November 8, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Water plan sells The Alice short. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The new Alice Springs Water Resource Strategy, on the face of it, is a gloomy document, allowing the town a mere 20% of growth in drinking water consumption over the next 10 years.
After a decade of stagnation this is hardly the stuff that would make a government or private investor wild with excitement or confidence.
But one of the report’s main authors, John Childs, the delegate in Alice of the Controller of Water Resources, says: “The plan is targeted at meeting the town’s current and predicted needs over 10 years, and to ensure that the long term future is not compromised.
“The plan doesn’t deal with all sources of water.”
The strategy allows for a fivefold increase of water use for horticulture, with a total of 3600 ML/yr (million litres per year) available.
It seeks to make do with the current resources, essentially the eastern tip of the vast Amadeus basin.
Mr Childs says other nearby basins can be accessed – although at a cost in terms of exploration, pumping and pipelines.
Assets given little or no prominence in the report include the remainder of the Amadeus basin, some 200 kms long; the Great Artesian Basin just the other side of Sta Teresa; the recently proven up Willowra basin, some 300 kms north-west of Alice Springs; recycling of waste water; the likelihood of finding new reserves through stepped up drilling; producing water from a depth greater than 300 meters; and a string of locations for damming rivers.
Experts say a dam across the Todd north of the town is the only way to protect it from catastrophic flooding, growing more likely with climate change.
The use of dams would not only slow down the depletion of underground basins, but could accelerate their replenishment.
Mr Childs said: “Dams remain available in the portfolio of water supply options if they become economic in the longer term.”
The Strategy report concentrates on saving water – the cheapest option for the government.
It’s an odd focus given the decline of horticulture in the Murray-Darling basin: The Centre clearly has a great opportunity to become a producer of “fruit and veg”, given the region’s abundance of land, labor (some 600 people are on CDEP in Alice Springs alone), good growing conditions, as well as cheap transport on road and rail which go south empty.
Mr Childs says an application has been made to the new Australian Water Fund to pay for a demand management program – saving water – an injection of $10m to Alice Springs and remote communites.
The water strategy has come under fire from the head of Advance Alice, Steve Brown, whose pioneering family in the White Gums area of the town has had an interest for decades in the availability of water.
Mr Brown says the report has “completely ignored what is Alice Springs’ number one water problem, that is the failure to recycle water.
“There is no mention in the report of any proposed activity to limit the wastage of water that now occurs within the Alice Springs reticulation system.
“Some 14% of water pumped from the bore field is not distributed into Alice Springs.
“It is an undisputable fact that all of the cities in Australia receive their water supplies from dams. 
“These dams are constructed under the philosophy that surplus water available in years of good rainfall should be conserved for times of low rainfall.
“In spite of this accepted principle this report attempts to prohibit forever the construction of dams and any other form of water conservation in Central Australia, limiting the maximum uptake of water from a stream to 5% of flow,” says Mr Brown.
“The report deliberately and untruthfully throws doubt on the future water supplies for Alice Springs.
“In discussing the Alice Springs future water source – what is loosely called the Mereenie – it only mentions the 500 square kilometres from which our present water supply is extracted.
“It forgot to mention that this is part of some 30,000 square kilometres of similar water holding rocks, all known as the Amadeus basin.”
The report says: “The Strategy adopts a conservative approach to water allocation because of inherent limitations in the available science, based as it is, on averages, extrapolations and some qualified assumptions about known water resources.”
The report nominates a string of initiatives needed to become more familiar with the resource: “The Strategy attempts to quantify a complex set of natural systems, known collectively, as the water cycle.
“With significant variability in rainfall, surface water runoff and recharge to groundwater, there remain a number of areas under investigation.  
“Consumptive and non-consumptive demands have been determined and beneficial uses have been declared for each of the eight management zones; Upper Catchment; Lower Catchment; Town Basin; Inner Farm Basin; Outer Farm Basin; Wanngardi Basin, Roe Creek; and Rocky Hill / Ooraminna.”
The key recommendations, likely to become a firm guide for government action, are:-
• No more than 5% of flow shall be diverted at any time in any part of a river.
• The total extraction over 100 years from Amadeus Basin Aquifers shall be no more than 25% of the total aquifer storage.
• Public water extracted from the Amadeus Basin Aquifers will need to be capped at 10,731 ML/yr, which is the rate of demand expected to be reached in 2017.  We’re currently using almost 9000 ML/yr. This is four times the rate of “recharge” – the water that flows back into the aquifer after rains.
• Groundwater extraction licences and trade in water licences will need to be approved by the Controller of Water Resources or the Minister, in accordance with the declared Water Allocation Plan. 
• New applications will be considered depending on the economic and social benefits to the Northern Territory, consistent with existing environmental and cultural values. 
• Applications for new groundwater extraction licences or water trading licence entitlements shall be subject to review by the Alice Springs Water Advisory Committee. 
• Records of all licences and water trades will be contained in a publicly-accessible water register.
Mr Childs says amendments before Parliament, if implemented, will make water licensing more transparent.
Applications will be advertised, and there will be opportunities for public comment.
The Controller of Water Resources will make a decision with a 60 day target, including the advertising period. 
A review of the Strategy is scheduled to take place every five years. 
Current public consumption is 8881 ML/yr, all from Roe Creek.
The Rocky Hill bore field, with water not as pure as that pumped from Mereenie-Roe Creek, is currently serving the Hayes’ 40 hectare vineyard on the Santa Teresa Road.
One hectare of vineyard uses 10 ML/yr.
The new Strategy provides for 3600 ML/yr for horticulture plus about 1800 ML/yr from the sewage reuse scheme now nearing completion.
The Murray-Darling horticulture industry used 10,000,000 ML/yr, or about 1000 times the Alice Springs consumption.

Stop the shires: Anger growing. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Efforts to reform local government should be suspended until the public can get details of the functions and, especially, the funding of the proposed nine shires.
This is the view of Roy Chisholm, president of the NT Cattlemen’s Association (NTCA).
“We don’t understand what the NT Government is doing,” he says.
“The business side just doesn’t add up.
“Two per cent of the people – the cattle, mining and horticulture industries  – will be funding 98% of the land mass.
“Most of the current 63 councils are defunct or insolvent, so something needs to be done.
“But this isn’t it.”
Mr Chisholm says the Federal Government has made it clear that an expanded local government in the NT would not automatically lead to more funding from Canberra, which means existing councils, including Alice Springs, may be worse off.
Each of the proposed nine shires will have 12 wards, each represented by a democratically elected councillor.
Because the overwhelming majority, outside the major population centers, are Aboriginal people, most if not all the councillors in the rural shires are likely to be black.
That means the people certain to be paying rates – miners, pastoralists and horticulturalists, mostly not Aboriginal – are likely to have little or no representation.
Mr Chisholm says there is apparently a plan for residents of Aboriginal communities to pay rates as well, but it is not clear how this will be done.
There is no private ownership of rateable land in roughly half of the NT held under Aboriginal land rights.
The NTCA has criticized the local government reform process almost from the beginning.
It was soon joined by the Chamber of Commerce and the Trucking Association, and now some 20 organizations are urging the NT Government to start again from scratch.
These include the Northern Land Council, Small Business Association, Minerals Council and Construction Association.
The Darwin and Alice Springs councils have now also weighed in, fearing massive funding cuts.
Matt Conlan, Shadow Minister for Local Government, says Local Government Minister Elliot McAdam is in “cloud cuckoo land” and has “switched off from the debate”.
More that one year after the government first raised the issue, it is stubbornly sticking to its time line which provides “Dec 07 - shire plans completed” followed by “July 08 - new shires established” and “Nov 08 - new shires elections”.
This blithely ignores that “June / July 07 - community consultation” resulted in wide scale condemnation of the process.
What the public is getting amounts to little more than inconclusive babble on the government website, claiming the process is all about “good governance and leadership; community participation and engagement; better local services; stronger local government voice; back to basics and move forward; planning for the future; building stronger communities”.
And while the hype promises the new structures will be “accountable and transparent” the government running the process is anything but.
“Why are you rushing with local government reform?” the NTCA recently asked Chief Minster Clare Martin, without getting an answer.
“We all support the need for improvements to local government.
“But we donʼt support the current time frame or the proposed model.
“People want information on how it will impact them – and theyʼre not getting it.”
The association asked what rates will have to be paid and what services will be provided?
Says the letter to Ms Martin: “Minister McAdam says thatʼs a matter for the new shires to decide.
“So the new shires want to know what their budgets will be and what funding is available.
“How will you ensure adequate representation of all groups in a shire the size of Victoria with many different Aboriginal language groups, pastoralists, mining companies and tourist operators?
“Where will the government find nine new managers, on top of the Federal Governmentʼs 60 [engaged in the current intervention]?
“Shires will be responsible for maintenance of roads – what if they canʼt manage or spend supposed roads money on other things?
“The rates burden will fall on rural blocks, pastoralists, miners, quarries, horticulturalists, the backbone of the regional economies – will they have to sack staff to pay their rates?
“What if people canʼt afford their rates at Howards Springs, Humpty Doo or Dundee – owning a large parcel of land doesnʼt make you rich,” says the letter.
“Minister McAdam says other models of reform were considered and rejected.
“Why canʼt we see these models?
“Are you just duplicating what the Federal Government is doing now [in the intervention]?
“Minister Delia Lawrie said recently: ‘Do not impose something on a people without at least giving them a chance to have their say in whether or not they want it.’
“So why is your Government rushing local government reform when it hasnʼt got all the answers?
“We are tired of meetings with no outcomes.
“Minister Elliot McAdam says people have been consulted.
“But consultation means listening, not telling people what will happen without answering their questions.
“That’s why people are angry about legislation being rammed through Parliament.
“Please slow down and get this reform right.”
Present proposals would give the Territory Minister for Local Government extraordinary powers.
These would give him or her total control over new shires and, presumably, also over existing councils which are proposed to be incorporated into the new structure.
If a Bill now before the Assembly becomes law, “the Minister may make any order [...] the Minister considers necessary or desirable to facilitate re-structuring of the system of local government in the Territory”.
He will be able to:-
• abolish a council;
• create a new council;
• amalgamate two or more councils into a single council or divide a council into two or more councils;
• amalgamate, or divide council areas or make any other alteration to the boundaries of a council area;
• alter the number of members of a council or the number of members to be elected for a ward;
• suspend all members of a council, or terminate their terms of office;
• cancel, defer or suspend an election or exclude a council from the ambit of a general election;
• appoint a person to a vacancy in the membership of a council;
• assign a person to an office or position in the employment of a council or a prospective council;
• make any apportionment or adjustment between councils or a council and a prospective council of property;  income or expenditure; or rights and liabilities.
Says Alice mayor Fran Kilgariff: “The changes mean Ministerial power and control will increase over both municipalities and the newly formed shires.
“When we looked into the changes, it appears that they have been made purely in an effort to regulate the newly formed shires.”
The advisory board is chaired by Aboriginal activist Pat Dodson whose expertise in matters of local government is not apparent.
The Southern Advisory Board has eight members.
Six of them represent small Aboriginal communities. 
Two people represent the two major towns in the region, Mayor Fran Kilgariff for the Alice Springs Town Council and Randall Gould for the Tennant Creek Town Council.
We asked the Department of Local Government for comment. A spokeswoman said it would be supplied in time for next week’s edition.

Alice to lose more of its past? By KIERAN FINNANE.

The Heritage Advisory Council has declined to accept the nomination for heritage listing of the Pitchi Richi Sanctuary – Alice Springs’ first man-made tourist attraction – and won’t say why.
The sanctuary lies on a magnificent 12 acre site just south of The Gap, bounded by Todd River and Palm Circuit.
Founded as a bird sanctuary by Leo Corbet, an early Central Australian environmentalist, it also houses geological specimens, pioneer artifacts collected and interpreted by Corbet, and a treasure trove of work by the Victorian sculptor William Ricketts.
In the early 1960s it became one of the top four “must see” tourist attractions in Alice Springs.
Ricketts made frequent trips to Central Australia between 1949 and 1960. Here he sought contact with Pitjantjatjara and Arrernte peoples, whose traditions were a major inspiration for his life’s work.
Parks Victoria, which manages the William Ricketts Sanctuary in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne, describes this contact as “transforming” for Ricketts and indeed several of the sculptures at Pitchi Richi evoke this experience.
Ricketts’s major works are housed in the Victorian sanctuary, and a number of smaller works are held in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.
Pitchi Richi also has a connection with Centralian identity Charles Henry “Pop” Chapman, early gold-miner at The Granites and founder of the Centralian Advocate. The two-storey house he built on the site, before Leo Corbet  bought the lease, is still standing. 
When Corbet died in 1971 his will stipulated that his wife Elsa could live at the sanctuary for as long as she wished. On her departure, the lease (in fact five special purpose leases due to expire in 2027) would be gifted to the Santa Teresa Mission.
Over the years Mrs Corbet and a number of lessees continued to run the sanctuary as a tourist operation, though it is some six years now since it has been open on a regular basis.
Its maintenance has been a labour of love for Mrs Corbet – “seven days a week, almost 24 hours a day!”
She has done everything from keeping the block clear of buffel grass (sometimes aided by prisoners and community groups) to cleaning and maintaining the sculptures and rendering her husband’s interpretive notes on signs around the sanctuary in her fine calligraphic hand.
At 81, this has all now become too much and she has decided to retire to a cottage at Old Timers.
Three years ago, seeing this day coming, she nominated the sanctuary for heritage listing.
She says she is “very disturbed” that the nomination has been rejected.
“Leo’s desire was for this place to belong to ‘the people’. There used to be a stone at the gate on which he’d written, ‘For the people’.”
Domenico Pecorari, architect and president of Heritage Alice Springs, is appalled: “If a place like Pitchi Richi, with such obvious heritage values, can’t get up, there is something wrong with the system.
“I understand an extensive body of information on the importance of the place was put together by the heritage services of the Minister’s own department, but it appears to have been disregarded.”
Mr Pecorari compares Leo Corbet to Olive Pink, though he was “more of a quiet achiever”.
“He recognized the natural beauty of the Central Australian landscape, which he believed should be saved.”
To prevent quarrying at Heavitree Gap, Corbet pegged out a mining lease there: “It was the only way he could see to stop the damage – he was a bit of a stirrer in his time,” says Mr Pecorari.
He says there is absolutely no doubt about Ricketts’s connection with Central Australia.
“The Strehlow Research Centre has records of his correspondence with T. G. H. Strehlow. In one letter he talks about bringing up half a hundredweight of clay. We believe he sculpted some of his Aboriginal heads directly from the model – people at Charles Creek camp and out at Hermannsburg, and he may have fired some pieces at Hermannsburg.
“His sculpture is increasingly sought after but it appears to be totally undervalued by the Heritage Advisory Council.
“Here we have a fine collection of some 20 pieces. As far as I know there is no larger collection anywhere other than in the Dandenong Ranges sanctuary.”
What about moving the sculptures to another site?
“The sculptures would be out of their context. That would be as stupid as moving all the historical buildings in Alice Springs out to the Old Telegraph Station.”
Mr Pecorari says the sanctuary takes up one third of the 12 acre site and from Heritage Alice Springs’s point of view it would be acceptable to preserve only that third, allowing for other uses on the remainder.
A letter-writing campaign is underway to Heritage Minister Delia Lawrie, asking that she instruct the HAC to reconsider the nomination and to re-asses all of the available information.
Heritage Alice Springs together with Mrs Corbet are also opening the sanctuary next Saturday evening, 5-7pm, for locals to see for themselves or be reminded of its unique beauty and significance.
To the Alice Springs News’s enquiry about why the nomination for heritage listing had been rejected, chairman of the Heritage Advisory Council, Brian Reid, said that it “did not meet the criteria”.
The council “had before it a detailed technical report, an extensive site visit was made and a long discussion was held with the owner while visiting the sanctuary”, said Dr Reid.
“The council felt that heritage listing may not be the only solution to the owner’s concerns and it asked Heritage Services staff if they would work with the owner to identify other possible options.”
Dr Reid did not respond to further requests for an explanation of just how Pitchi Richi failed to meet the council’s criteria.

Giles as the can do candidate. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The CLP’s Adam Giles is campaigning for Lingiari with confidence and optimism rare in the hard-boiled and cynical game of politics.
The first time candidate is up against the seasoned campaigner Warren Snowdon, who’s represented the Territory off and on for 20 years.
Mr Giles is now getting preferences from an unexpected quarter, independent Maurrie Ryan, the deputy chairman of the Central Land Council, with which Mr Snowdon has close links.
Why does Mr Giles think Mr Ryan is swapping preferences with him?
“We both agree there hasn’t been representation of the people.
“It’s been representation of vested interest,” says Mr Giles.
With 1,347,849 square kilometers Lingiari is the nation’s second-biggest Federal electorate, about three times the size of France.
What Mr Snowdon has failed to achieve in his long political career is Mr Giles’ campaign ammunition and ambition: sound health, education, personal safety, employment, home ownership, business opportunities, economic development.
And with the $1.3 billion intervention now in full swing he’s putting the government’s money where his mouth is.
Mr Giles, like Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough whom he admires, doesn’t muck round.
“If the NT Government abrogates its job creation responsibilities, if I’m elected I’ll take them on,”says Mr Giles.
Hours after the Alice News last week broke the story that the store in the model community of Wallace Rockhole may close, in part because of tedious requirements from the intervention taskforce, Mr Giles was on the phone to Canberra.
It turned out that several stores don’t have the scanning equipment which facilitates the mandatory logging of items bought by people who shop with quarantined welfare money.  
A day later Mr Giles reported that the intervention force will be visiting Wallace Rockhole to set up a solution for their store that will enable them to meet any accounting requirements. 
That’s a breath of fresh air for people used to moribund bureaucracies incapable of identifying problems, let alone fixing them.
Mr Giles, 34, and his family have been in Alice Springs for three years. He resigned his senior position with a federal Government department in order to contest the election.
He is married to Tamara, 33, a former print and television journalist, whose career includes a one year stint recently with Imparja.
They have a daughter, Tahlia, 11.
Mrs Giles now works with one of the four private job agencies in Alice Springs, spending much time in bush communities, consulting job seekers in the brave new world of Mr Brough.
Mr Giles spoke with Alice News editor ERWIN CHLANDA.
NEWS: If you are elected and John Howard stays Prime Minister, would the intervention be modified?
GILES: There are nuances that might have to change. We’ll be reviewing the alcohol legislation in six months, to see if we’ve stopped the rivers of grog. There are things that will be continually looked at and we’ll make the modifications as necessary, like the point of sale problem out at Wallace Rockhole.
Changes will be made as needed, with the objective to make sure we get kids going to school, stop the grog going out there, develop economies and get people into work.
NEWS: There are complaints that responsible people, too, are having half their dole quarantined. Will that be reviewed soon or will it stay in place for six months?
GILES: Our objective is not to penalise people. They still get their full entitlement. Our objective is to reduce the amount of spare cash that goes to alcohol, gambling and drugs. Aboriginal women have been calling on the Government to do this so they can feed and clothe the kids. Centrelink sits down with every individual and assesses their needs.
NEWS: What is your take on the response by the communities to the intervention?
GILES: “We’ve got to keep it going, don’t worry Adam, we’ve got to keep it going.” That’s what I hear everywhere. “Our kids are going to school and they are all healthy.” That’s what I hear.
NEWS: Is it mainly women who are saying that or men as well?
GILES: There is a difference, but not all the time. Some of the men are less likely to speak out. That could be for cultural reasons, or other things.
I have found men who were told that we wanted to take their land for uranium. That is just a lie.
We’re bringing in the five year town leases only over areas of infrastructure. It’s not about ceremonial grounds, or cemeteries. It’s five years to build houses and roads.
The purpose of the leases is to get past the red tape and bureaucracy. In Yuendumu it’s taken three years to build eight houses. At the end of the five years we give the towns back – and till then we pay rent for them.
NEWS: What about CDEP?
GILES: The feedback I have from Papunya, for example, is that it should have been abolished 30 years ago. It’s about time, that’s what they are saying. If Labor brings back CDEP, as they say they will, they won’t be able to quarantine income because CDEP is a wage. They’ll bring back permits.
Hermannsburg never had permits, ever. It would get them under Labor. Let’s see if Kevin Rudd can stand up to the rest of his party.
NEWS: What can you do about a winding back of the intervention if you get in but Mr Howard doesn’t?
GILES: [A Labor government] could not bring back permits without legislation. Parliament doesn’t sit until February. The changes in town leases and permits will occur before Parliament sits again.
They would need to pass legislation through the Senate.
For Labor to say we’ll stop things the day we get in is a lie – they can’t.
We thoroughly believe this change has to happen. We’re not going to just roll over.
At the end of the day this is about giving the children a future. Do the left ideologues from the latte sipping quarter of the Labor Party think we should get back to the way things were? More of the same equals more of the same.
NEWS: What would happen to the intervention if Labor gets in, in Australia and in Lingiari?
GILES: Armageddon. We’ve had 20 years of the current Member. Another three years will not send the Territory forward.
Labor is divided over what to do with the intervention.
Alison Anderson is standing up for her constituents and supporting the intervention, reflecting what people I see would say to me. It’s the same message.
You’ll find there are other Labor Members starting to say the same thing. You’ve got Syd Stirling and Paul Henderson arguing to keep CDEP.
You’ve got Clare Martin backing some of the intervention but wants to keep the permit system, bring the alcohol back and save CDEP. Marion Scrymgour attacked almost every aspect of the intervention after having her speech vetted by Clare Martin.
NEWS: What about the 100 activists in the National Aboriginal Alliance?
GILES: I don’t think they are adequately representing the people on the ground.
A lot of people say things they think people want to hear, or they have self-interest, or there will be peer pressure to say things. That could be the case for black or white, not just Aboriginal people.
But when you talk to Auntie Maisy sitting under a tree, and she says, let’s pick this up, you’re speaking to the people who count.  
“I want a toilet that works in my house, I’ve got no pipes coming out from my cistern.” Those are the people you have to consult with.
Those are the people Alison is talking about.
I’ve been criticized for my sign, “No more sitdown money”.  
For many a long time people have told me they don’t want any more sitdown money. They want proper jobs.
It was this message from the people on the ground and the resulting outcomes that sitdown money brings that brought me to the decision that sitdown money was one of the roots of evil.
For years the system has held people back. What have we done in the past 16 years? We said to them, “Here is your dole money. Don’t do anything”. 

Mr Giles is responding to statements about a reformed CDEP under Labor made by sitting MHR Warren Snowdon in last week’s Alice Springs News.
SNOWDON: Providing training such as literacy and numeracy through the program.
GILES: Literacy and numeracy training is already available as part of the Intervention and mainstream employment support. Eligible Work for the Dole participants can immediately access $800 training credit which can be used for literacy and numeracy training.
SNOWDON: Improving on-the-job training opportunities in industries such as the mining, tourism, forestry, arts, horticulture and pastoral industries.
GILES: Real job opportunities and training are already provided through the Structured Training and Employment Projects (STEP). There are 40 STEP projects currently underway in the Northern Territory helping Indigenous Australians move into jobs in dental health, horticulture, tourism, construction, parks and wildlife, livestock and the aquaculture industries.
SNOWDON: Incubating enterprises through subsidised wages and equipment.
GILES: The Australian Government through Indigenous Business Australia and other agencies offer a range of enterprise development and support assistance for community groups and companies to develop their own businesses.
Organizations and individuals can apply for assistance through the Indigenous Small Business Fund which assists with feasibility studies, business planning and marketing. Santa Teresa art centre recently completed a business plan funded through ISBF.
The Indigenous Capital Assistance Scheme provides flexible assistance packages including professional support, ongoing mentoring and business development loans. IBA is currently visiting communities in the NT to discuss business opportunities.
CDEP organisations who were making headway are being supported to move into a non-welfare subsidised, sustainable business with support from Indigenous Business Australia. They also have been invited to become STEP providers.
SNOWDON: Invest to train and employ 300 Indigenous rangers.
GILES: The Australian Government has supported land and sea rangers to do excellent work and this commitment will continue. $47.3m has been allocated over four years to the Working On Country program.
This will create 190 full-time equivalent ranger positions over this timeframe. In the Northern Territory, the $90m jobs package will create jobs for a further 290 ranger and land management positions.  
This means that the Coalition is providing 480 fully paid ranger positions from CDEP jobs. These ranger jobs will assist to protect and rehabilitate the environment. 
Labor’s pledge for 300 Rangers is Australia wide so what they are really saying is they will not invest as much in the Territory to secure real jobs but will instead divert the money to welfare dollars.

Intervention ‘investigating options’ to help Wallace Rockhole shoppers. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The intervention taskforce is “investigating options” to improve food shopping for Wallace Rockhole residents but it remains unclear whether assistance will kick in by next Monday when the store at the community is due to close.
The Alice News reported last week that the store, run as a privately owned small business by long-time resident Ken Porter (a former CEO of the community council), is to close, in part because Mr Porter finds the requirements for handling quarantined money too onerous for a business its size.
Mr Porter gave a month’s notice of the closure on October 12, but there is no firm food shopping solution in sight for residents who don’t have cars.
A taskforce spokesperson says options being investigated “where a store closes or reduces its services” and  “where there is no store in or close to a community”  include providing transport to other communities or nearby large townships; providing an order and delivery service; developing a mobile service; and working with the relevant community council to determine if a viable store can be opened or re-opened.
The spokesperson says it is the Federal Government’s intention, through the intervention, to improve “the availability, quality and range of food in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory”.
She says each Wallace resident required to participate in income management will meet with an officer of Centrelink to discuss where they propose doing their food shopping after the store closes. 
“It is expected that most people will nominate stores in Alice Springs, but some will also nominate one of the stores in Hermannsburg. 
“A number of people in the community already do their food shopping in Alice Springs, as the Wallace Rockhole store is currently open for only a short period each day and has a limited range of goods for sale.”
The Alice News also asked the taskforce to comment on the requirements for handling quarantined money, as reported by Mr Porter.
He described the regime as “a paperwork nightmare”, suggesting that he would have had to supply an itemized and signed receipt for every transaction, the receipts would have had to be filed and a reconciliation done for each customer at the end of the month.
He said any unspent money, from the credits allowed to each customer, would have to be returned to Centrelink, on a monthly basis.
Says the taskforce spokesperson: “It is believed that the additional work associated with meeting the income management requirements would have been relatively small. 
“For example, there are no mandatory equipment or receipting requirements for any store to participate in the income management regime.
“However, a record must be kept of each income management transaction made by a customer so that a customer knows how much of their income management funds they have left to spend.”
This record must indeed be signed and a monthly reconciliation provided.
Says the spokesperson: “Stores can satisfy these requirements through a simple daily running sheet (where customers sign against items purchased), however we’ve found many stores already have more sophisticated systems in place to record purchases, such as scanners.  
“This is about protecting both the store and customer should a dispute arise and we’ve received positive feedback from stores about this requirement.
“It is not correct that any unspent funds must be returned to Centrelink every month.  
“Centrelink will request stores to return unspent funds only at the request of the customer  – for example, if the customer has moved away from the community and has requested to have access to their income managed funds at another store – or if a customer passes away.”
Wallace Rockhole is one of the communities in the second round of income management rollouts.
One of the pre-conditions of income management was said to be the presence of a licensed store.
The Alice News asked whether income management would roll out in Wallace before the presence of a licensed store or other options to assist with food shopping.
The News also asked why the intervention is going into Wallace, given that its population is under 100 (the cut-off point in most cases) and it has a good reputation for law and order.
As well the News asked why the reporting system for community councils’ handling of quarantined money for the purchase of power cards, fuel and household gas is less onerous than for stores, if this is indeed the case.
The spokesperson was “not in a position to provide further responses at this stage”.

Five cartons that did not make it.

Police action prevented five cartons of beer reaching Titjikala on October 24.
A mini-bus driver heading towards Titjikala on the South Road with a carload of passengers and several cartons of beer was pulled over for a random breath test at about 3.30pm.
According to police the driver said he was going to Titjikala, and his eight passengers confirmed that that was there destination.
Police noticed six 30-pack cartons of VB in the vehicle, one of which had been almost completely consumed.
Police say the passengers changed their story when they were told their grog would be confiscated, saying they were going to the “border”, which is just 150 metres from the community.
Under the Commonwealth’s NT Emergency Response Act, the legislation broadly covering the Intervention, Section 12 (4) relates to Prescribed Areas and allows police to confiscate grog and to prosecute offenders if they have reason to believe the alcohol is destined for a prescribed area.
In this case police say all on board admitted they were going to Titjikala.
The mini-bus driver was issued a Traffic Infringement Notice under the Commercial Passenger (Road) Transport Act, fining him $50 for allowing paying passengers to consume alcohol in the vehicle.
The five cartons are now in the police property office as confiscated property, while the rest of the sixth carton was tipped out and cans taken away.
Patrolling outback roads to stop people sneaking grog into dry communities has always been part and parcel of bush policing, says a police spokesperson.
It is not particularly related to the Federal Government’s total ban on alcohol in Aboriginal communities.

Sanderson to run Art at the Heart.

Well-known and respected local arts leader, Kieren Sanderson, has taken the helm of Regional Arts Australia’s national conference art at the heart, the President of Regional Arts Australia, Suzie Haslehurst, has announced.
“This is a giant task, because the conference keeps growing and growing - in 2006 in Mackay there were 800 delegates and it is likely this event, to be held in Alice Springs next October, will be as big or even bigger,” Ms Haslehurst says.
It is expected to attract delegates from around Australia and the world for its three day program.

Where is NTG money for ‘real jobs’?

The Federal Government has come good with money for “real jobs” replacing CDEP positions in Aputula (Finke), but Territory Government dollars for wages to provide local government services, formerly funded out of CDEP, are slow to arrive.
Of the 28 CDEP participants in Aputula on September 7, the date for “rollover”, 17 now have “real jobs”, all federally funded.
These jobs include providing the nutrition program for school children, long day care, and meals on wheels.
As it happens most of the people doing theses jobs are women.
Council CEO Neville Mitchell credits Prime Minister John Howard or Minister for Indigenous Affairs Mal Brough with the flow of funds at the eleventh hour.
He says it was only on Wednesday, September 5, two days before the rollover, that he “started to see some light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the so-called ‘real jobs’ referred to by the Prime Minister”.
“Prior to that  there were assurances from DEWR [Department of Employment and Workplace Relations] that there would be jobs but there was no confirmation by the relevant departments. It was unknown territory.”
Of the remaining CDEP participants, Mr Mitchell says three or four who were not doing “important jobs in terms of service delivery” have gone onto Work for the Dole.
The others are on “transitional” payments until June 30 next year, payments supposed to ensure that recipients will not be worse off in the immediate term as a result of the changes.
Most of these people are men and were fulfilling local government-type functions, such as rubbish collection and roads maintenance, says Mr Mitchell, but there’s been no provision for their wages by the Territory Government.
Mr Mitchell says he’s written to the Department of Local Government about the problem: “Nothing has happened so far except assurances by phone that the matter of funding for wages and operational expenses was under consideration.”
He says he’s been told that any jobs would have to be paid for out of existing operational funds.
But these funds are “fully accounted for”.
Mr Mitchell says the Territory contribution to his $2m budget is some $300,000. Until September 7 the rest came from CDEP and other Federal Government sources.
He says part of the rationale for the Territory’s local government reform is supposed to be the creation of more jobs on communities: “That is a good thing so you would think they’d be keen to backup the rhetoric with demonstrated action at this time.”
The Alice News contacted the Department of Local Government for comment but a response was not to hand at the time of going to press.

Nov 24: The teens decide. By DARCY DAVIS.

What do teenagers have to say about the issues of the 2007 federal election campaign? Are they interested in all this political talk?
It proved difficult to find kids who knew enough to talk with me.
But Chris Moyses, 17, jumped in: “I think the government at the moment is doing pretty well – especially with the economy.
“I don’t like ‘Dirty Rudd’ much, he’s a bit smug. I think he thinks he’s got the election in the bag.”
Jack Talbot has turned 18 this year so he’ll be voting for the first time.
“At this early stage in the campaign, I’m leaning towards Kevin Rudd, or Warren in Alice,” he said.
Tara Smith, 17, likes John Howard – “’cos everything he’s done now seems fine”.
“Is he the one who’s got the IR laws?” she asked. “ They seem to be alright.”
But Ruby Fisher, 17, thinks Howard’s getting too old to be PM.
“We need someone new,” she said.  “I like Kevin Rudd. I heard his announcement about help for younger people buying houses this morning – that’s a good idea, and I like what he plans to do about the environment.”
Liam Hammond, 17, prefers Liberal policies: “But I, like most people, am just so sick of the same people in power, so I want a change.
“Not really because I like Labor’s policies, just ‘cos a change of government is good in itself”.
Lee Wong, 17, said he was “currently unavailable for comment at the moment”.
It’s all up in the air for Danilla Rainow, 23: “Left wing, right wing, it’s still the same aeroplane.”
When it came to the local seat of Lingiari, candidate Warren Snowdon was popular with the teenagers I spoke to.
“Snowdon’s been doing a good job for many years so I think he should stay on,” said Chris, despite preferring Howard as the country’s Prime Minister.
“I like Warren Snowdon – he’s older than [Adam] Giles and he’s got more experience and knows how Alice works, so he’ll be able to help us out,” said Tara, although she favours a Liberal victory.
It was interesting to note that these teens who liked John Howard didn’t support the local CLP candidate.
So what do teenagers see as the most important issue in the election?
“I think the economy isn’t much of a concern at the moment, so we don’t need to worry about that,” said Chris.
“I reckon we should probably have a look at climate change, but it looks like both parties are having a look at that.”
“Climate change and all that war business are the most important issues,” said Tara. “We need to pull troops out of Iraq and need to take more interest in climate change ‘cos it’s going to affect us when we’re older.”
It’s got me beat why this girl likes Howard!
“The economy is a real issue for me,” said Liam. “We need to make sure that in five or 10 years time, we can have it as good as we’ve got it now.”
“The approach that Labor has taken on the issues of health and education is what has swayed my opinion,” explained Jack.
“I haven’t liked the lack of emphasis that the Coalition has placed on these areas.
“I think the health system is appalling and I disagree with students having to pay huge HECS debts just to extend their education and that’s not something I’m looking forward to as a probable future uni student.”
Do kids talk to their family much about the election and Australian politics and are they influenced by their opinion?
“Not that much, a little bit,” said Declan Furber Gillick, 17.
“I don’t know what my family reckon,” said Tara. “I think they’re keen on the one who’s giving all the money to the old people, ‘cos they’ll be old soon too.”
“My family are all left wing Labor supporters,” said Liam.
“I’m a member of the Labor Party, but I’m happy to admit that a lot of the changes that John Howard has made during his time in power needed to be made.”
So who do kids think will win the election?
“I’m not sure who’ll win,” said Liam. “I’d have to say that it’s definite that Labor will win the popular vote, but whether they can win 16 seats is questionable.”
“Looking at the polls, it doesn’t look like Howard will win,” said Chris. “But he might pull a rabbit out of the hat soon.”
“I think people want a change,” said Declan, “so there’s a good chance Labor could win.”
Overall, the majority of young people whose opinions I canvassed were fairly apathetic or had generalized views. Sweeping statements like “Howard’s a dickhead” or “Rudd’s a fag” were not uncommon.
Parents weren’t discussing political issues among themselves nor with their teenage children, according to many.
Those with families who discussed issues did seemed better informed and had stronger political opinions.
Was my sample group representative of the political opinions of teenagers in Central Australia? If you’re a first time or soon to be voter, drop me a line at the Alice Springs News and give me your take on the current political agenda.

Top End on top up.

Labor’s pledge to “support and develop Northern Australia” has  the bulk of the Northern Territory funding proposals, several in conjunction with the NT Government, favouring Darwin and the Top End.
Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon has welcomed his leader Kevin Rudd’s policy announcement on Northern Australia last Monday.
The contrasting fortunes of the Top End and The Centre under the policy is particularly marked in Labor’s “commitments” for the transport sector, with $109m specifically allocated to projects in the northern half of the Territory, including $10m for the Port Keats (Wadeye) road, $15m for the central Arnhem Road, $7m for the Buntine Highway and $3m for a bridge at Borroloola.
A whopping $74m – well more than a third of the $175m in total for the NT, and about two-thirds of the total for the Top End – will be spent on a “full upgrade of Tiger Brennan Drive” in Darwin.
Road funding specifically for Central Australia includes $8m for the Plenty Highway, $6m for the Tanami Road, and $2m to upgrade the Maryvale Road and Hughes Stock Route – a grand total of $16m.
A further $50m to be spent over four years will be invested in “community, beef and mining roads in the Northern Territory”.
The disparity between north and south in the Territory is evident in all other categories for funding announcements by Labor. For example, under the “Better Regions” program $3m will be spent on the Hidden Valley International Dragstrip in Darwin while $500,000 is allocated for the Red Centre Way “to attract more international tourists to the Centre”.
Labor’s commitments for “Infrastructure and the environment” and “Defence and defence families” are exclusively aimed to appeal to Top End voters (where relevant to the Northern Territory).
This also applies to “Community safety” in which Labor has pledged $2.25m for a “Safer Suburbs Strategy targeting violence, including gang activity, theft, graffiti and arson in the suburbs of Darwin and Palmerston, and other areas”. There is no specific mention of Alice Springs or other regional towns in the NT that are afflicted by anti-social issues (or, for that matter, for similar places in either Queensland or Western Australia).
A number of initiatives focussing on health, education and childcare, and indigenous health and economic development apply generally to northern Australia as a whole.
These proposals will be receiving substantial allocations of funding, some examples being: about $550m over the next decade for establishing Trades Training Centres “in all of northern Australia’s 367 high schools”; $10m for remote health clinics across the NT; and a total of $261.4m over four years (the Commonwealth’s contribution being $186.4m) on a range of programs intended to “close the indigenous infant mortality gap”.

ADAM CONNELLY: Grumpy old men need love too.

The year is 2050 and I’m looking upon my winter years with some relish.
I’ve nailed being an old bloke and loved every minute. But for some reason on this day my grumpy old man demeanor takes a rest.
A couple of teenage kids from the neighborhood have sat themselves in front of my rocking chair on the front porch. They bask in the wisdom of an old man who has seen and heard and done. Either that or their parents have told them they’re not allowed home for a couple of hours. 
I look upon their faces with perfect vision (laser therapy is now on the PBS you see). I see faces full of inquisitive wonder.
“So, Mr Connelly,” they say. Kids in 2050 have relearned manners when it comes to their elders. “What was it like living in Alice Springs at the beginning of the century?”
“Ooh,” I say, stroking my long grey beard, “you won’t believe how different the place was back then. Well for starters, I moved into town when they still served alcohol in pubs and bottle shops.”
A look of amazement spreads across the faces in front of me.
“You mean you could just walk into a shop and buy beer?”
Their faces showed all the signs of believing they’d been born 50 years too late.
“That was before the great Territory intervention. We didn’t even have to show identification until 2007. The booze banks didn’t start popping up until 2020.”
Their eyes narrow as though I’d spoken out of school.
“No, look the intervention had some good things going for it. Finally there was some money for health and education. Before that kids in communities didn’t go to school and they got sick a lot.
“It took a while but money came in to clinics and schools and things have become a lot better than they were back then.
“Of course just like now, people in Canberra didn’t understand that you can’t fix your neighbour’s car if they don’t want you to fix it.”
I realise that I may have sounded like Yoda for a moment, but hey, it’s 2050, these kids haven’t got a clue about Yoda.
“But I guess the biggest difference is that this town used to play a lot of football.”
The children gasp once again.
“That’s right, footy was a great way for people to get to know each other. I even played football and I wasn’t very good at it but you got to know a group of guys that you might not otherwise know.
“It really brought the community together. Of course that was before the great riots of 2010 when all those people were killed and they burned down half the town.
“After that the government decided to ban football. It’s a shame some people can’t have fun without hitting someone. But on the upside we have some very fine male Netballers from Alice Springs now.”
A sheepish look breaks across the face of the 11 year old in the GK bib.
“But mostly Alice Springs was a fun town, mainly full of good people. The Territory wasn’t a state yet and it had a sense of mystery about it.
You could go out at night with friends and not know exactly what was going to happen. It was quirky.
“Before we became a republic we had a Chief Administrator called Ted Egan. He was best known outside the Territory for a song about how good we were at drinking alcohol. Strangely though he was probably the most respected statesman the Territory has ever produced.”
A strange restlessness comes over the young ones at my feet. One whispered to another.
“What seems to be the problem?” I ask, slightly confused.
“Listen, Mister,” snaps back one of the more churlish in the group. “All we wanted to do was find out about the way things were back then … if we wanted to hear fantasy stories we’d go to the library.”

LETTERS: Camps part of Alice, says Fran.

Sir,- I am writing to you in regard to several errors in an article written about the town council’s can recycling program printed in the Centralian Advocate on Friday 2 November.
Firstly, the article incorrectly quoted me as saying “we don’t want to see cans from the town camps”, and I would like to make it clear to the Alice Springs community that at no point did I suggest or say anything along these lines.
I did clarify to the journalist that the can recycling program was implemented for the community of Alice Springs, and we would not be promoting it to the outlying regions and communities. At no point did I mention town camps, or suggest they were being excluded.
As mayor of Alice Springs I feel the town camps are an inclusive part of our community. I would never suggest they should be excluded from a program such as this, that is in place for the benefit of our entire community.
Secondly, the article incorrectly quoted me as saying “one person bringing in 900 cans”. This figure was mentioned by me in the context of the number of cans two people had brought in, and I remind everyone that there is a 500 can limit per person which has not been exceeded.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff
Alice Springs

Sir,- I write to express my thoughts on a couple of media reports in the last week. First there was the report that a lobby group had formed in Tennant Creek to discuss the potential benefits of building a prison in the town, with a comment from a group spokesperson saying a prison might be what the town’s economy needs. Then we had the Alice Springs Chamber of Commerce saying that the Federal Intervention has brought a much needed short-term cash flow benefit to the town – with Alice Springs businesses enjoying an increase in economic activity as a result of the Commonwealth’s intervention.
Both of these issues concern me greatly. Where are we as a society when we see a prison as a good thing because it may bring economic advantages to a particular community? Where is our outrage that we even need another prison to house an increasing prison population? Why are we not asking questions - such as why do we need another prison and what are we doing as a whole of community response to reduce the alarming rates of imprisonment of Aboriginal Australians? (Aboriginal people now make up almost 90 per cent of the NT’s prison population, ABS Stats). We should be asking our government to set targets to reduce the rate of imprisonment – not to build another prison.
And for the Alice Springs business community to only be seeing the Federal Intervention from an economic perspective, without digging a bit deeper, is of great concern. Have they considered the plight of many Aboriginal people who see the intervention as trampling on their rights as people, as not engaging in meaningful consultation and partnership, and as taking away people’s independence? This approach is diminishing all of us.
Have the businesses of Alice Springs, who are apparently benefiting from the intervention, considered what is actually bringing the extra money into the local economy? It is not jobs for local people – it is money being paid in extraordinary amounts to people from interstate who are part of an ever increasing federal government bureaucracy. Will these people be spending their money in Alice Springs in a year’s time?
In addition the federal government is heralding its ‘Income Management’ of Centrelink payments on remote communities as the way forward – yet $88 million of the $700 million committed to the intervention to date is spent on the administration of the income management scheme. Is this how we want our taxes spent? Where are the real jobs for Aboriginal Australians as a result of the Federal Intervention?
Not surprisingly the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) has warned that imprisonment rates in the NT may get worse because of the Commonwealth intervention, with new laws providing a further trap for Aboriginal people.
We cannot remain silent. We need change. We need clear targets around education, employment, housing and health to reverse the scourge of imprisonment rates in the Northern Territory.
Jonathan Pilbrow
Alice Springs

Sir,- The Territory’s lucrative pastoral industry faces a dire future under Labor, judging from statements by ALP frontbencher Kerry O’Brien on an ABC program.
The alarm bells will be ringing throughout the Territory.
Senator O’Brien indicated the live sheep trade would be something Labor may shut down.
He said the live cattle industry – a huge earner for the Territory – was not on the agenda because some of the cattle didn’t go as far as the sheep but, given Peter Garrett’s ‘we’ll just change everything’ line, pastoralists have cause to be very concerned.
The live cattle trade would probably come to an end under Labor because the preference deal done between Labor and the Greens means that Labor would come under enormous pressure to close it down.
The Greens have indicated they want to close Darwin harbour to exports of ore from Territory mines, a real threat to jobs to start with - if the live sheep trade closed down, it wouldn’t be long before the radical fringe element in the Greens was applying the blowtorch to their Labor mates to stop cattle going out of the harbour as well.
The Greens are the people who get very vocal about exporting Territory products through Darwin harbour but stay totally silent while Territory Labor pumps a million litres of raw sewage into the same harbour every day and announce plans to site heavy industry on the foreshores.
The NT pastoral industry is already facing enough pressure from Labor due to Territory Labor’s ill-conceived and still secretive plans to amalgamate local governments.
It is clear that Labor plans to use primary producers and tourism ventures as the cash cow to support its undemocratic local government model.
It is clear is that the Territory just can’t risk Labor.
Adam Giles
CLP candidate for Lingiari

Sir,- Hello from sunny England!
I wonder if it would be possible to help me as I am looking for a long lost relative that I have only just discovered and I want to place an appeal in your excellent paper. I am trying to locate the son of Alfred Graham Gain, late of Wynnum, Queensland. I’m sorry but I don’t even know his name as yet. I can be contacted on +4407771551961.
My address is 237 Southbourne Gr, Westcliff-On-Sea, Essex UK SS00AN.
Many thanks.
Jacques Gain
Essex UK

Sir,- Older Australians have welcomed federal Labor’s pledge of $50 million towards implementing a system of interstate travel concessions for state government Seniors Card holders.
Currently Seniors Cards across the country are only recognized within their state of origin.
The proposed Labor arrangement, which comes after several years of intense lobbying, will allow seniors to use public transport between and within states at concessional rates
The existing arrangements are absurd and even a disincentive to interstate travel because, once seniors cross their state borders, they’re no longer entitled to the transport concessions they enjoy at home. Consequently they choose to either remain in their home states or travel overseas where their Seniors Cards are recognised.
In 2002, the federal government allocated $25.5 million towards reciprocal travel concessions for state Seniors Card-holders but withdrew the funding offer in 2005 - it’s believed the commonwealth and state governments had been unable to agree on how a national scheme would operate.
We are also calling for any new policy announcements dealing with aged care to include far more substantive measures to ensure seniors receive adequate care and support in their own homes.
It’s only natural that Australians want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, as even the best aged care facility is no substitute for the family home you might have lived in for 40 years or more. It also makes sense economically and medically - it’s cheaper and contributes to overall wellbeing.
As the population ages, Australia faces a crisis in aged care costs, and bed and staffing shortages. Government must develop practical measures to bring effective care to every person who needs assistance to remain in their own home.
It makes sense to provide them with the money and facilities for them to do just that. The alternative is going to be funding a huge increase in beds in aged care facilities, at enormous cost to the taxpayer.
Michael O’Neill CEO
National Seniors
Brisbane Qld

Sir,- I don’t really know why I read the Alice Springs News. After that proverbial bad day at the office, some guys get drunk, some go in for violent and totally unnecessary exercise, I just read the Alice Springs News.
Canadians pride themselves that absolutely nothing happens - well, outside the big cities where they periodically murder each other. The news is along the lines of “the government is thinking of doing something but might not – alternatively it might but it will take a very long time”.
Alice Springs seems to be that land where things actually happen, the land of every evolving adventure and even controversy. Plus people are ... well, so down right direct. I live in a country where the premier was told to stop calling the opposition leader a ‘weather vane’ because it is hurtful. For me, there’s no verbal dust up like an Alice Springs dust up. Well, I must close now as it might rain tomorrow and then, alternatively, it might not.
Hugh Phillips
Québec, Canada

Sir,-  Congratulations on your new website upgrade!
That’s really quite some changes there guys (and gals, or if you feel more comfortable - ladies and gentlemen).
And thank you for having the rogues’ gallery at the end.
I’ve not yet had time to read it, but the layout and content looks really good.
I for one appreciate you upgrading the website. I don’t want to say “much better than ...”, as it was pretty good before.
But it is good!
Noel Brettoner
Tauranga NZ
(formerly Alice Springs)

Sir,- I enjoy reading your paper and would one day like to visit Alice Springs - until then keep up the good work.
Ervin (Mitch) Mitchell
California USA

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