DELIBERATE FIRES BURN VAST AREAS. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
Bushfires, started from deliberately lit roadside fires, last week
devastated thousands of square kilometres of the Centre, with
far-reaching impacts on not only the environment, but tourism, health,
road and air safety.
The fire on Owen Springs Station will undoubtedly slow down development plans for the area, still in the pipeline after the Territory Government acquired the property from the estate of the late pastoralist, Lizzie Milnes. Police investigations into who was responsible for starting the fire are continuing.
Fire burning north of Yulara last Wednesday travelled 60 kilometres in 24 hours, a horrendous rate for fire to move and an indication of the severity of the fire threat Central Australians are facing, says Bushfires CouncilÕs Neil Phillips.
"People might see a fire burning 30 kilometres away and not realise, that under the worst conditions, it will be on them in just half a day."The Yulara fire followed hot on the heels of a devastating fire on Owen Springs Station just south of Alice Springs, which was finally contained at midnight last Tuesday after burning from late Saturday afternoon.
Fires in inaccessible country in the Waterhouse Range on Owen Springs continued to burn until the weekend.Some 13 appliances and up to 40 people, spread over three locations, were involved in fighting the Owen Springs blaze, including about 10 Bush Fire Brigade volunteers as well as Jimmy and Ben Hayes from Undoolya Station.
"They were land managers helping land managers, we asked them and they came.
"None of us can do it on our own and we'd all be dead in the water without the volunteers."We threw more resources into fighting that fire than we have for a long time," says Mr Phillips.
The back as well as the head of the fire had to be contained."Normally the back, because it is burning into the wind, will go out, but it was burning so strongly we had to burn back into it."To have to do that is very rare."
At one stage, with the fire burning on a 25 kilometre front, had it jumped the containment line it would have threatened the Pine Gap facility, the gaol, Brewer Industrial Estate and the airport.
And if a separate fire had broken out then on the other side of town, fire-fighting services would have been stretched to breaking point.
Station people would have been called upon, but residents, especially in the rural areas, should be prepared to protect their own assets, warns Mr Phillips.
"Don't just count on the fire services, because the reality is we may not be able to be there."
All grasses should be slashed and removed from around living areas, and people should equip themselves with extra lengths of hose to put out spot fires."Only good rains will change the threat, and the outlook for that is pretty grim," says Mr Phillips.
The Owen Springs blaze started on the Saturday from deliberately lit fires on both sides of the road to Hermannsburg, "notorious for being lit up".
Another fire was deliberately lit on the same road on Sunday afternoon.
The fire that burnt through to Yulara, after burning out the north of Curtin Springs station, also started from a fire deliberately lit on the side of the road.
(Two other fires had battered Curtin Springs over the previous two weeks, one from a lightning strike near Mt Connor and another from a truck that burst into flames on the Lasseter Highway.)"This is costing us dearly," says Mr Phillips."Some 680 square kilometres burnt out on Owen Springs and the fire that burnt through to Yulara would have been three to four times larger. It is tragic to see big pieces of country burnt like this and it's not inevitable."We will always get fire from lightning strikes but they usually start in the hills and are less likely to spread as quickly as grass fires.
"Without rain Owen Springs will take a long time to regenerate and there will be a hell of a lot of raised dust."This will have health impacts, road and aviation safety impacts, impacts on tourism."
Had preventive burning taken place on Owen Springs and Curtin Springs?As the Alice News reported two weeks ago, this year's window of opportunity for prescriptive burning was very small.
Mr Phillips says Curtin Springs tried a couple of times earlier in the year but the fires got away from them.
Bushfires Council could only burn when they had good resources because of the difficulty in containing fire, even when overnight temperatures were well below zero. This was due to the extreme dryness of the country and its high fuel load following summer rains.
The regeneration brought by the rains meant that some country that burnt in September and October last year has already burnt again this year Ð devastating for the trees and shrubs in the landscape. Grasses respond better to fires that occur in close succession.
What efforts have been made to raise awareness in bush communities about the dangers of lighting up country?
Mr Phillips says the Central Land Council has raised the issue at various regional council meetings.
Bushfires Council have focussed their efforts on schools. However, they have been severely hampered this year by having to chase fires right through the winter."The fire season really started back in March and has been intensifying since mid-August."
TOUR SELLING BODIES COMBINED, AND WILL STAY IN GOVT. HANDS. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The NT Government will not only keep its tourism wholesale arm,
Territory Discoveries (TD) in public hands, it will combine it with the
Holiday Centre, the government's Alice Springs based information and
Both will be split away from the NT Tourist Commission (NTTC) and run as a separate Government Business Division.
This will free the NTTC from any conflict of interest when pitching tourism "product" to other wholesalers and retailers.
The decisions are a major result of the ongoing review of the commission, and fall in line with the wishes of the majority of the industry.
A small but vocal minority had been advocating privatising or out-sourcing the commission's marketing functions.
Tourism Minister Paul Henderson says the government's decision followed extensive public consultation, in which 90 per of the tourist industry declared TD should remain under government control.
Mr Henderson says the new organisation will:-
¥ offer an on-line booking facility utilising a new state-of-the-art reservations system;
¥ increase the number of NT tour operator products it has on sale;
¥ continue to develop travel programs pitched at niche markets Ð like the NTTC's Fishing Adventure program and the Nature and Cultural Experiences brochure;
¥ expand into the New Zealand market;
¥ develop campaigns to build the shoulder season periods of March to June and September to November.
In a remark clearly addressed to the industry segment that claims the government should not be in competition with private industry, Mr Henderson says TD will "continue to operate without aggressively seeking to build market share by preferred retail agreements and or price driven initiatives".
In other words, the new look TD won't be undercutting private firms with taxpayer subsidised specials.
At present TD Ð not including the Holiday Centre Ð is costing the government $1.5m a year.
It has a brief of developing the industry by including in its marketing small or fledgling operators unlikely to be serviced by private wholesalers.
TD currently sells 1500 products from 180 Territory operators to 2000 retailers.
NTTC managing director Maree Tetlow says a privatised wholesaling operation would drop the majority of the products and restrict its range to possibly 70 or 80.
This would make the wholesaler "more profitable than now" but the government's mission of developing the industry by including the "mums and dads" operations would fall by the wayside.
The review is also seeking to reshape the NTTC's relationship with the four regional tourism associations (RTAs).
The draft report recommends a departure from the existing funding formula, which dates back to the bed tax, declared unconstitutional by the High Court.
At present the NTTC pays to the Alice Springs and Darwin RTAs $640,000 each, $320,000 to Tennant Creek and $400,000 to Katherine Ð money doled out irrespective of the RTAs' achievements in tourism.
It is now proposed to direct funds to where they are likely to enhance existing attractions or create new ones.
Ms Tetlow says funding choices may become "market driven, looking at consumers' preferences".
In other words, an RTA able to further the Territory's range of attractions would get an increase in funding at the expense of RTAs with less to contribute.
Says Ms Tetlow: "Our RTA partnership agreement is under review, and we are looking at allocating a portion of the current funds toward destination development.
"What proportion is allocated this way and how this will be allocated is up for review.
"This destination development portion will most likely be allocated by the number and priority of actual and potential destinations within each region. These destinations within the regions will be determined by consulting with industry and the RTAs."
The commission is looking at switching performance statistics from "bums in seats" style visitor numbers, to money spent, so that promotion can be targeted at the bigger spenders, the high yield market.
For example, North American and Japanese visitors spend twice as much per day as do Australians.
North Americans spend $215 a day, or a total $640 for their average stay of just under three days.
In all, North Americans spend $43m a year in the NT, or seven per cent of the Territory's $615m income from tourism.
Japanese spend $228 a day, or $782 during their average stay of just under 3.5 days.
But interstate visitors spend only $108 a day, staying 7.5 days, forking out a total of $814.
Ms Tetlow says low-spending back packers don't need much promotion Ð they come anyway.
The "grey" market and retirees travelling in their own vehicles are also inexpensive to attract.
Ms Tetlow describes NT business tourism Ð including the highly lucrative incentive travel market Ð as "relatively new".
In reply to recent comments by visiting US and British incentive tour operators, that Central Australia is poorly promoted, Ms Tetlow says: "Our business travel unit is called the NT Convention Bureau and we have one staff member each in Sydney, Darwin and Alice Springs, in addition to the manager, a total of four. Their charter is to gain leads for business, then bid for and win business Ð or assist our industry to do this.
"We have increased business tourism by 20 per cent in the past year to over $900,000 in 2002/03. Our very rough data shows we had 38,663 delegates in 200/01 and 40,007 in 2001/02.
"We are not sure what proportion of these are incentives Ð as our industry partners are not all able to identify them.
"The NT is represented at major incentive shows around the world (about four a year) along with the other major convention bureaux from around Australia," sys Ms Tetlow.
"An important part of Dreamtime [held in Central Australia this year, and to which the Australian Tourism Commission invited more than 100 top international incentive tour operators] will be our ability to follow-up with those buyers who attended and keep in contact with them.
"We believe there were up to seven potential pieces of business for the NT that may come about (at this early stage) as a result of the Dreamtime event."
There is lively debate in the industry about how much the NTTC spends on marketing, with the accepted target being more than 50 per cent of its $27.15m budget.
Only $3m Ð around 11 per cent Ð goes to an advertising agency but Ms Tetlow says the percentage is 52 per cent and includes "information provision, product distribution, media, public relations, advertising, etc".
The remaining expenditure is as follows:-
¥ Research 5%.¥ Product and infrastructure development 9%.¥ Advice to government 3%¥ Grants and community service obligations (Virgin, RTAs, TD funds injection, Port Authority) 21%.¥ Administration Ð corporate support personnel, rent, power, insurance (up by 30% this year) 9%.
[FOOTNOTE: We reported last week that the tourism review had been "12 months in the making". In fact it was started about six months ago. The Alice News regrets the error.]
HARDER TEST FOR BROLGAS ENTRIES.
All entries into this year's Brolga Awards will be subjected to
on-site inspections for the first time, and receive point scores from
Previously the entrants were assessed mainly on the basis of their own submissions and subjected to spot checks only.
However, says Brolga organiser Paul Styles, the entrants will be advised of the time of the inspections, enabling them to be prepared.
"There will be no mystery shoppers."
But Mr Styles says the awards are "evolving continuously" and possibly under-cover inspections will be introduced in the future.
There will be limited time for the inspections: entries close on October 21 and the winners will be announced on November 23 at a ball in Alice Springs.
Last year there were 60 entries, and 90 businesses have expressed an interest in entering this year. Mr Styles says his "best guess" is that 700 NT businesses would be eligible to enter the Brolgas.
Central Australian tourism identity Keith Castle is still the chairman of judges and there will be several judging teams.
Mr Styles says this is the fourth year that the awards have been run by a branch of the Chamber of Commerce rather than the NT Tourist Commission.
Tourism Minister Paul Henderson has criticised the Alice Town Council for not adequately supporting the Brolgas, saying a $15,000 contribution would be more appropriate than the $5000 promised.
Ald Michael Jones replied: "We can't pull money out of the air.
"This is an NT Government responsibility.
"What if the journalists are having a party É should the council put in $15,000 in ratepayers' funds?"
Mr Styles says the ball is self-funding from ticket sales. The Brolgas get $80,000 in cash from the NT Tourist Commission plus undisclosed support from private sponsors.
The major "platinum" sponsor is the NT News, followed by Channel 8 (gold); the Alice Convention Centre and Qantas (silver); and Paspali Pearls and The Exhibitionist (bronze).
Mr Styles says part of the support Ð he won't say exactly how much Ð is "in kind", for example, newspaper features.
ÔThe majority of sponsorship is in kind," he says. In turn the sponsors are also suppliers of paid services to the Brolgas.
MANAGING BLACK LAND.
Planning for Country
Eds Fiona Walsh and Paul Mitchell
Jukurrpa Books, 2002
203pp. Review by KIERAN FINNANE
Living "between two worlds" is almost a clichŽ about what it is like to be an Aboriginal person in contemporary Australia, yet it is scarcely understood.
One of the values for the general reader of the recent IAD Press publication Planning for Country is that it paints a picture of "between worlds" living in everyday situations Ð people looking after their homelands and their resulting encounters with bureaucracy, the tax man, businesses and so on.
If these encounters are sometimes fraught for white Australians, they can be truly mystifying and very stressful for Aboriginal Australians, as Jim Downing, one of the contributors to the book, so clearly explains in the diagram (pictured below) and the following:
"The Aboriginal world and the non-Aboriginal world in Australia overlap. Many people are in the area where the two worlds or cultures overlap.
"An Aboriginal person looking into his or her own world has a wide and clear field of vision. He or she has a good knowledge of that world. But when that person looks into the white man's world the field of vision is narrow and foggy (mystification)."The white person looking into his or her own world has a wide and clear field of vision É But when that person looks into the Aboriginal world the field of vision is narrow and foggy (mystification).
"Each makes up myths to explain the other culture and people. Those myth stories cause further confusion."Anyone between the two worlds is under constant pressure and tension, and open to stress, burnout and breakdown.
"It can happen to insensitive white staff in a short time. It can happen over a long period to sensitive and concerned staff who live and work in the Aboriginal world.
"However, white people can leave that in between area and return to their own world. It is much harder for Aboriginal people to do so. The non-Aboriginal world overlaps their world most of the time.
"Aboriginal people live most of their lives in that hard, in-between state. "Helping each party to understand each other's world view clears mystification and increases knowledge and cooperation."
A further value of Planning for Country is that it gives many concrete accounts of parties coming together to achieve just this.
Co-editor Paul Mitchell, in his contribution titled "Money story", describes his visit to an Aboriginal owned cattle station a week after the sale of 200 head of cattle. He was there to assist with book-keeping.
The directors did not understand that expenses had swallowed up the income from the sale and that there was no profit to distribute. They became violently angry with Mitchell.
Mitchell writes that there are many such stories of people expected to manage enterprises but who have never had the training to do so.What is heartening is that there are now effective methods of introducing such people to financial management systems.One is "business modelling" which helps them explore business prospects using floor maps and gammon (pretend) money. A facilitator assists by asking questions about things people may not have been aware of.
Gammon money is also used to "tell" money stories: gammon $100 notes are stacked into different piles to develop a budget. These can be replicated by bar graphs. Once people have grasped the concepts, the bar graphs can be used in financial planning and accounting.
Mitchell reports that Aboriginal companies supported by the Central Land Council in the four years to June 1998 grossed $5.9m. Their accountant used bar graphs to present financial information at regular directors' meeting and the directors were able to discuss management options in a way they had not previously been able to.
Understanding legal responsibilities is also vital for land managers. Downing, who has been involved in cross-cultural education for more than 40 years, reports on a common complaint that white people's law is "a lie".Aboriginal people think, "They make a law, then if they don't like it they change it, the next week or month or year."
His response has been to introduce people to the concept of the Australian Constitution as "foundation law", holding everything together and protecting people's rights.
"We explain how difficult it is to change that law, and explain a referendum."Statute law and common law are explained as Ôeveryday law' for the control of society and people's behaviour, which can be changed much more easily."We then discuss Aboriginal society's traditional Ôconstitutional' or Ôfoundation' law and the difficulty of changing this É"Traditional Ôcommon law' or everyday law for the control of people's behaviour in the community can be changed much more easily."
Over and over again contributors to the book emphasise the importance of visual communication and very plain English when working in cross-cultural situations.
Photo-based books have become commonly used tools for recording work that is done.
They offer a way for people to find out about what is happening in other areas, a way of telling their own story, recording it for their children and grandchildren, and they often show areas of country rarely visited but still held dear.
The book abounds with illustrations of all sorts of hand drawn maps, charts, and tables used in what is called "participatory planning", the key concept the book promotes.
Mitchell gives a clear account of the alternative to the current "donor-recipient" approach of government and non-government agencies, which he says is an obstacle to Aboriginal people recovering management of their land, creating "a sit-down-and-wait, cargo cult mentality".It distracts people from pursuing their own goals and encourages the lottery of "farming the government".
"It distorts people's views about the non-Aboriginal economic system, to the extent that they believe it is not based on reciprocity and they therefore have no obligations in relation to grant money."The alternative is a "mutual responsibility" approach of which participatory planning is an integral part, where Aboriginal people and agencies are partners, all with knowledge, wisdom, energy and resources to contribute, and all with obligations that are agreed upon up front.
There are lots of accounts in the book, usually transcribed interviews, by Aboriginal people themselves who have worked with these kinds of processes.
I appreciated hearing these Aboriginal voices, getting some idea of context on different homelands and some insight into the wide range of experiences that people have.
Above all I enjoyed the sense of empowerment of Aboriginal people, the sense that a better future is possible, although, as the editors note, participatory planning should not be left to stand alone: "These processes É need to be complemented by conventional scientific research, by expert information or support from outsiders."
I'll give the final word to Lizzie Giles, a Ngaatjatjarra woman who has worked as an interpreter and translator for about 10 years. She urges facilitators of the processes to persevere:"That kind of information should have been given to Aboriginal people a long time ago. As soon as they were self-managed, when everything was handed back to Aboriginal people.
"That should have been done and there should have been a couple of years where all those things were taught to people, like meeting procedures, administration and money, and all that. But it wasn't done. They just said, ÔHere, you're in control. Go ahead.'
"And we made a big mess of it, and they said, ÔOh, you blackfellas don't know anything. We are going to take it back and we're going to be in control.'
"But how many times did whitefellas make a mistake over the history of all these things? They still do."
Notorious Territory. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.
"I can't wait to see next week's News," Eileen enthused, as she
manoeuvred her husband Jim out to where David and I were attempting new
"Why?" I asked.
"Aren't you going to mention Lori's party and all of us?" Eileen inquired.I wasn't actuallyÉLori's brother, Alan, with wife Wendy, were here from Western Australia for the first time ever. Glenys, Jeran and Bill, also from the west, joined others from Adelaide.
Kevin flew from Dallas to Alice to help Lori, Lia, Ben and Steve, celebrate. White tablecloths and floral centrepieces promised a stunning evening, wining and dining, on the banks of the Todd River at the Telegraph Station. The enormous starry night sky and dulcet sounds, thanks once again to Jim and Dave, set the mood: a wonderful way to celebrate our friend Lori's birthday in the Alice.What I was really going to focus on is that I've received a couple of calls from friends interstate asking what on earth is happening in the Territory: this question was prompted by national media coverage regarding the release of a prisoner from Alice Springs to enable him to travel to Nyrripi to face his victim's family and undergo payback under traditional Aboriginal law.
This is viewed by most Australians as sanctioned barbarism, and it is savage. Law enforcement officers and medical staff watched whilst the punishment was administered.
The one day's imprisonment handed down to the 50 year old man from Manin-grida, Arnhem Land, who had sex with a 15 year old girl has prompted much reaction. It would seem that the rights of Aboriginal men and recognition of customary law far outweigh human rights of young Aboriginal girls.
I, along with thousands of others, have signed an international human rights petition to try to save Amina from death by stoning.
She's Nigerian and her only crime was to have a beautiful little daughter outside wedlock Ð she is guilty under traditional Islamic sharia law. The same law punishes theft by cutting off a hand.
Cultural differences may be recognised and accepted, but acts of violence, domestic abuse, under age sex and crimes against women and children cannot be tolerated.
Australia is supposed to be a civilised nation. Payback is part of traditional tribal law. Our judicial system is based on equality.
In the 21st century, in today's courtroom, is the real trial going to be how to incorporate some aspects of tribal law into our current justice system without compromising the rights of individuals from different traditional backgrounds?
Last week Alison asked me along to a public meeting about the NT Government's social development strategy, chaired by Dr Rolf Gerritsen (and attended by only a dozen or so people).
The aim is to put in place social policies and programs to assist families and their communities Ð this will hopefully complement the "Building A Better Territory" economic strategy. It's all about safeguarding the future of all Territorians Ð ensuring that there are opportunities out there.
It appears that the most important thing required within a Social Development Strategy is reform Ð a total overhaul of our judicial system in a bid to re-establish equality and protection for all. Justice should be carried out for everyone, regardless of culture or background.
Human rights must take precedence over traditional rights.Is it any wonder the spotlight is again on our Territory?
Clever house. COLUMN by GLENN MARSHALL.
For several months now, the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) has
been transforming an ex-housing commission house at 7 Barclay Crescent
into the "Alice Springs Cool Living House".
It will be opened to the public from early November as a demonstration house showcasing energy and water efficient products and arid zone housing design features. People will be given guided tours of the house and can pick up ideas and inspiration for their own homes so that they can reduce their energy and water use, make their homes more comfortable and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The Cool Living House will be open to the public for half a day per month for 18 months after its official opening on Sunday, November 3 by Chief Minister Clare Martin. Everyone in Alice Springs is welcome to attend this official opening at 1pm. Substantial monitoring equipment has been installed around the house so that scientific data is gathered on the energy and water performance of products such as seven different combinations of roof insulation. This will provide rare independent information on how these products perform in Alice Springs' harsh climate. Importantly, the owners Simon Murphy, Margaret Carew and children will continue to live in the house and provide feedback on the performance and ease-of-use of products.ALEC primarily embarked on this project to provide much-needed information to people who want to live more sustainably in the arid zone.
Additionally however, the house is expected to become a thought-provoking site for builders, planners, designers and government personnel who will shape the future of Alice Springs' buildings.
The Cool Living House also aims to create greater demand for sustainable technologies by owners and renters, leading to the stimulation of the sustainable housing business sector in Alice Springs.
The merit of the project has been recognised by financial support from the NT government, Alice Springs Town Council, Australian Greenhouse Office and the Desert Knowledge Australia Cool Community. Various local and interstate businesses have donated equipment to the house, with only one business out of 20 declining the chance to participate. This clearly indicates recognition that smart buildings are the buildings of the future.
On this matter, the Victorian government recently introduced mandatory five star energy rating requirements for houses built after January 1, 2003, and the NT government is currently deciding whether to adopt mandatory energy efficiency regulations for new NT houses as proposed by the Australian Building Codes Board.When people visit the Cool Living House they will be given guided tours by ALEC personnel pointing out the various features of the house. Posters will help explain individual hardware and a take-away information booklet will provide lots of information to help people in their own homes.
As mentioned, a wide range of products has been donated to the Cool Living House by local and other businesses.
The roof space has seven different combinations of insulation to determine their relative effectiveness in Alice Springs' harsh climate. These include polyester batts (Autex), recycled paper (Barrier Insulation), concertina foil (Wren Industries), bubble wrap foil (Air-cell) and sizalation.
The ceiling and room temperatures will be measured every 15 minutes by temperature probes installed by the Centre for Energy Research at Northern Territory University, allowing detailed comparisons to be made. The roof has been painted a light colour to reflect heat. Two sheets of verandah tin have been left as zinc grey and dark red to show people how much hotter dark colours can be. This will be demonstrated by a temperature ray gun and by people being able to feel the roofing sheets.
The garden is water efficient and demonstrates several zones of native plants, veggie gardens, food trees and entertainment/play areas. It has been incredibly transformed from a bare couch grass yard in 1998 as shown by photographs.
Stormwater harvesting methods including swales (earth contour banks), underground Atlantis soakage tanks and mulch supplied by Indigenous Landscapes.
Rainwater is directed to a kitchen tap via a screened gutter, leaf remover, first-flush diverter (from Taps, Tubs & Tiles) and elevated Taurus tank to demonstrate how to capture clean, safe rainwater for drinking.
Washing machine greywater is directed to the garden via shallow underground plastic tunnels that allow safe, low-maintenance reuse that irrigates fruit trees and lippia groundcover.
Potable water use in the garden will be far less than the 750 litres per day currently averaged in Alice Springs for gardens and will be measured by meters supplied by Power and Water. During open days, all plants in the garden will be numbered and named in a leaflet that specifically describes the garden.Passive heating and cooling is demonstrated not only by insulation but also by the orientation of the house, use of trees for shade and windows for cross-flow ventilation through the house.
The evaporative air-conditioner has a very energy efficient motor developed by the NTU Centre for Energy Research. Narrow eaves protect windows from direct summer sun but let in winter sun for heating. Windows demonstrate several types of close fitting blinds and curtains from Alice Vertical Blinds to show how to stop heat flow, and an inexpensive Winter Windows add-on double-glazing product to reduce heat loss in winter.
Doors and windows have various Raven seals to stop cool air escaping in summer or getting in in winter. The fridge and washing machine from Murray Neck Homeworld are energy efficient as shown by their star-ratings, as are the water efficient bathroom and kitchen products from Taps Tubs & Tiles.
Compact fluorescent lights and dimmers are used through the house to save electricity. The old electric hot water system has been replaced by a Solahart solar hot water system, which is expected to save around $340 per year in electricity bills.
A photovoltaic grid connected solar electricity system is also expected to be fitted to the roof so the house generates much of its own electricity. Total energy consumption is being monitored by a new Power and Water smart meter.
Composting of kitchen and garden wastes will be demonstrated in a worm farm and tumbling composter, and reuse of building products is demonstrated by the substantial use of second hand materials from the Bowerbird Tip Shop by the owner Simon Murphy who is also a registered builder.
All in all, ALEC is excited to introduce this innovative project to Alice Springs and trusts it will be well-visited in the next year and a half by locals.
Stop the world: I want to get on. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
It may be enticing to think that the centre of Australia is far
enough away from global events for us not to be unduly concerned with
After all, the nearest serious-looking government or corporate building is 1500 km away and it's further than that to anything resembling a corridor of power.
So don't mind us, we'll just carry on with our own business.
In a highly non-scientific exercise, I have been measuring the number of times that globalisation impacts upon my tiny existence. After thorough analysis of the data I can reveal the answer Ð once a day. Which is, on average, the number of times that I hear or see something in Alice Springs that would not be there if not for the accelerating pace of globalisation.
Globalisation, I am told, is the process by which the world becomes smaller. Not physically (unless I missed something) but in the closeness that people in one place feel to another. Or, you can think of it as being the increasing impact of all kinds of global forces on local life.
This began in earnest with the journeys of people from Europe to other parts of the world. So the arrival of explorers in Alice Springs and the setting up of the telegraph link is one part of the globalisation story.
Anyway, about once a day a little bell rings in my head. It goes like this: "Ping. It's the influence of globalisation". Examples are friends seeking insurance from Lloyds of London, the local desert knowledge project aiming to reach a market of one billion people and the increasing number of common reference points that we share with people in far-off places. These cover everything from kebabs to soccer to mega stores selling the same products from Ti Tree to Turkey.
As supporters of globalisation argue, what could be wrong with that? Trading leads to wealth and everyone wins, they say. If nothing else, at least you can change your K-Mart underwear at a store anywhere in the world and you can buy Wu-Tang sportswear in any town. But, think again. Huge corporations are getting bigger, their freedoms becoming greater and their power all-conquering. The hundreds of protesting small farmers in India certainly know what it feels like to be victims of the global economy.I once had a boss whose every move was couched in terms of his worries about globalisation. He used to say things like "Let's have a cuppa. Have the pickers of the tea leaves have been paid a fair price or are they being robbed by the global trading system?" Or "We need to understand global marketing to use our comparative advantage and at the same time not exploit anyone, much."
It was like he'd been on a MBA course taught by Fidel Castro. While I listened to him, my own mastery of global economics grew. If I was to get ten cents for every time you go on about globalisation, I thought, I'd have a bank balance like Bill Gates.
But, of course, he was right. Consider the 100 largest entities in the world and you will find that 51 are companies and 49 are countries. Depending on whose statistics you believe, the gap between the wealth of the top 20 per cent of the world's population and that of the bottom 20 per cent has doubled in the last 40 years. Yes, the boss man was spot on, but please spare me the sanctimony. Sometimes I just want my tiny, irresponsible world to be undisturbed. Which is one good reason to come to Alice Springs in the first place.
Like many big issues these days, Pine Gap being another, globalisation demands that you are either for it or against it. But the tempting thought for us in remote places is whether an alternative to globalisation really could be made to work. Surely in our spot in the desert, the notion of local self-reliance should be more than a fad.
So is there a breed of "localisation" that should interest us? Could it enable the humble people of arid Australia the chance to benefit from the global economy but not lose local authority to decisions made in the capital cities and the northern hemisphere.
I was speaking to a cafŽ owner in town recently.
He told me how he is improving the cafŽ and is planning to make some of the fittings himself rather than importing them from down south.
How can you import from your own country, I wondered? But then, if this is how some of us are thinking, surely it's time for a new noise. How about "Honk, honk, signs of localisation".
This is a big subject and a few hundred words doesn't quite cut it.
So I'd like to return to globalisation and localisation in a future column.
In the meantime, I'll count the number of times I hear those noises in my head. And, I'll let you know if once a day becomes twice.
FLYING INTO CLIMATE CHANGE. Report by DICK KIMBER.
How will climate change effect birdlife in the Outback? This was
among the questions considered at the Birds Australia Congress on
"Outback Birds: Past, Present, Future", held at the Convention Centre
on August 17-18. Guest writer DICK KIMBER was there.
Imagine a feather 50 million or so years old! Professor Henry Nix, one of the world's great geographers, brought the bird to mind as he opened the Congress.
We circled with him like a Wedge-tailed Eagle as he defined the outback, the arid area by combinations of moisture rather than just rainfall. He led us like Moses into the wilderness, floating on an ancient rafting continent that had broken away from Antarctica until we were spotting the modern arid defining birds, the Eyrean Grass-wren and the Gibber-bird.
With a touch as light as that ancient feather must have been, he explained different concepts of aridity, each map thrown up on the screen given but a sentence or two, yet each also worth a chapter in a book.
He acknowledged the work of Sir Baldwin Spencer of Spencer and Gillen fame. After his visit to the Centre in 1894 it was Spencer who first defined the vast arid area of Australia, giving it the name Eyrean.
And he touched on the excellent new Bird Atlas.Yet it was his time-travel back-and-forth over 150 million years that enchanted and informed. Here was a core of ice from the Greenland ice-cap telling us about dramatic climatic shifts. We all sit as on a pin-point now, ready for a plummet into colder times Ð even if the climatic cliffs of fall, instead of being in seconds of time, are in thousands of years. And yet, countering this is global warming.
"Evolution is a continuing process," he reminded us, and we learnt about the evolution of modern birds, both world-wide and more specifically in Australia.
Intriguingly, while that ancient feather was 50 million years old, modern developments occurred most dramatically in the period from three million to one million years ago. Just as different kinds of hominids began to appear, so too did different birds. There was a world cooling Ð eight hypotheses exist to explain it! Ð with intense aridity that created Australia's sub-zones such as south-western and north-western Australia.
This Great Arid phase lasted hundreds of thousands of years, and Henry thought that "ambient light" may have been important for some birds such as the grass-wrens. And if I understood him correctly, the corvids, birds such as crows, ravens and jays, evolved here, spread north into the rest of the world, then spread back into Australia again.
Geoff Barrett followed Henry, discussing the new Bird Atlas. Seven thousand volunteers recorded a staggering 4.5 million references to 759 birds, and all were analysed.
Over the last 20 years there has been a decrease in 15 per cent of bird species, an increase in 37 per cent and 48 per cent have remained the same.
While rainfall is the key reason for such differences, historical changes have resulted from, and present-day changes are occurring because of, grazing in the wheat-and-sheep country.
The majority of the 44 species in decline come from this area.
Conversely, the increaser species tended to be highly mobile, like honey-eaters, and opportunistic breeders.
An important point is that many of the pastoralists and graziers, who have often either inherited or purchased the present wheat-and-sheep lands, have assisted in the surveys, and that over the last 20 years there have been increasing trends towards protected replanting of trees and shrubs.
These replantings of local native species are not only aiding farmers in the practical purposes of curbing erosion and providing shade for stock, but also act as feeding and watering places, and eventually nesting sites, for native birds.
At their best they also contribute to the "corridors" across the landscape that allow traditional bird migrations and help maintain genetic diversity in bird populations.
In the MacDonnell Ranges where, as every local knows, rainfall has been quite extraordinary in January-February intensity over the last few years, conditions have been ideal for such as seed-eating Spinifex Pigeons and Budgerigars, which have respectively increased by a massive 463 per cent and 136 per cent!
On the other hand, Bush Stone Curlew and White-winged Fairy Wren numbers are down.
Julian Read, an ornithologist who will be well-known to many Central Australians, gave a wonderfully illustrated talk on arid area waters, most of them relatively short-lived.
While he referred to all major inland waters, his focus was on the recent great fillings of Lake Eyre and the nearby Coongie Lakes.
Millions of water-birds had been involved, indicating that, though they are ephemeral, these waters are of significance on both an Australian and a global scale.
Although there were many other excellent papers delivered, this interest in the waterbirds of the arid regions of Australia was paramount. Roger Jaensch complemented Julian's paper with one on the almost unknown lakes of the Barkly, where an estimated one million water-birds were to be found after the extraordinary rains of 2000-2002.
One of the intriguing questions, only partly answerable at present, is why the birds migrate at all.
It is comprehensible, that Top End birds follow monsoonal rains south, but how is it that southern birds also know that they should migrate?
There they are, apparently living a life of luxury in southern rivers, lakes, swamps and billabongs, yet they "pack their bags" and risk all as they head for the arid area lakes and claypans.
Julian thinks that the breeding requires this, but another ornithologist suggested that it might also be to avoid predation on the coastal fringes.
No-one really knows. (It cannot be a case of transmitted duck or stilt memory, as some of the inland lakes only fill every 20-100 years.
Perhaps there is a refined sense of light and humidity in the air that allows them to know.
Or, to be less than scientific, does the Great Quacker in the sky send envoy ducks way out ahead of the northern masses to call up the southern multitudes?).
On the second day of the congress Julian Read made an impassioned statement on behalf of an impromptu working think-tank on what he confidently believed Birds Australia members could do to answer the questions and challenges of the future.
One of these was, as Henry Nix had earlier indicated and now reiterated, to understand what arid region birds were doing in summer Ð without endangering the lives of "birdos" in remote areas of extreme temperatures.
In yet another remarkable and thought-provoking address, too, Henry discussed "Climate change and its potential impact on outback birds".
Much as the study of past climatic changes, particularly the great pulses, helped in broad comprehensions, and good modelling allowed predictions of what might happen with 1-3 degree rises in temperature, Henry concluded that "nobody can predict yet what the future climate can be."
He pointed out flaws in recent major publications that had predicted the impact of climate change on flora and fauna, one of which had omitted Tasmania from consideration in an instance where Tasmania was as important to a bird's survival as was the mainland!
His reading of the world-wide scientific literature on environments, climate change and global warming had led him to the pessimistic conclusion: "I am less and less convinced that we know what we are doing."
However, he also countered this by pointing out that we do know that there have been quite dramatic climate changes in the last 10,000 years, and that "the influence of temperature is equally important to the influence of rainfall."
This means that we also know "every species living today É is living proof that they can survive climate change".
"We are dealing with a very dynamic, complex system," he observed. While, given all the changes that have historically occurred and are still occurring in Australia and around the world mean that "the need for large reserves is paramount", he concluded on an optimistic note.
"I suspect that birds will survive much better than almost all the animals."
CRICKET: EARLY IN-FORM BIRDS PICK UP POINTS. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
Federal took all before them in their one day cricket encounter
against reigning premiers West to take early points at Albrecht Oval on
And in the Saturday game RSL Works, who have retained most of their team from last year's final, were able to account for a Rovers outfit who have come back from the brink to field a competitive side.In the RSL game against Rovers, the Razzle were invited to bat and scored six for 187, a seemingly fair target on a wicket that was playing well.
Stalwart Graham Schmidt with young Tom Scollay set the Works on the path with 54 and 32 respectively.
In the Rovers' camp the veteran Glen Holberton showed his experience by snaring two for 36. Recruit Adrian McAdam, better known for his prowess in delivering a fast ball, preferred to test his arm with spin, and was capable of bewildering his opposition and finishing with two for 37.In the chase, Rovers made every post a winner to be at five for 139 early but in the late afternoon the spin attack of RSL took control.
The Blues tumbled to be bowled out for 175 late in the thirty-sixth over.The Federal skipper Allan Rowe couldn't believe what he was hearing when Jeremy Bigg invited Federal to bat.
Federal did well to compile 201 for the loss of nine wickets.
Young Ryan Thomson took the initiative early by taking the three top order wickets, and consolidated his claim for a position at the NTIS next year.Jarrod Wapper with 25 was then able to re-establish the state of play when he and former opener Matt Allan made 25 and 61 respectively.
Allen in particular proved his standing as a developing batsman with a fine range of shots.
It was Bigg's guile that put Westies back in with a chance when he snared both wickets caught and bowled and as a result of having Curtis Marriott found LBW, entered the thirty-ninth over on a hat trick.
With 201 on the board in blustery conditions, West were set a real chase.
The openers fell without setting up the innings thanks to the strike power of Shane Deans, and after a sparkling 32 from Brian Manning the pressure was on the West skipper Bigg to make an impression.
Unfortunately he snicked one through to the keeper off a Jamie Buchultz delivery when on 19.
This opened the gate for Federal and the ever-reliable Wapper took the ball. In no time Wapper had wickets and was sitting on a hat trick himself.
A top run out by Brendan Martin dismissed Shane Vaughan in the lower order and the game swung firmly into the Feds' favour.
In the thirty-sixth over the premiers were bowled out for 163.One day cricket continues on Saturday and Sunday of this weekend with Rovers facing the Federal side and RSL scheduled to play West. In the West camp Ken Vowles is due to put on the pads and so give extra venom to their top order and spin attack.
ROGER SIGNS OFF ... WITH A TRY. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
The flying policeman, big Roger Rudduck, bowed out of Central
Australian Rugby Union on Saturday night playing his 201st game and
capping it off with a monumental try.Since the hard but heady days of
Rugby at the Verdi Club field, Roger Rudduck has been in the forefront
of the game, as a player coach and administrator.
Along the journey probably Roger's most heartening achievement would have been to see his son Aaron come through the ranks to eventually be there on the paddock with his Dad, and then move on to bigger things.
Then there were the Dingo Cubs who were founded to keep a four team competition alive in town, and their rise to an eventual premiership over the then almighty Kiwis.Off the field Ruddock has been a corner stone of the CARU, as a leader and administrator.
GROWTHHe may be heading South, but his name will always be synonymous with the growth of Rugby in the Centre.As a fitting farewell gesture the Cubs played right up to their best on Saturday night, accounting for the Federal Devils 50-7 and so taking the pre-season President's Cup and $500 prize money.
Significant in the win were the efforts of Ray Walters and Wylie Steele, with Paul Veitch scoring six conversions and a penalty try.
In the 50 point scoring spree, Steven Barr claimed two tries and singles went to Geoff Bates, Mark Hooper, Ian Kennan, Walters and Rudduck.
For Feds the game was a true test, with Ashley Turnbull scoring their try and Jimmy Niland finishing things off.
Best players were Dylan Kirschner and ex-hoop, Davin Turner.
In the earlier game the Eagles got home by the skin of their teeth.
At half time the Kiwis held sway with a 12-5 advantage.
Matt Wilson and Chris Mills had the score on the board for the Warriors and things looked rosy.
Then in the last two minutes of play the Eagles were able to find something special with Lindsay Peckham scoring a try to win the game.
Moree recruit Steven Strahan received the Bear Pizza Award, but he had other top performances hot on his tail.
Brendan Adam played a blinder, as did Peckham, and the Bear has plenty of time for young Malcolm Hill, who has improved out of sight on last season's performances.
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