July 31, 2008. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

It’s the economy, stupid! By KIERAN FINNANE.

The share of Alice Springs in the Territory economy is shrinking, so is the population (see last week’s edition), and there is an acute labour shortage despite high unemployment.
What will fix it?
Improvements to law and order are a prerequisite, said Jodeen Carney, again facing Labor’s John Gaynor in Araluen, which she held last time by 524 votes (after preferences).
She has been hearing “for years” that  people are leaving because they’ve had “a gutful” of the law and order situation.
The Country Liberals’ economic policy announcements were to be made after the Alice News had gone to press.
Adam Giles (pictured at right in the Mall with Aboriginal identity Frank Ansell, promoting bush medicines) is contesting Braitling for the Country Liberals after running against Warren Snowdon in Lingiari in last year’s federal election.
Mr Giles says the party’s employment policy would propose ways of achieving greater workforce participation of Indigenous people.
Lack of staff was exercising a “considerable restraint” on business, said Mr Giles.
Ms Carney said there is a “disproportionate amount of money spent by government in the Top End. 
“If the Centre received the sort of attention that the Top End does we would be better off in a number of areas, ranging from law and order to the economy.”
She said the government has not put in the “hard yards” to see Alice Springs develop as a support hub for the mining industry, which she understood they were committed to.
Roads in the region have to be sealed; detailed discussions should take place with the Federal and particularly Western Australian governments.
“This hasn’t been happening. There’s been a great deal of inertia by the current government.”
Is the focus on the Top End not likely to continue whatever party is in power?
“Alice Springs is the birthplace of our party. If elected to government, the Country Liberals have people like Jodeen Carney and Matt Conlan who wouldn’t let our colleagues forget that, even if they were tempted to,” she said.
Tourism in the Centre has also suffered by too great a focus on the Top End, said Ms Carney. The industry needs a  “more rigorous approach” that is “passionate about Alice Springs”.
Mr Giles said the Centre needs a greater focus on marketing off-season opportunities and there needs to be investment in the growth of product: “Cultural and eco-tourism represent significant opportunities.” 
The Country Liberals’ Matt Conlan, recontesting Greatorex which he won in a by-election last year, holds the shadow tourism portfolio.
He said a Country Liberal government’s “first priority”  would be to complete the Mereenie Loop, involving sitting down with the Central Land Council and holding “fair dinkum” negotiations.
He said the accommodation and rental car sectors appear to be doing well, while operators “appear to be suffering”.
The impact of the Intervention could explain the discrepancy (through staff demand for accommodation and transport).
There’s been a downturn in flights – “Qantas is feeling the pinch with fuel” – and a drop in international tourists – the stronger Australian dollar has had an impact particularly on the American and Japanese markets.
Despite a generally “rough period over the last 12 months”, Mr Conlan said people he’s spoken to are “reasonably happy” with a lot of the government’s initiatives.
A lot of these have “bi-partisan support”: “We’re not about jumping up and down for the sake of it,” said Mr Conlan.
His Labor opponent, Jo Nixon (pictured at right with Mr Gaynor) of Beanie Festival fame, said she understands the tourism industry to be “doing quite well”.
Ms Nixon also ran in last year’s by-election, obtaining 541 first preference votes to Mr Conlan’s 1764. Independent Paul Herrick was second place getter, with 670 first preference votes; after allocation of preferences he had 1392 to Mr Conlan’s 1899.
There’s no independent this time, but Lenny Aronsten is standing for the Greens.
His preferences are likely to benefit Ms Nixon; Mr Conlan got very few Green preferences (26 out of 316) in the by-election.
Ms Nixon said she’d been concerned that fuel prices would impact on this year’s Beanie Festival’s interstate visitors but said that their attendance was at record levels, as was expenditure at the event.
John Gaynor believes the local economic future is bright, referring to the high business confidence levels reported in the Alice Springs Economic Profile. He did not comment on the decline in the town’s population nor on its shrinking economic contribution to the Territory, also reported in the same document.
He said there’s $100m worth of infrastructure development going on at any time, 55% to 60% of which is government funded.
“Government does have a role” in stimulating the economy. 
For instance, it recognises that there’s a national skills shortage and thus a need to develop the local workforce.
To this end the government has invested in a Jobs Plan, delivering approximately 10,000 apprenticeships and traineeships, and has announced a further $13m over the next four years for an additional 10,000 apprenticeships and traineeships.
Mr Gaynor couldn’t say how many of these are for Central Australia, nor if people qualified under the scheme had already entered the workforce.
He referred the News to the Minister for Employment and Training.
On the tourism industry, he said it’s “no secret” that the backpacker market has found it “tough”, but other sectors are doing “nicely”, while the self-drive market is “booming”.
He referred to a report from Katherine of 4000 extra self-drive visitors this season, saying “They have obviously come through Alice Springs”, though this assumes that they didn’t drive over from Queensland, turning north at Three Ways.
He suggested that caravan parks have to become “more creative” to get these guests to stay longer.
Other positives are the Moving Alice Ahead project’s focus on revitalization of the CBD; Correctional Services work gangs clean up of the town over the last few weeks; Tourism NT’s multi-million dollar promotions of Alice Springs as a destination – “Those have clearly worked”.
For figures to prove his point Mr Gaynor referred the News to the Minister for Tourism.
But if government is investing in marketing Alice as a destination, said Mr Gaynor, “it’s important for businesses to get behind the promotions”.
“There’s a small group of people who want to talk the town down”, resulting in “a lot of negative publicity”, when the fact is that Alice Springs is “a fantastic place” to visit and “to live, work and raise a family”.
The News suggested that the Inpec gas plant may ultimately be great news for Darwin, but wouldn’t be for Alice Springs.
“I totally disagree,” said Mr Gaynor, arguing that it will benefit the whole of the Territory, with the increased revenue to government allowing for more police and more school teachers to be employed, and generally better services to be delivered to all Territorians.
Ms Nixon also had a “whole of the Territory” take on the Inpec plant: it will mean “more jobs for Territorians” and more revenue “over many years to come”.
The NT economy has “a dependence on Alice Springs as well,” said Mr Gaynor. 
For instance, the tourism industry is “a major contributor to our balance of trade”.
Mr Gaynor pointed to the Territory’s $1.7b trade surplus, “second only, per capita, to Western Australia” but did not provide a clear picture for Alice Springs’ part in this.
As with the Country Liberals, most of Labor’s specific policy initaives for the economy were to be announced after the News had gone to press, but we understand an expansion of the police station is one infrastructure initiative.

Nice try by government. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Claims by the NT Government that it spends nearly half its budget on Aborigines doesn’t hold water, according to the Charles Darwin University’s research professor in Alice Springs, Rolf Gerritsen.
He says a Treasury paper, issued ahead of the election clearly to counter reports that the government is diverting massive amounts from Federal Grants Commission allocations for social services, is glossing over some important facts.

Prof Gerritsen says “usually not less than 40%” of money spent on programs is swallowed up by the bureaucracy, 95% of which consists of “highly paid whitefellers”.
He says he knows of only one Aboriginal person above ECO Level One in the NT public service.
Secondly, calculations in the paper are based on budgeted, not actual expenditures.
For example, the Education Department may get an allocation for the number of potential students.
However, only a fraction of that number actually turns up at schools, and the expenditure on teachers’ wages and accommodation is made accordingly.
The same applies when the Health Department is short on its “establishment” of doctors and nurses, as is the case in Central Australia at the moment: the region should have 11 rural doctors but has only three (Alice News, June 26).
Clearly, no money is spent on staff who aren’t there.
This, says Prof Gerritsen, is an opportunity for “claw back” – diverting money to such projects as the Darwin Waterfront or the V8 Super Car racing.
This can happen year after year, as is the case with the Mereenie loop road (now called the Red Centre Way) which has popped up annually since in Labor’s first Budget in 2002-03, and still isn’t completed.
In 2007-08 the Territory got $178m for family and children’s services but spent only $43m on them (Alice News, July 24).
Prof Gerritsen says Darwin’s northern suburbs, usually home to five of the government’s nine ministers, are frequently the beneficiaries of the diverted Canberra dollars: Wadeye, population 4500, got $50,000 for a swimming pool while the NT Government spent $3m on a pool for racehorses at Fannie Bay racecourse where former Treasurer Syd Stirling was a prominent member and part owner.
This is although “disadvantage” assessed by the Grants Commission attracts from Canberra $17 for every Aboriginal person, while the corresponding figure for non-Aboriginal people is $5.
People in the northern suburbs have “very good access to politicians” – but that’s no different to the way it was under CLP governments.
Prof Gerritsen says there is a flaw in the Treasury paper’s assertion, that because the 28% of the population is Aboriginal, it’s appropriate to assume 28% of all departments’ spending benefits Aborigines.
The paper then adds further spending to those figures, to conclude that Aborigines get half the Budget.
It’s not clear that, for example, Tourism NT’s massive expenditure is of equal benefit to Aborigines as it is to the mainly, to date, non-Aboriginal participants in the industry and the mainstream economy, and the same would be the case with a string of other departments.
Yet, comparatively, the Territory is swimming in public money: per head of population it gets from Canberra seven times the national average.
Tasmania gets 3.5 times, WA, SA and Queensland about the average, while Victoria and NSW make do with about 0.7 times.
That means per head of population the NT gets 10 times more than NSW and Victoria.
Prof Gerritsen says with one exception – Labor’s landslide win in 2001 – oppositions have never won a seat from governments in general elections in the NT, although electorates have changed hands in by-elections.
He says it looks like this rule will be broken on August 9, with up to four seats going to the Opposition.


Spending the Feds’ billions

An “independent review” of the government’s Indigenous-related expenditure, used by Labor candidate John Gaynor to defend the government’s record on this issue, is not as independent as all that.
Mr Gaynor said the review had been done by Saul Eslake (ANZ chief economist)  and Professor Ken Wiltshire (of the University of Queensland’s  Business School).
In fact the review, available on the NT Treasury website, is an NT Treasury document, that acknowledges “the constructive criticism and valuable input” of Mr Eslake and Prof Wiltshire but it does not give them authorship.
It has been used by the Territory Government and by Mr Gaynor – an advisor to the Chief Minister who has stood down to contest the election –  to answer criticism over redirecting the Commonwealth’s Grants Commission allocations, especially in the area of family and children’s services and Indigenous affairs (see last week’s issue and the Alice News online edition). 
The review claims that an estimated 49.7% of the NT Government’s expenditure in 2004-05 was related to Indigenous people, while a lesser proportion of its revenue, 43.2%, was received for Indigenous-related expenditure. 
Its methodology allowed the allocation of “benefit” on an equal per capita (EPC) share across all agencies. 
The report argues, for instance, that the functions of the Department of Business, Economic and Regional Development (DBERD) directly or indirectly benefit the whole Territory population.
Thus most “output groups” within DBERD were allocated an EPC share of 28.8% of expenditure related to the Indigenous population, which forms 28.8% of the Territory population.
However some of DBERD’s activities, such as the “Desert Knowledge Economy”, are more specific to the Indigenous population and thus were assigned higher shares, as estimated by DBERD.
This gave DBERD an estimated total proportion of Indigenous-related expenditure of 40.1%.
No government agency was allocated anything less than 28.8%; most were allocated much more. 
Amongst the agencies deemed to have the highest level of Indigenous-related expenditure are, predictably, the Department of Health and Community Services (59.4%), the Department of Justice (62.3%), the Department of Local Government, Housing and Sport (69%), and Police Fire and Emergency Services (57.3%).
The Department of Education’s share is 40.1%.
Agencies such as the Ombudsman’s Office, Territory Discoveries and the Territory Wildlife Park were all allocated an Indigenous-related expenditure of 28.8%.
Says the review: “Services of the Ombudsman’s Office … are considered here to be universally accessible to the Territory’s population.”
And on Territory Discoveries’ services to the tourism industry: “These services are considered here to be of direct or indirect economic benefit to the general Territory population.” 
Former CLP governments’ record show the same practice of redirecting the Grants  Commission allocations. 
Mr Gaynor’s Country Liberal opponent, sitting member Jodeen Carney, declined to comment on the CLP’s record in this regard.
“I’m only familiar with the last seven years, I was elected when Labor came to government.
“I’m staggered by the allegations.
“If I were to become a Cabinet Minister I would ensure that the Territory Government not underspend that money.
“The Labor Government has embarrassed itself nationally by being caught out.”
Mr Gaynor said the criticism of the government on this score does not take into account that the FACS budget has quadrupled under Labor, nor the government’s Closing the Gap commitments of $286m.

ALP, Libs: same-same on uranium

There’s little difference between the major parties on the local uranium issue.
A measure of opinion in the electorate will be provided by votes for the Greens, who are standing candidates in all three urban seats, with the exploration of the Angela and Pamela uranium deposits central to their campaign.
“With Alice Springs GPO only 21km from a proposed uranium exploration site, The Greens will run Jane Clark in Braitling, Linda Chellew in Araluen and Lenny Aronsten in Greatorex to oppose this move,” they announced early this week. 
Amongst the major party candidates Adam Giles (Country Liberals, Braitling) appears to be the most concerned.
He said the “hairs on the back of [his] neck stand up” every time uranium mining is spoken of.
Proximity to the town and the potential for negative impacts on water and air quality are all concerning.
“I’d always be anti unless appropriate evidence is provided that it’s safe,” he said.
There’s a need to protect “our very sensitive environment” and “our livelihoods”.
The News suggested that these statements seemed rather different from those of his colleagues.
Mr Giles shrugged this off: “We support mining and economic development but we also support the environment,” he said, “we have to find a happy medium.”
He would be relying on the eventual Environmental Impact Statement (which comes after the exploration period, if the company intends to go ahead and mine) “to tell us what the key facts are”.
Labor candidates were more upbeat about the prospects than their opponents.
John Gaynor (Labor, Araluen) said he would “make sure that Cameco have the most stringent environmental safeguards regarding exploration, so there is no way the environment is compromised”.
“If the project proceeds to mining, the NT Goverment will ensure the Commonwealth applies similarly stringent safeguards to any mining activity to safeguard the environment and the community,” he said, adding that a “uranium mine close to town” will be a “magnificent boon” for the community and the economy. It will bring growth to the town – new professions, more housing and more construction activity. It will also relieve the skills shortage.
If the Top End is booming, it’s largely because of private sector investment for major infrastructure projects, says Mr Gaynor.
Jo Nixon (Labor, Greatorex) said the Territory is responsible only for exploration; a possible mine – in any case “several years away” – would be an issue for the Federal Government.
She has confidence in “due process to ensure the safety of all Australians”.
The News pressed her for a personal view.
“As long as it’s all done well ... it will probably secure the future of my children in this town,” she said.
Was she surprised to find herself saying that? (A poll amongst fans of the Beanie Festival and Steiner School parents, two of her spheres of activity, would be likely, the News suggests, to yield a strong no vote on the issue.)
“No,” she said. “It’s an interesting debate.”
She said it is “up there” as an issue in parts of the electorate. 
Her impression overall is that there’s “a lot of support for exploration”.
Jodeen Carney (Araluen) said the Country Liberals support mining “anywhere” in the NT providing it satisfies environmental safeguards and that Indigenous concerns are taken into account.
Matt Conlan (Greatorex) expressed himself in similar terms, recognising that it’s an area in which the Country Liberals will disagree with some groups of people. Ms Carney said joint venturers Cameco-Paledin are “a way off” from getting to the point where a mine would commence.
But if people are concerned, she said, it’s important for them to remember “that the Labor Government is very keen to see the mine up and running”.

Alice’s favourite hobby: beating the police drum

“Additional police resources” will be provided with the establishment of a police shopfront in Alice, said Labor’s candidate in Araluen, John Gaynor.
“I’ve been calling for a long time now for more police,” said his opponent, sitting member for the Country Liberals, Jodeen Carney.
A Country Liberal government will provide 24 more police for Alice Springs and will conduct regular audits to assess the need for police resources, said their candidate in Braitling, Adam Giles.
There are more police in Alice Springs than ever before, said Labor’s Jo Nixon, standing in Greatorex.
The promised shopfront, staffed by additional recruits, has “got to be good”, she said. 
The operational details and location of the shopfront will be the responsibility of the Police Commissioner, probably in consultation with stakeholders, said Mr Gaynor. 
The idea has been “under consideration for some time”.
He compared it to the claims made for CCTV in the mall: the presence of police officers in the mall will have a deterrent effect on anti-social behaviour and law breakers.
Would the money not be better spent on improved youth services, for example?
The Territory Government spends over $4m a year on youth services, says Mr Gaynor, and has recently made available an additional $300,000 for  the Congress Youth Drop-In Centre and services run by Tangentyere Council on town camps.
Ms Carney said police telecommunications need to be improved and there needs to be a regular police presence on the streets : “We don’t see enough of them.”
She agreed that other measures such as youth services are important. She noted that the Gap Youth Centre remains closed.
The Country Liberals have put law and order at the centre of their campaign, and are again promoting a form of mandatory sentencing. Isn’t that a policy associated with political failure?
Ms Carney said she’d “leave political commentary to others”.
She said prescribed minimum sentencing for convicted violent offenders would act as a significant deterrent and was “more likely than not to be successful”.
Isn’t a lot of violence perpetrated by drunks who would be unlikely to be thinking about the consequences of their actions?
“The implication is that nothing works for drunks so why bother? That’s not a view I share,” said Ms Carney.
She said “sober people and drunk people” commit violence.
“It’s incumbent on those aspiring to government to do the best they can to deter violence.”
Matt Conlan, recontesting Greatorex which he won for the CLP last year, said the party’s “certainty in sentencing” policy is about more than putting people in gaol.
He stressed the importance of rehabilitation; the policy is about “sentencing coupled with education”.
Mr Gaynor said the government is determined to stop “the revolving door” for young offenders.
If they continue to reoffend, they and their parents will face consequences.
They may be sent to Hamilton Downs youth camp by a magistrate, police or FACS.
Ms Nixon pointed out that the Hamilton Downs facility was a promise made during the by-election and it is now up and running.
Mr Gaynor said if a young person’s transgression is more serious, they may be sent to a “far more stringent” youth camp at Brahminy in Batchelor, or be detained at the Don Dale juvenile detention centre.
If they don’t take the opportunity to rehabilitate that is offered by government and the society then they should go to gaol, he said.
Parents will be held responsible for the behaviour of their children through Family Repsonsibility Agreements.
The court may impose an order which could result in a seizure of household goods.
It’s a “strong piece of legislation”, says Mr Gaynor.
Mr Giles criticised the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on advertising the Family Repsonsibility Agreements.
“Who’s actually got an agreement?” he asked.
“How many plasma TVs have been taken? 
“There’s spending on advertising, but we’re not getting the money for special measures.”
The youth camps have been funded and are operational, the News put to him: “We’re still seeing kids out in the middle of the night, so they’re obviously not effective,” he said.

Water for uranium exploration: not much more than an Olympic pool, says company. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Cameco claims that exploration activities for the Angela uranium project will use relatively little water, the majority of it being used for core drilling and dust suppression during reverse circulation (RC) drilling.
In its feedback to public comments on its application for an exploration licence, the company said about 70% of drilling will be done with the RC method which uses “almost no water”.
The remainder would be done by the diamond core method, for which water is used.
The rule of thumb on quantity is 10,000 litres per 100 metres, said Cameco.
The Alice News requested an estimate of how many metres would be drilled using this method, allowing a calculation of water use.
Jennifer Parks, Cameco’s head of operations in the NT, says about 33,000 metres will be done by core drilling over two years.
This will use about 3.3 ML (one megalitre equals one million litres).
Ms Parks compares this figure to the 2.5ML required for an Olympic sized swimming pool.
The company says water use would have to be allocated in accord with the Alice Springs water management strategy.
The strategy estimates “future water demands by benificial use”.
Under the heading “Industry” it allows for the future use of 816 ML / yr from the Town basin,  82% of maximum allowable use; 42 ML / yr from the Inner farm basin, 60% of the maximum; and  64 ML / yr from the Outer farm basin, 58 % of the maximum.
It is not clear yet where the water will be sourced from.
Ms Parks says daily water consumption for dust suppression is likely to be about the same as the average household consumption for water (about 1600 litres a day).
“The exact amount will depend on the dust suppression technique selected. We will keep the community informed once these decisions are made.”
Core drilling does not create dust, says the company.
On the concern that dust will blow from the mine, the company says:
• all mines and exploration procedures use dust suppressing equipment and techniques;
• they can suppress dust from activities by spraying water with a binding agent in it on the dusty areas;
• RC drilling rigs have dust suppression units attachd to them, with all the samples and dust initially collecting in the unit.

LETTERS: Uranium elephant in the room for independent.

Sir,- Eli Melky’s campaign of independence for Braitling has not got off to a good start.  
Both he and Greens candidate Jane Clark have been fairly and predictably criticized for trying to have it both ways with the electorate.
Having failed at Country Liberal preselection only weeks ago, Melky will surely be facing an uphill battle to be accepted as a credible independent.
I have some personal difficulty in taking Eli Melky seriously.  
As he has built his profile, the things which matter most have been athletics, family and his real estate business. Not one utterance of politics.
The eight issues for Melky as outlined in his recent half page advertisements seem a little on the soft non-controversial side.  
It is more like a charter for local government rather than the very hard slog that is independent politics.
The elephant in Eli’s room is the uranium issue. 
His friends say that he opposes the Angela-Pamela uranium push yet there is not one word of this in his advert.
It does appear that the independent candidate for Braitling is trying to have his cake and eat it too.
If Eli, you do succeed in next week’s poll, please accept my premature congratulations by way of heeding the words of the newly elected member, Edmund Burke. 
In 1774, he told his constituents that “your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement, and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
David Chewings
Alice Springs

Sir,- I write regarding the letter to the editor by George Thompson (July 24). 
The letter referred to a confidential document found directly opposite the entrance to the Alice Springs Watch-house and inferred the document should have been shredded by police.
Investigation has shown this document was a Victim Impact Statement.
This type of document is not confidential, nor a document to be shredded, but is personally written by the victim of a crime and submitted to the court to consider for the purpose of penalty.
As indicated, the document was near a mini-bus rank on the opposite side of the road to the police station and could well have been thrown down or dropped accidentally by the owner.
To imply it was a confidential document which came from the police station is simply incorrect.
Bert Hofer
Alice Springs & Southern Regional Command
NT Police

Sir,– If the Chief Minister believes his own spin, that a movie like “Australia” could do what “Lord of the Rings” did for New Zealand (NT News May 6), then his government’s handling of the local film and television industry is perhaps best described as negligent and certainly lacking leadership.
While the Chief Minister’s optimism in “Australia” will cost Territorians over one million dollars, and millions more have gone to supporting other interstate and overseas film-makers, the value of the local film and television industry has been completely ignored.
But then neglect is a common theme and exactly what is occurring to the government’s own agency, the NT Film Office, which is charged with the responsibility “to develop and grow the local industry” – a local industry with the infrastructure and skill base to promote the Territory to global audiences of a staggering size.
That Cabinet and various NT Government departments continue to sidestep the NT Film Office at every opportunity in awarding financial support to national or international film and television projects is well documented.
The latest example: a history grant from NRETA (the NT Film Office is within this department) awarded to a Victorian based production company to “to research and record interviews for an historical television documentary about Territory characters”. 
This grant was awarded to an interstate production company by NRETA without any consultation with the NT Film Office. It’s yet another example of the NT Government working in competition with the local industry and its own agency.
That Paul Henderson’s government continues to avoid providing the resources required to fulfill its own agency’s mission statement can only be seen as a very real lack of “leadership”.
Bill Fletcher
Film and Television Association of the Northern Territory

A fair way to go. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

“There is nothing that stops you if you want to do something” is the motto of Anna-Lena Gustavsson who rented out her house in California and sold her car to finance a trip around the world, playing golf on eight courses in four continents.
Last week was Alice Springs’ turn, when the 62-year-old physical therapist and yoga teacher, Swedish born, played 18 holes with the club’s captain, Paul Pearson. 
Traveling by herself is a challenge, she says.
“Sometimes I’m feeling very alone, however those moments give me the opportunity to look deeper into myself.”
Ms Gustavsson wasn’t lonely in The Centre.
She visited Narwietooma “ranch” and enjoyed the bush with owner Chris Connellan and his daughter Samantha, who manages the property north-west of Alice Springs.
“I liked the kangaroos, the birds, and the silence, the beautiful stars in the evening.
“It was spectacular. 
“I live by the ocean and it was the same feeling, the horizon far away, the majesty of nature.”
In town the memorable experiences were the Desert Park, and shopping for souvenirs and paintings in the Todd Mall Markets on Sunday.
Next stop: a golf course in Alaska.
Ms Gustavsson is also raising money for an orphanage in Thailand. Details are on

New band Miazma’s original deathly metal. By DARCY DAVIS.

New metal band on the block, Miazma, claiming to be Dark Lords from South of Heaven, showed themselves to Alice Springs for the first time last Saturday at the Todd Tavern Metal Night.
Miazma performed a thunderous set of original deathly metal hits including “Grimsalot”, “Julie Andrews”, “Concrete Jaw” and “Creek Full of Broken Necks” – I wondered if they were referring to the Todd River.
“We had to pull our whole set together in two months and only got guitarist Glydie two weeks ago,” explained bass guitarist Dom Golotta. 
“We were very surprised by the turnout and were stoked to see the crowd go mental for our music.”
“My neck hurts from head banging so hard to Miazma,” said groupie Soft Serve, “I’m thinking about suing them.”
Unfortunately once Miazma left the stage, the crowd left the building as though somebody had pulled out the plug and sucked them all out the door.
Maybe the crowd was protesting at the lack of new bands and tunes despite various name changes (Sweet Surrender becoming Glasgow Smile, and hardcore screamers Through Bullets and Bravery relabelling themselves Scare City).
The signals of demand and supply were sent and hopefully Alice answers the demand with new bands and fresh flavours.

On a kung fu joruney down the slik road. Pop Vulture with CAMERON BUCKLEY.

Ocne upon a tmie a stduy at Ofxrod uinevstiy tlod us that the hamun eye raeds olny the frist and lsat ltters in a word.
All other ltteres can be in any oerdr. And the pgae will sltil be raed. The rveeiw of this flim, The forbidden kingdom, will partcice scuh a tehroy. Nemas and oethr wdors will be seplt corerclty.
Jackie Chan and Jet Li. The lnog aiwated susnset Hong Kong showdown. A choorgrpahers nihtgmear. And a choorgraphed draem.  A hunrgily atniicptaed mctah up, for any knug fu and Hnog Knog ceinma viewer.
If the aeduince ptus aisde the ovbuios falws, scuh as the csat all saepknig Egnlsih in a wlord set in sxitneeth cutenry Cihna, and the flim’s protoganist acciednatlly falilng thgourh tmie, this flim maeks fro entaterining  sneces for the whloe fiamly. 
Oeldr cienagmoers slouhd be forenarwed taht tihs is aemid at a yuonger aueidnce.
So the polt stes out to be wram, fzzuy and inpsiring youth to rcaeh fro the gtearer good. Lace tihs wtih the two bggseit nmeas in modren day mtiaral atrs and the cominbtaion has a stnrage way of bineg both disapionpting and imerpssing.
The stryoline is one we hvae all seen berofe: we foollw a bnad of “thworn tgoether” oddiites as they sanke tehir way thourgh some of the bset flim loactions tihs saeson. Gerenaiton Xs may be remnided of the chmaipon teveilison sohw, “Monkey”. The sound hree is foucsed on weetsrn ears, wtih nohewre near eoungh “strnigs” and “rutsy cybmals” to pucntaute the estaern theem emboirded throguhout the mvoie.
For the chdilren, a knug fu joruney dwon the slik raod, and all cna mavrel at waht CGI, an accodommating csat, and money mnoey mneoy can do to a relatively plotless film. Pop Vlutere ritang: 661/1000.

ADAM CONNELLY: When early rising is a downer.

Every work day, I get up at a ridiculously early time. To be honest with you, I don’t think it’s a time when people should be awake.
I remember waking up when the sun was rising and I remember being a nicer person because of it. It’s unnatural, and if not for the fact I’d get fired, I would never be awake at that time.
I don’t enjoy sleep-ins all that often but when I do they are a thing of snoring, matted-haired beauty.
Some people don’t seem to feel the same way. Every morning on the way to work I see people not going to work. These strange individuals would forego the extra hour or two’s slumber for a brisk jog, or walk of their dog. Every morning. It could be minus four outside. It could be raining. There could be a dust storm. It doesn’t matter, these people are out there.
I’ve never really understood the concept of a good walk. Not that I find the fitness side of things without merit, it’s just that I don’t like to spend too long with my own thoughts. I find the whole concept of walking boring to be frank.
Yet every morning, at the same time, with the same dark scenery, these people trudge out of their comfortable homes to brave the elements for a walk.
Of course it must be a bit of a thrill for these strange walking people to have something new to look at half past four in the morning. A burnt out car must fill their minds with excitement. Perhaps the joy is overwhelming when they stumble upon a rogue running shoe, abandoned on the roadside.
I’m not however convinced that the thrill lasts long when confronted by the new addition to the walking vista, the election posters. Oh what joy and rapture! Another forced smile from another politician.
Look I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no oil painting. No Brad Pitt and in no way do I think our politicians don’t all have a certain, how can I say it, quality. But there are reasons that they are in politics and not in Milan on a catwalk or a photoshoot in Tahiti.
It’s election time and like it or not, these pictures of pollies’ smiling mugs will be in our faces for a couple of weeks yet. It has begun.
Democracy is a wonderful thing and I’ll never take my part in it for granted.  But didn’t we just have an election? Maybe it’s a sign of getting older but it seems like we’ve had more than our fair share of late.
The positive to come out of all this campaigning is that you get a swathe of quotes to use when politicians break a promise. It means we are all a bit more savvy when it comes to the guilding of the political Lilly. When one is so often exposed to the spin and the hype and the rhetoric, one can see through all the pap and see some of the substance.
Of course this election like all Territory elections will provide its fair share of crazy antics. We’ve already got people running for one party that have run for the other. And not that long ago.
We’ve had the obligatory kerfuffle about nailing signs to trees, and if I’m right and I think I will be, it wont be long until some of the campaigning moves from policy to the personal.
And in the way that no one admits buying the trashy gossip magazines, we all find the personal stuff a bit more salacious and interesting. It’s enough to make you want to get out of bed in the morning.

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