November 23, 2006. This page contains all major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

A small local company has been forced into liquidation by the failure of the Alice Springs Town Council to award work under a contract for “general maintenance within council controlled premises”. 
Steve Jensen, of A1 Building Contractors, says he received not a single assignment under the 50 page contract, signed by Mayor Fran Kilgariff and CEO Rex Mooney, between the start of the 24 month agreement on July 1, 2005, and its unilateral termination by the council on November 8, 2006.
When asked for comment, all Mr Mooney would say: “I confirm that the contract has been validly terminated at law.”
Mr Jensen says he kept his end of the bargain: he upgraded his company’s infrastructure, setting up an office, employing clerical staff and boosting insurance coverage.
Yet all work went to other contractors because, says Mr Jensen, a council staff member did not like him.
A1 now has significant debts around town which he can’t pay, and Mr Jensen is demanding compensation from the council.
Mr Jensen had for three years successfully run an air conditioning firm in Alice Springs, Total Re-cool, always paying his bills on time.
Last year he tendered for the council work to expand his business, and was given to understand, by the council, that the budget for the work is $800,000 a year.
The scope of work, for which Mr Jensen quoted various hourly rates, depending on complexity, was broad: electrical, plumbing, carpentry, concreting, brick and block laying, joinery and cabinet making, painting, floor coverings and floor and wall tiling, glazing, roofing, plastering and ceiling installation, steel and metal fabrication, asbestos and asbestos removal, demolition, excavation and earthworks, insulation, scaffolding, cleaning, graffiti removal and roof gutter cleaning.
The contract required Mr Jensen, who was used to working from home and from the back of his ute, as are many contractors, to “provide and maintain an established office workshop facility”.
It had to have “sufficient personnel necessary to take, record or pass on an emergency message, provide day to day information with regard to prices, availability and delivery”.
Accordingly, Mr Jensen set up an office in the Polana Centre in Smith Street.
He says no work at all was forthcoming for 10 months between July 2005 and April 2006 when the council asked him to carry out some minor repairs at two childcare centers.
He says after the job the council claimed the work had been done badly, but Mr Jensen says although minor “cosmetic” faults had to be fixed, all the work was brought up to scratch, and carried out in accordance with Australian Standards.
He says this work was outside the agreement because it had to be quoted for separately.
Mr Jensen and his partner, who have two young children, are now planning to leave town.
Mr Mooney did not answer the following questions: Who did the work [subject to the contract]? Why was it given to them? By whom? What was its total cost? Why was it not given to A1? Will compensation be paid?

Mbantua Gallery in Alice Springs, a specialist in Aboriginal art from Utopia, is one of seven Territory finalists – and the only one from the Centre –  in the 2006 Australian Export Awards.
Mbantua will represent the Territory in the small to micro business category, for businesses with a turnover of up to $5m. 
The awards are co-presented by Austrade and the Australian Chamber of Commerce: 83 companies have been selected as finalists from a record 489 applicants.
Mbantua gallery has undergone a physical expansion in Alice to make it one of the biggest privately-owned galleries dealing in Aboriginal art in the world.
Its export drive over the last six years, largely hidden from public view, now accounts for about 30% of its turnover.
However, owner Tim Jennings says the exercise is more about building future markets than actual sales, and he says the industry as a whole benefits.
This year two teams from the gallery have visited the United States and another is currently at an art fair in Shanghai, China.
Mbantua was represented at an art fair in England this year, and Mr Jennings himself went to England last year.
“Our first team six years ago went to the US for a seven week tour, but we found that that didn’t work. It’s hard work and you burn out,” says Mr Jennings.
“The worst part of it in the US is going through the airports. There are a lot of physical searches. We carry the rolls of art as excess luggage, so that’s expensive, but it’s also heavy, lugging it around. It’s a good way to lose weight!”
The itinerary is developed on the basis of invitations from people on the Mbantua database, mostly people who have visited the gallery in Alice or who know about it from people who have. 
They invite Mbantua to make a presentation in their boardrooms, their homes, or in hotel suites where they gather with friends and family.
“Our business would not be viable without this effort,” says Mr Jennings.
He says the expansion of Mbantua’s premises in Alice, to create a huge ground level gallery as well as a cultural museum on the second floor, has been personally satisfying but could not be sustained without external sales.
The greater part of Mbantua’s trade, both from the gallery in Alice and overseas, is in small paintings, one foot by one foot.
“We are looking for a broader market for all the young, up and coming artists,” says Mr Jennings. “That’s why we deal in so many small ones.”
When Mbantua’s Lyall Zweck and Trevor Lewis made their American tour earlier this year they sold 139 paintings; one was a reasonably large canvas by the late Minnie Pwerle, but 73 were the small format paintings.
Says Mr Jennings: “If the gathering is of people who know something about Aboriginal art, you may sell a large work. But often people know very little and at least on the first contact they buy a small work.
“Afterwards they might begin to take a greater interest and then they may buy a big work.
“And they don’t always buy it from us – they might go to Papunya Tula or another gallery. That’s alright. It’s all good for the industry.”
On his most recent trip Mr Jennings presented paintings and gave a talk at a gallery in New York. On the night he sold some 30 canvases, mostly small ones, but more importantly he got good press coverage, some of which will lead to future visits to Central Australia from freelance writers and a documentary maker.
Mr Zweck gave presentations in a nursing home and a retirement village in Greenwich, Connecticut as well as to the arts council there. Sales were minimal but press coverage was positive.
It’s all part of how Mbantua approaches marketing.
“That’s what you’ve got to go through,” says Mr Jennings.
“You do the legwork and hopefully people will appreciate what you do and out of it will come business opportunities.
Winners of the awards will be announced in Melbourne on November 30.

The Real Estate Institute of the Northern Territory has blamed interest rate increases for a “major slowing effect” on unit sales in Alice Springs.
They decreased over the quarter by a “stunning 32.7%”. 
However median prices rose 7.3% over the quarter, and 15.5% over the year.
House sales in Alice also decreased over the quarter, by 2.8%.
The 106  recorded house sales netted $31,077,650.
The last 12 months has seen a small increase of 1.9% in house sales. 
The median price was $272,5000, a decrease of 0.9% over the quarter quarter, but an increase of 1.3% over the last 12 months.
All this compares very poorly with Darwin.
Its 28.3% increase in house sales over the last 12 months is described by the institute as “staggering”.
Housing markets in Katherine and Tennant Creek are also growing more strongly than Alice’s, with 23.5% and 13.7% growth over the last 12 months. 
However, median prices in those towns were lower than Alice’s: $214,500 and $87,000 respectively.
The institute notes that vacant land sales have decreased everywhere in the Territory except Palmerston –  the only land available in the Territory.
“This lack of supply of land in the both Darwin and Alice Springs is also driving up the price of any land available in the Territory.
This is again highlighting the desperate need for increased future land releases, therefore helping to sustain positive growth.”

Territory Senator Nigel Scullion was at at Ti-Tree on Tuesday to  meet with families from Willowra  in the hope of finding some resolution for the strife-torn community.
As reported on August 24 in the Alice News, more than 50 members from the community have taken refuge at Hidden Valley town camp in Alice Springs, in just two houses, after their homes in Willowra were destroyed.
Some of these, members of the Martin family, made the statement below to the News.
Sen Scullion said  he has been working positively with the Central Land Council on the issues at Willowra and will be providing advice on some possible infrastructure options.

Statement by members of the Clark Martin family, saying they are speaking on Mr Martin’s behalf:–
In 2004 Duncan William Brown was elected as chairperson of the Central Land Council (CLC). 
Riots were still going on in Willowra at that time. Cars were burnt, everything. He put up a meeting.
We thought only Aboriginal people should sort out the problem. 
But at the meeting white people were interfering, the CLC lawyer David Avery, the Labor Minister Peter Toyne, and the CLC director David Ross. 
Those three people shouldn’t have entered Willowra during that argument. They were there and the police from Ti Tree [ they name two officers]. The police were just laughing, not taking any action.
Cars were burning, people were fighting with machetes.
The chairperson brought all these whitefellers in to take sides.
The chairperson’s daughter was yelling out and talking towards our family, that her father’s got a four year contract and his friend David Avery was helping him.  
Clark Martin didn’t have any power to speak on the microphone because he was surrounded by enemies, friends of the chairperson. He was powerless.
They didn’t recognise him as a traditional owner for two years.
But we have to feel sorry for that old man and started doing actions.
After that things grew worse.
The Brown family started fighting with the Martins.
It’s about land, it’s about Willowra, we will not give up what they have taken away from us.
Because that old man, Clark Martin, is really hurt inside.
His brother, S. Martin [“the deceased”], was the custodian of the land, his mother’s and uncles’ land, given back to Aboriginal people. He was the president for the whole community.
Duncan was only young, 13 or 14, when freehold title was given to the Martin family.
There were five Martin brothers, three are now deceased, two are living, Clark and Maxie.
Maxie should have been supporting us but he’s on the other side.
At that time the deceased had been asking the community for support, but there were no answers. No one understood how to run the community.
Duncan saw the CLC anthropologists for the first time in 2004. They changed the titles upside down. They did not recognise the Martin family as traditional owners.
The deceased had no support from the family.
He fought for the right of his people and the community to get the land and carry on.
There’s a difference between that year and this year. Duncan Brown, as a chairperson, has got support from his family.
Why didn’t the CLC recognise Clark Martin as a traditional owner on behalf of his brother?
Everyone who lives in Central Australia and every community support and recognise the Martin family.
When they had Freedom Day celebrations at Kalkaringi, the CLC went there.
David Avery walked over to Clark when he was sitting with his family.  He handed him his freehold title, saying he was now recognizing Clark as a traditional owner. 
That’s a shame job. He should have done it on the microphone for everyone to listen.
We want these people – the Browns, Kitsons and Longs – to move from Willowra.
They can go back to their country. They haven’t got any papers to show their title.
Only Clark has. They haven’t got anything.
We are very, very upset. Some of our family are living at Yuendumu, some at Ali Curing, Ti-Tree and most are living here [in Hidden Valley]. We are waiting for Clark to go back to Willowra [he is at Ti Tree].
We want to change everything when we move back, we want to settle things, get everyone to work, everyone in a job.
And we want to have a community that is a community, to live in harmony, to live as a family.

The CLC did not respond to an enquiry from the Alice News.

When fire ripped through Bond Springs Station in late 2002, it burnt out one third of the entire property, including 100% of its rangeland country.
In the devastation pastoralist Grant Heaslip, who bought Bond Springs in 1964, saw an opportunity to put on the record basic evidence of the resilience of the arid zone pasture lands.
He had established the Heaslip Arid Zone Research Scholarship, offered to students at St Philip’s College, in which his wife Jan had played a key founding role.
Grant suggested recovery from fire as the first topic of research to be undertaken by inaugural scholarship recipient, Lija Walton.
Since then, student Dean Williams has looked at the impacts of grazing and not grazing and different levels of rainfall on the amount of seed produced by buffel grass at four sites, two on Bond Springs, and two to the south of Alice. 
And this year the third study, by Sashika Richards, has focussed on soil rehabilitation works begun in 1968 on Bond Springs, in collaboration with the Territory Government.
The work of all three students has been supervised by Dr Dionne Walsh, an expert on rangelands management employed by the Centralian Land Management  Association.
For the rehabilitation works a number of different pasture species had been sown in a square mile paddock to see if they were capable of surviving the arid environment and whether they could provide any benefit to the industry.
The works also trialled an early version of ponding banks, designed to hold back water after rain and promote its infiltration.
The works were assessed in 1969 but they appear to have not been revisited by scientists since then.
Sashika presented the results of her research at St Philip’s last week.
She found that none of the introduced species had survived, not even buffel grass, which is scarcely present on Bond Springs. 
The ponding banks, however, even though not made to the optimal height, were found to have encouraged native species revegetation.
Says Grant: “A lot of the information is basically what we in the industry understand but it’s beneficial if it can be presented scientifically.
“If more people understand the facts about the arid zone environment there will be less pressure on the pastoral industry here.
“The scholarship is a small way of putting down a foundation of knowledge that can’t be challenged. It will build up little by little and in the long term benefit governments making policies. 
“At the moment they are too liable to be influenced by various pressure groups.”

John Holland Constructions can not comment on the rectification works at the hospital, says a spokesperson, because legal proceedings have started.
However, the Department of Planning and Infrastructure have confirmed that it is holding regular meetings with the Victoria-based corporation, the head contractor for the controversial $30m hospital redevelopment, “progressively documenting future stages of the whole [rectification] program”.
Work at the hospital may have slowed down, but it has not stopped, says a departmental spokesperson.
During the Christmas/New year period – “a slow time” – work on the kitchen and Medical Ward East will be completed, “with the least possible disruption to patients and staff”.
Cost of rectifying flaws in the redevelopment in early 2004 was put at $2m. One year later the then Health Minister Peter Toyne said the rectification would take three years and allocated a further $8m for the work.
At that time Dr Toyne said the government would be pursuing legal remedies.
By late 2005 the budget for the works had leapt to $25m, according to a well informed source quoted in the Alice News. This figure, almost equal to the original cost of the redevelopment, was not denied by the government.
At this stage a spokesman for John Holland said it was “absolutely not” accepting responsibility: “The government has not made a claim.”
That has obviously now changed.  Although the Labor Government has been left carrying the can, most of the work on the hospital, subsequently fond to be non-compliant, was done before they came to power in August 2001.

This trashed car was parked across from Braitling School in Head Street for several days, causing quite a bit of adverse comment in the area. But the town council couldn’t move it inside seven days because it wasn’t parked illegally and was registered. Manager of the Ranger Unit Kevin Everett says his staff tracked down the owner who removed the wreck. There are at present 58 seized vehicles in the council’s pound.

The Central Australian Food Group are determined to do something about the shocking drop out rate amongst apprentice chefs.
It’s at 73%, says Beat Keller, chairman of the group, and that’s “unacceptable”.
All players contribute – employers, trainers, the apprentices themselves – but “let’s not play the blame game”, says Beat, “let’s do something about it”.
The group want to form a Chef Apprentice Advisory Board and have decided to fund its activities themselves.
“You can spend hours writing submissions and still not get any money,” says Beat.
So the chefs are combining their talents to turn on a gourmet Christmas luncheon as a fundraiser.
They include some of the Territory’ s best: Jimmy Shu (Hanuman’s), Athol Wark, Alex Brown (All Season’s Oasis), Lynne Peterkin (Orangewood B&B), Alfred Kastner (Bojangles) and, of course, Beat himself. .
The six course menu is mouth-watering. To give  just a sample: spicy barramundi canapes, Borroloola crab salad as an ‘amuse-guele’, Cantonese roast duck wrapped in red capsicum crepe as entree, or Coffin Bay oysters in a light coconut, galangal and lemon grass custard. For mains, a roast saddle of local pasture-fed beef on a bed of Jersualem artichoke, and a marvelous range of desserts, including Christmas pudding, or to be precise, Christmas pudding parfait with cinnamon liqueur sabayon.
The luncheon is on December 3 at Hanuman’s from 11.30 to 3.30, sparkling wine and canapes served on arrival. Tickets cost $150, available from Keller’s Restaurant or call Beat on 0418 525 723.
The Alice News asked the younger chefs about how they deal with the restriction on their social lives because of the hours they work. This has been identified as one of the issues behind the high apprentice dropout rate.
Alex, 28, says you make friends in your workplace, and instead of going out at 6pm, it’s 11pm. 
Kinman, who trained in Alice as an overseas student, sponsored by Keller’s agreed: the workplace provides social life.
Jackie, 21, who has just qualified and works at Keller’s, says she’s got a dog: “He’s nice!” 
Conversation among them is a joke a minute: a sense of humour seems to be one of the prerequisites for the profession.


Chris Barry’s photos show “our kids like they are and we don’t see a lot of that portrayed in Alice”, said Bess Nungarrayi Price as she opened Encountering culture: a dialogue, now showing at Araluen.
“Chris is a fair dinkum person, here to work with my people, the kind of person we are looking for,” said Mrs Price.
In a year when young Indigenous people have been the focus of a lot of media attention, for all the wrong reasons, Barry’s work, which has grown out of relationships developed over seven years, is an intimate engagement with a number of them that is refreshingly of another order.
The images are not “captured” but given. Even in the “Pool” series, the earliest, begun in the summer of 1999, it is clear that Barry is standing right there with the kids and they play on joyfully in the presence of her and camera.
In the later series, the subjects’ engagement with Barry is quite explicit. The young people come and go into the frame, rearrange themselves, play the clown, laugh, become serious, react to what is going on around them, in a choreography they direct, all the while eyeballing the photographer. Particularly the older group of girls project an assertive statement of “this is who we are”.
And then there are the twinned sequences of young-ish Indigenous performers, Jacinta Castle and Steve Hodder. 
They are photographed making not just a visual affirmation of identity, but in the act of articulating it, Hodder through his rap poetry, Castle singing her own brand of blues. Of course we cannot hear their words, but we can see an enactment of them. There’s a strong physicality and, particularly with Castle, a sensuality permeating these two sequences.
I’m not sure that the video material of Hodder and Castle adds anything to the exhibition. In fact, I felt disinclined to watch it, preferring the intensity distilled in the photographs.
The work is a strong statement about place, this place, so often represented through its landscape, so rarely through its people. It is fitting that it is shown here at last (having been knocked back from Araluen’s program twice before). The exhibition has already shown at Griffith University in Brisbane, RMIT in Melbourne, and Victoria University in Wellington, NZ. And Barry hopes it will go next to Germany, taking Castle and Hodder with it. – K. FINNANE

Have you done your Christmas shopping yet?
Less than five weeks to go you know?
The spectre of Christmas has been looming for some time.
I recall the major supermarkets in town putting out the mince pies and tinsel months ago. In fact a couple of places had their Christmas displays up so early this year I wasn’t sure they didn’t just forget to take down last year’s.
Christmas is meant to be great. A time of religious celebration and time spent with the family. However, call me old man scrooge but the older I get the more I wish Christmas would just go away. Like an ostrich, albeit a large hairy and very pale ostrich, all I want to do is bury my head in the abundance of Central Australian sand and pretend the whole thing doesn’t exist.
I don’t mind celebrating the birth of Jesus. I don’t mind spending a day with family. In fact these are things I look forward to but it can be all a bit too hard getting there.
I’d modestly say that on the whole I am a great Christmas shopper. I tend to have friends who love the gifts I get them for Christmas.
They would want to though. After all I went through to get them.
The crowded shops on a Saturday are places I try to avoid at the best of times, but at Christmas!
I’d rather cover myself in bees. In fact Christmas shopping isn’t that dissimilar to covering yourself in bees.
It’s uncomfortable, annoying and one false move could end in tears.
This aversion to the Christmas onslaught has made me invent a little game I like to call “Good God, it’s December 23 and I haven’t done any shopping yet.” 
You play this game by having a panic attack on December 23 and running around like a crazed bargain freak for two hours until all the Christmas shopping is done. Sure it’s hectic.
Sure it’s insane but at least it only takes two hours.
There is one shining light in all this madness. I’m glad I’m not in Sydney for the lead up to Christmas. You think the Coles car park is insane!
Try a close to bursting multi-level, colour-coded concrete behemoth that sees cars backed up for literally kilometres.
Try getting to the store on Level 5 from the car parking space on Level 2a without wanting to do evil things to pensioners. I’m not a nasty man but desperate times call for desperate measures, granddad.
Then there are the strange snow-themed decorations that line the high streets.
When will councils figure out that no one is going to be building a snowman or riding in a one horse sleigh anytime soon? The closest thing we get to snow is the snow cone. Perhaps there should be pictures of Santa, in shorts, munching down a shaved ice treat. 
No, Alice Springs is busy but not ridiculous and for that I’m grateful.
Mind you many of us will be boarding the one single flight out of town each day in order to spend time with our family. If you haven’t booked your flight home yet, you don’t need to worry about Christmas shopping, you won’t be able to afford it.
I didn’t book my ticket until last week and to be honest I miss my kidney. But how else was I going to raise the money for the trip home. 
Why do we do it, this Christmas thing? Why do we feel the need to make the festive season as uncomfortable as possible and mean as little as possible?
What was once a religious celebration day of both Christian and Pagan origins is now a nine week celebration of credit cards and “Tickle Me Elmo”.
If Jesus was still on earth I think he might say “Don’t go Christmas shopping. It’s just too much stress. Here, have a mince pie…I got them in August.”


Sir,– I have just finished reading the article “Indigenous tourism booms – in Namibia”  (Alice News, Nov 16).
The article brought back many wonderful memories of my first days in Alice employed as a driver with Ansett Pioneer Tours back in 1967.
 In those days Alice was a thriving tourist resort, as were most of the areas outside the town.
Glen Helen, Palm Valley, Serpentine Gorge and Ayers Rock all in their prime, enjoying numerous coaches a day with happy tourists spending at least tow to three weeks in the Alice so as they could take in all the different sights.
In those days, these destinations were overnight stays due to the road conditions, so the extended stay was needed.
At the same time, there was Hermannsburg Mission, and Jay Creek, both Aboriginal settlements that we would pass through on the way to Palm Valley, Glen Helen and Serpentine Gorge.
At Hermansburg the locals were operating a tannery and several gift shops with a full array of Aboriginal artifacts. At Jay Creek there was a similar artifact shop plus several sites along the road into the Jay Creek area where the local people would meet the coaches and sell their locally produced artifacts.
The same thing would take place at Mount Ebenezer on the way to Ayers Rock.
The coaches would stop there for the lunch break as it was at least an eight hour trip to the Rock. There the tourists could meet and talk with the local people and at the same time see how the artifacts were made, put in an order and pick it up on the return trip.
These of course were not the only places this would happen. There were numerous other locations on the highway, some near Orange Creek, The Finke River on the South road, Erldunda, and many others.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that these people were doing back then what you are now talking about.
There is no doubt that at that time they were happy in what they were doing and were very good at it. They made the trips all that more enjoyable.
Some were so good at it they even had the billy boiled ready for the cuppa with the tourists. Now that is a smart business person. Get ‘em drinking tea and then bring out the artifacts. It worked, believe me.
It was at this time I met a man at Hermannsburg Mission who I remained friends with up until the time I left Alice in 1999.
This was Gus Williams.
I can’t recall what position Gus held at Hermannsburg (Ntaria), but at that time the Hermansburg Choir were in full force, and would take the Pioneer Coach to Adelaide or other cities for performances.
Gus was always with them  and would always play a big part in ensuring the trips went according to plan.
Gus also would meet and greet the coaches when they arrived at Hermannsburg. He would show the tourists the old mission church, the tannery, and of course the artifacts shop.
The next stop for the coach would be Palm Valley.
This would be either a one night or two night stop. Either way there would always be a group of locals from Hermannsburg to sing, and perform the “Emu Dance”, with many a tourist joining in.
To this very day there are a few people in Alice who can still recall the dancing and singing that I am referring to.
I won’t mention names except to say “ Yikadeeeeeee”, you know who you are. Throughout this period I know that there were some in the community that did not like the people at these locations doing what they enjoyed.
I dont know what it was. Maybe it was the fact that the tourist was not spending the money in the town. Who knows?
On many occassions prior to leaving Alice, I spoke with Gus Williams and he wished that the people at Hermansburg could get back into the same thing as they were doing in the late 60s. I know he attempted to raise the matter several times but to no avail.
I know things change and people have to move with the times, but there must be a way for these people to do their own thing as they did back then.
It all changed so much when the NTTB was closed down and everything passed over to Darwin.
So in reply to the article, I would say the Hermansburg people and all the others were carryng out this business well before those in Namibia.
I hope that they will once again be given the chance.
It is a pity we can’t go back and live some of those times once again.
Regards to all in The Alice, and all my old ANSETT friends.
J. C. “Yikadeeeeeeeee” Cleary

Sir,– I am most concerned about the issues coming before council at the next ordinary [full council] meeting. 
Whilst aldermen are running around telling everyone that the new youth strategy is a ‘unanimous vote’ we need to be clear that the vote was for a recommendation to go before the ordinary meeting on November 30. 
Unfortunately I will be in Canberra on council business that night so will be unable to register my opposition. 
The youth ‘strategy’ or ‘policy’ is neither of these things – it is an A4 page of dot points.  There is no exploration of funding, man power, demographics, needs assessment, performance indicators – NOTHING. It is a set of ideas.
The CCTV decision does not take into account the impact on neighbouring streets nor was there a study of needs, consultation with police, with other government agencies ... knee jerk!
And now comes my catch cry – we need professional urban planning.  The investment is worth it.
Jane Clark
Alice Springs
ED– Jane Clark is an alderman on the Alice town council.

Sir,– So the Minister for the Environment spends time in Alice Springs looking at the new flood forecasting system for the town. 
How much rain have we had this year?  Answer, 102.4mm or just over four inches and when was the last big flood? 1988.
Is flood forecasting for Alice Springs the most pressing item for the Minister?
Surely the priority is to preserve the water we have.
Why doesn’t the Minister subsidise water tanks or make it mandatory for all new homes, especially in remote communities,  to have a water tank –  as now required in South Australia.
What about minimising the number of plastic bags littering and endangering our environment?  The Victorian Government will soon pass laws to ban plastic bags.  (Note the sign leading into Cohuna, Victoria.)
Some Territory organisations, such as the Arnhemland Progress Association and Voyages Ayers Rock Resort, had taken up the initiative to reduce plastic bags.
Why not a Territory-wide campaign, promoted and sponsored by the NT Government. “Minister – Be Drastic, Lose Plastic.”
I guess you can rejoice in knowing a flood would wash away the thousands of plastic bags in the Todd – wash them away to cause damage elsewhere.
The Minister should get serious and do much more in the environment portfolio.
Loraine Braham,
Independent Member for Braitling

Sir,– Alice, proud of your town?  This Christmas why not show it in bucketloads. 
If you’re interstate on holidays, whether it be flying high on a rollercoaster, relaxing on a beach or reclining in a barlounge, as well as wearing a bright Alice smile, why not our colours, you know perhaps one of those burnt orange, yellow or red souvenier shirts with symbols of our town. It’s guestimated that 8000 men, women and children head away for Christmas break. 
If every one of us, in acting as mobile advertising units could attract five Australians to travel here, that means 40,000 extra paying customers fueling our tourism economy.
Wow, what a Christmas we would have next year.
Murray Stewart
Alice Springs
ED– Murray Stewart is an alderman on the Alice town council.

Sir,– The latest ABS statistics have exposed a massive revenue grab on Territory roads by the Martin Government, say the Opposition.
In the five year period to 2005, the number of traffic infringement notices issued by the police rose by a startling 59%. Exceeding the speed limit made up almost 80% of all tickets issued in that period.
The Labor Government is addicted to speed camera revenue and that addiction is set to grow when the 130kmp speed limit is imposed on the Stuart Highway and the default 110kmp comes in on other highways.
Given that this rising revenue take has occurred whilst the Territory continues to sustain an unacceptable highly road toll, it’s obvious road safety isn’t the key issue for the Martin Government.
If the Government was fair dinkum about cutting the Territory’s appalling road toll it would crackdown on high-level drink driving.
Of course tackling high-level drink driving is revenue negative, so the Martin Government makes nothing more than a token effort in that direction.
Fay Miller,
Opposition Transport spokesperson

Sir,– Six months ago better things were promised for camp dwellers by the Alice Springs Town Council hand in hand with both our governments. Today, there is nothing positive happening on the ground. Who is actually taking responsibility?
Six years ago as a concerned individual and willing volunteer I enacted a plan to counter illegal rubbish dumping around our town. The effects were positive, sustaining and immediate. In fact, I have inspired more than a few tribal indigenous people to pick up both their own and others’ rubbish. I’ll save the details for another day.
Six years hence and our camps will look more like dumps than suburbs. This council is a total failure with regard to going forward. They make big promises, take costly trips and get the good press but inevitably the people are let down yet again. Come 2012 and I can see the blackfellas still being blamed for our ills.
Is it any wonder that our Aboriginal countrymen regard us as self-serving and greedy?
D. R. Chewings, Alice SpringsSir,– Six months ago better things were promised for camp dwellers by the Alice Springs Town Council hand in hand with both our governments. Today, there is nothing positive happening on the ground. Who is actually taking responsibility?
Six years ago as a concerned individual and willing volunteer I enacted a plan to counter illegal rubbish dumping around our town. The effects were positive, sustaining and immediate. In fact, I have inspired more than a few tribal indigenous people to pick up both their own and others’ rubbish. I’ll save the details for another day.
Six years hence and our camps will look more like dumps than suburbs. This council is a total failure with regard to going forward. They make big promises, take costly trips and get the good press but inevitably the people are let down yet again. Come 2012 and I can see the blackfellas still being blamed for our ills.
Is it any wonder that our Aboriginal countrymen regard us as self-serving and greedy?
D. R. Chewings, Alice Springs.

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