April 26, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Behave in town, or get sent home: Aboriginal politician. REPORT by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Alice Springs should have rules of conduct for visitors and those offending against them should be forcibly moved back to their communities.
This was claimed by MLA for MacDonnell Alison Anderson (ALP), a prominent Indigenous leader, at a meeting of of 70 "community leaders" last Friday.
According to Alderman David Koch, who was at the meeting, Greatorex MLA Richard Lim (CLP) applauded her suggestion.
And Minister for Central Australia Elliot McAdam said this week Ms Anderson's proposal "should be looked at carefully.
"She understands the bush."
The meeting was convened by Mayor Fran Kilgariff who barred media and the public from attending.
Ms Anderson's comments were relayed to the Alice Springs News by Advance Alice convener Steve Brown, who was there.
He says Ms Anderson told the meeting she was "utterly ashamed, absolutely appalled of my countrymen", whom she had observed in the Mall displaying "loud and abusive behavior".
They should have a home and a job as conditions for being in Alice Springs: "She said words to the effect, if you can't abide by the rules, get out of town," Mr Brown says.
Ms Anderson could not be contacted for comment.
It emerged during the meeting that the Chief Minister, who was present, had no idea that the "return to country" program, run by Tangentyere, had been de-funded by the NT Government.
The scheme, taking bush visitors back to their communities, is continuing on a user pays system that isn't working, last Friday's meeting was told. And Tangentyere Council has since advised that fewer than 50 people have used the scheme since last October.
William Tilmouth, director of Tangentyere, said in a statement this week: "When our program first started in 2000, there were hundreds of visitors from remote communities camping in the Todd River and other public areas in Alice Springs.
"After our Return to Country workers started helping them return home, there were only 30 people left.
"However, the service was de-funded in 2006 by the NT Government."
The Alice News has learned that there are an estimated 500 people illegally camped in parks and vacant blocks around Alice Springs, in violation of council camping and littering by-laws that are not, or not adequately, enforced by the council.
The Return to Country program is subject to a memorandum of understanding between the town council and Tangentyere.
It was apparently not explained to the meeting why neither organization had protested (or protested sufficiently to be heard) to the Chief Minister about the funding cut.
Mr McAdam says he's now in discussions with Tangentyere about options for increasing transport services to bush.
Mr Brown says the meeting made him confident that, at last, decisive action will be taken by the NT Government and the town council, and that the town's many problems are no longer swept under the carpet.
On the other hand he was dissatisfied with the chair person, Reverend Tracy Spencer who, Mr Brown said, clearly had her own agenda and steered the discussion in line with her own objectives.
He said this applied especially to the proposed youth curfew.
According to the communique release by the Mayor after the meeting, proposals for a curfew should be subjected to a "six month review ... to determine whether there is a need for it," in effect consigning the measure to a delay of at least a year, if it is brought in at all.
Says Mr Brown: "We'll be pushing for it a lot sooner. Most speakers were in favor."
Other highlights pointed out by Mr Brown and Ald Koch:-
• NT politicians admitted they were stunned by the events of Tuesday last week, when a crowd of 750 business people and their staffs booed Ms Martin.
• Just about everything discussed at Friday's meeting was long term, despite the declared intention of seeking "an immediate improvement to the level of anti-social behavior in the community".
• There was a suggestion of returning community football to just one weekend in four in Alice Springs, and three a month in the bush.
At the moment all games are played in town, with an accompanying rise in over-crowding on the camps, illegal camping and anti-social conduct.
Mr Brown says it seems any changes would be subject to football league consent, although the town council controls Traeger Park, and has power to do something immediately.
Mr McAdam says this issue, too, should be seen in conjunction with Ms Anderson's proposal.
• Police establishment numbers now seemed to have been reached. They were down 50% quite recently.
• Cameras in the mall should be installed urgently and be monitored around the clock. Police won't be doing the monitoring.
However, Mr McAdam has told the Alice News ongoing government support for the running of the system is now under consideration.
Ald Koch says the preferred model is one used in Ipswich: the town owns the system and provides staff for the monitoring.
"Ipswich police are invited to sit in the control booth if they wish," says Ald Koch.
"Courts will accept evidence from police if they have seen an offence on real-time CCTV systems with high resolution monitors.
"The NT government had resolutely declined to partially fund the CCTV system.
"Now we have a commitment for $150,000 from Clare Martin.
"We can go to tender in six to eight weeks."
• An official from the Licensing Commission announced at the meeting that a report on the dry town proposal would be released when they are "good and ready," as Mr Brown put it.
"I was horrified by that attitude," he said.
"Why did the Chief Minister not say to the official, 'I will have that report on my desk at the end of this week or you will be looking for a job'.
"Who is running this place?"
• CATIA president Steve Rattray had a shot at Advance Alice for appearing in a Seven Network current affairs story about violence in Alice Springs.
Mr Brown says Mr Rattray claimed the TV program would damage the tourism industry.
But Mr Brown says the current problems should be fixed before tourists are enticed to visit: "CATIA is hiding its head in the sand, having tourists smashed to gain a lousy dollar.
"No $2.2m [a special grant from the Chief Minister to promote Alice Springs] will ever recover what tourists frightened by thugs in the street are telling their friends.
"We have to deal with that problem, and be seen by the country to be fixing it.
"We can't ignore and hide from the problems," says Mr Brown.
"The truth has to be out there, rather than cold bloodedly and callously risking people's lives."
Ald Koch was unimpressed with the results of the meeting: "We've heard it all before, two years ago, four, six Ð how far back do you want to go?
"The Chief Minister and the Police Minster say police is now up to establishment.
"Bear in mind, we were told the same thing by the then Police Minister 12 months ago.
"The meeting set out to create five actions that can be done in the short term.
"We have not come up with anything like that.
"It turned out be a talkfest with a lot of the people there only interested in their smaller agendas, not the big picture."
Mr Brown said: "Media should have been admitted to the meeting.
"I didn't know they were going to be shut out.
"I made no commitment not to disclose any details of the meeting."

And now, here come the sniffers. REPORT by ERWIN CHLANDA.

The town is experiencing another invasion of undesirable people, similar to the drinkers drifting in from "dry" communities.
Now it's the sniffers, deprived of their substance of choice as Opal fuel is taking over in the bush, while in Alice, sniffable Premium Unleaded is freely available. Papunya is due to be declared a town free of sniffable fuel next month.
Blair McFarland, from Tangentyere's Youth Link Up Service (CAYLUS), says Alice has its own fuel addicts and "we only see a bit" of sniffing coming in from the bush.
But North Stuart Highway car dealer Peter "Brooksie" Brooks (pictured) says in just one week, his yard has been broken into by sniffers in some 30 incidents: they forced open fuel caps, syphoned out fuel, and left behind hoses obviously stolen from elsewhere.
"It's the worst ever," he says. He's now putting up a back fence and getting a large dog.
Insiders say a house in the litter strewn Hoppy's Camp across the road has been taken over by sniffers. Two babies from the camp were taken to hospital with breathing complaints after being exposed to petrol fumes.
While the government is making promises of future action, it's incapable of implementing its own measures. Mr McFarland says provisions for mandatory treatment orders are so convoluted that not a single one has been issued. He says three departments Ð health, police and justice Ð need to be involved, and it's clearly just too hard.
Equally, "authorized persons" can be appointed with the power to take fuel off sniffers, and take them to a safe place, even if they haven't committed a crime.
Yet in 18 months not a single "authorized person" has been appointed.

The natives are revolting. Interview by ERWIN CHLANDA with the Minister for Central Australia.

Minister for Central Australia Elliot McAdam spoke to Alice Springs News editor ERWIN CHLANDA after a turbulent week, when the small business sector of the town, and people tired of unresolved law and order issues, expressed their feelings about the government in no uncertain terms.

NEWS: In my 32 years as a journalist in Alice Springs I've never seen such relentless and ferocious anger directed by a crowd at a politician as was the case last Tuesday. What's more, Clare Martin copped it from some 750 small business people and their staff, the people who make this town function. There was no give and take. During the sustained booing, no-one said give the woman a go. They just weren't having a bar of the Chief Minister. You were standing behind her. What was you take on that?
McADAM: We live in a democratic society. People were very passionate. They do have concerns. I didn't see them as demonstrators. I saw them as committed, passionate people who care about their community. That's the challenge for government, to put in place strategies to overcome some of these issues, from an economic perspective. I think Alice Springs is doing reasonably well. That's the advice I have.
NEWS: What will you do to regain the hearts and minds of the people in Central Australia, because you sure have lost them.
McADAM: What I saw in the demonstrations we had, and there were significant numbers, was a lot of committed, caring, passionate Central Australians, black and white, who care about their community, and who want to make a difference. As a government we have to engage and work as hard as we possibly can.
NEWS: Specifically, what are you going to do?
McADAM: Already a lot of things have been happening. The figure I saw this morning was $100m in capital expenditure, part of it private sector investment.
NEWS: Over what period and how much of it is private sector investment?
McADAM: There was $91.3 million worth of major capital works on the books during the December quater of last year [work that was happening in town at the time] of which $58 million is NT Government spend and $33 million is private sector investment.
This does not take into account residential construction, renovations or other significant private sector business investments.
Clearly, we must be getting something right in promoting tourism. The advice I've received is that there is an expected five per cent increase. Bookings are looking really good for this year. But again, the government can only assist organisations on the ground, such as CATIA.
Alcohol is the single most contributing factor to the anti-social behaviour, the high level of violence and crime.
There is only one way to fix it up: you work together. Those things you don't fix up over night.
NEWS: How come the Office of Central Australia in Alice Springs was so completely unprepared for what happened on Tuesday? It was entirely predictable. We had it [the call for a strong demonstration] on our online edition on Thursday the week before. Yet Clare Martin strayed into a cyclone without being given any weather forecast.
McADAM: It's now called the Office of the Chief Minister.
McADAM: They have a role of conveying to government issues of concern.
NEWS: It doesn't look like they are doing that.
McADAM: The Office of the Chief Minister does a very, very good job. They are down on staff at the moment.
NEWS: Dongas Ð where to from now? The fear is they will attract undesirable people, who may not even be able to go inside the these camps providing temporary accommodation, but who will hang around and be a nuisance, and possibly be a danger, in the neighborhood.
McADAM: There are very strict conditions, including no grog. At the moment the majority of the people are landing on the town camps. The government has approved the exceptional development permits [for the dongas].
NEWS: In the Development Consent Authority hearings you had 120 people saying no and only one saying yes. By giving approval against the recommendation of the Development Consent Authority (DCA), Delia Lawrie flew in the face of the people of Alice Springs. Are you happy with that?
McADAM: The bottom line is government looked at this in the context of need, in terms of the challenges Alice Springs is facing, and in terms of a shortage of supported accommodation options.
NEWS: What runs does the government have on the board with respect to Central Australia? McADAM: I believe the Chief Minister's alcohol management plan is working. The dry areas initiative driven by the council is under consideration by the Licensing Commission. That's a government initiative. Improvements to the town camps is also a government initiative, going back to 2005.
NEWS: It's also $50m from Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mal Brough. For this money to become available, some portions of the town camps will have to be transferred, by way of 99 year sub-lease, to Territory Housing. Some Aboriginal activists seem to be against that. What's your position on this?
McADAM: As I understand it is to do with infrastructure upgrades, roads, power, communications.
NEWS: This will be a town council function, I believe. But wherever the money is spent on housing, the land will need to be under lease to Territory Housing, and there are some objections to this. What's your position?
McADAM: We're still negotiating with Tangentyere in respect of the whole leasing type arrangements, and in regards to the Territory Housing model.
NEWS: What are the ideas being discussed?
McADAM: They are about leasing. Leasing a proportion of the town camps for public, private and low cost housing under a Territory Housing framework. The current view is that the camps are a Commonwealth responsibility. What we are saying is there should be a municipal [town council] model.
NEWS: Tangentyere is rejecting the notion that wherever the $50m is spent on housing, the land should be in the hands of Territory Housing, and not, as currently, under lease to the camps' respective, private housing associations? Do you have a view on that?
McADAM: That's exactly what we are negotiating. There will be an ongoing role for Tangentyere as an organisation, in respect to its municipal as well as housing models.
NEWS: Are they doing a good job now?
McADAM: I believe Tangentyere is doing an excellent job under very difficult and trying circumstances. But it's incumbent on the Territory and Commonwealth governments to take some responsibility as well. Governments are very good at passing the buck but not passing the dollar.
NEWS: Well, the Commonwealth is passing $50m for the camps and $20m for the new transient camps. That's not too bad.
McADAM: That's only because of the things we're doing. It's like our reform of local government in the bush. We're trying to provide a framework of certainty in the third tier of government, equal opportunities.
NEWS: I heard that pastoral properties will be rated. What's the situation?
McADAM: We're splitting the Territory into nine shires, including two in the southern part. Rating will apply.
NEWS: How much will it be? What would you compare it with?
McADAM: I can't compare it because we're waiting for the data, for information.
NEWS: What will the level of rating depend on?
McADAM: We've given the Cattlemen's Association $30,000 to look at a range of issues, and I would imagine it would include rating. We're waiting for their response. There has to be equity.
NEWS: The thing that springs out is that there will be shire councils with members elected on the one vote, one value principle. Because of the numbers in the pastoral industry compared to people, mostly unemployed, in Aboriginal communities, it's likely that the people providing the bulk of the rate revenue will have very little say over how it is spent.
McADAM: Each of the shires will have wards.
NEWS: Will the wards have roughly equal numbers of voters?
McADAM: That's work that still has to be done. One vote, one value is the principle we have in mind but there is some capacity of looking at other arrangements in terms of representation.
NEWS: How would that work, give me an example.
McADAM: All I know now is that each shire will have six to eight wards. One vote, one value, that's the main principle, we're committed to that, but there could well be other arrangements. I can't predict what it will be, but I'm flexible enough to look at unique circumstances as they may apply from shire to shire.
NEWS: How much will the cattlemen be paying in rates?
McADAM: At present a levy applies to pastoral properties based on their unimproved capital value. There has been an increase of two per cent. It's not for me to say whether that's fair or not. This is not about any financial impost across business, industry and/or communities.
We're not about hindering development. It's about bringing the rest of the NT into a local government framework, a recognised form of local government that provides a lot more opportunity.

Young lawbreakers must not be charged unless it's serious. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Young people breaking the law must not be charged, unless the offences are serious or unless their history makes them unsuitable for "diversion" Ð basically ways of making amends for their offence without going through the courts. This is a requirement of Territory legislation, the Youth Justice Act, introduced in August last year.
The legislation will presumably mean an increase in the numbers being offered diversion, which, prior to the new Act, had declined markedly since the program began in September 2000.
Originally a Commonwealth funded program designed to counteract the worst affects of mandatory sentencing, it is now funded out of the police operational budget. "Serious offences" are specified in an annexe to the Act.
They include homicide, certain types of assaults, robbery, home invasion, certain types of criminal damage to property, certain drug offences.
If the offence is not one of those specified and the offender is a youth, the arresting officer must either: give the youth a verbal warning; give the youth a written warning; arrange for a Youth Justice Conference involving the youth; or refer the youth for diversion.
However diversion can be offered to youth committing a serious offence if the arresting officer considers it is "in the interests of justice". It can also be considered as an option even if a youth has been charged; for instance, it may be requested by defence counsel at the first court hearing.
Offences precluding diversion have expanded since diversion was first introduced, which may partly explain why in 2005-06 just 38% of young offenders were offered diversion, compared to the 66% in the first 24 months of the program.
There may also have been a rise in serious crime committed by young offenders, although Sergeant Mal Guerin, in charge of diversion in Alice Springs, could not provide statistics in relation to this.
Neither could he provide statistics on recidivism (repeat offending, surely a key measure of the program's success). These were collected during the first 24 months of the program but apparently not since.
In other respects, prior to the new Act the statistical profile of the candidates for diversion had not changed greatly: in the first 24 months, 60% were Indigenous; in 2005-06 it was 72%.
In the first 24 months 80% were male; in 2005-06 it was 77%.
Neither had the number of apprehensions risen: in the first 24 months there were a total of 2922 apprehensions, compared to 1337 for 2005-06.
Sgt Guerin says most youth offered the chance of diversion take it.
He says the perpetrators of recent random attacks that have angered the community are unlikely to be offered diversion unless theirs is a first offence or they meet the diversion criteria in other ways.
Anger management programs are among the options that can be considered for such offenders.
Assessments of offenders recommended for diversion are made by case managers Ð in Alice Springs, staff from Relationships Australia.
They look at the young person's background including family support, educational standards, alcohol and drug issues, and at what they say about what was in their mind at the time they committed the offence.
Family support of the young person is an important factor in successful diversion, says Sgt Guerin.
Lack of it reduces their chances "drastically".
Most candidates for diversion are supported by at least one parent, though occasionally some are in the care of FACS.
Are parents called to task over the young person's offence? Sgt Guerin says parents or a responsible adult have to sign an agreement about the outcomes from diversion. "A lot of parents don't know about the offending behaviour until the child gets caught.
"Generally they want to help their kid and in being part of the diversion process they have taken the first step."
Unlawful entry, stealing and less serious types of assault are the main offences committed by candidates for diversion.
Offences motivated by material need - like stealing food because they're hungry, or clothes because they haven't got any - are the exception rather than the rule, says Sgt Guerin.
He says most unlawful entry offences that the unit deals with are motivated by getting hold of alcohol.
"Occasionally there can be venting of anger but it's usually combined with substance use or abuse."
Most of the substance abuse amongst the offenders is "bingeing behaviour" rather than chronic.
Sgt Guerin says the generalities hold true whether the offender is black, white, male, female: "The issues are the same."
The fundamental principle behind diversion is "restorative justice": "It's about repairing the damage you have done."
Sometimes an offender pays reparation but this depends on their ability to pay. Parents sometimes have paid on the young person's behalf, but "this takes away responsibility from the child", so it's best if the young person is going to make an effort to pay their parents back.
Victims' wishes with respect to diversion may be taken into account, but "the legislation directs the application of juvenile diversion in most cases", says Sgt Guerin.
Victim-offender conferences were part of 35% of diversions in 2005-06 (4% were verbal warnings, 36% were written warnings, 25% were family conferences ). It is completely voluntary for the victim to participate. Sometimes instead a statement is read on their behalf.
The response of most victims is positive, says Sgt Guerin: "Victim-offender conferencing is a powerful tool. The victim can see that the youth is facing up to what he or she has done.
"It's not possible for the young person to sit there, staring at the floor, they have to participate. The person conducting the conference is trained to be able to get them to participate. "We're not about making things easy on the young offender. We're about getting results, getting them to change their offending behaviour."
Sgt Guerin says a good part of the unit's time is also spent on educating their fellow officers, about the requirements of the new legislation and about the benefits of diversion.
The unit is staffed by three officers including himself.
The arresting officer is part of the team that makes recommendations about the suitability of an offender for diversion.
Sgt Guerin says a lot of officers are now aware of the kinds of situations a young person may be dealing with, contributing to their offending.

Walking, drawing, photographing, thinking, writing, learning. REVIEW by KIERAN FINNANE.

Boots & All brings together a range of work by Deborah Clarke in response to walking the Larapinta Trail, a 230 kilometre track through the MacDonnell Ranges, running west from Alice Springs.
The title also describes the artist's approach to her showing of this work.
We variously see sketchbooks (including diary notes), prints from the sketchbooks, digital photographs, poems, a range of composite digital images, slide shows, including one with a soundtrack, animations that reveal a computer-based method of nocturnal drawing - she's gone in, boots and all.
There is a quantity of work here, a vast number of observations and visual responses from five seasons spent on the trail, ranging from descriptive to meditative, from sweeping vision to intimate views, a range only possible with time spent, with the gradual accumulation of experience and knowledge.
Her net has been cast repeatedly, energetically, which is underlined by the use of different techniques. This multi-layered exploration has then received a museum-like installation, complete with "specimens" in glass boxes (the sketchbooks) and the display of more peripheral objects (the hiking boots).
All of this has its own appeal, engaging us with a practice - of walking, drawing, photographing, thinking, writing, learning.
Considering the artworks individually, Clarke shows a strongly developing drawing practice. Drawings she has exhibited previously have been controlled, meticulous.
The sketchbooks reveal a much more experimental approach, working up from description to very expressive, exploratory pieces, at times embracing abstraction.
In returning to the studio some of Clarke's tendency to meticulous control re-emerges.
The larger images on display are composite digital images.
She has photographed the lively sketches, using Photoshop to erase the traces of the sketchbook like the spine or the binding, and has blended them with segments of photographs. These are not necessarily from the same place as represented in the sketch but this is not made explicit. The drawn lines and inked surfaces contain and largely obscure the photographed segments.
Clarke says the technique "mimics the process of familiarity", but I think it might represent it, rather than express it. I think it keeps the emphasis on the surface rather than delving in and for this reason, I much preferred the sketches themselves, where a real delving is going on.
My other reservation is with respect to the slide show that dominates the main space of the gallery. It does not display Clarke's visual work to advantage, so it seems mainly to be there to support the soundtrack, which includes readings of Clarke's poems.
Yet the sound quality is not great.
Otherwise the show has plenty to offer.
At Araluen's Sitzler Gallery until May 13.

The Gold Tooth Berrimahsaurus vs the Two Tone Whip Snake. By DARCY DAVIS.

I sat in the public gallery of the freshly opened Legislative Assembly in Alice Springs.
Members of the Indigenous choir got up to sing a song, followed by the Lord's prayer. Primary school children from various schools around Central Australia were watching intently, careful not to say a word, on their best behavior.
I got the idea that this would be a demonstration of politicians also appearing at their 'representative' best.
However the atmosphere of the hallowed room was greatly affected by the protest that had taken place outisde, about the law and disorder in town.
The Chief Minister, Clare Martin, spoke glowingly of the positive developments in Central Australia, the new look Alice Plaza, extensions to Yeperenye shopping centre and the Imparja building, as well as the boost in tourism, with visitors staying an average of five days as opposed to the previous four, and the increased investment in Central Australian tourism promotion.
Leader of the Opposition, Jodeen Carney, then rose to her feet in a bluster of parliamentary expletive. She told of the terrors on the street, the footloose Aboriginal youth, the morose opinions of civilians she had spoken to and the generally morbid state of the town.
Ms Carney had so much to yell across the room in only two minutes that it looked like her mouth mightn't be able to catch up with her thoughts and there would be such a pressure build up that her head might fly right off her neck.
Rows of children flinched at the force of fiery fork-outs from the flaming lips of the female member. As I flicked through the Parliamentary Program, I paused on JC's page: "I am delighted that the Territory Parliament is sitting, once again in Alice Springs - home. It is an opportunity for residents of Alice Springs and the region to learn more about the Parliamentary process, and see first-hand what happens while the Parliament sits."
Member for Braitling, Loraine Braham, then stood and spoke unassumingly. "There are always issues in any region of the world, but Alice Springs generally is a good place to live. It doesn't help the situation when the people of the town are being constantly bombarded with how terrible things are here.
"I have worked in education for over 20 years; I understand how it works and the way to combat youth issues. Many of the issues that the Member of the Opposition spoke of begin in the early childhood and primary school years and this is where we need to begin to address them."
"It was interesting to observe how the two different members spoke," commented the Chief Minister.
"One on a spiel of abuse about the town she is standing to represent, all statements, declarations, no solutions, while the other speaks entirely positively, confident of solutions."
Leader of the Opposition stands up: "Yell, Yell, Retaliation!" "Yell, Yell Back," from the Chief Minister, interrupting the last yell.
"Bloody yell!" I thought.
Amid the swirl of invective and counter accusation, I took a couple of slow blinks. In the blurry transition, like that of the Target underwear ad, the occupants of the assembly became marvelous members of a menagerie.
Before my eyes the Marion Scrymgour transformed into a Dark Banded Whistler, Clare Martin became a Gold Tooth Berrimahsaurus, Sid Stirling a Balding Womblu, Minister for Hares, Jane Aagard (Speaker) a Gold Throated Northern Minor Bird, Elliot McAdam (Barkly) a Warramungun Cockatoo, Richard Lim a Barking Tree Frog, Jodeen Carney the Two Tone Whip Snake, Alison Anderson the Bob-Tail Papunya Perenti, Delia Lawrie the Donga Monitor Lizard, Fay Miller the Reverse Motilus Fruitbat. And still the audience watched wide-eyed. Must have been like an excursion to the zoo for those lucky school kids É Imagination is a good thing, isn't that what they taught us, Mrs Braham?

Not the middle of nowhere!

Kevin Buzzacott, an Arrabuna Elder, has been fighting against Olympic Dam uranium mine in South Australia since it began in the 80s.
Inhabited, an exhibition of photos and recordings, is a response to then Environment Minister Brendan Nelson's description in 2005 of potential nuclear waste dump sites in the Territory as "in the middle of nowhere".
It aims to reveal "the myth of uninhabited and lifeless places that is created by politicians and industry promoting nuclear activity in Australia". The idea that the outback and the desert is "the middle of nowhere" shows that the notion of Terra Nullius, brought on by European invasion, has never left us, say photo-artist Jessie Boylan and radio show producer Bilbo Taylor. They argue that traditional owners and Indigenous communities suffer most directly the impacts of the nuclear industry but their voices are the least heard. MINING Their images are the result of journeys with Friends of the Earth into the Australian outback, and meetings with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples directly affected by uranium mining in Australia. With the current nuclear debate the wishes of the inhabitants are too easily dismissed, say the artists. "Visiting these remote landscapes and meeting the local people revealed a rich culture and vibrant country," says Jessie. "I wanted to take these powerful stories from the communities wishing to protect their country and culture from the imposition of uranium mines and radioactive waste dumps and bring them to the city." Opens at Watch This Space, May 4, 6pm. Shows to May 20.

The weekend that was, plus the one after this. By DARCY DAVIS.

The Alice Springs Youth Centre played host to both newly formed and well-accomplished local youth bands at last Saturday night’s Small Day In, a National Youth Week event. 
The Moxie and Nights Plague performed as well as a newly formed punk/metal band, Through Bullets and Bravery. Singer Greg Pierson is ex-Nights Plague and guitarist Brenton Wilson, ex-Dr Strangeways.
It was good to see Sweet Surrender coming back onto the music scene after going into what must have been a ‘writing hibernation’.
New band Misled Remedy was born out of a CDU music class and played a few covers and an original.
Despite the great new bands bursting onto the scene, the Youth Centre was probably not the best spot for the gig.
The concrete basketball court and parallel corrugated iron sheds didn’t provide the best acoustics or atmos, but without The Promised Land, there isn’t much of an option for a music venue for the youth of Alice Springs.
Meanwhile, the Melbourne Comedy Roadshow is coming to town!
Performing are Australian acts Harley Breen, Terri Psiakis, Tommy Dassalo  and Sam Simmons (you might have heard his weekly segment on Triple J’s Top Shelf with Robbie Buck) as well as Russell Howard all the way from the UK.
“My acts are a mix of high brow humour and satire, delving into pop culture and post teenage issues,” said performer Tommy Dassalo.
“They’re fairly universal themes, so I reckon it’ll be relevant to the Alice Springs crowd as well as the Melbourne bunch I’ve been performing to in the past couple of months.”
The Roadshow will be in town for two nights at the Araluen Centre, May 4 and 5.

LETTERS: Delia says DCA gave her option to say yes.

Sir,- At the 'No Dongas Delia' rally held at the parliamentary sittings in Alice, both Minister Delia Lawrie and Minister Elliott McAdam addressed those protesting against the placement of Woomera dongas. Mr McAdam was asked where he stood with regards the Dalgety Road site, given the claims that it was a men's sacred site.
He advised that as the statutory body, Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA), was undertaking measures to address the claim, it would be inappropriate for him to interfere.
A Northside Action Group (NAG) delegation later met with the Minister and asked him if he would accept the AAPA outcome if they reported to him that the claims of a men's sacred site were valid.
The Minister was reluctant to comment.
Ms Lawrie was asked why she had ignored the 98% of participating residents who had rejected the donga sites in the form of submissions, petitions and attendance at two Development Consent Authority (DCA) meetings.
She informed the rally that the Cabinet Ministers looked at the issues facing the Alice Springs community and took into consideration the overall needs for temporary supported accommodation.
Therefore it would appear that the rejection by the 98% of residents who took part in the consultative process was never considered. It is worth noting in the "Moving Alice Ahead" advertising feature in the Centralian Advocate, there is a project referring to "Residential and Industrial Land Availability". It says, "the community will be engaged in the decision making".
Do Clare Martin and her Ministers really believe we can ever expect to be such fools again?
Clare, the people of Alice have integrity even if you believe otherwise.
Ms Lawrie further informed the rally that she had been given the opportunity to proceed with the donga sites when the DCA provided the option in their report "É if the Minister should wish to approve one or both of the applications, the Authority (DCA) would strongly recommend that appropriate conditions are imposed".
Ms Lawrie said this was unusual as the DCA have previously advised the Minister that they either support or disapprove applications. As a result of the options presented by the DCA, Ms Lawrie said she approved the applications albeit with the appropriate conditions recommended.
What is of greater concern is that two aldermen from Alice Springs Town Council were on the DCA panel to represent the residents of the town and particularly the 98% of those who rejected both sites.
This, I believe, would have to be one of the greatest misrepresentations and one that has created mistrust with both local and Territory governments.
Ms Lawrie concluded by saying that the donga sites would act also as a safe haven for young girls in danger of being raped.
Can Ms Lawrie or Mr McAdam or any other person in the government tell us up front who the proposed sites are really catering for? The Northside Action Group are holding a public meeting tonight, Thursday, April 26 at the Velodrome on Dalgety Rd at 7pm.
All Northside residents are urged to attend to be updated on the Parliament rally outcomes and future plans andstrategies of the group.
Jerry Fitzsimmons,
Alice Springs

Sir,- I sent the followingÊletter to the Centralian Advocate and the editor there sees fit to not print it. What happened to freedom of speech and democratic viewpoints?
After reading the reporting by Erwin & Kieran, I think that the Alice Springs News is representing the people of Alice Springs a lot more than the Centralian Advocate and certainly the News is not afraid to irritate the local and state government fat cats!
Why is it, whenever there is a law and order issue or a delay in reaching a crime scene in Alice Springs, immediately the police are being blamed?
You do not have to be a mathematician to realise that if we have 150 police in a town of 28,000 people, that leaves approximately seven officers to cover the entire area on each eight hour shift ... and that is working seven days a week!
And these problems don't just begin on Friday and end on Sunday, they are 24/7.
So, let's give the police a fair go: a bit more assistance and community awareness and involvement.
If the government departments stopped or at least had a tighter control on some of the never-ending handouts of money, accommodation and other services to the section of the community who are causing these social issues, and made them face up to the same problems other homeless and poor Australians have to, then possibly the families would leave the big cities and towns and go back to the 'land' which they are always claiming.
This would mean that all these young Indigenous people would at least learn some of the lost culture which doesn't include senseless thuggery, robbery, rape and eventually murder. I know many, many Indigenous people both in business and through genuine friendship, who are extremely decent citizens and who have expressed their concern at the social problems in Alice Springs.
These problems are brought on by lazy, drunken, brawling parents who couldn't give a damn about where their young are at 2am.
Finally, those who know me and my familyÊwould also know that I am certainly not racist ... just sick and tired of the council's and government's apathy.
After being an expatriate Queenslander who loves Alice Springs and has adopted the Territory for 18 years, I'm damned if I am going to give up now!
Rob Watling
Alice Springs

Sir,- I see Alison Anderson has had a great idea to stop alcohol-related problems. Heard it on ABC last week.
"No take away grog" - nobody can drink in their own homes even. What the bloody hell will they come up with next!
John Sheridan Alice Springs
Sir,- An enormous vote of thanks must go to all the people who found the time to confront the Martin Government and demonstrate our anger for its deliberate destruction of Alice Springs, especially given the barefaced effrontery of Clare Martin's assertion that she shares our concern.
In case there are people who are not aware of the Martin Government's scheme to relocate 5,000 to 10,000 bush people to Alice Springs, leaked in January 2006, I ask the Alice Springs News to reprint its front pages of February 16 and March 23rd, 2006 [we refer readers to our website - ED].
And since the Town Council furthered that scheme by its failure to implement the by-laws that would have controlled the situation then, please reprint front pages Feb 23, and April 20 and 27, 2006.
Alice Springs News must take full credit for trying to alert the town to the disaster we are now facing, and again thanks to the people who demonstrated.
It was such a pleasure to see Clare Martin hoist with her own petard.
Gerry Baddock
Alice Springs

Sir,- Grog restrictions have cause unaddressed social problems for people living in the northside Braitling area, despite the Chief Minister saying there have been improvements, such as a reduction in sales of pure alcohol.
People are asking me, 'Can I send my child to the shops after school safely?', something that never crossed their minds before.
I propose:-
• change the hours of takeaway sales, especially the sale of fortified wines / casks;
• close down Hoppy's Camp - a camp that harbours many drinkers that disrupt any hope of safe living for the residents;
• light up the Northside Shopping Centre car park, crossing and highway;
• get the Town Council to enforce their litter and no-camping by-laws;
• close the lanes where drinkers hide; and • offer controlled drinking clubs in communities.
Substitution has caused problems.
The reduced sales of pure alcohol may look good, but the effect of increased sales of other types of alcohol on innocent families is bad.
Loraine Braham,
MLA for Braitling

Sir,- The Central Australian Youth Link Up Service (CAYLUS) has called on the Commonwealth Government to continue youth services to Mutitjulu, Imanpa, Docker River and Aputula.
MISSION Casework and community services, funded through NPY Women's Council from the FACSIA Reconnect program, will cease in June this year with funds instead being redirected out of the region. Commonwealth Government representatives have indicated that they view the upcoming provision of youth services by Mission Australia in the region as taking on this role.
NPY Women's Council continue to play an important role for youth and families in the southern part of the NT.
The services delivered through their Reconnect program are essential and no other agency will be able to deliver these services with the knowledge, background and cultural expertise delivered by NPY.
Let's not lose this.
Blair McFarland Alice Springs Warning for kerb crawler Sir,- On Wednesday of last week I took my usual morning bike ride along Larapinta Drive.
This is something I do regularly and I am joined on the road by other cyclists, walkers and runners. Ê Ê On this day I was "joined" by a white Hyundai Excel (90s) two door hatch with a P plate, with a very dark and very bad window tint (big bubbles).
The car went past slowly, bipping the horn and then slowed to a stop 300 metres ahead of me, turning off lights and flashing them on and off. Ê I rode past well to the right. They again went past doing the same thing and repeated the behaviour about three times (probably more, sometimes at high speed, sometimes low speed). Ê
At one point they kept going and I stopped for a while to let them get well enough ahead, hoping they would get bored. They didn't. ÊI doubled back and stopped when I saw a guy I see running every morning. ÊHe was wondering what the hell they were doing too. Ê
So I stayed with him while he ran and they went past again. ÊThis time it was a couple of kilometres ahead and we thought they had gone. But no, they had parked about 10 metres in the bush and were sitting there with their lights off. ÊWhen they saw us they resumed driving past us. Ê
We let them go again and went through Stirling Heights, my lights all out and Neil's running light out and him being kind enough to carry my bike 100m through the bush.
Then we came down Kramer St. I thanked Neil for his help and went straight to the police station. I hope he reports it too. I didn't get Neil's last name and I would like to thank him again through this letter. Ê
This letter is to alert the public to this particular car driver's behaviour. ÊTo the driver of this car, you have made me more angry than anything. Ê You are a sad and patethic human being who needs to get a life and perhaps find something constructive to do with your time.
The driver of this car needs to be aware that all of Alice Springs Cycling Club have the description of your car. Ê Both bike shops that I deal with are aware of you and your car.
It has also been reported to the police.
Jacqui Brady
Alice Springs

SUE WOOLFE: No small talk.

I grew up in a little township where going shopping was a social event.
The local butcher (this was in the Dark Ages before supermarkets) solved the marriage problems of his female customers while he wrapped up their mince meat; sometimes he held group counselling sessions for a crowd of sad housewives, him on one side of the counter expounding a husband's point of view, the ladies on the other nodding and saying, "Yes, I see, that's where I've gone wrong".
The grocer reminded you that you'd forgotten to buy your bread and knew you liked the crust a little burnt.
The chemist knew about everyone's rashes and lay awake worrying about them.
Then my family moved to speedy Sydney, where you can be arrested for Creating A Public Disturbance if you dare hold up the check out queue to ask the assistant how she is.
The trouble with speedy cities is that despite all your attempts to stay slow, it's infectious.
It's de rigueur to be busy, you must wear busyness as a badge of honour, otherwise you simply don't rate.
You never invite anyone home because you can't spare the time to clean up your mess before they arrive, and you're much much too busy to wash up the dishes after they leave.
You're too busy to play sports or games so you go to the gym, but you drive there and you drive back home, even though it's just down the road.
You're cranky, that's also a city badge of honour. You have not only road rage but queue rage, crowded street rage, and even traffic light button rage (you elbow your way through the dolts standing near the button, who haven't lifted a finger to press it).
You weep when the traffic lights go red and in a long street with lots of traffic lights, that's a lot of weeping. You plot to run over the toes of skateboard riders who get in your car's fast path.
You give old ladies death stares when they fumble in their purses getting on the bus.
And when you finally get home out of the hurly burly, you abuse telemarketers who interrupt your lonely dinner and tell them that they should get a proper job. In my second week in Alice Springs I'd begun to calm down.
Now I'm almost able to restrain clearing my throat loudly at the post-office staff when they chat to customers about their widowed mums, or in the bank when the teller asks a customer about her child's chicken pox.
I'm learning to get on my bike to visit friends and have a cuppa instead of phoning them - which means I look at their faces instead of just staring into the inside of my head.
And visiting is pleasurable because I haven't wept at 45 sets of red lights along the way.
At the Sunday markets I asked a new friend if I could help with her stall. In Todd Mall between 9am and 1pm, I had more conversations with passers-by than I've had in a Sydney year.
And we weren't talking small talk, it was big talk.
The subjects ranged from the jewellery on display, of course, to love, art practice, love, non-art practice, love, art, politics and back to love - we weren't just passing time, we were solving Life's Problems.
I'm afraid I wasn't much help on the stall.
I'm beginning to live in Alice Springs.

ADAM CONNELLY: We're the cool kids.

I was never the popular kid in school.
Don't get me wrong it wasn't like I was the smelly kid or the hairy kid or even the kid that liked lizards too much for comfort, I had friends but I wasn't the "prom king". No, I had to be content with being the kid the popular kids said hello to in the halls but never invited to the super cool parties.
The elusive super cool parties. The Holy Grail of high school social excellence. And to mix historical metaphors for a moment, like Jason and his Argonauts, we performed all the trials and tests in order to prove ourselves worthy of the invitation.
Which now, as for the most part a self assured man, seems a bit ridiculous. Why on earth did I want to hang out with the dumb kids? And they were, they were morons. There's no polite way to say it really. But they were cool morons so we all fought for their acceptance.
It was year 12 before I was deemed worthy to attend such a party. All that hard work swallowing my self worth and pride had finally paid off.
I had a blast. I really did. Dancing with all the pretty girls. Telling jokes. I was the centre of attention. Hang on. Why was I the centre of attention? I wasn't one of the cool kids.
I looked around and realised that most of the guys at the party were bored and stoned. This wasn't fun for them anymore. They sat in the corners of the room or on lounges and stared off into the ether.
A half a million people will make there way from all corners of the globe to come to Alice Springs this year. That's an awful lot of ridiculously large backpacks and ridiculously small denim shorts. Half a million and the vast majority of that number will be here in the next six months. The weather is bearable and the next six months coincides with the Northern Hemisphere's holiday period.
The next six months is Alice Springs Gravy period. The time where the businesses in town make as much coin as they can cashing in on the influx of German 22 year olds named Heike and 27 year old Brazilians called Roberto.
Both Heike and Roberto are here for the authentic Australian experience. They'll go to the rock and to Wattarka and they'll learn about Indigenous culture and hopefully they'll hang around long enough for us to keep a handful of German Euros and Brazilian Reals.
They are the new blood in the super cool party of Alice Springs. They are the ones the girls dance with and listen to and because they have something we want (foreign banknotes) they get the run of the place.
I don't think this is a particularly bad idea. On the whole those who come to visit are a fantastic part of the Alice Spring experience.
Sometimes, however, I feel like we are living in a plastic town.
"Hey there and welcome to the magic of Alice World. Just as magical as Disneyland and slightly less expensive than Movie World.
"Here you'll find a cornucopia of exotic delights all under the watchful eye of our mascot Humpy the Camel. Look, here's Humpy now. Hello Humpy!
"Humpy will guide you through the many wonderful lands inside Alice World to make your trip all the more special."
Red Centre this and Desert Sand that, to entice Heike and Roberto.
I don't want to sound like I'm down on business. Nothing of the sort. The small business community has in the last couple of weeks especially, shown themselves to be a significant part of the backbone of this town.
My point is that sometimes I feel we are becoming a caricature of ourselves in order to woo the cool kids.
In my opinion, we are the cool kids. We live in this amazing place but we skew our lives in order to attract those who don't.
Promise me this please. To the next business to open in town that isn't directly related to tourism: please don't use the words desert, red, rock or camel.
Please don't adorn your walls with knock off Aboriginal art and please, pretty please, no fake memorabilia.
We know where we live, that's why we live here.

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