November 6, 2002.


No-one from Mutitjulu works at the Ayers Rock Resort, just 25 kilometres away, despite rampant unemployment in the community, and the resort's repeated claims that it would welcome local Aborigines into its staff.
Mutitjulu CEO Wayne Howard says about 60 people Ð roughly half of the adult population Ð are on the dole.
They are some of the owners of the world-famous national park.
It is serviced by the resort, which is hosting 420,000 visitors a year and charges more than $1000 a night for some of its accommodation.
Nearly all the 800 resort staff are from interstate or overseas.
Meanwhile, Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon (Labor), last week blamed poverty and unemployment for the depressed state of Aboriginal communities in the NT, and is calling for "massive" public investment in health, housing and community infrastructure.
But while the Granites Gold Mine, 500 km to the north in the Tanami Desert, is putting tribal Aborigines into full time work with equal pay after an intensive course of just three weeks (Alice News, Oct 23), no similar program exists at Uluru.
However, the resort is collaborating with the Nyangatjatjara Secondary College, located on the resort's land, in a planned hospitality apprenticeship program next year.
Details are yet to be finalised but college principal Ian White says one of the resort's hotels is planning to give paid work to five students for 10.5 hours a week whilst they undertake study and training to complement that work. Mr Snowdon describes the move as "very positive".
None of the students are from Mutitjulu, although Mr White says that is only because of age.Older students, who happen to come from Imanpa, about 200 km to the east, were chosen for the opportunity.
The resort, under growing pressure from mooted Aboriginal-owned tourist accommodation ventures in the region, is also kicking off the "Mutitjulu Foundation", funded with donations solicited from tourists, for example, $2 a head.
Funds raised will be matched by the resort company, with a target figure of $400,000 a year.
The money will be used "for community projects," says Mr Howard.
Employment - in its conventional sense - has been a disaster at Mutitjulu ever since Aboriginal people from the wider region moved in for the "hand back" of The Rock in 1985.
Mr Snowdon says some 80 locals are working as rangers and guides for Parks Australia, or at the cultural centre, but most of them are part-time.
Practically no Aboriginal Mutitjulu residents have ever been employed at the resort since it opened in 1982.
It was sold by the NT Government to the multi national company Lend Lease for a fraction of its replacement value five years ago.
Mr Snowdon says: "Traditionally the resort has not been a welcoming place for Aboriginal people from Mutitjulu nor anywhere else, for that matter.
"The resort can dispute it but that is what I'm telling you.
"The adult employment situation has been chronic for decades, for a range of reasons.
"We should not blame the Mutitjulu Community for the failure of the resort to put up appropriate employment programs, in a way which is acceptable and appropriate to them.
"The people of Mutitjulu have been calling for years to get involved in resort, in joint venture tourism projects, but until recently the resort has rejected that approach.
"Ask the resort why haven't they been able to deal effectively with the people of Mutitjulu, to provide them with job opportunities, work in partnership with them, and provide them with full time employment which suits their skill set."
Mr Snowdon apportions no blame to the Aboriginal jobless for failing to seek work, and instead quotes the following reasons for the catastrophic unemployment rate:-
¥ lack of secondary education Ð now being rectified by the Nyangatjatjara Secondary College;
¥ a very mobile population;
¥ lack of community infrastructure;
¥ lack of vocational skills;
¥ no employers;
¥ the Federal Government has dismantled all the infrastructure which Labor had put in place to work with individuals in communities on a case by case basis, working with individuals, to get people into jobs;
¥ initially, animosity, distrust and suspicion between at least some traditional owners and Yulara, about whose impact on the communities there was profound concern.
Mr Howard says "Anangu are shy and not confident" in their interaction with visitors.
They are "very shy because of the way the Australian community is treating them".
The resort "has not tried to develop courses which are appropriate to the needs of Anangu," says Mr Howard.
"What they need is intensive theatrical training in skills such as deportment and presentation."
Mr Howard says the resort "tries to consult with us.
"They are keen to have Aboriginal involvement in tourism but they have not put any hard proposals to us.
"[Anangu] have their own cultural values.
"They are not into being housemaids.
"Anangu are very good with people but because of their shyness they don't get a chance."
An educator at The Rock says a string of Federally funded employment and training programs had ended "in utter shambles" and had been abandoned "in disgust".
In mid 1999 the community was seeking Federal funds for a three-year program to get 94 people "job ready".
That program Ð soon abandoned Ð would have taken 40 times longer than the program at the Granites mine.
A recent successful training program at Uluru was run by Aboriginal owned Anangu Tours: 10 people joined the program, seven completed it and five are still working as tour guides, not full time but "regularly", telling stories to visitors.
Mr Howard says unemployment is "an issue" at Mutitjulu, but half the population were currently engaged in ceremonial business, which in fact is work Ð although unpaid.
BUSINESSThe other half have part time jobs, so in effect "one hundred per cent of the people are working".
Rather than joining the resort workforce, the community members are now aiming to set up their own businesses, seeking contracts for such work as house maintenance and building fences, jobs currently done by outside contractors.
A spokesperson for the resort would make no comment other than saying: "Ayers Rock Resort remains committed to working together with Anangu and members of the Mutitjulu community at Uluru.
"A range of work experience programs are being considered, in particular a work transition program from Nyangatjatjara College.
"Another initiative, the Mutitjulu Foundation, will provide in excess of $400,000 per annum for Mutitjulu projects and programs."


Alison Anderson is feeling doubly confirmed in her ATSIC role: recent elections have seen her increase her vote by more than half and, around the country, there were significant increases in ATSIC nominations, enrol-ments and voting.Voting, which is not compulsory, increased nationally by six per cent and in the Territory by 10 per cent."This is gives ATSIC greater legitimacy," says Ms Anderson, who was elected Zone Commissioner in her first term.
Commissioners are elected by ATSIC councillors in zone meetings, set for late November.Ms Anderson increased her primary vote from 160 in 1999 to 265 this year.
She puts her support in large part down to her capacity to speak in Aboriginal language. She speaks Pintupi-Luritja, Western Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara.
"People see me as able to stream-line their hopes and vision through to government," she says.
Although based in Alice Springs and constantly travelling interstate, she spends as much time as possible in her home community of Papunya and visiting the communities of her region.
She sees the main achievement of her first term as initiating the "whole of government" forums to oversee regionalisation of services. The forums are attended by the chairs and deputy chairs of community councils, as well as the regional heads of the departments of local government, health and education, as well as ATSIC reps.Ms Anderson has personally taken the message of this "reform agenda" to as many communities as possible.
"This first term has been all about getting informed consent from people for the reforms, giving them the information, hearing from them about what they need, getting them to participate.
"In this next term I hope we can go beyond that, to initiating more programs with this approach."
Meetings have been well attended, she says, citing an early meeting at Kintore, attended by some 270 people out of a population of 600.
She claims widespread support for regionalisation, although acknowledges that there is some opposition, from people who want their communities to go it alone.
She argues for "catching everybody in the same mesh".
"What if you concentrate on improving services in one community and then a family with six kids moves away? Where will those kids be picked up unless you've got regional policies?"
She says "more activities for kids" is very high on the agenda in most communities.
Employment is important too, although she says "we've got to be realistic about employment".
"At the moment there are only a handful of jobs on most communities and they are for professional people.
"There is scope for ATSIC to improve its CDEP strategy, to take it beyond picking up rubbish and painting rocks.
"We have to create real jobs through partnerships with the tourism and arts industries and we have to do skills audits in communities to make sure people are trained properly for those jobs."She says communities are working on their "capacity-building" strategies at present, working out how they see their community operating and what they have to do to get there.
She says this approach is strongly endorsed by the Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Philip Ruddock.
"I've done tours with the Minister at Mutitjulu and Hermannsburg. He is very, very responsive to the needs of Aboriginal people and strongly supports capacity-building."
On domestic and sexual violence issues that have been prominent in national discussions of Aboriginal affairs, Ms Anderson says they were on the board's agenda for its first three meetings this year, however, "we are not the primary funder of domestic violence services"."That's the Health Department's job. ATSIC has to bring the Health Department to the table and hold them accountable."
She says these issues are "very high" on her agenda.
"I deal with them every day.
"At two in the morning I have women who've been bashed coming to my door, I have to be a marriage counsellor, a suicide counsellor.
"I'm a community person. I'll never lose contact with my people."
She enjoys the challenge and is proud of her ability to live in two worlds, made possible by education, she says, and the support of her husband and children, who range in age from 25 to 11.
She's learnt to live out of the suitcase and bag standing by in her room, ready-packed for different climates, and is just as at home in a suit and high heels as in shorts and thongs.
"I'm still Alison, what ever word I'm in" she says.Would she be interested in ATSIC's top job?
A little smile crosses her face.
"I've got ambitions for my life, like every person, but I'd rather keep them to myself."The question will be decided before Christmas by a meeting of commissioners.


The NT, population 200,000, has 65 local government councils.
Victoria, pop. three million, has 79 Ð since Geoff Kennett's vigorous amalgamating.
A council in Victoria might raise half its revenue from home-owners, business people and farmers.
The Tambo council in Queensland, pop. 583, in 2000-01 received $1.14m in Federal Assistance Grants, affectionately known as FAGS.
Santa Teresa, south-east of Alice Springs, pop. 569, got $62,635.
That means Sta Teresa's per capita funding was $110 and Tambo's $2005 Ð 18 times greater.
It's these kinds of absurdities that the 800 delegates to the National General Assembly of Local Government in Alice Springs this week were trying to get a handle on, at least those interested in "the bush".
Community councils generally don't have ratepayers, but they do collect service charges: half their funding comes from FAGS, 30 per cent from the NT Government and 20 per cent from the sale of services to households, or departments such as education, sports, roads or Power Water.
In many cases local government is the only skilled provider of such services in the area.
In the NT, 10 councils are servicing 160,000 people and the remaining 55 are servicing 31,000 people; 30 of these are servicing fewer than 500 people.
Smaller councils Ð 500 people or less Ð have lately had their funds cut by around five per cent.
"There is a lot of pressure on them to collaborate, resource share or amalgamate," says Tony Tapsell, CEO of the Local Government Association of the NT (LGANT).
It has on its executive equal representation from the bush and the urban councils Ð four members each.
The new president is former Darwin Lord Mayor Cec Black; the "urban" vice president is Alice Mayor Fran Kilgariff, and the "bush" vice president is Gibson Farmer from Tiwi Islands.
Mr Tapsell says the Federal cost shifting enquiry, sitting in Alice Springs this week, has been told by the NTLGA "that councils have been asked to perform more and more varied functions and also to pay for a bigger share of them as well."
Aboriginal community police officers are one example.
Some councils are performing post office and Centrelink services.
Council-run CDEP projects sometimes play a major role in getting bush people "work ready".
In Jabiru, where Mr Tapsell has worked before, "CDEP was used as a work readiness program for people who went on to work for the mine".
"Local government has a big role in infrastructure provision for the tourism industry, things like airport terminal buildings, sealing of airstrips or upgrading roads."
The question is, how is infrastructure going to be paid for in the future?
At present, Canberra pays to the states and territories through FAGS about $45 per person, says LGANT manager, member services, Phil Maynard, a total of $1.1b.
It's then up to the states and territories to divvy up that money on a needs basis, to the 700 councils around the nation.
The state grants commissions usually take the view that a lot of needs in cities are currently being met but in remote areas there is a huge gap between needs and services to be filled.
And this is where the smaller administrations Ð and the NT is the smallest Ð are looking down the barrel.
In the other states the cities with big populations are attracting vast sums from which substantial amounts (up to 70 per cent) can be diverted to the disadvantaged councils.
But in the NT we have a far greater number of disadvantaged councils, yet Darwin and the regional centres have small populations.
This means no great amounts Ð not enough, claims the LGANT Ð can be re-directed to the "bush".
Hence, remember, the glaring discrepancy between Tambo (Q) and Sta Teresa (NT).
"Geelong City Council gets more money from Canberra than all our 65 councils put together," says Mr Tapsell.
"But we would say they are not looking after 65 towns" Ð in a vast region.
The answer is clear, says Mr Tapsell: let Canberra make the allocations on a needs basis, not on a per head of population basis.
Neither Mr Tapsell nor Mr Maynard like their chances of Canberra nor the bigger states playing ball, although the issue is on the agenda of the cost shifting enquiry.
Opposition Leader Simon Crean told the Alice News on Sunday that local government, so far, hasn't made a convincing case to the state or Federal governments.
"The issue is not about funding but about outcomes," says Mr Crean.
Sadly for the NT, it's likely to remain a numbers game, with both parties sticking to the present arrangement.
Says Mr Tapsell: "If you brought it down to seats in Parliament, we've only got two in the House of Reps, and the eastern states have heaps.
"If they're going to lose money, they're going hold out at the expense of us, aren't they?"At the moment only half of the community councils are incorporated as local governments, and Mr Tapsell says LGANT supports the total incorporation of the NT.
"This would bring representation and services to all constituents in the NT and spread the responsibilities."

300 RAPES A YEAR. Report by EMMA KING.

There are more than 300 rapes in Alice Springs each year.This and other alarming statistics, presented at the annual Reclaim the Night march on October 25, underline the continuing need for community education and action on sexual violence.
Speakers Annie Zon and sexual assault counsellor Tracy Quinney also told the gathering that:-¥ The incidence of sexual assault is 41 per cent higher in the NT than in other states in proportion to the population.¥ 93 per cent of sexual assaults in the NT are against women, the majority of these against Aboriginal women.¥ There is only one sexual assault counsellor for the Alice Springs region.¥ In the year 2000 there were 15, 630 victims of sexual assault reported to police in Australia.
¥ 67per cent of the assaults occurred in residential locations.¥ In 2000, 99 per cent of sexual assault offenders were male.¥ Most sexual assault victims were aged under 25 years.Despite this evidence, only a small number of women attended Reclaim the Night this year.The event was initiated in 1977 when, as a response to a series of sex murders in Leeds, England, women decided to gather together after dark to face their fears.Twenty five years on, women who attended the event in Alice Springs ranged in age from teens to sixties, and expressed strong commitment to addressing issues of sexual violence."I came along to make a personal stand on violence against women, in respect to the many women who live with domestic violence, and who are subject to rape," said Carmen, 55."It is an important statement of women's solidarity and recognising how women's behaviour is constrained still through the fear of rape," said Helen, 33.However, lack of broad interest in this event prompted organisers to hold a forum about how to tackle sexual violence, prior to the traditional march down the Mall.A number of questions were raised including: whether the increase in reported sexual assaults was the result of more assaults, or of more willingness to report; how to best address issues in the broader community, including remote areas and among the Aboriginal population; how to get more services for sexual assault survivors; and how to get the issues of sexual violence back onto the political agenda.
While there were no concrete answers, a number of women decided to form an ongoing group to continue these discussions and create further forums for community education and debate. For more information contact Kaz Phillips on 8953 5914 or Tracy Quinney on 8951 5888.

A textbook service. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

Another heart-warming chapter in the history of Alice Springs public transport was written just the other day.
A member of my family left her new skirt in a bag at the bus stop opposite the Post Office. It was a kind of Britney Spears low-slung skirt. The kind that over-the-hill fathers never really understand, even if they claim to be young-at-heart. But they look great on 11 year olds.
Anyway, this was a minor tragedy. She gazed back towards the bus stop as the East route vehicle accelerated away. It was like a scene in slow motion in a mini-series starring Victoria Principal. Her arm was outstretched and her face contorted. As the music swelled, she realised that she might never see the skirt again. Well, at least until the next trip to Chain Reaction.
In most places with urban public transport, you could get off the bus at the next stop, walk back, pick up the skirt, have a coffee and get on the next service. But in our town, this entails several coffees, a toasted foccacia and a choc-dipped ice cream because the next bus doesn't leave for two hours. In fact, the food would cost more than the skirt.
Before getting off the bus, the driver reassured us that the lost item of clothing would be recovered. And he was true to his word. To cut a long story short, this involved Jimmy driving the 2.45, someone else on the West bus and a magical mixture of coordination and communication. She waited at the bus stop near our house and the skirt duly appeared in her arms later that day. If this is customer service, I would like some more please. But there are two varieties of customer service. The kind that you find in management textbooks and the kind that you find on buses in small towns.
In the management version, line managers adopt new fangled ways of doing the same old thing and call it "relationship marketing" or "customer-orientation". Chapter headings in these dreary books have names like "101 ways to put the client firs"'. 102, I reckon, if you treat them like a human being instead of a subject in a management text book. Or "Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon", which is about answering the telephone and entering the information in a database.
Line manager. When did line management get to be more important than anything else in workplaces larger than 30? The very term sounds like lukewarm porridge. I'll come back to this some other time, so help me.
Anyway, in the other, warm and cuddly version of customer service, people do what comes naturally. They deal with customers 99 per cent of the day and they know what makes people tick. They are tolerant of the fifteenth person climbing aboard and asking if this is the East bus when it says so in foot-high letters on the front. In fact, they quite like to be nice to other people.
I know brilliant customer servers who have spent their lives doing a great job and never had an ounce of credit or a cent above minimum wage. One of them was 10 years in a shop before that fifteenth person finally got under her skin by picking up a packet of sultanas labelled "Sultanas", marching up to the counter and asking if they were sultanas. "Why did you leave the job?" I asked. "The customers ground me down," she said. It was like a wartime tale from the trenches of retail therapy.
So my little story of public transport and customer care certainly warms the cockles. But I reckon this has little to do with Alice Springs being a pleasant town. If I told you that, I would be stretching it a bit.
In fact, it has more to do with the culture of customer service that goes with certain kinds of jobs, like ambulance staff, tip shops, garden centres and corner shops. Or maybe some people are just warm human beings. I'll stop gushing now.
When it lets you down, it's easy to whinge about the lack of service. But, like good coffee, when its natural, uncontrived and genuine, customer service is just great. I'll have another cup please. Or a return ticket on the eastbound.

Cup fever. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.

And 2002 races away Ð another breathtaking Melbourne Cup Day over.It was super to note that some traders had gone all out dressing up their windows for the occasion. Whether it was a special luncheon, a day out at Pioneer Park or a celebration closer to home when the nation came to a stop yesterday, most interested parties ensured they were able to follow the sound of thundering hooves over the 3200 metre course Éand hopefully a few people were lucky enough to collect.At some point it was brought to my attention that Kiwi trained horses have managed to win 31 times out of the last 50 starts in the Melbourne Cup. The New Zealand Thoroughbred Newsletter writes about the success of trans-Tasman racehorses and invites investors to the annual National Yearling Sales for the chance to bid on future champions.
Last year proved a huge win for the ladies Ð New Zealand trainer Sheila Laxon brought her mare, Ethereal, across and won the prestigious Melbourne Cup. I backed it when friend and fellow Kiwi, June asked me how I'd feel if I didn't, and she came inÉ. We had a big bet, $10 each way!
For those punters who like a few statistics to mix and match with the odds, the betting gazettes and the on-course tips, there's quite an interesting website about Melbourne Cup Carnival History, which tells us that only four horses have won twice. Archer, from Nowra, was the winner of the inaugural Melbourne race in 1861, and also managed to cross the line first in 1862 Ð at that time the winner's purse comprised the princely sum of 710 pounds plus a hand-beaten gold watch. The first actual cup trophy wasn't presented until 1865.Other horses to take out the title twice were Peter Pan (1932 and 1934), Rain Lover (1968 and 1969) and Think Big in 1974 and 1975.In 1930 Phar Lap, the most famous of all racehorses, won. He was born in Timaru, New Zealand, and just as Australians adopted him, so he adapted readily to his new home here.Greg Irvine's trivia site advises that lucky saddlecloth numbers are as follows: number four with 11 wins, number 12 with 10, and number one with nine wins.
Six winners have leapt out of barrier 11, and barriers five, six and 19 have recorded five winners each over the years É there doesn't seem to be a real pattern in those stats, but does that matter?
It's a tough call Ð 24 great jockeys astride their respective magnificent mounts. For those punters who, like me, really need a lot of luck and have problems picking a suitable jockey sporting the favourite colours on the best looking horse, with the lucky saddlecloth number and starting from the right barrier, sometimes it's best to ignore the experts' advice and simply put the money on the horse with a nice name. Or back the long-shot, possibly one bred in New Zealand, because they do seem to have a good percentage rate to date.Melbourne Cup Day, a nation stopper, on both sides of the Tasman.
(Of necessity, Ann Cloke's column was written before the big day Ð the Alice News went to press in Mt Isa at about the time the race was run.)

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Black vs white law.

Sir,- Some thoughts in response to Ann Cloke's remarks (Alice Springs News, Oct 16) about Aboriginal customary law.Firstly, the Aboriginal people never asked the British to abolish their traditional law and replace it with a law based on a completely different civilisation, that might have been better in some ways, but might have been worse in other ways. So there is no reason why they should accept it uncritically.One Aboriginal attitude to Western law goes like this: "Our law comes from the Dreaming; it is eternal and unchanging. Your law is constantly changing. How can we be expected to respect such a law above our own law?" (See also the quote from Rev. Jim Downing in the article on page 6 of the same issue.)Another reason why people might not respect Western law is that it does not always support the family, the basic unit of society. How can people for whom the family takes precedence over all other units of society respect a system with, for example, a law that allows some members of a family to be given refugee status while other members are not?Corporal punishment can be divided into three kinds:
(a) killing people
(b) mutilating people
(c) injuring or hurting people in such a way that they are not permanently incapacitated.
Allowing a person to be speared in the leg (especially when medical assistance is at hand) is of the third type and it is not fair to compare it with stoning a single mother to death or chopping off the hand of a thief.
I don't believe in either (a) or (b), not even for people who light bushfires. I'm not enthusiastic about (c) either, but I think it is less inhumane than the dehumanising treatment that is meted out to people in gaols (some, at least) and (more so, it seems) in detention centres for asylum seekers.
I believe there should be a set of universally accepted ideas of human rights that forbid punishments and customs (like the treatment of the girl in Maningrida) that the majority think of as barbaric. But they have to be universally accepted, and it is up to those with the ability to do so to persuade communities to accept them, and give due consideration to contributions that those communities might want to make to the set. See Jim Downing's remarks for an approach to tackling some of the problems.
Gavan Breen
Alice Springs


Sir,- On walking down the Mall I could not believe my eyes. I thought Telecom was having a party outside the old Scotties. What a sight! Do we have to have this kind of thing in Alice?We will end up with all the restaurants up the mall selling beer and wines. Come on, we have got too many fully licensed places now.
June Burns
Alice Springs


Sir,- Bob Graham's letter (Alice News, Oct 23)inspires me to reply as follows:-Dear Bob, It's people like you that give Yanks a bad name!(a) You can judge people by the way they look.(b) Money is more important than anything else.Whatever happened to truth, liberty, freedom and justice?
Robin Laidlaw
Alice Springs


Sir,- The joint Australian / US Pine Gap defence facility uses a satellite network that intercepts telephone, radio and other communications from around the world.
It provides the intelligence essential for our armed forces and also warns of potential terrorist attacks on Australia.
This facility has been targeted by the Medical Association for Prevention of War and other Leftist groups that seek to divide Australia from her allies and neuter our military.
MAPW's spokesman Dr Bill Williams wants to shut Pine Gap down with the absurd "because it is a nuclear target and so a vital preliminary step in the health care for all Australians".
These groups with their tired, failed Lenin / Trotsky agendas have such a blind hatred of the US they would put our defence force personnel and the lives of ordinary Australians in jeopardy by giving aid to our enemies in cutting off our main source of intelligence.
These groups seem so concerned with Iraqi lives yet have no problem in putting Australian lives at risk. They should be given the contempt they deserve for attempting to shut down the very security of Australia when we need it the most.
Ken Murray
Jindabyne, NSW


Sir,- Just three points:-Prior to Kuta, 72 per cent of Australians knew supporting America's first strike against Iraq was a bad idea. Bad for us, bad for the U.S and bad for Iraq! A bad idea!Please, do not allow your outrage over the napalming of local Balinese workers and holiday makers from Australia and all over the world to confuse that fact.I am not a pacifist and have no sympathy for the cowards that planned this atrocity. I do know that cowards plan and execute atrocities from all political persuasions:¥ Palestinian and Israeli;¥ Irish Protestant and Irish Catholic;¥ Black and White.I personally support the ideas of the American people as laid out in their Declaration of Independence and the character shown at their Boston Tea Party. That doesn't mean their attitude towards Iraq shows the same high ideals.
America is our friend. Our Prime Minister should tell them that our single greatest international lesson was borne by our ANZACS at Gallipoli.
The world needs to hear what we learnt then. America needs to hear that our history is not forgotten. Never follow a greedy master to war.
Lindsay Round
Alice Springs


Sir,- I have been asked to pass news of the death Roger Boehm of Denton, Texas to his friends in Alice Springs. Roger Boehm passed away in Denton on October 31, 2002. He is survived by his wife Rose Boehm also of Denton, and two daughters.
Roger truly loved Alice Springs and going "bush". He was one of the very first Yanks to come to Alice Springs with Pine Gap when it was being built. And, returned may times. He took a piece of the Alice with him in his heart.
Jim Millette


Sir,- It is time to debunk a bit of local mythology concerning the first resident botanist in the NT, George Chippendale.
I was closely associated with George throughout his years in the NT. We still correspond by mail.
It was stated in an article in the Centralian Advocate (Sept 27) that George had claimed the pastoral industry would never recover from the big drought of 1958-65, and that he was a pessimist.
He was a realist who was aware of the pasture destruction that had devastated the western district of NSW in the 1890s due to over-stocking followed by a severe drought. George did not want to see this happen to Central Australia.
He was ahead of his time in his demonstrations of what are now accepted as ordinary land and vegetation measures.
He had a series of small areas fenced off on Yambah and Bond Springs stations, which demonstrated the benefits of preserving areas from grazing in the hard times.
He devised a pioneering system of determining pasture conditions.
As a member of the Animal Industry branch, his work was aimed at benefiting the pastoral industry. Botany section solved many cases of live stock poisoning, including some which occurred along the stock routes, many of which were devoid of good pasture due to over-grazing long before the drought. This had caused increases in toxic plants, which were grazed by hungry animals, as little else was available.The Centralian Advocate article claimed that the "esteemed botanist" took the next plane out and was never seen again when the drought broke. My son Alex explained in a response to the article the incorrectness of that statement.
Personal matters were the reason for George's departure by train, six months after the breaking of the drought.
He subsequently returned to the NT on three occasions. On one of these three visits I drove him around many of his old work sites. He expressed pleasure on seeing the recovery of many of these areas.Unfortunately, in spite of his endeavours during the drought, some members of the industry which he was trying to help decided to target George, I can only surmise, for having the temerity to suggest that he had better knowledge of aspects of the Centre then they had.
In particular, one prominent cattle owner, along with the editor of a local magazine conducted a disgraceful campaign to denigrate George.
I was glad to have helped in uncovering the deception of this enterprise. The cattle owner (I prefer this description, rather than that of a pastoralist) displayed great ignorance of the pastures on which his livestock roamed. Being a public servant, George was limited in the way in the way in which he could respond to criticism. However, to his credit the then director of Animal Industry Branch, Goff Letts, responded to nonsensical claims made in an article in the local magazine.
The editor was obliged to publish this retraction. The cattle owner has passed away. The magazine editor subsequently left, never to be heard of again. Persons who wish to know more details of this matter may contact me personally.George Chippendale, an unsung hero and pioneer in his field, now in his eighties, remains interested in events occurring in the NT. I do my best to keep him informed of these.It was George who chose the Sturt's Dessert Rose as the floral emblem of the NT, many years before self-government.
Des Nelson,
Alice Springs.


As feral foxes creep further north Ð now being sighted as far as Tennant Creek, threatening the region's surviving populations of Bilbies Ð Parks and Wildlife officers are on the brink of perfecting a fox-specific control.
Foxes can be eradicated over quite large areas using 10/80 baiting, but till now it has been impossible to kill foxes and not kill dingoes, which, as native wildlife, are protected on all land tenures.
Another concern has been that when foxes and dingoes are taken out, cat numbers increase.
"There's a lot of anecdotal evidence for that," says Glenn Edwards, senior scientist with the Wildlife Management unit in Alice Springs.
There has also been worry about camp dogs Ð dear to Aboriginal people Ð and wildlife such as lizards and birds of prey taking up the poison.The fox-specific control is still in the developmental stage, but "without saying too much about it, we think we're just about there", says Dr Edwards.
He rates predation by feral cats and foxes as the single biggest threat to native animals in the Territory.
Cat control remains elusive.
A cat-specific poison has been developed in Victoria and is undergoing registration at the federal level at the moment.
When registered, it will become available firstly for experimental use by licensed practitioners.
Even then, however, there will be considerable barriers to be overcome.
A major one is how to avoid uptake by domestic animals. Another is that cats don't scavenge, so the only time that they could be baited is when they are "doing it tough, like right now".
Cat and fox numbers in Central Australia have built up over recent good seasons but after an extremely dry winter, they are under a lot of pressure.Says Dr Edwards: "A lot of animals are starving at the moment.
"People have been reporting cats coming into homesteads on pastoral properties, people have seen cats scavenging on the road kills, which is very unusual, and they're seeing them in national parks."They're a lot more visible because they're hungry, they're looking for food."If it continues to be dry a lot of cats and foxes will die, already a lot are starting to keel over.
"Some though will always survive: some are better hunters than others and some live in areas that will get some rain."
The last time Dr Edwards saw cats starving was in 1994, when the population declined quite dramatically.
If no effective control is possible in this dry spell, the opportunity probably won't arise again for another seven or eight years.
So, just how many cats and foxes are out there?
It is difficult to estimate population size because "you don't see them a lot". "You have to rely on indirect things like looking at tracks, which provide an index of abundance so you can tell whether the population is going up or down without actually knowing how many are there."The density varies with a number of factors. In areas where there are rabbits the density of foxes is a lot higher, there could be as many as one fox per two square kilometres.
"In areas without rabbits it's probably about one fox per 10 square kilometres.
"Cats are probably pretty much the same in density but in range they occur just about everywhere, irrespective of habitat type.
"Foxes don't do well in the tropics, but we're concerned by their spread to the north in the last 15 to 20 years."Early survey work done by Aboriginal people in the Tanami showed that there were very few foxes out there, now you get foxes there regularly and they are well-established as far as Tennant Creek. They weren't there 15 years ago.
"As they move north there's no doubt that they put pressure on wildlife. In particular we are concerned about bilbies. When you get foxes, bilbies disappear.
"Bilbies used to occupy about 70 per cent of Australia, now they are only found in about 10 to 20 per cent of their former distribution. There's a small population in Queensland, reasonable populations in the NT, but their stronghold now appears to be in desert areas in WA.
"They used to occupy a large range of habitats but now they are hanging on only in areas where there are no foxes.
"My personal opinion is that the worst threat to biodiversity comes from predation by cats and foxes.
"That's why the establishment of foxes in Tasmania would be one of the greatest ecological disasters that we have ever faced. We'd probably lose five to seven species, including the quolls, even the Tasmanian Devil.
"From an NT perspective, if we could control cats and foxes we could put some of our threatened species back.
"We've got the resources to achieve that. What has stymied us so far have been the techniques," says Dr Edwards.

Alice Prize: tough decisions. Review by KIERAN FINNANE.

The Alice Prize has provided the community with "an important, intriguing, challenging, relevant list of work É to reference, engage with, learn from".
This is because the Alice Springs Art Foundation has from the outset "tapped into a knowledge base Ð the judges who'll make the tough decisions, who'll go for the hard-edged works".
"It is a credit to people in this community, that they've been so brave and visionary in the structure of the prize over 30 years," said Tony Ellwood, Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, judge of the 32nd prize, which he announced at Araluen on Friday night.His choice of winner, Debra Paauwe's "highly charged" Type C photograph, Crimson Autograph, (above) sought to live up to the prize's traditions.He saw the work as encapsulating a "political depth far more successfully than anything else in this space".
"To me it's about a layering or a veiling of meaning to so with sexual identity, femininity, the protectiveness of the innocent.
"The saturated use of colour can be aesthetically quite captivating but also politicised Ð the notion of hot pink has several messages or meanings."It's a really complex work, leaving more questions than answers, very powerful, beautifully composed."Controversy or at least debate over the choice he welcomed as "really healthy": "If you look at winners of the Alice Prize, in that list there has been a high percentage of works that were not necessarily going to connect initially but have done with the passage of time."The prize's residency provides the opportunity for the winning artist to "articulate the work in their own way, have that debate with people".
He was sure Debra Paauwe, "a strong emerging force within contemporary art circles", would be able to "bring in a very strong voice" to counteract reading of the work as "exploitative, lurid or disrespectful of the female form".
But will she be able to elucidate the layers of meaning? For me, the work struggles to be more than beautifully seductive. There are questions about what might be going on Ð two young naked women, legs inter-twined, carefully posed and veiled Ð and how we as viewers might read that, but where is the "charge", other than erotic?
Mr Ellwood suggested the work "could also be seen to be informed by layers of art history Ð the headless female form, a contemporary reclaiming of that to give an empowering choice to the subject".
I recognise the interest of these themes and they packed a lot of charge when they were first brought forward. Now, however, their reiteration (and I can't see that Crimson Autograph breaks new ground), however aesthetically successful, for me is less than gripping.
I'm much hungrier for art that responds to the pressing questions of how we act within the world's political and economic power structures Ð which at an everyday level has a lot to do with how we see and act towards our fellows, wherever they come from Ð and how we treat the environment. (I'm not saying I never want to look at anything else; I'm just talking about what seems important rigt now.)As for the aesthetics, I'm reminded of British art critic Matthew Collings' comments at his recent talk in Alice about how contemporary art in Britain looks more and more like advertising.
Crimson Autograph looks a lot like the sexiest kind of ad, although it's not selling anything other than itself. That's a layer of meaning, our image-making collapsing in on itself. Equally, though, our image-making can still be outward looking and communicative of profound understandings. Last year's Alice Prize winner, Eye Contact by Merilyn Fairskye, the complete version of which is currently showing at Araluen, is a great example.
There are also works in this year's prize with broad political and environmental concerns (subtle, not didactic works), which drew Mr Ellwood's attention. More on those next week.
Highly commended works were another Type C photograph, At the speed of sound by Mark Kimber, "a captivating, successful composition É complex in its possible readings", which has been acquired for the collection, and two works by Central Australian artists, the "joyous" Yellow Bird by Peggy Napangardi Jones (Barkly Tablelands) and the "iconic" untitled acrylic painting by Ningura Napurrula (Westren Desert).


Former Alice town council CEO Nick Scarvelis has been appointed regional director of the NT Department for Community Development, Sport and Cultural Affairs.
Mr Scarvelis' contract was not renewed by the council last month after an acrimonious dispute in which a faction of six aldermen Ð not including Mayor Fran Kilgariff Ð accused him of failing to properly inform the council about certain financial issues. The council had a healthy budget during Mr Scarvelis' tenure.
He will now be working mainly for Minister Ah Kit who during the dispute ordered the council to engage in mediation with Mr Scarvelis.
Mr Scarvelis will remain in Alice Springs. He will be responsible for the NT south of Tennant Creek.
Mr Scarvelis was instrumental in attracting the national local government convention this week with 800 delegates.


Adrian McAdam, who transferred from Federal to Rovers this year, has been dubbed "Big Mac" by his mates after a sizzling performance with the ball against RSL Works at Albrecht Oval.Rovers ended the two-day encounter with first innings points after they had set RSL 185.
Matt Pyle celebrated his return to cricket with a solid 34, and with Justin Dowell at the other end, the two put on an opening partnership of over 50. Despite a crumble in the order, big Brad Tanner and Greg Dowell got the Blues back on track and late support in the dig came from Nick Clapp.RSL responded to the challenge on day one, being 1/40 at stumps.
From the start of play this week Graham Schmidt had RSL in contention as he batted confidently for 38. However the pace tandem of McAdam and Dowell proved dynamic as they wore down the Blues line-up. In their lethal spell, they took six wickets between them and literally made the difference in the game.McAdam snared Schmidt lbw, and was responsible for the dismissal of Rod Dunbar, caught Pyle for six; followed by Jamie Smith lbw for 21. Tanner was then clever in dismissing skipper Geoff Whitmore for 15 when Gavin O'Toole accepted a neat catch.
The Razzle were then given a brief lifeline when young Tom Scollay continued his fine form with 25 before becoming yet another McAdam victim. Luke Southam also put up a fight before going for 26 , caught Tanner off Dowell.Dowell then cleaned up Matt Forster for a duck, and McAdam claimed the tail.RSL were all out for 157, with Rovers taking the first innings points and McAdam 7/40.
Rovers then put themselves in a precarious position, through poor application. On what was still a good batting deck, the Blues' wickets tumbled.
Again Matt Pyle got a start, but watched as Matt Forster and Cameron Robertson claimed the wickets of Glen Shorock for one; Gavin O'Toole for three; and Greg Dowel a duck.
At 3/18 Rovers were not in a good state and, with Pyle dismissed for 16 lbw to Forster, they were looking down the barrel. Time and a spirited effort from Nick Clapp (22) and Adrian McAdam (17), who pushed the lead beyond 100, made the mission impossible for RSL.Skipper Whitmore however stuck to his guns and played the game out to full time, when on the bell of six o'clock he was able to salvage bonus points by dismissing the Rovers' line-up.
Matt Forster in taking 5/32 was the destroyer, well backed up by Cam Robertson with 2/35 and Nathan Flannigan, 2/10.On Saturday, the continuation of the game between Federal and West was put under a rug by midway through the day's play.On day one, West had captured first innings points as a result of making a mere 119.
Nathan Allen and Darcy Brooke, who made 55 and 20 respectively, headed the Bloods' batting. With the ball Rory Hood came to the fore with the good figures of 5/65 and Jarrod Wapper was impressive with 4/30.In reply Federal were only capable of mustering 83, with five decisions going lbw.On Saturday, West went to the wicket and batted solidly to score 3/180 before declaring. Nick Allen continued his love affair with Alice Springs cricket by scoring 87 and Adam Stockwell rose to the occasion with 83.
For Stockwell it was a milestone, being his first A Grade 50. He has shown potential since starring as a junior and from here, he could well go on to post big scores.
For Federal Chris Marriott took a wicket, and Allan Rowe took two. Feds were then left with the daunting task of scoring 216 in some 25 overs. With victory out of the equation, skipper Rowe turned his batting order on its head and used the time remaining as a practice session. At the end of play they were 6/78, so forcing the draw.
This week Rovers and Federal will do battle in the first of the two-day games. RSL will meet West.


After a raucous interlude of Masters Games competition, it was just grand to see all four competition sides on the paddock when Rugby launched into its official season on Saturday nightIn the pre season competition the Roger Rudduck Trophy was taken out by the Cubs and their efforts were not discarded. Points gained during the lead up games counted towards the premiership and so at the start of play Saturday, the Dingoes had six points followed by the Eagles with four; Devils, two; and Kiwis, nil.The grand finalists of last season, Eagles and Cubs were matched up again to begin the season and they didn't let the fans down. At half time it was a 12 to 11 game, and while the Eagles made the break in the second half to win 31 to 16, it was far from a white wash.The Eagles scored five tries to two. For the former Misfits, the player to catch the eye was Lincoln Peckham who played a blinder in setting up play. Jonno Swalger took full advantage of his opportunities and scored two tries, while singles went the way of David Kieran, Brendan Adams, and Fred Vaka.
In response Bobby Wong again showed his skill with the boot by converting three.In the Cubs' camp it was Wiley Steele and Stephen Barr who made the try line, and Paul Veitch capitalised each time with a conversion.In the Devils' match up against the Kiwis things were similarly tight. Although the score board showed the Feds boys winners 20 to 10, both sides gave plenty. Tim Blacker of the Devils teamed up with Simon Moldrich as valuable players, while in the Kiwi line-up Tim's brother, Chris, showed he has no fear. Also impressive was the veteran Victor Williams who dominated with his kicking game.Simon Moldrich got the Feds fired up when he opened the scoring with a try. Dylan Kirchner in playing at full back then ran off every opportunity to score a hat trick and give Devils the edge.
Alas, for Feds Jimmy Niland must have left his kicking skills at home as he failed to convert any of his four attempts, even one from under the posts. As Niland contemplated the fact that all great players go through lean times, Lee Volker in the No. 7 jumper really impressed for the Devils.In the Kiwi camp try scorers for the night were Patrick Ah Kitt and John Ah Matt, and, for the record, both conversion attempts were missed.Play resumes at Anzac Oval on Saturday night at 5.30pm.


Year 12 dance students at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart have been under more than usual pressure this last week.
On top of rehearsing for their production of Songlines tomorrow night, which will count for 30 per cent of their final mark, they have been preparing for their English exam today, their technique exam on Friday, and have had to cope with the absence of one of their key dancers.Renee Thompson had to withdraw from rehearsals late last week, nursing a long-term foot injury. A decision about whether she would dance on Thursday would not be made till after this paper had gone to press, but the group had to be prepared for the worse and worked on re-staging the piece over the weekend.If they breathe a sigh of relief on Friday, it won't be for long; there's a written dance exam on Monday as well as art moderation, which will involve many of them.
"But they're coping well," said teacher Bryn Williams, and it's not hard to see why. There's a lot of pleasure to be had in dance studies, even if they have their own challenges. According to Mr Williams, there's still stigma attached to dance and other creative arts as Year 12 subjects."So they tend to get marked a lot harder," he says.Songlines, as the title would suggest, is inspired by Indigenous dance, both from here and around the world.
It has been informed by "some very dynamic Indigenous students in creative arts", among them Sam Laughton.Of Arrernte background, she has worked to develop a contemporary dance style inspired by Indigenous dance but open to be danced by people of other cultures.
"This has given students an education in and appreciation of other cultures through the arts, says Mr Williams."They've had to stretch themselves."Songlines also incorporates elements of Eastern movement, such as Butoh.
Is it in danger of becoming a bit of a mish-mash?"We are conscious of that and of the risk of undermining cultural values," says Mr Williams."But what we have produced is not a pastiche of cultural forms, but more of a blending, with the key being strong theatricality, a piece that will work on stage."This, he says, was the key to the success of Gondwana, acclaimed at the recent Dreamtime tourism industry trade show and which will also be performed on Thursday night.
Following Dream-time, a Japanese special events company has opened negotiations with Mr Williams to take Gondwana to Tokyo.
It will be a big break for his young collaborators, in particular choreographer Sila Cowham and Sam Laughton.
For Mr Williams it will be one of several commitments in the first half of next year, including launching a French fashion label in south-east Asia and producing the CROC Eisteddfod, together with Cowham and Laughton.
This will mean taking six months' leave of absence from OLSH, so Thursday's performance will be one of his last at Araluen for a little while (there are still a couple of dramas to go from this prolific man of the theatre).

Return to Alice Springs News Webpage.