December 20, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Wannabee mayors tout policies. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The town needs 500 more residential blocks, a better sewage plant, generous funding for the promotion of tourism by locals, effective flood control and no take-away liquor restrictions.
So says Alderman David Koch, one of three candidates – so far – for Mayor in the local government elections in March next year.
“A healthier town” that comes to grips with the effects of alcohol abuse is a major issue for another mayoral candidate, Alderman Meredith Campbell, an advocate of one take-away grog free day a week.

She says the council is frequently at loggerheads with the Licensing Commission.
She is out of step with the majority of the present council who want no sales restrictions.
“We comment on various things, such as an anti-restrictions scenario, but restrictions still go ahead,” said Ald Campbell.
“The liquor commission is getting its orders from their Minister.
“The council did not support an investigation into a grog free day.
“Yet there is going to be an investigation.”
Ald Campbell says the council should aim for a more cooperative relationship with the NT Government.
“The current council continues to be at loggerheads with them.
“There is an active denial of the Labor government in the NT. [Some council members want to] do anything to bring them down.
“We’re neutralized.
“We need a greater degree of trust and cooperation, between the aldermen, and with the Territory Government.” 
Ald Koch says: “I’m not a radical, provocative person, but I offer strong leadership.”
Both he and Ald Campbell gave detailed responses to the survey posted by the Alice Springs News on its website, about local attitudes towards major issues.
These were selected from letters and personal comments made to the News by readers.
The council, the survey suggests, is able to tackle some of these issues in its own right, or advance them by applying its considerable lobbying powers to the Territory and Federal governments.
The survey can be accessed until February 1 at after which the News will publish the results in our first 2008 edition, on February 7.
The News will give updates, from time to time, on Trevor Scott’s “Territory Today” program on Radio 8HA, weekdays between 12 noon and 1pm, during the holiday period.
ISSUE 1. Convert the Civic Centre to a place where visitors are welcomed. It should include a museum celebrating Central Australia’s natural beauty, its art, ancient Aboriginal culture, and the pioneering skills of living in a remote area.
This would include expanded space for Tourism Central Australia, and facilities for social and other functions for visitors and locals alike. Move the majority of the town council bureaucracy to office accommodation elsewhere in town.
KOCH: It is the Civic Centre for Alice Springs. It would not be effective to move all the office staff. The centre is open to the public for meetings, small conventions and self-catered functions such as weddings, including the committee rooms and the lawn area. The Andy McNeill Room is used a lot. Are the other spaces used a lot by the public? No, maybe because it’s not broadly known that they are available.
CAMPBELL: Great idea in hindsight, but the work has already been done. The facilities are in place for the foreseeable future. I was away during the decision making. It’s too late now, the centre is occupied by the bureaucracy. Perhaps we can have a serviced courtyard and a coffee shop.
ISSUE 2. Open up cheap residential and industrial land. Create powerful incentives for people and industries to move here. We need affordable accommodation for people working here, and for first home buyers.
KOCH: The council should and will lobby for the speeding up of the land release program. We need 400 to 500 blocks in the next five years, 100 a year.
Mt Johns has been on the agenda for 10 years and is still not getting anywhere. Cheap residential land is not available. The cost of infrastructure sets price. The government needs to sponsor developments to make them cheaper.
Even if expensive land is made available, this would create a movement out of the older areas, such as Gillen, for example, making room for first home buyers.
I prefer cheaper satellite developments, but we need to remain between the ranges. South of the Gap is mainly rural, and we should keep it that way.
CAMPBELL: How could you disagree? We need to achieve this by becoming a more effective lobby of the NT Government, by striking up a better relationship.
ISSUE 3. Build one or more recreation lakes within a 100km radius of Alice Springs, which can also be integrated in the water supply.
KOCH: I support the proposal for a recreation lake. It can be 10, 15, 20 km out. People who retire want to be near water. We can have a lake for fishing, sailing. Some station people are sailing on clay pans after rain. It could be part of our water saving strategy by harvesting some of the water.
CAMPBELL: I would have to seek exert advice given the [sacred sites] problems with the proposed lake at Junction Waterhole [upstream from the Telegraph Station]. It seems unnecessary as a water source because we have been assured there is a generous capacity in the aquifers. I would have concerns about the environment. Would you get independent expert advice? The experts cost too much. We would have to trust the government.
ISSUE 4. Put tourist promotion into the hands of locals, for example, Tourism Central Australia, who know the game and get bang for buck.
KOCH: Tourism Central Australia is a significant force, with its new link with the Barkly. Promotion should be industry based. This is more productive than what the bureaucrats are coming up with. There would need to be some coordination with the NT Government which would retain the task of attracting tourists to the Territory in the first place. I don’t think we’re getting our fair share from Tourism NT. Of the $40m it is getting we should receive at least one third. This would leave one third for the Top End and one third for the NT as a whole.
CAMPBELL: Yes! I have a lot of faith in Tourism Central Australia. Tourism NT, I would hope, are adhering to a buy local policy, and use local expertise as much as possible. “Share our story” is just another slick advertising campaign without much grassroots effect. Local film maker Dave Nixon has excellent footage and should be put in the loop.
ISSUE 5. Double the available water supply, including through recycling.
KOCH: The report just released by the NT Government says there are adequate supplies. But drinking water is a non renewable resource and we need to conserve it, reduce household consumption, have arid area style gardens.
We need a policy on waste water. For example, a fully aerated mini sewage plant at the Golfcourse Estate could provide water for the golf course. We could have several satellite sewage plants producing reusable water. The council uses bore water for its parks and gardens.
CAMPBELL: Aquifers and bore fields are healthy. This is not an area I have much knowledge about. We can reduce greenhouse emissions by reducing the need to pump a lot of water. The council has an environment officer now who will be prosecuting locally the Cities for Climate Protection national scheme for councils.
ISSUE 6. Move the power station, the garbage dump and the sewage plant well outside the town.
KOCH: The NT Government should move the sewage ponds or convert them into an environmentally friendly facility. We should cut back by at least 30% the disposal via evaporation, and replace this with recycling. The power station is in the process of being moved. I would lobby the NT Government to ensure this process is not stalled. At the moment it’s a 10 year plan but it should be done in five.
CAMPBELL: This seems to be a mega operation. We should have avoided the need for this by better planning in the past. If you move the dump further away from town you create more greenhouse gases through the need to transport rubbish further. I don’t have enough expertise on this.
ISSUE 7. Develop, in collaboration with private enterprise, tourist facilities in the West and East MacDonnell Parks.
KOCH: Councils are good facilitators between government departments and local businesses, including travel wholesales and tour operators. We can do that without being involved in the operation of a tourism development. We can be mediators, facilitators and lobbyists. Developing the parks is a concept worth pursuing. Andy McNeill was thumping the table on this. The West MacDonnells will be another council soon, apparently with a budget heading towards $40m, twice of what Alice Springs has. We should work in conjunction with them. Council areas that assist in generating income are better for local community and the NT Government.
CAMPBELL: Great idea. Anything that makes the parks more visitor friendly is a good thing. As Mayor I would lobby for better resources. I would increase pressure on the government by hosting media tours to areas of neglect.
However, since becoming an alderman in a by-election in September 2005, parks have not been an issue discussed as a council. The scope of our interest has been services for the town, not the region. But we need a more – I hate to use the word – holistic approach to the whole area. We have been mostly involved in core service issues, having verges mown, garbage collected and parking infringement notices issued.
ISSUE 8. Leave all national parks in public ownership but set up an Aboriginal park management advisory body.
KOCH: Our parks should be owned by the public. They are for all Australians. National parks should not be owned by a segment of the population. Joint management arrangements can be in place. There should be complete and equal access for visitors and investors alike. I don’t agree with the NT Government’s current plans to give favorable treatment to Indigenous businesses in the parks.
CAMPBELL: It seems the current arrangement, which is public ownership, is working well. An Aboriginal advisory body seems a good idea and apparently already exists for some areas.
ISSUE 9. Put in place flood mitigation that will reliably save the town from catastrophic loss of life and damage resulting from storms increasingly likely to occur because of climate change.
KOCH: We have not put in place any significant flood mitigation. I believe a flood retardation basin north of the town should be urgently discussed with the NT Government. A one in 100 year flood would wipe us off the map. This flood mitigation dam could incorporate a recreation lake.
CAMPBELL: This sounds like a great idea and a win-win situation. Power and Water has concluded that only a dam at Junction Waterhole will save the town in a one in 100 flood. It seems we should all work together to achieve this. There is no time for delay.
ISSUE 10. Create farmlets at Rocky Hill, near the new gaol and on Arid Zone Research Institute land so that small fruit and vegetable growing enterprises can be created, both for the local and interstate markets.
KOCH: There are plans for agriculture on airport land. Let’s start there, using recycled water from the sewage ponds. We need to prove it can be done, then expand on it. Ti Tree started with one farm.
CAMPBELL: Great idea. An opportunity to buy local, eat fresh and use recycled water.
ISSUE 11. Achieve greater autonomy for The Centre by bringing senior bureaucrats back to Alice Springs.
KOCH: I totally agree. There has been a bleed of talent to Darwin. We are a major regional centre, the capital of Central Australia. We need a public service in touch with the region. It can’t be done from a desk in Darwin.
CAMPBELL: Absolutely. Great opportunities for bureaucrats to subvert the Darwin brain drain.
ISSUE 12. Place the responsibility for town planning in the southern region of the NT with Alice Town Council, together with appropriate funding from the NT Government.
KOCH: I’ve been on the Development Consent Authority as the council representative for much of the past 10 years. The authority is a suitable body, with two council reps and two other local people. Only the chairman is not from Alice.
Spreading the planning responsibility out into regional areas would be beyond the capability of the council.
It would not be in a position to pay for this. If the NT Government would fully fund the council to carry out planning functions I would wholly support it.
But I can’t see the NT Government doing it. When we had responsibilities for public health the funding from the NT Government did not cover costs.
CAMPBELL: Embracing town planning could come with future reviews of our by-laws and responsibilities.
ISSUE 13. Set up an Aboriginal cultural centre, featuring bush foods, corroborrees and other entertainment and educational elements alongside the Desert Park.
KOCH: I would lobby for it, but it’s not a council job. I would lobby Aboriginal associations and other influential groups to present their culture to the world.
CAMPBELL: Great idea. Don’t know why it hasn’t been done before. An opportunity for Tourism NT and local bureaucrats.
ISSUE 14. Seek better cooperation with Centrecorp and other Aboriginal interests.
KOCH: It has been the council’s policy to engage with local Aboriginal organizations. To what effect so far? Zip. It has been extremely difficult to have any meaningful discussions. Meetings are set up but nobody [from the Aboriginal organizations] would show up.
CAMPBELL: Cooperation is one of my favorite words. Maybe there will be a reduced level of public suspicion about how these groups operate.
ISSUE 15. Require shopping centers to have public toilets. The council should provide further public ablution facilities around town, including showers.
KOCH: We’ve done that. There are showers at the Civic Centre. They are used quite well. Originally we wanted the Hartley Street car park toilets to have showers as well, for passing through travelers, but the Exeloo is working well.
The council can only encourage shopping centers to make available their toilets to the public.
The last council has improved the situation and we are monitoring demand.
CAMPBELL: Yes, toilets that are free to use. We shouldn’t have to spend a penny to spend a penny. The council is looking at expanding such facilities. Showers at the Civic Centre are a great success.
ISSUE 16. Create and enforce public conduct standards.
KOCH: The council has by-laws. There are some enforcement issues but these are police matters, not by-laws matters.
Drunkenness and public misconduct are generally police matters.
By-laws take years to create. We are reassessing the council’s role in enforcing by-laws in conjunction with the police.
We have to have a far better relationship with the police, not working against each other, but with each other. For example, the control of campers in the river has to be on a daily basis. We need more police resources in community style policing.
CAMPBELL: Public conduct is already regulated. Anti-social behavior is attracting attention of the authorities. People are moved on. Rangers are giving people a friendly word, ask them to move on, tell them antisocial behavior is not acceptable. Lhere Artepe are setting up protocols. Bad behavior in public is a major tourism disincentive. I personally am heartened by reduced anti-social behavior as a direct result of the dry town regime.
ISSUE 17. Create two camps for visitors from bush communities, whilst strictly enforcing laws against unauthorized camping, littering and public drinking.
KOCH: The public of Alice Springs has rejected the two camps idea. The message has been, not in our back yard. There is merit for short term accommodation for transient people, not in dongas but in solid permanent structures. But it’s very hard to find a location unless we put these facilities well out of town, on Owen Springs or on the Tanami Highway.
CAMPBELL: I am very much behind the creation of transitory camps. They work well at Pt Augusta. They are great facilities for visiting  families.
I’m assured they can be run according to the expectations of the community – no alcohol, no drunks, no hangers-on.
ISSUE 18. There should be stringent take-away alcohol restrictions to reduce harm to a large segment of our community, and to curb anti-social behavior.
KOCH: This would be heading towards total prohibition. Stringent restrictions are not going to work.
Alice is a tourist town. It requires reasonable trading hours. The last thing we need is a reputation as a town of wowsers.
We need to lobby the NT and Federal governments to introduce basic core measures in the education system, to warn young people of the perils of alcoholism, the same as our younger people become aware of the environment.
This can’t be solved over night, it takes a generational change.
Penalizing the majority because of the few is not the answer.
An ID system targeting problem alcoholics is a more positive method, and will give an opportunity to relax current restrictions.
CAMPBELL: Reducing supply is part of a suite of responses. We should have one grog free day.
Sunday would be symbolic, a rest from grog.
No grog at mayoral functions.
We need to change the alcohol culture from the top.

Chrissy, then the long, dry stretch. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The jolly gift-giving season can be tough for tourism-related enterprises in the Alice CBD, even though they know what to expect.
How’s business? The question sounds casual but the answer doesn’t.
“You’re asking just as we’re entering a horror loss-making three months!”
That’s the hospitality business at this time of year; it’s predictable but still difficult to endure.
The only solution would be to build tourism in the hot months, says a Todd Mall restaurateur, but that doesn’t seem feasible: “It’s just too damned hot!
“Not only do the tourists not come, but the locals go away too.”
He says a “rent holiday” would ease the pain.
“Rents are charged on the assumption that you can do business here for 12 months of the year but that’s not the case.”
Business was good during the tourist season, despite a lot of competition: “Our business has held its own. It’s a daily struggle, but that’s the nature of the industry.”
Staffing was an issue earlier in the year but “some excellent staff” were found later. 
One photo shop recently closed in the mall.
A survivor says big chains are mounting tough competition for small retailers, although his business is normal for this time of year.
“It’s never busy in Todd Mall around  Christmas. We won’t get busy again till April.”
Will he lose money?
“Of course.” 
A solution would be to move a shopping centre into the mall, to “bring the locals here – it won’t happen though”.
“Retail is in the shopping centres and will stay there.”
Having cheap flights would also help: “Talk to Qantas about that!”
The Territory Government doesn’t do anything for Alice Springs: “We’d have to vote Labor I guess. The town is not moving ahead.”
Is he confident about the new year?
“Not really. There’s not enough business, Harvey Norman is competing, with massive advertising, all day, every day. What people spend there they can’t spend anywhere else.
“With big chains taking over Alice Springs there’s nothing we can do.
“And rents are getting dearer, soon they will be unaffordable.
“The future is not bright for the small retailer.”
The owners of a speciality bookshop were more upbeat. 
New to the business, trading has been better than they expected, despite what they experienced as “not a terribly good tourist season”.
“Although we don’t see all the tourists. Often people have arrived the night before and have to go again the next morning. They might come in to the bookshop but they haven’t got enough time to browse.”
They’d like to see better coordination between the tourism industry and small businesses that have goods or services that appeal to visitors.
To improve their business, they have focussed on making their shop attractive and interesting and will be doing more over the summer. 
They look after clients to get repeat business from locals, and to benefit from word of mouth from overseas visitors.
They’ve also tried to increase the variety of stock. 
“Anything that relates to Central Australia and Alice Springs sells – that’s ‘the label’.” 
They’d like to explore linking to other tourist-related businesses, including the publicly funded attractions like Araluen and the Desert Park: “We send them custom and vice versa.”
In a souvenir shop a more gloomy picture is painted.
A “quiet” year is put down to the lack of international tourists.
“We are too dear. People would rather go to Vietnam, China, Russia, Thailand.
“If you had $5000 in your pocket you couldn’t go to Yulara for a week but you could live like a king for a month in Vietnam.
“Combine that with domestic airfares and the bubble has burst.
“I can control what happens in my shop but not who comes through the airport.”
This business owner says Alice Springs suffered badly from bad publicity earlier in the year: “I know we have missed out on a lot of caravanners – they’d been told, ‘Don’t stop in Alice’.
“I hope Tiger will get started – cheap airfares will help.
“But I have grave concerns because I simply don’t know what we can do about international traffic.
“Italian and Spanish groups who used to come here go straight to Ayers Rock.
“We used to get tour groups through the shop weekly, they would spend $4000 at a time, they were very welcome customers.
“I can’t remember the last one I saw; it would have to be a year and a half ago.
“They go straight to Yulara and then to Cairns.
“We have one flight from Sydney a day, Yulara has two.
“Our uniqueness isn’t enough to give us an edge. We have some lovely things, but so have other places in the world and we are simply too dear.”
Businesses less dependent on the tourist dollar were more satisfied with the past year.
A personal apparel shop in the Alice Plaza had a “steady year” though slower than the previous year.
The manager put that down to the supermarket closing and renovations in the centre.
She expects the arrival of the chainstore Target to bring back customers.
“We do get some tourists but they’re not who we depend on.” 
Target will offer competition but doesn’t stock this shop’s biggest selling brands.
The food court renovations and new businesses will also bring customers in, says the manager.  
And her shop, part of a smaller national chain, will get a refit: “That’ll be nice.”
Another personal apparel store in the Plaza has had a “quiet” year but gives “antisocial behaviour of community people” as the reason.
“It puts customers off.”
This manager sees “no improvement” on that front.
The closure of the supermarket did not help and she’s worried about Target: “Customers will just go there and leave.”
A luxury goods shop is feeling “very confident about the coming year”.
“The shopping centre will reach a turning point with the renovations completed and Target arriving.” 
This manager says business confidence has returned since the Intervention, which dispelled the rising bad press the town was getting. The closure of the bottleshop helped too.
Most of his customers are local residents.
“It feels like there’s less traffic but those who come spend more readily.” 
Mining activity around Alice is also boosting confidence, as it has in another  store owned by this business in another Territory town.
“Dry town” got a big tick from a specialist personal apparel store in the Yeperenye shopping centre.
“We’ve had great year, fantastic, more vibrant,” says the business owner.
“Dry town has had a big affect on the attitude of tourists as well as locals. 
“Tourists are hanging around longer, they’re more content to be in town.  Earlier in the year they had a lot of concerns about what was going on here.”
Tourists make up about one third of his customers.
October was a very strong month but November slowed a bit “before the election. People went conservative. Retail is very sensitive”. 
He’s not sure about the coming year, though not nervous. 
A second airline will be welcome, of course, but he doesn’t want to knock  Qantas.
“At least they’re here. They cover the costs of the airport on their own, which must contribute to their prices being at a premium. I always try to find the positive: if they weren’t here the town would be a lot worse off.”
Business drops at this time of year: “That’s just the way it is, you structure your busines around that. “
He’s got good, stable staff: the shortest term has been 12 months.
“We can keep staff for up to five years. I’ll be retaining all my staff next year.”

Who could shift the Indigenous affairs debate on the ground in The Centre? COMMENT by KIERAN FINNANE.

I’m about to put up my pen and stop thinking about Central Australia for six weeks.
When I come back to this beautiful, challenging, often exciting but also often frustrating and saddening part of Australia, what I’d like to see most is the emergence of a new level of public debate across the region.
This goes for many issues but here I will confine myself to the debate on Indigenous affairs.
The past year ‘s enormous national focus on Indigenous affairs in The Centre and the whole Northern Territory has served to highlight how few here on the ground are able to respond to the challenge of thinking about and doing things differently.
An exception has been Labor MLA Alison Anderson. 
After coming to parliament in June 2005 with a tainted reputation linked to mismanagement issues in the western desert community of Papunya, where she and her family are politically dominant, Ms Anderson stayed, or was kept away from the limelight.
This year apparently enough dust had settled for her to return to what she does best – bringing to the regional as well as national scene a powerfully articulate Aboriginal voice from the bush. Enough dust had apparently also settled for her to start talking again to the Alice Springs News, after we had asked some pretty tough questions of her in the lead-up to the election.
While I’m giving account here of her many qualities, in the past at least transparency was not one of them.
Travelling with Ms Anderson in her home country she will show you the small creek not far from Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff) where she was born.
You will observe her formidable communication skills, in Pintupi-Luritja, Arrernte, Pitjantjatjara and English. There’s more than knowledge of languages at play here: she has a forthrightness and sense of humour that is immediately engaging, seeming to work for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal interlocutors alike.
She also has a keen sense for coining a phrase, articulating from the outset that “the little people on the ground” were the ones who counted in the Intervention, and later dismissing the rising tide of objections from “urbanized saviours”.
This comment took aim at her parliamentary colleague Marion Scrymgour after the wild rhetoric of Ms Scrymgour’s Charles Perkins Oration, but Ms Anderson no doubt also had in mind the National Aboriginal Alliance, the 100 Indigenous activists from around Australia who gathered here to denounce the Intervention as “a cynical attempt to subject our people to further genocide”.
Ms Anderson’s positions cut through because of the credibility she gains from her deep roots in her electorate where she continues to spend much of her time, and because she successfully straddles the two worlds that so many assume are irreconcilable.
She speaks her Indigenous languages, practices her Aboriginal culture, is deeply enmeshed personally in her western desert communities, and at the same time is a powerful political operator of now some decades of experience.
The intellectual independence and courage in steering her course through the first six months of the Intervention should not be under-estimated.
Her position in caucus came close to being untenable before the demise of former Chief Minister Clare Martin and her deputy Syd Stirling, infamous for his head-kicking.
But Ms Anderson is the one who survived. Now she says she and her colleagues have put their differences behind them; her focus is to work with Ms Scrymgour, the new Territory Minister for Indigenous Affairs (following Ms Martin’s disastrous record in the role) as well as Minister for Employment, Education and Training, and Family and Community Services, and Child Protection – critical portfolios for the Territory Government’s response to the issues identified in the “Little Children Are Sacred” report.
And now, who else?
Public debate in Central Australia is characterised by reluctance to speak out, defensiveness, and reaction. There is little agenda setting. The NPY Women’s Council, who have been speaking out for years on issues of violence against women, have been conspicuously silent in the wake of the Intervention, except for their participation in the pre-election rally in Alice, demanding tougher restrictions on alcohol. The Central Land Council and Tangentyere Council have stayed in their bunkers, guarding their patch. There’s no big picture vision of different ways of doing business coming from them.
Patricia Turner, former ATSIC CEO and now head of the federally funded National Indigenous Television based in Alice Springs, spearheaded local opposition to the Intervention, which led to the formation of the National Aboriginal Alliance.
They promised to come up with an alternative plan for the development of Indigenous communities.
If they have actually produced one it has received no public attention.
Ms Turner has been noticeably quiet, although remaining on message about “the invasion” as she and other Territory Indigenous “leaders” – essentially the heads of organizations with huge vested interests in the status quo and on many counts a poor record of achievement – met with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin.
Sitting Labor MHR Warren Snowdon’s campaign for Lingiari was entirely in the negative: return of the Community Development Employment Scheme (albeit reformed, as the shocking rorting of the scheme by governments to fund public service jobs had been fatally exposed) and restoration of the permit system.
Mr Snowdon was opposed by the personable and energetic Adam Giles (Country Liberal Party), who, however, also campaigned entirely in the negative. “No more sitdown money” was his core slogan, one that proved easy to turn against him.
The election result looks like a referendum on the Intervention, spectacularly lost.
Mr Giles actually achieved a swing of 4.1% to the CLP in Alice Springs, which could have been in part to do with disenchantment with Territory Labor, but Mr Snowdon gained some massive swings in parts of the bush, in several areas getting upwards of 90% of the vote.
There was just one significant swing (7.02%) against him in the Centralian bush: interestingly it came from the area centred on Hermannsburg, which Prime Minister John Howard had visited during the campaign. Even so, Snowdon got upwards of 70% of the vote there.
Ms Anderson – who, in an apparent contradiction which she shrugs off, campaigned for the anti-Intervention Snowdon – says that voters weren’t solely preoccupied with the Intervention. However the one successful election “vox pop” that I was able to conduct on a community said otherwise.
I asked voters queuing up outside the booth in Ltyente Apurte (Santa Teresa), some 80 kms east of Alice, who they would like to see win and why. Quite a lot of women (it is bush women who have often been touted as supporters of the Intervention measures) were prepared to answer the questions and overwhelmingly they wanted to see Labor win.
All of the reasons they gave were to do with their opposition to the Intervention, essentially its “one size fits all” approach. The men I randomly approached declined to answer; on two other communities men and women overwhelmingly declined to answer.
However, in Ltyente Apurte and Alpurrululam (Lake Nash, up on the Queensland border and closer to Mt Isa than Alice) there were Aboriginal residents, all men, who put on the Labor t-shirt and handed out how-to-vote cards for Snowdon.
They gave a more nuanced view of the pros and cons of the Intervention, in particular welcoming the increased presence of police on communities, with one man conceding that broader-based change is needed but has to be approached more gradually.
In town, in the lead-up to the election, fear of debate, such as it is, was caricatured by controversy in the Town Council over a public reading of poems and stories in response to the Intervention. The reading took place at the StoryWall, a venue partially sponsored by the council, and some councilors were worried about the event’s potential to politicize and divide the community!
At the same time there began an interesting exchange of letters to the editor in the Centralian Advocate. One half of the exchange has been Dave Price and at times his wife, Bess.
Mr Price is a white Australian of Irish descent; Mrs Price is a Warlpiri woman. They’ve been married for some 30 years.
They took the bold step of coming out in support of Mr Giles in a passionately argued letter, detailing the failures of the self-determination era in responding to the devastation of their Aboriginal kin, largely by alcohol and a soft police and judicial response to violent offending (a viewpoint put powerfully to the nation last week by Noel Pearson in the wake of the outrage over the Aurukun child rape case).
The other half has come from a woman I don’t know, Maddie Church, who has argued, just as passionately I suppose but with no reference to supporting evidence, for the retention of the self-determination approach. Ms Church sees solutions in educating and training community members “to recognize racism and its effects” and in their employment “in such areas as cultural maintenance, group therapy and empowerment”. Mr Price countered, arguing for acceptance of Aboriginal moral responsibility: “To convince a group they are quintessential victims whose problems are all caused by others denies them justice, dignity and the opportunity to resolve their own problems.” 
This letters exchange has been a fine example of the poles of the bogged down Indigenous affairs debate in the Centre from which we have to emerge, with urgency.

Centre could lose another seat in the NT Parliament. Discussion by ALEX NELSON. 

History is about to repeat itself.
The Northern Territory Redistribution Committee, as of yesterday, commenced the process of public consultation leading to the redistribution of NT electoral boundaries.
It has called for written suggestions to be received by 18 January 2008.
The timing of this initial phase seems unfortunate, as it coincides with the annual Christmas / New Year exodus; and such a dry topic is likely to be low on the list of priorities for most people during this period.
The reason for the timing is that the NT Electoral Act 2004 requires future redistributions to “begin as soon as practicable after two years and six months after the polling day for the last general election” – and the last general election was 18 June 2005.
The current redistribution process will likely have profound consequences for political representation in Central Australia, and indeed for the whole of regional NT.
The Report by the Augmented Redistribution Committee of 2004 noted that future redistributions “will have to deal with:
• a continuing growth of population in existing urban and surrounding areas;
• the continuing growth in the electoral quota may outstrip growth in some divisions [electorates] which could lead to a consequential increase in the geographical size of the larger rural divisions;
• it will become increasingly more difficult to have pure urban and non-urban divisions where urban and non-urban divisions abut.
The Augmented Committee was not concerned by predominately urban divisions having non-urban elements and vice versa;
• as the largest population growth is occurring in Darwin, Palmerston and the related rural area, boundaries of divisions to the south will inevitably have to move north;
• as a consequence of the above not all strong community of interest issues will be able to be satisfied.
This general objective was sometimes in conflict with other objectives and matters that needed to be considered.
The Augmented Committee was of the view that a major redistribution will be necessary at a future date and may result in the loss of a rural division to a new predominantly urban division in the Darwin / Palmerston area.”
Put simply, Central Australia will lose an electorate in favour of a new seat in the Top End, further enhancing the imbalance of representation and power that Darwin already enjoys at the expense of regional NT.
Almost certainly, this will occur with the redistribution process commencing now.
If so, this will be only the second time that Central Australia has lost an electorate since the Legislative Council began in 1947 – the earlier occasion was in 1990, when the initial call for submissions from the public also happened during the festive season of 1989/90. This resulted in a reduction from six seats based in or around Alice Springs to the existing five.
If the next redistribution leads to a reduction to just four electorates based around the Alice, the Centre will have returned to the same number of divisions that existed from 1947 to 1983.
Before we become misty-eyed with nostalgia, however, it is worth noting – in terms of overall representation – that Central Australia will suffer a proportional loss compared to 1983. Back then the Centre had four seats out of 19 but now it will be four out of 25.
Just how this will be achieved is another matter. Loraine Braham, the independent Member for Braitling, has declared she will retire from politics at the next general election, which means that there will be no incumbent member for that seat – which surely presents a tempting target for abolition of its existence. Time will tell.
Did I mention the word “proportional”? Perhaps it is high time to consider the nature of electoral representation in the Northern Territory, in favour of a system that would more equitably represent the interests of regional centres and remote areas of the Territory.

Christmas for the other half (or how to have a festive drink in a dry camp). By KIERAN FINNANE.

After a Christmas dinner hosted by one of their art dealers they’ll go home for a while to their western desert communities of Papunya, Mount Liebig and Kintore.
But work will probably bring them back to town.
And with town life comes drinking.
MLA Alison Anderson sat down with the group of five women and one man in the shade of a bean tree on the fringes of Hoppy’s Camp on Sunday.
The group were waiting for a dealer, Ernie, to arrive with canvas.
He’s not their only customer. Simon, a former coordinator of an art centre, often picks them up in a Toyota and takes them to paint in a caravan park south of the Gap.
There’s also Greg, driver of a mini-bus.
The money’s good, they say, and they get cars. And they’re looking forward to their Christmas dinner.
They’d rather the dealers came out to their home communities. There are art centres in each but not the immediate cash payments or cars.
They’ve still got full access to their “sitdown” money – that’s the word Ms Anderson uses in language, when she asks them. But they expect quarantining to catch up with them in the new year and don’t really mind. It’ll be a way of saving money for food.
The group live in a makeshift camp at the base of a small hill. There’s a shelter made from polytarp and a blanket; there are swags. A milk crate hooked in the branches of a tree keeps a few basics out of reach of dogs.
The man is crippled. He has a house allocated to him but it has been badly burnt. The fire was set by “little kids”, they say. 
They use a tap at the house for drinking and washing, and sit in the shadow it throws in the afternoon. Its yard is littered with green cans.
Their camp is littered with more green cans and broken beer-bottle glass.
They’re aware of the law banning drinking in town camps.
Taxis and mini-buses won’t bring them into the camp if they’re carrying grog ... instead they drop them on the North Stuart Highway outside the CLC offices, where a laneway gives access to the river.
It’s a short walk across the creek, with a carton of beer in tow, or after 6pm, it may be two-litre casks of wine.
They hide the grog in the hills or in the long grass around the camp and wait for nightfall or take it cross-country to the Telegraph Station where public drinking is not outlawed.
They laugh as they tell the stories, of seeing the mounted police arrive when they’re already at the top of the hill leading to the Telegraph Station; of waiting till the police Toyota comes past at 3pm, regular as clockwork.
“It’s like a big game,” says Ms Anderson, laughing ruefully.
These people are not hardened drinkers, they’re not ravaged by it.
They mostly look fairly fresh on this Sunday morning.
And they don’t drink when they go back home, they say.
At home they prefer to look for pituri (bush tobacco) and hunt for kangaroos and goanna.
The drinking is just part of town life.
Most of them will be back next year.

Two pennyless refugees make restaurant dream come true.

A Vietnamese restaurant situated in the middle of a market garden in Alice’s rural area has moved a step closer to opening day with the approval by immigration authorities of a temporary business visa for its chef.
Proprietors Tinh and Lan Nguyen arrived in Alice Springs as refugees in September 1994.
In little more than a decade they have established a thriving business and are now in a position to expand it, by sponsoring the entry of a chef they head-hunted in their native city of Haiphong.
On a trip back home Lan gave herself the pleasant task of sampling Haiphong’s best hotel restaurants.
Particularly impressed with the fare in one, she enquired after its head chef.
And despite her warnings that in Australia “it’s really hard work” (compared to Vietnam where “it’s work and singing”) Phi Hung Tran was keen to come.
Tinh and Lan hope that he will arrive and be ready to start work during January.
They plan to serve lunch and dinner six days a week (closed Tuesday) and morning coffee on the weekends.

Art is political. By DARCY DAVIS.

The Ape TV line up at last Tuesday’s CDU student art exhibition featured a new film by Ronja Moss, called Dazed.
In October Ronja won a national award for her film, The Beast, her Year 12 major project in 2006. 
The new film deals with a couple who smoke too much marijuana  and the impact it has on their relationship. It’s quite difficult to watch because of its use of backward speaking, bright colour washes and hallucinations which help viewers feel the frustration and restlessness the film seeks to portray – very clever. 
“It made me feel like a spliff,” said audience member Jah Miel.
I was assured that no real marijuana was used in the film.
Also featuring in the line-up was Tashka Urban’s self directed, produced and edited music video for her song, “Together in this Life”.
While the film is not quite complete due to delays in arrival of footage from Greenpeace,  it’s well edited and shot with lots of deep meaning behind the visuals involving cocoons and rebirth.
The art exhibition itself in the Desert Lantern Restaurant was a feast for the eyes, complete with a working merry-go-round, kaleidoscope and a chessboard.
The chessboard was one of the highlights, portraying white people and black people on different sides of the board.
“I could convey the concept that people weren’t always on one side or the other – it wasn’t a black and white issue,” explained artist Truce Haynes.
“Once you start playing this chessboard, it starts to entwine and you start to lose track of who’s on side with who, but we’re not really on different sides, we’re in it together.”
The merry-go-round was also a beauty with the story behind it as engrossing as the piece itself.
“My son brought me the airconditioner motor from a motorcar to see if I could do anything with it,” explained Peter Healy.
“His son, my grandson has got muscular dystrophy, there’s no cure for it, his life expectancy is 20.
“At the moment he’s five and has just got into a wheelchair. He has trouble sleeping so I made him this because if you look at it long enough it should put you to sleep, it’s quite hypnotic.”
Pete also made a clock with the movements of the yoga routine, “Salute to the Sun”, as well as a sculpture of his brother, engraved with the words “In memory of a bloody good bloke”.
Allan Cooney’s painting, “intervention”, was also very eye catching, painted in the style of old propaganda posters. Is shows politicians with cheesy greens taking giant strides from parliament house.
“This is my first real attempt to use art as other than a creative outlet – the intention being to comment on a social issue,” explained Allan.
“Canberra is green and Mount Gillen in red ochre, green and red being colour opposites, to represent that Canberra has one of the highest living standards in the world, and some of the poorest are in Central Australia.
“The striding figures are unfilled to show they have no real substance. However they have this unnatural aura which represents their political power that is attendant to their activity. And of course the excuse for all this is being spoken out of a certain part of their body.”
The Student Art Exhibition was yet another example of the artistic fruit Alice has produced this year – may the flowers keep blooming in 2008.

Bowerbird - the figures. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Bowerbird Enterprises tendered $600,000 to operate the reuse centre (tipshop); the winning tender from Subloos priced this part of their operation at $228,684.
Bowerbird tendered $156,000 to run the weighbridge; Subloos, $109,200.
Bowerbird’s target for recovery of wastes was set at 0.3% in the tender; Subloos’ was set at 15%, rising to 20% after five years.
In business terms, taking into account price and function, it looks like a no brainer, even when council’s 10% weighting to local business is applied.
The Alice News has sighted the evaluation report for the tender, prepared by an independent consultant Greg Freeman of Impact Environmental Consulting Pty Ltd, with council officers Paul Barreau and Reinier Laan.
The report says council’s chief aim with the landfill contract is to “ensure the existing space lasts as long as possible.
“Current predictions are that the facility will last another 20 years.”
According to the report, Bowerbird’s submission lacked detail on their achievements over the seven year period during which it has operated the reuse centre and weighbridge.
“Very little new activity is proposed to be undertaken, which gives the impression that it will be ‘business as usual’,” says the report.
Bowerbird submitted an alternative “non-conforming” tender at $180,000 a year.
Says the report: “This excluded some major required activities (organics and metals recovery) and is not considered financially sustainable.”
The report further says: “Of a greater concern is Bowerbird’s ‘reservation of rights’ to renegotiate financial terms with council if things did not turn out as they plan during the contract period.
“This would expose council to financial claims and makes it difficult for council to improve Bowerbird’s performance.”
Subloos have experience operating reuse centres, says the report, and “have given some innovative thought to this proposal”.
The example is a “pre-sort shed which will assist in the recovery of materials before they reach the tip face”. 
“Aim will be to dismantle and extract valuables from commodities,”  says the report.
Despite Subloos’ high recovery target their submission does not propose recycling of glass and plastics; nor does it provide details on sorting paper and cardboard in the first year, though “maybe later”.
Tyres will be extracted and transferred elsewhere.
Subloos also tendered for landfill management, which Bowerbird did not. Subloo’s price was $947,704 compared to the incumbent Cleanaway’s $1,257,972. Another company tendered only for the landfill management, at $820,800.
The report says Subloos’ “integrated site management approach means it will be easier to handle a future expanded recycling program”.
According to the report, Subloos’ operation will “lengthen valuable landfill life by an estimated four years”.
In his speech to supporters gathered to protest against council’s decision on the tender, Bowerbird’s manager Mick Cafe emphasised the non-business elements Bowerbird wants council to consider: seven years of community spirit, dedication and hard work; being a “not for personal profit, environmentally focussed, ethical employer”.
“The tipshop deliberately runs at a loss to support local recycling and community participation,” said Mr Cafe, “our job has been successful.”
Bowerbird’s 10 staff have lost their jobs before Christmas; the termination of their contract requires them to “deliver vacant possession of the tip shop premises”.
“That means destroy and remove the lot,” said Mr Cafe.
He criticised council for its lack of a whole town recycling policy.
He cited a statement by council that Bowerbird takes only 1% out of the landfill but he did not counter it.
He attacked council’s expectations: “With no specific funding, no planning, no infrastructure and no commitment to ensure recycling is a council priority, we were expected to recycle the entire town’s waste from an active tip face amongst the daily filth and detritus.
“Now, without any community consultation, they have dumped the only good thing to come out of the Alice Springs landfill – Bowerbird Tipshop.”

ADAM CONNELLY: Mince pies, paper hats.

Has anyone else felt like they’ve been hit across the face with a sock full of coins of late?
I’m sure that the last time I had a spare second to check the calendar it was September. All of a sudden it’s Christmas.
The season that creeps up on you like no other season can. Like the gunman behind the grassy knoll, you never see Christmas coming.
All of a sudden BANG! You’re covered in mince pies and crappy paper hats. The fat guy in the suit will be performing record amounts of home invasions and once again the police will do nothing.
I’ll be spending Christmas with my family at my grandmother’s house on the Central Coast of New South Wales.
It’s a town called Berkeley Vale. Berkeley Vale is known for two things.
Being the birthplace of Aussie songstress Natalie Imbruglia and for the amount of Zimmer frames in the shopping complex.
We’ll do the same things we do every year on that day. Wake up about an hour before we really want to and open the presents in our pyjamas. Thank Nan for the two sizes too small (thank God) Hawaiian shirt and have some breakfast. Christmas breakfast is always Castlemaine tinned ham – the one with the key (it’s traditional) – and eggs on toast.
Before that’s really had time to digest, lunch seems to be ready. Ham, Pork, Turkey, Chicken and Beef. If animals could vote, our Christmas lunch would be on war crime charges.
A cousin once brought his vegan girlfriend to our Christmas lunch. She ate tinned beetroot and lettuce. The look on her face was priceless.
After lunch we nap, we sit and we ponder the year passed.
2007 hasn’t been the best of my life. Gravely ill family back home, a broken heart and too many good friends leaving town. Don’t fret my dear readers, I know others have had much crappier years and I’m not complaining about my life.
But it is thankfully coming to a close and things are looking like 2008 will be much brighter.
All I need now is the girl, the pay rise and for Alice Springs to be about 1000 kilometres closer to Sydney and things will be perfect.
If the Territory was to sit down after Christmas lunch and ponder her year, she’d realise that that moment was the first she’s had to sit down for a while. It has been an enormously frantic year in the Territory.
Remember Mal Brough? His brother was the host of the 1990s version of Family Feud. You remember Rob Brough?
The man with the blonde tight man perm. I always found it best not to think of that when listening to Mal. Mal and his intervention put the Territory on her toes.
Like the intervention or loathe it, one thing’s for certain: the intervention stopped a lot of the head shaking.
The problem seemed so huge that every time you read about an atrocity all you could do was shake your head.
Right or wrong at least “something” happened in 2007.
The Territory government didn’t disappoint for colour and movement either.
From Len Keily and his amazingly satisfying tongue to the retirement of Clare Martin and Syd Stirling, the local news outlets didn’t have to go far for a story.
The one that hit closest to home for me was the Matt Conlan story.
From a co-worker one minute to the Member for Greatorex the next. That doesn’t happen anywhere else but the Territory.
From Warren Snowdon taking the next PM to a strip club to Nigel Scullion being handcuffed in one; from Syd Stirling admitting he wasn’t very good at his job to Marion Scrymgour going AWOL on a particularly nasty vote: what a hectic year it has been.
We had a massive road toll.
The government tried to stop the carnage by introducing speed limits but really should have introduced tougher seat belt laws.
The army took Basra and Kabul in the middle east but couldn’t take Santa Teresa, and all the money for the CCTV was spent on the new pool. What a year!
The Territory sits in her Jason recliner after a big meal and ponders the year gone past.
She has a strange look on her face. I think it’s indigestion.

LETTERS: Standard of mayors in decline

Sir,- It would be a good idea for your newspaper to publish a list of Alice Springs mayors since the Town Council was first formed.
This would point out the steady decline in the quality of the holders of the office.
The latest aspirant is unable to make her mind up whether to change the name of the town. Oh dear me, talk about out of the frying pan into the fire. I wonder at what level the next holder of the office will be.
Alan Braithwaite
Alice Springs
ED – The list of elected mayors since July 1, 1971 is: Jock Nelson, Brian Martin, Tony Greatorex, George Smith, Leslie Oldfield, Andy McNeill, and current mayor Fran Kilgariff.

Sir,- The Alice Springs Town Council is the whipping boy, once again, on its decision to award the three-tiered waste management contract to an interstate company.
On the face of it, our environmentally conscious community is in active rebellion following the news that Bowerbird failed to win the contract for the recycling centre and the gatehouse operation.
Your sentiments are to be applauded: Any operation like Bowerbird which provides reuse and recycle facilities should be nurtured and cherished. However, the council has had to make a decision based on value for the public dollar and environmental factors like commitment to sustaining the life of the landfill, and realistic and solid recycling targets. Unfortunately, the good folk at Bowerbird could not put the runs on the board to give this community a satisfactory recycling target within a competitive cost ratio.  So, on behalf of the ratepayer, the elected members faced an unpopular but responsible course of action last week, and supported the independent assessor in recommending the new operator.
Subloo can provide the tendered suite of services at the tip face, the recycling centre and the gatehouse with a saving of over $600,000 per annum. They also promised an aggressive recycling target, far in excess of that committed by Bowerbird, now or in the future.
I can assure the community that the recycling services at the entrance to the town dump will be enhanced and expanded under the new regime.
So, before you dump on the council, just remember that we had to make a decision based on value for your rates dollar and the sustainable future of the landfill. Every alderman present at the meeting endorsed the new contract arrangements.
Some of us have sincere regrets about Bowerbird, and made strenuous efforts behind the scenes to achieve a competitive environment for all who tendered - unfortunately, Bowerbird failed to fly high enough.
Alderman Meredith Campbell
Alice Springs

Sir,- I would like to urge the Alice Springs Town Council to reconsider the decision to offer the tip contract to an interstate company with no local and social responsibilities.
The Bowerbird Tip Shop was conceived and supported by the community of Alice Springs; I have been involved in many a fundraiser to make this dream a reality. It is not just a place of recycling and waste management; it is a place of education and social conscience.
As a school teacher in this town, the Bowerbird has always been generous with donations and expertise for creative projects which have inspired and empowered our youth. Great examples have been seen at the ‘trashed’ exhibitions at the Bowerbird Tip Shop in recent years.
I am terribly worried that, with council making a decision based purely on the dollars, we will all lose out when this new company is unable to give the level of service that Alice Springs deserves.
Please, council, support our local enterprises, and work with the Bowerbird to establish a healthy recycling future for Alice Springs.
Adelaide Church
Alice Springs

Sir,- The Central Australian Youth Link-Up Services (CAYLUS) has stated previous coronial recommendations relating to petrol sniffing have not been implemented, in part leading to the death of a young man in Hermannsburg.
The coroner in 2005 called for a government commitment to the establishment of basic youth services in Hermannsburg and other remote communities. CAYLUS reports that the resulting government support for youth services in remote communities has been patchy, with $1 million per year allocated to each of four southern communities but little resulting for Hermannsburg and the majority of communities in the region.
The young man who passed away while sniffing in Hermannsburg did not sniff while summer school holiday programs were operating. Our workers reported that he was the first one there and the last to leave on every day of the program.
The Opal strategy was always supposed to be part of a wider plan to improve the quality of life of young people in remote communities, to reduce their desire to abuse substances. Without a serious commitment of resources there is a real danger that other remote youth like this young man will experiment with drugs and other dangerous behaviours with tragic consequences.
With the recent cessation of sniffing there is an opportunity to positively engage at-risk people like this young man. This opportunity is being lost in remote communities like Hermannsburg due to lack of basic youth services.
Blair McFarland and Tristan Ray
CAYLUS Co-ordinators
Alice Springs

Sir,- The Bath Audit of Family and Community Services again highlights the poor judgement of the new Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, when he appointed his new front bench. Delia Lawrie failed when she had the FACS portfolio, yet Paul Henderson has promoted her to Treasurer.
The withholding of the body of the report is clearly designed to protect the new Treasurer from scrutiny over her failure as FACS Minister yet, even without the detail of the report it is clear Delia Lawrie should not have been rewarded with a promotion to Treasurer.
Territorians now have a Treasurer whose chief qualification is the art of denial.
During Estimates this year Ms Lawrie claimed: ‘Everywhere I have gone - be it an urban centre, a regional area, or a remote community - a message was delivered loud and clear. People had no confidence in the child protection system before, because they said, ‘We did not get follow-up when notified’. The big difference is that today the feedback I get when I travel is that people say, ‘We  have confidence - we notify FACS, we know there will be a response’.
That statement was made when FACS was systematically failing to commence investigations within the department’s own timeframe for the categories of a ‘Child in Danger’, a ‘Child at Risk’ and a ‘Child of Concern.’
The Bath Report talks of the Department being aware of a ‘significant backlog in the follow-up of notifications …’ and of a ‘relatively low level of compliance with both policy and practice guidelines’. Minister Lawrie knew about these problems, yet she decided to spin her way through. Her performance was dismal.
In contrast, Minister Scrymgour has at least been honest about the failings of the department and believes it’s just not good enough.
The Opposition repeats its call for the entire report to be released; only then can Territorians see the extent of the failings in child protection over the last few years.
Jodeen Carney
Leader of the Opposition

Sir,- I respond to the front page article titled “Running for Mayor” in last week’s edition.
Thanks Alice Springs for your initial positive feedback. 
Erwin doesn’t take a bad photograph, does he? (At least so my wife tells me! )
But were some of you a little confused? I am, of course, a proud member of the myotherapy profession, not a physiotherapist. 
A little translational glitch for which I take full responsibility.
In closing, let me wish all residents a Merry Christmas and a healthy and safe New Year; and don’t forget to make a difference to your town by jumping on the Alice News website and contribute to the survey entitled “What Alice wants”.
Alderman Murray Stewart
Alice Springs

Sir,- Let’s hope that Jenny Macklin’s CDEP continues to provide Indigenous people with a means to gain small measures of self esteem through involvement in community development projects.
Many Aboriginal people, especially women, receive opportunities they might not get otherwise because of the program.
For example, they have been able to establish childcare and arts and crafts in their own communities.
Through these projects they are able to access government funding and to contribute to community in ways their men haven’t been able to do.
The success of many musical and stage productions, art projects, etc. has been reliant on CDEP in their infancy or recruitment stages leading to employment outcomes.
Many Aboriginal sporting projects operate in remote communities because of some additional support from CDEP or the organisations operating CDEP projects.
These programs may not be world’s best practice nor will they produce millionaires.
Yes, some have abused program flexibilities.
People have rightly called it ‘sit-down’ money in different communities at various times.
Like everywhere else, some communities are better operated and managed and are more stable than others - not in spite of CDEP, but often because of it.
Macklin must address the reliance on the CDEP program by “outstationists” who have drawn significantly on what was always a very small bucket of money (regardless of what populist politicians will tell you).
The outstation movement and its relationship to CDEP, like government department reliance, must be reviewed with the aim of improving the ability for larger Aboriginal communities to develop better resourced community development, employment and training programs that benefit a larger number of Aboriginal people.
A true picture of the costs of the outstation movement to government, and to Aboriginal people trying to meet their obligations to country, is essential.
If they are too reliant on CDEP, then funding must come from somewhere else. CDEP can’t be everything for everyone.
CDEP must remain a program that provides for Aboriginal people with projects that creates opportunities to gain skills and knowledge that may lead to community development and employment outcomes for the majority.
Aaron Dick
Alice Springs

Sir,- I would like to offer an expanded response to the Alice Springs News survey “What Alice wants”.
First, I think it’s time to stop flogging the dead horse of the new Civic Centre. While expensive, it has been built and in time we will be glad of it, especially as Alice Springs becomes the southern administrative hub for the new NT shire system.
It’s a pity about the Bowerbird Tip Shop but something had to go to meet the repayments, and it looks like that brave fledgling has now gotten it in the neck.
And then there is alcohol. Instead of forever tinkering with the supply of take-away grog, I propose that all take-away outlets be allowed to trade between 12 noon and 10 pm seven days a week. The emphasis on changing the grog culture in the Centre rightly belongs on demand, not supply. An advertising / education campaign to teach how to live with alcohol responsibly is the way to alter behavior. We need to encourage good sense, not impose more restrictions.
About the council itself, I have three suggestions. One, a return to 10 aldermen and one mayor would offer a more representative council. Two, the mayor should not have a casting vote. A majority is 50% plus one and that’s with no double dipping.
If a proposal cannot achieve that minimum, then it needs to be reconsidered. Three, a time could be allowed at the end of each Open Meeting for challenges from the public for any item listed in the Confidential Agenda to be considered in Open - any challenge would be resolved then and there by a council vote.
I also suggest one new initiative - let’s continue the good work of reclaiming the riverbank with a few strategically placed water bubblers and coin-operated gas-fueled barbecues.
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Sir,- Having an interest in the town’s future is tremendous.
Finding a way to include Alice Springs people is a good thing, making others outside of it feel a part of it is good too.
I now live outside of Alice and still have a keen interest in the community, often reading online the news and staying in touch with those I once lived among.
I feel much could be drawn from those who go about their business in a non self seeking manner, the volunteers, church groups, where these people have hands on with the ones who are in need.
I feel good answers to your seeking are to be found directly among you in Alice Springs.
I do believe by what you put in, you do get back much more, and I know from my own experience in Alice Springs this is to be true.
I hope for only prosperity for those who live, work and play in Central Australia.
Bruce Day
Former resident of Alice Springs

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