November 22, 2000


The Aboriginal legal aid service in Alice Springs (CAALAS) may collapse and the organisation may lose about $85,000 if an anticipated take-over attempt of its committee succeeds today. CAALAS vice president Maureen Abbott says the row follows the failure of court action by the service's former principal legal officer (PLO), Lorraine Liddle, and her brother, John, over her dismissal in October 1998. Ms Abbott says costs have been awarded against the Liddles, and she suspects they are trying to gain control of the organisation to have the debt waived. Mr Liddle is the director of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, an Aboriginal health organisation in Alice Springs, currently embroiled in a controversy over spending policies. Says Ms Abbott: "The Liddles should pay the money they owe CAALAS through their own doing. "We are accountable to our funding body, ATSIC. "The money should be for providing legal services to our clients." CAALAS, Central Australia's biggest law practice, is funded by ATSIC ("operational funding" this financial year was $1.8m), employs 10 lawyers and represents about 4000 defendants a year. The annual general meeting was due to start at 9am today. Ms Abbott says the Liddles attempted to hold a special general meeting about two weeks ago to change the composition of the governing committee. They failed when it was discovered the gathering was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court case the Liddles mounted against CAALAS arose out of the decision of the executive committee of CAALAS to terminate the employment of Lorraine Liddle as PLO on a salary of about $80,000 a year. The Liddles claimed that the committee did not have the power to dismiss Ms Liddle. The Liddles also sued eight members individually and sought an order for costs against them. On April 9, 1999 Mr Justice Mildren dismissed the Liddles' claims on all counts. On June 7, 1999 the court ordered that Lorraine and John Liddle pay the legal costs of CAALAS and the council members in relation to the Supreme Court case, a total of $83,840. A settlement was later reached between the Liddles and CAALAS for the repayment of the costs, and a deed of agreement was entered into between Lorraine Liddle and John Liddle, and CAALAS. That deed provides for the repayment by installments of the costs by the Liddles, with $30,000 to be paid by June 30, 2000. That payment has not been made and CAALAS has moved to bankrupt the Liddles. The final installment is due by June 30, 2006. Pursuant to the deed, Lorraine Liddle has also withdrawn an appeal she had made to a grievance committee against the termination of her employment, and she has discontinued proceedings she instituted against CAALAS in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Both Lorraine Liddle and John Liddle have agreed not to be a member of the CAALAS Council until the amount of the costs order is paid in full, although both are believed to be playing a key role in the meeting today. Ms Abbott says ATSIC has spent some $100,000 trying to resolve "the Lorraine situation", subsidising or paying legal costs for people being sued by the Liddles. An ATSIC spokesman says ATSIC "expects the organisation [CAALAS] to conduct its affairs in a professional manner."This includes the collection of any debts. "The recovery of any debt such as this would be treated as a surplus and dealt with by either returning it to ATSIC or allocating it to an agreed purpose at the request of CAALAS," the spokesman says. The Liddles did not respond to an invitation from the Alice Springs News to comment. Meanwhile Ms Abbott has given the Alice News access to affidavits deposed with the Supreme Court which allege incompetence and negligence by Ms Liddle when she was the legal service's PLO. CAALAS chairman Eddie Taylor in his affidavit said the service has "the responsibility for the overwhelming majority of criminal cases in the Magistrates' Courts in the southern region of the Northern Territory and the Supreme Court in Alice Springs". "The court lists in the criminal jurisdiction in the Alice Springs and Tennant Creek regions are filled with the names of clients" of the service. Ms Liddle was appointed PLO in November 1993, in charge of eight other solicitors and barristers, and was sacked in October 1998. In those five years, according to the affidavits, Ms Liddle mishandled a string of cases, failed to take or act upon instructions from clients, failed to appear in court on a number of occasions and declined to undergo further training requested by the funding body, ATSIC. Mr Taylor said in May 1996 NT Chief Magistrate Ian Gray took the unprecedented step of complaining about the situation to the Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs who – through ATSIC – is responsible for the funding of CAALAS. Three solicitors resigned, including Michael Brugman who, Mr Taylor said, addressed a meeting of the CAALAS council in August 1998: "[Mr Brugman] appeared to be very distressed and uncomfortable. "During his address John Liddle [then a council member] was shaking his head and grinning in a sarcastic way at Michael Brugman. "At one point [Mr Brugman] referred to an incident between himself and [Ms Liddle]. "He said words to the effect that [Ms Liddle] said to him at the office of CAALAS: ‘You can die tonight. You can go outside and get run over by a car and you won't be missed. You will be easily replaced by another lawyer from down south.' "I observed Michael Brugman at this point," said Mr Taylor. "He had tears in his eyes and appeared to be very upset. "It was at this point I also looked at John Liddle who I observed to be smiling at Michael Brugman and shaking his head and muttering under his breath. "I intervened and said to council members ‘I am not happy with the way John Liddle is behaving'. "I then said to John Liddle words to the effect ‘your behaviour is unacceptable'." Mr Taylor wrote to Ms Liddle on September 25, 1998 that the CAALAS council had decided unanimously to dismiss her "for incompetence and for being negligent and careless". Mr Taylor said CAALAS had been advised by ATSIC it had "a problem with continued funding" because of Ms Liddle's "inefficient performance". David Bamber, a barrister for 10 years, in part at the Melbourne Bar, lodged an affidavit in January 1999 when he was CAALAS' acting PLO. He is now the PLO. In his affidavit he said: "From my direct observation and experience, [Ms Liddle's] administration skills were extremely poor. "She failed to plan in advance, she failed to coordinate staff [and] she made decisions in an ad hoc manner."[Ms Liddle] demonstrated to me that she did not have the requisite legal skills or knowledge to be able to properly advise or oversee the work of lawyers on staff." Mr Bamber said Ms Liddle "would often adjourn matters because she had done no work in preparation ... did often not know when her matters were coming up, which led to other lawyers often having to pick them up and take them over for her at short notice ... files were grossly inadequate". "There were occasions where [Ms Liddle] had matters listed for hearing and failed to show up in court."Mr Bamber said he had been contacted by prosecutors with concerns that "serious matters [Ms Liddle] had the carriage of were in no way progressing". "This included occasions where the client was in custody awaiting completion of the matter." Mr Bamber said a client of Ms Liddle's accused of rape "was in custody and the matter had been adjourned by [Ms Liddle] on a number of occasions with no progress being made and without any apparent purpose". Mr Bamber said he had later been able to have the charge struck out. He said: "There were other occasions where [Ms Liddle] just failed to act on instructions" from the clients.One case had resulted in a "possible negligence action". Mr Bamber said: "If [Ms Liddle] returned to the position of PLO at CAALAS, staff would leave and it is my belief that the organisation would become unworkable." Mr Bamber provided the court with a three page memorandum he had written to CAALAS director Pat Miller in January 1998.In the memorandum he said: "The system [Ms Liddle] proposes is open to numerous flaws that I feel would seriously disadvantage our clients ... "I have concern that all Supreme Court and committal files and the material that has to go on them will have to go through her. "I think it is a recipe for disaster." Another CAALAS solicitor critical of Ms Liddle's work was Kim Kilvington who joined CAALAS in August 1998 and who had been admitted to the Bars of the Supreme Courts in Queensland, NSW, Tasmania and the NT. He said in an affidavit: "I observed that [Ms Liddle] did not work to any proper standard whatsoever. "I observed over the years that she did very little legal work. "When she did go to court she had a tendency to simply adjourn matters. "She would simply never do any work on the files at all. "It has been my direct experience and my observation over all of this time that other lawyers were constantly having to pick up her files and bring them to conclusion for the simple reason that she would not do work on her own files."It was also my observation what work she did was very poorly prepared and poorly presented. "I was frequently concerned that those clients of ours that Ms Liddle appeared for were getting poor legal representation."The criminal law division [of CAALAS] was in a state of absolute chaos and was in a crisis situation." In an eight-page memorandum in August 1998 to the CAALAS council, the director and all lawyers, Mr Kilvington said Ms Liddle was "leaving all manner of ‘time bombs' for clients and staff". He said: "There is no case management system operating. "Everything here is a frenetic, reactive, essentially Court based system of damage control. "That is not good enough for our clients ... we are in an emergency situation ... "We have no interpreters. "On 24 August the only interpreter I could find for two clients was a fellow prisoner who was good enough to help. "He should have got paid. He got 10 months," said Mr Kilvington.


The Director of the Parks and Wildlife Commission, Bill Freeland, has decided he does want to answer questions after all. Two and a half weeks after our fax to the commission concerning reports of wild bulls in the Two Mile camp up the Finke from Glen Helen (see Alice News, Nov 8), Dr Freeland issued the following statement: "Upon receipt of a complaint from a tour operator in the West MacDonnell Ranges concerning marauding bulls, the Parks and Wildlife Commission acted promptly and was instrumental in removing some offending scrub bulls from this area. "A complete muster is being planned in cooperation with a neighbouring pastoralist. "Unfortunately the muster has been delayed because of recent rainfall. "The matter will be pursued as soon as appropriate climatic conditions prevail." Pictured are wild cattle in the park and the commission's warning sign (on A4 paper). - KIERAN FINNANE

GET FIT, SAVE FUEL. COMMENT by GLENN MARSHALL, of the Arid Lands Environment Centre.

With fuel prices in Alice around $1.15 per litre and high around the country, alternatives to burning fossil fuel, such as developing a Central Australian natural gas export industry or running diesel vehicles on recycled cooking oil (yes, it works!), look increasingly attractive. There are also options individuals can consider, from walking and cycling to converting your car to Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), and all of them would strike a blow for the environment. Although Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) has limited distribution points in Australia – currently ten sites in the eastern and southern states – the Commonwealth Government's CNG Infrastructure Program is providing funding for increased CNG facilities. Central Australia is in a position to capitalise on this because CNG is readily available from the Mereenie Gas Fields west of Alice Springs. It has great potential as an export product to interstate markets, rather than trucking in LPG as we currently do. Greenhouse gas emissions from gas are far less than from diesel or petrol, with carbon dioxide emissions reduced by 20 per cent and carbon monoxide by 40 per cent. Higher greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere are predicted to make Central Australia's weather more extreme than now, so converting to gas is one way individuals can help to reduce this effect. The Australian Greenhouse Office is currently offering a rebate scheme for bus fleets which convert to CNG as a fuel. Many companies in other states have taken up the offer, so perhaps the Alice Springs Town Council or the Joint Defence Facility bus fleets could explore their options. Private vehicles can easily be converted to gas use. Although both LPG (the by-product of petrol production) and CNG (the gas which comes up from the ground at oil and gas fields) can both be used in converted vehicles, the former is the only one available in Alice Springs. The cost of conversion in Alice Springs is around $2,200 depending on the vehicle. It doesn't take long to recoup your investment, with LPG costing around 60c/litre in Alice Springs. Diesel vehicles can be converted to run on fish and chip oil! The oil can either be modified with backyard additions of a few ingredients, or simply filtered and run straight into the motor. There have been a few minivans pass through Alice Springs lately using such systems, and the exhaust fumes are enough to make you hungry! Greg Toholke of Grease Monkeys (who recycles cooking oil in Alice Springs) is soon to convert his light truck to cooking oil, so watch out for that one around town. ALEC has plans on how to do it yourself, so come in if you are interested. Options such as walking, riding a bike, riding a motorised scooter, using public transport, car pooling are all also viable. The benefits to your wallet, fitness and the environment are many and varied, and ALEC encourages individuals, businesses and government agencies to explore the alternatives to standard car use. Walking in the cooler parts of the day is an obvious benefit to your wallet, fitness, stress levels and allows you to commune with nature. If you find walking lonely, walk with a friend to work or the shops or around the block. Bicycles are easy to ride in our flat town, and are cheap to purchase and run (especially if you buy from the ALEC tip shop soon!). There are 25km of designated bicycle paths in town, with more planned by the town council and the Department of Transport & Works, along the river side of Barrett Drive and from Anzac Park to the Old Telegraph Station. Maps are available from council. If you want more bike paths then let council or Transport & Works know. Snazzy bikes are available, such as electric bikes with a little motor to assist you, and solar bikes which charge a battery from a solar panel on the bike. With one of these, you could enter the Great Solar Bicycle Race from Alice Springs to Adelaide in 2001 (details from ALEC if you're interested). Cycling is also the most energy efficient form of transport you can use, so it's good for you and the environment. Scooters are an economical motorised alternative. I bought one this year and it is simple to ride, incredibly easy on the wallet (less than $5 per week to run) and I can park it anywhere a bicycle can be parked. They currently sell in Alice Springs for between $600 for a second hand scoot (check the lawn sales) to $3400 for a flash new one. If the scooter is below 55cc and automatic, then you only need a car license to ride it legally on the road. Registration is only $90 per year. The public transport system is not too dynamic in Alice Springs, although Asbus does run to each suburb a few times each day, six days per week. If you are only going to work and back, it may be a good option. Timetables are available from town council, Centrelink, the Health Department, tourist centres and other places. Reducing your fuel dependence by one or more of the above techniques not only helps your wallet, but does the environment a big favour too. ALEC has plenty of information on these issues in its library, so come into our office in the Old Hartley St School and check out your options. Happy travelling.


One year after the death of her son, a mother is campaigning for better drug treatment regimes and services in the Territory, including medical treatment for addiction. Authorities say that at least some of her demands are already being met, among them medical treatment and management for opiate withdrawal, yet the request for such treatment in Central Australia has been very low. Authorities also says some of the woman's claims cannot be substantiated. Casuarina resident Donna Marie Kittel, mother of Jesse, wrote a passionate appeal to the Alice Springs News, which we quote in part:- Addicts have a medical condition. The use of mixed drugs – benzodiazipams, hallucinogens, amphetamines – causes among other things psychosis, violent mood swings, fits, burst blood vessels in the brain, amputations due to blockages of the arteries, and the associated diseases from sharing needles and poor hygiene, hepatitis, AIDS, etc. If these are not illnesses, I do not know what is. This is the climate the addict is living in now due to the government's refusal to put in place properly run and funded rehabilitation programs. Use of a regular pure controlled dose of morphine is far safer and easier to withdraw from, and these people should be able to access doctors that are willing to put them on a safe withdrawal program of morphine or methadone for the hard core addicts that have no decent lifestyle skills left. Naltrexone and abstinence programs also have a place in the rehabilitation plan. This should be agreed upon by the patient and doctor, and overseen by the government, with plenty of support services. If an alcoholic collapses, he is taken to hospital and treated; if you get lung cancer from smoking you are taken to hospital and treated; if you are an addict you should be taken to hospital and treated. If not, it is pure and simple discrimination. We have injecting drug users as young as 10 years old in Darwin, and we have not got any drug rehabilitation facilities for them, just as we have no facilities for any one with a mental illness, as I only know to well. These people need help. How many more houses, businesses, pharmacies and people have to get assaulted before [Chief Minister Denis Burke] uses the brains God gave him to think rationally for the good of all the people, and stop denying people their basic rights to medical treatment. I held my son Jesse in my arms as he drew his last breath. Being a qualified carer, can you imagine the agony of not being able to save my own son? I don't wish that on anyone, and yet I've had one kid tell me how lucky Jesse was because he was loved. Well, he may be dead, but by Christ, as long as I've got breath, I will be yelling long and hard until every other person out there gets the help they need. My son won't have died in vain. His death will be hope for the youth of the future. I'm asking all mothers to unite. None of us ever set out to have our child become an addict, it just happens sometimes. It doesn't discriminate, rich or poor, any sex or creed. Jesse died on the 28th of October 1999. I [had] a support group at my home at 7pm the night, one year to the day, that my pride, my joy, my reason for living was taken from me needlessly.
• The following response to some of the issues raised in Mrs Kittel's letter was made by Territory Health Services via a spokesperson for Minister Steve Dunham:- Treatment facilities are available for drug treatment in each region. In Alice Springs services are available through Central Australian Alcohol and Other Drugs Services (CAAODS), DASA, and through Green Gates which is a recently established detoxification service (this is not a THS service). GPs are able to assist people who choose to withdraw from drugs using naltrexone, or through methadone (if they are approved by the Chief Health Officer in accordance with very strict protocols; please note this is methadone withdrawal program, not a maintenance program). THS has recently provided GPs with training in opiate withdrawal and management and in the use of naltrexone in order to extend options for people with drug problems. Doctors do put patients on safe withdrawal regimes for opiates all the time. This is absolutely not illegal but responsible medical management. However, they can only do this with the cooperation and participation of the patient. Despite these options demand for treatment is still quite low. In 1999 nine people accessed treatment services for opiate use in Alice Springs, with a further 21 people accessing treatment from Alice Springs-based services for poly-drug use, which may include opiates. The Department is hesitant to be drawn into comment regarding the claim about 10-year-old IV drug users, except to say that this has never been reported to us by any treatment agency, parent or by the Needle and Syringe Exchange Program. On the face of it, this statement seems to be both inflammatory and unsubstantiated. [The Alice Springs News reported DASA's concerns about lack of treatment facilities for underage users of cannabis in its issue of June 7.] Mental Health facilities are available in each region. People with a dual diagnosis issue are jointly managed across Alcohol and Other Drugs, and Mental Health. In Alice Springs a dual diagnosis clinic has been trialled through CAAODS for almost 12 months and is due for evaluation. Both Darwin and Alice Springs have Acute Care provided in hospitals; case management for outpatients; support through community mental health nurses; 24 hour crisis counselling; and rehabilitation services.
• Leonie Young, NT manager of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, provided the following information about Commonwealth funded initiatives:- The Council of Australian Governments Illicit Drug Diversion Initiative has provided $2.7m to the Northern Territory, the Central Australian component of which has not yet been determined. This initiative will focus on individuals who have had little or no past contact with the criminal justice system for drug offences and who are apprehended for use or possession of small quantities of any illicit drug.
The initiative is expected to result in:
• people receiving early incentives to address their drug use, in many cases before incurring a criminal record;
• an increase in the number of illicit drug users diverted into drug education, assessment and treatment;
• a reduction in the number of people appearing before the courts for use or possession of small quantities of illicit drugs.
Significant funds have also been made available under the National Illicit Drug Strategy (NIDS) which is "committed to combating illicit drug use through a sharper focus on reducing the supply of drugs and reducing demand". "It encompasses a balanced package of measures aimed at law enforcement, education, treatment, and research." The Non-Government Organisation Treatment Grants Program Initiative has allocated over $2m to the Territory, of which $791,007 will go to projects in Central Australia. The Community Partnerships Initiative sees $339,237 going to the Territory, including $159,237 for Central Australia. (At the time of going to press, the Alice News had not received information about which particular organisations or projects were being funded under these initiatives.)
• A spokesperson for the Mental Health Association of Central Australia Inc provided the following comment on the issue of "dual diagnosis":- There are some positive moves in Central Australia where the Alcohol and Other Drugs Service and the Mental Health Service, both run by THS, are planned to be merged next year. One positive outcome already is a dual diagnosis clinic at the hospital for people with both mental health and drug/alcohol problems. Unfortunately there are still major gaps and inadequacies in services available and most of this relates to budgets.For example, the Mental Health Service is largely a service for people in crisis due to funding limitations. This means that once people with mental health problems are out of crisis, there is little help available for them to keep improving. Mental illness is often cyclic. This means that there are many people who are well enough to be out of crisis but not well enough to benefit from rehabilitation services. These people need to get better or worse to gain access to services, if the appropriate service is available. Non-government organisations which provide mental health services are also under-funded. Gaps in service delivery include employment assistance where there is no specialised service for people with mental illness who aren't job ready yet.
• The Alice News also asked Erik Michaelson, Manager of the Todd Street Centre which runs the Needle Exchange Program to comment. Mr Michaelson said a dedicated detoxification facility is definitely needed in Alice Springs. He said the private facility (referred to in the THS response) offers residential support for people seeking to withdraw from drug use. It is not a medical facility. He said the hospital is "not set up for detox", but "they do the best they can". He said he understands a "community needs assessment", utilising Commonwealth funds, will be undertaken next year and that any new initiatives are "on hold" until then. He said that at present people in Alice can "only guess" about the magnitude of the need. While there has been an 80 per cent increase in use of the Needle Exchange facility in the last financial year, that is only a measure of the success of the facility. It is not a measure of injecting drug use.
• Meanwhile, Alice Springs Police are seeking community help with a confidential phone-in campaign, Operation Download, fighting the use and supply of drugs. The "dob-in-a-druggie" style campaign will be open for calls from the public on Thursday, November 30, on 1800 333 000. Southern Crime Division Superintendent Kate Vanderlaan said: "What we need from members of the public is information regarding the location of drugs and the identity of drug users and suppliers."

LETTERS: National Trust: the fight is on!

Sir,- As financial members of the McDouall Stuart Branch of the National Trust (NT), we wish to register our extreme displeasure and disgust in the recent downgrading of this Branch by the National Trust Council.Elizabeth Close is quoted in the press as describing the move as "a very positive step forward for the McDouall Stuart Branch". Please, get with the real world, we get enough of these sorts of statements from politicians.Regarding the other quote about when you have " an employed person, you lose volunteers", this is not the case. What happens is the work load is carried by an ever-decreasing number of volunteers until they burn out and the organisation collapses. With an efficient, paid secretary who knows the strengths of the various volunteers, the work load will be spread accordingly. We feel the council has shown a lack of common cZosy in not informing the members of this branch formally and in detail of this downgrading and any logical reasons as to why it had to happen. It appears to be a form of economic rationalisation and globalisation (Darwinisation?).As for the proposed transferring of the archive research library to Darwin, words fail us. This, coupled with the rumour you have closed the Alice Springs Branch's PO Box and mail is being redirected to Darwin, makes us wonder if you are trying to destroy this branch. We had considered resigning from the Trust, but not now. We will fight and while we can not speak for other members of the branch, you may have a conflict on your hands you had not bargained for.
Hugh & June Hillam
Alice Springs

Sir,- As a private citizen, I am astounded and outraged thaxt the hierarchy of the National Trust NT has the cheek to announce via the local media that they may move the library and archival material from Hartley Street School to Darwin. Who will be interested in Centralian material in Darwin?Who will keep the files up to date by adding copies of the latest news stories about the Transport Hall of Fame, the trials and tribulations of the Old Ghan, life stories of long- time Centralians or articles of historic interest, once the material has gone to Darwin? Probably, no one.As a voluntary worker at the local branch of the Trust for some years, I have been amazed at the interest shown in Central Australian history. One person might need facts for an article on the old Heavitree Gap Gaol. Another would be interested in reading about the Barrow Creek Telegraph Station massacre because of a grandfather stationed there at the time. Somebody else might enquire about an unmarked grave in the Arltunga area.One visitor brought photographs of the early days of Alice Springs Telegraph Station, taken by a relative who was a linesman there. We were told that copies of these photographs would be sent in due course if other relatives agreed.An Adelaide man went home enthused after seeing his own photo in an old School Magazine, with a promise to write and send his recollections of being a pupil at Hartley School. Alas, the Trust in Alice Springs no longer has a Post Office Box where it can receive mail!I personally know of four people who have lodged historic material, photographs or personal reminiscences with the local branch of National Trust, in the firm belief that the material would remain in their own home town of Alice Springs. How must they feel on reading that their personal memorabilia may be moved to Darwin, where it would be of little interest and practically inaccessible to people here?It will be tragic if local historians can no longer visit Hartley Street School to look up that vital date that eludes their memory, or check facts concerning some remote bush settlement of identity of yesteryear. And if you think faxes and internet will solve the problem, forget it mate! We don't all have the benefit of these things yet, and anyway, how do you enquire and pay someone to search for some obscure record that may or may not exist?Why not return the headquarters of the National Trust in the NT to Alice Springs where it first began? Everyone may not be aware of this, but we can thank two Centralian cattle station women, writers and historians both, for this – Mrs A.V. Purvis and Mrs Doreen Braitling. Let us do these ladies proud by fighting for what they established and refusing to bow to the Darwin-based hierarchy.
Rose Coppock
Alice Springs

Sir,- The closure of the Alice Springs Office of túhe National Trust is another complete take over by Darwin executives of an Alice Springs office.This type of take over by the Darwin executives of other organisations has been happening over a period of time.If there is to be some closure of offices, then the Darwin office should close, leaving its staff to look after that office as volunteers.The Head Office should be returned to Alice Springs, where the National Trust of the NT was first organised and an office opened in early 1960.
Bill Brailsford
Alice Springs

Sir,- Our Father who art in Darwin, hallowed by thy name.I'm tired of Big Momma or Big Pappa telling me what I can or can't do. We've come a long way since the ‘fifties.Come on pollies, it's election year, see what you can do for Little Alice. It's time she jumped through the looking glass, out of wonderland, into the real world and made her own decisions.Ho hum, will she ever be tall enough to climb over the Berrimah Line? Maybe Jack should lend her his beanstalk.
Margaret Baker
Alice Springs

Sir,- As a member of the McDouall Stuart Branch of the National Trust for 14 years and having served as chairman, committee member, and fund raising convenor, I have been very pleased to watch the branch grow from its early beginnings to a position of strength and benefit to the town, assisting in the promotion of tourism and the heritage of Central Australia.The present proposal emanating from Darwin to downgrade the branch in Alice Springs seems to me a very backward step and an insult to many people like myself who have given their time and energy to helping provide a centre for the retention of the history of our town.
Norma Hoey
Alice Springs

Sir,- The following letter was sent to Gillian Banks, President of ; the National Trust in the Northern Territory:-It is with the utmost dismay that we find ourselves having to contact you regarding the downgrading of the Alice Springs office and its paid staff.As ex-residents of the Alice, we are well aware of the enormous amount of work undertaken by this particular office and of the way its public profile has been built over the years.Ever since the new director was appointed, there have been fears that Darwin would remain the centre for paid staff; this, alas, has now been proven.To hear of Bev Ayres's ("enforced") departure is not surprising given the way the situation has been handled. If the capital to pay the meagre salary was no longer available, surely other means to raise revenue should have been discussed? The Alice office has recruited quite a few members, over the years, for the organisation and has been at the forefront of battles against the destruction of buildings of historical interest in the region; has this all been forgotten? Will we now see the new director planning, running and supporting Heritage Week in the Alice? Shame on you all for downgrading, or should that be eradicating, the ORIGINAL Trust office in the Territory.
Tony Bates, Gillian Rayner and Ronelle Bates
Former Alice Spriings residents

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