June 14, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Hapless Burke sparked off national parks grab. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Prime Minister John Howard was told by Opposition Leader Denis Burke not to object to a plan by Chief Minister Clare Martin to transfer Territory National Parks, including the West MacDonnells, into Aboriginal ownership.
And that led to an undertaking by Mr Howard to Ms Martin to “schedule” the parks under the Land Rights Act, a proposal that has caused sustained outrage by many in Central Australia.
This has been revealed by Senator Nigel Scullion (CLP) who is battling to stop the handover of the parks.
He says the conversation between Mr Burke and Mr Howard took place between the 2001 NT election, in which the CLP lost government, and the 2004 poll, when Mr Burke lost his seat and his Parliamentary party was reduced to just four Members.
Senator Scullion says his campaign to keep the parks in public hands is now hampered by the Prime Ministerial promise.
Says Senator Scullion: “The issue is, way back when, John Howard met with Denis Burke.
“They spoke about the scheduling.
“Denis Burke said no, no, don’t get in the way of it, we don’t have an issue.
“Chief Minister Clare Martin had made the application and Howard asked Burke, do you have problem with this.
“Denis Burke said no.
“Clare Martin then again went to see the Prime Minister and said, look, do we have a problem with this, and he said, no, we’ll be fine.
“So, the Prime Minister himself has given an undertaking, that he will do something, in good faith, because the representative of the Opposition here had said he didn’t have a problem.
“That’s the circumstances we’re in, which makes it difficult,” says Senator Scullion.
“But I think we should put aside any undertakings and look at what’s in the best interest of the people in the Northern Territory.
“When [someone like the Prime Minister makes] an undertaking at that level they will generally stick to their word.
“However, when you make undertakings you have to recognise that if you don’t have all the facts available to you at the time, and new facts and information are provided to you, then it’s quite reasonable to reconsider that undertaking.
“We are continuing to provide new advice about the feelings of people, which seems to run in the face of so-called consultation from the Northern Territory Government.
“[One aspect is the] outrage of the difference between the northern and the southern sections.”
Senator Scullion says only very few parks are affected in the north, whereas public ownership of almost all parks in Central Australia will be lost.
The issue was discussed last year at a big public meeting in Alice Springs, and 7000 people have signed a petition to stop the handover.
It would be followed by a 99 year lease-back to the NT Parks Service but Aborigines, represented by the Central Land Council, would have wide ranging influence over the running of the parks.
The current Opposition Leader, Jodeen Carney, has spoken out vigourously against the handover.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff has said she is in favour of it.
Labor MLA Warren Snowdon has advocated an immediate scheduling, and there is little doubt it would take place should a Federal Labor Government be elected later this year.
The scheduling has now been delayed for about two years.
Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough says: “The Government has not changed its position. 
“This is a matter for the NT Government.
“Our position was made public some time ago and has remained consistent.”
Says Senator Scullion, who is the Minister for Community Services and the Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate: “There are a number of pieces of land awaiting scheduling [as Aboriginal land under the Land Rights Act].
“By way of comparison, the Cox Peninsula, the Kenby Land Claim, has been due for scheduling for, I think, about 12 years.
“There are a number of issues of contention.
“The Commonwealth isn’t under any obligations, in terms of timing, to schedule anything.
“We will be taking our time to consider these matters, as we are now.
“They are difficult issues. Has everybody been consulted?
“As a Territory representative I’ve been saying [handing over the parks to Aboriginal ownership] is not a reasonable thing to do.
ED – The News left a message on Mr Burke’s telephone answering service but he did not reply.

Finke crowns head south.

Horror of horrors, for the first time interstaters are Kings of the Desert in both the two wheel and four wheel Finke races.
Hayden Bentley and Ben Chivell from Port Pirie, driving a Jimco Buggy 6000cc, triumphed with a total race time of 4.6.56 in the Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race.
Bentley came third in 2005 and second last year.
Local bike favourite Ryan Branford ceded his crown to NSW rider Ben Grabham, who came third last year.
On a Honda CRF 450R 450cc, Grabham’s total race time was 4.19.4.

Alice loses Mal’s $60m: Will his $20m go, too? By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Having lost $60m in Federal money for upgrading the town camps, there is now a growing likelihood that Alice Springs will lose a further $20m for two temporary camps.
Minister for Community Services Nigel Scullion, the Territory’s CLP Senator, says the Territory Government has done nothing to find a new site for one of the camps after sacred sites custodians have knocked out the location previously chosen.
And the town council hasn’t replied to the Federal Government’s offer to start work on the second location, adjacent to the Alice Springs show grounds, Blatherskite Park.
Senator Scullion (pictured) says the $60m will now go to another state, hinting that it may be spent in Broome.
He says there is no case for re-opening negotiations with Tangentyere Council over an issue raised by the council’s layers.
The lawyers said while lease holders of the camps would be required to sub-lease portions of their land on which homes would be built or renovated, to Territory Housing, there was no enforceable undertaking by the Federal Government to actually provide the money promised.
Senator Scullion says the lawyers’ letter was sent to Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough two days before the end of a deadline set by him after some 14 months of fruitless negotiating.
Senator Scullion spoke with Alice News editor ERWIN CHLANDA.
NEWS: The lawyers said the camps are valuable real estate, under perpetual lease, and there is no enforceable commitment from your government to do anything. Why don’t you just sign a contract?
SCULLION: If that was the only issue in the negotiations then that would have been done. There’s a whole range of other issues, including the nature of the development, and people directing who can stay in what dwelling, highlighting the difference between Tangentyere’s view of the world and ours. If they can’t run anything above the level of a ghetto, and they haven’t since time immemorial, why will it change if they now go into land development? It’s just a nonsense.
NEWS: The lawyer’s advice is the only issue Tangentyere has put in the public arena by way of reason for declining the deal. Why don’t you just call their bluff, if that’s what it is, and sign agreements? Thousands of companies do business with the Commonwealth in such a way.
SCULLION: There are some fundamentals that go well beyond that.
They are also dictating what sort of housing model they want. We want normalisation.
We were a long way off an agreement. We have been here for a long time in this space.
We put $60m on the table specifically for the normalisation of the town camps.
NEWS: What does that mean?
SCULLION: Normalisation means suburbia. It doesn’t mean a special model of community housing where people have a say about who goes in what house and what happens in that house.
To says the only difference between us and Tangentyere is that we haven’t signed off on something is just ridiculous, it’s rubbish, just some bureaucratic nonsense, because that’s not what is holding the process up.
What’s holding it up is that they want another model, where people are in charge of a community housing model, and that’s not what we’re offering.
We don’t want to do the same thing with a different name ... giving $60m to people who want a communal model.
We want a normalisation process, so people can own their own homes or there can be a rental process, and have ordinary services so the place looks like the rest of Alice Springs, rather than a ghetto.
NEWS: Tangentyere doesn’t hold the leases. They are held by 18 independent housing associations, completely separate from Tangentyere.
SCULLION: The chairpersons of each housing association make up the executive of Tangentyere. They have made a decision that they don’t want these changes.
NEWS: It seems clear executive members think Tangentyere is in charge, and it has even bluffed some media into believing it. So why has the Federal Government, through its offices in Alice Springs, not approached the associations one by one and explained the deal, the message being that as the leaseholders, they can do as they please.
SCULLION: There are some synergies about infrastructure which would govern how we go about this. [Doing a deal with one camp] is hardly a commitment of $60m.
NEWS: You could just spend $3m per camp.
SCULLION: It needs to be recognised that we need to spend this $60m in one area to make a difference. It’s about mass as well. We can go from one camp to the next, see if it all holds together, irrespective of the tensions it may cause between neighbours, or we can just go to Broome [which would say] let’s go and do it. Or we can come to Alice Springs where we have resistance to assistance. We’d rather go to where we have a much higher level of confidence.
NEWS: Will you be going to Broome?
SCULLION: All I can say at this stage, the money is going to be invested somewhere else, not in the Territory. They had plenty of time. Our offer was simple and genuine.
There are needy communities elsewhere in Australia, where we can make that investment and make a difference.
We made the most generous offer in the world.
But we’re not about giving people what they want, we’re about providing some leadership.
The focus, until about five months ago, was that we can do something significant for the town.
[But the NT Labor Senator Trish Crossin said] “you just wait, you stall and wait a while and we’ll be in government soon and we’ll give you what you want.”
NEWS: Where exactly are we at with the two temporary camps after the location in Dalgety Road was knocked out by sacred sites custodians?
SCULLION: We have asked the Territory Government to find another site, because despite their assurances a sacred sites clearing certificate has not been issued. That was their responsibility. They failed. So we said find another place.
NEWS: Have they found it yet?
SCULLION: Who would know? I certainly don’t. The other issue is, we’ve said to the Alice Springs Town Council, if you want us to start on the southern site [adjacent to the show grounds] we will. We haven’t got an answer back yet. If they have a problem with that site we will go away.
NEWS: You’ll drop the $20m project?
SCULLION: We’ll just go. I suspect nothing will happen.

$1m Emily for wine bar. By KIERAN FINNANE.

When the most expensive Aboriginal painting in the world arrives in Alice Springs in August next year its new home is likely to be in an exclusive wine bar.
Stage Two of renovations underway at Tim Jennings’ Mbantua Gallery will see a high-ceilinged second storey added to the old ice factory at the rear of the present gallery, to accommodate a wine bar, conference rooms and and a south-facing deck with a view across the roofs of the town to the ranges.
The wall at the western end of the bar will be reserved for Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s monumental painting, Earth’s Creation.
Mr Jennings recently purchased the painting at auction for a record $1.05m.
Already the largest commercial art gallery in Alice Springs, with its own permanent collection providing the basis for a small “cultural museum”, Mbantua rivals the publicly owned Araluen Centre for wallspace devoted to the display of visual art.
Now Mr Jennings’ new plans will see the south-western corner of Todd Mall, which takes in also the Flynn Church’s StoryWall with its regular screenings and the music and other arts activities at The Lane,  develop into a mini cultural precinct.
Stage One, already underway, will give Mbantua a Todd Mall frontage, with an al fresco cafe leading into a gallery space.
Stage Two will link this gallery at ground level to the rest of the Mbantua complex and also to the proposed wine bar upstairs (a liquor license has yet to be granted).
Entry to the wine bar will be restricted to visitors paying for entry to the museum and members.
A membership system, subject to approval, is aimed at avoiding problems that can come with serving alcohol.
Acclaimed chef Athol Wark will design a tapas-style menu for the bar, featuring what has become his speciality – native Australian flavours.
It all sounds very appealing, but is a wine bar, however exclusive, the appropriate venue for displaying a major work of art, especially one of vast dimensions (2.75 metres high and over six metres wide, in four panels)?
Will viewers be able to step back far enough to see the work as a whole without tables and chairs and people getting in the way?
Will the lively atmosphere of a bar be conducive to enjoying a work hailed as a masterpiece and compared to the work of international masters – Pollock, Kandinsky, Matisse, de Kooning and Monet.
Mr Jennings assures us that careful attention is being paid, by his own team and by the architect, Penny Campbell of Haysom Architects in Brisbane, to an optimum presentation of the work.
He also says that, despite the size of his premises there is no  place to put the work, because of its dimensions and weight, other than in the planned bar. 
The expansion of the business, including hosting functions and small conferences, is necessary, he says, to underpin the gallery operations, which are only modestly profitable.
For a businessman he is surprisingly forthright.
He says the gallery provides an 11.6% return.
“I’m in debt,” he says, “I do everything in the red!”
He sold a roadhouse in Elliott last year to invest in the expansion.
“I reinvest everything in our business, in this community,” he says. “I don’t plan to go live on the Gold Coast one day.”
He’s been in the art business for 21 years.
“It started off as just another business for me, but it’s grown into a passion,” he says.  “That’s a lot ot do with the people I deal with at Utopia – they’re terrific people.
“They have a great sense of humour, we have some great laughs out there.”
He is very hands on. He does the buying, going out to Utopia every two to three weeks and visiting the artists at their various outstations.
He says he encourages the artists, will reject work he considers substandard – “I know when they’ve rushed it” – but otherwise tries not to intervene.
“A lot of the artists are still painting what they see, it’s their art, it’s not influenced art apart from the influence of their own people in their own communities.
“They’re still painting their dreaming but in a contemporary way.”
He has observed the art change over the two decades: the artists used to paint more “traditional symbols” but now take a “more abstract” approach.
The work has also become more colourful: “I put off introducing colour for a while but then I opened it up, and started to get fantatsic paintings.
“So I have influenced it in some ways, I suppose.”
He is also committed to nurturing new talent. A large section of the present gallery is devoted to displaying small, even miniature, works by emerging artists, some of them just teenagers.
“I’ll always work with new artists.
“A fellow I’ve known for 20 years who didn’t paint, recently asked for canvas and I gave it to him.
“The work’s interesting, he’s experimenting, I’m going to encourage him.”
The cultural museum, opened two years ago and still in development, is “slow” he says.
“Most locals haven’t got a clue it’s here but everyone who comes up loves it.
“Tailormade Tours come every day, we charge a small entry fee, most don’t spend much money.
“It doesn’t yet make what we could have got in renting of the premises but it’ll get there in the end.”
And meanwhile it achieves other goals, he says, exposing people, most for the first time, to Utopian art.
A small corner of the museum is devoted to Emily Kame Kngwarreye.
Mr Jennings owns some 50 paintings by the artist, some of which he intends to eventually sell.
More than 20 are on display in the museum, very modest works compared to Earth’s Creation.
“Nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand visitors to the cultural museum haven’t heard of Emily, so what we’re trying to do is introduce her art to every person.
“I knew Emily, knew her family well.
“There doesn’t have to be a particular story for these paintings.
“She used to say I paint the ‘whole lot’, they’re about anything at all.
“So we try to get the viewers to put their thoughts into the paintings, so that the whole 1000 come out with some understanding.”
With no formal training in art, Mr Jennings is quite uninhibited about how he promotes work.
A panel of photos, taken by daughter Dale Jennings, match patterns naturally occurring in the landscape – patches of froth on a river in flood, leaf litter, flowers, seeds and so on – with reproductions of the artist’s work. A suggestion, nothing more.
Interpretive labels alongside the paintings focus on different personal responses to the work, including Mr Jennings’ own.
Example, accompanying a painting of densely interwoven thick lines: “Imagine you’re ... some small creature whose home is under old dead branches, twigs and leaves. It’s your place of safety ... This painting portrays that place to me: looking skyward – knowing that no-one can see me from ‘up there’!”
He has high expectations of what Earth’s Creation will do for Utopia art as well as for Mbantua and for Alice Springs.
“It will give an enormous sense of pride to the Utopia artists once it is hanging.
“It will encourage people to come and be exposed to Utopia art.
“It will benefit the artists –  I’m sure we’ll see more and better work from them over the coming years.
“I bought it because it comes from here, from the community I represent in my gallery.
“It was commissioned in 1995 by a local, Fred Torres, who had spent many years in Utopia. He’s Barbara Weir’s son and has his own gallery in Adelaide, Dacou Gallery.
“Having it here in Alice Springs is like bringing it home.” 
It will be Alice’s equivalent of Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, which, in good part because of its price, contributed hugely to the profile of the National Gallery of Australia before that gallery was even built. And decades later it remains one of the most popular exhibits there.
“Art lovers from around the world will want to see Earth’s Creation,” says Mr Jennings.  “It’s a national treasure.
“It will bring exposure to Alice Springs, so there will be flow on benefits for the whole town.”
The Alice Springs News asked art historian Sally Butler to comment on Earth’s Creation and how it sits alongside other great art works by artists of the Central Desert. 
Dr Butler did a PhD at the University of Queensland on the reception of Emily Kngwarreye’s art. She is a Lecturer in Art History at UQ, convening a course on Australian Indigenous art, and has written extensively on contemporary Aboriginal art including the recently released book: Our Way, Contemporary Aboriginal Art from Lockhart River, University of Qld Press, 2007.
She writes:– Earth’s Creation is a magnificent example of the fluid dynamic style introduced by the Utopia artists. This painterly approach really invigorated the more ‘mapped’ aesthetic of other communities in the Central Desert.
Utopia artists, and particularly Kngwarreye, excel in this style that suggests how the cycle of seasonal winds circulates seeds and other forms of flora across the desert. 
It is an image about the flourish of life that all Utopia women understand within their traditional knowledge of bush tucker and how to harvest it.
The Alice News also asked her to comment on the way the painting is talked about as “a masterpiece” and compared with “international masters Pollock, Kandinsky, Matisse, de Kooning and Monet”.
Says Dr Butler: Similarities to modernist masters occur through the gestural expressionism of Kngwarrye’s art and how colour is used as a key indicator of content.
Kngwarreye is similar to artists like Kandinsky and Monet etc, in her understanding of how to compose vibrant colour in ways that convey intense emotion and keen insight.
In the hands of lesser artists the combination of bright colour and formlessness results in an incoherent mess, but Kngwarreye and leading modernists understand how to control it, and to make colour speak to us in eloquent ways.  
Earth’s Creation is Mbantua Gallery’s most significant painting by Kngwarreye and perhaps the most significant artwork in the Northern Territory.
 It is a unique and excellent example of one of Kngwarreye’s most popular and proficient styles and will be greatly sought after for major Australian exhibitions.
Kngwarreye was a prolific artist who became white hot on the art market when at the height of her career. This was an unprecedented experience for the artist and she quite naturally rode the wave of success.
This meant that some of her work is rushed and ill considered, however the amazing aspect of Kngwarreye’s art is that she did not just keep doing one successful style, but constantly re-invented her oeuvre and was thus very experimental over a short period of time.
This resulted in many ‘hit and miss’ works but her reputation is staked on the extraordinary number of artworks that she produced that are inspired pieces of visual expression that move people across all ages and cultures.

Peter Garrett’s whole new take on freedom of speech. By FIONA CROFT.

The Alice press pack has gathered: the drawcard is Peter Garrett, 1980s rock star and environmental activist, now a Labor shadow minister and lately getting more air play than Kevin Rudd’s deputy, Julia Gillard.
The scene: the launch of the Ngapartji Ngapartji website, part of a community development project focussed on performing arts and language, involving Pitjantjatjara people living in Alice Springs.
The launch is a nice story, but of course the press also wants to get the low down, face to face, on what Mr Garrett and Labor are going to do if they win the next federal election. 
Mr Garrett enters, tall and thin, not quite as big in his off the rack suit as when he fronted The Oils.  He meets and greets, a beaming smile, warm and gentle handshake, and a “yes” to a one-on-one interview with The Alice Spring News. 
Mr Garrett’s assistant Kate finds the media in Alice “very polite” and a meeting is set up for the following day. It doesn’t eventuate.
Ngapartji Ngapartji means, “I give you something, you give me something back”. Communication was the key message of the day.
The chorus of “Beds are burning” with Mr Garrett joining in is sung in Pitjantjatjara.  The media’s toes are tapping, Mr Garret is beaming even more.
A press conference is scheduled for 1.35-1.45pm.
Mr Garrett holds the Climate Change, Environment, Heritage and the Arts shadow portfolios.
He speaks about the threat to Indigenous languages, a central concern for  Ngapartji Ngapartji.
Then he moves on to the nuclear energy industry – “we’re vigorously opposed” to its expansion in Australia.
Labor is also opposed to the way the radio active waste dump has been foisted on the Territory by the Federal Government. A Labor government would have  proper consultation.
Lingiari MHR Warren Snowdon weighed in at this point: “Let me make it clear that there would be a science-based process of consultation.”
Questioned on the trial of the Pine Gap Four, Mr Garrett claimed to not be “across” the issue.
Would he meet with Christians Against All Terrorism, the group to which the Pine Gap Four belong, here in number as the trial proceeds?
“Well, we’ll see how our timetable goes.”
The media’s 10 minutes are up.
Later that evening people are gathered at the RSL for Mr Garrett’s and Young Labor’s advertised gig. 
Mr Snowdon does his bald joke and says he and Mr Garrett are old uni mates joining to fight John Howard’s government. 
He tells us that Mr Garrett will “address” us and then “rather than have questions off the floor he’ll just circulate and mingle”. 
Mr Garrett launches into a history lesson on the Prime Minister, John Howard, how he’s controlling the agenda in government and public debate, how he characterises people as “un-Australian” if they disagree with his views.
Chatter starts as he continues on about Mr Howard’s “embedding himself in the people’s psyches by putting himself in the centre” of sporting events in his tracksuit.
He urges the crowd to remember children overboard, the AWB scandal, and the Iraq war. 
A protester, Rob, quietly enters carrying a “missile” prop bearing the slogans “$ Peter Garrett Australia’s biggest sell-out”.
He stands at the back of the room in view of the audience.
Three Labor men go and stand with arms across their chests blocking vision of this protest.  Ron is jostled and asked to leave.
And here was Mr Garrett still talking about how, under Mr Howard, “if you don’t agree you are being unpatriotic, not that you just may have a different view of expressing yourself in a way we understand to be a democracy”.
“Rudd’s a supporter of the war,” interjects Bryan Law, one of the Pine Gap Four, who is facing seven years gaol if convicted for his involvement in a Pine Gap protest.
“You’ll have an opportunity to speak at some other time,” says Mr Garrett. 
“Free speech” is shouted from the audience. 
More rhetoric on Labor values and the “Fair go”,  climate change solutions, an emissions trading program by 2010, investment in clean coal technology (boos from the crowd), the green car innovation fund (more booing).
“Low interest loans for solar hot water,” says Mr Garrett. 
“The Feds already have this in place – there’s nothing new,” says David de Vries, who heads up Centre for Sustainable Arid Towns.
The band Mislead Remedies starts playing Bryan Law says he worked closely with Mr Garrett when he was with the Australian Conservation Foundation.
“He was more open to discussion then. I accept that he’s a man of integrity who could become a minister but right now he’s changing into a machine politician.”

The slowly grinding wheels of justice. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Four boys, aged 12 to 14 years, interviewed for unlawful entry and vandalism offences in the Alice CBD over the night of May 5 and 6 were referred to the juvenile diversion unit for assessment on May 30 – 24 days after the  interview of three of them.
Four weeks are allowed for the assessment of suitability for diversion, which will be carried out by case managers, staff from Relationships Australia.
They will be looking at the boys’ backgrounds 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.
Under the Youth Justice Act, introduced in August last year, juveniles must be offered diversion – making amends without going through the courts – unless their offence is among a list of specified serious offences.
One of the youths concerned in this case has appeared before the court. However the court ordered that he be assessed for diversion.
Acting Sergeant Heath Eaves says it won’t be known until after the assessment what kind of diversion the boys will be offered.
Says Sgt Eaves: “All things considered, I think that the processing of these juveniles has been reasonably expedient.”
The Alice News asked psychologist Michael Tyrell, who has decades of experience behind him, for an opinion, not on this specific case, but on the impact on a young person of the time lapsed between their offending action and the requirement for them to make amends.
Mr Tyrell says “the protracted nature of [the process] can water down the impetus for change that usually lasts a short time in the individual in the crisis of being caught out”.
“On the public deterrent side it probably wouldn’t have much more impact than a beating with a wet tram ticket.
“On the restoration side there is probably little choice but to have some delay, although it could be formularised and therefore quicker to get started, for example, a break enter and steal earns a minimum x hours community service involving manual /physical labour.
“Community service, if set up well, is a useful restoration avenue and can also be a deterrent.
“On the rehabilitation front the diversionary program can lead to good things largely determined by a) the quality of the assessment and b) the real and practical rehabilitation and restoration options available.”
Mr Tyrell says these are limited in Central Australia, while an environment which could contain troubled youth while also having them engaged in constructive and creative social learning is absent.
He says traditional counselling usually doesn’t help much with young people acting out in anti-social ways. It’s a “highly culturally determined process which requires relatively good verbal and mindfulness skills”.
He says most young people are “more inclined to learn concrete skills to build their sense of competence, purpose and belonging”.
“The matter is riddled with pitfalls,” he says.
“Strong punishment alone, even relatively immediate, usually doesn’t help repair or prevent the culprits repeating the offences and can be seen as a badge of honour by others so inclined.  Anyone brought up in the days of ‘the cuts’ will recall that.
“Abusing an already abused person is not useful public policy.
“Shaming in front of peers is likely to increase the chances of angry acting out later.”  
Assuming that guilt is not in doubt, he says immediate containment, effective but not traumatic, is important, with
boundaries and routines firmly maintained, reducing exposure to like-minded youth.
Training in skills that lead to meaningful (to the youth) and relevant occupation should be provided to build their sense of competence, belonging and purpose.
This would create motivation to reduce substance misuse
Relapses should be met with sudden unpleasant consequences.
Such a program would require well trained and disciplined staff who have a good grasp of all the issues and work to a quality assurance program.
“These young people can take you to dark places (the ones they’ve been to!),” says Mr Tyrell.  
Such a program would obviously be expensive but, he asks, “like climate change, what cost the alternative?” 
Back to the police, the Alice News asked about parental responsibility for the actions of their children.
Sgt Eaves says parents or responsible adults must be present during police interviews of a juvenile but they do not get asked questions.
“This is not a welfare investigation of the parent, it’s a criminal investigation of the child.
“The parents did not volunteer any information.
“But we are still reporting any welfare concerns to the relevant authority, FACS.”
The Alice News asked: Does a young person have to admit to the offence to be considered for juvenile diversion?
Sgt Mal Guerin of the local Juvenile Diversion Unit says: “When taking restorative justice principles into account, the juvenile must admit their wrongdoings to be suitable for such diversion.
“For example, if they don’t believe they’ve done anything wrong, the diversion will not assist them at all, so the matter would be referred to the courts to decide guilt.”
The Alice News will continue to follow this case. See our previous report and letters to the editor in our issue of May 10.

The Vocal Local. By DARCY DAVIS.

CAAMA Radio has just started a Youth Radio Show!
Shari Larkin is responsible for the show and other initiatives for youth.
Shari is a trainee broadcaster, but in her time at CAAMA, she’s been behind many initiatives to make it a more youth friendly station.
They include the youth radio show, Totally Fresh, and the new youth radio page on the CAAMA website with interviews, polls, chats, forums and local footy results.
“Totally Fresh started the weekend before last – it goes from 8am to midday,” said Shari.  “We do interviews with local bands, chat about what’s happening around town and talk about youth issues.”
The show has been a big success, with phones engaged a lot of the time with requests. “We’ve also gotten an SMS request service for the show – cos kids have got phones.”
There are also plans at CAAMA, as part of the National Youth Crime Prevention program, to develop training for kids to get them involved in all aspects of the media. There will be five schools involved and a target of 200 children.
“It’s not just for Indigenous kids,” said CEO Jennifer Howard.
“It will be offered as part of the curriculum of these schools.”
The course, for kids between Years Seven and 12 will be offered two days a week, with different areas of the media studied over two week cycles.
“The kids will have their own account on the Youth Crime Prevention website,” says Jennifer.
“They’ll be able to upload their finished song, podcast or movie onto the site for anyone to view.”
Well, there you go.


How big was last weekend? It was so big we needed an extra day to fit it all in.
Twelve thousand folk of all persuasions lined the 260 kilometre track like ants looking for crumbs. Except these ants drink bundy, sleep in swags and drive 80 series Landcruisers.
Finke is one of those amazing events that people who aren’t into motor sport or aren’t from Central Australia may not know about.
I can’t believe that I hadn’t heard of the Finke Desert Race before I moved here.
The town goes Finke mad. Williscroft versus Branford, Out of Town experience versus home town grit.
And just like the Olympics or the World Cup, people all over the town become instant experts in all things Finke.
I’ll be the first to admit that the knowledge I have on car engines can be written down on a fairly small piece of paper yet there I was, sitting with some mates and discussing the benefits of the 450cc bike over the heavier 600s.
I’ll be honest. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was talking about but hey…it’s Finke week and it’s all about the banter.
The lead up, the buzz and injection of not just money into the town but also the injection of fun makes this time of year something we all look to with anticipation.
Curiously, I made the decision not to go out to Finke. Much to the disgust of some. For many in this town, not camping out along the stretch of desert they call a track from here to Apatula is a cardinal sin against all things Centralian. From those people I ask for absolution.
I am often amazed that events coincide with each other in Central Australia. How often do you say yes to something and then hear that another event, an event you’d prefer to attend, is on the same night.
I decided to attend the Top Half Folk Festival at Glen Helen last weekend.
Nothing could be further from the petrol, revs and dust that excites the crowd along the Finke track but none the less the 200 or so people that made their way west instead of south had a great time.
What a place for an event! There is some serious country just out of our doorstep and I don’t get to see it enough.
The orange cliffs which change colour on a minute to minute basis in the background and a group of incredibly happy people listening to tunes they love in the foreground.
I knew that Alice Springs had a folksy fringe element to it. There’s enough corduroy about the place to make that fairly evident to even the most introspective members of the community.
What I didn’t know was the passion these people have for their music. I am not a folky.
I’m a bit too urban of sensibility to really get the point of the piano accordion and the tin whistle. However I am a folky sympathiser.
I like them and I like the fact that people who have such a love for a good story have the opportunity to tell them.
I love the fact that 200 people got together and had a whale of a time without any sign of aggro or argument. People were there to enjoy themselves and enjoy themselves they did.
I had a ball.
And I hope whichever activity you chose, you had a blast. I can tell you I did and I didn’t wear one piece of corduroy.

LETTERS: Saving camp leases or lives?

Sir,– Many good and decent people in this town are extremely uneasy about the way things are so obviously getting worse for local Aboriginal people and how their problems are now impacting increasingly on the whole town.
Most we know will not make their unease public because they don’t want to encourage racism – and for good reason.
Now, however, things are getting so bad this is not reason enough.
White racism has never been a problem for our family though we recognise that it has been for many others in the past and is always a potential problem, given our history.
Racists are basically cowards and in this town they keep their heads down.
We love to blame governments and feel triumphant when we believe we’ve beaten them. They haven’t solved all the problems, they aren’t able to and to expect them to is naïve.
They have done a lot of good though.
Our family has been extended tremendous benefits by government agencies over many years, in the areas of health and education in particular.
We are deeply grateful for this and are proud to be part of a nation that cares so much for the well being of its citizens. Most of the rest of the world isn’t so lucky.
The threats our family have been exposed to come from Aboriginal people caught up in a profound crisis that no amount of apologising by the Prime Minister will fix.
It comes from the fact that traditional culture no longer works in the crushingly new and ever changing circumstances now challenging all of us.
Cultures can kill when they no longer work but their rules are still blindly followed.
Only Aboriginal people know or understand their culture enough to find the answers to that conundrum.
Human rights can also kill when the wrong choices are made. Our citizens have the legal right to destroy themselves with alcohol, for example, and the legal right to squander all of their money on the pokies. Many Aboriginal people are very keen to exercise those rights.
One of the most destructive is a de facto, not a legal, right that many Aboriginal kids regularly exercise. They don’t have to attend school because the law that should compel them is not enforced.
Australian citizens can always blame the government for the unfortunate consequences of their choices and there is a whole industry that will encourage us to do that, particularly Indigenous citizens. Isn’t freedom a wonderful thing?
A minority of Aboriginal people, including those in our family, have done very well out of the generous, though often misguided, policies of the governments of the last three decades. Most though have been left behind.
Now Aboriginal people need to take direct responsibility for their predicament – with the support of the wider community of course. Effective leadership must come from those who have done well.
Elsewhere leaders like the Pearsons and Warren Mundine are crying this truth from the roof-tops. Many in this town say the same sorts of things – but rarely in public. The time has come. 
We have sacrificed enough young lives uselessly while running the same old, tired, unworkable politics.
Aboriginal people are killing each other, usually those closest to them.
We are allowing a ‘lost generation’ to grow up with neither a traditional Aboriginal nor a whitefella education. Who will apologise to them when they come to challenge those who now see themselves as leaders?
Most of the town camps – not all – are hell-holes that breed poverty, despair and early death. Everybody knows this, though few seem to want to do anything about it. If what is happening now is “as normal as things are going to get” on the town camps then most of their residents are doomed to a short, violent and disease ridden life, all of which is totally avoidable.
Is that what is meant by self-determination, by Aboriginal control? Normality can kill as well.
Some Aboriginal politicians are corrupt and incompetent, while many are conscientious and over worked – just like whitefella politicians. This should not be surprising, after all we are all of the same species and we are all in this together.
They should all, black and white, be subjected to the same sort of tough scrutiny by the media and by the wider community.
We should not let idiotic comparisons to Hitler’s Germany or facile, deeply offensive references to ‘genocide’, or disingenuous accusations of racism go unchallenged.
If governments have failed and we expect them to recognise that fact and do a better job in future, then we should expect the same of the Aboriginal organisations and the current regime of ‘Aboriginal control’.
Worthwhile leaders would have found a way of taking the money offered by the Federal Government to help relieve the intolerable conditions of so many, increase the life chances of a whole generation of children and save lives, young and old.
Self-congratulation that ‘control’ of a totally intolerable situation has been preserved while the innocent continue to needlessly die is a political obscenity worthy of Robert Mugabe.
Is retaining control over the terms of leases that have nothing to do with Land Rights or Native Title more important than saving innocent lives and ensuring decent living conditions for generations to come?
Let’s allow ourselves, and each other, to publicly state what we believe to be the truth without the bone headed name-calling and political and social bullying that has gone on now for too long.
Only a frank, open and honest debate based on mutual respect will lead to workable solutions for all of us. We challenge the good and decent of this town – black, white and brindle – to make their views public rather than agreeing with us in private only and allowing the crisis to worsen daily.
Dave and Bess Price
Alice Springs
Despicable manners

Sir,– On May 28, I was invited to attend a meeting at the Town Council. I was of the understanding that Mayor Kilgariff, and her aldermen, would welcome attendance and input from the public.
Instead, what I witnessed was behaviour from the Mayor and her aldermen that was not only humiliating but despicable.
Gerry Fitzsimmons of the Northside Action Group politely and in a dignified manner stood up and asked Mayor Kilgariff a number of pertinent questions relating to “Delia’s Dongas”.
Mayor Kilgariff, true to form was unwilling (or unable) to answer any of the questions tabled by Mr Fitzsimmons.
In a final act of rudeness, arrogance and plain stupidity, when Mr Fitzsimmons attempted to ask another question she told him to sit down.
Obviously good manners and common courtesy are not prerequisites for the fine office of the Mayor.
I naively thought that the Town Council was supposed to support local residents, and not insult and denigrate them.
Are the questions from Gerry Fitzsimmons striking a raw nerve with Mayor Kilgariff and her aldermen? What is the Town Council trying to hide or are they merely incompetent?
Some very unkind people might think it appropriate that David Koch became Deputy Mayor by drawing his name from a garbage bin rather than from a hat.
On this same evening, Deputy Mayor Koch was seen to be making comments under his breath that were not audible to the attending public.
Are you serious about this office, Deputy Mayor Koch?
Not at all professional behaviour!
What is abundantly clear is that the present Town Council is as open and transparent as a muddy hoofprint!
Marty Azzopardi
Alice Springs

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