October 22, 2003.


Whitefellers rocking up for a couple of hours, having a meeting or two, and disappearing in a cloud of dust, never to be seen again, is an event so common in bush communities that it seems set to enter into Aboriginal mythology.
But the Brisbane footballer Shaun Hart, who starred in the Lions' three successive AFL premiership victories, has vowed not to be a here today, gone tomorrow visitor to Aboriginal towns.
Mr Hart says he was "blown away" by a two day visit to Papunya last week.
He is now working on a scheme for almost daily contact with school children there, whom he described as "a little treasure that I have in my heart", seeking an answer to the rampant truancyin vush schools.
About 40 kids turned up, twice the normal attendance, but still only half of the number of enrolled pupils.
Mr Hart, best on the ground in the first of the Lion's three successive premierships, and likely to retire from football after the next season, says he will throw his energies "behind the terrific leadership" of John Van Groningen, founder of Athletes as Role Models, who last week brought 16 top sports men and women to The Centre.
The initiative is sponsored by a string of large companies, including Voyages, which runs the Alice Springs and Ayers Rock resorts.
Mr Hart says initially Papunya was a shock.
"It was amazing just to drive in there, something similar to what I saw on a trip in 1998 to South Africa, the shanty towns, the metal buildings, tin sheds, basically, that are their homes, except there is a little bit of bricks and mortar in Papunya.
"I had no idea what to expect, and I hadn't actually been told what to expect. I don't know why I didn't even ask.
"But Papunya is a place where, I think, we can make a massive difference, if we put our hearts, souls and minds into it."
His impressions changed quickly when he met the school children, most of who knew him from TV.
"The ice was broken for me, fortunately, very early," says Mr Hart.
"They are very disciplined children who did everything we asked them to do.
"You don't get this in schools in other parts of Australia where kids expect so much and have the run of the show, almost."
Mr Hart says he now has a fond "memory of the kids being so respectful of you being there, and taking the time of coming to see them.
"They give you that. There are no larrikins in the group."
During the football clinics the kids paid keen attention and displayed extraordinary skills, he says.
"They don't talk a whole lot, maybe due to the language differences.
"They just listen.
"We gave them instructions in the clinics, and they were just delighted to get a bit of teaching. They'd try things.
"A lot of the kids were already able to do some of the stuff we were teaching.
"The kids in the schools back over here [in Queensland] wouldn't have been as advanced as that. That was quite amazing."They are very skilful in their ground level work.
"For people who don't train and do all the things we do, their skills and their reading of the play was just natural.
"Their speed makes them outstanding athletes, the way they carry the ball, and some of the guys had very long kicks as well."
These skills, and the fascination with football on the communities, offer an opportunity of enhancing learning by linking it with sport and prominent athletes.
"I believe we can play a big part in their education, and their motivation for education, their willingness to go to school," says Mr Hart.
"And that's not only through each visit when we go there."
He says some four visits a year could be supplemented with video conferences, internet communication and teaching materials featuring the sporting heroes' images.
"We can get into their classrooms without even being there.
"There is such a massive scope to continue to be in front of their eyes almost daily.
"We'll continue to communicate with these kids: ÔG'day guys, this is what we're going to do today'.
"The message is, always be trying your hardest.
"We can shape their future, that's what we can do.
"We can help them learn and develop their talents and potential.
"I'm on Cloud Nine after being out there.
"I can't wait for the bits and pieces to fall into place."


"We got a lot of problems in this community Ð grog problems, petrol sniffers problem. That's why we are happy they are stopping here."
Cameron Brown, president of the Pintupi Homelands Health Service, was gratified when last Friday Police Ministers from the Territory and WA signed a Statement of Intent to operate Australia's first cross-border police station in Kintore, some 400 kilometres west of Alice Springs.
"How many years have we been talking about this?" he asked.
At present there is one Aboriginal Community Police Officer (ACPO) based in Kintore. The nearest police station is at Papunya, over 200 kilometers away.
The new police station will be staffed by "three white police" Ð a constable from WA, and a sergeant and constable from the Territory Ð as well as the ACPO.
The advantage is obvious.
"If someone might go to Kiwirrkurra, another two stay here; another might go to Tjukurla, if they got problem. It won't be like one policeman," said Cameron.
Monica Nangala Robinson, a community teacher, member of the school council and of the community council, talked about another advantage: "We've been seeing a lot of people doing bad things, fighting and want to go to another community and want to hide away from the police.
"It was hard to catch people, because NT police can't interfere with WA police. Too hard, they can pass the border, people were too smart for us.
"They go and stay for maybe two or three years and then they come back, Ôcause they got their kids here, families here, money here, and they got to come and finish something they left behind and they come back maybe for payback, proper way, Aboriginal way.
"That's how things been happening a long time.
"It's really hard and we need a police station and we got it now. We signed off the paper for the NT and WA police to work together."
The police officers of both states, at Kintore and at the reciprocal WA police station planned for Warakurna, will have "special constable" powers, meaning they can police both sides of the border, and offenders will no longer be able to seek refuge by crossing the border to a nearby community.
Prosecution will take place in the jurisdiction where the offence occurred.
Monica identifies grog as the main problem for the community.
"People are bringing grog in, 24 hours, every day."People, children and old people get frightened."Our kids learn from them [the drinkers], they are teaching our children."They argue, start doing violent things.
"ACPO can't handle it, too much trouble for one person, drinking problems every day.
"That's got to stop. Old people got to have their retirement, we got to straighten out the problem, so we can lead a happy normal life, looking after family and working."
I asked Cameron what kind of trouble drinkers and sniffers cause."Fighting, making whirling car [doughnuts] in community area."And sniffer is a bit angry from petrol. If someone give him petrol he'll be happy, if someone can't give him petrol, he'll hang himself. It happened É a young man É that's why this community is thinking, how we going to stop that sniffing and drinking?
"Sometimes big problem, one policeman can't manage."
The health service were key lobbyists for the police station. That's because "health mob don't drink", said Cameron.
"I don't drink or gamble. Before, long time, I had a drink in Papunya É silly bugger É I come this way to Kintore, no drink, 10, 11 years no drink."
Irene Nangala, deputy president of the community council, added "drug dealers, ganja, family violence, husband hitting wife" to the community's problems.
"That's why we have that station there.
"Long time we've been asking to have police station and now we got it."
When there is family violence what does she want the police to do?"I want woman to report that husband, police lock him up, maybe for three months, first one, next time, six months, then nine months.
"You got to ask a lot of people for this one. All the women, they got to say yes.
"If my husband hit me, I got to report to police, I'll put him to the gaol.
"My husband is good to me now, kind and looking after me, I got a lot of problems happening to my health, he bin stop drinking now."She also said that Kintore is having to deal with other community's problems.
"If another sniffer comes from another community, we want that sniffer to go back to his home community where his parents are, even if someone from Tjukurla comes and starts sniffing.
"Talk to the family and send that sniffer back, that's what we want to do now."
Irene says there are 15 or 16 sniffers in Kintore at present, including five from other communities.
"They do sometimes bad things, when they ask for money or food. [One] turned around and hanged himself. That family couldn't help him, they can't give money for him to buy things ÉFamily say you got to stop sniffing but they can't listen."
Irene wants to be able to send the sniffers away to break their habit Ð "we want to put him in a camp for three months" Ð and afterwards wants them to work in the community Ð "around the yard there".She thinks the very presence of the police station will act as a deterrent:
"They'll see that police station close and they'll think we got non-Aboriginal policemen here, they'll stop like sniffing or drinking."Is it important that the police officers are non-Aboriginal?
"We need people who can tell community people strong," said Irene.
Commander Murray Lampard of the WA police, in Kintore for the signing together with senior Territory police, offered support to Irene's aspirations: the expanded police presence would allow officers to work proactively, addressing issues of family violence, substance abuse and "developing the youth in the community".
Residents of Kiwirrkurra, just across the border, would also benefit greatly, he said: at present their nearest police station is in Newman, over 1000 kilometres away.
While the NT Government has built the $1.8m station at Kintore, the WA Government will fully resource their constable based there, and they will be funding the station at Warakurna, where an NT officer will also be based, and which will service the Territory community of Docker River.
Docker River community has campaigned strongly for a police presence, however, Warakurna, about 70 kilometres away, is favoured because there is already a police post as well as an all-weather airstrip there.
The NPY Women's Council, an advocacy and resource body for women living in the cross-border area, has welcomed the police station, and especially the presence of senior police in the area, as "a massive improvement".
Manager of the council's domestic violence service, Jane Lloyd, says the council's members "prefer mainstream police" as their experience is that ACPOs in most cases "don't assist in domestic violence situations".
Ms Lloyd says the council is now looking for other agencies, in particular those which support women and children who are victims of domestic violence, to provide services into the communities.


In land-starved Alice Springs the Steiner School, now in its eighth year and with its first graduates already at high school, is once again desperately looking for a temporary site because it cannot find a permanent home.
The school has been operating in the grounds at Araluen since 1996, with its lease being renewed from year to year.
But after numerous extensions Araluen wants its grounds and buildings back by December 31, to accommodate artists-in-residence, and the school has nowhere to go.
A grant of Crown land on the Ross Highway has bogged down because of native title issues.
Negotiations with the native title holders through their incorporated body, Lhere Artepe, are agonisingly slow.
A first meeting was held last October, but the next formal contact from Lhere Artepe was not until June this year, asking for further talks. The school responded immediately but there has been no further response and it's now once again October.
School council chair, Alex Hope, is not critical of Lhere Artepe: "They are working to their own agenda. They have no obligation to us, and there is nothing much in it for them."
In the meantime, the school applied to vary its land grant to a block on Dalgety Road, over which there is no native title.
However, Lands Minister Kon Vatskalis has rejected the application, deeming the land unsuitable for a school because it is zoned for industrial use.
Mr Hope argues that the industrial zoning does not prohibit a school: "It would be a consent use.
"The land is opposite the velodrome which is zoned open space; it's close to the Dixon Road subdivision and Warlpiri camp; and it's bounded on two sides by hills."It has no boundary with any industrial land, as there is vacant Crown land between it and the Truck Stop."
The school has also been in negotiation with private land holders: one site is no longer looking hopeful, the other site Ð on Ron Sterry's land in Emily Hills Ð is uncertain and time is running out.
"Without a permanent home the viability of the school is certainly threatened," says Mr Hope.
He says Education Minister Syd Stirling has been "very helpful", directing the Education Department to survey government schools in Alice Springs with a view to the Steiner School co-locating, at least temporarily.
However, school councils for a range of reasons have not been in favour.
The government has also paid for a consultant to help Steiner develop a business plan, with a view to putting a submission for assistance to Cabinet in mid-November.
However, the lack of a permanent site is going to make it very hard to come up with a plan, says Mr Hope.
"We are convinced that if we had been able to move onto the Kurrajong Drive site three years ago, we would be flourishing by now."
An architect had already designed a school for the site when it was discovered that the boundaries of the site did not connect it to the road, leaving a strip of native title land blocking access.
As well, the boundaries excluded some of the flat land, all of which would have been required for the buildings.
Subsequently the school moved to get a capital assistance grant to buy the old Drive-in site. The former government at first agreed but then changed its mind, as capital assistance grants are normally only for the purchase or construction of buildings.
That is when they applied for the land grant on Ross Highway and takes us full circle to the present deadlock.
However, the school council remains optimistic and is currently making contingency plans."We have been in this situation before and prevailed," says Mr Hope."I do believe that our school community is strong enough to find its way through."
If anyone knows of a possible location, call Mr Hope on 8952 5678 (AH).
PICTURE above: "Wings and Roots", the Steiner School's sculpture / installation project is the perfect metaphor for its current situation: once again the school is having to spread its wings, and they are yet to put down roots.
Artist and sculptor Henry Smith, who worked with the students, was asked to develop a work that was "solid and transportable".
He is seen here with students Zoe Bradley Roberts (left) and Louisa Braun.


A 14 year old girl and her 12 year old sister are being investigated for an assault on a Year Nine student at St Philip's College.
As students were leaving St Philip's College on Wednesday, October 8 the two girls, from another school, walked into the grounds and one of them attacked the Year Nine girl.
The assailant, according to police, kicked and punched her victim, who one day later still had a swollen lip as a result of the attack.
Deputy Principal at St Philip's, Chris Leesong, says the incident happened 10 to 15 paces inside the front gate. There were plenty of students and a couple of staff members on duty in the area. However, the shock and speed of the attack apparently immobilised them:
nobody stepped in to prevent the attack, and the assailant and her accomplice were able to leave the grounds. The victim was taken to the college's clinic.
The following day the victim, accompanied by her father, reported the incident to the police and returned on Friday to make a formal statement.
The police have taken witness statements and their investigation is ongoing.
A police spokesperson said the victim suggested the reason for the attack was that she likes a boy whom the assailant also likes.
At the request of Mr Leesong trespass orders have been served on the assailant and her accomplice.
Mr Leesong says nothing like this has ever happened at St Philip's before.
He says he is "greatly surprised" that the attack happened when so many people were present.
ASSAILANTHe is not as surprised that the assailant was a girl.
He says "for the time being" there will be more staff on supervision duties at the front of the school as students arrive and leave.
Mr Leesong did not wish to name the school at which the assailant is enrolled, describing the other school's approach to the incident as "very cooperative and helpful".
Enquiries by the Alice News established that the assailant attends Anzac Hill High.
Principal John Cooper says the school is awaiting the outcome of the police investigation before taking any action but, as the transgression occurred beyond the school's boundaries, there is limited scope for school intervention.
However he expressed his extreme disappointment that one student from the school, and possibly more, had been involved.


'Real True History': Coniston Massacre
The account in last week's issue of the first attack by Constable Murray's patrol on a group of 20 to 30 Aborigines seems straightforward enough, but it is worth considering from other perspectives.
I believe that the people of the Warlpiri camp, having observed the patrol approaching, had adopted submission-alert positions, recognising that they were facing a superior force.
One warrior stood with shield and boomerang in hand, making no attempt to throw the boomerang. Although one cannot at all prove it, this suggests that, as occurs when a superior Aboriginal force approaches another, the warrior was holding the boomerang in reverse to the throwing position. Only another Aboriginal man would be likely to notice this.
All of the other men, women and children were Ð as Murray recounted Ð "in a sitting or kneeling position". None were armed at the time, but weapons and digging sticks (yam-sticks) were close at hand, as was conventional in any camp. The possibility for a slow approach, using an interpreter, was there.
Mounted Constable Murray, new to this area, did not recognise anything unusual in the stance taken. His approach was as a cavalry charge Ð from walk to canter to full gallop, yelling out arrest commands in English. Although he did not have a drawn weapon at the time, others in the party did.
His gallop to the edge of the camp, and immediate determination to arrest the standing warrior, meant that the Warlpiri group could only interpret the action and the approach of the other men in one way from their own world view: killing of the men was intended, and capture of the women and children when they were not also killed in the fighting. Their only options were to pick up their weapons to fight, and to flee for their lives. They attempted both.
In that Randal Stafford's evidence to the enquiry was that he did not shoot anyone, yet that in later private conversation he was clear in stating that he had shot one young woman, it is probable that six Anmatyerre and Warlpiri died, not five, on this occasion.
The other quite remarkable aspect is that, apart from the warrior who resisted arrest being shot, and the shooting of the young woman by Randal Stafford, in the other entirely random shooting of warriors and one woman, all were identified as implicated in the killing of Fred Brooks.
And since Tracker Major had not been out in the Warlpiri country at the time of Fred Brooks' killing, his identification (according to Randal) of the now deceased woman as the one who had held Brooks' hands was astounding, for that woman had fled with her husband "Bullfrog", and both escaped the massacre.
ENQUIRYThere is little doubt in my mind that, at the time of the enquiry, all of the patrol members who gave evidence were sweating a bit, and justification of the shootings was at a premium. With Major fortunately not present, I have difficulty in believing that Randal did not stretch the truth.
The patrol continued from the 16th to the 18th August, 1928, with sometimes Dodger, sometimes short-term captured or "bailed up" women and children identifying the tracks of spearmen. The implication is that these men were involved in the attack on Fred Brooks (or perhaps in cattle-killing too), otherwise they would not have been of particular interest.
Their names, as given by Police Paddy but noted by an enquiry recorder without knowledge of the language, were Ungarra, Yarragula, Camalatjirburga, Canatjiburga, Latjigutjina, and Arkirkra. The ending tjiburga should probably be "tjugurba" (using the phonetics of the time), meaning "Dreaming".
It appears that, after the first encounter, the members of the patrol had a council of war. Randal Stafford, and probably Billy Briscoe and Jack Saxby too, must have made comment on the inability of any Warlpiri or Anmatyerre "bush blacks" to understand commands in English.
The first man shot had, after all, not been identified as associated with the murder of Fred Brooks, appears not to have understood English, made no attacking move, and yet Murray's actions had provoked understandable resistance that had resulted in the man's death.
From this point on, whenever the patrol worked as a group, Alex Wilson gave orders on behalf of Murray to the Warlpiri or Anmatyerre in their own language. This might well have given the impression to the Aboriginal people in the camps that Alex was as much responsible as Murray for what transpired, but in his own eyes he was giving everyone a better chance.
As he put it to me, his instructions in Warlpiri or Anmatyerre were "Put down your spears. You cannot beat a .303 rifle." Ð or in a bush English version, "Chuck him down spear! No more you can beat him ripulla (rifle) .303!"
The trouble was that each warrior had sung his spears, some also applying special marks which meant that the spears would accurately track their targets and dig deep. Their spears were thus "loaded" in their perception and, though there is no evidence that they did so, the spearmen can be imagined as having countered with, "Chuck him down ripulla .303. No more you can beat him spear!"
Still, Alex genuinely did his best, as was several times attested to by other members of the patrol at the time of the later enquiry.
LIGHT HORSESecondly, it must have been self-evident to George Murray, and also been mentioned by others (it is implicit in Saxby's comments, in particular), that while they were all competent horsemen, they had not had training in a Victorian Light Horse contingent. There wasn't much point in Murray heroically riding ahead of everyone else, thereby throwing the plan of advance into disarray. A smarter kind of approach was needed.
Thirdly, the nature of the terrain and the limitations of the patrol meant that it was best to be unencumbered with arrested or wounded Aborigines, or those required as witnesses. (Randal Stafford was to initially solve this problem after the first encounter by shortly taking three Aborigines to Coniston).
Another point that can be made is that the burials were almost certainly as George Murray had all too often witnessed in World War I. Time and circumstances did not allow for formal deep burials. Instead, as the enquiry evidence indicates, the victims were at times buried two to a grave.
It is also almost certain that, though a shovel was carried on the patrol, the graves were very shallow. They were probably less than a metre in easily dug sandy or loamy soil, and possibly just with rocks piled on top of bodies on stony ground. In some instances the later evidence suggests that the patrol pressed on after some skirmishes, not burying the bodies at all.
Rather than give a day by day, incident by incident, account, select references are now considered.
"Police Paddy" appears to have been the most active tracker. At times he tracked on foot but, when the tracks were plain, as they were along a creek-line, walking pad or sand, he led the way on horseback.
No arrests were made between the 16th and 18th. Interestingly Michael Terry refers to a situation described by Randal Stafford that is not in any of the accounts (his own included) mentioned at the later enquiry.
"Forty miles west [of Coniston station] the party picked up more tracks. Some blacks were surrounded but they escaped, Stafford explained, admitting that he had fired to stop them, without result."
This, as the enquiry accounts reveal, was a common stance taken by Randal Stafford and Billy Briscoe. In explaining what they did, they omitted any detail of what the other members succeeded in doing. If the "blacks were surrounded", it is probable that Constable Murray executed his dismounting-to-arrest role; and probable that this action led to a fight.
It is also equally probable that, though Randal did not hit anyone, every Warlpiri adult male died as a result of more accurate shooting by the other members of the patrol. This occurred on every other occasion throughout the time of both major patrols when a group was surrounded.
My own supposition is that Randal must have been keeping quiet about the finer details. Michael Terry, who admired him, must have "gone along" with him. And yet, I have no proof of this.
Was Randal telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? It was an enquiry, not a trial, so a sin of omission would not have been as of great a concern as it would have been at a trial. Perhaps total success at shooting all of the males at a large camp meant that the tally was a bit too likely to upset the outside world.
How many might have been shot? In later evidence George Murray had no qualms about telling of eight being shot, and adding 14 to a list. After 75 years, though, as there are no bodies, there is no proof of my supposition.
Randal indicates, and other accounts corroborate, the few Warlpiri and Anmatyerre women and children, and one old man, who were captured, were allowed to go free. However, while Billy Briscoe was careful to indicate that he only heard "a rifle report in the hills" during another encounter, and Jack Saxby and Randal Stafford do not mention it at all, Police Paddy and George Murray provide three variant accounts in which they alone were involved. It took place in hilly country near Cockatoo Spring, west of Brooks' Soak.
Two men were said to have been handcuffed, with one slipping the handcuffs in one account; both slipping the handcuffs in another; and no handcuffs being involved in the third. Whatever the confusions here, which were to cause a bit of concern to the enquiry (was Mounted Constable Murray actually shooting handcuffed Aborigines?), there were none about the end result.
George Murray was proud of his revolver shot at "at least 150 yards distant" which killed one man, and both agree that Police Paddy shot the other with a rifle. Having fired a colt .45 revolver and pistols in my youth (though only at tins at 25 yards), I understand George's pride in shooting a running target with a revolver at such a distance. However, I am not sure that that is what the enquiry wished to know.
No doubt they were relieved to learn that he had called out in English for the two men to stop and, when they did not heed this, he had fired two shots over their heads as warnings before he "dropped" his target and Police Paddy "dropped" his. Clearly they were resisting arrest!
At this stage the patrol returned to Coniston station. Randal Stafford, the two prisoners Padygar and Woolingar, and the boy witness Lala, all remained at the station. They were joined by a police tracker called Jack, who had been sent out to Coniston by Cawood, but who appears to have played no part in the actual patrol.
After a brief spell the patrol moved out. The records of the next fight all indicate that six aggressive spearmen were encountered at the Six Mile Soak on the Lander River, but the details vary.
NEXT: "You cannot arrest these bush blacks". This suggests the alternative, to shoot them all.


Bryn Williams' farewell to the local stage during last week's senior school dance production was one of the most elegant and moving performances I have seen at Araluen.
In a passing of the baton, Bryn danced the end-of-career classic "Mr Bojangles" with tall, slender teenage dancer Shaun Ashcroft, sometimes a shadow, sometimes a youthful counterpoint, moving towards centre stage.
Shaun had the commanding presence of youth but danced with a graceful restraint, while Bryn, radiating a joyful calm, seemed to trace his well-loved movements in the air.
Bryn Ð Alice-born and bred, the son of superintendents at the gaol, graduate of London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts Ð is moving on, after 17 years of dedicated work in youth arts in the town.
He sees in Shaun a lot of himself as a young man, not so much as the gifted holder of a dream, but as someone who is working to make their dream a reality: "His belief in the future is so strong."
That would be a fitting tribute to pay to Bryn: if youth are our future, he has certainly believed in them and worked to give many joy in the present and skills to take forward. Even as he leaves, a new youth theatre group, Trash, has sprung out of his Centre Stage, under the dynamic leadership of Rob Evison, and choreographer Sila Cowham, a former student, is gaining professional commissions, most notably for the recent CROC Eisteddfod on which she worked in tandem with Bryn.Bryn also continues to believe in his own future. He is returning to the fashion world that he worked in during the early Ôeighties, this time to launch the label of French designer, Angela Batiste, in Asia and Australia.
He relishes this chance of a major career move that is not given to many at his age: "I'm 47 years old but feel like I'm 22 again. It's exciting and scary but, as I say to my kids, your life is successful if you try. The worse feeling is Ôif only'."In particular, he is looking forward to spending time in Asia, "to soak up the culture of the eastern world", gaining new inspiration for his work.
His last major production in Alice, "Incantations of Frida", possibly reflected some of this inspiration in anticipation.
In keeping with its source material, the paintings of the much-admired Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, this dance piece worked with stillness and silence, pierced by short sequences of intense movement. Music Ð the brilliant soundtrack of the recent film Ð was interspersed by well-chosen extracts of Kahlo's diaries. The Year 12 OLSH students who danced and spoke Frida in her many faces showed commitment and depth.
The whole was unusual and sophisticated, even if the pacing was not fully resolved. I'd love to see this work developed further.
Alongside "Frida" and "Mr Bojangles", another work has lingered in my memory, Amanda Remfrey's "Duality".
A strongly built young woman and skilled dancer, St Philip's student Amanda danced with a rare power and passion her own choreography, working with ambiguity of perception, and moving from moments of dark foreboding to exhilaration.
Some of the best Ð the most intense, exciting, innovative, thoughtful Ð moments in performance that I have seen in Alice over the last few years have come in senior school productions.
Inevitably there are peaks and troughs when young people present their work, but the peaks sustain you.
They deserve a wider audience than they get.

Arnie for Chief Minister. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

Through the acres of newspaper print devoted to the question of why anybody in their right mind could elect Arnold Schwarzen-egger, there has been much repetition and not much sense.
After all, no voter is stupid. Like a game of football or a camping trip, the outcome ultimately hinges on the prevailing conditions on the day. For someone to be elected, the moods, the weather, recent conversations, historical events and all manner of small things have to point in the same direction. It makes no sense for outsiders to wring their hands over the choices of electors faced with the reality of a set of candidates and a voting slip. I lived in a country that elected John Major to be Prime Minister, so I claim some experience. Having said that, one of my chooks could become Governor of California if the circumstances were right.
Through the coverage of this particular electoral circus, a couple of points have stuck in my mind. One is a statistic and the other a projection. Let's start with the statistic. California is the fifth largest economy in the world, which puts it on a par with Italy and France. Fine.
So where is the Northern Territory on a similar ladder? I'll tell you; the dollar value of the NT's output of goods and services in a year is $9.1 billion. This means that immediately below us are Ghana and Ethiopia. Just above lie Honduras and Bolivia.
As a resident of the NT and having just learned this, I have suddenly come over all street-wise, earthy and exotic. Like I just found out that my grandparents fought in the Spanish Civil War or brought up triplets whilst running an open-cast mine.
If ever I meet someone from one of these countries, I will experience a warm bond, as if we have a language and culture in common. The language of being poor but proud and fifty places below Bangladesh in the wealth charts.
Our population might be tiny in comparison, but clearly we have it tough here in the Territory. I will remember that next time I spend fifteen dollars on an unnecessary little luxury like an air-freighted magazine.
As I was saying, there are two parts to this exercise, so let's move on to the projection.
This requires you to shut your eyes and imagine that the Northern Territory is California, except that we have a turnover equivalent to a Los Angeles Bi-Lo. Go on, you can do it. Now, I ask you, what kind of movie star would want to be Chief Minister?If we were casting, there are different types that we might seek for the role.
For example, we could offer it to a macho, unshaven type like Clint Eastwood or Russell Crowe. Intelligent but no nonsense. Unwavering about the rights and wrongs of any issue. A different kind of Arnie.
Another option is the sensitive type. Someone who can work and communicate well in a multicultural environment, gaining respect from all sides for embracing diversity.
Think Aaron Pedersen or Sam Neill. Or maybe a liberal, public sector person like Sandra Bullock or Anthony Hopkins.
Alternatively, we could go for someone who looks good in a suit like, say, Nicole Kidman or George Clooney.
The repeated photos in the papers would be more bearable and we could turn the sound down when they speak on telly and still feel a warm glow.
Sorry to spoil the illusion, but no big-name star is ever going to want to lead a territory where the combined product of our labours adds up to no more than a medium-sized hill of beans. Recruiting ordinary people to come here is hard enough.
The best we could manage would be an extra out of Kath and Kim.

(S)mall movements. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.

Are the mall security lights really working?
Are people, in-town diners, window shoppers, grill peepers, movie-goers and others, gravitating to the mall precinct after hours to experience its atmosphere after dark.
There's only one real way to find out Ð David and I went along to an Arts Foundation Fund-Raiser at the Red Sands Gallery, opposite the Sports Bar, a couple of weeks ago. We parked at Leichhardt Terrace just on dusk and undertook a mall walkÉThe Todd Mall Closed Circuit Television Feasibility Study, commissioned by the Alice Springs Town Council and prepared by Dr Dean Wilson, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Monash University, was finally completed and circulated to Mall traders for feedback mid-year. The study concluded, as the majority of mall traders already know, that most anti-social behaviour and criminal damage is carried out along the mall in hours of darkness. It was also noted that the installation of costly closed circuit television monitors at different locations won't stop drunks vandalising business premises after dark (in fact, the monitors could end up as targets), and recommendations were:
¥ Monitor current measures and assess their impact on Todd Mall. There was a suggestion that together with the newly installed security lights, a Youth Drop-In Centre in the Mall could impact on current anti-social behaviour in the town centre Ð although Matilda's Amusement Parlour on Gregory Terrace doesn't seem to engender any sense of kids belonging and owning and therefore respecting, does it?
¥ Initiate physical patrols during periods of high offending. A suggestion here was to hire private security guards to patrol the mall (say later in the evening til early morning) and work closely with police. These security officers should wear mufti rather than uniforms and adopt the title "Community Information Officers".
¥ Crime prevention measures in Todd Mall should be better coordinated and monitored, possibly by the appointment of a town council officer employed for this role, one person who liaises with all other bodies responsible for crime prevention around the CBD, police, mall traders, Night Patrol, Youth Night Patrol, youth service workers and others.
¥ A Crime Prevention Strategy should be developed for the Mall area.
¥ Two portable surveillance cameras for "hot spots" should be considered as one possible measure in two years if statistics show no improvement in level of criminal offences.It's all stuff that we know about, but when someone else is commissioned (at great cost?) to draw up Crime Prevention Strategies and the like, we tend to sit up and take notice. A Mall Master Plan is to be released soon and hopefully it won't, again, take years to put into place new initiatives to make our mall even safer after dark.
I've spoken to many mall traders and business operators in the CBD and although they're basically happy with happenings to date, most would still like to see a stronger police presence through the day: some suggested it would be beneficial, as happens in other centres, for dogs to accompany police foot patrols.
The security lights haven't stopped the incidence of smashed windows or some of the anti-social concerns, but they do brighten dark corners and that tends to override security concerns.
On the night David and I mall-walked, others, locals and visitors, were out there also, and the restaurants were busy. In fact, on that particular night, we could have been walking along any mall anywhere in the world. The mall, 16 years on, and maybe we're starting to get it right.


Cricketers liking a hit got a warm welcome by the respective curators at Traeger and Albrecht when three of the four A Grade sides recorded 200 plus in their 45 over digs.
Federal, who bounced into the first two games of the season with wins, made it three on the trot when they accounted for Wests at Traeger Park.
At Albrecht Oval, it was RSL who capitalised by beating Rovers with three balls to go, and so opening their premiership table tally for the year.Federal won the toss and batted at Traeger, with their openers revelling in the conditions.
Newly appointed Development Officer for Alice Cricket, Tom Clements showed the value of being a member of the NT Institute of Sport when he put together 78 and remained not out at the end of 45 overs.
He was well supported by Darcy Bradmore who must have been seeing the ball as a big as a watermelon prior to his dismissal for 73. Michael Smith then contributed 12, before Adam Stockwell took a good catch to see him depart.
This brought a fine innings to life, with Matt Allen scoring a healthy 44 before falling to Ryan Thomson.
The veteran Jarrad Wapper then put on an innocuous ten, before being caught by Darcy Brooke off Darren Clarke on the last ball of the day.
In all the Feds had put together 234, which on Traeger would always have demanded plenty of work to eclipse.
West were in trouble early when their openers went cheaply. But Luke Sprague and Darcy Brooke remounted the charge when they compiled 31 and then 32 respectively.
Instrumental in both dismissals was Allan Rowe who went on to take 4/ 36 off his nine overs.
Despite a start by Jeremy Bigg with 13 and Kevin Mezzone with 18 the Bloods could not get themselves back into contention and ended their dig with 130, so handing Federal a third successive win.
At Albrecht it was Rovers who won the toss and, so it seemed, correctly opted to bat.
They had Judd Dowsett give them some hope with an opening knock of 18 as opposed to a meek one from fellow opener Matt Pyle.
But then it was the mercurial Adrian McAdam who took the game by the scruff of the neck. The game was being played on the most easterly of the Albrecht pitches and the multi talented McAdam revelled in the occasion.
Almost single handedly he steered the Blues to a total of 9 /232, amassing 131 himself. In fact down the order it was only Nick Clapp with 20 and Shaun Lynch with 15 who even looked like possible contributors.
With the ball it was Matt Forster, 2/28 off nine overs, and Matt Sulzberger 2.33 off 9, who contained the score.RSL had the job in front of them in mounting the chase. Graham Schmidt went for 14 early, but out of the adversity of losing a gun contributor, a memorable partnership was formed.
Fellow opener Rod Dunbar teamed up with Tom Scollay to register a partnership of 133. Dunbar was eventually claimed lbw by Peter Kleinig, and Scollay was caught at mid on, by Kleinig, off McAdam.
Scott Robertson followed the partnership with a handy 23, but the most memorable dig from there was that of Forster who hit the winning runs with three balls to go.
For the losing Blues, the best of the bowlers was Kleinig who took 2/18.


The Nigel Moody trained three year old filly, Getting Lucky, has so impressed in recent outings that she is now being prepared to try her luck in the mecca of racing in Melbourne, late in the spring.
Earlier this month the Tim Norton ridden galloper smashed the Pioneer Park track record previously held by glamour horse Scotro.On Saturday in the 1100 metre Diatribe Class Four handicap, Moody again sent her to the stalls without blinkers. She jumped from barrier three like a winner and ran accordingly, leading from post to post.
Around the back the three year old established a one and a half length lead until the field entered the straight. From there Norton gave the signal and like a champion she careered away to win by nine lengths, so living up to her odds on pre post payout price of $1.50.
Bletchy ran on for second, having started at about fifth and, in capitalising on inside runs, was able to run on in the straight to take the runner up cheque from Bysanto who finished three and a quarter lengths back in third spot.The second race of the day proved to be successful again for the Moody stable. In the Sky Heights Open Handicap, over 1400 metres, the consistent Queen's Image put together three wins in a row with a bold showing. Queen's Image was not preferred in the ring when Jubes went to the post at $2.20 as opposed to the winner at $2.40.
In the running He's Tough Enough set the pace, with Queen's Image settling on his hindquarters in second spot. The favourite meanwhile ran his race at the rear of the field.
In the straight Queen's Image took control, while Star Damsel and Jubes made runs. Jubes proved in the charge that the rise in class to open company was an ask, while Star Damsel appreciated the inside running. At the post Queen's Image recorded a three and a quarter length win over Star Damsel, with Jubes a further one and three quarter lengths away in third place.
The 1400 metre Wally Huntley Memorial Class One Handicap, was raced at breakneck speed early, but could have been better described as a canter home in the straight. My Woodie, Tiepolo and Sid's Eagle surged as if there was no tomorrow when they left the stalls.
Come the straight Sid's Eagle and Tiepolo were rapidly running out of gas, and Mr Woody looked set to take the money. Fettle, however, who had settled about five lengths off the pace, came into contention with a rails run and was able to snare the tiring Mr Woody on the line. Fettle, trained by Kevin Lamprecht, won by half a head, with Class in Khan, running on from the rear, in third place a length and a quarter in arrears.The last race of the day, the Princess Amelia Three Year Old Class Three Handicap, brought the Oldfield stable some joy. The highly touted, last start winner Not Abandoned went to the line as an odds on equal favourite at $1.80 and performed accordingly.
Enunciate jumped to the lead from the inside barrier, allowing the favourite to sit at the hindquarters and enjoy the ride.Come the corner things got serious and Not Abandoned settled down to the task. At the winning post he had a length to spare over Enunciate, with equal favourite Coyote Gorgeous six lengths away third.
On Saturday racing continues with Young Guns Day at Pioneer Park.

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