February 21, 2001.


One Nation supporters in Alice Springs are springing back into action after Pauline Hanson's triumphs in WA and Queensland. At least one candidate is considering standing for a Central Australian electorate in the Territory elections this year, Mike Klarenbeek – ironically for One Nation a migrant himself, married for two decades to a Filipino, and who spent four years working at Yuendumu, giving him some sympathy for Aboriginal people.Alf Lang, past president of the local branch, retired gymnastics coach and former senior rigger from Mt Isa Mines, is heading up a new membership drive: "Contact your uncle, your aunt, and your next door neighbour."We must have a minimum of 10 members, 100 would be even better," he says.A Katherine-based NT executive has applied to the national executive for endorsement, expected to be formalised by the end of March.That would provide a state structure for the local branch, which at its height had 18 members.In the last quarter of last year the branch could not get 10 members for a quorum and temporarily disbanded."You can't have affairs which could affect a nation being decided by two or three people," says Mr Lang.His eye to a big picture belies his humble existence in a small flat in "Little Bosnia" – as he calls it with reference to the not infrequent troubles there – a remnant of public housing at the southern end of Bloomfield Street. Mr Lang despises Australian television media for thinking that "a footballer's broken toe" is a national story.He prefers to tune in to CNN: "There are so many interesting things happening around the world."Pauline Hanson is not noted for her interest in the outside world. What is it about her that appeals to Mr Lang?"Her honesty, she says what she thinks." And what she thinks, he argues, reflects the views of most Australians."Most Australians are battlers. They don't really have time for politics as such but most believe we need a good, strong Australia."Most people in Australia don't believe in the sale of Telstra."They don't believe in pouring millions of dollars into ATSIC."And they don't believe in our immigration policies which allow people to come to our shores, be treated as guests, sometimes sent home, but more often than not assimilated into our society."They're illegal immigrants, they are criminal."The ships should be met out at sea and sent back to where they came from."Regulated immigration is a different a matter, he says: "Of course we need immigration, but we've got to find jobs for our own people first, then open our doors. There would be no barring by race, colour or creed. Our policy is that we are all human beings, we are all on planet earth, but if we open the gates now, our living standard will go even further down."We used to have the third or fourth highest living standard in the world, we're down around thirty odd now."To restore that living standard, Australia needs to develop industry, create jobs for its young people, and return to family values. Among the latter is a commitment to having one parent at home to care for children. Which parent is a matter for each family to decide.Mr Lang knows that One Nation will only make a mark in Alice Springs if it is able to stand a candidate in the next Territory elections, preferably in an electorate where they could "preference" an independent.He's doing his best to persuade Mr Klarenbeek, long time employee of the Territory Department of Education, turned businessman with a number of irons in the fire, including his own printery.Mr Klarenbeek is undecided about whether to stand but is fervent in his support of One Nation."I don't have a very high regard for politics or politicians," he says, "but that's why people like me become involved with One Nation."We're reacting against people who make an art out of talking without saying anything. We're reacting against corruption and the public being ripped off here, there and everywhere."Mr Klarenbeek has a story to tell about "ripoffs" that is not exactly "classic" One Nation. He came to Australia with his family from Holland when he was 14 years old. His wife of 18 years, Fay, is from the Philippines.Mr Klarenbeek says only a migrant can understand the loneliness other migrants sometimes feel, and for his wife's sake he's made huge efforts to bring some of her family members to Australia.Her brother is a qualified diesel mechanic who works on an oil rig in the Philippines. Mr Klarenbeek has so far paid out three thousand dollars in three separate charges just to have his application to migrate considered.He is even more incensed by having had a tourist visa for his sister-in-law refused. He was hoping that she would keep his wife company and help her look after their two year old while the family took a holiday, and undertook to pay all her expenses while in Australia as well as to pay her return airfare to the Philippines.He says her visa was refused because the department believed she did not have enough reason to return to the Philippines once her visa had expired.At the same time, he knows Dutch people who are allowed to come to Australia "with $20 in their pockets because they're white".DISCRIMINATIONHe rails against the discrimination and demands the right to have family members visit – "an uncle and an aunty for my kids".This sounds like an open door stance on immigration, but that's not the case. In general terms, Mr Klarenbeek thinks "migration should have ceased with the demise of sailing ships" and that everyone should stay in their own country and work to improve it, but he can't stand arrogant interference in what he sees as personal matters.Neither does he think governments have the right "to judge people like slaves or cattle, saying yes, you can come, or no, you can't".The conviction that politicians "don't listen to the people, and Pauline Hanson is the only one who does" accounts for his support for her and her party.Politicians listen rather to the dictates of "One World Order".That, explains Mr Lang, is "a group of multinationals with huge finances and resources, which started with the United Nations and has just got bigger and bigger".He cites the gun buyback scheme as an example of outside interference in Australia's affairs.His version of events is that it wasn't Johnny Howard, a mere puppet, reacting to Port Arthur; it was Japan via the UN, instigating the complete disarmament of Australia.Mr Lang is a keen pistol shooter, and says every Australian, except for those with a criminal record, should have the right to bear arms. They have a right to defend themselves and their families in their own homes.Of course, they should have a licence, and if they use their weapons illegally they should face an increased penalty, having betrayed their responsibilities as a gun owner.Both Mr Lang and Mr Klarenbeek are hard to draw on practical matters, for instance, with respect to Aboriginal affairs.Mr Lang talks with some warmth about Aboriginal youths who live in his neighbourhood and call him "Uncle Alf".He says the key to addressing Aboriginal disadvantage is to restore their self-pride and to give them the opportunity to work – "work brings men together".ATSIC has "served its purpose" and should be disbanded.Aboriginal sacred sites should be "revered" but, he argues, the Land Councils haven't done a good job in making the sites known [actually the role of the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, which operates under NT legislation] and instead have spent all their money "buying up" land.There are dual health and legal services, creating an apartheid, when we should be moving towards reconciliation: "Help should be based on need, not on the colour of your skin."Mr Klarenbeek says he loves Aboriginal ideas and culture, and understands that "they should fight for their rights" but he's not about to apologise for things that happened 200 years ago, or for policies formulated in the ‘forties and 'fifties. "I've got no trouble saying sorry because they suffered, but I won't apologise," he says.Improving Aboriginal education and health "takes time to address problems and arrive at a consensus."

LETTERS: Take a train back in time with Denis!

Sir,- Why aren't Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer building a railway from Alice to Darwin? Why doesn't Centralian College add a phrenology and mesmerism course to its curricula? Because there is no return on investment in 19th century technology. In the 21st century, long range trains, outside of third world countries, are used only to carry huge bulk products: ore and grain. Neither of these commodities will be produced around Alice. Everything else is faster and cheaper by road. And less environmentally damaging. Because the Stuart Highway is already there. Not one of the candidates for the election can give a good reason to support the railway. The whole idea is a century out of time. The biggest single handicap Alice carries is the tyranny of Qansett. We don't need a new rail link, we need a cheap fast plane link. Consider this: give $50 million to Virgin Blue and they will put their Australian base here, providing $300 return fares to all the places from which we are equidistant. And provide IT and aeronautical engineering jobs in Alice. Give $100 million to Optus/Telstra to build their 5 GB bandwidth Australian headquarters here. No tall buildings and bridges to knock out the transmission, dry, cyclone free environment, handy to world's third largest satellite relay base, equidistant from all Australian capital centres, as well as Singapore, Hong Kong and Djakarta. And provide around 2000 21st century jobs in Alice. Centralian would dump phrenology and mesmerism in favour of astrophysics, infra red computing communication and environmental science. I don't blame Chief Minister Burke: the guy is a soldier, so he thinks 18th century. I don't blame Premier Olsen: he's a dolt and knows no better. I don't blame J Winston Howard: he knows that the train from Waverton to Wynyard is much quicker across the Bridge than driving a truck. But we, the Centralians, should have the nouse to realise that the train to Darwin is a 19th century chimera. John Hancock has done us a very big favour. Please let's find a 21st century investment.
Dick Thew
Alice Springs

Sir,- A lot of Australians are finding out that Pauline Hanson's One Nation (PHON) party is still very much a political contender in all future elections. Despite all attempts to confine PHON to a position of an inconspicuous political identity by the two major Australian political parties (Liberal and Labor) aided by negative factions, pĢranda and mainstream media misrepresentation, the party and its supporters are growing in strength and will not be intimidated.Instead they are more resolved to bring about appropriate representative government which strives to preserve Australia as a prosperous democratic nation.The movement of PHON on the Australian political scene has not gone unnoticed by more and more Australians every day, even if only to offer an alternative political party to give our preferences to. And if the resolve and commitment toward appropriate representation practised by Senator Len Harris is any indication of how PHON intends to extend, not to forget the dismissal of David Oldfield for breaching party policy – a display of decisive leadership by Pauline Hanson, indicating the lack of acceptance of disarray within the party – then maybe the Liberal and Labor parties had better not think that they're once again assured of an easy taxpayer funded income for another term in office.
Frank Zalfen
Virginia, NT

Sir,- I am trying to find out if there are any descendants of a great uncle of my husband's who emigrated to Australia in the 1920s.He originated from Bolton, Lancashire, England.His name was Phenius Vose, and he settled in Alice Springs many, many years ago.He had a brother named Frederick Vose, who married a Brierley; they had two children Margaret and Frederick. Margaret married Andrew Gordon Greenwood and they had two sons Gordon and Duncan. Gordon is now living with his family in Canada, and Duncan is in England with his family. We would like to know if there are any descendants.
Brenda V. Greenwood

TRIUMPH OR LOST CHANCE? KIERAN FINNANE examines two views on one heritage issue.

Preservation of our built heritage means different things to different people. Fran Erlich of the Heritage Advisory Council claims "the best results for heritage conservation" have been achieved with the adaptation of the Kenna residence in Leichardt Terrace.Active member of the National Trust, Mike Gillam sees it as another "lost opportunity". Mrs Erlich is confident that the building will soon be listed and understands that the owners, Youth Hostels Association, are no longer opposed to listing, but "no comment" says YHA's Bardia Bodaghi.Why wasn't it listed along with other recent listings? asks Mr Gillam. Negotiation is preferable to confrontation, insists Mrs Erlich.Why doesn't the government use the teeth of its own legislation to protect the already impoverished built heritage of a tourist town, asks Mr Gillam. And despite repeated requests for information, the government is mum.

Kenna House in Leicharadt Terrace, the only remaining privately built dwelling from the war years in Alice, is being restored "as closely as possible" to its original state.Owned by the Youth Hostels Association (YHA) and adjoining their premises in Parsons Street, the property will be used for backpacker accommodation.It is not a declared heritage place but, says Peter Fletcher of the Darwin-based Architects Studio overseeing its restoration, it is a good example of compromise between the interests of the owner in getting an economic return on the building, and the community's wishes to preserve the building.There was public concern last April over reported plans by YHA to demolish the house, to make way for a new building on the site.However, Bardia Bodaghi, CEO of YHA (NT), says "right from the beginning" YHA looked at all the options, from demolition and rebuilding, to retaining the old building with a range of adaptations."The YHA is a not-for-profit organisation which tries to make sure it blends in with the community in which it operates," says Mr Bodaghi."If we had taken into account only the economics we would have replaced the building."As it was, we decided to retain as much as possible the historic character of the old building and go from there."Its character is probably not the main reason why people would stay with us, but it will be an advantage."Mr Fletcher, who has had 35 years' experience in heritage architecture in the Territory, says he was invited by the Heritage Unit of the Department of Lands, Planning and Environment, to make suggestions to YHA about a range of adaptation possibilities.Ultimately, his company was chosen for the job by YHA following a tender process.Mr Fletcher says the greatest obstacles to preservation came from stringent health and safety requirements, particularly with respect to fire.For example, there was concern about the fire hasard presented by some internal windows in the house (they would provide paths for fire to travel).But rather than remove them and brick them up, Mr Fletcher proposed that they be covered with plasterboard, so that at some time in the future, with a change of use for the building, it would be possible to restore them."With heritage buildings it is important to think ahead," says Mr Fletcher."As a heritage architect, I have a responsibility to the community as well as to the owners."A fire sprinkler system has been installed through the ceilings to minimise damage and visual impact.A lot of the other work, he says, has involved removing additions to the building: lean-to verandahs, external paving, a couple of internal partitions, reinforcing mesh nailed over windows, lattice panelling on the facade.A concrete boundary wall topped with barbed wire, on the Pioneer Theatre side of the house, has been demolished, while a retaining wall at the rear has been rebuilt.A small ablutions block has been built at the back, connected to the house by a covered walkway.The three fireplaces with their original mantelpieces have all been retained, although they won't be used for fire. All sound doors and window frames have been retained, although some external doors have had their swing reversed, to open outwards instead of inwards (for fire safety reasons)."Even minor joinery changes, like moving hinges, are taken seriously," says Mr Fletcher."Everything is measured and photographed before it is touched; nothing is thrown away."Some external doors have been vandalised and these will be replaced."They won't be replicas – that would be telling fibs – but they will be sympathetic to the original style of the building," says Mr Fletcher.A high but transparent security "screen" will be erected across the front of the property, allowing the house to be seen, while also permitting the removal of security screens from windows and doors.Paint scrapings will reveal the original colour scheme which Mr Fletcher will then try to have matched."The major challenge with a heritage building is to explore economically viable ways for it to be used, without compromising the heritage significance of the place" says Mr Fletcher."We can only have so many museums."Buildings have a life that goes on, and some changes are realistic and have to be accepted as part of a building's history."

The Minister for Lands, Planning and Environment as well as the Town Council have been derelict and should accept responsibility for the impoverished state of Alice Springs built heritage.So says Mike Gillam, concerned member of the National Trust.Mr Gillam says the present adaptation of the Kenna residence represents "another lost opportunity" for heritage preservation in Alice Springs."Compared with the tragic losses of Lizzie Milnes' house and The Ritz last year, the retention of the Kenna house is a victory. "However, while the external appearance of the house has been preserved and will continue to enhance the streetscape, the redevelopment of the interior is not going to win any awards for heritage conservation.""The house is significant as a private residence built in 1942, when all resources were going into the war effort. "It's the only surviving example of its type from that era and that should be reason enough to expect the highest standards for restoration externally and internally," says Mr Gillam.Isn't it enough that the shell of the house remains?No, he argues: "It is not good conservation practice to change the very fabric of a building, its spaces."Internally the building no longer reads as a house. "The style of development does not reflect or respect the original use of the building. "It was better in its Alice Bazaar days, when it was used as a shop. You could still see how it functioned, with a kitchen/dining room, a bathroom, three large bedrooms, and a verandah right around which would have had daytime areas and been used as a sleepout during the summer."The verandah has now been divided into several rooms with internal stud walls. It no longer reads as a verandah."The kitchen and bathroom have been gutted – there are no original fixtures left."A new doorway has been cut into one internal wall, while an adjacent existing doorway has been bricked up. "These are not reversible changes in the spirit of heritage conservation."With their adjoining premises at the old Pioneer Theatre, Youth Hostels Association did a much better job. "The redevelopment still allows you to visualise the character of the theatre's spaces, and it is still possible to use the theatre." Yet Mr Gillam does not want to criticise YHA.He says the incentives to preserve Alice Springs' heritage are clearly inadequate, as is Minister Tim Baldwin's commitment to conservation, which is why the town continues to lose "its sparse heritage at an undiminished rate"."Can anyone remember the last time we had a Minister for heritage who actively promoted his portfolio?"If that's your portfolio you have a moral responsibility to show leadership, educate developers and stand up for the community."The Heritage Act is a big stick if the Minister chooses. If an interim conservation order is placed on a building and it is demolished, the Minister can require that the owner rebuild it, brick by brick."Why wasn't the Kenna residence listed during the last round of declarations which would have forced the YHA to think laterally? "The building was assessed some two years ago."They could have made good use of that building while more fully preserving its heritage values, for example by using it for guestrooms, catering for a market in between backpackers and hotel guests, but not jamming in 45 bunks."A house of that size in any other context used to accommodate 45 people would be considered substandard."Mr Gillam says the Town Council fails the community by not providing rate relief for what is only a very small number of listed heritage buildings.The council uses a formula to calculate rates which, he says, rewards those who would demolish and build to the maximum capacity of the block.For example, Belvedere House, a three storey building on the corner of Parsons Street and Bath Street, with a land coverage of 200 per cent, is rated at only twice the amount of a Railway Terrace heritage house on roughly the same size block, with 10 per cent land coverage."The reduced development potential of a heritage property and its contribution to civic identity should be fairly reflected in the rates," says Mr Gillam.He says if your heritage property is put to commercial use, then you qualify for a "helpful" rebate from the NT Government of 25 per cent of your annual rates: "That would almost cover the cost of termite treatments on our World War II hut [recently listed] over the past year."Hard to get heritage grants, from the NT Government, of between $5000 and $10,000, only offset a fraction of the costs of restoring and maintaining a heritage property, says Mr Gillam."Basically the incentives are too small to sway hardened developers, the Town Council is not pulling its weight and the NT Government meekly refuses to use many of the teeth in its own legislation."This is unbelievable in a town and region which relies on tourism."


Their faith in the railway aside (see last week's issue), what do the three candidates for Braitling propose for a brighter future in Alice Springs? Promoting an international airport to make Alice the "central hub of Australia" would be the type of lateral thinking the town needs badly, says the CLP's Peter Harvey."Tourism needs to become more interactive with our Aboriginal people," he says "Our Aboriginal people in turn need to interact more with mainstream tourism." He has an investment in a grape farm at Ti Tree and sees "great possibilities" there. While he doesn't believe "for one minute" that the railway won't go ahead, Mr Harvey says if it doesn't, the money saved would go into development of Timor Gap gas which "makes the railway pale into insignificance in terms of value for dollar for the NT". In The Centre, any money saved on the railway should go into tourism – "cultural precincts, negotiations with our Aboriginal partners". Says Mr Harvey: "If you talk to the business community, they are suffering a bit."The town is not as buoyant as it normally is."What else can you do other than embarking on a policy of economic improvement for the town?"That's certainly what everybody is focused on. "The question is, how are people who belong to a party that's not in power going to bring economic development to the town?" Mr Harvey says as member of the – hopefully – still ruling party he will be able to bring to bear his "experience as a negotiator" and make sure "we get the infrastructure and recognition down here that's needed." A better deal is also the theme of Mr Harvey's conservative rival, dumped Minister for Central Australia Loraine Braham.She says the public in Alice is very discontented, "especially with the Chief Minister and his leadership"."He didn't come across very well when he got news about the railway – the loss of the Hancock $70m."There's a lot of uncertainty in the community."When Mr Burke said governments may have to find the extra money, people felt they had contributed enough."Mrs Braham says the CLP takes voters in The Centre for granted. Sporting grants announced recently were just one example: "Something like $4000 for Alice and they gave $68,000 to a club in Darwin. "We're just not getting our fair share."Mrs Braham says the sewerage ponds are "disgraceful". "We've got to process that water in some way." She says the casino causeway, closed three times this January because of flooding, should be replaced with a bridge, There should be more resources for shopping, entertainment and sport in Aboriginal communities. DRY AREASMrs Braham calls for a review of the dry areas legislation: " Alcohol restrictions don't have a long term effect. "Prohibition, if you tried to push it onto Alice Springs, wouldn't work. "It's never worked in the past." There should be temporary camping or hostel facilities in town for visitors from bush communities, but no drinking areas ("I'm dead against them"); better rural roads, including sealing the Tanami Road to the Granites Mines – plus other initiatives she will announce later in the campaign.Labor's candidate for Braitling Peter Brooke says "we can do a lot better" in tourism. What are they? "We need to look at the different segments of the tourism market and see what we could specialize in to make it a niche market for certain areas. "The convention centre is "a good start" but there are other areas to look at.The backpackers market could do even better than it presently is.He says the world is "thirsting for Indigenous tourism" but to work "more cooperatively" with Aboriginal organisations and groups needs "a creative, fresh whole of government approach." Having worked for the last three years with Opposition Member Peter Toyne, MLA for Stuart, Mr Brooke acknowledges that it's " difficult being in Opposition". "We've managed to achieve a lot for Stuart, but a lot of the time not with Government support. "It's working with other organisations outside the influence of Government. "Darwin based arrogance isn't something I would tolerate as the local Member." Is it "realistic" to expect Labor to gain Government – given the CLP's current 18 to seven majority? Mr Brooke says Labor would need an eight per cent swing across the board: "It's not normal in the Territory, swings that are widespread and even across every seat. "But we have targeted a number of marginal seats."


‘Whether you are part of the family or not has nothing to do with the colour of your skin.'
Jacinta Castle is the daughter of an Irish Australian father, Dave Price, and Warlpiri Australian mother, Bess Nungarrayi. She is brown-eyed and fair skinned; the son she has with husband Simon is even fairer and has blue eyes. She speaks English and Warlpiri, but her Warlpiri isn't fluent; she can understand it better than she can speak it. In this, the fourth part in our series, Jacinta and her parents speak to KIERAN FINNANE about skin-colour and language in their cross-cultural family. They also make a call for more straight talking on issues affecting Aboriginal people and relations between the races, and for the airing of a multipilicty of Aboriginal views. (See Parts One, Two and Three of this series in the News issues of Dec 6, 13 and 20, 2000, or on the web.)

Jacinta feels a little on the outside of both sides of her family in some situations. She says one day she might sit down and learn to speak Warlpiri properly: "I would like to join in more conversations, not just listen and reply in English. And I'd like to be able to talk to my grandmother a lot more without having Mum as a translator. She tries to talk in English to me but it's difficult to have a proper conversation." As she grew up, Jacinta's light skin made her a big hit with her cousins at Yuendumu, and that now goes for her son. "They call him ‘milpa ngapapiya', which means ‘eyes like water' in Warlpiri, and when he was younger, they called him ‘ngarlkirdi' as well, which means ‘witchetty grub', because he was so white! "One of my cousins was looking at him and smiling and she said, ‘Oh, I want to have a white baby when I get older!'. I thought, good luck!" Jacinta is amazed that her son is so white: his grandmother on his father's side is Mauritian, with an ancestral mix of Malay Indian and French Creole, and her grandfather was from Mozambique; her father-in-law on the other hand is of Irish, Dutch and Scandinavian descent. "Despite the fact that my son has got two very dark-skinned grandmothers he's paler than I am, blond haired and blue eyed!" How does Bess feel about her daughter being so light skinned? "I don't mind," says Bess. "She wanted to have her Dad's eyes and my skin and she turned out the other way round! "I just expected I was going to have a white baby." "And I thought I was going to have a browner one than that!" says Dave. Apart from the fuss over light-skinned children, Dave says in his experience the Warlpiri are not very colour-conscious."Whether you are part of the family or not has nothing to do with the colour of your skin. "We've got close family who have obviously got white fathers, but they've been brought up by their Warlpiri fathers and mothers, totally accepted. They speak Warlpiri, they behave Warlpiri, it's the culture and language that's most respected. "I've always found that the only thing Bess' mob expect is respect. "If you expect to be respected and you respect them, that's all they want. "You don't have to act like them, as long as they feel you're genuine then you're fine. "A pretty easy mob to get on with." Did Jacinta experience racism as she grew up in Alice? Jacinta: "I had both Aboriginal and white friends as I grew up. "In primary school I found it was very relaxed, everyone accepted everybody, because you're so young and innocent. "Then when I hit high school there was that division between Aboriginal kids, the mixed race Aboriginal kids who lived in town, and white kids. "I spent time with my white friends and then with my Aboriginal friends. It was very rare for both sides to interact with one another. At times I tried to encourage that sort of thing, but it's not easy. "I didn't really experience any racism from white kids. The only racism I copped was from some of the town Aboriginal kids."They themselves were in my situation, obviously with a white parent somewhere. "It may have had a lot to do with jealousy, they came from broken homes whereas I come from a very strong family. "Socially I stood out because I did a lot of stuff like singing, I think it was more jealousy, not having such a great life themselves and seeing someone who has had a very strong upbringing." Dave: "White racism has never been a problem for us, except possibly in those couple of situations I've mentioned [with real estate agents]. "The only time there's been racial abuse, linking an obscene insult with skin colour, it's been from young drunk Aboriginal men. "As Jacinta says, straightaway you know they're not very happy people. I had a blue once with a young feller, turned out his mum's alcoholic, no father, that kind of thing. "We've got plenty of close friends among the town Aboriginal mob. They know the ones who are going to cause that kind of trouble, everybody knows. "People say to us how do you stand living in a racist town like Alice Springs? "My answer is we just don't come across it. "I'm sure it's there. I'm not saying it's not a problem for some people, but if the proportion of the Aboriginal population of Sydney was 25 per cent and Aboriginal people did in the streets there publicly what some Aboriginal people do here, then I'm sure city people would also react. "In this sort of discussion unfortunately the issues are always put as though they are black against white and they're not. "The debate goes on as if there's an Aboriginal side and a white side whereas in fact we know a tremendous number of Aboriginal people who are disgusted, distressed, disturbed very deeply by Aboriginal public drunkenness in Alice Springs. "They are never asked for their opinion. The range of Aboriginal viewpoints should be aired. "And whitefellers should be able to talk more freely instead of being called a racist just because they bring up the issue." Another debate where a diversity of views is repressed is the ongoing Stolen Generation debate, say Dave and Bess. Dave: "The complexities of the story aren't aired, they're not talked about. Politicians and the press look for an Aboriginal point of view. It's an absolute absurdity. We don't say what is the white point point of view?" Bess: "There's a whole range of Aboriginal people out there who think differently. Most aren't politically active and don't speak English. They just want to get on with their lives. "And most of the time they feel they are used as puppets, they get dragged in, and used up. "Other times when there's something important for Aboriginal people, that has benefited Aboriginal people, those people aren't asked or brought in to take part in the glory. "Aboriginal people are treated as second rate citizens." Bess and Dave are convinced that if people had a chance to be honest, if the debate was more open, and the multiplicity of Aboriginal viewpoints was heard, then there would be less division, less friction between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. In the cross-cultural training sessions they do, they see all sorts of people, from university educated professionals to unskilled labourers, welcome information about Aboriginal viewpoints. "They say, oh if we'd known that, that makes sense, but that's not what we're hearing on the TV," says Dave. In the session on prejudice, where they look at positive and negative stereotypes of blackfellers amongst whitefellers, and of whitefellers amongst blackfellers, they find whitefellers are generally much harder on themselves than on blackfellers. Says Dave: "They say I know lazy bloody whitefellers, I know whitefellers that never wash, all my mates drink too much, we''re stingy, we're wrecking the world. "That's why we feel if more of the point of view of a whole range of Aboriginal groups becomes known we've all got more of a chance of working together."


Taking time out from their usual "rellies rally" to loved ones around Oz over the Christmas break, Alice News staff cruised Central Europe in a motor home in the dead of winter. Despite dire predictions of frostbite and traffic chaos on fog bound and icy roads, our crew found the off-season has much going for it, and their test vehicle, a top-of-the-range Hymer, was a comfy home away from home. What's more, a Territory special fare offered by Malaysia Airlines put them into business class for the marathon 12 hour flight between Europe and Kuala Lumpur, for comparatively little extra money. This is Part Two of our report. Part One appeared in our February 7 edition.
The engine of our Hymer 544 had enough grunt to sustain 130 km/h on the flat parts of the usually brilliant European motor ways, and provided fuel efficiency. Diesel in Europe is generally 10 per cent cheaper than petrol – the litre prices are $1.50 in Austria, $1.45 in Germany and $1.63 in France.Measured over 3254 km the average consumption was 14.66 litres per 100 km, doing – whenever possible – the maximum permitted speed of 130 km/h on the motor ways.Measured separately, the consumption over eight tankfuls varied between 13.47 and 17.45 litres per 100 km.In France there is intermittently a further cost: you pay toll on some of the motor ways.This can be irritating and expensive: for example, on the 486 km between Strasbourg near the German border, and Paris, we had to stop five times to pay "peage", a total of $71. The motor home and tourism lobbies should raise hell over the fact that motor homes aren't charged by their weight, but their height!For example, on one 268 km section west of Paris, a normal car pays $40 while we were slugged $59.80. In Austria you pay an "Autobahn" levy of $12.90 a month for unlimited use, and you're never stopped to pay toll.While driving this rather large vehicle in Vienna was no trouble, and we did lots of it, for Paris some mental conditioning is essential.Driving there won't traumatize you for life so long as you don't succumb to the horror of the experience, but merely regard it as the French penchant for "la difference". Automotive maturity in that city is reached when you progress from getting ulcers to giving them.People cutting into your lane from either side, usually without indicating, with millimeters to spare, forcing you to slam on your brakes, are merely giving you the opportunity – in the spirit of "fraternite" – to share with others the frightfully scarce space for vehicles.When scooter riders gather like a flock of vultures at traffic lights on the wrong side of the road, only to wheel out with screaming engines in front of you in the first millisecond of the green light, they only display the French dedication to "egalite": you might have an expensive car, but a cheap scooter is faster.The same principle underlies the fact that most cars in Paris have a dint or a scratch. Rumor has it that progressive manufacturers may soon deliver new vehicles with chic blemishes already in place, individually arranged.When on a 90 km/h Paris trunk road, where most people are traveling at 130 km/h, you see the rider of a high powered motor cycle doing 160, weaving in and out of lanes whilst missing cars by less than a metre – conduct that would earn him a life sentence in any Australian jurisdiction – don't assume he is a maniac with a death wish: the man's just taking the air along the river Seine.With such an approach, and a liberal dose of Valium, you will soon conclude – as do most French – that driving a car is not so much a potentially lethal pursuit, but an exercise for the free and creative spirit, a true manifestation of "liberte". As you won't be able to beat them, join them.Dunnies became something of a preoccupation during our motor home trip.We elected not to do "number twos" in our on board lavatory, and only occasionally "number ones".This was more by choice than necessity. The toilet cartridge is very simple to remove, via an external door, and not hard to empty and clean. Of course, it's even easier when it contains only pee and flushing water.In Austria and our brief crossing of Germany we found accessible toilets – whether provided by government or by hospitality enterprises – to be plentiful.They are often heated and usually well maintained.In France the motor ways have parking bays called "aires" which have dunnies. SPLASHINGWest of Paris these are of a high standard but east – towards Germany – they are rather basic, to express it politely: maybe a symptom of the always delicate Franco-German relations – European Union or not. Unlike in the west of France, where you usually have a choice, in the east there are frequently no seats but Turkish-style loos where you squat and aim for a small hole beneath. Unless you're nimble footed enough to exit quickly, the flushing will give the idiom "splashing your boots" a literal meaning.Outside the magnificent cathedral at Chartres, the pay dunny was closed and a nearby publican explained his facilities were only for paying guests. In Paris many of the street urinals – once unique landmarks of the city – have been turned into phone booths.Our Hymer had more than the basic creature comforts: it had a radio and tape sound system with four speakers. It had a television with 30 channels with a roof mounted dish that finds the European Astra satellite automatically. The weather reports on the nightly news were handy. We learned from CNN about January's total lunar eclipse which we then watched from a parking bay on a busy German Autobahn, before dinner in our comfy "home away from home".[Costs are expressed in Australian dollars at the rate applicable on February 2, 2001: A$1 = 1.09 German Marks; 3.68 French Franks and 7.73 Austrian Schillings.The Hymer Rent email is .The company's site is .The Malaysian Airlines agent in Alice Springs is Jetset, Michael Loy, Tel 08 89 528573.The Alice Springs News staff were full fare paying passengers on Malaysian Airlines.]
PICTURED below is the motor home parked for overnighting in Paris.

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