February 2, 2000


A Pintupi woman says the Aboriginal Land Rights Act is being used to bar her husband from living with her on her own traditional land, and to stop both of them from running a store in her home town, Kintore.Jilau Nangala Parker, an assistant teacher, and her white husband, Paul, are seeking to take their long running dispute – principally with the Central Land Council (CLC) – to the NT Supreme Court and to the High Court of Australia.They and their five children were forced to leave their family home at Kintore in 1992 and to abandon their store there, which had been in competition with the community store.The family moved to NSW. Mrs Parker has since returned to the community 400 km west of Alice Springs, but her husband is not allowed back.Mr Parker says in 1995 Mrs Parker asked Justice Angel in the NT Supreme Court for an interim order that she and her husband not need ask the Central Land Council for permission to live together in their family home at Kintore whilst the court considered the questions raised.HIGH COURT"The CLC objected to issuing of the interim order, advising the issues would go to the High Court," says Mr Parker."After admitting it had no right to order Mrs Parker and our children from the community the CLC has failed to give back her family home or to arrange suitable alternate accommodation."For the past two years she has been staying with other relatives and commuting to NSW to visit her husband and those of our children who remain there."Mrs Parker and her children – as traditional owners – have under the Land Rights Act a right to live on the land.However, the Parkers have received legal advice that running a store may not be a "traditional use" of Aboriginal land.This appears to be making a store, even run by a traditional owner, subject to permission of the "traditional owners as a group" who may well wish to safeguard the commercial interests of the community's shop."This is clearly an opportunity of eliminating commercial opposition not available elsewhere," says Mr Parker.Darwin barrister Anthony Young told the Parkers he did not think there is a "reasonable prospect of success" for their proposed legal action against the Haasts Bluff Aboriginal Land Trust, the CLC and the Walungurru (Kintore) Council.Mr Young said the Land Rights Act permits "traditional owners, usually acting through the relevant Land Council, to control activities on their land."The particular point of objection the traditional owners took to the store run by Mr and Mrs Parker was that it competed with the community store at Kintore."The CLC seems to assume that the rights of traditional Aboriginal owners and others are limited by Section 71 of the Land Rights Act," says Mr Young."According to this view, the use of the land at Kintore by the Parkers for a store is not a traditional use of the land and as such is not a use protected by Section 71."In other words, running a store at Kintore is not an activity that an Aboriginal person may, as of right, conduct on Aboriginal land."In my view the clear cause of the Parkers' departure was the decision of the traditional Aboriginal owners and the consequent threat of proceedings made by the CLC."It was in response to these matters that the Parkers closed the store and left."Mr Parker says Justice Angel was not sure the Land Rights Act should be read in as limiting a fashion as the CLC sought, adjourning matters to go to trial.Mrs Parker says she is "frustrated and upset" that neither the CLC nor any legal aid organisations – including Aboriginal ones – will take up her case.Mr Parker says CLC lawyer David Avery had been asked during a court hearing about who had given the land council instructions to act against her and her family."He said ‘I don't know'. It's in the transcript," says Mr Parker."Will the CLC find any traditional owners prepared to come into court and give any evidence against Jilau?"So the CLC acts on the instructions of unknown traditional owners to deny the rights of acknowledged traditional owners."Mrs Parker says the CLC hierarchy has repeatedly declined to discuss the matter with her, saying the organisation "forced me and my kids from my home. It's not the the council at Kintore, it's the land council."Mrs Parker says she objects to the notion that her husband should need a permit to live and work at Kintore."I have a right to have my husband living with me," she says.Mr and Mrs Parker married in 1976 at Papunya where they were both working as school teachers. In the ‘eighties they were instrumental in founding the Kintore community, Mrs Parker's traditional country.Mr Parker later was critically injured at Kintore when he was attacked with a boomerang, splitting his skull. Now living at Coraki in NSW, he suffers permanent disability in the form of fatigue and loss of concentration, and frequent migraines triggered by stress.The CLC declined to comment, and the Kintore council did not respond to a request for comment.


Yes Alice Springs, the year is really 2000.Recent visitors to the Alice Springs Airport using the touch screen machine located in the gate area, for information provided by the Central Australian Tourism Industry Association (CATIA) about its members, may have wondered.Users touching the event section would have found that Henley-on-Todd will be held on 3 October 1998; Heritage Week on 19-26 April 1998 and the Honda Masters Game on 17-24 October 1998, among other similar examples.If the dates had been for 1999, one might have thought that CATIA did not want to update until after the world had had a close encounter with the Y2K bug, but 1998 information!A phone call to CATIA just after Christmas assured the caller that the information was in the process of being updated but come January 27, 2000, the 1998 data was still available.Now the worse thing about two-year old information is that one has to wonder if all the rest of the information in the machine is equally old and outdated and would therefore hesitate to follow through on any of the information provided.But CATIA general manager Mike Gunn assured the Alice Springs News , on January 28, 2000, that the information about CATIA members is not only being updated, it is also being enhanced."CATIA members have supplied new information which is expected to be incorporated into the touch screen machine at the airport very shortly," Mr Gunn said."The touch screen machine is actually cumbersome and expensive to update so we only do so annually."And most recently CATIA has been concentrating on using new technology and developing a web site which will be more cost effective."We have made the decision to go with the latest technology and that is a web site which can be system networked across the country."We also expect to launch a web site touch screen at our Gregory Street office which will be available 24 hours a day."The web site will provide information provided by our members and include accommodation, tours, and other information of general interest."The new touch screen web site will be nice and simple to use and updated monthly."


An ongoing dispute over the ownership of surrounding land is holding up a $10m expansion of Glen Helen Lodge.The popular tourist destination in the Western MacDonnell Ranges is owned by Ngurratjuta Aboriginal Corporation and leased since April last year to the company operating Melanka Backpackers Resort in Alice Springs. The land in question is between the lodge and the road, and between the lodge down to the Glen Helen Gorge.Some of it is Parks and Wildlife land, while some is former pastoral land compulsorily acquired by the Territory Government who are using it as leverage in relation to an Aboriginal land claim in the area.According to Ngurratjuta General Manager, Chris Pearson, traditional owners would consider doing a deal over the land, but the Central Land Council is standing in the way."One of the parties would have to change their position to break the impasse," says Mr Pearson.Meanwhile, after having closed its doors as an accommodation facility in 1997, in the hands of its new lessees Glen Helen is making a comeback, and rental income from the property should help get Ngurratjuta's commercial arm back on its feet.In a 1999 review of the organisation by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), Ngurratjuta was described as one of the oldest and in many respects one of the most successful of the Aboriginal royalty associations.It came into existence in 1985 to distribute royalties (about $10m from 1984-85 to 1997-98) to over 2000 Western Arrernte and Luritja people, both traditional owners and residents in about 70 communities, in areas affected by the Mereenie and Palm Valley oil and gas projects.Ngurratjuta pays its disbursements not to individuals but into community and outstation trust accounts to be used for community purposes, governed by a set of rules. This was hailed by the review as "exemplary" and "innovative".The review was more critical of its commercial operations, in particular in relation to the purchase of Glen Helen Lodge for a "greatly over-valued $1.75m".The report says Ngurratjuta was "poorly served by the external advice it obtained" and that ultimately the lodge became a "significant psychological and financial drain" on the corporation.The review says: "There are lessons to be learnt by all royalty associations from an over-reliance upon a single ‘flagship' investment product such as NAC's Glen Helen Lodge (or the Gagudju Association's Crocodile Motel in the Top End)."The potential benefits flowing from a major financial commitment to a regional enterprise need to be carefully weighed against the possible negative impacts arising from volatile regional economies and the fact that tourism-based investments rarely generate substantial profit or significant local employment for Aboriginal members."By contrast, the accounting service developed by Ngurratjuta has been a success story, generating "considerable" income for the corporation, according to Mr Pearson.It services both member and non-member communities in Central Australia, providing, in the words of the review, "an effective regional service in circumstances where, historically, many Aboriginal communities have been delivered sub-standard (and, on occasions, illegal) services from accounting firms".Mr Pearson says, following implementation of many of the review's recommendations including a rationalisation of staff (down from a high of 25 to less than 10), Ngurratjuta is working on defining a set of short to medium term achievable objectives.These will include "straightening out" the corporation's existing commercial investments, the sale of properties in the Diarama Village residential subdivision, and developing a more balanced investment portfolio, to prevent over-exposure in any one area in the future.The embryonic market garden at Hermannsburg (see Alice News, Feb 17, 1999) has all but folded after negotiations with a potential joint venturer, Tony Alicastro of the vegetable and fruit processing company Rosario & Antonio, failed to make progress."That sort of venture could be possible in the future," says Mr Pearson "but at the time we were overstretched and couldn't give it the attention it needed."Meanwhile, Ngurratjuta has recently added to its collection of paintings by Albert Namatjira and descendants.The collection, worth $250,000 at cost, and significantly more at current market value, is held as an asset of the corporation, with many of the works on loan for display at the Araluen Centre in Alice.A selling exhibition of work by contemporary Western Arrernte artists, organised last year by Ngurratjuta, sold 75 per cent of works, bringing some $50,000 to the artists. Mr Pearson says it is likely that a second exhibition will be organised this year.


"One of the biggest problems this town is going to be facing is the rotten motor car and parking," says Bruce Strong, research officer for the National Trust for nine years and an Alice resident for 26.He left on the weekend to take up a similar position with the trust in Darwin."Parking is a big problem in the CBD, it's going to impinge on the old Hartley Street school, for instance," he says."There have been plans for a multi storey car park for a long time now, and it may have to happen."Even in the heritage precinct there are applications from owners of buildings, not necessarily heritage buildings, to upgrade their premises."They are using them as professional offices."The planning laws say you've got to have so many parking spots. That's forcing them up into multi storeys, which is not supposed to be allowable under the conservation management plan."In an interview with the Alice News during a farewell party at the Royal Flying Doctor base last week, Mr Strong reflected on the town's development in the last quarter century:- People talk about the character of Alice Springs and what it's all about. I've never seen it defined and I can't define it myself. Unless we work out what it really means we don't know where we are going.From a heritage point of view we've got to get the Aboriginal people involved. That's what a lot of visitors, especially from overseas, are looking for. But it's got to come from the Aborigines. We've tried to force them into doing it and it hasn't worked. How we get them involved, I don't know. I guess I agree with Charlie Perkins in a lot of ways, they've got to – excuse the French – get off their black backsides and do it themselves. It's not up to me or anyone else to tell them how to do it. There's no continuum. Things get up and going and they seem to fall flat on their faces. It seems to be part of their culture, 20 or 30 years ago you could come here and see a corroborree. I don't think you can see that now. It's hard to keep it going.There's a lot of money going to the Aboriginal people but what's happening to it?It just seems to go into motor cars and grog. They're not putting it back into getting their culture across to the visitors. I don't know the answer. I think the bottom line is grog. It's a hell of a problem. It's not confined just to the Aboriginal people but that's what everyone sees, and the results of it. There have been good things. I guess I have to put in a word for the Government – the Residency, the old court house, they've put a lot of money into restoring these recently. We've had our arguments about what they shouldn't pull down and what they should have done.The old goal was a big battle we won, but now it's been sitting there for three, four years. Nothing's happening, it's just deteriorating. Why can't they do what they did with Fannie Bay gaol [in Darwin], open it up and let people look at it, for God's sake. It's not going to take many resources to do that, and it can be looked after at the same time. Why these interminable delays? With the National Trust, in some ways, we've come full circle since I came here. Before it was mostly done by volunteers, and then professionals like myself and the secretary were hired. We took a lot of that work. And now they see it as going back to volunteers and the members of the National Trust. A lot of it is going to be put into their laps again. The funding from the Government hasn't been increased for some years now, not even in line with inflation. The next battle here will be the old Telecom repeater station behind the old post office. Telstra appear to be coming to the party, now the full conservation management plan is being done for both buildings.They've been convinced now, I think, that both buildings are significant. But that battle isn't won. They can still put up the story to the Federal Minister that they don't consider it worth saving, and the Minister can say, yep, I accept your argument, and that's it.


At present only two women sit in the NT Parliament. There are 23 men. Women need to have the courage to put up their hands. They will, however, not do this unless they know that they have an even chance. JODEEN CARNEY.
The railway: a triumph for the town and for the Territory. The local economy is in good shape, and the future looks bright. Men, women and children of Central Australia can feel confident about the growth of the region.However, for women in the Territory, and in particular Central Australia, a number of challenges lay ahead, which have little to do with "economic growth". These challenges do not differ from those identified by women nationally, which include increasing the number of women in leadership positions, personal safety, women's well-being and lifestyle, which includes a range of issues from recreation to health, and economic independence.Central Australia needs a larger representation of women in positions of decision-making and fields of influence. The most obvious example is in the Territory Parliament. At present only women two women sit in the Parliament. There are 23 men. Women make up about 47 per cent of the population in the Territory. This issue affects both political parties, and they need to do better. At the same time, women need to have the courage to put up their hands. They will, however, not do this unless they know that they have an even chance. Positions of influence are not confined to the Territory Parliament. Although comparatively the Territory is not doing too badly at all, we need more women in senior executive positions within the private and public sectors. This includes increased numbers of women on government boards and committees. Personal safety is an important issue to all women. The Territory's Domestic Violence Strategy is in the process of review, and I am hopeful that more resources and new strategies will be devised to prevent and reduce violence against women. While policy changes can be driven by government, the community needs to accept its responsibilities and assist in the elimination of violence against women. This includes vigilant reporting, and demanding appropriate sentencing of offenders.State and Territory governments say that they are committed to increasing economic independence for women. This is a worthy policy objective to enable women to make choices about how they live their lives, and balance family and career opportunities. It is ironic then that the Federal Government adopts such a conservative approach to women. Many of its polices have not mirrored the commitment of the Territory government, for instance. Cuts to childcare, reduced funding of the Women's Electoral Lobby, and an apparent belief that menstruation is not a health issue are illustrative.The Women's Advisory Council, and Business Women's Consultative Council provide avenues for women to voice concerns about various issues, and provide input into government policy. While such councils exist in one form or another in most jurisdictions, it is incumbent on women to use these, and other vehicles, to get issues that are important to them on the agenda.The challenge ahead rests with all of us. If women want to be heard, they need to raise their voices. They have the opportunity to put issues on the local community or government agenda, and, once done, to oversee change or progress. [Jodeen Carney has lived and worked as a lawyer in Alice Springs for 11 years. She is the current convenor of the Women's Advisory Council.]

Our prosperity will be based on a diversification of our industries and on attempts to capitalise on what is truly unique about our environment. FRAN ERLICH.
What will the Alice of the future be like? I find I'm really only prepared to speculate on the next decade or so, as the rate of change in the world is so rapid that trying to predict 100 years ahead, let alone 1000 years in the future is an impossible task. Alice Springs will continue to grow, albeit slowly, as we will be one of the few inland cities which continue to prosper. Territorians, like all other Australians, will persist in flocking to the coast and before the decade is out Palmerston will outstrip Alice Springs in size and the greater mass of people and resources in the Top End will mean that the imbalance between north and south will continue to be a problem for us in the Centre. Our prosperity will be based on a diversification of our industries and on attempts to capitalise on what is truly unique about our environment. Alice Springs sits in the arid zone as do many other places in the world and groups that are prepared to develop the resources of these areas like the "Desert Knowledge" consortium will lead the way. Tourism will continue to be an important part of our town and in particular more and more people will be looking for an Aboriginal cultural experience as part of their visit. This will provide growth in employment for Aboriginal people. There will be moves to restrict access to some of our more highly visited attractions due to the detrimental effects of visitor numbers and the Desert Park will become increasingly important as a tourist attraction for the town. The pastoral industry will also have to diversify and there will be more partnerships between pastoralist and Aboriginal owners of land and the Territory Government to preserve and conserve representative land systems on their properties. This will be brought about by the increasing cost to Government of maintaining National Parks and will have the added advantage of providing ecotourism opportunities for landowners. Hopefully, the Government will have been forward thinking enough to purchase Owen Springs Station so that the Larapinta Trail will be finished and there will be land available for other ventures to the west of town. The Territory will become a State within the next five years and the process leading up to it will have important spin-offs for Aboriginal relationships with the wider community. There will have to be changes in a political system which sees 25 per cent of the population with little or no political representation and Statehood is the optimum time for those differences to be aired and settled. The NT is to get another Seat in Federal Parliament and it would be apt if that person was Aboriginal. Alice Springs will continue to be concerned about the protection of heritage places. We are fortunate in that many of the pioneers and people who have played a big part in our history are still alive, but as they start to diminish in numbers, people will become more possessive of the town's history not only for its tourist value but as something important for the social fabric of the town. Alice's greatest asset will still be the people who come here and make it their home because the place strikes a chord in their heart, and I hope the Alice of the next century will still be able to attract people like that.[Fran Erlich is a born and bred Centralian, a teacher by profession, an alderman on the Alice Springs Town Council, and a prominent spokesperson on issues of heritage, Territory statehood and a future Australian republic.]

"It is killing whole families. I had a good family life destroyed by alcohol. I'm not a drinker and that's how I survived with my children. MARGARET-MARY TURNER.
Senior and widely respected Arrernte woman Margaret-Mary Turner, OAM, nominates education and safe housing for Aboriginal youth, and alcohol as critical issues facing the whole community in the year 2000."For children to get an education they have got to have safe homes, a grog-free place to live and grow up," she says."And it's got to be done by us, Aboriginal people, not by somebody else."At the same time, however, Mrs Turner says it's important for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to find "a path where they walk side by side"."I don't mean we go round putting our arms around people, I mean just working together."We've got to get people who don't understand to see what has caused the big fall back of Aboriginal people, what is breaking Aboriginal families' lives."Aboriginal organisations obviously have an important role to play but "so many organisations here in town are looking after themselves," says Mrs Turner."People get a job and just sit there."Mrs Turner also sees a problem for the organisations in the fragmentation of their focus ."There are organisations looking after the housing side, the sick side. "They don't say let's get together and meet with Aboriginal families and look after all the people."There need to be safe houses for young people in every town camp, separate houses for the young girls and the young boys, controlled by the elders and families, says Mrs Turner. One refuge like Aranda House is not enough for the whole town."There are a lot of angry children."Our kids are really angry because they haven't got anything at all."Schemes that work well, like the Irrkerlantye Learning Centre (formerly Detour, see Alice News, Nov 17 & 24, 1999), need to be supported."That's working really well for these kids who could never fit into any other schools anywhere that I know of."It's a good learning place where the families go as well, the grandmothers, speaking language."We want kids to learn in proper Arrernte ways."The learning centre has also been good for the adults who go there."People who have a good background of work, the men who might have done fencing or been a horseman, their skills are recognised and used. They are doing work and they love it."The ladies are doing art work. They had a great exhibition and they were so proud, and we use the art work to teach our kids, to show what the story is for them, what relationship is for them."Mrs Turner thinks lots of small learning centres like Irrkerlantye would be good, "but they have to be successful like the first one".Mrs Turner sees alcohol as "a killer"."It is killing whole families. I had a good family life destroyed by alcohol. I'm not a drinker and that's how I survived with my children."I had a bad breakdown, a lot of hurt, I fixed it myself."Aboriginal people were introduced to alcohol with no education in our lives about it."We are not made to be drinkers, that's what I tell my children."But if you're 16, 17, 18 without many skills alcohol can seem the only way for making friends."Alcohol causes problems between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people."I've lived in many houses in Alice Springs and I've never had any problem with neighbours because I've kept an alcohol-free house. "I never let anybody bring even one can of beer through the gate where I pay my rent."I even kept a grog-free house at Charles Creek camp. I was very strong, I fought it myself. I'd say no even to my family. I still loved them, I would say you can come and do your washing, do your cooking but I won't let you drink in my yard."While people have to make the decision for themselves, Mrs Turner also see a role for government."The government should shut down more [liquor] outlets, all those small outlets."No matter where you go you see an outlet."There should only be one. It's just greediness and selfishness that there are so many."

Where are the comfortable communal spaces that reflect our social makeup, and the very best of what we have to offer? KIERAN FINNANE.
Living in Alice Springs is a great conversation starter when you are travelling "down south".People invariably ask how long you've been there, and when it's for a significant period, they say, "oh, you must love it" or else "you must feel like it's home".I can never respond without a degree of ambivalence. Some of that ambivalence has to do with having important bits of my life elsewhere, but some of it has to do with the way I feel about the town itself.As I live in an outlying rural area, I don't have a neighbourhood experience of the town. When I come in, I use its public spaces, and there's not really one where I could reliably experience a sense of well-being.Rather I experience in them a sense of embattlement, see a sterile, hard face trying to shut out the sharp social divisions between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. In all my years here I could count on my fingers the number of social or cultural events I've been to that were shared and enjoyed by black and white alike: Neil Cameron's long ago community theatre event in the Todd River, River of Dreams, and Jimmy Chi's Bran Nue Dae musical at Araluen stand out as particularly vibrant exceptions. The openings of the annual Desert Mob show at Araluen have also been memorable for the excitement around the strong presence of a lot of Aboriginal artists and their families, along with their work.In my ideal Alice Springs such occasions would be part of everyday life. It would be entirely usual to sit alongside Aboriginal families in the town's cafes and restaurants, to walk down the street at ease with them, or share the shade of a tree at the parks and playgrounds.As it is, we have virtually built in tension and separation at every corner. There has been a lot of discussion about how our urban environment has not responded to the beauty and character of the natural environment: the town has turned its back on the Todd River, has built out many of the sight lines to the MacDonnell Ranges, has mimicked building styles from the coastal towns and cities, inappropriate for the climate and losing much of our European history in the process.There has been less discussion about the town not responding to our social environment.Where are the comfortable communal spaces that reflect our social makeup, and the very best of what we have to offer, which includes Aboriginal art, culture and knowledge of this country? This is in part a matter of how we plan our streets and parks and the kind of buildings we put up, and the public art we could have, but it is also a matter of what we, all of us, do in them, the feeling we bring or aspire to bring to them.I don't wish to deny the difficulties that must sometimes or even frequently be faced as a result of the social tensions we have come to live with, nor to suggest that it's a matter for one-sided change. But I would like to suggest that we think about solutions that aren't based on a negation of our social makeup but rather on a positive reflection of it.I imagine businesses and an urban and cultural environment built on serving the diverse physical, social and cultural needs of the local population, both town dwellers and bush visitors. We are after all a regional centre and many of the services from which we all benefit are here because of that.Why do we busy ourselves with thinking of ways to keep people out and with unenforceable laws and regulations, or more absurdly with thinking about signs and slogans to prescribe a completely unrealistic social picture, that of an antiseptic white middle class town? That's not what we are.Now is the time to discard our bunker mentality as a white enclave in a hostile environment and to re-imagine ourselves as a unique desert town thriving on our proud social and cultural mix. That's the kind of place I'd feel happy to call "home".[Kieran Finnane has lived and worked as a journalist in Alice Springs for 12 years. She is the Assistant Editor of the Alice Springs News, and also writes for national arts publications, and mass circulation print and television media.]

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