November 19, 2003.


A major part of government funded construction work in Central Australian bush communities will be project managed by an Aboriginal owned company, Tangentyere Constructions.
This will exclude from the open tendering process nearly half of the Aboriginal housing construction effort in the southern half of the NT outside Alice Springs.
Tangentyere will project manage work worth more than $10m in the next three years, building 42 houses in seven communities.
The company will continue a program for Aboriginal builder's apprentices, 19 of whom have received their level two certificates for one year on the job.
But private firms who have been doing the work for decades say they will miss out on contracts.
The 2003/04 budget is $8m (of which Tangentyere will handle about $3.3m).
In 2004/05, on present indications, the budget may be only $5m, with more than half going to the training program.
An Alice Springs based project manager, Ian Stower, says his company's IHANT activities were already cut by around 75 per cent.
He says the cost of a house under the new regime has risen by $40,000 to about $240,000.
But a spokesman for NT Housing Minister John AhKit says the new scheme will be groundbreaking in the training of Indigenous people.
He says: "In the last 30 years outside contractors have not had an interest in training people.
"This is a new way of doing things, so that we can create sustainable skills and work in the bush."
Territory Construction Association CEO John Baker says companies had been under no obligation to take on apprentices in the past.
"The opportunities within communities were not there," he says.
However, historian Dick Kimber remembers a type of apprenticeship scheme in Papunya and Yuendumu in the 1970s, which took into account that young Aboriginal men and women did not have enough formal English to do conventional exams.
He says the carpenters, mechanics, nursing sisters and canteen/store managers in the community trained young Aboriginal people to degrees of "genuine competence".
"The priority was to have them do the necessary work, not to have it done for them," says Mr Kimber."The advent of unemployment benefits in some instances, I believe, took away the incentive to do apprenticeship work, as the wages were likely to be no more than the benefit."
In the Top End the Northern Land Council is setting up employment training committees in the communities, involving local schools and councils, with the view of keeping maintenance contracts in local hands, and later, providing home-grown builders.
Meanwhile the scheme in The Centre ties in ATSIS, funding from CDEP for the trainees, Federal subsidies for apprentices, NT Government services and evaluation by the Charles Darwin University.
Mr AhKit's spokesman says the houses included in the apprenticeship program will be built more slowly so that training can be carried out.
The program will operate in Papunya, Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Laramba, Aherrenge, Docker River, Willowra and Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa).
A construction source says Tangentyere Construction has a rating of $2m a year from Contract Accreditation Ltd, but will be handling more than $3.3m.
"We're not acting purely as building contractors, but also as program managers for the Department of Community Development," says Hans Mouthaan, manager of Tangentyere Construction.
And a government source says Tangentyere's fee is "well under a miullion a year".
Mr Mouthaan says he was for 14 years building manager for Clarendon Homes in NSW "one of the biggest building companies in Australia".
"We built 1000 contract homes a year."


Crimes such as sex with minors and grievous bodily harm committed in the guise of Aboriginal law will not be condoned by the Territory Government, according to Justice Minister Peter Toyne.
He says initiatives will be taken to incorporate "Aboriginal customary law" in the legal system but that won't include practices that contravene the Criminal Code.
"As part of the Government's reform of child sexual assault offences we will remove the defence of traditional marriage to child sexual assault cases that is currently in the Criminal Code."This legislative action will ensure that the law is very clear and reinforce that sexual intercourse with a child under 16 years is a criminal offence without exception," Dr Toyne said.He was responding to the recently-released recommendations of the NT Law Reform Committee's Inquiry into Aboriginal Customary Law, "Towards Mutual Benefit".
Dr Toyne says the inquiry was established to "support and sustain Aboriginal customary law" but only in areas "that do not contravene the Criminal Code" and so long as it is "consistent with universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms".
Dr Toyne said payback is an area of customary law that will be further addressed in the development of localised Aboriginal Law and Justice Plans, "with the view to advance forms of payback that do not breach the criminal or general law, such as monetary payments.
"Northern Territory Government affirms that the Northern Territory Criminal Code applies to all citizens of the Northern Territory without exception.
"This means that the Northern Territory Government does not condone any of the crimes in that Code, including but not limited to murder, manslaughter, dangerous act, rape, incest, carnal knowledge, kidnap, assault and theft."
The inquiry was established to find "some mutual benefit in areas including but not limited to governance, social well-being, law and justice, and economic independence" and "subject to the overriding protections offered by International treaties and the NT general law".
ATSIC Northern Territory Commissioner Kim Hill said the Territory government's response to the customary law inquiry is a "start" but it needs to be backed up by action "to fully recognise and incorporate Aboriginal customary law into the legal system".
Mr Hill said Aboriginal customary law is an integral and central part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and should be "developed into a legislative framework".
"Indigenous peoples' system of law must be recognised if our communities are to move forward.
"Without full and meaningful recognition this won't happen," said Mr Hill.


Alice Springs students who have just finished Year 12 commonly take a year off study and work.
It appears to be more usual here than it is in other states.
According to Catherine Nickson, the Year 12 Coordinator at St Philip's College, some 80 per cent of the class of 2002 opted to defer from university.
She believes this is because "they have to leave Alice and that costs money".
They will have to pay more than just HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme) fees.Accommodation, electricity, food and general costs of living away from home can be "very expensive".
If the students work for a year, earning at least $16,000 (verifiable by the tax office) they will be eligible for a youth allowance, which will help meet their costs.
Mrs Nickson believes that the pressure of Year 12 should not be a factor in students' choosing to defer.
"There is a lot of work, but [the amount of pressure] is up to the students themselves. They need to be organised."
She does, however, believe that the pressure is increased if a student is juggling studies with a part-time job, which in this society, is almost a necessity.
An option offered to students to help cope with the pressures, is to take Year 12 over two years so the course is more spread out.
However, they may still need to defer in order to become eligible for the youth allowance.
Rob Evison tried this approach. He graduated from Centralian College last year after completing Year 12 over two years.
Says Rob: "In theory, you will do well because you have extra time for study, but in practice, it makes you slack because you have more time to do nothing."
Nonetheless, Rob believes it has its benefits: in his two years he worked closely with Centre Stage Theatre, planning and designing a number of shows.
He then stayed on in Alice in 2003 to work for youth allowance and next year plans to study a Bachelor of Arts and Science majoring in psychology and music.
He will also audition for the Design course at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA).
Rob believes that deferral is a good option, as it gives students "a real sense of responsibility and makes them more prepared for uni".
Billy St John has applied to study Audio Engineering at SAE College next year, after taking the year off to work as a music teacher at St Philip's.
He had decided fairly early that he didn't want to go straight to tertiary study as he felt that he wasn't ready to leave Alice Springs and his family.
While HECS fees and the costs of living away from home are becoming expensive, Billy is prepared, with the money saved from his year off. He sees no negatives in deferring, as it "it prepares you for what is to come".
David Pearson, completed year 12 in 2000, took a year off and is now in his second year at Adelaide University.
He believes that, while for some people, deferring is the best option, others will lose their motivation, if they don't go to uni straight away.
During his deferral year David realised how much he wanted to go to university but says that once he went, he "found it hard to get back into it".
He had considered studying law but decided against it as the HECS fees were three times as high as those of his current course in media and international affairs.
His choice of universities was also influenced by the cost of living away from home. David chose to go to Adelaide as it is the cheapest place from which to get back to Alice Springs.
Although his HECS fees are fairly high, David's main problem is youth allowance.
It's less than the unemployment benefit and David believes it isn't enough: "You can pay back HECS later, but if you haven't got money now, you can't live."
Renee de Jong chose not to defer, but rather went straight to the University of Adelaide to study Commerce after graduating from Centralian College in 2001.
Her family felt it important that she go straight to university rather than get caught up in a full-time job.
Renee knows people who have lost work habits and motivations after taking a year off, which has had a detrimental effect on their studies, so she was eager to go.
She doesn't qualify for youth allowance, relying solely on her family, which "has been a financial strain". She is very grateful to them for their support, which has also helped her adapt to university life, a "hard but beneficial" change. Living independently has been easier as she had learnt a lot of home responsibilities at an early age.
Therese O'Brien also chose not to defer in 2002, but rather go straight to Adelaide University.
Music is a non-deferrable subject, but in nay case Therese had been looking forward to it all through high school and never planned to defer. She doesn't need to pay HECS until she starts working full time, and at the moment, is living off youth allowance.
"It's not really living comfortably enough, but I chose not to work," she says.
She will get a part time job next year.
Therese believes that the current cost of university is "definitely too much, but there's not much students can do except keep paying the bills".
Dylan Fitzsimons, studying Law and Asian studies at Australian National University in Canberra, is aided by the John Hawkins Scholarship given to him by Rotary, which pays $10,000 towards his HECS fees.
Having already saved money during high school, Dylan chose not to defer from university; he wanted to "get straight into it".
The expense of living away from home can be hard, though, especially when "it costs about $500 if you want to go home and see your family".
Dylan pays $200 a week to live at a university college.
That means he doesn't need to pay food, water or electricity, and he also works part time at MHR Warren Snowdon's office in Canberra.Dylan believes that the cost of courses could affect the choices people make.
He has noticed that "in Alice Springs there are a lot of different social classes, whereas here [ANU], it's more homogenous, people are really from the same social class."


'Real True History': The Coniston Massacre
Encounters on the Third Patrol

Last week's article finished with an account by Henry Tilmouth, part-owner of Napperby Station, solving the problem of an attack on him, frontier style. A plainer statement Ð "The bullet entered his body over the heart. I had no further trouble with the blacks" Ð would be difficult to find.
However, since the man killed, Wangaridge, was not supported by any other warriors there must be doubt about Henry's initial perception of "blacks É sneaking up."
And what the dog and the boomerang thrower, only "a little way" away, were doing for 10 minutes, while Henry was getting out a bullet jammed in the bridge of his rifle, is a bit of a puzzle. It was extraordinarily good fortune for Henry that Wangaridge, who must have been no more than 50 metres away, waited (?) for 10 minutes until Henry had cleared the rifle and had it at his shoulder before, apparently unimpeded by the dog, he again approached.
Meanwhile, the second patrol was over and there had been an attack on Nugget Morton (also the subject of last week's article). It may be that news of the second patrol had Government Resident John Cawood and Sergeant Noblett a bit worried, and wishing that someone other than George Murray was available for the patrol that was required to now arrest Nugget Morton's attackers. Indeed it remains a puzzle why Sergeant Noblett was always required in Stuart Town.
However, he undoubtedly had to determine priorities, and the demands for assistance in the Glen Helen area meant that other Mounted Police were needed in that area too. Whatever the reasons, the delay was brief, and on the 19th September George Murray was again back in Alice Springs, preparing for another patrol.
It is difficult to conclude other than that John Cawood approved of the "teach them a lesson" approach. There is also circumstantial evidence that he did not yet know of the newspaper report and thought that the news could be kept fairly quiet. He probably thought that Murray would be taking two adult Native Constable black-trackers with him, and must have accepted that he would recruit station men to the patrol.
Murray, no doubt now beginning to feel a bit like a yo-yo, arrived at Nugget Morton's Broad-meadows station on the 24th September. Nugget had recovered from his wounds, but the scars were still as visible as was his determination to do something about who had caused them.
Leading this third major patrol, George Murray was now experienced in the general nature of the country and knew something of the Anmatyerre and Warlpiri people. He also knew that his attempted arrests always resulted in resistance and attacks, which in turn resulted in the shooting of all males in any camp.
In saying this, though, it is easy to forget that, whatever actually transpired on the patrols as against what was sometimes reported, George obviously had to be a very competent and courageous bush policeman, and an expert horseman, to be travelling the desert distances he was.
Death by spear or by perishing were always genuine possibilities. He might have put his soul to one side, but even in his generation he must have been exceptionally tough of body and mind.
"Nugget" Morton was a very tough pastoralist who had been in the Lander River country for about four years, had overlanded stock across the Tanami Desert, and was known to be ruthless in his dealings with Anmatyerre and Warlpiri who challenged him in any way. He was undoubtedly a good bushman, and a good rifleman.
Alex Wilson, who after Joe Brown's death had been obliged to return to Nugget to work, had no love for him, but had no way of avoiding the situation in which he now found himself. Whether he liked it or not, George Murray wanted him for the patrol.
He was a man on the spot who could make up the numbers, he knew how Murray operated and, since Nugget was required to take over Jack Saxby's "crossfire" role, Alex was also useful in an overall support rifleman role.
I envisage that, in addition to this role, he replaced Major as the man in charge of the horses while travelling, and Police Paddy as the "sweeper" who had to head off anyone of a group who was trying to flee.
Why there were no formally employed police trackers is a puzzle, even if Police Paddy and Major were not available (as seems to have been the case). Instead a local boy, whose name is unknown, became the fourth member of the patrol.
He was probably a Kaytetye or Anmatyerre lad, about 12-14 years old, and presumably acted as horse-tailer for the "plant of about fourteen horses" supplied by Nugget, and as general rouseabout while in camp.
It is clear that George Murray believed that just three armed men, all with rifles and revolvers, were sufficient for the patrol that lay ahead of him.
This was a potentially dangerous assumption, and must have been made on the basis that, because of the drought, the local people were in small scattered groups, no more than 30 in number.
There is something that also suggests a death or glory approach by George Murray.
Tennyson's "The Charge Of The Heavy Brigade At Balaclava", with its later echo of George's mates at the Charge of the Light Horse at Beersheba, captures something of how I think he perceived himself.
The "gallant three hundred, the Heavy Brigade", charged galloping into the enemy's ranks, and: "Fell like a cannonshot,/Burst like a thunderbolt,/Crash'd like a hurricane,/Broke thro' the mass from below,/Drove thro' the midst of the foe,/Plunged up and down, to and fro,/Rode flashing blow upon blow,/Brave Inniskillens and Greys/Whirling their sabres in circles of light!"
George didn't have a sabre, and he doesn't seem to have been so poetic. He was a soldier-policeman, a hard man doing a hard task in hard country. And the Anmatyerre and Warlpiri people were honed lean and hard by their land, too.
I remember once being out with an old desert man in a drought and, when I looked out over the heat-haze shimmering land and remarked, "Hard old men in the early days!", he added, "Hard old women, too!"
It was probably on the 25th or 26th of September that the patrol moved out from Nugget's station. They captured three innocent young men initiates early in the patrol, but they would not betray their kinsmen and elders.
They "humbugged" Murray for three days, leading him to dry soakages and abandoned camps.
Then, when he realised what they were doing, they used the cover of darkness to burn their feet at the fire until they blistered, and pound their toes so that they could not walk the next day Ð or so they thought.
Constable Murray wrapped hessian bags about their feet and forced them on. And when they still "humbugged", he took one aside, out of sight of the others, fired two shots into the dust, and ... They obviously took this as a very real threat, and fearfully led the patrol towards a waterhole.
Although there is no doubt about this account Ð George Murray gave the same information in two interviews 27 years apart Ð neither he nor Nugget Morton thought to mention the use of the three initiates as guides, or any other details associated with them, at the time of the enquiry.
George Murray's and Nugget Morton's accounts to the enquiry of what happened on the rest of the patrol contain enough words and phrases of identical or near-identical nature to suggest that they had rehearsed them together. I suspect that most people would have done the same under similar circumstances.
George Murray begins the further account:
"On nearing a place called Tomahawk Waterhole I instructed Wilson and the small black boy to keep the pack horses well behind. Morton rode down the bed of the creek and I rode about 100 yards in the scrub. I came across seven male adult natives, I galloped around and they assembled in one heap. I dismounted and the natives immediately attacked. I called to Morton, at the same time firing several shots wide of the natives. The position appeared serious and I fired to stop the natives. The shots attracted Morton and he was immediately on the scene."
As George is a bit light-on for details at this point, Nugget now takes up the story.
"The four armed blacks were belting Constable Murray who was on foot. I dismounted and drew my revolver as I ran. I fired several shots at the natives. I also heard Constable Murray fire several shots. The four natives were killed. I recognised them as being four of the natives who attacked me."
It was unfair of me to wonder whether the seven men had "assembled in a heap", a rather odd expression, before or after the shooting. Perhaps the four who were shot were "assembled in a heap". And perhaps the three young initiates who had initially misled Constable Murray joined them, for they are not mentioned from this time onwards. Further to this, no-one is reported as being buried on this patrol.
The surviving three unarmed men gave satisfactory accounts of their movements, and helpfully "stated that the four dead had only arrived there some few days before and that they were the cheeky ones who had tried to kill Morton".
An interesting point is that this was probably the tenth time Murray had dismounted and been attacked. It is fair to assume that he been waddied, boomeranged and yam-sticked (if not also knifed, speared and tomahawked) innumerable times.
The total combination of blows must have been more than the blows Nugget Morton had endured in the 15-man attack on him. And yet there is no evidence that he needed the slightest bit of medical attention or bandaging. This is truly remarkable. His luck held in the next attack too.
The patrol travelled via Boomerang Waterhole on the Lander to Circle Well, away to the north-east. Here eight men were "rounded up" and, when Nugget spoke to them in their own language, telling them to throw their weapons down, all but two did so. These two, though they had "been casually employed" by Nugget, had also been two who had held his arms when he was attacked. When, despite several exhortations to throw down their weapons, they continued to hold them, Constable Murray dismounted. On the basis of all of his other accounts the result was predictable.
"Immediately I stepped to the ground the two of them jumped on top of me. I threw them aside and got possession of a tomahawk from one of them. He then attacked me with his boomerang and I used the tomahawk to defend myself. The second blow struck him on the back of the head and he fell dead. The second native was in the act of driving a spear through me from about two yards distance. I drew my revolver and both Morton and I fired in the same instant and the native was killed."
A question might have been asked by a member of the enquiry team had anyone thought about his account. How was it that, if the native was attacking you with a boomerang, and therefore facing you, you managed to hit him in the back of the head with the tomahawk? No doubt a reasonable explanation could have been given.
The other six men, who must have been Anmatyerre because Nugget could "fluently" speak their language, told Nugget and Constable Murray that their main group was camped well to the east, and the patrol rode on. Fifty kilometres later they came to "a soakage at the lower end of the Hanson River" at which was a camp of about 40 people, nine of them men. As Nugget recounts, much the same procedure was followed as in earlier situations.
"We rounded this mob up. There was only myself and Constable Murray there because Wilson was with the pack horses. The natives were all armed with weapons. I spoke to them in their own lingo.
"Most of the nine were amongst the Aboriginals who attacked me. I told them to drop their weapons and be quiet. The blackfellows yabbered to the lubras to run away quick because they were going to kill us. Some of the natives put their boomerangs down and others put their spears up against the little bushes. Some refused point blank to put down their arms. We tried to get them away from their weapons but they kept circling back to them.
"Constable Murray dismounted and his horse again galloped back to the packs. Immediately the blacks attacked him with their boomerangs, sticks and spears. I saw Murray and a native both wrestling for one spear. The natives were right up against Murray then and I saw him drive the spear into the black. He then jumped back, drew his revolver and fired at the other blacks close handy. He sang out to me, ÔShoot quick or they will get me.'
"I jumped off my horse and went to Constable Murray's assistance with my revolver in my hand."
And as Constable Murray concludes:
"Even after several shots were fired it did not steady them. When order was restored it was found there were eight killed."
The ninth, I suspect, was severely wounded, and therefore not worth mentioning. I envisage him dying of his wounds, as all others who were wounded did, during a lunch-break or overnight camp.
Several further points can be made about the patrol and this incident.
First and most obvious is that most Australians in the year 2003 would probably call this incident a tragedy. However, in 1970 when I talked with old retrobate Nugget Hunter, a bush worker of the era, about the Coniston massacre, he simply exclaimed, "Teach them a lesson! Do them good!" Other evidence suggests that he represented what the majority of Central Australian bush workers thought in 1928. Secondly, when Nugget Morton, who spoke the local language "fluently", heard the mostly unarmed men say to their wives that they believed that they were going to be shot, why didn't he reassure them that this was not intended at all?
Thirdly, since at least half of the men of the group were unarmed, it is rather unfortunate that all of them were killed too!
Perhaps Alex Wilson's response to Bob Plasto's question, which is a general one about the numerous encounters in the overall Pine Hill to Coniston area, is the reality.
"Did they shoot in self-defence?" Bob asked. "No! They shot 'em like a dog," Alex responded.
Fourthly, as with all other clashes on this patrol, there is not the slightest suggestion that any of the men who had been killed were buried.
One other aspect of interest is that both Constable Murray and Nugget Morton state that Alex Wilson was not involved in any of the shooting throughout this patrol. They took it entirely upon themselves to deliver the justice they saw fit.
It seems to have been stretching the rule of law quite a bit. And yet it is worth pondering again, "What would I have done had I been a member of that patrol back in 1928?" Not all of us would have been minding the horses.
As they returned to Broadmeadows station in mid-October after three weeks of hard travel (according to Constable Murray they had been living on bush tucker for part of the time), it is likely that George and Nugget made a body count. Much as it is likely to have been an under-estimation, 14 is what they would have tallied. They could have added one more for the man Nugget had shot during the initial attack on him.
Meanwhile, out in the Glen Helen country, and in contrast to the earlier independent actions by owner Fred Raggatt and his private punitive party of Tucker, Giles and Tilmouth out near Central Mount Wedge, a police patrol had had success in a very different way. There, over much the same time as the Murray patrol, the police party had arrested 20 people.
As an indication of how the drought was having an impact rather than there being a propensity for such acts, 12 had been arrested for breaking into the Glen Helen station store; three for cattle killing on Glen Helen; and five for killing working camels on Redbank station. (Redbank was owned by Archie Giles and, at that time, was the western-most property on the north side of the MacDonnell Ranges).
These prisoners were lodged in the Alice Springs gaol Ð which must have been at bursting point Ð on the 18th October.
On the very same day, while John Cawood and Sergeant Noblett were probably still drinking whisky to the success of this patrol (the amount of whisky bottles consumed was a criticism of the administration in later years), Mounted Constable Murray arrived back in town. They must have almost choked on their whisky when they heard his news.
While it is entirely true that Constable Murray had only a brief time to fill out a report about the patrol, as he had to start for Darwin on the 19th to attend the trial of Padygar and Arkirkra for the murder of Fred Brooks, Sergeant Noblett must have been on "red alert" by this time. With his encouragement the report was very brief, so brief in fact that it omitted to mention, or even vaguely suggest, that at the very least 14 men had been shot.
NEXT: The trial of Padygar and Arkirkra.

LETTERS: Education administrators: use by date expired.

Sir,- Your paper is to be highly commended on last week's lead story, "Education department shafts its star principal".
It exposed to the public the absolutely outrageous treatment handed out to Diane deVere, former long serving principal of Papunya School. Kieran Finnane raised many issues on which the relevant authorities, particularly one, failed to deliver answers. It has been a cowardly act by the administrators and a gutless stand by Minister Syd Stirling.
The thriving school and innovative initiatives developed by Diane are testament to an educator who put education first. No poser attitude with Diane, she just got on with the job and proved her worth to Papunya Community, not to mention the kids, many times over.
It is particularly galling when one is aware of the inbuilt inertia, with regard to educational leadership, that emanates from the Gap Rd. Education Office. The prevailing attitude there is one of reaction, rather than having the pro-active role for which they are well paid.
The crux of Diane's "crime" is that she refused to "tug her forelock" for a particular administrator at the Gap Rd. office.
The fact that she got offside, for educational beliefs, with certain influential people at Papunya, was a "death" sign for Diane staying there.
The admission, in the negative, that Kieran extracted from [former] community council chairman, Syd Anderson, about the present state of education at Papunya since Diane's removal was a telling blow for senior Gap Rd. administrators and those community people at Papunya who brought her undone.
This has been a vindictive action by certain people and it is a huge shame job on those people.
An immediate term springs to mind when one reflects on some of these administrators. It is "used by date expired".
In the meantime, the public should be informed as to the contract salary (believed to be in excess of $130,000) paid to Diane's successor of two years at Papunya. A person who is being removed from the school at the end of this year.
Whatever spin the department puts on the attendance figures at Papunya, they have fallen dramatically since Diane's departure. The principal position there now, because of the low student numbers, now equates to more like a head teacher rating.
The bottom line is that those in charge, from the Minister down, do not take Indigenous education seriously enough. Too many bureaucrats can stay in their comfort zone, in many cases for years on end, and contribute zilch to educational leadership.
The supreme irony of all this is that Diane was always providing leadership but has now been shown the door. If an inquiry, something akin to a Senate investigation, were to be held on Diane's case, the findings would certainly render educational authorities and the Minister with a serious case to answer. Shame, shame, shame and shame again!
Graham Buckley
Alice Springs

Dogs shot?

Sir,- There was a very nasty incident in the river bed opposite my home recently.
Two police officers on off-road motorcycles, along with the town council dog controller, hounded two pet dogs all over the riverbed.
When the dogs were exhausted and finally captured, they were put in the dog cage and taken out to the back of the dump and shot.
"Ruby" and "Whitey" were neither sick nor mangy and never known to vicious.
They were known along Sturt Terrace by some of the local residents as the well cared for and much loved pets of a small group of Aboriginal people.Ruby was a handsome brown three-year-old belonging to Janey. Unfortunately Janey was not there when this ugly incident took place. The next day she went to the pound with money in her pocket to pay for the release of her dog, but neither dog was there.
Surely these dogs had a right to be taken to the pound, like your dog or my dog.
It is alleged that Whitey, a male dog, bit a police officer. Any hunted and harassed dog would be a frightened dog. If he bit the officer maybe the dog was frightened, not vicious.
Apart from that, the point is, why did Ruby, the innocent one, lose her life in this unjust way?
G. Gorey
Alice Springs
ED:- A spokesperson for the town council would neither confirm nor deny that the dogs were shot. They were disposed of in compliance with the Animal Control By-laws in "a humane fashion" by "standard methods used by all councils", said the spokesperson.
The details of the methods used are "not information we are willing to release to the public".
The owners of the dogs had been previously cautioned about the dogs not being under effective control, said the spokesperson.


The Town Council has expressed full confidence in, and support for Planning and Infrastructure director Roger Bottrall and senior engineerHenry Szczypiorski, the subject last week of public criticism by 53 out of 54 council outside work-force employees.
The council says comments in a letter circulated to the media by the employees (see last week's issue) "are representative of a depot workforce which is resistant to any change".Ê
"This letter, which made allegations of abhorrent behaviour, and which advised the council to seek to end the employment relationship with two senior managers, has made no allegation which has any substance," says the council."It is couched in vague, personally malicious, and specious terms, which are not accepted by council.Ê"With regard to the act of distributing the letter to the media and Chief Minister's office the LHMU Workplace Delegates have gone outside the Dispute Avoidance/Grievance provisions of the current Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, and outside the ASTC Code of Conduct.Ê" As such they are matters which will be subject of investigation and potentially disciplinary action.Ê
"The actions also break a negotiated agreement and undertakings provided by these same delegates at a meeting on 17 October 2003.Ê
"It is not conceivable [that] this has been done with any other intent than to bring the council into disrepute and to inflame an issue which should be handled within the workplace.
"The council condemns the actions of the workplace LHMU delegates.Ê"The council É has no alternative, whilst retaining credibility in the eyes of the community, than to express support for the current management in Operations and Infrastructure Department in the strongest and most emphatic terms, and to pursue the correct and proper disciplinary processes.
Ê"In order to progress this issue there will now be an investigation into the handling of correspondence from the ASTC depotÊby LHMU delegates on Thursday 6 November 2003 and the relationship with provisions of the ASTC EBA and ASTC Code of Conduct, with recommendations acted upon."

Actions and consequences. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.

Anyone who's been vigilant en route to or from the airport, couldn't have failed to spot the message written under the screen of the now defunct drive-in cinema Ð I LOVE (HEART SYMBOL) U BABY GIRL MORE THAN I CAN SAY!
With lots of kisses and hugs (0X0X0X0). The lover/writer must have been totally besotted: he would have needed a cheery picker (or a really tall ladder) to reach the screen. We drove past it again on Saturday when we farewelled little Harry, David's grandson, and Sally, flying home to Sydney and Colin, after a two week interlude in the Alice.
Harry was mobile Ð rolling around, into anything and everything at eye level, pulling drawers out, tugging at curtains and tablecloths, sweeping wildly along low coffee tables and surfaces: "Yega," Colin and Sally say to him, which means "no" in Zulu. Great, I like the idea of bi-lingual , but little Harry, at this point, hasn't quite got a grasp on English, let alone African!
Harry-proofing the house was easy (once I got into the swing of things): putting stuff back into rightful places has taken somewhat longer, and the house is a bit too quiet.
"It's so noisy in here I can't hear myself think!" my mother would bemoan as five of us (I'm the oldest) ran around the house making as much noise as we possibly could on inclement days. And there were a few wet days in Christchurch!
With impeccable timing, Danny and Yvonne, ex Northern Territory, now residing in Tasmania, thought that David and I needed light-hearted relief: they sent a piece through about the life of the Ôfifties to Ôsixties child.
I've modified or embellished where necessary.According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the Ôfifties, Ôsixties, Ôseventies and early Ôeighties probably shouldn't have survived .
Our cots were covered with brightly coloured lead based paint which was constantly licked, sucked and chewed .
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles or household disinfectants and cleaning agents, no kiddie-lock latches on doors or cabinets and it was okay to play with leaden pots and pans.
DAD'S CARWe walked to school, or rode our pushbikes in packs of six and seven Ð we didn't wear bike helmets and wore our coats by only the hood.
There were no seat-belts or air-bags in Dad's car and riding in the passenger's seat was a real treat.
We drank water from the garden hose, not a bottle, and it tasted just as good É when we did have a bottle or can, we used one straw to share with four or five little friends, and no-one actually died in the process.
We ate dripping sandwiches, bread and butter puddings (rice and sago, favourites at home) and drank fizzy sugar filled drinks, but we didn't have to worry about becoming overweight Ð we were always outside amusing ourselves because we didn't have play stations or video games, a choice of 99 plus television channels, surround sound systems, mobile phones, personal computers or access to internet chat-rooms.
We had friends Ð we were lucky enough to be able to leave home in the morning and amuse ourselves all day long, and provided we were back before dark, no-one minded.
We played rounders and cricket in the street and sometimes that ball really stung.
We spent hours building precariously balanced tree houses and cubbies. We built go-carts out of wooden crates and bits of scrap metal.
It wasn't until we were speeding down hill that we realised we'd forgotten the brakes!
We had fistfights, punched each other black and blue, and we learned to get over it.
We fell out of trees, got cut and bruised, broke bones and teeth, but there were no law suits Ð there were accidents and we learnt not to do the same thing again.
We began to think for ourselves and solve problems.
Our actions were our own Ð consequences were expectedÉand we survived! It's interesting readingÉHarry arrived with two teeth, and left with four, plus a few little grazes, but nothing that time, tlc and emulsions won't fix.
He'll have a few more bumps and bruises before he celebrates his first birthday, I'm sure, speed crawling with little friends, towards an exciting childhood, which will be entirely different from that of the Ôfifties and Ôsixties baby boomers, and a generation apart from the progeny of the Ônineties.


If biology gave you short legs, how does Pilates make them longer?
This may not be a major issue, but in the sloth of a hot and silent Centralian Sunday, its importance can grow, along with other less-than-fundamental questions of our time.
The trouble is that most questions are unwelcome. We all prefer answers. But I have a favourite question that I would like to share with you. It is, "Why bother?" This enquiry has multiple uses and many facets. It always allows a little light to shine on complicated subjects. In fact, these two words may be limited on their own, but side-by-side they are transformed.
Ask yourself the same question and much will be revealed. For example, why bother to grow Brussels sprouts in the desert (I do it and I can explain). Why bother to follow the bizarre antics of earnest characters in country dramas (harder to justify). Why bother with male grooming (it makes no difference). Put "why bother" in front of your daily activities. It changed my life.I have other favourite questions too. My second is, "For crying out loud, what is the matter with people?" This one is great. You can use it to work out the reasons why friends never return your calls or why the entertainment industry award themselves so many prizes.
Just for the record, my third best-ever question is, "Do you really need another smoko break?" which may well be culturally inappropriate. If it is, I apologise. I probably need a break.
Questions are useful because they reveal what hides behind the superficial veneer of life. I used to work with a man whose response to me asking him to pass me a pen was, "Why do we keep the pens there anyway?"
I think this is called the research mentality. Needless to say, he got right under my veneer. But being a believer in the power of questions, I could hardly argue, which was even more frustrating.
My smug conviction that questions are the source of all wisdom was recently rocked at a talk by an eminent scientist called Susan Greenfield, soon to become "resident thinker" at a university in Adelaide. She explained that the world is becoming answer-rich and question-poor. Technology, whether implanted, hand-held or injected, will offer the answer to everything. She has written a book about the subject called "Tomorrow's People".
As a result of technology, fewer and fewer people will have to trouble themselves with thinking about the relationships, choices and issues of everyday life.
Children will be raised in a world that is even more modifiable than the one that we live in. There will be no baldness or obesity. No experience will be beyond our reach. Our lives will be shaped by a more complex and compact version of the Internet or a suite of interesting body-developing non-prescription drugs. As Greenfield pointed out, this is not an attractive idea, given the loss of individuality that would result.
More important to me would be the loss of questions. Watching someone as full of vigour as Susan Greenfield and with a brilliance several light years ahead of most of us, simply brought more questions to mind. What effect would a spell in the Northern Territory have on her, I wondered, gazing into the middle distance and thinking about the intellectual cut and thrust of a silent Sunday respreading my mulch?
So I drifted back to where I had started. Just imagine; slender legs, strong muscles but not a Pilates video or a body balance class in sight. It's the gym bore's ultimate dream. But if this and every other challenge was taken away, why would we bother to carry on at all?


West, slow out of the blocks to date this season, literally took a dilapidated Rovers side apart at Traeger Park on Saturday when they took full points for an outright victory in the two day encounter.
At Albrecht Oval reigning premiers RSL Works consolidated their position by accounting for a lack lustre Federals, winning on the first innings.
West did incredibly well on day one of the match when they scored 366 on an oval normally never expected to attract such a run-making feast. Recruit Luke Sprague stamped his name on the game by scoring a century, and on Saturday was at it again with the ball.
Rovers were always going to have to be at their best to match the West target and with Darryl Connor unavailable due to work commitments, were further handicapped even before they went to the wicket.
West wasted no time in claiming points by dismissing the Blues in a mere 35.1 overs for 135.
The only real resistance came from Adrian McAdam who managed to compile 56, while the West trio of Jeremy Biggs, Darren Clarke and Shane Trenbath notched up three wickets each.
Sent back in, Rovers could hardly raise a yelp as Jeff Kaye dominated by taking 6-39, with the dynamic Sprague snaring 2-4 and so giving West outright victory.
Matt Pyle topped the scoring with a solid 38 but otherwise the Blues battled and were dismissed for a paltry 88.
At Albrecht Oval the front runners of the season, Federal, were brought down to earth when they fell well short of the required 331 for victory against RSL Works.Federal had 80 overs at their disposal to score the required tally but could only muster 209.
Tom Clements produced 59, albeit off 55 overs to top score with opener Darcy Bradmore, 44.
Skipper Jason Swain contributed 33 before falling lbw to Matt Forster, and Matt Allen added 28.
The tail gave little, however. and RSL were able to claim victory thanks to Graham Schmidt who bowled 27 overs to claim 3-65.
Matt Forster bowled 23 overs to take 4/55, and Tom Scollay, who was given his first opportunity with the ball, celebrated with a wicket for no runs. Cameron Robertson had just the one spell of seven overs to return 1-16.
PICTURED at right: Rover's opener Justin Dowson, having nicked the ball, looks back as he is about to be caught, much to the delight of West's captain, Jeremy Bigg.


Who would have ever dreamed of it? Fancy having the Warriors (formerly Kiwi Warriors) run on the field at Anzac Oval on the very night and at the same time as the All Blacks were set to claim Australia at Telstra Stadium and enter the final of World Cup Rugby.
CARU officials had such faith in the true believers that they knew their fixtures would go on. But very few picked the quinella. Here in Alice Springs the Devils blitzed their to date undefeated opposition, the warriors, by 39 to nil; while at Telstra, Australia ran all over New Zealand to score a 22 to 10 victory and so march into yet another chance to claim the Webb Ellis Trophy.
On the home front it was a testimonial game for Jim Nyland of the Devils and the Federal boys made every post a winner.
They were aware that a wedding engagement reduced the Warriors' fire power and maybe a few loyalists from the land of the long white cloud stayed home to take in the big game.
The Devils ran the ball from the first whistle and sent Dave Humphries, David Recklies, Anthony Wentzel, Julian Oakley and Luke Walladge across for tries.
Levi Calesso hit his straps and in playing a pearler of a game also scored three conversions, a penalty goal and a field goal.
More importantly the Devils unearthed a new talent in Chris Forbes who teamed with Calesso, Wentzel and Recklies to be among the Devils' best.
For Warriors it was a day better forgotten especially as their engine room specialist Jono Swalger had to leave the paddock, injured in the last half.
Otherwise the honours with the Warriors probably went the way of Lance Day.In the Cubs' encounter against the Eagles full credit must go the way of the Eagles as they clawed their way to a 12 all draw despite running on with 14 men.At half time the game was even at five all, and then Cubs pinched a seven point lead before the Eagles responded and tied the game up at the final whistle.
The most impressive aspect of the Eagles' game was the use of young players.
Shane Kennedy and Don Mallard impressed on the wings. Shane Kerr did well at full back, and David Kerin served as a double flanker to cover the short fall of troops.Eagles were further heartened when past player Sam Moldrich turned up, and with Mark and Mike Hauser in form the stage is now set for an Eagles return to competitive status, after a start to the season that was a real battle.


Yet another champion of racing in the Centre defied a big weight and collected the money.
Scotro, who revels in the 1000 metre sprint, was set a task by the Handicapper on Saturday at Pioneer Park when sent out with 63.5 kg on his back. In traditional form he took all before him to score in the Dymocks Alice Springs Handicap by three and three quarter lengths.
Despite his weight Scotro jumped to the lead from the gates and within 20 metres had establish command of proceedings. He extended his lead to some four lengths over Crazy Cotton and had enough in the tank to not be challenged in the run home.
The best run from the rest of the field came from Queen's Image who finished off well to be within striking distance at the post had the race been scheduled for an extra 100 metres. The vintage campaigner Le Saint filled the placings, a further three quarters of a length behind Queen's Image.
The day started well for punters when favourite Lion Pride went to the barrier at even money in the Kenny's Best Pal Class Five Handicap over 1400 metres, and returned a result for the true believers. Lion Pride won a race on Darwin Cup Day and despite the big weight prevailed again on Saturday.
Strategic Feeling who ran second, led early in proceedings, with Lion Pride parked neatly at his girth. They enjoyed the run together well in advance of the rest of the field and it was Lion Pride's strength in the straight that made the difference. He scored by a short neck with La Mexa finishing off in third place but one and three quarter lengths off the action.
The Lacryma Cristi Class Two over 1000 metres proved to be a memorable day for rookie hoop Masayuki Abe who calmly nursed Corruptible to the line. The young recruit didn't resort to physical strategies on Corruptible in the run home, preferring a hands and heels style and gentle use of the persuader.
Liase led early in the running but weakened at the 400 metre mark, allowing Corruptible to gain the upper hand. Everytime was the improver in the run, coming from the rear of the field and climbing into second place, albeit a good length and a quarter in arrears of the winner.
The tired Liase did enough to pick up the cheque for third. The disappointment of the race was the heavily backed Tonnes of Style who held fourth spot in the running but faded badly in the run home.
There were 15 nominations for the 1200 metre Al Hareb Handicap and so officials wisely split the field into two, making for five events of the day.In the first it was Monkey Boy and Criterium who set the pace. Monkey Boy led with Criterium on the outside. In the straight Criterium seemed to command control, but as has happened in the past, the immediate opponent was able to fight back and take the day.
Credit should go to Daniel Stanley who, through vigourous riding, was able to bring the best out of his charge and win by a long neck. The rest of the field were distant, with Lady Archer claiming third place but four and a half lengths in arrears.
In the last the favourite Big Bad Jum didn't let his supporters down with a solid two length win over the 1200 metres. With Tim Norton on board Big Bad Jum proved too strong over the final few hundred metres.
The second placed Belle Rokalya who hasn't been trackside for some 18 months did well to recover after missing the start, lead the field, only to be outclassed by lack of fitness. Belle Rokalya will come back all the better for the run and should pick up the money in weeks to come.
Centre Music filled the placings but was never in contention, being over nine lengths in arrears.


Pip McManus' ceramic work unpromised land, showing at Watch This Space after exhibition in Tasmania and before going to Darwin, evokes the foundering of hope in the search for promised lands/ lands of promise on opposite sides of the globe.
A commissioned work, unpromised land responds in part to the endeavours of an historical figure, Critchley Parker Jnr, the son of a mining magnate, who in the 1940s imagined carving out a prosperous Jewish settlement from the Tasmanian wilderness. Parker refused to consider the advice of locals, let alone common sense, and died a solitary death in storm-lashed Port Davey, holding onto his delusional vision to the end.
Though Parker never got to turning the first sod, McManus links his story to the Jewish settlement of Palestine.
The work is an installation of three ceramic tablets. The first shows the wilderness of the Sinai, mountains in the distance intersected by an old map of the area. In the foreground are flourishing olive branches, symbols of life, hope and peace, yet in the middle ground, rising like a formidable escarpment over the ancient Temple of the Rock are the high-rise apartment buildings of Jewish settlers that surround present-day Palestinian lands like fortresses.
The link with Parker's folly is the colonist's assumption that land is there for the taking, irrespective of its existing conditions: Palestinian habitation on the one hand, magnificent but inhospitable wilderness on the other.
Jewish settlement is a narrative thread that assists this reflection.
The second tablet (pictured above) shows the flourishing vegetation of Tasmania's south-west in the foreground, with fragments of Parker's last letters and a map of the Port Davey area in the background.
The third tablet returns to Jerusalem, a map of the various ethnic group quarters reflecting the former richly multi-cultural life of this city. In the foreground, olive branches are dry, brown, losing their foliage Ð the foundering of hope as the vicious present-day conflict continues. The vials of water, oil and earth/ash beneath each tablet have a similar symbolic reading.
McManus craft and aesthetic is superb, making the installation captivating in its beauty and ambience, but the complex ideas and histories she is working with are not fully realised in the installation itself, which seems a problem.
In this sense her assembled porcelain hands, imprinted with a rich array of imagery and text from the Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions that have lived cheek by jowl for so long in Jerusalem and the Middle East, are more successful.
It's not necessary to know the source of all the imagery on the hands Ð even though it is interesting to find out Ð to grasp the work's proposition and to feel its weight in the contemporary international context.
McManus will give a slide talk tonight at 8pm, on why she is working with the images and ideas reflected in this show and in other recent work. The gallery in George Cres is open Thurs & Fri 10-5, Sat 11-2 till Nov 29.

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