August 24, 2006. This page contains all major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Rehearsals began this week for Double Trouble, the 13 part television series which is an Aboriginal version of the Hayley Mills film, The Parent Trap.
Made by CAAMA, it’s the first time a Territory or an Indigenous production company has ever made a series for mainstream television.
It’s been sold to the Nine Network and Disney to be released in Australia, New Zealand and PNG.
Stunning sisters Chrissy and Cassie Glenn, 18, arrived in Alice Springs last Monday to start work with budding local actors Letitia Bartlett from OLSH, 16, and Tyrone Wallace from Centralian College who is 17.
“I’m very excited about it,” says Cassie who is five minutes older than Chrissy.
“The show will be fabulous: the script is very good, it’s something I would watch.”
Near-identical sister Chrissy agrees.
“The writers have done a really good job on the comedy and characters. It’s sad and funny. The story is not too far fetched.”
 “It shows Indigenous culture which I’m very interested in,” says Cassie.
“I think there should be more Indigenous programs for younger people. It gives youth more confidence in themselves: they see what people like them can do and it will give them the confidence to do it.” 
Chrissy says she still can’t believe how she was found from nowhere to star in the show which promises to be a hit. 
“I was excited but I was pretty calm when I found out.
“Our cousin heard about Double Trouble and gave our names to the producer.
“Then our teacher talked to the people making the film and we met the producer and the camera man and that was sort of our audition.”
Double Trouble is about twin Aboriginal girls, one who is brought up in Sydney and the other in a community in Central Australia who meet and swap lives. 
Cassie, who plays Yuma, says: “We’ve never done any acting before.
“Rehearsals are something completely new and bizarre. We had to crawl on the floor and bark like a dog the other day!”
Tall and slim with long dark shiny hair and deep brown eyes, the girls are studying hard for year 12. 
“Alice Springs is nice,” says Chrissy, who plays Kyanna.
“It’s hot! We haven’t had much time to look around yet. By the time we finish rehearsals everything is closed. And we have a school tutor every day.
“Would I like to be an actress? I have never thought about it. I always wanted to be a youth worker but I’m open to anything.” 
Watching rehearsals, the girls are applying themselves to the roles with enthusiasm and humour, working well with locals Tyrone Wallace who plays Aaron and Letitia Bartlett who is Iona.
“It’s fun doing rehearsals,” says Tyrone who has recently done commercial work for Imparja.
“When I found out I’d been chosen, man, I was more excited than anything else.”
Letitia has had a little more experience. “I’m in UsMob [to be shown at the Alice Festival], playing a teenager in a town camp.”

Changes to the land rights legislation could usher in a vast range of new opportunities for commerce and industry on Aboriginal land, going well beyond just enabling people to own their homes, says the Member for Solomon, David Tollner (CLP).
He says if at least 55% of residents of a community are in favor, it can now be declared a public township under Territory law.
Such towns could be large enough to accommodate 99 year leases for shops, horticulture, services and tourism, the industry likely to enjoy the greatest potential of growth, with a world wide interest in Aboriginal art and culture.
Most significantly, the decisions about the land use can now be made by the towns’ residents, without involvement of the land councils.
The 99 year leases were available under the old legislation as well, but all dealings had to be channelled through the land councils, which in turn had to consult the members of the land trust involved, usually thousands of people, rather than just those directly affected.
Hardly any 99 year leases for commercial purposes have been issued during the 30 years of land rights so far.
And while the townships may elect to utilize the land councils for some purposes, they are no longer obliged to.
Mr Tollner says he will be urging the Federal government to spend money principally in the new townships.
He says: “If communities want to have the 99 year lease provisions applying to their township, the decision must be taken by 55 per cent of residents.
“If they want to apply to become a public township they apply to the Northern Territory Government to have all the necessary work done, including surveying, to create a township, identifying parcels of land, from residential, public, recreational to commercial areas, areas for tourism and horticulture – any type of commercial activity.
“Becoming a pulic town is determined by the residents, not just traditional owners, because in most communities the vast majority of residents are not deemed to be traditional owners.
“Residents can, at their discretion, attract any type of business, from 100 per cent indigenous owned, or franchises or joint ventures, practically any sort of economic development.
“You can get a whole new economy happening,” says Mr Tollner.
“They might want some Vietnamese market gardeners to come out and grow some fresh food.
“Once a place has been declared a township it becomes public land, there is public access to it, without permits.
“The 99 year leases can be bought and sold, the same as leases in Alice Springs and Darwin can be bought and sold.
“The amendments will allow communities, groups or tribes to break away from land councils.
“They can form their own land councils, or they can take powers off land councils they don’t want them to exercise any longer.”
Mr Tollner says the leases will be issued by the the NT Government under instructions from the communities’ own councils.
The Alice News has asked Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon (ALP), who was unavailable last weekend, for an interview about the changes to run in next week’s edition.
The News asked the Central Land Council how many 99 years leases have been issued in its region in the past 30 years.
We received no reply. Meanwhile Mr Tollner says he will be calling on the Federal Government to put public money only into public areas.
He says the land councils have “significant funds in royalties and other government support” for use on Aboriginal land which is regarded as private property.
This includes hundreds of millions of dollars owned or controlled by the secretive Centrecorp in which the Central Land Council has a three fifths share.
Mr Tollner says the land councils also have access to the Aboriginal Benefits Fund.
But he says public facilities such as schools and health centres should be placed in public townships, to which the general public has access, and which – if the community wants it – can now be declared under NT law.
“It seems ridiculous to me we’re building houses all over the countryside that few people can legally have access to,” says Mr Tollner.
Mr Tollner says he became involved in a dispute at Port Keats about a journalist, Paul Toohey, covering an important event, but being prosecuted for not having a permit.
Mr Tollner says people at Pt Keats told him their land was “private property” and would he “allow people to trespass on your private property?”
Mr Toller says he replied, “Of course I wouldn’t, but I’m not asking the government to build me a house, or a school or a health clinic on my private property.
“I’m sure you have cattle stations around Alice Springs which would love the government to turn up and grade their roads for them, and build them houses.
“Why should that apply to one group of people and not another?
“Why should governments put taxpayers money into private land?
“If there is public land let’s provide public resources.
“If the teachers need a permit, and the policeman needs a permit, and the health workers, and it’s private land that nobody else can access, why should the government be responsible?”

Just as the debate is raging whether Alice Springs should get more town camps, more than 50 people are living in a single house in Hidden Valley.
That’s a camp 10 minutes’ walk from the town’s centre, and just over a low ridge from the posh Golfcourse Estate.
In early March the inhabitants of the house, and humpies, lean-tos and car bodies around it, became refugees from Willowra, on the edge of the Tanami Desert, some 200 km north west of Alice Springs.
They are victims of a tribal war.
Soon after they left their 10 houses were torched or trashed.  Nearly all their possessions were destroyed.
No-one has been prosecuted for these crimes.
There would be no point in making a police complaint, says one of the residents: “We were frustrated, angry, They would have done nothing.”
Some now sleep inside their run-down Hidden Valley home, some outside in wurlies, on mattresses and blankets without any roof, and in a tent.
The area is heavily littered. There are two burned-out cars and a burned-out caravan.
Children are playing among the wrecks.
It is 10.30am on Saturday and a noisy group of young men are drinking white wine decanted into plastic soft drink bottles. Six women and men sit in a circle on a blanket and play cards.  They all want to go back home, but there’s no-one to help them.
The person telling me the story, the only one in the group with a job, speaks in precise English and with eyes full of despair.
The person would be in danger if we published the name, I’m told, but the person is speaking with the authority of Clark Martin, the senior traditional owner of the Willowra, brother of the late Stumpy Martin.
The person says one of the evicted families’ enemies is the former chairman of the Central Land Council (CLC), William Brown Jampijinpa. He stood down after being convicted in May this year for an unlawful assault on a female.
Now it seems Mr Brown is again a delegate of the CLC, in contravention of its constitution disallowing people with criminal convictions to hold office.
The person says it appears Mr Brown was in Kalkiringi (Wave Hill) for the commemoration last week’s of the walk-off 40 years ago, in an official capacity.
The CLC did not respond to an enquiry from the Alice News.

Finding ways to better protect children from sexual abuse in the future, rather than bringing to book past offenders, is the focus for the Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse.
Board members Rex Wild QC and Pat Anderson (both pictured) will report to Chief Minister Clare Martin by the end of April next year.
Alice Springs News managing editor Erwin Chlanda spoke with Mr Wild last week:
NEWS: According to a whistle blower quoted in the Alice Springs News last week, Chief Minister Clare Martin had knowledge of sexual offences against children at the Ayers Rock community Mutitjulu since at least November 2004.
She knew about prostitution by underaged girls to obtain petrol for sniffing, and about malnutrition.
We were told Ms Martin raised the matters with Police Minister Paul Henderson at that time, and later received briefings on two occasions from her own department.
Ms Martin hasn’t denied these allegations, yet has taken no decisive action until these matters became a national scandal this year.
What’s the point of putting information on such matters before the government when it is obviously failing to act on it?
MR WILD: I’m not prepared to hold this enquiry on the basis that it’s a waste of time. I and Pat Anderson have taken on the job in good faith, on the basis that the government has asked us to give it advice and make recommendations, and I assume they will be acted on.
NEWS: A release from your office suggests you will not be having extended private or public hearings.
WILD: That’s our present view but that might change. The information as it comes in may suggest that we should have more public and private hearings than we presently think we might need. We are flexible.
NEWS: If you have a situation where people come under suspicion, what’s the mechanism you have in place for those people to have a right of reply?
WILD: There is always a mechanism for natural justice to apply. In the event that people are faced with allegations they will be given the opportunity to respond, an opportunity for counsel. But bear in mind that we won’t be necessarily making findings against people of criminal activities. If there are such matters as come to our attention we’ll refer those to the police.
NEWS: What will be the focus of the inquiry if finding offenders is not?
WILD: The focus is to establish in general terms whether there is an incidence of child sexual abuse in communities, such that demands that something should be done about it. Individual cases that come to our attention won’t be followed to the stage of investigating each and every one of those allegations.
We’re not interested as much in what might have happened in the past except as a guide to help us with what has failed in the past. What we want to do is provide something that will succeed in the future. We’re being optimistic and forward looking.
NEWS: Also in 2004 the Alice News raised the question of who’s in charge of protecting those children. Family and Children’s Services Minister Marion Scrymgour said it’s mainly a responsibility for police, because they are stationed in remote areas, whereas her officers are not. But Mr Henderson took the view that his officers act on complaints.
This seems to be an inadequate response given that children in many cases are quite overtly at serious risk. Mr Henderson also claimed that under the separation of powers principle he can’t instruct the police commissioner, whereas the law says the commissioner is to carry out his duties in accordance with written instructions from the minister.
There seems to be a huge amount of buck passing on this issue.
WILD: There can be in such cases because there are difficult, very difficult issues. These are matters we’ll be trying to get to grasp on and see if we can suggest a solution.
My own experience leads me to believe that from time to time we haven’t applied enough resources to resolving these terrible situations.
NEWS: Do you have any views right now as to what a solution might be?
WILD: No, I don’t. It would be very presumptuous of me to have views within a week or two of embarking on this enquiry when other people clearly haven’t been able to resolve them over many years.
NEWS: You were on the front line yourself as the Public Prosecutor.
WILD: A couple of steps back, Erwin. I know that people have suggested that I’m too close to the whole thing but in fact what we do with the things that come across the desk ... I’m not out there in the front line walking ‘round the outstations and seeing these events happen. It’s the results of police investigations which came to me.
This is an opportunity for me to actually get a bit closer to the front line and hopefully, make a difference, working as a team with Pat.
We’re looking for as much assistance as we can from all the communities, not just the outback, but also the cities and the towns, who know of any difficulties or have anything they want to tell us. It’s a very difficult matter we’re looking into, we’ve got a tremendous amount of support from all over the place already, and people, I think, are of one mind that they want to protect our little kids.
Ms Anderson is an Alyawarr woman has wide experience in community health administration, was the CEO of Danila Dilba, the Aboriginal community?controlled health service in Darwin, and had many essays, papers and articles published.
Mr Wild has a Master of Laws degree from Monash University. His was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1991 and admitted to practice as a legal practitioner in the Northern Territory in 1992.
He was appointed as Acting Director of Public Prosecutions in 1995 and confirmed in early 1996 and which he then held until January this year.

A man is still under suspicion after being arrested and then released without charge following an incident at Melanka Party Bar which has left 23 year old local man Peter Howell in a coma with serious head injuries.
However, not enough evidence has been collected to make another arrest, says Detective Senior Sergeant Michael Murphy, head of the regional investigation section in Alice Springs.
The police now have 31 statements from eyewitnesses and people who were at the club that night. “None of the bouncers are under investigation,” says Det Murphy. “A substantial amount of inquiries are needed for this case. We are waiting to be advised by the hospital of any further medical developments.” 
The man initially arrested is a white 19 year old local. When the Alice News inquired about the incident on the Monday following its occurrence on Saturday, August 12, no police media report had been issued. 
Det Murphy denied that police were covering up the investigation.
“I don’t want to comment on why the media wasn’t issued with an incident report. 
“I can confirm officers were busy investigating the issue on Monday.” 
The police media office called for information and “for witnesses to the incident to come forward” on Friday last week, five days after the alleged assault.
Det Murphy also denied gagging the Howell family from speaking to the press. “It is the parents’ right to speak to anyone if they make that decision.” 
As reported in last week’s issue, after allegedly being punched to the head and knocked unconscious to the ground at Melanka, Mr Howell has serious head injuries and is in a coma in intensive care at the Alice Hospital.
All the hospital will say is that he is in a “serious but stable condition”.
Police received a report about the incident just before 3.30am two Sunday mornings ago, on August 13.
They were already on the premises investigating another fight.
Mr Howell was allegedly knocked unconscious after one blow to the head then hit his head again when he fell to the ground. 
The News understands Mr Howell early this week was due to be transferred to Adelaide but there was no bed available for him.
The News spoke to his mother, Margaret, who was by his bedside in the Alice hospital, very distressed. Friends fear Mr Howell may not regain consciousness or if he does, will be severely disabled.
The News understands also suffering from pneumonia.
A sheet metal worker and former Yamaha motocross rider, friends and family of Mr Howell were devastated when the News spoke to them at the weekend.
He was described as a quiet and likeable man, not known for being involved in violence.
Dallas Spears has been Mr Howell’s boss for two years and has known him for five.
“He’s a very quiet sort of bloke, he wouldn’t hurt a fly.
“He’s good worker. “We’re obviously really upset about this. Anyone who knows anything should come forward.” 
Melanka is being investigated to ensure it is following the Liquor Act, says Chris McIntyre, the deputy director of the NT government department of Racing, Gaming and Licensing in Alice Springs.
The police or hospital aren’t required by law to inform the department of serious incidents like this on licensed premises: the department investigates after they hear of an incident through an official complaint or in this case, when the Alice News contacted the department for information last Monday.
“It is of concern to us that an incident of this nature has occurred and we are working with the new licensee to determine what happened and to ensure that incidents of this nature do not occur again,” says Mr McIntyre.
“All liquor licensees have an obligation to create a safe environment for their patrons and there are conditions in their licenses and in the Liquor Act that governs it that they have adequate security and responsible service of alcohol measures in place.
“This specific matter is currently the subject of a complaint to this office which we are investigating.
“Northern Territory Police are also investigating the matter and it would not be appropriate for me to comment on this specific matter until the outcomes of its investigations are known.”
Friends of Mr Howell, who do not want to be named, say the problem of violence in Alice Springs is getting out of control.
They say having only one nightclub in town has increased the number of fights, and that ordinary people aren’t able to enjoy a drink on a Friday or Saturday night without fear of being attacked.
Melanka should be closed down because people are not being protected, says an anonymous Aboriginal woman. 
“People can’t go out and have a good time because it’s not safe to drink there.
“Every week local Aboriginal women fight each other at the bar.
“The bar people and security mob turn a blind eye to it, no police are called.
“Why would they have surveillance cameras if they ignore things like this?
“I’ve got a family member who has been attacked three times, unprovoked.
“She was pulled backwards by the hair and punched and kicked by five women.
 “None of the security mob intervened.
“People are taking their fights in there and you can’t go to the toilet without people calling you all the names under the sun.”
However, new manager of Melanka, Ian Loan, vows incidents like the one involving Peter Howell “will never happen again at Melanka”.
Mr Loan had been on the job for four days when the incident happened.
“We have no tolerance to anti social behaviour. It’s unfortunate this happened to a poor young guy on our first weekend.
“We’ve been working very closely with the licensing body and the police on this.”
Mr Loan says the nightclub “has taken some serious steps forward” to control violence.
“We’ve issued I don’t know how many trespass notices and the security company has been put under notice to start performing.
“We’re identifying intoxicated people and not even letting them in now.
“We have already started cleaning this venue up and are going to make it a safe place. 
“Something like that will never happen again, not here anyway.”
 [The police are appealing to any member of the public who was at Melanka Party Bar on the night of Saturday August 12 to ring 131444.]

From the Bionic Ear Institute in Melbourne to heading up Desert Knowledge Australia, headquartered in Alice, isn’t such an improbable path, says new CEO of the organisation, John Huigen.
“I’m interested in trying to create opportunities for people who have less opportunities, whether it’s because of hearing impairment, or because they live in desert Australia.
“Desert Australians have quite significant constraints but some significant opportunities as well.”
Mr Huigen (pictured) comes to DKA fresh from a two year stint as CEO of the Ngaanyatjarra Council, local government of a vast tract of land covering 12 communities in Western Australia, with administrative bases in Alice Springs and Perth.
A key achievement has been his contribution to the development of a regional partnership agreement for the Ngaanyatjarra lands, soon to be formalised. It’s all about getting the three tiers of government working together.
An early initiative of the agreement is the establishment of playgroups throughout the lands, based in schools and seen as a pathway into the education system. Not rocket science but it wouldn’t have happened, says Mr Huigen, if people hadn’t been brought together to work out education priorities. It’s also not a pilot project but funded for three years and part of a holistic education strategy.
“People working in remote communities are just so busy, working long hard hours, they’re not learning from other people’s experience. But once the opportunity is provided to them they do.
“Call me an optimist but I believe most people have good will and want to do good things. Once they are brought together opportunities arise naturally.”
Mr Huigen says his number one priority when he starts at DKA next Monday will be to listen.
“I’ve had a solid introduction to how remote and rural communities work but I’ve still got a lot to learn.
“I know some of the questions to ask.”
DKA is not just about remote communities and Indigenous issues, he says.
“The whole of desert Australia stands to gain from a stronger, more sustainable economic and social base.”
That’s starting to happen with the Pilbara’s mining boom, he says. Mining companies are “starting a conversation with whoever can provide labour” – an excellent economic opportunity in a region where such opportunities have been patchy. 
DKA has established a strong network in the mining industry, as well as in tourism and services and are looking to extend into other areas of activity.
He says it’s important to find approaches and initiatives that can be repeated, going beyond the one-offs and the anecdotal and away from politicisation.
“Broad, fact-based, cross-cultural approaches” is what he’s looking to champion.
Having a base at the Desert Knowledge Precinct in the Business and Innovation Centre, for which the construction tender has just been let, will be useful.
Bricks and mortar are not the main game but Mr Huigen says the development of the precinct will help focus desert knowledge activity and engage more people in it. 

The town council will adopt a public art policy at its next full council meeting, that will see 2% of its future capital works expenditure going towards commissioning works of public art.
The works will be included in each building project with a total budget of more than $250,000.
There was debate at the most recent committee meeting about details of the policy.
A paragraph stipulating that all works be done “in consultation and with consideration for the secret and sacred wisdom of traditional owners” was removed from the policy.
Alderman David Koch described the stipulation as a “load of crock”.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff agreed that it was “too stringent” and suggested that the inclusion of a representative from Lhere Artepe on an advisory committee would be sufficient guarantee of consultation.
Ald Murray Stewart wanted council to take a lead with  “what we want the art to say” to ensure that it “fits in with our tourism direction”.
However, Ald Melanie van Haaren disagreed with “trying to put descriptors around where the artwork is heading”.
Ald Koch was adamant that council’s 2% should not support events. 
He also wanted to exclude exhibition or display systems from support and digital media or animation.
Ald Jane Clark, a web designer among other activities, spoke forcefully on the inclusion of digital media and in the end a majority of aldermen supported its retention.
Ald Clark  later posted a statement on her blog, which said in part:
“[The attempt to remove digital art] accentuates the lack of knowledge about new media and the place it holds as a form of expression for artists.
“I am not a digital artist although I have trained many designers and artists.
“New media will be very important for emerging artists to explore ways of expressing themselves. It is accessible and familiar.
“I look forward to future investments by council in new media as a way of capturing life in Alice in the early 21st century.”

The Brown family are attempting to have their part of their White Gums estate rezoned for “Specific Use”, paving the way for a  236 hectare subdivision at the western end of Ilparpa Valley, but objectors say that the use outlined in their application is not specific enough.
The Development Consent Authority last week heard both the applicant’s and objectors’ verbal submissions.
The DCA has no decision-making powers in a rezoning application; its role is to make a report with recommendations to the Minister.
If the Minister were to agree to rezoning, the actual development application would then come before the DCA for decision.
The applicant, Patrick Homes Pty Ltd, owned by Patrick Brown, was represented by Barry Probin, also a member of the Brown family.
He said the family had cared for the White Gums land for 58 years; their  continued residency in the area would ensure a high quality, sustainable and coordinated rural development with a sense of community.
Mr Probin said the plan was to create up to 175 allotments of varying size over a 10 to 15 year period.
The size of allotments would depend on land capability; sensitive areas, including slopes, would be protected.
He said a detailed plan would be prepared after agreement in principle regarding population density and land use was provided by a rezoning to
SU from the current Rural (R).
Mr Probin claimed no immediate neighbours had objected to the rezoning application.
Objectors were mostly residents of Ilparpa Valley. Their concerns were with:
• lack of sufficient detail about the ultimate use of the land;
• inappropriateness of the application – it should have been a Rural Living 1 or 2 application;
• unfairness of a change of zoning to existing residents;
• failure to address impacts on the water aquifer, on which neighbouring blocks are dependent;
• failure to address flooding, drainage and erosion issues, as well as weed and feral animal control;
• likelihood of degradation on smaller blocks, as is seen on some small blocks in the Ilparpa subdivision;
• pressure on wildlife, including from increased traffic and domestic animals;
• nondisclosure of information about who would bear costs for the augmentation of power-lines, water supply and other infrastructure.
Tim Collins, Arid Lands Environment Centre coordinator, argued the application had been given a “green wash” but there was insufficient detail and analysis to establish that it would actually be an “environmentally sustainable development”.
He also criticised the lands department documents regarding the application as “near unreadable”.
DCA chairman Peter McQueen said he too had had difficulty with the documents.
Rod Cramer of Temple Bar Station, who addressed at length water aquifer issues, also made much of the impact of the proposal on his family’s livelihood. 
This was rejected by Jim Brown, original settler at White Gums, who introduced himself as “the beginning of a lot of this trouble”. 
He said it is impossible to make money off a pastoral enterprise within the municipal area.
White Gums and Temple Bar are hobby farms, he said, a “dead loss”, and subdivision is the only way to make money from them.

Local bull riders mixed it with the pros at the rodeo on Saturday: pictured is Alice’s De Lewis who won division two after sticking with this bull for the required eight seconds, fresh from his Harts Range effort where he was outright champion. The open bull ride was won by pro rider Luke Davidson. Local road train driver and buckjumper rider Lyle Rankin says it’s “phenomenal to ride against the pros. We do it for the thrill of it.” PHOTOGRAPH by Frenchs Rodeo Photos, 03 58814914.

There are many strange things about living in Alice Springs. One that is standing out for me at the moment is that for a place that has two seasons, those being “hot” and “not hot”, there seems to be a profusion of backyard professors who specialise in all things meteorological.
But among these giants, do you think I can get a straight answer to the question, “Is winter over yet?” Some say “yes, get ready for the forties!”. Others belong to the “one more cold snap at the end of August” camp. Either way, it will be hot soon enough.
I find I’ve been scared by my first Alice summer.
I don’t think I’ve been able to fully appreciate the glorious weather of late due to the fear that summer will soon be upon us. The heat is one trial an Alice newbie has to overcome.
But let us not forget the variety of trials still to be dealt with between now and February. 
If there was to ever be a remake of the “Ten Commandments” I think Central Australia would be the prime location. Not only would Moses and the Israelites have millions of square miles in which to wander, but also we have our own plagues.
No need for your CGI animator to conjure digital pestilence, we have our own. I can’t forget coming home at dawn after work to find my street abuzz with people in the garden. All manner of Don Burkian activity at such an early hour puzzled me.
The reason behind the madness was that in the dim light of dawn, the flies were bearable.  But the very first sniff of a rise in temperature sends out the call. From everywhere they come, en masse, with a mission to search and annoy.
I have never sworn so loudly at something so small in a place so public before. The middle of the Todd Mall, there’s Adam flaying around wildly and cursing. Not a great moment but my excuse is that not only are the flies so numerous, they are also so lethargic. They don’t move when you shoo them. All the Aussie saluting in the world won’t budge these little blighters. They are impervious to our methods of persuasion. Maybe it’s just too hot. 
Regardless of how annoying the flies can be, on the plague scale flies only rate a three or four. The stinkbug on the other hand is about a seven. They aren’t as numerous they have a greater impact on social situations.
I have yet to meet a person who can tell me the appropriate method of ridding one’s self of a stinkbug. Short of wearing eau de baygon, if a stinkbug lands on you, it seems you have two choices. 
You can endure its presence until it flies off or you can chance your hand at the swift flick off. This is inherently risky. A misjudged flick is a one way trip to stinky town.
We’ve all been there. It’s late, she’s laughed at everything you’ve said. You notice the hair flick and all the other body language signs that are meant to mean something.
You’re about to pluck up enough courage, dutch or otherwise, to ask her out when without warning…whallop. The black/green harbinger of malodorous evil lands on your neck. Blammo! The unmistakable stench of the stink bug.
Her eyes start to scan the room for a way to escape. Social death. There’s no way of getting back any of the cool you had.
Pushing a nine on the scale is a creature that on first sight looks as though it comes from the set of Dr Who. I’ve been told that they are cicadas. I’m sorry the cicadas I know are brown, an inch long and you’d find about a dozen of them in a park. Not three inches long, black, orange and yellow and seen in their thousands out the front of my house at three in the morning.
The reason cicadas (sickahdas or sickaydas, I don’t mind) rate so highly is primarily due to the ungodly din produced by these monsters all on the one tree. I have a great ghost gum out the front of my bedroom window.
When the cicadas come to town, regardless of how hot it is, that window is shut. It’s like sleeping in a jet engine. I’m told they horde together to mate. Well, get a room and turn the noise down!
So there it is, for the uninitiated, a guide to the biblical grade pestilence of the upcoming months. On the upside, you do get to keep your firstborn.   

Sir,– My father before me and I always voted ALP without giving it a second thought, because we are working class people.
But after finding out things first hand for myself and reading your report about Mutitjulu (lead story, Aug 17) and the horrendous mistreatment of young kiddies, I find myself re-assessing my loyalties.
Once the ALP was the working man and woman’s party. They looked after our rights in the work place and we employed them. But now I look at the weirdos the ALP has not only under its banner, but actually in control of the partyroom policies and I blanch.
We have voted in a bunch of bludging no-hopers who clutch the war-torn workers’ flag of my father’s generation and hope we don’t notice who and what they really are. No wonder the Aboriginals are so bloody dysfuntional.
I reckon it’s time we cut loose the bleeding heart, unwashed greenie idiots and form a real Nothern Territory Workers Party. The catch is, to join you have to be a worker.
If we did I reckon we’d probably win just about every seat in the Territory, except the Northern suburbs that Clare throws buckets of money at.
Well, they can have Clare, she has denied ordinary working class Alice people like me a fair slice of the cake since day one, just like she denies justice to the little tackers on the communities. She is ten times worse than Denis Burke.
P. Davies
Alice Springs

Sir,– If a town camp was put in the the grounds of the Gapview pub and motel it would destroy the value of 50 units and also other homes there.
It wouldn’t be safe to live in the 50 units alongside a town camp as there is trouble in a small way now with cars being milked of petrol, bikes being stolen and a few weeks back three Aboriginals attacked a woman in the grounds of The Terraces. The units next to a town camp would be a piggy bank to the occupants of the camp.
I am 70 and don’t want to be mugged by the occupants of a town camp, nor do the other women living on their own here.
I question the sanity of anyone even contemplating putting a town camp in the grounds of a pub.
Barbara Adams
Alice Springs

Sir,– In last week’s Alice News a spokesperson from Lhere Artepe and an Alice alderman both sounded very skeptical of our new ex-Woomera dongas.
Since then almost everyone has expressed dismay at the thought of having the dongas placed anywhere at all. Not since the nuclear waste facility have we heard such a chorus of reluctant brides.
Alice Springs is desperate for temporary accommodation, and we all know it will not be easy.  But if it is to have any chance, we need the Town Council, Lhere Artepe and Tangentyere Council to come on board. And there is no time to waste.  One of the sites under consideration is the campground at the Gapview Hotel.
Talk about putting out the fire with gasoline!
With no one rushing to volunteer, the Alice Springs Town Council might be the body to pick up this weight.  At the least, they will have to sign off on whichever site gets the nod, and then there is the day to day administration.
From reports in your paper, they do now have some underused admin space available.
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Sir,– Power bills in the NT would soar through the roof under an absurd new Labor Party plan to tax power usage.
Laborhas released plans for a national emissions trading scheme that would force the average Territorian to pay up to $230 more each year.
The emissions trading scheme effectively taxes traditional coal and gas power, passing the cost immediately on to end users.
Even the best case scenario under this plan will see Territorian households pay $138 more for electricity each year.
Territorians already pay more for power than anyone else in the country and to hit households up for more money is just preposterous.
The coalition has never supported a crazy carbon tax scheme and I strongly urge the Chief Minister to stand up to Kim Beazley and reject this ludicrous tax idea.
David Tollner
MHR for Solomon

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