May 15, 2002.


An independent report has found serious irregularities in the financial affairs of the Aboriginal-owned Yipirinya School in Alice Springs.
The report says: "The lack of any management reports and financial accounts puts serious doubt on the ability of the principal and council to fulfil funding agent requirements.
"This lack of transparency has developed into a mistrust of financial procedures within the school."
Meanwhile a major staff dispute went before the Industrial Relations Commission sitting in Alice Springs last week.
The report, leaked to the Alice Springs News, says nearly a quarter of a million dollars is "unacquitted", and more than $700,000 Ð apparently operational funding Ð is being spent on the construction of a multi-purpose hall.
Meanwhile the school, funded by the NT and Federal governments, had more than a million dollars in the bank at the end of the 2001 calendar year.
The report says "it would appear that the majority of fund providers have received reports, however, several have significant unexpended amounts remaining, which could result in requests for the return of than funding".The salary costs for the "administrator / accountant", whose performance was vigorously attacked by the report, were $81,000 Ð far more than paid to the principal.
The report, prepared by the Anangu Accounting Agency, according to school council minutes, was commissioned by the Federal Department of Education, Science and Training.
The Alice News asked NT Senator Nigel Scullion for a comment but none had been received by deadline.
A spokesperson for the NT Education Department, which this fiscal year is contributing $164,000 to the running of the school, says she was unaware of the report but would be "very concerned about any improprieties".
She says NT funding is tied to enrolment and attendance, but the report quotes "student attendance policy" among a long list of issues for which a policies and procedures manual should be drawn up "as a matter or urgency".
Other issues are decision-making policy, professional conduct, travel claims, student health and well being, vehicles, purchasing procedures, daily timetable.
Financial issues requiring defined procedures, according to the report, include budgeting, monthly management accounts, annual financial statements and payroll processing.
The report also says cheques should not be pre-signed, and the principal should be made a co-signatory.
The Alice News was unable to get a comment from the school.
Meanwhile Simon Hall, the NT organiser for the Independent Education Union, says the Industrial Relations Commission last Thursday made several orders.
Mr Hall says Deputy President Hampton ordered the school to accord principal Dianne De Vere with the "rightful position as recognised all around Australia".
He also ordered the school council to negotiate with the union in a cooperative manner about a range of industrial issues. Mr Hall says these included issues of classification, correct rates of pay and the general enforcement of the industrial agreement.
Mr Hall says the union has now withdrawn a threat of industrial action.


The current bid to use treated effluent from the sewage ponds for horticulture is the NT Government's first serious attempt Ð but almost certainly not the last Ð to reduce the waste of water from the controversial facility.
PAWA Minister Kon Vatskalis makes it clear that any solution appropriate to our desert environment will be expensive, require some continuing use of ponds, which currently take up valuable real estate, and will need to be sensitive to public attitudes towards drinking recycled sewage.
The proposal currently at the top of the list is pumping treated water from beneath the town Ð now used only to water parks and sporting fields Ð into the mains, and bringing treated effluent into town for the public lawns.
It's one of a string of options under Ð very drawn out Ð consideration by PAWA and local community groups (see Glenn's Glimpse page 2).
Mr Vatskalis says this would be a first step towards taking the pressure off the currently used Mereenie and Roe Creek basins where the levels have been dropping for some years.
He comes to his portfolio with an unusual string of qualifications.
He has a degree in Environmental Health and a graduate diploma in Environmental Science, and prior to entering politics last year, worked for the departments of health in WA and the NT.
He spent several years in Port Hedland which "had the greenest ovals in the Pilbara", watered by treated effluent from a sewage plant very similar to that of Alice Springs.
Mr Vatskalis says Karratha, Newman, Tom Price and Broome followed suite.
However, he readily concedes that Alice Springs' sewage plant, smelly and breeding mosquitoes potentially carrying fatal diseases, is Ð now Ð in the wrong place.
He says: "It takes a lot of space but you have to remember, when this area was developed, nobody was going to live down there [outside the Gap] because there was plenty of land in Alice Springs.
"At the time it was the best solution.
"It doesn't require extra energy.
"You only need properly designed ponds and let the sun do the rest.
"But you don't design this type of plant any more if there is pressure for land."
He says every day, Alice Springs pumps eight million litres of water into the sewage ponds, which hold around 600 million litres, with evaporation the principal method of disposal.
Mr Vatskalis says the water is "sitting out there, just going up into the air, in an arid environment".
But he offers no ready solution to that, the horticultural scheme aside. Its future won't be known until after submissions close in June.
All other alternatives to the ponds, despite repeated public outcries, have been paid little attention by successive CLP administrations over more than a quarter of a century. And unless the NT's first Labor government now spends some very real money, the measures will remain piecemeal and inadequate.
Mr Vatskalis says re-establishing ponds anywhere else would be "very, very expensive".
There are still no hard figures on how much a purification plant to drinking water standard would cost; what the locals would think about it; how much space a state-of-the-art plant would take up; and what benefit home buyers would gain from freeing up some two square kilometres of freehold land, unencumbered by native title, just five minutes' drive from the CBD, but now occupied by the system of sewage ponds.
However, Mr Vatskalis says the cost of a fully-fledged recycling plant is prohibitive because the town is too small.
"The rule of thumb is, the higher the volume, the lower the cost per litre.
"There is not much point in treating eight million litres a day."
He says in Europe, such plants serve communities of five to 10 million people, which makes them economically viable.
Mr Vatskalis anticipates public resistance to recycled sewerage as drinking water, or even to injecting it into underground basins for later use, although he concedes that there has not been a survey of local opinion.
He says in other states "people didn't like the idea of injecting [treated effluent] into the aquifer".
"We have a serious public problem.
"It doesn't matter if the same water runs down the creek, and 20 kilometres further down just naturally seeps into the ground water."
Even in Israel and the US treated effluent is used principally for agriculture.
"It is perceived that there is drinking water available here in Alice Springs from underground basins.
"Effluent is a last resort."
The argument that millions of people depend on recycled Murray River water doesn't cut much ice with Mr Vatskalis: "I'm very glad I'm not the Minister for the Environment in any of these jurisdiction."
Asked to comment on Adelaide's dependence on Murray water he says: "I rest my case. Taste their beer. It is terrible!"
Mr Vatskalis says the degree of treatment for Alice sewage water Ð considering that every further step towards purity incurs greater costs Ð will depend on the demand found in the consultation process finally getting up to speed.
He says the irritating rotten egg smell from the ponds can be alleviated even by purification processes that fall short of drinking water standards: "The moment you put oxygen in you reduce the hydrogen sulphate and blue green algae content, improve the water quality, and cut back the noxious smells."

COLUMN by GLENN MARSHALL: The nitty-gritty of water conservation in Alice Springs.

In Alice Springs we turn on the tap and safe drinking water comes out. But how clever is Alice Springs' overall water system?
The conclusion is " not very clever" when the basic facts are considered:
¥ Our underground water supply is ancient (20,000 years old), is not replenished by rainfall and will cost $70 million to relocate to a new borefield, yet we never have water restrictions and our water conservation messages are old and stale.¥ Household water consumption averages a staggering 1,400 litres per day, that's amongst the highest in Australia and mostly due to garden irrigation, yet there are no incentives to install water-efficient appliances or convert to arid zone gardens.¥ The water price is heavily subsidized by government (priced at 69 cents per kilolitre compared to the supply cost of $1.20), despite overwhelming evidence from elsewhere that if the price is increased, consumption falls and bills stay the same.¥ "System water losses" (leaks, faulty meters and water theft) were a staggering 2,100 million litres last year, up from 900 million litres in previous years and amongst the highest percentage for any Australian water utility.¥ Effluent flows of 3,000 million litres per year are deliberately evaporated into the air at the sewage ponds to get rid of it rather than re-using it as a valuable resource.¥ Of this, around 500 million litres overflows to Ilparpa swamp, creating the worst mosquito health hazard in Central Australia and a hotbed of weeds, feral fish and bird diseases.¥ Current effluent reuse is limited to irrigating horse paddocks at Blatherskite Park and a defunct tree farm.¥ Water under the Todd River (the Town Basin), whilst used to irrigate sports ovals, the golf course and parks, is not well-managed and is causing salinity problems due to high water tables.¥ Rainwater tanks are not encouraged and greywater reuse is illegal in gardens.¥ Stormwater is not captured and soaked in by "water sensitive urban design" in suburbs, instead being rushed into the Todd River by elaborate gutters and drains.Last Friday a water workshop was held in town to progress the Alice Springs Urban Water Management Strategy.
Started two years ago, it promises to reverse the above scenarios to the point where Alice Springs could become a showcase for arid zone urban water management, rather than remain an example of what not to do. It could become a saleable Desert Knowledge commodity.
The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) has been an active community participant in this process that has already seen:
¥ PAWA undertake numerous technical studies to clarify the options for managing the borefield, Town Basin and effluent reuse.¥ The Department of Infrastructure, Planning & Environment (DIPE) agree (on ALEC's initiation) to conduct a water demand management study to work out where and how water can be saved in town.¥ Completion of a pilot Waterwise program at OLSH in 2001/02 (again initiated by ALEC) that will expand into a broader program next year.¥ Formation of an Ilparpa Swamp Rehabilitation Group to fix the swamp (chaired by ALEC).¥ A community workshop held in August 2000 to get input on community desires for town water management.From Friday's workshop, it was clear that PAWA is now focused on their new corporate status and hence all initiatives must be financially viable in their own right to be pursued by PAWA.
It was refreshing however to see other government agencies (and ALEC) arguing that a more holistic approach needs to be taken if Alice Springs is to end up with optimal water solutions that deliver improved environmental, social and financial returns to PAWA, government and the broad community over time (a Ôtriple-bottom-line' approach).
One example is that PAWA has suggested there is no commercial benefit in either increasing or decreasing current annual water extraction from the Roe Creek borefield.
However, it is clear that a reduction in the town's high water consumption is critical for its long-term viability.
To reduce water consumption in town, an investigation will soon commence based on a similar successful program in Kalgoorlie in 1994. That program resulted in the free supply and installation by the WA Water Corporation of water-efficient shower heads, dual flush toilets, mulch, tap timers, drippers, native plants and other things for houses, hotels, schools and businesses.
Government expenditure was recouped by reduction in water volumes and hence less subsidies paid for its supply (similar to Alice Springs). Frustratingly, the current Alice Springs program was meant to commence over 12 months ago but has been continually delayed by government bureaucratic hurdles.
ALEC has recently written to the Minster asking him to hurry his public servants along.
A critical aspect to reducing water consumption is ongoing community education, involvement and incentives to act.
DIPE has recently appointed a water education officer who will progress this role.
This will value-add to ALEC's existing Waterwatch program (until recently run by Robbie Henderson) that works with schools and the general community on water awareness issues. ALEC has also recently secured a $15,000 grant from the philanthropic Myer Foundation in Melbourne to run an innovative Home Water Educators project in town commencing later in 2002.


"The decision of how people vote eventually in Alice Springs is theirs, my determination is to be a good, inclusive government and to deliver on our promises and policies."Chief Minister Clare Martin talks exclusively to KIERAN FINNANE.
The Centre is still CLP country: three out of our five Members of Parliament belong to the party that used to look like it was born to rule in the Territory.How is Labor's Clare Martin as Chief Minister going to win hearts and minds in the Centre?
Nationally she's acclaimed as a "class act".
In December last year she was a guest of the Council for Infrastructure Development in Sydney: 180 people turned out to hear her; compared to 140 for Bill Clinton, and 160 for the Prime Minister.
More recently she gave a speech at the Sydney Institute, a conservative think tank, and got a crowd of well over 100.
"The rest of Australia is still curious about the change of government in the Territory, curious that we have spat out a woman for Chief Minister, and they want to hear whether it's a different Territory now.
"It's a curiosity that I hope we can turn into real benefit for the Territory."If it translates into greater investment, greater migration particularly of the professional people we need in health and education and other business areas, greater tourism potential, then I'll keep doing it as much as I can."In the Centre, the " sell" is more critical: it has to translate into votes.
Her Government is notoriously strapped for cash; there'll be no big spending in this term. How hard is that going to make it?
Ms Martin describes the discovery of the " black hole" as the lowest point of her Chief Ministership thus far.
"We were just coming to terms with winning government and we had carefully costed all our initiatives against the budget papers.
"To be told they were rubbery, to the point of being nine times under what the deficit was, I felt a real kick in the guts about that."
On the bright side Ð she describes herself as " an incurable optimist" Ð it gave her novice Cabinet a crash course in government processes.Having come to office in August, they'd produced a " mini-budget" by November.
Labor has made much of the " black hole" but hasn't the Federal Government's boost to the Territory's coffers helped overcome it?
"The recent readjustment of relativities from the Commonwealth Grants Commission, to the tune of $76.1m, wasn't a gift from Peter Costello to plug the CLP's black hole. It was actually a recognition that it costs more to deliver services in the Territory, and to be able to deliver them on parity with other states.
"If you look at it logically Ð and kindly perhaps Ð the reason the CLP have blown budgets over the last three financial years is that it was costing more to deliver services than we were actually getting in.
"But we still have to raise the revenue to overcome the CLP's black hole."
Labor came to office as a reforming government. Is there any area on their agenda that has been compromised by the lack of funds?
"There are not things that are compromised but we've had to look at our priorities and adjust a little. We made it pretty clear in the election that our top priority was education and training associated with that. In the mini-budget we put more money into education, considerably more money Ð $34m Ð into health, and further funds into police."
The temperature rises when Ms Martin talks about education and training, especially for Indigneous people. She stakes her government's reputation on making a difference there.
"We've pulled education and training together as a department and are now building specific training and employment strategies.
"In education specifically, the Collins report is now of top priority, we've got the task force together, the recommendations are being followed through on.
"We are going to achieve the national literacy benchmarks, that MAP testing for Year Three and Year Five.
"We've made a major commitment to that with the Commonwealth."If we fail on Indigenous education, we've failed. That's our bottom line."
Is a shift possible within her first term?
"We've set out to achieve that."
In other areas Ms Martin believes Territorians will accept belt tightening if it's fair, if everyone, including the government, is doing it.
"In terms of spending on government we are very lean and mean. We're running on two ministers less than the CLP did and that was at a time when all of us were learning the ropes.
"I think ministers were working very hard, and across the board we don't have the extravagance that you saw with the CLP."My concern is that we establish strongly our priorities across the Territory, and that we make sure that the decisions we are making, and the resource decisions especially, are across the Territory.
"We should be providing opportunities in Alice Springs for enterprise development where appropriately a government does that, we're making sure that health and education work well in Alice Springs and surrounding areas.
"The decision of how people vote eventually in Alice Springs is theirs, my determination is to be a good, inclusive government and to deliver on our promises and policies."
Labor won government on the strength of the eight per cent swing to them in Darwin, in a campaign that focussed on Ms Martin as leader. She has always lived in Darwin, which, taking in Palmerston, claims more than half the population of the Territory, and she enjoys a high profile there. How does she see the Territory as a whole? Is it an artificial structure imposed from Darwin on great and irreconcilable disparities or can it be a unity?
"When you look at the profile, the Territory has a fair degree of affluence, but we also have a lot of poverty. In those terms there is quite a strong divide between Territorians.
"Once you get past the traditional Berrimah Line, there is a real sense in the Territory that people have been excluded for a long time and that has built a lot of resentment.
"I also thought that the change of government would be divisive, but I don't think it has been. I've been very gratified by sections of the community who didn't support us saying, ÔWell you're government now, let's get down and work with you'.
"Community Cabinet, which has already been to Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, Yulara, and Nhulunbuy, is one of her responses to the Berrimah Line.
Ms Martin knows she has to win the support of the business community, and she argues her inclusive style is the way to do it. She nominates last year's Economic Summit as one of the high points of the term.
"For the first time you had people around the Territory who had been here for lifetimes or many years who'd never met each other, who'd never talked about whether there was any shared aspiration.
"When Galarrwuy Yunupingu meets major business people and they realise there are shared aspirations, that's really important.
"To have an Economic Summit that says land rights exist, native title exists, how do we move forward from here, how do we have economic development on Aboriginal land, that's really exciting."
So there's a different spirit about, but is there something concrete happening?
"You've got to have the spirit change, the will change, we're starting to see that. That doesn't mean it's not going to be tough.
"But I was thrilled that in the first six months we opened up 70,000 square kilometres of land in Central Australia and South-East Arnhem for exploration, just by simply talking to the stakeholders.
"The process of negotiating directly with the native title holders has started in Alice Springs.
"Alice Springs will only move forward once you have all the stakeholders talking to one another.
"We've had a much better relationship with the land councils than the previous government ever did."There's going to be some robust discussions, but certainly they are very strategic and important groups in the Territory.
"They need to be dealt with appropriately and be part of decision-making.
"Over the years, you had Chief Ministers who had never met with the land councils, had never met with the chairmen. That was a starting point for us."
NEXT: The road to power: how did the girl from a large Irish Catholic family on Sydney's north shore become the woman who led Labor to victory in the Territory?

The car dealership Desert City Motors has been placed under voluntary administration and ceased trading on Monday.
Proprietor Peter Harvey (pictured), ran for Braitling as a CLP candidate last year, and is a past president of the Finke Desert Race.
He says a downturn in car sales had caused recent difficulties, and delays with obtaining a major dealership Ð Mazda Ð had sealed the company's fate.
Mr Harvey says he estimates the firm's "short term" debts at about $200,000, and "probably another $200,000 on top".
It is not yet clear how much creditors will be able to recover.
He says the company is owed about $100,000 Ð some of it possibly in bad debts.The ex-policeman from South Australia, in town for 16 years, has taken part in a major land development scheme in Stephens Road.He says he won't seek to enter politics again and is not sure what he will do in the future.
The dealership, whose premises were opened by Chief Minister Shane Stone in May 1997, will be up for sale until about the end of the week, and Mr Harvey says there is some interest from interstate.

LETTERS: Liquor traders say give trial a fair go.

Sir,- Whilst at work last Wednesday our day was disturbed by the sensational headlines on the front page of the Alice Springs News of May 8.
There for all to see were two photos; one of The Todd Tavern Bottle Shop and the other showing an empty port cask, a 750ml VB bottle and other rubbish, with the bold statement: "Some traders Ôpushing port'".
We were given the opportunity to comment on the trial restrictions but chose to decline. In our view one month into the trial period is too soon to have a valid comment.
Everyone was expecting a shift in product. We all thought it would be port and RTDs, so why is DASA causing such a furore? Have the rules changed? Who is causing headlines now? And not giving the trial a fair go? Who is crying foul?Yet again licensees are being blamed for selling products that problem drinkers are now choosing as their product of choice. Could it be that our warning went unheeded because we are only concerned with dollars?
At many a public meeting we constantly warned of the dangers of product transference and that we would not lose money but in fact could make more. So please don't continue to use us as your whipping boys.
We were opposed to the restrictions and the removal of wine casks but yet again we were accused of being irresponsible for not giving the restrictions a fair go.
After seeing our take away outlet on the front page of the paper I thought I should read the article, I thought that it would have some mention of our premise but after reading the article there was no mention.
Was it because we chose not to comment? Or was it because we don't display port in the take-away section? Whatever the reason could someone please explain why our bottle shop was used on the front page?
Someone once said that a picture is worth a thousand words so why would you read on? You have achieved your aim: you have succeeded in reaching the masses in our community who can't read or who choose not to and in the process you have used our venue.
We did speak to the editor who informed us that our Bottle Shop was the easiest to photograph! I didn't realise that all other take-away outlets were so far out of sight.
I suggest that we are an easy target and that maybe the paper and its staff are too lazy to try and obtain a photo of other venues, after all they would have to enter the premise or property and may be subject to people questioning them.The editor has assured us that he could see no reason for our concerns. Journalists must see things differently from the rest of the community.
The people that have spoken to us are disgusted with the pictures and could see no relevance to our premises at all, but could see that it would be easy to assume the headlines referred to us.
We have restrictions and licensees are selling the products that they are legally allowed to.
Who knows what the next 11 months will hold? But hysterical comments and headlines won't help our problem drinkers.
Practise what you have been preaching, it is only a trial after all!
Ray & Diane Loechel
The Todd Tavern
ED Ð The purpose of the night-time picture, as the caption underneath made clear, was to illustrate the trial's finding that problem drinking now occurs later in the day and evening. Most other large turnover bottle shops (some of which we have pictured in the past) are inside shopping centres, and the lighting is the same night and day.

Sir,- I would like to take advantage of your letters column to make an apology to the proprietors of Northside Foodland Liquor Store, against whom some statements were made in your last week's leading article for which DASA feels itself responsible, and which may have given an inaccurate impression.
Discussions with the Proprietor and the Manager of the liquor store have convinced me of the following:
1) There was no intention to profiteer in the offering of Hoyt's Food Essences for sale. This was a genuine attempt to get rid of surplus stock.
2) There is no substance to the suggestion that clients of the Sobering Up Shelter had been consuming these essences purchased from the Northside Store. Sales figures, which the manager was kind enough to show me, convince me that no inappropriate sales have taken place.
On behalf of the President of DASA I should like to apologise to the proprietor and manager of Northside Foodland Liquor Store for any adverse effects they may have suffered as a result of these imputations.
Nick Gill
Manager, DASA

ANN CLOKE's COLUMN turns one year old.
It's a year since the inception of My Town.
Around Thursday I mentioned to David that I didn't know what to write about this week: there's usually something in particular going on that attracts attention, excites or angers and warrants comment. There's a lot happening, but much has already been written about it.
You've got a weekend coming up, David said, plenty of time for things to develop É
What happens if they don't?
I enjoy your column, people tell me: Sally, from AJ's, did on Thursday at the huge Murray Neck Homeworld Opening.
Terry, our next door neighbour, mentioned over a drink a few weeks ago, that he was in the middle of doing something and that it was a bit of a conundrumÉ A pickle? A poser?Perhaps the sheer joy of living in the Alice and weeks of socialising with friends, Norm, Lee, Terry, Alison, Vicki, Peter, Franca, Freddo, Liz, Garth, Anne, William and others have taken their toll: my brain is now pickled!
Which could explain why I didn't pick many winners out at the track.Norm had a corporate tent for Kwikcon, so we were able to eat, drink and rub shoulders with people in the know (or not) before heading out to place bets with friendly on-course bookmakers.
It was a super day.
Many interstate race-going enthusiasts have said that our facilities, clubhouse and track combined with the general ambience and range views would rival many country racecourses, possibly even Darwin's!
This can only add fuel to the already fiery relationship between The Red Centre and the Top End.
Centralian operators are gearing up for a big tourism season Ð visitors wandering around town, interstate rego plates and coaches bravely negotiating our traffic circles in and around the CBD, are promising signs.
It's comforting to learn that Virgin Blue hasn't entirely shelved the idea of flying into Alice Springs, but at the risk of sounding "old hat" (not the milliners' race day delights), we desperately need that second airlineÉ
While Darwin is vying with Cairns to become the new regional international gateway to Australia, no decisions relating to Centralian skies are likely to be made in the immediate future.
We'll continue to miss out on visitors who don't have the time to take a train, coach, camel or self-drive, but might consider an interlude in the Red Centre if competitive fares were offered.
My niece, god-daughter, Emma, big sis to Lesley-Ann and Bart, turned 18 at the weekend, so David and I hosted a little family celebration on Friday night. Reg, Emma's godfather, and Marge joined us. Reg said that he was pleased I'd been overseeing Emma's religious instruction: I hadn't realised that he wasn't!
I was thinking about his comments, the "Honk If You Think You're Jesus" bumper bar stickers which appear spasmodically around the town, religion per se, and that Emma and her friend Davin are heading to Darwin to watch the V8 Supercars battle it out at Hidden Valley.
I've asked them to do a bit of a survey whilst they're on the road: a "Honk If You Think Alice Also Merits Virgin Air".
I'm confident there'll be much horn blowing É and Centralian kids will know exactly what that big silver bird is É planespotting, not trainspotting É
An older couple, visiting from Nowra, told me on Friday how lucky we are to live here.
They said: We love it! We'll be back soon.
Some days are so much better than others É it's a real conundrum.


Aussie Rules fans enjoyed a top fixture at Traeger Park on Sunday when West and Rover fought out a game that went down to the wire.
In the curtain raiser Pioneer had a convincing yet predictable win over Federal, but the game was worth watching.
West defeated Rover 17.5 (107) to 12.7 (79); and Pioneer scored a 17.14 (116) victory over Federal 8.7 (55).
West began their game running, Michael Gurney, who has in recent years been better known as a defender, relished the opportunity in the forwards, booting the Bloods' first goal.
Prize recruit Jarrod Berrington then popped into the play with a telling second full pointer to instil an air of supremacy in the West ranks.
This was soon countered however by Chris Tilmouth's torpedo punt goal from some 50 metres to keep the Blues in the hunt.
Jarrad Slater replied with a goal for West, only to see Josh Schultz score for the Blues, followed by a Nathan McGregor six pointer right on the bell. In the quarter Rovers suffered from the yellow carding of Brett Wright, and so did well to lead 4.2 to 3.1 at the first break.
West brought themselves back into contention when Rovers, from a back pocket kick in, dropped the ball into the hands of Wests' Justin Bentley who capitalised by booting a goal.
Josh Schultz didn't allow the Blues' rhythm to fade as he replied with two goals to keep his side in front. Damon Prenzler came good with another goal for Rover and Tilmouth added another to give his side a feeling of confidence. In the West quarter Berrington was literally "sucked in" to a dummy spit and rewarded with a yellow card which could have proven fatal for the Bloods. The team from Milner Road rallied however and had Rory Hood run rampant in the forward area, posting two successive majors to have them within touch at 8.4 to 6.2 at half time. West were trailing by two goals and in touch, but in the dying minutes of the quarter Dylan Brooke fell awkwardly and left the ground, hospital bound with an ankle injury.
In the third, and telling quarter, West made a move but didn't reap the rewards largely due to a lack of system in the forward line. Time and again they blazed into the goal square area only to see Edric Coulthard take possession and drive the ball back into Rovers' attacking zone.
With due respect to defenders, Josh Flattum and friends across half back held the fort for Wests while Carl Gunderson and Andrew Crispe came in to the game in the pivot and forward areas. West scored five goals to three for the quarter.
Michael McDonald was responsible for two goals; and Berrington, Crispe and Hood scored, to have West only four points in arrears at three quarter time. Champions for the Blues' cause were the veteran from Southern AP John Winderlich, who scored a crucial goal, and the champion of a bygone era, Nathan McGregor who scored a further two.
Early in the last quarter Gunderson did the job for West, putting them in front for the first time in the game.
In response Brett Wright calmly put through a 50-metre pearler to arrest the lead for Rovers. The lead was short lived however as the West skipper, Andrew Crispe, in his return match took control of proceedings. He took advantage of forward play and scored a goal, followed by one from Hood. But then as a true captain he drilled a major from 50 metres to put the game in Westies' hands. The Blues wilted and the Bloods ran on. Henry Labastida ran in a major and then Rory Hood completed the trick, giving West victory by 28 points.
West were well served by Sheldon Liddle, Crispe, Gunderson, Labistida, Hood and Slater. For the losing side, Edric Coulthard was a worthy recipient of the man of the match award. Schultz played extremely well, as did Brendan Smith in defence.
The curtain raiser was a first versus fifth draw, with Pioneers hot favourites from the outset against Federal.
To add to Federal's woes, Daniel Palmer, and Ralph and Craig Turner, three guns, did not run on.
Pioneer blazed early putting on five goals to nil in the first term.
To their credit Federal found their feet and returned a reply from then on. The second term was a three goal to two affair. At the big break Pioneer held a 8.8 to 2.2 lead.
In the third term it was expected that the Eagles would steam to victory. However, Federal battled well. Trevor Dhu was in hot form in front of goal and on his way to another 11-goal haul for the match. Lachlan Ross was again putting in well, and Adam Taylor was a live wire around the packs. The little battlers in the Feds' quarter included Darren Young, who again must have picked up best and fairest points for his club, as well as Farron Gorey and Charlie Lynch.
The 12.11 to 5.5 was far from the three-quarter time scoreline that many pundits would have expected.
In the final term the same dogged approach by the underdogs saw them save the day from a wipeout. Feds scored three goals while the champions put on five.
The 61 points win was a tribute to Pioneers, but did not leave Federal in tatters.
Trevor Dhu again showed he is on track for a 100- goal season. He led as a true forward and had the ball passed to him on a platter on many occasions. Down field the good work of Robby Taylor, Wayne McCormack and Graeme Smith set the scene for victory.
For Federal, Desmond Jack impressed with five goals. Young, Gorey, Lynch and Graham Hayes were most competitive.
This week West play South in the pipe opener, and Pioneer play Rovers. On form one would expect West and Pioneer to come home with the bacon.


When is an undefeated team and grand final victor not a winner?
When they come from south of the Berrimah Line, that's when!
Junior sport in the Territory may be alive and well, but in shaping a new administrative structure to conduct NT Junior sporting competitions, organisers may have unleashed a red herring to ruffle the very fins of the big barras of the north.
Last week a team of Centralians ventured to the capital of our Territory to participate in an Australian Rules Under 16 Carnival.From Alice, Danny Measures, a great dad, volunteered as coach; Ian Taylor, from the FDF, was manager; and Cal Dean, a retiree who gives his heart to the game in the Centre, accompanied the team north.
Each player contributed $500 to the cost of the trip and the CAFL came good with $2000.
In Darwin the Alice team applied themselves to the task at hand. They defeated Sanderson High School first up, 8.5 (53) to 0.1 (1).They then accounted for Elliott, 10.9 (69) to nil.
Palmerston were the next to go down when Alice defeated them 6.5 (41) to 2.3 (15).
The Katherine side then took on Alice and found themselves beaten 13.4 (82) to nil.
Next on the Alice agenda were St Johns, a traditional force in the competition. Alice again ruled with a 9.3 (57) to 2.2 (14) win.In the grand final, Alice remained undefeated by downing Dripstone High, 5.4 (34) to 4.4 (28).In most terms of reference, a side that has gone through with six straight wins, including the grand final would be declared the winner overall, but not so apparently when a country team is competing in Darwin.
Our boys were presented with a medal each as Combined Team Premiers. We also had Matt Campbell, Nelson Kenny, Luke Ross, Luke Adams and Braydon Buckley named in the Under 15 NT squad. Other players no doubt should qualify for Under16 selection when that squad is named shortly.
But then the organisers came in with a whammy that left the undefeated team and its supporters scratching their heads!
To be the true winners of the Carnival all members must have represented a single "cluster" group from the Territory! The Alice team did not represent a single "cluster" and so were determined as being the combined victors but not outright winners.
The "cluster" concept is a bureaucratic one. In recent times the Territory has been divided up into these succinct subsets to assist in effective administration. In Darwin there are two clusters. Palmerston is one in its own right. Then in the South are two clusters, the Desert Oaks and the Central Storm. It is the strip of railway line through Alice that divides these clusters. Hence ASHS kids and those from Anzac or Centralian cannot, in terms of cluster affiliation, be mixed on (or off) the field of sport, as an Alice Springs team.The Desert Oaks conduct their operations west of the railway in Alice and so have ASHS, Papunya, Yuendumu, Kintore etc in their holding yard. The Storm on the other hand encompass schools from Borroloola to Finke, including Tennant Creek and Elliot.To draw a combined team from either of these clusters would be a challenge, or even a nightmare, a budgetary impossibility, and very much unlike the position the two Darwin clusters and the Palmerston cluster find themselves in.In their wisdom the sports organisers have dictated that teams could come to the Carnival in Darwin, but if not playing as exclusively cluster members they had no chance of winning the coveted outright victors' trophy.
Because the Alice Springs team travelled as one, the defining line, the railway line through our town meant they could not win, regardless of their achievements.In providing their child with an opportunity to compete at Territory level, Alice families put together $500 a head and the CAFL added more, so that they could go to Darwin only to be told that being undefeated and winning the grand final does not constitute being a true "winner".
The winner's trophy now sits with the second placed side, in the Dripstone High School china cabinet!
To some, the matter may sound like another Alice Springs dummy spit. But in netball the same scenario also applies, as it does with all other junior sports at this level. The drums are beating that the Berrimah Line is alive and well!


What drives a mother to kill her children?
It's a big question with no simple answers, as the Year 12 drama class at OLSH has found out.

When they first read Euripides' Medea, they all hated the notorious ancient Greek murderess.
Then as they explored the text and the characters, their attitudes totally changed. Andrea Jennings, who plays Medea, says she and her fellow cast members want to take their audience on this same journey.

"At the end of the play I don't want them to clap, I want them to be arguing in their minds, like we have, about why she did it, how she could do it.
"It was not just a simple act of revenge. She is a woman who has been taken to her last limits, whose world has fallen apart."
One of the ways the students developed their understanding was through writing their character's biography as an autobiography.
Natalie Wheeler, who plays Medea's children's nurse, says if she gets really into her character, she'll cry. She wrote in her autobiography that she was Medea's nurse as well as the children's, so her emotional involvement with them all runs deep.
"It'll hit hard," warns Andrea.
Apart from tackling these challenging themes in a classical Greek text, the cast has lost two members and lately, Andrea and Nicole Frahn, who plays the Queen of Corinth, have been rehearsing opposite phantoms.
The only male in the class, who had the role of Jason, Medea's husband of Argonauts' fame, left school, while the girl who was playing the Queen's daughter, moved to Darwin.
OLSH is flying in former Centre Stage actor, Cale Morgan, now making a career in Sydney, to take the role of Jason.
He'll have just four days of intensive rehearsals with the cast, though he and Andrea have had a run-though on the phone.
"I didn't think it would work," says Andrea, "but it has helped. At least I know now what he sounds like."
Meanwhile, a Year 10 student, Brianna Tonkins, has taken on the role of the princess.
The absence of male drama students has meant a number of adaptations to the play, a problem the Year 11 class haven't had to face. In fact, they've got boys playing girls.
Their production is a comedy, The Poet and the Women, by Aristophanes, in which a man in drag infiltrates the Vestal Virgins to find out "what women want" (contemporary allusions intended).
According to cast member Alan Tunney, the challenge, once they had understood the classical text, was to put across its "adult themes without being tacky".
"It's full of double entendre," says fellow actor Rohan Naismith.
The two are keen to promote drama studies to boys out there.
"Being on stage is a great confidence booster," says Alan.
"We do voice exercises and that really helps with other things like oral presentations. It gives you good skills all round," says Rohan, "like memorising lines and not being ashamed of your self when you have to get up in public."The plays, directed by Bryn Williams and both M rated, will be performed next Thursday, May 23, at Araluen.

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