October 29, 2003.


The Federal Court is sitting at the Ayers Rock Resort to hear a claim by Aboriginal people for alleged losses caused by the creation of the resort (also known as the Yulara township), its Connellan airport and the Lasseter Highway leading to them.
An NT Government source says: "This is a test case concerning the compensation provisions of the Native Title Act 1993 (Commonwealth) which very likely will ultimately proceed to the High Court."
The ensuing judgment will set down the principles on which claims anywhere in Australia for compensation under native title will be judged.
The applicants are Johnny Jango, four other named people and "all other family members of Yankunyjatjara representatives".
No names nor number are given for them in the National Native Title Tribunal's Compensation Application Summary.
The applicants are represented by the Central Land Council (CLC).
Their list of "rights and interests" for the loss of which they are seeking compensation runs to about half a page and includes the right to occupy and enjoy the land, conduct ceremonies, maintain places of significance, protect secrecy, and share, exchange or trade resources.
The town of Yulara takes inabout 104 square kilometres and adjoins the Uluru national park to the north.
Before the tourist facilities were moved from the base of the Rock to that site it had been pastoral land over which the lease had lapsed, and had no discernible occupation.
The Aboriginal community at the Rock itself at the time consisted of about a dozen people.
The population of what later became known as the Mutitjulu Community swelled considerably when the national park was transferred to Aboriginal ownership under Prime Minister Bob Hawke 18 years ago.
It is understood that the applicants and all parties accept that native title has been completely extinguished over the entire claim area, by either the grant of inconsistent tenure or the construction of public works.
Yulara is now owned under freehold title by General Property Trust Management Ltd.
That company was initially a party to the Federal Court action but was given leave to withdraw as none of the claims are likely to affect it.
The remaining parties are the applicants and the Territory and Federal governments.
The purpose of the application is to determine what, if any, native title rights existed prior to their extinguishment, and to enable the Federal Court to state what the legal principles there are for determining the amount of appropriate compensation payable for the extinguishment of native title.
The judge is Ronald Sackville. Nine lawyers, including two QCs, are appearing before him. The court is scheduled to sit at the resort until November 7. It will adjourn to possibly Adelaide or Sydney and a judgment is expected next year.
While at The Rock Justice Sackville will hear evidence from Aborigines and anthropologists, including the controversial Dr Peter Sutton.
The time line is crucial to the case.
¥ 1973: A Senate committee recommends the relocation of the tourist facilities from the base of the Rock to the present Yulara.
¥ 1975: The site is approved by the CLC representing Aboriginal interests. Solicitor General Tom Pauling, who is representing the Territory Government in the court, says: "The correctness and scope of these negotiations between the NT Government and Aboriginal interests, including the CLC, is questioned by the CLC in recently filed material."
¥ 1976: Yulara is gazetted as a town.
¥ 1976 - 1997: The resort is developed by the NT Government as its own property.
¥ 1993: The Native Title Act is passed.
¥ 1997: Mr Jango lodges his application for compensation in June.
¥ 1997: General Property Trust (GPT) acquires the freehold over Yulara's 104 square kilometres in December.
¥ 2003: The hearing of Mr Jango's application starts on October 22.
The court is likely to be dealing with several key issues.
Any acts prior to the passage of the Native Title Act remain valid under law (they cannot be reversed).
That means the existence of Yulara, including its airstrip, as well as Lasseter Highway cannot be challenged under the Act.
However, native title holders are entitled to seek compensation for acts causing the loss of native title rights even if those acts were lawful and predate the Native Title Act.
Freehold title extinguishes native title rights but Mr Jango's application predates (by a few months) Yulara's conversion to freehold.
The passage of the Native Title Act predates it by four years.
From its beginning to its sale to GPT, Yulara was the property of the NT Government.
Did that make it Crown Land?
Native title continues to exist on Crown Land except where there are public works.
Were, before the sale to GPT, the hotels, restaurants, shops and so on at Yulara public works because they were owned by the NT Government?
And even if these building were not public works as a working entity, were they public works as structures?
It is possible that not all rights were extinguished prior to the grant of freehold title. The court is likely to be dealing with the question, what rights continued after the grant of the pastoral lease and after Yulara's declaration as a town under NT Law.
The applicants are saying there a range of activities, including traditional pursuits such as conducting ceremonies or hunting, they no longer can do at the locations subject to the application.
The question may be raised whether the applicants did in fact engage in those activities, in the roughly 10 km by 10 km piece of land before it was turned into a township.
When assessing the size of any compensation, will it be an issue to what extent the rights had been exercised, how much they used the land while they still could?
The declaration of native title under Mabo provides for the occupation, possession, use and enjoyment to the exclusion of all others.
Whatever the Federal Court decides following the hearings at Yulara, it will set down the principles on which claims anywhere in Australia for compensation under native title will be judged.
The time span for such claims is also still unclear but it is unlikely to go back beyond 1975 when the Racial Discrimination Act, on which Mabo One is based, was passed.


Exam fever has hit again!
Year 12 students are about complete their final weeks of school, battle nerve-racking tests and turn to face their future. I spoke to six students to see how they're coping.
With the completion of their exams, the students will receive their Northern Territory Certificate of Education (NTCE), which is recognised all over Australia, (
Courses, which are completed over Year 11s and 12, are purchased from and assessed by the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia (SSABSA).
From NTCE results, universities can then develop a Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER) to prioritise students for selection to courses (that is at some courses, there is a required TER level.
Erin Heard, a Year 12 student at St Philip's College, will need a TER of 97 or 98 to get into physiotherapy at university.
She believes this would be "pretty impossible"."I think only one or two people in Alice Springs have ever got it," she says.
But she can gain entry to the course with a 93 or 94 and bonus points.
Erin had her first exam the day before I spoke to her, an oral exam for Indonesian.
She says, "I was very nervous but I think it went ok."
Her next exam is in 11 days and Erin is "pretty stressed".
Like most students planning to go on to university, Erin will defer and work for a year to raise money.
Above all, Erin can't wait till her exams have ended.
"I'll be ecstatic!" she says.
"This has been such a long year and I can't wait till it's all over, no more pressure!"
Centralian College student John Sharp doesn't know how he'll be feeling after the exams but says that he is "looking forward to having a year off".
He has his first exam on November 5 and is feeling pretty confident, especially about his physics and maths exams, but he says, "the hardest will be specialist maths".
John wants to study environmental engineering at university but will take a year off before going.
His aim is for a TER of about 90. He's not too nervous about his exams yet. He says that if he studies hard, he should go well, however "procrastination is a problem".St Philip's student Sam Hill is not too worried about his first exam, a SAS (school assessed) maths test in six days' time, which "should be easy". But he is pretty nervous about the others in two weeks.
He says, "I don't feel ready, but I'm pretty prepared, I just need to study hard these next two weeks."
He is hoping for a TER of 80. He believes he should have a good chance, as he has "been working pretty hard all year".
After exams, Sam says he'll be "relieved".
"It'll be awesome having no more school."
He plans to go to England before coming back to work for a year to save money for university where he would like to study human movements, applied science and computer science.
Travel is also in mind for Natasha Kearns, from Centralian, who has her exams in two weeks' time.
She doesn't know what she wants to do afterwards, but there'll be "no big rush".
She is feeling fairly good about her exams, especially about English because it's her "most natural" subject.
Natasha doesn't have a clear aim for her TER but she will study hard and do her best in the exams.
Cara Hali, also from Centralian, has applied to study commerce at university and needs a TER of about 80 to 89 to get it.
Like most students Cara is feeling "pretty stressed out" at the moment.
She has exams for English, history, maths and Indonesian in two weeks' time and is fairly confident that she should get be able to get her second preference university.
After her exams, she will "hopefully feel relieved if she does well".
Like so many others Cara will defer university and work for a year to raise money. Hamish McGauchie, a student at OLSH College, is hoping for a TER in the mid 80s and believes his chances are fairly strong, having "done pretty well this year".He has his first exam in 10 days. Hamish says he can feel that "the pressure is starting to build" and, now that classes have finished, "it's all up to us".
Hamish would like to study dramatic arts and will audition for the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). But he is also looking at accounting.
Of Hamish's five exams, he is feeling most confident about visual arts, dramatic arts and accounting.
[Johanna Castles, a Year 10 student at St Philip's, recently did work experience with the Alice Springs News. This is her first freelance contribution.]


Araluen, along with other regional performing arts centres, could be looking down the barrel at a much diminished theatre season next year, its 20th birthday year, because of Federal Government policy changes.
Only two of the seven productions that Araluen was hoping to attract have received Playing Australia funds to tour from the last round, which is always the biggest.
Both are major performing arts companies Ð Circus Oz and Oz Opera. Nobody will regret their success, but, apart from another couple of shows funded from the previous round, including one by the fantastic physical theatre company Legs on the Wall, the season is looking meagre.
Many of the medium and small company shows have missed out, including Bell Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream".
"We have built a relationship with Bell Shakespeare over several years," says deputy director at Araluen, David Lloyd.
"They are getting good houses here and their audience is growing. Losing that production is the biggest blow out of the last round."
The Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow has also missed out on funding.
"These smaller companies are our bread and butter," says Mr Lloyd.
Twice a year Araluen gets together with other like centres to narrow down a preferred program.
It takes five to six venues in some kind of logical sequence to make for a successful tour.
Each centre then proposes to buy the production, which applies to Playing Australia to subsidise touring costs. It is generally the airfare, accommodation and freight costs that would put the tours beyond the reach of regional centres.
"It's a really successful, presenter-driven model," says Mr Lloyd, "but now it is over-subscribed."
In the last round he says there were $5.8m worth of applications to Playing Australia, with the major companies snaring just over half the available funds, $1.2m out of $2.1m.
He says this funding decision is in line with recommendations by the Nugent Report to the Federal Government.
Spokesperson for Arts Minister Rod Kemp seems to deny this: he says the funding decisions were made based on the advice of a committee, with a view to maximising touring opportunities.
"It was a very competitive round and there are always some winners and losers," he says.Is he aware of the impact such a decision will have on small to medium venues in the regions?
Yes, but the decision was made "to maximise touring opportunities Ð it was a very competitive round".
(Talking to Federal Government media advisors is like that Ð broken record school.)
The solution is increased funding which is a priority for the Minister, says the spokesperson. Then he says the same thing again when asked how likely it is that the funding will increase, adding that he can't foreshadow budget outcomes.
Mr Lloyd says Araluen is putting its thinking cap on about how to provide a stimulating season for next year.
This year seven out of its 12 shows were subsidised by Playing Australia, attracting an audience of around 4000.
The remainder of the shows were either local or commercial, that is, the production, such as the Paul McDermott show, hired the venue and carried its own costs.
Some shows offer a high quality experience but are much cheaper than others.
For example, the guitar-playing Grigoryan brothers didn't cost a lot. But Araluen could not hope to pay for a bigger show like the Bangarra Dance Company without subsidy.
Mr Lloyd is hoping for more luck in the next round of applications, which gets decided early next year.
Together with other centres, he is also in negotiation with unsuccessful companies: with enough venues committing to them, they may be able to wear the costs between them.
Mr Lloyd says it's unthinkable that Araluen won't bring in the Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow (which sold out three shows this year), but Alice may have to make do with an otherwise more modest 20the birthday season than Araluen was hoping for.
"And if this is the trend, then our program may be decimated in the following year."
He says performing arts centres around the country are making a concerted effort to lobby the Federal Government for increased funding for Playing Australia.


'Real true history': Coniston Massacre

After the police patrol's first encounter with a group of 20 to 30 Aborigines, in which at least five but more likely six died (see the last two issues), the known likely outcome was that more would be shot in future encounters.
As Jack Saxby was later to say, in supporting other patrol members, "You cannot arrest these bush blacks". This suggests the alternatives, to shoot them all or let them go. Jack gives a concise, substantially honest, account of the next meeting.
"We found them at Six Mile Soak and surrounded their camp. I was working at the back of the camp to see that none escaped. I could tell that the blacks were showing fight, by their talk and the rattle of their weapons.
"I could hear what I thought was Constable Murray telling them to put down their weapons. I heard several shots and made back to where the party was. The blacks saw me coming and threw a couple of spears at me.
"I jumped off my horse and fired four or five shots with my rifle. I do not know whether I hit them or not. I certainly tried.
"The blacks were rounded up and when I came up I saw three black men dead. There were also three wounded. We started these back to the river where the water was. Two were very badly wounded."
Billy Briscoe indicates that it was here that Alex Wilson was first used to call out Ð he "yabbered" to them in their own language, telling them to put their spears and boomerangs down prior to the conflict, but to no avail.
And in Bob Plasto's Imago film of 1985, "The Killing Times", Alex Wilson, then the sole member of the patrol who was still alive, was quite clear who did the shooting Ð Constable Murray, Jack Saxby and Billy Briscoe. This was a statement of fact, "real true history", as he commented to me.
Murray states that "a guard was placed over the camp that night", and Jack Saxby's account continues:
"When I got up the next morning, I saw the three prisoners. One was dead, another died a couple of hours afterwards. We took the third man with us. He was wounded in the flank. We went to Briscoe's camp and gave the black a drink of water, and he died shortly after."
What is not stated here, but which Alex Wilson told me, is that the reason for Jack Saxby "working at the back of the camp" was not only to prevent an escape, but also to catch the men in a crossfire. Being the marksman rifleman, the "main trigger man" among the white members of the patrol, as Bryan Bowman called him, this was always to be his position if at all possible.
And much as he states, "I did not know whether I hit them or not", the shots were probably at about 50 metre range. It is likely, from the accounts of the others who gave evidence, that he shot three, while Billy Briscoe shot one and George Murray accounted for the other two.
What is clear by this stage is that it was unwise to be wounded by the party, because wounds were always as fatal as being shot dead on the spot.
It is also interesting that Jack Saxby mentioned to Michael Terry that he "was at Tippenbah when out with Murray after Brooks's murderers". Tippenbah, which must have been one of Randal Stafford's place-names derived from his favourite poetry, is another place not discussed by any of the police party in detail to members of the enquiry. It is known as Patirlirri to the Anmatyerre and Warlpiri.
However much the enquiry did not hear about it, I suspect that this is where George Jangala's father and older brother were, as indicated at the commencement of this story, shot while he was spared.
George was too small to remember other than the shooting of his father and brother, the fear he felt at the trampling horses and sound of rifle fire, and himself and his mother crying. He believed that a "big mob" of others had been killed too.
This was independently confirmed by a Jampijinpa man who told Peter and Jay Read that Murray's patrol group had rounded them up, drafted the women and children from the men, then shot all of the men.
Senior women descendants from Willowra have explained that the shootings occurred during a time of ceremonies.
Jimmy Jungurrayi told me of all of the dead Anmatyere and Warlpiri, "Shoot Ôem like bullock, Jakamarra." He reiterated this story to Peter Read, indicating that he had heard that many men were shot Ð as with bullocks that are shot, without any particular feeling.
This does not sound all that much like an attempted arrest so much as a deliberate slaughter.
And since it slipped the memory of the members of the police party during the time of the enquiry, it is likely that the tally of deaths would have caused the enquiry members to blanch a bit.
According to Billy Briscoe the police party then spent "several days following the blacks to the West Australian border."
Billy's knowledge of the country west of Coniston must have been limited, for Warlpiri people have told me that the members of the patrol were obliged to turn back in the vicinity of present-day Yuendumu, because of lack of knowledge by patrol members of where the few drought-surviving waters were.
Jack Saxby confirms this in his account, for he says that the patrol travelled only a further "forty miles" west of Cockatoo Spring, itself the next main water west of Brook's Soak, while George Murray is even more specific in giving the distance as "about 36 miles".
The patrol was nonetheless a good 50 kilometres beyond the westernmost waters of the cattle station country as it had been taken up in 1928.
The far west patrol is also interesting to examine. I believe that the following account is related to it.
When I first visited Yuendumu in 1970, Harry Nelson Tjakamara introduced me to a number of senior men who, as was the practice of the prior generations, had been given nick-names by early pastoralists or other bush workers. Harry's father "Hitler" Jupurrula was my first surprise, but then came "Mussolini" Japaljarri , "Creeping Charlie" Jungurrayi, "Pharlap" Japangati and "Jumbo".
"Creeping Charlie" was prevailed on by Harry to show me a scar in his leg.
It was a very neat round scar, marking where a rifle bullet had hit the outside of the thigh, and passed right through.
It had been a severe wound, which caused him to collapse, but he then rolled beneath some very dense spinifex near rocks.
The police patrol's horses thundered by in pursuit of other fleeing Warlpiri, then later the patrol members came back in search of bodies.
Alex Wilson told me that Mounted Constable Murray, having seen the Warlpiri man fall, sent Alex to the approximate area to search for the wounded or deceased man.
Alex had stood on the rocks above him, and could see the blood trickling out from beneath the spinifex tussocks. He felt sorry for the wounded warrior, and called out to Constable Murray, "Nothing here, boss!" Alex stated to me that he believed that, by this act, he had saved Creeping Charlie's life.
The patrol otherwise followed a similar pattern to the others, although it was not possible to make the same approach because the Warlpiri men were hiding in rock-shelters and among the boulders of a hill. Each patrol member told a very different story of the encounter.
Police Paddy claimed that, while he and Alex Wilson were working together, they saw a "big mob of blackfellows", with many women and children, and all of the men armed with boomerangs.
Alex warned Paddy to "sit down" to avoid the boomerangs, but then, said Police Paddy, "Yarragula threw a boomerang at Alex Wilson and just missed his hand." He doesn't say what Alex did at this stage, but Alex recounted to me how he had fired in self-defence at one man. The strong possibility is that this was Yarragula.
Police Paddy's account continues, indicating that both he and Alex fired their weapons over the warriors' heads, then ran towards them and, using the handcuffs that Police Paddy had, arrested "Yarragula and Camalatjiburga and Canatjiburga."
Although he omits the detail, the latter two had almost certainly been shot and severely wounded by Police Paddy and Alex, for other patrol members refer to two severely wounded prisoners who, as Constable Murray reported, "died during our lunch hour". (Meal-time breaks appear to have been particularly perilous for wounded prisoners).
Alex told me of shooting two men out of all who were shot throughout all of the patrols, one absolutely in self-defence and the other in general affray.
He perceived himself as caught up in something unavoidable, with Constable Murray very literally "calling the shots".
According to Police Paddy, Yarragula was still alive at this time and, when asked what was the matter with him, he replied, "ÔI got something no good inside' pointing to his belly". In the colloquialism of the day this would have been called "lead poisoning", but Police Paddy maintained the charade.
He later said that, when he asked what should happen to Yarragula, Constable Murray replied, "He is bit crook, leave him behind." He either died of his wounds shortly afterwards or was shot by a member of the patrol as a solution to a problem.
The latter may seem too callous a suggestion, but Bryan Bowman always referred to Police Paddy by the expression of the era as "the main trigger man" among the Aboriginal patrol members, and believed that no wounded man had any chance of survival if he was involved.
Constable Murray, too, only knew Military Law. At times of extreme situations, as George Witton explained in his 1907 "Scapegoats Of the Empire", this was simply translated as, "No quarters, no prisoners".
Constable Murray went close to supporting this perception when, during questioning at the enquiry, he said that he "shot to kill". Then, when asked, "You did not want to be bothered with wounded blackfellows?", responded, "Well, what could I do with wounded blackfellows?"
The other members of the patrol remained extraordinarily quiet about the western encounter when telling their versions. Billy Briscoe claimed that he only heard "the reports of one or two shots", and consistently stated that he did not shoot anyone.
This was not the perception of Warlpiri people in the 1970s. It is almost as difficult to accept as Jack Saxby's statement that, on seeing "some blacks in the hills" he called out to them, encouraging them to approach, and when they continued to dodge among the rocks he simply "fired a couple of shots ahead of them to try to bluff them". Jack is the man who stated that on another occasion he had "had to shoot to kill", that it was not possible to make arrests, and openly stated that he had shot people earlier in the patrol. George Murray was at least honest enough to say that, when attacked by two natives with yamsticks, he shot one of them dead. Still, there is no proof that Jack Saxby did other than what he said.
Partial clarification came when, in Darwin at the trial of the two arrested men, George Murray stated that there were six Warlpiri men in the group about the boulders and cliffs, one being an old blind man (who apparently was unharmed), four of whom were shot, and one of whom, Arkirkra, was arrested. Arkirkra probably did not realise that he was a rarity Ð he actually lived to tell a tale.
One other aspect about this western patrol is that no mention was made of burying the bodies. This is almost certainly because the bodies were now simply being left where they fell, or were being burnt. Any study of the enquiry records indicates that burials with a shovel occurred early in the patrol, but that burials are rarely mentioned thereafter.
Although burning of bodies is only specifically mentioned in one oral history account of another patrol, it was not something that the later enquiry would have even remotely condoned. Mounted Constable Willshire had got away with it in 1890 because his Native Constables did the burning for him, and conflicting evidence was given at his trial, but there was considerable disquiet about it.
I assume that everyone on the patrol was sworn to secrecy. They were all going to be guilty of a crime, whether they had shot anyone or not, if it was revealed that the bodies had been burnt. No wonder my old friend Ð and I did consider him an old friend Ð Alex Wilson always referred to these times as "the bad old days".
The patrol returned to Coniston station in time to witness the death of Woolingar and bury him, then dispersed to their bush occupations. George Murray and the police trackers left Coniston on 31st August and arrived in Stuart Town on 1st September, 1928. On that day Murray's accounts of the patrol first became known to Sergeant Noblet (sometimes spelt Noblett) and the Government Resident, John Cawood. Shortly thereafter the townsfolk and Alice Springs Telegraph Station people learnt of the patrol, and through them quickly enough so did the cattle station people and others visiting town.
However much an occasional shooting of an Aboriginal, or the bush death of anyone else by any means, was accepted as a normal state of affairs Ð "God's will", if you like Ð news of the death of a formally stated 17 Aborigines, and rumours of many more, must have caused concern and disquiet among at least a few of the local people who heard of the patrol's activities. There was a difference between surface acceptance, even acclaim, of "teach them a lesson" by some who heard the news, and what they actually thought. After all, however much the rest of the Australian population thought of Alice Springs / Stuart Town as a remote outpost, there had not been the equivalent of such shootings in most of southern and eastern Australia since the 1840s, and on most of the frontier since the 1860s to 1890s.
Even in the Centre things had been tolerably quiet since the time of Mounted Constables Willshire and Wurmbrandt in the 1880s, and the last major trial of a policeman for killing Aborigines had been Willshire's in 1890-1891. Thus in 1928 it wasn't exactly a "flash" start for the new "capital city" of the new "state" of Central Australia!
A special party had travelled up from Melbourne only a year before to assess the tourist potential, which was expected to increase once the train-line reached Stuart Town the next year. No-one had suggested that "shooting a blackfellow" was to be part of the experience.
Sergeant Noblet was one who seems to have been concerned. Despite all of his years of experience, or perhaps because of them, my impression is that he smelt the possibility of an enquiry coming on.
Perhaps a figure of 71 was mentioned, and the figure became transposed to 17 in George Murray's later recall. I have no proof of this, but Sergeant Noblet had not been appointed to the new "state" of Central Australia because he was a fool. He was a very experienced senior police officer, including time at the Arltunga police station east of Alice Springs 20 years earlier, yet he omitted to make any written records of his conversations with George Murray, and accepted brief outline reports which he had assisted Murray to compose.
While people in the same occupation often protect their own, self-preservation is a strong instinct in everyone. Sergeant Noblet appears to me to have managed both. He must have known that if the news spread beyond the Centre he was likely to be in trouble, though not as much trouble as the members of the patrol.
NEXT: What were the Anmatyerre and Warlpiri doing at this time?
Note: The description of Constable George Murray as a mass murderer in a picture caption last week was an editorial decision of the Alice Springs News. It was not the work of our guest writer, Dick Kimber.

This age of reason. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.

We don't have to look too far from Australian shores to see that most near nations currently being governed by their Indigenous peoples Ð East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Fiji or The Solomon Islands - have at some point called upon Australia to give them a helping hand.
The latest call for aid came from the Solomon Islands, our neighbour in crisis, which desperately needed a quick injection of a lot of cash plus the reinstatement of law and order, the whole package estimated to cost around $85m per annum for at least 10 years.
Isn't it so typical? While we're doing the neighbourly thing, helping them and others, we seem to be overlooking the fact that we haven't yet managed to clean up our own backyard.Warren Snowdon was quoted as saying, in the national press mid-year, that a Federal Labour Government will recognise Aboriginal people as the original occupants and custodians of Australia; that a new constitutional preamble will be an important part of the reconciliation process and will express the values, aspirations and ideals of the Australian people and their history.
There is no doubt that the majority of Australians support change: they want to reconcile the events of the past (although some are not quite sure what this actually entails) and move onÉbut to what?
In the Weekend Oz (20/21 Sept) an article headed "Blacks Win National Park Titles" outlined the NT Government's offer to hand back to traditional owners the title to many of our national parks in return for long term leaseback rights and guaranteed free tourist access.
The move elsewhere in Oz is being hailed as positive, recognizing that Aboriginal people, who now own some 44 per cent of the Territory, are a vital part of the economic future of the Territory.
If management of all Territory National Parks is to revert to Aboriginal ownership then, apart from the issues highlighted in Erwin's "Lesson from Rock no encouragement for NT Parks Deal" (AS News, Oct 15) re management concerns and royalty payments, there has to be some consistency and common sense brought into play.
Visitors make plans: they need to know what's happening. Is there access to our parks? Is there access to Uluru? Are they able to climb the monolith, or not? There appears to be a need for demonstration of newfound power Ð and sometimes in exercising it, the rulings by the authorities seem totally irrational.
In most other parts of Australia, government bodies are actively practising integration. In the Northern Territory we have continued to embrace and openly encourage the differences by setting up all types of organizations specifically for Indigenous people.
The phone book makes interesting reading: Aboriginal Organizations Ð Aboriginal Legal Aid Services, Aboriginal and Islander support groups, study groups, Aboriginal Schools and Learning Centres, Government Councils, Child Care Agencies, Land Councils, Colleges, Institutes for Aboriginal Development, Aboriginal Women's Councils, Aboriginal Resource and Development Services, and Aboriginal Health Services.
Countries like South Africa tried to develop parallel systems for the various ethnic groups and this has ultimately failed. The separation of different population groups increased intercultural tensions and the different rates of progress led to political unrest and instability.
The traumas of reversing this process are still being felt some 10 years after the systems were abolished. The setting up of separate facilities for Aboriginal people, be it education, medical or community services, automatically leads to different levels and standards of service being provided. The South African experience clearly demonstrates that this is not a long-term solution. Provisions have to be made for people from different cultural backgrounds but surely the overall objective is to try and develop a melting pot where everyone lives together harmoniously.
If positive integration processes in the Northern Territory aren't implemented, nothing here will change, and the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous will become even greater.It was uplifting walking through the mall last Friday and noting the Children are Special celebrations: young children, black, white and brindled, and from all walks of life, were playing together on the Flynn Church lawns, holding on tightly to their brightly coloured balloons.
There is no doubt that integration at that level, continued throughout the education system, is the only way forward if all our people are to have an active part in the future of social and economic development in AustraliaÉ It's like anything that ends up in the "too hard" basket Ð the longer the process of integration is delayed, the harder it will be to implement.

Making your heart leap. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

In these health conscious times of low-carbohydrate beer, high-protein milkshakes and endless self-help articles in racks of shiny magazines at fluorescent checkouts, the challenge of achieving good health is enough to give anyone a migraine.
So forget all that sage advice by people who have letters after their name, never go grey and reckon they can make you less stressed if you follow a few simple steps in a hardback book priced $35.99. Better that we all have our own little personal health test.
Mine is simple. I pinched it from a gardener who said that a row of terracotta pots made his heart leap. My first reaction was, "This man is even sadder than I am. He needs to get out more", which made me feel better until I thought about it on the bus home.
Guilt set in. I shouldn't have ridiculed him like that. Not all of us get our thrills from a three-day pass to Dreamworld. When was the last time that my heart leapt due to a minor unexpected pleasure of life? Ask yourself the same question. If you can't remember, check your pulse. That's how I felt. And don't say something old hat like, "I go to the cricket and love the sound of leather on willow". That's too easy.
This brings me to the Alice. I had a heart-leaping experience the first time that I saw the new cinema rising up from the ground. It wasn't so much the thought of more teen movies about bodily functions, but the promise of a brand new darkened place with fresh-smelling vinyl and animated adverts for local insurance and Chinese food, instead of those still ones that look like a family slide show from the Ôseventies.
Not only that, but the new cinema is taking up some car parking spaces, which is a small victory for art over materialism, even if the art in question is just another romantic comedy with impossibly good-looking people who could do with a prolonged childbirth experience.
In fact, my heart leaps so much that I would probably buy a ticket to sit in Cinema Four even if there was no movie. Given the chance, I would take a few days' recreation leave and loiter around the building site watching the building go up. With a borrowed camcorder, I would make a film about the film theatre and then release it on an independent label with stray builder's language bleeped out. It would become a cult classic.
All this excitement brings to mind one of the best songs ever recorded Ð Ian Dury's "Reasons to be cheerful".
Ian was a gruff bloke with disabilities caused by polio and a terminal disease to which he succumbed three years ago. In the song, he listed all those aspects of every day life that compensate for the routine grind. Examples: "The juice of the carrot, the smile of the parrot, a little drop of claret, anything that rocks. Elvis and Scotty, days when I ain't spotty, sitting on the potty, curing smallpox."My health test is how many times my heart leaps in an average week. Ian Dury would have understood. At the moment, I am running at about six leaps a week, due to changing my ride to work so that I pedal along Leichhardt Terrace in the morning, and allowing for the occasional row of terracotta pots.I wonder what does it for other people. I could speculate. How about cut price hardware, a basketball going through a hoop without touching the sides, a full recycling bin, bush without buffel, repeats of classic comedies or maybe even a glossy health magazine. It's very personal and more important than we think.


Even if you're not a Queenslander or New South Welshman, the World Cup of Rugby Union being played on our national soil has generated new enthusiasm for the game, filtering through to our home ground.
But the controversy over the participation of low-scoring sides misses the point.Locally, the 2003 - 2004 season held its first round of matches at Anzac Oval on the weekend.
The Eagles for years performed in a similar fashion to low-scoring Namibia, yet they persevered and preserved a CARU competition.
In fact they won the last two premierships, but were back on the bottom of the ladder Saturday.
After two glorious years, the Eagles had to run on against the Cubs in a replay of last year's grand final as a shadow of their former selves.
Only five of last year's grand finalists were there. The bench was limited to two, and their lifeline, Joe Dixon, was in New Zealand, retired.
Confronting the Eagles was the poor man of last year's final, the Cubs.
Like taking lambs to the slaughter, the Cubs showed no mercy when they dragged their opposition through a seven tries to one procession, remembering the bitterness of defeat in early 2003.
By half time the Cubs ruled at 17-0 and by full time they shook hands with their opposition at 37-5, and so opened their account on the premiership table, at the top.In contrast, James Nolan, who put on the green jumper a few years ago only to miss the thrill of winning a final, has worked hard on the resurgence of the Warriors for this season.
The Kiwi name may have been dropped, but with Robin Shelford at the helm and the signing of the likes of Tui Ford and Jonno Swalger, the heritage factor at Warriors will be significant in the revival of the club that looks often to the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Kiwis were against Devils as a pipe opener and a good game was played.
For the Kiwis the 17-12 win was appreciated. But in a different light Devils also took plenty of plusses home from the match.
The Kiwis ran on with a seven man bench, scored three tries to two and looked "the goods". They had a series of contributors as they gave as many as possible a fair run at the ball during the game.
Devils in contrast ran on with 15, many of them either new to the game or fresh into town. They ploughed away and were far from disgraced with the result. Given they can get a bigger contingent back on the track and can meld as one, there is a good season ahead.
But like the World Cup it is the game and not necessarily the score that really matters.


The reality of Albrecht Oval's value as a cricket venue was again driven home on the weekend when the first of the cricket season's two day matches were started.
On this ground, which one day will feature as a true treasure in Australian cricket's capital, Federal and Rovers enjoyed ideal conditions, a top track and a good game.
Federal's Jason Swain elected to bat, a worthwhile decision as the Federal boys put together 257 off 77 overs in a day's play that would have seen them happy with the total, and Rovers with their heads still up.
Federal were well set up, with their openers putting together a 62 run partnership. Tom Clements got a start with 24, while Darcy Bradmore stayed at the crease and contributed 72. On the first wicket partnership Michael Smith made 27. Matt Allen then fell cheaply for seven, allowing the seasoned Jarrad Wapper to the crease.
In what seemed no time Wapper notched up 52 before being taken caught and bowled by ex team-mate, Shaun Lynch for 52. Wapper's knock included seven fours.In the tail Allan Owe stuck to the task with a handy 21, and Feds left the field of play 257 ahead.
With the ball it was Adrian Macadam again who showed the way early, with 2/67. Daniel Gelding performed well taking 2/36 and Lynch ended the day with 2/38. Brad Tanner came into contention late in the innings when he picked up 2/37 off 11.4 overs.
At Traeger Park, it was Wests's Jeremy Biggs who called the coin correctly and opted to bat.
The decision appeared to be the correct one.
However, while they made 171 on Traeger Park Biggs would have been hoping for a score in the two hundreds.
Adam Stockwell and Jeff Kay opened well with 30 and 41 respectively. But with West sitting at 1/66 after 30 overs it was evident that the RSL pace attack was doing their job, containing the run rate. In fact West found themselves bowled out for 171 off 72 overs, a statistic they would rue in an 80 over innings.
For RSL it was Graham Schmidt who mixed his deliveries up and kept plying his craft on line and length to take 5/34 off 21 overs on a very typical Traeger pitch.
Matt Forster and Cameron Robertson claimed a wicket each with their pace and Wayne Egglington picked one up with spin. As an aside, RSL skipper Jeff Whitmore claimed the scalp of West captain Jeremy Biggs, run out for two.
Both games continue on Saturday.


Moonie Valley may have been the place to be on Cox Plate day, but for over 800 punters Pioneer Park was just fine with a four-event card complementing the Spring carnival in the South.
Toast of the afternoon was local trainer Terry "Razor" Gillett, who celebrated the day with three winners out of four, in a real Spring fling.
Astute punters also benefited from the day out as value for money prevailed in the ring. In the first, the Kevin Lamprecht trained Volcanic Pearl saluted over 1100 metres in a Class Two race.
Corruptible jumped well and led with Bright Vision and Volcanic Pearl settling nicely in second and third spots. The leader was tested over the distance and wilted to allow Volcanic Pearl to show the value of consistency and take the money by two and a half lengths from Bright Vision.
Cartoon Hero who is not an 1100 metre performer did well to claim third spot and will be all the better for the journey over a longer distance later in the Spring.
In the 1200 metre Class Five handicap, Our Mate Jack made his re-appearance at Pioneer Park. He was backed into even money favouritism and ran accordingly.
The four year old led from the stalls and dominated proceedings. He opened up a handsome lead around the back and came home a true winner by four and a half lengths.
Earthen Legend who has been given plenty of chances to date, showed glimpses of promise in his run.
He settled with La Mexa off the pace and stuck to the task in the straight.
La Mexa on the other hand did not run like a horse in form and was two and a quarter lengths away in third place at the post.
In the 1200 metre maiden race all eyes were on Tonnes of Style. The Terry Lillis acquisition ran according to odds and repute, by claiming the lead from the outset and showing class. Tonnes of Style went to the line a winner by a length and a quarter. Everytime ran second and impressed. Three weeks ago Everytime was scratched at the barrier.
On Saturday the galloper missed the start but worked well to make up ground, to settle second. Then in the straight Everytime went on with the job to take second money.
Big Bad Jum claimed the third spot, although three and a half lengths back.
This horse did it hard from the outside barrier and has potential.
The last of the day, a 1000 metre open dash, was preceded by a scare. Punk, who had been well supported in the betting, lost his rider on the way to the barrier and proceeded to expend a lap full of energy before they jumped.
It was the Class Five performer Crazy Cotton, however, who took the initiative in the running and led early by two to three lengths. Juroma, By Joe and Barrow raced as a group, with Barrow appreciating the benefit of carrying the apprentice and claiming three kilograms.
Crazy Cotton gave plenty of cheek in the straight and it was only when 100 metres out that Barrow drew on even terms. From there Barrow went to the line a winner by a length, with He's Tough Enough grinding away on the fence to fill the placings.
Racing becomes the focus of the nation on Saturday and then Cup Day Tuesday, with Pioneer Park joining in with good cards on both days.


"You can pick your mates but you can't pick your family": it's a radical statement for an Indigenous filmmaker.I thought so when I read the publicity notes and wondered how Steven McGregor's film, "Cold Turkey", would sustain the theme.
"Cold Turkey" and "Queen of Hearts" were two Territory offerings in a festival of short features, which has toured nationally and showed at Araluen on the weekend.
"Cold Turkey" revealed itself to be a remarkably honest film, telling a dispiriting story of two brothers and the destructive love between them.
The older brother Shane has a lot going for him: good looks, confidence, a strong extroverted personality. However, for reasons unexplained by the film, he channels these qualities into avoiding adult responsibilities such as work and domineering his younger brother, Robby.
Robby is making a bid to escape Shane's influence; he wants to quit Alice Springs to go opal mining in Coober Pedy. His mother backs his plan, buying him a bus ticket.
He buys a "slab" to share with Shane on his last night in town. As the two start to get drunk, Robby loses what little willpower he has been able to muster (why he is so weak is also unexplained by the film) and Shane leads him by the nose into disaster.
They head south in a stolen car, presumably bound for Coober Pedy, where Robby never wanted Shane to go.
Robby wakes up in gaol the next morning. The narrative becomes a little incoherent here: the viewers are as unclear as Robby about what has happened. There is the possibility that in his drunken stupor he ran over and killed a man. That turns out not to be so, but the realisation of how such an event could have dead-ended his life (rather than, it would seem, regret for his victim) is the wake up call he needed.
We learn from a final brief voiceover that he did get to Coober Pedy, it was only a stolen car after all, and that he no longer speaks to Shane. Not that Shane is giving up, he reckons it's about time that he heads down there to visit.
I admire this film for its courage. There is no gloss. It tells an ugly, depressing story with rigour, although the introduction of a mysterious third character, "Old Man", adds little.
I don't think it fills its 50 minutes of screen time, but it could have with further development of the script. Time should have been spent with the characters, so that we understood them and so that we cared a lot more. It's not enough to be depressed about what's happening to the characters you're watching, you have to really care (as we did, passionately, about Lilya and Volodya in "Lilya 4-ever", the Scandinavian film of a Russian tragedy, which screened at Araluen the week before).
Performances, and the direction of them, were outstanding, especially that of John Moore as Shane. He has great subtlety and could be cast across a wide range of roles.
The cinematography by Allan Collins was excellent, as expected, although occasionally I thought the close-ups, which he favours, were a little too close and confusing.
NEXT WEEK: Strong performances and fine direction of them also characterise Danielle Maclean's film "Queen of Hearts".

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