July 19, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Greatorex campaign: Running on empty. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

If you live in Greatorex, get a knock on your door and are confronted by a smiling face, handing you a how to vote card, ask them a few hard questions.
For example: How exactly will Alice Springs be better off if you are elected?
How much more money will be spent?
Which projects and initiatives will be started, exactly when, and how much will they cost? 
We tried it and drew mostly blanks.
Radio announcer and host till recently of the popular talk-back show Territory Today, CLP hopeful Matt Conlan (pictured at left) wants to consult the people and, has a mental block about statements he made on radio that many would find racist and maybe even illegal. Mr Conlan, an Alice resident for seven years, will be married here in September.
Labor’s Jo Nixon (at right, during a fun run with her son Tom), whose party actually has the money to do things, hasn’t had a chat yet with the Chief Minister about what election promises she can offer. Ms Nixon is married and is a mum of two boys and a girl, all born here, and is a hearing specialist. She is well known as one of the founding organizers of the highly successful Beanie Festival. ERWIN CHLANDA spoke with both candidates.

NEWS: Matt Conlan, Let’s go to your past life. I’m interested in questions of journalistic ethics. On your 8HA business card it says Matt Conlan, News and Current Affairs. Yet you seem to have been involved equally as much in advertising. Do you regard yourself as a journalist?
CONLAN: No. I looked after the current affairs and news side of things for 8HA and SunFM.
NEWS: Did you look after these things as a journalist?
CONLAN: Well, no, I wouldn’t call myself a journalist.
NEWS: What would you call yourself?
CONLAN: I’ve done many, many things in radio. I’d say I was a commercial radio broadcaster.
NEWS: Would you think the audience would have regarded you as having a journalistic function? There is a Code of Ethics for journalists. Are you familiar with that?
CONLAN: Yes, yes, the Code.
NEWS: What are the most important points in it?
CONLAN: Tell me what you are driving at. I’ve told you I’m not a journalist.
NEWS: The Code has certain requirements.
CONLAN: You obviously think I have broken the Code somewhere down the track.
NEWS: I’ve asked you what your understanding of it is. It’s a fundamental thing in Australian media.
(The Code has 12 points, contains just 373 words, and includes the following requirements: “Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.”
And: “Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.”
CONLAN: It’s a code. It’s a set of guidelines. It’s not enforceable by law.
NEWS: The consumer of news would have a strong expectation that it is followed.
CONLAN: I’ve been involved in radio for 15 years. You need to be a bit of a Jack of All Trades. To put together a couple of news stories isn’t brain surgery. You need to have a fair and balanced mind, you need to see the story in a fair and balanced way, so you can flesh out the body of the story, take out the spin and all the peripheral airy fairy stuff people on either side may be saying, and the like. And then you belt it out and you turn it into a radio news story.
NEWS: That seems to be a journalistic function, yet you don’t think the Code applies to you.
CONLAN: No, I didn’t say that. Don’t go round putting words into my mouth. Be careful. Of course the Code applies. You use those guidelines. But I don’t think we’ve ever breached any of those.
NEWS: OK, what are the main points of those guidelines you’ve worked under?
CONLAN: Well, that we keep it fair and balanced, essentially, that is really the number one fundamental.
NEWS: What does the Code say, for instance, with respect to journalists being influenced by commercial considerations?
CONLAN: I think it’s got something along the lines that you can’t represent a story to be endorsing or selling a product, along the lines of that, I’m guessing. This journalist stuff, I don’t know what that’s got to do with anything.
NEWS: If you vote for somebody it’s important it is a person with principles and who can be relied upon.
CONLAN: The Code isn’t the most comprehensive document of all time, is it?
NEWS: It is very clear. Now, I didn’t actually hear this ...
CONLAN: I think we’d better be careful, because we’re not going on third party stuff here ...
NEWS: I’m asking you whether you did say something, because a number of people have reported it to me, namely that you said, words to the effect, that one of the things, or the only thing Aboriginal people are bringing to Alice Springs is crime. Did you say anything of the kind?
CONLAN: If you can bring me the original quote and find the real audio copy of what someone suggested that I’d said, then I might comment on it. Of course I’m not going to comment on such a ludicrous statement like that when you haven’t even got your facts right.
NEWS: You didn’t say it?
CONLAN: I didn’t say that, no.
In fact, according to a transcript obtained by the Alice News after the interview, on the condition that the source be not named, Mr Conlan said this on the 8HA program Territory Today on October 30 last year.
It was part of an introduction by Mr Conlan of nearly 700 words triggered by the assault on a 54 year old Masters Games competitor who “was almost bashed to death on Friday night”.
Mr Conlan said: “While the attackers have not been found yet, you can bet your bottom dollar who’s responsible, and I don’t mind saying it, young Aboriginal men.”
And: “It’s getting to a point where the only contribution the Aboriginal community are making to this town is adding to the crime stats.”
The following day Mr Conlan said a man would be facing charges of aggravated robbery, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, disqualified driving and stealing and commented: “Now pretty light charges when you consider the extent of damage inflicted on his victim.”
Mr Conlan was clearly not reporting statements made in court. Does he think he may have been in contempt of court?
CONLAN: No, absoloutely not.
Later in that program he answered the sender of an email: “Surely you’re not walking the same streets as the rest of us witnessing the utter despair and filth in our parks and streets. You don’t have to be Einstein to see that nearly every single one of these people are Aboriginal, it’s as simple as that.”
During the interview with the Alice News Mr Conlan said Alice Springs police need more officers that just the establishment number which had been reached recently.
NEWS: What chance, as a member of a very small Opposition, do you think you have of getting more police?
CONLAN: I’ve got a lot more say in Opposition than a Government backbencher. We can flesh out the arguments, we can ask the Government questions. We have a better platform to be heard as opposed to someone who will be shuffled off to the backbench.
NEWS: The Mal Brough initiatives have seriously diminished the NT Government’s powers. Clare Martin, essentially, is the Chief Minister of half of the Northern Territory. What opportunities does the CLP Opposition have of influencing the like-minded Federal Government on what they are doing in the Territory now?
CONLAN: By throwing their support behind those initiatives.
NEWS: Has the CLP given Mr Brough advice on those initiatives?
CONLAN: I wouldn’t like to speak out of turn on that. All this came up before I put my hand up for the candidacy. That’s a question you could direct at the Opposition Leader.
NEWS: But the voters would ask you, not the Opposition Leader, wouldn’t they?
CONLAN: I would answer them exactly in the same way and any reasonable person would understand that.
NEWS: Wouldn’t voters expect that you know the Opposition Leader’s mind on issues like that? Hasn’t she told you?
CONLAN: They wouldn’t expect me to know every little intricacy. That’s why we have leaders and that’s why we have members.
NEWS: Alcohol measures, what would you do?
CONLAN: People aren’t happy with prohibition, they are not happy with the restrictions. That’s been argued on my radio show many times. I’ve been doorknocking 10 days now and people are really upset about the restrictions. But there is also a level of acceptance that we have to come to the party somewhere. [People say] if these restrictions are to make any difference at all then perhaps they should accept them.
NEWS: OK, these are your views, but how would you, as a member of a small Opposition, bring them to bear where it counts?
CONLAN: I’m out there getting the feel of the people, what issues are concerning them.
NEWS: What do you tell people who say you’ve got Buckley’s to do anything about it?
CONLAN: I feel as a small team we have a louder voice than someone shuffled off to the back bench in a team of 19 or 20, to be a cheer squad for the government. I’ll be a member of the other group, and I’ll have shadow portfolios. There are about 36 of them spread around the four of us. We’ll be in a position to ask questions, relentlessly pursuing the government. No doubt there will be a massive learning curve.
NEWS: Mr Brough has had an enormous influence on the NT, to an unprecedented extent. What has the CLP done to influence the events that are so dramatically unfolding in the NT?
CONLAN: That’s a similar question to one you asked me before. 
NEWS: I didn’t get much of an answer.
CONLAN: Perhaps you should speak to Jodeen Carney about this, or perhaps Terry Mills. I have no doubt that there have been some lengthy discussions with Senator Nigel Scullion, MHR David Tollner and Jodeen Carney. I’m not privy to exactly what has been said. Mal Brough to me seems like a truly committed man to try and fix some of the problems. 
Mr Conlan denied that he had been suspended from Radio 8HA by its chairman, Ren Kelly, following the announcement of his candidacy, as reported in the Alice News last week.
“That’s actually false,” says Mr Conlan.
“8HA management and the station and the station general manager, Roger Harris, and I were well aware of what was about to unfold.
“We had discussed my intentions and my motives, and [my actions were] cleared by 8HA management and Mr Harris.
“If Mr Kelly felt a bit put out because he wasn’t kept in the loop, well, that’s not my concern.
“There was no suspension involved. I stood aside, as per my discussions with Roger Harris.”

NEWS: Jo Nixon, the Government is on the nose like never before, as demonstrated by the sustained booing of Clare Martin during the sittings of Parliament here. She has been reduced to being Chief Minister not of the Northern Territory, but of half of it. Labor’s star recruit for Greatorex last time ‘round, Mayor Fran Kilgariff, isn’t standing and on the Friday before the announcement of your candidacy was still saying “no comment”. She clearly thinks she has no chance of winning the seat. You’re up against two high profile conservative candidates. So what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?
NIXON: That’s where all nice girls go, don’t they, to the bad side? In fact, I don’t think I am. The incident at the Alice Parliament was actually a good thing. It was great for Alice Springs people to say these things to the Government. I can only support people doing that. The Government did respond to that and there are quite a lot of people who are happy with some of the results, filling the police quota.
Bojangles publican Chris Vaughan has observed things are better.
There’s a summit coming up. The NT Government are looking at these issues and are starting to address them.
There’s heaps more to do, no doubt about that.
I’m interested in joining a team and being inside the government.
For so long I’ve been on the outside and thought, why don’t they do this? Why don’t they do that?
Caucus meets weekly, and there is a chance, which it doesn’t have now, for Alice Springs and Greatorex to have a resident in there and keep the Alice Springs agenda on the table, in Darwin, in government.
NEWS: These questions have been on the table for 30 years.
NIXON: Exactly.
NEWS: If you get in you will be part of a government which spends three thousand million dollars a year on 200,000 people. I’ve got a list of issues here. I’m not asking you whether they are important or not. Please tell me what exactly you can assure the voter the government will be doing if you get elected. Let’s start with anti-social behaviour.
NIXON: It’s about keeping it on the table, and asking people here in Alice Springs what solutions they have. I’m not the person with the solutions. The people with the behaviour problems, and their families, have the solutions, and the other people who are living here.
NEWS: So what will you do?
NIXON: I don’t know what the answer is. No one person has the answer. It’s about making sure you’re talking to other people. It’s something I do in my job already. There’s no one answer for hearing health. Everybody’s got the answers. I’m not so arrogant as to say I’ve got the answers. I want to know what the electorate has to say. I am the representative of those people, not their God.
NEWS: Mal Brough’s initiatives are assertive and robust, to say the least. Labor Member for MacDonnell Alison Anderson largely endorses these initiatives. What’s your view?
NIXON: Right now these are not the issues for me to discuss. I know the NT and the Federal governments are working together, and will continue to work together. I need to focus on the campaign, not the higher issues, which I’m keeping in the back of my mind. If I’m elected I’ll be part of the team.
NEWS: We need to be more precise.
NIXON: This is not the time to be precise.
NEWS: The issues I’d like to talk to you about, and you’re welcome to add others, are alcohol control measures, water use, the flood mitigation dam, the handover of the national parks, a lake, town planning and availability of building land, tourist promotion.
NIXON: The most important thing is that I am a mother, I’m raising kids in this town, so I care about the issues of anti-social behaviour and alcohol abuse. I care about water use because it’s about living in this town long-term.
NEWS: They’re important to all of us. What we need to know, have you spoken to the Chief Minister about what the Government is actually going to do about all these points?
NIXON: No, not yet.
NEWS: Will you before the by-election which is in less then two weeks’ time?
NIXON: The lake and the dam are Alice Springs issues. If someone other than me is elected they would be working against the Government. If they decided to put me in I’d be working within the Government.
NEWS: What are the five most important things the Government has done for Alice Springs in the last six years?
NIXON: Policing.
NEWS: They were under-resourced until a couple of months ago.
NIXON: Yes, and now they’ve done something about it.
NEWS: A lot of people are saying the police establishment figures are not enough.
NIXON: It’s my understanding the Government is looking at that, talking to senior police about how many more police are needed. I think that’s great.
NEWS: That’s one.
NIXON: There have been some good improvements in health professionals over the last five years, but it’s acknowledged we need more positions. There are good things happening in the tourism and arts industries. The Desert Festival and the Beanie Festival have grown, from what I’ve seen.
NEWS: Why did Fran Kilgariff not stand? Are you the sacrificial lamb?
NIXON: I’ve been talking to the Labor Party, on and off, for a little while now.
The by-election came up right in the middle of the Beanie Festival for me, but standing for Parliament was in the back of my mind. I spoke to my family and my friends, people happy to help us looking after our children, and then it was all just go, go, go.
John Gaynor, on leave from the Office of the Chief Minister in Alice Springs, and a former candidate for Araluen, is assisting Ms Nixon.
He says there were “more than two” applicants seeking preselection.

Taskforce: many kids very sick at Ti Tree and Hermannsburg. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough’s Federal taskforce has found that nearly half the preschool aged children in the Anmatjere area, just 200 kms north of Alice, have anaemia. 
This is a deficiency of red blood cells and / or hemoglobin, with a wide range of clinical consequences.
Common symptoms include weakness, fatigue, general malaise and sometimes a loss of concentration.
Nurses visiting Alyuen (Aileron) see people out of the back of a car – there is no community building where they can see people.
Several elderly people at Alyuen, including two in their eighties, receive no aged care services.
These facts contained in an internal report obtained by the Alice Springs News give some indication of the face of the emergency in remote Aboriginal communities in the Territory, that the Commonwealth Government has at last moved to decisively address.
The  Anmatjere area includes Ti Tree, Alyuen, Six Mile, Laramba, Engawala and Nturiya (Ti Tree Station).
A District Medical Officer (DMO) has been to Ti Tree four times in the last six months for two days at a time.
If the DMO can’t visit the further flung communities like Six Mile and Nturiya, clinic staff transport the sick into Ti Tree.
Laramba has had just three DMO visits in the past nine months for two to three days at a time.
In Territory terms the Anmatjere communities are not particularly remote: Ti Tree and Aileron are right on the Stuart Highway, within a few hours’ drive of Alice Springs. Laramba is about 60kms from the highway on a dirt road.
There are two clinics in the area, one at Ti Tree and one at Laramba.
The Anmatjere Council auspices an aged care service based in Ti Tree.
The health and aged care issues identified in the report are based on information gathered during a visit to the area last week (July 9-11).
The author of the report says they were informed that only four to five of 12 DMO positions are currently filled.
There are times when all of the DMOs are required to provide emergency phone coverage for Central Australia. When this is the case, the DMOs do not visit any remote health centres, which in theory they are supposed to do once a month for two to four days.
Clinic staff currently do Growth Assessment and Action (GAA) checks and Healthy School Aged Kids (HSAK) checks.
The report says Ti Tree clinic staff would like to to collaborate with the taskforce’s health team to do the Child Health Checks (a specific Medicare item with a specific pro forma).
Laramba clinic staff were preparing to do their HSAK checks but may now wait to do them in collaboration with the taskforce health team.
Staff apparently want to do a program for scabies (a contagious itchy skin condition associated particularly with over-crowding) but need more resources to do so.
They also want to run a mothers and babies program but again need more resources.
They would like to see a swimming pool built in Ti Tree and a regular dog program to control animal numbers and health.
Other beneficial programs mentioned in the report would be a parenting skills program, which it is suggested could be run by Batchelor Institute or TAFE, and a feeding program to improve the nutrition and health of babies and preschool age children.
At present kidney disease patients needing dialysis have to travel to Alice Springs.
The report suggests making peritoneal dialysis available in the community together with the necessary education programs.
The Ti Tree clinic has one 4WD vehicle and an ambulance. There are times when both are in use and the clinic is left without a vehicle. The report say another vehicle would be welcome.
There are people, including aged pensioners, who are living in humpies without any kind of infrastructure in Camp Creek.
The report suggests the building of an ablutions block with a communal laundry and the laying of concrete slabs with posts “to support the temporary housing that people live in”.
The aged care service based in Ti Tree provides services to the elderly in Ti Tree, including Camp Creek, Six Mile, Laramba, Wilora and Engawala.
There are no services provided to Alyuen or Nturiya.
The report says the relatively new staff at the service “need education about what assistance and support is available to improve funding, services and facilities”.
The service has four full-time staff at Ti Tree, one at Laramba, two at Wilora.
It also employs six CDEP workers, all working in excess of CDEP hours and receiving “top up”.
“Several of these workers have been employed for a long time and could be transitioned to full wages with appropriate assistance from DEWR,” says the report.
Staff are keen to see a small aged care residential facility built at Ti Tree, says the report.
The report notes that not all communities visited have laundry facilities; and that Alyuen and Nturiya do not have any meal preparation facilities.
The Alice News understands from a reliable source that 14 out of 15 children examined in  Ntaria (Hermannsburg)  have been referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist as a result of the taskforce’s child health checks in the community.
There is no ENT specialist based in Alice Springs. 
This is another example of the magnitude of the task that the Federal Government has taken on. 
Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough is on the record as saying that the Federal Government will do the follow up arising from its child health check program: “Whether it be a mental illness, whether it be ear, nose, or throat; whatever it may be, and that’s our commitment.”
Mr Brough says he is using “short-term, stop-gap methods” to  “secure children today” while the government develops “not only the proposals but the methodology of being able to secure them long-term.
This is in contrast to “normal government policy” which is “to say here’s your problem, now we’ll work on it for the next six, twelve, eighteen months, and now we come up with a solution and now we implement it”.

Five year leases over 0.1% of Aboriginal areas a land grab? By KIERAN FINNANE.

Townships making up only one tenth of one per cent of Territory Aboriginal land will be acquired by the Federal Government in its response to the Wild-Anderson report on child abuse, and there is a “100% guarantee” from Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough’s that after five years these townships will return to community ownership.
Yet neither Maurie Ryan, deputy chairperson of the Central Land Council, whose job it is to advise traditional owners, nor Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, the chairperson of Batchelor College, pointed out these facts at a rally last Saturday held under the banner of “land grab”.
And a crowd of about 80 whites and 20 Aborigines responded with applause to accusations from Mr Ryan of a “land grab by our miniature Prime Minister” who is “stealing” Aboriginal land which is “immoral” and “illegal”.
Speakers demanded that the permit system be retained but none acknowledged that the Commonwealth’s proposals do not amount to a wholesale abandonment of the permit system.
Mr Brough has said it will continue to apply to the vast bulk of Aboriginal  land in the Northern Territory.  It will only be removed for common areas, road corridors and airstrips for “prescribed communities” – those with populations over 100, although the taskforce will be able to recommend that smaller communities also be prescribed.
And the Territory Government will be given the power to make laws “to temporarily restrict access to areas where the permit system no longer applies to protect the privacy of a cultural event or to protect public health and safety”.
Communities with more than 100 people located on a form of freehold title issued by the NT Government to Aboriginal corporations and known as Community Living Areas may also be prescribed. Titjikala is one such area.
The leases are proposed in order to remove “artificial barriers that prevent urgent action; the necessary changes that are required to secure better, healthier, safer living environments for kids in these communities”.
But Mr Brough couldn’t be more definitive on the return to community control of the townships: “I have already made absolutely clear that at the end of the five years, the townships will return to Aboriginal communities on the basis they want them, whether that be communal ownership [the status quo] or via means which allow for home ownership. 
“As quoted in The Australian on 30th June, ‘I guarantee 100% that each community will decide what happens itself’.”
Given the magnitude of the issues and the government plans afoot, the small turnout at the rally is significant, paling alongside recent rallies like those for the 1967 referendum anniversary and the town camps leases, especially with respect to Aboriginal participation.
Kenny Laughton, recently appointed CEO of Lhere Artepe and long term Indigenous activist as well as reputed author, noted that the majority of the crowd were “whitefellers”  –  “Where’s the local [blackfeller] support?”, he asked.
He spoke of the intervention as an “orchestrated land grab”, “the second invasion of Aboriginal land”, a “black football to kick around” in an election year.
He also went off on some interesting tangents: noting that “Arrernte people own next to nothing in this town”, he wanted to know “what’s happened to all the money from Centrecorp?
“I call it the KGB,” he said, referring to the secrecy of the company whose wealth has been built by investing royalties and philanthropic gifts supposed to benefit Aboriginal people of the Centre.
“I don’t see much of this wealth reflected in the living standards around town,”  said Mr Laughton.
Despite having once been an office-bearer in the Territory Labor Party, he said he was “not that mad on the Labor Party, I’ll tell you up front”.
“There’s not much difference between the two sides.”
He said if the townspeople want law and order, peace, they have to “engage us in the community”.
He gave the example of the tourists shops in Todd Mall where you see “bugger all” Indigenous employment.
Mrs Kunoth-Monks, who lives in Utopia, some 250 kms north-east of Alice, and who contributed to the “Little Children Are Sacred” report, was outraged by “the traumatisation that John Howard and Mal Brough have unleashed on my race of people”.
She brought a small child with her to the microphone: “We are traumatising little ones like this. My precious grandchildren are my future.”
Her central concerns are the proposed leasing by the government of townships for five years and the changes to the permit system.
The government’s survey team visited Utopia last Thursday.
She said: “We had people from departments coming out of our ears.
“There was no confusion from the men and women out there.
“Once the land issue came up there was no negotiation whatsoever.
“We do not own the land, we are belonging to the land.
“We cannot sell our mother for any amount of money, for any policy.
“Once you give away your land, you are nothing.
“This is what the people said on Thursday.
“At [nearby] Ampilatwatja the people are just as strong.
“Once we had said that, we said the meeting is finished, get off our land. 
“The land council must be strong in retaining the permit system.”  
Mrs Kunoth-Monks spoke of the sexual “utilisation” of young Aboriginal girls by stockmen and miners “in her lifetime”.
“We have overcome trauma after trauma,” she said.
“It is time it ceased, it is time senseless policies coming out of Canberra stopped. 
“It is time that some intelligence is put into enhancing human lives and the diversity of cultures within Australia.
“And Mal Brough and John Howard are not the people to do it.”
She called for “a renewal” of Aboriginal identity to make cultural diversity in Australia “count” and to restore a quality of life to Aboriginal communities.
Phillip Wilyuka, from Titjikala Council, felt wrongly accused by the focus on child sexual abuse.
“These things never happened in Aboriginal history, this is an accusation.”
He saw the stories as having “spread like a wildfire” from Mutitjulu to the Top End. 
“As a black man, an Aboriginal cultural man, I feel really bad about all these stories [including stories about Aboriginal vandalism].
“The media are writing their own idea, it’s a lot of bullshit.” 
Like Mrs Kunoth-Monks, Mr Wilyuka recalled the sexual abuse of Aboriginal women by settlers in the past –  “right in front of their husbands”.
He blamed the current situation on “the poison in the little bottle that brainwashes our people” – alcohol.
About the intervention he said: “Our people were in panic mode at Titjikala, when the taskforce arrived with a truck full of Army.” 
He spoke in language to conclude, then translated: “This is our grandfather’s land, our land, it will always be our land until we are six feet under the ground.”
Ned Tjampitjinpa Hargreaves from Yuendumu Council said his community were “terrified” when they heard “the Army were coming”.
“We thought that our kids would be gone, we weren’t going to see them again. We were feeling very bad. That’s not a way to treat people.”
He wanted Mal Brough to know “we love our kids, we really take good care of them, we don’t go around bashing them, no way”. 
He said Yuendumu people want “better facilities”, they want to “upgrade the school”, and to have “good whitefellers in school working with us”.  (Here he would find common ground with Mr Brough.)
He said they don’t want “hundreds of police” (which there is no chance of any community getting, in any case). 
“We want good communication.
“Mal Brough, keep your hands off our sacred sites [which the Minister has said are not under any kind of threat], get off our backs and work with us. Come down and talk with us, be a man to face us, stop going round like a snake.”
The theme of fear was taken up by Margaret Kemarre Turner, who lives in Alice Springs and was introduced by Barbara Shaw as representing the Catholic council.
She spoke in both language and English, first about grog: “I’m always against alcohol, always have been.”
She said child abuse was learnt “from people, magazines, newspapers, TV”.
“That wasn’t taught in our people –  young boys and girls are every sacred to us”.
She went on: “A lot of people are very, very scared. You don’t know how scared they are, they think they are going to take their children, we’ve been through that before.”
In English at least, Mrs Turner didn’t offer any reassurance on this, despite her work with the taskforce survey teams and their assurances that it is not their intention to remove children (see last week’s Alice News).
Mrs Turner urged Aboriginal organisations to be be unified, work together.
“If government is going to do something they’ve got to do it the way Aboriginal people want them to do it,” she concluded.
The meeting also heard from Heather Laughton of the Arrernte Council, who contributed the cover painting to the “Little Children Are Sacred” report.
“Nothing in the report said that land should be taken,” she said.
The commitment of resources was “welcome” but “we’ve been saying that for 20 years”.

Clairvoyance is for real. By FIONA CROFT.

Do you want to see what the future holds? 
Want to know who is going to win the Greatorex by-election on July 28? From the beginning of time leaders and politicians have consulted psychics for guidance and election predictions. 
The Alice Springs News sought predictions at the Magical Psychic Healing Expo held at Araluen last week. 
All except one of the clairvoyants asked were from out of town. They viewed photos of the candidates and here’s what they thought of the subjects.
Liz, a practitioner from Victoria reads photos, tarot cards and uses psychometry – picking up energy from jewellery. She said it’s a shame that Dr Richard Lim stepped down, but she felt “he couldn’t honour what he was telling people. 
“He couldn’t connect with the community as a whole – very much the outsider.
“He doesn’t feel comfortable in making inroads to cultural change.  He has a good heart but no back up.”
Liz felt a woman would win the election. Looking at a picture of Jane Clark she said: “She thinks she can change things overnight, she doesn’t realise the hard work involved. 
“She thinks she can move mountains but she wants to move too quickly. She does have energy and enthusiasm.”
About Jo Nixon Liz said: “She’s making promises, whether she’d keep them I’m not so sure. 
“An interesting and complex personality.”
Mayor Fran Kilgariff was a maybe candidate for Greatorex so she was thrown into the mix to see what might have been.
“She’s been here for a long time. She works with the Aborigines, it feels like she could be in it for herself as well.
“She’s wise and kindly. To a greater extent she doesn’t understand real problems, but has good local knowledge. Quite far seeing. Doesn’t suffer fools gladly and has a lot of followers.”
About Paul Herrick Liz laughed and said, “He looks like a car sales man, he’s quite nice looking, a lovely face.
“He’d make an effort to be there, I could see him in the community.  He may have other ideas but is quite genuine.  He’s lots of fun but a bit scattered. The job would be a stress for him, he’d spread himself too thin.”
Liz said she liked Matt Conlan’s look and he reminded her of a friend.
“Still waters run deep,” she said.
“A thinker, a doer, but he’d have to get to know more about the job.  He’d care about the people as well. He’d be good at it if he got in.”
But then she came back to Paul Herrick: “He has the personality, he always has an answer.
“It’s all about personality [in elections] in the end.” 
And Paul was the one she picked.
Liz was told that Fran Kilgariff is the Mayor and not running in the by-election. She said it would have been a tight contest and it would have been down to these two candidates (Fran and Paul). 
Barbara is a practitioner from WA who uses astrology, tarot, numerology, reiki and clairvoyance.  She said of Dr Lim’s resignation: “It’s a pity – he needs to step away to be with his family.”  
Of Mayor Fran Kilgariff she said: “She won’t go anywhere, she hasn’t got the stamina.”
Barbara was later told that Fran is the Mayor and she said: “I don’t even know how she’s Mayor – those eyes say ‘do as I say’”. 
Jo Nixon “won’t get in this time but will in the future. 
“She’ll actually be very good, she’s quite forceful, but it’s not her time yet.”
Paul Herrick “is popular, down to earth, very honest and caring.  He’s right for the job but may not manage the ‘plastic’ side of politics. He’s a distinct possibility. People of Alice like him because he’s like them.”
Matt Conlan “is very busy. I don’t know if he could mix it.”
Barbara asked about his job and when she found out he’s in radio she said he’d find it hard combining the two jobs (not that he’d have to). 
“He’s actually more use on the radio, it’s better for the community.”
Jane Clark is “an unknown quality who could come in and usurp it”.
“People will go for her.  Quite often it’s the one you don’t think.  She has a charisma. It’s similar to Lim’s.
“She’s got something.  Actually I think it’s her, she could be a very polished politician.”
Both ladies said not to judge a book by the cover, but it seems that most people do.
Local psychic medium Geoff Bogie is employed by mining companies to source minerals and to find missing persons. He did not read the photos but his prediction included what he knew of these two candidates and then facial features. He said it would be “tooth and nail” down to the last votes.
Both Paul Herrick and Matt Conlan had strong features but Paul Herrick’s “calmer soothing eyes were trustworthy” and would put him over the line first.
Big Splash Events organiser, carpenter and clairvoyant Steve Farey is a very youthful 60 year old English man from WA. He doesn’t treat life too seriously and says the events he organises are for people to have fun and stretch their intuition.
“People usually know the answers they want to hear about their relationships, finances and career from readings. 
“The public aren’t stupid, they know what’s what. The word ‘psychic’ turns a lot of people off but it can open the mind to making a decision.”
The healing and decorative properties of crystals were extremely popular at the event, with top dollar purchases.
Mr Farey thought it was because the people of Alice are more in touch with the environment – “more grounded.”
He said the locals are warm and “Alice has a stillness”.
About 1100 people attended the four day event and next year Mr Farey wants more local practitioners.
Local Reiki practitioner Tony McDonald and his partner Irma Raven, a nutritionist, do Aura Imaging.
Mr McDonald said it is a “bit scientific and people can see the results in the photos”.
Ms Raven said they’ve had big burly cowboys, who said they saw auras as children, getting their photos taken. 
But Mr McDonald laughed and said they themselves “don’t see auras: that’s why we got the camera so we could see them.”

Outstation movement blossomed yet Alice town camps grew, too. KIERAN FINNANE speaks with historian DICK KIMBER.

In 1975 historian Dick Kimber, together with the late Arrernte elder Wenten Rubuntja, collected evidence about Aboriginal people living in informal camps on the fringes of Alice Springs, on behalf of the Central Land Council.
This evidence was presented to Justice R. C. Ward, who was conducting a hearing with a view to including needs-based claims in the land rights legislation that was then being prepared.
Ultimately needs-based claims were excluded from the Land Rights Act  of 1976,  and the alternative solution of special purpose leases for the town camps was found.
In an article on June 21 Mr Kimber described the various circumstances that fringe-dwellers were in and the attitudes towards them – mostly very generous – of Arrernte traditional owners.
This week he details the numbers of people involved and describes some of the impact of the major social changes of the time, including the introduction of unemployment benefits.

The Department of Aboriginal Affairs had done a survey of fringe camp dwellers in Alice Springs in 1971, coming up with a figure of 366 people.
Mr Kimber, in his survey conducted with Wenten Rubuntja, found that numbers had significantly increased, to between 600 and 700.
By the time the hearing into the case for the camps was conducted, he says the number had reached around 1200.
Interestingly the homelands movement was going on at exactly the same time.
“Between ‘72 and ‘82 was the real drive for the outstation / homelands movement, and you were still getting an increase in here.”
Mr Kimber rejects the use of the phrase “urban drift” to describe this migration, whether historical or contemporary.
“Drift is an absolutely ridiculous word to use.”
The migration was either out of the hands of the Aboriginal people concerned or motivated by “a sensible decision in their mind to come here, for whatever reason” (see the previous article for examples of both). 
Mr Kimber stresses the general understanding, back in the ‘70s, that Arrernte permission was needed for people to be allowed to stay and to be given security about where they would live.
Some people were told to “go back to their country”, particularly those from more remote areas. And with some groups there was tension because of where they were camped.
“There was a perception that they had better access to water and facilities than  Arrernte people.
“There were comments like ‘This makes us feel ashamed’.
“These people, who were strangers to the country and had no rights to it, seemed to be getting priority care. That was considered wrong.”
So, when the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, says the town camps are not traditional lands, it seems that he does not fully take into account the complexity that Mr Kimber is describing.
Mr Kimber: “He’s quite correct in a broad sense, but it’s not correct with regard to Arrernte people. To take an easy example, the White Gate camp where old Arrunya Johnson lived is within cooee of his country and he was acknowledged as having good rights.
“The complexities of it are far, far more than anyone will ever understand – I don’t understand all of it and I was there at the meetings.”
The complexity includes inter-marriage not only of people from different Aboriginal groups, but of Aboriginal people with Europeans, Afghans and Chinese people.
And if the children of these marriages were conceived and / or born here they had rights to the land –  “therefore you were constantly increasing the population who have rights to the town”.
As the case for formal camps developed, there were interesting discussions about what kind of  housing would be built.
“People in the meetings said, ‘We don’t want it like white housing. We don’t want those high ceilings’. Aboriginal people, from having wiltjas, had been  accustomed to low ceilings.
“They wanted barbecue plates outside and big verandahs so no matter which way it rained they could get into shelter.
“No one wanted a one room house. They said, ‘That makes us feel ashamed, it’s like having a gaol cell’. But they didn’t want big houses. They said, ‘If it’s a big house it takes our wives too long to keep them clean’.”
What income did people have?
“Milton Liddle worked at the wood heap; Roy Dubois had been a taxi driver. So you had people of that background who had been viably employed virtually all their lives, from the time they’d been little boys.
“Then you had pensioners some of whom would have been effectively unemployable outside the cattle industry, without any disrespect to them.
“But others, like Old Francis Stephens, a wonderful old character, the first Arrernte man I came to know well, he was a pensioner but he was always looking for work.
“He worked for the council. He had a little trolley like a railway porter’s. He had a 44 gallon drum on that and picked litter up down the street.
“I remember him going out to the claypans at the Coolibah Swamp and he’d gather little shield shrimps, put them in a bottle and take them to sell to tourists.
“If he was short of money he would say, ‘How are you holding, Dick?’ I never gave him more than two dollars and every single pay day or pension day he always came and made sure he paid me back.
“There were pensions and child endowment but they could only be granted when people filled out forms.
“But when the Whitlam Government came in they effectively sent out an order to all Department of Aboriginal Affairs and other staff to find out on the ground how many people were owed pensions or child endowment or whatever they were entitled to under the Australian government laws of the day.
“They found people who hadn’t been paid for 20 years because they hadn’t been able to fill out a form.”
The sudden arrival of back pay or an unexpected new source of income led to some misunderstandings.
“One man got more than $700 and his father said to me, ‘Jagamara, you know my son’s a good worker’.
“And I said, ‘I don’t want to say the wrong thing, old man, but that must be back pay’.
“He just gently stopped me, holding me by the wrist, and he said, ‘Jagamara, he’s a really good worker’.
“Then the next week his son went back to his conventional pay.
“There was a woman who received $2200. That was more than half my annual salary at the time, a junior clerk’s salary for a whole year. She bought a motor car with that.”
The new capacity for Aboriginal people to buy motor cars and thus become highly mobile is another critically important issue to understand, says Mr Kimber.
“When I first arrived here in 1970 the Namatjira family were almost unique in having motor cars, because their art was constantly in demand. In fact many, many white people who were here for the short term did not have them.
“There were two motor vehicles owned by Warlpiri men out at Yuendumu – one was Darby Jampijinpa. That motor car was up on cement blocks out on the Mount Dennison Road, about 30 kms out of Yuendumu. It never left there.
“The other one was actually owned by a Pintupi man, Micky Gibson Jupurrula, and that was a little tiny Morris Minor, the smallest car you could get at that time. He couldn’t drive it. I don’t know how he came to get it, but his sons used to drive it all round the community till it ran out of petrol and it would stay there until next pay day or pension day.
“The three or four white-owned vehicles were meant to stay out there or only be used in an emergency or if people had to come into town for necessities.
“Aboriginal access to vehicles came with unemployment benefits.
“When you got unemployment benefits that changed the whole perception of things.
“I can remember discussions out at Papunya, I’m pretty sure it was in 1972 and people I was with could not understand how you got this unemployment benefit – what did it mean?
“Nosepeg Jupurrula was the first one who talked about ‘sit down money’. They laughed! They thought white fellers were stupid!
“At first white fellers had made everyone work. Then suddenly, bang, overnight you get unemployment benefits and on the communities there were attempts to make jobs, jobs for three people on one community became jobs for 70 people. The government had said create jobs. Fake jobs, irrelevant jobs.
“I was out at Brown’s Bore when it first opened up in ‘76. It was all humpies, they’d just moved out there, one of the early out station movements of Pintupi related people.
“I camped away from them and came in at what I thought was a reasonable hour in the morning, about 8 o’clock, and everyone was up. I was purchasing paintings on behalf of Papunya Tula Artists.
“One of them got up after a while, looked up at the sun and went over and banged a big bit of steel and then came and sat down.  I said, ‘Why did you do that?’ And he said , ‘Oh, 9 o’clock, work time now, Jagamara’.
“Most of them stayed where they were, sitting under trees, making artefacts, painting, out hunting or whatever, but a couple of men went off with chain saw and sawed down half a dozen big beautiful desert oaks to extend the airstrip.” 
What about in town, did people stop taking the kinds of initiatives they had been taking to get work or earn money?
“Particularly those who had worked on cattle stations had a very strong work ethic.
“There were people who got jobs as labourers.
“People who lived at Amoonguna walked into town every day. They were extremely fit through that. Some were employed.
“The old Finke River Mission store would accept artefacts that were made – wooden artefact manufacture was a very big thing in those days.  There weren’t the paintings of today.”
Mr Kimber paints a picture of people in the late ‘70s grappling, often effectively, with great change, but the difficulty of dealing with alcohol got the better of many.
“The biggest problem I see in the town camps today is alcohol and I’ve seen that ever since I arrived here in 1970.
“I know some camps where there is grog day and night. The consumption is so great that it impacts on everyone, not just the drinkers.
“I know whole families who don’t drink but they are affected by the drinking around them.
“There was a general sense back in the ‘70s of a ‘pressure cooker’ in the town and that’s much more the case now.
“There was a strong reaction then amongst many other Alice Springs’ people against Aboriginal people being given something for nothing. That’s still an undercurrent constantly there today.
“There was a general sense of relief then that the camps were established outside of areas in close proximity to town housing at that time. Camps like Morris Soak, Trucking Yards, Hidden Valley, Little Sisters, they would be out of sight, out of mind.
“But this was Aboriginal determination, not white, it was Aborigines saying, ‘We want these blocks of land’.
“These are plural Aboriginal cultures we are talking about, that come together here in Alice Springs, with their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s not forget the strengths, like the art. This town would be in a fairly bad way without Aboriginal art, not to mention the Commonwealth benefits that Aboriginal people receive and spend here.
“So the entire community has to come to grips with this situation as best we can, as taxpayers, as ratepayers. We all have to do our best to retain a generosity of spirit, but we all have to accept that we have responsibilities as citizens who are privileged to be able to live here.”

Stir at the top.

The Alice-based band Zenith have won the triple j AWOL competition, giving them the opportunity to play alongside Missy Higgins, Something For Kate and Blue King Brown in Humpty Doo on Saturday week, July 21, in front of an expected 8000+ people. 
Performing together for just over three years, Zenith have created quite a stir at the age of just 16.
They opened for the Hilltop Hoods last year and the Hoods loved them. 
“I caught Zenith, they blew me away, they had a real good feel to them, and then someone told me they were 16... amazing,” said Hilltop’s DJ Debris.
Their first shot at the big stage was BassInTheDust in Alice in 05, where their performance got them a special invitation to perform at the next BassInTheGrass in Darwin.
They’ve just returned from FUSE in Adelaide where they blew the roof off at the Gov, Austral, Exeter and Holdfast hotels. They will be releasing their new album in September.

LETTERS: Taskforce - 17 seconds per inhabitant.

Sir,– Like the folks of Vienna in March 1938, we in Yuendumu are eagerly awaiting the Anschluss.
Angus McIvor (Alice News, July 5) right on! This is indeed John Howard’s finest hour! What’s more we can look forward to another 50 or so finest hours!
Also Mal Brough: congratulations! At this rate you’ll be putting Peter Costello out of his misery, and become the pretender waiting in the wings!
When John Howard steps down on his 95th birthday, you’ll take over. Who knows, you may even become Australia’s first President!
By the time you read this we will have had our own finest hour. The Army came here on Wednesday (July 11) between 1pm and 5pm. I calculated that they were here approximately 17 seconds per inhabitant.
Frank Baarda

Unreasonable fears

Sir,– The epoch marking changes that Mal Brough is proposing for remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory are bringing howls of protest from near and far.  I’ve been closely following the news lately, and I’ve noticed a curious thing.  For the most part, these protests are not coming from the remote communities.
So I have a question.  How many of the protesters actually live on a remote community?  And by live I mean buy their groceries in the store, send their children to the school, use the health clinic when a family member gets sick and call the local police if trouble comes around. 
For the sake of argument I’m assuming the store has not gone broke, the school still has a teacher, the clinic is staffed and local police are available.
Germaine Greer certainly doesn’t live out there, and neither do the bishops and the academics from down south.
The Alice Springs and Darwin based indigenous spokespeople might have once lived on a community, but I suspect most of them will now have an urban address.
And why not?  Today most communities and most town camps for that matter resemble nothing as much as war zones.
But lots of people do still live out there, and they know better than we do what their lives and their communities have become.  Many have reasonable questions about what the changes will mean, and some have unreasonable fears fueled by malicious rumors.
So let’s give the advance teams a chance to explain themselves, to answer questions and dispel the rumors. 
Let’s suspend judgment while we wait to hear what those whose lives will be most affected by the changes think of them. 
And maybe, just maybe, we’ll discover that a Minister for Indigenous Affairs has finally made the right call. 
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

99% want solar power station and more aged care places

Sir,– Advance Alice Inc made a questionnaire available to the people of Alice Springs at the Show to gauge their opinions about our town.
We are hoping that it can assist our NT government in its future planning for our home. These were the questions and the percentage of “yes” answers from 180 respondents.
Would you like to have a fully functional International Airport in Alice Springs: 86%. 
Would you agree with a solar power station with capacity for the next 30 years being constructed at Brewer Estate: 99%.
Would you like to have a recreational lake within 30 kms of  Alice Springs: 75%.
Do you think an Aboriginal cultural / tourist park similar to our wildlife park would be a benefit to our town and tourism industry: 77%.
Would you like to have alcohol product restrictions dropped and the return to normal 10am-10pm trading hours for takeaway liquor outlets restored: 61%.
Would you like to have an area of land released to primarily provide for first home owners: 75%.
Would you like a new youth centre town hall to be built in the CBD: 76%.
Would you like a town plan that allows for the next 10 years’ growth and supply of blocks: 95%.
Do you consider the sealing of the Outback Highway from WA to Queensland a high priority: 69%.
Would you agree with the re-establishment of NT housing commission scheme with cheap rents and the right to purchase for low income earners: 91%.
Would you like an NT Government backed youth hostel such as those operated under the Commonwealth hostel scheme to provide accommodation for low income singles: 90%.
Do you think that Tangentyere Council should accept the federal government offer of $70m and have the town camps administered by the ASTC: 78%.
Do you think that Alice Springs needs more housing and aged care centre/nursing home for retirees now and in the future: 99%.
Would you agree to the establishment of a horticultural farm area for Alice Springs making use of recycled sewerage water: 89%.
Do you think we should allow surrounding pastoral properties to divide off smaller blocks of say between two and four thousand hectares for the establishment of more intensely managed horse and stud properties: 64%.
Again Advance Alice Inc is asking the NT government for a louder voice in our future. 
We demand transparency when the NT government is planning our future, the future of our town.
We ask that strong representation of the non-government sector is sought by government when planning for our town. 
And we ask that representatives of  our group be part of all planning for Alice Springs.  
We are a positive group of people with strong commitments to our town.  We would be proud to be part of positive action groups with the  governments to move Alice into a strong and positive growth future.
Steve Brown
Alice Springs 

Greatorex result could make history

Sir,- I keep hearing and reading assertions by a lot of new chums that Labor has never won an urban seat in Alice Springs.
Not true – Charlie Orr won the seat of Alice Springs in a fiercely contested campaign for the Legislative Council (as it was then) elections of 1965.
He held the seat for one term, losing it to the Country Party candidate Bernie Kilgariff in 1968.
This is the only time that the ALP held a fully urban Alice seat, however Labor did poll ahead of the CLP within the town area on at least one occasion, when Meredith Campbell came in front of Shane Stone for the seat of Sadadeen in 1987 (the seat was taken by the incumbent member Denis Collins).
There is a link between the electorate of Greatorex, for which there is currently a by-election, and the sole Labor victory of the 1960s by tracing back the “pedigree” of sitting members.
Dr Richard Lim, the recently retired CLP Member for Greatorex, won the seat from independent Denis Collins in 1994.
Collins in turn was the Member for Greatorex between 1990 and 1994 but previously had been the Member for Sadadeen from 1983 to 1990.
Before 1983 Collins was the Member for Alice Springs – yep, the same seat taken by Labor’s Charlie Orr in the 1960s.
There has also been a long history of to-ing and fro-ing between the CLP and conservative independent candidates for the seats of Alice Springs – Sadadeen – Greatorex.
Alice Springs was held by the CLP’s Rod Oliver from 1977 to 1980 but lost preselection to Denis Collins; consequently Oliver ran as an independent but lost.
Similarly Collins lost CLP preselection for Sadadeen to Shane Stone in 1987 but he won the seat as an independent (with the aid of preferences from the CLP and the NT Nationals).
However, Collins’ political career came to an end in 1994 when Richard Lim took Greatorex for the CLP (with the aid of preferences from Labor).
In the current political climate it is difficult to see Labor winning the by-election for Greatorex but it is not a sure bet for the CLP to retain the seat.
If the CLP wins, we have the maintenance of the status quo with four members in the Legislative Assembly and two independents; but if an independent candidate takes the seat then there will be equal numbers between the Opposition and the independents.
This would be unprecedented in the history of the Legislative Assembly.
The result is likely (once again) to be determined by Labor preferences.
Potentially the Greatorex by-election offers some very significant implications for the future of Territory politics.
Alex Nelson
Alice Springs
NT councils missing out

Sir,– The Commonwealth Government should re-assess the per capita methodology that is used to calculate Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) from the Commonwealth to Local Government Councils.
 Because the grant is distributed to the States and Territories on a per capita basis you get a totally inequitable situation.
For example, where is the equity when a council such as Wollongong City in NSW (population 191,600) receives $11.3million and yet the entire 62 Councils in the NT (population 200,844)  receives $10.6 million?
Is it fair that the Lajamanu Council (population 939) receives $131,701 in FAGs and yet McKinlay Council (population 1043) in Queensland receives $2,008,610?
And it is not just every remote Indigenous council in the Northern Territory that is missing out.
For example Alice Springs Council (population 30,194) receives $987,699 and yet Port Augusta Council in South Australia with a third of the population (13,979) receives $2,809,376.
Where is the equity in a funding formula that discriminates against councils in the Northern Territory in such a clear and obvious way?
LGANT has been lobbying for a change to this per capita methodology and also supports the Australian Local Government Association’s objective of a fair share of national taxation revenue for Local Government.
Ald Kerry Moir,
President, Local Government Association of the NT

Residents’ rights dumped on

Sir,–  The CLP’s barrage about the government’s lack of principles fell flat on its face when, in a rare move, the CLP voted with the government on a motion concerning the right of third party appeals for rural residents.
Gerry Wood, Independent Member for the rural seat of Nelson, proposed the motion to give rural residents the right to appeal against development applications in their region.
I supported the motion because I believe rural residents should have the right to argue against a proposal that will directly affect them.
Rights of appeal against planning proposals are not consistent across the Territory. 
The government and the opposition had the opportunity to support Mr Wood’s motion to make these rights consistent – but they joined forces to vote it down.
Besides the Minister, no-one else in the government nor opposition spoke to the motion.
This is only the second occasion when the two Independents have stood alone on an issue of importance for Territorians. 
The first time was my legislation for container deposits.
It’s ironic to think that the CLP and Government support the principle that rural people have different rights.
On another subject, does Steve Brown (Advance Alice) really believe we would be better off in Alice Springs if we did not have senior positions in the public service? (Refer to comment in Alice News, 5 July, “Public, not public servants, should plan future of Alice”.)
I hate to think how these people feel at his dismissive attitude to them when it is known the public service has fought to have positions at a senior level to be able to represent the interests of Alice.
Does he really think senior public servants located in Darwin, understand the issues of the Centre and will stand up and speak up for Alice Springs?
It shows a naivety of how government departments work. Are his remarks supported by the CLP candidate? It would be interesting to hear his point of view.
Just look at the success of Paul Herrick, the Independent Candidate for Greatorex, who was able to lobby in a meeting knowing he had the same status as his colleagues.
For example, Herrick’s lobbying substantially increased manning levels of operational fire fighters and also obtained some heavy rescue equipment which is now based in Alice Springs and was a major increase of the fire fighting equipment needed.
The NT Fire & Rescue Service profile has been lifted with the public as previously people didn’t have a clue and now the public perception of the fire fighters work has been increased ten fold.
Paul Herrick obviously knows the value of these positions, so “Let’s Fire Up Alice”.
Loraine Braham
Independent Member for Braitling

Join to change

Sir,- We hold the power to make changes.
It’s time for all honest and caring Aboriginal people to take responsibility, at board level, and clean sweep corruption and nepotism that exists in some of our Aboriginal incorporated organisational bodies.
These Aboriginal corporations were intentionally set up to benefit and better the lives of ALL Aboriginal people not only those few who are EDUCATED enough to run these organisations.
It is these Gatekeepers, the educated bosses, and their immediate families and friends who overall reap all the benefits that the uneducated people at grass roots level miss out on.
Generally speaking these Gatekeepers families or friends hold positions at board level and or within the work place.
This gives the Gatekeeper and his family members the monopoly on the Organisation and how it operates. Nepotism also ensures the Gatekeeper will become guarded and untouchable thus enabling them to continue to line his / her pockets with accumulated wealth at the expense of the uneducated grass roots people’s suffering.
Today we live in a new millennium, one that demands transparency, and the committees that govern these Aboriginal corporations must hold these Gatekeepers themselves responsible at board level.
These Gatekeepers should never underestimate the intelligence of the uneducated and neglected people. These people are not stupid they know who you are.
Some Gatekeepers prefer to stay silent and hidden and others may speak out, about land grabs regarding permit systems, trying to make up for their own incompetence in Aboriginal Affairs during the last twenty years now that the shit has hit the fan.
Aboriginal people in and around Alice Springs must now stand tall and speak out against the abuse of nepotism and corruption in Aboriginal Affairs.
We must start attending every Annual General Meeting (AGM) of every Aboriginal Incorporated Organisation to have our say and make sure things get done for the grassroots people.
To become a member of these incorporated bodies you must first sign a membership form.
These forms may be obtained at the front desk of any of these particular Aboriginal Incorporated businesses.
Merrill Bray
Alice Springs
0448 730574

‘Shock and awe’

Sir,–  Instead of taxing already strained resources by introducing unenforceable laws (the 2km law was such a winner – NOT – that it is now a blanket ban), how about focusing on the very basis of humanity: being held accountable for one’s actions and the time honoured Aussie notion of a fair go for all.
• Scrap the payment pensions and benefits into bank accounts and issue a welfare card that has a thumb print held in a data base. Only food and clothing would be allowed to be purchased on this.
You lose the card and you need to re-establish your bonafides. First one is free and each subsequent replacement increases by $25. People soon learn to look after something when it costs them.
• Long term unemployed need to undertake TAFE (or similar recognized training) after 12 months. No training – No money. Should they undertake training and score below 75% of the passing grade, then they lose 10% of their benefits.
• Baby Bonus??? Are you kidding me!!! If you can’t feed ‘em, don’t breed ‘em.
•  Should you indulge in anti-social behaviour then you go work the chain gang – picking up rubbish, working on community service projects. By being made to wear orange “inmate” clothing which purposely shames you, may wake you up.
Fines and court costs automatically come out of your government payments. If you are a minor, on the second conviction your parents or legal guardians join you on the chain gang.
• People receiving royalties (which should be taxed as income) from their lands are not entitled to government assistance upon achieving a liveable wage. Should the likes of CLC, NLC or Tom & Jerry want to manage the traditional owners assets, then they should be able to arrange their clients’ finances so that they can at least live on a fixed income without being a burden on the taxpayer.
•  David Ross (CLC director) says the proposed scrapping to the permit system ”goes against the wishes of Aboriginal people”.
OK David, let’s keep it in place, and any members of the outlying communities have to go through the same processes (as mandated by the current CLC process) in trying to get into the regional centres.
In fact, this final point might just be a winner as you could exclude those elements who consistently come to town to get on the grog and cause trouble.
• The government has the ability to procure land under existing eminent domain laws.
Building is the nucleus of any growth within a community and Alice has been dying for many years.
Do what it takes to get the town building and no that does not mean granting land parcels to you mates who are developers.
Let the first home owner have the ability to have their patch of paradise at a reasonable cost.
• The Police service is exactly that – a service. It is not a babysitting service and they should be allowed to police without having their hands tied behind their backs.
While we’re at it, can we remove the revolving doors on the cells and keep those who don’t play well with others away from those of us who do?
In closing, what I am suggesting is not rocket science and it’s not a new notion.
Rather it is a simple matter of people with the intestinal fortitude who handle the reins of power to stand up and start the process.
Oh, and BTW, little Johnny Howler has taken a page from the George Dubya’s book of Desert Management (Chapter 1: Shock & Awe) with his latest Aboriginal initiative and it is doomed to the same success.
Mark Fitzgerald
Boise, ID, USA 

Return NT to SA
Sir,- In light of your interview with Statehood Steering Committee members Barbara McCarthy and Sue Bradley (“Do we have your full attention?” Alice News, May 31), it is worth noting the current forlorn campaign is the fourth such effort in as many decades.
In the 1970s the granting of self-government of the Northern Territory was initially perceived as an interim step towards achieving full statehood by the early 1980s.
This was not a universally popular prospect, as there was widespread concern that self-government (let alone statehood) would lead to a diminution of federal funding for the NT.
While today Territory Labor enjoys the fruits of office and supports the statehood campaign, 30 years ago the ALP strongly opposed it.
Its election campaign slogan in 1977 was “first things first – self-government comes later”.
The ALP struck a chord, as the CLP lost six seats including those of its leader and deputy (Goff Letts and Grant Tambling).
However, the CLP retained office and Paul Everingham became leader, subsequently becoming the first chief minister upon the attainment of self-government on July 1, 1978.
The fears of tightened funding from the Commonwealth were allayed by the prodigious flow of money allocated to the NT during the years of the Fraser government.
This changed after Labor under Bob Hawke won office in 1983, and especially after Senator Peter Walsh was appointed the Minister for Finance in December 1984.
Walsh took a very dim view of the former Fraser Government’s largesse towards the NT, and set in motion the process by which the Territory was funded on the same basis as the other states, coming into effect by 1988.
This prompted the CLP, under Ian Tuxworth and (especially) Steve Hatton, to launch the “Towards Statehood” campaign, which reached the height of publicity in 1988 (the Bicentennial Year and tenth anniversary of NT self-government).
The NT Government argued that, if the NT was to be funded on an equal basis to the other states, it was entitled to enjoy the full rights and powers of statehood.
Naturally the Federal Government dismissed this case although it is interesting to note that it enforced self-government in the Australian Capital Territory in the same period, despite the opposition of most ACT voters (according to his autobiography, Peter Walsh favoured ACT self-government on the grounds of ensuring fiscal responsibility).
The statehood campaign remained on the backburner during Marshall Perron’s term as chief minister.
However, the statehood campaign was re-invigorated after Shane Stone became chief minister and his good friend John Howard became prime minister.
Howard was persuaded to support statehood if the majority of Territorians desired it, and the ambitious Stone commenced a strong campaign leading up to a referendum on October 3, 1998.
The loss of the referendum is a decision that has been respected by the Howard government – unlike self-government for the ACT in the 1980s, statehood has not been imposed upon the NT against the will of the majority.
Quite apart from lack of public support, any campaign for NT statehood seeking equality of rights, powers and representation with the other states has no prospect of success, courtesy of section 121 of the Australian Constitution.
It is worth quoting: “The Parliament may admit to the Commonwealth or establish new States, and may upon such admission or establishment make or impose such terms and conditions, including the extent of representation in either House of the Parliament, as it thinks fit”.
Does anyone seriously believe the NT warrants 12 senators like each of the other states?
The Commonwealth could choose to admit the NT as a new state right now without any alteration to our current circumstances.
There is one more historical sidelight in relation to statehood which is rarely mentioned; namely, that in the first decade of Federation all white residents of the NT, as the Northern Territory of South Australia, had exactly the same rights as all other Australians.
It was only when the legislation of South Australia and the Commonwealth (respectively) ceding control of the NT to the federal government took effect on January 1, 1911, that the legal status of Territory residents was diminished relative to the other states.
Incidentally, the South Australian legislation was passed in 1907, exactly a century ago.
Apparently this is unique in the history of western democracies – nowhere else has such a democracy stripped a sector of its population of its democratic rights, or that the population accepted this situation without demur.
This has only been partially redressed over time.
It may be of interest to learn that the laws ceding control of the NT to the Commonwealth remain on the statutes – they are still in force.
Perhaps the only way to guarantee equal rights for Territorians under statehood is to repeal those ancient Acts and restore control of the NT to South Australia.
Alex Nelson
Alice Springs

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