November 29, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Qantas boycott. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Alice Springs business people have announced they will boycott Qantas and Jetstar whenever possible, and are asking other people to do the same, because of the airlines’ refusal to provide Tiger Airways Australia with ground support.
The low cost carrier was due to start a service to Melbourne, three days a week, from December 1.
The business people, including Todd Mall trader Michael Hollow, are publishing an advertisement in this edition of the Alice News, and also circulating a petition around town.
Mr Hollow says 30 signatures were collected in just one hour.
The advertisement is saying in part: “For hundreds of our children and families, Christmas won’t be quite as merry now.
“Their plans of seeing their relatives, thousands of kilometers away, are dashed because you, Qantas, are charging six times as much as Tiger Airways would have.
“You have violated one of the Outback’s most important rules: people help one another.
“Whenever we can, in Australia and overseas, we will now avoid flying Qantas and Jetstar, and we will ask all our friends and families to do likewise.”
Tiger’s CEO Tony Davis says the airline has been negotiating with Qantas for several months and had felt certain Qantas would, for a commercial fee, provide the services required.
Tiger had a similar arrangement with Qantas in Darwin.
And Singapore Airlines, a shareholder in Tiger, is providing ground support for Qantas in Singapore.
Mr Davis says it is common around the world and in Australia for airlines to have “third party ground handling”, frequently provided by Qantas.
However, this is all John Borghetti, executive general manager of Qantas, which has a monopoly in Alice Springs, would say: “It is normal practice for any business to have all of its arrangements in place before it starts operating.
“Assisting competitors is not part of my job description.”
Tiger is refunding people who have bought a ticket and giving them a free ticket to the same value for next year.
Mr Davis says the tickets were sold subject to regulatory approval, and because Qantas would not provide a certified ground handler, the flights had to be cancelled.
The airline is now due to start on March 1: “Tiger Airways will not be forced to abandon this market or its customers in the Northern Territory,” says Mr Davis. 
“Tiger Airways is organizing for another ground handling company to be established in Alice Springs to break open this Qantas monopoly.”
Alice Springs airport manager Don McDonald says he and Tiger staff had made considerable efforts to get the airline operational next month.
Staff for front of house (check-in) and back of house (tarmac) had been found, and at least two sets of stairs had been located in town.
Luggage was to be transported between the plane and the terminal building in a ute.
However, no certified ground handler could be found, the person declaring the aircraft ready for departure.
Qantas declined providing ground support although Tiger had offered to fit in with the Qantas and Jetstar time tables.
Tiger would need ground staff in Alice Springs just nine hours a week, on the schedules proposed for the initial operation.

Half a million dollars, 2 days. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Close to half a million dollars changed hands at the Papunya Tula Artists’ gallery in Todd Mall on the weekend, though the annual celebration of western desert creativity – the Pintupi Show  – was tinged with sadness this year, as the family, the company and admirers remembered the legacy of M. Tjampitjinpa.
The artist, in his mid-forties, passed away suddenly earlier this year.
He was the youngest son of Uta Uta Tjangala, a renowned artist and founding shareholder of Papunya Tula, and his widow Walangkura Napanangka, also an acclaimed artist.
Tjampitjinpa began painting in the 1990s, but only got going seriously in that last five or so years.
“We started to get excited about what he was doing  in 2002, 2003,” says Papunya Tula manager Paul Sweeney.
This flourishing coincided with the return of his mother to Kintore, from Tjukula, some 100 kms to the south. She quickly became “a pretty permanent fixture” at the art centre, participating in seven shows for Papunya Tula in 2003.
There are a number of works by her in the current show. By 2004 Tjampitjinpa was “on fire”, contributing to nine Papunya Tula shows in the following year and 11 shows in 2006, including the Telstra national Indigenous art award.
His style, reminiscent of the early western desert men’s work, delighted the company: “It’s typical of the western desert men’s iconography, the big concentric squares,” says Mr Sweeney.
“There’s a rawness about them, pure expression related to his three places, Muyin, Ngurrapulangu and Umari.” 
The paintings are small  (such as the one above) to medium in size: “He wasn’t a fast painter, he laboured over them.”
Of the 14 works on display in the commemorative show, there were two medium-sized paintings, of only half a dozen at this size that he ever did, being held for acquisition by a major Australian public gallery. The artist is already represented in two public collections, the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria.
Does Tjampitjinpa’s passing leave a hole in the male succession?
“Yes,” says Mr Sweeney, “he was at the forefront of a group of younger men. We may think he wasn’t that young but relative to the majority of the company’s artists, who are in their sixties and seventies, he was.”
However, there continue to be some 30 to 40 men painting for the company, some part-time, others doing two to three canvasses a month, while a few are career artists who paint every day.
Among the latter are George Tjungurrayi and Patrick Tjungurrayi, both of whom were “musts” for the Pintupi show.
The “musts” among the women included Naata Nungurrayi, Ningura Napurrula (of Musee du Quai Branly fame), Yukultji Napangati, the two Walangkura Napanangkas, and Doreen Reid Nakamarra, who has just returned from the opening of the National Gallery of Australia’s first national Indigenous art triennial, Culture Warriors (showing till February 10).
And, after the Tjampitjinpa commemorative show was taken down on Saturday, the back room was turned over to the hugely popular Makinti Napanangka, noted for her light-filled palette and lyrical compositions.
This is the first time Papunya Tula has had a solo show in Alice, though occasionally some have been held interstate. 
Art lovers and collectors swarm to them and Mr Sweeney says it is always guaranteed that everything will sell. The downside is that the company then gets waiting lists for works by that artist.
“It does take a long time for the artists to produe enough work for a solo show, to build up the required level of quality.
“The Makinti show is superb but it took a lot of time to produce.”
The largest work dates from 2004, but the rest have been done since July 2006 through to October this year.
Born around 1930, the artist is now very elderly.
“Everyone is in awe of her, she’s tiny and seems frail but she keeps on painting,” says Mr Sweeney. 
He says it is not possible to represent all of Papunya Tula’s artists in the show.
Apart from limited space, the company has to weigh up expectations by collectors that there will be work by particular artists: “People come with their shopping lists, and some of them with impressive budgets.
“Makinti, for example, is quite expensive, out of reach for a lot of people which is unfortunate, but that’s the way it is with popular artists.” 
The Makinti show immediately sold out, with her dearest work priced at $50,000.
The most expensive work of the show, by George Tjungurrayi, went for $80,000.
Only three works remain, one of them a Ningura Napurrula at $40,000 (pictured above).
However the annual exhibition is not all about sales: it’s primarily “a celebration and get together, a survey of the great things going on in Papunya Tula, an opportunity for us to go all out to make the gallery look as smart as possible, for the people flying in but also for the locals to see the year that was.”

Snowdon wins seat but not Alice. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Warren Snowdon lost support in Alice Springs just as he accomplished a 5.18% swing across the Lingiari electorate and his party nationally won a landslide victory with a swing of about 6%.
On figures available early this week there was a swing of 4.18% against Mr Snowdon in the Alice Springs booths.
That means CLP challenger Adam Giles, in the two candidate preferred count, achieved in Alice Springs a 10% margin in his favor against the trends around the nation and the electorate.
There was a swing against Mr Snowdon in all seven urban booths, and Mr Giles polled ahead of the sitting Member in all of them except the one in the civic centre where the votes were 824 to 798.
Mr Snowdon suggested the Alice Springs swing would be negligible if the Blatherskite Park booth, which registered an 18.69% swing against him, were taken out of the equation.
But even without Blatherskite Park the swing was still 3.68%.
Mr Snowdon suggested that more people voted at the booth last time, with many of them from interstate and supporting Labor. This is untested.
Mr Snowdon says the CLP waged a “disingenuous campaign on law and order” which is a Territory, not a national issue.
“The CLP did not campaign on any Federal issues,” says Mr Snowdon.
This is clearly wrong as the core  of Mr Giles’s campaign over months, for better or for worse, was around “sitdown money” – a Commonwealth issue.
Mr Snowdon achieved mostly swings towards him in the remote polling, with many in the double digits.
But Mr Giles says Mr Snowdon benefitted from the donkey vote as he was at the top of the ballot paper.
He says the CLP is making a complaint to the Australian Electoral Commission because its staff, allegedly, told bush voters “to number the boxes one to five”.
This, says Mr Giles, could be interpreted by people with poor literacy and numeracy skills as meaning to do so from the top.
In the early afternoon on polling day the Alice Springs News asked 37 voters at the Charles Darwin University booth: “Who would you like to win and why?”
It appeared 17 favored the Labor Party, six the CLP, five the Greens or independents, and a remarkable nine were still undecided, just minutes before they voted.
At the civic centre booth 26 people responded to our questions.  Seven favored Labor, five the CLP, three the Greens and two independents in the Senate.
At both booths the majority of voters appeared to have the national picture and leaders to the forefront of their minds, rather than local issues and candidates.
This is what voters at the civic centre booth said:-
Man: “I want Labor to win, because of the IR [industrial relations] legislation and environmentally as well – the Kyoto Protocol. And I’m over the present government.” 
Man: “Labor. I’ll be voting for Warren Snowdon on his record. And we need a change. After 11 years a government gets stale. We’re due for a change.”
Man: “I want to see an independent in the Senate, to have a dissenting voice in federal parliament. If it comes down to a balance of power situation that’d be nice – it could do for the Territory what Brian Harradine did for Tasmania.”  
Man: “Kevin Rudd, Labor. And in the local seat. I’ve never liked the Liberals and I never will.”
Woman: “I’m still deciding, it’ the first time I’ve come to vote, still undecided.” 
Her husband: “The current government is too arrogant just as Labor was too arrogant under Keating.”
Woman: “I’ll vote on a local issue – personally I don’t like  Warren Snowdon.”
Woman: “I’ll vote for anyone apart from John Howard.”  
Her husband: “I’m a public servant. I’m not supposed to comment on political  issues.”
When told that the Alice News was not putting names to comments, he still  declined to speak.
Young woman, first-time voter: “John Howard. My parents have always supported him. He’s done a good job, financially. I know people are worried about the workplace relations thing but I feel secure in my job. Why change something that’s working?” 
Man: “I’d like to see the Greens win. I’m voting specifically on environmental issues.”
Woman: “I’m voting for a balance of power in the Senate. I don’t mind who holds the balance, whether it’s Family First or the Greens. I just think it’s important that no one feels alienated from the parliament, that everyone feels represented.
“I’m voting for a healthy democracy. I won’t vote for John Howard but I don’t want to see Labor win by a landslide. We’ve got to get debate back into the scheme of things.” 
Woman: “I’m hoping the Greens win even though I know they’re never going to. A big issue for me is Labor’s disappointing stance on nuclear issues.” 
Woman: “I’ll vote for someone who’d do more for the Indigenous people of Australia. Labor has let us down over the last 12 months or so. We need new leadership for Indigenous people in the Northern Territory.” 
Woman: “Kevin Rudd. It’s time John Howard went – it’s just time. That’s not the most important thing though. Kevin Rudd is more in touch.
“Locally, I’m in conflict. I have questions about have we got the best deal we could get, but I’m not keen on the Opposition. 
“My number one issue is care for Indigenous people.” 
Woman: “I would not like to see John Howard get back in. It will be scary if he does, especially for Alice Springs with the influx of community people. The town does not have the capacity to cope with the influx of community people.
“I’m against the intervention. The downside for me is that the good parts of Aboriginal culture, many aspects of it, are being under-valued, bastardised.”
Woman: “Don’t know who I’m  voting for.”  
Woman: “Labor. I don’t like the deceit behind the scenes in the Liberal government. I’m thinking of environmental issues and the intervention. They’re securing the future at the expense of Aboriginal people.” 
Man: “I want the Greens to win. I think they’re more interested in community values than ideology, and they’ve got lots of ideas.” 
Man: “I remember interest rates under the Labor Party when I was trying to raise a family, educate children, run a business. If we get a change voted in, it will be by a generation who can’t remember that.” 
Two women: “Still thinking.”
Woman: “I’m a public servant. I’m not allowed to make political comment. Oh, it’s anonymous? Well, then I want the Liberals to win. Labor’s not about blue collar workers anymore, they’re about helping minority groups.” 
Young man, first-time voter: “I want Labor to win, to get rid of workplace agreements and all that shit. But I think we should stay in Iraq, it’s too soon to pull out, so I’m confused. I guess I’ll get into the polling booth and improvise.” 
Man: “I want to see the Liberals get back because I can’t see Labor doing any better. I’m voting primarily on the economy but Labor hasn’t done anything for the Territory since they’ve been in.”
Man: “I’ll vote for Adam Giles, he’s a  good bloke. I’ve met him a few times. And it’s time for a change. It’s been a long time since there’s been a change [in Lingiari/the Territory].”
This is what voters at the CDU booth said:-
Young woman: “I’m shame.”
Woman: “Too close.”
Man: “In a total dreamworld I would hope that Bob Brown would become Prime Minister. Being realistic, I hope Labor wins.”
His wife: “Same. Labor.”
Man: “I hope Labor will win, federally. I just hate everything that Liberals stand for.”
Man: “I’m not sure, actually. I haven’t really thought about it. Kevin Rudd. He’s a young guy.”
Man: “John Howard, mate. Because he is the best.”
Man: “Oh ...” His wife: “I hope the Labor Party will win.”
Man: “I wouldn’t know. I don’t care, really.”
Man: “I hope Labor wins, just because of the current situation out here, the Liberal government is a disaster.”
Woman: “I’m hoping that Labor is going to win so they can turn back a lot of the stuff  the Liberal government has put into place, such as uranium mining, planning nuclear waste dumps, and so on.”
Man: “Adam Giles and John Howard, because they have held up the country pretty well economically.”
Man: “I think Labor will win because they have new policies. They also care for working class people.”
Woman: “None of the bastards are honest.”
Man: “I hope Adam Giles wins up here and hope that Labor gets in in the big one. I’m caught in between. The Labor Party has done nothing for Alice Springs.”
Man: “I’m not really sure at the moment.” You’re about to vote, when will you make up your mind? “Probably in the last minute. I’m just one of those people who isn’t really into politics.”
Man: “I think the media have pushed the idea that Labor are going to be ahead. I’m not going to disclose my voting preference, but I would probably be comfortable if the Liberals got back in. They are already on the job. Why start all over again?”
Woman: “Labor. I think they’d do a better job.”
Woman: “I hope Labor will get in. We need a shift in power. That’s important for society that we have a more community based government, not just focussed on the economy.”
Woman: “An independent, because they are standing up for local issues.” Which independent? “Maurie Ryan.”
Man: “I hope the Greens do well [because of] climate change.”
Man: “New face, change of government, different things.”
Woman: “I don’t hope anybody will get in. I’ve got no idea.” Are you voting now? “Yes, I am. I’m going to vote Greens because they probably have policies that might make the Liberals do something if they get in.”
Man: “Labor Party, because I’m sick of the bloke that’s in there.”
Woman: “I hope the Greens get it. I now they won’t, but I’m still going to vote for them anyway, because I believe in their policies.”
Woman: “I really don’t know.” Have you not made up your mind yet? “No, I haven’t.” You are within two minutes of casting a vote. “I know. I’m going to stand in line and have a think about it.
“I really am not sure. They promise you the world and they never stand up to what they promise you.”
Woman: “I’m sure the Liberals are not going to get in. For all the obvious reasons, that it is really well and truly overdue time for a change. It was last time.”
Man: “I don’t know.” Have you not made up your mind? “I’ll see when I get in there.”
Man: “I don’t really know who to vote for.”
Woman: “I have no idea. I think everyone is as bad as each-other. I don’t really even know who I’m voting for.”
Man: “Hopefully Labor, because of work choices.”
Man: “I’m hoping Adam Giles will get in, for the CLP. I’ve been unhappy with the lax performance at the NT Government level. I think he’s the man to hold more accountability than a Labor government. CLP all the way, I hope.”
Man: “We want Labor to get in because we don’t agree with the intervention. We don’t like what [the present government is] doing to the Aborigines. Also, we’re against the war in Iraq.”
Man: “Kevin Rudd, probably, hopefully. Change. A new face. Get rid of the old one.”
Man: “Is there an independent party? A party of independents would be the best thing, I reckon. They’re all a bunch of crooks.”
Woman: “I’m thinking Labor. Mostly to do with child care choices.”
Have you not made up your mind?  “I was still on the internet last night, I don’t know, but I’m thinking Labor. I do home based child care, and it looks like Labor goes a bit more in my direction than Liberals, with child care choices.”

John and Kevin and Clare and Paul and Alice. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.

From an Alice Springs perspective life after John Howard and Clare Martin is daunting. Or should I say, life after Mal Brough.
The town sent a message to Warren Snowdon that it thinks Labor is on the nose, swinging away from him while everybody else was swinging towards Labor.
This antipathy is largely a result of Ms Martin’s neglect of Alice Springs, as it is perceived by hundreds of small business people who booed her incessantly last April.
Lots of others in The Alice share that view.
Mr Snowdon is the president of the Labor Party in the Territory which gave Ms Martin an urban electorate in Darwin, but Mr Snowdon’s reliable support comes from Aboriginal people in the bush, and certainly not from his electorate’s biggest urban centre, Alice Springs, which has no Labor MLAs, although small areas are in the mostly black electorates of MacDonnell and Stuart.
So where can Alice Springs, stagnating for a decade despite its obvious massive opportunities, find an advocate?
The answer doubtlessly lies in the old adage that it doesn’t get done if you don’t do it yourself.
For Alice, the election that counts may well be the one in March next year, when the town will elect a new council and a new mayor.
If they turn out to be people with a profound understanding of the region’s potential, and the independence and single-mindedness to pursue it, we’ll be laughing.
If the new council will again be mired in petty detail, oblivious to the big picture, and the mayor is again beholden to the north of the Berrimah Line government, we’ll be in trouble big time. We could well lose our last chance of realizing the Alice Springs dream – a prosperous, happy, healthy, harmonious community.
The town council not only has a vastly greater scope for initiative in its own right than handing out parking tickets. It can also be a powerful lobby for the town, especially if joined by Tourism Central Australia, the Chamber of Commerce and Lhere Artepe.
That would be a lobby which governments – especially the one in Darwin – would ignore at their peril.
Media comment on Ms Martin’s reign, and that of her hapless Treasurer Syd Stirling, who confessed to the media that he doesn’t know very much about economic matters, mentioned the McArthur River Mine fiasco, the Warren Anderson debacle, the Aboriginal MLAs in revolt, the money-losing railway and the fortune spent on the Darwin Waterfront.
But there were far more fundamental flaws in Ms Martin’s government, things that she deliberately and cynically put in place, in flagrant violation of the promises which got her and Labor elected in 2001.
Many of those issues go to the core of Alice Springs’ disaffection with the NT Government.
Elected on a hand-on-her-heart promise to run an open and transparent government, Ms Martin threw up a phalanx of minders between her and the public, limiting first-hand contact between media and Ministers to a point which makes a mockery of the democratic process.
She and Mr Stirling have been dining out on the economy, “the second best in the nation”. Yet the source of this prosperity, entirely Darwin focussed, is fueled by Timor Sea gas and oil for whose presence Ms Martin can hardly take credit.
Meanwhile the other 99% of the Territory and 50% of its population is by and large stagnating (the white part) or desperately stuck in poverty, hopelessness, violence and anger (for the most, the black part).
Ms Martin’s promises in 2001 of making a difference, because of Labor’s commitment to Aboriginal advantage, and its good relationships with the Indigenous society and organizations, have come to nought.
We’ve been indoctrinated in those past few weeks about the interests of Working Families. What about the Not Working Families? We have thousands of them.
Mr Stirling, while in Opposition a resolute opponent of CDEP, once in Goverment was shamelessly using the dead-end program to hide the Territory’s double digit unemployment.
Ms Martin made a mockery of her supposed championing of local business by favoring the American owned Murdoch press with the bulk of her government’s spending on advertising. Quite deliberately, no mistake there.
She plotted in secrecy to hand over the Territory’s national parks to Aboriginal ownership, in the face of vehement opposition in Central Australia when the details were revealed, and then decreed a complete shut-down of information on the issue.
The Coalition Government in Canberra did not comply with her request to schedule the parks under Aboriginal Land Rights.
Let’s see what the new Rudd government will do. And the new Chief Minister, Paul Henderson.
Ms Martin describes her six months under Mr Brough’s intervention as the most difficult period of her career. Why?
When someone comes along with $1.3b, ready to fix something you’ve been screwing up for six years, it would be a no-brainer for most.
“Beauty, Mal, let’s get on with it,” was what Alison Anderson (MLA for MacDonnell) proposed, and Karl Hampton (Stuart) partially chimed in.
Not Ms Martin.
She stamped her little foot, let the loony anti-intervention brigade (helping vulnerable kids = genocide) get in her ear; defended the right to drink grog (excuse me?), and displayed the most abysmal lack of leadership when the solution to her greatest fiasco was handed to her on a platter.
Any competent politician would have taken the opportunity to help mould this once in a lifetime initiative to Territory needs.
That would have been help which, clearly, the intervention force would have welcomed with open arms.
Instead Ms Martin gave half-hearted support to Mr Brough, allowed herself to be influenced by petty and mean political motives, and sided against the nation’s poorest with the people who have a vested interest in their ongoing misery.
As this is an issue of life and death, Ms Martin will stand condemned forever for what she has done – or has failed to do.
Mr Snowdon, meanwhile, will bring back CDEP, re-introduce the permit system and otherwise will have a Bex, a lie down and a good think about the intervention.
Any bets that his cronies in the Aboriginal organizations will get a gig well beyond what their past performance would entitle them to?
We’ll keep a close eye on that one.
As Mr Henderson was apparently insisting on having a fresh start with Mr Rudd right from the word go, Alice Springs should get a fresh start with Mr Henderson, right from the word go.  And without pussyfooting.
There are some people waiting in the wings to become aldermen or mayor and who don’t take no for an answer.
Here’s a wish list – nay, a demand list – they may like to take on board: open up cheap residential land; put tourist promotion into the hands of locals who know the game and get bang for buck; double the available water supply, including through recycling; immediately shift the power station, the garbage dump and the sewage plant; develop, in collaboration with private enterprise, the West MacDonnells; put in place flood mitigation that will reliably save the town from annihilation in the kinds of storms we must expect under climate change.
Any other thoughts? Let us know.
Next week the Alice News will put an interactive demands list “What The Alice Wants” on our website, inviting the public to indicate their order of preference.
It will stay on the site until the council elections in March. Be there! Have your say!

10 years later: 2% more people drink 13% more grog. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Is Alice Springs, with its current restrictions regime, doing more than tinkering with the Rivers of Grog?
With the regime now more than a year old, the results to date will be analysed by an independent expert before further action – in whatever direction – is taken.
The expert will have to take into account factors like the impact of the “dry town” legislation and the effects of the federal government intervention. He/she will also be able to consider data up to October this year.
The Alice Springs News has sighted data on pure alcohol consumption to June of this year.  It shows that between 2005-06 and 2006-07 pure alcohol sales dropped by 9%. However, the sales had climbed between 2004-05 and 2005-06 by 3%, so the town is only 6% in front of where we were in 04-05.
And Alice’s pure alcohol consumption in 06-07, with the effects of the latest restrictions kicking in, is still significantly higher than it was in 1997-98, when 463,334.28 litres of pure alcohol were consumed (M. Brady & D. F. Martin, 1999).
In 06-07, 527,167  litres were consumed (NT Dept of Justice data).
That’s 63,833 litres more – 13.75% –  for a population increase of only 500 or so (about 2%).
With large wine casks off the market, and two litre casks not available until after 6pm and limited to one per person per day, not surprisingly wine cask sales have plummeted under the current restrictions regime: by 91% in the six months ending June 07.
Fortified wine is likewise available only after 6pm and limited to one per person per day, and sales have dropped by 33% in the six months to June 07.
Meanwhile, sales of full strength beer, a “5% alc/vol product”, rose by 57%.
More critical, of course, is the effect of these changes in the areas of health and law and order.
Some alcohol-related health data is now available up to the end of March 2007 and in some instances to the end of June. The data can thus only reflect the effect of the first six to nine months of the restrictions regime. 
A table shows alcohol related occasions of service (OOS) at the Alice Springs Hospital to the end of March this year.
Taking figures for the last quarter of 06 and the first quarter of 07, there were 1363 alcohol related OOS.
This is negligibly different to the same period the previous year (1366 OOS) but is an improvement on the same period in 01-02 (1792 OOS) and on the average for the period over six years (1449 OOS).
Another table shows alcohol related occasions of service (OOS) at the emergency department of the hospital.
Taking figures for the last quarter of 06 and the first two quarters of 07, there were 452 OOS at the emergency department.
This compares well to the figures for the same period in the preceding year (714 OOS) and is better than the average over five years (614.8 OOS).
The sobering up shelter took in 3191 intoxicated people over the first nine months of the current restrictions regime.
This is a little lower than the same period the previous year (3397), and is better than the average over six years of 3854.
Figures for repeat admissions to the sobering up shelter over 06-07 show that nearly 81% of clients are admitted less than once a quarter; nearly 14% are admitted quarterly or more, while just over 5% are admitted monthly or more.
These last – 68 clients in all – make up just over 37% of all admissions.
Protective custody figures (ie, people taken into the watch-house) from the Alice Springs police also show decreases.
There was an immediate impact following the introduction of restrictions in October last year: 763 apprehensions for October to December, compared to 1438 the year before, and 908 the year before that.
This was sustained in January to March, with 622 apprehensions, compared to 1197 and 1043 for the same period in the previous two years.
In the most recent quarter, July to September, there were 638 apprehensions, compared to 765 and 793 for the same quarter in the previous two years.
There is no dramatic change in all this and it must be remembered that it comes off a very high base: per capita consumption in Alice Springs is nearly double the national rate.
This high level of consumption is widely accepted as contributing to unacceptably high levels of violence and ill health in our community.
Having an “alcohol free” day – that is, no takeaway sales – is still up for consideration by the alcohol reference panel.
The panel is next due to meet on December 13.
A survey conducted in Alice Springs before the current restrictions regime was introduced showed that 45.8% of people agreed with the concept of such a day; 39% were against; and 19% were undecided. 
Organisations supporting the recent rally by remote community women (see last week’s Alice News) called for at least one such day.
A new independent evaluation of the Tennant Creek “thirsty Thursday” trial is being undertaken to better inform the reference panel’s decision.
The trial was evaluated twice during its course but not independently during the final stages “when it lost community support”, says deputy director of licensing in Alice Springs, Chris McIntyre.
“We need to understand why that happened,” says Mr McIntyre.
He says should a “takeaway alcohol free day” be introduced, the government will work with whatever agencies necessary, such as Centrelink, to ensure its effectiveness.
The rally organisers also demanded “minimum price benchmarking” which would make low alcohol content products, such as beer,  the cheapest drink.
Mr McIntyre says the liquor supply plan [restrictions] have in fact targeted the cheap high alcohol content drinks like cask wine and port, causing people to switch to “a 5% product”.
An ID system for alcohol purchase, using electronic scanners, will be introduced early in the new year, says Mr McIntyre.
“This is a measure that targets people who have court orders restricting their drinking and it ensures compliance with the current liquor supply plan.
“We recognise that there is an element of inconvenience to the general public but it is relatively small when you consider the overall benefit that might be gained from the introduction of such a system,” says Mr McIntyre.
More broadly on alcohol management, Mr McIntyre recognises that there’s “still a lot of work to do – everybody accepts that. We have to keep trying to reduce harm.”
Superintendent Sean Parnell of the Alice Springs police says “dry town” and the federal intervention, particularly in relation to making the town camps dry, have had an impact.
He says there is “no doubt that there’s been an improvement in the river and the CBD” but drinking is “still an issue” in the camps. Police continue to target it, with a specific operation planned for this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
He is also expecting that the quarantining of Centrelink income, due to start for town camp residents on December 12, will help reduce the problem.
He says police have only received isolated reports of problems associated with drinking camps in the bush around town.
“We haven’t seen a variation in violent incidents reported to us.
“There are officers in the town camps every day, talking to people. We get a good feel for what is going on.
We don’t think it is a problem.”
Note: Mr McIntyre has not analysed the Alice News’s interpretation of the statistics in this report.

Mayor’s poll.

Alice Springs residents will continue to be able to directly elect their mayor following further concessions from the Territory Government over local government reform.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff credited the concession in good part to the forceful representations on the subject by Alderman Murray Stewart.
However it will be up to aldermen to decide whether the mayor has a casting vote.
Ms Kilgariff spoke to Monday night’s council meeting by phone from Darwin where she was representing council in the latest negotiations over the reform.
She said the changes council had hoped for had largely been accommodated, accepting as a sufficient remove the transfer to the Administrator of powers given the Minister in an earlier draft of the Bill. 
Alderman Jane Clark, also in Darwin, told the meeting that council “had won as much as we can at this stage” and urged them to turn their attention now to the opportunity presented by the reform.
The three neighbouring southern shires will be administered from Alice Springs, giving council a revenue-raising opportunity to provide administration services, said Ald Clark.

Some beats on the Todd Table. By DARCY DAVIS.

As the working year winds down, the festive season kicks in this Friday night at the Todd Tavern with “Divine Intervention”.
The night will feature a bunch of acts including hip hop band Bloom, DJs Electrode and Mustaphaa as well as hip-hop group Lesser Known Poets. 
A highlight of the night should be the incorporation of the “video mashing” of footage and images to stimulate the eyes and the ears. 
“The idea behind Divine Intervention is to get a semi-regular gig going at a stable venue, mixing live performance, DJs and digital projections” says organizer Scott aka DJ Mustaphaa.
He and Rod aka DJ Electrode have been putting on underground dance events around Alice together for the last three years, and seperately around Brisbane, Byron Bay, Melbourne and Sydney for many years before. 
Along with lots of dedicated helpers, they’ve done gigs at The Lane, Promised Land and various other “secret locations”. These have been highly dance-worthy sets for the Alice crowd.
“There has been a real lack of options for alternative dance venues and gigs around Alice lately - we have done a few gigs at The Lane but sound issues have stopped that and Promised Land has been closed for a while now.  We’re hoping that the Todd will be the answer - no sound issues, plenty of space and late license,” says Scott.
This gig is also the first collaboration of a group of visual artists who will be projecting all sorts of interesting material through three digital projectors.
It’s absurd, perhaps even an indictment, that in a town  bursting with such creative talent and potential, there aren’t many venues for this kind of expression.
We should be fostering and nurturing the abundant talent of the town – come civic leaders, it’s time for a new intervention, put a venue on the menu and some beats on the table.
The town has sat down too long, and now it’s time to dance.
At Divine Intervention there should be fully fat live hip-hop, electro beats and breaks until late – don’t miss it.

LETTERS: Martin, Stirling failed.

Sir,- The Labor Party in the Northern Territory have shown their true colours.
When Mal Brough announced the Federal Intervention, what did Clare Martin do? Nothing! She sat on her hands; the standard of living conditions is still a disgrace!
What happened to Education in the Northern Territory under Syd Stirling and the Labor Government? Short answer, nothing! Attendance rates are still as bad as they ever were.
What happened to the maintenance and safety of roads in Alice Springs and the bush? Nothing! Their condition is worse than ever.
Why, with the Labor Government in power, do we have more interstate contractors than ever before? What has happened to the local economies of Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and the bush towns and communities? What happened to ‘BUY LOCAL’ under Labor? Why are there more and more people leaving Alice Springs and the rest of the Territory than ever before?
Yes, it is time for the NEW; yes, that’s right, the new Chief Minister Paul Henderson and his tired old counterpart Warren Snowdon to get to work and come up with REAL solutions to address these problems in the whole of the Northern Territory, not just Darwin!
When Labor swept to power on Saturday, what did Clare do? She resigned. Clare, at least you had the good sense to get out of the kitchen because hopefully it is going to become really hot!
Hopefully now all the people who voted Warren Snowdon back into the seat of Lingiari will keep him honest; surely, under a Federal Labor Government for the second time around, he will now have run out of tired excuses for his inaction over the past 20 years. Yes, Kevin Rudd, new leadership is what we needed - Adam Giles proved in a very short space of time that he is a CAN DO man.
Why then have we got the same old tired Labor Government in the Northern Territory? Wake up, people in the bush, how much longer are you going to be brainwashed?
Sandy Taylor
Alice Springs

Sir,- Paul  Henderson has failed his first test as Chief Minister, less than 24 hours in the job.
The appointment  of Len Kiely and Matthew Bonson as Ministers is a shocking lapse of judgement, given their conduct since being elected to Parliament.
Last year Len Kiely was stripped of additional Parliamentary responsibilities because of his lewd, sexist and drunken conduct at the cricket when in a Government sponsored box; and last year, Matthew Bonson wrote a memo publicly undermining his then Chief Minister in relation to Indigenous Affairs.
Mr Bonson has other form, too, such as urinating in public at a football match and getting into a fight at a basketball match.
The appointment of these two men to the Ministry is an appalling choice.
Mr Henderson might want to duck responsibility, saying it was a caucus decision, but he has failed the leadership test. By sanctioning the appointment of Kiely and Bonson, the new Chief Minister has signalled he’s not serious about tackling violent crime and anti-social behaviour.
Kevin Rudd made it clear he would take the lead when choosing his Ministry, but Paul Henderson has chosen not to do the same.
Does Paul Henderson have the ticker for making the tough decisions that leadership requires? Everyone knows he has had the numbers for months, but he failed to challenge. Now, he has failed to choose his own Ministers.
This decision follows hard on the former Martin Government’s commissioning of a private consultancy from Sydney to assess the future needs of the Territory’s prisons. This is a staggering waste of $80,000 of taxpayer’s money.
Is the NT Government saying that there is no one in the Territory public service capable of working out how to modernise our prisons, how many prisoners there will be in the future and where they should be imprisoned?
In the three years to 2005 the number of executive level employees in the Territory public service jumped by 35%, from 375 to 511. Millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money are being poured into the salaries of highly paid executives, yet no one in the public service seems capable of drafting plans to modernise our prisons and assessing their future needs.
The number of public servants climbed past 16,000 this year.
I’m also surprised that, having decided to farm the work out to the private sector, a Territory firm didn’t secure the tender.
Will this be like the Royal Darwin Hospital? Will we get snow shutters on the prison extensions? Just what is wrong with Territory firms?
Jodeen Carney
Opposition Leader

Sir,- In your article regarding the Turning Down the Tap protest in Todd Mall on Nov 15 you said: “If there were representatives from the Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Central Australia, Tangentyere, Congress, and so on, they were keeping a very low profile.” As my blog will attest, I was present at the protest and marched as a member of The Greens, in support of Senator Rachel Siewart who did speak on the microphone - this was televised. 
Some women who spoke asked us to consider the fact that their are grandmothers are on communities looking after the children, whilst the parents are in Alice Springs drinking. 
They strongly advocate two grog-free days a week in Alice Springs - why on earth can this town not support them?
Thanks to the inordinate number of takeaway alcohol outlets, nobody in Alice lives more than a short drive from a bottle shop.
So please tell me - how hard is it to organise your time so you only buy take away alcohol on five days a week? 
Tourists can still drink in pubs and clubs on those days so where exactly is the big problem?
Come on Alice Springs, let’s do something which will be truly effective immediately - let’s call for two days a week with no takeaway alcohol sales.
I believe the majority of locals support this idea.
Jane Clark
Alice Springs
ED - We didn’t say the Greens, whose platform includes the abolition of the Federal intervention, were not there. We note Ms Clark attended as a Green, not as an alderman of the town council, which apparently was not represented at the march and rally, as we reported last week.

Sir,- By gee, talk about pluck, spunk and sticking it to the establishment.
Our fellow citizens from the StoryWall certainly topped themselves when, on election eve, they presented more anti-government images despite the present controversy surrounding the concept.
Good on you I say, your brevity is to be admired.
Diversity of opinion is what makes the world go round. The truth is this has never been about freedom of speech. At issue is public accountability, expenditure of public funds, and appropriateness of location.
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who champions free speech and governmental transparency more than I.
This is reflected by my willingness to test constituents’ concerns in relation to these matters in the public domain.
Finally, the StoryWall venture is placed magnificently to draw black and white Central Australians closer together.
It could also present to tourists and locals alike the many talents and skills that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous locals possess. 
Alderman Murray Stewart
Alice Springs

Sir,- Bess and I want to congratulate Erwin Chlanda on simply the best editorial we have read in an NT newspaper ever - “Local issues will drive elections in The Centre”. It is a masterpiece and inspiring to read. Please keep it up after the elections and we will support you.
David and Bess Nungarrayi Price
Alice Springs

ADAM CONNELLY: A swirling world of pastel shirts and boater shoes,

The funny thing about life is that you are always changing your opinion on little things.
For example, you might have liked a particular television program a couple of years ago. Loved it. Might have rushed home to watch it or had the video set each week to record it.
Now though, you aren’t the big fan you once were.
But just because you’ve changed your opinion on a television program doesn’t mean that you have fundamentally changed as a person, does it?
Think about it though, we judge people on these choices.
“I can’t believe you go for Collingwood!”
“Mate, how can you like Hip Hop?”
“You actually like asparagus?”
I have a theory. I call it the Connelly Theory of Accumulative Choice, but then again I can be a bit of a prat.
This may start out sounding a bit airy-fairy. You know, a bit crystals and pan flutes, but give it a fair hearing.
My theory is that every choice you make has an influence on the choices you will make in the future.
This means that the small incidental choices we make in life influence the way we see the world and therefore, when a big decision needs to be made, it is done on the foundation of all the other smaller, seemingly trivial decisions we have made in the past.
The chaos theory has the tale of the butterfly in the Amazon flapping its wings and setting off a tsunami in Sumatra. The Connelly Theory of Accumulative Choice tells a similar tale.
My choice of Coke or Pepsi influenced the way I voted on the weekend.
The other day I was at a local purveyor of beverages with a new mate of mine from Darwin. He suggested something quite out of the ordinary. He ordered a sparkling beer and a glass of ice from which to drink said beer. 
I gave this man the same look a dog gives when shown a card trick.
“What did you just do mate?”
The friend is a six foot, 110 kilo ex-rugby player and he wanted me to drink beer out of a glass full of ice. Not the blokiest way to consume a beverage, I’m sure you’ll agree.
“What? Do I get a little umbrella too?”
He spent the next couple of minutes telling me the positives of consuming the beer in such a manner. Now, not only did I choose to listen to this bloke but I also chose to give his plan a go.
The Connelly Theory of Accumulative Choice tells me that I should have been careful. This could influence many aspects of my life.
Would I be more likely to prefer other less than manly beverages?
Could this be the start of me ordering Cosmopolitans on a Friday afternoon?
Will I start to become a bit fey?
Will I start voting for the Greens?
Oh God! What have I just done?
I might want to not play rugby and stop talking to pretty girls. I like playing rugby and talking to pretty girls. This is too life changing, but it is a refreshing and delicious way to drink a beverage.
Let’s just take stock for a moment. I’m enjoying this beer in the ice thing.
“Still liking girls, right? Check. Don’t want to suddenly wear tie-dyed clothing? No more than usual.”
Perhaps this choice wasn’t about to drive me headlong into a swirling world of pastel shirts and boater shoes.
Maybe it was just about being a little more comfortable in my own skin, being man enough to like something not because it looks good but because it is good.
Besides, there’s nothing wrong with pastel shirts, is there?

Back to front page of the the Alice Springs News.