ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
July 17, 2008. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Let’s give Alice teeth:
Centre party mooted. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Tourism identity Rex Neindorf is looking to form a Central Australian
He says the 500 signatures necessary could be collected easily “outside
That gives a clue to one of his main concerns – alcohol restrictions
that punish a majority and are ineffective. he says, in dealing with
the 300 to 500 alcoholics who need to be put into “a facility”.
He says the solutions to the town’s problems are “simple” but “get
stopped by do-gooders”.
He says a key objective for his party would be to “get these solutions,
Intervention-style politics, on the record, into Hansard”.
A candidate is in the wings, someone with a long involvement in the
town and the tourism industry.
Mr Neindorf says he is confident of “strong backing” from the industry
and “the thousands” whose livelihoods are affected by it.
“We’re not afraid to state what needs to happen. If we lose the seat
after four years, we are prepared to do that.”
He says the problem with most politicians is that they want to “keep
their seat” and so they compromise on what they stand for.
Mr Neindorf revealed his plans at at a public meeting last Sunday,
called by Advance Alice.
There was general agreement at the meeting with criticism by
developer Ron Sterry and athletics identity and businessman Eli
Melky of Greatorex MLA Matt Conlan for having “lost his voice” –
he was a better political force on radio, they said.
(Mr Conlan says “not spending 30 hours a week on radio may have
something to do with that perception”. He says he’s at the “forefront
of debate” on issues relevant to his shadow portfolios, including law
and order, health, and recreation.)
Both the Labor and Country Liberal parties were seen as having, in Mr
Melky’s words, “lost the plot”.
The meeting was small – only eight turned up – but its goals were
Advance Alice chair Steve Brown was despondent about the lack of
“passion” demonstrated by the poor attendance.
But Murray Stewart, Deputy Mayor and Advance Alice member, was
untroubled: “I wouldn’t read anything into that. When there’s a call to
arms, we’ll have no trouble getting helpers.”
Forming a new party or an alliance to support independent candidates in
the next Territory election, expected in the coming months, was the
central subject of discussion.
Mr Stewart favoured supporting independent candidates – to avoid the
inflexibility of party structures. He said having like-minded
candidates contesting the election, whether they won or lost, would
give Advance Alice and its sympathisers political credibility.
By participating in the campaign they would be able to influence the
debate, a win “by stealth”.
There was discussion about whether the focus should be on “the
regions”, the Centre, as far north as Katherine, even into Darwin.
Mr Neindorf saw the Bendigo Bank as providing the model, starting
with the community and spreading: “It’s got to be
Mr Melky, who is considering running as an independent in Braitling,
said his candidacy would be “for one electorate, through the electorate
the town, through the town, the Territory”.
He didn’t support Mr Stewart’s focus on the regions: “We are first and
His central concern is law and order, not only the “surface crime”,
like graffiti and anti-social behaviour, but also the “invisible
violent crimes”, including those that impact on the vulnerable in town
NT Govt. shrugs off town council
uranium concerns. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The Town Council will ask Territory Minister for Mining, Chris Natt, to
guarantee safety for Alice Springs’ air and underground water during
However, a spokesperson for Mr Natt says, in response to a query from
the Alice News, that the “opportunity for the public to comment on this
application [for an exploration licence] was available – that period
has now closed”.
The spokesperson says Mr Natt spoke to people at the Alice Springs Show
about uranium exploration in Central Australia.
“The overwhelming response was positive and in support of exploration.
“An approval to explore does not equal an approval to mine. Should any
exploration prove successful, the explorer must then apply for a
“This will trigger a thorough environmental assessment process,
including community consultation.
“Both the NT Government and Commonwealth Government environmental
approvals must consider public comments.
“Exploration has minimal environmental impact and is strictly monitored
by the NT Government.”
Aldermen do not appear to be so readily convinced.
They did not support Greens Alderman Jane Clark’s call for a halt to
exploration of the Angela and Pamela deposits (25 and 21 kilometres
respectively from the Alice post office), nor for a public meeting at
which Federal Energy and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and Mr Natt
would answer residents’ concerns directly.
But, except for Ald Samih Habib, they did support her motion, seconded
by Ald Melanie van Haaren, asking Mr Natt to provide a report
• the exploration shafts and mine will not be flooded; and
• the air and underground water will not be contaminated by the
substantial drilling involved in both exploration and full scale mining.
To these points for the report were added others, put forward by Ald
Brendan Heenan, about measures to be taken to rehabilitate and
stabilise the drilled area should the mine not go ahead, and about a
financial security bond from the mining companies during the
Ald Habib belives uranium is “the cleanest form of energy we can get “
and that the world “can’t afford to continue belching fossil fuel” into
He expressed confidence in the processes in place, including the
eventual environmental impact study (that comes after exploration).
He says “we should be careful, keep our eyes open”, but that efforts to
“stop this, stop that are in la-la land”.
Ald Liz Martin supports exploration – “we should know what’s in the
land”. But she did not want to take a “premature” stand on eventual
She said in her capacity as CEO of the Road Transport Historical
Society which runs the Old Ghan, she is waiting for an
independent report that will guarantee the restoration of the
“heritage asset” (the Old Ghan railway line) within the exploration
Both Alds John Rawnsley, chairing the meeting, and Murray Stewart were
at pains to point out that their rejection of parts of Ald Clark’s
motion did not mean that they support a uranium mine.
The council “will not be supporting an unsafe mine,” said Ald Stewart.
Mayor Damien Ryan pointed out that, once exploration finishes, the
decision will rest with the Federal, not the Territory
government, though this would change with statehood.
Meanwhile, Cameco, one of the companies applying for the Angela Pamela
exploration licence, announced last week that it has signed an
agreement to acquire a 70% interest in the Kintyre uranium exploration
project in Western Australia for US$346.5m.
According to a media release, the transaction is expected to close in
August subject to ministerial approval in Western Australia and
execution of certain agreements with the Martu people who are the
traditional owners of the land.
New journey down the well worn
path of Aboriginal advancement. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
“The systems of vocational training and the welfare-to-work transition
system – the job network system – are very clunky.
“They don’t work well together.
“As a person in that system you can find yourself referred by a job
network provider to go off to training, at a time when you’re supposed
to turn up to Centrelink for a compliance meeting, and you can get
Problems like this are “tripping up mainstream people, and are more
exacerbated in remote regions where there is far less personal
Eliminating such absurd obstacles to advancement in the job market will
be a major task for the partners in the Desert People’s Centre (DPC),
according to Peter Taylor, Chief Operating Officer of the Centre for
Appropriate Technology (CAT).
CAT will soon move to the Desert Knowledge precinct and share the DPC
facilities with Batchelor Institute (Alice News, June 19).
In fact the centre should more properly be called the Aboriginal Desert
Peoples Centre because both Batchelor, which aspires to become a
university, and CAT are both “principally” for Aboriginal people, says
To begin with the two organizations will continue with their own
projects but will soon start working together.
One thin on which they won’t be agreeing is Batchelor’s race-based
The institute, which aspires to become a university, will maintain a
policy of not bringing “non-Indigenous students into programs that are
running on our campuses as workshops,” says Vice-Chancellor Jeannie
Herbert (Alice News, June 19).
She says non-Indigenous students can take online courses, or courses
that are delivered off-campus.
“It’s always going to be an Indigenous university.
“Our council wants cultural safety on our residential campuses,” said
CAT, by contrast, does “enrol non-indigenous students. There are no
regulatory barriers to non-indigenous students,” says Mr Taylor.
The question is, how long will it take the DPC partners to drag
thousands of Aboriginal people out of the welfare dependency morass,
and help them become well-adjusted and productive members of a
And how much will it cost?
CAT has a budget of $24.6m for 2008/09.
Its recent claim to fame is Bushlight (google earlier reports in the
Alice News online edition), installing solar electric systems in or for
315 households across the top end of remote Australia. The cost for
this was $45m from the Federal Government.
That’s $143,000 per system which you can buy over the counter for about
one-third of that.
Canberra is negotiating an extension of Bushlight funding for a further
five years at the rate of $5m a year.
Since the project started in July 2002 it has been carried out by
commercial contractors, with Aboriginal participation limited to
occasionally cleaning the photovoltaic panels and checking the acid
level in the batteries.
CAT is now seeking greater participation, says Mr Taylor, and the way
this is being done may be indicative of how DPC will be operating.
He says Bushlight contractors find it hard to find semi-skillled people
to help with the installation and servicing of the units.
CAT, which is a registered training provider, has “re-worked the
existing curricular and training methodology” of the VET Certificate II
in Renewable Area Power Supply Maintenance “so that it is more tailored
to Indigenous students”.
Says Mr Taylor: “We are looking, over the next few months, for probably
They will need to be exposed to between 500 and 700 “contact hours”
over 20 to 30 weeks provided they have “substantial literacy and
numeracy, with Year 10 mathematics as a core qualification”.
Many people in the bush have not reached this standard, equivalent to
the lowest level of compulsory education.
Mr Taylor says applicants who can reach it “in a couple of months” with
tuition from Batchelor would be considered for the scheme.
In addition to the training, says Mr Taylor, “we will have a case
manager in place, on a continuous basis” to assist with Centrelink,
family and a “whole range” of other issues.
“We’ll be running workshops with the solar energy installation
companies to identify their needs for employees of that kind, and what
type of support they as employers need to take on people who have
recently completed a Cert II and probably don’t have a long history of
If all goes well “we will have a cohort of graduates coming thorough in
probably 12 to 18 months’ time,” he says – a dozen students, providing
suitable applicants can be found, and they stick with the job.
DPC Business Development Manager Keith Castle says in connection with
Batchelor a “new student services process” is being developed, offering
“course advice, counseling on personal issues, caring about the
students, dealing with eligibility questions”.
At the same time CAT will be developing contracts with students and
communities, assisting students to apply their training to jobs,
dealing with “life skills and attitudinal issues towards work,”
according to Mr Castle.
He says it’s not often the case that “as soon as someone is educated,
they will click into the non-Aboriginal system of employment and it
will just all work perfectly.
“There are many things which sit behind the way we go about getting a
CAT will be endeavoring to make students understand “what’s involved in
working on a regular basis, day to day maintenance of personal finances
or health issues, the cultural challenges of students coming from a
community and living somewhere else”.
This process involves a massive investment of public resources, and it
is clear that much of what the DPC will be doing could or should be
done by government instrumentalities, such as Centrelink, and
educational institutions such as Centralian College and Charles Darwin
Says Mr Taylor: “Indigenous education outcomes are poor.
“They drop out earlier. Reading and writing skills are not at the same
standards as mainstream Australia.
“If primary and secondray schools were to provide more effective
education, we would be in front of different circumstances.
“And Batchelor would be spending less time on literacy and numeracy.”
Its link to “desert knowledge” notwithstanding, the DPC approach
displays little of the “can do” attitude, long the hallmark of the
During an interview last week, the Alice News put to Mr Taylor, Mr
Castle and DPC chairman Harold Furber an account linked to last week’s
report about the substance abuse facility, Injartnama, west of Alice
According to a volunteer worker there, Harry Dean, the small community
has several blocked septic tanks in need of pumping out.
Mr Dean says the nearby Tjuwampa Resource Centre has a septic pump, and
undertook to send it to Injartnama, to arrive at the same time as a
plumber hired from Alice Springs to assist.
The plumber came, the pump didn’t.
The plumber charged $6000 for a week and did little of use.
It’s the kind of issue for which DPC will be a “conduit for advice and
Is that really necessary?
“You cannot have highly complex technical knowledge residing in every
community,” says Mr Taylor.
The News put this to the three men from DPC: you have a truck, a pump,
a container on the back of the truck, a hose that sucks out the
effluent and a place where you dump it.
What’s hard about that?
Mr Taylor: “There are some complexities around it. You have to look
after the effluent after it is pumped.
“It’s not necessarily a straightforward matter.
“It’s not terribly hard but people do actually call on plumbers to help
Is that not the type of thing Aboriginal people should be able to
handle without expensive outside help? What is the knowledge that CAT
has been imparting on communities?
Mr Taylor: “People disinfecting their rainwater tanks, monitoring their
bores, making sure the bores are clear, that they are not over-infested
with weeds, that they are properly fenced, that they clean solar panels
regularly, that they regularly inspect the tops of septic tanks to make
sure they are closed.”
Mr Taylor provided the following figure for remote areas unemployment
• The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, treating CDEP
participants as unemployed, put the figure at 64% in 2007.
• In 2006 the Australian Bureau of Statistics quoted 60% if CDEP is
regarded as unemployed, and at 48% if CDEP participants are excluded.
The Weekend Australian (July 12-13) quotes an “NT Government
submission” that “as of the 2006 census, there were 22,055 Aborigines
of working age in remote areas, 80% of whom were unemployed.
“The remaining 20% – roughly 5500 people – were counted as being
employed on CDEP.”
But Mr Castle asks whether unemployment “is actually the right
“To say there is no employment where in some situations there is no
framework for employment is a difficult thing to do.
“Every community is going to have its own issues” and we are “wanting
to try to develop it, to be working with communities, individual
communities, and individuals within those communities, to actually look
more carefully at what are the opportunities here, how do we develop
them so we can actually engender enthusiasm from those people, so there
is an ownership in the outcome and the education process, so there is a
commitment from both the educators and the job network.”
That, of course, has been discussed for the past 35 years.
Mr Castle: “We’ll be talking about it for another 40 years because it’s
an ongoing thing.”
So what will DPC encourage students to do?
Will there be Mal Brough-style mutual obligation – we’ll spend millions
on your education so long as you use it to your and the broader
Mr Furber: “The specific issues will come out as we progress the
All three agree that the objective is to improve Aboriginal
Mr Furber says that doesn’t necessarily mean “nine to five jobs”.
Mr Castle rejects any notion of making mutual obligation obligatory:
“It’s not our role to say to them, we’ll cut you loose.
“That’s up to the government.
“There are lots of examples around Australia where the compliance
process goes only so far.”
Mr Taylor: “If people see success, why would you want to be punitive
Mr Furber rejects any suggestion to apply requirements in force at
universities where students either pay or enter into the HECS agreement
of paying their tuition costs once they earn an income.
Says Mr Furber: “If [a graduate] doesn’t have a job she doesn’t have to
pay it back.
“It’s an onerous load that you are asking us to take on.”
Mr Castle says there will be emphasis of “continually encouraging
students to take more responsibility for their own issues.
“They are very real issues but there are gentle steps.”
Mr Taylor says Noel Pearson’s Cape York Institute takes the view that
there are four levels “of people’s attachment to employment, education
Mr Taylor quotes the institute as follows:-
• At the top level there are people who are close to job ready but have
a range of disincentives, such as “passive welfare”, for getting work.
• People who need training but not substantial personal support.
• And people who will take a substantial effort to get close to job
readiness, still needing a substantial investment.
• People who are largely dysfunctional, have major substance abuse
problems, significant social and psychological problems, or major
So what can taxpayers expect to get for their money in five years’ time?
Mr Taylor: “We should have at least half a dozen innovative strategies
that draw on the strengths of Batchelor and CAT.
“The renewable energy training program is probably going to be one of
the first of those, but we’re also looking around at the moment for
other industry partners where we can apply the same kind of case
management approach, from training through to sustainable employment.”
Mr Castle: “We’re looking at the SIHIP government housing scheme – can
we apply that case management approach, leveraging the money put into
housing for training and long-term job outcomes.”
Mr Castle says the Desert Knowledge initiatives are “trying to develop
a new industry for Central Australia, if you like, that this place can
try to build on.
“We’re actually attracting funding for new resourcing, in The Centre,
for an area that’s been hugely under-resourced.”
Mr Furber: “We wouldn’t have started DPC to carry on business as
He says DPC will bring together not only Batchelor and CAT, but also
Yirara College and the research-focussed Desert Knowledge CRC and
Desert Knowledge Australia “to create an atmosphere of moving forward.
“That hasn’t happened here before. We’ve seen all the dilemmas in the
“You’ve seen it. I live it every day!”
Macklin makes wrong start in
camps, say native title holders. By KIERAN FINNANE.
No matter how many millions are spent, the town as a whole and the town
camps will be where they are now or worse unless behaviour is
So says Darryl Pearce, CEO of the native title holder body Lhere
The behaviour he is concerned about is “anticultural” – arising from a
lack of respect for Arrernte country and its native title holders’
social norms (see Alice News, April 24).
Mr Pearce says Indigenous affairs Minister Jenny Macklin’s emphasis on
improving infrastructure and housing hardware as first cab off the rank
is misplaced without some negotiated changes in behaviour from people
living in town camps, both current and prospective residents.
He is concerned that the physical improvements will only encourage a
greater influx of residents and that there is no planning around this,
in terms of what would be required of those residents. If he were given
charge of policy in the area tomorrow, he would begin with behaviour.
Mr Pearce spoke to the Alice News after Ms Macklin’s first visit to
Alice Springs last week.
Her main focus was the town camps, with an immediate injection of $5.3
million for repairs to existing housing. In all $50 million will be
made available, with town camp leases being signed over to government
for 40 years and tenancy management being put in the hands of Territory
Housing for an initial three years.
Tangentyere Council will be the agency for the expenditure of the $5.3
million, with priorities decided in conjunction with her department,
says Ms Macklin.
She had met with the Lhere Artepe executive in what she termed as “a
very constructive conversation” but Mr Pearce termed as “a meet and
He acknowledged the Minister’s prerogative to meet with whom she
wished, but wondered what to make of Lhere Artepe’s absence from policy
Lhere Artepe were not invited to be part of a reference group of 20
local Aboriginal leaders that looks like it will be advising the
Minister on issues in Central Australia.
Meanwhile, Alderman Jane Clark is concerned that upgrades in the town
camps may not be to the same standard as would be required in any new
subdivision within Alice Springs.
She says the issue was raised during the Town Council’s discussions
with Ms Macklin.
She says Ms Macklin’s aide used the words “almost to the standard of
the rest of Alice Springs”.
“When I asked Ms Macklin to clarify, she said that $50 million doesn’t
go far and that the need is so great that we just need to improve
things as much as we can.
“I believe we may end up with a solution to fit the budget rather than
a budgeted and appropriate solution designed through community
consultation,” says Ald Clark. “You can retrospectively upgrade
housing but it’s not so easy with infrastructure.”
More than grace and beauty. By
There’s something of The Three Graces, although there are seven, in the
most striking series of Henry Smith’s gum trees.
Smith’s exhibition Tree Song opened at Araluen on the weekend.
In Greek and Roman mythology The Three Graces personified grace and
beauty. It’s particularly the figures as shown by Botticelli in
Primavera that I’m reminded of – their pale forms languidly, almost
precariously, leaning to the left and right.
There’s nothing of the precarious in Smith’s trees – his “muscular
beauties” – but he tenderly renders their lovely leaning and in the
series of seven, bathed in golden light, they are like dancers, their
rhythm long and slow.
Up close the association with Botticelli’s idealised figures ends.
There is an almost confronting level of detail, confronting at least in
part because it is so suggestive of the human body and of those
features that are usually covered or veiled – breasts, nipples, tufts
of hair, vaginas, and the signs of age.
These are mature beauties, with unexpected extra bits, knobbles,
wrinkles, sags, every one finely detailed and offered to the viewer
Smith speaks of painting portraits of the trees and in that each one of
the seven is distinct, asserts its own presence, he has certainly
But his project also brings to our attention the inexorable processes
of life that go beyond individual character. A series of three,
focussed on the roots of fallen trees, show the final disintegration.
Or is it final? In a sculptural work Smith presents a large fragment of
burnt tree trunk on which he has drawn in fine filaments the new growth
that comes even when the devastation appears to be total.
There will be a walk through the art this Sunday, July 20, 2pm.
Pilgrims heading out from Alice.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
The Catholic Church was packed on Sunday morning for a multi-cultural
celebration of World Youth Day.
Close to 90 pilgrims from the diocese of Freiburg in Germany joined 40
local pilgrims, most of whom were young Arrernte people, before leaving
for Sydney on Monday.
The choir was in full voice, backed by African drums and on occasion by
Aboriginal clapping sticks, for hymns of praise in English and
The Gospel was read in German as well as English, and the Prayers of
the Faithful were in English, German and Arrernte.
The German pilgrims were applauded for their rendition of a hymn in
their language, taking inspiration from Irish lyrics and melodies.
Pilgrim Serena Edwards translated and everyone laughed at the very
Irish sounding line, “May you be in Heaven for four years before the
Devil even notices you’re dead”.
The presence of the Germans prompted a couple of jokes from the lay
leader of the service, including an allusion to Basil Fawlty’s
“Don’t mention the war” (I’m not sure that the Germans got it and
perhaps that’s just as well).
Parish priest Father Jim Knight spoke about the long tradition of
pilgrimage, across faiths and through the millennia.
It offers an experience of community, on the journey and especially
once arrived at the “sacred site”, when the experience will become one
of the “universality” of the Catholic Church and sharing in the
presence of Christ, coming to a climax at the Mass with the Pope.
However, the real success of World Youth Day “will not be the numbers
who gather at Randwick”, said Fr Jim.
“It will be what happens when the pilgrims come back to parishes around
the world” with “recommitment and new energy”.
He made the point that Jesus of Nazareth was a man “of his own culture”
who used that “to challenge his own people to live up to the call God
had given him”.
After Communion, the local pilgrims were “commissioned” to represent
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart parish and Central Australia at World
Fr Asaeli Raass, who will travel with them, invited Margaret Kemarre
Turner (MK) to speak in Arrernte – “to encourage the pilgrims to
be strong”, to come back “enlivened and uplifted in their faith”.
Finally Father “Joe” from Freiburg thanked the host families for their
warm welcome of the German pilgrims, for the space in their houses, for
the program of activities, and “for the internet, the soft drinks, the
beer, the kangaroos”.
And he thanked the Aborigines for inviting them to their country.
He presented Fr Jim with a small piece of stone from the church in
Freiburg, built in the Middle Ages, as well as a CD of the church choir
and a souvenir pilgrim’s hat.
Outside the church, Serena Edwards spoke to the Alice Springs News,
describing he pilgrimage as “one of life’s highlights”.
“For me there’s a special sense between people [on the pilgrimage], you
can see it in their faces, there’s a glow about everybody.”
Gathering in Sydney would be an opportunity to pronounce her faith, to
renew and celebrate it, and from there to go and “spread the good
She said she had met “lovely people” in Alice, had the “best host
family in the world”, was looking forward to going to the Desert Park.
“They’ve treated us like VIPs, it’s overwhelming.”
She saw her journey as a combination of “the spiritual with
sight-seeing” (after Sydney the pilgrims will head to Cairns).
Young Arrernte pilgrim Matthew Furber said he was looking forward to
“seeing the Pope”.
Alison Furber was to travel with the young people.
“These kids grew up in the bush,” she said proudly, “this will be their
first time in a big city.”
She said they were all looking forward to meeting with other pilgrims
and to “representing our church”, referring to the small but vibrant
Aboriginal church, Ngkarte Mikwekenhe, which has its base at 40 South
Around the traps: First crossing
of Oz by car.
An exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first crossing
of Australia by a motor vehicle opens at the National Road Transport
Hall of Fame next week.
Presented by the National Motor Museum, the show is a photographic
record of the 1908 feat by Harry Dutton and Murray Aunger, who drove
from Adelaide to Darwin in a Talbot at a time before there were roads,
bridges, service stations or detailed maps.
Shows until July 28 to August 3.
• A touring commercial exhibition of Indigenous Australian art is
showing at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on July 26 to 27, 10am-8pm. The show
launches the Reconciliation Action Plan of Engineers with Borders, a
non-profit organisation that empowers communities to improve their
quality of life through education and sustainable engineering projects.
The exhibition celebrates the diversity, cultural richness and
achievements of Indigenous Australia.
• Nominations are open for the 2008 NT Indigenous Music Awards
recognising excellence, dedication, innovation and outstanding
contribution to the music industry by Territory musicians. Nomination
forms are available from www.musicnt.com.au - closes 25 July.
• The Alice Springs Turf Club is fund-raising for a new children’s
playground at Pioneer Park Racecourse. Join them at the Alice Springs
Cinemas to view the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight, and
afterwards at the Todd Tavern on Monday, July 28, 6pm. Bookings 8952
• There are two more Sundays left for young people, eight to 13, to
join in Dance and Movement for Performance with Kristy Schubert.
The sessions combine music, movement and imagination to develop a dance
piece for performance. July 20 and 27, 10-11am. 89522392.
• Age is no barrier at circus skills workshops to be run by Circosis
duo, Sarah Mason and Andrew Cook, as well as Rui Harrington
Pinto on August 10, 17, 24 and 31 as well as September 7,
Experienced in teaching circus skills they create a safe
environment for participants to explore their own abilities in
circus manipulation using diverse circus props. 89522392,
• And one for the kids again: Aerial Circus Performance workshops
will show eight to 13 year olds how to use trapeze, tissue
and aerial rings to create performance pieces for the Alice
Desert Festival Children’s Hubspace. Book soon. 89522392.
LETTERS: Million dollar a year
Sir,- Some of our local dentists are raking in an estimated million
bucks a year.
Do the maths! I just paid a dentist $400 to fix a couple of fillings.
While most dentists charge for procedures, it actually took 28 minutes.
That’s $800 an hour, $4,800 a 6 hour day or $24,000 for a 30 hour week
or $1,080,000 a year (with 6 weeks off plus public holidays).
Sure, the cost of the assistant, shared receptionist, equipment, dental
materials and overheads would swallow the 80 grand but that still
leaves a cool million.
These figures reflect the new fees.
There are no “standard” dental fees in Australia, it’s a free for all
and in Alice Springs we are vulnerable. That’s very evident now as some
of our local dentists have simply decided that they deserve more money.
I always thought our local GPs were good, they seem community-minded,
but our dentists make them look like saints.
Who hasn’t spent half an hour with a caring local doctor and paid about
$50 even before the rebate? $50 would be the cost of sitting you in the
dental chair, reading your notes and asking where it hurts.
To be more precise, as a proportion of the $800 per hour, $50 buys you
less than 4 minutes.
Don’t think that dental health insurance will rescue you, there are no
insurer approved dental surgeries here because approved surgeries are
ones that offer fees in line with the insurer’s idea of reasonable
Our local dental fees are so out of whack with the “reasonable” fees
that you will pay for the insurance and after that you will pay the
bulk of the dental charges.
In other words there is a massive gap.
Approved surgeries also have to offer some free services such as dental
examinations. Can you imagine dentists in the Alice doing that?
Our dentists are quite secretive about their charges.
Whereas our doctors openly display their modest charges at a dental
surgery you find out the cost after the treatment.
You have to feel pity for the receptionist who reads the computer
screen and has to tell patients just how much they have been charged.
You can see their embarrassment when they are asked to repeat the
amount and are then greeted with stunned disbelief or outrage.
Receptionists are not trained for this, our dentists should at least
employ social workers to comfort their distressed patients.
Why don’t they avoid the payment trauma by displaying their charges?
Their fee structure is just too complex is the response I received to a
query about this.
The lengthy waiting time to see a dentist bears out the fact that our
dentists are correct in their heartless estimate of what the Alice
Springs market will bear, how much people in pain will pay.
Of course, they would defend their charges with talk of rising costs,
their expensive training and the shortage of dentists.
But it is about time they started considering the costs to the people
in our town.
It is the costs to those who will suffer constant pain and risk their
health because they cannot afford treatment, to the families who will
do without some of the essentials of life.
They should consider what dental work at $800 an hour means in the
lives of those who earn $20 or $30 an hour and are raising children.
And if this is lost on them, we need Government to rein them in while
training more dentists with units on “social responsibility” and
“ethical behavior” included in the curriculum.
The Alice News gave a right of reply to Justin O’Loughlin, from Alice
Springs Dental Surgery, which employs three of the four private
dentists in Alice Springs. He says: There is a fees survey done every
year by the Australian Dental Association. Our fees are only marginally
higher than the national average fees. The most recent survey was done
on July 1, 2007. $800 an hour is not right. There is not a set rate for
anything. Specialists have hourly rates.
Sir,- To have a mirror held up to us can be beneficial. Carol Sharples
Muir did just that in her letter (Alice News, July 3).
She quite rightly implies irony and sarcasm are a cop-out and suggests
my wit and experience would be better applied to offering constructive
Yes indeed Carol, I agree that people like myself that have seen what
works and doesn’t work, whilst far from claiming that we have all the
answers, can make a useful contribution.
Problem is that when the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER)
was announced it was made very clear that the “time for consultation
and discussion” was over.
The very first recommendation of the Children are Sacred Report was
Senator Heffernan during the debate on the NTER legislation cried
crocodile tears and under the protection of Parliamentary privilege
told monstrous never retracted lies about the Mt.Theo substance abuse
programme and the Yuendumu School.
All Aboriginal males were stigmatised by this campaign.
The Intervention is based on lies, exaggerations, distortions and
propaganda. I don’t apologise for sometimes embellishing the tale in my
Dispatches from the Front. Consider it counter-propaganda if you wish.
Major General Chalmers dusted off that old furphy, that whites on
remote communities are “misfits, mercenaries and missionaries”. Thus
another group of people could be dismissed and ignored.
On the Major General’s second visit to Yuendumu, I got the opportunity
to “offer practical advice”.
When I told him that Mr Brough should be ashamed of himself for
accusing Aboriginal Australia of sexual depravity, the Major General
said: “… he’s a politician. If he hadn’t presented it that way, we
wouldn’t have got all this money …”
In a response to a second letter Mr Baarda wrote:- Many years ago my
brother wrote a several pages long fan letter to Spike Milligan.
Spike wrote back:
Dear Ted, Thank you for your long letter.
This is my short reply,
Dave Price’s letter (Alice Springs News, July 10) isn’t exactly a fan
letter, but this is my response.
Sir,- Wake up Australia and read what Prof. Garnaut has written about
climate change. Our children will respect us and other countries will
respect us for taking a united stand to the Government.
Don’t let the Government back away from their responsibility to stand
up against huge Corporations.
Penis jokes and vile product
placement: The Love Guru. Pop Vulture with CAMERON BUCKLEY.
Pop Vulture eavesdropped on a conversation between three henchmen about
The Love Guru.
Niknak: Writer, star and Canadian, Mike Myers, has taken his penis
jokes and vile product placement obsession way too far this time.
Jaws: Even though the origins of my birthplace are somewhat hazy, I
grew up watching a lot of old British comedy. And Mr Myers has come to
the garden of Eden, baring daggers, if he thinks he has produced
anything original and funny this time around.
Miko: We waited five years!
Niknak: That’s right! Too long to be subjected to wanting to gouge
one’s own eyes out rather than sit through this cultural raping of the
Jaws: Ooooohhhh! Surely it’s not that bad! There were a few laughs.
Niknak: The only thing I found funny was something no one else
Miko: To his credit, Mike Myers does like to put his hand to every
aspect of the filmmaking process.
Niknak: That’s true. But in this case it just seemed to amount to the
regurgitation of “once upon a time effective clichés”.
The cast involved Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake and the little
circus champ who played Mini Me. Seem to be around for their face
value, rather than their ability to act.
Jaws: Marco Shnabel has done well, making his directing debut. It is
good to see him break free from the shackles of his former line of
employment, playing second fiddle to the director’s chair.
Niknak: Not really!
Miko: Maybe this film is better left to the “group guffaws” of the
Niknak: Anyway. 321/1000. Generously! And that’s only because Ben
Kingsley was in it!
Miko: Yeah …
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