August 25, 2004.


The Town Council can go into debt for $10m to upgrade its offices, or achieve that objective, spend half the amount, and create a substantial asset for the ratepayers.
The choice is stark but not one till now put to the people of Alice Springs, although a confidential report highly recommended the second option in 2002.
A Finance and Management Committee document, dated 9 December, 2002, was leaked to the Alice News last week as the council appeared to be pressing ahead with the $10m option.
The document, prepared by then Acting CEO Roger Bottrall and corporate services director Eric Peterson, recommended that the council negotiate with the Territory Government to acquire the Greatorex Building, deferring redevelopment of the existing Civic Centre.
The plan was to purchase the Greatorex Building for $3.7m, which council could have managed without the need to raise loan funds; rent it back to the government over three years while alternative accommodation was found for government departments, with council continuing to occupy the Civic Centre; in the fourth year move into the Greatorex Building, and together with the Territory Government invite suitable expressions of interest in the purchase and development of the Civic Centre.
The town library would have been retained in its present location and registered sacred trees would have been protected.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff told the News that there had been no public discussion of the Greatorex option because "it didn't come to anything".
Why not?
"It got bogged down. And we preferred the library to stay on the same site as the administration.
"The library wouldn't have fitted into the Greatorex Building."
Is it all too late?
No way, says Alderman Des Rogers.
He has also seen the 2002 report and has been making enquiries.
He says senior public servants within the government have advised that the building is currently being revalued and is still for sale.
They do not expect the revaluation to be much greater than a previous one at $4.2m. The small park in front of the building is also owned by the government, previously valued at $1.5m.
"I understand that the second floor of the building, with modifications, could accommodate 50 people," says Ald Rogers.
"Council employs 45 staff, so council could occupy that floor and lease the rest either to the government and to other tenants, generating income.
"It's in the CBD, it's easily accessible, there's adequate parking and if we bought the land as well we could build some public toilets there.
"There would be no need to sell the Civic Centre site. The library could expand into the existing buildings. The lawns should be retained as open space and the old chambers should be converted into more public toilets!
"It's a fantastic option for council and the public to discuss."
Ald Rogers is confident he'll have detailed information and documentation for council to consider in the near future.


Baby Teryn could be the last baby born legally at home in Alice Springs.
Since her birth last week to Tami and John Lyman, the midwife attending, Theo Allan the only practising private midwife in the Territory has been told that her registration is being reviewed by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of the Northern Territory.
The review has been prompted by new legislation, which requires an indemnity arrangement as a condition of registration.
Territory Health Minister Peter Toyne has said that an "indemnity arrangement" could include a formal agreement between the pregnant woman and the midwife, that the birth will proceed in the absence of professional indemnity insurance cover.
However, the decision is in the hands of the Nurses Board within the Health Professions Licensing Authority, an independent body.
The Nurses Board did not respond to a request for comment.
Indemnity insurance has not been available to independent midwives in Australia since 2002, when underwriters forced the Australian Nursing Federation to withdraw its cover for members.
This led to a dramatic decline in private midwifery, according to Ms Allan from 200 Australia-wide, down to 30.
Ms Allan is among the brave few to have continued to practise without indemnity, relying for protection on her good relationship with her clients as well as basing her practice "on all the available evidence on safe maternity care".Now however, pending the board's review, her registration to practise has been limited to settings where she is indemnified by an employer or where she has (unobtainable) professional indemnity insurance.
That means continuing to provide her professional services to private clients has become unlawful.
Will that force the practice underground?
One woman, Megan Hoy, expecting her second baby and until now at least in the care of Ms Allan, told the Alice News she will still try to have a home birth.
Ms Allan was Megan's midwife throughout her first pregnancy, although on Ms Allan's advice Megan transferred to hospital during labour.
Ms Allan then worked alongside hospital staff until Megan's son was safely born.
Mother and baby returned home the next day and Ms Allan resumed her post-birth care, involving regular visits to the family for six weeks.
Megan says she has no sense of failure over having given birth in hospital: hospital backup is part of the optimal home birth plan.
Ms Allan says about one third of her clients, on her advice, have hospital care at some stage of their pregnancy.
"I've never had a client who has said I'm not going to hospital'."
Megan looks back on the whole of her first pregnancy, including the birth, as an "empowering" experience.
"I would be reluctant now to settle for less," she says.
At present she is experiencing a normal healthy second pregnancy. She is confident about her home birth plan and is determined, all being well, to go ahead.
Ms Allan short listed for the NT Nursing and Midwifery Awards is torn between, on the one hand, loyalty to Megan and other clients and a commitment to the style of care she offers, and on the other, the risk to her future ability to exercise her profession.
Why would either woman run such a risk?
"We shouldn't have to, that is the point," says Megan.
"Theo should have indemnity insurance, it's unfair that she doesn't, and we all feel vulnerable while that is the case."
Megan and others have joined a national campaign to access insurance for all independent midwives.
Says Megan: "Minister Toyne has a duty of care as Health Minister to help women of the Northern Territory to have access to insurance for safe maternity care.
"We call on him to join with us in insisting the Federal Government make this a priority."
Passions on the subject of birthing run deep: it is after all one of the great intimate experiences of life.
For healthy women it is not a medical problem.
Ms Allan describes it as "a normal and natural part of life" a description Tami Lyman wholeheartedly agrees with.
Little Teryn is Tami's fifth child, and fourth baby born at home.
Her first son Jeremy was born in hospital in the USA, before she knew anything about home birthing, but having experienced home birth with her second son Tod, she and her husband haven't looked back: "We wouldn't have it any other way."All four sons were present at their little sister's birth. Seven-year-old Tod even cut the cord.
Tami's cousin Natalie Liggett was also there and has stayed on to give her support.
Even with six family members present plus Ms Allan, Tami describes the experience as "calm and peaceful".
"I was in my own space, there was no reason to be anywhere else.
"Midwives are trained, they know their limits, they know if they need to transfer you to hospital."I've had four different midwives, I've been very confident in all of them."Tami hadn't planned on being pregnant in Australia. When she found out she was, she couldn't believe that the only private midwife in the Territory was here in Alice.
"I felt very lucky. I don't know what we would have done otherwise. Theo saved me from having to look any further."
Ms Allan says women who choose home birth shouldn't be put in that position.
"The Department of Health and Community Services should take over, they should offer midwife-led caseload care as an option, so that it doesn't only depend on me."
There are of course midwife clinics at the hospital. Midwife-led caseload care is different, in that it offers the crucial "continuity of care" that all of the women the News spoke to value so highly. The one midwife sees the woman through pre-natal care, birth and post-birth care of herself and the baby.
Caroline Lieber moved to Alice Springs to have her baby so that she could be in Ms Allan's care.
"I want the one person to see me through. Theo won't go on holidays or change shift," she says.
She is due in less than five weeks. She's just crossing her fingers that Ms Allan's registration will be resolved in time.
Renata Urban-Peters, whose baby is due in October, transferred from pre-natal care at the hospital to Ms Allan.
Renata recalls watching her little brother being born at home when she was five. In all she's witnessed three human births and says the experience has allowed her "to be a confident pregnant woman today".
"I'm not frightened of giving birth," she says.


Midwives can get professional indemnity: it costs $185,000 a year with an excess of $200,000.
"That's more than three times what most midwives would earn in a year," says Chris Wilson, acting director of the Council for Remote Area Nurses of Australia (CRANA).
If the Territory Government were serious about offering women the option of midwife-led care, including home birth, it would be lobbying the Federal Government to subsidise midwives' indemnity cover, as they do for doctors to the tune of $600m over four years.
"We see it as a national responsibility, and a question of equity," says Mr Wilson.
"As midwifery is the safest and cheapest and most appropriate care for healthy women it should be a national priority in order to reduce costs and relieve the pressure on the scarce resources of obstetric services."
Mr Wilson says it is not enough to skirt the issue by having an agreement between mother and midwife to proceed without cover.
"That arrangement does not take into account the baby who could take legal action 18 years' down the line," he says.
Mr Wilson says the crisis around indemnity cover may have serious implications for maternal and infant health in remote communities where clinics are run by Indigenous-controlled health services, without the resources to purchase expensive indemnity cover.
He says he has been advised by a leading medical personnel agency that they will no longer place midwives in non-government clinics.
He says this comes at a time when Indigenous women experiencing healthy pregnancies are wanting to return to the practice of giving birth in their country, which in Indigenous communities overseas is being shown to have better outcomes for mothers and babies.
He says the Territory Government also needs to make clear the implications of the indemnity issue:"Does it mean that remote area nurses cannot offer pre-natal and post-natal care, that they have to tell women to travel hundreds of kilometres to the nearest government clinic or hospital to receive care?"


"Everything's OK then, yesss?"
You don't get a chance to answer.
He strides back into the Silver Bullet, a large caravan used as a classroom in remote communities mid last century.
I'm not allowed to call him the Fawlty of the Inland although without hat his resemblance with John Cleese is compelling.
Photographer Mike Gillam and his wife, pharmacist Maria Giacon, built the Silver Bullet Caf in the most unlikely place and from the most unlikely materials.
It's between a car yard and a wholesale plumber, a couple of kilometres away from Alice Springs' caf quarter in the middle of the town.
No bricks and mortar: the material of choice is steel and 90 per cent is recycled, including a World War II vintage truck, a double decker bus accommodating the dunny, and an Ansett gangway that became superfluous when the airline went down the gurgler.
When ordering I committed the serious error of asking Maria what the beef and Guinness pie was like.
"It's pretty awful but we've got to shift it. So order it."
I did. Now she's coming to get my plate, emptied to the last delicious crumb.
"I can see you've forced yourself, then," she says.
I formulate my order of a cheesecake without any suggestions as to its quality.
"Do you really think you need that?" is an unmistakable reference to the mixed success of my current weight loss regime.
But it made me feel at home.
"We've always intended this as a retreat for locals," says Mike.
"We came to the industrial area partly because we saw opportunities that went begging.
"If we wanted to run a tourist caf we'd be in the Mall.
"We didn't do it to make a funky atmosphere for tourists but an interesting, spacious atmosphere for locals, for people who live and work in Central Australia, many of whom need a quiet place where they can relax.
"The average stay here is about an hour and a half to two hours, in the Mall it's probably 45 minutes.
"They come here to read paper, read books, to catch up with their friends.
"One of the mistakes businesses make it to be all things to all people.
"If we encourage tourists into this place they'll automatically displace locals.
"Now in the Mall that's very easy. You just go to the next caf.
"Small business can also be the glue that holds a community together.
"So this is a community building exercise as well as a business."
Mike says some tourists sneak through and "we're not going to tell them to bugger off".
"But we're looking at our options and we're probably going to become a members only establishment next year.
"We do our bit for tourism because many of the local hospitality workers come here for a rest.
"It takes a special kind of person to smile at hundreds of strangers every day.
"I can't do it.
"It's a lot easier when you know the majority of your customers.
"If they're being pushy it's a lot easier to tell them to pull their head in and sit down."
Says Maria: "People come here because the coffee and the food are good. They come here to relax, to have a little holiday.
"Someone said it's like having your best mates around your house but you don't have to wash the dishes.
"People walk in and they look around to see who's here that they know.
"Or you can find a little table and hide in a corner to read the papers.
"It is very relaxing. I think that's the main thing.
"It's a calming sort of place.
"As garden sizes in Alice Springs are shrinking people come here and enjoy the beauty of this garden.
"It stretches them. They like it because it's totally unexpected.
"They don't know what this place is when they first see it.
"One woman this morning, I was taking her order, and she said I have to sit down and think about it I'm just gobsmacked by the art work."
Mike takes his public relations seriously, going to great lengths to keep people away he thinks won't fit in.
Confronted with a run on the business following a segment on the TV show Burke's Back Yard he made his way down to CATIA's tourist information office and asked the staff to quit giving directions to people wanting to visit his caf.
Then he took the signs off the gate.
But amidst all the banter and eccentricity there is a lot of solid philosophy behind the Silver Bullet Caf and even sound economic strategy.
A World War II army barracks at the foot of a rocky hill was the initial inspiration for Mike and Maria, growing into a living museum with a thousand exhibits, telling stories and giving pleasure.
It's the carefully assembled bits and pieces, big and small, that make the place fascinating.
"We don't feel wedded to a sheet of paper with drawings on it," says Mike.
"We're building in modules, and if we lay out a section of the site and we don't like the balance or the way it flows, we might move a building a metre.
"And that's a great strength of this site, to be able to tweak it like that.
"Much of what we do here is driven by the materials we find.
"They inspire some of the directions we take."
The deck for the outdoor tables, for example, consists of about 19 slabs of concrete, each weighing 2.3 tonnes.
They came from the demolition of Gillen House, a former tourism school.
"We knew we wanted to put a deck here but its final design was largely driven by these materials," says Mike.
"The big thing with fins over there, the base for the doughnut shaped table, is from a mining machine," says Maria.
"It turned up and so we used it.
"That bullet proof glass came from the dump."
Says Mike: "Take the double decker bus once we removed the floor of the upper deck we actually had a cathedral ceiling with good air flow. It's a practical space, a 4.5 metre high building which obviously works well for a toilet."
How so?
"Well, there's no energy cost in keeping it cool. There is no smell."
The Silver Bullet Caf is very much a work in progress: "This development is a bit of a Rubik's Cube.
"You have a master plan but you're massaging that plan on a daily basis, using materials that are at hand or that you scrounge.
"We're following the traditions begun on this site in the post war period by the people at Maskell's Welding Works, people with very little money who were infinitely resourceful.
"A truck that broke down would be used as a work bench.
"We used a truck as a landing of the wheelchair ramp.
"The big arrow at the bottom of the ramp is made from diamond chequer plate which we scrapped from a workbench that rusted out.
"The plate started off on a Bren gun carrier in World War II.
"It's a matter of using materials until they are completely exhausted.
"Each piece brings a history, a patina, a texture that enrich the whole site.
"That's where we exceed the abilities of new materials."
The Silver Bullet Caf is second home to nationally acclaimed sculptor Dan Murphy, who works in metal.
But Mike and Maria's next exhibition isn't traditional art.
Scrap Yard Magicians, starting September 4 as part of the Alice Springs Festival program, "is to encourage some of the incredibly skilled tradesmen of the town who have perhaps done work in the past and not shown it".
"They are diesel fitters and plumbers, welders, people who don't call themselves artists but could certainly give many artists in this town a severe nudge," says Mike.
They appeal to his own wry sense of humour.
Qualified plumber Peter Templeton made a coffee table from a perfectly smooth traffic sign saying "Rough Surface".
Weaver and painter Janine Stanton, says Mike, is "trying to bring a bit of form and texture to the use of shade cloth on Hill's Hoists as shades," and she adds that she wants to show the ripples of desert sand.
There will also be a full-scale suit of medieval armour made from 44 gallon drums.
Says Mike: "I think you will see sculptural work at this show as good as the best in the country.
"That might surprise people because we have the small town inferiority complex.
"But I notice that Burke is promoting itself as an artistic centre with the notable use of recycled metal sculptures.
"I've seen photographs of some of the works at these places and we're a significant nose in front.
"On a per capita basis this place is light years in front of any major city. Look at the talent here. It's phenomenal.
"You're talking about a population of 27,000 people and I've already got a shortlist of 20 people who are producing quite amazing work in steel for Scarp Yard Magicians.
"Material resourcefulness is alive and well in Central Australia, part of our culture, in stark contrast to bigger urban centres.
"There is a tradition of recycling here despite all the health regulations that shut down scavenging in the tip.
"I was here as a young man 30 years ago. It was a regular scene, 25 people on the tip face.
"That passion for scavenging is an artefact of isolation and high freight costs, and a lack of choice.
"Surely to God we need to continue and promote that tradition."
There is sound business sense in this seeming madness.
"Our waitresses tell us we have a very low scumbag factor," says Mike.
"Our waitresses don't get abused by customers. It's extremely rare.
"The generosity of spirit of the place calms people down. It relaxes people.
NO HURRY"They are not in a hurry for their order because it's a beautiful place to sit.
"And that's one of the reasons why we open on weekends.
"During the week people would have a narrow time frame and that's not what the place is about.
"There are lots of things about this place, its size, its sense of space, its richness of detail that make no economic sense.
"But we're not spending tens of thousands of dollars recruiting and training staff every year.
"Our staff find us.
"And that includes tradesmen, builders, welders they want to work here.
"We don't advertise. It's all word of mouth.
"Many accountants are thinking in quite a linear fashion. Some of our financial advisers couldn't see a caf working in an industrial area.
"Really, they need to travel a bit more."
Mike admits that the Silver Bullet Caf, started two and a half years ago, has only just tuned the corner, financially, in the last eight weeks.
"But the advantage of that is we did not get swamped with customers, demoralise our staff, offer second rate service and have half the people badmouthing us all over town.
"We've done it incrementally, and that means our staff could find their feet. In the longer term it actually pays off."
Mike isn't kept awake at night by fear of competition.
"What we did here is largely inspired by the site. So it can't be copied.
"We've had echidnas on this block. There are about 21 species of reptiles.
"Our inspiration also comes from the 1000 species of desert plants that exist within a day's drive.
"We haven't taken a shopping list of all the things you can cram into a caf.
"We've responded to what we can do well at this site.
"We don't have music here.
"There are other cafes trying to forge an identity partly based on entertainment.
"Well, more power to them. We don't want to copy them.
"The possibilities in Alice Springs are quite immense if people want to use their imagination."


Transferring responsibility for Aboriginal programs from the discredited ATSIC to the "mainstream" public service will result in greater efficiency and transparency, the Federal Government has claimed.
People inclined to believe that may find this story unsettling.
The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, now more than 30 years old, is a client principally of the Federal Department of Health, for which prominent liberal front bencher Tony Abbott currently has responsibility.Only comparatively minor funding came from ATSIC, during its lifetime.
In 2003/04 Congress apparently received $7.58m from the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, a branch of the department.
That is the lion's share of the organization's apparent $9m budget.
Part of it also comes from the NT Government.
Congress is in an apparently unique position: year after year it has surpluses of around $6m.
There are lots of "apparentlies" because Congress does not disclose any financial information, least of all in its 40 page glossy annual report.
NT Senator Nigel Scullion, upon request from the Alice News, obtained information for us from Mr Abbott's office, with an invitation to get further details from a senior departmental official it nominated, Peter Broadhead, who works in Canberra.
This has so far been a drawn out, unpleasant and largely fruitless endeavour worse even than the frustrating dealings with ATSIC.
We began in April to follow up on information received from Senator Scullion which in turn took us the best part of a year to get but we still haven't got the answers.
In a nutshell, we have no interest in crucifying Congress, but we want to know why it has such a large surplus (News, April 28); how cost efficient the organization is; and how its performance is being judged by the department, presumably a prerequisite for the ongoing and generous supply of public money.
Mr Broadhead makes the point that "non current assets", including real estate "property, plant and equipment" are part of the surplus.
For example, in 2003 the $5.98m surplus included $3.9m in that type of assets.
These, it would stand to reason, are public property, having been paid for with public money.
That would suggest that these assets should remain under the control of Congress only if they are being used for the benefit of its clients, making imperative an evaluation of the organization's performance.
None, it appears, is being carried out.
In addition to the $2m cash surplus in 2003 Congress had a whopping $1.2m in "unexpended grants".
So it could have spent $3.2m on care for its clients in that financial year but didn't.
This was the point where responses to us from Mr Broadhead, and later departmental media person Kay McNiece, became general, speculative, philosophical anything but precise.
For example, one of the few hard figures in the Congress annual report is the number of consultations by its doctors, nurses and health workers.
The report cites 34,169 consultations to 7059 clients.
When you divide the (apparent) budget by this number of consultations, each cost $263.39.
That's nearly six times the $45 you pay your GP whose level of training of course is much higher than that of nurses and health workers who, apart from doctors, are part of the Congress team providing consultations.
We went through that with Congress in June last year when we were bluntly told that "there is no requirement for Congress to publish any financial information in its annual report" and that the organisation's "financial accountability is to the Aboriginal community".
Our way of calculating the average cost of consultations, we were told, is a "simplistic representation of what a comprehensive primary health care service provides, reflects an inability to understand complex issues that face the regional Aboriginal community and that Congress' many and varied services attempt to address".
We then asked Congress for detailed costs of these services.
When that information wasn't forthcoming, we turned to the people providing the money.
However, more than a year later, Mr Broadhead and Ms McNiece aren't doing any better.
Says Ms McNiece: "Your attempt to compare the costs of service provision at [Congress] with the cost of a consultation with a GP is problematic.
"The figure for funding that you use includes funding for services that GPs do not provide but that [Congress] does provide, for example child care and [a] pharmacy that you do not take into account in attempting to make the comparison."
"Published research shows that where medical services are being provided by private practice GPs to Aboriginal people, the nature of the conditions with which Aboriginal people present and the time required for proper consultation is significantly greater as much as five times greater, on average than for the average patient a GP sees.
"A further problem with your approach is that the episodes of care' that you are using in your calculation can include several services from several different providers during one attendance at the service by a person.
"This is hardly comparable with an ordinary consultation with a GP."
That response hardly qualifies for what the News had asked the department to provide, namely answers "on the basis of what is, not what could be the case".
That persistent denial of meaningful information invites the alarming suspicion that the department simply doesn't know, and doesn't care, what Congress, and the nearly 200 people working there, are achieving.
Our question was this: "How does the department judge whether it is getting somewhere or not, in the very long term, with its funding?
"Congress is an ideal case study because it's been around for 30 years.
"Has the present day equivalent of [a quarter of a billion dollars] paid to Congress over that time span made a difference to indigenous health, alcohol abuse, child neglect, diabetes, early death, poor personal hygiene, unemployment, domestic violence, paint, glue and petrol sniffing by children as young as six?
"If so, what difference has [Congress] made?"
This was the answer: "An extensive and detailed review of the Offices [sic] approach to funding primary health care was undertaken over the last year.
"The documents from this review can be found on the department's web site" and its address is nominated.
We checked the seven documents appearing on that site for references to Congress and found the following none of which came anywhere near a broad evaluation of the organization's performance. They are:- In "National Strategies for Improving Indigenous Health and Health Care": a 76 word reference to the organization's birth centre, Alukura.
In "Investment analysis of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care program in the Northern Territory": no reference to Congress.
In "Costings Models for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services": no reference to Congress. In "Capacity Development in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service Delivery": 83 words referring to a submission Congress made to a House of Representatives Standing Committee.
In "Cancer, Health Services and Indigenous Australians": 70 words on pap smears at Alukura.
In "Maternal And Child Health Care Services: Actions in the Primary HealthCare Setting to Improve the Health of Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander Women of Childbearing Age, Infants and Young Children": no mention of Congress.
In "Substance misuse and primary health care among Indigenous Australians": 103 words on alcohol restrictions, mentioning Congress and two other Aboriginal organizations.
That's 262 irrelevant words in response to an issue often referred to as the shame of the nation, at least to Central Australia's share of it, and an expenditure of public money, in today's terms, of around a quarter of a billion dollars over three decades.


Aboriginal leaders from Central Australia are trying to ensure that assets owned by ATSIC remain in the hands of Central Australians.
Contrary to media reports, there is no "done deal" about the Yeperenye Shopping Centre, according to Des Rogers, ATSIC regional council chair.
Mr Rogers will be one of a four-member delegation to make a submission to the ATSIC Board of Commissioners about the future of Yeperenye.
"Most people might not realise that the Board of Commissioners is still intact," says Mr Rogers.
"All commissioners are still on full pay, with vehicles and mobile phones. Only their travel allowances have been restricted.
"They are still functioning under the Act that established ATSIC and will do so for some time yet, while the Senate inquiry proceeds and in all likelihood until after the Federal election.
"The Yeperenye complex is still owned by ATSIC, and the Board of Commissioners would have to sign off on any arrangements about transferring ownership."
The complex was built on land in part gifted to Central Australian Aboriginal organisations two decades ago by the Uniting Church.
Mr Rogers says its ownership should not be transferred to Indigenous Business Australia, as that would go against the spirit of the Uniting Church's gift.
"The IBA is a statutory authority, operating as a commercial enterprise and cannot divest property to anyone. They could only sell it."
Mr Rogers will be joined by David Ross, director of the Central Land Council, Betty Pearce for Lhere Artepe, the native title holders' body corporate, and Mark Lewis, a consultant.
They will put to ATSIC a plan to transfer ownership of Yeperenye to a trust established as an arm of Centrecorp, an investment company owned by Aboriginal interests.
Centrecorp will not profit from the deal; rather a dividend from the profits will be paid each year to Lhere Artepe.
Mr Rogers says Centrecorp has been chosen because of its sound professional reputation.
"If the Board of Commissioners is serious about not letting the government get its hands on Aboriginal assets, then they should support this move."Mr Rogers is also preparing a submission for the board about the 43 houses owned by ATSIC throughout the Territory, used for staff accommodation.
He will propose that ownership of those assets by transferred to the Indigenous Housing Authority of the Northern Territory (IHANT).

Lingiari needs a level playing field: COMMENT by Warren Snowdon MHR.

The Alice News asked candidates for Lingiari in the next Federal election what they would do if they were Prime Minister in this land of "the missed opportunity". (See Erwin Chlanda's editorial and Senator Nigel Scullion's response in last week's issue.)This week WARREN SNOWDON, MHR calls for a level playing field for Lingiari citizens:
A first priority of any government in a progressive society like ours should be to provide equality of opportunity a level playing field for its citizens.This basic principle is the foundation of individual enterprise and economic development.But, historically, it hasn't been a priority in Lingiari.As the Alice Springs News suggests, our vast bush electorate "remains the land of the missed opportunity".Lingiari is without question a place of great potential.Even those Territorians living in Darwin, or north of the Berrimah line, would acknowledge that most of the wealth generated in the Territory comes from Lingiari.The major tourism destinations our enormous tracts of intact wilderness and great icons of cultural and environmental heritage and all the fishing, mineral, horticultural, agricultural and pastoral production, as well as the new gas facility, are in Lingiari.Our community is a place that's central to Australian identity and should be ready to flourish. But the full potential of Lingiari has yet to be realised largely because our human potential lies half buried beneath a long history of neglect.There are many examples of Lingiari missing out on basic services that are taken for granted in other parts of the country.Our crumbling bush road network is largely ignored by the Federal Government, thanks to its decision to fund only roads that lie within town council borders.When the government said it would provide mobile phone coverage to all Australian communities with more than 500 people, it excluded four towns every one of them in Lingiari.From Alice Springs to the rural fringes of Darwin, there is only one private GP practice that bulk bills all patients.As a result, Territorians now pay an average fee of $51 to see their GP the highest doctors' fees in the country.But the most serious neglect in Lingiari has been the historic failure of successive governments to address the vast inequities and poverty that face indigenous Territorians.Undoing this neglect is the key to unlocking Lingiari's potential.On this page last week, the CLP Senator for the NT gave his thoughts on how to tackle deepening poverty in our indigenous communities.He mentioned just one aspect of this problem, welfare dependence, saying "mutual obligation in relation to unemployment benefits must be extended to these communities".This is an example of the extraordinary ignorance that allows government neglect of our electorate to continue unchallenged. Mutual obligation, better known as "work for the dole" schemes, has been part of the Australia's mainstream labour market program for just six years.But Indigenous Australians have been on work for the dole programs for almost three decades.The Community Development Employment Program, or CDEP, was developed in the 1970s by Indigenous Australians who didn't want "sit down" money they wanted jobs.And when there weren't enough jobs to go around, they wanted an alternative to the dole that would provide them with training, skills and self-esteem.Today, almost 8,000 indigenous Territorians are working voluntarily on CDEP projects when they could otherwise be receiving unemployment benefits.Some of these projects are very successful while others face a number of problems.This is largely because the current Federal Government has seen these programs as an end in themselves, without addressing the need for education, training and business development programs that will allow people to move within and beyond the jobs available with CDEP.The truth is most indigenous Territorians want to educate themselves, have jobs, set up businesses and see their families and communities grow and prosper.But this will not happen on a large scale while more than 3,500 children in the Territory have no access to a high school in their community or any prospect of career development and vocational training.It will not happen while the majority of Indigenous Australians continue to die before they reach old age.It will not happen while housing shortages force people to live in rooms with up to a dozen other people.It will not happen without adequate resources for campaigns against drugs, alcohol and domestic violence.And it will not happen if governments fail to listen to Indigenous people and acknowledge that all Australians have a right to good health and education, as well as control over their land and communities.We must start realising that the price of failing to act is always higher than the cost of prevention.One obvious example of this is healthcare, where unaddressed nutrition and primary health problems on indigenous communities develop into major crises for hospital emergency departments.But despite a flood of reports warning of worsening health indicators, the Federal Government actually spends 18 per cent less per person on healthcare for indigenous people than it does for non-indigenous people.This failure to act on a major national crisis flies in the face of all common sense and compassion.A Latham Labor Government will focus on providing opportunity to all Australians, regardless of where they live.We will restore Medicare and bulk billing, increase funding for Territory schools, stop the full sale of Telstra and, most importantly, reverse the long neglect of our disadvantaged rural and remote communities.


If James T. Bristow, The Greens' House of Representatives candidate in Lingiari, became Prime Minister he would make Alice Springs the solar centre of Australia.Nuclear dumps in the Territory would be banned.
There would be access for everyone to effective education and training.
Ecotourism in cooperation with Indigenous stakeholders would make greater use of our abundance of natural attractions.
Indigenous people would have a voice in decision-making on Indigenous issues.
He would say "Sorry" to the traditional peoples for past injustices and work with them for a better future.
The principles of reconciliation and the facts relating to dispossession and stolen generations would be part of the history taught in all schools.There would be no more US military bases in the NT and Pine Gap's military role would be ended.
FERALAll stakeholders would be engaged in the successful management of feral plants and animals.
He would introduce an urgent program to raise people's awareness and practice of effective water conservation.There would be an end to uncontrolled land clearing in the Northern TerritoryEducation to university level would be free, and all past HECS debts would be abolished.
Business participation in the development and deployment of technologies relating to recycling, renewable energies and conservation in general would be encouraged.
Current restrictions preventing Territory families accessing midwifery services and support would be removed.Economic development would be encouraged but not to the detriment of the environment or the inhabitants of the Northern Territory.

Just a few bullet points. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

Ted Selker, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims that the Internet can cause your attention span to fall as low as nine seconds.
This is equivalent to that of a goldfish.
In my experience, nine seconds seems long.
This is a sports-made culture so better not say this out loud; many people became bored with the Olympics during the opening ceremony.
Most of the events are close to unwatchable anyway.Shooting, anyone? Individual cycling time trials? How about over-in-a-flash swimming events?
To enjoy these sports, you have to be holding the gun, riding the bike or in the pool.
Armchair archery just doesn't cut it.
I can't relate to ordinary people doing extraordinary feats of sporting wonder.
I prefer my heroes to be sculpted gods with expensive haircuts and enviable body parts, not gas fitters with advanced handball technique.
I swore that I would never listen to Radio National again if they led the peak hour news with a heart-warming story of an ordinary person achieving sports glory.
Then they did it on the first day. So now I don't even have the radio as a refuge from the Olympics.
The real problem is my ever-reducing attention span. I used to be able to watch a whole marathon.
Now I get distracted shortly after the starting gun in the 100 metres.
Adults blame young people for this. We reckon that it's their fault that there are too many computer games and music videos.
There's too much channel-changing and too little focussing and reading worthy novels, we point out.
This has to be the last refuge of the burnt-out geriatric.
Let's blame the kids while we surf the Internet, fiddle with our mobiles and obsessively send emails.
By far the best indication that our collective level of concentration is shrinking is the language that we use.
Take the expression "just a few bullet points".
Almost everyone uses it. Or at least they do in my closeted world of technical people, community developers and keyboard pounders.
And yet "bullet points" has become the mother of all office clichs.
Ask someone to write bullet points and what you really mean is "don't use whole sentences as I lose concentration after three words".
The expression is so over-used that it's like a clearing of the throat. We hear the sound but we can't remember ever doing so.
One of the many psychological benefits that you might expect from living in a remote town like Alice Springs would be longer attention spans.
I asked my children if this was true, but they became distracted and forgot the question.
Then they said "No, but we get more bored", which may be this week's best insight.
If the opposite of short attention spans is boredom and neither is desirable, what is the answer? Again, most adults fail miserably when faced with this particular challenge.
We reach for the standard response of, "When I was your age, we didn't have (fill in the blank with video games, computers, colour television and so on)".
Come on now, be sensible. The truth is that when I was your age, we didn't have parents bleating at us about what it was like when they were our age.
There's too much hand-wringing in the world. Just for once, let's not care about attention spans.
NUGGETA vast wave of information washes over us every day from the moment we get up in the morning.
Is it little wonder we don't have time to waste on the tedious stuff before we flit on to the next nugget of knowledge?
There's too much to get through and too little time.
By the way, thanks for staying to the end of this article.

Craft connection battles flu. COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.

Until a few days ago I had not been tempted to create anything out of wool.
Winter is nearly over and the beanie exhibition finished on the weekend.But just like when you think you have managed to escape the flu, it creeps up on you at the last minute and takes over. I started on a shawl.
I don't know how to knit but I do know how to crochet.
Both my grandmothers helped me learn and I know that for me the emotional connection to them is always part of the reason that I pick up a crochet hook.
I have the same feeling of connectedness to them and my mother as well as to my other female ancestors as when I cook and bake.
None of these tasks are important for our everyday survival. We can buy much cheaper jumpers than we can knit ourselves and we can buy bread at a very reasonable cost and without any hassles.
We don't need elaborate meals to feed ourselves and can always buy ready made soups, sauces, and cooked chickens.
But we need to be fed spiritually as well as physically and not in a religious sense. We need to feel part of a tradition, a culture, have a connection to the past as well as a link to the future.
Even if you are not into knitting or cooking, you may have foods that you insist on at Christmas time because you have always had them then and it would not be Christmas without them.
We are often not aware of why we enjoy something, how something satisfies deep emotional needs. It doesn't have to make sense to make you feel good or be important.
Intuitively we will protect and promote our culture and create festivals and other events for a public display of the importance of art, craft, colour, smells and sounds in our lives. Just because it isn't possible to see and touch something doesn't mean it isn't valuable.
We've got the Alice Springs Festival and the Masters Games coming up. An "Arts" event and a "Sports" event, both providing opportunities for creativity, engagement, commitment and continuity.
As individuals and as a community we need ways to be able to feel that we are alive and part of something bigger; a family, a team, a world community, that we carry on traditions.
Sometimes I wish I could put my hands up and say "time out". I want to hide away from the world for a while because I haven't done my home work, practised or feel a bit out of sorts. By picking up the crochet hook or the torch I can reconnect with the past, enjoy the present and provide a link to the future.
It doesn't matter if I cannot perform at top level and become a professional artist or sports person, if I'm young or old, strong or weak. Life is for everybody, and ultimately it is not about winning but taking part.


Reigning premier South exploited every opportunity in their game against minor premier West to register a nine point victory in local Aussie Rules on the weekend.
South booted 15.12 (102) to Wests' 14.9 (93); second placed Pioneer enjoyed a bye; and Federal mounted a percentage boosting rampage against Rovers to come home 196 point winners, 32.19(211) to 2.3 (15).
In a one sided episode against the Blues, Federal ran on field with coach Gilbert MacAdam in shorts and boots rather than coach's attire.
It was inevitable that MacAdam would see himself as best suited to a playing role, and while he has enjoyed the comfort of nurturing his team from the sidelines for most of the season, his services on field in the finals will be critical.
Federal unleashed a seven goal first term with Dave Atkinson establishing a thoroughfare through half forward, allowing runners like Ralph Turner, Darrell Lowe, Darryl Ryder, and Kelvin Neal to carve up any defence mechanism Rovers tried to apply.
LIMITEDWhile Rovers pressed forward on limited occasions to record 0.1 for the term, Federal had 7.6 on the board in the same time span.
Feds fired in the second quarter with a nine goal haul, and it was in the second term that the Blues were able to make their move with goals from the boots of John Campbell and Julian Williams.
Rover's score of 2.1 at half time only progressed to 2.3 at the final whistle, but Federal ploughed on to record 32.19 for the game.
Adrian MacAdam scored nine goals for the day while Darryl Ryder contributed eight.
Atkinson proved to be a powerhouse with six while five other players booted majors.
Ryan Thomson unleashed a game to remember and should prove to be a vital cog in the Feds wheel in the finals.
Ralph Turner set the track on fire and Travis Alice had a real dip. Adrian Macadam's talent didn't go unnoticed, and both Ryder and Atkinson were cornerstones in the victory.
In the Rovers' camp Karl Hampton was rock solid, Richie Morton gave his all and Ryan Secker, John Campbell, Hamish McDonald and Scott Cleghorn gave sterling performances
This week Rovers have the daunting task of facing Pioneer in the last round of the year, but the task will be more challenging as they will meet West.
West put in a performance on Saturday that they would rather forget.
The saying "sport is 90 per cent mental" seemed most evident when South eclipsed the side touted as hot favourites for this year's flag.
For the Roos things look good.
They've regained the services of Kelvin Maher and ran on with a balanced side, significantly potent in the forward line with Gilbert Fishook, Sherman Spencer, and Clinton Ngalkin taking control of any game.
West still haven't entered the arena with a full side, but despite this they did have their guns and on paper seemed to have the capability to win.
In the first term three goals from Keith Durham led the charge for the Bloods, and they established an 11-point lead at the break.
The Roos closed the gap with an inspirational second term where they grabbed a one-point lead. The third term was almost a repeat of the second with West still in touch but a point behind at the last break.
South sniffed victory in a more determined manner in the run home to kick 3.3 as opposed to 2.1 and so taking the points.
Trevor and Ali Satour were right up there in South's best.
Clinton Ngalkin, Kasman Spencer and Galvin Williams were a forward force but were spearheaded by Fishook who bagged five goals.
For the Bloods, Mark Bramley was probably best but Michael Gurney and Henry Labastida also did very well. Keith Durham played serviceably, recording four goals.


A Grade soccer minor round matches are now complete with the S&R Vikings sealing the Premiership Title with a five-three win over Federal Prime Cut Strikers.
A two all draw between TDC and Neata Glass Scorpions allowed TDC to hold onto fourth spot, and hold a place in the finals next week.
After only nine minutes of play the league champions took an early lead when Gesu Galotta scored.
Federal countered well and kept pace with the opposition, and were rewarded in the 25th minute when Neil Rutland evened the score for Federal.
An Adam Taylor goal restored the lead for Vikings in the 32nd minute and in celebration striker Damon Vandershuit added a further goal in the 40th minute.
Vikings held a comfortable lead at half time but three minutes into the second half the dynamic Adrian MacAdam reduced it to a single goal when he slotted a winner at the three-minute mark.
In response Taylor goaled in the 64th minute giving his side a four-two buffer.
A typical display of excellence saw MacAdam put Federal back into contention with a 70th minute goal, but with a minute to go Vikings' Mark Harvey put the game beyond Federals' reach when found the net, making the score five-three.
TDC revelled in their draw with Scorpions. Scorpions, who had to win their match to qualify for the final, opened their account early through the agency of Chris Constable, who scored in the 14th minute.
Seven minutes later however TDC replied to even the score through Joel Goldring.
From there the first half remained in the balance with both sides going to the break level at one all.
Ben Adami found the back of the net 13 minutes into the second half, but again TDC's joy was short lived when two minutes later Scorpions' Simon Harrison squared the ledger at two all.
Placings in the B Grade finals were also dependent on games played. Federal Scorers and Stormbirds were locked together at fourth on the premiership ladder prior to the match.
In reality Stormbirds only had to draw to secure the finals berth, and by virtue of their two-one win Scorers came out triumphant.
John Vandershuit and Chris Clements scored for Federals and Andy Hesier kept Stormbirds in the game with his goal.
Buckleys prepared themselves for their finals campaign with an impressive first half against Dragons.
A hat trick to Tom Clements and a single goal to Allan Joe established a four-nil lead for Buckleys in the opening session.
From there Dragons established an effective defence and stopped the rampage. By keeping Buckleys scoreless in the second half credit should go to the Dragons and their goalkeeper Eric Butler.
Despite both teams being short in numbers the Central Falcons versus TDC game was played out with 13 goals.
Trevor Satour, who had been best afield for South in CAFL on Saturday, dominated the game with five goals.
Michael and Kenny Presley joined in with two goals each and Ben Stevans joined Daniel Bevan as a single goal scorer.
A white wash also resulted in the game between Neata Glass Scorpions and RSL when the Scorpions ran out winners seven-nil.
Being a clash between the top and the bottom of the ladder, the win gave Scorpions the B Grade Minor Title.
In C Grade the Desert Spinach put in a huge performance to down the highly fancied Gunnaz, two-one.
The loss was a psychological blow to the Gunnaz who stay on top of the table and retain the Minor Premiership. But with the Spinach reeling off an impressive win the Gunnaz will now be on their guard.
Hussein Burra scored a double for the Spinach while Harry Nicholson put the score on the board for Gunnaz.
A first half goal to Chris Zahra was enough to give Neata Glass Scorpions the game over the Stormbirds.
Despite several positive attacks in the scoring zone the Stormbirds could not produce the move to equalise or win.

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