February 26, 2003.


Seeking remedies for the almost total lack of Aboriginal economic enterprise, regarded by many as the root cause for the social ills of the Northern Territory, will be the aim of a high level conference in Alice Springs next month.
So insignificant are private enterprise style activities by Aborigines that the NT Government officials organising the event are unable to provide statistics about them.
Despite more than a quarter of a century of land rights, which gave Aborigines ownership of roughly half the Territory's land mass, the conference on March 6 and 7 will be tackling the problems from scratch.
It will examine how Aborigines, still almost entirely dependent on welfare and non-commercial employment, can begin to benefit from the massive opportunities in tourism, art, horticulture and mining.
(Although Aboriginal art enjoys international acclaim and individual works fetch record prices, few Aboriginal-controlled art centres are independent from government subsidies, just as few Aboriginal artists are self-supporting. It is overwhelmingly non-Aboriginal entrepreneurs who have built profitable enterprises from dealing in Aboriginal art.)
The director of the social policy unit in the Chief Minister's Department, Rolf Gerritsen, says the present welfare system provides enough money to meet the basic needs of most recipients, and actively discourages them from getting into the mainstream economy.
Dr Gerritsen says inadequately funded, short-term programs are being provided by the NT and the Federal governments without any or adequate coordination of funding strategies.
And the lack of authority in present day Aboriginal society, outside the extended family, commits to failure any attempts to put in place sorely needed large-scale initiatives.
Dr Gerritsen says most of the present commercial activities are in the Top End "where Aboriginal people are allowing their land to be used for economic development projects [including one cropping and several aquaculture projects, as well as some tourism], partnering Aborigines who have some resource, which in this case is usually land, and people with skills, who can use that land to the benefit of both parties."
Dr Gerritsen says in the 1960s Port Keats grew or created in some way about 80 per cent of the food that was consumed by the community.
"Now they would create, at the very most, five per cent, and that is from fishing.
"They used to have a bakery, a butcher and a small abattoir, they ran their own cattle, they use to have large market gardens which made them basically self sufficient in fruit and vegetables.
"They only thing they imported were cooking fats and flour.
"And now, of course, everything they eat is brought in, and much of it creates health problems.
"You can take a simple minded approach and say, this is terrible, we should turn this ‘round and make them self sufficient.
"But in the globalizing world economy that is not possible."
Dr Gerritsen says pretty well every community in the NT could have a market garden.
"But then of course we operate in markets, and you can't say nobody's allowed to bring in lettuces or tomatoes because we grow them ourselves.
"In a truly open, competitive world market we have got a very limited set of opportunities."
The glaring exception, of course, is tourism, with hundreds of thousands of visitors looking for meaningful encounters with Aborigines – and instead finding mostly surrogate experiences, knick-knacks and disgraceful conduct of drunks in the regional centres.
But while traditional culture is alive in the bush, access to it is all but impossible.
Dr Gerritsen says prolonged neglect and a counter productive taxation system have contributed to the destruction of conditions necessary for flourishing tourism and other industries.
He says: "In the last 20 odd years governments have basically ignored these sorts of communities.
"Very high marginal tax rates are built into the economic system on any extra income earned by people on various forms of welfare.
"Then you have cultural impairments, people going away on ceremonies.
"A lot of these communities don't have strong leadership.
"Over the past 20 or 30 years a very destructive process has occurred on family and community governance.
"Parents have a lot less control over their children than they used to.
"For example, who are the people running Kintore?
"It should be the Kintore council. The Kintore council says to people, we want you all to turn up on Tuesday to start a market garden.
"No-one will turn up.
"And you can't blame the Federal government for this, it's a Territory Government thing, because of the way we've dis-empowered the local government system.
"You don't have effective structures whereby community aspirations can be realised.
"There is no authority.
"People retreat to their extended family group, and basically don't recognise authority outside of that.
"At Port Keats, 30 or 40 years ago, you had a mission there that basically imposed discipline.
"What we've done is replace that with a local government system that doesn't have any authority, it doesn't have respect and it doesn't have the resources to do anything," says Dr Gerritsen.
"We need to develop local government structures that are credible because they can do things.
"Most Aboriginal local governments in the NT basically have enough funds to barely exist.
"We need to work out some local government structure that says we're going to do something and then does it.
"And then we need to be very hard headed about what to do."
Dr Gerritsen says the issues need to be looked at on a regional basis.
"The Australian desert is a unique form of wilderness, particularly for people from the northern hemisphere.
"But most of our tourism businesses are very small, essentially one and two man enterprises, taking people in a Troopcarrier to various places and giving them a wonderful experience.
"But there are no linkages between these groups, no attempt to develop larger scale enterprises.
Visitors have to turn up in Alice Springs and go to the local tourism office to work out what's available.
"It is very difficult to access from a distance," says Dr Gerritsen.
The Aboriginal population is highly mobile, and people could be 500 km away on any given day.
Dr Gerritsen says unreliable availability of workers have forced some businesses to set up a pool of 25 people to do the work of five.
"The operators are reluctant to allow their products to expand beyond what they can individually control.
"There is a case for government to come in and say, how can we systematically reduce the risk for private enterprise.
"But I have no simple answer for that."
A myriad of submission-driven, poorly thought out and badly executed short term programs have achieved little and many have been counter-productive.
Dr Gerritsen says he's not surprised about the success with Aboriginal labour at the Granites gold mine north-west of Alice Springs, where blacks work under exactly the same conditions and expectations as do whites.
Says Dr Gerritsen: "Blokes go to that place and earn money.
"They are away form their community so they don't have any of their relatives humbugging them for money all the time.
"I had that experience in NSW where we had Aboriginal people working in a tourism project.
"The successful ones were those not living in their community, because they did not have these sorts of family pressures on them on a daily basis."
Dr Gerritsen says the failure of Territory and Commonwealth governments to coordinate their efforts has led to myriad of failures.
"We need to get away from the ‘have we got a story for you' approach," he says. "We'll fund it for two years and then we go away.
"The NT and the Commonwealth governments have to develop common approaches.
"You can go into an Aboriginal community and there'd be a child health project that might be funded by the Territory Government and then there'd be a school attendance project funded by the Federal Government, and there is no relationship between the two, delivered by different bureaucrats who turn up in the community on different days without any notion by either government that the success of its program depends on the success of the other's."
Dr Gerritsen says CDEP is "less of a good thing than it used to be.
"When the current Federal Government got elected they scrapped all the funding for training, and they reduced the administrative and capital components.
"In 1998 CDEP used to be administered entirely through ATSIC.
"Now the participants are registered with Centrelink – and people lose social services benefits when they earn money from another source, however brief or temporary that may be.
"The system creates disincentives for people on welfare to engage in the economy."
People taking a temporary seasonal job know they will lose their benefits.
" They know their benefits will continue forever, so the incentive is there to basically sit on their bums and take the benefits."
Is there a case for discontinuing automatic benefits in place right now?"The simple answer is, yes," says Dr Gerritsen.
"The way we provide benefits doesn't force people to engage with the labour market.
"Some people are willing to adjust their standard of living to that [benefits] level and do nothing.
"That's undoubtedly true in the white community, and to a larger degree in the Aboriginal community because they are more prepared to accept a lower standard of living.
"If Aboriginal people accept a particular standard of living, and the government provides that, then there is no incentive for them to do anything else," says Dr Gerritsen.


Tania Kells is determined to finish Year 12: "I want to become something worthwhile."
Nursing or primary school teaching will be her first choices.
Lisa Braedon likewise: she wants to be a qualified child carer. She also wants to take her sport further, already playing netball for the Territory.
Colleen Maclean returned to school last year, after a two year break.
How important is it for her to finish Year 12?
"So I can get a good job."
The options are not so straightforward for Celia Mogarty as she is profoundly deaf. At this stage she is not aiming for a full Northern Territory Certificate of Education (NTCE), but she is working on developing her literacy and numeracy and doing other practical courses.
All four girls are at Alice Springs High School (ASHS), part of this year's group of 57 students, Indigenous and non-Indigneous, boys as well as girls, in the school's post-compulsory program called Future Directions.
The program is particularly proud of its success in getting Indigenous students to complete their senior secondary education.
Since 1996 19 of their Indigenous students have obtained their NTCE, with a high of five in 2001. In that year twin brothers Robert and Geoff Taylor became, as far as is known, the first students from a town camp to gain their NTCE.This year a further 10 Indigenous students are on track to gain their NTCE.
A number of Future Directions graduates have gone on to university, although university is not the goal of most of the students. Indeed, the program was set up for those who wanted to stay on at school but weren't focussed on tertiary entrance.
However, entrance to certain universities is an option for successful Indigenous students.
ASHS is commonly, but mistakenly, thought of as a junior secondary school, with senior secondary education in the state system available at Centralian College.
Future Directions began in 1993 when ASHS realised that some of their students were finding the transition to Year 11 at Centralian too difficult, but they weren't yet ready to leave school.Initially the focus was on getting students job ready, with English, Maths and computer studies, as well as a range of vocational courses and work placements over one year.
As more students chose the Future Directions option, what it could offer expanded to NTCE accredited classes for Years 11 and 12, or Stages One and Two as they are now called.
The emphasis though is still on combining life interests and skills with work and study requirements.The main Year 12 subject, apart from compulsory English and Maths, is Vocational Studies, offering a full range of Community Studies subjects.
"It's all about negotiated learning," says teacher Justin Emerson."The kids write their own program to suit their life and interests."
Tania's program, for example, is around her role in the short feature film, Queen of Hearts (an SBS Independent production) being shot in Alice Springs at present.
Lisa's is around her sporting interests. It has included writing a grant application to help bring elite Indigenous athletes to Alice to offer coaching clinics in netball and basketball and will involve all aspects of organising the clinics.Last year, a Future Directions student, Abdullah Kamara, gained a perfect score in Community Studies, for work in English and Arabic that reflected on his life experiences in Egypt, where he grew up until recently, compared to Alice Springs, where his family now live.
In the Future Directions classroom there is not often a class in the style of teacher out front and students in rows of desks, listening.
The two teachers, Justin and Jo Bartlett, the program coordinator, mostly move around the class, guiding students as they work on their individual programs.
A third half-time staff member coordinates students' work placements.
Students have to complete 22 units of study, the standard NTCE requirement.
The teachers' assessment program is approved by the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia (SSABSA), and all Year 12 results, as with any school, are moderated by SSABSA.
ASHS has been tracking their school-leavers and know that the program is increasingly valued in the employment market.
Says Justin: "Some of our students would find it difficult to get a job on the basis of an interview, but through their work placements, employers have been able to observe that they have good work skills and are ready for a job.
"And the extra two years of growth at school, the range of experiences they have and learning that they do, allow them to develop a focus, to become more motivated about what they want to do with their lives."


Alice Springs police are conducting an internal enquiry into the conduct of officers who confronted young skateboard riders in the town area.
Some of the skaters have told the Alice Springs News they were ordered to line up against a wall and hand over their boards to four police officers.
They say they were shouted at by one police officer when some of them attempted to explain that they had not been skating, but had just walked out of a mall shop which sells skating gear.
The enquiry, which has the initial aim to bring about conciliation, is being conducted by a senior sergeant.
Meanwhile the Catholic parish priest Father Healy says the church has put up a sign warning off skateboard riders because of fears of litigation against the church if a skateboarder is hurt.
However, the town council, which owns the skate park in Telegraph Terrace, has left its premises open to the public to avoid liability.
Access to the grounds in front of the church appears to be no different than to the skate park.
DAMAGEFather Healy also says youths using the church grounds had damaged a ramp for wheelchairs.
Meanwhile a police media release says: "Alice Springs police seized 11 skateboards on Saturday as a result of complaints received from shopkeepers in the Todd Mall.
"Just after 1.30pm police received a report of a group of 20 to 30 youths skateboarding near Flynn Church causing shoppers to take evasive action to get around them.
"Police attended and cautioned the youths involved.
"They were asked to leave the area and skate at the skatepark which was specifically built for them.
"A short time later police again had to speak to the youths in the post office carpark where they were skating around parked cars and again they were moved on.
"The youths then moved to the cinema carpark Leichhardt Terrace and the laneway situated beside the Westpac Bank where police again approached them," the release says.
"This time all skateboards were seized due to police directions again being ignored.
"The youths were informed that they would have to attend the police station with their parents to get the skateboards back.
"By Monday morning all skateboards had been given back to their respective owners in the presence of their parents.
"Alice Springs Council will be releasing further details on an eduction program for skateboard riders," says the release.
Skateboarding in the Mall is prohibited under a town council by-law, but police were not able to say on what grounds the youths had been "moved on" from other areas of the town.

On the morning of Wednesday, February 12 Frances Smith turned on the drippers for the section of Undoolya Park that she had looked after for more than 25 years.
Exceptionally, the drippers were still on five days later, for in between Frances had suffered a stroke. She passed away on February 16.
Her last active day was typical of her life: despite the heat and, some might say, her age – she was 68 – after her morning stint in the park, she had spent the afternoon at the Desert Park nursery, propagating plants for the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. She loved the natural world and plants in particular. Equally she loved to give of herself.
She always had a purpose and, whatever that purpose was, she pursued it with total commitment, zest, determination, say her husband Clarry, sister Jill Henderson and friends who gathered last week to remember her.
It rained all day in Alice Springs on the day of her funeral.
"She would have loved that," says Connie Spencer, who worked hand in hand with Frances at the botanic garden.
"She would have wanted us to take advantage of the rain – for pulling buffel grass."
Frances (nee Thomas) came to Alice Springs in 1960, to work as a theatre sister at the hospital.
This followed two years of nursing in Fiji: she was a young woman keen to expand her horizons.
She'd grown up on farms in the Illawarra region, south of Sydney.
Her sister Jill describes their childhood as very isolated: their nearest neighbours were a half day's trip away; the postman came on horseback once a week; they went to "town" – not much more than a post office and a butcher shop – once a fortnight, weather and car engine permitting.
At the same time, they were wonderfully free. It was nothing for Frances and her brother Barry to set off for the day, equipped with only a rifle, and not be seen again till dark. Jill followed in their footsteps as soon as she was old enough.
"The natural elements, the animals, the hills, the rivers, they were our playmates."Their mother guided them through correspondence lessons in their early years and later they went to boarding school.
Frances, more than the others, became a passionate reader: nature books first and foremost, from the most scientific to the poetic.
Connie says she would often recite lines of poetry that were relevant to the moment: "I knew she loved books but I would realise then just how well read she was."
Her childhood meant that Frances was a "natural" for living in an isolated town like Alice, says Jill.
When she'd returned from Fiji, her family were living in Wollongong, but town life would have been "too civilised and predictable" for Frances.
That was far from the case in Alice. Her first two years here were a whirlwind of work and play.She worked alongside the well-known surgeon John Hawkins, attending the major accidents and emergencies of the time.
On days off there was nothing she loved so much as going out bush, whether or not there was a road to the destination.
She and the other nurses had willing companions in Clarry Smith and David Fietz.
Clarry, having finished his apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic, had come to Alice in 1957 in the employ of the Commonwealth Government.
BUSHHe and Dave became great friends. In the beginning the two didn't know too much about the bush but they knew their vehicles – "we were Landrover mad", says Clarry. Often they were sent to rescue others but never had to be rescued themselves.
Matron Hordacre would let her nurses go bush only with them, they say, because she knew they'd get the nurses back on time.
Remembers Clarry with a chuckle: "What she didn't know were some of the situations we were in four hours before the start of shift – like out at Boggy Hole at two in the morning with two flat tires and the girls were supposed to be on duty at six!"
Frances and Clarry were married at Easter in 1962.
Josie Petrick, who was a patient at the old hospital just before, remembers Frances, on the day she left work, bringing Clarry in to introduce him as her fiance to all the patients:
"Of course, we all thought that was lovely. That was the kind of person she was."
After her marriage Frances threw herself into motherhood. She and Clarry had their three children – Michael, David and Helen – in quick succession, in 1963, '64 and '65.
"Whatever she did, she did with all her might and main," says Jill.
"She was never a bored and lonely housewife."
It was probably out of a desire to create pleasant surroundings for her family, and building on her inclinations anyway, that her interest in the environment around her grew.
She was a key player in the lobby to create Undoolya Park.
She and Clarry lived in Burke Street, which was then on the edge of the town, with the town boundary running through the land where the park is today.
Plans by the Territory Administration for "New Eastside" had houses backing up to Burke Street.
Frances fought for the preservation of a "green" belt.People were "gobsmacked", says Clarry, when the administration listened and actually set aside about twice as much land as had been asked for.
That was in 1974 and it began Frances' lifelong commitment to looking after that piece of land. Often with Clarry's help, she collected rubbish, watered, planted, designed early play equipment.
There is a petition now to have the park named after her.In March 1973, she had won a seat on the town council in a by-election.
It was a busy time, remembers Clarry, with Frances at meetings almost every night of the week.
She took her position very seriously, "doing her homework" on every issue presented, but the environment continued to be at the top of her agenda.One achievement was to help organise the rehabilitation of the banks of the Todd, south of Wills Terrace, which had been severely disturbed during the re-construction of the causeway.
This may have been her first contact with the Society for Growing Australian Plants (SGAP), where later she would meet Connie.
SGAP volunteers did the planting along the banks opposite Sturt Terrace.
Frances was also active in the campaign to "Save Our Coolibahs" in the years before Greening Australia's involvement with the Coolibah Swamp.
She was a founding member of the Group for Appropriate Regional Development (GARD – now defunct) and was very active in their successful campaign to limit building heights (the three storey limit is still in force in the CBD).
Mike Gillam, a member of GARD, recalls her love of the concept that building heights should not exceed the heights of the river gums."She believed that the landscape should dominate the town setting," says Mike.She also made a significant contribution to GARD's campaign to change the zoning of the land where the Desert Park now stands.
This had been zoned for "Future Use", which would have left it open to any kind of development. GARD succeeded in having it zoned as "Open Space".
"If that hadn't happened we might have seen a chair lift up the ranges, run by the Swan Brewery!" says Clarry.
Mike remembers Frances as "always being there" and as being able to listen and then ask the hard questions.
"That was Frances," says Jill. "She beavered away in the background, no fuss. The focus was not on her, she never looked for publicity, the project was the important thing. She had such integrity."
In all this time Frances' knowledge of our arid environment, particularly its plants, was growing.
Her family and friends laugh to remember how agonising it was to go on a bushwalk with her: it would take twice as long as expected because Frances would stop all the time to inspect plants, from the showiest to the most humble. Any she didn't know she would take specimens of, to have identified at the Herbarium. Only Connie didn't mind. Self-taught in this way, the two friends would eventually be employed to do plant surveys.
With or without pay, they were doing them anyway. Much development at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden is due to their efforts and, apart from all the trees she planted and cared for, in particular, the expansion of the garden's library is credited to Frances.
Frances Smith has died but her work lives in beautiful places of Alice Springs, saved by her tenacious campaigns and her loving care.

The right to have your say. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.

One of the many great things about living in Australia, in fact, in any democratic society, is freedom of speech – we are able to speak our minds, express opinions, within reason, without fear of reprisals.I'm not a huge cricket fan but it isn't necessary to be an avid fan to admire both Andrew Flower, captain of the Zimbabwe Cricket Eleven and his team-mate, Henry Olonga, for the extremely brave stand they are taking by wearing black arm or wrist bands, "to mark the death of democracy", throughout the World Cup Cricket Series which is currently being played in South Africa.
This direct protest against Robert Mugabe and his brutal regime of terror and oppression in their homeland, Zimbabwe, has not gone unnoticed by Government officials.
It has been said that had anyone else attempted this public display of highlighting Mugabe's maniacal policies, that that person would have faced execution for treason.
Most people were surprised that the International Cricket Council opted to allow Zimbabwe to host six games whilst there is criticism worldwide of Mugabe's behaviour.
Zimbabwean friends write about a vanishing lifestyle – there are queues for petrol and bread, and basic foodstuffs like sugar, cooking oil and powdered milk are disappearing from shop shelves. Indigenous Africans are starving: the white farmers who employed them have been dispossessed of their lands. In a recent letter a friend wrote that the banks ran out of $500 notes, nicknamed "Ferraris" because they're bright red and go really fast, just before Christmas: this isn't surprising with inflation running at 170 per cent. People carry placards: "Keep Sport and Politics Separate". That's difficult whilst fraternities like the ICC ignore moral issues and international opinion about host nations such as Zimbabwe. Signs now read: "No War" and "Give Peace A Chance". The assumption by everyone including our religious leaders seems to be that tyrants like Mugabe and Hussein are reasonable people, that issues can be discussed openly and debated.
The past years have shown that Mugabe and Hussein are anything but rational – they each rule by oppression and terror, and anyone who challenges them is disposed of. It would be a simpler world if the only battles to be fought were those involving crimes against humanity, but whilst international influential bodies like the United Nations keep turning a blind eye to what are atrocious acts against mankind, dictators will continue to rule by terror. The UN has been labelled a toothless tiger before.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as adopted by the United Nations in 1948 notes that the highest aspiration of the common people is to live in a world in which human beings are able to enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want.
Of want, the majority of people want peace: nobody particularly wants a war.
Of war, who in fact are our allies? Australia is isolated – who will help us defend our homeland if any of our over-populated northern neighbours decide to head Down Under, en masse, and with an intention to occupy? Perhaps we'll enter into negotiations at a round table somewhere?
Americans fighting alongside ANZACS in World War Two helped repel a Japanese invasion, and in so doing, ensured that Australians continued to live in a democratic society. Let's hope that our friends, the Americans, will be there for us again, if there is ever a need.
We are so lucky to be living in a country that observes the right to enjoy freedom of speech: millions of people are far less fortunate.

Water just below the surface. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

There is water in the Todd. I know nothing about it, but somebody told me.
The water is there in the dry river, just below the surface along with frogs, strung out tree roots and whatever organism needs water but has taken a wrong turning and fetched up here in the desert. But for every drop of hidden water in the Todd, I reckon that there's a bucketful of hidden emotion in the Territory.
I'll try to explain what I mean. When I came to the Northern Territory, my head was full of stereotypes. We all have them for places that we don't know. For example, in my head Lapland is a place of frozen lips, pointy trees and oversized reindeer. New Zealand features lots of people gamboling through the snake-free long grass. The Bahamas are leafy, joyful and disorganized. And so on.
As for the NT, well it was pretty obvious. The sun would be devastating. The history of struggle and conflict would always be there. The people would speak in short sentences. The skies would be big. Dangerous animals of all varieties would be waiting to bite your ankles, even inside shopping malls. You get the picture. Whether right or wrong, one thing I would have bet my savings on was that there be no need for emotion. Surely, in such a harsh land, nobody would bother much with the basic human sentiments. Bushies don't cry.
When fear, despair, anger or sadness threaten, all you have to do is compose a short sentence and she'll be right. It would be like an Outback version of the stiff upper lip. Let's call it "the stiff upper lip … mate".
So I thought I could put my tear ducts into temporary retirement. I wouldn't be needing them because I wouldn't be faced with emotional situations. In sporting terms, they could have a spell on the bench to recover form while other body parts had a go in the first team. Step forward instead, sweat ducts.
So here was a surprise. Emotion in the Territory is like a dry river. The tears are only just under the surface and when they finally arrive, boy do they come in torrents.
For instance, I went to the graduation event for my daughter's Year Six class. Expecting a nice relaxing drink, some pre-Christmas food and a slow descent into semi-conscious detachment, I was completely unprepared for the emotional white-water rafting that lay in wait. Gee, those teachers care. At the end, a succession of parents emerged with the wild eyes of someone who might have been lost in the bush for six days and nights. Then there was the Australia Day ceremony. Seven o'clock on a Sunday morning, sitting on a chair under some shade cloth at the Telegraph Station. A steady stream of entertaining speakers got up, said their piece and sat down. Most of them had sweat rings under their arms the size of truck tyres. One person's perspiration reached down to their trouser belt.
But it was a different kind of gushing that caught me out. Yes, here it comes again.
The emotion of the moment as people went up to the podium to receive their citizenship together with a young wattle plant and some words of kindness. The powerful feelings of all those people for whom becoming a citizen meant so much.
I have never had much use for national pride. The only time I indulge is when reading the tabloids after another national sporting calamity the night before.
So imagine my self-disgust at being swept up in it. Raising a piece of cloth up a flagpole will never be the same again.
You may not need another example, but here's one anyway. The Last Camel Train was last year. Let's go down to the river to watch the camels come in, I said. It will be like going to the zoo, except without the other animals. But there it was again in the faces of the cameleers and the spectators. The pride and nostalgia of the event.
The history and sentiment that goes with the connection to descendents and family. We were in the Todd again, and the water level was rising.
I'll spare you my amateur psychology for another day. My mother used to say that bottling up emotion is a bad thing. Like indigestion, let it all out and you'll feel better. Well, we have no problem on that score.


The Kiwi Warriors did enough on Saturday night to show that they are coming out of the cellar and could become a threat to the semi-finalists when the business end of the season begins in mid-March.Playing the Devils for the last time this season, the Warriors were outgunned in the first half to be looking down the barrel 5-0 at half time.
Fifteen minutes into the second half the Devils still looked to have the game in their keeping.Patrick AhKitt, however, changed the fortune of the game by a gloriously timed intercept and a 50 metre run to the line. The Devils swung the ball wide from a scrum at the half way, and Ah Kitt, reading the game to perfection, swooped on the loose ball in the try scoring run. From there the Kiwis lifted their rating, scored again and took the match 12-5.
In the encounter between the Eagles and the Cubs, the minor premiers looked a little untidy in the opening minutes. Once they settled however they were able to control proceedings and went to the line in a canter, winning 40-18.There are now only two minor rounds to go before the finals. Eagles have already booked a place on the paddock on grand final day, thanks to winning the minor premiership. Cubs have shown enough to suggest they are the likely contenders on the big day, so the significance of the next two weekends rests in the camps of the Devils and Kiwis. The Kiwis have the Cubs and then the Eagles to contend with, and sit by a mere bonus point in fourth place. Their performance last Saturday night, however, suggests that they are coming home as the stronger unit.
This week the Devils have to contend with the Eagles, and should it end as a white wash. The true ticker of the Feds' might be tested when they meet the Cubs come the last game of the minors.


The powerful Terry Gillet stable left their stamp on Centralian racing on Saturday when promising performer Nappa scored his fifth successive win.
Gillett had also saddled up the victorious three year old Our Mate Jack earlier in the day.The four event card attracted special guests Doug Walters, John Dyson and Lenny Pascoe who were in town for a Cricket Association extravaganza on Saturday night.
Kevin Lamprecht's last start winner, Merits, continued to impress when in the 1400 metre Class D Handicap he jumped well from barrier one to lead all the way. Corruptible applied pressure in the running and Bletchy threatened, before weakening in the straight. This allowed the stronger Merits ($2.25) to take the race by a head from the $1.55 favourite Bletchy, with rank outsider Sinker ($17) four lengths behind in third place.
Nigel Moody celebrated in the second, an 1100 metre Open Handicap, when Queens Image saluted at $4. Go Vinnie Go, Market Link, and Binoculars each had their chances in the running, but Queens Image was nursed along by Tim Norton before making the best of an inside run at the turn. In the straight she opened out and ran to the line a four length winner. Go Vinnie Go battled on for second and a further four lengths away, Market Link filled the placings. The favourite Pelt was unimpressive throughout.
The 1000 metre Class Two Handicap was indeed a race for the speedsters. Awesome Vento led early, and Soccer kept him honest. Ben Cornell took full advantage of the situation on the turn however and gave Our Mate Jack every opportunity in the run home. The Rory's Jester three year old then responded accordingly and ran to the line a one and three quarter length winner. The win by Our Mate Jack ($2) made it two in a row, while Arch Henry ($15) picked up second place and the cheque for third went to Awesome Vento.
The rain came down prior to the running of the last, the 1200 metre Pavilion Class Four Handicap. The damp conditions saw the jockeys seek the better running out from the rails, with Nappa ($2.15) racing from barrier six and maintaining a four wide position in the running. In the charge to the line Nappa proved too strong for Sir Romeo who opted for a run along the fence. Nappa strode home a two and three quarter length winner. Sir Romeo took second place, accounting for Jetven by three lengths.
Nappa is moving through the classes well and along with Our Mate Jack should be black booked for prominence in the coming Carnival.


Rain again became the curse of A Grade cricketers last weekend when by Friday morning it was obvious that pitch preparation was out of the question.
The listed two day encounter had been rescheduled as a one day fixture, due to precipitation the previous weekend, and the cancellation for the second week in a row left West and Rovers in particular ruing a lost opportunity to climb into finals contention.
For RSL the path to the finals is signed and sealed, and now the slender points advantage Federal hold in second place will be prized.
The disappointment of the missed day's play was eroded by Saturday night however when the Alice Springs Cricket Association hosted a Sportsman's Night at the Convention Centre.
The legendary Doug Walters, "catch taker" of the century John Dyson and Lenny Pasco, provided the 200 plus devotees of the game with a night to remember.
The centre of attention, Walters lived up to every expectation, and Pascoe proved to be a first class entertainer and anchor man.
In essence the night set the scene for Territorians who have the local finals, the Imparja Cup and a test match in Darwin to look forward to.
The Imparja Cup has grown in status and enormity in a few short years and is now regarded as the premium event for Indigenous cricketers on the Australian Cricket Board calendar.
From tomorrow and over the weekend, Indigenous teams from each state will be in Alice Springs vying for the Cup, while teams from Territory Communities will participate in an Imparja Shield competition.
In total 17 teams will compete in the two-tiered competition.The Cup concept was only launched in 1999 when two teams competed, and this year 17 teams have nominated.The festival is a grass roots initiative and sits in the ACB's strategic plan to develop Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders as cricketers.
Such is the importance of the occasion Bob Merriman, the ACB Chairman, will be present, despite the fact that our national team is heading the cricketing nations at the World Cup in South Africa.
NT teams invited to participate for the Imparja Shield include the Tiwi Islands, Darwin, Katherine, Borroloola, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, and an Invitation XI.
Meanwhile the State based Imparja Cup competition is the platform from which the ATSIC XI will be selected to challenge the Prime Minister's XI at the Manuka Oval in Canberra.
The Territory side in the Cup will be captained by former Development Officer and Wests star Ken Vowles. As a junior Vowles showed the potential to become the Territory's first Test player, and his experience at interstate level places him well to lead the side.
Adrian McAdam is still regarded as potentially the best opening bowler in the Territory, and along with Peter Lake has played the game at the top level here.
Other Centralians in the NT side are Darrell Lowe, Sean Angeles, Lachlan Ross, Greg Lewis, David Kerrin and Dustin Taylor.
Three players from Darwin will make up the side – Brenton Muir, Ken Solien and Dylan Butler.
In the past the Cup has been played as a Super Eight contest but this year the one day format will have teams play 25 over matches, with the final being a full 40 over match.
Cup matches will be held on the turf at Traeger Park and Albrecht Oval while Shield contestants will play on the Flynn Drive and Larapinta Ovals.
Much of the legwork to organise the cricketing feast has been put in by local Indigenous Sports Program Officer, Peter Lake.

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