November 1, 2007. This page contains all major
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 the organization.
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 rejects.
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” campaign.
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” opportunities.
And there should be no fees for tourist operators entering national parks.
CATIA favors a single operators’ accreditation system, implemented by legislation, “rather than a mish-mash of current government and commercial requirements.
“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 funding”.
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 service delivery.
“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 KIERAN FINNANE.

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 Springs.
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 community’s artists.
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 council. 
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 for cigarettes.
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 Porter.
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 without cars.”
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 basically welcomes.
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 Education.
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 breakfast.
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 hours later.

Labor’s answer to Brough. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

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 remain.
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 business development.
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 interest.
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 efficient organization.
NEWS: How many examples of successful CDEP operations are in Central Australia?
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 past.
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 never never.
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 partnership.
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 Springs.
He said about a dozen Centrelink officers are talking to people in the community.
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 done?
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 discussion.
NEWS: But again, after the elections?
SNOWDON: We’re not in a position to hold these discussions prior to the election.
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 subsequently.
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 as:-
• 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 accredited trainers.
• 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 CDEP jobs.
“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 Snowdon.

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 employee. 
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 energy.
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 sun.
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 air-conditioning.
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 and about.
People also hose down their driveways at midday, or wash their cars then.
“The point is that this restriction is a minimal change likely to give minimal inconvenience and achieve a large increase in responsible water use.
“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 summer sun. 
“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 disgrace.
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!
Lena Milich
Alice Springs

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 mistaken.
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 communities.
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 announcement.
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.
Adam Giles
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 group.
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.
Alice Springs

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 interstate.
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 - well done.
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.
Hermann Weber
Clare SA

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.
Natalie Wasley
Beyond Nuclear Initiative
Alice Springs

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.
Robyn Lambley
Alice Springs
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 newspaper?
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 danger.
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 communities.
This knowledge does not alleviate the gravity of the situation, but it is an important and rarely stated addendum to the fact.
Ian Whittred
Alice Springs

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’ work.
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 loving husband.
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 the poetry.
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 eventually return. 
Because no matter how unhealthy your love is, it’s a hard habit to break.
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 story”.
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 goldfields.
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 fans.
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 anything.
“ 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.

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