November 9, 2006. This page contains all major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

A group will be formed at a meeting on Sunday to provide guidance to governments and major organisations about the social and economic development of Alice Springs, especially tourism.
Second generation Alice Springs resident Steve Brown, a member of the White Gums Brown family which played a key role in establishing the town, has instigated the formation of the group.
He says since speaking out about the issues previously (Alice News, September 21, he’s been in touch with some 60 people wishing to join the group, utterly frustrated about the lack of constructive leadership and progress.
A core group of about 12 people will set up a structure and prepare for a public meting to be held before Christmas.
Mr Brown says these people are in private business or in the public service, some of them current members of organisations set up to promote development, or in local government, but “mired in procrastination, bureaucracy, indecision and lack of vision.
“In fact I haven’t found anyone not interested in forming the group,” says Mr Brown.
He says the group would be non-party political, “because politics has let us down badly.”
The main focus would be the Alice Springs Town Council’s inability to serve the town better.
“They have not managed to create leverage from themselves in the political arena. It seems instead of the council running its bureaucracy, the bureaucracy is running the council.
“It has failed the town, is unable to look to the future, makes ad-hoc decisions and lacks vision,” says Mr Brown.
“The Mayor [Mr Brown’s cousin, Fran Kilgariff] is identified with the Labor Party. We’re living for the moment, like a mining camp whose ore is about to run out.
“But this town will still be here in 100 years, and that’s what our planning should have in mind.”
He says the group will have a broad focus.
For example, the new 110 and 130 km/h speed limits are “barefaced tokenism” and an admission that the government is unable to enforce present road rules, which are adequate, and fix the roads – including the Lasseter Highway – which are in a “dangerous” condition.
The extra policing that will be required will detract from keeping anti-social behavior in check.
A key issue for the group will be redirecting the focus for promotion from Ayers Rock Resort, whose creation and development was the Territory’s “single biggest mistake”, draining visitors not only from the remainder of Central Australia, but the NT as a whole.
The resort contributes little to The Centre’s economy, employing backpackers from abroad and sourcing its supplies largely from interstate.
He says another resort should be built adjacent to the Uluru National Park to provide some competition, and keep prices in check.
“I remember about 360 buses in town for Henley on Todd in the mid-eighties.
“The whole town was swarming with visitors, tent cities in the caravan parks.
“Now these numbers just don’t come here any more.”
The group will deal with specific issues (for example, the Ilparpa water pipeline will need to be replaced) as well as broad policies.
“When it’s fixed we should not just replace the old pipe, but look to the future and gauge what’s likely to be needed decades from now,” says Mr Brown. “Always try to create a positive from a negative.”
For example, Alice has been too slow off the mark to capture Federal funding for the nation’s first major solar power station (it’s going to Mildura), but we should get the second one.
Fruit and veg in our shops is often second-rate, and mostly imported, despite excellent horticultural opportunities here.
Mr Brown says the group will set up a structure to make decisions fast and efficiently.

Land and culture are necessary but they are not enough for Indigenous people in the 21st Century.
Keynote speaker Rosalie Kunoth-Monks (pictured above with daughter Ngarla and granddaughter Ruby) spelled out why at the Desert Knowledge Symposium in Alice Springs last week.
You could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium as Mrs Kunoth-Monks urged her people to make the necessary adaptations to become “citizens of the globe”.
Aboriginal identity, underpinned by land and culture, has to allow for individual response to change, she said.
Culture cannot be taken away; it is given away or reinforced with every decision an individual makes.
“Many think romantically we can respond to new situations out of old eyes,” she said, but “we need new knowledge ...
“We are on a path to cultural suicide if we continue to smash up against today’s world ...
“Being a victim cannot be part of the identity we seek.
“Aboriginal identity has to take us beyond land and culture.”
Mrs Kunoth-Monks chairs the board of Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education and also works as an interpreter in the legal system.
Born in 1937, she lived at Utopia until the age of nine.
She attended school in Alice Springs, where in 1953 she was chosen for the lead role in Jedda, by  filmmakers Charles and Elsa Chauvel. The film  became an Australian classic.
Later she spent a decade as a nun in the Community of the Holy Name in Melbourne. She left to set up the first Aboriginal hostel in Victoria. 
In 1970 she married Bill, settled in Alice Springs and became involved in social work and politics.  She was an advisor on Aboriginal affairs to the then Chief Minister, Paul Everingham.
She stood for election to the Legislative Assembly in 1979, in order to fight the proposed construction of a dam north of the Telegraph Station which threatened sacred land. In 1992 a 20-year moratorium on the construction put the issue on hold.
Subsequently Mrs Kunoth-Monks returned to live at Utopia.

There have been many fine words written and spoken about Aboriginal land and culture over the years. 
I would like to heartily endorse all of the positive sentiment that has surrounded these writings and the good intentions of the writers.
It has long been argued passionately that without land we are nothing and the combination of land and culture provides us with the “compass’ to life.
If I look back at my past I can see where there is a picture of great cohesiveness within a tribal group that has arisen from a strong connection to land and culture.
It is in this setting that the caring and sharing was real.
In the past sacred objects were positioned in places where they were essential to survival.
The old people had the ability to read the environment and know when shortage of food or water or some other life-giving force was imminent.  They would tell us something was in short supply and we had to tighten our belts as it were.  We were instructed not to hurt or take certain species until they had regenerated.
In these times there was a reason for discipline, skin relations, sacred songs and performance of ritual because it strengthened survival.
Today I am left wondering and as a leader I am torn by my heart and my memories and at the same time I have to be honest with myself and my people and face the realities.
When I visit my community now I no longer find cohesion.  In place of caring and sharing I find sickness, violence and self-harm.
The sacred objects and the sacred ceremonies are few and far between.  People are not attending, they take less time to learn and perform, stories are short cut.  In many situations that I have been personally involved in, where traditionally people mourned the dead and absolved the family and relations, I now find people can’t wait to split the limited possessions of the dead. 
Where once I would pass my coolamon on to my grand-daughter now people are worried for the car and the fridge and the clothes that are fought for around the graveside.
When I look for people seriously attempting to sustain themselves on the land,  there are some who are hunting for recreational benefit, but few people seriously believe that hunting is more than this in sustaining life these days. 
Some family are on small parcels of land but don’t have a plan for that land, even one that manages the availability of the resources on that land.  There is very little denial in times of shortage and little adjustment to lifestyle or discipline involved in management of the environment. 
We now want rewards in the form of money and possession, even though we don’t convert these to new forms of wealth.  Group hunting is gone, we don’t bring common goods back to the community. Rather people stay out bush, consuming things on their own.
The breakdown of law and order and the conspiracy of silence is a serious new issue to some.  It is a concern to me that this has in fact been disappearing for some time and there is no longer a strong framework of land and culture to provide for and sustain the harmony and responsibility we were known for in the past.
It is the case that in many parts the only dreaming is that of the people who yearn for the past and wish to tie us back to that past.  Here I include Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Increased technology and mobility in cars and phones etc has hastened these changes – and we can’t go back.  Our Indigenous instinct has been to try to adapt and connect on our own terms – but it is increasingly difficult.
In essence I am proud of my memories and my history but I am not proud of what we currently see and the way our younger generation is responding.
We face a clash of cultures.  We are all on personal journeys but ultimately we are all on a journey of change.  We are not static museum pieces and we are now citizens of the globe not just our small ‘nation’ on traditional land.
The irony is that the nostalgic view of Indigenous people is that we survived through adaptability and resilience – yet in the face of globalism we appear unable to adapt. 
Some of our young Indigenous response has been to adapt and resist by borrowing from other cultures.  How did hip hop get in there?
So what is it that is important to retain in this process of change.  In times where land and culture appear to have forsaken us, what is it that we need to establish more than anything.
I put it to you that if we are to accept change then it must not come at the expense of identity.
The concept of identity is complex and includes the symbolic importance of land and culture but it also allows for an individual response to change.  Identity as an Aboriginal person, acceptance of yourself, is the most important piece of knowledge that Aboriginal people can have for the future.
Identity is not a right as such, rather it is something you develop yourself.
A lot of our people today do not know where they belong. They can’t go forward and they can’t go back and they are becoming aggressive and self-destructive.
You lose your culture through the choices you take or the choices circumstance forces you to take, albeit reluctantly.  Culture cannot be taken away; it is given away or reinforced with every decision that an individual makes.
The other reason I think identity is important is that it focuses on a personal approach to the future by providing a sense of self that can survive outside land and culture.  If we rely only on identifying with land and culture we become tied to customary practice rather than facing the future and what needs to be done today. 
We can no longer be tied to the land through the old ways, although there are many as I said earlier who think romantically that we should always respond to new situations through customary eyes and practices without adopting new approaches.
This is why the groups I am involved with have spent so much time working with desert knowledge, because we need new knowledge and the situations we face are new situations.
The knowledge of the past is captured in the land and cultural practices that bound it together and made sense of it.  Our knowledge for the future requires more than this.
As an elder if you ignore this reality you are not being real to yourself or a true leader to your people.   We can’t get our rich history back; in fact many of the older people I talk with don’t actually want it back.  People are responding with their feet where they can.  Where people have new knowledge and full understanding of that they make responsible and good decisions that help them to further establish their identity as Aboriginal people in 2006.
If we seriously look back at our attempts to live our culture over the changes of the last 30 years we would have to admit that we have not been able to sustain culture in the way I described it earlier. What it has done to our men, our women and our kids is now before us and it is not good.
I think we have reached a point where we need to know our culture to what ever level is appropriate for our particular living circumstances but then move on to the decisions we have to make today to enjoy the benefits of living in 2006.
Noel Pearson talks about our ability to move in different orbits.  His comments are carefully crafted around Cape York history and opportunities.
I am worried about desert peoples.
In that regard one thing is sure.  No longer is reliance on land and culture sufficient. People more and more use these as an excuse for not performing and not taking difficult decisions – they are locked into stationary orbit.
One of our problems is that everyone else is trying to think of the solutions for us instead of resourcing us to learn lessons and make mistakes on our own.
What I am finding in the shared journey through the desert knowledge work is that we are able to learn side by side more.
We are at a cross roads, we need to choose carefully and quickly.
I am hurting inside and I say this with huge pain – but for our survival this is where we need to go.
We are on a path of cultural suicide if we continue to smash up against today’s world.  We have to begin by accepting some blame ourselves for the choices and decisions we have taken and accept responsibility for our future.
Being a victim cannot be part of the identity that we seek.  Political correctness will not get us over the line.
The keys to discovering our identity are in self-awareness, group awareness and our ability to access new knowledge through education and shared life experiences.
In the past we found identity through separateness. Our new identity has to be part of a much bigger picture.  Aboriginal identity has to take us beyond land and culture.
Many people have been confused about the recent policy debates around viability and sustainability of communities and mainstreaming of services.  These matters are seen by some as urgent issues. 
It is my belief that the confusion will only be resolved through a new sense of identity, because through that people will connect to future pathways of local, national and international interests.
Government may shape the policy and funding environment, newspapers will provide commentary, but we are the ones who decide to accept or reject the opportunities presented.
I am sure that the significant population of Indigenous people in the NT will mean identity in desert Australia will be very different to the sense of identity on the east coast.
The catalyst of change that we talk about in the Desert People’s Centre [the combined Batchelor Institute and Centre for Appropriate Technology] has to begin with individuals making decisions to change.  Neither the decisions nor the changes can be forced.  The DPC is not compulsory education – it involves choice, commitment and a desire for change. For these reasons the DPC may be a point for debate and discussion but our desire is to bring a positive contribution to people’s journeys.
The DPC will work with people and create an environment where they can explore their identity as global citizens living in desert Australia.

If there is more mulch than the town council can use in its own operations it will be made available to the public at cost, says Alderman David Koch.
“That is our intent anyway.”
Ald Koch says there is no excess at present, but when there is – usually occurring two to three times a year – “we’ll advertise, it’ll be on a Saturday or Sunday and bring your trailer”.
“It would be at our normal discount rate, about half the retail rate, I believe. It’s not yet fully resolved but that’s what most aldermen would be happy with.”
By contrast, technical services director Eric Peterson says there has been “no change to council’s decision”.
This, in September, was to make the green waste operation at the landfill an internal operation only, after high net losses over the two years during which council operated it as a business.
Making any excess available to the public “is not under consideration”, says Mr Peterson.
Did the council seek business advice?
Mr Peterson says the original business case on which the whole proposal was set up was flawed: “It contained a significant error. The original expectations could not be realised.”
It is not clear whether council then sought further advice.
The operation was staffed fulltime by two employees serving the public and processing the waste. However, sometimes there was no waste to be  processed. 
“We hope that by making the business part of our internal operations, we can utilise these employees in other areas,” said Mayor Fran Kilgariff in September.
But what about utilising them in other areas anyway, and only opening to the public during limited hours?
Mr Peterson says public access to the product was only one issue to consider; he did not wish to elaborate on the others.

Qantas has been stonewalling enquiries by the Alice Springs News for more than a month about strong anecdotal evidence of sharp fare increases.
According to a tourist industry source, flights to Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney have gone up about $200 – 50% on the lowest rates – since Virgin stopped flying to Alice in September last year.
It seems Alice Springs is being ripped off while relatively competitive fares are still available for the coastal cities.
There are still cheap seats but fewer of them are being offered.
We asked the airline, now the only scheduled carrier in and out of Alice Springs, to quote the average cost of tickets to Adelaide and Darwin.
We asked for this to be done on a monthly basis, for the two months before Virgin dropped its Alice service, and since.
We asked the average to be calculated on the basis of the various fares available, and how many people had been using them.
The airline’s media personnel emailed a general statement, which did not respond to the questions, and two people rang to say they were working on a reply, but it still hasn’t been provided.
Meanwhile locals are saying they are being taken for a ride by the airline:-
• Several relatives of one family known to the Alice News were forced to abandon plans to attend a funeral because they couldn’t afford the airfare.
• Flights are frequently fully booked and people have to cancel their business or social engagements.
The industry source says flights to Sydney are “horrific” – in terms of costs and availability: this week, for example, if you manage to get a seat, it will cost you $900 to $1000.
Return flights to Adelaide cost around $340 to $370 in the Virgin days.
Now they range from $440 to $1200, only part of which is due to fuel surcharges.
There are cheap flights in January and February, when tourist traffic is at a low ebb.
Darwin flights are usually half full with public servants for whom the governments pay full fare, a windfall for Qantas.
The source says Australian domestic fares are a joke when compared with overseas.
You can fly from London to Istanbul for $150 including taxes.
Tiger Airways flies from Darwin to Singapore – four hours – for $78 plus taxes of $140 from Singapore, $240 from Australia.
By comparison the Drawin to Singapore fare of Qantas offshoot Jetstar is $800.
The situation in Alice Springs is exacerbated by events such as the Masters Games or big conventions, says the source: participants all come and go at the same time, snapping up all seats. And while the event is in progress, no-one comes because there are no rooms.

As trustees and friends of the Olive Pink Botanic Garden celebrate its fiftieth anniversary on Saturday, they will also be looking forward to a bigger celebration next year, one to which they’ll invite the whole community.
For the first time a collection of Miss Pink’s watercolours, painted in the 1930s and 40s when she was living in Central Australia will be brought here to be displayed at the garden.
The paintings are kept at the University of Tasmania and are mostly of plants but also some birds. Accompanying them will be work by contemporary local artists whose eyes also turn to the botanical, Pat Weeks and Sally Mumford.
This is but one of the plans afoot to bring the community more often into the garden.
2006 has been an eventful year: it saw the sad passing of long time curator Clarry Smith and the appointment of Colleen O’Malley as his replacement.
Ms O’Malley says the garden, under the guidance of Mr Smith and his predecessors, has done the science side very well. Now it’s time to honour more the legacy of Miss Pink, the garden’s history and cultural landscape, and to develop more its relationship with the community.
It is hoped that the custodians for the important sacred site within the garden’s boundaries will become more involved, with cultural and bush foods tours being one possibility.
“Olive Pink was a pioneer of self-determination and equal rights for Aboriginal people, so it is very fitting that we go down this path,” says Ms O’Malley.
Equally Miss Pink was ahead of her time in her vision for the then “flora reserve”: the idea of a botanic garden in the arid zone was quite novel when she started.
“It was nothing short of heroic what she and Johnny Yannarilyi achieved during the 1960s drought,” says Ms O’Malley.
They would have been carrying water to plants by bucket; they didn’t have mulch; and they would have been dealing with rabbits. They made small ponding banks and dug in pipes at 45 degree angles in order to pour water straight down to the roots.
Johnny Yannarilyi was a Warlpiri man who worked for Miss Pink. She wrote of him: “He is a born entomologist and somewhat of a botanist too (I am neither!!!).”
“Miss Pink saw the garden as a place for conserving and teaching,” says Ms O’Malley. 
“To date this has mainly been for the dedicated few. Now we want to get the community involved, bring them in even while we retain the ‘old world’ feel of the place, the feeling of sanctuary.”
Ideas include more interpretive walks, for instance through the Miss Pink’s own surviving plantings, a garden sculpture competition, hands on planting demonstrations, a children’s playground with a difference, and more interpretation of the garden’s history and culture.
A vision document is being developed and will be put out for public comment in March.
“We have also got to get the garden heritage listed. It’s on the national estate register but it’s not heritage listed in the Territory, we are working on that now,” says Ms O’Malley.

Don’t allow people to stay as leaders of community organisations for more than two to three years.
Rewrite constitutions to ensure this.
Get away from committee structures for organisations in favour of task forces that self-destruct after the goals are accomplished.
Take these steps to increase the vitality of your town.
These were some of the ideas to emerge from roundtable discussions on the future of inland towns at the Desert Knowledge Symposium in Alice Springs last week.
Other ideas to get strong support were:-
• Generating a shared vision of the town.
• Promoting education, technology and training. 
All these ideas coincide with some of the recommendations of a report looking at innovation in rural Queensland, titled “Why some towns thrive and others languish”.
One of the report’s authors, Ian Plowman of the University of Queensland Business School, was the facilitator of the session and clearly had a passion for his subject.
Eight small rural towns with similar economic and geographic circumstances participated in the research.
The report names them only as towns A to H because that allows you to think about “8000 towns, instead of eight”, says Mr Plowman.
Three of the four authors are psychologists and the report was particularly concerned to look at the innovative impact of individuals on their communities, particularly those in leadership, managerial and executive roles; in non-supervisory technical and professional roles; and in administrative and support roles.
An underlying theme to emerge from the 65 interviews conducted with  prominent citizens in the eight towns was that in the least innovative communities when the question “Whose job is that?” was asked the answer was “theirs”. In the most innovative  communities, the answer was “ours”.
The report asserts no town has a “right” to survive: “To  survive, a town needs to be flexible and adaptable, to provide amenities and services to its  members and to those outsiders which interact with it.
“Atrophy or decline awaits those towns that are not innovative or adaptable.
“However, becoming or remaining an innovative town is a  very big challenge indeed because, as many observers and writers have pointed out,  homogeneity, conservatism and conformity exert a constant pull.”
Some of the characteristic of the more innovative towns as identified by the report:
• Positive trends in people willing to stay in residence or take up residence.
• Growing populations though size and rate of growth do not necessarily determine levels of innovation (of the eight, the smallest town, population 600, was the third most innovative).
• A higher proportion of home owner-occupiers as opposed to renters.  
• Increasing levels of employment and declining levels of unemloyment, though the levels were small.
• A higher average level of education. 
• More frequent and longer periods of overseas travel by residents. 
• More mobile.
• A higher proportion of residents whose prior town was larger rather than smaller or same size. 
• More “creative” occupations and industries.
Interstingly, the most innovative of the eight towns, by its own estimation as well as that of three independent raters, “celebrates its creative artistic  dimension in a very public way ... Artisans in this town work hard to involve the broader community in the artistic/creative experience”.
The second most innovative town “recognised a large artistic population scattered in its midst but had not brought that population into its mainstream  communal life”.
And the least innovative “made no mention of artistic or creative aspects of  their towns”.
The report also emphasises as important:
• Administrative and managerial capacity to run and promote the town: “Such capacity helps citizens of the town to feel good about living there. It also serves to attract outsiders, thereby bringing the multiple benefits.
• Variety of expertise, “the essential first step in the improvement of anything. The greater the variety of specialists, the broader is the knowledge base and the greater the cross-fertilisation of ideas. Whether it is imported or home-grown, expertise serves as a catalyst for innovation or, at least, maintenance of the status quo. Absence of expertise of any sort favours atrophy, decline or decay.”
• Clusters of expertise: “Although variety of expertise across disciplines ... increases the  range of ideas available to a community, so too, do clusters of expertise.
“Coalitions of experts from within the same discipline can cross-fertilise with like minds and test new ideas in a safe incubating environment, thereby increasing their leverage for influence.”
• Professional development:  “Experts who work at growing their knowledge and skills, usually through some connections outside of the community, are able to diffuse that new knowledge and skill back into their  community.”
• Technical  experts help in the ‘translation’ of technology into local application.”
• Decentralisation of decision making: “The concentration of decision-making authority prevents innovative solutions, while the dispersion of power is necessary for innovation.
• Informality: “Flexibility and low emphasis on rules facilitate innovation. Low formalisation permits openness, which encourages new ideas and behaviours.” 
• Community participation: “A common comment across all towns was that participation was welcomed, but that most people were passive and that community involvement remained with the willing few.   
“Participatory environments facilitate innovation by increasing community members’  awareness, commitment and involvement.
“Sharing the load also increases opportunity to develop civic skills and it decreases the probability of ‘burn-out’ by the willing few. 
• A positive managerial attitude toward change: “New ideas in management often seem to flow from ‘outsiders’. Council seems to contain higher levels of conservatism. 
“Managers’ favourable attitude towards change leads to an internal community climate  conducive to innovation.
“Managerial support for innovation is especially required in the  implementation stage, when coordination and conflict resolution among individuals and community groups are essential.”
• Availability of slack resources, in other words, resources not stretched to the limit: “Slack resources allow a community to afford to explore innovations, absorb failure, bear the cost of implementing innovations and generally just ‘have a go’.
• Exchange of information with the outside world: This allows communities to reinvent themselves “as they blend their attributes with those the external world requires”.
• Internal communication and idea sharing, which “facilitates dispersion of ideas within communities and increases their amount and diversity, which results in cross-fertilisation of ideas. It also creates an internal environment favourable to the survival of new ideas”. 
- See on the web
Leaders must lead
Communities wanting to become innovative should encourage the concept of “leadership” and discourage the concept of “leaders”, the report recommends. 
Those interviewed for the report recognised the importance of leadership and the  importance of the roles that the town council and the mayor played in that leadership.
Being too long in a role was perceived as both common and undesirable. The most innovative towns had councils that were proactive and staffed by excellent and visionary administrators.
Other towns found leadership outside of their elected councillors — leadership that in some cases formed productive partnerships with the council.
In another case, the informal  leadership and the elected leadership seemed to walk parallel paths driven by creative tension between them.  Some councils had a vision largely confined to roads, rates and rubbish.  Others were more progressive and strategic, sometimes to their own cost.
In several of the towns examined, the council had demonstrated leadership beyond the capacity and grasp of its constituents, resulting in criticism and, in one case, virtual abandonment of an initiative where the council’s leadership overstretched its capacity to fund its own initiative. Then it became a case of once bitten, twice shy.
A town should have three forms of leadership, the report recommends:
• Legitimate leadership, such as the mayor, to represent the town in external  environments or on symbolic occasions.
• Effective or situational leadership, in other words the best person for the job, regardless of position, status or title. The most innovative town seemed to enjoy the highest level of  effective leadership through having the highest number of participants who identified as experts; the least innovative towns seemed to have substantially less.
• Empathic leadership, for when people need encouragement, support or nurture. This is a role often filled by religious organisations. It can also be filled by any individual or body that is perceived as  compassionate.
“Rarely, if ever, are these three forms of leadership embodied in the  one person or body. Nor are they necessarily static. Public understanding of these three important roles would be beneficial.”
- The report recommends some form of public debate on these roles and boundaries within a community.

When the would-be civic leaders produce little more than blah, frustration sets in: On Monday David Chewings left his “calling card” at the town council offices for the second time this year. All the talk about town camps being part of the town, and becoming a council responsibility, is just so m uch rhetoric, he says. For years a voluntary, upaid rubbish collector in public places, Mr Chewings says the garbage in the camps is getting worse, flowing over into public areas.

Alice Springs has some excellent parties. There is perhaps no other postcode where you can so often bump into Fred and Steve at a black tie do on Friday and then see them again at John’s poolside barbie on Saturday afternoon.
With such a variety of social gatherings, there are a couple of inherent pit falls for those who dive headlong into the Alice Springs social scenes.
Last weekend was a shining example of the variety of gathering. Thursday afternoon I was at the Gillen Club. I don’t mind the Gillen Club.
It’s close to home, the drinks are cheap and it reminds me of a lot of the pubs and clubs from where I grew up.
A workers pub with a bistro and a place for the kids to play while mum and dad discuss everything from socialist macro economic reform to Macca’s new engine.
The men and women who call the Gillen their own don’t stand on too many graces and men are blokes.
This is the Territory under a roof. It’s probably not all that prudent to start discussing the new cushions you bought for the lounge or your favourite chick flick.
And it helps if, from time to time, you throw in the odd obscenity. (For “from time to time” read “every sentence”.) 
Friday was slightly different. I tried to get out of work early because I had some showing off to do.
Friday I cooked for a group of women (and a couple of blokes for whose attendance I am eternally grateful) at a Bodyshop party.
These home business parties like Tupperware, Bodyshop and the like, are a forest of nightmares for the XY chromosomed.
Every man has been to at least one of these and the thought of spending a couple of hours surrounded by femicentric products and the women who want them seems only slightly less appealing than invasive surgery.
But I have to say that handled properly, you can not just survive but enjoy an event such as this. It’s all about being adaptable. 
Always be yourself. But if you are the type of bloke that would rather be at the Gillen Club, then perhaps Macca’s afore-mentioned block isn’t the appropriate conversation to be having with Kathy from sales.
My advice is you should be man enough by now to dive on in. Get involved and have a good time.
But just make sure everyone there knows the golden rule. What goes on at the home party, stays at the home party.
From the heady world of exfoliating shimmer creams and talk about monthly cramp to the confusing scene of the 21st celebration.
I’m 31 so not quite old enough to be thought of by these Generation Yers as fully ensconced on the Oldies table. But not nearly young enough either to actually be worthy of their conversation.
I don’t ever remember being that small. What have we done with our children? They all need a good feed and another English lesson.
There was about 50 teens at this function and maybe one of them was over sixty kilos. I’m not sure what happened between 1975 and 1988 but I think there might have been an evolutionary step somewhere in there that science has missed.
These tiny people speak like they’re sending a text message. And none of the boys have the ability to put the collar down on their polo shirts.
To be successful at these very different social occasions requires a little forward planning and the ability to improvise. Always be on your toes and don’t be afraid to get in and get amongst it. Either that or drink a lot.

Sir,– A speed limit on the Stuart Highway and demerit points for traffic offences fail to deal with the “route” causes of road fatalities in the NT.
The Opposition remain totally opposed to these measures. If elected we will repeal the speed limits on open roads.
The measures I have announced deal directly with the fact that it is drivers between 18 and 25 years of age who are most likely to die on our roads.
Our policy includes an Extended Driver Training component and an increased emphasis on Road Safety Education for our youth.
The most effective programs occur where schools, police and government work in partnership with parents, hence our Road Safety Education program provides young people with road safety education throughout their school career.
Further the Extended Driver Training will improve young drivers’ knowledge and understanding of the road traffic environment; the behavioural skills necessary to survive in the presence of traffic and an increased knowledge of the causes and consequences of road accidents.
Other measures include a small newer motor vehicle incentive scheme that will reduce on-road costs for young drivers buying newer smaller cars.
There will also be restrictions on what young drivers can do including no towing for learners and provisional drivers, 120 hours of supervised driving experience to be log booked for learner drivers, passenger number restrictions between the hours of 10pm and 5am for the first year of provisional licence, and extending the provisional licence to three years for those under the age of 25 years.
In contrast, to Clare Martin’s “all stick, no carrot” approach to the issue of road safety, the Opposition would provide a free license renewal for any motorist who isn’t convicted of a traffic offence during the previous licence period.
Under a Country Liberal Government, a clean record for five years gets you a five year licence renewal for free.
Jodeen Carney,
Opposition Leader

Sir,– At their last meeting, the Alice Springs Town Council agreed to fund crucial repairs on the Gap Youth Centre but couldn’t decide what to say about the dongas.
Watching this positive step forward followed by a hesitant step back, I realised the demographic changes in Alice are having a hard time getting acknowledged, let alone accepted.
If the national drought/global warming gets a good grip on the Centre, and if the Federal and NT governments continue to hollow-out homeland funding, then almost everyone living bush will move to town. It really is that simple.
The urban drift over the last 10 years has caught us so unprepared that when a Federal Minister recently drove through town distributing second-hand dongas, we were actually better off. 
Now we get to decide on where in Alice they can go.  A permanent location for a temporary accommodation facility is a hard place to find. I understand it needs to be on Crown Land not near a residential area. 
Tyeweretye, on Len Kittle Drive, looks set for a gong, but there are objections to Dalgety Road.  The council noted these objections and added their own, but failed to suggest an alternative.
So here’s an idea.
Unless the council has already claimed it for a car-park, the large vacant lot on the corner of Whittaker St and the Stuart Highway might be available.  With a good fence and PAWA connections it could be a good choice, close to the shops and handy to the hospital.
Somewhere along the line we need to stop being frightened of each other.
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Sir,–  The Territory Government’s announcement on the implementation of a maximum speed limit displayed the contempt in which it holds Territorians and Territory businesses.
This announcement is just another way of the government telling the world to go away, we don’t want your business.
Many of the world’s leading marques used to bring new vehicles to Alice Springs for testing, a major injection into the Red Centre’s economy during the quieter months.
You can bet they won’t be coming now that they can’t get out of second gear.
And will two of the Territory’s prestigious tourism events be threatened by the new rules?
I’m not sure whether the Finke Desert Race, a major event on the Centralian calendar, can be run under the new rules.
The new rules must also greatly affect the next World Solar Challenge, which had grown into an iconic event in its own right.
The winner of the 2005 race, Nuna III, averaged better than 100kp/h for the trip and reputedly had a top speed during the event in excess of 170kp/h.
Will the teams still bother coming to Australia if they can’t test their vehicle’s full capacity? I doubt it.
Of course, Clare Martin can turn around and say the rules don’t apply to those events – but if she says that what about the Cannoball Run?”
Planning for the next Cannonball Run is proceeding despite the Chief Minister’s decision.
Allan Moffat and Graham McVean will be starting the safety audit of the proposed route on Alice Springs on November 20, as planned.
The ALP seems uncomfortable with the notion that Territorians are different. But Territorians don’t apologise for being different – we’re proud of it.
Those fools won’t be in power forever and we have to get everything in place to ensure the event will go ahead as soon as the Territory is rid of Clare and her clueless mates.
Nigel Scullion
CLP NT Senator
Devils clinch first
victory for season
Rugby Union blew out the cobwebs on the weekend with the first round of the season.
Federal Devils defeated Eagles 17-15, and in a replay of last year’s grand final, the Kiwi Warriors again triumphed over the Dingo Cubs, 43-17.
The first game was a cliff-hanger, going to the wire before the decisive score.
The second game was marred by some “unsavoury incidents” and “bad language”, says CARU vice-president Simon Pettit.
“Anyone performing like that again will be ejected from the oval,” says Mr Pettit.
“The CARU executive do not want to see this kind of behaviour when there are families around.”
The Warriors are at the head of the table on percentages, equal with Devils on points.
“The team efforts, which is what we are interested in, were pretty good,” says Mr Pettit.

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