now looking at the more affluent end of the market, what's your own personal view about the Somers style of promotion?
Byrnes: I don't have one.
News: Do you think the government should put half the NTTC's $26.5m budget at the discretion of a body representing the southern half of the Territory?
Would you spend it better than the Tourist Commission?
Byrnes: We haven't carried out that exercise.
There are different roles for the organisations and there has to be economy of scale.
Once you start splitting up things you lose economy of scale, you lose focus.
On the other hand, I don't believe one organisation can do the lot.
In fact it's been tried before and hasn't been very effective - that's why it's been broken down.
The NTTC had bureaus, that was found not to be appropriate.
That system was revamped and the RTAs received funding to run visitor information centres, meeting the needs of the visitors once they are in the area.
To have a number of organisations basically doing the same thing is not cost effective.
News: The opposite argument to that is Ren Kelly at The Rock who turned a company that was in trouble at the time of the pilots' strike, into a mammoth operation with nearly 100 staff, 57 luxury vehicles, including coaches, an annual turnover of $6m and 180,000 passenger movements.
Ren has a number of overseas offices and relies almost entirely on his own promotion and marketing.
Rod Steinert is doing much the same with respect to marketing.
There certainly seems to be a place for individual promotion.
Byrnes: Our role is to look after our membership's interest and to look after visitors once they are in Central Australia.
We only have a relatively small budget.
News: What are you saying to the NTTC at the moment?
Byrnes: We're telling them that things aren't good, that we need to be doing something different to what's been done in the last couple of years, we need to get into the hard sell of product.
The partnership arrangements need to be tightened up so the dollars can be spent effectively.
NTTC and the RTAs are currently having discussions about their respective roles, how we can meld together to do the job in the most efficient way.
News: How do you see the relationship between the industry in The Alice and at The Rock, now that a new company owns the resort and the NT Government no longer has a 60 per cent share?
Byrnes: They are part of Central Australia, they are good members of CATIA.
News: The company owns the resort and any commercial activity - except for Ren Kelly - requires the permission of the resort owners who charge a hefty commission.
Do you have a view on that?
Byrnes: I don't. It's the same as Dunk Island.
It's a resort.
It's a government decision and that's the way it is.
News: The government has set up a monopoly at the Territory's prime tourist attraction.
Anyone who wants to sleep, eat, drink, shop at The Rock must do it with an enterprise sanctioned by the owners.
Byrnes: It's not a monopoly - they have a big slice in it.
News: No - they have the right to fully control what happens there.
Byrnes: Not in the park.
News: What's your comment on the old gaol controversy?
Byrnes: CATIA has written to the Minister saying the actions by the government were completely inappropriate.
We have had a detailed response, acknowledging what we have said.
It was the view of CATIA that the gaol should be used constructively, as a bus terminal, for example.
No-one's so far come forward with a commercial proposition for the use of the land.
It's an asset.
As a taxpayer I believe that the government should always have long term considerations with any decision they make.
My personal view, not CATIA's, is that if the community - which is the government - decides that we require to maintain certain places of heritage, then the community should have to pay for it.
The government should recognise it as a requirement of the community and the government should pay for it.


Commander Bullock of the Alice Springs Police, says the Alice Springs Watchhouse has on occasion provided overnight accommodation there for relatives of detained juveniles.
This is indeed one of the provisions of Recommendation 242 of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
However, following the breakdown in negotiations between Minister for Correctional Services Eric Poole and the Central Australian Aboriginal Childcare Agency (CAACA) over converting part of Aranda House into a short term juvenile holding facility, Mr Poole made clear on ABC TV that one of the main sticking points has been CAACA's desire to accommodate parents or relatives with the young offenders. Recommendation 242 says that in the event where a juvenile is detained in a lock-up (which should not happen "except in exceptional circumstances"), then "every effort should be made to arrange for a parent or a visitor to attend and remain with the juvenile."
Because of the lack of a juvenile holding facility in Alice Springs, 18 juveniles have been held in isolation at the adult prison since it was opened in August 1996, while others have been held at the Watchhouse, seen as a more "desirable" option.
Mr Poole says: "Government will now have to look at establishing an alternative facility for the short-term detention of juveniles or for CAACA."
Meanwhile, Mr Bullock says: "The Alice Springs Watchhouse has been approved as a place where juveniles who have been charged with an offence and not admitted to bail shall be detained.
"Release on bail, however, is the preferred option where appropriate and the bail act is quite clear on the granting of bail and police responsibilities in that regard.
"There have been occasions where a juvenile who cannot be released from custody (because of a court order for detention or imprisonment) has had a family member remain with them for the period, including overnight, that they are detained in the cells.
Similarly in arrest or other custody situations such as protective custody for drunkenness or other substance abuse, consideration is given to their release to family members or other suitable persons in appropriate circumstances.
"In many instances of custody, family cannot be located for a number of reasons.
"In a number of instances it could be considered that the family/home environment and lack of parental responsibility are causal factors in a young person engaging in behaviour that brings them to the attention of the police.
"Arrangements have been negotiated with organisations such as Alice Springs Youth Accommodation and Support Services (ASYASS) and Aranda House, which offer other options for release in such cases.
"The established policy of the NT Police regarding the detention of juveniles is in accord with recommendation 242 of the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody.
"Police general orders accurately reflect the terms of the recommendation."
The Alice Springs News also asked Mr Bullock whether mandatory sentencing for property offences in the Northern Territory, has meant a greater burden of discretion falling on the shoulders of the police, and what guidelines officers receive about using discretion in regard to charging offenders.
Says Mr Bullock: "Discretion for police officers has a number of facets.
"They are advised that the deprivation of liberty is a serious matter.
"Discretion is necessary when police have no personal knowledge of the alleged offence.
In such circumstances, police have to satisfy themselves that the information upon which they are acting is reliable.
"Similarly, the policy is that suspected offenders be given the opportunity to explain themselves.
Unless clear evidence emerges, it is better to detain that person.
"Proceeding by way of summons rather than arrest is normally the preferred approach, except where arrest is seen as necessary to prevent a continuation or repetition of the offence.
Police must also give consideration to the seriousness of the charge and to the likelihood of whether or not a summons will ensure the offender's appearance in court.
"The decision to prosecute a person is not taken lightly and every care is taken in the exercise of discretion whether to commence or continue a prosecution.
"It is essential that in exercising such discretion, police are able to demonstrate the propriety and impartiality of their decision.
"Circumstances will arise in which consideration needs to be given to public interest as to whether a prosecution should be initiated. Circumstances which may influence a decision include: The youth, age or infirmity of the offender; the antecedents and character of the offender; the degree of culpability of the offender; the seriousness of the offence; and the need to provide a deterrent to similar offenders. "Regard should also be given to the prevalence of that offence within the particular community and the community expectation in respect of the actual act or event.
"Checks and balances exist within the organisation to ensure that individual decisions to exercise discretion are overseen, considered for appropriateness and, when necessary, other courses of action are implemented.
"The exercise of discretion is not an issue that has or currently causes concern to police."

KIERAN FINNANE continues her historical feature.

PICTURED: Murray Neck in his college days.
Murray's mother didn't have any domestic help, but Annie employed a number of Aboriginal women and men at the boarding house, as gardeners, in the kitchen, and looking after the goats: "I can recall these people very well.
They were really lovely people, I got on particularly well with them and, of course, they spoilt me rotten," says Murray.
"One of the gardeners was called Spider and his wife was called Maggie.
They were a wonderful old couple.
"My Dad also employed an Aboriginal by the name of Toby Johnson.
"I later employed Toby, his brother Ted, and his nephew Edward at odd times.
"Toby had been brought up on Bloomfield's Station at Loves Creek.
He had a number of skills - he could count, he was a bit of a carpenter, he could use a soldering iron, he was a good gardener and a pretty good horseman too.
"He used to spend a few months with us, then he would go walkabout' out Loves Creek way in the Eastern MacDonnells.
Sometimes he'd give us notice, sometimes he didn't.
Eventually he'd come back and ask for a job, which we always gave to him.
We'd fit him out with new clothes and a new hat.
"Later, when I went to Adelaide, I always bought a new felt hat which I would wear while I was there.
When I got back I'd give it to Toby because I wasn't a hat wearer.
So Toby was always pretty pleased to see me.
"I got to know his family pretty well.
Some of them still live out at Santa Teresa, and some live east of here, out Undoolya way.
"I've got a close affiliation with this family.
Toby's children all call me brother, their children all call me uncle, I'm a cousin to others, they've worked it all out.
"I've been to Santa Teresa where they've come up to me and said, ïYou're my cousin,' or ïYou're my uncle'.
"I've got quite an intense feeling of pride about this.
"Toby was a very close associate of mine, we did a lot of things together.
He was my Dad's age and he taught me a lot.
We would go out bush together, and he'd talk to me a lot about his days wandering around the bush, of floods and fires and storms, wild food, bush tucker.
"He taught me quite a bit of his language, I can't put a sentence together but I knew a pile of words, and they come back to me now and then. "My children also have this association, they've been brought into the family circle.
Greg in particular often gets a visit from them in the shop.
"Toby's wife Madeline is still alive, a remarkable woman. She must be well into her nineties."
This was the Central Australian world into which the radio came.
The first sets were medium wave and could only receive programs during the cooler months and at night: "During the summer months daylight reception was blotted out with the rising of the sun.
"We knew all the programs, of course."
5AD and 5DN were the two major stations broadcasting out of Adelaide.
"There was a 5AD program for children, Search for the Golden Boomerang, and a 5AD children's club."
In 1939, the town's population was no more than 1500.
The hospital was being built, the streets were kerbed and guttered, though there was still no bitumen.
Roads were macadamised (gravelled).
Cedar trees had been planted for shade.
Murray's father decided to load his Dodge Buckboard with some radios and go to the Hatches Creek mining centre and on to Tennant Creek, taking in a few stations which were close to the main road, then only a two-wheel dirt track with gravel creek crossings.
Murray, who was 10 years old, went with him.
"That was my introduction to retailing," says Murray.
The trip, in September 1939, coincided with an ominous time in world history, the outbreak of the Second World War.
"I can recall the day war was declared," says Murray.
"We were in the Wauchope Hotel that night. I remember I was allowed to drink a shandy. A lot of the young fellows at the bar were saying they were going south to join up, they were going ïto sort this Hitler out'."
Troops came to Alice Springs in 1941, moving north on their way to Singapore, where many were subsequently captured.
The road was quickly upgraded to a macadamised surface and a short time later bitumised all the way to Darwin by the combined Country Roads Boards of Australia, the states' roads boards taking a section each.
At the Alice Springs Primary School children and staff dug slit trenches in the back of the school yard.
Darwin had been bombed, and there was a sense that anything could happen.
In 1943 a Northern Territory scholarship, one of six, took Murray away from wartime Alice, to Scotch College in Adelaide.
There was no secondary school in Alice Springs at the time.
"I had to work awfully hard at college," he recalls, "but as long as I kept passing, I could stay on."
He was only allowed home once a year, and for the first three years, such was the militarisation of the Territory, he had to go to Keswick Military headquarters in Adelaide to get a permit to cross the South Australian border.
Usually, he came home by train but in his last year he flew home for the second term holidays and again at the end of the year: "It cost 17 pounds 10, pretty expensive."
Murray returned at the end of 1947, with his leaving certificate under his arm, and joined his father's business.
He would never leave the Alice for as long a period again: "Through the years I've observed that children who did their secondary schooling here felt the desire to get away, some for a higher education, some to get closer to action of a city.
"I had five years at boarding school, my four children had the same and we were all pleased to get home, we didn't need any inducement." Through the war years the electronics industry, indeed the whole of Australia, went over to wartime production.
The radio industry was devoted to the communications needs of the armed forces.
There were no consumer products at all available from not long after the start of the war until well after it had finished.
Production had started again by 1947 but the demand had also increased enormously: "The psychology of Australian people at the start of the war was quite different to that at the end of the war," comments Murray.
"We were a very, very staid community prior to the war, but afterwards people became more adventurous. Thousands of troops had been overseas and they came back home with tales of adventure, new lands, new people. The total thinking of the community had changed remarkably."
In the war years Murray's parents concentrated on the cordial factory and the milk bar; David did little selling.
With troops in town the milk bar was busy, selling homemade products and a small cigarette quota.
It was hard work, long hours, seven days a week.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays they stayed open till after the theatre closed, well after 11 o'clock in the summer months.
Dorothy worked behind the counter, and there was usually a staff member in the shop as well.
David worked in the factory, sometimes employing troops during their time off, mostly at night: "During the summer we ran the iceworks at night.
It was a matter of sleeping with an ear open, which you got used to," recalls Murray.
When Murray came home on holidays he'd always lend a hand: "I always had jobs to do, my children always had jobs to do and now my grandchildren have jobs to do.
"They've all cut their teeth early in retailing."
The family now lived and worked in the shop and residence on the property in Todd Street, which David had built in 1938.
The cordial factory was at the back of the block.
They had their own well and pump, and, until 1939 when power and water were reticulated, they were one of few households to have electric lights, running off their own generator.
By the end of 1947, a few new consumer products began to arrive on a quota basis.
Of special interest to the Centre were the early refrigerators, open units with a separate electric motor and compressor, with a belt between them. There were a few early American-made Kelvinators.
They had 110 volt motors equipped with a transformer to drop 240 volts to 110.
Refrigeration brands sold by the Necks included Charles Hope, a kerosene fridge from Brisbane ("an extremely good one"), Electrolux ("imported and very expensive"), and the Cold Stream, manufactured in South Australia.
They also brought the first washing machines into Central Australia: a Hoover single tub with a hand wringer and later, the Simpson agitator-wringer models.
Early brand radios were Fisk Radiola, Stromberg-Carlsen and Tasma, followed by His Master's Voice, Phillips, Healing , Chrysler, Astor, and Fisk Radiola renamed as AWA.
"When refrigerators became available they were expensive compared with the basic wage," comments Murray.
"When I left school the basic wage was five pounds a week, I was very well off because I got the basic wage and free board and lodging, so I was able to bank quite a bit of money."
A five cubic foot Kelvinator sealed unit would sell for 129 guineas, that is 129 pounds plus 129 shillings or [calculating quickly] 135 pounds and nine shillings.
From the basic wage point of view, it was worth nearly half a year's work.
"That was a reasonable size fridge of the day. A comparable ten cubic foot fridge today would cost $700 and the basic wage is, say, $350."
So that's two weeks' worth of wages.
"My industry is most efficient when you look at it from that point of view. Both the appliances and the electronic products that we sell keep getting better and better and cheaper and cheaper in relation to the basic wage."
To be continued in our first issue next year (February 4): Murray buys the business from his father in 1953 and, with his marriage to Mary Kerrison, starts work on establishing the Neck family dynasty.


PICTURED: A rare sport in dry Central Australia: Canoe polo in the Alice Springs swimming pool.
For Alice Springs sport, 1997 will be a year remembered as one of achievement and celebration, but there are even better prospects for the year to come.
In January the third Lasseters Indoor Challenge will give those of us who bask in the laziness of a Centralian Summer, a chance to enjoy any of 10 indoor pursuits, at a recreational or competitive level.
Everything from Euchre and 500 to Eight Ball is available, at popular Alice Springs venues which offer air conditioned comfort and an ideal January hideaway.
Registration is still available, until Friday, at the Department of Sport and Recreation.
While the Lasseters Challenge is underway and most of the rest of the town are in holiday mode, the organisers at Sport and Recreation will not be resting on their laurels.
Shane O'Leary has returned to the Department's frontline and with Mike Crowe, heads up the preparations for the Honda Masters Games of 1998.
The Masters in October are renowned for being the Friendly Games, and despite the competition from other games interstate and overseas, the Alice Games continue to grow.
Already the town's accommodation centres are reporting "full house" for October, and in order to cater for the revelling thousands of visitors, a Tent City, and Home Stay options, are in hand.
Early in the new year the whole community will again be welcome to join in and ensure that our Games are still the best.
As usual volunteers are needed and the general public will be needed to help in any of a myriad of ways, from starting races to ambassadorial roles.
While Lasseters Challenge and the Honda Masters Games will be our sporting flagships in 1998, the year could well be heralded by a personal best Spirit of Alice performance in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
Murray Preston is to skipper the Alice Springs Yacht Club's challenge, leaving Sydney on Boxing Day, and all hopes are with the Centralians emulating the success of 1997.
On the home front, the Yacht Club continues to thrive from its Oasis Headquarters, and in 1998 sights are also set on the Darwin to Ambon race in July.
In ensuring the ongoing growth of sailing in the Centre, opportunities will again be available for the youth of Alice to improve their nautical technique through sponsored participation in training programs like that of the Leeuwin.
The Town Pool also provides locals with the opportunity to enjoy water sports.
In recent months extensive shade areas have been erected poolside for the protection of those basking.
The pool is now heated to ensure year round comfort for Max O'Callaghan's swimming team and those who simply enjoy "doing their laps."
Of a Tuesday night Canoe Polo has become an attraction at the pool with a healthy competition allowing devotees, and locals who are river canoeists, the chance to hone their skills.
For fitness lovers, aqua-aerobics lessons are conducted at the pool, and pool manager Ian O'Leary is the man to see for more information.
The Town Council has dedicated time and money to the development of Traeger Park in 1997.
Mounds have been developed on both the eastern and western sides of the oval, a new kiosk has been built, Mona's Lounge completed, and paving of the park's surrounds commenced
In 1998 players and spectators should benefit from these improvements.
So too at Albrecht Oval in Larapinta, the Bill Waudby Pavilion is a testament to the founding father of the Mount Wedge Cricket Club, and Alice Springs Cricket.
The turf pitches are now showing a healthy abundance of growth and the Spring / Summer rains will ensure a lush surface early in the new year.
The Alice Springs Cricket Association will host the Calder Shield in Alice Springs at Easter.
The carnival is a traditional feast for all Territory cricket enthusiasts and already a Country Eleven, Darwin, the Underage NT side and Alice Springs representative teams are in the selection process.
On the local front of Cricket, we have seen the emergence of Wests as a force in all grades.
As with their football, Wests have blended youth with experience.
The association's Development Officer, Greg Aldam, is Captain Coach and he has the services of David Vadavaloo and Peter Tabart to meld with Andrew Bent and a host of emerging youngsters.
RSL Works continue to field strong sides through the grades.
A Grade skipper Graeme Smith has Stewart Haycock, Matt Forster and Geof Whitmore to depend upon with bat and ball.
Rovers are able to keep all teams honest, especially with the emergence of Paddy Bowden who has given the top order consistency, combined with the experience of Craig Murphy, and Brendan Blandford.
Federals are the side capable of beating all comers, but as in 1996/97, they have not won enough matches in the first half of the year to assure their presence in the finals in 1998.Pressure is now on them to perform in 1998.
The Central Australian Rugby Union have established themselves as a sporting strength in the town, after only a decade of competition.
Kiwis continue to dominate the competition and and will go into 1998 favoured to win the CARU Premiership and possibly even the Footrot Flats Cup, played on Australia Day.
Cubs have continued to consolidate, and after their win over the Kiwis a fortnight ago are quietly confident of going one place better in the 1998 Finals.
A traditional force, the Federal Devils have shown they have the ability to match all comers in the competition, however their undisciplined attitude lets them down too often.
The Eagles also need to improve.
They would benefit from an injection of fresh legs in the forwards in order to compete on an even footing with the top sides.
The administration of the CARU, with NTRU backing, has been the secret to Rugby success in 1997.
Bill Davies as NTRU's man on the ground has not neglected the Territory's regions in nurturing the game.
In 1997 the Alice team were scheduled to play Yulara at the Rock and in town, and also to travel to Tennant Creek to face the might of Katherine.
In February of 1998, regional Rugby will receive another injection when a Country Side will tour Victoria and Tasmania.
Triathlon attracts of the order of sixty members, but has done itself proud in 1997.
The NT Short Course Championships were conducted in Alice last month, with locals Tony Fitzpatrick, Loie Sharp and Jessica Beames all becoming NT Champions.
In the new year Loie Sharp is heading to the east coast to seriously challenge for the National title in her age group.
As heartening will be the expected growth in the sport in 1998.
Seasoned performers like John Dermody, Glen Fox and Russell North, will blend with Ben Bruce and the growing team of juniors thriving in Triathlon.
Complementing the three disciplines of Triathlon is Cycling.
The Friday night competition at the Dalgetty Road velodrome and the Criteriums of a Tuesday night at the Airport carpark have proven to be a boon for cycling numbers.
In 1997 life memberships were awarded to Paul Pearson and Dallas Spears, and it is through service like theirs that the sport has grown.
The Little Athletics Centre at Head Street has been a quiet achiever once again this year. The 100-strong club caters for athletes from five to 15 years, from Easter till September.
This year the cream of the crop travelled to Darwin and took all before them in the NT Championships.
From there an elite group trained under Peter Toyne in preparation for the National Primary Exchange Championships held last week in Canberra.
At this prestigious carnival Laati Burns won a Silver Medal in the 13 year old Girls Long Jump, Sam Hanzel a Bronze in the 13 year old Boys Discus and Mario Martinez a Bronze in the 13 year old Boys Shot Put.
Mario also participated in the Relay team which won a Silver.
A highlight of 1998 could be Little Athletics involvement in the conduct of the Masters Games Athletics events.
They have a strong contingent of willing officials at Little Aths and have the ability to organise an event of this magnitude well.
Show jumping is another sport which receives little publicity for their fine achievements.
Bob Willshire and his committee brought the sport to town in 1997, conducting meetings at Traeger Park and at Federals Club.
This initiative generated public support from people previously not involved in the horse industry.
As a highlight a contingent ventured to the South Australian West Coast where they competed in the Show circuit.
The group collected 82 ribbons while on tour and have been invited to other country circuits, and the Adelaide Show in 1998.
Pioneer Park has again proven itself to be the home of the Sport of Kings in 1997.
Local restaurateur Pat Adami ensured the Alice Springs Cup stayed in the Centre.
Then Alice horses dominated the Darwin Cup Carnival, with Nev Connor and Viv Oldfield again showing Centralian thoroughbreds can match it with the best in the land.
The Spring Carnival at Pioneer Park was again a huge success trackside with bumper crowds ensuring a bright future for racing in the Centre. Winter sport in the Centre was dominated by Netball and Australian Rules.
At Ross Park over 700 women competed in the various grades over the season.
In A Grade Rover Memo prevailed over Federal to achieve back to back premierships.
Interest in the game here in Alice was kept at a premium with the visit of Australian icon Vicky Wilson.
The Central Australian Football League had a year to remember in 1997.
It was their fiftieth year of competition, and Pioneers celebrated more than other clubs in winning premierships at League, Reserve and Under 18 levels.
The season was further nurtured by the AFL game between the Adelaide Crows and Essendon, and then by the Territory Thunder who accounted for the prestigious Western Jets in the AFL Under 18 competition.
At representative level our Under 25 CAFL side then covered the town in glory with an historic win over the Cairns Football League representative side.
In 1998 Centralians may well see their side involved in a National Country Football competition.
Soccer also made a resurgence in 1997 with a competition at Ross Park that included a largely women's team, F Troop. In 1998 it is expected that this code will continue to prosper with the flow of youngsters from the ever popular Junior Soccer joining the Senior ranks.
Rugby League while not enjoying their best year in 1997 can look forward to 1998 optimistically.
The clubs themselves have made a commitment to running the CARFL, and by involving players at an administrative level have established structures at club and league levels that will ensure success.
The Dead Centre Bowhunters and the Red Centre BMX have each had a grand season in sport, catering well for the interests of those interested in action of a different kind.
So also the motor sports continue to cement their positions as sports to be watched in the Centre.
The annual Finke Desert race will again attract national and international interest as riders and drivers push human limits in the name of off-road racing.
The Mount Ooraminna Track, Aileron and Arltunga will host enduros of national standing.
The Seven Mile Strip at the Airport will again host Day and Night meets for the Dragsters.
Here in town at Arunga Park the Speedway will provide thrills and spills of a Saturday night through till Easter.
In all 1998 will be a bonzer year for sport in the Alice!

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