August 30, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

"Bush tribes own the Centrecorp millions." By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Centrecorp’s assets, estimated to be worth between $60m and $100m, belong to mining royalty associations, including one serving the Warlpiri people in the Tanami Desert and the other, representing the Western Arrernte, based around Hermannsburg, according to an influential Aboriginal leader.
Graham Smith says Centrecorp is merely an agency, acting under instructions from the associations, each run by traditional owners of the respective areas, who have the say over how much of their royalty money gets invested, and when investments are redeemed for cash. 
However, despite lengthy enquiries, the Alice News has been unable to contact the chairman of the Granites Mine Affected Areas Aboriginal Corporation (GMAAAC), receiving royalties from the Newmont gold operation in the Tanami.
He is Lindsay Williams, a former chairman of the Yuendumu Council, now living on the remote community of Nyirrpi.
And Gus Williams, the chairman of the Hermannsburg Council since its inception in 1983, says he’s given up trying to make sense of the Centrecorp deals.
The Western Arrernte association is apparently Ngurratjuta which gets royalties from the oil and gas production in Mereenie and Palm Valley, about 150 kms west of Alice Springs.
Two years ago the board of Ngurratjuta met to discuss an apparent shortfall of royalty payments.
Ngurratjuta CEO Chris Pearson told the Alice News that in 2004/05 the total of royalties received was $173,000 for gas worth tens of millions of dollars (Alice News, December 14, 2005).
Gus Williams says he has several times raised the Centrecorp issue with David Ross, director of the Central Land Council (CLC), which owns three-fifths of the company. He spoke to him at CLC general meetings, but received no useful information.
“We never got anything out of Centrecorp,” says Mr Williams.
“It looked like we were probably not entitled to anything.
“I stopped asking questions.”
Mr Smith is chairman of the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA), which has a majority holding in Imparja TV, which in turn has Owen Cole as its chairman.
Mr Cole is a leading light in Centrecorp.
Mr Smith occasionally chairs the influential Combined Aboriginal Organizations (CAO), runs the Northern Land Council office in Tennant Creek and is a member of Lhere Artepe, Alice Springs’ native title body.
However, Mr Smith rejects an apparent bid by Lhere Artepe, through its CEO Kenny Laughton (Alice News, Aug 16), for the Centrecorp millions.
He says: “It’s not Lhere Artepe’s money, it’s not Alice Springs’ money.
“It’s money that belongs to different tribes.
“Centrecorp’s assets may be in Alice Springs, but it’s not money that belongs to Arrernte people.
“It belongs to Warlpiri and Western Arrernte.
“It’s got nothing to do with Lhere Artepe,” says Mr Smith.
“Lhere Artepe can’t demand that money.”
Mr Smith puts the value of Centrecorp at “no less than about $60m” and says the company started with $280,000 some 20 years ago.
Its assets now include the Yeperenye shopping centre, the giant Peter Kittle car dealership, a slice of the Kings Canyon Resort, Milner Road supermarket and liquor shop, a share in L J Hooker and the ANZ Bank building.
He says royalty money is paid to the CLC which holds it in trust, and within “so many months they must call meetings with the relevant association” to decide whether money should be invested or distributed.
Mr Smith says the CLC may be “helping people to run their meetings” about the distribution of money.
“They get to decide through their associations what to do with their funds.
“Centrecorp may own some of these buildings but they are probably just a name.”
Associations like “GAAAC would own the assets.
“Centrecorp is just the body that does the investing.
“These Warlpiri people own these companies.
“My understanding is the membership can determine when they want to get money out.
“If they want to invest it they give instructions to the CLC’s royalty unit and they in turn go to Centrecorp and say, we’ve got $500,000 or $1m to invest.
“Put it somewhere that works for us.”
Mr Smith spoke with ERWIN CHLANDA and KIERAN FINNANE of the Alice News:-
NEWS: If the associations want some money they ask Centrecorp to hand it over and they will?
SMITH: I’d imagine that’s how it works. I’m not one hundred percent sure on that. But I’d imagine it’s their money. Centrecorp is just investing it for them. Centrecorp is basically their agent.
NEWS: How much money has Centrecorp paid to the actual owners of the assets?
SMITH: There have been pay-outs every year. I’ve heard from $500,000 upwards. Some of it goes to individuals but some goes to programs and projects.
Mt Theo [the outstation near Yuendumu set up to treat petrol sniffers] I’m sure has been a recipient.
They funded kids to go down south on university trips, scholarships.
It’s like any other person who wants to get access to money, they have to show that their project is working and it’s good and a benefit to the community.
NEWS: Who makes the decision which programs should be supported and which not?
SMITH: Community people do, they are part of the membership. They come to the table with good ideas. There might be some advisors they might invite from time to time. 
NEWS: Who decides which request for money should be granted and which not?
SMITH: The majority of the membership.
NEWS: Of the Centrecorp membership?
SMITH: My understanding is, if it is the association’s money it would be up to the association to determine how much they want to invest and how much they want to spend.
NEWS: So Centrecorp has no decision-making power as such. If an association says we want a million dollars for project X, Centrecorp will hand it over.
SMITH: That’s a possibility. I’m not aware of that happening.
NEWS: You don’t know how much has been paid out?
NEWS: Is there a sunset clause for Centrecorp?
SMITH: I don’t think there is a sunset clause. As long as the money keeps coming in you’d be wise to keep investing.
NEWS: Why should Aboriginal people always hold out their hand for public money when they have assets of tens of millions?
After all, these assets were created with money resource companies operating on Aboriginal land are obliged to pay, for the benefit of Aboriginal people. There is a case for that money to be used for welfare purposes.
SMITH: That money is not there to provide services normally provided by the government.
NEWS: What about the raising people from poverty? You have a thriving investment company, set up with a charitable deed, and supposed to be looking after its beneficiaries, and yet many of these people live in abject poverty.
What are the projects to lift people out of poverty? This has nothing to do with providing basic government services which, as you say, should be provided by the government, nobody else. 
SMITH: The alternative is for Centrecorp to sell all its investments and shares and to start propping up communities. I think that’s a cheap way out for the government. They would love Centrecorp to do that. Centrecorp would be broke in 10 years ... five years.
Centrecorp was set up to invest. They are the investment arm. They do have a charter to give out certain moneys to assist communities.
But health, education and employment, they are government responsibilities.
NEWS: Economies develop not only out of government input but out of private enterprise, and Centrecorp seems to be well placed to have that role, particularly with regard to Indigenous people, to stimulate enterprise and employment for Aboriginal people, that would lift them out of poverty, and Centrecorp doesn’t seem to be doing that.
SMITH: They are getting people into employment. You can see that when you go into buildings they own. But Centrecorp aren’t 100% owners. They can only push so hard and so far.
NEWS: Over the years the News received dozens of complaints about Centrecorp.
SMITH: Some people are money hungry and when they don’t get it they turn to where the money has come from, and they abuse the people who run it or the operation itself, because they missed out on a royalty payment.
Well, they missed out on that payment because their own association hasn’t seen fit to distribute it to that particular person.
They’re going to go off crying in the wind and kick up a storm, but that’s not Centrecorp’s problem.
Centrecorp doesn’t determine who gets the money. It’s up to the associations themselves.
You are going to have disgruntled people when you miss out on a dollar. Of course you are.
A CLC division, the Aboriginal Association Management Centre in Alice Springs, is doing “secretarial work” for GMAAAC which represents, with respect to royalties, the communities of Yuendumu, Nyirrpi, Mt Liebig, Mt Allen, Willowra, Lajamanu and Tanami Downs.
Meanwhile, the Melbourne Age reports that CLC director David Ross has indicated Centrecorp may make more disbursements in the future, and inform its beneficiaries of its policies.
The newspaper says this in a series of articles it passes off as an “Age investigation” whereas a substantial part of the information comes from reports published over the last two and a bit years in the Alice Springs News (google Centrecorp on our website), and from lengthy conversations between Age reporters Russell Skelton and Ben Schneiders with Alice News editor Erwin Chlanda.
Contrary to assurances from the Age, which passed on the reports to its sister paper, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Alice Springs News is not acknowledged as the source of the information.
The shoddy journalism doesn’t stop there: without apparently any research of its own, the Centralian Advocate is lifting information from the Age, and so is running, third hand, material the Alice News has been publishing – since 1998.
The Murdoch paper’s belated interest in the story is a curious example of cultural cringe. Having had the story exposed under their nose by the Alice News, the Advocate are reacting only now, relying on reports in an interstate paper, one that is to boot owned by Murdoch’s Fairfax opposition.

No school, no dole to go national.

The linking of Centrelink payments to school attendance will begin across the nation at the start of the 2009 school year.
Information provided by FACSIA (the Federal Department of Family and Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) says the school enrolment and attendance measure will be implemented nationally and in stages, but will “commence early in the NT to support the Government’s emergency response”.
The Alice News understands that this will be by July next year.
Says FACSIA: “It’s the government’s intention to transition prescribed communities in the NT to the national welfare reform measures over time.”

Clare’s emergency response: Is it enough to close the gap? By KIERAN FINNANE.

Clare Martin’s belated response to the Little Children are Sacred report is long on education and better services over the next five years, but short on the immediate and coercive measures which are the hallmark of Mal Brough’s intervention to stem sexual abuse and neglect of children in the bush.
Despite running a government getting from Canberra five times the average national per capita funding, Ms Martin proposes to spend half as much over five years – $286m – compared to Mr Brough’s commitment for just the first year – half a billion.
In an 18 page document matching the Northern Territory Government response with the 97 recommendations of the Little Children Are Sacred report, the phrase “effective immediately” is used only once.
This is in relation to ensuring that interviewers of child victims in major child sexual abuse cases are appropriately trained.
There are 35 such cases currently being investigated by the Child Abuse Taskforce, with 19 arrests having been made to date.  
A certificate in child interviewing techniques will become compulsory for all child interviewers only by 2010, with in the meantime 50 police and FACS employees per year being offered intensive training in the techniques.
The NT Government will also “immediately” recruit a permanent Witness Assistance Service Officer for Katherine.
This service gives support and information to and provides referrals for witnesses and victims, helps in the preparation of victim impact statements, and arranges interpreters.
Such a position for Katherine has been advocated by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions  “since at least 2002”, according to Little Children Are Sacred.
The word “immediately” also occurs in relation to inserting into future and renewed funding agreements with non-government agencies, clauses to ensure child safety.
The NT Government takes a “long term generational perspective” on the “issue of national urgency” articulated by Little Children Are Sacred. 
Their promise to “close the gap” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Territorians sees December 2007 as the earliest deadline for seven of the NT Government responses, with one, creating an Office of the Children’s Commissioner, following in January, 2008.
Mid-2008 is the deadline for a further eight responses, with one coming earlier, in April, and one set for some time in 2007-08.
Some responses are to occur over five years, with no start date stipulated.
Many responses are covered by phrases like “will review”, “will negotiate”, “will provide”, “will continue to develop”. 
Most responses do not have a cost attached – the Alice News counted 29 out of 97 as having an additional cost to the Territory Government.
We counted six education campaigns.
These are on child sexual abuse ($440,000 over five years); the value of schooling ($550,000 over five years);  the negative impact of alcohol ($1m over five years); illicit drugs; the destructive influence of pornography; and the negative impact of gambling ($1.25m over five years).
The campaign on pornography (not costed in the document and with no start date) is the only response to this issue and is also the only response to this issue recommended by Little Children Are Sacred, which suggests that it is “unlikely that access to pornography itself or violence in movies and other material can be effectively prevented”.
This suggestion is despite the message from the regional meetings conducted by the report authors, Patricia Anderson and Rex Wild, that pornography was “a major factor in communities and should be stopped”.
Says the report: “The daily diet of sexually explicit material [encourages young and adolescent Aboriginals] to act out fantasies they see on screen or in magazines.
“Exposure to pornography was also blamed for the sexualised behaviour evident in quite young children.”
The report also says that the use of pornography to groom children for sex “has featured heavily in recent prominent cases”.
The report’s confining its recommendation on pornography to an education campaign seems limited, especially alongside the Federal Government’s ban.
The biggest commitment of additional funds in the NT Government response is for education.
Little Children Are Sacred is scathing on the failures of Indigenous education in the Territory.
The chapter is headed with a quote from a principal of a remote area school: “... we’re resourced to cope, not to succeed.”
The report refers the NT Government back to the recommendations of the 1999 Learning Lessons Report, taking the NT Government to task over the lack of urgency and priority given to its implemenation.
The report focusses on the importance of two-way learning, quoting the CEO of the NT Department of Education on the teaching of Indigenous language and culture: “... there is irresistible evidence to show that when the home languages and cultures of students are reflected in their learning experiences and learning environments, students achieve better levels of learning.”
The report also stresses early childhood education and school attendance.
In its response the NT Government commits to providing six additional mobile preschools.
This would appear to fall well short of “guaranteed access to play centres and preschools for all children in the three to five year age group”.
This was a recommendation of the Learning Lessons Report, to be achieved “within a period of five years”.
Seven years later Little Children Are Sacred says this access “has not happened” and is “now critical”.
The NT Government’s response document gives no start date for the provision of the six additional mobile preschools.
The document promises the implementation of a six-point school attendance plan, with a School Attendance Team to focus on following up low attending students (see Alice News, DATE, on the success in boosting attendance that Braitling Primary School has had using intensive follow-up of absences).
Among the 27 attendance-boosting strategies the NT Department of Education canvassed with Anderson-Wild were investigating the possibility of prosecution for non-enrolment / non-attendance and the introduction of a fine regime (no news on this), and, with the Federal Government, the ability to link welfare payments to non-attendance, a move the Federal Government is now resolutely pursuing.
(A FACSIA spokesperson says the Federal Government will shortly provide parents on income support across the nation with information about the measure and the importance of school enrolment and attendance for children.
At the same time, the government will work with states, territories and non-government schools to identify all students not enrolled, who’ll be followed up by state and territory governments.
Centrelink will begin random checks on enrolment and attendance starting at the beginning of the 2008 school year. 
Income management will be recommended when children are not regularly attending school from the start of the 2009 school year (earlier in Territory Aboriginal communities) for primary school age children, and from 2010 for compulsory secondary school age children.
Up to 100 per cent of parents’ welfare payments will be income managed, to ensure that priority needs are met and to encourage better parenting behaviors.
Also, from 1 July 2008, the Federal Government will provide state and territory governments with the option of asking the Federal Government to manage parents’ government payments where they consider a child to be at risk of neglect.)
The NT Government promises to provide 26 additional teachers and 15 additional classrooms to meet increased attendance.
The additional cost of education measures is budgeted at $62.83m over five years.
The response document puts the expansion of the English as a Second Language program for Indigenous students (ESL ILSS) into the Federal Government’s court.
The second largest additional expenditure of the Territory response – $29.04m over five years – goes to expansion of the joint Police / FACS Child Abuse Taskforce (CAT).
It will be allocated 24 additional police (there are currently 10) and 23 additional FACS staff, with two teams based in Darwin (till now with the only team) and Alice Springs, having transport capacity to reach all Territory communities.
Other commitments under the heading “Police, FACS, Prosecutions and the Victim” concern system reforms, such as protocols to better integrate the work of the CAT with local police and FACS efforts.
The recommendation to recruit additional Aboriginal police and auxiliaries as well as more female officers is accepted without any target figures, timeframes or additional costs specified.
Anderson-Wild urge the recruitment and training of Aboriginal interpreters “particularly to support child protection and investigations”. 
The NT response document asserts, however, that the Aboriginal Translator Service currently provides interpreter support.
Apparently no further action is needed.
This recommendation comes in the chapter where Anderson-Wild discuss two cases to illustrate the quite shocking lack of support for victims even when convictions have been secured, as well as the lack of rehabilitation services for offenders.
The Nine Network’s Sunday program this week, following up on one of the tragic cases where a victim has gone on to become a perpetrator, reported the absurd situation of having one sexual assault counsellor for all of the Barkly region, the size of New Zealand, and no car to do her job.
The NT response will  see “the expansion of Sexual Assault Referral Centres” to double their current capacity, with an additional $6.3m committed.
However, according to Anderson-Wild, this is coming off a low base.
Their report says that historically the operational budget of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) “has been mainly consumed by payment of medical officers to provide a 24-hour response to recent victim / survivors of sexual assault”.
They note that Alice Springs has “only one P2 level counsellor to service significant demand and there is no formalised response to managing a recent disclosure of child sexual abuse”.
Responses thus “often tend to be ad hoc”.
They also note the recent additional resources to the Alice SARC but say “it is not clear that this investment will subsequently enable demand to be met. It is certainly unlikely to enable resourcing of the much-needed therapeutic program development”.
The NT response does promise a new Therapeutic and Behaviour Support Service “for children and young people traumatised by abuse and neglect ($3m over five years, no start date) as well as a six bed residential care unit “for highly traumatised and at risk young people” ($7.2m over five years, by July 2008).
Again, this is off a very low base for children’s and adolescents’ mental services, which Anderson-Wild describe as “negligible”.
The NT Government will also expand the capacity of the “Out of Home Care system”, increasing the care options available for children and young adults ($8m over five years, no start date).
The NT Government promises “more” sex offender rehabilitation programs for adult and juvenile offenders ($4.44m over five years, no start date).
Anderson-Wild report on the trial of an adult sex offender program in the Alice Springs gaol in 2005-06, with negotiations underway over its delivery by an Aboriginal NGO.
Central Australian Aboriginal Congress recently conducted a two-week long course, funded by FACSIA, training professionals in assessment of sex offenders and rehabilitation techniques.
A spokesperson says the response was overwhelming, with 50 people graduating from the course. The possibility of expanding the course is now being looked at.
Congress has also had a sex offender rehabilitation program facilitator working at the Alice Springs goal for the past six months
Anderson-Wild say an offender treatment program was expected to start in Darwin next month, to operate for eight months. 
Because of inadequate funding, however, “other programs (such as family violence and alcohol treatment programs) are not conducted in order to conduct the SOTP [sex offender treatment program]”, according to Anderson-Wild.
It was anticipated to conduct only one SOTP per year, which would exclude offenders given sentences of less than one to two years.
Anderson-Wild noted that there were no programs in the Territory for juvenile sex offenders.
So once again, the NT Government response, which includes the provision of 10 more Corrections Officers to support offenders on parole ($4.62m over five years, no start date), is off a negligible base.
Anderson-Wild quote the submission to their inquiry of Justice Sally Thomas of the NT Supreme Court, written with the full support of the Chief Justice and other Judges of Court.
Justice Thomas urged the introduction of SOTPs, describing the criminal justice system as “a blunt instrument” in dealing with the problem and rehabilitation of an offender as “in the best interests of the community”.
The NT Government response to Little Children Are Sacred is overwhelmingly focussed on improvements to government service delivery.
There are no additional programs or resources committed to employment, for example, though it is suggested that there will be jobs for Indigenous people with the development of some of the government’s new and expanded services, including its new local government arrangements. 
And a new strategy for Indigenous employment in the public sector will be released late this year.
The critical area of housing is covered by existing commitments to the construction of some 600 new dwellings and the upgrade of 250 dwellings over five years ($100m, with a further $117.30m for repairs and maintenance).
There no references to “mutual obligation”, as has been noted by Deputy Opposition leader, Terry Mills.
Chief Minister Clare Martin, in releasing details of her Closing the Gap “generational plan of action” said: “Critically, this is also about Aboriginal people taking responsibility – and being prepared to change.
“They need to get their kids to school, work with police to stamp out violence and substance abuse and live healthier lives.”
But other than persuasion through education campaigns, no attention is given in the document to ways in which Aboriginal people would be required to take responsibility. Another ball left in the Federal Government’s court.

Kings of the road fete their heroes.

Some 500 people came together to celebrate road transport heritage over a gala dinner at the annual reunion of the National Road Transport Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
Activities over the weekend included the induction of 54 of the nation’s trucking elite into the Shell Rimula Hall of Fame and the launch of a coffee table book, Stories from the Road, recording the challenges and achievements of Australia’s road transport heroes.
These are the men and women of the industry as well as its companies, but on the weekend vehicles themselves were also feted, in particular Vestey Brothers’ Rotinoff Viscount road train.
Only two were ever built. Both are at the hall and turned 50 this year, with everyone at the gala dinner receiving a specially-wrapped chocolate in commemoration.
“Julie” has been fully restored and is on permanent display. But unfortunately her sister, “Jackie”, is beyond repair, viewable only in the workshop.
But any distress that may have caused was forgotten quickly with side-splitting comedy from Fiona O’Loughlin.

New CATIA manager made Kununurra tick. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

One hobby Peter Grigg won’t be able to indulge in as the new general manager of  CATIA.
Peter Grigg will be on a mission to bring world famous Alice Springs up to the level of little, and little known known, Kununurra in matters of tourism promotion.
The new general manager of CATIA has some impressive runs on the board as the head, for four years, of the Kununurra Visitor Centre.
CATIA, the tourism lobby of Alice Springs (population 25,000), is annually selling less than $1m worth of tourism “product,” charging 10% commission.
The visitor centre of Kununurra (population 6000) last year sold $2.5m worth, charging 13%.
Mr Grigg says “around 97% of the accredited, registered licensed tour operators” in the region are members of the Kununurra Visitor Centre, that ‘s 166 members.
CATIA has 330, just twice as many, says Ren Kelly, a CATIA board member.
Kununurra has a staggering 200,000 visitors annually, 95,000 of whom go through the visitor centre.
Alice Springs, a town nearly four times the size and an international icon, had an average of 330,000 visitors a year over the three years 2004 to 2006, a drop of 20,000 on 2001, says Mr Kelly.
Mr Grigg says speaking to all the members will be his first task when he starts work at CATIA next week.
“I pride myself on being able to listen to concerns,” he says.
Before his stint at Kununurra Mr Grigg operated a tourism business in the Top End of the Northern Territory for 13 years, was employed as the property manager of the Trade Development Zone Authority, and held positions associations in the Top End.
He says he’s a keen Richmond supporter, loves to do a bit of fishing, spends most of his time outdoors, is a passionate supporter and participant of the NT Variety Club, and plays golf “badly”.
Mr Kelly says the annual budget of the NT Government for tourist promotion is $39m, or $48 per visitor, and is not hitting the mark.
“It might be easier to stand out at the airport or wherever and hand out $50 bills,” he says.

Getting private investments for Aboriginal communities. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The business brains behind Gunya Titjikala – the luxury tented tourist experience in the Titjikala Aboriginal community, 120 kms south-east of Alice – are promoting a tax incentive scheme that would foster private enterprise on Aboriginal communities.
No-nonsense Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mal Brough is looking at the proposal.
The well-timed Indigenous Economic Development Scheme (IEDS) suggests a 150% tax credit on start up investment for cottage industry-style enterprises and the same level of tax credit for operating losses over the first five years.
In case this sounds like opening the floodgates for shonky tax evaders, the Gunya scheme also proposes an approval process with clearly defined eligibility criteria, including the use of accredited managers with a proven record in the area of community development and a minimum of three years’ experience.
It also stipulates equity levels to the community of no less then 25%.
An advisory council, reporting to the Federal Government, would monitor enterprise development.
The council would be made up of “leaders from the corporate sector and other eminent Australians, who have the appropriate business and community development skills and experience”.
Gunya also proposes that any project must be undertaken with the community’s engagement; agreement must not be imposed upon them by an individual, family or group.
This doesn’t mean that business ideas from individuals or families would be excluded, says Paul Conlon, managing director of Gunya Tourism, but communities would need to endorse their plans.
He says, by way of example, that there are some individuals at Titjikala who don’t much like tourists coming into the community but they can see the overall benefits to the community of the business.
“Our view is that if there is not an absolute majority endorsing a business plan, it could still go ahead but it risks being exposed to negative elements.
“Ideally we would prefer that the ideas come from the community in the first place, that they have engaged with the model before the investors come into the picture.
“We are trying to avoid a model being forced onto a  community because of the wrong motives.”
Mr Conlon says some 20 communities have responded to Gunya’s discussion paper released last week, with a further 200 making inquiries with Gunya Tourism over the last year, including some from Central Australia.
He said most of the communities have been looking at service type enterprises, such as providing a community transport network.
The Gunya plan focusses on cottage industry because it can cater for “low level entry”, in other words for people without high levels of education and training or much work experience.
The basic principal of the proposed enterprise is that it should be “profitable in terms of community outcomes and financially viable after it has incubated”, says Mr Conlon.
The incubation period is where the government incentives, in terms of the 150% tax credits, come in.
The discussion paper also calls on the government to remove the disincentive for people to enter a welfare to work program. 
People on the soon-to-be dismantled CDEP have been entitled to earn a generous amount of “top up” (up to $25,000) without it affecting their base welfare payment ($12,500).
Extra earnings are far more limited on work-for-the-dole, which will be the alternative for those without jobs once CDEP goes.
Welfare to work programs should be structured to support people getting engaged in enterprise, says Mr Conlon.
Gunya Titjikala has not relied at all on CDEP, he says: “Every hour worked has been an hour paid.”
Nonetheless people on CDEP have been able to work for Gunya Titjikala and so top up their income, one motivation for them to become involved.
The discussion paper says that Gunya Titjikala, a 50-50 joint venture between Gunya Tourism and the community, is near to breaking even after three years, sooner than expected, and is forecast to make a marginal profit next year.
Its occupancy rates are set at only 25%.
“This is a business flow level that the community is comfortable with and has proven [the community’s] capacities to deliver a consistent service at this rate.
“As community capacities grow so too will the occupancy targets.”
The discussion paper calculates that replacing a single CDEP job with a market job would reduce governments’ net budget demands by around $24,000.

Dust a Must. By DARCY DAVIS.

Have you been checking the Bassinthedust website while you should have been researching for that history assignment or doing your maths?
Do you seek refuge from the day to day hustle in the knowledge of a concert of bands who wouldn’t normally make it to Alice unless they were funded by the NT Government?
We have been starved of any knowledge about Bassinthedust this year, with no flyers around town and a website that has only just been updated from last year.
Until now, our only faint beacon of hope was the angelic picture of the Chief Minister on the front page of the website, staring back at the viewer with a divine smile, perhaps with the knowledge that she is the only person with the power to grant our mid-day dreaming wish.
We took refuge in her promise that “you’ll simply love the line-up of bands that we have in store”. In Clare we put our prayers.
And now it seems our prayers have been heard, with possibly the biggest line-up Alice has ever seen since John Stuart rocked up in 1862.
Headlining the 2007 show is non other than the internationally-acclaimed Jet, along with Melbourne screamo rock metal band Behind Crimson Eyes.
Western Australian Folk Roots band The Waifs are set to also be there, with funk punk rockers Mammal and Aussie hip hop group TZU.
Aussie bands that make it big overseas like Jet and Wolfmother often seem to forget about any mainland tours simply because they can play to 80,000 people in Japan.
It is admirable that they would even consider Alice Springs – but I don’t think anyone is complaining.
Perhaps this will send the right message to Aussie bands like Silverchair and Powderfinger who have embarked on an Across the Great Divide reconciliation tour and aren’t planning on coming anywhere near Central Australia!
The very smooth sounds of The Waifs will certainly go down a treat with the Alice crowd. Their new album, Sun Dirt Water, has to be their best to date. I’m positive a live set will add an element Alice hasn’t had in a while. I’ll be dancing.
Now, other than the odd song on Triple J, I haven’t heard a whole lot of Behind Crimson Eyes, although I know they have quite a fan base in the Alice metal community. I’m sure they won’t disappoint.
Triple J Magazine is holding interviews for a work experience position as a roadie for Behind Crimson Eyes for a day. I hear they have found a local photographer and they are looking for someone to be enthusiastic and be able to write 600 words for the magazine.
Mammal are an exciting little outfit. Browsing through the songs on their Myspace I can hear glimpses of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tool, Rage Against the Machine, a real live based sound, recordings generally not capturing their full sound or potential. I have confidence they’ll live up to their name. Still no disappointments.
TZU are a classic little Aussie roots based hip hop group, combining different ethnicities with different ethnic genres. Their verses are cheeky but sophisticated and their choruses catchy. Though not as well known as Hilltop Hoods, these guys look as though they are heading down similar paths.
No word yet on the local bands to play, but according to the website, band applications close on September 12. Moxie and Bloom Boogie look a chance.
Meanwhile, Moxie got chosen to play with the John Butler Trio at their Grand National concert in Alice on Wednesday, with JBT publicity describing them as a “young local indie rock garage band”.

Colour and light.

Sally Mumford’s fine pencil drawings have been a standout feature of local group shows in recent years, but with her upcoming solo show, new works in stained glass will no doubt attract attention.
Opening at Watch This Space on September 7, as part of the Alice Desert Festival program, the show, titled Porous,  is about looking and seeing in layers.
The vastness of the desert has prompted Mumford to find expression in the finer details of the landscape – rhythms, textures, colours, shadows on rock faces, and patterns over the ground.
The stained glass pieces are about pure colour and intensity of light.
For some of the works on paper Mumford made her own pastels from local ochres.
Mumford has lived in the Territory since 1992, working as an architect in Darwin,  and came to Alice Springs in 1995 to work with bush communities as a landcare education officer.
Travelling around the Centre has taken her to many beautiful places, which have developed her deep heart connection to the Central Australian desert. Her artworks ponder this relationship with the environment.

You’d have to be hungry! By KIERAN FINNANE.

The recipe starts, “Take two small feral cats”.
That could only be in Alice Springs and only at the Alice Desert Festival’s Bushfoods  /  Wildfoods Culinary Competition, running for the third time this year.
“Chewy, but tasty!”
Jenny Hains dared to try, even if it was just one mouthful of Kaye Kessing’s Cat ‘n Quandong.
“If I didn’t know what it was, I’d probably eat more,” she said.
Artist, illustrator, performer, Ms Kessing is well known for drawing attention to the savage impact of feral animals on our native fauna. Many readers will know her confronting Battle for the Spinifex paintings that hang at Araluen.
Cat stew is a new turn in her campaign over two decades and continues a sub-theme for the Alice Desert Festival – remember Janine Stanton’s feral cat costume at Wearable Arts, the enormous stuffed feral cat that featured in one of the Outsite sculpture shows, and Michael La Flamme’s “catdogs” (hot dogs made from cat meat) in the last year’s Wildfoods comp.
This year he, together with Pamela Keil, explored more subtle flavours with a Roovioli (below) – using kangaroo, of course.
The recipe’s full title is Lemon Myrtle Roovioli in Wattleseed Pasta with Macadamia Nut and Bush Tomato Pesto.
It was commended by competition judges – Outback Bushhfoods’ Peter Yates, chef and restaurateur Beat Keller and caterer Rayleen Brown of Kungkas Can  Cook – for working with bushfoods right across the recipe, in the meat, the pasta, and the pesto.
Ms Kessing achieved this too, using native lemon grass, quandongs, and wild New Zealand spinach leaves as well as a pinch of Murray River pink salt in her sauce, with bush plum or mistletoe berries as a garnish.
But Mr Keller said the Roovioli excelled in that he could eat a full main course of the dish, while he couldn’t do the same with the Cat ‘n Quandong.
This was not because of repugnance for cat meat per se but because of its  stringyness.
Mr Yates said Ms Kessing had gone beyond shock value with her recipe but still faced the challenge of working with “a meat that wants to dry out”.
Mr Keller suggested that an alternative to long stewing of the meat is required; perhaps a marinade would work. 
Dyane Frame entered a Bush Platter (below), featuring a quandong (wild peach) cheese, bush tomato labna (yoghurt) and bush pepper crackers.
Mr Keller was unsure initially, reacting to the “sour” taste of bush tomatoes,  but Ms Brown felt that that combined flavours really worked: “This is something that could be made into a product, easily.”
The competition heats are conducted at Afghan Traders and continue over the next three Saturdays, with the finals on September 22, to be judged by the festival’s celebrity guest, Maggie Beer.
Visitors to the heat get to try the judges’ leftovers.
Last week’s entrants were all domestic cooks, but entries are also expected from professional and apprentice chefs, with a separate category for Young Foodies (16 years and under).
Yirara College students entered a Lasagna using kangaroo meat in last week’s heat.
Mr Keller described it as “stunning” and “a dish you could easily sell in a restaurant”, even though he would probably still go with a rib steak over kangaroo.
Ms Brown on the other hand said she’d go with the ‘roo.
“You are what you eat,” said Mr Yates. “Beat is an old bullock!”

ADAM CONNELLY: A demerit scheme for everyday life?

Some call it an attack on the Territory’s unique lifestyle. Others say that it is nothing more than a revenue raising ploy from a money hungry government.
Regardless of what your view might be, from September 1 driving in a reckless and cavalier manner becomes a little less appealing.
No longer are we able simply to budget into our weekly expenses the need to drive without a seat belt while talking on the mobile phone at 95 kilometres an hour in a school zone.
No indeed. From next month these naughty little pleasures will have a lasting impact on our ability to hold a license.
Demerit points, the perfect plan for telling drivers that it’s OK to misbehave on the roads but not all the time. Sure you can talk on your mobile phone but only twice a year. Yes you can travel at 70 in a 60 zone but only four times a year.
Of course this wonderfully designed program does have its flaws, but hey, what program doesn’t?
The demerit point scheme does assume a couple of things that might need some further thought.
Firstl,y it assumes that those people who break the road rules in the Northern Territory are all current license holders. God forbid that the people who break the road rules, those that are a danger to the community, don’t have a license upon which to place a demerit point.
That could bring down the entire system!
Secondly the demerit point system assumes that those people with the responsibility to issue the demerit points have enough time to do so.
It assumes that the police in Alice Springs have the time and resources to stop every car that doesn’t slow down from 80 to 60 along Telegraph Terrace.
It assumes that the men and women in khaki aren’t busy implementing the dry town legislation and the domestic violence legislation and the town camp legislation.
But apart from that I’m a fan.
I know that my pro demerit point stance may not be the most popular of positions but I am used to not being in the majority.
I am pro speed limits on the Territory’s open roads. In fact I don’t think they went far enough. 130 kilometres an hour is far too fast.
A speed limit of 110 kilometres an hour would mean that it would take even longer for people from Darwin to get here and that can’t be a bad thing.
In fact I believe we should take the demerit point idea further. Why should such a stellar idea be restricted to the enforcement of road rules?
Why not allow all of us in all aspects of life the opportunity to live under the demerit point scheme?
This sort of social construct would reward those of us who live a well thought out life and penalise those who go through life with their brains in neutral.
Under the life demerit scheme point would be given to a range of really annoying behaviours. Those acts in day to day life that from time to time make us wonder if we are the only sane and intelligent organism in the cosmos.
Under my plan demerit points would be given to parents who bring all of their children to the shopping centre on a Saturday morning.
People would be issued points for leaving their shopping trolley in the middle of the aisle while they scan the cans of corn for the low sodium variety.
Seventeen year old girls who walk around in short skirts, summery singlet tops and fur covered ugh boots will be given points, as will their parents.
People who come up to me and say, “I’ve got a joke you can use on the radio”, will be given points. If that joke then tells the story of an Englishman, an Irishman and an Arab, further points will be issued.
If 10 or more points are accrued in a 12 month period, the person will have to exclude themselves from society for one month. What do you think?
I think it can work. Write to your local member and let’s make this happen.

LETTERS: A flood dam for everybody?

Sir,- We have read with interest over the last few weeks the letters and articles on the Dam for our Todd River to help control the “100 year” flood.
At last something may be done to help save our town from a disaster that no one wants to see happen.
It is interesting though that all the “flood maps” finish at Heavitree Gap.
Has anyone given thought to the places outside the Gap that may also flood, including our Old Timers Aged Care Facility?  
Christel & Vern Ellis
Alice Springs

Sir,- One of the immediate effects of the new liquor laws is an almost complete absence of vagrants and illegal campers in the Todd River – since the beginning of August.
I have lived here all my life and I cannot recall seeing anything like it (I’m told that Honeymoon Gap is now a favoured drinking area).
Anyway, the absence of people and dogs has led to the resident hill kangaroos at Olive Pink Botanic Garden exploring out onto the riverbank at night (I disturbed one outside our boundary last night) and venturing out into the riverbed itself, judging by the tracks.
We also have a third rock wallaby turned up recently (there has long been a resident pair of them) which I see almost every day on my way to work.
They like to sun themselves on the rocks first thing in the morning, and sometimes at sunset.
All within literally a hop, skip and jump from the town centre, and most people wouldn’t know.
Alex Nelson
Alice Springs

Sir,- The NT Government’s new costly local government reform experiment has been railroad through parliament with ridiculous haste with no consultation.
The new sweeping approach by the Australian Government to improve social and fiscal outcomes by placing managers in the communities allows the NT Government to slow down and consult with industry and the general community.
The Australian Government’s emergency strategy for NT indigenous communities reinforces the fact that many existing small local government are mismanaged by the NT Government and technologically insolvent.
This new arrangement will give the NT Government the appropriate time needed to evaluate the results of the Federal Governments reform in Indigenous communities and also time to consult properly with the industry sectors that have been ear-marked to financially prop up this local government experiment.
To ram the current NT Government reform package through is too great a burden on the community and businesses in regional NT.
The NT Cattlemen’s Association (NTCA) has been saying for 12 months that the NT Government’s local government reform is a package to restructure the indigenous communities, not a package that delivers local government services to the whole community, especially the community sector (Business and rate payers) that will be taxed to fund these proposals.
The NTCA has consistently called on the NT Government to show the community the fiscal modelling that demonstrates regional growth will take place under this regime.
Roy Chisholm
NT Cattlemen’s Association, Napperby Station

Sir,- What is the CLP’s nuclear policy?
Labor’s vision of a clean energy future is clear but no one knows what the CLP and the Coalition stands for anymore.
Before a referendum on the CLP’s nuclear policy we would need to know:
• What the CLP’s enrichment inquiry report found.
• If the CLP want nuclear reactors in the NT.
• If the CLP agrees with Dave Tollner that humans aren’t responsible for global warming so there’s no justification for nuclear power as a (questionable) green house measure.
• If Darwin Harbour would be used to import the international waste the Liberal’s National Conference resolution supported dumping in “remote areas”.
• If the CLP supports the private consortium’s proposal for an Australian enrichment plant, as detailed on the ABC’s 7.30 Report on 14-06-07 (NB one suggested site was in Mal Brough’s electorate at Caboolture).
Many Territorians made submissions to the CLP’s enrichment inquiry announced on 24 August last year and are still awaiting a response.
The report needs to be released well before the Federal election. Strangely all mention of the enrichment inquiry seems to have been removed from the CLP’s websites.
Trish Crossin
NT Senator

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