ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
May 15, 2008. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Knight signals consultation on parks transfer to Aboriginal ownership.
By ERWIN CHLANDA and KIERAN FINNANE.
Minister for Central Australia, Rob Knight, says he will ensure that
there is consultation with “stakeholders” in Central Australia on
ownership of National Parks.
The Alice News spoke to Mr Knight, pictured at right at the turning of
the sod at the Solar Technology Demonstration Facility, following
Territory Senator Nigel Scullion’s vow to muster support to defeat the
Bill providing for a handover of 13 National Parks in the Centre to
Aboriginal traditional owners (see last week’s issue).
The Alice News put to Mr Knight that there had been no meaningful
consultation on the issue.
Mr Knight said: “I imagine that there has been a degree of
“If there’s not, we’ll make sure there is.
“We’ve been a government that has done a lot of consultation, engaging
with stakeholders, and there’s some stakeholders in town here that
would be a part of that.”
The News also asked Mayor Damien Ryan if the new Town Council would
take a position on the proposed handover.
Mr Ryan said he has not given the matter any thought but he will raise
the issue with the aldermen.
On March 6 he told the Alice News: “All parks, Federal and Territory,
are owned by the people.
“The parks should remain in public hands.”
The previous Town Council passed a motion in March 2006 that they write
to all Australian Senators, requesting that they not approve changes to
legislation paving the way for a handover. This was moved by Alderman
Melanie van Haaren and seconded by then Ald David Koch.
It was supported by Alds Samih Habib and Murray Stewart as well as then
Alds Robyn Lambley and Geoff Bell.
It was opposed by then Mayor Fran Kilgariff, Ald Jane Clark and then
Alds Meredith Campbell and Marguerite Baptiste-Rooke.
A letter was duly sent to all Senators under Ms Kilgariff’s name,
although nowhere in it was a request that the Senators not approve the
Instead it requested that in their deliberations they take into
consideration the importance of tourism to Central Australian lifestyle
Council also subsequently supported a motion to make a submission
outlining their position to a Senate Committee of Inquiry on Australian
Again, there was nothing in the one-page submission, signed by Ms
Kilgariff in April 2006, that indicated council’s opposition to the
The prospect of the handover is not mentioned.
The submission consisted of general statements about management of
parks, such as: “The process of management of National Parks should be
in the best interests of current and future Australians and at the same
time ensure sustainable ecological benefits.
This includes the engagement of Aboriginal people in all aspects of
parks and conservation management that can contribute to the well-being
of regional communities.”
acts on illegal campers. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Council rangers have stepped up patrols of illegal camps, requiring
occupants to clean up and move on, sometimes issuing fines.
The practice of making this enforcement of by-laws conditional on the
presence of police has been discontinued.
And council has given unanimous support to a motion by Alderman John
Rawnsley to develop “enforcement mechanisms” for proposed by-laws based
on Lhere Artepe’s cultural protocols for visitors.
Ranger patrols of illegal camping “hot spots” have increased from three
times a week to daily, says manager of the Town Council ranger unit,
And they are done with or without police, encountering some 20 to 40
people each day.
Mr Everett says he likes police to be there as he gets “more
cooperation” when they are, but sometimes they are not available.
Staff from Tangentyere Council are also frequently but not always
Hot spots change from time to time: at present they are in Elder
Street, Lovegrove Drive, and Billygoat Hill (fairly constant),
including a laneway behind the Reptile Centre.
The hill behind the Araluen Centre, a sacred site, has been fenced off
to prevent illegal camping and drinking, but the fence was recently
cut, says Mr Everett.
He says there is “no pattern” as to who the campers are, where they are
from, or why they are here: “We have had groups from as far away as
Most of the time the rangers remind people of what they are doing
wrong, give them rubbish bags and ask that they clean the place up and
move on – an approach Mr Everett regards as more effective than the
issuing of infringement notices.
“Educate before enforce,” says Mr Everett.
However, last week an infringement notice was issued when a person
refused to cooperate with the request to clean up.
Mr Everett says some half dozen infringements have been issued this
Fines are recovered through the NT Government’s fines recovery unit:
“It can take two to three months.”
The ranger unit’s statistics do not support the popular wisdom that
there are more itinerant visitors to town from bush communities as a
result of the Federal Intervention.
Figures for March this year are lower than last year’s: 256 compared
January and February had similar numbers in both years.
Figures have been kept reliably since January 2007.
There was a marked drop in August of last year, which the council ties
to the introduction of Dry Town and apprehension about Intervention
Numbers fluctuate a little but reach a fairly steady high in the hot
The figures show relatively few children involved: in February this
year rangers counted 34 children. March 2007 is the only other month
where children numbered over 20. In several months there have been
fewer than five.
There are generally more men than women.
In the 15 months on record, there were 1934 men, 1404 women, and 181
Meanwhile, the Town Council will work with the native title holder body
Lhere Artepe to develop an “adequate mechanisms of enforcement” for the
Lhere Artepe cultural protocols.
These include the following protocols for visitors:
• show respect for each other and accept responsibility for your own
• plan for your trip including where you will stay and when and how you
will return home.
• there should be no camping in or on sacred sites or in public places.
• humbugging people for money, cigarettes or food is not acceptable
behaviour in Alice Springs. Respect yourself.
• unacceptable or anti-social behaviour such as alcohol abuse, fighting
or pay-back will not be tolerated. Lhere Artepe supports Australian law
and its enforcement to deal with these issues.
Aldermen unanimously supported a motion put by Alderman John Rawnsley
that council express its support for the protocols and that the
partnership committee of council and Lhere Artepe be given “a mandate”
to develop comprehensive policy around the protocols, including
During his election campaign Ald Rawnsley spoke of by-laws to support
the protocols; infringement notices for by-laws offenders; and
trespass notices for repeat infringements.
Whatever the measures, they would have to constitute a “strong
disincentive” to reoffend, said the then candidate.
On Monday Ald Rawnsley spoke of Lhere Artepe as the “only Aboriginal
voice in Alice Springs and surrounds advocating an agenda for
Aboriginal people taking more responsibility”.
Councillors also agreed to a suggestion by Ald Jane Clark that
acknowledgment of the traditional owners before council meetings and
functions should become a regular, rather than the current occasional,
Roof panels a
solar dud? By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Isn’t it great to be a solar city – but have we been sold a pup with
one aspect of it, generating power with roof mounted photo voltaic (PV)
There’s a push to persuade 225 Alice householders to buy these highly
subsidized systems, or to sell enough of them to generate 250 kilowatts
(KW), whichever comes first.
The first system was launched this week, now gracing the the rural home
of Michael and Alison Kain in Ross Highway (pictured).
The units range in price from $15,000 (1 KW) to $26,250 (2 KW). The
householder pays 40%, the Federal Government the rest.
These units produce power at a cost of about $14,000 per KW capacity.
Compare that with the three “concentrator dish” power stations at
Hermannsburg, Yuendumu and Lajamanu.
Together they cost $7m and generate 720 KW, which is $9722 per KW
capacity – considerably less than the cost of the domestic scheme in
Alice Springs, although the three Aboriginal communities couldn’t be
more remote, a factor hugely escalating the construction cost.
And the Mildura region is getting a 154,000 KW plant, “the biggest and
most efficient solar photovoltaic power station in the world” according
to the pitch, costing $420m.
That gives it a cost of just $2727 per KW capacity.
So, the domestic system in Alice Springs is about 50% more expensive
than those in the ultra remote Hermannsburg, Yuendumu and Lajamanu, and
five and a half times more expensive than the Mildura plant which will
cater for 45,000 homes.
The manufacturers, Solar Systems, say they have “developed the
capability to concentrate the sun by 500 times onto the solar cells for
ultra high power output”.
That, says Alice Solar City chairman Grant Behrendorff, gives them the
edge, through economy of scale.
It needs to be born in mind that the Mildura plant won’t exist for
another five years, is of a scale never been done before, whereas the
Alice Springs scheme is “here and now”.
Mr Behrendorff says the concentrator dish systems are using PV panels
with a 35% efficiency, compared to the 15% of the photovoltaic cells
used in the Alice domestic system.
Exactly why then do we carry out an experiment with an outdated system,
when we already know there are better ones around?
Mr Behrendorff says the imbalance is offset to some degree by avoiding
losses incurred by transporting electricity through the town’s grid.
This loss is five per cent.
Rooftop systems “embedded” throughout the town will mean “the amount of
electricity lost in the system will be reduced because the electricity
is produced closer to where it is used.”
And Alice Solar City general manager Brian Elmer says many locals are
“keen to have a solar plant on their own roof,” coupled with in-house
displays showing how much they are consuming and generating, raising
awareness of electricity consumption.
The question remains, if people are keen to save the world from climate
change catastrophes, should they not be putting their money into
In fact, Alice will get two state-of-the-art solar systems, one at
Ilparpa and one at the airport, from which environment-conscious
consumers can buy electricity.
Maybe there should be a scheme allowing them to invest in them?
Despite the heavy subsidies, the individual domestic systems have the
downside of being reliant on Power and Water, with all its
The system comes minus batteries, so the householders don’t become
However, they sell electricity to Power and Water for 45 cents per KW
hour and buy it back for 22.35c (peak times, 9am to 6pm Monday to
Friday), and 12.58c off-peak (all other times).
These concessional rates are available to participants in Solar Cities
initiatives even if they don’t instal a photovoltaic system.
Depending on consumption, and on sunshine, participants can make up to
$1500 a year from their system, says Alice Solar City’s commercial
services manager Sam Latz, paying off the unit in under 10 years.
But would you – and the environment – not be better off investing in a
system with double the efficiency and a fraction of the price?
Mr Latz says people want their own solar unit for the same reason they
want “their own home, own backyard and their own car”.
The question is, for how much longer will we have those?
NT Cattlemen’s Association president Roy Chisholm has welcomed the
Federal Government’s decision to re-open the live export trade to
He says shipments overseas “on the hoof” earns the Territory $180m a
The Muslim style halal slaughter will continue but it will be under
strict controls and humane conditions, with the animals being stunned
before their throat is cut.
“There is no pain involved,” says Mr Chisholm.
If the Australian trade were stopped, countries with fewer scruples and
lower standards would supply the market, says Mr Chisholm.
Meanwhile a national industry group, Meat and Livestock Australia, says
a new facility had been created at the Egyptian port of Sokhna with
livestock experts handling cattle from vessel to feedlot to processing
in one location.
This is known as a “closed system”.
“This is a result of considerable combined effort between the
Australian and Egyptian Governments and the Australian livestock export
industry,” says Cameron Hall, LiveCorp CEO.
“While it will be several months before the operational orders are
finalised and in place to allow shipments to commence, Australians can
be confident that there will be proper controls to ensure the welfare
of Australian cattle exported to Egypt.
“Upon arrival at the new facility, cattle will disembark the livestock
vessel and walk 800 metres to the shaded feedlot, where they will have
access to feed and water.
“Once ready for processing, the livestock will walk 50 metres from the
feedlot to the new modern processing facility. The system will be fully
“Each animal will have an individual electronic tag device and will be
scanned prior to leaving Australia and upon arrival at the feedlot in
Alice to get
eight more experienced cops. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Eight experienced police officers will transfer to Alice Springs over
the next few months from other parts of the Territory, the Town Council
was told on Monday night.
Superintendent Sean Parnell spoke to the aldermen in a regular briefing
on law and order issues.
He said six officers would transfer from Tennant Creek, one from
Elliott and another from the Tiwi Islands.
A further three officers, formerly ACPOs (Aboriginal Community Police
Officers) are training to become constables and will graduate in June.
These arrivals will take the local force to full establishment level,
says Supt Parnell.
A review of police communications has been conducted and findings will
go the Police Commissioner and the Territory Government.
Supt Parnell’s recommendation to the review team is that calls to
police – both 000 and 131444 – be handled from Darwin.
Many calls already do go to Darwin: “They’re the professionals,
there’ll be no lessening of service,” said Supt Parnell.
He told aldermen that it has been impossible to fill the police
auxiliary positions to take calls, despite repeat advertising.
The job has been covered by constables. Transferring the function to a
call centre in Darwin would free up 10 constables – “enormous for
He said people should not be concerned over loss of local knowledge as
the auxiliaries and officers answering the phone have generally been
new to town and had minimal local knowledge anyway.
Out of the total 196 police based in Alice there are 78 constables on
general policing duties, with around 10 on leave (six to seven weeks
for police) at any one time.
Supt Parnell acknowledged that Alice Springs has a high police to
population ratio but said the town is unique in Australia in its
position as a hub for numerous far flung communities and for its
Aldermen questioned him particularly about youth offending and
Supt Parnell said it is a priority for the local force.
On the suggestion of a very well respected ACPO, police are planning to
take small groups of youths – around 14 years of age, mostly residents
of town camps who are starting to come under the influence of
troublemakers – out bush, to be taught some survival skills, some
Supt Parnell said this activity is a different take on other police
initiatives to work with youth, such as school-based constables and
blue light discos: “We’re hopeful of some success. We’ll run it with
our own resources and see if it’s working for a few months.”
Solar City a
winner! (Contributed by Alice Solar City)
As a six year program Alice Solar City aims to explore how technology,
behaviour change and new approaches to electricity pricing can combine
to provide a sustainable energy future for Australia. Elements include
residential, commercial and large scale solar trials.
The knowledge and experience that Alice Solar City gains at the end of
six years will contribute greatly to the sustainable future of
Australia. Residents can be part of the trials, and save energy and
money at the same time.
Recent research has shown that over 70% of Alice Springs residents
believe that it is up to the individual to make a difference.
That’s where incentives to install residential photovoltaic (PV) solar
electricity systems, solar hot water systems, and smart meters to
monitor personal energy use come in.
Residents can also sign up for a free home energy survey, where they
can choose from a range of financial incentives to assist them in their
desire to become an energy champion.
Incentive vouchers can be for activities such as installing more
efficient light bulbs, painting the roof white, servicing evaporative
air-conditioners, and installing tinted windows, double glazing and
International experience suggests that a range of activities are
required to encourage the broader community to change their energy
behaviour. One size does not fit all.
Residents of Alice Springs who are not able to install a solar power
system on their roof, but would like to use renewable energy in their
homes, will be able to do so through a DesertSmart electricity tariff
to be offered by Powerwater. Powerwater will source this
electricity from the large scale solar farm being built at the Ilparpa
waste water treatment plant. More information about this scheme
will be announced later in 2008.
[Contributed by Alice Solar City.]
operator boosts recycling. By KIERAN FINNANE.
“Mountains” of concrete and steel have been extracted from the landfill
by new contractors, Subloos, says Ald Jane Clark, following the new
council’s tour of its facilities last week.
Some 2000 tonnes of concrete and 1700 tonnes of steel to be precise.
Add to this 1800 tonnes of chipped green waste, a proportion of which
will be sold to the public (on a date to be announced).
Subloos is looking for a client to take the concrete, which can be
crushed and used, for instance, for road base.
The steel can “easily be resold”, says Ald Clark.
Extraction of these volumes requires expensive, heavy equipment which,
unfortunately, the previous contractor (Bowerbird Enterprises) did not
have, she says.
Commercial waste is the biggest contributor of volume at the landfill,
she says, and council, through its contract with Subloos, is dealing
with that first.
The contract requires Subloos to lift recycling of waste from the
previous level of less than 1% to 15% within the first 12 months and
thereafter by 1% each year for the next five years or until they reach
20%, says CEO Rex Mooney. .
A drive-through sorting shed, soon to be constructed, will help Subloos
reach that goal: users will have their loads inspected and recyclables
and hazardous waste – such as computer waste and household paint –
removed before they go to the tip face. Tonnages will be measured.
The 20% goal is expected to extend the life of the landfill by five
years, taking it to around 2028, says Mr Mooney.
Dole cut if
unemployed refuse job. By KIERAN FINNANE.
From July last year up to the end of March this year, 3037 job seekers
living in the 72 communities prescribed under the Federal Intervention
had been referred to a Work for the Dole (WfD) activity.
Under rules that apply Australia-wide but from which remote communities
were previously exempted, 1342 “participation reports” (PRs) were made
in that time for WfD related failures.
Some of these were due to people failing to start in the WfD activity
they were referred to, while in other cases they may have started the
activity but subsequently had at least one occasion when they didn’t
turn up and didn’t provide a reasonable excuse.
Each PR is investigated by Centrelink and a decision is made as to
whether or not it should be “applied”.
If the failure is “serious” – for example, refusing an offer of
suitable work, not starting a job or leaving a suitable job – they may
receive an eight week non-payment period.
If a job seeker has had what is termed a less serious “participation
failure” – for example, not turning up to a job interview, or not
participating in a WfD activity – there will only be a financial
penalty if it is the third such failure within 12 months.
The Alice News asked how often the “three strike” and “serious failure”
rules had been applied in prescribed communities.
Of the 1342 PRs “raised”, 465 have been “applied” by Centrelink:
453 were participation failures and 12 were serious failures.
The 12 who had serious failures all suffered an eight-week non-payment
period, as did 14 others for cumulative participation failures.
How did people cope?
This was answered indirectly by a Department of Education, Employment
and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) spokesperson:
“The Rudd Government wants to maintain a strong compliance regime to
encourage participation and deter non-genuine job seekers, but this
system also needs to be fair and effective.
“The government is currently reviewing all employment services. This
includes looking at compliance requirements.
“While we cannot pre-empt the outcome of the review, as a first step,
DEEWR has urged employment service providers and Centrelink to use
their discretion and only issue eight-week non-payment penalties when
the job seeker clearly has no reasonable excuse for the participation
“If an employment service provider also is satisfied that a job seeker
will meet their participation requirements if given a further
opportunity to comply within a reasonable timeframe, then they should
be given an opportunity to do so.”
The Alice News asked Adam Giles, NT manager of Community Enterprises
Australia, how the “three strike” and “serious failure” rules were
working to encourage participation in the economy.
Mr Giles said the rules are among a suite of tools used by Centrelink
“I am seeing multitudes of people wanting to work. Our agency has
hundreds of Indigenous Territorians participating in work experience
programs including WfD and painting houses in communities.
“I imagine it is extremely difficult for Centrelink to find the
right balance, encouraging people into the workforce but not being too
tough on those who have genuine reasons, such as people with a
“I don’t want to see anybody lose their income for eight weeks, but I
do want to see people participating in the economy. Programs such as
WfD provide the work experience to enable people to get a real job with
Mr Giles estimate that CEA has moved around 100 people from
unemployment into real jobs since July 2007.
“Most would have been long term unemployed, some previous CDEP
participants and some who have never had a job before.”
How to cope
with the hard part of budget air travel. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
The cheap Tiger flights are all but useless unless you want to visit
Melbourne because the current schedule gets you there after most if not
all connecting flights have gone.
So if you don’t want to blow your fare savings on accommodation (for
example, Holiday Inn at the airport $280 a night; $40 one way taxi fare
into town, and so on), drastic measures are needed.
These could include throwing your swag at rellies’ or friends’ (if
available) or – yes – spending the night at the airport.
The Tiger terminal is rather sparse and closed at night, but Melbourne
domestic and international terminals are an easy 300 meter stroll away,
and you’re at a world class aviation facility.
Unless you’re on an overseas excursion you’re not going to get any
customs duty nor tax advantages, so shopping isn’t advisable.
I bought an $11.95 blow-up pillow for $20.40.
But food is plentiful, cheap and – in part – also good. I can recommend
However, sleeping requires some inexpensive albeit careful planning.
Lots of people do it, mostly international passengers with enormous
backpacks and wearing thongs, or Asians with loads of boxes and
I slept at Melbourne airport a fortnight ago. It was OK, not fantastic,
but I have the drum now on how to make it an experience bordering on
The seating throughout the terminal is generous inasmuch as most of it
is bench-type, without those mean armrests that prevent you from
However, the surfaces are either metal or timber and, consequently,
Take a mat, preferably the kind that’s self-inflating when rolled out.
On this occasion I relocated at about 1.30am to a closed restaurant
with an upholstered bench.
When awakened by the noise of chairs being taken off the tables, I
arranged the closest to coffee in bed that I could expect under the
Another consideration: While the absence of human traffic is conducive
to sleeping, the airport is cold, especially the domestic section where
heat-generating bodies are absent at night.
It seems the air conditioning keeps on blasting away even when it is
Take a blanket.
The fact that during curfew hours there are no domestic flights doesn’t
seem to be universally known to airport personnel, because at regular
intervals, a friendly but loud female voice urges you to pick only your
own luggage off the conveyor belt, and not someone else’s.
Take ear plugs.
Another fact of which the airport management seems oblivious is that we
are in a phase of almost certainly terminal global warming: yet the
lights shine bright even in those parts of the airport, each about the
size of a football field, not used during the night.
Take a sleeping mask.
A hipflask of Scotch, declared as mouthwash, is optional.
shape of God. REVIEW by KIERAN FINNANE.
It’s like being in a life drawing class but instead of naked humans,
there are naked camels.
The artist has sat there with them a long time, getting to know their
every contour as they moved through different poses, their every
stretch and roll and settling into the sand.
Sue McLeod’s show, which opened at Araluen on the weekend, is a
meditation on the camel – “An Uncommon Beast”, according to her title.
But not uncommon to her: without knowing any biographic details the
drawings and paintings tell you that McLeod is someone who has walked
with camels and who has come to cherish them.
In fact she has made epic journeys with a string of camels along the
old Afghan routes of the Centre; with a camel-drawn wagon from
Melbourne to the Pitjantjatjara lands and later on up to Alice.
But these journeys are not the subject of the show: there are no
strings of camels depicted, in fact we don’t see more than two at a
time and mostly it’s just one.
This is an up close and personal view and mostly of camels in repose.
In many of the works the camel occupies most of the frame, although
there are a few notable, dream-like landscapes with a solitary camel
sitting in them, as if in quiet contemplation of his or her place in
We learn that McLeod spent two periods of six months camping with two
domesticated camels along a disused stock route south of Alice and on
the old commonage land south of the Gap.
There is a sense from the show of her becoming inhabited by camel – or
at least that the animal so fascinated her that she was unable to look
At the opening of the show Craig San Roque quoted from the Persian poet
Hafiz of Shiraz (his own translation): “The camel was named by the
Prophet as the hidden shape of God, / And rare are the humans who
glimpse in themselves the hidden shape of God.”
San Roque joked about the camel in McLeod’s nature but there’s
something in it: the artist, with wonderfully vigorous brushing and
drawing and her single-minded focus, has painted her way to the inside
of something – in the architecture of her camels we glimpse
evolutionary eons and ancient migrations.
And how does this vision sit with our knowledge of the problem wild
camel populations in Australia?
McLeod notes in her artist’s statement that she is very concerned about
wild camels, which, apart from their environmental impact, make
management of a domestic herd “nearly impossible”.
San Roque says the problem with feral camels is that they are no longer
a companion to humans – the reciprocal relationship between camel and
human has been broken.
“Imagine if we stopped feeding all the dogs and released them,’ he
To quote Hafiz again: “To travel in the company of camels is to walk in
a state of grace / In fact, the camel’s rhythm is the true
beat of the human race ...
“The cause of the present confusion is this. The bond between
camel and man has ended / Humans became feral when the camel’s company
Youth for a
republic - by a whisker. By DARCY DAVIS.
In the true spirit of democracy, I have returned from the nation’s
capital, where 124 delegates gathered for the National Schools
Constitutional Convention, to report on what the country’s youth think
about one of the biggest questions for our country’s future.
The students were first presented with the arguments in favour of a
republic by Labor Senator Kate Lundy (ACT). Her main point was the
symbolic value of the change – it would be healthy for Australia’s
national identity and the morale of the people.
She supported a “minimalist model” – an appointed Australian Head of
State to replace the Monarch.
The arguments against were presented by Liberal Senator Cory Bernadi
(SA), saying we already have a strong system of checks and balances:
it’s not broken – so don’t fix it.
The students were given the opportunity to voice their opinions in the
“I don’t see how a Republic could improve our system. We should be
focussing on the problems in the functions of government,” said
Others thought that “being a Monarchy is degrading to our national
And yet others used metaphors to convey their opinion: “Australia’s
been built on a foundation like a house, it’s our home we love it, we
can make renovations, maybe add a few storeys but why should we rip out
our foundations of being a constitutional monarchy to replace it with a
new untried foundation.”
At this juncture I must draw attention to the fact that I was very busy
during these sessions, writing notes, getting immersed in discussions
and noting and quoting the most succinct opinions of a whole range of
students whom I didn’t know. They voiced their opinions, but didn’t say
their name – just call them “the Youth Voice of Australia”.
On the second day of the convention we looked at the different models
of a Republic that Australia could adopt and were presented with the
French, Irish and American models. The first was the minimalist model,
which was the safest option and many were in favour: “Instead of ‘if it
ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ we should be thinking ‘it won’t break if you
take care of it’ – the minimalist approach is one of the small steps we
need to be taking to look after our democracy.”
The second option was the semi-minimalist option which was a government
appointed President who had similar responsibilities to the current
But some thought this was a useless change: “Why spend all this money
to change our system so that we can have someone doing the job the
Governor General does already?”
The third option was similar to that of the Irish Republican model,
which would have a popularly elected president. But some students
picked holes in such a system: “If a candidate is running to be
president, how is he going to campaign?
“Is he going to say – I am the best figurehead, I will provide the best
symbolism?” and “It’s hard to ensure that a directly elected president
Other students liked the sound of having “someone elected by the nation
to represent our morals and views.”
On the last day we had to vote on which republican system we would
prefer, if we had to adopt one of them. A majority of 73% voted in
favour of the semi-minimalist system.
It was then time to vote on the big issue – to be or not to be a
republic. We were divided into our respective states and territories.
To change the constitution, there had to be a double majority – both a
majority of states as well as an overall majority. We waited with much
anticipation for the results.
The national total was 70 in favour of a republic (NSW, Victoria,
Tasmania and Queensland) and 51 against. The two territories were
ineligible to vote. While this may have seemed like a convincing
result, in reality it came down to just one vote, with Queensland
voting 14 in favour and 12 against. If one person had voted otherwise,
it would have been a tied result and a vote against a change to a
It was only the second time in the 13-year history of the National
Schools Constitutional Convention that students have voted to change
the constitution – a change in the air?
Sir,- I reply to Rod Cramer’s letter (Alice News, May 8) regarding my
report to Council about LGANT’s position on issues relating to the
Local Government Bill.
LGANT represents the elected members in local government. With the
introduction of shires in the near future, the entire land mass of the
NT (aside from some areas in the Top End) will be incorporated into
local government for the first time. This means that pastoral and
mining leases will fall into local government areas and, yes, they will
be expected to pay rates.
Some complaints are to be expected but the reality is that, in the
past, they did not contribute to local government but did have the
opportunity to enjoy the services provided. Any pastoralist may
now stand and be elected to local government and that is a good
The NT Government has been extremely generous in capping the rates for
pastoral properties and mining leases for three years, a benefit not
offered to any other ratepayers.
LGANT lobbies the Federal Government for funds, monitors and comments
on legislation and fights very hard for fair funding for
roads. After July elected member representation will be very much
reduced due to dissolving of community government councils. The LGANT
Executive, of which I am a member, will continue to closely monitor the
transition process and keep the public informed.
Finally, to clarify Mr Cramer’s assertion that I showed blanket support
for ‘user pays’ – I supported the premise of ‘user pays’ for certain
limited services which cost the Alice Springs Town Council thousands of
dollars to provide, and yet charged the user an amount in the vicinity
of $100. I support prudent use of ratepayer money and so I put
forward that we charge the user an amount closer to the actual cost to
council for these services.
Alderman Jane Clark
Sir,- I write in response to the proposed Angela-Pamela Uranium mine.
The company [Cameco] cannot guarantee that their actions will not harm
our precious aquifers. Need I remind everyone that a town without a
water supply will cease to be a town very quickly?
The company maintains that they will employ ‘radiation management
measures’ to reduce the amount of radiation escaping into the
atmosphere and therefore minimise the amount of radiation blowing
Shall we stop for a minute and ask how well that has worked at the
Ranger Uranium mine? We were told by Dr Gavin Mudd from Monash
University at the community meeting held last week that every uranium
mine has higher levels of leakage than was “guaranteed” including
Ranger which is supposed to be “world’s best practice”.
Yes, the mine will make a lot of money and by default and necessity
some of that money will flow into Alice Springs but that will only be
for a short period, perhaps 5-10 years.
Let’s not kid ourselves; the mining company has no long-term allegiance
to the town and people of Alice Springs.
Sir,- Re the Angela Pamela uranium mine: I have lived here for over 20
years, am a long term active ALP member, work in the tourism industry –
and have a doctorate in evolutionary biology. This gives me a degree of
expertise in the effects of radiation on humans.
The proponent is the NT Government which owns the land, part of the
former Owen Springs pastoral lease. The existence of the ore body has
been known since the 70s.
The NT Government called for “expressions of interest” from mining
companies, and has actively encouraged this mining proposal.
The NT ALP also went to the last election on a “no more uranium mines”
There was no consultation with the people of Alice Springs. We weren’t
even notified, unless you happen to read the government tenders in the
NT News. I don’t.
The problem with this is that there can be no “independence” in any
enquiry, as the “judge” (in this case) is the NT Government in its
various forms, also the proponent.
For any enquiry to be fair dinkum, there must be on the table the real
possibility that the outcome is NO – the exploration and / or mining
should not proceed.
The only way this can happen is for the people of the Alice to say it
loudly and unanimously, NO.
One of the selling points for the proposed mine is “jobs”.
Much of the local hospitality industry runs on itinerant backpacker
labour. Businesses in town are desperate for skilled workers, and the
tourism industry is battling to attract staff.
If such a mine were to eventuate it would suck workers from the
long-term sustainable tourism industry.
The mine would soon finish and then piss off with the loot.
And of course there is the inevitable Berrimah Line question – would
the NT Government have promoted a uranium mine 25 kms from the precious
Northern Suburbs seats in Darwin?
Sir,- Ms. Parks [from the uranium mining company Cameco] states that
mine workers would be at risk from exposure to dust from the mine
itself. This acknowledges a danger to workers in the mine, and
infers a degree of risk of local environmental contamination.
Furthermore Tatz and Cass published a paper [demonstrating] an almost
doubled rate of all cancers in the indigenous population, around
the Ranger Mine in the NT.
Although this study was small, and the cancers were not specific to
cancers associated with radiation exposure, this is an alarming
statistic which demands consideration.
Another issue associated with a proposed mine is the population health
effect of low levels of ionising radiation- assuming that mining the
Angela- Pamela deposits will expose the local population to low levels
of radiation (through dust, water, or accidental
contamination). To quote the Biological Effect of Ionising
Radiation - Report VII challenges Ms. Parks statement that there is a
threshold, below which exposure to small doses of radiation does
not contribute to the risk of ill health.
Furthermore, it is important to realise that multiple doses of
ionising radiation accrue a cumulative risk of ill health.
This too challenges the notion of a “safe threshold”.
Having said all of this, I would be glad to review any of the follow up
studies that Ms. Park refered to, which she claims to contradict the
linear relationship between exposure to ionising radiation and risks to
Finally, I think it is disappointing and sad that Ms. Parks dismissed
the contamination of potable water with process water, at the Ranger
mine on Mar 24, 2004. It was an event in which human error contributed
to a significant contamination.
Workers were exposed to multiple pollutants, including high levels of
uranium. The potable water supply of Jabiru was contaminated.
Although no ongoing health problems have yet been documented,
exposed workers complained of acute skin and gastrointestinal
complaints at the time of exposure.
As Ms. Parks suggests, this incident did not involve radiation
or ground water, but it highlights the risks associated
with the toxic products of uranium mining and human
error. Can Alice Springs afford to take the risk?
Sir,- Attention has been paid to the young and first home buyers but
older Territorians have been left out of this year’s Northern Territory
By the time you reach 50 and over, many people will experience either
unemployment, a huge stamp duty bill for downsizing your home, or
dwindling staff in the residential aged care facility you live in. None
of these problems have been recognised in the budget. This is
disappointing as the Northern Territory, like the rest of the country,
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Northern
Territory’s 65-plus population increased by 8.3 per cent – making the
Territory the fastest of all states in the year ending June 2007. This
shows a lack of foresight, especially given that the NT Treasurer
predicted that the NT will have the strongest economic growth of all
jurisdictions over the next five years.
Stamp duty is an area where senior Territorians were hoping to achieve
some change. While there is no special concession for those downsizing
their homes, the reduction of stamp duty rates overall is a positive
However, a senior downsizing from a $500,000 home will still have to
pay $24,000 in stamp duty – a mere $3,000 reduction.
Mature age unemployment was an unaddressed issue in the budget although
many other employment and training initiatives have been announced. The
$2 million Patient Assistance Travel Subsidy Scheme funding is welcomed
by National Seniors, as are the other health funding initiatives but
ore needs to be done to address the lack of qualified staff in aged
National Seniors NT
ADAM CONNELLY: Putting passion in its place.
I find passion an incredibly attractive quality.
I’m not talking about … you know… bedroom passion. I’m talking about
that drive, that interest, that love of a cause or a hobby or a job.
I think what makes passion so attractive is that people with it tend to
also be passionate about life. There is in my mind very little more
depressing than a person who goes about their short time on this earth
breathing with the same level of enthusiasm a six year old brings to
the task of cleaning their room.
Dylan Thomas wanted us not to go quietly into the night, to rage
against death by living a full life.
Some people almost want to apologise for living.
We all know people like this. Soul suckers. The performers of emotional
osmosis. Sucking the life out of you just by their conversation.
Sometimes they don’t even need to talk. Have you ever felt the need for
a nap just because you’ve been in the same room as a person? A person
who takes the bull by the excrement rather than the horns?
These people are what Billy Connolly calls the Beige Brigade. A strict
adherence to all things beige.
Don’t confuse passion for positivity. Sometimes upon first inspection
they can look the same.
Australians by and large are a positive collective of peoples. But
occasionally this positivity leads to victimisation.
Remember the days when many Australians were considered “working
class”? Passionate, hard working men and women, working hard to give
their kids a better life. Now thanks to A Current Affair, and other
insipid programs of that ilk, the working class has a new name: the
“Little Aussie Battler”.
I never want that term applied to me. Battler. Like the world and the
man and big business are all against them but regardless of their
pathetic station in life, they struggle on struggle street like a
I’ll bet you London to a brick that “The Little Aussie Battler” was a
term coined by someone outside the working class.
To me the working class was pro-active while the Little Aussie Battler
has to struggle through life’s misfortunes powerless.
I’m not attracted to people who, when they get lemons, make lemonade. I
find that outlook on life annoying. I’m attracted to people who, upon
the receiving of said lemons, bitch and yell and throw lemons until
they get the apples they bloody well wanted in the first place!
Of course passion can be misdirected. Like a curry, in the wrong hands
passion can be quite dangerous. A curry well cooked can dance across
your tongue like Barishnikov. In the wrong hands however, a curry can
leave you for extended periods of time on the loo, wishing you’d never
Hamas are passionate. Alfredo Reynado was quite passionate. Cult
leaders like David Koresh, Little Pebble and Tom Cruise are all quite
passionate. In fact it’s their passionate nature which attracts people
Dylan Thomas was a magnificent poet but also a drunken junkie who got
into fistfights with his wife.
Centralians are passionate about Central Australia. A passion
contagious. I meet people on a daily basis who crave success for this
place like a fat kid craves KFC. (I should know. I’ve lived in Central
Australia and been a fat kid – the similarities are alarmingly
In my job I have the privilege of meeting many of these passionate
people. They love this place with a zeal I envy. They react to a good
Central Australian news story the same way that a smoker takes in their
first lungful in the morning and they react to bad news as though they
themselves have been wounded.
However, I was having a casual conversation with one such passionate
Centralian this week. He reminded me of a man by the name Alistair
Galpin. Alistair wanted to achieve greatness. With polio already
eradicated, he saw that his path to greatness was to become a multiple
entrant in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Alistair has broken 28 records. An impressive feat you’d agree. His
passion for breaking records is doubtless. Did Alistair build the
world’s largest building?
Did he break a land speed record?
Did he even write the world’s longest palindrome? No.
Mr Galpin, holds the record for things like the most rhinestones glued
to a human body and the most snails placed on his face for a minute (a
My Centralian friend was so passionate about the place he had clung
onto the first plan that came into his head. Think Las Vegas 2008 meets
So much good can happen when passionate people come together to achieve
Let’s just make sure the goal is worth achieving.
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