August 16, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Empires crumble. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Tangentyere may lose all or much of its recurrent funding from the Commonwealth following its rejection of $60m from Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough for the upgrading of town camps in Alice Springs.
And the secretive Aboriginal investment company Centrecorp, in which Tangentyere has a one fifth share, may be broken up.
A well-placed Federal government source says Tangentyere will soon cease to do what it was set up for 30 years ago, providing municipal services to the camps.
Under Mr Brough’s intervention plan the camps will be “normalized” and turned into suburbs of Alice Springs.
The transfer of leases for 99 years to the NT Government, which will be put in charge of public housing, is expected to proceed soon.
The source says axing some or all funding for Tangentyere is one option under consideration.
The organization, although almost entirely supported by the public purse, has steadfastly refused over the years to disclose its annual budget.
Mr Brough said on July 12 that Tangentyere was receiving about $18m a year from the Territory government and from numerous Federal bodies.
“So whether they are going to keep all of those funding options I couldn’t tell you, because they will be [decided] on individual circumstances,” said Mr Brough.
“I’m not really interested in who funds what, I’m interested in the health and well-being of children, not some nicety again of deciding which body should benefit from funding.”
Apart from losing its core function, often poorly performed, Tangentyere is also facing a Federal review of youth services in Central Australia.
Tangentyere’s Central Australian Youth Link-up Service (CAYLUS) is one of the organizations under scrutiny.
According to CLP candidate for Lingiari Adam Giles, others to be probed are Mission Australia, which he says has a $12m contract in the south western corner of the NT, including Mutitjulu and Docker River, and Youth Challenges Australia in Kintore, apparently soon to work out of the Gap Youth Centre in Alice Springs.
CAYLUS has many runs on the board in the fight against petrol sniffing and with the introduction of Opal fuel, and its team may be snapped up by another entity.
Tangentyere Job Shop is understood to have lost a major contract.
None of the Tangentyere branches responded to requests from the Alice News for information.
Meanwhile an explosive meeting was held last week in the office of Imparja boss Owen Cole, who is also understood to be heading up Centrecorp.
Police were called when the meeting was interrupted by dissenters who called for Centrecorp to be disbanded, labeled its directors as “gatekeepers” and demanded that its believed to be hundreds of millions of dollars in investments be used for the benefit of impoverished Aboriginal people. (See also report on native title holders’ demands).
The Canberra source says the Federal Government has now decided to act against the Central Land Council (CLC), which owns three fifths of Centrecorp.
The Alice News understands that the government is taking action under Section 23 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act that requires land councils “to assist Aboriginals ... to carry out commercial activities” but only “in any manner that will not cause the Land Council to incur financial liability or enable it to receive financial benefit”.
Says the source: “The legislation is quite clear. The CLC cannot be involved in a for-profit organization.”
The CLC confirmed in June that it is a shareholder in Centrecorp but says its profits “are distributed according to its charitable trust deed for the benefit of Aboriginal people”.
The Alice Springs News asked the CLC how much has been distributed in the past five years: “Please express this as a total amount of money; percentage of the accumulated assets, number of people who have benefited; the 10 largest donations.”
We received no reply, but Mr Cole, on the ABC last Friday, rejected assertions that Centrecorp is not helping to improve the lives of indigenous people, and made a startling claim.
He said: “We put in $230,000 in education projects, sporting activities, other sponsorship of community events, that’s basically every cent that Centrecorp’s got after it pays its ... bills and that’s the surplus cash, we invest it entirely into the community.”
This would indicate that Centrecorp made less than a quarter of a million dollars profit from investments worth hundreds of millions.
According to information from an insider Centrecorp has 19 divisions.
They and their directors are:-
AAC Nominees: Vivian James, David Ross; Bob Kennedy (secretary).
Alice Car Centre: Peter Kittle, Owen Cole, David Ross, Louise Kittle; Tom Kelly (secretary).
Alice Springs Real Estate: Bob Kennedy, David Loy, Michael Sitzler, Douglas Fraser, Michael Roy, David Ross; Bob Kennedy, David Loy (secretary).
Centrefarm Aboriginal: David Ross, Bruce Tilmouth, Vincent Lange, Damien Frawley, James McBride; Bob Kennedy (secretary).
Big ‘O’: Kerry Osbourne, Bob Kennedy, David Ross, Dean Osbourne; Kerry Osbourne, Bob Kennedy (secretary).
Centrefarm Management: David Ross, Leigh Tilmouth; Bob Kennedy (secretary).
Magnetic: Douglas Fraser, David Ross, Bob Kennedy; Bob Kennedy (secretary).
NT Progress No1: Owen Cole, Tom Kelly, David Ross, Peter Kittle; Tom Kelly (secretary).
PKMC Property Nominees: Owen Cole, David Ross; Bob Kennedy (secretary).
Yeperenye Pty Ltd: Danny Masters, Owen Cole, Donald Burnett, David Ross, David Cloke; David Cloke (secretary).
Yeperenye Nominees: Stephanie Bell, Betty Pearce, David Ross, William Tilmouth, Andy Ross, Peter Renehan, John McBride; Bob Kennedy (secretary).
CAAMV: Owen Cole, David Ross; Bob Kennedy (secretary).
Ess-Centrecrop: David Ross, Umberto Giancristoforo, Paul Nugent; Bob Kennedy (secretary).
Centrecorp Investment: David Ross, Owen Cole,  Anthony Petrick, William Tilmouth, Stephanie Bell; Bob Kennedy (secretary).
Eyre Dealership: Owen Cole, Louise Kittle, Peter Kittle, David Ross, Tom Kelly, Christopher Szigeti; Tom Kelly (secretary).
Centrecorp Services: Bob Kennedy, David Ross; Bob Kennedy (secretary).
Kings Canyon Nominees: Bob Kennedy, David Ross, Gus Williams, Valerie Price-Beck, Damien Thomas, Christopher Smith, Darren Cann; Bob Kennedy (secretary).
Tandor Nominees: Bob Kennedy, David Ross, Tracey Brand, Patrick McDonald; Bob Kennedy (secretary).
The Lingiari Policy Centre: Richard Ah Mat, Patrick Dodson, Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton, Darryl Pearse, David Ross; Peter Yu (secretary).

When the Big One comes. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The Central Business District, the Eastside, the tourism precinct and the Gap Area will be under water, exposed to catastrophic damage and major loss of life if – or when – a one-in-100 year flood hits the town.
It’s a disaster growing more likely with the advance of global warming (Alice News, August 9).
This week Steve Brown, who heads up the influential group Advance Alice, says flood mitigation needs to be moved to the top of the government’s agenda (see Letters to the Editor).
A spokesman for Opposition leader Jodeeen Carney says the CLP is dealing with the issue in a broad review of policies.
The government is sitting on its hands.  The Alice Springs News is seeking comment from the Chamber of Commerce and the tourism lobby CATIA.
And we’ll speak with Kim and Shane Braitling about the deluge in January which wreaked havoc on their cattle station, Numery.
Had that storm been over the Todd Catchment area – just 150km to the north-west, Alice Springs as we know it would no longer exist.

Brough intervention: Anderson says it is the change we had to have. By KIERAN FINNANE.

At Tjuwanpa Outstation Resource Centre, the service organisation for the Western Arrernte homelands, the discussion on Monday was all about the future, beyond September 30 when the funding for their programs comes to an end.
But for one old woman the concern was more basic: she has six children in her care – her grandchildren and great-grandchildren – and they were hungry. She was looking for someone to give her money to feed them.
She found little sympathy: everyone knew she had received a cheque for $7000 the week before –  “Howard’s bonus” and the end-of-year Centrelink reconciliation. All the money had gone on a car.
At the Hermannsburg Council office the discussion ranged widely over the Federal intervention. There were diverging views but on one everyone agreed: the present generation of teenagers and young adults need somehow to be made to take responsibility for their lives.
One example: a young woman in the community a few months back gave birth to twins. She’d received from the government a double “baby bonus”, $12,000. Again, all the money had gone on a car. Now the car has broken down and the twins are no better off.
These two cases are an illustration of the need for the Federal Government to take radical control, says Aboriginal MLA Alison Anderson, who is continuing her one-woman campaign to smooth the way for the intervention.
For Ms Anderson this is a last chance for Aboriginal communities.
She told the Alice News: “When this doesn’t work we can say, look, there is no hope for these people.”
Her stance on alterations to the permit system and the leasing of townships for five years is now unequivocal: “The Commonwealth are taking control to get stability in the communities.
“You need lock, stock and barrel if you are going to take control, you need security of tenure.”
She dismisses the concerns of the so-called “Indigenous leadership”. Their “negatives” get in the way of what’s being achieved.
“There’s compassion involved in this intervention – that’s what I’ve seen in the volunteers, the nurses, the doctors, even the police and the army.
“We need to hear from the people out here [in communities], the people who are suffering. If this helps them get healthy, educated children, it’s worth trying.
“These are exciting times – that’s how the people out here see it. It’s about time that change happened.
“I get excited for the kids.”
There was more skepticism in the Hermannsburg council office, although old man Joseph Rontji thought John Howard was “doing all right from what I can see”.
Another community member had the opposite view, feeling “let down” by MHR Warren Snowdon and Territory Senator Trish Crossin, who “didn’t even put up a fight” against the legislation enabling the intervention to go ahead.
Les Smith, who runs the community’s CDEP, was frustrated with the continuing lack of information about detail of the changes. The CDEP broker assigned to the community had been unable or unwilling “to tell us what she’s going to do”.
The Commonwealth business manager, though, had done “the right thing”: she’d explained her role, her relationships to government departments.
“That was good.”
The haste to get the ball rolling has Mr Smith off side. He had a phone call on a Thursday to tell him that the demountables to house Commonwealth staff were arriving the next day and could he find a site.
CDEP workers did some levelling of the site but outside contractors have done the rest of the work.
“We didn’t even get an opportunity to quote on putting up the fence,” said Mr Smith.
“We’re quite capable of doing that.
“And they’re supposed to be looking for ‘real’ work for people to do on communities.”
There were quite a few other complaints about the “takeover” and Territory departments’ demands on “the death knock” until Ms Anderson brought the talk back to what she sees as the main game: “$871m linked to the well-being of children and the safety of the community”.
“You can see with land tenure that if the Commonwealth didn’t have compulsory acquisition, if the land title didn’t change,  traditional owners could kick the business manager out.
“They [the Commonwealth] have to make sure they can do their work without interruption,” she argued.
Mr Smith shook his head about “people from Canberra” – “I don’t know how they are going to survive”.
“Well, maybe you can help them out,” urged Ms Anderson.
She turned to council president, Gus Williams: “To build a relationship you need to be together, share information. That’s really important. You don’t want to exclude her [the business manager] so you don’t know what she’s thinking.”
Mr Smith could see the point: “She’ll have an open door here. They’ll have to put another demountable here, close by. We suggested it.
“The discussion turned to housing: promised funds that haven’t come through; the Commonwealth demountables that Ms Anderson said have been brought in “to alleviate pressure on communities” and which Mr Smith hopes will be left behind when the emergency is over.
Helen Kantawarra, who works in a number of support staff roles in the community, wanted to know what many people have asked, “Where is the connection [of all the intervention measures] with children’s safety? It seems to be getting lost. Kids are going to get left behind with all this [focus on] housing.”
Mr Rontji made a point: “We know how to build houses.”
Ms Anderson pounced: “You got old working! Not this generation – they’re lazy.”
Mr Williams agreed: “Uwa.”
Mr Smith too: “You’re right, I’ve always said they’re a lost generation, in white society too, they just want to sit in front of their computers.”
“You’ve got to understand, Little Children Are Sacred is focussed on Aboriginal people. It’s about us taking responsibility. I haven’t done enough – I’m prepared to say that openly.”
Mr Smith referred to his long years as a policeman: “I’ve seen this [child abuse] in European society.”
Ms Anderson: “It’s too easy to say it’s happening over there too – that muddies the waters. We’ve got to deal with these issues.”
Mr Williams, while still worried about what he sees as a wider political agenda by the Howard government,  acknowledged that the visiting health teams “found a lot of things wrong with our kids, the kids who are not going to the clinic”.
Ms Kantawarra  said her worry was about whether these things will be fixed, and “my concern is not only with our children, it’s our elderly too”.
Ms Anderson raised the issue of old age pensioners continuing to get full access to their benefits: “They’re frightened that they’ll be the only ones to get cash. Their grandchildren will take it off them.”
Ms Kantawarra: “It’s happening now, today, in this community.”
Mr Smith: “I’ve seen it at the shop myself.”
Ms Anderson: “They smash the money out of their grandparents’ hands. That’s the cycle we have to break!”
There was more talk, about teaching Aboriginal people what “quarantine”  means, what “performance indicator” means. Ms Anderson told them about a CD she is making with Desmond Phillipus, adapting a song about the Prodigal Son of the Bible story to the current situation on communities.
Mr Smith commented on Ms Anderson’s stance on the intervention: “You’re fighting for your people. Why aren’t other politicians doing what you’re doing?”
Said Ms Anderson: “I don’t want to die knowing that kids are being raped, that 30 people are living in one house.”
Ms Kantawarra returned to the young generation, lamenting “the mentality of young girls – have a baby, get $6000.”
Ms Anderson said the “baby bonus” should also be quarantined.
“It should be rolled out over time,” said Ms Kantawarra. “There are a lot of baby cars [bought with the bonus money] driving around now.”
There was talk of the old ways, where young men and women lived separately before they were married: “That’s what brought discipline,” said Mr Williams.
“We’ve got to force our kids to go to school,” said Ms Anderson.
“We used to get a hiding if we didn’t want to go,” said Ms Kantawarra, who wants kids to be educated so they “can make a contribution not only to their communities but to the society”.
Ms Anderson was keen to see whether families are getting the intervention message, that they must send their children to school.
The anecdotal evidence from the school seems to be that yes, more kids are coming to school; when they get out of the bus and line up, the lines are “30% longer”.
Ms Anderson spoke to the Hermannsburg school’s home liaison officer, Gwen Inkamala.  
Ms Inkamala has been home liaison officer for five years and teacher’s aide at the school for five years before that.
She is now studying for her teaching diploma, through Batchelor Institute, having finished her Certificate IV last year.
She has four children.
Her youngest, 14 year old Louis Fly, is still at school.
Her oldest son was educated to Year 12 at Alice Springs High, is a CDEP worker, is training as a mechanic and is also a musician.
Ms Inkamala said she is “proud of his life”.
Her daughter was educated to Year 10 and is training to be a health worker.
Her third born, a son, was at Yirara to Year 11-12, and is also a CDEP worker and keen footballer.
Ms Inkamala has also fostered 20 other children.
She said she tells parents that if they love their kids they must send them to school. She also tells them that the government will be quarantining their money if they don’t.
“Some worry, but some don’t care,” she said.
She also told Ms Anderson that many people in the community have been drinking over the last two weeks – since Howard’s bonus and the Centrelink reconciliation money arrived.
“Day and night, the whole community,” she said, “they are bringing grog in by the back roads.”
Ms Anderson also spoke to the school principal, who has been in the position for three weeks.
He talked of the importance of not only getting kids to school but keeping them there – “Aboriginal kids vote with their feet” if the programs don’t interest them.
Ms Anderson said they simply should not be allowed to: “As a society we have normalised that behaviour. You can’t get away with it in white society. 
“I was bored witless with maths but I still stayed at school.
“Society has made different rules for black people but there’s not a black way and a white way, there’s only the right way.”

McAdam speaking with forked tongue? By ERWIN CHLANDA.

What role did Elliot McAdam play in the scuttling of the deal which would have channelled $60m of Federal money into the upgrading of the squalid Aboriginal town camps in Alice Springs?
CLP candidate for Lingiari Adam Giles says the NT Minister for Central Australia has some explaining to do.
Officially Mr McAdam was mediating, on behalf of the NT Government, between Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mal Brough, who offered the money, and Tangentyere Council, negotiating on behalf of the camps, which was reluctant to accept it.
On the other hand Mr McAdam was urging town campers not to accept the money under Mr Brough’s conditions, although the NT Government was dead keen for the deal to proceed.
In the end Alice Springs missed out on the windfall, but $20m of the Brough cash went to Tennant Creek, Mr McAdam’s home town, which apparently had not previously been made an offer of Canberra support.
“Mr McAdam should have stepped aside rather than being involved in a deal with Tangentyere,” says Mr Giles.
“He needs to explain what seems to be a conflict of interest.”
A McAdam staffer now says the Minister is distraught over the collapse of the Tangentyere deal, but the time line of the events raises questions.
• April 18: Between 200 and 300 town camp residents in a rally in Todd Mall in the week Parliament sits in Alice Springs.
ABC Radio reports that Mr McAdam told the crowd that the NT Government wouldn’t insist that town camp residents give up their leases in return for improved services.
Mr McAdam says: “I want to make it very clear to Mal Brough that he should not hold you people to ransom.”
• One month later: Tangentyere rejects the money. Mr Brough says he will take it elsewhere.
• Early June: Mr Brough starts negotiations with Jularikari Council in Tennant Creek for a grant of $20m in exchange for facilitating 99 year subleases of public housing land to the NT Government, as was proposed in Alice Springs.
• Last week: Mr Brough announced the Tennant deal after negotiations that had taken just two months (the Tangentyere negotiations had dragged on for more than a year).
Mr Giles said so far as he was aware, there had been no prior offer to Tennant, but there had been talk around town that the former mining centre, now with a mainly Aboriginal population, was in with a chance if the Tangentyere deal should fall over.
The News asked Mr McAdam to provide a comment but he did not.

Combined Aboriginal Organisations ‘no mandate from locals’: Call to hand over Centrecorp millions. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The native title holder body, Lhere Artepe, is challenging the mandate of the Combined Aboriginal Organisations of Alice Springs to speak on behalf of local Aborigines.
Lhere Artepe CEO Kenny Laughton says he was “thrown out” of the CAO meeting last Thursday, called to develop a response to the Federal intervention following the visit to Canberra by a delegation of various organisation heads.
He admits to having sworn at various participants in the meeting and says some participants objected to his lack of respect.
But he says the delegation showed no respect to native title holders, with nobody coming to see Lhere Artepe about the visit to Canberra.
“Yet Lhere Artepe are supposed to be the peak organisation for dealing with Aboriginal issues in Alice Springs,” he says.
Mr Laughton says he’s got “an intervention plan of my own” – calling for the resignation of Owen Cole from Imparja and CAAMA and of David Ross from the Central Land Council.
He would add William Tilmouth from Tangentyere Council but “they’re finished anyway”, he says.
On what grounds does he call for these resignations?
On the grounds of them “putting us where we are today – they [have been in good jobs] while our old people, native title holders of Alice Springs, live in poverty”.
How can he bring about this move?
“By letting the public know about it.”
What should happen to the organisations?
“All the empire builders and dead wood and whitefella hangers-on should be cleaned out of them.”
He includes Congress in his firing line.
He asks how come during Prime Minister John Howard’s 11 years of systematic dismantling of Aboriginal affairs, the land councils have not been touched, suggesting that it is because they are effectively “government agents”.
He’s calling for the assets and funds of Centrecorp and Yeperenye Pty Ltd and related companies to be handed over to Lhere Artepe.
“We are the traditional owners – they should not do business without our authority.
“Lhere Artepe has had enough of the gatekeepers’ control of this town, squeezing the lifeblood out of us.
“The questions have been asked for thirty years – where’s all the money going?
“It is not doing anything for the traditional owners.”
What would Lhere Artepe use the money for?
To create opportunities for young Indigenous people, Mr Laughton says.
He says Lhere Artepe is in partnership with Arrernte Council and Ingkerreke Resource Centre.
He’s calling for Indigenous housing money to be channelled through Lhere Artepe which would sub-contract to these organisations to provide services to the town camps.
What about Minister for Indigenous Affairs Mal Brough’s plans to “normalise” the camps and have all public housing managed by Territory Housing?
Mr Laughton waves this aside, saying no law can challenge traditional law on this country.

Now where have I heard this one before? By ERWIN CHLANDA.

People feigning exasperation about what they allege is the lack of consultation  about Mal Brough’s taskforce should recall the letter from Opposition Leader Jodeen Carney to Chief Minister Clare Martin in May.
Ms Carney is proposing dramatic intervention in Aboriginal communities.
That letter was circulated, amongst others, to all Members of the Legislative Assembly.
Either Mr Brough and Ms Carney are extraordinary soul mates, or he’s simply following much of her script to the letter.
Situation: Civil order in Aboriginal communities and town camps have deteriorated to a point of disintegration. 
Public safety is not being maintained; women and children are subject to rapes and occasionally death. 
Health and educational outcomes have collapsed.
Objective: To create public order in Aboriginal communities and town camps and to ensure effective delivery of public services.  Suggested short, medium and long-term proposals appear hereunder.  They, and other initiatives, need to be considered.
Crisis Cabinet’s Response: [The initiative] will need Federal representation with Federal financial commitments. 
It will also need representation from the ALP and the CLP in the Northern Territory. 
Endorsement to do its functions needs to be enunciated by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition as well as both the Territory Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition. 
A commitment to financial support must also be made by the Territory.
Short term: The short term solutions are designed to achieve the restoration of order to Aboriginal communities swiftly and comprehensively, including immediate and urgent action to address violence and abuse.
Short term Declared Areas are required to establish order and ensure basic human rights are afforded to members of the communities.
The [initiative will have] Declared Areas of Operation ... to which the following powers and functions apply:-
A power of arrest without warrant in Aboriginal communities and town camps.
Agreed determination to remove any children in need of care.
Agree to dismiss any Local Community Government Council it deems dysfunctional and appoint administrators, as deemed necessary.
Use of both Australian Federal Police and Northern Territory Police to support Courts and to become more interventionist.
Complete crack down on grog runners, petrol sellers, drug pushers. 
To ensure that there is immediate care available for victims of crime.  These services will be delivered in the Declared Areas.
Medium Term: Responses are designed to deliver services that can be responsively implemented, but are aimed at creating outcomes that will support long term solutions. 
Areas for consideration by the Crisis Cabinet will include but not be limited to:
• Provision of rehabilitation services to victims and offenders, located in Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine.
• Education will be supported by truancy officers and by tying Centrelink payments with attendance at schools.
• Mandatory regular health checkups for all children under 16 years (noting the high rates of STIs in a number of these communities).
• Public services, power, water, sewerage and other services to be brought up to speed using the assistance of local labour.
• Provision of house maintenance and cleaning instruction in declared areas. 
• House care to be determined to a certain standard.
• Provision of community kitchens in identified dysfunctional communities.
Long Term: The long term objectives will be applied in a fashion that may see the Crisis Cabinet replaced with another body. 
The functions would include, but not be limited to:
• Review legislation and practices which inhibit the development of Aboriginal lands as a source of employment for Aboriginal people.
• Ensuring that there is sufficient development of facilities such as sport and recreational facilities.
• Restoration of Local Government to communities where it has been stripped.
• Repeal of legislation that was introduced to implement Short Term goals, including the disbandment of the flying squad.
• Removal of inquisitorial courts and a restoration to the normal service delivery functions.
• Determination of locations and functions of sustainable government services.
• Jobs planning – for example, use of Centrelink income to supplement investment to create cheaper labour.
• Compulsory work for the dole delivery.
• Oversee complete return to normalisation of government service delivery and legal structures.
Oh, by the way, the May during which this letter was written and disseminated was not this year, it was in 2006.

National heavyweight enters the employment game in The Alice. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Tangentyere Job Shop manager Peter “Strachy” Strachan says his company has lost the Job Network contract because it failed to score well enough on the “star rating” introduced by the Federal Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.
The national performance level was “well above where we were,” said Mr Strachan, but the assessment system is “flawed” by failing to take into account the special job market situation in Central Australia, including poor education.
The contract represents about 40% of the Job Shop business, and 17 of its 42 staff (including full time, part time and CDEP employees) lost their jobs.
Most of them were employed by the new contractor, Job Find, a national operator with 350 employees in 28 centers servicing 47 locations.
Included, significantly, are remote places with high Aboriginal populations, Palm Island, Lockhait River, Weipa, Cooktown and Arakun. 
In addition to Alice Springs, Job Find have also clinched the contracts for Katherine and Mt Isa.
Executive Director Michael Hughes says in Palmerston and Casuarina the company is running four and a half star (out of five) operations.
Job Find got the nod just 18 days ago but already has an office in Alice, and 15 staff including local girl Seraphina Bray currently in Mutitjulu to explore opportunities in the park and the Ayers Rock Resort.
Despite Alice Springs’ desperate demand for labour the Job Shop, started in 2000, is fighting an uphill battle.
Mr Strachan says he had up to 1600 people on his books.
During the past 12 months he placed 237, some 90% of them Alice Springs based.
But placements don’t count unless they translate into outcomes: In fact employment agencies don’t get a cent unless people stay in the job for at least 13 weeks.
The goal is 26 weeks, when a new recruit is regarded as settled in.
The Tangentyere “placements” in the last 12 months were just 80 people staying 13 weeks and of these, 70 stayed 26.
That’s less than five per cent of the 1600 job “seekers”.
Mr Hughes seems undaunted.
His company has a string of educational devices, some internet based, to get people “upskilled”.
But he says the key strategy is to take the bull by the horns.
For example, this week Job Find commenced a deal with the Sydney based Tribal Warrior Association, a private trainer of maritime labour.
Groups of five Aborigines are getting on the job training on boats.
Ultimately the scheme will operate all the way up and down the east coast, to qualify as certificated deck hands. After that they will get employment on vessels ranging from coastal ferries to cruise ships.

Youth issues drown in alcohol concerns. By KIERAN FINNANE.

There are no prizes for guessing what a public meeting about the results of community consultation over anti-social behaviour focussed on.
You got it right: alcohol.
This means that an occasion to wrestle with community ills, attended by about 50 individuals and a 15-member “stakeholder” panel, retraced well-worn ground over one and a half hours.
The poles of the debate were as expected: that excessive drinking is a minority problem, concerning around 300 individuals; that excessive drinking is a whole of community problem.
That we are limiting availability of alcohol too much; that we are not limiting it enough.
In the end the pro-restrictions lobby won the day, though no doubt that had been decided well beforehand. They had all their demands met or promised serious consideration, bar setting a minimum price benchmark to make beer the cheapest drink.
Chief Minister Clare Martin announced that  Alice Springs will get an ID system for individual purchases of alcohol “to help police and the justice system deal with alcohol-related offending”.
She also said:
• Treasury is looking at the buy-back of licenses.
• A takeaway grog-free day is on the cards. This will be discussed by the alcohol  reference group today.
Given that “80% of police time is spent on dealing with alcohol-related issues” the government should “seriously consider” one grog-free day, said Ms Martin, now Police Minister after a Cabinet reshuffle.
Ms Martin floated Monday as a possibility, but John Boffa of the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition was adamant it should be a Thursday.
(A majority of  town council aldermen have meanwhile opposed any such day).
• Reduced trading hours are also “back on the table” for the reference group, although Ms Martin is “mindful of what tourism industry people are saying”.
The government wants to avoid “unnecessary impact”  but tourists obviously want to visit “a safe and viable community”, which means that government can’t “back off” addressing the alcohol issues.
Ms Martin also tried to put to bed community frustration over delayed funding support for CCTV in Todd Mall.
Following talks with the mayor that morning, she committed her government to  “recurrent” funding for the project for “12 months”. (A question about how a 12 month commitment can be recurrent has gone unanswered.)
After the first 12 months “we’ll talk to the business community about their investment” in the system.
Youth issues at the three-hour summit were dealt with in just 15 minutes, despite heightened community concern over the anti-social behaviour of young people.
It was outrage over juvenile delinquency that triggered the clamour over the last 12 months for CCTV, youth curfews and the “citizens’ patrols” of the CBD. 
The summit was told that there is “capacity” in the town’s youth services, meaning that they are not fully utilised.
The services, particularly those offering safe accommodation for homeless youth, need to let the community know that they are there.
The demand for recreation programs appeared to be met when Ms Martin announced a $200,000 to $300,000 commitment to the Gap Youth Centre to extend their after hours and weekend programs.
However, the call for a recreation program for the whole youth population, bringing all young people together – a preventative approach –  was brushed aside.
The Department of Family and Community’s Services’ Penny Fielding said the target of her agency would continue to be “youth at risk”.
Ms Martin said the government will “firm up” over the next two months the detail, including costs, of what would be involved in providing a youth camp, potentially at Hamilton Downs or Owen Springs.
Ms Martin’s concluding remarks were about the need for Indigenous leadership to talk about “a shared vision” for Alice Springs.
And finally, in a statement at odds with public perception, especially in the wake of the government’s token campaign during the Greatorex by-election, she said she looked forward to being “regularly involved” in planning the future of Alice Springs and Central Australia “as I have been particularly over the last 18 months”.

Justice delayed is justice denied. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

If justice needs to be swift to be credible we’re in trouble.
In early May two children aged 12 and one aged 11 went on a night time rampage of break-ins, theft including $2000 worth of clothing and jewelry, and smashing windows in six CBD business.
They were arrested at 5.15pm on Sunday, May 6.
Later that day they were back on the streets again. Police had no choice in the matter.
The Territory’s Youth Justice Act requires that children are referred for “diversion”, designed to keep children out of the criminal system, unless they have committed crimes such as homicide, certain types of assaults, robbery, home invasion, certain types of criminal damage to property, certain drug offences.
Today, more than three months later, that diversion process is only just beginning for the three young offenders.
Sergeant Mal Guerin provided this account to the Alice Springs News, which is monitoring how they are being dealt with.
“Whilst the diversion process can be lengthy, the actual investigation of the offence needs to be conducted and finalised prior to the matter going to either diversion or prosecutions.
“The full investigation of this matter took considerable time due to the variety of locations [at which] the offenders were located.
“The last of the youth offenders has just now been assessed – he was eventually located in hospital.
“It has taken longer that we envisaged to find them all, with enquiries being conducted as to their whereabouts at Tennant Creek, Mt Allen, Yuendumu, Harts Range and every location we had for them on PROMIS (the police database).
“In considering the time taken to locate and assess them, the alternative would have been to place the matters before the court.
“This would entail the youth being summonsed to court and the same problem would have been encountered locating them for service.
“Then, when they eventually appeared in court, the probable outcome would have been that they would be sent back to YDU [to be] re-assessed for diversion.
“This would have taken longer again.
“Now that we have all the assessments the Youth Justice Conference (YJC) process can begin.
“The victims have been contacted by Senior Constable Dixon, who has explained the process and asked them what outcomes they would like achieved from the YJC.
“A YJC is a very powerful tool when conducted by an experienced facilitator. 
“To have a YJC that results in restorative justice principals being achieved and the desired impact upon the youth, it is critical that as many of the victims and youths attend the conference.
“To break the YJC down into smaller conferences would lose the impact and could result in the revictimisation of the victims or the youth involved.
“S/Const Dixon will be conducting the YJC with support from this office. 
“He is currently conducting conference facilitator training in Darwin and will be returning to Alice on August 22.
“In his absence we will continue to work on the logistics of the YJC and keep the victims and youth offenders notified of proceedings.”

A joker who has a black background. By DARCY DAVIS.

If you missed Sean Choolburra’s performance last Saturday at Araluen, you might have been one of those lucky kids from Centralian College to get a very special private performance of ‘Live and Deadly’.
Sean began with an introduction to his culture and ethnic background:
“I’m part Celtic and part Aboriginal. I’ve got a bit of Asian too. Where are all my Asian brothers out there?
Lots of blackfellas got some Asian in them, that’s why we like our rice.
“But I grew up with a black background… rather than a black curtain background,” he said, gesturing towards his backdrop.
“I’ve travelled around Australia, performing at all different schools.
Trouble is, I hated school, so look out kids, you might end up like me, working there.”
I was having no luck at snapping a decent photo from my seat, his dark skin, dark clothes and black curtain behind him made it difficult.
I descended the stairs and flashed a few shots from the side of the stage.
Sean turned and faced me, then the audience.
“How’s my hair?” he asked.
“I forgot my photographer was coming along today – how about my eyebrow? My eyebrow might be a little crooked!”
“That was bloody hilarious,” said Jane Walsh loudly at the end of the show.
It had gone down well with the crowd.
But Sean had some genuine messages and a message with humour is a sure way to get across to kids.
“We all gotta look at the bigger picture,” he explained “and the bigger picture is that we’re all from the one race. The Human Race.
But despite all being from the human race, we all do things a little differently, and that’s what makes us deadly!”
“I thought it would be like regular stand up,” said Philip Ballard, “but I got a different perspective on things at the same time.”
“It was just deadly,” said Mitch Murray.
 Sean expanded on the significance of the word ‘Deadly’ which he brandished in capital white letters on the front of his shirt.
“You know our family made up the word deadly. In ‘73 me and my siblings heard on the radio that our hero, Bruce Lee, had just passed away.
“We mourned and mourned for Bruce. Grandma came out and asked what was the matter.
We told her ‘It’s Bruce Lee – he died!’ ‘He’s Dead Li now,’ she replied.” 
Sean Choolburra is now on his way to Melbourne where he will take part in the popular TV series ‘Thank God You’re Here’, episode 12.

LETTERS: Time for flood control is now.

Sir,- I’m writing about your article on flood mitigation for Alice Springs (Alice News, August 9).
My home at White Gums is on the banks of the Roe Creek.
We experienced a large flood in 1988 when massive overnight rains caused enormous flows in all the rivers west of Alice.
These huge flows saw Hermannsburg, Glen Helen, Owen Springs and many homesteads severely flooded.
The Todd also flowed in a very large stream.
Its smaller sister river, the Roe, to the west of town, in places flowed high velocity water at more than a kilometer wide.
It was quite obvious that the Todd had not received the kind of rainfall that all the rivers west of town had.
Even though the Todd spilled into the streets of Alice Springs, the town was spared the massive high velocity flows experienced just a few kilometers to the west.
Had the Todd been fed as much water as the Roe, the result would have been disastrous for Alice Springs, with many areas of the town affected, and not just by still backwash. 
There would have been flood waters moving at speeds up to 80km per hour with catastrophic effect.
Many lives would have been lost.
So, what are the chances that our town will be effected by such an event?
Given a long enough period of time it is a certainty. 
Our experts tell us that it may be a one-in-100 year event. All the rivers west of town appear to have had their one-in-100 event.
Does that make the Todd’s event imminent?
The answer, of course, is who knows?
And that, it seems, gives our pollies and bureaucracy reason not to act.
Our bureaucracy sees flood mitigation works for the town as a low priority, deliberately casting doubt on the ability of a dam to work, citing such things as silting up as reasons against the viability of the project.
Never mind that these same works are carried out all over the world and all over our own country. It’s just normal engineering. It’s enough to make you cringe.
Advance Alice ran a survey during the recent show, questioning people’s interest in a recreation dam on the Hugh River.
About 80% responded enthusiastically, yes please.
When questioning those against, the most common reason given was it won’t work, we are in a desert.
The fact is there are massive dams all around the world in similar climates.
Many pastoralists use dams to water their cattle.
There are dams just to the north, in Tennant Creek, and only a few hundred kilometres to the east, at Jervois.
This same level of blind parochial thinking seems to apply to the powers that be when it comes to thinking about flood mitigation for Alice. The tragedy of it all!
Unless locals get off their backsides and fill up the organisations and committees that supposedly make a difference in this town, nothing will be done, or not before it’s too late.
Propaganda by governments all around the country relating to global warming water supply have duped the general population into believing we are facing a shortage of water.
And indeed we are but not because of global warming, but because of the failure of governments to put appropriate funding into water supply infrastructure.
The true horror of global warming is not lack of water but too much water, which will make its presence felt by flooding as sea levels rise, and from extreme weather events occurring more often.
If we are to believe the global warming theory, as apparently most of the world does, then now is the time to act.
Steve Brown
Advance Alice


Sir,- For the last few weeks, there has not been a murmer in the Bloomfield Estate and I have slept peacefully on weekends.
Normally there is yelling, screaming and screaching tyres all weekend.
Credit where credit is due.
 I suspect it goes to a combination of police patrols and previous hard work apprehending and removing vandals, muggers and ring leaders from mobs plus the new alchohol restrictions.
Now the problem is confined to the town camps or ghettos that haven’t been cleaned up yet.
Tangentyre Council don’t get their act together and, by the look of it, never will be.
So all those academic cynics and knockers and intellectual bleeding hearts and do-gooders who refuse to accept the opportunity that the State of Emergency is providing for these poor selfless and helpless children that have lived in squalor and threat of constant abuse since the day they were born, should also get their act together and put up or shut up.
One such “expert” was quoted saying on a national news program that 98% of all aboriginal communities are already declared alcohol-free areas so bans won’t make any difference.
She must be in fantasyland and apparently blissfully unaware that only a few communities actually enforce the bans.
On removal of permits, take Hermannsburg as a classic example of it working successfully where each day, hundreds of tourists are free to and do drive through the town and / or to the historic precinct.
Private streets are placarded as such and that No Entry is permitted, in exactly the same way as many private streets and condominiums in Melbourne or Sydney are similarly off-limits and even barricaded. 
I have absolutely no problem with that.
If you don’t believe it, get out there and see for yourself.
But there is one other problem in the town camps and smaller communities that is not being addressed and is continuing unchecked - adult abuse.
Where Law and Order has broken down, the elders have lost power and influence.
Mob rule and the law of the fist and stick prevails over the weak and infirm.
Adults are threatened with a bashing if they don’t hand over money or their social security cards on pay day so these juvenile delinquents can extort them.
They will buy grog, drugs, fancy new clothes, cars, sound systems and mobile phones while their older relatives starve and get bashed up if they complain.
Hopefully, some of this will be uncovered and reported on as part of the Emergency response.
Or perhaps some of those protestors could expend some of their misguided energy into complaining about the adult abuse problem and do something constructive for a change.
After 200 years in Australia and 100 years in Central Australia, we whities obviously still don’t understand the problem.
They are expecting far too much and after wasting billions of dollars, have little improvement in quality of life to show for it.
So let’s give this initiative a chance to work.
Let’s get behind it and get on with it - for the sake of the children at least.    
Ross Pollock
Gillen, Alice Springs


Sir,- Yes Brendan, (Alice News, August 9) a new plan for drinkers is badly needed.
Thirsty Thursdays, two km limits, restricted hours, restricted purchases, ID cards: We have to ask, what has worked in any way at all?
The drunks are still drunk and will continue to be drunk giving everyone a hard time.
Alcoholism is a disease, which like all serious health problems needs acute and direct actions to remedy.
A fully self-supporting dry out centre as you propose would be of major benefit to all.
Get rid of the ineffectual Liquor Commission to fund it.
It would get drunks off the street, dry them out and hopefully direct them toward a  purpose in life. They may even get to enjoy their sojourn away from the daily drunken roundabout.
It would be a work camp, not a holiday camp. There are times in life when it is necessary to be cruel to be kind.
Unfortunately your “wise people” making the rules are in many cases sucking on the nipple of Government and I have doubts that it is really in their interests to solve the problem.
Having meetings and driving a computer writing numerous reports would appear in many cases to be their solution to the troubles.
Gavin Carpenter
Alice Springs


Sir,- News that a grog free day could soon become a reality just adds further stupidity to the simplistic Labor party approach to addressing systemic social problems in the NT.
We must put more investment into addressing the causes of excessive alcohol consumption rather than punishing the whole community because of the actions of a few.
There are about 200 to 300 chronic alcoholics in Alice Springs who produce the multitude of antisocial behaviour we all loathe.
We should be targeting intensive support programmes for these people and promoting welfare reform initiatives rather than hindering them.
Paying people to sit down encourages alcohol consumption.
Instead the NT Labor Party just wants to target the remaining 29,800 local residents through over regulation and once again attack our Territory lifestyle.
Adam Giles
CLP candidate for Lingiari


Sir,- So, after much consultation the Chief Minister is considering a grog free day for Alice Springs.
Why just Alice Springs? Why not for all the Territory? Alcohol abuse is not just restricted to the regional centres.
The alcohol fuelled anti social behaviour in Darwin’s CBD is an example of a culture of heavy drinking in our capital city.
I note the new Minister for Alcohol Policy said, for example, that he would consider extending the need for photo ID throughout the Territory with the exception of Darwin.
“Darwin is a different kettle of fish,” unquote.
Perhaps the Minister meant to say: “Darwin is a different kettle of voters!”
It might just make sense to have no takeaway grog on Sundays throughout the Territory, not just Alice Springs.
Loraine Braham
Member for Braitling


Sir,- The Federal politicians and bureaucrats never cease to amaze me.
Their well thought out intervention in the National Crisis is absolutely brilliant!
“Quarantine” half welfare payments (for school lunches etc).
Introduce “commercial” rate rents with rental agreements, presumably including a “damages deposit” to further soak up excess wealth on these communities.
Encourage home ownership i.e. encourage locals to take on mortgages at the current historically low rates and to apply more of their surplus ready cash as home buyer deposits.
This leaves absolutely nothing, which is good: It’ll stop anyone on these communities from buying grog and gunja and baby clothes and prams and tyres and batteries and fuel and television sets and tickets to entertainment in Alice Springs and trips in the Bush Bus and books and magazines and CDs and
DVDs and Telstra phone cards and  household furniture and white goods and (once they own their houses) repairs (such as plumbers, electricians etc. that will no longer be able to be kept out by the permit system).
The thorough process of consultations and involvement of the local communities preceding the implementation of these “emergency” measures was a wonder to behold and is also to be highly commended.
Anyone who thinks this is all a poll driven political stunt is being too cynical by half.
I trust everyone realises that Mal in Mal Brough is short for “malleable”.
I’m sure he will heed any good advice to improve the measures even more.
Yes, bring Aboriginal Australia into the economic mainstream.
Start with bringing household debt to the same levels enjoyed by other Australians.
True genius, why wasn’t it thought of before during the last decade?
Here is a suggestion: install parking meters in Aboriginal towns; that will surely help to protect the little children!
Frank Baarda


Sir,- Wow, is an awesome site.
I used to live in Alice Springs back in the days.
I also attended school and my mom also worked as a teacher.
It’s nice to have updates and see what has changed over the years.
Lori Yi


Sir,- Me old mate John Winston Howard continues to excel himself! 
The efficiency of his parliament (he owns it, we do not) almost beggars belief - 480 pages of enabling legislation, in one day to be read, comprehended, and accepted gladly by the once more humbled masses! 
Couldn’t have it ready before acting, because, you know, how SLOW those fussy parliamentary draftsmen are!
Let’s not suggest anything be irregular, or absurd, about such procedure.
Federal Parliament has long been authorized, by popular vote, Constitution Part V, Section 51(26), as altered in 1967 (remember) “... the people of any race of whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.”
What, you may ask, was altered? Actually, deleted, the words “excepts aboriginals.”
Was it not Malcolm Fraser who once protested that certain people are born to rule? 
Did anyone notice the little sign I put on the rear of my van, early 2003, “Howard replaces democracy with autocracy”?
Notice the piece, my JWH, in the opinion pages of this Weekend Australian, justifying his commitment of our military to take part in the USA invasion of Iraq? 
Where-in JWH used “belief” 13 or 14 times; implied “knowing” only once?
Does such a word choice warn of Divine Right overruling participatory democracy? 
Certainly JWH, supported by his silly sycophants, is determined to restrict OUR right to know!
But, isn’t blissful ignorance so much easier?
Robert (Droge) Drogemuller
Alice Springs

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