December 21, 2006. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.


In 2006 Alice Springs got to within a bee's whisker of tipping point.
In 2007 we'll be making the crucial decisions which will take us in one of two directions.
One would take us towards prosperity and social harmony built on a tourism industry of global renown, a resort town with strong links into the bush (thanks to reform of the Land Rights Act), an industry blossoming with our magnificent environment, our vibrant history and culture, Indigenous traditions and world fame.
The other path would be to a town of service personnel for a dysfunctional society - judges, police officers, jail wardens, doctors, social workers and so on.
Their residential compound will be surrounded by a tall fence outside which there is violence, boredom, anger and rubbish. Tourism will be just a memory.
Pay a visit to a town camp like Hoppy's, Hidden Valley or the Warlpiri Camp. And just reverse the population percentages.
Down which path will we go? We can still decide - but time's running out.
2006 was when the town's general public began to understand the meaning of "urban drift", much as mainstream Australia cottoned on to global warming.
But as the environmental tipping point is still a few years away, crunch time in Alice Springs is upon us right now.
Productive members of the community are moving out, and many of those who are moving in are unemployable welfare dependents.
Thousands of them.
The incompetence of our leaders - the Alice Town Council and the NT Government - has become painfully evident.
Item One: In May the Federal Government, through Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mal Brough, offered millions of dollars for long overdue facilities to accommodate itinerants in a civilised manner.
Seven months later neither the council nor the NT Government have been able to gain public acceptance of two locations for these camps. This is a pathetic farce considering we're in the middle of a million square kilometres of practically empty land.
Item Two: Urban drift is all of a sudden seen as something quite inevitable.
How come? And are we prepared for it?
Why have we mot made clear what conduct is required for the privilege of living in this town?
Would Chamonix, France, or Aspen, Colorado, or even Ayers Rock Resort, NT, allow people to sleep in parks, shout in the street, stagger around drunk, beg, fight, urinate in public?
Last week there was a mass brawl in Parsons Street, which disgusted and frightened locals and tourists alike.
How many people were arrested? None.
How may people were charged? None.
They were "moved on", say the police. (The "feuding" parties have since agreed to stop fighting.)
Yet it's not all bad.
The leadership crisis has already prompted the formation of a promising lobby group, Advance Alice.
Three people have signalled their interest in the mayor's job, 15 months ahead of the election: David Koch, Murray Stewart and Chris Vaughan.
It's significant that all are successful business people, and all are tough on law and order.
The incumbent, Fran Kilgariff, is widely regarded as a nice person.
But she needs to make up her mind whether she wants to be a defender of Alice Springs, against a government blithely selling us down the gurgler, or to join that government as a Member of Parliament.
She can't have it both ways.
Looking at the bright side:-
Thousands of people have stood up against the Chief Minister's plan to surrender ownership of national parks to an Aboriginal minority, a proposal that now seems doomed, courtesy Mr Brough.
The tourism lobby CATIA has a more assertive leadership.
Steve Brown, a member of the pioneering family at White Gums, has formed Advance Alice. One of the mayoral hopefuls, Murray Stewart, is the vice-president.
If the group provides a valve for the pent-up frustrations of being ignored by the high and mighty, and gives the public a fair opportunity to air its views, for example, expressed at public meetings open to all, then the group will become a powerful institution in 2007.
There are enough people of substance in Advance Alice to lend force to demands formulated democratically.
Advance Alice seems set to become a far more appropriate alternative to the public service dominated Alice in Ten which has no significant runs on the board.
Other bright points on which to build a great future for the town are the electrifying boom of home-grown art and entertainment.
Indigenous artists continue to excite attention around the world. Black creativity is diversifying into music and film, to acclaim.
Independent non-Indigenous film-makers are combining talents to bear witness to the region's phenomena and tell its stories.
New levels of excellence have been reached in wearable arts.
Teenage bands like Moxy and Zenith belt out original music; 150 people - a number Sydney and Melbourne can only dream of except for a top-selling author - attend the launch of a third book published by local writers; students at Centralian College and CDU produce outstanding short films.
And Red Dust Theatre, founded by Craig Mathewson, is reaching for the stars as Danielle Loy gives up her day job as a lawyer, to put on plays she says will attract audiences well beyond The Centre.
Go for it, guys!


If there was doubt in any alderman's mind at the start of 2006 about whether council should become involved in tackling the broad social and economic issues of the town, the intervening months would have laid such doubt to rest.
In the context of widespread feeling that Alice Springs is neglected and misunderstood by the Territory and Federal governments, the community has demanded that council fill the shoes of government closest to the people.
The year opened with the issue still on everybody's lips, "urban drift", which had made its presence felt over last summer.
On February 16 the Alice News reported that a senior public servant believed the Territory Government was set to move 5000 to 7000 Aboriginal people from bush communities to Alice Springs, with remote councils being "starved out of existence".
By the next week the council's new head ranger Kevin Everett was saying that he'd been told to select two areas in the town with a view to set up camping areas for Aboriginal people who had been streaming into Alice Springs since the preceding October.
He said the proposed areas were planned to be at the northern and southern entrances to the town, about five to eight hectares, with a fence, lights, ablution blocks, shelters and fire places.
Unhappy with his frank talking, the council shut Mr Everett down, but he'd already articulated the major issue of 2006 and its supposed solution, still dangerously unresolved.
As it has panned out the council has not had to take much initiative on dealing with urban drift (big Mal blew in and took over) but when they have acted, it's pointed up the difficulty of being expected to respond to the community's concerns while not really having the wherewithal to do so.
This gets them doing things like writing letters to the powers that be which might seem like a pain free option until it gets them in hot water.
APPROVED Thus the letter to Mal Brough, Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, objecting to the Dalgety Road site for one of the proposed "donga" facilities, apparently forgetting that council had two representatives (the mayor and her deputy Robyn Lambley) on the committee that had provisionally approved the site as well as not realising that the siting is not Mr Brough's decision.
Meanwhile, on one "urban drift" front where council should have been able to act decisively, nothing has been done. The front is in the Charles Creek reserve, a favourite illegal camping spot but also immediately in front of the home of longtime resident and outspoken senior citizen Gerry Baddock, in her eighties.
Mrs Baddock had asked for council to create some sort of barricade to prevent cars accessing the reserve.
Council was hoping that it was not their responsibility but the Northern Territory Government's; buck passing ensued until a compromise was reached, with each government agreeing pick up half the tab of $30,000 to do the works.
Mrs Baddock says the Territory Government came good with their $15,000 in July; there's still nothing from the council.
Apart from the continued disturbance to her sleep and peace of mind, Mrs Baddock says the count of trees destroyed by fires lit by illegal campers between the Telegraph Station turnoff and Basso Road since December 12 last year is 17.
Council's apparent unwillingness to shell out on this count, as on a number of others, has to be seen in the context of the at least $10.4m expenditure on the redevelopment of the Civic Centre, officially opened on July 1.
However fair or unfair (given that half the budget was borrowed and the loan was unlikely to be available to conduct operational matters) the public sees a council hamstrung by lack of funds - to, for instance, repair the basketball stadium or to pay for CCTV cameras in the CBD - while they've allocated to themselves relatively opulent and certainly over-sized facilities.
On top of this, some aspects of the redevelopment have been poorly managed:-
¥ council was forced to apologise to the community over the management of the furniture contract which effectively excluded local businesses;
¥ the innovative air-conditioning system, costing so far $1.2m, would be great if we were experiencing northern hemisphere December temperatures;
¥ the public toilets, always intended to be staffed, do not include a booth for the attendant who at present sits in the entry, open to the elements except for a security grille.
Council can take credit for recognising the need to do something about the devastating impact of alcohol, initiating the move to become a dry town.
However, as this is little more than a rebadging of the 2km law, widely disregarded and under-enforced, it remains to be seen what effect it will have when it comes into force.
Council opposed any other form of liquor restrictions as "anti-business".
Council can also take credit for trying to draw the Territory Government's attention to the needs of the town, not least in respect of law and order issues.
The relationship with the Territory Government, however, is poor. Not a council meeting goes by without a number of comments made that reflect a perception that the Territory Government doesn't listen, doesn't care, and above all doesn't want to spend the money.
This may seem surprising given Mayor Fran Kilgariff's Labor Party candidature in the last Territory elections.
Given that she didn't win, that move has been costly both for Ms Kilgariff and the town.
She is seen to be a creature of the Territory Government at a time when the town wants a fiercely independent voice.
Her comment to a NAIDOC forum that Alice Springs is set to become "an Indigenous town" in 10 to 15 years' time and no longer a town "where white people set the rules" showed her to be out of step with the community that council represents.
PROSPEROUS There seems little doubt that Indigenous people will increasingly make up a greater proportion of the Alice Springs population: the emphasis needs to be on a shared, peaceful and prosperous future.
Articulating that vision and shifting the agenda from the present alarm and divisiveness is the big challenge for council in 2007.
They would be assisted by better decision-making processes that avoid knee-jerk responses. Ald Jane Clark has suggested one way to achieve this, which would be worth reconsidering.
They would also be assisted by strong working relationships with a forward-looking Indigenous leadership.
In 2006 the local native title organisation Lhere Artepe has demonstrated its desire to participate in community discussion at every level. CAAMA too, in reactivating the combined Aboriginal organisations meetings, has shown an awareness of the need for Indigenous leadership. Tangentyere Council and the Central Land Council, however, maintain a bunker mentality.
What a gift to the future of the town and the region if they could break that down.


In a year when our town's confidence in itself wavered its creative pulse continued, for the most part loud and strong.
First and foremost, Alice Springs is a hub for Australia's most famous art movement, the art of the central deserts, still vibrant as it heads towards four decades of expression through paint on canvas.
2006 has seen a lot of publicity as well as a senate committee inquiry into "carpetbagging", with its report and recommendations due in March 2007.
The well-meaning focus on this, including from prominent local players like Papunya Tula and Desart, is wrong-footed, tainting with victimhood the spectacular success of Aboriginal individuals and culture at a time when success has otherwise been hard to find.
A front-footed inquiry into how to support and strengthen the industry, taking an open-minded look at the way in which its present structures serve the artists and the audience for their work, would have been preferable.
Meanwhile, with both the Territory Government and the Alice Town Council allocating resources for public art, it is to be hoped that our town will soon be marked by a major public art work celebrating Indigenous creativity - long overdue.
It is also to be hoped that artists in all fields will be thinking of how to achieve collaborative work between Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners, bearing witness to all the complexities of our shared present, raising beacons to guide us towards a more happily shared future.
Red Dust Theatre has certainly declared this as its intent, and 2007 will see the production of Warren H. Williams' family entertainment, The Magic Coolamon, as its first cab off the rank.
Watch This Space and its coordinator Kieren Sanderson are behind a major arts project, titled Art, Land, Culture, scheduled for early 2007. This will see both a symposium (incubator) thrashing out ideas about things like collaborative practice, community cultural development, art and social change, storied landscape, placemaking and environmental based art practice, as well as the development and exhibition of work.
The Alice Desert Festival, after a low point in 06 (in part due to a very short run-up time for its general manager), has listened to feedback and is revamping itself for 07. Dates are set - September 14 to 23 - and a series of stand alone events produced by the festival begins on March 3 with a masked ball.
Hopefully the program proper will be stamped by work of depth coming out of the Centre.
There is definitely a deep vein of creative energy to draw from: 2006 saw a wonderful flourishing in wearable arts, music, film-making, writing. But a festival needs to act as more than an umbrella for these diverse threads: all-over artistic direction for a festival is indispensable.
The importance of creative endeavour to the future of our town should not be under-estimated as a minority interest.
Doubters should take note of the research, amongst others the University of Queensland Business School's report on Innovation in Rural Queesnland, sub-headed "Why some towns thrive, while others languish" (presented at the Desert Knowledge Symposium and reported on in the Alice News of Nov 9) .
The report found creative occupations and industries to be among the key indicators for thriving towns.
The most innovative town of the study "celebrates its creative artisticÊdimension in a very public way".
And the least innovative "made no mention of artistic or creative aspects ofÊtheir towns".


Our tourism managers, the lobby CATIA and the lavishly funded government commission now called Tourism NT, were shaken out of their complacency.
Operator Chris Chambers, using government figures, claimed the industry has been in decline for 20 years.
This has been especially the case where the smaller operators were involved, the kind of people who channel visitors' money into the town's broad economy.
PLAYERS At the moment it seems the big players - airlines, big hotels and the government supported convention centre - are getting the lion's share.
As usual, CATIA and Tourism NT asserted all was fine.
Nevertheless, CATIA got a new chairman, Steve Rattray, who wasted no time putting the bite on the Alice Town Council for a special levy used for the town's - not the region's - promotion.
This raised the question why that is necessary, given that Tourism NT is swimming in money.
Its budget of $40m a year, looking after an industry with a population base of just 200,000, is so far ahead of the other states it makes your head spin.
There was no explanation why only six per cent of operators are taking part in the Brolgas, supported by the taxpayer to the tune of $100,000.
Statistics again proved that they can be used to prove or disprove anything at all.
But the bottom line remained that the tourism industry's 20 year graph is pretty flat, with a few predictable squiggles, not the sharply rising curve one would expect given The Centre's magnificent landscape, home to the world's oldest surviving culture.
Meanwhile Alderman Samih Habib has initiated talks with small airlines to get a service to Alice Springs other than Qantas which is coy about its fares. The Alice News did not get answers to specific questions about ticket costs since Virgin withdrew in 2005.
But there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that fares have gone up.


Who knew or remembers who the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister was in 2005? But you'd have to live under a rock to not know who the present one is.
Mal Brough took up the portfolio in January 2006.
This has coincided with and helped shape a watershed year, with violence, sexual abuse, welfare dependency, appalling living conditions and dysfunctional governance all in the gun.
As we head into 2007 the impact of the moves Mr Brough has made in response to all of these issues will be closely watched, with more to be hoped from welfare reform and the "normalisation" of Aboriginal communities, including the town camps of Alice Springs, than from the intelligence-gathering of the main initiative in relation to violence, the National Indigenous Violence and Child Abuse Intelligence Task Force, headquartered in Alice.
Having a determined and energetic minister should be a good thing and, God knows, everyone is sick of just talk. Yet, as the unravelling "donga" story illustrates, some talk is always needed.
The "bright idea" of connecting dongas to spare in Woomera with the need to accommodate bush visitors to Alice Springs at this point is not looking so bright. Like many top down ideas, Mr Brough's solution is not fine-tuned to local conditions and his like it or lump it attitude, born of frustration, is alienating many.
Enter the Northern Territory Government: 2006 will be remembered as the year they failed to grasp the opportunity of fresh Commonwealth willingness, indeed determination, to make a difference in Indigenous affairs.
With Chief Minister Clare Martin in the lead, they have shown themselves to be defensive and caught well short of ideas.
They are really as much to blame for the donga debacle, as the detailing and poor communication of it with the public is all down to their processes, not the Commonwealth's.
Their performance in relation to the deeply concerning situation at Mutijulu has been woeful, from their failure to decisively act on child sexual abuse and neglect back in 2004 to their attacks on the messengers in 2006.
And on the broader policy front, who is talking about Ms Martin's 20 year plan? She has been completely left behind in a policy area that should be at the heart of her government's agenda.
2007 would be a good time for Ms Martin to start listening and not only to the messages she wants to hear.
Critically missing from the picture in the Centre are strong, independent Indigenous voices that can guide the agenda.
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks made a landmark speech during the year, calling for greater individual responsibility amongst Aboriginal people, but Mrs Kunoth-Monks is now 70 years old and no doubt getting tired.
Where is the younger, forward looking generation, willing to look with fresh eyes at the issues and opportunities confronting Aboriginal people and indeed the whole of the Territory, able to articulate them in the public domain and work with others to bring about change.
Des Rogers looked like he might be one such person but he needs to focus his energy and see things through to a conclusion.
For those at the head of Aboriginal organisations, including the highly secretive royalty investment company Centrecorp, moving out of the bunker in 2007 would be a good thing.
Cooperate with each other rather than be rivals for the taxpayers' dollar, be practical rather than ideological, and be accountable to the public.
The parallel universe that has been Indigenous affairs is changing: help take the change in the best possible direction.


In April this year the Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister was due to "schedule" the key national parks in The Centre, including the West MacDonnell Ranges, as Aboriginal property under the Federal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act.
NT Chief Minister Clare Martin had asked Canberra to do that.
It still hasn't happened, and it doesn't look like it will.
Initially, Federal Ministers Phil Ruddock and Amanda Vanstone had taken the view that this is a lands issue, and a "state" matter, and they should comply with Ms Martin's wishes, notwithstanding the strong opposition to the change in the NT.
This year a public meeting attended by some 200 people - mostly against the handover - was held in Alice, and 7000 people signed a petition condemning the planned handover.
Ms Martin had cooked up a far-fetched scenario that the Ward High Court decision about native title issues in WA may cast doubt on the legitimacy of parks in the NT.
She said this could revive dormant land rights claims which could lead to the closure of the parks, or trigger expensive and divisive court action.
Cynics took the view that the planned handover was a reward to the Central Land Council for political services rendered. (The Northern Land Council region is much less involved.)
PEARSHAPED Things went pearshaped for Ms Martin when the Acting Land Commissioner, Judge Olney, in 2004-2005 "disposed" of the land claims over the key 11 parks in The Centre, saying they had been properly vested in the Territory's Conservation Land Commission.
This came to light in 2006: apart from a skimpy brochure released some years ago, regurgitated on a web site, the Martin Government has imposed a total information blackout on the parks issue.
And secondly, Ms Martin claimed in the brochure: "To date, every native title claim in the Territory heard by the Courts has resulted in a determination that native title rights and interests exists."
That's no longer true: the native title claims over the Ayers Rock Resort (Yulara) and over Darwin failed.
In each case Ms Martin's government fought the claimants in court.
Mr Brough, who during 2006 had a number of tiffs with Ms Martin, may well say to her: Since the "disposal" by Judge Olney the parks issue is no longer a matter of Aboriginal land rights which come under Federal legislation.
If you want to give away the parks do it under your own legislation and cop the flak from your voters. Don't drag me into it.


The Stuart by-election, caused by the resignation of ALP front bencher Peter Toyne, was a graphic example of the respective political skills of our main political parties.
Dr Toyne was replaced by his electoral officer, Karl Hampton, previously with zero political profile.
He was employed in the Office of Central Australia, a sheltered workshop for failed and aspiring candidates, and little else.
The quietly assertive new Minister for Central Australia, Elliot McAdam, hard working, in touch with the constituency and prepared to answer questions, would be well advised overhaul that office so that it becomes a meaningful interface between the government and the people of the Centre.
Judging by the goings on during mobile polling in the town camps, the legendary drover's dog would have been elected to Stuart, courtesy of the astonishing persuasive skills of Alison Anderson (pictured "assisting" voters in the Hidden Valley camp), MLA for the neighbouring seat of MacDonnell.
While hapless CLP workers looked on, Ms Anderson pounced on voters, briefly spoke to them in language, and resolutely steered them away from the how-to-vote cards in the outstretched hands of the conservatives.
The CLP won't do any good in Aboriginal seats until they get operatives of her calibre. Apart from her role in elections, Ms Anderson is kept well away from the limelight because of her controversial past as a Papunya Community Council member and staffer.
No doubt Stuart is the seat most cynically gerrymandered on racial grounds.
Prior to the last general election Stuart was stripped of the "white" north side of Alice Springs, which went to Braitling, but had added to it all the Aboriginal camps on the town's northern and eastern fringe.
Although some of these camps were within spitting distance of a polling booth, they got mobile polling, at considerable expense, some of them for just a couple of voters.
Mobile polling, of course, went on over several days, giving the well oiled Labor machinery the opportunity of organising itself, something apparently not within the grasp of the CLP.


With Australia and The Centre in the grip of a massive drought, the Power and Water Corporation is continuing its flagrant waste of water, yet again breaching a deadline for getting a minor recycling scheme up and running.
Alice Springs' major disposal of sewerage and grey water remains evaporation from sewage ponds which wastes not only the increasingly precious fluid, but also the prime land the ponds occupy just outside The Gap.
Soon after being elected in 2001 the government announced that effluent which was flowing out of the ponds into the Ilparpa swamp and from there into public land, such as Ilparpa Road, the South Stuart Highway and Pioneer Park Racecourse, would forthwith be harnessed and used for a horticultural project south of the town.
To be precise, this wasn't going to stop all of the scandalous polluting of public land, only that bit which occurred during dry weather.
Power and Water was given a Christmas 2005 deadline to stop "dry weather discharge" by building a pipeline to the proposed horticultural plot featuring "solid aquifer infiltration ponds".
This sounds more high tech than it is: from the ponds the waste water seeps into the aquifer below, gets cleaned on the way as it passes through sand, and is then pumped up again to irrigate whatever horticultural produce is being grown.
Problem is, this being Christmas 2006, Power Water is now in breach of its second deadline: the pipe's in the ground but at the Ilparpa end, the contracts for a "dissolved air flotation plant" which removes algae are only just being let, and the ponds at the other end are still under construction.
Another minor detail: there is no-one yet signed up to buy the reclaimed water.
"Foundation client" Matilda Maid has been in discussion with the government for some years but hasn't put its moniker on the dotted line yet.
But Phil Anning, local head of the Primary Industries Department, is confident all will be fine, now that "all the ducks are in line".
What's more, he says there are further expressions of interest from "significant" other users: as the drought bites harder, water is turning to gold.
Time to think about a real recycling plant for Alice in 2007?
Maybe after the government has finished the wave pool in Darwin.
Oh, and don't worry too much about Power and Water busting yet another deadline: it's set by the NT Government which, of course, owns Power and Water.
The other thing Power Water stubbornly refuses to acknowledge is that it has no option but to shift the noisy power station to Brewer Estate.
All through 2006 residents in the Golf Course Estate have made it clear they no longer want to put up with unreasonable noise.
Some are now seeking legal advice.
During the year it emerged that the NT has legislation prohibiting pollution in the form noise but no regulation defining prohibited noise.
NSW has both, and someone is breaking the law if they emit noise of a certain level for more than 15 minutes.
The NT apparently has to use that as a guide.
Power Water had hundreds of noise tests conducted but, cunningly, each one for only 10, not 15 minutes, rendering the tests useless for any legal use that may be possible.
Shifting the two screaming turbines to Brewer Estate costs practically nothing because they are mounted on wheels.
A powerline to Alice would apparently cost $12m - a pittance for a government that gets to spend three thousand million dollars a year on just 200,000 people.
And as the Opposition has pointed out, the value of the present power station's real estate could offset much if not all of the cost of moving to Brewer Estate.


Alice Springs hairdresser Peter Tiller sets the bar high, aiming from his base in the Centre to take out a national Hair Fashion Award or to become Australian Hairdresser of the Year, but he also chooses to take own path getting there.
Almost all his competitors work in studios.
He and his collaborators, including photographer April Goodman, take the risk of working in the natural environment, for this where Peter finds his inspiration.
As a young boy he loved to paint but he says as he grew older he realised he wanted to paint "so it was alive and free and forever changing with the light".
The way he could do this was through hair.
After working in city salons he had another realisation: there was no inspiration for him in cement and sirens. Hence the move to Alice in 1996.
With this latest collection, developed for the Hair Fashion Awards, he worked from scratch in collaboration with textile artist Philomena Hali to create a total look for his models.
The collection didn't make the finals but it has drawn attention to him and his salon: he features in the very suave Culture 2006 Yearbook.
He says what he is doing in comparison with his peers is more art than fashion and he hesitates: conform or blaze his own trail? Watch in 2007.


There has been a massive increase in commercial premise break-ins in Alice in the last 12 months, according to crime statistics for the September quarter, released on Tuesday.
During the 12 months to the end of September 2006 there were a total of 298 recorded break-ins to commercial or other premises, 67% (120) more than the previous 12 months.
All other categories for which 12 month comparisons were published showed increases.
Assault was up 19% or 176 more than the previous 12 months, with a total of 1088 recorded.
House break-ins were up 20% or 44 more than the previous 12 months, with a total of 269 recorded.
Motor vehicle theft and related offences increased by 17% or 42 more than the previous 12 months, with a total of 290 recorded.


The Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) is seeking to acquire the premises owned by the CSIRO in Heath Road south of The Gap.
The Alice News understands CAT is currently making an application to the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) to fund the scheme.
According to the ILC's manager, Richard Preece, such applications are put before the ILC board. If approved, the Federally funded ILC would buy the land on behalf of CAT, oversee its management for about three years, and if there are no problems, transfer the ownership to CAT.
Meanwhile CSIRO says there are discussions with "a number of parties" about selling the land and buildings, including offices and laboratories, adjoining the Desert Knowledge precinct to the north.
The discussions are in the context of CSIRO's "broader involvement" in the Desert Knowledge initiative and the cooperative research centre associated with it.
No decisions about a sale have been made as yet.
A new headquarters is under construction at the precinct for CAT, currently located in Priest Street.
The Alice News was unable to contact CAT chief Bruce Walker.
It is not clear for what purpose CAT wants to acquire the CSIRO complex.

ADAM CONNELLY: The politically correct dust storm.

The prophesy says that in the end days, the final days of the planet, the earth shall not look peaceful.
Rather it shall transform itself to reflect the gravity of its end.
The sky will change from its usual soothing blue. It will become tinged with blood.
The air will be thick and the breeze will become a howling wind that will tear at the flesh of the people.
The heat will be unbearable and will burn at the skin of all that remain.
The prophesy says that this is the lot for those that remain. This is the world they shall live in. Of course if that was to happen in Alice Springs no one would notice. That all happened last week!
Apparently we aren't meant to call it the apocalypse. Instead it was called a dust storm.
Political correctness gone too far or am I being a bit over the top?
Was I the only person to look at the dust covered skies last week and think of the end of the world? Am I being too melodramatic? Or have you all seen it before?
The dust that blanketed the town last week was nothing like the stories I have heard of past storms that broke over the ranges like a tidal wave.
I have seen those amazing photographs of the storms of the 1960s. They look like something out of a Jerry Bruckheimer film. I half expected to see Arnold Schwarzenegger emerge from the clouds of dust ready to take on some alien foe.
However, to the uninitiated it was a spectacular reminder of the geography that surrounds us.
Nothing like a dust storm to remind you that you live in the desert.
For those of us who come from areas of this country with slightly more vegetation, the haze of last week brought back memories of the annual bushfires that surround the major cities.
I wasn't sure whether what we saw last week was dust or the smoke from Victoria coming up on the southeasterly.
I wasn't sure until I tasted the dust in the air. Isn't that a lovely sensation? I haven't eaten that mush dirt since my time in the sandpit at preschool.
This sensation, while unpleasant, is preferable to the bushfire haze.
Firstly you can't lose you house and all your worldly possessions in a dust storm. Secondly the smell of a bushfire penetrates everything.
Clothes, skin, the boot of your car all remind you of the devastation that the bushfire has wrought.
A dust storm, even a big one, reminds you that there isn't much grass around.
So apart from a vacuum of the carpet and a wash of the car, for most of us the dust storms are little more than workplace conversation.
So why did everyone in town walk around in a daze? It was a strange sight last Saturday in the mall.
There were people going about their Christmas shopping, yet the regular conversations and the meeting familiar faces didn't seem to be happening with the enthusiasm that a regular Saturday in the mall brings.
I wasn't even asked for two dollars or a smoke! Unheard of. I have only seen that sort of sullen behaviour a few times in Alice Springs. The sun doesn't often disappear for a few days at a time but when it does, Alice-born folk seem to act as though their batteries are running low.
They mope and they look depressed. Are local people here solar-powered? We moan about the summer sun and its harshness but some of the population here can't function without the sun beaming down.
So as this is the last Adam's Apple for 2006, let me wish those of you who are staying in town for Christmas a merry and sunny one.
Thank you to all of you who have been so positive in your comments about the column, it has been greatly appreciated.
I'm off to give the house a thorough dusting before I head home for Christmas. See you in 2007.


The bird whistler, the frozen fruit juice makers, the tissue box cover stall, it was all happening last Friday night at the Alice Springs Christmas Carnival in Todd Mall. Yes, it was your typical Sunday Markets, but on a Friday Night, with live music and more human energy and atmosphere.
I was drawn from 'The Sails' end of the mall to 'The Sales' end by the sensuous sounds of Tashka Urban, Leon Spurling and later on Jacinta Castle.
"I like that music," said frequent mall visitor Bryan Butcher, "it makes me feel like playing piano!"
The Moxie played their popular set minus a drummer and still had a large crowd seated on the church lawns around the stage.
"Yeah, we just played some songs," said lead-guitarist Declan Furber-Gillick.
But aside from all of the frantic buying and excitement, I had to ask myself, "Aside from simple tradition, why do the people of Alice Springs celebrate Christmas?" "I dunno but these icecreamy fruit things are amazing!" exclaimed Tashka Urban.
Potters House pastor Steve Kennaway gives a Christian point of view: "The reason we have come here tonight is to put the Christ back in Xmas. At Christmas time, not just do you need to be putting God back in your life, but also be having your life involved in God's. Australia has really become a religious nation, not a Christian nation." Monica Talbot had quite a different view: "Nah, I don't celebrate Christmas for Jesus, he's celebrated enough as it is!"
To get a variety of perspectives, I asked Ronnie Reinhard: "I'm Jewish but Christmas is still a great excuse to share and spread the love."
"At Christmas time, I eat lots of good food like chicken," said Bryan Butcher. "I don't know if I'm gonna go anywhere for Christmas Ð I'll have a thinkÉ"
As you entered the market last Friday night, it was obvious that Alice Springs is home to a huge range of cultures, ethnicities and beliefs.
There were the Christmas carol singers from the Potters House Church on your left, the Vietnamese food stall on your right, Thai massage down the road, capoeira with percussion under the sails, Aboriginal dot paintings on the church lawns and an anti-nuke stall near the Horse. What is the common ground of celebration in such a multicultural town as Alice?
It seems Christmas in the Alice will be celebrated in many different ways, which in itself should be celebrated.
If you cannot celebrate who you are, then what can you be thankful for at Christmas time?

Back to front page of the the Alice Springs News.