April 24, 2008. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Alice Springs in 2020, through the eyes of native title holders. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Alice will be bigger, 50% Aboriginal, but minus the current avalanche of anti-social behavior – or anti-cultural, as he prefers to call it.
The members of Lhere Artepe, the traditional owners of the town, those recognized by the Federal Court in 2000, will have powers to keep in line, and punish, troublemakers from outside who currently think they can “run amok” in Alice.
Lhere Artepe will own the 18 currently squalid and strife-torn town camps, and be landlord to the town campers, ensuring they have proper residents’ rights.
And as the landlord the native title owners will be able to say to Tangentyere Council, if it continues to fail to provide to the camps proper rubbish, repair and maintenance services, “why should we keep you as our contractor?”
That’s the vision for 2020 of Darryl Pearce, 47, Lhere Artepe’s CEO since late last year, son of the well known activist and native title holder Betty Pearce, and with a wealth of experience behind him as a senior staffer with the Northern Land Council, CEO of the South-West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council, Tangentyere’s housing manager in the 80s, when the conditions in the camps “were a hell of a lot different,” and a national campaigner for the advancement of native title rights.
He sees them – an ongoing entitlement independent of political whim – as more profound than land rights, a creation of Parliament.
Coming back last year, after nearly two decades away, to again live in The Alice, Mr Pearce was profoundly shocked and saddened by the conditions he found.
He spoke with Alice News editor ERWIN CHLANDA who asked him when leaders should have taken decisive action about wide-spread public disorder.
“Nearly 10 years ago,” says Mr Pearce.
“We should have said, let’s work out what’s going on, and where do we go from here.
“A lot of local residents, black or white, have gone through the frog in a pot syndrome: it’s changed, it’s getting hotter, but it’s actually not enough to jump out of the pot and go, whoa! This has to stop!
“So, everybody is to blame, from my perspective, for what’s occurred.
“The norms are changing but no-one’s been saying it’s got to stop, now.”
NEWS: What can Lhere Artepe do about this?
PEARCE: We are the traditional owners of the country. This whole notion of anti-social behavior is about Aboriginal people not obeying non-Aboriginal social norms.
What we are concerned about is Aboriginal people coming into Alice Springs and not obeying Aboriginal social norms, not acting in a manner consistent with being Aboriginal.
When you go onto someone else’s country and you burn down their sacred trees, and you defecate on their sites and you run amok on their country, that is not Aboriginal way.
This whole idea that people believe Alice Springs is some neutral Territory where you can come and do what you like is the same as what schoolies believe when they go to the Gold Coast, that you can drink until you fall to the ground.
NEWS: Is that an excuse?
PEARCE: It’s exactly the same, but that doesn’t excuse it. We don’t offer an excuse for it. We say this behavior is clearly unacceptable.
It is anti-cultural behavior.
The anti-social behavior everybody talks about really is saying, why can’t you be like us.
What we are saying is if you enact a cultural or social norm on your community, why do you not do the same when you come to town?
NEWS: What will Lhere Artepe do?
PEARCE: We will be updating our cultural protocols, engaging with the communities and the new super shires, invigorating the relationship with the new town council, encouraging them to talk to their sister shires.
If people from these shires come to town and run amok, and there is a cost to Alice Springs Town Council, and a cost to Lhere Artepe country, and Central Arrernte country, then we believe those shires should be subsidizing the behavior of their people in terms of repairing the damage done.
That could range from clean-ups to protection to taking people back.
Government should consider third-strike home detention for public drunkenness on people’s home communities.
And you report to the policeman on the Saturday, when the footy is on, not on the Thursday when you’ve got a day to get into town for footy.
NEWS: Why has Lhere Artepe not done anything significant so far?
The Federal Court handed down its native title decision in 2000, setting up the town’s native title body.
PEARCE: Lhere Artepe itself has grown and everybody has decided to try and use Lhere Artepe for their own purposes on the way through, to push their points of view on a number of issues.
Lhere Artepe has a different view of what the vision for Alice Springs should be, not necessarily your Alice in Ten type processes.
NEWS: Based on current trends, what do you expect Alice to look like in 2020?
PEARCE: More than likely 50% of the population will be Aboriginal.
There will still be a lot of people not employed, there will be more people than jobs. The town needs to change that paradigm.
At the moment Alice sees itself as being self-sufficient. Everybody comes to town, picks up groceries and goes home.
That’s not what’s going to happen.
Maybe it will be a service town for communities. 
A study we did in 1989 showed most non-Aboriginal people lived in Alice about five years and took out of the economy, back then, about $50,000.
A lot of people come to town to make money to go somewhere else.
Lhere Artepe’s view is we’re going to do business with people who are here for the long term, who are going to re-invest in the town.
This is home. We’re not going to invest in units in the Gold Coast.
NEWS: How much time do we have?
PEARCE: We’re getting close to tipping point.
NEWS: Where will the town tip to? Many fear the town will tip towards more disturbances and crime.
PEARCE: We need to look at the level of crime in the communities. 
If they are higher in Alice than those other areas then you’re talking about a condition that arises when people come to Alice.
One view, from the bush communities, is that it’s all white man’s stuff and in Alice Springs we can do what we like.
They say, it is the only way I can get something, change my socio-economic condition through theft.
I’m not justifying it, but there are a number of reasons why people are doing things.
NEWS: Alice crime was high in 2001, then dipped around 2004, and has since climbed back to 2001 levels, despite 28 more police.
PEARCE: The first thing that says is that policing doesn’t work.
NEWS: What does?
PEARCE: Putting more money into existing services is not right.
We need to challenge people about their attitude and their behavior.
NEWS: None of that has worked in more than 30 years of my personal observation.
PEARCE: Our challenge to service providers and governments is to say, why wouldn’t you give [more authority and resources] to the traditional owners of country, who have a lot more authority and say about these things, from an Aboriginal perspective?
If it’s a policeman, a whitefeller doing it, they just say, get stuffed.
If it’s an organization doing it, they actually need that client to justify their income.
We don’t want to justify an income. We’re saying we don’t want you to do this on our land.
NEWS: How can you stop it?
PEARCE: By traditional owners taking a primary role, through community policing, night patrols, through being the underlying owners of the town camps, for example.
A mythology has been built about the town camps, I hear people say I’m second, third, fourth generation town camper.
The camps started in the seventies. The notion that the camps were here ever since the white man turned up is completely and utterly false.
The claim ‘I’m different because I’m a town camper and I engage with my Aboriginality differently’ is a racist view towards other Aboriginal people, who are the owners and whose Aboriginality has been recognized by the courts, the governments and everyone in between.
NEWS: How would you become a player in the running of the town camps?
PEARCE: The committees of the town camps, which currently are on the governing body of Tangentyere, could work with Lhere Artepe almost as strata committees, and we’d give clear instructions to Tangentyere, saying to them, as a service provider, this is what we want you to do.
Tangentyere is about rent collection and repairs and maintenance.
NEWS: The state of the camps suggests they aren’t doing their job.
PEARCE: As the landlord we have the ability to say to Tangentyere, if you don’t provide us these services, why should we keep you as our contractor?
NEWS: But they don’t work for Lhere Artepe, they are working for the independent housing associations which have title to the camps.
PEARCE: Currently they do. If we get hold of the tenure then the housing associations will spend more of their time talking about issues which are affecting their living standards, not about everything from art shops to children’s programs to all these other things [attached to Tangentyere].
NEWS: How would Lhere Artepe get hold of the leases?
PEARCE: Two options, for the housing associations to give them up and give them to us, or for the NT or Commonwealth governments to compulsorily acquire and hand them to Lhere Artepe. [Campers] will have total and utter control over [their] household.
NEWS: They would become tenants of Lhere Artepe property?
PEARCE: Basically, yes. They would have [individual] rental agreements.
NEWS: What would change in the camps?
PEARCE: People think they can come to Alice Springs from remote communities, run amok, and then escape to the town camps.
It’s a place to hide away when you get humbugged by all these whitefellers telling you to move on and don’t do this and don’t do that.
What we would be saying, as the landowners, no, that’s not OK.
NEWS: You seem to go a lot further than what the Native Title Act entitles you to, namely just certain enjoyment of the land, but not ownership.
PEARCE: The decision by Justice Olney [who in 2000 decided that native title rights existed over Alice Springs] gives us a real interest in the land.
NEWS: But the interest does not confer ownership.
PEARCE: Our connection in Olney’s decision was the use and enjoyment.
How can we enjoy our own land if this behavior is going on?
Our native title rights are being compromised. Our enjoyment of that land is not there if we find our sacred trees are being burned down.
NEWS: Is there a similar dissatisfaction in Lhere Artepe with the conduct of white people? Do you consider this is their country as well?
PEARCE: Of course. The way we see it is that we have a responsibility to look after people who visit our country.
We will always say that we have the underlying ownership and tenure, always, way beyond government, way beyond anyone else.
We acknowledge that we would like the world to be different. It won’t be. It can’t be.
So, we’re now faced with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people living on our country, and we have a responsibility to make sure that that environment is as harmonious as possible. This is traditionally exactly what our responsibility was.
We have an alternate view from those ranging from crime-ridden angst from non-Aboriginal people through to flagrant disregard for Aboriginal cultural norms from Aboriginal people when they come to Alice Springs.
There is a beginning, and we’re part of it, but the end of it is really about a journey that all of us have to take.
NEWS: How does tourism fit into all of that? That’s one endeavor taking a hammering at the moment. Some people will never come back.
PEARCE: Why would anybody [under the present conditions]?
NEWS: So, if all that can be turned ‘round, tourism can continue on its merry way?
PEARCE: It will.
NEWS: Will it do so with the keen participation of Aboriginal people?
PEARCE: A lot of Aboriginal people are participating already, from Jungala’s cultural bike tours, to Rainbow Valley and other ventures all over the place.
Aboriginal people don’t want to see tourists disappear either.
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people are asking Lhere Artepe, what are you going to do about it?
And, as we keep saying, give us the resources and we’ll do something about it.

New full time Mayor will centre on communication. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The future relationship with Tangentyere Council will be one of the first things council will decide upon, said Town Council CEO Rex Mooney at Monday’s weekly press briefing.
The briefings are an early initiative of Mayor Damien Ryan, who described his new full-time role as “centering on communication”.
Committees have been formed to deal with council’s partnerships with Tangentyere and with the native title holder body Lhere Artepe.
Mayor Damien Ryan and Alderman John Rawnsley are on both, with Ald Sandy Taylor joining them on the Lhere Artepe committee, and Ald Brendan Heenan on the Tangentyere one.
A meeting with Lhere Artepe will be held in the “very near future”, said Mr Ryan, but a date for a meeting with Tangentyere has to be discussed by the full council.
Mr Mooney said council had been disappointed in Tangentyere’s rejection of the former Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough’s offer of $60m to upgrade infrastructure (conditional upon surrendering portions of their leases to the NT Government).
He said council had decided then that they would take no initiative to meet with Tangentyere until the future of the camps had been decided on.
Mr Ryan reiterated comments about the major supermarkets in Alice not giving the town “a fair shake” in particular in relation to litter issues and the problem of abandoned trolleys.
He said he has issued an invitation to the CEOs of both Coles and Woolworths to have discussions with the Town Council.
On the trolleys issue council is set to take determined action, preparing new by-laws that would allow it to impound stray trolleys.
The supermarkets would have to pay a charge to get them back.
Preventative action the supermarkets could take includes putting in place a returnable deposit system, which works well elsewhere, said Deputy Mayor Murray Stewart, also at the briefing.
On liquor-related litter Mr Ryan’s proposals include the supermarkets employing Indigenous people to staff the take-away liquor outlets: they could “converse with customers” having “trouble with liquor” to get a responsible drinking message across.
The new Local Government Act, to come into force on July 1, gives council the authority to write its own by-laws, if they are supported by 75% of elected members.
Council wants to see animal by-laws with tougher penalties for owners who don’t properly control their pets, said Mr Mooney.
The by-laws, once the new council has agreed on their content, will be available for public comment before adoption.
Monday night’s committee meeting saw Ald Rawnsley as chair of the Technical Services Committee thrown in at the deep end.
He was hoping to first witness the chairing style (very competent) of Ald Jane Clark at the meeting of the Corporate and Community Services meeting. As Ald Clark was delayed, Ald Rawnsley had to jump in, calmly deferring to “Mr CEO” whenever he was uncertain, and to “Mr Director” whenever necessary. 
Aldermen were well prepared, having read their papers – dealing in this committee with the minutiae of infrastructure issues around the town – and had come armed with messages from their constituents.

Councils’ watchdog on the alert. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The Territory Government has plans to put overhead power lines into town camps, while in any new subdivision in Alice power would be installed underground.
Alderman Jane Clark, an executive member of the Local Government Association of the NT (LGANT), says this is “an equality issue”.
“It is giving a lower level of service to Aboriginal people.”
The Territory Government did not respond to a request for comment.
The government is using federal funds to standardise infrastructure in the town camps. 
“LGANT needs to be a watchdog to ensure that the government does indeed provide standard services,” says Ald Clark, “especially as in future the Territory Government wants the Town Council to provide services to camps.”
Ms Clark says LGANT will also hold the Territory and Federal Governments accountable over their new housing plans for remote communities.
She says representatives of bush communities at last week’s LGANT meetings were adamant that they had not been consulted over the style of housing, with Urapuntja – population 1000, 85 houses, 80 of which deserve demolition – dismayed that it was missing out on any new houses.
LGANT also objects to some of the onerous reporting requirements under the new local government legislation.
Ald Clark says, for example, there are “very prescriptive” requirements about how councils dispose of money they make from selling assets: the money has to be used to reduce debt.
She says Katherine Council gave a good example of why this isn’t necessarily an advantage for ratepayers.
After the Katherine floods, they borrowed $500,000 at 4% interest. Under the new Act if they disposed of an asset they would have to use the funds to reduce that debt, but in fact they would be better off continuing to pay it off at 4% and investing the money at 8%.
Ald Clark says the government wants monthly performance reports on investments as well as detailed quarterly reports – this is “too much”, in LGANT’s view. 
Other issues raised include the absence of elected members to give direction to general managers in the first three months of the new shires, which will come into formal existence on July 1. However elections will not be held until October.
“There will be no democratic voice during the three months,” says LGANT president, Kerry Moir, an alderman on the Darwin City Council.
“The Minister [for Local Government, Rob Knight] conceded that this is a concern freqently raised.”
Ald Moir says Mr Knight will look at giving previously elected members an advisory role during the three month hiatus.
LGANT also objects to the proposed “conditional rating” of mines and pastoral properties for the first three years.
Ald Clark says the onus is to be put on councils to prove that pastoral properties are using council services.
“The services are accessible to all. How can we determine whether they make use of something like a library service, or street lighting, or roads.
“It’s making of rates a ‘fee for service’; they are not, they’re a tax, the only tax that local government can raise.
“Alice Springs Town Council, for example, already has a very small rate base.
“Pastoral leases need to make a contribution.”
Ald Moir says Mr Knight has agreed to “pick up the shortfall” caused by conditional rating with an extra $5m allocated to the shires for general service delivery.
There are likely to be varying voting values in the new shires.
Ald Moir says LGANT strongly supports “one vote one value”, but Ald Clark says if shires make an informed decision to have a ward system with varying voting values it should be trialled.
Ald Moir says LGANT is still asking for a coherent explanation of why the Top End Shire was dissolved.
This was the government decision that led to Elliot McAdam, former Minister for Central Australia and for Local Government, to resign from the Cabinet.
Ald Moir says former elected members are still wondering what the reason was and where their future lies.
“Under the new Act it can’t be in community government councils, they will have to be mini-shires, but will they have to deliver the full suite of services?” asks Ald Moir.
The Alice News put a number of questions to Mr Knight via his media advisor. We had not received a reply at the time of going to press.

Barb off to the what’s its name conference. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Barbara Shaw is making a name for herself as an activist on town camp issues.
In that role the energetic opponent of the Federal Intervention features on Google at least two dozen times, quoted in a string of media.
Last week Ms Shaw headed for New York to take her agenda to UNESCO, the “United Nations Economic and Social Council”.
At least that’s what she thinks it is.
In fact it’s the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, but that won’t dampen her enthusiasm for telling the world about the plight of town camp dwellers.
In fact, that plight is a relative thing.
It can be pretty bad: a year ago and again on March 27 we reported that the Warlpiri Camp, on the North Stuart Highway, with seven houses for 80 people, is the most crowded with 11.4 residents to a house.
By contrast life at Mt Nancy town camp, the almost exclusive domain of the Shaw family, appears almost idyllic, on the right bank of the Todd, with vacant land across the river in a picturesque valley.
The Alice Springs Town Camps Task Force Report reported in June 2006 that Mt Nancy’s 13 houses for a population of 32 residents had a ratio of 2.4 residents to a house.
One of them is Geoffrey Shaw, Barbara’s dad, president of Tangentyere Council, the organization charged with looking after town camps, and its former director.
We asked him in May last year: “Would you pass an income and assets test for being eligible for public housing under the rules of Territory Housing?”
We got no reply.
Barbara, when not dealing with usually fawning media, is equally uncommunicative.
Are the majority of Mt Nancy resident members of the Shaw family?
How much rent do they pay?
“Close to market rent.”
NEWS: Please give me a figure. 
SHAW: Best to get on to William Tilmouth [the current director of Tangentyere which, in fact, is a contractor serving the 18 independently owned town lease areas whose executives make up the governing body of Tangentyere].
NEWS: How many Mt Nancy residents are employed?
SHAW: A few, most were on CDEP but because of the transitional change they had to make [under the Intervention], to quarantine people’s income, they had to go on work for the dole, as part of the scrapping of CDEP and income management.
Nobody is on work any more because of the Intervention and what the Federal Government has done when they scrapped CDEP.
NEWS: How many people in your camp would be able to accept mainstream work, in the normal workforce? The labour market in Alice Springs is screaming out for workers.
SHAW: Yeah, but wouldn’t they be working for cheap labour?
NEWS: People work under an award or a negotiated wage. That’s normal.
SHAW: I’ve never worked in the employment and training area. What you have to do is get on to [Tangentyere’s] Job Shop and talk about that kind of stuff.
I’m not just talking about Mt Nancy, I talk about every other town camp, community or outstation.
NEWS: Would you please answer my question, which is how many people at Mt Nancy, the community which you are most familiar with, are capable of accepting a normal, mainstream job?
SHAW: I’m not going to talk about just my town camp.
NEWS: How many people at Mt Nancy would be on superannuation and would be able to afford housing not provided with public funding?
SHAW: If you want to keep talking about my camp and my family then I suggest you go out and see them.
NEWS: I’m talking to you because you have been mentioning Mt Nancy and the fact that you are living in a prescribed area in several media interviews.
SHAW: I know who is eligible to go out and get a job but are those people willing to employ Aboriginal people with low education?
NEWS: You tell me, Barbara, that’s an important issue. How many people have been knocked back?
SHAW: One of the issues coming up in the [UNESCO] permanent forum is education and I’ll be talking about that.
NEWS: What kind of jobs that are available in Alice Springs in the normal workforce, manual jobs, for example, which many people are doing, are people of Mt Nancy not capable of doing because of their educational standard?
SHAW: There are a lot of people who go out looking for jobs but they don’t even get on the short listing and they don’t even get employed.
NEWS: Could you give me three recent examples of a young person from Mt Nancy asking for work and the employer said ‘I won’t take you on’.
SHAW: It’s not just my camp. Stop asking me about my camp otherwise I’ll hang up. There are a lot of people in prescribed areas that don’t have the education and qualifications to go out and get a real job. Jobs they can get so far are cheap labour jobs around Alice Springs.
NEWS: What’s wrong with those jobs?
SHAW: I’m getting ready to board the plane. I think you should talk to Peter [“Strachy” Strachan] at Job Shop.

LETTERS: Teachers want not just money.

Sir,- We, the members of the Braitling sub-branch of the AEU-NT, would like to clarify the issues behind the recent industrial action by the members of the NT Teachers’ Union.
So far the media has only focussed on a pay rise for teaching staff.
We would like to address the issues specific to our workplace. The other equally important issues are:-
• Support for teachers in the form of maintaining and increasing resources such as ESL teachers, Wellbeing officers in all schools, and support for students requiring special needs.
• Reducing class sizes in order to provide a high quality teaching service to students.
• Consideration must be given to Early Age of Entry classes in the form of teacher assistance (we have children attending as young as four and a half years).
• Keep the status quo regarding stand down time (the NT Government is demanding that stand down time be reduced by a week and recreational leave to be split).
Teachers are dedicated and committed to their students; work excessive amounts of hours of unpaid over time; and regularly volunteer to assist with sporting, community and cultural activities beyond regular working hours.
If the NT Government is serious about attracting and retaining quality teachers the issues raised must be addressed immediately.
There are other issues relating to remote area teaching that have not been fully addressed by the government offer.
So far negotiations with the government have been fruitless. The time is now overdue. Teachers must be treated as valued professionals and not as disposable commodities to be haggled over. Why is it necessary that we are subjected to disruptions to our workplace due to government offers that continue to erode our working conditions?
Marty Azzopardi, Braitling sub branch, AEU-NT.

Sir,- In response to Richard Lim’s letter (Alice News, April 10), it further supports one of my points – most voters are not across the exhaustive preferential counting system, and hence their intentions are seldom realised. I am most encouraged by the number of supportive comments I have had to my letter.
Quite categorically my comments are in no way a comment on who did or did not get elected – they were elected under the current “law of the land”.  I am questioning the rationale of that “law”, always a discussion we must have.
Richard missed the main point of the hypothetical (and exaggerated) example I put forward, being that even if no voters wanted “C” to lose, by virtue of having 999 first preferences and 2001 second preferences (and no third preferences), under the current system “C” could only lose. It could be argued that, as it was a unanimous desire that “C” not lose, and as few as only 1001 wanted “A” or “B” to win, then who should win? 
Put another way, what better represents the intentions of voters – 1001 first preferences plus as few as 500 second preferences, or 999 first preferences and 2001 second preferences?
To then say that “if the majority of voters didn’t want “C” to win, then “C” deserves to drop out” is bizarre. It is merely an opinion, not a fact. I repeat, no voters wanted “C” to lose, so how then are their intentions being recognised?
So what if “C” received a single third preference, or ten, or one hundred? Does that really make a difference? The point remains.
Kieran Finnane’s detailed analysis of the count (Alice News, April 17) is not correct in the last two paragraphs. The only way to know who would have been on Council under a “first past the post system” (as defined by Alex Nelson) would be to record how many times each candidate appeared in the first eight positions on 9213 ballot papers (or the first nine if Damien Ryan were in the first eight).
Only a computer would be able to tell us that, and I would love to know if [the electoral commission’s] is programmed to produce that information. If it is, why can’t we know?
But Kieran’s article should alert voters to the complexity of the process, and get people thinking about even just one aspect of it.
For example, what happened to the intentions of those voters who did not have any of the successful candidates in the top eight (or nine) on their ballots?  Our current system is little more than a numeric version of “Chinese whispers”.
Rod Cramer
Alice Springs

Sir,- It has come to my attention that the only Aboriginal politician speaking out about the Intervention on television, radio and in the newspapers is the Member for Macdonnell and occasionally the Deputy Chief Minister. Does this imply that the non-speaking NT Aboriginal politicians are actually opposed to the Intervention but are not allowed to speak out?
Maddie Church
Alice Springs

Sir,- We all start at primary school. We grow there in a learning routine with peer interaction, and we learn to read and write and count to 100.
Somehow primary education in many NT community schools has failed. There may have been a learning routine, and peer interaction is natural, but a number of teenagers and young adults do not know how to read or write or count to 100. These are the basic entry points into the Australian world of the 21st century. Without them, higher education is meaningless and the chances of accessing mainstream jobs and personal income are practically zilch.
One theory on how to address this situation likes the idea of “culturally appropriate” methods of teaching.
With respect to all educators, 1 + 1 = 2 is the same whether written vertically, right-to-left or in any language.
But teaching examples can be tailored. So before the culture wars flare again and have us all ducking for politically correct cover, I’ve thought of an exercise for a maths class. If three men each drank four green cans out of a 30 pack, and two women each drank three green cans, how many green cans were left for the police to pour out?
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Sir,- I am organising a lawn bowls evening on May 10 for the Bairo Pite health clinic in Dili, East Timor. This health clinic provides care for those too poor to afford medication and for those with difficult access to medical care.
I work for this clinic on and off when time is available and am attempting to help fund-raise for them within Australia.
For more details I can be contacted on 0400080384 or
Dr Stuart Blain
Alice Springs

Sir,- I am researching the life of a Swedish national, Hans Erikson (born Lars Olof Grebst in 1906), who first visited Alice Springs from Oodnadatta in 1927. He visited Jay Creek, Hermannsburg mission and the Jervois Range.
Further travels took him to Kalgoorlie (with an Aboriginal man he called Jacky) and the Petermann Ranges. He traveled as a prospector and dingo scalper, often using camels.
He returned to Alice Springs a number of times and publicly supported Mr Beecher Webb, a solicitor, in his criticisms of the treatment of Aborigines in 1935.
Mr Erikson sometimes told people he was a Norwegian called Anderson.
If anyone has any information at all about this interesting man, I would very much appreciate hearing from them. I can be contacted by email on
Andrew Thelander
Nambour QLD

ADAM CONNELLY: High time for 2020 vision in The Alice.

The world faces many challenges. Climate change that used to be called global warming is a real and present danger to the planet.
Water seems to be about as rare a commodity in some parts of the globe as German comedians. And that’s pretty rare.  We have developing countries running out of food and even if they had enough to eat, they couldn’t afford any of it due to despots and warlords wrecking the economy.
Three fifths of the planet earns less per week than I do in an hour and I’m not rolling in coin, let me tell you.
Four fifths will never use a telephone and only one in five will learn to read and write.
With all that doom and gloom one might feel the need to hit the snooze button a couple more times and hide under the blankets. But as my mother never said, if you get lemons make lemonade. Never before in the history of the world have we had such tools to fix the problems we face.
History will call this era the time of the technological revolution. Smarter people than I are working at a frenetic pace developing technologies unimagined just five years ago.
Diseases that are now an early death sentence will soon become treatable by taking a couple of pills. Type 1 diabetes and cervical cancers are so close to a breakthrough scientists can smell it. Heart disease, leukemia and Alzheimer’s are right behind them.
We have never known more about food production. Crops can now yield more using less water with less impact on the soil.
Making water will become cheaper and more efficient plus thousands of other massive leaps forward, all brought about by small teams of smart people thinking.
Some of those boffins have joined some celebrities and political hangers on to be part of Kevin Rudd’s 2020 summit. It’s like a national suggestion box. So I think we can safely say that all our problems are solved. Well, not quite. 
While many people might see this summit as nothing but a talkfest and a complete waste of time, I’m not as cynical. Which is a change for me.
No, I think that any time people who dedicate their lives to thinking about a problem get together to talk with other people who dedicate their lives to thinking about a problem, good things can happen. As long as those ideas are then supported by the people who dedicate their lives to thinking about how we can afford it.
In the spirit of that initiative, might I suggest a 2020 summit for Central Australia?
The problems we face here in Central Australia are real, dire and in desperate need of attention from smart people.
But let’s think about things for a moment. The population of the Territory is only 202000. Half of that number live in Darwin. So in perspective, the problems we face aren’t that huge.
If there was a real desire for change, change could happen.
There are over 60 youth programs running in Alice Springs. Staffed by dedicated professionals with a real desire to help kids and make their lives count for something. Yet Alice’s youth problem continues to spiral out of control.
Maybe, just maybe we need some smart people to sit down without political pressure and sort out this situation. 
It’s time for the boffins to stand up and be heard. Time to stop playing World Of Warcraft and start thinking about how to make the real world better.
Just don’t ask me. I’ll end up complaining that we were promised jet packs. By the way, why don’t we have jet packs?

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