ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
December 6, 2007. This page contains all
Camels: threat or opportunity? By KIERAN
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
A dry summer could again see wild camels rampaging through remote
communities in the south-western corner of the Territory, and across
the border in the far north-west of South Australia.
Last summer rain arriving in late January dispersed the animals onto
pastoral leases south of Alice Springs where landholders dealt with the
problem by culling.
Tens of thousands of camels were reported to be tearing down fences,
consuming and contaminating drinking water, and stripping bare natural
Glenn Edwards, the Territory Government’s principal scientist for
biodiversity conservation in Alice Springs, is heading up a research
project for the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre, looking
at how to manage camels at a national level.
The project will present its conclusions towards the end of 2008.
Meanwhile, this summer there could again be management issues like the
ones that occurred last summer, says Dr Edwards.
“These were not unprecedented but received a lot more publicity than
they have in the past.
“Years of below average rainfall since 2001 came to a head, with a lot
of camels running out of water and food, and moving into Aboriginal
communities in the western desert, principally looking for water.
“Our best information is that the highest density of the camel
population is in that area,” says Dr Edwards.
“The situation was relieved when some pastoral leases south of Alice
Springs got rain, enough to green up the pasture and partially fill
dams. Camels moved in en masse.
“This triggered a demand for camel culling. A lot of pastoralists
undertook culling on their own. A pet meater from Darwin got involved.
“The Central Land Council undertook serious negotiations with
Aboriginal communities, to garner support for a cull.
“It’s general knowledge that Aboriginal people see feral animal issues
through different eyes.
“By and large they don’t like to see animals shot and left to waste.
They’d like to see the animals used for something, such as pet meat.
“Their view will have an impact on what we do nationally.
“Most of the camels in the NT are on Indigenous land.”
A spokesperson for the Central Land Council says education campaigns
assist in changing the resistance to culling.
The CLC is about to engage a camel education officer, funded by the
Indigenous Land Corporation.
“Nonetheless, it still leaves the problem that no funding is
available to tackle an expensive problem.
“That problem is now exacerbated by rain which has dispersed the
camels more widely and made targeted control methods even more
uneconomical,” says the spokesperson.
Dr Edwards says pastoral properties are protected to a certain
extent by fencing and by human activity.
“Camels appear to be suspicious of people, and when they can they keep
to the true desert country.
“But now numbers are at such a level that they are moving onto lands
where they’ve not been before. They’re having an impact on their own
resource as well as that of native animals.”
There has been some reduction in numbers from culling, which continues.
Within the last fortnight there have been culls from a helicopter on
the South Australian side of the border around the Simpson Desert area
and on some pastoral properties.
Dr Edwards is asking for information on how many animals have been
removed as well as on how long it took to do the job.
“We need to enumerate all the costs and scale them up to have a
realistic figure of what we are up against when we go to a national
The last population estimate for camels in the NT was done in 2001.
The count from a plane showed a minimum of 80,000 animals, extrapolated
to a national figure of 300,000.
NT surveys over two decades show that the camel population has been
doubling every eight years.
“The current population would be over one million even though the
series of dry years may be slowing down their reproduction rate,” says
“But one million is enough to be a cause for concern.”
Apart from culling the DK CRC is also looking critically at:
• slaughter for pet meat;
• slaughter for human consumption;
• fencing off critical habitats to keep camels out;
• the economics of all of the above.
Dr Edwards and Stuart Kenny of the NT Cattlemen’s Association agree
that continuity of supply is critical for the camel meat industry to
Mr Kenny also sees supply of labour as an issue.
In 2002 the Territory Government paid for a study looking at the
feasibility of building a multi-species abattoir in Alice Springs, that
could handle camel carcasses.
Completed in 2003, the study costed such an abattoir at $3m, without
Today more would be required to set up an abattoir to export standard,
says Mr Kenny.
“We have given the feasability study to numerous investors.
“We constantly get contacts from people in countries around the world
and around Australia who are interested in looking at a multi-species
abattoir in Central Australia.
“But a major concern for any investor is continuity of supply.
“The majority of animals are on Aboriginal land.
“And the meat industry is labour intensive – it’s difficult to get
“We would support the establishment of an abattoir as a viable
stand-alone operation. It must be commercially viable.
“And at present, the key thing is many commercial operators from around
Australia have looked at the prospect and turned away.”
Dr Edwards says he “wouldn’t like to second guess how the CRC analysis
will turn out”.
“There is currently a party interested in an abattoir but continuity of
supply is a sticking point, more so than the availability of labour,”
“The livestock industry ensures continuity of supply by farming
“If markets were established and the industry took off, we coud see
camels being farmed, perhaps with cattle, perhaps replacing cattle.
“But from my perspective the markets haven’t been developed. You hear
they exist but nothing much seems to happen as a result, and at the
moment live export seems to have fallen away.
“And farming would still leave the question of who would deal with the
“The pet meat industry is looking for another source of protein – roo
meat is in short supply and has also become more valuable.
“Continuity of supply could also be a problem for the pet meaters but
perhaps they could work with a portable abattoir.
“There have been pet meaters operating out of Warburton in WA, taking
quite a few animals out of the system.
“The margin is slim and I understand there are not a lot of returns
going back to the community, but on the other hand the community is
getting cost neutral management of a pest animal problem.
“From what I know it’s working reasonably well.”
Half a million wasted. By ERWIN
Commercial opportunities offered by feral camels, and the pressing need
to control their growing numbers, make assertions that there are no
employment opportunities in the bush appear absurd.
Australia has one million feral camels, doubling in numbers every eight
years, potentially a resource worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
They are big, strutting beasts, a source of low cholesterol meat,
entirely naturally and organically gown.
Most are on Aboriginal land, co-existing with some of the developed
world’s most crushing unemployment.
Yet a “camel farm” set up with half a million dollars of public funds
is failing to produce, while the pastoral industry says lack of
reliable supply is hampering the growth of the industry (see main
The farm, near the Mereenie oil and gas region west of Alice Springs,
appears to have achieved little more than national media publicity for
the oil company Santos, which provided minor financial support.
What appeared to be an opportunity for tackling both Aboriginal poverty
and land degradation, so far is a fiasco that has cost the taxpayer
half a million dollars, with little to show for it.
The players are:-
• Santos Limited, the operating partner of the Mereenie oil and gas
consortium, obliged to pay royalties to traditional owners, and
dependent on their consent for exploration and production.
• The Federally funded Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC).
• The Central Land Council (CLC), a Federal Government instrumentality.
• The Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional
Development and Local Government (formerly DOTARS).
• Tjuwanpa Outstation Resource Centre at Hermannsburg, servicing some
40 outstations, and the local manager of the CDEP “work for the dole”
Together they had set off to create the Undurana Camel Farm for the
Impu family in November 2005.
Two months later things were starting to go pear shaped.
Peter Byrne, Tjuwanpa’s general manager at the time, accused Santos of
self promotion in the Alice Springs News in December 21, 2005.
Far from being the main instigator and support of the Camel Farm,
Santos was a late partner in the project, “coming to it reluctantly and
only under pressure from CLC during the renewal of the lease
negotiations,” said Mr Byrnes.
“Prior to this Santos had virtually no dealings with Tjuwanpa and only
a minor involvement with a small number of outstation people.
“To this date ILC / Santos has not accounted for this money to Tjuwanpa
... for the Camel Farm development with the ILC.
“Santos tactics in their negotiations with Tjuwanpa at times amounted
to what I can only describe as bullying especially in relation to their
‘requests’ for continued plant and machinery support from Tjuwanpa for
‘their’ pet project, regardless of the cost to Tjuwanpa and our
obligations to the other 40 outstations that Tjuwanpa has under Federal
“Tjuwanpa thinks Santos is just another ‘book up’ bad debt.”
Cut to today.
The ILC, which spent $190,000 on the project, has no current knowledge
of the project’s success or otherwise.
“It was a one-off grant for fencing and yards, and it was before my
time,” says Richard Preece, the ILC’s Central Divisional Manager.
Tjuwanpa’s current general manager Jane Rosalski says the organization
is “no longer involved in that enterprise” because it is now a “stand
alone private enterprise”.
The CLC did not respond to a request for comment from the Alice News.
The benefit of $176,000 in training money from DOTARS is unclear,
according to an insider.
“I don’t believe the Undurana Camel Farm is as successful as it was
hoped to be,” says the insider.
Have they sold any camels?
“I don’t think so.”
Meanwhile Santos prefers to stick to spin rather than straight answers.
We sent its “principal media advisor” Mr Byrne’s comments, which are as
relevant today as they were two years ago.
Santos: “Our involvement in the project is consistent with Santos’
commitment to support communities in the areas in which it works,
including the Aboriginal communities.”
How exactly are you supporting them?
Santos: “This year Santos has worked with Anselm Impu (Traditional
Owner and patron of the farm), the CLC and others in the camel industry
to continue to develop the project.”
What exactly is being done to develop it? How many people have
full-time paid employment and for what periods?
Santos: “Camels have been mustered and / or trapped. There is a
significant number behind wire.”
How many? How many have been sold?
Santos: “The farm has no set timeframe to sell camels.”
Santos (no doubt the Quote of the Week): “There are also a significant
number of camels outside the fence that can be mustered once a market
has been secured.”
Meanwhile the familiar strategy is emerging by which the bureaucracy
and Aboriginal organizations find reasons for not doing something.
This is the camel industry song sheet:-
• The future of the industry depends on the market.
• Aborigines don’t want to kill camels because they appear in the Bible
(the situation with donkeys is similar).
• Ships transporting stock are designed for cattle; camels are too tall.
• Landowners are not screaming, so you can’t get enough government
money for mustering camels.
• It costs $60 per head to shoot camels and let them rot on the ground.
Land degradation has long
history. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Degradation of the environment in Australia had already been “a long
process” before the white man arrived: “You could say we just got here
in time to get the blame,” says eminent Central Australian botanist
The continent is missing its big animals, and this is all to do with
fire and soil and human impact over eons, he says, simplifying the
thrust of his new book, The Flaming Desert.
Mr Latz (pictured) previously wrote Bushfires and Bushtucker, first
published by IAD Press in 1995, which has sold close to 10,000 copies.
He embarked on writing his latest book some 10 years ago in an attempt
to answer a few dogged questions about our “weird” continent.
“I wanted to know why, when we have the largest area of native
vegetation on this planet, we also have the world’s worst record for
“Why I can never predict what I’m going to find in a spinifex
community, or where I’m going to find it, even though it’s the most
common plant community in Australia.
“How come Australia has only a few roos eating the grass – the
explosion of camel and buffalo numbers show that the land can support
For answers, you’ve got to read the book, says Mr Latz: “It’s a long,
complicated story but I hope I’ve also made it interesting. It’s very
much for the general reader.”
In the beginning the writing was like having a giant jigsaw puzzle to
complete without a picture to guide him, he says.
Now, even though some pieces are still missing, he’s got a “pretty good
idea of the total picture”.
Pressed, he gives this glimpse: “Getting rid of vegetation caused soil
movement and changes on a landscape level.
“The hand of man had a significant role.
“Wherever man goes he changes the landscape to suit himself.
“In some ways it would be racist to think that only we [the settlers]
with our bulldozers have had an effect on the landscape.
“We know we have had a dramatic impact in 200 years but we’re looking
at the end of a long process.
“Australia’s keystone animals were gone before we got here – we are
seeing the end of the downhill slide with feral animals beginning to
So why did the keystone animals disappear – were they hunted to
Mr Latz argues that it was fire management practices that reversed the
proportion of shrubs to grasses.
“Most of the mega fauna ate shrubs, not grasses.
“If they’d been hunted to extinction we would have got more shrubs and
“But what happened was the other way around.
“Fire got rid of the shrubs and the mega fauna died out in
“That’s a very simple explanation and if that were sufficient I would
have just written a paper.
“I wrote the book to give an adequate explanation of what I think
Indeed, Mr Latz explored some of these ideas in Bushfires and
Bushtucker but without providing enough evidence to necessarily
He says the book is highly relevant to our current understanding of
land management and climate change.
“Our fires probably produce more carbon dioxide than all the vehicles
“Yet about 80% of the Tanami Desert has burned in the last couple of
months and there’s hardly been a mention of it.”
At the end of the book Mr Latz talks about what Australians need to do
to better manage the land.
In Central Australia that includes improved fire management on
The political sensitivity of a critical assessment of Aboriginal land
management practices has made it difficult to find a publisher for The
One major Australian publisher did quite a lot of work on the
manuscript before pulling out.
“Yet most Aborigines I’ve talked to about my ideas have said, ‘Yeah, of
course!’,” says Mr Latz.
“Why would Australia be such a special place that when humans, black
and white, came to it they would change their behaviour, and not alter
the landscape to suit their needs?”
In the end Mr Latz has published the book himself. He gives
credit to Anstee Nicholas as editor and motivator. Elliat Rich
has done the book design.
And it has received ringing endorsements from author and journalist
Nicholas Rothwell, and Stephen Hopper, who in Mr Latz’s view is
“one of the best botanists in Australia” and is the present director of
the Kew Botanic Gardens in London.
The book will be launched at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden on December
What did the bush vote mean? By
What can be read into the numbers behind the Lingiari vote this
At a time when the issues in the electorate seemed sharper than ever,
thanks to the former Federal Government’s intervention in Aboriginal
communities, there was a lower voter turnout than in the preceding
election: 64.59% compared to 77.71%. (National voter turnout this
election was 85.65%.)
Of this smaller turnout in Lingiari, there was slightly higher
proportion of informal votes: 5.11% compared to 4.94% in 2004.
The ALP’s significant victory in the electorate, with 56% of the vote,
was achieved in the bush (Alice, as the electorate’s major urban
centre, gave them 44.62%, down from 51.19% in 2004).
The total ALP vote in Lingiari is well ahead of the national ALP vote
(43.64%) and even further ahead of the national non-metropolitan ALP
vote of 39.86%.
Conversely the CLP vote in Lingiari trailed behind the Coalition vote
nationally: 33.09% compared to 41.90% (in the non-metropolitan areas
CLP candidate Adam Giles was widely thought to be a more credible
candidate than Maisie Austin, whom the CLP fielded in 2004.
He fought hard, devoting himself full-time to campaigning over four
months. But he polled less well than Ms Austin, who won 38.36% of the
vote in 2004.
Alice gave Mr Giles 55.37%, while it gave Ms Austin 48.8% in 2004.
As Mr Giles’ campaign with its “no more sitdown money” slogan was
centrally focussed on the former Federal Government’s reform agenda in
Aboriginal communities, it would seem fair to say that this agenda got
a decisive “no” vote from the communities directly affected.
In remote areas the ALP’s Warren Snowdon got as much as 97.97% of the
votes in the Sandover area (remote mobile team 15), over 90% in three
other Central Australian areas, and over 80% in two further Central
In all of these areas there were positive swings to Mr Snowdon, from
2.12% to 19.34%.
His worst result of 71.78%, which represented a swing away from the ALP
of 7.02%, was achieved in the area that includes Hermannsburg.
As the Australian Electoral Commission will not release booth by booth
results for the remote areas (for fear of compromising voter anonymity)
it is not possible to say whether Hermannsburg, visited by former Prime
Minister John Howard during the campaign, was principally responsible
for this swing.
It is also not possible to see how MLA Alison Anderson’s
pro-intervention campaign, conducted before the federal election was
called, impacted on the vote.
Her home community of Papunya, for example, was included in polling by
remote mobile team 18, which also took in Yuendumu, where the ALP as
well as some residents agitated strongly against the intervention.
This area as a whole gave Mr Snowdon 92.33% of its votes, a swing of
It would also have been interesting to look at booth results for the
communities of Mutitjulu, Imanpa, Aputula (Finke) and Titjikala, where
intervention measures are most advanced.
The first three were part of an area that returned 92.38% of the vote
to Mr Snowdon, a swing of 13.85%.
On possibly a different theme, though they did campaign against the
intervention, the Greens succeeded in increasing their proportion of
the vote in Lingiari.
House of Reps candidate Emma Young attracted 6.67% of first preference
votes, compared to 5.58% to their candidate in 2004. This compares with
a national Greens vote of 7.53%, and 6.55% in the non-metropolitan
However, Ms Young’s percentage represents only 2411 votes, just 11 more
than were received by the 2004 candidate, and way off the doubling of
their vote that the Greens aspired to achieve in the Territory.
The Greens candidate in Solomon got 9.02% of the vote.
Intervention just one of the
issues, says Anderson. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Remote voters did not only have the intervention in mind, says MLA
Alison Anderson who campaigned for a Labor victory in Lingiari.
“One old lady in Alcoota asked me if Adam Giles was related to John
Howard,” she says.
“When I said he was [on that side of politics] she said she was not
voting for him, because Howard sends people to Iraq, to war.
“Her vote was based on what she had seen about the war on TV.
“Others asked me, ‘Are we voting for Warren so we can get Rudd in?’
“That was what they wanted.”
Nonetheless, the returned Member for Lingiari was campaigning on
essentially anti-intervention issues.
“He campaigned on bringing back CDEP and the permit system,” says Ms
“CDEP, that is the people’s comfort zone and they rewarded him for it.
“People felt their job opportunities were in CDEP.
“But I applaud what Warren has said publicly, that there will not be
cost shifting by government to CDEP for real jobs in delivering
government services in communities.
“CDEP will be returned but in a reformed state. I really support him in
“The big challenge for us is to find other job opportunities in
communities, beyond the core jobs in services, art centres, shops.”
Ms Anderson says she continues to strongly support the intervention.
“We need to give it time,” she says.
“No government program gets assessed at the end of six months.
“It needs 18 months, two years.”
She says news that the shop in Titjikala has increased its earnings by
$20,000 a month is a vindication of quarantining: “That means more
money is going on feeding children.”
She is hoping to arrange for the new Federal Minister for Indigenous
Affairs, Jenny Macklin, to visit Central Australia soon.
“NPY women, Papunya women and I presume women from Yuendumu and
Hermannsburg will all want to meet with her,” she says.
She expects a new spirit of cooperation to mark the relationship
between the Territory and Federal Governments.
And if she appeared to be out on a limb in the Martin Government and
got national attention for her criticism of “urbanised saviours” in the
wake of Marion Scrymgour’s controversial Charles Perkins Oration, she
say that is behind her now.
She says she and Ms Scrymgour have talked and have agreed to focus on
going forward in the areas of education, training, employment and
family and community services, all of which are Ms Scrymgour’s
portfolio responsibilities, together with Indigenous affairs.
“We have to leave some kind of legacy,” says Ms Anderson.
“I want my legacy to be greater safety for women and children on
communities as well as improved education.”
And Ms Anderson also wants to see a renewed focus on what will drive
Alice Springs forward, taking the region with it.
She wants to have a conversation with the town and its representatives
about “what will make Alice Springs more attractive – something really
Blitz on grog excesses yields
Tougher police surveillance is driving drinkers to look for hiding
places – such as the Coolibah swamp either side of the Sadedeen
Connector Road, near the Charles Darwin University (circled).
Police ordered the grog tap to be turned down in Tennant Creek on
Sunday after 18 hours of alcohol-related “heartache and violence”,
while in Alice they patrolled the town camps, destroying 285 litres of
Anda traffic blitz in Alice turned up 25 drunk drivers out of a total
of 28 driver apprehensions.
The arrests included a 15-year-old boy driving with a blood
alcohol level of .140 per cent and a 16-year-old boy who had a blood
alcohol level of .150 per cent.
The highest overall reading for the weekend was that of a 19-year-old
male with a reading of .232 per cent.
Thirteen of those arrested were also either unlicensed or disqualified
Superintendent Sean Parnell said the results were astonishing,
especially after the publicity generated by the previous weekend’s
campaign: “It’s still incredibly disappointing that people still aren’t
getting the message.
“Our traffic police will be out there and if you drink and drive, you
will be caught.”
In Tennant an influx of money from royalty payments coinciding with
home delivered alcohol hampers had caused “considerable heartache and
violence prior to the restrictions”, says Senior Sergeant Megan Rowe.
When takeaway liquor restrictions were imposed on high alcohol content
drink the calming effect was dramatic, with only one alcohol related
incident reported to police, compared to 53 in the 18 hours before the
Sgt Rowe said that despite some suggestion that restrictions result in
binge buying on the following day, previous policing outcomes had not
shown this to be the case.
“Restrictions give the whole community a break from violence and
alcohol related offending.”
Meanwhile, in Alice’s town camps, where the consumption of alcohol has
been banned, police conducted a three-day special operation targeting
At the start of the campaign, police conducted name checks at liquor
outlets, which resulted in a warrant arrest. Police then began patrols
of the camps where large amounts of alcohol were found and tipped out.
On Thursday night police targeted Amoonguna and Warlpiri,
Hoppy’s, Karnte and Indarpa Camps.
On Friday night they again targeted Warlpiri and Hoppy’s Camps as
well as Hidden Valley, Larapinta Valley and Abbotts Camps.
Then on Saturday night they targeted Trucking Yards, Hidden Valley,
Abbotts Camp, Little Sisters, Larapinta Valley, Old Timers, Indarpa and
Karnte as well as Ilparpa Camps.
On each of the first two nights police seized and destroyed large
quantities of alcohol throughout the camps. However, there was
significantly less found on the third night. During the three nights
seven people were arrested for various offences including four for
drink driving, two for outstanding warrants and one traffic summons.
Five were also taken into protective custody. Three traffic
infringement notices were issued and 285 litres of alcohol were
Police say they will continue to pro-actively patrol and monitor the
town camps to counter drinking and the supply of liquor into the
restricted areas as well as counter anti-social behaviour at the camps.
Buffel grass increasing flood
risk in The Alice? COMMENT by ALEX NELSON.
The systematic introduction and spread of buffel grass in Central
Australia has largely parallelled my lifetime in this region, and I
have followed the debate about its “pros and cons” for many years.
The major impetus for its introduction was the terrible drought of the
early 1960s, when the frequent severe dust storms that plagued the
Alice prompted research into trialling several plant species for dust
The trials demonstrated that buffel grass was by far the most adaptable
to local conditions, subsequently being sown widely across the region
for erosion control and improved pasture for cattle.
For the purposes for which it was introduced, buffel grass has been
spectacularly successful – too successful as it turns out, as it now
poses its own very severe risk to the natural environment. Wherever it
has established, buffel grass characteristically dominates the
environment to the exclusion of most of the native vegetation by
outcompeting it and/or destroying it from generating very hot fires.
To my knowledge, buffel grass has only ever been sown on flat or
low-lying areas, never on rocky hillslopes.
However, it has spread unaided rapidly on hilly country, especially (as
I have noticed) in the vicinity of Alice Springs. Buffel grass
particularly favours hillslopes consisting of gneiss and schist rock,
such as the north flank of the MacDonnell Range and the hill country
surrounding the Alice.
In 1997 I first noted just how extensively buffel grass had taken over
the north flank of the MacDonnell Range near the Alice – in 1980 it was
predominantly spinifex (now reduced to remnant populations). I felt
that this rapid shift in the main plant species composition must have
exerted a profound influence on the environment.
However, it is only in the last year (due to the location of my work)
that I have had the opportunity to observe at close hand how buffel
grass may be having an effect on the hillsides, and what I have seen is
My suspicion is that hillslopes dominated by buffel grass tend to shed
more water during heavy showers, even if the total rainfall is quite
small. For example, I have twice noted that showers of only 12 to 13mm
(1/2 inch) have generated significant stream-flows from rocky slopes
dominated by buffel grass, flows that appear to be no different from
slopes with minimal vegetative cover of any kind. By contrast, a good
cover and mix of native plant species on sloping ground seems to be
more effective at impeding water flow.
As in other soil types where it grows readily, buffel grass on
hillsides comprises probably more than 90 percent of the groundcover
vegetation; however, the individual grass clumps are mostly widely
separated with a lot of bare soil between them.
It was last January that I became aware that a species of termite
prevalent in the hills is very partial to the consumption of dry buffel
matter (ie, dead foliage and stems, also seeds), in sharp contrast to
the behaviour of other termite species on level ground. During one
rainy overcast day I noted that all buffel grass clumps – small or
large, dead or alive – on a hillside had very strong termite activity
associated with them. I have never seen anything like it before in my
This suggests that the populations of these insects are abnormally high
as a consequence of the increased food supply they gain from buffel
grass; in turn the termites are probably consuming much more of the
natural leaf litter on the soil and exerting a stronger grazing
pressure on any surviving native vegetation, perhaps leading to more
soil exposed to the elements.
Their burrowing activity may also be a contributing factor to loosening
the soil on the hillsides – it is certainly the case that buffel grass
clumps on the hills have a significantly tenuous hold on the soil
compared to equivalent-sized plants on flatter terrain.
My observations pertain directly only to a couple of hillsides where I
work; however, these hills are essentially the same rock composition as
all the hills north of Alice Springs.
If one travels north of town it is easy to see that the hills are
cloaked in buffel grass. This also happens to be the catchment area for
the Todd and Charles rivers – about 500 square kilometres – that
funnels through Alice Springs.
If my small observations are extrapolated on a landscape scale, it
seems to me that the flood risk for Alice Springs is exacerbated as a
consequence of buffel grass dominating the hills to the north of town.
How ironic, given the primary reason for its establishment. I suggest
this ought to be investigated as a matter of priority.
As buffel grass is a native species of Africa and the Middle East, it
is appropriate to describe its introduction into Central Australia as a
case of letting the genie escape from the lamp.
Australia’s "big noise" in Paris:
Aboriginal art at Quai Branly. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The incorporation of eight commissioned works by Australian Aboriginal
artists, including two from Central Australia, into the architectural
fabric of the new Musee du Quai Branly in Paris is frequently mentioned
as a milestone in the international recognition of Aboriginal art.
Indeed the commission is the largest permanent installation of
Aboriginal art outside Australia.
In the wake of the opening of the museum in 2006 a frequently
reproduced photo showed people walking through a corridor strikingly
adorned, on walls and ceiling, by the bold black and white motifs of a
painting, massively enlarged, by Ningura Napurrula, a Papunya Tula
When I had the opportunity recently to visit the museum I looked
forward to experiencing the art in this way for myself.
I was amazed then to find that this corridor is inaccessible to the
It and the other spaces adorned by Napurrula’s art form the first floor
of the administration building, off limits to the public, alongside the
The small administration building is of an elegantly simple design,
four storeys, rectangular, large windows making for considerable
This allows the visitor to look up, from the street, and be able to
discern the presence of the Aboriginal art on the ceilings (just as you
might admire the painted ceilings through other Parisian windows).
On a return visit at night, I found the first floor well illuminated
and Napurrula’s work more clearly visible, but the second and third
floors were dim.
The ceiling of the second floor bears a beautiful work, densely dotted
like a starry night, by Gulumbu Yunupingu (Yirrkala, NT), while the
third floor ceiling shows work by Tommy Watson (Irrunytju, SA).
None of these spaces are accessible by the general public and Watson’s
work on the third floor is scarcely visible at all from the street
(with this ceiling apparently much lower than the others).
In my observation the view through the windows of the administration
building did not appear to attract any attention from visitors to the
The ground floor of the admin building is taken up largely by the
museum’s book and gift shop.
Its ceiling bears work by Maningrida artist John Mawurndjul. And in one
corner of the bookshop is a massive wooden pillar also painted by him.
Facing the street at the rear of the site, looking away from the museum
and its grounds, is a beautifully elegant design by Judy Watson,
acid-etched into the glass wall of the building; and inside is a
sequence of photographs, Cloud, by the late Michael Riley, both urban
These works were not lit when I returned at night (though perhaps are
when the museum is actually open).
Another striking work by Watson is apparently above the staff entrance
to the building, while work by the late Paddy Bedford (Warmun, WA) is
hidden away in a service corridor, opposite the freight elevator, which
seems a terrible waste.
However, the work of Lena Nyadbi (also Warmun), a rhythmically
repetitive design of spearheads and ritual scarring, is rendered in
relief to great effect on the façade of the building.
There was no obvious attempt by the museum to draw attention to the
presence of the Aboriginal art installation in the administration
building. On a small plaque near Mawurndjul’s pillar there was
acknowledgement of the collaborating institutions which made the work
possible, but no plaque that I could see that credited the work to its
artists; no poster or brochure that pointed to it.
When I asked at the ticket counter for directions to where the
Aboriginal art installation could best be seen (the museum is vast),
the ticket-seller was uncertain. He asked a colleague and she knew that
it was in the administration building but said it was inaccessible to
the public. She didn’t point out the exception of the bookshop, nor the
work that could be seen clearly from the street.
I report all this because of the gap between the excitement in
Australia (if not hype) around the commission of Aboriginal work for
the museum, and the ongoing mention of it as a milestone, and the
reality of the experience of it for a (non-expert) visitor to the site.
I visited Musee du Quai Branly for the first time with two Parisians
for whom it was a second visit. They are well aware of and interested
in Australian Aboriginal art but on their first visit they had not
become aware of the Aboriginal art in the administration building at
Of the half dozen Australian friends I have spoken to who have visited
the museum – all like me with a keen interest to see how Aboriginal art
had been deployed in the architecture – none had been aware that the
work was not in the museum proper nor that the majority of the work
would be inaccessible to them.
The publicity around the commission of the work talked about the
acknowledgement of Australian Aboriginal culture as a living culture.
In the museum proper a small collection of contemporary painting on
canvas from Central Australia is evidence of this for those who think
about it, who notice the attributions (not available for much of the
work on display in the museum) and the dates of the work (the 1990s) or
who make the connection between the use of materials and
Apart from the canvasses, there is also a collection of fascinating
barks from the Top End (including a few contemporary pieces, among them
a marvelous ‘Rainbow Serpent’ by Mawurndjul) and a small array of
Appreciation of the barks suffers from the dim lighting that is used
for many of exhibits in the museum, as well as a crowded presentation,
while the wooden artifacts (shields and spear-throwers) on both of my
visits were in complete darkness.
I had heard complaints from other Australian visitors about the dim
lighting of the paintings, but on my visit I found them to be
adequately lit, especially relative to the barks.
As in the rest of the museum, there is minimal information on the
identifying labels alongside works. For those interested, there were
audiovisual materials available.
For the Australian exhibits these were very limited (my two visits were
inadequate to allow comparison with audio-visual material for other
exhibits). The most “in depth” information was a filmed interview with
John Mawarndjul (though it was not absolutely clear, via for example a
simple head title for the piece, that he was indeed the subject; I was
relying on my memory of a photograph of the man).
The short film showed the harvesting and preparation of bark and the
artist at work. In mostly voice-over (subtitled in French) he spoke
succinctly about the spiritual motivation of his work and also about
innovations in his work. The interview did not, however, situate him in
the broader context of his community, nor of Australian Aboriginal art,
nor in the context of ‘mainstream’ Australia.
Interestingly, there was roughly as much information available on the
collector of the early barks, Karel Kupka, as there was on Mawarndjul.
Disappointingly, there was no information at all about artists in
Central Australia. The uninformed viewer learnt nothing about the early
history of painting on canvas for these artists, nothing of the
extraordinary outpouring of art from the central deserts over almost
four decades, nothing of its role in contemporary Aboriginal life and
in contemporary Australian culture.
Given the wealth of material the museum could draw on this is hard to
The missed opportunity of providing context is not confined to the
presentation of work from Aboriginal Australia. It is a hallmark of the
museum, in an apparent choice to not mediate the reception of the art
and artifacts on display.
The name of the museum reflects a reluctance to state its self-concept:
Quai Branly is simply name of a section of the quays along the river
Seine where the museum is located. In the Parisian ‘what’s on’ guides,
the museum is given a subtitle – “musee des arts premiers”, museum of
the first arts – but nowhere in the museum did I see this subtitle
There is a dedication plaque that talks about the desire of former
president Jacques Chirac (a driving force behind the creation of the
museum) to celebrate the creativity of non-western cultures; and as you
move up into the exhibit area there is an introduction to the museum
that talks about France’s five century engagement with the peoples
whose cultural artifacts are on display.
Thus the colonial context for no doubt much of the collection is
glossed over. It’s as though the subject is all too complex and
sensitive to be tackled head on, so the choice has been made to say
It’s left to the objects themselves and the way they are presented to
speak. I found an eloquent image in the massive central core of the
building, a transparent column rising through the floors, displaying an
extraordinary collection of musical instruments, densely packed on
shelves, with here and there a small table covered in a white cloth
where museum staff must from time to time attend to one of the
I couldn’t help but think of colonial pillage and also of a
charnel-house. It was impressive but mournful, made the more so by the
mutism of the museum in its regard.
The visitor moves around this core on a spiraling walkway, the one
space in the museum which makes an assertive attempt to orientate the
visitor to what they are about to see. Laser texts flickering on the
walls urge you to walk in the steps of “the other”, to see the world
through the eyes of “the other”. At one point there are projections on
the floor of a heaving ocean for you to walk through, the idea being, I
suppose, to wash you clean of preconceptions.
I loved this walkway for the way it moved me from the banal world of
the exterior – getting to the museum, buying my ticket, putting my bag
in the cloakroom etc – into a mood of anticipation, curiosity.
But it also set me to wondering about just who this “other” was
supposed to be and about how the museum was going to tackle this thorny
The collections reveal an assumption that “the other” is to be located
throughout a somewhat amorphous non-European world and in a vague time
zone (labels give information about when objects were collected and
often by whom, but nothing about from whom or how).
I longed for the people of this world and its past to step
forward (to step in from the streets outside in what is an
increasingly multicultural Paris) and tell their stories, to breathe
glorious and terrible life into all these relics in glass boxes. (There
is a program of cultural activities at the museum, but the experience
of most overseas visitors will be limited to the permanent collection.)
I also longed for the ethnographic eye to be turned on Europe itself.
With every other inhabited continent in there, why not Europe? Is there
a reason, other than political, why not?
I wanted something to break down or break out of the uncomfortable
ethnocentrism and mutism of the place.
But then perhaps that is as much what is on display as anything else.
Two Alice story writers among
Two Alice Springs writers have had their short stories included in The
Best Australian Stories 2007, edited by Robert Drewe and published by
They are Jennifer Mills and Melissa Beit.
Mills’s story, “Reason”, earlier this year won first prize in the Alice
Springs News short story competition (published June 7).
The competition is mentioned by Drewe in his introduction as
among the “varied and perhaps unexpected” opportunities
contributing to a never more “story friendly” environment in Australian
The crunch for writers comes with the publishing industry’s reluctance
to commit short story collections to book form, says Drewe.
Beit’s story, “Nothing to fear”, about a young woman coming to
understand her fears during a kayaking expedition, won runner up in
this year’s Australian Women’s Weekly / Penguin short story
competition, the richest short story comp in the country.
As runner up Beit took home $5000; first prize was $10,000.
Mills’s inclusion in the anthology was yet another feather in her 2007
She has just won a commended in the prestigious Newcastle Poetry Prize,
announced on December 1.
She earlier won a commended in the Bruce Dawe poetry prize; she won
first in the Vignette short story competition.
And Mills came first as well as second in the Alice News competition.
Fine French farce for FTroupe. By DARCY
Actor / director /performer / drama teacher/ Neighbours’ star, Steve
Kidd has struck out on the Alice performing arts scene for the last
time in 2007 with his adaptation of the French farce, A Close Shave by
The play is about a man, St Florimond (Kidd), who gets tangled up in
the dramas of having multiple love affairs.
Angele Champignol is married to a famous painter and is one of St
Florimond’s flings, but things go a bit pear shaped when a police
sergeant arrives to arrest husband Champignol for not attending when
called to meet with the army reserve.
And in typical farce style, things get a lot worse before they get any
“Apart from getting staff and former students involved, our intention
was to bring on the Christmas cheer and have a light, funny play to get
people in the spirit, having a good laugh and enjoying themselves,”
The team putting on the show are calling themselves the “FTroupe”, the
“F’ referring to the Fred Mckay Centre at the entrance to St
Philip’s College where they are staging the show.
“I think it’s a good venue,” says co-director Nyree Davis, “and we want
to bring more creative flair to this under-utilised space in
Other ‘FTroupe’ talent includes co-director Kris Kidd, Jess Yates as
Charlotte the French maid, Cassie O’Bree as the Italian aunty, Dave
Armstrong, Graham Goodman, Tracy Hurst as the police officer, and
Miriam Bond and Laura Pollitt who are both playing dual roles.
Leise Gordon has arranged the score for the play and given it a
suitably light and off beat feel.
“One of the reasons for doing the play is because there aren’t many
opportunities for experienced adult actors in Alice Springs,” says
Davis “and we can’t just let the kids bathe in the spotlight!”
“It’s been a lot of fun” says actress Crystal Pollit, “a nice and
intimate group and a fun play with a lot of energy.”
If the rehearsals are any indication, A Close Shave looks set to be an
engaging, light hearted and funny experience, most particularly the
scene where St Florimond attempts to paint a portrait of the army
“Sometimes it’s so silly, it’s hard not to laugh backstage,” says Jess
“I think people will just enjoy the chaos that ensues in the story,”
says Steve Kidd. “The characters are pretty out there and I think
they’ll enjoy the anarchy as St Florimond digs a bigger and bigger hole
Performances of A Close Shave, this Friday and Saturday, December
7 and 8, at 7.30 pm.
LETTERS: Tiger, Qantas flying off
Sir,- I suppose one should not really be surprised. Since Ansett has
left the scene there was no way Qantas would improve
To say that “this is not in his job description” just shows the
arrogant attitude of Qantas management but, coming from Sales and
I would think that maybe Mr Borghetti really has no idea as to what
happens in a place like Alice.
He would have no idea as to what it would be like not being able to
afford to pay the fare, to only having limited choices, or to have
to drive 12 hours north or south.
But what can one expect from a company that has been nursed and pulled
up by the government, they were made bullet proof way back.
If they had a problem and were not making money (which happened many
times) they would call “foul” and run home to mummy (the
government) crying that Ansett did this or that.
They never could handle direct competition - Reg caught them on the hop
I can still recall when one year they made a profit by selling off
As Reg Ansett said at the time, if they had been a private company they
would have gone to the wall several times; but no, they
always were made to look good, despite those within the government that
said Qantas should not be allowed to go on like this.
To say that he is not here to “assist the competitor” - Hell, how many
times in past years did Ansett and Qantas assist each other in the
It was a known fact that if we (Ansett) or Qantas had a technical
problem, then each airline would do what they could to assist the
It may have been a problem with lifting baggage or passengers on a hot
The stairs may have broken down, a flat tire, or maybe a more serious
problem. No matter what it was the approach would be made and it was
But now that they have things their own way and do not have the
“superior” competition they had back then, they now are showing their
I know that assisting each other was more of a Territory
thing. Both of the airlines back then knew that it was a case of
‘you help me and I will help you’ - it would always be repaid in one
way or another.
Of course there were times that things were done on a payment basis,
but this was not always the case. A lot of times it was “ not a problem
mate, owe you one, catch up with you later”.
I might add that a lot of the decisions to assist were made by the
They knew the scene and what it meant to be able to get things done in
such a way that the customer was looked after.
There were many times aircraft went out on-time due to the assistance
given by the other carrier.
How many people can look back and recall boarding an aircraft and
seeing the other company’s stairs or equipment loading the aircraft?
It never hurt the image of either company. the end result being that
the customer was looked after and the company’s image was
Of course now their attitude has them in another bind - they are caught
up in a price fixing scam.
As the old saying goes, “give them enough rope and they will hang
It was a sad day when Ansett stopped operations. Not only did a great
airline disappear, but the competition also stopped and the big loser
was the Alice.
Even back then Alice may not have been treated fairly but at least the
competition kept them honest.
So I agree with the boycott.
It is time Qantas is told that consideration be given to the people of
Surely there could be some incentive fare for living in the Territory,
after all it is supposed to be “Queensland and Northern Territory
Aerial Services Ltd”.
One of the co-founders of Qantas, Sir Wilmot Hudson Fysh, said back in
about 1919: “We were convinced of the important part aircraft would
eventually play in transporting mail, passengers and freight over the
sparsely populated and practically roadless areas of western and
northern Queensland and North Australia.”
Well, things have changed but but there are still a lot of “roadless
So, Qantas, how about giving “The Territory” a Fare Go! Cut them
a special deal, or at least assist others to do so. Who knows, it may
even impove your image.
Denver, Colorado, USA
Sir,- This letter has been sent to Chief Minister Paul Henderson and
all NT Government members:
On this festive occasion, I would prefer not to spoil the party but am
obliged to ask a question about the Tiger Airways debacle on behalf of
the community of Alice Springs:
1. How did Dyson Cobb & Co Bus Company, with no airline or
airport handling experience, end up with a contract for handling Tiger
Airways at Alice Springs airport and why did it rely entirely on Qantas
to provide its airside ramp services - with no fallback position?
2. Why was Qantas blamed as the scapegoat when it was an innocent
bystander under no obligation to provide anything to Tiger and used as
a smoke screen to cover-up incompetence, or at best naivity, and a case
of jobs for the boys that came unstuck?
3. Apparently seven local companies were invited to tender except
the one – Aboriginal Aircraft Maintenance & Services (AAMS) - with
all the airside ramp equipment, expertise and experience, willing and
most capable of doing the job, even up until the last minute.
This is, on top of Virgin pulling out and JAL charters being cancelled,
the latest setback for Alice Springs tourism.
Think of all the people whose holiday plans have been thrown into
chaos, all the tourism operators and accommodation houses that are now
getting booking cancellations – all for the sake of a company totally
unprepared for the job that should never have been invited to tender,
let alone be awarded the contract.
Sitzler Construction or Ross Engineering might as well have been
included in the ‘privileged few’ and done just as well – certainly no
To avoid a repetition in future, I recommend that there be an internal
enquiry into the part played by Alice Springs Airport in compiling the
‘privileged few’ list that facilitated the appointment of a bus
company, and why AAMS – a wholly owned and controlled Aboriginal
company - was not included.
Airline and Tourism Consultant
Sir,- Qantas and Jetstar are once again holding the people of Alice to
I cannot believe when there’s an airfare price war going on in
every other city in Australia, the people of Alice are still being
served up the most expensive prices.
The negative flow-on effect this has on the Alice for attracting
skilled staff for employment and for promoting tourism and business is
I know if I could fly to the Alice from Adelaide for the same price I
can go to the Gold Coast or Darwin, I would not hesitate to
holiday there more often.
We always get told how competition is good. What does it tell us
about Qantas’ and Jetstar’s attitude to the people of Alice Springs?
Sir,- Your article in the Alice News (November 29) about Tiger Airlines
is absolute rubbish.
As a professional business starting up they should have been ready to
service their Alice Springs customers.
I say Tiger cannot be trusted and they should stop blaming
Qantas for their own short-comings in providing their
promised service and letting down their customers.
Qantas provides a very good service for a town of 26,000 people.
If Tiger wants be a real competitor in the airline industry then they
should provide the Alice Springs community with a competitive
service to all the destinations that Qantas fly to from Alice
Just for the record Tiger has a ground handling agent for their
aircraft in every other destination in Australia but excluded Alice
Springs because of the lack of available staff here.
I was also asked to handle their flights but had the same concerns, as
with three flights a week it is just not viable.
As a person who has worked with the airline industry for 21 years,
through the times of Ansett’s demise and the like, there is a lot
more to this story than just taking the easy way out and blaming
Tiger’s business competitors.
Sir,- The Territory Opposition is calling on the Henderson Government
to follow the lead of the incoming Rudd Government and cut the number
of jobs in Territory ministerial offices. The Rudd Government plans to
slash the number of ministerial staff from 477 positions to 334.
Paul Henderson has inherited more than 90 staff in ministerial offices
in the Northern Territory Government.
The comparative figures are particularly instructive – Kevin Rudd
believes his Ministers should be able to service the needs of about 20
million Australians and manage a $237 billion budget with 334
ministerial support staff.
Today, the Territory Labor Government has more than 90 ministerial
staff to oversee the operation of a $3.1 billion budget servicing about
With 100 times the number of people to cater for and a budget that is
80 times larger, Federal Labor will have less than four times the
number of political staff taking from the public purse.
The numbers don’t add up and it’s the Territory taxpayers footing the
bill for a bloated ministerial bureaucracy.
This problem also flows into the wider NT Government public sector.
The number of highly paid senior executives in the public service has
skyrocketed under the Labor Government and the total number of public
sector employees has now passed 16,000.
Former Treasurer Syd Stirling admitted there was problem yet failed
dismally in his stated goal of reigning in public sector numbers.
The Opposition will bring a different attitude to Government.
Policy is being developed to reinforce a central purpose: public
service ahead of the service of political objectives.
Deputy Opposition Leader
Sir,- Why is the NT Government hesitant to take the most necessary step
of introducing mandatory reporting of domestic violence?
What about the case of the 27 year old Aboriginal woman who attended a
health clinic 29 times over many years before she was murdered by her
partner in May 2005? She would not be the only victim who cries out for
I welcome the new Domestic and Family Violence Act to be debated next
week in parliament as it expands the range of people able to seek
protection, including aged family members and children. It will be more
efficient for police to obtain an order particularly out of hours and
in remote and regional areas, and provides legal protection for health
practitioners who feel compelled to report suspected cases of domestic
violence in spite of privacy obligations.
However, the new act fails to take that final step of ensuring victims,
who are unable to make a report, do receive protection.
The coroner in the horrific case from two years ago recommended the
government consider mandatory reporting. Two years later and we have
new legislation but the government says it is still thinking about
How many people will continue to be victimised whilst the government
dawdles? I call on the government to make reporting of suspected cases
of domestic violence, as it is for child abuse, mandatory.
Loraine Braham MLA
Member for Braitling
Sir,- The new Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, has the perfect
opportunity to pull back from the brink of disaster on Labor’s
ill-considered council amalgamations.
I urge Mr Henderson to listen to the concerns of ordinary Territorians,
stop the process now, engage in genuine consultation with Territory
rate payers and then put his proposal for reform before the people at
the next Territory elections.
In his first interviews as Chief Minister, Mr Henderson claimed he
would be reaching out to all Territorians.
Well, to date the Martin Government has steamrolled over objections
from the Cattleman’s Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Minerals
Council, Territory Construction Association, the Australian Trucking
Industry Association, the NT Business Council, the Northern Land
Council, the Alice Springs Town Council and the Darwin City Council.
Further, thousands of ordinary Territorians have voiced their
objections to the forced council amalgamations. If the new Chief
Minister is indeed intending to reach out to all Territorians, then he
has no choice but to halt these forced amalgamations.
The Martin Government had no mandate for the forced council
amalgamations, nor does a Henderson Government.
Labor hid its intentions before the last election and is attempting to
rush them through before the next election.
That is fundamentally undemocratic.
The Minister for Local Government, Elliot McAdam, has slipped into a
state of denial about the level of opposition to the ill-considered
The new Chief Minister shouldn’t make the same mistake.
Shadow Minister for Local Government
Sir,- In our continuing grog wars there have been endless arguments
over countless proposals and now it’s Thirsty Thursday’s turn to speak
her piece. Will we have take-away grog free days in Alice by this time
The answer is probably yes since supply is considered the best point of
attack. This ignores something I feel to be self-evident - demand faced
with a lack of supply will create that supply.
It may mean crossing a state line or a legal line, but an unsatisfied
demand will find a way to get what it wants. Alternatively, remove
demand and supply becomes irrelevant.
Consider that after forty years of a War on Drugs, a war waged almost
exclusively on supply, jails and cemeteries around the world are full
to overflowing, an international trade worth millions (if not billions)
of dollars has been created, and once-sovereign nations from South
America to Central Asia are now war-torn narco-states.
Meanwhile the demand for drugs continues unabated and the reasons for
that hardly get a mention.
Thirsty Thursdays will penalize the responsible while most chronic
drinkers will simply pass the day in the pub spending an even larger
percentage of their money chasing their particular dragon.
Grog runners will reschedule their run for another day. In short, this
regulation would inconvenience many while achieving very little.
It is education through peer pressure and sensitive advertising that
will finally alter behavior. It’s slower than hammering the take-away
outlets, but it will win the day if we make the effort.
Sir,- In response to Jane Clark’s letter (Alice News, Nov 29) I have to
ask how she came by the belief that the majority of locals support a
two day ban on the sale of take away alcohol.
I feel this statement is a misguided fantasy, maybe the majority of
people who share her cause support the idea but, while there would be
members of the community who support a ban, I doubt very much that they
would be in the majority.
Maybe we need a local referendum to decide if this is the wish of the
majority of the community, especially when the effect of such a ban on
dealing with the alcohol problems of a few have been proven to be a
failure when tried in other areas (eg. Tennant Creek’s Thirsty
Thursday), and is out-weighed by the known negative effects on the
community as a whole.
As Jane Clark states, tourists can drink in pubs and clubs (ie. those
who are staying longer) but what about the multitudes who are
travelling through who wish to purchase takeaways, as the town will
lose many more valuable tourist dollars.
What about station people, miners and the multitude of other people who
work out bush that would be inconvenienced by such a ban, by having to
plan their long trips to town around when they can purchase supplies of
What about the local business retailers and their employees who sell
alcohol; and don’t forget the transport companies and other businesses
and their employees who would be affected by such a ban, all losing
income - I am sure they would not be in favour of such a ban.
What about the aged pensioners and those members of the community who
have limited mobility, for whom existing alcohol bans have been
demonstrated to have an adverse effect?
What about occupants of residential dwellings and businesses who would
be affected by a rise in break-ins by problem drinkers, stealing what
they would normally buy; indeed, what about the problem drinkers who
would suffer a rise in criminal convictions, all as a result of cutting
the supply without treating the addiction?
I am sure they would not be in favour of such a ban.
Whoops, did I just hit the nail on the head, why don’t the “ban
everything brigade” of the community advocate for something effective
that is known to work, like more alcohol rehabilitation programs for
the greater minority of the community who have an alcohol problem?
I would not be surprised that the cost to the majority of the community
for such programs would be less than the cost of banning sales of
alcohol. The ban brigade’s method is to punish all for the
indiscretions of a few, let’s treat the sick without quarantining the
Sir,- Here I go again. I am absolutely disgusted regarding the stoush
over Pitchi Richi. God knows I am no greenie but not to preserve what
Leo Corbett created out there borders on the criminal. This will make a
beautiful small park and would attract visitors from all over the place.
Leo was well known even if people thought he was a bit ‘odd’. Does
anyone realise that he almost single-handedly stopped a quarry eating
into Heavitree Gap, just behind Johnny Ronberg’s Caravan Park?
An irresponsible department had given a licence to mine the side of the
hill for metal, would you believe. The scar is still visible today. If
not for Leo the Gap would be twice as wide today.
Leo was the first practical conservationist in our midst and his legacy
should not be forgotten.
Sir,- I agree with a lot of what Steve Brown and the Advance Alice
group are striving for; however, I think he has misunderstood the point
of my letter (Alice News, November 15).
The issue with water is the greenhouse gasses generated in pumping it
from ever greater depths and over longer distances, not its
The second point is that more than water is needed to grow fruit and
The climate, which is an amalgam of temperature, rain volume and
pattern, and dryness (evaporation rate and wind), has to support plant
growth. Irrigation addresses only one of these factors.
So, in planning to expand opportunities in Centralia, global warming
has to be factored in to the risk analysis for any business venture.
There may well be technical fixes for some of these problems. We aren’t
short on ingenuity and know-how. How we plan for these problems will
demonstrate our capacity to be a real desert smart town.
Steve Brown is also correct about the serious lack of investment in
infrastructure development by past governments.
Perhaps if the previous Federal government had shown more leadership on
the issues of global warming and sustainability, Australia would be in
a much healthier condition.
To make sure we have a town our kids can live in at the end of this
century means we have to plan now to assess and take notice of all
possible risks as well as potential opportunities.
Dismissing or ignoring global warming doesn’t help us to be desert
ADAM CONNELLY: Selling my kidney
for the plane fare home.
It could be argued that the Wizard of Oz was a benevolent man trying to
make a society full of strange evils round every corner a better place.
You could argue that when this roly-poly little man came to Oz he saw a
place he loved being overrun by wicked witches and he wanted to do
something about it, to make this magical place better.
I don’t think that was his motive.
It could just as well be argued that he was a power hungry little man
who wanted to be God but eventually couldn’t deliver.
He was a David Koresh character - a man with an incredible messianic
complex that sucked in hoards of followers into a dangerous cult.
Do you feel like that has happened here in Alice Springs of late? I
feel as though I have put my faith into a false idol. A golden calf. A
messiah which promised freedom from bondage.
A messiah which promised to make my life whole.
But instead of a land of milk and honey I have been left alone,
dejected and bitter.
What makes it more painful an experience is that the messiah has
genuinely changed the lives of others. People in Darwin are giving
thanks at the feet of the icons.
People in Melbourne are preparing offerings to their saviour.
We here in Alice Springs have been forsaken. Our deliverer has turned
his face and we are to walk in the wilderness for another three months
For those whose stompin’ ground isn’t Alice Springs, the crappiest
thing about living here is getting home.
With Christmas fast approaching the promise of a reasonably priced
plane trip home was as sweet a sound to the ears of the non-local as
“my shout” is to locals.
Tiger Air was to be the solution to Alice Springs’ biggest problem.
(OK, not the biggest but close).
And we rejoiced with the sounding of trumpets and the killing of the
fatted calf when we heard the good news of their coming.
I don’t know who is to blame. Is it Tiger?
Is it Qantas? Is it the Alice Springs Airport or the government? I
But I’m now considering selling my kidney for the plane fare home.
Anyone interested in buying one in fairly good condition should contact
the classifieds section of this paper. (Only one owner, promise!)
With egg on our faces we have been forced to grovel at the feet of the
only airline that comes here.
The ugly stepmother who, like in the fairy tale, makes us work till we
bleed for the scraps at the table.
It has made for a strange feeling around the place. Tiger coming, then
The Federal Government being overthrown in the closest thing we’ve seen
to a people-led revolution since the “It’s time” campaign.
Then citing the coalition government’s handling of the Territory, the
Chief Minister resigns her post the day after the coalition government
is ousted. Did anyone else find that strange?
Then without a word from the public the head of the government in the
Territory is handed to a man from Tasmania.
Paul Henderson is from Tassie. Are we OK with that?
Australian’s aren’t good at change. We like change to be slow, gradual
and contemplative. Upheaval makes us queezy.
The thing is though, if you stand still for a moment, close your eyes
and breathe, you will realise that you feel just like you did three
You’re still paying tax, you’re still paying a mortgage or rent.
You’re still living in an over-governed town and it still costs you
your organs to get home for Christmas. Things haven’t changed at all.
It’s summer and just like the bugs outside, the landscape hasn’t
changed, the buzzing just got a bit louder.
Back to front
page of the the Alice Springs News.