ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
September 13, 2007. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Activists seek boycott of
intervention. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
While the Federal Government is getting busy spending more
than half a billion dollars in the first year of its Northern Territory
“intervention”, with the professed aim to bring about across-the-board
improvements for Aboriginal people, black activists are doing their
best to scuttle the process.
They disapprove as much of the Howard Government’s initiative as they
do of the Rudd Opposition’s response to it.
Furthermore, Mr Rudd’s Labor Party, at least in the Territory, is
clearly split on the intervention masterminded by Federal Aboriginal
Affairs Minister Mal Brough.
Amongst other things, the Martin Government is spending money on a
special police unit, preparing and equipping interstate police for
deployment in the Territory.
At the same time Labor Party president Warren Snowdon, the Member for
Lingiari in his day job, voted in Parliament for the intervention, but
now is reported to be undermining some of its key objectives.
The Alice News has been shown a flyer distributed in remote communities
in which Mr Snowdon says “Labor will look to continue and improve
That’s the widely discredited work for the dole scheme he helped to
establish 30 years ago, now finally canned by the Howard Government.
Mr Snowdon’s flyer also states that he wants to maintain the permit
Meanwhile the meat in the sandwich is Labor MLA for MacDonnell Alison
Anderson, broadly supportive of the Brough revolution, which she sees
as the last opportunity for people who have endured wretched poverty,
violence and sexual abuse in the bush for decades.
But Ms Anderson is understood to be in deep water with her party
Both Mr Rudd and Mr Snowdon are dodging questions from the Alice News:
Mr Snowdon promised an interview for last Saturday but reneged. Mr
Rudd’s staff says he can’t oblige due to “time constraints”.
We were going to ask them which of the Brough measures would stay and
which would go in the event of a Labor victory later this year.
The Opposition Leader has apparently met with a group of Territory
Indigenous leaders in Darwin, including David Ross, Harry Nelson and
Lindsay Bookie from Central Australia, and a 10 point plan, each point
with sub-clauses, has been drawn up.
Pat Turner, former ATSIC head and now the CEO of the Federally funded
National Indigenous TV Limited based in Alice Springs, reported to
fellow activists in an email of August 20 that at an earlier meeting,
Mr Rudd “would not change his position as played out in Parliament
during the debates on the NT Package.
“We tried everything to get the ALP to allow their Senators to vote
with the Greens and Democrats and we tried to persuade [Queensland
maverick] Barnaby Joyce and [Family First’s Steve] Fielding to join
with those others to reject or slow down the process until Parliament
resumes on September 10.
“We lost the that battle with the passage of the legislation last
Friday [August 17] 12.48pm EST.
“It was our blackest Friday indeed.
“We are preparing alternative policy on welfare to work (to
differentiate ourselves from Noel Pearson’s punitive approach); he will
also be invited to explain himself at the [national] meeting [in Alice
Springs this week] .
“Of course he is most unlikely to accept the invitation.
“We are looking to set up a fighting fund and we are also preparing a
submission to the NT Government for funding to fight back.”
If this is granted then the taxpayers would, through Canberra, supply
money for an initiative to help Aborigines, and through Darwin, to stop
It is rumored that the NT Government is providing food for the
activists’ meeting this week, for people who are mostly on high
This week’s “national” meeting was first scheduled to take place at
Mutitjulu at Uluru, and then at Amoonguna near Alice Springs.
By earlier this week the venue was the Pioneer Football Club on the
North Stuart Highway – after the events at the grand final on the
weekend perhaps not a fortunate choice.
The group was trying to stage a protest at the visit to Hermannsburg by
Prime Minister John Howard last week but the community’s leader, Gus
Williams, put a stop to it, according to one of the emails leaked to
the Alice News.
Meanwhile the list of activists likely to be at the meeting this week,
to “update on the invasion by the Federal Government,” reads like a
who’s who of top echelon staff in Aboriginal organizations.
The key organizers are Ms Turner, and Darwin based activist Olga
Havnen, author of the Town Camp Taskforce report.
Ms Havnen disseminated to the anointed an email from Ms Turner on
September 5, saying there is “the need for a national voice for our
“This has to be a show of strength for us.”
Meanwhile Federal Minister for Workforce Participation Sharman Stone
fired another broadside at the NT Government for using CDEP workers in
its bush schools.
“For decades the NT Government has used Indigenous people to do real
work in some Indigenous communities, for example, a teacher’s aide,
without paying them real wages.
“Instead of recruiting, training and paying those Indigenous aides real
wages, as respected employees, they have used CDEP as a cheap form of
“They should be ashamed for pedalling misinformation and trying to
raising anxiety about moving Indigenous Australians into real jobs and
an independent life.
“The vast majority of CDEP participants however have not even had those
mock jobs. Instead they have been on what they call ‘sit down money’.
“This lack of something meaningful to do, year after year, has sapped
the energy of too many for too long.”
Was Centrecorp boss in footy
final brawl? By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Owen Cole, thought to be at the head of the secretive Aboriginal
investment company, Centrecorp, which has assets estimated to be worth
up to $100m, seems to have been involved in the mass brawl at the
football grand final last Saturday.
In a video shown to the Alice News (see You Tube on our web site), a
man identified by several people as Mr Cole is seen approaching some
players and spectators already involved in a fight.
He begins to brawl with a man by taking him in a headlock, appears to
slip, falls over, gets up and rejoins the fight.
Mr Cole made several statements to the News:
• That he was not involved in the fight.
• That he would make no comment.
• He’s seen footage of being pushed to the ground.
• That he was punched in the back of the head.
• That he cannot remember hitting anyone.
• That he might have grabbed someone.
• And that he was trying to break up the fight.
Mr Cole confirmed he was wearing Pioneer colours, green and gold, at
the time of the melee.
The man suspected of being Mr Cole is wearing a light-coloured baseball
cap which falls off during the brawl.
The Alice News offered to show Mr Cole the film clip so he could
confirm or deny that the man identified as him, actually was him. He
declined the offer.
Police are investigating but no charges had been laid by the deadline
of this edition.
We’ll keep up officer numbers,
says top cop. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Police Commissioner Paul White says greater police numbers, which led
to a sharp decrease in public anti-social behavior, will be maintained
in Alice Springs.
“We will not let the establishment drop.”
And he’s “looking at the business case” for making a permanent fixture
of the mounted patrol, which has been highly useful in restoring order
in the Todd River where illegal drinking was rampant.
Mr White says police “have jumped at the opportunity” of working with
interstate and Federal police in the Howard Government’s intervention
in remote communities.
A task force of nine full time NT officers is helping with procuring
uniforms, equipment and 20 vehicles for the visiting officers.
The effort is worth “a few million dollars” and the NT is seeking
reimbursement from Canberra.
Mr White says negotiations are underway with a national supplier of
transportable buildings to be used as temporary police accommodation,
offices and cells.
He says this type of accommodation is more plentiful in The Centre than
in the Top End, but The Centre will get even more.
For the moment the effort is focussed on getting facilities on the
ground before the onset of the wet in the north.
Mr White says interstate officers will be working alongside 18
Territory police, benefitting from their local knowledge.
Next year, the officers “on loan” from other states will be replaced by
Federal police, 66 in all, who will join 40 NT police – a total force
of 106 officers dealing with problems highlighted in the Litte Children
are Sacred report.
Mr White says the child abuse taskforce is already investigating some
30 cases, plus another 16 in Central Australia.
The Commissioner says a quarter of a million dollars is being spent on
works in the town’s police station, “yet another sign that Alice
Springs is very important to us”.
Asked why police have recently been carrying out random breath tests
outside Centralian College at 8am, Mr White says these tests have two
objectives, “high visibility – a lot of people see us do it” and
The same philosophy was in play when police handed out dozens of
on-the-spot fines at the Yuendumu sports weekend for not wearing seat
“It’s a zero tolerance approach,” says Mr White. “It’s one law for
everybody. If people blatantly break the law we need to act.”
Desert Mob frenzy: Go, go, buy!
By KIERAN FINNANE.
It’s Alice’s answer to the Boxing Day sales: some people queued at
Araluen’s doors from 9am on Sunday to make sure they were first to the
sales desk when Desert Mob opened after 2pm.
These early birds appeared to buy ‘sight unseen’, guided by the
catalogue and names and reputations.
The exhibition, now in its 17th year, earned $280,000 on Sunday, an
increase of $30,000 on last year’s first day sales.
The most expensive work on display, by Wingu Tingima of the Tjungu
Palya art centre, costing $23,000, was snapped up by a private
All five painted car bonnets by Kayili Artists, with a total value of
$28,500, went to the National Gallery of Victoria.
More than 1800 people attended the opening, while an estimated 2000
people also attended Desert Mob MarketPlace on Saturday, where works
valued at under $200 were sold directly by the art centres.
“Early estimates indicate total sales from the weekend to be almost
half a million dollars,” said Tim Rollason, director of Araluen Arts
The exhibition and the market return much needed revenue directly into
the communities through the Aboriginal art centres.
Desert Mob is the most comprehensive national exhibition documenting
and presenting the current activities of Central Australian Aboriginal
The annual exhibition has assisted in launching the careers of many
individual artists, and also in raising the profile of new and emerging
art centres along the way.
Town camps to go dry this week.
Fears early in the week that the ban on alcohol in town camps would not
go ahead on Saturday as announced appeared unfounded as the Alice News
went to press.
Superintendent of the Alice Springs Police, Sean Parnell, said on
Tuesday that he was still waiting for advice on whether the ban would
be in place, as the town camps had not yet been “prescribed”.
On an enquiry from the Alice Springs News, a spokesperson for Minister
Mal Brough said simply, “[The camps] will be prescribed by the time the
bans take place on Saturday.”
Supt Parnell said police needed to plan their response to the new law,
to allow for patrols to the camps and to be ready to respond to reports
of the ban being breached.
He said people needed to be educated about new laws coming into force.
“For whatever reason people will still drink and they’ll have to be
told that they can’t do that anymore. “
Minor breaches of the ban will earn a $100 on-the-spot fine, while
breaches involving large quantities and grog-running would be dealt
with more seriously.
He said alcohol in excess has continued to be the main source of
disturbances in town camps, but there has not been “a massive increase”
in such disturbances there since Alice Springs went dry.
He added that the camps are “still busy” in terms of work for police.
Controversial magistrate weighs
in on activists’ side, spits the dummy. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Controversial NSW magistrate Pat O’Shane, the first Aboriginal woman to
gain a position on the bench, is an active participant in the
activists’ campaign against the Mal Brough intervention.
She spoke with Alice Springs News editor ERWIN CHLANDA this week.
NEWS: We’re interested that people who have little direct contact with
those at whom the intervention is directed, are expressing views about
it. You live in Sydney, I take it. What’s the nature of your interest?
O’SHANE: I am an Aboriginal person. I was the first female lawyer with
the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service, in the late
‘seventies, for maybe the best part of 12 months.
NEWS: There seems to be a difference between what is said by the
“little people on the ground,” as Alison Anderson calls them. She is a
keen although not unqualified supporter of the intervention, on the
grounds that it is the most significant initiative in 30 years.
O’SHANE: I think you are misrepresenting Alison. I’ve heard her
comments and I have read them and that’s not exactly what she said at
all. However, what do you want to put to me?
NEWS: That she knows the situation and she largely defends the
intervention, and yet people from a much greater distance are against
it. On what grounds are you against it?
O’SHANE: On every ground. It is a political stunt and nothing more, on
the part of Prime Minister Howard, and the Leader of the Opposition,
Rudd. Mr Howard has probably been in politics all his life, I don’t
know that he ever had anything else in his life, except maybe his
mother. He would know that people like myself have been speaking out
about the problems of child abuse in Indigenous communities for well
over two decades. And at no time until just recently was considered was
it considered to be any sort of issue by governments around the
country. It was never ever considered to be a national emergency as
Howard stated, in an attempt to justify his totally unlawful,
undemocratic, racist move on the people, to move them off their lands,
to take over their communities, and basically refer them to the good
old bad old days of paternalism.
NEWS: Which lands have people been moved out of?
O’SHANE: They haven’t been moved out of any at present but Howard
promised and Brough came in on the wake that the communities would be
closed down. Then where do you think [the people] are going to go?
NEWS: I’m not aware of communities being closed down or about to be
O’SHANE: I am saying that was a statement by both Howard and by Brough.
NEWS: They are taking over for five years administrative centres but
these make up only about one tenth of one per cent of Aboriginal land.
O’SHANE: Are you playing devil’s advocate or are you plying an advocacy
role on behalf of people like Alison Anderson, John Howard and Kevin
Rudd? This is an unprecedented move by any government on any community
in the history of this country, racist as it is. Why are you asking me
to justify my position. Why aren’t you asking them to justifying
theirs? Do you accept that this is a reasonable response to what they
say is a national emergency of child sexual abuse when they don’t move
on any other community within the Australian society? That can’t be so.
NEWS: We have put that to them and they have given a response, now I’m
putting things to you. That’s my role, not defending someone or
advocating anything. The point is, our research shows these “little
people on the ground” are saying different things.
O’SHANE: Don’t talk to me about people on the ground. Pat Turner [CEO
of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) for
four years from 1994-98 and currently the Chief Executive Officer of
National Indigenous TV Limited] comes from Alice Springs, she was born
and bred there. He whole family have lived there for generations. You
might say Alison Anderson comes from Papunya but Pat Turner comes from
Alice Springs, OK? Now if anyone is on the ground, Pat is. Papunya is
the very first community in Central Australia that I worked in, and I
know what Papunya is like. I don’t know what Alison Anderson’s stance
is on the situation. I suggest to you that the Labor Party, all the way
up to Kevin Rudd, has simply fallen in behind the Coalition Government
in an absolutely astonishing display of spinelessness and capitulation.
This is an Opposition which is not in Opposition. If they are not going
to be an Opposition, then why are they not going to join the Coalition?
There is no morality, integrity or legality in what they have done.
NEWS: [In our coverage] we are guided largely by what the people who
are the recipients of these measures are saying. After another reporter
and I have visited six communities ...
O’SHANE: See, there you go, you are being an advocate, not an impartial
NEWS: I’ve been a journalist in Alice Springs continuously for 30
years, I’ve interviewed every Aboriginal Affairs Minister since then,
have done thousands of stories on communities, and I have not seen an
intervention as resolute and potentially successful as Mr Brough’s. We
have seen people in communities who can sleep now because the drunks
are kept at bay. Women are feeling safe. Have you spoken to any of
At this point Her Worship hung up.
Her robust – to use a polite word – way of making her point isn’t
confined to her dealing with the Alice News.
This is an email, leaked to the News, that Ms O’Shane sent to
Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd on August 19:-
Dear Mr Rudd,
I can not give a damn that you visited a strip club four or more years
ago, on the other side of the world. As far as I know, the simple fact
of your attendance at such joints does not cause harm to anyone
(although I know that strip “artists” are usually exploited by
unscrupulous bosses), but I do give a serious damn that you supported
the “ evil little rodent” on the opposite side of the bench in
Parialiament House when he introduced his NT Indigenous communities
legislation. I give a serious damn that you were prepared to listen to
people like Noel Pearson, who does not live in the NT (and has no
family connections there), when you were not prepared to listen to
people in the affected communities. I do give a serious damn that you
prepared to let the present Government shove Indigenous people out of
their communities to make way for private development!
I give such a serious damn abut these issues, Mr Rudd, and your part in
depreciating the quality of life of the NT Indigenous communities,
while doing precious little to resolve violence, child abouse, health
problems, housing problems, lack of decent community programs
generating employment, in those communities that I am busily spreading
the word amongst those Indigenous, and non-Indigenous people I know,
and who, I know, respect me, that your Party does not deserve our votes
in the imminent Federal elections.
Anderson sticks by her guns. By
Listen to us, see the way we live and
our suffering: Alison Anderson’s message
from “the little people on the ground.”
Indigenous MLA Alison Anderson continues to chart her own course
through the Federal Government’s intervention in the Northern
Along the way she has, unrepentantly, drifted into conflict with the
Territory ALP, the Martin Government of which she is a member, and
increasingly vocal Aboriginal activists, many from interstate.
Ms Anderson takes her compass point first and foremost from the mood of
On the divergence of her views from those of many activists, she told
the Alice Springs News: “I do take media reports out to my people and
they are saying look, can you just tell them one thing, to come and
listen to us and see the way we live and see our suffering.
“When you go from funeral to funeral, burying your nieces and nephews
from drugs and alcohol and violence, things need to change.”
Does she try to bring her influence to bear on the activists’
increasingly loud opposition to the intervention?
Says Ms Anderson: “I think we live in a democratic society. These
people are entitled to their point of view but that’s not a 100%
view of the people that are suffering.
“People want to see change. Grandmothers are sick of burying their
grandchildren. We have got really, really high ganja [marijuana] rates
now in remote Aboriginal communities and we want to change that around
for future generations of Aboriginal kids on communities.
“We want to see a difference in our children’s education, we want to
see a difference in our people’s living conditions and health
conditions as well.
“Their view [the activists’ view] is very, very different to the view
of the people who are suffering.”
Ms Anderson has resumed the criss-crossing of her vast electorate,
watching over the Commonwealth’s process, in instances facilitating it,
while now also promoting her own government’s response to the Little
Children Are Sacred report on child abuse in Indigenous communities,
announced during the August sittings of the Territory parliament.
She welcomes the long term, joint partnership focus of the NT’s Closing
the Gap package and denies that there is any tension in the dual role
she has now given herself.
“We support some of the intervention as the Northern Territory
Government but we’ve always said from the very beginning we need to do
it with a long term sustainable plan and do it in partnership with
“I have been working with the Commonwealth as well in the intervetion
but my focus on that is to make sure that the impact on my people in my
electorate is a good impact and I think people have been really, really
receptive to that.
“It’s about getting the best possible service delivery to those people
on the ground.”
She must surely have faced a reprimand from her parliamentary
colleagues for the independence of her publicly expressed views on, for
instance, the neccesity of the Federal Government’s five year leases
over communities and the changes to the permit system.
Her government has remained adamant in their opposition to both while
Ms Anderson has openly accepted both.
In our August 9 edition she told the Alice News: “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 is mum on what has been said to her: “What happens in Caucus, stays
But she says the Labor Party is “a broad church now”.
She says: “There’s a variety of views. I accept whatever happens. I
only take the view of my consituents.”
The Alice News asked her: “So all the statements that you’ve made
previously and that we’ve presented in the paper, are you still 100%
behind those positions, for example, the necessity of the five year
Says Ms Anderson: “Absolutely, because that’s the view of my
consitutents and if my consituents are asking me to talk about that,
then I have to back my constituents.”
Politically, has it been a bit of a tightrope walk for her?
“It’s been a big learning curve for me,” says Ms Anderson.
“I accept that we have rules and whatever happens in Caucus stays in
But will she continue to make herself available to smooth the way for
the intervention? Does she still have great hopes for the intervention?
“My job as a politician is to make sure that there’s a difference for
Aboriginal people on the ground.
“I think the normalised behaviour of alcohol abuse and drugs and the
lack of school attendance, we can’t normalise that behaviour anymore.
“The gambling, the children being neglected, we can’t normalise that.
We want to see changes.
“I’m a born and bred community kid. I always go back to the community
and live with my people and I want to see changes.”
Meanwhile, however, she is concerned that the current phase of the
intervention – at least as it is rolling out in her electorate – is not
going as well as it could be.
“The information is just not getting out there.
“You’ll have DEWR give out one lot of information and Centrelink is not
there and they can’t really talk on behalf of Centrelink.
“We need the two to work together. And we’re just not seeing that and I
think it’s a real problem.
“At Finke [Aputula] CDEP got shut off on Friday and they didn’t get the
answers they wanted. One of the questions they asked is, is there a gap
of two weeks before they sign on for Work for the Dole.
“It’s been guaranteed by the Prime Minister that no-one will be without
and they are still finding that there will be a two week if not a month
gap between getting off CDEP and signing up for Work for the Dole.
“A lot of the questions that were asked on Thursday of DEWR [Department
of Employment and Workplace Relations] at Papunya, they couldn’t really
answer because Centrelink wasn’t there.
“Even though STEP [Structured Training and Employment Projects] is a
program of DEWR, there was not someone that knew STEP well enough to
explain to the people what STEP does.
“So people are a little bit frustrated. They want things to move
A spokesperson for Workforce Participation Minister Sharman Stone
provided the following information about the potential gap in income.
“Some CDEP participants may receive a pay out at the end of their
contract for their un-used leave.
“We are encouraging CDEP participants to take all their leave before
they are transitioned off CDEP into real jobs, training and mainstream
employment programs. “However, if people chose to take a pay out at the
end of their CDEP contract, then this income will be assessed by
Centrelink and a person may need to serve waiting periods before they
start receiving Centrelink payments.
“In many cases, CDEP participants will be transitioned into real
salaried-positions so there will be no gap in income.”
Ms Anderson takes care not to criticise the public servants actually
going out to the communities: “I don’t think it’s the fault of these
people, these people are the messengers. We need to have respect for
them as well.
“In its entirety there is someone in charge of sending those people out
there and it’s about putting the right teams together to go out there
with the right information.
“Then people will be only too willing to sit down and talk to
Ms Anderson is also concerned about meeting fatigue.
Mutitjulu was among the communities she visited last week, arriving
late in the afternoon after a trip to Docker River: “They had had a
really, really tiring day with things held up all day, agencies going
in at different times and then they had their local member coming in at
“There can’t be meetings five days a week. They have got other things
to do as well.”
She says the council office at Papunya had brought together about 40
people to attend last Thursday’s DEWR meeting, but the DEWR reps
arrived late and about half the people had dispersed.
This was on top of coming without an interpreter – about which they
were very apologetic, she says – and without being in a position to
answer all the community’s questions.
Ms Anderson paraphrases the response of the community council chairman,
Lance MacDonald: “One of the comments made at Papunya on Thursday by
Lance was, what is it with these people, we tell them we want to move
forward and want to do it right and because the road’s so bumpy to
Alice Springs they lose everything [that we’ve told them] through the
corrugations and they come back to Alice Springs empty and therefore
wanting to go back again.”
Ms Anderson says she feels for the administrators, the CDEP
coordinators, in all this: “They are really down on morale because they
feel that they are useless and they’re not. They’re really good people.
“We need to give these people support who interact with agencies in the
intervention, so that they’re working as a team to make sure at the end
of the day that the programs that they’re hoping to get on the ground
have an effect on the people they are supposed to have an effect on.”
Local historian chronicles great
pioneering effort and adventure. Review by KIERAN FINNANE.
The indefatigable Jose Petrick has brought to our attention a story of
exceptional human effort and high adventure that took place on our
doorstep some 70 years ago.
Her latest book, Kuprilya Springs, recounts the history of bringing a
pipeline to Hermannsburg Mission from the sacred springs some eight
In the late 1920s years of devastating drought all but brought the
mission to its knees, due to water shortage and the impact on food
supplies (both European and native foods) for its increasing
Mrs Petrick quotes some devastating statistics on the fate of the
severely malnourished mission residents.
Between 1926 and 1929 41 children of the 51 born died. In 1929 alone 41
children and adults died, the latter mostly of scurvy.
People were also suffering from yaws, eczema, kidney disease and
The European population was affected too. The infant Helene Albrecht,
daughter of missionary Pastor F. W. Albrecht, weighed less at four
years old than she had at age two.
Despite the crisis, the Lutheran Mission Board refused to support
Pastor Albrecht’s scheme to pipe water into Hermannsburg from Kuprilya
Springs, estimated to be about 12 metres higher than the mission.
Support came from unexpected quarters: the artist Jessie Traill and her
friend Una Teague visited Hermannsburg in 1932, having travelled from
Melbourne by train to Alice Springs.
On their return they reported the water crisis to Una’s sister Violet,
also an artist of note. Violet determined to make a trip to
Hermannsburg herself, painting along the way and using her work to
raise awareness of the plight of the mission.
She hired a taxi, with a 19 year old driver, to take her and Una on the
5000 km journey.
Mrs Petrick documents in detail the fund-rasing efforst which ensued.
The exhibitions initiated by Violet and including work by Hans Heysen,
Rex Battarbee, John Gardner and Jessie Traill, as well as her own,
raised more than 2000 pounds, the equivalent today of over $150,000.
It was enough to buy the pipes and the joints and further fund-raising
eventually covered other costs, with the Mission Board finally coming
The Misses Teague and Traill were all in their sixties at the time,
notes Mrs Petrick: “Photographs of the ladies show they had twinkly
eyes, whimsical smiles and marked auras of self assurance and
Una was also a crack shot and on their epic taxi ride they survived
substantially on the rabbits and pigeons she brought down.
The work on the pipeline began in December, 1934. Aboriginal men
blasted and dug the trench for the pipe – two metres deep in places
– using picks, shovels and crowbars, through hard stony limestone
ground, often working at night to avoid the heat.
Mrs Petrick reports that some men came in from the bush to help with
the work: “They had heard about the line, donned clothes for the first
time and helped with the digging.”
The pipe was finally finished on September 30, 1935. Water was expected
to appear that night, at around 10pm. But to Pastor Albrecht’s great
anguish, nothing happened. It wasn’t until the next morning that water
spurted some six metres into the air.
Annual Kuprilya Springs Thanksgiving Service and Celebrations have been
held ever since, initially on October 1, now on the first Sunday in
The water was life-saving at the time but the flow decreased over time
because of the drain on supply. Use of gelignite in an attempt to
increase flow had the disastrous opposite affect and the pipeline was
finally washed away in the great floods of 1974.
There are other stories documented in Mrs Petrick’s beautifully
produced book (Pauline Clack has done an attractive layout). The
romance of Arthur and Dora Latz (nee Pech) is one; the memoirs of Glenn
Auricht, who lived and worked at Hermannsburg from 1973 to 1996,
The slim volume carries the subtitle “Hermannsburg & other things”
– easily carried by visitors, it will add greatly to the appreciation
of the history and early character of the settlement now known by its
Western Arrernte name of Ntaria.
It will be launched at Hermannsburg following the 10am service
celebrating the settlement’s 130th anniversary on Sunday, October 16,
with Helene Burns (nee Albrecht) doing the honours.
The Strehlow Research Centre will show films of early Hermannsburg on
Barracking for the Jane Leonard
and Steve Hodder writing team. Review by KIERAN FINNANE.
The play Barracking again proved its communicative strength as it
concluded its Territory tour in Alice Springs last week.
The audience on opening night at Araluen were nothing short of wildly
enthusiastic for its cheeky brand of humour, rich in local cultural
And for once we can group ‘local’ and ‘cultural’ together without
making too many black and white divisions, for the play tells a story,
or rather interweaves a few stories, around footy and as the character
Brownie says, ‘Whitefellas like footy too”.
Treading this shared cultural ground with a light touch shows the depth
of talent of co-writers Jane Leonard and Steve Gumerungi Hodder.
Their audience last Thursday also loved the production’s pantomime
moments – despite strong performances all round, John Robb Laidlaw has
to given credit for bringing the house down with his role in drag as a
teenage netball player.
And Donald Mallard as the baby in the final scene was an hilarious
Barracking’ also has its serious moments – Goldie’s grief for her dead
father (a very moving performance by Laidlaw, grave and gentle in
tone); Brownie’s experience of racism. The Araluen audience gave its
quiet attention to these scenes: strong scripting and performances can
take an audience across a wide range of emotions and ideas.
Tanya Langdon and Raymond Wright deserve mention here, playing Goldie
and Brownie from childhood to adulthood, through all the highs and lows
that growing up with dreams can bring. The versatile Langdon is
familiar to Alice audiences, while Wright is the discovery of this
production of Barracking (the role of Brownie was formerly played by
The youthful Wright was a convincing footy champ and charmer, although
he could learn to project himself more strongly for theatre.
I regretted the outdoor setting – the old Traeger Park grandstand
– in which I first saw Barracking.
Director Craig Mathewson welcomed the more controlled environment of
the theatre (the only time on the tour when they played indoors) and
used it to introduce audio-visual elements. Of these, I thought only
the video sequence, showing that Goldie has become a professional footy
commentator, really added to the play. Everyone delighted in the kiss
planted on her cheek by her footy champ hubby – his sweetness, her
The scene-setting still photos I found distracting and they slowed down
the transitions between scenes. A small reservation about an otherwise
rewarding theatre experience.
I hope Hodder and Leonard, either separately or together, will again
write for Red Dust Theatre. They have given the company their best
script to date.
A solid display from the
sentimental poet. By DARCY DAVIS,
Zenith: the imaginary point directly above an observer on Earth.
Zenith, the band, are now not only at an imaginary point above
themselves, they are at an imaginary point above the whole of Alice
Springs, with legal reasons forcing them to add the letters ASP to the
end of their name.
In Zenith’s case, ASP could well stand for many things – ‘A Sentimental
Poet’ would be fitting, ‘A Scholar of Politics’ also rings true, or ‘A
At last Saturday night’s launch of Zenith’s new album at the Todd
Tavern, ASP stood for ‘A Solid Performance’, with pure energy and
strong stage presence driving their performance.
The stage was warmed up by the tasty sounds of Sweet Surrender playing
with new member, guitar shred-man and back-up vocalist, Chad Haynes.
Also supporting Zenith ASP was the smooth Aussie sound of Rosie Burgess
on her national tour.
Zenith ASP performed songs mainly from their self-titled album, but
went out with a bang on their trademark cover of the Jimi Hendrix
classic, “Voodoo Child”.
The album itself sounds and looks very professional. Zenith ASP paid to
record and work with a professional engineer and producer in Sydney’s
Damien Gerard Studio.
Friend of the band Emily Ryan designed the CD cover artwork of a pink
flower growing out of a black and white city landscape.
As well as their usual drum, bass, guitar and percussion, the new album
features guest violin and cello on a couple of tracks. With the obvious
intentions of record sales and radio play, track lengths have been
significantly cut down since the last album.
The back cover of the album states “All songs written by Jayden
Jayden has found some profound and quite poetic themes in his lyrics.
“I’m only happy when I’m sad, I’m only brave when I’m afraid, I only
fight when I’m mad, I’m only rich when I don’t get paid”.
Jayden seems to be quite the compassionate soul and is never short of a
sentimental message: “The things that are free in life, make you feel
most happy, and the things that cost too much, they fill your head with
Issues such as climate change have also found a way into Jayden’s
songs. A very meaningful song called “Pollution”, which featured on
their last album, has been re-recorded for the new album: “Everything
was covered by all this extra junk, and I’m not gonna be quiet no, not
until this ship has sunk.”
It’s unusual to see a band with the substance of Zenith ASP. With such
driving forces in and behind the band, they are sure to go far. Track 7
on the new album, “Give Yourself”. has a lot of good messages, but
there is one in particular that will be particularly encouraging to
young listeners: “Even the weakest man can develop strong, even the
dullest mind, can conjure up a song.”
The new Zenith ASP album is available from Murray Neck Music World,
Chatterbox and is being distributed by MGM throughout Australia.
Desert Mob: What we do, who we
are. By KIERAN FINANE.
The mood was proud and assertive at the Desert Mob events over the
Speakers alluded to the Federal Government’s intervention in Indigenous
affairs in the Territory but mainly let culture do the talking, its
indisputable strength and resilience showing through.
Pre-dating the intervention a decision had been made to have the now
annual Desert Mob symposium almost entirely in Aboriginal hands – for
Aboriginal artists, curators and arts workers to do the talking about
The appeal of this was reflected in strong attendance by both
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
Co-coordinators of Titjikala Arts, Ali Coby Eckermann and Harold
Furber, facilitated with relaxed warmth; deputy chair of Desart, Rhonda
Plummer, did the gracious thankyous; Elaine Peckham of Lhere Artepe
offered a very welcoming ‘Welcome to Country’, with a poem that spoke
of black and white people working together – “the trail leads on”.
Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the
National Gallery of Australia, Brenda Croft, a woman of Gurindji
descent, showed images giving an overview of the first National
Indigenous Art Triennial to be held at the NGA later this year.
This promises to be nothing short of electrifying with 31 among
Australia’s foremost Indigenous artists each represented by a series of
Ms Croft has given the show a political stamp, not only with its title,
Culture Warriors, and its intention to celebrate the 40th anniversary
of the 1967 referendum.
At the symposium she spoke of the particular importance “in this time”
for Indigenous art to show people “we are still really strong” –
not only in Central Australia but right across the country. (She
reminded the audience that the largest concentration of Aboriginal
people in Australia lives in the western suburbs of Sydney).
Some of the art at the triennial is directly political, dealing, for
instance, with the death in custody on Palm Island of Mulrundi Domagee
, or with the early days of colonisation (Queenslander Daniel Boyd
characterising George III and Governor Arthur Phillip as pirates ready
to raid Treasure Island).
Other pieces are magnificent contemporary expressions of classical
traditions – including works by Papunya Tula artist, Doreen Reid
Nakamarra (who has a canvas in Desert Mob), master bark painter John
Mawurndjul, and recent Tesltra Aboriginal Art Award winner Dennis Nona
who will show an extraordinary six metre long print depicting creation
stories from the Torres Strait.
“It’s not the whole story,” said Ms Croft of the show, “it’s part of a
story that keeps on going, like Desert Mob.
“It will keep on going because we come from here and we’re not going
Warakurna Artists emphasised artists’ connection to country with a DVD
showing bush trips during which groups of artists undertook large
A relative new art centre, established in March 2005, Warakurna Artists
have produced 12 collaborative works in that time, one of which is
showing in Desert Mob.
Others have been sold to collectors and institutions.
Michael Nelson Jagamarra held the symposium audience in the palm of his
hand, with a funny, utterly engaging overview of his own
magisterial contribution to Aboriginal art.
Switching easily between Luritja and English, the winner of the first
National Aboriginal Art Ward in 1984 reiterated the simple principals
of his practice – drawing on his grandfather’s and father’s dreamings
“given to me when I was a young fella, about 21” in order to show the
world that “Aboriginal people in Australia have got their own dreamtime
Equally he wants to “keep it strong to pass on to our young ones”.
And he expressed delight in the financial rewards. Showing a slide of
himself with the BMW that he famously painted, he commented:
“Aboriginal artists get good money for their work – good, eh?”
He also wanted confirmation from the audience on another of his roles:
“To represent my people – good?” He got a resounding “Yes!”.
Mr Nelson is represented at Desert Mob by a linocut print, titled
Possum and Lightning, alongside prints by other artists from the small,
newly incorporated art centre, Papunya Tjupi, in his home community.
“From little things, big things grow,” he said on the plans for the art
centre to get its own building.
On the mosaic designed by him for the forecourt to Parliament House in
Canberra, he told the audience that the original canvas is held in the
National Gallery, quipping, “Wanna buy it?”
He spoke with pride of his trips to New York and Vienna but concluded
by saying that keeping this art going and keeping it strong is “mainly
for Aboriginal people”.
Another excellent presentation was given by Merv Franey for Tangentyere
The expansion of this centre since 2005 is impressive, not only in
numbers of artists represented – some 300 from 20 language groups,
living in 19 town camps – but in the quality of their work.
The images accompanying Mr Franey’s talk showed an incredible diversity
of work with some very distinctive, beautiful and deftly executed
His central concern was with the pressures of the market on artists who
try to make a living from their art and the way this can limit the
diversity of artists’ expression.
“The different types of painting the market wants might not be what the
artists wants to put down.
“Our culture and our stories are not about one particular image or
story, we’ve got a whole range of stuff.”
He said Alice Springs is “saturated with Aboriginal art” and new
artists, like himself, find it hard to get a foot in the door – “Unless
you’ve got a highly recognised name or a relationship with an important
artist, they don’t want to know you.”
He said art centres are good in this regard, helping artists to
understand the market.
But he also said he works for other galleries as well as for
Tangentyere Artists: “I don’t want to put all my eggs in the one
Occasions like the symposium – “bringing a whole lot of market people
to the one spot” – were a good way to underline the diversity of
“But in the end,” he said, “it is all about people putting down their
stories – this is what we do, who we are.”
LETTERS: Centrecorp should not
prop up governments.
Sir,- I write in response to the letter to the editor which S. Watling
of Alice Springs (Alice News, Sept 6) and wish to provide the following
facts for his or her information.
I am a keen supporter of Centrecorp and its objectives as it is clearly
a hugely successful investment company which any race or religion would
be proud to own, given its track record.
Centrecorp should not be used to prop up Government responsibilities in
terms of it’s expenditure for the Aboriginal people of Central
Australia. Governments are supposed to govern for all Australians, not
just the majority as can be seen in today’s environment, both in the
Northern Territory and nationally.
For the record S. Watling, I am on the CAAMA and Imparja boards, yes …
however I am not a member of the Northern Land Council.
I am an employee. There is a difference!
As such I am versed on the facts and intricacies of these proudly
Aboriginal owned organisations.
I am not a member of Centrecorp and never have been, therefore my
answers to the questions put were given to my levels of understanding.
I did not pretend to know something I didn’t hence my answer.
Further I am not a general manager of any company or organisation so am
not sure why you made reference to this!
Sitting fees are paid for time spent attending meetings. They are not
This is common practice across many companies and organisations
Australia wide be they Aboriginal or not.
Get with the times, or get over it!
I have not, ever personally been in receipt of any royalty, therefore I
am not a fat cat!
Yes I own a GXL 100 series and am buying my house, but like many
Australians, I work and have worked ever since completing grade 12 in
Alice Springs many years ago.
I have also undertaken university studies.
This allows me to front up to the bank of my choice and take out house
or car loans as I see fit.
My assets are not perks or funded in any other way and I would
therefore challenge S. Watling to publically state otherwise!
Another fact, I am also a tax payer as are many other Aboriginal people!
Finally, should you feel the need to worry about the state of
Aboriginal affairs within the Northern Territory, I suggest you turn
your attention to those who are charged with running the economies and
providing essential services to all Australians.
They are primarily your friends in Canberra and the Northern Territory
I would invite S. Watling to join the fight of the many Aboriginal
individuals and organisations in Central Australia to better the
living conditions of our fellow countrymen, however I think I can see
right through you!
Sir,- If the lands minister can fast track the Bellamack land release
by a year, then she should do the same for Alice Springs.
First home buyers in Alice Springs have great difficulty in finding
affordable housing - this is a fact the government well
The Bellamack land was originally set for release in 2008 but the
government had brought that date forward in recognition of the need for
In April the government announced 70 blocks at Mt Johns Valley in Alice
Springs would be released.
But how long will buyers have to wait for the actual land
Head works at these sites have been ongoing for the last two
The Mt Johns release should also set aside 15% of sites
specifically for first home buyers, as will happen at
Member for Braitling
Sir,- Alderman Stewart has again offered us food for thought.
This time he has asked us to provide a theme on how best to commemorate
Joanne Lees and Lindy Chamberlain, two of our best known adopted
After thinking about it, I have come up with five icons that might be
These are the Rock, the open highway, a dingo, a campervan, and a
child’s matinee jacket.
Alice Springs has artists in abundance.
It might be instructive to hear from them.
But whatever happens, if indeed anything happens at all, let’s make it
Let’s make it as big as the Rock and as big as the highway.
Let’s make it as big as the stories and the dreams they engender.
Sir,- Over 40 delegates from 17 remote area communities met in Darwin
last week to discuss their concerns regarding the phase out of CDEP
from remote Aboriginal communities in the NT
The group is calling upon the Australian Government to retain and
The group were from organizations representing 4,320 CDEP participants.
Delegates had concerns about the practicalities of terminating people
from CDEP and moving them onto programs such as STEP and Work for the
There are many questions but few answers from the Government to enable
organizations to effectively work out their futures.
The group is calling upon the Government to undertake an urgent review
of STEP, STEPERS and Work for the Dole programs to ascertain their
suitability in remote areas.
The group believes that these inflexible programs are less effective
than CDEP, will deliver fewer outcomes and in some places will be
The group welcomes reforms that will lead to unsubsidized employment
through training and meaningful investment in the development of
commercial enterprises in remote areas.
The delegates said the Australian Government needs to reinstate
community development into all of its employment programs.
On the anniversary of the Hon Mal Brough MP’s ‘Blueprint for Action’
speech the delegates are shocked and disappointed at the disregard of
the Australian Government for the first principle articulated in the
speech, “Respecting Culture”.
Local Government Association of the NT
Sir,- The Federal Attorney-General should move immediately to reverse
the monumentally stupid decision to shut down the Alice Springs
Registry of the Family Court from early next year.
He should also guarantee that the town will get a Family Relationships
Centre to complement the work of the Court.
The decision is inexplicable in the context of the Government’s
intervention into Aboriginal communities, which is specifically
designed to prevent child abuse and family violence.
It is in fact a glaring example of the schizophrenic attitude of the
Howard Government, where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand
is doing, and proof positive of its utter indifference to Central
The registry and courthouse were set up following the 1997 Family Court
Judges’ committee inquiry into the application of the Family Law Act to
Indigenous family matters.
Registry and Court staff worked with local organisations like the
Ngaanyatjatjara Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjarra Women’s Council and
Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi to develop greater understandings of
contemporary Aboriginal family structures.
They have especially gathered a great deal of knowledge about issues
arising for children out of family violence and Aboriginal people have
likewise become familiar with the way the Family Court operates.
The decision to shut down the Registry takes no account of that
knowledge, of the importance of the relationships people have developed
with the Family Court and of the trust they feel for it.
The offer of a national call centre number for enquiries and relocation
of all Alice Springs activity to the Family Court in Darwin is
The Government will not even take the simple step of setting up a
Family Relationship Centre in Alice Springs to handle dispute
resolution and other matters, but it expects Alice Springs will be
serviced on an outreach basis by Darwin.
How this is expected to support Central Australian families in crisis
is beyond me.
The Attorney-General should take a long, hard look at this decision,
check what else the Government is doing in the Centre and then reverse
Member for Lingiari
Sir,- President Bush has endorsed Australia to join the Global Nuclear
Energy Partnership (GNEP).
An integral part of GNEP is the idea for countries to ‘lease’ uranium,
and then take back waste produced from overseas nuclear power stations.
The federal government has said that the proposed NT nuclear dump would
take only domestic waste, but lack of transparency in the NT process
provides little assurance that the federal dump is not the thin edge of
the wedge to an international one.
The assessment of NT sites for a federal radioactive dump has been
procedurally bereft and outrageously undemocratic.
There is little faith from Territorians that establishing an
international dump would be done with more community consultation or
regard for opposition.
Minister MacFarlane said federal waste is not safe where it is
currently stored in cities, yet the government will dump it in the NT
as little as four kilometres from where people live and run pastoral
and tourism enterprises with the assurance that it is ‘innocuous’”.
Territorians do not overlook the implication from these double
standards that their lives, livelihoods and communities are being
viewed as pre-election political sacrifice zones.
Sir,– Climate change topped the agenda when leaders of 21 nations met
in Sydney last weekend for the APEC summit – and in Alice Springs it
stirred some action.
A global ‘pictition’ (petition of images) was presented to APEC leaders
with a target as the motif. The aim was to let APEC know
that the world needs binding targets – not voluntary aspirational
Pictures of people with the target banner were taken in many venues in
Australia including Bondi Beach – and Alice Springs.
On Sunday, concerned Alice Springs locals met in Todd Mall to hold up a
large “target” banner and added this image to the hundreds of others
GetUp, an Australia wide community advocacy organisation, launched the
pictition in conjunction with Avaaz, a similar international
The aim is to raise awareness and give people a “voice” which will be
heard (or seen) by the relevant leaders.
Climate change is seen as a critical issue and one where urgent action
is needed locally and globally.
Climate Action Group, Arid lands Environment Centre
ADAM CONNELLY: APEC 2009 in Alice
APEC, APEC, bloody APEC. Is anyone else just a bit over hearing about
I’m not even in Sydney to be mucked around by the whole affair. Tell
you what though, if I was I’d be protesting.
Not against Bush or Hu or Howard. I’d be protesting against not being
able to get a bus from Central Station to Town Hall.
I’d be protesting against not being able to go for a walk in the
Botanical Gardens and I’d be protesting against not being able to go to
the Sushi Train a couple of doors down from the Intercontinental Hotel
because some bloke called George needs his beauty sleep.
We’d shout chants like: ”Whadda we want? The 314 bus to Circular Quay!
Whendawe want it? Now!”
Talking to friends from back in Sydney I find it amazing just how one
meeting, one conference has taken a cocky, brash and bustling city and
turned it into a whimpering wet puppy.
Call me naïve but I was under the impression that the heads of
APEC nations were their people’s representatives and that would mean
that these representatives would be of the people. How on earth did
George W. campaign for reelection under such massive security?
Australia I thought was a bit different to the rest of the world in the
way it treated its politicians.
Case in point. When the US Vice President Dick Cheney was in Sydney
before the APEC meeting, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was closed during
the busy afternoon peak hour so that Dick’s motorcade could cross it.
The public backlash was so loud and angry you could hear it from here.
Cut to a few days after that PR nightmare and the Deputy Prime Minister
Mark Vale makes an appearance at the 8HA Sun 969 studios. I was at the
front counter at the time and literally bumped into him.
Instead of the 300 security officers and the 11 bajillion media
advisers, Minister Vale was flanked by a thin man with an ink stain on
his top pocket and a woman who, without trying to be too harsh,
looked as though she’d seen the back of the minibar the night before.
And that was it.
The 2.I.C. of America get our nation’s largest city to close its icon
while the 2.I.C. of Australia is told if he needs the toot it’s down
the corridor on the left.
I feel sorry for the dignitaries. I can’t imagine just how I’d be able
to focus on the job at hand under the constant security that comes with
being important these days.
Code names and bodyguards. Snipers and pre arrival sweeps. No wonder we
complain that the leaders of the modern world are out of touch.
But as always, your trusty thinker of the absurd Adam has the answer.
Next APEC – Alice Springs.
They’d love it too. Can you imagine? The leaders of the free world with
their camel motorcades down the river, heading from the caravan park to
the convention centre. All the big wigs from the region nutting out the
big issues without all the bull of big city security.
We’ll just get the guys who do the security at the Casino to work that
week. Ever tried to get into there when you’re three sheets to the
And if there was a stalemate on an important issue we’d settle it in
true Alice Springs style.
We’d take them to the Todd Tavern, sit them at the bar and tell them to
talk it over until they come up with a solution.
I’ve always thought that the world would be a much different place had
Saddam and George just spent an afternoon at a pub together.
Websites, brochures, awards won’t
make Alice sustainable. COMMENT by Dr David de Vries.
After 16 months as director of the Centre for Sustainable Arid Towns
(CSAT) I am leaving to take up other projects in Alice.
I am proud of the work CSAT has done in mapping out the technical
requirements for living more sustainably in Central Australia.
We have been able to document many pitfalls and identify what has
worked and ways forward. However, the prospect of sustainability is
many years away, with the major driver for the area being the massive
subsidies from the rest of Australia that prop up our settlements.
Sustainability requires a change in the way we do business. We
have to turn some Central Australian norms and aspirations on their
head, to create a future in which, for example, skills and materials
are sourced locally; we are one of the lowest water consumers in the
country; we decommission power generators; we are financially
independent of capital cities.
Achieving these outcomes in an orderly manner is the measure of our
success as a society.
I am confident these new norms will be brought about in the next 20
years. They could occur through strategic government and personal
decisions to abandon ‘business as usual’.
Alternatively, they will come about through global events that
interrupt the dole that subsidises our ‘lifestyle’.
The Federal intervention in the Territory focuses us on the truism that
the ‘business as usual’ approach is failing.
One example of the culture of subsidized complacency is the
unnaccounted for water that is pumped from the Alice Springs
The most recent figure is 14% lost in 2005-06. This has been the
norm for the last 10 years, except for 2003 when a leak detection
program got it down to almost nothing. [See Alice News, Aug 9.]
Where the ‘corporatised’ power and water authority gets a $50m annual
handout for running costs plus all its infrastructure costs from the
Territory Government and it also has access to large grants from
Canberra, status quo is the order of the day.
People around the world are realising that climate change is a problem
that requires a radical rethink.
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, in July this year said, “Business as
usual is no longer an option.”
Our local, Territory and Federal governments are generating glossy
websites, brochures and awards about addressing climate change.
Meanwhile, emissions increase in every sector and preparations for
rising temperatures have not begun.
The name of this business is Greenwash.
An uncertain future and difficulty in addressing the inertia of
‘business as usual’ is now playing out throughout the world.
However, the future for this region is better than many.
Central Australia is blessed with attributes that can make it a
flourishing society in the post oil-age, hotter earth. We have good
solar and gas energy and good water.
Most importantly, we have a diverse community with the knowledge,
imagination and strength to create a dynamic sustainable society.
Back to front page of the the Alice Springs News.