March 9, 2005.

Outspoken alderman Murray Stewart has demanded the immediate resignation of Mayor Fran Kilgariff because, he says, after seeking ALP preselection, she cannot be trusted to vigorously represent Alice Springs.
Ms Kilgariff says if preselected, she will resign once the election is called.
If she fails she says she will seek to be reinstated as Mayor, as the Local Government Act permits.
But Ald Stewart says: "There are many occasions when we as the town council have to take a position against the government, take a view contrary to the government's.
"Now that she's asking the ruling party to accept her as a candidate, we must suspect she'll be on the side of the government, not of Alice Springs."
Her candidature "renders her totally incapable of being pro the town".
Ms Kilgariff is seeking preselection for Greatorex in the NT election to be held before the end of the year, but tipped to be called much sooner, pitting herself against Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Lim.
Ald Stewart says Ms Kilgariff has misled the public when she sought re-election as Mayor early last year.
"When she went to the polls ratepayers were in no doubt that she'd considered her options, and was committed to serve as Mayor," says Ald Stewart.
"In December 2003 it was very much in the news that she was being pressured to stand for Labor.
"She said she would consider her options over Christmas.
"In February 2004 she declared that there was unfinished council business and she would serve again as the Mayor."
But Ms Kilgariff says she "fully intended to serve the full term but personal circumstances changed."
Ald Stewart says Ald Michael Jones, who is also aspiring to an Assembly seat, was "honest enough to announce that he's moving on" and did not seek re-election to the town council last year.
Ald Stewart says he himself was approached by a group of "independent businessmen" to contest the Assembly seat of Braitling but declined "promptly".
He says he was flattered "but I gave a commitment to the people of this town to progress this town in my current capacity.
"You cannot say one thing one minute and then completely reverse your position, in the interest of political opportunism."
He says the Mayor may already be doing the government's bidding on the 50km speed limit, an issue "which the government handballed to the council, expecting it to do the dirty work".
He says Ms Kilgariff was "impassioned" in her support for the government line.
"You ask yourself, whom was she trying to bail out?
"Maybe the Martin Labor Government?"
Ms Kilgariff replies: "My support for a 50kmh speed limit has nothing to do with running the government line.
"One of its most proactive supporters is Peter Adamson, Mayor of Darwin and an ex-CLP politician."Ald Stewart says Ms Kilgariff would never again have the community's trust if she attempted to return to her position as Mayor, having failed in the Territory elections.
"She can't have her cake and eat it," says Ald Stewart. "The Mayor has violated the dignity and passion of her office.
"Ours is one of the most unique towns in the world, and Ms Kilgariff has one of the most unique and fantastic jobs in the world.
"Yet she's prepared to move on after just giving a commitment."
Ald Stewart says Alice Springs is facing major challenges, including antisocial behaviour and "urban drift" from Aboriginal communities and "the Mayor lacks the drive and flamboyance and commercial savvy the job requires".
"You can't get out the feather duster when it comes to those issues. It will get much worse unless we have strong leaders capable of lateral thinking."
Ald Stewart says he would stand for Mayor "if I believed the individuals seeking the job do not have what it takes.
"You need fantastic drive to lead this unique town."
The cost of a town council by-election would cost about $40,000.
Meanwhile, Labor's candidate for MacDonnell, Alison Anderson, says she will go up against sitting member John Elferink (CLP) in "a tireless and fearless" manner.She nominated all the usual issues in the majority black electorate, but would not comment further on them, including developing tourism.
She says her "very good relationship" with the Central Land Council would enable her to "fulfil her role as candidate".

What do Mayor Kilgariff's council colleagues say about her political ambitions?
Marguerite Baptiste-Rooke: She's free to do it. It's up to her.
Samih Habib: It's always been on her agenda. She should concentrate on her job as Mayor.
David Koch: I'm a little bit disappointed. It's a career path for her, the council is a breeding ground for pollies, but she should have taken her turn as Mayor first and run [for the Assembly] later.
If she wins, a by-election will need to be held early in the term.
Jane Mure: Being a Labor supporter I'm very happy a strong candidate is being considered.
Des Rogers: I support Fran's interest in state politics.
Everyone who puts up their hand up for Labor has intentions of going on to bigger and better things.
Melanie van Haaren: I wish her the very best. Fran has contributed much to this community as a Mayor and if successful, will continue to contribute.
Ernie Nicholls: She's a free agent. It may disrupt council for six weeks or so during the preselection process. If she's elected we may have to have another council election.
If not she'll get her job back – which I think is a bit odd but that's the law.
I wished her [when she rang him] all the best for the future whichever path she travels.
The News was unable to contact aldermen Lambley and Bell.

What are Fran Kilgariff's chances of winning an Assembly seat?
The path from town council to the NT Legislative Assembly is well-trodden but littered with some notable career wrecks of those who failed to heed the warning signs.
The Territory's first Chief Minister, Paul Everingham, was an alderman of the first Alice Town Council elected in 1971.
He resigned his position and moved to Darwin, where he became the Member for Jingili in 1974, and the CLP's leader in 1977.
Alderman Ray Hanra-han won preselection as a CLP candidate for the new seat of Flynn in 1983, which he won in the landslide "Let's Rock Canberra" campaign of that year.
Mr Hanrahan enjoyed a meteoric rise in Territory politics, eventually becoming Central Australia's first deputy Chief Minister in 1987.
His departure from politics in 1988 was also spectacular, resigning from office in a fit of pique amidst issuing dire warnings about the future of the CLP. (He was a little early).
The consequent by-election in September that year saw the third attempt by former alderman Di Shanahan to win a town seat for Labor.
Having run twice before in Araluen, Ms Shanahan consistently polled well for Labor but was unable to convert her support into victory.
Alderman Bob Kennedy, a CLP candidate in 1990, narrowly failed to unseat the then independent Member for Greatorex, Denis Collins (who, like Loraine Braham in 2000, had been a CLP member for two terms before being dumped by his party in 1987).Mr Kennedy returned to council, where he stayed until 1996.
Intriguingly, former alderman Michael Jones will run for the CLP against Ms Braham this year but, if he loses, he will not be returning to the council.
Two current sitting members, Richard Lim, Member for Greatorex, and Ms Braham, of Braitling, also had been town council aldermen before winning pre-selection as CLP candidates in 1994.
Perhaps the most interesting comparison for the current Mayor is with former popular Mayor Leslie Oldfield, who was unassailable in that office in the 1980s.
Ms Oldfield ran as an independent in Braitling against her former boss, the CLP's Roger Vale, in 1990.
Though Ms Oldfield had easily retained the office of Mayor in 1988, she was trounced at the Territory polls in October 1990.
She returned to being Mayor of Alice Springs but the CLP had its revenge in the next council elections.
Early in 1992 the mayoral candidate Andy McNeill approached me for assistance after being recommended by Roger Vale.
SYMPATHISERSThe list of campaign helpers for Mr McNeill reads like a who's who of local CLP branch members and sympathisers, and in May 1992 Leslie Oldfield suffered the ignominy of becoming the first (and so far only) incumbent Mayor of Alice Springs to lose office.
Another to suffer the misfortune of loss in a Territory election was former alderman Meredith Campbell, who was unable to translate her high profile at local government level to winning the seat of Araluen as an independent candidate in 2001.
There are two key aspects to note about NT election campaigns in Alice Springs; first, the ALP has never won an urban seat.
Second, independent candidates only win seats if they are already sitting members and hold the advantage of incumbency (the NT Nationals' Enzo Floreani of Flynn in 1988 notwithstanding).
Denis Collins managed to do this twice before finally being defeated by Richard Lim in 1994.
Loraine Braham has achieved this once, and I see no reason why she would fail to do so again.
Fran Kilgariff will run in Greatorex, where she resides, but this fact is no guarantee of success. (Dr Lim lived in Araluen when he wrested Greatorex from Mr Collins although the incumbent had been resident in the old Eastside since the 1970s).
Dr Lim's victory was a rare achievement as it is very uncommon for a sitting member to lose a seat in the NT.
A new element to this year's election campaign is that Labor is the party in power, and is hopeful of winning an urban Alice Springs seat for the first time.
I think Labor will retain office but am dubious about their chances in the Alice.
The ALP's presence here is extremely weak. I recall a party official late last year "estimating" 15 to 20 members had attended the local branch AGM.
So what is my final assessment of Fran Kilgariff's chances?
She will probably achieve a respectable poll result but the likelihood of her winning a seat lies somewhere between Buckley's and none.

Teens who love their junk food have defeated the best efforts of one high school canteen manager to introduce a healthier diet, while at another local school they seem to be slowly buckling under.
Jenny Bowe, canteen manager at Alice Springs High, tried all the alternatives, but the students have stuck with their preferred diet of chips, chips and more chips.
Ms Bowe says she sells about 400 packets of hot chips a day.The majority of the menu is made up of pies, sausage rolls, hot dogs, chicken burgers, dim sims and chicken wings.
Sandwiches and rolls (white bread only) are available including chicken and salad, ham and salad and egg and lettuce.
Flavoured milk is also on sale "although we don't sell much".
"It's sad, a real shame. It's always been like it at this school," says Ms Bowe.
HOME COOKED"I've tried putting new things on the menu like spaghetti bolognaise, rice and lasagne but I had to put them in the bin. The kids don't want home cooked stuff.
"When Mrs Macs brought out a pie that wasn't so salty or fatty I tried to sell them but the kids said they tasted disgusting.
"I had fresh fruit and yoghurt in but they didn't buy it. I make up fresh fruit salad but only the teachers buy it occasionally.
"I've given up – I've put in time and effort but the type of kids at this school, they're not interested.
"There's a takeaway shop across the road which the kids aren't meant to go to but they do. If I didn't sell what they want in here, they'll buy it from there."There is no research on obesity amongst Northern Territory teenagers, although a national survey by the Dieticians Association of Australia shows that 23 per cent of girls aged 10 to 15 years and 21 per cent of boys are classed as overweight or obese.
These figures show levels of obesity have tripled, and the number of overweight children has doubled.
Northern Territory school screening data for 2004 showed that 12 per cent of children living in urban areas aged four to six are overweight and four per cent are classed as obese, but there was no such screening done for teenagers.
The data for the national survey was done 10 years ago, "with no plans from the government for more research", according to a disappointed Dieticians Association of Australia.
Last week Department of Health dietitians met with 12 local secondary and primary schools to introduce new Northern Territory School Canteen Guidelines.
Existing guidelines have been in place since 1997 but have been tightened up to ensure canteen staff understand about nutrition.
Schools are being advised to limit certain foods on sale (like pies, sausages and cakes) to just once or twice a week but make sure other foods are available every day, like 100 per cent no added sugar fruit juice and sandwiches made from all types of bread including multigrain and whole grain.
Advice on how to make healthy food more attractive for students to buy and eat is also included.
URGENCYAlison McLay, the department's acting coordinator of nutrition and physical activity in Central Australia, says action on the problem is "a matter of urgency".
"Australia won't be able to afford all the health services needed to keep the population healthy otherwise," she says.
The NT's Food and Nutrition Policy, initiated 10 years ago, is making "progress" but "obesity still continues to increase among children", says Ms McLay.
She welcomes initiatives like that at St Philip's College, which has seen the removal of all chocolate bars, chips and fizzy drinks from its school canteen.
Muesli bars, fruit and nut bars, packets of sultanas and dried fruit have replaced them, along with 100 per cent juices, water and flavoured milks.

NEXT WEEK: Brett Richards, chef at the canteen at St Philip' College, cuts back on food that makes kids "disruptive".

It wouldn't happen in Sydney, Melbourne or even Adelaide – people giving their cash to the tune of $10,000 to help a local bloke who crashed his bike and lost half a leg.
Carole-Anne Rodley had never met Pedro but came to the party with her children Matthew, 10, and Nicole, 17. "This is Alice Springs. You know that if you're in trouble, people will support you."
There were no problems for the organisers finding commercial support either. The coordinator of the event, Steve Burgess, said the response from local business had been "amazing".
"We've only paid for alcohol and drinks. This morning we got donated a mini motorbike worth $1,000.
"We're not trying to make him a millionaire, just helping him keep his nose above water until he comes back, mortgage repayments, keep his kids at school.
"He'd feel humbled if he saw this."
Jake Jacobsen has known Pedro for 15 years: "He's helped a lot of people around here. He's a nice old bastard and we want to help. He's rough but he's Pedro. We'd do it for anyone else."Pedro has been in the Royal Hobart hospital in Tasmania since the accident in January.
He collided with a prime mover and had to have the lower part of his right leg amputated and sustained multiple fractures to his right arm. He won't be back in the Alice for another five weeks.
Pedro's son Stephen, 13, was at the party. "I've given my pocket money, $10," he said.
Pedro's daughter Krystle, 12, was in a car following her dad when the accident happened. "I really hope he comes back soon," she said. "We're going to visit him in hospital and I'm looking forward to seeing him."

Mayor Fran Kilgariff and Rex Mooney, the council's CEO, have apologised over the action taken by council officers to remove starting blocks at the town pool last week.
Mr Mooney said the council would "endeavour" to put three blocks back for use for competitive swimmers by 4pm on Monday.
The apology was made at a meeting in the morning attended by council officers, the YMCA and various user groups of the pool including members of the Alice Springs Swimming Club, Alice Aussi masters club, swimming teachers and members of the public.
Henry Szczypiorski, council's executive engineer, authorised removal of the starting blocks last week – despite the mayor's promise that no action would be taken without consulting the user group committee first.
Mayor Kilgarrif said: "I give you my apology. The officers didn't come to council before they removed the blocks. I would have liked to have been informed of this before it happened. It was an officer's decision.
"As a swimmer myself, [I know] you can't train adequately without blocks."
New guidelines from the Royal Life Saving Society, Swim Australia and FINA (the sport's governing body) were issued in September. Under these new guidelines, the blocks were 100mm too high for the depth of the water.
Kim Donovan, president of the Alice Springs Swimming Club, acknowledges the safety issue but says: "Our swimmers dive under the supervision of coaches.
"We have our own insurance and have told them we are happy to sign an indemnity.
"A week longer wouldn't have hurt.CONFIDENCE
"We had 100 per cent confidence in the council that nothing would be done before we all sat down and discussed it.
"Then one day we come back from a competition in Adelaide and the blocks are gone."The club has 31 swimmers due to compete in the NT State Championships this Thursday, and are also training for the Australian Championships next month as well as an international competition in May.
In four days, the club collected 1,100 signatures petitioning for the blocks to be put back.
Linda Daffy, whose son Chris, 18, has qualified for an international meet, the Arafura Games in May, said: "The swimmers are the ones who need the apology. They've been working for this for bloody years, getting up at 4am in the morning for training."
Alderman Melanie van Haaren, who has been involved in competitive swimming in the NT for 18 years, demanded the blocks be returned in readiness for the club's training session at 4pm, Monday.
"I'd die in a ditch over this", she said.
Russell Ward, the president of Alice Aussi Masters said: "Imagine if this had happened during the Masters Games? It would be a disaster.
"We had a meet yesterday and couldn't use the blocks."
Mr Szczypiorski said he had followed the new guidelines, especially in view of the school swimming carnivals last week.
"The children taking part were not experienced divers," he said and
maintained, "We haven't threatened competitive swimming."
Alderman Murray Stewart, a member of the pool users group committee said: "The council should be absolutely ashamed of itself.
"In one fell swoop it has wrecked the dreams of these swimmers.
"The decision was made by people who are not competitive, who have never committed their heart, body and soul to something like these swimmers have."

In one of beef-eating, beer-drinking Alice's more unusual unions, vegan animal rights activists Renata Peters and Jeff Perz married on Valentine's Day.
Their minority beliefs are not the only unusual thing about this couple.
They met face to face for the first time the day after Renata's four month old son, Mirikai, was born and this was just a few months after they'd met in cyberspace, on a vegetarians' dating website.
Jeff, a Canadian, had been working as an English teacher in South Korea.
Renata, raised in Alice, had separated from her baby's biological father and had quit her job as a tour guide because of morning sickness. Far from thinking about a new relationship, her Veggiedate profile had stated only that she was seeking friendship.
The pair were interested in one another from the first exchange of emails but Jeff wondered about how Renata would respond to his more serious animal rights beliefs. He was strongly opposed, for instance, to horse-riding which had been one of Renata's loves.
I first met Renata as a 13-year-old, when she stabled her pregnant mare in our horseyards. She'd arrive on the bus after school each day to feed and water the animal and when the mare's time came she made camp in the feedshed and kept vigil with her through the freezing winter night until a healthy foal was born.
Renata clearly loved the mare and her offspring but she hadn't then made a connection between loving animals and eating them. She ate the meat meals I served her with gusto.
It was love of the environment that led her to becoming a vegan, she says. She is persuaded that mass meat production is leading to large scale destruction of the environment, citing in particular the clearing of the Amazon rainforest for unsustainable beef production.
Closer to home, she decries the exploitation of the Great Artesian Basin by the cattle and sheep industries, for a relatively small financial return – "just not worth it", in her view.
She argues that Australia, and the mostly arid Northern Territory in particular, is actually the world's largest exporter of water since "the Basin is being drained to water animals whose bodies and wool are sold abroad".
At first she resisted Jeff's radical convictions, but now embraces them, renouncing her beloved horse-riding.
"Animals should not be our slaves," she says. "Like the African slaves of America, given the choice, they would rather be free."Jeff has found his solo activism quite effective. In Canada he would take a video unit onto the street, showing footage of fish in commercial nets, of cattle being led to the slaughter, or being herded into feedlots.
People would stop to watch, fascinated, appalled, and would start talking to him.
"The atmosphere was quiet, sombre, non-aggressive.
"We would have a discussion and I would encourage them to think about a vegan diet," says Jeff.
He aspires to financial independence that will one day allow him to work full-time for the cause of animal rights, which he sees as being inseparable from human rights.
So it's not hard to see why it would be important to him to find a partner who shared his views.
Renata's convictions also arise from a greater than usual focus on her health. As well as eating a carefully researched vegan diet that gives her all the minerals, vitamins and protein that she needs, she has never smoked nor drunk alcohol. She could never develop an appetite for either.
"I don't know how I survived at Anzac Hill High," she laughs.
But she's far from a wowser. Dancing is her "drug".
"All I need to have fun is some friends, good music and a few laser lights – I simply don't need anything else."
She keeps good health as does Mirikai, which takes me back to her romance with Jeff.
Renata ended "the bad relationship" with Mirikai's biological father early in her pregnancy and is happy not to have heard from him since.
Having left her job, she found herself "pregnant, single and at home with a lot of time on my hands".
Surfing the net one day she happened to stumble on the Veggiedate website.
The title intrigued her and she checked out what it offered.
"It was like going into a lollyshop when I was a kid.
"Here were 13,000 profiles of vegetarians. About 10 per cent of people in Australia are vegetarians and even fewer are vegans.
"I was so used to being in the minority but here I was just one of the crowd."
At first, though, she felt too embarrassed to use the site.
She'd never used any kind of dating service, let alone one on-line; she'd never even been into a chat room on the net.
She'd immediately noticed Jeff's profile, because he was obviously a Caucasian but gave South Korea as his place of residence.
She had a good friend who'd spent a rewarding year teaching English in South Korea and it turned out that Jeff was doing the same thing.
The other noteworthy thing about Jeff was that, like her, he didn't smoke or drink.
"I didn't think there was anyone else in the world like that!" says Renata.
Jeff had been registered with the site for years, dating a couple of people through it."It didn't work out romantically but they became friends, which I'm happy about," he says.
After the exchange of several long emails, he and Renata began MSN chatting and then talking on the phone.
"It's the first time in years," says Renata, "that I've had a mate that I could have intellectual conversations with, have something decent to talk about, someone who could stretch my perceptions, my ways of thinking."
CHEMISTRYThey talked about everything, where they lived, their families, friends, likes, dislikes.
"You have to have things in common beyond being vegan," says Jeff, matter of factly."We began to feel a chemistry that we both hoped would continue in 3D but we had a silent agreement that we wouldn't say ‘I love you' until we saw each other.
"It was a risk to come here but I thought it wasn't likely that I would find anyone else to connect with in the way I connected with Ren."
They first saw each other in the Alice Springs hospital as Renata was recovering from Mirikai's birth.
"We were walking round the room, circling each other, smiling, nervous, happy," recalls Jeff.
"It was just for an hour, during visiting time. We held hands," adds Renata. "I remember looking into his blue eyes and melting. It was magical, sparkling, exhilarating," says Jeff.
He had known Renata was pregnant after about the third exchange of emails. He was surprised but not put off and now talks of "falling in love" with Mirikai as well and of really enjoying the role of parent.
Renata is thrilled to have found so soon a father for her baby. She had felt sad, despite the support of her mother and other family and friends, about having her first baby alone.
"I've had three other main relationships," she says. "I know from that experience what doesn't work. This is so real, we are so honest with each other.
"To be with someone who is peaceful, calm, warm and considerate is so wonderful.
"And I can kiss him and he doesn't taste like an ashtray or a beef steak!"
For two unusual people they touchingly say all the usual things.
"I've always wanted a deep long-term romantic relationship in my life," says Jeff, "but in recent years I doubted it would happen.
"Then I met Ren.
"I fully expect now to be with Ren forever."

LETTERS: Elder responds to CLC.
Sir,- I wish to clarify a misconception which has arisen from your story about my role in the meeting organised by CLP Member John Elferink and CLP candidate for Stuart Anna Machado on Saturday, February 27.
I attended that meeting as an individual and I stand by what I said.On Thursday and Friday, March 3 and 4, I had a number of phone calls about your reporting of that meeting. Two calls stand out as absolutely objectionable if not obnoxious. One caller stated I was not to represent Lhere Artepe without members' permission, and the CLP should be the last ones to get involved with.
"They and [Alice News editor] Erwin Chlanda are out to destroy the Central Land Council (CLC) and they'll use you in any way they can," the caller stated.
It didn't matter how many times I told the person I was there as an individual, not as a Lhere Artepe representative, it did not seem to sink in.
On Friday, a senior staff member of CLC made a similar attack, only more serious, saying that I was "nothing" and "my being at the meeting would reflect badly on Lhere Artepe and its chairman".
I once again reiterated that I attended that meeting as an individual and the views I expressed were my own. It is my right to say what I like, using respect and consideration to country and people at all times.
For the two callers let me point out a couple of simple truths. The CLC has for many years (through CentreCorp) employed a previous prominent candidate (and current member?) of the CLP.
The CLC has through its business dealings entered into business with a prominent family who are major supporters of the CLP. I could go on but it may be time to make a very simple statement.As CLC director David Ross said some years ago: "An aeroplane needs a left wing and a right wing to fly."
Was that his perception for just his own organisation? What about me or Lhere Artepe? Is that sentiment not applicable to us? Just because the CLC doesn't deal with the CLP on the surface (my perception), I strongly believe that we as Aboriginal People must deal with all political parties.
Those two callers should remember that the Land Rights Act and the land councils are here for us Aboriginal people not as a training ground for future Labor Party politicians, and that it was a Liberal government who brought Land Rights into being as legislation. This is the 21st century.
Please look at what is best for our people and our land.
Our loyalty should be to each other as countrymen, not to some faceless political party.
Betty Pearce
Alice Springs

Sir,– This is an open letter to the Alice Springs Town Council:-
Dear Alice Springs Town Council,
Concerning Abbott's Camp and beyond, is it not possible to start from the premise that EVERY residence in the town of Alice Springs needs equal access to three essential services?
Clean water in, sewerage out and regular rubbish collections are essential in an urban living environment.
None of us can live a healthy life without these services, and none of us can live well unless these services are available to all.
To say that the town camps are not your responsibility is absurd.
You are the Alice Springs Town Council. To play a bureaucratic shell game, when now you see this area and now you don't, is a dereliction of the Duty of Care you owe to all the residents in this town. On the old scale, that was called responsibility.
There are different titles of ownership valid within Alice, but it's all one town. To try to create rocket science out of instituting rubbish runs is an insult to all the Australian citizens who live their lives in Alice Springs.
Perhaps is it time to consider amalgamating with Tangentyere Council and Lhere Artepe? Between the three of you we are all represented. Separately, none of you seem able to do the job.
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Sir,– I read in the News (Feb 23) that "the Burke" will give us "a major new recreational facility - you can read a lake between the lines".
In the next breath he will "once and for all be guaranteeing the water supply for Alice Springs" Wow!
Are these two supposed to be connected?
Let us get a few facts straight.
Alice's underground water comes from aquifers (water bearing layers) that are very old, and refill very slowly.
We are currently pumping the water out very fast. The net result is that the aquifers are emptying.
The only way to "guarantee" the supply is to use less, recycle the water we do use, and cut down our consumption to the rate that the aquifers refill.
BUT what about the lake / dam / storage / flood mitigation structure?
Is that going to be the "magic bullet"?
The last "recreation lake" proposal for Alice was projected to "need supplementing with the underground water to make it viable"
Yes Denis, pumping our precious, limited underground water into a lake so that it can evaporate away!
I would like some details of this "guarantee" please.
Charlie Carter
Alice Springs

Sir,– So much is being written lately about the Alice Springs Hospital. It has become a political football, instead of remaining a facility of community concern.
But first I would like to reiterate in the name of those who have received treatment at the ASH (locals and foreigners) that nurses, doctors, staff in general are of upmost courtesy and efficiency. Given the often difficult circumstances in which they have to function due to a diversity of linguistic and cultural factors, overloaded emergencies, seasonal staff shortage, and the fact that the hospital has been an ongoing building site for the last couple of years, they have provided A1 services under conditions of hardship. So thank you to all these overworked nurses and doctors. It seems that their ordeal is coming to an end: the flaws are being mended and patience is mother of virtue.
Secondly, remember that Alice Springs services the whole Central Australian region with the additional load of RFDS patients. No regional hospital that I know of in NSW or Victoria, or overseas for that matter, has the range of facilities offered by Alice Springs: unfortunately, many wards had been left without adequate R&M for many years and staff had been treated with contempt.
So let's put into perspective that the running of a regional hospital is mostly a matter of sound administration, not a political issue per se. For whoever is in power in Darwin, the management of the hospital must address the key issues of adequate building and infrastructure (capital cost), and the right ratio of medical staff to range of facilities to number of patients (operational cost). And the government of the day must foot the bill without shortcuts if it wants to provide an adequate community service.
It seems to me that the present government under the leadership of Clare Martin and the ministerial abilities and dedication of Peter Toyne, has done more to improve the service of our hospital than the twentysomething years of their predecessors. Nursing staff has been raised from 277 fte in 2000 to 316. More recruitment is underway with better conditions of employment. A complete team of doctors and specialists is now in place.
Operational budget has risen from $57m to $73m with another $11m to come this year. In addition to the initial $30m allocated to capital costs, a further $10m is now committed to rectify the structural mistakes made by the previous contractors/cum builders/cum certifiers.
Whether this hospital is today the best we ever had is for you to judge. I hope however that you never have to use it and wish all good health and good fortune.
Maya Cifali
Alice Springs

Sir,– Improved outcomes for Indigenous education and a more understanding attitude towards teachers following the much vaunted inquiry into the operations of Education headquarters at the Gap Road office would appear to be having a zero result. Instead, for Indigenous kids in Alice the concept of one-size-fits-all seems to be emerging. As for teachers, two recent examples are disturbing.
At the start of the year a teacher with many years of loyal service applied for leave to take up the lead position at the residential college at Yulara. It caters for students from Docker River, Mutijulu and Imanpa communities. The Gap Road office refused the move. Just short of a political stoush occurring, a higher authority in Darwin showed sense and overturned the negative decision.
Further testimony to the opening claim lies in an unheralded visit by one of the two new senior appointees, plus two other people from the Gap Road office, to a learning centre for Indigenous kids in Alice this past week. Questions, in a challenging mood, to the head teacher included, "If it's good enough for some kids at […] Town Camp to attend Sadadeen Primary why don't these kids go there?" and, "What is there to show for the $9m spent on this school since 1993?"
His main message for the learning centre was cuts to staffing!
Quite simply, such questions have nothing to do with the head teacher or any other teaching staff. Incidentally, the head teacher copping the grilling, has a full teaching load and has given many years of dedicated teaching to Indigenous education both out bush, and in town.
Immediately prior to this unheralded trio walking through the school gates there was a serious incident in the head teacher's classroom. One student had just stabbed another one in the back with a pair of scissors. The head teacher, still coming to terms with the incident and dispersing the other students into another class, was visibly shaken. Incredibly, the senior officer still went ahead with his unannounced visit. Any one with a grain of compassion and understanding would have aborted the unscheduled meeting on the spot.
Teachers there have to teach in sub-standard conditions with children who, generally, do not find learning all that easy. English is not their first language. The background to the kids and adults attending has been well documented over the years. Stressful situations there are not uncommon. A doctoral thesis on the education model by a former long serving coordinator has recently been completed.
The Collins Report, Learning Lessons, released in 2000, that looked into Indigenous education, gave the particular school I'm referring to a big tick for best practice. It might pay the senior officer to have a read of it! He even stated that the school was not a real school and would never be one! What a terrific boost for the morale of the teaching staff.
I wonder how local MP Dr Peter Toyne would feel about that statement. After all, around 30 years ago when teaching in Melbourne , he started an alternative school in inner suburban Kensington for kids from all sorts of backgrounds. Kensington Community School still exists today. Alternative schools, both government and private, flourish in Victoria. They aren't treated negatively.
The school I'm writing about is one of two sites in Alice where young mothers can continue their education because each site has a crŹche. The other site is an adjunct of a mainstream school. A mother, if necessary, can breastfeed her child in the classroom. Please, senior officer, tell me what mainstream classes offer that facility?
Freddie, who has no sight, can see that not all Indigenous kids in Alice are suited to mainstream schools. Nothing new in that statement.
I'm sick to death of bureaucrats in education who are simply number crunchers and have no humility. In applications for senior educator positions the opening dot-point is: Educational Leadership.
Depressingly in this case concerning Indigenous students it appears to have been passed over.
Graham Tjilpi Buckley
Alice Springs

ED – The Alice News offered the Department of Employment, Education and Training the opportunity to respond to Mr Buckley's letter. Rita Henry, DEET Executive Director Central Australia issued the following statement:- "The intent of the recent visit by three DEET officers to the Learning Centre was to offer support to the teaching principal and her staff.
The Department understands that delivery of alternative education programs can be demanding of staff, and supports them as much as possible.
Teachers, parents and other members of the school community are welcome to raise issues with DEET, and I encourage people to approach me in the first instance if they have any concerns.
I invited Mr Buckley to discuss his concerns with the General Manager for Schools (Central Australia) and myself. We met with Mr Buckley and had a positive and productive discussion."

Sir,– Having read Elisabeth Attwood's Knock Charlie page (Feb 23), I feel someone must make comment just to set the record straight. The interviews certainly were many and varied, and after all everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
This freedom of speech can only happen in Australia because we are an English speaking Commonwealth country, with our laws based on both Christianity and the rights of man given in the Magna Charter which, I believe, shall be deemed to remain in force in perpetuity.
One lady remarked that the referendum of 2000 did not represent the feelings of the people… sorry lady, 63 per cent voted NO.
I believe that the will of the people was expressed in a truly democratic manner.
Compare that to the recent federal election that allows a 17 per cent primary vote to rule this country and you will begin to understand that the term democracy, and its application, comes in many varied forms.
Be that as it may, it would appear that the spectre of a banana republic just won't go away. How many heads does this Hydra have?
Take a good look at the republican countries around the world, then ask the people who emigrate. They get away from the republican system and come to Australia, a Commonwealth country with a monarch as head of state. Why? Because our Westminster Parliamentary system, with its many faults, is still the best, and the envy of the world ruled by puppet politicians, dancing to the tune of the integrated multi-national financiers.
Our constitution gives us the right to referendum, that is, when the will of the people can be expressed.
Under a republic, you will have no such rights. The legal system, with politically appointed judges, will do away with any citizens rights (that is, those you thought you had), and our living standard (once the third highest in the world) will soon equal any third world country.
As for the royal family, people tend to forget that they have huge responsibilities, the ruling monarch in particular, as head of her own family, the Commonwealth family of nations, and head of the Church of England, innumerable charities and organisations. Constantly in the public eye, her decisions must always be astute, and fair.
Should Charlie ascend to the throne, I am sure that he will conduct his affairs in a like manner, as befits the crown of England.
Alf Lang
Alice Springs

Sir,– Territorians have two weeks left [until March 18] to comment on the government's proposed whistleblower protection legislation.
This is an important piece of legislation because it gives potential whistleblowers the protection they need to expose wrongdoings in the public service.
As I've said before, where there has been substantial mismanagement of public resources or improper conduct within the bureaucracy, it is important it is reported.
The proposed legislation is designed to promote an environment where those who wish to make disclosures, can do so knowing they will be dealt with appropriately.
Components of the draft bill provide for making a disclosure, protection of those making disclosures, determination of public interest disclosures and investigation of disclosures.
Copies of the draft legislation can be accessed at
Dr Peter Toyne
Minister for Central Australia

What does the Territory Government have in common with Grigory Potemkin, the lover and co-ruler of Catherine the Great? Quite a bit.
When the Russian empress in 1787 inspected the Crimea, a hugely fertile but sparsely populated region recently acquired by her, Prince Potemkin, to impress her, is said to have built fake villages along her route.
The houses, stores and churches looked lovely as Catherine tootled down the Volga River. She didn't know they were just facades, with no real buildings behind them. Today the NT Government is also building Potemkin's Villages, using imposing signs and grandiose announcements.
If Catherine cruised up the Stuart Highway today she'd be impressed by a big sign marking the Desert Knowledge Precinct costing $27.9m. But alas, at least seven eighths into the Martin Government's first term, there is still no precinct, not a single brick of it, notwithstanding that the project was announced by her CLP predecessor before the last election. No doubt just before the election this year the purse strings will be undone and contracts let, with great fanfare.
As this is going to be cold comfort for all the trades people who've left town in the past few years because of lack of work, the folly and opportunism of this public spending policy is clear. What Prince Potemkin accomplished with plywood Ms Martin's spin doctors produce just as deftly with ghost written speeches and media releases.
"My Government has allocated $27.5 million of extra funding to market Territorytourism product, both nationally and overseas," Ms Martin intoned at the opening of the Alice Springs Expo last week. This needs to be viewed against yet another pretty but hollow backdrop, the one called Freedom of Information. What's happened with all that money, I wanted to know.
Piece of cake, I thought. After all, this is a transparent government! Not so. The $27.5m was allocated by Ms Martin, who's also the tourism minister, in December 2003, to be spent by June 2006. From a media release last week I'd learned of current "destination marketing" grants totaling just over $3m, including $1.2m for Alice Springs, hugely welcomed by the industry (Ayers Rock Resort is getting just $175,000).
The Alice's grant, beginning late this month, will be used for double spread "advertorial features" in newspapers – mainly metropolitan and some regional – in NSW, Victoria and SA. Some of the budget will be spent on motivational brochures, direct mail, inserts and trade education, according to Mark Crummy, the commission's destination marketing manager. Great. But I wanted to know exactly what has happened, and will happen, with the remaining $24.5m.
How much of the money went into administration, outside consultants, other expense, and actual advertising. I asked the commission's media liaison person, Chris Bond. At this point the Freedom of Information facade toppled over, revealing the information wasteland so familiar from recent CLP regimes, hardly changed by the supposedly enlightened current government.
Finance people are in meetings, pleaded Ms Bond, we're moving offices, and besides, "why should I be doing your research?" I instantly regretted the error of my silly assumption that asking her about how the organisation she works for is spending public money was an obvious way to carry out my research. Later Ms Bond emailed the suggestion to visit a page on the NT Treasury's web site, dealing with the 2004-05 Budget, which revealed the following information: "Substantial support of $27 million to the tourism industry over three years for marketing the Territory interstate and overseas ($10 million), and developing Territory tourism products, including Indigenous tourism." Wow.
Bear in mind, that additional money supplements the commission's normal massive $30m annual budget. So, we're back to speculation, and deciphering jargon.
Without saying how much, Mr Crummy explained money had been spent on "research and brand refresh ... on collateral for each of the six priority destinations ... their own suite of colours and shells, but all will have look of Territory". Additional staff has been employed with part of the $27.5m, says Mr Crummy, to create a "destination marketing unit. Bodies on the ground".
Does than mean even more bureaucrats? Should not all of that money have gone into advertising? Unanswered questions: "Marketing activity is now in-house," says Mr Crummy. "We have control of the brand, ownership of it" and bypassing advertising agencies will supply "more bang for our buck".
A large amount of money seems to have been spent on industry, stakeholder and other consultations, part of the "positioning" process, says Mr Crummy, which will "reposition Alice as a unique tourism destination", according to Ms Martin. All that this has come up with is the startling revelation that visitors expect to find here adventure, great landscapes, culture and history (Alice News, Feb 9). After nearly 30 years of tourist commission work and extravagant funding, does that come as news to them?
Ms Martin also told the Expo crowd last week that the $38m sealing of the Mereenie Loop Road, the Martin Government's only other major capital works project in Central Australia, is "continuing". It hasn't started yet. Prince Potemkin would have been proud of her.

Love of footy is the ground of their friendship, and now the food for a jointly-written play about barracking.
A Red Dust Theatre production, Barracking will open for three nights on March 22, not at Araluen or the Totem, but at Traeger Park.
For Steve Gumerungi Hodder it's a way of getting theatre to a wider audience. He fully expects his B Grade Rovers teammates, who've nicknamed him ‘Hollywood Hodder', to be there.
For Jane Leonard, it's almost the opposite: she wants theatregoers to recognise that footy is a valid subject for art.
On the surface Leonard and Hodder couldn't be more different: she's a woman, he's a man, she's white, he's black, she's from Melbourne, he's from Mornington Island.
But they're both passionate Hawks' supporters.
Leonard, a graduate of RMIT's creative writing school, has long been delving for material into the "spiritual devotion to football"l that is part of Melbourne life.
"You're very quickly given or choose a team to barrack for – it's part of belonging."
She inherited her Hawks allegiance from her father and has passed it onto her son, Django. But her daughter Marli had Collingwood allegiance bestowed on her after that team won the first big match of the little girl's life.
Hodder, a Queens-lander who's made a name for himself as an actor and powerful rappper, found footy to be his entrée into Central Australian life, in particular into the Aboriginal families that provide the backbone for competitive footy here.
He loves the unity that comes from being a team: "Once you put on that guernsey, winning the match is all that counts."
But if footy is a way of belonging, both writers are also aware of the way it can be used to exclude.
When she was a kid, despite her impressive collection of footy cards and statistics, Leonard was told she couldn't possibly know much about the game – she was only a girl, after all.
Hodder sees the "unlimited" devotion and skills of country players under-recognised in local competitive footy.
"It's a metaphor for life," he says, "for my experience of discrimination as an Indigenous Australian."
All of this is explored in the play through the characters, Goldie and Brownie, who have a series of encounters over four ‘quarters' – just like a footy match.

I'm sure the crowd at the Christian Community Centre (CCC) on Undoolya Road was a little different on a recent Friday night when Alabaster Box, a Gold Coast Christian band touring their new album ‘Love on the Radio', drew a horde of local teens, Christians and Atheists alike.
I arrived at the CCC at about eight ten, it was packed. I saw a lot of people from school who I knew were not religious. They were there, like I was, for live music.
The group were impressive – live music is always fun – but it wasn't the songs that I went home thinking about. It was the impression they made on my schoolmates.
When the group first kicked off it was the usual thing, moshing (relatively mild) and dancing, singing along to whatever we could pick up on. After a while the place was thick with sweat.
I went outside for a break, but was drawn back when the bassist started talking to the crowd about a child he had sponsored though the Christian charity group, Compassion. He talked with a lot of passion about how this money had changed this kid's life and talked about Westerners being too selfish, that there's a whole world out there we need to help.
A little later the lead singer Ab Naarah (pictured) gave another talk, this time about how religion had changed her life. It was unbelievably moving, she talked with such conviction and sincerity about Jesus who had been her best friend and her father – her own father had died when she was seven.
She finished by clearing an area in front of the stage, wanting at least one person to come up and stand there in a symbolic gesture of not wanting to live without Jesus any more. A lot of people stood up, some I'm sure were sincere, and they later went off to get information about being Christians.
Then there was the most intense thing I have ever seen happen. There were about 100 people still in front of the stage, boys and girls holding one and other with their eyes closed, consumed by their emotions. They swayed and sung.
This was a relief for me. I go through life wondering about passion in people my age. It seems to be a thing that belonged to the youth of other generations.
But at CCC that night there were so many people who were obviously passionate about their religion, some were even crying.
I was entranced. I am not religious and the concert did not change that, but I was captured by the passion. I came away with a lot more respect for religion. Alabaster Box and the belief in God that they bring deserves that.

The last round of the cricket minors saw a predictable win by top-placed Federal over the fourth placed Rovers, and a wash out in the game scheduled for Sunday between RSL Works and West.
Again it was extremely disappointing for the second and third placed sides to find the sprinklers at Albrecht Oval had again created conditions preventing play.
With the elimination final to be played this week the prepared pitch was not the only consideration. The flooding had also placed the surrounding pitches in jeopardy, and so it was a sensible decision to call the game a draw.
It might be timely for the association to broach the issue of cricketers making input in either cash or kind to the preparation of wickets.
Saturday's game illustrated the real strength of the Federal side. They batted first and in compiling 6/260 in 45 overs the reigning premiers had a chance to show off their batting depth.
Brendan Martin and David Overall set the innings up with a partnership of 54. When on 29 Overall played a Jakob Roth delivery to Nick Clapp who accepted the catch. Martin then continued to apply pressure with B J O'Dwyer to push the score up to 77 before his dismissal. Peter Kleinig accepted the catch this time, bowled by Clapp with Martin on 31.
A 51 run partnership than showed the skills of O'Dwyer and Rick Shiell, with Shiell going for 26, bowled Jason Borgas and caught Clapp.
This brought the slim figure of Jarrad Wapper to the crease. A veteran of the game, Wapper has shed over 10 kilograms in a quest to reinvigorate his cricket and the results stand for themselves. Wapper made a Gilchrist-like 71 until Matt Pyle had him caught by Clapp.
In the meantime O'Dwyer lost his wicket to the bowling of Gavin Falanagan, LBW, when on 47. Blain Cornford also came and went, for an unseasonal duck, bowled Flanagan caught Ray Wright. At the close of the innings Federal had skipper Tom Clements not out on 32 and Mick Smith also undefeated on three.
Without doubt this is the strongest batting line up in the competition.Rovers, invited to make 261 to win, found the going beyond their reach. At another time things may have been different, but Matt Pyle and his staunch circle of mates have battled all year to keep the Blues in the game. As their last dig for the season, it was psychologically too huge hurdle to jump.
They were weakened by the fact that the touted return of Joel Bowden and Adrian McAdam did not, and never was going to, eventuate, as well as by the somewhat complacent attitude of a few chosen team members.
In mounting the reply the Blues lost the services of their openers early thanks to the bowling of Curtis Marriott. Nick Clapp registered a duck, caught and bowled, and Col Cattel was bowled for four.
Darryl Lowe then provided some resistance with a fine 32 before falling to Tom Clements, LBW. The guns Jason Bremner (9) and Matt Pyle (0) were unable to contribute effectively and so Rovers found themselves at 5/54.
Apart from Jakob Roth's 22 not out, the bottom order hardly raised a yelp and the side were put away for 93 in 36 overs.
Honours with the ball went to Allan Rowe, who rose to XXXX Gold status with 3/19 off nine overs. Eclipsing him was Tom Clements who returned 3/17, off six, and Marriott who, in claiming the openers, ended with 2/20 off nine overs.

The heavy track at Pioneer Park was a challenge for horses preferring to come home from mid field or travel as a back marker.
In the first two year old race of the season, the 1000 metre William Inglis and Sons Trobis Maiden Plate, the heavily backed Tailer, with Paul Denton in the saddle, followed up on a sound trial win a few weeks ago.
Filamony tailed the leader with Razor One in third place, and the others well back. The winner, however, stretched out in the straight to go to the line by five lengths, with Razor One claiming second place from Filamony, a length away third.In the XXXX Gold Special Conditions Plate over 1400 metres, Darowby Livewire led early, pushed along by Acela, allowing Song Mekong the third spot.
The pace got the better of the front runners by the turn and Song Mekong took advantage of a split to surge to the lead, striding to the line a winner by four and a half lengths. This gave Denton a riding double.
Darowby Livewire held on for second place, with Acela filling the placings.
The Gillen Club Class B Handicap over 1400 metres, proved to be an upset. Starting in double figures Regal Rose defied all critics to record a win. The apprentice Matt Hart took Regal Rose to the lead and as the race was run the leader continued to impress, eventually leading all the way and winning by five and a quarter lengths.
Brodgar who had sat in fourth place on the fence early came home well to claim second place from Fiery Prospector who finished a further three quarters of a length back in third place.
The 1100 metre Readimix Class Four Handicap saw a most impressive win to Coniston Way. The winner shared the running with Orso and I Scream. I Scream was the first to hoist the white flag, while Coniston Way responded when popped the question. He went to the line a six and a quarter length winner from Orso, with the honest Saratoga Boy accepting the cheque for third.
The 1000 metre National Jockey Celebration Day 2005 Open Handicap tested the speedster of repute, Scotro. Predictably Scotro jumped to the lead, but unlike the Scotro of old this week had opposition in the form of Century's Gift at his girth.
By the turn the weights pull made a difference and Ben Cornell was able to give Century's Gift the message that good times were ahead. Century's Gift won by four and three quarter lengths. Ring Cycle moved in to take second place and old Le Saint came from the mid field to finish third.
In the last, Japanese apprentice Makihiro Morita found success when he partnered My Advice to a one and a half length win. In the 1200 metre Redbank Wines Class Two Handicap the long odds winner settled in fourth place behind pace makers Dodoma and Rosie's Sunset.
When it mattered however, My Advice, took control of proceedings to record an effortless win. Greimota ran an honest race to take second place while Dodoma made up the placings.

Practice in front of the mirror. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
Look, we all need induction when moving to a new town.We need someone to tell us the norms of behaviour and what to
do and what not to do in public places. We need some reassurance that we can avoid unintentionally landing ourselves in trouble. I'll give you an example. I once knew an American woman who lived in Pakistan. She committed serious cultural errors every day.These usually involved exposing her ankles or making too much eye contact with other people. Most people found her offensive when she thought she was acting normally.
Moving to Alice Springs shouldn't be such a challenge.
But without some guidance, we all make mistakes of an embarrassing kind and we end up as fishes out of water. Induction would help us to pick up the habits of the locals without looking like we've been practicing in front of the mirror, even if we have.
When I arrived in town, my first change was to remember to say thank you less often. It's an irritating habit and I was glad to have reason to lose it.
After that, I developed the knack of never saying sorry, especially when I've something very important to apologise about. A short while later, I learned never to make cups of tea for guests but just to direct them to the kitchen.
And I developed the habit of calling people "mate" when they don't even qualify as mild acquaintances. This includes my bank manager and anyone who offers me a quote for plumbing repairs or cracker dust.
I was reminded of this happy period when puzzling over the choices of films in a video shop. Like most locals,
I quietly worked my way up and down the aisles, lingering a while over the new releases and taking a sneaky peak at the latest uncut teen comedy hoping that nobody I knew was standing behind me.
Video shops are orderly places and the ones in town have the air of a library but with artificial lighting, consistent marketing and fewer cardigans. People are not noisy in Alice Springs video shops.
After a while spent wondering whether the Meg Ryan boxing manager film was worth $5 for three nights, a difficult decision I'm sure you'll agree (hint: its not) I became aware of a family whose last video shop visit was not to a shop at all but to a video store in an American mega-city.
Hushed tones and guarded comment were not for them. I was 20m away in the art house section, but I still heard the details of the films they saw on the flight from the mid-west and their plainly-expressed opinion that any Tom Hanks movie is a sackful of schmaltz.
After choosing a film, they loudly filled in the membership form for the video club. To complete a form noisily, I would need to attend a residential training course.
Yes, these were new arrivals in town. They had received no more induction than a quick flick through the Qantas magazine. Eventually, like all of us, they will modify their behaviour to be more locally attuned, but this could take some time. Later, they might even develop the advanced skills needed to maintain an understated matey cheerfulness at all times and except when involved in a road rage incident.
The backwash of every day life gets filtered in unlikely places like Blockbuster. But it's self-indulgent to play on the minor differences between Australians and Americans and Europeans when the real cross-cultural challenges are right in front of us. Hardly anyone coming to Alice Springs learns how to decipher the contrasts between the two dominant cultures in town. That's where the need for induction lies.

Carrot on a stick. COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.
The hammock on our veranda is swinging in the breeze, like a carrot on a stick in front of the donkey.
So close but never within reach. There is work to be done, chores to attend to, children to look after and nurture and a busy life to participate in. The stars and clouds will have to wait.No one tells you that when you grow up there will be no time to play, no time to lie in bed with a book all day and that you can not have a sickie. You think as a child that grown-ups have all the fun, can buy what they want and eat as many chocolates as they please. ( And some do!)
Sometimes being a responsible parent and grown-up is a bit of a
It doesn't leave much room for improvisation or imagination. You have to put food on the table and a roof over your head. You have to put others before yourself.
Some people choose to live for their holidays, others dream of going to a spa or plan for their retirement. But what if that day never comes. What if you haven't got that long?
The freedoms we imagine adults have vaporised as we get there.
According to some studies most people are unhappy with their jobs.
Depression is becoming increasingly common and a lot of people suffer from stress both in the work place and at home.
We come to Alice Springs in search of a better life, a "Territory lifestyle", where we can balance work and leisure, enjoy the wide open spaces, the friendly community and the peace and quiet.
But like a mirage it all vanishes as we get closer, more involved and caught up in a system in need of reform and investment.
When things get out of control on the sports field or in the classroom you can call for time out. Time to calm down, get a grip and consider your position.
In reality many of us will stay on the field until we burn out and have to be carried off.
Stress leave is common. The pressures are high on the people available.
It is easy to complain about everything that isn't working properly and wherever you look there seems to be something right now, like the hospital, but solutions are harder to find. Like ants we go into panic mode when the nest is disturbed.
But it is good to remember that despite all your responsibilities, the world will keep on turning even when you are not directly involved in something.
I choose to hide in the bathroom, lock the door and read a magazine or a book or just take a bath and light some candles.
It allows me a breather, time to think and remember how lucky I am.
Time to count my blessings. Time to enjoy the moment and recognise what is important to me: my family and friends, good company and good food, what really matters at the end of the day. Time to think and time to hear my own thoughts.
The storms of disenchantment and organisational chaos will blow over, the dust will settle and we will look up and again notice the intensity of our endless blue skies.
I will take time to swing slowly in the hammock and while praying for a cool south-easterly change, keep in mind that heaven is not the carrot at the end of a stick.

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