March 27, 2002.


The NT Government will soon appoint a new head - likely to have a strong business background - for the Alice Springs based Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA). A key participant in the scheme, the local Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), is a partner in a $24m venture that will bring renewable energy systems to bush communities in the NT, WA, SA and Queensland. And one of DKA's four initiatives, a Co-operative Research Centre, headed up by a former senior executive in the mining industry, is seeking $14m of Commonwealth funding over seven years (see report page 3). These and other developments are set to shift Desert Knowledge into top gear. It was taken off the back burner last year by the new Territory government with an immediate commitment of $10m for a Desert Peoples' Centre. It is proposed to bring together in one location CAT, Batchelor College and the Institute for Aboriginal Development, although the latter is going through a serious crisis, and has indicated in the past that it may not move from its present location in South Terrace. CAT's major commercial coup has been in the making for some six years, says the centre's Bruce Walker. Codenamed Bushlight the project is a joint venture between the Alice based research, innovation and training organisation, which over the years has built up a string of clients in several parts of the world, and the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy. Dr Walker says the $24m, four state project, to be managed from Alice Springs, will involve the manufacture of $16m worth of hardware, some or all of which will be built here. "It depends on whoever wins the tenders," says Dr Walker. He says Desert Knowledge has the chance of attracting to Alice Springs "a critical mass of people who are 21st century thinkers". Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne says Desert Knowledge has become a major priority for him. Before being elected to Parliament he was the driving force behind the pioneering Tanami Network, a satellite-based video and audio communications network spanning the outback. "Currently, desert areas around the world import most of their technology from temperate regions, resulting in inappropriate or at least not the best possible architecture, horticulture, transport systems, water usage, service delivery and so on. "Desert Knowledge will enable us to not only bring together resources to get the best answers to the problems of living in desert environments, but to capitalise on these and sell them to the rest of the world. "Services are an increasingly important part of today's economy. "For example people who have worked on remote communities in Australia are snapped up by overseas aid agencies because of their unique skills," says Dr Toyne. "Why not sell our intellectual capital in this area, through development and sale of community and business management courses?" The CLP's John Elferink, who like Dr Toyne represents a vast bush electorate (MacDonnell), says Desert Knowledge will be an "unstoppable giant" if issues of Aboriginal land rights and native title can be resolved. "Investors tend to ask one simple question which is, can I get security of tenure on the parcel of land in question," says Mr Elferink. "If the answer is not an unequivocal yes, the eyes glaze over and they're not interested. "If you're serious about investment then don't expect to see it come with a social agenda in mind. Desert Knowledge is about investment for all stakeholders. "What is the purpose of it if it's not to generate wealth in the Centre?" asks Mr Elferink. "If we want to be smart desert dwellers then we need to make the place investor friendly, and security of title over a lease is fundamental." Mr Elferink says a second necessity is the lifting of the work ethic in the bush. He calls for CDEP participation to be made compulsory for people in remote communities wanting to receive welfare payments. "Once the relationship between work and wealth is established, it is not a great leap of faith to expect land owners to seek to increase their wealth from their own resources, that is from their land."


"Considerable improvement" is needed in mechanisms and organisations for setting up enterprises on Aboriginal land. This is likely to be a focus for the Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), one of the four initiatives of Desert Knowledge Australia. So says the CRC chairman elect Paul Wand, a former senior executive of mining giant Rio Tinto Ltd (formerly CRA), and the originator of that company's Aboriginal Foundation which he still chairs. Mr Wand says the future of the CRC depends on the success of a bid, to be submitted at the end of May, for Commonwealth support to the tune of $14m over seven years. He says the group will have a small board of directors, most of them Territory based, as well as an executive officer with a staff of around two, headquartered in Alice Springs. The group will administer and award grants for research activities, publish the findings, and "market the products of such research activities in the area of desert knowledge". Mr Wand says these products – depending on the research applications received – will be in four areas: natural resource management, service delivery, governance and infrastructure. The studies will all be undertaken in the vast desert areas of Australia, and potentially of interest to the billion people inhabiting the deserts making up one third of the world's land mass. For example, Mr Wand says, "the estate of flora and fauna needs to be understood more completely" to be preserved, looking not only at the damage done but also "the understanding achieved" by primary production in arid areas. Other subjects are likely to be modern communication and transport methods applicable to small population groupings. CSIRO and the Alice based Centre for Appropriate Technology, as well as universities in the NT, southern and western states, have already shown interest. "Some 70 areas of research emerged very quickly when the CRC was first advertised earlier this year," says Mr Wand. The initiative will aim for partnerships and endorsement from industries such as trucking, air and rail transport, mining and telecommunications. Mr Wand is a graduate metallurgist, and has worked in manufacturing, copper smelting and aluminium fabrication. For five years he ran CRA's management training and later became managing director of one of the company's business units. He was managing director of the company's headquarters group concerned with Aboriginal relations, "charged with changing the direction of the company with respect to Aboriginal people in Australia, to move away from any confrontationist attitudes in areas of accommodation and understanding." In 2000 he advised the Federal workplace relations department on programs involving larger companies. Mr Wand says the CRC – if it gets off the ground – will have the objective of "corralling research work under one banner, focussing work currently being done, under consideration, or required by private enterprise." This could range from mine rehabilitation to Aboriginal "governance, an area of great neglect" – an issue recently brought into the spotlight by several public figures, including Territory Minister John Ah Kit.

COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA: The dead hand of bureaucracy?

Will Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) produce commercially saleable products?If so, what are they?What is their value?Where are the markets?How many desert knowledge products, if any, have been sold to date (other than those from the Centre for Appropriate Technology and CSIRO, who have done so independently for years)? These, one would imagine, are reasonable questions for the people who want to be major players in the economic development of Central Australia. Yet neither Ken Johnson, heading up Alice in Ten, nor Mike Crow, in charge of DKA, both career public servants, appear willing to give us a reply of substance. That's why it's refreshing to hear that two years since their inception, these vital initiatives seem set to be taken out of the hands of bureaucrats. Surely, if the public is to be fired up about these concepts it needs to be informed. Yet all we're getting from Dr Johnson and Mr Crow are pretty brochures containing gems such as this: "DKA will be part of a matrix structure that encourages key relationships and partnerships." Wow. If I hear one more time "Desert Knowledge has a huge potential" I'll scream. We want to see runs on the board, and some transparency in the process which, after all, is meant to enthuse the public and fill them with desire to participate. We also have an image problem which DKA doesn't appear to be addressing. We can't crow about being smart desert dwellers, at least not at this stage: The water wastage through our sewage system is scandalous; there's very little solar energy use (mainly hot water systems) in Alice Springs; our suburbs look like any other in Australia; our answer to social problems in our Aboriginal population has been to throw vast amounts of money at them, with decreasing accomplishments; half the bush is used for raising cattle with controversial consequences for the environment. The other half – Aboriginal owned – is an economic disaster zone despite the massive potential for tourism, horticulture and other ventures. On the other hand we do have pockets of outstanding achievement. These assets include people with expert knowledge and experience like botanist Peter Latz. We have aviation, road transport and communications pioneers coping with vast distances and a hostile environment. We have architects devoting their lives to developing buildings suitable to our climate. We have pastoralists who have found ways to adapt cattle production to the delicate environment. We have horticulturalists doing the same thing. And there are a handful of examples of successful collaboration between a modern society and an ancient culture. Why is DKA not selling more of that knowledge right now, after two years of talk fests? Just some anecdotal snapshots:- I believe a Federal grant of $50,000 is being obtained for a coordinator. What will he or she be coordinating that already participating organisations (the NT Government, town council, the Central Land Council, Chamber of Commerce, CATIA, etc.), given their local knowledge and considerable personnel and financial resources, couldn't coordinate themselves? I understand a "study group" recently travelled to other remote centres. How much did that cost and what was leaned that couldn't have been learned by making a few phone calls? No answers from Dr Johnson nor Mr Crowe. We asked Mr Crowe for a copy of the discussion paper on DKA by Prof Dick Blandy. We were told our request would be taken on notice. Why is that paper not readily and immediately available? Instead of being innovative with DKA, aren't we going down the worn old path of yet another bureaucracy focussed on obtaining funds, writing reports and leaving the community in the dark?


"One of the boldest tourism initiatives in the Year of the Outback 2002 is already a resounding success - even before it opens its doors." This is the confident claim by the publicity machine for the Alice Convention Centre, due to have its first fixture this month and the official opening in May. Director of Marketing Lynne Jackson says 15,000 delegates have already booked for 2002, a number she describes as "outstanding". But given that the $14m centre, $10m of which came from the NT Government, has a capacity of 1700 seats, the bookings in hand – assuming each delegate will stay the expected 2.5 days – represents a usage of less than eight per cent. On present bookings the facility will be "full" for 12 days of the nine remaining months this year. To be full the Lasseters Casino operated centre would need another 168,600 bookings. Industry experts say the facility is likely to do best during its first two years when it can capitalize on its novelty value, attracting conventions which have "done" most other Australian venues (Alice News April 11, 2001, and our web site). Another open question is the airline capacity. Will Qantas, currently the sole operator here, be able to fly in 1700 delegates – or 3400 if they all bring their partners – and out again two and a half days later? Ms Jackson says Qantas is "fairly confident that they could assist if they are given enough notice. "There are a range of things they can do including increased plane size, back to clock activity, charter and so on. "Because of our location, most of our bookings are national which means delegates come from all areas. "This tends to make it a lot easier for the airline to bring people in." Ms Jackson says bookings so far are for 400 to 600 delegates, 90 per cent of them from Australia. The centre will become the property of the casino company, Ford Dynasty, in 20 years' time. Until then there is a pledge by the NT Government, entered into before the CLP lost power last year, for operating subsidies of up to $5m. Ms Jackson did not disclose the formula for this subsidy, but she says if the facility makes a profit, Lasseters and the government will "split" it. Lasseters Hotel Casino is clearly confident that the centre will bring in extra trade, spending $20 million of its own money to nearly double the number of "top quality rooms" to 140. Ms Jackson says another 440 rooms are available within walking distance in other hotels. "We estimate, based on a stay of 2.5 days per person, that the centre will contribute an additional $6.7million to the Alice Springs community next year alone," she says. The centre will cater for 1200 people theatre-style or 780 banquet-style in the main function room, the MacDonnell room, with up to an additional 500 in the Ellery Room. A major event this year will be Outback Central 2002 in September.


The Aboriginal Child Care Agency (ACCA) is mum on the reasons for shutting down Aranda House, the youth refuge in South Terrace. The Alice News has put a number of questions to ACCA's Anne Ronberg, who said chairman Brian White would respond, but he did not. According to sources ACCA will be continuing to run a youth night patrol – but apparently there is now no place for it to take the children to. The News understands there will be discussions with Anglicare (which runs St Mary's) and Alice Springs Youth Accommodation Services (ASYASS), but there are no results to date. Jim Holland, director of Anglicare in Central Australia, says St Mary's has a house in Forrest Crescent where the Department of Family and Children's Services refers children, but it is for "long term accommodation". ASYASS acting manager Astri Baker says her organisation does not normally cater for children younger than 15. Although Aranda House has been in crisis off and on for some years, it has continued to be funded. The NT Department of Health and Community Services kicked in about $100,000 a year and the Federal instrumentality Aboriginal Hostels Ltd, $128,000 this financial year. The News reported last week that Aboriginal Hostels are now seeking another operator for the service, and that they had withdrawn funding as a result of ACCA's "poor budget management". At the time of going to press, the Department of Health had not provided answers to our questions.Another complication of the whole scenario is that ACCA holds the lease over Aranda House, which is owned by the NT Department of Correctional Services.


Alice Springs native title holders, who have the power to unlock an estimated 500 building blocks in Alice Springs, have held the first annual general meeting of their "body corporate". The Central Land Council, which is the approved body dealing with native title issues in the town, declined to provide information. However, one of the native title holders, who has asked not to be named, says the group consists of 30 people, 10 each from the three major family groups relating to Undoolya, Ilpma (Bond Springs) and Mbantua (Alice Springs). The native title holder says the group has drawn up a constitution which is in the process of being registered.

Column by ANN CLOKE: Expert opinion.

"I think it's better when you write about people," I was told. "Last week's column was okay, but you didn't refer to anyone I know!""Do we get a mention this week?" Craig asked, when I popped out to Builder Auctions:"I thought you'd write about exotic Indonesian food and fun out home with everyone last week." Ian, Francoise, Carolyn, Neville, Cynthia, Wally, John, Tina, dogs, guinea fowls, horses and the rest of the menagerie … the "farm", affectionately known as the Hilton on Todd. It was a great night – animated conversation, especially when David and John went head to head as comparisons were made regarding the state of play in Zimbabwe and happenings in Australia, Alice Springs in particular. I'm not alluding to international cricket matches: these were social issues and political agendas and trying to debate and resolve them over a glass of red. David lived in Central Africa for 20 years, and his opinions are always pragmatic and usually informed. Our thoughts have been with dear friends who live in Zimbabwe, wondering what the next six years under Robert Mugabe's rule will bring.Africans, white and black, have been disenfranchised, which means they have lost their right to vote. Many have also lost their rights of ownership – second, third and fourth generation Zimbabweans are being evicted from their homes and farms. There is no talk of compulsory acquisition or compensation: they are being forced to leave their homeland with nothing – no chattels, heirlooms or personal possessions. The Zimbabwe dollar is worth nothing outside Zim. It only just manages to function in this magnificent country, Zimbabwe. The world is still looking in, criticising, judging and trying to determine whether the Commonwealth's decision to suspend Zim from meetings for the next 12 months is appropriate action. Meanwhile the violence, home invasions, trespass and killings continue.What causes societies to crumble, cultures to disappear, infrastructures to break down and civilisations to vanish? I rang Denise Williams-Kennedy and offered congratulations: she is recipient of a National Excellence in Teaching Award (Weekend Oz 23/24 March: "Building Future Against the Odds"). Denise was born here and grew up in one of the town camps. She attended school, graduated from university and is a dedicated early childhood teacher who readily accepts the challenge of teaching children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Denise is aiming to introduce a "culture of learning and schooling" to pre-school students when she returns after a year's study leave to the classroom at Yipirinya School where she has taught for the past eight years: Denise believes that education is the key to a brighter future. It's uplifting to read "good news" stories especially when they're local: I lunched with Lori, Stephanie and Julie and we sat observing the cultural differences being enacted under the sails."Why aren't the kids at school?" a visitor asked, as we watched juveniles sky-larking, loitering, asking something of a passer-by, a cigarette, a dollar, the time? Until we start treating everyone in the same way, equally, and school attendance is compulsory for every child, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and all children are actively encouraged to learn, believing that there is merit in education, there will be no noticeable change in behaviour. The gap in society, wealth, well-being and wisdom is getting wider, deeper and almost impossible to span. It is accepted that one of the first steps towards bridging this gap is education Minister John Ah Kit's recent speech to Parliament regarding the plight of Aborigines living in dysfunctional communities throughout the NT caused much reaction. We have to hope that there is positive follow-up and action … soon!

LETTERS: Ex-Senator slams Snowdon.

Sir,- I had thought that Warren Snowdon MHR had grown up in recent years, and was taking a more mature approach to his representation of the people of the Lingiari electorate in Federal Parliament. However, he has confounded, disappointed and dismayed me by calling into question the arrangements under which Pine Gap operates (Alice Springs News, March 13).Pine Gap is fundamental to Australian defence. It is a bastion of world peace, and a foundation stone of the Alice Springs economy. This is not just my view – it is the view of the former Prime Minister Bob Hawke as expressed in Parliament on November 22, 1988, when Mr Snowdon sat behind Mr Hawke and supported him. Mr Hawke said, "The Joint Defence facilities will continue to serve Australia's national interest; they will continue to reflect the depth and substance of our bilateral strategic relationship with the United States under ANZUS; and they will continue to play a vital role in preventing nuclear war." Mr Hawke's eminently sensible statement was warmly endorsed by John Howard MHR, the leader of the Opposition. Mr Hawke and Mr Howard were treating the matter on a bipartisan basis, to preserve the sensible and cordial relationship between Australia and the United States on defence matters. Now Mr Snowdon threatens that bipartisan arrangement. He is clearly a maverick voice on this issue. Conspicuously, he is disowned by his Federal party leader and he embarrasses his party colleague, the Northern Territory's Chief Minister. Mr Snowdon's views would not matter, except that he is the MHR for the area in which Pine Gap is sited. His views could thus be taken, in the United States and other places where our representational system may not be perfectly understood, as being of some consequence and as having some support. That would be tragically erroneous. Mr Snowdon's views gain further exposure when he facilitates meetings and gatherings of people who come to Alice Springs to protest about the base. Inevitably the protests receive more exposure than they warrant, and inevitably Mr Snowdon's association with them lends the protest some credibility. Our United States guests resident in this town must sometimes wonder how it is that a member of a major party can thumb his nose at his party's commitment to the present Pine Gap arrangements. The many Australians who work at Pine Gap must also wonder why their livelihoods are put at risk in this way. Let those who wonder be assured that Mr Snowdon does not represent a significant body of opinion on this issue. The overwhelming majority of Australians are solidly behind the arrangements. This is confirmed by the repeated public statements of the leaders of Mr Snowdon's own party, and by the leaders of the other major parties. Recent international events have clearly confirmed that the United States partnership is essential to our security. Pine Gap now has an even more vital role in preventing nuclear war than it had at the time of Mr Hawke's 1988 statement.If Mr Snowdon cannot accept his party's unshakeable policy on the Joint Defence bases, then he should not have the temerity to seek and accept ALP endorsement for Lingiari, nor should he tell his constituency that he represents the Labor Party. I do not put this forward in any partisan spirit, or with any intention of criticising Mr Snowdon's party, which in fact has adopted the only sensible position on the Pine Gap issue. However, I cannot remain silent when Mr Snowdon, as an individual, puts at risk the security of my country, his country. Incidentally, as I write this on March 17 it is exactly 60 years to the day since General Douglas MacArthur landed at Batchelor and then passed through Alice Springs on his way to Melbourne to take over the defence of Australia. I was then a young soldier, in training to help meet the most terrible emergency Australia has ever confronted. I well remember just how pleased Australians were to welcome MacArthur and his fellow Americans during those desperate days of early 1942. Mr Snowdon should take a history lesson. Through it, he might learn who the friends of his country really are.
Bern Kilgariff
Alice Springs

Sir,- I am writing regarding "CLP responds to Ah Kit plea" in the Alice Springs News of March 20. In the article you reproduced an anecdote that I told Parliament about the differences in Aboriginal cultures. Indeed in my electorate alone there are a number of different and independent cultures. I used this anecdote to demonstrate the point that it is very difficult to make general rules for a class of people when they are culturally different from each other. I asserted then as I do now that the only people who can protect their cultures are the people who have custody of them. This means that I am unqualified to speak for any culture other than my own, as is Mr Ah Kit. The only people who can protect Warlpiri culture are the Warlpiri custodians. The same is true for Arrernte, Pitjantjatjara or Pintubi. As a legislator it is my duty to create a framework in which these custodians can decide for themselves what is worth protecting and what is not. It was with these thoughts in mind that I suggested that in a free country people who own land should be able to deal with the land as they see fit. Mr Ah Kit in his response suggested that all I wanted to see was Aborginal people sell their land. This is not true. I want Aboriginal people to enjoy the liberties that all Australians enjoy. I have found people in my electorate as diverse in their opinions as people who live in Alice Springs. I have asked Aboriginal people over the years what they would do if they could sell their land. Some have reacted cautiously, others thought the idea laughable, still others dismissed the idea as unthinkable and some said that there were parts of their land that they would part with to raise capital for development. I would expect a similar result from people living in Alice Springs. The difference is that if you live in Alice Springs or any other part of Australia you have a choice. If you live on a land trust you do not have a choice. What I believe in is the power and freedom to choose. Mr Ah Kit's assertion that he is the voice of collective Aboriginal consciousness on the matter is no more sustainable than me asserting that I represent the opinions of all Alice Springs residents. I would believe that people who live in Alice Springs would want me out of their affairs, especially in terms of their land title.
John Elferink MLA
Alice Springs

Sir,- Alice Springs – the land of missed opportunity. I wish David Cloke and his group the very best in their endeavours to have the freight rail terminal moved. If he succeeds, the area should be called Cloke Park – he will deserve it.Some 25 years ago the rail was upgraded from narrow gauge to standard, when a Mr Smith was the Rail Commissioner. At that time I with some others (not politically affiliated people) organised a petition to Parliament signed by some 3000 Alice residents to have the whole rail complex relocated outside the Gap. A sketch was provided of a freight terminal in the vicinity of St Mary's and a passenger pickup spur line through the Gap to a period style terminal running parallel with Bloomfield Street and Telegraph Terrace. We proposed that the huge land tract made available could be utilised for the planned expansion of the town.Surprise, surprise – Mr Smith objected, the politicians did nothing, and some notable luminaries of the Alice Springs scene rallied in opposition. They ran a counter claim that we would all suffer horrendous extra freight costs for milk and fruit.Following this outcry by some in business Mr Smith conveniently called it as "the town divided on the issue" and redeveloped the passenger and freight terminals were they currently remain. The result was that we lost the opportunity for a period passenger terminal and suffered the Billygoat Hill rail crossover. Worse – what could have become a great landscaped central area still remains a dirty hole and a blight on the town. A check of the papers of the time will confirm my story and identify opponents … best wishes, David.
Danny Kilgariff

Sir,- Soon a social experiment in Alice Springs will begin when alcohol restriction are introduced next month. And what more apt day to start than on April Fools day? How has it come to this and why is there so much avoidance of the real issues? This letter will uncover some of these issues. As a taxi driver here in Alice I have a certain perspective; and as a student who has completed the four Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) units, sponsored by Living with Alcohol, at NTU, I have some academic knowledge about the subject. As an ex-drinker and someone who has attended AA meetings in many countries between NZ, USA and Eastern Europe I have an added experiential understanding. It is my belief that the present situation in Alice has been caused by the failure of the Territory Health's Living with Alcohol (LWA) program to effectively deal with excessive drinking. The upcoming restrictions on alcohol sales in my opinion must be an admission that their policies have failed. Even though the LWA initiative has been hailed nation wide as a model of success there has been no actual decrease in amount of alcohol consumed in the Territory. The Northern Territory Health Services have won a special award for fives years in a row as the top performer in the area of "government performance in terms of policy directions, commitment to addressing substance problems and provision of support services" (Annual Report 1998/9). Despite this, the consumption of alcohol still remains at the same levels in comparison to the Australian average. It might seem anomalous that with all this hard work total consumption figures can't be (haven't been) reduced. And it seems entirely unethical that special awards are even accepted when nothing really has changed. A Curtin University statistical graph shows how since the inception of Harm Minimisation strategies, which is what LWA revolves around, the overall NT alcohol consumption figures have levelled out and are not going down. Before HM the graph showed a year-by-year decrease in consumption. The liquor industry may well be pleased with this trend. HM has not always been an easy idea to define and may often mean different things to different people: "The pluralism that HM has fostered may be one of its greatest limitations" (Lintzeris 1998). For instance, health workers may embrace HM approaches whereas Aboriginal alcohol and other drug treatment facility workers may see them as a blockage to government funding (government agencies being less likely to fund abstinence based programs, [Brady 1991]). HM is often promoted in a rather odd fashion. From the Public Health perspective it is said to be more cost effective to target primary and secondary prevention strategies rather than "provide treatment for those with existing problems" (Rumbold & Hamilton 1998). A report by the National Health and Medical Research Council (1987) states that, "The majority of the alcohol related problems are not caused by the sub-population of the heaviest drinkers, but by the majority of the population, those who are normal drinkers or social drinkers, simply because of their numbers". This approach does not seem to have very much simple common sense and problem drinkers do not even seem to figure at all in this equation. It almost seems like it is a more popular political rationale to spend money on the majority of the voting public than the unpopular bottom of the barrel drunk. All this flies in the face of strong evidence that alcoholics should not attempt or be encouraged to drink in moderation. "Light drinking (moderation) is not beneficial for alcoholics." (Sison 2000). Studies show that "light and moderate drinkers are different people than abstainers and heavy drinkers". The terms "alcoholic" and "heavy drinker" are used interchangeably here. From the research findings it must be logical to deduce that "moderation" is a fruitless and dangerous message to offer to abstainers and heavy drinkers/alcoholics because of the health risk. And anyway, it is highly probable that heavy drinkers cause a much greater associative damage compared with responsible drinkers even if the HM propagandists would like to twist it another way. The smoking lobby has developed a "quit" program nation-wide but where alcohol is concerned such an approach is not an option it seems. Workers who labour in the anti-smoking field must be non-smokers and those who have quit. Not enough value is placed by government agencies upon the value of not drinking or of non drinkers working in the field. Maybe this is because a majority of health workers are drinkers and it might be appear impracticable to expect them to stop drinking as an example for clients; such is the ambiguity. It also has a bizarre result that people trying to get into the field who don't drink have a significant barrier to overcome. The drinking AOD workers will feel uncomfortable working alongside non-drinkers.
Kenny Woolrich
Alice Springs


To what avail is the monitoring of the billions of telephone, fax and email communications, the vast majority from and to innocent citizens, in which Pine Gap is believed to be taking part? Is it a case of the door with the new lock keeping out honest people, but the burglar knows how to pick that lock? Or can anyone walk in, new lock or no new lock? As Tom Vanderbilt writes in the London Review of Books of March 7, reviewing new works about the super secret US National Security Agency "which has office space equivalent to eleven World Trade Centres", information is collected in enormous quantities "but very little is put to any purpose, nefarious or beneficial; there are simply too many facts and too few people to process them". The World Trade Centre slaughter may be as much an argument for more space base style snooping, as for less. Writes Vanderbilt: "The men of 11 September stayed at Motel 6, shopped at WalMart, went to strip clubs. They moved quite comfortably in the mainstream of American life: "They also conformed to the classic casting of mass murderers – 'quiet, kept to himself'. The highjackers drove without proper licences, violated immigration rules, left a plane sitting on an active runway and developed the unmarketable skill of knowing only how to make turns with a jumbo jet, not how to land it. Their car renting histories have been tracked; we even know that one of them rented an adult film on motel pay-per-view. "Atta's driver's licence may not have been in order but there were some 200,000 outstanding traffic warrants in Broward County." Meanwhile, as plans continue to stage a national protest this October at the gates of Pine Gap, we present our second instalment of SCOTT CAMPBELL-SMITH's history of the Pine Gap protests of the ‘eighties. Mr Campbell-Smith is an anti-militarisation activist and a resident of Alice Springs.

To spy or not to spy may be the question now, but it was a long time before Australians became aware that spying was indeed the purpose of the facility at Pine Gap.Construction began with a mysterious bitumen road built in 1966. Local people were told it was for the bore-field but it continued straight past that area and into the scrub. Initial construction was complete by 1968 and the base was at least partly operational by 1969. In its early years the facility was said to be a weather station. Some time in the early ‘seventies the official cover became "Space Research Centre". In 1975, however, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam revealed that the head of the CIA, Richard Starlings, had played an important role in setting up Pine Gap and had made significant financial contributions to the National Party. Whitlam further threatened not to renew the lease agreement unless Australia was given a fuller participation in its operations and the intelligence it collected. In 1977 an American, Christopher Boyce, was tried for selling secrets to the Russians and testified that, during his time working there, the Pine Gap facility had regularly monitored Whitlam and other Australians. This is the backdrop to the local story, which begins in the mid-seventies. In 1976-77 Philip Nitschke, who later became a medical doctor known for his voluntary euthanasia activism, was working as a ranger at Simpson's Gap and as caretaker for the Temple Bar Caravan Park. He recalls: "You could get a really good view of the base from the top of the hill [at Temple Bar] and I had an almost continuous stream of people who wanted to have a look, so I was more or less doing tours up to the same spot on top of the hill. "That's really where my interest started, it grew into a sort of informal monitoring of the place. "Des Ball [currently Head of Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU] had just finished his book, A Suitable Piece of Real Estate, and I got in contact with him. "I'd ring him up and say things like, ‘They've started building this thing and what do you think that might be?'."That was when we formed the group ‘Concerned Citizens of Alice Springs'. "At that stage it was all about getting people to consider the issue and we did put out a newsletter. I was running around trying to get people around town, who were already much too busy with other work, to devote time to this issue. "John Reeves [now a Darwin QC and author of the former CLP government's enquiry into the land councils] was incredibly important at that stage … "His interest waned after a certain point, and there were a few other people, but it was mostly pretty thin on the ground and that was part of why I started to get in contact with other groups nationally, to broaden the support base. "They were mostly peace and anti-war groups, and they had broader connections again, to church groups and unions." This work culminated in a conference held in Alice Springs during Easter, 1981, with plans taking shape for a major protest.
NEXT: The Women's Peace Camp – "courageous, controversial... but, when it all ended, the base was still there."


Wests Cricket Club set the record books in motion on the weekend when they defeated all challengers in A, B, C, and Under 16 Grades. The celebrations were on the go by mid afternoon Sunday, as players from each of the minor grades gathered at Albrecht Oval to see if their premier team, the A Grade could get over the line. The A Grade game was a real grand final. RSL had set an imposing 255 run target for West on day one. The Razzle had enjoyed what pundits believed to be the best of the pitch conditions on the Saturday and put together a score to test the best. Openers Graham Schmidt and Rod Dunbar compiled 63 before the loss of Schmidt's wicket, caught by Sean Cantwell off the bowling of Darren Clarke for 29. Dunbar however was unaffected by the loss and remained at the crease until the fall of the eighth wicket. In this time he scored 93 invaluable runs, hitting the ball in the meat of the bat and plummeting the boundary. In partnering Dunbar, Jeff Whitmore scored 13 before Ken Vowles snapped him up off the bowling of Jeremy Bigg. Saviour from the elimination final, Jamie Smith, then copped an LB off Vowles to return to the pavilion for three. Scott Robertson was bowled by spinner Kevin Mezzone for a humble 13, and it was left to Troy Camilleri and later Luke Southam to assist Dunbar in the run getting. Camilleri's 26 was well timed, but ended when Bigg claimed his scalp. Southam, who has been in some touch with the bat, then found himself stranded and run out for 31. Big Wayne Eglington then succumbed to Vowles for six, and skipper Matty Forster was caught by Mezzone off Vowles when on 13. At the tail, young James Tudor found the going tough and tumbled to a catch by Brian Manning off Vowles and the innings was over at 254. Vowles took 4/49, Biggs 2/46 and Mezzone 2/34. After a sweltering day in the field, the trump card Vowles, who was obviously fatigued, was saved from batting and Peter Lake accompanied Peter Tabart to the crease. In the dying overs of the day Tabart fell to Matt Forster for a duck and stumps were drawn with West at 0/5. On Sunday, Lake took to the crease with Andrew Modra and while Lake fell early as a victim of Forster by way of an Eglington catch for five, Modra did wonders for his batting average. Indeed he stuck to the task and compiled 40 before James Tudor had him caught and bowled. The fall of the wicket brought Vowles to the crease and the game changed complexion. Vowles, acknowledged as the premier batsman in the competition, simply took full control. He put the ball over the fence often. It hit into the pickets more often, and he made singles, twos and threes almost at will. The stocky champion was on a mission and batted like a Test player of old to his 100. From that point however it became evident that the strain of Saturday's bowling and the duress of batting in the heat had taken its toll. He cramped up and showed real signs of distress. A runner was called to his aid, and although doing it hard Vowles was able to crack a total of 141 when his wicket fell "run out." This left the game wide open. Mezzone was settling in and Graham Smith came to the wicket. In normal terms one would have backed Smith to make the required 48 runs. However, he received a delivery from Matt Forster which was judged as caught by wicket keeper Southam, and the local gentleman of sport walked from the crease shaking his head, and out for nine. With the score at 223 trouble again struck for West when Mezzone was given LBW off Forster also for nine. The job was still to be done with the Bloods perched precariously at 8/223, 32 runs in arrears, with Bloods bowler Darren Clarke and schoolboy Ryan Thomson in charge. The RSL boys were in with a real chance, having Forster and Cameron Robertson steaming in, and time on their side. To their credit Clarke and Thomson refused to be sucked into the "go for broke" syndrome. Thomson caressed loose deliveries through the slips cordon, and Clarke waited patiently for the loose ball. As such the pair edged their way to the target, scoring the required number of runs in the 65th over. Clarke, 22 not out, and Thomson 11 not out, walked off as champions. For the RSL it was a huge effort. They had gone to within two wickets of taking the flag. Matt Forster finished the day with 5/50 and James Tudor took 2/47, in a result that will be remembered. But the history books will record that in 2002 Wests won the A Grade, B Grade, C Grade and Under 16 championships.


At the Rugby grand final at Anzac Oval on Saturday night the Eagle finally dropped in with the golden egg, in the form of a premiership, for the club which for 17 years has wandered in the wilderness, for the most part known as the Misfits. In the presentation at the game's end first to come before President Roger Rudduck was Beaven Wilson, one of the old breed Kiwi Warriors who accepted the now traditional "wooden spoon". For Beaven and the Kiwis it was a first, but as the same man had been the manufacturer of the very symbol of cellar dweller status, it was accepted in fine spirit. Beaven spoke from the heart, praising this as being the best year ever for the CARU, with the two battlers of the competition in the final. The Best and Fairest of the finals award went the way of Kiti Fuluna, who returned "home" from Perth for the finals and went terribly close to guiding his Devils to a championship. Jonno Swalger was then presented with the Player of the Season Award, fitting for a pocket dynamo who was instrumental in the Eagles' consistently scoring wins. Fittingly also the trophy was donated by the Golden Oldies, named in honour of Allan Scollen, and presented by his wife. Steve Smith from the defeated side then spoke on behalf of the Devils, congratulating the Eagles, thanking the CARU and the supporters, inviting everyone to the Devils Den for an after party. From there it was the turn of the victors. Tui Ford took centre stage with Joe Dixon to accept the winner's trophy and shield. It was Ford's sincerity which epitomised just what the game is all about. Not only did he go through the traditional "pat on the back" to one and all, but he centred on thanking each family for letting the "boys run around the Park each weekend". For in rugby it is the standards espoused in family life that are reflected. Here in Alice Springs the game has not risen to the dizzy heights of packed stadiums, and injections of corporate dollars. Wives, girl friends, some kids and mates make up the crowd. The referee still has complete control of the game, even down to the keeping of the time via his wrist watch. There is no need for the almighty clock on the mound to vindicate the stage of the play, or how long to go!And on field there are the old hands, blended with the rookies, with numbers often made up by League players. Every one can have a go! Such was the way of the final on Saturday night. Early in the game, Henry Labastida, noted more for his Aussie Rules appearances, took advantage of a double blunder by Devils' defenders to score the opening try for the Eagles. Bob Wong, of Westies Rugby League fame, later stretched the lead to 8-0 when he scored a penalty goal; and late in the half Steve Schmeirer kept Feds in the hunt with a penalty. The half was hard fought with Devils showing the upper hand in the forward pack but unable to capitalise through their backs. In opposition the Eagles had Peter Russell rise to the occasion, bullocking his way through the hard work and keeping the Eagles on top. The five point sway the Eagles held at half time set the scene for a dour second period and for a time the game seemed to reflect the Cubs' situation the week before. The Devils drove in time and again but to no avail. The Eagles repelled the ball from their line with some clever kicking. The crunch in the game came almost 20 minutes into the half when a poor kick out from a Feds' penalty put the ball down the throat of Damien Willy. The champion duly swept down the wing for a try before the Devils could muster a defence. Bob Wong converted and the Eagles were looking comfortable with a 15-3 scoreline. Far from beaten, the Devils didn't falter, as was epitomised by their push over try, scored by Steve Smith. Alas, with Schmeirer out of touch in the kicking department the score sat at 15-8. Just 10 minutes before time Jonno Swalger was tackled without the ball and from the resulting penalty, in front, Wong seemingly shut the gate at 18-8. Not to be beaten, and despite the clock running down, yet again the Devils drove in with Fuluna breaking up the Eagles' line and making a pathway for Ashley Turnbull to score out wide, a belated try. Yet again the conversion was missed and the score remained on 18-13. Minutes later the ref signalled the game's end. History was established for the Eagles. It was a final that may not have had a Campese; John Eales was not in the rucks, nor (in the Devils' case) kicking; but it had two clubs playing the game in the true sense of the word, and a family of rugby supporters enjoying every minute. For John Cooper, Russell Ward and Joe Dixon, the dream had finally been realised. For the CARU it had been the best season yet. In Alice Springs we have a sport to be treasured.


Alice Springs author Jennifer Fallon is back in town and writing, writing, writing. She's working on the third book of her next trilogy: "I have so many ideas spinning around in my head, I wish there were some way to hook up my brain to the computer so I could get all the ideas down at once." Jennifer's first book and the first volume of the Demon Child Trilogy, Medalon, was published by Harper Collins in August 2000 (see Alice News July 19, 2000). It was followed by Treason Keep in January 2001 and Harshini, late last year. Medalon is now in its fifth reprint, while Treason Keep is in its fourth and Harshini, still its first. All three have been accepted for publishing in Germany and Russia. The first book of the second trilogy, The Lion of Senet, will be released by Harper Collins in October this year. It's in the fantasy genre like the first, but this time "without magic". "I call this series the Second Sons Trilogy as the main characters are all second sons." The second volume, The Eye of Labyrinth, is due out in March 2003 followed by the third, The Lord of the Shadows, in October 2003. Jennifer is still working on the third: "I know how it is going to end but I don't know how I'm going to get there. "Once I create a character they seem to take on a life of their own. "I like to put myself in the character's head and see how he or she perceives events going on around him or her. "I also like to take cliches and turn them on their head; I like to do something different with them, like in one of my books the bad guy wears white." With the second trilogy, Jennifer got a letter from Harper Collins thanking her for staying with them, and she's also been given a free hand with what and how she writes. She took a screenplay writing course in Melbourne last year and "learned the art of not wasting words". "I do believe new writers have a tendency to overwrite and to overwrite really badly. "I learned that every word has to count." Jennifer hopes to write a screenplay some day , as well as a kid's book. She's already been asked to write a fantasy story to go with an illustrated book called The Tower for 8-12 year olds. Now she no longer sweats over whether or not she can write, she can concentrate more on the plot. She's got in her head the plot of her next fantasy series, which will be about good and evil and whether or not the end justifies the means."Some of my characters do bad things for good purposes... does this make them good or bad characters and who decides?"Jennifer returned to Alice Springs in mid-February. Alice is home:"I only went away to work on some projects. I never really left. "As it said in Harshini, ‘Jennifer Fallon lives in Alice Springs and works in Melbourne. "Now I live and work in Alice Springs. And now I work part-time and write full time. I am having the best time."

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