September 28, 2006. This page contains all major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Central Australia may miss out on $2.6m from the Commonwealth for the East West Highway because the NT Government is failing to match the funds.
The Queensland and WA governments have already made their matching contributions, according to Alice Town Council CEO Rex Mooney.
Meanwhile transport operators are saying the Plenty Highway is in its worst state for decades, and accuse the NT Government of wasting public money by failing to allocate enough funds to carry out proper repairs.
In August 2001 Peter Toyne, the new Minister for Central Australia, promised to seal the Plenty Highway.
Now, five years later, Dr Toyne has just retired and NT Transport Minister Delia Lawrie is declining to explain why the road isn’t even being kept up to a reasonable unsealed standard.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff and CEO Mr Mooney were in Laverton last week to attend the annual general meeting of The Outback Highway Development Council Inc (OHDC).
The road will now be known as The Outback Way, running from Winton in Queensland to Laverton in WA, a 2800km route, 1700 kms of which are unsealed. 
The OHDC is made up of local government representatives from Winton, Boulia, Alice Springs, Warburton and Laverton, as well as representatives from the state and Territory governments. 
The Commonwealth has allocated $10m over three years to the project, with $4.6m to go to the Territory “because we have the worst roads”, says Ms Kilgariff.
So far the Territory Government has promised $2m, but unless the remaining $2.6m is also guaranteed the Territory stands to lose its allocation.
Ms Kilgariff will be seeking a delegation to Ms Lawrie to urge action on the matter.  
Meanwhile a veteran truckie says failing to spend enough on repairing the Plenty Highway is tantamount to wasting millions.
Jeff Tucker says the current makeshift work on the road to Queensland is useless because all graders are doing is filling sand in between the corrugations. 
And the next passing vehicle simply blows the sand out again.
What’s needed, says Mr Tucker, is a “grade, water and roll”.
Neil Hallagan, the NT manager of the road maintenance firm Works Infrastructure, agrees.
His firm looks after the Tanami Road, the other transport disaster in The Centre.
Neither man is blaming the contractors: they’re simply doing what the government is assigning to them, with limited funds.
Ms Lawrie would only say: “$2m has been expended on upgrading the Plenty Highway - those works were completed at the end of last year. 
“In addition, a tender has just been called for 15kms of gravelling works on the Plenty Highway.
“The road was last given a full maintenance grade including drainage in August and September 2006.”
But Mr Hallagan says much more than that is needed: “Most roads have lost all their gravel.”
To bring a seriously degraded road up to “good dirt road standard” with a “grade and roll” takes between $10,000 ad $30,000 a kilometer, and the roads in Central Australia are so bad that “it will be closer to $30,000”.
That means Ms Lawrie’s $2m doesn’t go far on the 350 km of Plenty Highway: closer to $10m will be needed.
Mr Tucker owns Centre Stockfeeds, has had a road train license since 1972 and travels the Plenty frequently in his Kenworth truck.
He’s just returned and faces a repair bill of $1800.
He says the present condition of the highway is the worst he’s ever seen.
There is significant damage to his truck every time, lights popping out, broken mudguards, brake boosters smashed.
He says the corrugations are so bad as to be a significant danger to the traveling public.
The truck goes sideways at times, and the load is in constant danger of falling off.
He suggests the NT Government may be liable in case of injuries and damage because of its negligence in repairing the road.
“They have a duty of care,” he says. “But we’re run by Darwinians, not Territorians.”
Mr Tucker sees no point in soon having two sealed roads to King’s Canyon while the major traffic link to Queensland is in such dangerous condition.
When Labor was elected to government in August 2001 Dr Toyne made a firm commitment to the sealing of the Plenty Highway.
He said the government would first ensure that there is a “concerted effort” also from the Queensland and WA governments (both Labor) “so we don’t have a fantastic road in the Territory and a goat track across the borders”.
The Plenty Highway north-east of Alice, and the Gunbarrel west of Ayers Rock, will be sealed, he said.
“The long haul trucking industry will be looking for alternative activities in three years’ time, when the Darwin railway is completed, if that industry is to stay in Alice Springs at the present strength,” said Dr Toyne.

Candidates in the Stuart by-election, won by the ALP’s Karl Hampton with a greatly reduced majority and voter participation, have described aspects of the poll as undemocratic and unacceptable.
The row started when the ALP requested the Electoral Commission to conduct unscheduled mobile polling at Tara (a community near Barrow Creek) and at Tennant Creek, which is not in the electorate.
Just one vote was received in each place.
The ALP had claimed some enrolled voters had gone on a football trip, or had failed to vote for some other reason, and had made no arrangements for postal voting.
Another unscheduled “mobile” was conducted at Yuendumu, requested by the community, and receiving 37 votes last Friday.
Mobile polling had already been conducted at the community the week before.
Although the ALP were present at all three unscheduled polling places, the five non-Labor candidates were given no advance notice of the extra opportunities to vote, or only a few hours’ – not enough to be at the polling places or to have helpers attending with how-to-vote cards.
According to the Greatorex MLA Richard Lim, CLP manager John Elferink learned by email about the additional voting less than five hours before the second lot of voting took place in Yuendumu.
Independent Gary Cartwright only found out about it when he spotted it, by chance passing through the community at the same time.
Independent Anna De Sousa Machado says she was told about it in Alice Springs by a friend at 1pm on Friday.
Polling started at Yuendumu, 300 km away, two hours later.
The Electoral Commission’s Greg Davis says his office only had mobile telephone numbers for Ms Machado and Peter Tjungarray Wilson, and these were not always in service.
According to the Electoral Commission, there were no people handing out how to vote cards at Tara. 
There were CLP and ALP helpers handing out how to vote cards at Tennant Creek.
ALP and Gary Cartwright were handing out how to votes at the second poll in Yuendumu.
According to counting early this week Mr Hampton had scored 1168 first preference votes, well over half the 2003 formal votes cast, likely to secure him a win without counting preferences.
However, he had just 58% of the formal vote, whereas his predecessor Peter Toyne had 71%.
Ex-Labor MLA Gary Cartwright, now an independent giving his preferences to the CLP (as did the other two independents) got 280 primary votes, Ms Machado 155 and Mr Wilson, 20.
“I’m trying to send a wake-up call to Labor that it is neglecting the bush,” Mr Cartwright said on Saturday. He now works for the Utopia community.
“The government is spending millions on a lagoon with artificial waves in the Darwin harbor precinct.
“How many people in the bush will get a benefit from that?”
The two CLP candidates, outgunned by a well-oiled Labor campaign machine, did poorly with 218 votes (Rex Granites) and 162 (Lloyd Spencer-Nelson).
Despite the commission’s elaborate efforts to entice people to vote, and the associated expense for the by-election – “about $100,000” says Electoral Commissioner Bill Shepheard  – the turnout was poor.
Little more than half of the 4434 voters enrolled turned up and only 2003 or 45% cast valid votes.
Mr Shepheard defended his decision to run three unscheduled mobiles: “We can vary the schedule as we receive information,” he says.
“It’s been done before, when there were sorry camps or funerals.
‘We do advertise as best we can [but] there is a lot of movement out there so we need to be flexible.
“My job is to allow as many people [as possible] to vote up until six o’clock on Saturday.”
Asked why the commission was running six mobiles in town camps in Alice Springs, all no more than 15 minutes’ walk from the “static” Braitling School booth or the Electoral Office in Leichard Terrace, Mr Shepheard said: “It’s about providing a service that delivers the right outcomes.
“Those town camps were polled in the 2005 election with some success in terms of voter numbers.
“We have a high percentage in those locations of assisted voters, so it’s operationally sound to provide a limited service on separate days.”
The Alice News asked Mr Shepheard: “Is it not true that the service is provided on a racial basis: if you live in a white suburb you don’t get it, if you live in a black town camp you do.”
SHEPHEARD: I wouldn’t see it that way. As the Electoral Commissioner, I’m not doing that, I’m looking at groups, I’m looking at how we can do it operationally.
There are other people living near these places. We’ve sent them letters advising them where they can vote.
NEWS: One voter lives within two minutes’ walk from two mobile polling places. They are on town camps, which are private land. She didn’t have automatic access to them. Six of the eight mobile polling stations in Alice Springs were on this type of private land.
SHEPHEARD: People can acquire permits to get on there if they wish. We’re not doing it on racial grounds. I don’t control the land permit system. 
NEWS: But you make the decision where you set up your booths.
SHEPHEARD: I do. I put them in places where I feel we can process people better and maximize participation.
NEWS: As commissioner you will have a say in the next electoral redistribution, in 2007. At the moment the urban parts of Stuart are all town camps and have clearly been selected on racial grounds. What’s your opinion about this?
SHEPHEARD: It would not be appropriate for me to comment on what’s happened before [but] there is a community of interest [between urban and bush Aborigines].
When we crank up the new redistribution it will be an entirely new process and everybody will have the opportunity of putting in their suggestions.
We’re beaten up either which way: one minute people are telling us we’re not getting enough participation, next minute they’re telling us we shouldn’t be going to places [with mobiles].
The Electoral Commission gets dragged in as if we’re doing something in a biased fashion. And that is simply not the case.
Meanwhile, despite the best efforts voter education still has a long way to go with some.
Ms Machado had a call from an adoring voter: “I love you so much, Napanangka, I gave you six votes.
“And I only gave a one to that Hampton bloke.”
Election workers for Karl Hampton (centre), including (from left) a helper from Yuendumu, Eileen Hoosan, Melissa Brown and Barbara Shaw, ran rings around the supprters of the other candidates, with personal knowledge of the voters and language skills.

Is the Territory Government’s investment of half a million dollars in the NT Film Office contributing to the development of the local industry?
Some local players would prefer to see all the money in a grants pool, while director of the Film Office, Penelope McDonald, recently reappointed after expiry of her first-term contract, says the grants program is not the most important part of what the Film Office does.
She sees the office’s most important role as connecting industry players so that local productions get off the ground.
But local independent film maker David Nixon says the office is being funded to fail.  He says 70% of funding is spent on administering the 30% that is divided into grants.
“Such is the demand, the grants are invariably small and therefore don’t have the desired effect of stimulating the industry’s economic or professional development,” says Mr Nixon. “It’s the Arts NT model all over: lots of administrators making wages while the creative sector scrounges for resources.”
In its first three years the Film Office presided over a total of $350,000 in grants, while operations of the office, employing two staff, were allocated $750,000 (only $500,000 was spent).
During this time the Territory Government subsidised the Sydney-based company Southern Cross to produce the TV series The Alice to the tune of $330,000. This exceeds by almost $70,000 the entire screen grants program of $262,000 for 2006-07.
A recent Territory Government subsidy to CAAMA, which is of course a local company, of $243,000 for their TV series Double Trouble, almost matches the current grants program.
Says Mr Nixon: “The precedent for production funding is to knock down the Cabinet door. Why then, have a Film Office? “
Film Office director Penelope McDonald (pictured at right) agrees that any government money available to support the screen industry should come through the Film Office and “be responsive to guidelines the office develops about how to support and grow the industry”.
However, she does see benefits flowing to local professionals from productions like The Alice coming to town: “The experience [locals] Allan Collins and David Tranter gained as second unit cinematographer and soundrecordist on The Alice meant that they were more readily accepted by the Nine Network as key crew for shooting Double Trouble.”
This kind of flow-on effect is a reason why the Film Office spends some of its time on enticing outside productions into the Territory.
“The Film Office had a big role in securing The Rogue for the NT,” says Ms McDonald.
“At one stage they were going to film in WA. We sent them photos of locations, put them in touch with people who would help them find locations. And then we put them in touch with the right people to obtain permission to film in Jawoyn country.”
The Rogue is backed by Miramax and will have a big release. Ms McDonald says it could be the new century’s Crocodile Dundee in terms of benefits for Top End tourism but also will be an important industry credit for the Territorians who have worked on it. 
The same goes for Baz Luhrman’s upcoming Australian epic, which Ms McDonald says has spent tens of thousands of dollars on employing people doing location work; the reality TV series The Amazing Race; and Ten Canoes. Unfortunately for the Alice-based industry, all this action was in the Top End. Nic Cave’s The Proposition could have been filmed here, says Ms McDonald, but instead it went to Queensland where there were better incentives.
Ms McDonald says the Territory Government should create an incentive program for incoming productions, with conditions that would assist the development of the local industry: “The South Australian and Queensland film industries were built on the back of in-coming productions,” she says.
She says the Film Office is beginning talks with the Department of Business and Economic Development about a screen industry incentive program. But Mr Nixon sees that route to industry development as too slow: “It will take 10 to 20 years to grow an industry off the back of incoming productions: “The obvious alternative is to commission locally produced collaborative expressions of art, land and culture – themes that resonate with locals and visitors alike.”
He would like to see the Film Office get away from its emphasis on cinematic and broadcast projects:  “That emphasis comes at the expense of producing content for a local audience. If we are to ‘share our story’ we need to explore what that story is.”
Ms McDonald says the Film Office is interested in supporting people to produce programming for every kind of delivery platform but “I won’t be satisfied personally with my role until we see a project we support broadcast on national prime time TV.”
Mr Nixon is campaigning passionately – in heritage, tourism and local government forums – to get support for digital interpretive media telling local stories.
Such media “installed in each of the attractions around town would have a profound effect on tourism and provide the spark for sustainable development”, he says.
Ms McDonald agrees the changing technological landscape should be a benefit to the Territory industry: “It would be more feasible if the Film Office had increased staff and resources.” 
A discussion paper put out by the Film Office to stimulate thinking around its direction for the next three years recognises the importance of “digital futures”: “Because this sector of the industry deals in the ‘virtual’ it can often operate outside the more physically based traditional film and television industries. This factor makes it ideal for Territory conditions. Additionally, screen content for digital applications is in demand everywhere.”
So if the demand is there and there are locals capable of delivering content, what’s the problem? Few local film-makers are qualified as producers and directors, says Ms McDonald, and the Film Office is committed to trying to raise their skill level. For those who are qualified it’s a matter of bringing their creative talent to the market, and the Film Office has very limited resources with which to do that. 
One way though is to support travel to events like the annual conference of the Screen Producers Association of Australia. Priority is given to producers.
David Curl, who produces and markets his own films, was supported by the Film Office to pitch his latest production, Shadows of Uluru, at this conference last year, and succeeded in attracting Film Finance Corporation funding for it – once again, an amount more than the Territory’s entire screen grants allocation. Mr Curls’ Shadows of Uluru, a feature film for cinematic release, and his television documentary, From Ayers Rock to Uluru, will be ready for international release next year.
Ms McDonald is also hoping to increase industry connections with Asia through screen industry markets in  Hong Kong and Singapore.
“The Film Office would talk about the faciltiies here and what we can offer and individuals could take their products. It would be a good way of creating awareness of the NT in Asian growth economies.” 
Meanwhile, there are other local producers, apart from Mr Curl, finding their own markets, says Ms McDonald. Warlpiri Media, based in Yuendumu, are shooting a series called Australian Rules for the ABC.
Shane Mulcahy is on the way to financing a documentary about Carl Strehlow, father of Ted, called The Ingkarta’s Masterpiece. Warwick Thornton, writer-director of the prize-winning short films, Mimi and Greenbush, has a feature going into production next year.
Despite the grants program’s obvious limits, local film-makers and the Film Office have been brainstorming about how best to disburse this year’s allocation.  One model they are looking at is to fly in “a hot shot producer” who would work with “a slate of four or five projects”, mentoring a local producer as they go.
Says Ms McDonald: “A good person might expect a fee of $100,000 for a year’s work, though the amount would depend also on their interest in the copyright of the works produced: “A cut down version may be possible this year.
“As with everything we have to think smart and leverage support from other bodies like the Australian Film Commission, the Australian Film Television and Radio School, Desert Knowledge. I’ve had problems getting Territory film and television production recognised as an industry. It is a small industry in the Territory but huge nationally – and increasingly insatiable with all the different delivery platforms. In the first three years the Territory Government have put their toe in the water, now it’s time to look to the future.”
A recent three day workshop run by the Film Office at Hamilton Downs, titled Creating Vision, tried to outline what that future could be. Trouble was, it was only for Indigenous film-makers, says Mr Nixon, who expresses “disappointment” at  “an increasing polarization of culture in the Centre and at the way government and arts bureaucracies are contributing to it”.
“There are special provisions and funds everywhere for the expression of Indigenous content or views,” he says. “Where’s the support for dialogue and collaboration? Everything I want to make has Indigenous people in it. Yet unless I hand over the key creative roles to Indigenous people I can’t get the support.”
Isn’t it a case of Indigenous media winning in the marketplace?
Mr Nixon says that the special support in place for Indigenous media, from the Film Office to Film Australia, the Australian Film Commission, SBS and ABC virtually excludes Central Australian independent film-makers from competing in the market they live in. Ms McDonald says the workshop was funded by Desert Knowledge CRC and was for people from remote communities. 

A proposal for a residential subdivision of 92 blocks in Emily Valley has been rejected for the second time by the Development Consent Authority (DCA).
It was rejected because the “proposed development does not comply with minimum lot sizes”, said the authority.
Much of the project would have been on land zoned “Rural”, with a minimum block size of 40 hectares, while the lot sizes proposed by the developers were well under one hectare.
The applicants did their best to gloss over that fact, highlighting the one-fifth of the land is zoned Rural Living 1 with a 0.4 hectare minimum block size.
Objector Kaye Kessing told the DCA at a public hearing last week: “The developers continued [their] insistence that the entire area of this current proposal is zoned RL1.”
Ms Kessing and friends had spent $200,000 for 40 hectares adjacent to their three hectare block so that they could enjoy privacy and the block’s diverse vegetation and bush foods.
They were facing the prospect of an urban-style subdivision over their back fence.
Emily Valley Estates Pty Ltd bought the land, in Stegar Road, from local identity Peter Hooper about two years ago.
Real estate agent John McEwen part-owns the company and is its front man.
The DCA  said it can approve variations to lot sizes but those requested by the developers were “considered excessive, without significant justification.
“The proposed development is considered to be contrary to planning scheme provisions ... in the Alice Springs Land Use Structure Plan 1999 and Land Use Objectives, specifically in relation to the determination of lot sizes on the basis of land capabilities, and public access to open space, and conservation of sites of significant heritage and cultural value.”
The DCA also found the application deficient with respect to:-
• stormwater management [which] demonstrates no reduction in flood immunity to the Ross Highway;
• the capacity of Ross Highway to carry the potential additional traffic;
• the sewer system;
• access; and
• potential fire hazard.
Ms Kessing told the DCA: “We who have settled deliberately in the rural area of Alice Springs wish to remain in a rural area.
“We do not want it changed, however subtly, to an urban area, which these developers seem to wish to do if judged by their repeated use of the word ‘urban’.”
She welcomed a switch by the developers from overhead to underground power supply, but said she would remain sceptical: the development to the east of the Heenan Road area got the green light on the basis that underground power would be installed.
But this was reversed “behind the backs of the public ... and we in Heenan Road now look out on a row of extremely unattractive power poles, instead of the trees that were knocked down to make way for them.
“We are stuck with it and we are angry.”
An objector from the Ilparpa area, Roger Thompson, told the authority, by letter, that much of the new application was identical to the earlier one, whilst failing to deal with matters raised by the DCA.
Mr Thompson says the applicants are claiming they have an agreement with Power and Water about the proposed sewage system, yet there is no such document in the submission “which leads me to conclude that no such agreement exists”.
David Cantwell, a consultant to the applicants, says he will recommend them to appeal.
He says it appears that the DCA is not taking into account agreements the applicants have with sacred sites authorities and the town’s native title body, Lhere Artepe.
Meanwhile another big rural residential development, proposed by the Brown family in the White Gums area, is the subject of a rezoning application before the Lands Minister (Alice News, August 24).
The project came under fire in a submission to the DCA from Rod Cramer, who lives on the nearby Temple Bar station.
He said when his family bought Temple Bar, they did so in the clear knowledge that White Gums was designated as pastoral land.
However, Steve Brown, brother of applicant Patrick Brown of Patrick Homes Pty Ltd, says a subdivision of the White Gums area for urban residential purposes had already been mooted well before the Cramer family bought Temple Bar Station 19 years ago.
He showed the Alice News a document by the NT Department of Lands, a regional outline Structure Plan dated 1985.
Three options were considered for future urban residential development: the Undoolya Option; the Commonage-White Gums option; and the Commonage-Undoolya option.
Advantages of the Commonage-White Gums option were identified as:-
• relatively low costs for sewerage headworks;
• favourable topography and soils.
Disadvantages included:
• difficult arterial road connection;
• distance from the CBD, necessitating probably the development of a “regional centre”;
 • possible pollution to the Mereenie aquifer.
Mr Brown says the White Gums option was “headlined” and widely discussed at the time.
It would not have been possible for local people not to know about it, he says.
Subsequent town planning has identified Mt John’s Valley and Undoolya Valley, both north of the Gap, as the location of future urban expansion of Alice Springs.

Quick question for you. How’s your social life? I’m not trying to pry into your personal life; it’s just that mine is a bit full at the moment.
In fact to say it’s a bit full is like saying February is a bit hot or that the Stuart by-election was a bit annoying. I’m run off my feet at present.
A cornucopia of social events has been laid out before me and I have had to choose between several options on more than one occasion. This leads to a decision having to be made.
All of a sudden the question of what to do on a Saturday night becomes unnecessarily political.
“Well this group of friends will be off to this event and I went out with them last night so I should probably go to the other one…”
 My brain hurts. God forbid I offend someone by going out.
I heard Alderman Murray Stewart label Alice Springs the “participation capital of Australia”. He’s spot on. Never before in all my travels have I known a town that so whole-heartedly embraces its social aspect. Don’t you people like your families? 
Every day of the week for the past couple of months there has been at least one social occasion for someone to attend.
From Desert Festivals to Bass in the Dust. From Henley on Todd to the art exhibition at Mbantua. I’ve been to so many charity fundraisers I wonder how anyone is short of a quid.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the option to either dress up, swank about and pretend I know something about art or dress down, large it up and pretend I know something about footy. With the amount of choice available there is something for whatever mood I might be in.
There is however a statement made at these dos. A whispered thought that dare not be spoken too loud for fear of reprisal.
It is as though Lord Voldermort himself (or perhaps just Eugene Raghiantti) might be waiting round the corner. 
Perhaps if I let the cat out of the bag here in the Alice Springs News, perhaps if I have the courage to say this thing, then others might feel free to speak their mind.
Here goes … is there, maybe, just a bit too much on in town? 
There I’ve said it. Maybe there aren’t enough people good at tofu origami in town to have an exhibition, let alone a retrospective.
See it’s not just the audience that is spread thin, it’s also the participants. I hate to say it but I think a couple of the events that I saw at the Desert Festival fell victim to the “just because you like doing it doesn’t mean you have to be good at it” scenario.
Thinning the herd is only one part of the Connelly plan for the eradication of social congestion.
Perhaps we need to work out some sort of schedule. The council can organise this.
A calendar could be placed in the civic centre. Those who wish to put on a do have to “bags” a date and pay a fee. Three dos a day maximum.
I can’t understand the logic behind the social void that will greet us in the summer months when there are at present perfectly good indoor events that won’t cause sunstroke, but are causing social calendar conflict.
How on earth are the people of Alice Springs meant to cope with the double ups. like a couple of weeks ago when the Henley on Todd clashed almost to the minute with the CAFL grand final.
Both events are of large enough community significance yet the crowd was split between those who wanted to watch people get dirty and sweaty on the sand and those who wanted to watch people get dirty and sweaty on the grass. How dare they make us make such a choice!     
In fact as a small protest I have made a rather staggering decision.
Tomorrow night, I’m going to stay home and cook a meal. Revolutionary I know. A home cooked meal at my place. What a brilliant idea. In fact if it goes well I might sell tickets to the next one. 


Sir,– I am writing to congratulate you on your excellent September 21 cover page. The cover articles by Kieran Finnane were positive, constructive, and enjoyable to read. 
The article about Steve Brown directly addressed some of our real everyday and long-term problems, by presenting a vision of Alice as a place very different and “more colorful than any other town” and that change will be a “huge lift and a boon for the town.” 
It was the best article I have ever read about Alice’s future, and a welcome relief from the critical tone of many other articles. 
The other article about the Desert Mob show was also intelligent and full of useful information, seen through the eyes of an obviously sensitive reporter. 
I hope these cover articles are followed by many others like it.  It may make a real contribution to how we see and improve our town!
Michael LaFlamme
Alice Springs

Sir,–  Once again the ratepayers have to thank the Alice Springs News (Sept 14) for informing them that the Mayor attended a meeting on the Tyeweretye proposed “donga” site, with Mal Brough when he ‘popped in’.
Where were the people we elected to run the town, where were the alderpersons that we might have expected to put forward the views of a very large number of people, who do not want ‘dongas’ there or anywhere else inside the town area in strict contravention of the ASTC bylaws? 
Since the alderpersons do not appear to be unduly disturbed at not being informed of the meeting  and appear to be quite content to sit back and listen to a ‘one man band’, perhaps a public meeting should be arranged and Mal Brough be invited, so that the town can voice its opinions and views that the alderpersons have so far failed to do.
Gerry Baddock
Alice Springs

ED – To be fair, aldermen were indignant at not being invited to the meeting with Mal Brough, which was apparently called at short notice. The Alice News quoted Alds Samih Habib and Robyn Lambley on this subject in the article ‘Drying out The Alice’ in its Sept 14 issue.

Sir,– Just in time for the five year anniversary of 9/11, one of your stories in the September 7 issue covered the construction of a new fence on Schwarz Crescent. It seems the seismic station run by the US Air Force is now safe from suicide bombers and other Osama types.
This goes a long way toward alleviating any fears we in Alice Springs may have concerning our vulnerability in today’s terror-franchised world. An unambiguous message has now been sent. 
To borrow from Greg Palast’s darkly hilarious book, “Armed Madhouse”, we are saying, “Better target a car park, Ahmed. 
They’re watching the Yankee Crossing.”
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Sir,– Thank you, Alice News. Your article last year on using sub-contractors to build your own home inspired me to do the same when renovating my house.
I had spent several months trying to get quotes from builders and most were too busy even to quote. After reading your article I rang a builder in town and told him my idea to be my own project officer. 
He was great, encouraged me and recommended some tradespeople I could contact. This builder did not even know me so it was extremely kind of him to be so helpful. So thank you to Peter Walsh.
I was amazed at how professional, helpful and reliable the vast majority of the tradespeople were. I lacked even the knowledge for the correct terms for things.
I thought that roof cladding was insulation!!
One day I had the two roofers, the plumber, the electrician, his apprentice and two air-conditioning guys all working up on the roof on a day when it was over 40 degrees. I did not hear one cross word or raised voice.  
It’s been an amazing experience and has renewed my faith in human nature.
I would like to thank Steve Adler, the draughtsman, the staff at Project Building certifiers, Adrian Basso and his team who did the concreting, Steve Williams and his brother Robbie for doing the tiling, Gary who did the bricklaying, Darryl Cannell and his off-sider for the roof work, Gavin O’ Toole and his apprentice for the electrical work, Richard Kleeman for the plumbing, John Matteucci for the rendering, Smaho Spahic for the painting, Simon Kilgariff for the shed, Alan Hildebrandt, Chris Wilkinson for the cabinet making and Gareth, who helped too.
Also thank you so much to family and friends who helped us in many ways including looking after the children while all this was happening, usually without us even asking for help. 
What a great bunch of people! 
Clare Nowak
Alice Springs

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