May 10, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Northside will trial photo ID to buy grog. By KIERAN FINNANE.

All people buying takeaway alcohol at Northside Foodland and Hoppy’s Cash Store will have to produce photo ID and will be limited to one visit to the outlets per day in a trial scheme hoped to be up and running by June 1.
And Racing, Gaming and Licensing will supply the electronic terminals required by the scheme for the period of the trial.
The move is designed to curb the disorder and antisocial behaviour around the Northside shops that has increased since the introduction of the present alcohol restrictions.
Deputy Director of Licensing Chris McIntyre says at least part of the reason for the increased problems is that prior to the restrictions Northside Foodland did not sell large cask wine, then the cheapest available alcoholic drink and a key product targeted by the restrictions.
With the massive switch to beer and mixed spirits since the restrictions were introduced last October, the Foodland outlet is now attracting customers who previously did not shop there. 
As well, “more people are believed to be located in the area”, says Mr McIntyre, “and they are congregating around the shops.”
There is anecdotal evidence of many more people staying at Hoppy’s Camp and illegally camping in the river and in the hills around Northside.
Mr McIntyre says the commission has worked with the licensees on solutions to the problems. These have included the ban on long-neck bottles of beer, due to the huge increase of broken glass in the area.
Licensees have told him that people are making their alcohol purchases early, coming back, not getting served because they are intoxicated and then hanging around and humbugging.
That is why the limit to a single visit a day has been decided upon.
“It is a bold move by the licensees,” says Mr McIntyre, “as possibly their bottom line will drop.”
An “education and communication process” will precede the move, with all customers being informed of the imminent change.
This will include information about how to obtain an 18+ card for customers who don’t have other forms of photo ID.
Mr McIntyre says the scheme, to be trialled for three months, may produce useful information for the wider introduction of an ID system for alcohol purchases.
A public discussion paper has been released about the system with submissions due by May 28.
The scope of the town-wide system would be greater than that of the system at Northside, with ID being checked against previous purchases of restricted types of alcohol and against a table of people restricted by court orders from drinking whose photos and ID details will be displayed on the terminal.
The system would also automatically notify an authorised official of any breach to the system, such as illegal purchases made whilst the network was down or before it has been updated.

Federal Budget: Huge fillip for black housing.

Real improvements for Indigenous housing in Central Australia can be expected from the scrapping of a failed ATSIC program in the Federal Budget, says CLP Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion (pictured).
On July 1 next year, the Community Housing and Infrastructure Program (CHIP) previously managed by ATSIC will be abolished and replaced by a new, expanded Australian Remote Indigenous Accommodation (ARIA) program.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough says the Budget announcement of $293.6 million in additional Indigenous housing funding to kick start the new strategy was over and above the $380 million already committed.
“This is a substantial down payment to tackle overcrowding, particularly in remote communities,” says Mr Brough.
Senator Scullion says that if the strategy is successful and is supported by State and Territory governments, the program may be expanded further in the future.
“This major investment shows the Government recognises the need to unwind the failed policies of the past,” says Senator Scullion.
“Australian Government funds will be used to construct new houses and repair or upgrade existing houses in remote locations where Indigenous housing needs are greatest.
“The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently found that there are 271 fewer indigenous houses in the Northern Territory than there were five years ago and a Price Waterhouse Coopers review of CHIP found that in some cases, houses in remote communities were costing in excess of $600,000 – and yet many of those houses are lasting only 10 years. This ridiculous situation cannot continue unchecked.”
Senator Scullion says under the new reform program, ARIA funds would be spent on new houses or upgrades only where ownership of the houses could be transferred to state/territory housing authorities or made available for purchase by individuals.
“Late last year, Clare Martin announced $20 million a year for Indigenous housing and challenged us to match it,” Senator Scullion said.
“We’ll see your $20 million, Clare – and raise it by $273 million.”
A response to the Federal Budget by Lingiari MHR Warren Snowdon was not to hand by the time the Alice News went to press.

I can’t stop drinking. Poem by ALI COBBY ECKERMANN.

I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
Since I watched my daughter perish
She burned to death inside a car
I lost what I most cherish
I saw the angels hold her
As I screamed with useless hope
I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
It’s the only way I cope!

I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
Since I found my sister dead
She hung herself to stop the rapes
I found her in the shed
The rapist bastard still lives here
Unpunished in this town
I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
Since I cut her down.

I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
Since my mother passed away.
They found her battered down the creek
I miss her more each day
My family blamed me for her death
Their words have made me wild
I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
‘Cos I was just a child.

I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
Since my son was stabbed to death
I can’t forgive that stranger
I’ve got anger on my breath
He was the baby in our family
Bit spoilt and full of jokes
I can’t stop drinking, I tell you true
It’s the only way I cope.

So if you see someone like me
Who’s drunk and loud and cursing
Don’t judge too hard, you never know
What sorrows they are nursing.

Alleged thieves, burglars and vandals, aged 11 & 12, back on the streets and off to diversion. REPORT by ERWIN CHLANDA.

After a rampage of break-ins, theft including $2000 worth of clothing and jewelry, and smashing windows in six CBD business, two children aged 12 and one aged 11 were arrested by police at 5.15 on Sunday morning.
Later that day they were back on the streets again.
Police had no choice in the matter.
Superintendent Sean Parnell says the Territory’s Youth Justice Act requires that children are referred for diversion, designed to keep children out of the criminal system,  unless they have committed crimes such as homicide, certain types of assaults, robbery, home invasion, certain types of criminal damage to property, certain drug offences.
Supt Parnell says the children, in the presence of their parents, were questioned at length, which yielded “big mobs” of information.
However, they could not be kept in custody, and the assessment for the diversion program will now take some time. It will determine whether diversion is likely to turn the candidates away from a life of crime.
The Alice News will report on this case going through its processes.

Northside humbug. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Elizabeth lives with her three children in a street running alongside the Northside shops.
She says disturbances in the area have got worse over the last two to three months and welcomes the move to an ID system limiting visits to the liquor outlets.
She says all her children have witnessed violent assaults by drunks, either in the lane behind their home or outside the shops. 
She has had a woman come to her gate, seeking refuge from a man who was assaulting her.
She says it is not unusual to see people arming themselves with sticks and laying into each other.
On Sunday she found her new car, that was parked on the verge outside her house, spattered with blood.
The lane behind the shops is used as a toilet, men urinating against the wall or squatting as needs be.
About two weeks ago a man urinating against the wall staggered and fell down. He appeared to have knocked himself out and was lying on the road.
Elizabeth says she called police but when the phone rang out, she told the man’s companions that they should move him which they did.
On another occasion a man and woman were fighting over a cask. 
“They were intoxicated. They still manage to get hold of alcohol even though they are already intoxicated,” says Elizabeth.
On more than one occasion she has seen people fornicating in public, once on the slide in a nearby children’s playground.
On every night of the week, though it’s worse on Thursdays and Fridays, she can hear people shouting, sometimes screaming “as if there’s conflict and fighting”.
“In the still of the night I can hear people shouting and screaming at Hoppy’s Camp.”
Hoppy’s is across the highway and across the river from the shops.
The trees around the area are used to store blankets: “People are sleeping rough in the hills and storing their blankets in the trees during the day.”
Barbara lives on the street running down the other side of the shops. She says disturbances in the area have escalated since last October, reaching a peak in the last month though for whatever reason things were more subdued last week.
Her main aggravation has been people coming from the shops “openly drinking”, people arguing as they are moving along, “aggressive male voices”, bottles being dropped and smashed, and the littering of take-away food and its wrappings.
The disruption has been particularly bad from about 10.30 to 11.30 at night.
“There has always been traffic and movement around this area. My irritation has come from not wanting to hear this level of aggression every day and from sometimes not being able to drive in my driveway.”
Barbara says the ID move will be “a good thing”.
Jo lives two blocks north of the shops but also says she has been disturbed by the screaming coming from around the shops, sometimes “very abusive”.
For her family it was particularly noticeable during the hot weather when they were eating outside and leaving their windows open at night.
The “enormous amount of broken glass” has also been an aggravation.
In consequence she says she has been deciding to drive into town rather than shop at Northside, even when it’s just for two litres of milk.
Not everyone in the area is so affected. Margaret Gaff lives two blocks to the west but visits the shops four to five times a week.
She says she has noticed the security guards now employed at the shops and the “odd few drunks” but has not personally observed any anti-social behaviour.
She does have the impression that there are many more people from the bush in the area, especially over the last six to eight months, but she says they are “much cleaner, quieter, more capable of participating in the wider society than they were five to 10 years ago”.
Note: All sources part from Mrs Gaff were unwilling to have their real or full names published.

Northside residents angry work on donga camps looks set to go. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The Northside Action Group (NAG), formed to campaign against the location of a donga camp in their neighbourhood, are angry that Registrations of Interest to do construction work on the camp have been called for.
The engineering firm Qantec McWilliam and Indigenous Business Australia, advertising on May 1, are looking for suitably qualified contractors for an accommodation facility in Alice Springs that will include “transportable type buildings”.
Works may include “modification to buildings off-site” and supply and transport of buildings.
NAG have been further angered to learn from Senator Nigel Scullion that a letter he wrote to Minister for Central Australia Elliott McAdam in November last year, proposing an alternative site for a donga camp, was never replied to.
The site was the old Quarantine land, a vast area off the Stuart Highway to the right, just after the Adelaide turnoff.
NAG asked Mr McAdam about the letter from Senator Scullion at their meeting with the Minister during the Alice Springs parliamentary sittings.
They say Mr McAdam deemed the letter to have come too late because the applications for exceptional development permits for the Dalgety Road and Len Kittle Drive sites had already been made.
Mr McAdam told the Alice News, via a spokesperson, that his office “informed Senator Scullion that as the two demountable sites were development applications lodged by an entity of the Federal Government, Indigenous Business Australia (IBA), he should contact Minister Brough’s office”.
“Senator Scullion’s letter suggesting use of the quarantine site was submitted 16 days after the IBA had made development applications at Dalgety Road and Len Kittle Drive.”
“IBA were the proponents on behalf of the Federal Government and could have applied to develop the quarantine site as well as or instead of Len Kittle Drive and Dalgety Road.”
Senator Scullion told the News, also through a spokesperson, while he was disappointed with the lack of response to his letter, the siting of the temporary accommodation facilities had always been a matter for the Northern Territory government.
“I had numerous meetings with constituents last year about the proposed sitings and  it seemed all possible avenues for the sites had not been exhausted,” Senator Scullion said.
“I made a suggestion in good faith about a possible alternative site but I have no idea if that site was ever considered or, if it was, why it was rejected.
“But from the outset, it has been clear that the selection and approvals for the sites was the  province of  NT Government. It’s not a case where the Commonwealth can say ‘we think you got it wrong, we want it over there instead’.
“It is disappointing that the process has hit more than its share of speed bumps.”
So basically, Mr McAdam says it’s the Commonwealth’s fault, and Senator Scullion says it’s the Territory Government’s fault.
Where does the buck stop? According to NAG, Mr McAdam also said that Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough wanted two sites, and Senator Scullion was only proposing one.
Says NAG spokesperson Jerry Fitzsimmons: “What NAG is mindful of is that there was a due process in place for residents and stakeholders to respond to the proposed sites which was open until December 16, 2006.
“Senator Scullion’s letter to Minister McAdam was dated November 28, 2006.
“We are very concerned that the NT Government not only rejected Senator Scullion’s proposal by not responding to him but they continued to ignore the submissions and petitions from town residents and business people who submitted prior to December 16, 2006 and finally, the 98% of residents, business people and Indigenous people who attended the Development Consent Authority (DCA) meetings, rejecting the two sites.
“The DCA, itself a government body, also did not approve the two sites, however, Minister Delia Lawrie and her Cabinet colleagues saw fit to proceed.”
Ms Lawrie as Minister for Planning and Lands signed off on the exceptional development permits for the donga camps on March 13.
Yet, says Mr Fitzsimmons, “in our discussions with both Ministers Lawrie and McAdam we were advised that we should now be encouraging people to campaign against the Commonwealth Government”.
To this end the group met with Ross McDougall, a senior bureaucrat in the Commonwealth’s Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination in Alice Springs, on April 26, presenting him with a document outlining alternative options for short term accommodation in Alice Springs, as opposed to the two current sites.
They have also written to Mr Brough with their concerns.
But in light of the Qantec McWilliam advertisement, which NAG describes as “despicable, arrogant and contemptuous”,  it seems they have been wasting their breath.

Infringement notice with a sting.

Barbara Curr is recovering from quadraplegia, learning to walk again.
A counsellor, she still works four hours a week in the business she and her partner run, Alice People Services.
Because of her illness they rented rooms in Anangu House, where the Office of the Chief Minister and MLA Loraine Braham’s office are located as well as a number of health-related services, including one for hearing.
Alice People Services chose this location because of the disability carpark directly in front of the entrance to the building.
On April 23 Ms Curr received an infringement notice for parking there: this was how she found out that the carpark had been moved.
She hadn’t noticed that the markings on the road had been blacked over (despite this they are still clearly visible) and that the disability parking sign had been moved further along Gregory Terrace.
She says the council acted without consultation.
And the new site, in her view, is far more dangerous: people using it to access Anangu House, including the hearing impaired, have to cross three driveways.
She herself cannot walk the distance from the new spot to Anangu House.
Michelle Castagna, long time disability advocate and a member of  the town council’s Access Advisory Committee, admits there could have been better consultation with tenants of Anangu House.
“We discussed this at our last committee meeting and in future we will do better,” she says.
But she maintains that it was the right decision.
She says the committee was approached by people in the community using the carpark “who felt their safety had been compromised”.
She says the carpark was exposed to a lot of traffic turning the corner from Bath Street and to traffic exiting the Coles carpark.
There may never have been an accident at the spot but “do we wait for an accident to happen?” asks Ms Castagna.
She says the hearing impaired are very used to looking to the left and right before crossing a road or driveway.
She realises there may be problems for some people using walking aids but says there are problems associated with every access site in town.
“We can’t please everyone.”

One determined guy: Blind alderman in quest for Arafura Games gold.

Murray Stewart, well known around town for his robust political views, also has some private passions. He offered this first person account as “an inspiration to all, particularly those over 40”.

My story begins in 1982 when I was 19.  I was fit and fast as a track and field runner.
At the National Blind Sports Championships held in Sydney, I won the 60 and the 400 metre events. In the 60 metres I broke the Australian vision impaired record, clocking 7.1 seconds.
At that time, it was the second fastest in the world for a vision impaired track athlete.
At this tender age, the enormity of this achievement was not enough to keep me in the sport.  College and business commitments diverted me from this passion for some 21 years.
Having arrived in Alice Springs and approaching my 40th birthday, I made a pledge to myself to get back onto the track and once again become competitive. 
My first outing was certainly confronting.  After trotting around for 400 metres, I truly considered an ambulance. So poor was my fitness, that it only served to sharpen my competitive desire.  I was  not going to accept such mediocrity. 
With persistence, dedication and fight over the coming months, my cardio vascular integrity improved rapidly. 
My sessions became tougher and my resolve stronger.  I wanted not only to be competitive amongst other vision impaired runners, but also with those who are sighted.
In 2005, I entered the Australian Blind sports track and field titles at the Sydney Olympic Stadium.  I truly amazed myself when, with my guide runner Tim Pearson, I won both the 800 and 1500 metre events.  I was back in business.
I then wanted to make a true statement of equality.  That statement was indeed made at the 2006 Alice Springs Masters Games when I achieved, in my age category against sighted competitors, gold over 3000 metres, silver over 800 metres and bronze in the much coveted masters mile.  My relentless training regime, which consists of many hours of boxing, cycling, weights and running has continued. 
I am now determined to take on other vision impaired runners from 11 countries at the upcoming Arafura Games in Darwin in the 800 and 1500 metre events.
Yes, physically these young men are well seasoned athletes and half my age (by the way I am now 44), but if mental steel has got anything to do with  it, they will have to be well and truly in the zone to beat me. 
My ultimate goal after these games is the 2008 Alice Springs Masters Games and the 2009 World Masters Games in Sydney where I hope to become the fastest Masters middle distance runner in the world for the vision impaired.
My category is T11, which means totally blind.  I run with a guide runner who is attached to me with a device consisting of two pvc tubes as handles held together by a nylon rope. 
In competition I also wear an eye mask similar to the Qantas sleeping masks.  I guess this rule is there to confirm a totally blind athlete status. 
My runner is identified by wearing a brightly coloured vest.  He must not assist me with any forward motion, therefore despite tremendous effort and speed, he must be skillful, remaining either at my side or slightly behind.
I am so full of appreciation for those  who have bled and burnt with me on the track assisting me in my goals to become competitive.  At first it was a simple word of mouth scenario.  Anyone would do provided they had a willingness to get fit.  
As my fitness has improved, by necessity, those who I could call on have become more elite but everyone who has assisted, I carry with me in my heart with every success.
My first event in Darwin is the 1500 metre race on May 13 and then the 800 metre on May 16.  Both events will be held under lights at the Marara Stadium in Darwin.
I hope to kick ass for Alice and my guide runners.

Battling family embraces web business.

After a 20 year fight seeking justice for her husband Douglas Bruce Scott, who died in custody in Darwin in 1985, Letty Scott has turned to the arts to make a better life for herself and her children.
Together with her son, Nathan, she has founded a business, Chetachyre Enterprise, to showcase the art and music made by members of her Central Australian Aboriginal family.
Says Letty: “Through Chetachyre I want to bring happiness to my children and my family of mankind, our colours, song and dance will warm your hearts”.
Of Anmatyerre and Irish descent, Letty was born at Glen Helen Station, Raggarts Well.  Her father was Bill (Arthur William) Gibson from Bombala in NSW.
Letty and her sister Rhubee are daughters of Lucy Gibson nee Briscoe Nampijimpa, from Yuelumu, to the north-west of Alice Springs.
Their family circle reads like a who’s who of the greats of Central Australian Aboriginal art.
They are blood family to Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (uncle), Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri (uncle), Albert Namatjira (uncle), Emily Kame Kngwarraye, and Billy Stockman, and aunties to Walangari Wangardi Karntawarra Jakamarra, also known as Colin McCormack.
Rhubee describes Letty ‘s designs and paintings as “vibrant and colorful, eye popping, eye catching”, all promoting  “the themes of the Central Australian Desert”.
“Chetachyre “ means “peoples” in the Anmatyerre language.  It has its home in cyberspace although it recently rented a gallery in Glebe, Sydney for a successful 10-day selling show.
The business is looking for architects, textile and clothing designers and companies as collaboarators.
Says Letty: “I need to meet business men and women in the textile industry to put my artworks and  designs on to clothing, throughout the world.
“When I build my business, I will have the money to help many other people who need help, that is my vision, to build Chetachyre Enterprises and draw people to the wonderful majesty of the deserts of Central Australia, where I grew up with my mother and her peoples, the Anmatyerre, Arunta, Katayj, Walpiri, and our extended families of all the other tribes.
“Chetachyre have the products and we will paint to make the world happy.  We paint to lift the spirits of each person that comes across our artworks.”  
Says Rhubee: “Letty has said to me on many occasions, ‘If you really want to achieve anything, just believe and follow your passion.  If you see it in your mind, you will see it in your hand.’ 
“Letty is an inspiring lady who has not let hard times hold her back. She turned her hand to the arts to ‘paint her way out of hell’.”
Letty and family will be returning to Alice Springs for this year’s Alice Desert Festival.
Says Letty: “Central Australia is always in our hearts and minds.
“We promote Alice Springs, Larramba, Yuelumu, Hermannsburg and Santa Theresa artists to anyone we meet from all walks of life.
“All of my resources and life was put on hold as I fought 20 years for justice and Sydney has been our place of residence.   
“My vision of having my own business was born in Sydney that’s why it is located here. 
“We will be keeping the business to a managable size to begin with, but as we grow the money we get from the  sales of our artworks will go back into build up our business and to eventually have our own gallery located in Alice Springs.
“Our hearts have been calling us home for awhile. We are looking forward to coming home.”
Letty’s on-line gallery is at

Untamed, unashamed: please explain. By DARCY DAVIS.

“When next you hear them call me a racist and a bigot, remember it is not just me they speak of, but everyone who believes in these things of which I speak,” said Pauline Hanson in her April 1997 speech launching One Nation.
Last Wednesday at Pauline’s promotion of her autobiography, the crowd was very much divided along the lines of the people who believe in those things, and those who don’t.
Those against came out firing, with local writer Jennifer Mills even going to the point of dressing herself as a member of the KKK, carrying a sign saying “Send Aborigines Back To Their Own Country”.
“I often get called a racist” responded Pauline. “I’m not racist, I’m simply proud of Australia and being Australian. I’ll scream it from the rooftops.”
Those who were there for the details of the autobiography “Untamed and Unashamed” and stories of her life, got just that.
She spoke of her family, the fish and chip shop and her time in prison.
“I was sentenced to prison after a case based on lies, perjury and political assassination,” she said.
“I read a lot in gaol, and the mail, that kept me going, over 4000 letters. But I realised I was there so I could help others. I even made friends with an Aboriginal woman.”
She also spoke of her “great experience” on “Dancing with the Stars”: “The only reason I stayed on so much was because I had so much public support.”
A phone rang and a voice answered loudly, “I’m at a Pauline Hanson speech, it’s really boring … I’m interrupting her as much as possible.”
“There’s no grey with me,  it’s one way or another,” Pauline continued.
“My friend Nathan says hello, Pauline,” the woman interjected.
“I won’t be running for One Nation, but I will stand as an Independent in the Queensland Senate in the next Federal Election.”
In a question and answer session,  a member of the audience asked, “What will you be doing during your stay in Alice, Pauline?”
“We’re going to Ormiston Gorge tomorrow,” she replied.
“What time will you be there, Pauline?” asked someone, chuckling.
Another person asked whether she would consider being a judge in a fashion show that was being held.
“You’d be good Pauline,” interjected another voice, “you’re very judgmental!” 
One man raised his hand and asked very politely, “Under the Australian court of law, racism is considered a crime – do you think you might get a second trip to jail?”
As the momentum of questions slowed down, I thought I would enquire about the meaning behind a comment in a recent radio interview about Pauline not having a problem with the “Christian Muslims”.
“There was no meaning in the Christian Muslim statement,” she said, the apparent contradiction obviously needing no explanation.
Pauline was then thanked for her visit and presented with the local anthology of poetry and short stories, “The Milk in the Sky”.
“How ironic,” a woman interjected. “the cover story to that book was written by the same woman who was protesting!”
I waited behind afterwards to have a quick word with Pauline.
“Did you expect such animosity?” I asked.
 “Sorry?” she replied.
“Did you expect such different views and opinions?”
“No, I was quite surprised – it was supposed to be a book launch.”

Dialogue with the earth. REVIEW by KIERAN FINNANE.

Daphna Yalon wanted to speak to the earth and the earth responded.
The sun over Ilparpa valley went down behind purple rainclouds and on the horizon sweeps of rain could be seen against the last light.
Approaching the claypans, there was an unfamiliar glow through the trees, the steady light of electricity rather than the flickering of a campfire.
And there it was – a white cube, emanating golden light, and seeming to hover above the ground.
A minimalist purity of form but in its location at the claypans, just outside Alice Springs in the middle of the Central Australian desert, half a world away from Yalon’s home country, Israel, there was clearly more than form amongst the artist’s concerns.
The occasion was the opening last Saturday of Shifting Ground, a program of art over 21 days with a vision of linking people to nature, art and ideas. Yalon and Elad Rabinovich, who is documenting her work, are among the program’s several interstate and international guests.
Yalon’s work, Sensuous Earth 3, is elegantly simple. The cube is a roofed space, with a doorway, window openings and a floor – a minimalist representation of shelter and of settlement. You could see it as the foundation form of the colonisation of Australia, and of lands around the world, including Israeli where another of Yalon’s cubes has recently been in process.
The work’s reference to shelter was soon spelt out. The wind changed direction, projection and sound equipment were covered, ants were biting and the rain came. Brave poets continued their readings as there was a flurry amongst the audience – would this last, how wet could we tolerate becoming?
Children in the crowd ran straight for the cube and huddled inside.
It was time for Yalon to begin the performance aspect of her work.
About half the audience had left. The art diehards gathered together under a few umbrellas, jumpers and shawls.
Yalon sang “Rivers of Babylon” in Hebrew and then in English, with lots of people (remembering the 1978 hit by Boney M) joining in the latter.
The lyrics of this song,  based on Psalm 137, are about the Jews “carried away in captivity” after the Babylonian conquest of Jersualem and remembering their homeland – Zion. They are required to sing a song but how can they sing their song “in a strange land”?
The song made clear the broad net that Yalon casts with her work: the ancient, worldwide and ongoing history of peoples moving across the earth, sitting down in lands not their own, yearning for lost homelands, inflicting the same suffering on others they displace.
It made the link between Israel and Australia and their colonising histories, which she underlined with a gift of small jars of sand from Israel for traditional owners and Kieren Sanderson, producer of Shifting Ground.
Then Yalon went inside; parents called and gathered up their children.
From a white bucket she produced a small brush and swept the tiled floor. Then she took a wet cloth and washed each tile, rinsing and wringing the cloth as she went.
Quiet, deliberate. Enduring gestures of women’s work in the domestic space.
She finished and rested a while.
Then she took a crow bar and in the same quiet, deliberate manner, levered out the central floor tile and began to scoop out the dirt beneath.
“Why are you digging a hole?” a guileless child asked through the window.
The answer was devoid of art speak, of pretension:
“I want to meet the earth,” said Yalon, “to feel it, to see what it tells me.” 
Outside the child and friends began playing in the dirt, making an enclosure, like a farmyard, and then a model car.
Inside Yalon dug out a small well and, placing a candle at the bottom of it, lit it – a simple gesture of making sacred.
Then she wrote, using the different coloured sands from Israel (again making the explicit link): “When our hearts are one with the earth, it’s a hearthbeat.”
Some of this felt to me rather naive, but its simplicity in the end was disarming. When has a simple statement about the importance of connection with the earth ever been more relevant? And in Central Australia the statement immediately reaches into that other layer, the relationship of the settler society with traditional owners.
At the ideas incubator, which preceded Shifting Ground and fed into it, senior Arrernte woman Margaret Mary Kemarre, known as MK, was asked how she relates to Todd Mall.
Her answer made no mention of the buildings, the paving, the seating, the shade structures.
“That old tree is still standing,” she said, referring to a massive red river gum, sacred to the Arrernte, that has been preserved in the middle of the mall, opposite the sails (and is protected by law).
She called it the “foundation tree”, which “represents the people of this place”. She referred to the many other red river gums still standing in the mall and the surrounding CBD, as well as growing in and along the Todd River (Lhere Artepe) that runs through the town.
She was asked whether she could still feel the energy of the land, underneath the town?
Yes, she said, “the foundation is still here, that’s how people see it”.
Yalon’s work opens up to this perspective.
(Sensuous Earth 3 will evolve over the coming days until a final performance next Wednesday, May 16, at the claypans, 3-7pm.)

ADAM CONNELLY: Did you see yourself on the telly?

I had a strange reaction to the Today Tonight program aired last week.
There was this beautiful town with its heart open, bleeding in front of the nation. Real people with real concerns about the problems we face and there I was in my lounge room thinking, “Hey look…there’s my mate Nick. And that’s Dave Douglas!”
The issues raised in the story are, to us here, obvious and part of our everyday. Therefore I wasn’t focused on the plot but rather the characters. Hopefully others outside Central Australia didn’t have such a reaction.
I’m still not sure what my take is on the program. When you compare it to the dodgy plumber rorting Centrelink or to amazing weight loss secrets stories that make the lead on many of Today Tonight’s shows, it was fairly well done, I thought.
But in that quintessential Australian tradition, I am a little wary of airing my dirty laundry. I love living here and the idea that others will now see it as a seedy den of crime and poverty and nothing else makes me a little sad and angry. Not at the producers of the program, but at the people charged with doing something about it.
We all know that there are people doing amazing things here in the Centre and for the country to have a poor view of the town irks me more than I thought it would.
While, in the light of the program, the irony of having “Race Day” as this week’s public holiday is not lost on me, I’ll move on to something more positive.
And let’s start with public holidays. I love them. Most of us do. Sure it is a pain for businesses and workplaces. Sure it costs 10% more to eat out on a public holiday.
Sure no one feels like going to work the day after but in the scheme of things, at the end of the day, when you boil it down, it’s a day off work.
Now don’t get me wrong (especially if my boss is reading this) I love my job. It’s really, really great. And he’s a very handsome man. Really.
But how good are days off? Sleep in until mid-morning.
Bum around the house and watch trashy daytime television, eating cereal for lunch.
It’s just like being unemployed again, with the added benefit that all your mates aren’t working either. No unemployment guilt to worry about.
We are a town of hard workers. Therefore we are a town of people who really appreciate the benefits of being forced not to work from time to time.
I’m a man of simple pleasures and enjoy a lounge, a beer and a remote control all under my command.
Alice Springs as a whole must be of that mind too. I have never lived in a place with so many public holidays.
In Sydney we only get the major ones. The Christian holidays, Labour Day, Queen’s Birthday, Anzac and Australia Day. But here, here in God’s own country, we are blessed with incredible goodness. A smorgasbord of public holiday delights.
This may not be the land of milk and honey but it is the land of sleep ins and Mondays off.
Cup day is a superb invention. How did that come about? “Hey, do you reckon we need a Monday where everyone in town can dress up, drink, socialise and pretend to know about horse racing?”
“I think we do.”
But just when you think the Easter, Anzac Day, Cup Day holiday glut is over, along comes such masterstrokes as Territory Day and Show Day and my personal favourite, Picnic Day.
We have a holiday based on the al fresco consumption of cold meat, cheese and alcoholic beverages.
Does anyone actually have a picnic on picnic day? Is it wrong not to? Is that like not going to church at Christmas? Rules I have still to master.
So in the upcoming months I will be doing my best to fully appreciate each and every glorious second of the time off. It’s my duty as a citizen of Alice Springs.

LETTERS: " I want to break legs!"

Sir,– It’s 10.37am on Sunday morning and I feel nothing but anger!  I would like to break some legs!!
I’m in my office and I have just received a call from the Boomerang Gallery over the road, who tell me that we have a smashed window.
I investigate, and sure enough, there is a great hole; there is broken glass all over the carpet and a great rock right down the end of the shop, some 15 metres from the broken window.
The rock is as big as my fist – a rock that can’t be found close by our premises.  This indicates to me that it was clearly premeditated.  That is, the culprit set out to do this way before he arrived in front of the shop.  I really want to break legs!!
I called up Neata Glass and spoke to a nice young fellow.  He is going to have to call someone else out because he is flat out repairing other broken windows around town!!  He names a few –  Bush Fairy, two others in the Coles complex, and two at some schools ...  I want to break legs even more so!!!
When was the window broken?  I haven’t a clue as the alarms didn’t go off. 
Did a patrolling police, or a patrolling security spot it it??  Obviously not, yet we are in the heart of Alice! 
Who did it? I haven’t a clue!  
Am I going to report it to the police? No!  Why not?  Well, if I ring and they happen to answer the phone, I’ll be told to come to the station and report it!  There is no way that they would come and investigate it! 
If I go to the station I will probably have to get in line behind dozens of others and I’ll miss half my day, which includes our junior cricket club’s presentation day beginning very shortly!!
As you can probably tell –  I am very pissed off!!  I don’t know how many times I have had my windows broken now.  I will seriously think about shutters – those gorgeous things that uglify towns!! 
Others will follow and we’ll start to look like the main street of Tennant Creek and other outback towns in western NSW!!   Not what we want, is it?  But it will happen very soon if we don’t get appropriate law and order!!    And that means arrests, convictions and jail (or hard labour)!!  Not bloody warning after bloody warning!!!
As I am about to press the send button here, I receive a call from the police stating that someone had reported [my broken window] earlier this morning and they are on their way to investigate.  The time is now 11.16am and I am required to give a statement – so I will be late for the presentation!!
One last comment here – can we have some law and order whereby the street policeman can go home at the end of the shift and say,  “Well, I’ve done a good job today – the town’s in good order thanks to myself and mates”  rather than the frustrations they go through!!!
Tim Jennings
General Manager, Mbantua Group of Companies

Drunks with sweet breath

Sir,–  Am I the only one thinking that things are getting a bit silly here in the Centre?
Our list of restricted substances may soon be expanding from glue, spray paint and wine bladders to include long-neck beer bottles and mouth wash!
And let’s not forget petrol. We have all had to change from unleaded to Opal simply because some parents or some cultures are unwilling to discipline their own children.
Meanwhile, close to $80m on offer from the Federal Government may go begging if the town camps choose to continue in their present squalor rather than sort out a new lease arrangement.
And while we would all like to see an end to river camping, it’s a bit hard to move people on when we have failed to provide anywhere to move them on to. 
Why can no one in town agree on where to build temporary accommodation facilities? 
It’s not as if we don’t need them.
Perhaps I should look on the bright side of life.  While the homeless drunks arguing, fighting and defecating in the Todd Mall and in the park next door may pong like only unwashed drunks can pong, at least they have sweet breath.
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Long term solutions

Sir,– The Australian Association of Social Workers NT Branch (AASWNT) believes that a careful and considered response is required to the issues of law and order and violence in Alice Springs, which have been highlighted through protest meetings, other forums and various media outlets recently. 
AASWNT joins with other voices in the Alice Springs community in calling for responses which attempt to address the underlying causes of the violence, and work on long term solutions.
 There is no denial that there are significant issues with violence in Alice Springs. Increasing violence is an issue for the whole community and it is important that we get the right responses in place now, so that lasting change is possible.
The AASW NT do not believe that “get tough” approaches, as called for in a number of quarters recently, are the best or only solution to problems of violence in Alice Springs.
The community as a whole cannot afford to ignore the underlying causes of violence and crime. If we view violence as a social or public health issue – not just a criminal justice issue – then we can put more resources into preventing and reducing violence.
In Alice Springs, this approach is particularly relevant when it comes to youth-related violence.
The AASWNT calls on the local and NT governments to engage with the Alice Springs youth sector to strengthen and broaden existing services.
There are a whole range of services and supports already in place in our town, helping to keep young people out of offending behaviour – but agencies and workers struggle to keep up with the huge demand for services.
Interventions at critical periods, such as adolescence, have the most long term impact, so services for young people is one area in which a serious commitment of resources can make a difference.
Areas where further resources are required to enhance youth services in Alice Springs include:
· Provision of safe places or “spaces” for young people to “hang out” together, supported by youth workers.
· Activities (alcohol and other drug free) available for extended hours, effectively keeping young people off the streets.
· Development of activities in consultation with young people – and ensuring activities are affordable.
· Increasing transport options from Alice Springs to remote communities.
· More resources allocated for therapeutic family interventions to address family dysfunction.
· A Youth Specific Alcohol & other Drug Residential Rehabilitation Service.
· Alternatives to prison for non-serious offences, which would include access to intensive support services that include rehabilitation, counseling and educational programs.
Jonathan Pilbrow
AASW Social Justice Committee Alice Springs

Alice Springs: just another tourist town

Sir,– I’ve just noticed an item in your paper from 2002 (Letters, November 6) concerning my father, George Chippendale, and his work in the NT during the 1950s and 60s.
He was and remains a pioneer in his field, Australian flora, eucalypts in particular, a lot of which knowledge was obviously gained initially in the NT. He is widely recognised for this and has been over many years now.  Whatever differences he had with various station owners has really proved his information to be accurate despite their personal differences.
Droughts are not predictable and man has no control over them. This is even more relevant today when we have a Prime Minister who seemingly refuses to accept the obvious regarding climate.
I too worked in the NT for a number of years and I can only state that what George experienced from a myopic community was exactly what I experienced decades later.
The bureacracy and “ruling class” of the Territory is populated by people who are frightened of being “bettered” and will do almost anything to put down anyone who has superior knowledge or skills. And I mean almost anything. 
In this regard people don’t matter as long as certain individuals can have a short term “win” and hide their own deficiencies.
I suspect the interaction between George and the stations owners was identical, fear rather than knowledge.
I don’t seek to defend George workwise in any way as his work and relevant relationships were kept at work.
I write rather to firstly thank Des Nelson who has been a staunch friend of my father’s for about 50 years now, both at work and later, outside work.
I must correct Des on one thing though. George was, and remains, a pessimist.
As far as running away from Alice Springs as a result of the drought breaking, I find those comments personally disgusting as I know exactly why our family left the Alice. It was personal, pure and simple. George would have stayed except for family matters and it is abhorrent to me that anyone seeks or sought to impose other reasons on what was the end result of family tragedy, still being felt today.
The Alice is where I spent my youth and it seems the town has a hold on me. I’ve been there so often it seems rather like a collection of still photographs showing a town change from one that was unique to now a town that is just another tourist attraction.
Regardless my heart remains there and the town holds a special place in my life. Always will. I only wish the residents there knew what a great place the Alice was and could still be.
Ross Chippendale

Rudd’s N-dump

Sir,– The Northern Territory is the most likely site of a national nuclear waste facility under a Rudd Labor Government.
For all the huff and puff of the Member for Lingiari, a Rudd Labor Government will have no choice but to find a place somewhere in Australia to store the radioactive waste from around the country.
The recent ALP national conference went no further than promising to “not proceed with the development of any of the current sites identified by the Howard government in the Northern Territory.”
(That is, at Harts Range, Mt Everard and Fisher’s Ridge.) Complete weasel words.
If the ALP were serious, it would rule out storing waste in the Northern Territory, full stop.Of course it won’t do that, because Labor knows a Rudd Labor Federal Government would need a national waste repository, as much as a Howard Government does and it also knows the Territory is the most likely site.
Rather than pretending that the Northern Territory won’t be Labor’s first choice for a national waste facility, Warren Snowden should tell Territorians were he and Rudd intend to store the radioactive waste currently kept at our hospitals and the radioactive waste that will be generated when the Radiation Oncology unit starts up in Darwin.
Does he believe that waste should continue to be stored, without adequate security, in the basements of our public hospitals?
If he doesn’t, then where would he store that waste?
Do Snowdon and Rudd propose to stop all radio-isotope production for cancer treatment in Australia and stop the Radiation-Oncology Unit in Darwin before it has even started?
Adam Giles
CLP candidate for Lingiari

Sack town council

Sir,– Now that the South Australian TV program has shown the world the degradation people are allowed to live in and Alice Springs residents are expected to tolerate, one wonders why NT based TV programs have not given subject the same attention the Alice Springs News and 8HA have. 
It would be a big ask from the government that raises unqualified, inexperienced people to Ministerial level and then backs their imbecilic decisions; that gained for itself the distinction of being the only Australian government to be booed, followed up a few hours later by public uncouth behaviour.
Surely they must know that enough is enough. 
All of Alice Springs problems stem from the failure of local government over the past six years, and the Minister for Local Government could, and should have acted under Section 264 of the Local Government  Act in place sine December 14, 2005, which gives him the power to dismiss council for “its failure to provide good government of its council area in relation to the functions vested in it.” 
Gerry Baddock
Alice Springs

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