ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
November 1, 2007. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Tourism moves infuriate
lobby. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Tourism Minister Paul Henderson appears to be forcing the tourism
lobby CATIA to amalgamate with its Tennant Creek counterpart under the
threat of withdrawing NT government grants, according to sources inside
CATIA is agreeing to the merger.
There is also a push for a much larger Visitor Information Centre but
CATIA has been told by the Alice Town Council it wouldn’t be interested
in running it.
CATIA is taking issue with recommendations by a Queensland company, AEC
Group, commissioned by Tourism NT, and questions its methods.
The report suggests that the current number of four regional tourism
associations (RTAs) should be reduced to two or just one, or their
functions should be taken over by the government-run Tourism NT.
Neither of the latter options are acceptable to CATIA.
CATIA’s response to the report criticizes the survey samples used
by AEC Group, and claims it had not made clear the “importance of the
public meeting and electronic suvey” upon which the report’s authors
based their findings and recommendations.
The report claims large sections of the industry were disgruntled with
the performance of CATIA (Alice News, Oct 11), an allegation CATIA
CATIA says it is vital that the NT continues to be promoted as two
separate regions, “the arid desert environment of Central Australia and
the tropical north”.
Traditional markets should be retained and built up, and all operators
should be encouraged to support Tourism NT’s “Share Our Story”
However, NT government funding for projects in the Top End is
“disproportionate” with what the Centre is getting.
The government’s aviation strategy “is not reflective of current
conditions of airline and general aviation services.
“The current strategy was developed without prior recognition of the
specific needs of Central Australia,” says CATIA’s reply.
It demands that while sealing of roads should continue, dirt tracks and
roads should be maintained to preserve the “outback adventure”
And there should be no fees for tourist operators entering national
CATIA favors a single operators’ accreditation system, implemented by
legislation, “rather than a mish-mash of current government and
“The legislation should include penalties for non-compliance.”
CATIA vehemently opposes a proposal for a single body to undertake
regional marketing because it would be “detrimental to the overall
marketing need ... becoming too focussed on one destination” and could
be “open to manipulation by a major sponsor by threat of removal of
CATIA also rules out transferring of all marketing responsibilities to
Tourism NT because it would “not service the regional demands ... would
become one destination focussed ... and lack the ability to address and
service the complex issues that lie within the regions.”
Mr Henderson, when asked to comment, said: “Using an objective pair of
eyes and having no axe to grind, the AEC Group found that a high
proportion of existing dollars being provided to support regional
tourism in Central Australia is spent on employee and administrative
costs and that economies of scale would be achieved and alternative
funding options were recommended.
“I have been encouraged with the enthusiasm from many tourism operators
to working out ways to reducing administration costs and increase
“As operators are well aware, the competition in the tourism market
means that we can’t afford to not improve what we do – this includes
better marketing, better services and new, exciting product. “The
Government is being driven by a desire to improve the operating
environment and get better value for tourism operators.”
Brough intervention slips a cog. By
At Wallace Rockhole, the acknowledged “model community” some 90 kms
west of Alice Springs, the only store is about to close while income
management is about to start.
Income management allows welfare recipients to shop only in licensed
stores. The store at Wallace is closing in good part because the
licensing requirements and rules for handling quarantined money are too
onerous, says store owner, Ken Porter.
With their store closed, residents will have to shop either in
Hermannsburg – 20 kms on dirt road to bitumen and then some – or Alice
For those with cars this adds fuel costs to their food bill. For those
without, “we’ll be stuck” waiting for a lift, as one resident, who
declined to be named, told the Alice Springs News.
More than half the families of the small community do not have cars.
Acting CEO Kathy Abbott estimated that seven to eight families have
registered vehicles, while some 12 families do not.
Pamela Abbott, who works as a shop assistant in the store, said she did
not want to be forced to leave the community to shop: “Aboriginal
people keep away from Alice Springs because of the drink.
“And we’ve got no cars even to go to Hermannsburg from here.
“Sometimes I have to get a lift into Alice but people are hard with
their cars. They would rather take their own family shopping.”
Centrelink teams were due at Wallace this week in the community to
start talking to welfare recipients about the quarantining of half
their income, to be spent only on food, clothing and other approved
essential items, and only in licensed stores.
Income management has already begun in Titjikala, Aputula (Finke),
Imampa and Mutitjulu and is now being rolled out in four more
communities, including Wallace Rockhole and Hermannsburg.
The store in Wallace has been run since 2001 as a private business (”no
handout from government for anything”) by Mr Porter, a white Australian
married to senior traditional owner Glenys (nee Abbott).
The couple also run a tourist park in the community, which sees some
6000 visitors go through the community each year, providing permanent
casual employment to two local tour guides and a sales outlet for the
Both businesses were set up under an agreement with the community
council due to expire in December 2008.
A fee, set as a percentage of income from each business, is paid to the
Mr Porter is a former CEO of the community council and still a member.
He has lived at Wallace for 25 years.
He says the decision to close the store is a business decision: the
licensing requirements for the store, introduced as part of the Federal
Government’s intervention in Territory Aboriginal communities, an the
rules for handling quarantined welfare money are just too onerous for a
business of its size.
There are fewer than 100 residents at Wallace, though an increasing
number of children, says Mr Porter.
He says enrolments at the community’s one teacher school have been
steadily climbing as a result of children coming to live with
relatives; soon a second teacher will be supplied.
He keeps the store open just two hours a day, from 10.30 to 12.30,
mostly seven days a week.
The stock is basic: groceries, meat, fruit and vegetables, sweets,
pies, drinks, some car parts and hardware items.
At lunchtime on Monday school children kept Pamela Abbott busy selling
hot pies and cool drinks.
It’s like that every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, said Ms Abbott; on
Tuesday and Thursday lunch is provided at the school.
A young mother came in for nappies. A worker on lunch break dropped in
The intervention will see the lunchtime trade from school children
disappear, as money from quarantined payments will be handed over to
the school for a nutrition program.
As for the other purchases, under the rules for handling quarantined
money, they would have to have an itemized and signed receipt, says Mr
The receipts would have to be filed and a reconciliation done for each
customer at the end of the month.
Any unspent money, from the credits allowed to each customer, would
have to be returned to Centrelink, on a monthly basis.
“A paperwork nightmare”, says Mr Porter and simply not worth it for the
existing small turnover.
He is also upset that the council’s reporting system for its handling
of quarantined money for the purchase of power cards, fuel and
household gas is, “to the best of my knowledge”, much less
onerous than the store’s.
His business position is also affected by the Territory Government’s
local government reforms. He has been unable to find out what will be
the legal status of his agreement with the community council when it is
subsumed into the MacDonnell Shire.
That’s a lot of uncertainty to work with, and in this brave new world
he says he would be spreading himself too thinly to keep the store as
well as the tourist park open.
Mr Porter gave notice to the council on October 12 that he would close
the shop on November 12.
“I made a business decision but I have got a conscience,” he says. “I’m
worried about where people are going to shop, especially the ones
Mr Porter will stock some very basic items in the art centre that is
part of the tourist park.
“But I won’t be driving to town when things run out and I won’t be
stocking all of the essentials, like nappies for instance.
“It can’t be seen as a community store.”
He has offered council the possibility of buying the remaining stock
and taking over the store but has yet to hear from them on this.
Acting CEO Kathy Abbott says council has asked Indigenous Business
Australia (IBA) to set up a store in the community. IBA owns Outback
Stores whose presence in remote communities is set to expand rapidly
under the federal intervention.
But Ms Abbott says this solution will not be in place by November 12.
She is unsure what will happen for Wallace residents from that date.
Mr Porter says he is not against the federal intervention per se but is
against its blanket approach to reform and the speed with which reforms
are being implemented.
The community’s CDEP program ended last Friday, a move which he
He has not used CDEP in his business ventures and is critical of the
way it has been used as a money-saving measure by governments,
including Wallace’s own community council.
He is delighted that Wallace’s two teacher assistants, formerly on
CDEP, now have “proper jobs” with the Territory Department of
He says the community has also received verbal advice that they will be
getting $1.2m for upgrading their access road – “a positive thing to
come out of the intervention”.
And he has heard something will be done about the school’s kitchen,
which has asbestos in it, before the school can be expected to deliver
its nutrition program.
But the nutrition program is an example of the blanket approach going
wrong, says Mr Porter.
“In our community I guarantee that almost 100% of kids got to school
with a full belly.
“If the school starts giving them breakfast, how are parents going to
feel? That’s taking responsibility from them and dragging them down to
the level of some, and I emphasise only some, others.”
Mr Porter says the community has been listened to on this issue and now
there is agreement that the school will only provide lunches, not
The Alice News contacted the Emergency Response Taskforce from Wallace
Rockhole on Monday, asking where people from the community were going
to be able to shop from November 12 and asking for comment on the
apparently onerous requirements for handling quarantined money.
A response was not to hand at the time of going to press, more than 24
Labor’s answer to Brough. By
If Labor wins power on November 24
there would be changes to the 30 year old CDEP (Community Development
Employment Program), which the current government is scrapping, but
details will not be decided before the election.
The permit system for access to
Aboriginal communities would be re-introduced, but the financial
commitment to the Mal Brough intervention – $1.3 billion – would
And Warren Snowdon (Labor), the
sitting Member for Lingiari – all of the NT except Darwin – says there
would be comprehensive consultation about the intervention. This
clearly means long established Aboriginal organizations, currently
frozen out by Mr Brough, and many with an abysmal record of failure
over decades, will move centre stage again.
But Mr Snowdon said after an
interview with Alice Springs News editor ERWIN CHLANDA: “This is
absolute supposition and cannot be concluded from what I had said to
you.” This is part of what they talked about.
NEWS: If Labor is elected, what of the Brough intervention will stay
and what will go?
SNOWDON: The intervention will proceed except we will re-instate, or
ensure they remain, permits and CDEP.
NEWS: Is this CDEP in its present form?
SNOWDON: We will be reforming CDEP in conjunction with CDEP
organizations and the broader Aboriginal community.
CDEP has been allowed to rot by the Howard Government since 1996.
They have not used it effectively, but it has been used effectively by
Aboriginal communities as a source of ongoing, long-term employment and
NEWS: What elements of CDEP will be changed?
SNOWDON: That will be a matter for us to determine after we win and
after we’ve had the consultations with people who are currently
administering CDEP, and with communities, as well as others with
NEWS: What’s the intention of the changes? What purpose will they have?
SNOWDON: To improve its operations, to make CDEP more of a gateway to
employment and business opportunities, accessing training.
It’s our intention to provide as many non-CDEP jobs as we possibly can,
accepting that CDEP provides a real option for some people over the
short term, and in some cases, where the employment market is very
limited, even for the longer term.
Some of the reforms would relate to improving on-the-job training
opportunities in industries such as mining, tourism, forestry,
arts, horticulture, pastoral, construction and ranger services.
We would want to see CDEP participants involved in training and
upgrading their skills and qualifications to provide them with greater
opportunities in the wider job market.
We have a range of other intitiatives in mind which will be released in
the coming weeks.
NEWS: In the past 30 years, what percentage of CDEP participants have
moved to, and stayed in, mainstream employment, and for those who did,
how long did it take?
SNOWDON: I don’t have those figures but I know that in the context of
some communities [there have been benefits] where CDEP is a very
NEWS: How many examples of successful CDEP operations are in Central
SNOWDON: I’m sure quite a few.
NEWS: Give me five examples.
SNOWDON: I’m not in a position, nor do I want to, to audit CDEP
organizations in Central Australia.
We will be reviewing the operation of CDEP after the election, if we
are elected, and will improve its operation substantially.
NEWS: If the objective of CDEP were to become the progression of
participants to mainstream employment, “real jobs” as they’re called in
the current jargon, in what way would it be different to the STEP
program that the current government is using to replace CDEP?
SNOWDON: Very significantly. Let’s go back a bit. CDEP is only one
component of a range of other activities, including access to
reasonable education, including vocational.
In that context all I can say is watch this space, because I’m sure
there will be some announcements before the elections.
NEWS: The Alice News covered your opinions on this extensively in the
SNOWDON: Nothing’s changed.
NEWS: STEP, which is broadly replacing CDEP, has a finite element to
it. After a year, in most cases, participants must be ready for a “real
job”, with the employer obliged to offer normal wages and conditions.
By contrast, participation in CDEP has been, again broadly, on the
SNOWDON: That’s not going to be possible in every case, and that’s why
STEP is not a successful operation in the remote communities.
Despite the program’s good intentions, the job opportunities in these
economies are extremely limited.
NEWS: So will the revised CDEP have time limits?
SNOWDON: I’m not going to presume the outcome of the review. We will be
reviewing its operation and we’ll be reforming CDEP. We’ll be
doing it not in advance of the election but after the election, if we
are successful, and in consultation with people in CDEP and in
NEWS: There’s a lot of comment abut the supposed lack of consultation.
Our chief reporter, Kieran Finnane, and I have been in some six
communities covering the intervention.
There seems to be a tremendous effort by the bureaucracy to speak with
people, on a one-on-one basis.
I just spoke to the acting CEO of a community to the north of Alice
He said about a dozen Centrelink officers are talking to people in the
That seems to me to be pretty intensive consultation, better than I’ve
ever seen before.
SNOWDON: There is a difference about consultations after the event, and
consultations about decisions that may be made.
The taskforce aren’t asking people’s opinions about things, they are
applying the new arrangements.
There are also significant questions to be asked about the adequacy of
the Government’s consultation process. In many communities it has
been a hit and run exercise without any meaningful dialogue.
In these cases people are left confused and concerned and of course
often the communication is coming from people who can’t answer
questions and the language they use is invariably difficult English
that is hard to understand.
NEWS: Whom should the government have consulted and about what? The
impressions we’re getting is that there is a broad acceptance by women
of the government’s pledge to provide assistance. Some men reject the
intervention because it curtails their privileges. Is there going to be
a plebiscite about the intervention?
SNOWDON: We’re talking about a dialogue with Aboriginal people across
the NT, via organizations which represent their interests, or
individuals, and that will be a matter determined after the election,
as to how that may actually happen.
NEWS: At what level and with which people will this consultation be
SNOWDON: That will be determined after the election. There have been
meetings held already, one in Canberra and one in Darwin.
NEWS: We had a group of about 100 people, the National Aboriginal
Alliance, headed up by Pat Turner, of the National Indigenous TV
Limited, and consisting mostly of high income earning people in
Aboriginal organizations, with apparently tenuous links to the people
in the bus, the people on the ground. What’s that group’s mandate?
SNOWDON: Our intention will be to ensure that people in the bush have
their views properly heard. How that will be done will be a matter of
NEWS: But again, after the elections?
SNOWDON: We’re not in a position to hold these discussions prior to the
NEWS: It’s not difficult to gauge the response to the intervention.
We’ve been able to do it by going to communities, observing the process
and talking to the people.
SNOWDON: I’ve been to a damn sight more communities than you have,
across the whole of the Territory.
NEWS: I don’t think there are too many newspapers who have covered the
intervention more thoroughly than we have.
SNOWDON: I think I’ve got a fair idea of what’s going on.
NEWS: Let’s talk about the Labor Member for MacDonnell, Alison
Anderson. She has an extremely strong view about the necessity of the
intervention, the announced funding and the level of consultation.
SNOWDON: She represents the views of the people in her electorate. I
have not an issue with that at all.
NEWS: You can’t both be right.
SNOWDON: The views that are being expressed to Alison are not the views
that have been expressed to others across the NT.
Alison properly represents the views of her electors; however, there is
not a uniform view across the Territory.
NEWS: How will the process of consultation take place? What do you say
to people who will vote in a few weeks’ time and who ask you, what will
happen with the intervention?
SNOWDON: The bottom line is the intervention will continue.
NEWS: At the level of funding pledged by Brough, $1.3b?
NEWS: There is a lot of concern in Alice Springs about the conduct of
Tangentyere Council which has led to the loss of $60m expenditure by
Canberra for the grossly disadvantaged people in town camps, which also
is a loss for local contractors. How would you have that money spent
had you been in power?
SNOWDON: What Brough didn’t do was sit down and negotiate an outcome.
NEWS: He met with Tangentyere several times.
SNOWDON: He’s said this is my position and I’m not moving from it and
he had no real interest in negotiating, only dictating.
NEWS: Would it be fair to say that during the 25 or so years of
existence of the camps, for which Tangentyere has responsibility,
Tangentyere’s performance was grossly inadequate? The Alice News has
carried many reports, with photographs, of the shocking conditions in
these town lease areas.
SNOWDON: The inability of Tangentyere to deliver services was limited
largely by the incapacity and unwillingness of governments of all
political persuasions to resource them effectively.
NEWS: Mr Brough said last week Tangentyere gets $17m a year from
Canberra, and we know there is substantial funding from other sources.
Apparently the total is $23m. Tell me what has been achieved with this
massive level of public funding.
SNOWDON: I don’t audit their books, and I’m not in a position to know
their source of funding, nor the programs for which they are funded.
NEWS: All those years when Labor was in power, and you were the Federal
Member, and Tangentyere received money from the Federal Government, you
did have a responsibility for that money.
SNOWDON: You’ll find they were funded far better in those years than
NEWS: We have asked Tangentyere, and especially Willy Tilmouth and
Geoff Shaw, to give us details of their funding. They have steadfastly
denied our requests, over many years.
SNOWDON: For some years 800 town campers have received [Federal social
security money] in the form of food vouchers. Do they get any praise
for it? They ran the first night patrol in the Territory, for which
they get no credit.
NEWS: We recently quoted a contact in a town lease, in essence saying
the night patrol might come for a quick cruise at 6.30pm and then you
don’t see them again. We ask Tangentyere about the cost of its night
patrol and they say no comment. They are not a transparent
organization. At least what Brough does is on the record. We get
answers quickly and fully.
SNOWDON: I’m not here to debate the efficacy of Tangentyere.
NEWS: I am. It is my guess that Tangentyere will play a major role –
and you can confirm or deny that – in Labor’s initiatives if it comes
to power. It is absolutely crucial for the public to be able to examine
the management of organizations spending large amounts of public money.
And I don’t think in the past 30 years, across the board, these
organizations have much to show for in terms of taking advantage of
opportunities in tourism, cattle industry, horticulture, for example.
SNOWDON: You simply cannot continually blame Tangentyere for all
of the failings of government policy over many years. Like
government agencies and non-government agencies of all stripes
Tangentyere can be criticised; however, I’m not on the
Tangentyere Council. I don’t audit their books.
I also make the observation, despite what you assert, that Tangentyere
is and has been under enormous scrutiny from its funding bodies and
Government and the media generally.
I do have a view about what we should do on a macro level, about the
outcomes for Aboriginal people in Central Australia generally. Maybe
you should be examining the Federal agencies that fund the
programs, not Tangentyere.
NEWS: In the past four months, since Brough took over the portfolio,
there has been an enormous effort, don’t you agree?
SNOWDON: An enormous effort doing what? How many jobs have been created
as a result of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations?
NEWS: I have no idea. You tell me.
SNOWDON: I don’t know. It’s a moot point. But there is an interesting
point to be made, and this is where the intervention has the scope of
pointing up failures by governments, including Labor, in the past.
There are people on CDEP doing jobs that should be paid for by the
appropriate government agencies, such as the ranger program in the Top
End, or people working in schools or health services.
NEWS: Let’s go to the Family and Children’s Services (FACS) in the NT.
Its Minister, Marion Scrymgour, lambasted the intervention in the
Charles Perkins Oration last week. Yet her department dramatically
under-spends its Grants Commission’s allocation. Here are the figures:
2001-02 - $102m allocated; $31.1m spent; 2002-03 – $104.8m ($31.1m);
2003-04 – $116.9m ($36.8m); 2004-05 –$122.7 ($46.4m). South Australia,
NSW and Victoria, always spend more on Family and Child Services than
the Grants Commission assessment, and WA most of the time. Queensland
spends always less but never less than half. In the light of this,
please give me your comment on this Minister who is presiding over a
system that has given rise to the Little Children are Sacred report.
SNOWDON: She’s only recently been put in this portfolio. If FACS have
not been doing what they should have been doing they should be
condemned for it. They need to do the job.
NEWS: Brough is clearly saying they haven’t and so he has intervened.
SNOWDON: Brough chose to act on the Little Children are Sacred report
prior to the NT Government giving it consideration. He’s used that as
an opportunity. We need to ensure collectively, including the NT
Government, that the intervention works. Oddly enough, we agree with
Brough on the outcome.
NEWS: Would a Labor government continue the intervention in the same
transparent manner? If you re-instate the permit system, would
journalists again have to go through the land councils for access to
communities, which has been extremely difficult?
SNOWDON: Under Labor’s proposal journalists would be able to have
access without permits.
Brand new look for CDEP
Mr Snowdon says in a statement exclusive to the Alice Springs
News that Labor sees a reformed CDEP as focusing on such things such
• Facilitating the provision of flexible training to make people
work-ready, including providing literacy, numeracy and IT classes
and driver education.
• Improving on-the-job training opportunities in industries such as
mining, tourism, forestry, arts, horticulture, pastoral, construction
and ranger services.
• Incubating enterprises through subsidised wages and equipment and
securing business expertise and mentoring.
• Facilitating the provision of community-based adult education with
• Over time, offering restructured incentives so young people are
encouraged to choose apprenticeships and study.
• Providing incentives to CDEP participants to upgrade their
qualifications and move into other jobs in their community and region.
• Encouraging CDEP providers to move towards a business model
that better supports local industries and community enterprises
through human resources and development.
• And developing five year regional strategies with industry employers
and governments which contain job targets.
Mr Snowdon says in addition Labor will work with State and Territory
Governments to make sure that indigenous people
delivering government services are moved into non
“There are some other elements but these are the main ones.
“We will of course deliver on the $78.2 commitment to moving CDEP
particpants into non CDEP employment Government services,” says Mr
Solar City no help with carbon
pollution, say climate lobbyists. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The Climate Action Group, an active sub-committee of the Arid Lands
Environment Centre, says Alice Springs Solar City will not
significantly improve our town’s carbon dioxide pollution.
Transition to a truly solar-powered Alice would achieve decreases in
carbon emissions, argues the group, but Solar City’s contribution to
this will be negligible over the next six years.
(See an outline of Solar City’s action plan in last week’s Alice News.)
The group says that the demand for electricity in Alice Springs is
rising between 3% and 6% per year, a figure undisputed by Essential
Services Minister Kon Vatskalis at a meeting they had with him last
week. During the meeting David de Vries, representing the local branch
of political advocacy network GetUp and formerly director of the Centre
for Sustainable Arid Towns, cited a rise in demand of 3% per year.
Dr de Vries says general manager of the Power and Water Corporation,
Andrew Macrides, responded by talking about the impacts of a 6%
increase. This figure corresponds to the increased demand figure for
the most recent year, given to Dr de Vries, he says, by another PWC
This casts Solar City’s goal of 5% replacement of energy generated by
fossil fuels with solar-generated energy and energy efficiencies in a
less favourable light. Of the 5% less than 2% will come from sun
The Climate Action Group further says that Solar City’s 5% will be
achieved only after six years, with the annual decrease being less than
1% a year.
Dr de Vries is careful to support the work of the Solar City
consortium: “It is doing a five star job with what it has.
But he says they would need 10 times their funding of $12.3m to provide
a true solar city, the majority of whose energy would come from the
The group says that the Northern Territory Government needs to address
the drivers for increased energy consumption, including water
consumption and poorly designed buildings leading to strong demand for
Dr de Vries says current water consumption in Alice puts 8000 tonnes of
carbon into the atmosphere each year, due to the energy consumed in
pumping the water to the surface and around the town.
This amounts to 11.5 GWh per year, greater than the total reduction
after six years claimed by Solar City.
And the figure is growing as the aquifer, already 160 metres below the
surface, is falling. A serious contribution to a reduction in carbon
emissions necessitates action on water consumption, the group argues.
Alice residents pay much less for their water than the national
average: 72c/kL compared to 125c/kL.
The system is inefficient, with current losses, due to leakage and
excessive pressure, put at 14%.
The group calls for the introduction of tiered pricing and a permanent
restrictions regime, which would forbid outdoor watering in the middle
of the day.
Says group member and spokesperson, Peter Tait: “Power and Water
education campaigns have been advocating this for years and many people
do have timers set to do this.
“But many people still sprinkle during the day; I see it when I am out
People also hose down their driveways at midday, or wash their cars
“The point is that this restriction is a minimal change likely to give
minimal inconvenience and achieve a large increase in responsible water
“It would apply some stick along with the carrot of lower water bills.
“I also see many people being responsible; this demonstrates that
education is partially useful. The time has come to move those who are
not responding to the education.”
ther inland towns, which have previously held the status of number one
water consumers in the country, are responding to the challenge.
Dr de Vries points to water restrictions in Mildura in 2006 achieving a
reduction in consumption of 30%. And to Kalgoorlie’s nine step tiered
pricing system which has seen their consumption drop to 366 kL per
residential property, compared to the current 535 kL in Alice.
Dr de Vries says tiered pricing is the norm around Australia and has
been talked about in the Territory for years.
Now the government needs to move on it.
The group is also calling for the mandated application of the 2006
Building Code of Australia for all new buildings, which would see them
having to conform to five star energy ratings.
At present in the Territory the 2003 Building Code is applied only to
residential buildings and only with a requirement that they achieve a
3.5 star rating. The group is appalled that obvious design mistakes in
relation to energy efficiency are still being made.
Dr Tait points to the new town houses along Sturt Terrace by way of
example: “They have huge bay windows looking west into the setting
“Newcomers to town will think they look lovely but be astounded by cost
of keeping them cool.”
Dr Tait says the new Yeperenye Complex extensions are another example
of concrete block construction reliant on air-conditioning.
Dr de Vries says “most of Australia” now works to the 2006 Building
Code, or similar minimum energy performance regulations, applying it to
all new buildings, residential and commercial.
A carbon emission reduction target is essential for Alice Springs to
begin taking responsibility for its pollution, argue the group.
They have proposed that the Power and Water Corporation be directed to
reduce CO2 pollution over 20 years to 50% of 2000 levels.
Dr Tait says the target is in the ballpark of targets being discussed
around the world.
“With some political will it is achievable.
It amounts to about a 1.5% reduction per year. “The level of any
target, to paraphrase UK Chief Scientist David King, is not as
important as taking action now.
“The absence of this sense of urgency among our political and community
leaders at last week’s meeting is in stark contrast to the urgency
being expressed by the community.”
The Climate Action Group’s concerns were raised during Monday night’s
Town Council meeting.
Says Mayor Fran Kilgariff: “Council felt that it needed more time to
consider the issues as most [aldermen] were coming in cold on these
questions and there was no information available apart from the
statement from the Climate Action Group.
“It will be the subject of a report to Council in the near future.”
The Alice News also requested comment from Minister Kon Vatskalis but
an answer was not to hand at the time of going to press.
Solar City consortium chair Grant Behrendorff was offered the
opportunity to comment but is overseas for the next three weeks.
LETTERS: School results denial:
Pull the other one!
Sir,- I am incensed by the denial of Paul Newman, General Manager
Schools Central Australia, that standards are falling in our remote
schools (Alice News, October 25).
The Education Department’s 2006 Board of Studies Annual Report states
that year five reading results for students in very remote communities
declined from 53% (reaching the national benchmarks in 2005) to just
38.7% in 2006.
The writing benchmark achievement collapsed from 62.3% to just 33.3%.
It is common knowledge in the bush that the 2007 results are even
worse, much worse. We have a situation where less than a third of 8-10
year old very remote students can competently read and write. This is
the prime age for learning to read and write and is an absolute
Mr Newman’s denial of the obvious is most unhelpful to the remote
schools and students he administers.
It also makes the recent threat to dismiss teachers and principals who
fail to achieve the benchmarks unfair. The Minister for Education is
saying that if teachers fail to implement unworkable programs out of
Darwin they will be punished.
Under the old CLP rule Indigenous education in our region was neglected
and underfunded but was locally controlled from Alice Springs, and
schools had the flexibility to apply relevant programs. Under the ALP
there has been a massive increase in funding but local control and
flexibility are gone.
It now appears that the first approach actually produces equal or
superior outcomes at a fraction of the cost. But what if the millions
in funding was matched to local control and sensible programs that suit
our central Australian remote communities?
That will not happen under the Martin Government. Instead, within a
year Accelerated Literacy will quietly disappear to be replaced by a
brand new literacy program out of Darwin promising to dramatically
raise literacy outcomes. Darwin will also replace the embarrassing Mr
Newman with a new and equally obedient General Manager Schools Central.
And nothing will change!
Sir,- I acknowledge the accountability and performance framework could
assist schools to establish targets but this measure alone will not
lift academic standards unless curriculum is reformed.
This measure may provide a useful framework to assist schools to
develop plans to improve certain outcomes such as attendance and
participation. However, if the Minister for Education believes that
poor academic results are due to the lack of systemic rigour he is
Furthermore the language of the accountability and performance
framework places the emphasis in the wrong place. It suggests that
schools and teachers are failing our kids. This is the last message our
principals, teachers and school council members need.
The key to improved academic results lies beyond the efforts of our
hard working teachers and rests at the core of our education system -
the curriculum. Unless this is changed the results will largely
remain the same.
While we maintain our current outcomes-based approach to curriculum we
can only expect similar results. Systems that do not use the
outcomes-based approach to curriculum outperform Australian schools.
For example, Trends in International Maths and Science Study [TIMSS] is
a testing regime established by the International Association for
Educational Achievement. Australia is one of 46 countries that use the
test to measure learning against comparable systems over time.
The results show that Australia is falling behind countries like
Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Hong Kong and
Hungary. Not only is Australia in the second eleven but other systems
are able to get more students to perform at a higher level.
For example, in the 2002/2003 TIMSS test nine percent of Australian
students achieved at the advanced level while 25% achieved at the same
level in Taiwan.
While the Minister’s measures may effect organisational change he will
need to look deeper if improved academic results are desired.
The current outcomes-based approach to curriculum is subjective and
vague, and learning is difficult to measure and report on. Therefore it
fails students and parents are given little insight into what their
children are actually achieving.
What is needed is a standards based curriculum where core learning is
objectively described and measured. By providing teachers with a core
syllabus teachers can then focus on the essential task of teaching
rather than devising their own curriculum.
By measuring against an objective standard, parents can then be
provided with report cards that make sense.
Terry Mills MLA
Shadow Minister for Education
Sir,- The Australian Education Union has highlighted the fact Labor has
forgotten the children in the education debate, while recognising the
achievements coming through the Northern Territory Emergency Response.
The AEU has highlighted the need for an additional $1.7 billion over
the next five years to create high quality public education in remote
However, I cannot agree with the AEU’s request for the Federal
Government to provide additional dollars to the NT Government to pay
for this infrastructure, as Clare Martin has already promised Prime
Minister Howard that she would meet the extra needs placed on the
education system by the Emergency Response.
The Darwin Labor Government is already funded to do this, plus they
will receive more than $700 million this year in additional GST revenue
for remote areas because the Howard government, at least, recognises
the challenges of delivering services to those areas.
It seems money that was tied has not gone to where it was supposed to
go and the additional GST money hasn’t gone into service delivery in
the rural and remote areas as it is supposed to.
Unfortunately the lack of investment into the regions will be even
worse should Labor win the election as Kevin Rudd has already declared
to his State and Territory Labor mates that he will make all grants
untied, meaning any money coming to the Territory could be spent in
Darwin and not have to go anywhere else for education, health, housing,
roads or to other service delivery areas.
Who knows, the money may not even come to the Territory in the future –
who knows what corners his southern union-dominated front bench will
force him into.
That is the benefit of balance by having Labor States and Territories
and a federal Liberal Coalition. Without these checks and balances
provided by the Coalition, the Territory will be much much worse off.
I also support the AEU’s request for schools to be funded on enrolments
not just attendance. If 500 children turn up to school and cannot get
into a classroom, let alone find a desk and chair, of course attendance
will be low.
What a problem to have - too many children wanting to go to
school! Labor has forgotten about the bush and now it has
forgotten about the children.
Meanwhile, the proposed road funding figures for the Territory recently
announced by Labor appear rubbery in the extreme.
While I welcome anybody offering new funding for roads in the
Territory, the incumbent Member for Lingiari and Darwin Government have
a pretty awful record on the delivery side.
The money just isn’t enough; for example, $10 million will not even go
close to building a high level bridge over the Daly. It will not even
build a three-metre bridge that would still leave the residents of
Wadeye, the NT’s sixth largest town, cut off for four months of the
year in the wet season.
The project has already been costed and it comes in at considerably
more than that, and that is without all the ancillary works in Labor’s
What is worse is that the funding announcement has no timing structured
except that it will be a four year program. In other words it won’t be
done during the next electoral cycle.
The NT Government hasn’t delivered on old promises to build a bridge
over the MacArthur, a bridge over the Daly, matching funding for the
Outback Highway or sealing the road to Lajamanu.
A truly visionary roads and bridges package would deliver sealed roads
to all communities in the Territory and provide year round all-weather
access. More dirt roads to communities are not the answer.
The Darwin Government should be ashamed at the state of our outback
roads. They have been allowed to deteriorate to the point where they
are now death traps and contribute much more to the Territory’s growing
road toll than the much mooted speed limits.
CLP candidate for Lingiari
Sir,- The management committee of the Hamilton Downs Youth Camp has
made substantive submissions to the consultant for the NT Government,
who is looking at options for the establishment of a diversionary camp
facility in Central Australia.
The submissions have highlighted the facilities already available at
the Camp, including bunkhouse, kitchen, sporting and adventure
facilities and offered a number of opportunities that fitted closely
within the objectives of the camp to make the facilities primarily
targeted at youth programs.
The proposal is that the basic program would start in a small way with
the facilities that are available and, as the model is refined to meet
the needs of the community, the capacity of the camp could be up to 300
participants a year allowing for young people from other Northern
Territory centres to be included.
The proposals identified the financial support that would be required
from Government and business partners, in both short and long term
development, for additional management and staff housing, accommodation
for participants with additional ablution blocks, kitchen, clinic,
training facilities and meeting venues.
It is important to note that the proposals do not suggest a
detention-type camp but a well managed resource that develops the self
esteem of young people who, without some active intervention, would
have become potential lawbreakers, intransigents or who would walk away
from school or leave home.
The submission is modelled on the successful Operation Flinders and
other similar programs, setting goals for achievement and recognition
by all levels of community but in particular within their own peer
A full report on the submission will be presented at the Annual General
Meeting to be held on Friday, 2 November, at the Senior Citizens Club
in Wills Terrace. Interested persons are invited to attend.
In reversal of a trend over the past few years 2007 has been most
successful with more visitors than previous years using the camp,
resulting in a small profit for the year in the annual accounts.
This puts the camp in a good position to work along-side Government and
other local agencies to provide a venue for a real and achievable
diversionary program by breaking the cycle of peer pressures of the
‘in-group’ or gang that in the normal course of events is rekindled
after short term programs.
The support that the camp receives from all the service clubs, who
readily step up for working bees and financial support, is underpinned
by the annual grant from the NT Government which provides funding for
staff and heritage restoration.
Hamilton Downs Youth Camp is the original homestead first settled in
about 1913 and is now listed as a NT Heritage site. Plans for the
on-going restoration of the original buildings next year include work
on the Meat House and Blacksmiths shop.
Ren Kelly, Chairman
Hamilton Downs Youth Camp Association Inc.
Sir,- Recently I announced a re-elected Coalition Government would
commit nearly $4 million over four years to support the Northern
Territory AFL (AFL NT) to run two sporting programs.
The first program will establish a Territory football franchise to
compete in an existing State League competition.
This will create the opportunity for talented young Northern
Territorians to compete at elite levels without needing to relocate
The franchise will be based in Alice Springs and will recruit players
from across the Northern Territory.
In addition, it will provide a framework on which a Northern Territory
Netball team can enter the new national State-based netball competition.
The second program will allow the AFL NT to work with Indigenous
communities offering football clinics, junior development activities,
coaching accreditation, secondary school activities, healthy lifestyle
carnivals and a healthy lifestyle festival, as well as holiday
programs. It will also provide personal development opportunities
for players allowing them to build careers after sport.
The responsiveness of Indigenous youth to opportunities provided
through sport have been demonstrated on the Tiwi Islands and Wadeye.
A re-elected Coalition Government is committed to using sport as one
way to tackle Indigenous disadvantage.
Mal Brough MP
Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Sir,- I was very pleasantly surprised when I logged on to the Alice
News today, (as I am wont to do every Sunday). It looks fantastic -
However, I was intrigued to read the comments by Mr Behrendorff
regarding solar air-conditioning proposed for the Araluen Arts Centre
as being a first for Australia.
Is this some new kind of invention never used before? It would be very
interesting if he could elaborate somewhat further on this.
There was a solar a/c system installed on the Hotel Alice Springs and a
very large one to run Minerals House years ago, and at high cost I
might add. I know the Hotel one was a failure.
The Minerals House system became expensive due to the design and to
overcome similar faults as that of the Hotel system.
Alas, even this did not save it and years later it was replaced by a
conventional one. The Public Service insisted on a guaranteed maximum
temperature of 24 degrees and on 40 degree days this was not achievable.
The Minerals House System was Japanese - Yazaki, I believe. They had a
big factory in Melbourne.
Also, Mr Behrendorff’s remarks on solar hot water systems are unclear.
Why would it take weeks to repair one? The frost damage problem has
largely been overcome and the back-up element is a standard size
readily replaced. I imagine it would be quite expensive to remove a
system from the roof and then re-install it later.
Interesting stuff. As I recall, the major hurdle was the cost but with
today’s subsidies at least the burden has eased.
All the best for you and your team.
Sir,- Three years since the last federal election we Territorians are
left considering whether we will come to be known as the nuclear
instead of the nature territory.
The Howard Government went to the last election giving an ‘absolute
categorical assurance’ that it would not dump federally produced
radioactive waste in the NT, but this promise was quickly reneged.
There are now four sites in the NT being assessed for potential
locations for a radioactive dump that the government says will be
operational for at least three hundred years.
There is a law prohibiting the transport and storage of nuclear waste
in the Territory, but once re-elected the federal government did not
hesitate to ram through legislation to override this. They are
desperately searching for a Territory dump site using political
expediency, not good science, as the benchmark.
Territorians do not accept their pristine environment being used as a
sacrifice zone for a federal radioactive dump. People living along
potential transport corridors are also greatly concerned by the risk of
transporting these hazardous materials thousands of kilometers, through
hundreds of communities, especially given the numerous road and rail
accidents over the last couple of years.
There is strong opposition around the country to a federal radioactive
dump in the Territory and to Howard’s plans for a vastly expanded
nuclear industry in Australia. This issue will affect how people vote
in the upcoming federal election.
Beyond Nuclear Initiative
Sir,- I was talking to a gentleman this morning who resides in the Golf
Course estate. He told me that the most horrid night of the year for
residents in their area is Halloween Night.
He said that well into the night Alice Springs children and youths
flock to the Golf Course area looking for trick or treat goodies, the
assumption being that most Americans live there and Halloween is mostly
an American thing.
The traffic becomes thick and congested along Stephens Road as people
head for the Halloween action.
Apparently residents are harassed well into the night, until they turn
all the lights out and go to bed (or pretend to!).
He said that from sunset Halloween turns into a night for youths to run
amok in the more affluent areas of town.
Living out of town I was amazed to hear this story. I had no idea! I
thought this story might be of interest to others.
Sir,- I am compelled to reply to comments in the letter of Advance
Alice chairman Steve Brown (Alice News, October 18).
Mr Brown’s extreme perspective is clearly illustrated in his response
to my letter of October 11.
He claims that I am prepared to “risk peoples lives” in order “to put a
dollar in my pocket”.
Seriously, Steve, now you would have us believe that people are risking
their lives by visiting our iconic town.
Does your fear campaign have no boundaries, or am I reading the wrong
I do believe it far more likely that one may perish from dehydration in
Central Australia rather than a violent crime, so maybe your efforts
would be better served forewarning our visitors of this very real
Please do not reply quoting violent crime statistics for Alice Springs,
we’ve all heard these figures far too often, and any informed person
knows that about 98% of these crimes take place WITHIN our indigenous
This knowledge does not alleviate the gravity of the situation, but it
is an important and rarely stated addendum to the fact.
ADAM CONNELLY: Angie and Brad:
saccharine replaces true grit.
W. B. Yeats was one of those people who had the now rare quality of
being an artist, an activist and a revolutionary.
I suppose the closest to achieve this quality would be Angelina Jolie
and Brad Pitt, which says more about the saccharine nature of today’s
artist than any other example I can give.
While Ange and Brad are adopting African children and heading to
Cambodia in perfectly pressed shirts that cost more money than the
national GDP, Yeats was inspiring a generation of Irish men and women
to embrace their culture and to be proud of their heritage.
Something few were able to do under the yolk of the British.
He won a Nobel Prize for literature. He and his brother would take the
world by storm with their words. A man of intense conviction, nothing
it seems could stand in the way of the warrior-like intensity of Yeats’
So influential was his plays and poems that the man was likened to
ancient greats such as Homer and The Bard himself.
It is a strange phenomenon but one that proves true in every instance.
There are men and women that come along in every generation that do
great things. They inspire or heal or rally or comfort swathes of the
populace and their influence on the generation is indelible.
However, to a man and woman these people have a grand flaw. Something
about their personality that makes them fall.
Like him or loathe him if you think of Bill Clinton you are more likely
to think of that cigar and that dress than his incredible work in
bringing the Middle East towards peace.
Mandela is a great man but for so long was too close to Winnie who is
now in prison.
All the great ones fall. Oscar Wilde was persecuted for liking the
company of other men and spent time in prison for it. For W. B. Yeats,
the thorn in his side came in the guise of Maude Gonne.
Maude Gonne is not a particularly sexy name but she was none the less
an incredibly sexy woman. Beautiful, smart and strong, she was
consummately capable and opinionated and supremely bright. Miss
Gonne was the Angelina to W.B.’s Brad.
Yeats fell and fell hard for Maude. Creative and imaginative men often
find the strong and opinionated attractive. It was as though she was
the lightning to his thunder.
But Maude had plans. An ardent nationalist she found the thought of
marrying W. B. almost silly.
Love for Maude Gonne was a luxury that time and the cause could not
afford. She married a John MacBride, a military man who was executed
for his part in the Easter uprising of 1916. (Their son Sean won the
Nobel Peace Prize in 1974.)
Maude married for the cause. John was not a particularly nice and
Indeed his mistreatment of Maude during their marriage confounded Yeats
and he never really understood Maude’s motives for the relationship.
One thing he did understand was his love for her. It could be argued
that unrequited love is one of the poet’s greatest friends.
Like the musician who needs turmoil in their life in order to write a
great song, perhaps Yeats doted upon the unattainable to somehow help
At any rate the love story between William Butler Yeats and Maude Gonne
is one of the finest and saddest in modern literature.
At the moment Alice Springs is feeling a bit “Maudish” to me.
I find myself in love with the place. It’s hard not to be.
A beautiful town set in such magnificent scenery. Wonderful people with
an attitude you could export. But like W. B. I’m finding Alice’s love
for me a little unrequited. It is strong and opinionated and has no
time for the foolishness of my love for it.
I’m confident I’m not alone in this thought.
I suppose that is why so many of us leave for sweeter shores but
Because no matter how unhealthy your love is, it’s a hard habit to
MY dear, my dear, I know
More than another
What makes your heart beat so;
Not even your own mother
Can know it as I know,
Who broke my heart for her
When the wild thought,
That she denies
And has forgot,
Set all her blood astir
And glittered in her eyes.
(“To a Young Girl” by W. B. Yeats)
Tjukurrpa on CD. By DARCY DAVIS.
Lajamanu band, Yatula Yatula, launched their new CD, Tjukurrpa
Tjukurrpa, at the Youth Centre last Friday night.
The band takes its name from the Warlpiri place name of the Tanami
goldfields, while the title of their new album means “dreamtime legend
The current band line up is version 2.1 of Yatula Yatula. The first
version was started by Victor Simmons, who is the father of all of the
brothers who play in the band.
Yatula Yatula came all the way down from Lajamnu (900 kms to the north
of Alice) to record their debut album at CAAMA Music Studios. Dad
Victor contributed half the cost of the album’s production from his
mining royalties cheque, as he is a traditional owner of the Tanami
The CD was made special because there was imported expertise from
people such as James Cadsky from The Vault recording studio in Sydney,
who was the engineer, Martin Rotsey, the guitarist from Midnight Oil
who worked as the guitar producer on the project, as well as Melbourne
producer Steve Teakle.
The main themes in Yatula Yatula’s songs include: drink driving (don’t
do that), keeping the family together (do that), running away with
other women (don’t do that) and the story of the Coniston Massacre.
The Youth Centre, which seems to have been in Alice Springs since
before the dreamtime, is a truly under-utilized venue, a potential
goldfield for the youth market. If I was Kerry Packer and wasn’t dead,
I’d sink some money into it and make it a terrific venue.
But for the night’s proceedings, the Youth Centre proved to be a very
suitable venue to host such a large crowd. Yatula Yatula had a
successful album launch under the full moon and performed in the
raging, windblown heat on a grog free evening in front of 350 adoring
Tjukurrpa Tjukurrpa is available from the CAAMA Shop and other stores.
Good onya Ronja! By DARCY DAVIS.
Local film maker Ronja Moss has just returned from the ATOM (Australian
Teachers of Media) awards in Melbourne where she was awarded Best
Secondary Fiction Film for her film ‘The Beast’.
The film tells the story of a suburban family where the father is
revealed to be abusing his two daughters. Ronja made the film for her
Year 12 major project in 2006 with guidance from her teachers, Ronny
Reinhard and Ashley Hall at Charles Darwin University.
The 25th annual EnhanceTV ATOM awards were held at the Plaza Ballroom
in the Regent Theatre in Melbourne on October 19.
“There was red carpet going all the way down with big fancy chandeliers
everywhere – it was much flasher than I’d expected,” says Ronja.
“Then I found out that Alan Brough (from ABC’s Spicks and Specks) was
the MC for the night and I was over the moon!”
“I had so much adrenaline pumping through me that I can barely remember
my category being announced,” she says.
“All I remember was watching snippets of the other films and thinking,
jeez, there’s no way I’m gonna win this award, which was alright
because I’d already accepted that I wasn’t going to win.
“But then they yelled out ‘the winner is Ronja Moss’ and apparently I
looked absolutely petrified. They put a big spotlight on me and I kind
of stumbled on stage, I was hazy with adrenaline.”
When it came time for Ronja to deliver her acceptance speech, she was a
little bit un-prepared.
“I was having a laugh with Ashley at the end of the night about my
speech – apparently I said something like ‘thank you to my family for
giving me such interesting stories’ which must have sounded a bit
suspicious seeing as the film was about sexual abuse within a suburban
family, but I went on to thank Ronny and Ashley and tell them they
rocked which might have redeemed the speech a little.”
Ronja doesn’t plan on running off to film school for now.
“I’m not going to study yet. The award is a fantastic thing to have on
the resume, but it’s not like a definite foot in the door.
“I need to have a solid portfolio of films, which I’m working on, and
get some experience in the real world before I go rushing into
“ But opportunities in the industry are already arising because of
winning the ATOM award, like being offered the job of making an
advertisement, but I won’t go into detail just yet.”
However CDU has revealed that major sponsor and fashion bag designer
Crumpler awarded Ronja $5000 to develop its next advertisement.
Apart from that, things aren’t so different after winning the award,
Ronja reckons: “People hear that I’ve won the award for best high
school film made in the whole of Australia and tell me ‘I wanna do
things with you!’ but things haven’t really changed much, I’m still
just an amateur!”
CDU VET media lecturer Ronny Reinhard, who nominated Ronja for the
award, says Ronja was an exceptional student: “Ronja took on a taboo
subject in her work and delivered an exceptional film.”
Ronja is the second Alice based CDU film maker to win the award:
Tyronne Swift won it in 2005.
Back to front
page of the the Alice Springs News.