August 7, 2008. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Braitling a done deal? By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Braitling will be the seat to watch in the Centre this Saturday.
There’s no incumbent, with sitting member Loraine Braham retiring from politics.
The seat has shown its willingness over two elections to support Mrs Braham as an independent, but the CLP led the primary vote by a strong margin last time.
Labor preferences got Mrs Braham over the line.
CLP candidate Adam Giles is well known to the electorate, having established a political profile in the Lingiari contest last year.
But independent Eli Melky, endorsed by Mrs Braham, and Greens candidate Jane Clark are also well known and credible.
Labor candidate Aaron (Charlie) Dick is the least known of the four. He seems to have made little use of the limited opportunities for promotion the short campaign has given him.
Preferences are likely to play a critical role in Braitling, but Ms Clark has announced the Greens “could not recommend preferencing either of the old parties, and would be issuing a split ticket on their how to vote cards”.
Mr Melky, like Mrs Braham before him, will also not be directing preferences.
“My preference is that the people will choose.
“I won’t try to influence them one way or the other,” he said.

Country Liberal candidate for Braitling Adam Giles was streets ahead in a poll by the Alice News on Saturday morning, in the Hearne Place shopping centre in Northside.
We asked 31 people, who confirmed they were Braitling voters, who they most wanted to be represented by in Parliament following the election on Saturday.
We asked men and women, in about equal numbers, Aboriginal as well as non-Aboriginal people.
Mr Giles, or his party, the Country Liberals, were nominated by nearly half – 15 people.
Greens candidate Jane Clark was favoured by three respondents.
Only one person mentioned uranium.
Labor candidate Aaron “Charlie” Dick and Independent Eli Melky got just two votes each.
One third – nine respondents – were still undecided.
Many of the people we spoke with expressed disenchantment with politics generally, or disinterest in it. Several criticised the NT Labor government for not doing enough for Alice Springs.
This, in summary, is what each of them said:-
ALP – but didn’t know the candidate’s name.
Greens – but didn’t know the name of the candidate: “They’re all useless. They say one thing and do another.”
Adam Giles – “He’s a Liberal. I don’t like Labor.”
“Adam. He’s a Liberal.”
“Don’t know yet.”
Country Liberals, but doesn’t know any of the candidates’ names “yet”.
Eli Melky – “because he’s an independent.”
Giles – “The CLP needs to get back in. The ALP has done nothing for Alice Springs.”
Doesn’t know any candidates’ names – “Don’t know. Labor, I suppose.”
“Adam. I believe in what he’s doing, especially for Aboriginal people.”
Partner with him: “Same.”
“Eli, because he’s independent.”
“Haven’t looked yet who’s running. It might be time to look at independents. My preference will go to Labor.”
“I’ve not decided yet. Why are [the candidates] there? Loraine [Braham, the retiring Member] knew why she was there.”
“Giles, because he’s Liberal.”
“I’m not interested in politics.”
“Adam. His message resonates with voters.”
“Jane [Clark]. She’s new. She has new ideas, knowledge.”
“Adam. The CLP are doing good. There are not too many others doing good.”
“Adam. I like the things he wants to do. He’s good and positive.”
“I’m not too fussed.”
“I could not give a rat’s arse. They’re all the same. No-one gets results.” So who will he vote for? “Adam Giles.”
“I will make a last minute decision.”
Country Liberals, but doesn’t know the candidate’s name.
Couple: “Adam Giles. We have enough of Labor.”
“Independent or Greens. Probably Jane. I’m worried abut the uranium mine.”
“I haven’t made up my mind. The issues are justice and street problems. Issues like mining can take care of themselves, but we need more police and they need more powers. I don’t have a party preference.”
“CLP. I’m only just picking up on the issues.”
“I’ve not read anything. I have no party preference. I’ll make up my mind on the day.”
“I don’t know. It’s a waste of time voting. They don’t do what they say.”

Governing half the NT. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The Labor Government goes to the polls on Saturday having brought about a massive weakening of the Territory administration, through its political and policy failures in Indigenous affairs. 
The Country Liberals says they want to take back control of Indigenous Affairs, but do it while holding the Federal Government’s hand.
Their leader Terry Mills has announced that, if elected, his government would immediately approach the Federal Government to create a Joint Office of Indigenous Affairs.
The Joint Office would “coordinate the delivery of all government services for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, with its immediate priority being to take control of the Intervention”, said Mr Mills.
“The Joint Office would also immediately initiate a complete review of all Federal and Territory Government funding for Indigenous affairs to assess how effectively the money is being spent and to eradicate duplication and waste,” said Mr Mills.
Meanwhile, life on communities across one half of the Territory’s land mass and for many of its one third Indigenous population continues to be subject to Canberra control.
The Alice News put this to Labor candidate John Gaynor (Araluen) as a matter going to Labor’s political credibility.
Mr Gaynor’s job as government advisor (from which he has stood down to contest the election) stands him in good stead: he knows how to deflect a question.
He said he broadly supports the Intervention, especially for its massive injection of funding into Indigenous communities, though he also criticises the former Federal Liberal Government for not taking into account “one single recommendation” of the Anderson-Wild “Little Children Are Sacred” report.
Their reaction was “knee jerk” and a lot of their strategies have failed, he said.
He blames the situation that led to the Intervention not on Clare Martin’s Labor government but on “30 years of neglect by CLP governments” – “you reap what you sow.”
He praised the Territory Government’s “more considered response, for instance their $286m Closing the Gap initiatives, contrasting them to the $70m initiatives associated with the Gordon Report into child abuse in Indigenous communities of WA.
(According to the WA Government, the response included $75m of new expenditure over five years and “a paradigm shift in how the government worked with indigenous people to create change”.)
The Country Liberals are quick to make the political point over the Intervention.
Matt Conlan (sitting member in Greatorex) said it resulted from “the failure of this government to act on a report it had commissioned”.
Jodeen Carney (Araluen) referred to the letter that she had written to former Chief Minister Clare Martin more than a year before the Intervention was announced, urging a bi-partisan meeting “with the sole purpose of addressing the breakdown of social order in Aboriginal communities and then approaching the Federal Government with a plan of action”.
Ms Carney’s letter said in part: “There is no room for political point-scoring in this matter. 
“I am aware that during the CLP’s time in Government, although much was done, achievements were disappointing.  
“Similarly, in the last five years, while the ALP has also made considerable efforts, the results are disappointing. 
“This demonstrates that a much more comprehensive approach, driven by delivering real and sustained outcomes, must be our collective focus.   
“It is important to note that [then Federal Indigenous Affairs] Minister Brough’s comments have placed him on a somewhat aggressive footing in addressing this situation. 
“Basically, he has said that ... if the Territory doesn’t do something, the Commonwealth will.
“This could potentially see the Northern Territory’s self-governance, autonomy and our sovereignty compromised ...” (See Alice News, June 7, 2007)
Well, how right she was. Last week she said: “It is to the Labor Government’s eternal shame that we have seen an unprecedented takeover of Territory affairs.”
However, it has to be noted that the Country Liberals have not even fielded candidates in two seats with majority Aboriginal populations and sitting Aboriginal MLAs – the Central Australian seat of MacDonnell and the Top End seat of Arnhem, where Alison Anderson and Marlandirri Macarthy have been returned unopposed.
This shows a real lack of depth for Country Liberals in the bush.

Will Alice be home for Opposition? By KIERAN FINNANE.

Alice Springs has been represented by two Opposition members and an independent for the last seven years.
The least surprising result of next Saturday’s poll would be for the two Opposition members to increase to three.
But how good a job have the sitting members done in Opposition – have they taken advantage of their position to set the agenda with some fresh ideas?
Jodeen Carney (Araluen), who led the party following the last election until earlier this year, said it’s “notoriously difficult for Oppositions to set an agenda” due to their limited financial and human resources compared to the government’s.
“However, we have led government in several areas,” she said.
One example was making reporting of domestic violence mandatory for health professionals.
The government recently, with a couple of differences, “in essence” adopted “our policy”.
She also called for rock-throwing legislation: “In the last sittings of parliament they indicated that they had come to the party on that one.”
She called for government to use prisoner gangs to clean up graffiti: “Government has indicated that, yes, they will do that.”
“We have done well with identifying issues, proposing solutions, and it’s always satisfying when government finally agrees with you although this government has been slow and stubborn.” [See also “Governing half the Territory”, this edition.]
How did they take advantage of the anti-government feeling on display in April last year when the former Chief Minister was loudly booed by hundreds of protesters outside the sittings of the Legislative Assembly at the Convention Centre?
Said Ms Carney: “We have continued to listen to the people of Alice Springs about the frustrations that we saw expressed.
“We understand why they are angry when they can’t get through to the police station.
“We keep pressuring the government to deliver a better deal to the people of Alice Springs.
“We have continued to build on that momentum. The test will be at the ballot box.”
The News also questioned Ms Carney’s opponent, Labor’s John Gaynor about the notorious booing of Clare Martin.
It happened on his watch, he was her principal advisor in the Centre.
Hadn’t he left her unprepared in a difficult situation? Mr Gaynor rejects that: “The Chief Minister knew full well that there was a level of discontent. In fact the government knew full well. 
“The people who were organizing the protest had been talking to us all week long.
“For the Chief Minister to go out in front of that crowd took a lot of guts, a lot of effort, but she did it because that’s the democratic process.”
He said a delegation from the protesters had been pre-arranged to meet with the Chief Minister and the Police Commissioner.
He said the Chief Minister obtained commitments from the Police Commisioner that police numbers would not be allowed to fall below establishment levels.
She committed to a crime summit; that crime summit was held. That resulted in a contribution to CCTV to make the CBD safer, said Mr Gaynor.
(To date the Territory Government has committed $150,000 towards capital costs and agreed to pay half the monitoring cost for Alice’s CBD CCTV for the first year – contributions agreed to in the wake of the booing. The Town Council have asked the Territory Government for further funding particularly in light of the government’s commitment to spend $3.125m over three years on CCTV in Darwin and Palmerston.)
Mr Gaynor said a commitment was also made to additional youth services funding and that money is flowing. 
The Chief Minister “had a responsibility to listen” and she did.
The News asked organiser of the protest, businessman Trevor Filmer, if he had indeed been talking to Mr Gaynor and government “all week” and if the delegation had been pre-arranged.
“Beforehand, from memory, it was more to do with ensuring that the protest would not be violent,” said Mr Filmer.
“I’m 90 per cent sure there was a mention of meeting the Chief Minister afterwards.
“It happened a lot quicker on the day because we had such a strong turn-up. We were ushered in immediately after the rally.”
Since then, Mr Filmer said, “we have had open door” with the police and met twice with Ms Martin and once with Paul Henderson since he became Chief Minister, but he said he had been seeking to meet again with Mr Henderson for some months now, but without success.
Matt Conlan rode to victory in the Greatorex by-election a few months after the April rally on the wave of the anti-government sentiment expressed there and nurtured by his talk-back program, Territory Today.
It has been suggested that he had a stronger voice in that role – a suggestion that makes him very prickly.
“It’s easy to articulate editorial comment [on radio]”, he said, but “the only way to make a difference is to be in Parliament”.
What difference has he made?
He mentioned particularly an increase in funding of the Patient Assistance Travel Scheme (PATS) – he drew attention to this issue, holding a public meeting here, while the Leader held one in the Top End.
He said he has also maintained pressure on the government to allow Alice Springs residents to access Adelaide for their treatment options.
“A lot of the job is under the radar,” he said, referring the News to his website to see “how active myself and my colleagues have been” – evidenced, for instance, by press releases.

Is uranium an article of faith or open to debate? By KIERAN FINNANE.

Is opposition to a possible uranium mine just south of Alice Springs an article of faith with The Greens or susceptible to rational debate?
Their candidate in Braitling, Jane Clark (pictured), says the scientific evidence would have to be “exponentially different to what is available today” for her to change her mind.
On the basis of the evidence available today “I am unequivocal”, she says, “uranium should stay in the ground.
“Safer technologies such as solar have not been fully explored.”
Investing in “renewables” and a focus on energy use and becoming more responsible for it would also be an investment in a stronger community, she argues.
And even if she were convinced that mining were safer, there is still the issue of uranium being used for “massively destructive weapons” and the unresolved issues around waste.
Independent candidate in Braitling, Eli Melky, said he is “straightforward” about the “waste dumping issue” – “no”.
As for a possible uranium mine, he says there are questions around whether it would be “for the economic good of the town”.
“What if it causes a gold rush effect?” he asks.
“A boom for a short while, then bust?”
And there are even bigger questions around whether it would be “environmentally terrible for the town”.
If that were demonstrated, he would be “dead set” against it.
The company applying for an exploration have “faced challenges in Canada”, he says.
Accidents at the Ranger Mine in Kakadu have shown that “things can go terribly sour”.
“I need to listen to people and see the evidence,” he says.
Meanwhile, Labor’s John Gaynor (Araluen) says Alice’s gas supplies are secured for a quarter of a century.
While gas from the Inpec plant, the centrepiece of Labor’s election campaign, will be exported, gas for the Territory’s use will come from the Blacktip field, connected to onshore gas infrastructure close to Wadeye (Port Keats).
The resource will supply all gas to Alice and Darwin for the next 25 years, says Mr Gaynor.

Urban migration – fuzzy picture.

Nobody has a very clear picture of urban migration – how many people are involved and why they’re in town.
Labor’s John Gaynor (Araluen) blames income quarantining under the Intervention, although urban migration has been a matter of public discussion, if not controversy, since well before the Intervention, and was a major finding of the town camps population and mobility study by Tangentyere Council, with the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre and the Centre for Remote Health.
Mr Gaynor said people thought they could escape quarantining in town, and when they discovered they could shop at Coles and  Woolworths “the incentive to go back home was lost”.
At the same time he said he “fully supports” the objectives of income quarantining and its links to school attendance – it should become “a universal policy”.
His opponent, Country Liberals’ Jodeen Carney said she wasn’t sure anyone understood the “full picture” on urban migration,
She understood from informal sources that there are as many as 1500 people from bush in town.
“We don’t have the infrastructure to deal with these numbers.” 
Matt Conlan (Country Liberals, Greatorex) believes the Intervention’s clamp down on alcohol has brought people into town, as well as the neglect of community infrastructure over the years and the inevitable attraction of “bright lights, big city”.
His opponent, Labor’s Jo Nixon, “acknowledge[d] the anecdotal picture” of urban migration, and pointed to the positive responses of Labor’s Closing the Gap commitments and employment of health workers and Indigenous teachers in the bush.
(She didn’t mention that this boost to Indigenous employment was a direct result of former Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough’s drive to get Indigenous people off CDEP and into “real jobs”. The Territory Government had been using CDEP to fund these positions.)
Country Liberals’ Adam Giles (Braitling) suggested employment opportunities as one reason why people are coming to town.
Others are access to services, the “big city” attraction, and football.
No one should be denied the opportunity of coming to town, he said.
Government’s role was to ensure that there is adequate housing. Land needs to be released and more public housing provided.
Labor has allowed the supply of public housing to go backwards, he said.
(He didn’t mention that reduction of public housing stock had been begun by the CLP when it was in government.)
His opponents in Braitling, the Greens’ Jane Clark and independent Eli Melky, both have their own approaches.  Mr Melky said he can’t understand the mainstream response to urban migration.
Many of the people “don’t speak English and aren’t familiar with our rules”, he said, yet “we thrust ourselves upon them” with English language signs (the infamous “no grog, no pornography” blue signs) and laws in English.
“We should learn to speak their language,” he said. Literally? “Yes,” he said, even if it’s just a few words and gestures, enabling us to “go to the people, sit with them, have dialogue”.
Ms Clark said people in Braitling sense a “change in social climate – it is not as cohesive as it used to be”.
She wants events and activities in the electorate that bring people together. She cited as examples a community garden – something she’s pushed for for a long time and which “it looks like we’ll be getting in the near future” – and a dog-walking club.
She belongs to one: people meet of an evening at an oval, let their dogs off the leashes and while the dogs have a run, the people chat.
One of the women involved was anxious about anti-social behaviour by a neighbour; everyone gave her their telephone number in case she needed to call.
It was a small gesture that gave the woman a “sense of security” in her neighbourhood, said Ms Clark.
Ms Carney said that detailed focus is needed to get people back to their communities – “many do want to go back”.
She said Return to Country has been completely ineffective; it should be reviewed and if need be put out to private tender.
She would act to get more people back out bush and to house those who wanted to stay in town.
The News suggested that it had taken Mal Brough to break ground on town camps issues, recognising the fundamental flaws of the Territory’s own brand of apartheid.
Mr Gaynor refuted this: “Everyone recgnised the need for the camps to be improved.”
He said Mal Brough had refused to negotiate change, while the new Federal Government has brokered a deal – “fantastic”.
He has doorknocked at every house in the town camps within Araluen. He’s been pleasantly surprised at the state the camps were in – they were mostly clean, houses were being renovated. Some camps were still concerning, presumably because of pressure on the program of works.
Ms Carney wanted to see Mal Brough’s deal get up;12 months on it’s only a little different.
She is supportive in principle of the Macklin deal but hasn’t seen the detail, relying for her information on media reports. She intended to visit all camps in Araluen during the campaign.
“As in the rest of my electorate I knock on every door unless I feel unsafe.”
Ms Nixon had already door-knocked at Hidden Valley town camp when she spoke to the News.
She said she had “great responses”, finding people very willing to talk about what was happening in their lives.
She said a lot of their concerns were federal issues, which she’d be talking to MHR Warren Snowdon about.  She welcomed Tangentyere’s signing of an agreement with the Federal Government and is putting her hopes in it being dealt with well – “people have got good intentions”.
Mr Conlan said Country Liberals would support local government across the NT to deliver municipal services to town camps.
What about Territory government services such as public health inspections? The current practice in town is to leave this service to Tangentyere.
Mr Conlan was unaware of this. He said his party would take “a close look” at government’s role.
Mr Giles said the “them and us” mentality, between town camps and the rest of town, has to go. He sees a role for government and organisations in the provision of services but says there should be a competitive process along the lines of a “proper procurement process”.
Ms Clark sees the Intervention, even though it may have helped with some problems, as having entrenched divisions in the town – “there are rules for people in the camps, and other rules for people outside the camps”.
“In the long term it may lead to a lot of anger in the community,” she said.
“Proper social services, enough accommodation” may be better ways to deal with the problems.”
She also said the high mobility of many Indigenous people  needs to “accommodated in our urban planning”, by, for example, provision of more extensive, cheap public transport.
Mr Melky said he’d asked people on town camps how they could see the community coming together.
“We have treated them as some sort of second class citizens. But at the same time – how did they allow it to happen? The handout culture needs to be addressed.”
Labor’s Aaron (Charlie) Dick, did not respond to repeat offers to take part in the News interviews of candidates.

Don’t mention the handover!

You can’t get Labor candidates John Gaynor and Jo Nixon to say the word “handover”:  they answered questions on the handover of national parks to Aboriginal ownership in terms of joint management, although joint management is not the same thing as handover.
Ownership is not a prerequisite for joint management – as the recent agreements for the Rainbow valley and Devil’s Marbles reserves show. 
Said Mr Gaynor: “Joint management gives Indigenous people an opportunity to manage their own land and participate in the economy.
“Through education and employment we will close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.”
Ms Nixon said very nearly the same thing.
“Joint management is an opportunity to become involved in tourism, economic development and the workforce.”
The News suggested that successes in these areas for the people of Mutitjulu, as owners of the park at Uluru, had been limited.
Said Ms Nixon: “I hope that the joint management process that has been undertaken now is quite different and that things will be better.”
Mr Gaynor said the government supports the exclusion of the national parks, the 13 in the Centre in the process of being scheduled as Aboriginal land, from an alcohol ban.
“We’ll do everything we can to make sure the Commonwealth Government hears that message.”
He said the agreement with traditional owners is that there will be free access to the parks – “There’s no reason to doubt this”.
He said only really sensitive areas will be locked up from time to time for reasons to do with land management and sacred sites.
This does not accord with what has already happened in reserves where joint management agreements have locked up large areas of land to be accessed only by special permit.
At Rainbow Valley visitors will be allowed free access to about one tenth of the reserve; at the Devil’s Marbles, to about one quarter.
The Country Liberals are also touchy on the handover subject.
The News asked former Opposition leader and sitting member for Araluen whether the CLP had done enough to keep the national parks in public hands?
Jodeen Carney (Araluen) said it would be disingenuous to say the CLP didn’t try.
“We issued media releases, we had a lengthy debate in parliament. It’s not my fault if other media organisations were not interested.”
Adam Giles (Braitling) said “we’ve moved on”.
But he added that the Country Liberals want to make sure that the parks stay under the control of the NT Government, by having a majority of government representatives on the board.
County Liberals Senator Nigel Scullion did not succeed in getting any guarantee of this from Chief Minister Paul Henderson (see Alice News, “CLP loses our parks”, June 26).
Greens’ candidate Jane Clark (Braitling) was the odd person out during the mayoral campaign earlier this year when it came to support for the parks remaining in public hands. Her position hasn’t changed.
“We need opportunities for Indigenous employment. I believe ownership of the parks will lead to those and the development of new eco-tourism enterprises.”
The alcohol ban, which arises from the parks becoming prescribed areas under the NT Emergency Response Act, “will have to be worked through in an intelligent way”, said Ms Clark.
Eli Melky (independent, Braitling) said the “people on the ground weren’t given a say”.
“I would have fought vigorously for what the majority of people think,” he said.
“We should stop the isolating and stereotyping of both Indigenous ad non-Indigenous people. All decisions should be for the benefit of the overall community.”

Taking the climate change bull by the horns in Alice. By JIMMY COCKING, Arid Lands Environment Centre.

Are NT politicians helping Alice Springs to build “community resilience” against higher living costs and a hotter climate? Maybe.
Community resilience is driven by residents who care deeply about their town.
Politicians provide critical assistance by setting policies, providing funds and directing bureaucracies to act in the public good.
Four basic issues for Alice Springs are food, water, electricity and climate change.
Ask your candidates their opinions on these issues!
Food costs are escalating rapidly due to global economic changes.
Alice Springs does not have to remain a hapless victim importing 99% of its produce.
The Vietnamese farm in the rural area, on Heffernan Road, demonstrates that locally produced and consumed food is commercially viable.
The NT Government can provide incentives to attract small scale horticulture farmers to the AZRI site using recycled effluent.
They have so far failed to attract a large scale commercial producer who would only export food to distant markets anyway, so we can buy it back in Woolies a week later.
Residential water use has still not dropped in Alice Springs, whilst it plummets around the nation.
Is that acceptable for the self-styled Desert Knowledge capital of Australia?
A Water Efficiency Study commissioned by Government in 2006 clearly shows that a coordinated water saving program across the town will save money, create many jobs, upskill our plumbers, reduce greenhouse emissions and produce DesertSMART outcomes.
It requires an average government investment of $1.4m for the first three years, reducing to $160,000 per year.
Let’s get on with it, rather than continuing the current meagre offer of a $50 rebate for water efficient hardware.
Note that the Power and Water Corporation’s current five-year infrastructure plan has an $814m budget.
Climate change modelling predicts that our region will get hotter and drier, with the current drought suggestive of things to come.
To retain residents and tourists, we must develop a strategy that makes our town more comfortable to live in.
This can be driven by Town Council and includes installing more shade around the town, more drink fountains on bike paths, shifting summer sports to evenings and developing accessible, innovative water features for kids to cool off in, like the big tipping buckets seen in other towns.
The town can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to play its part in global efforts.
Energy efficiency opportunities still abound, particularly with inefficient commercial air conditioning systems.
The NT Government and Power and Water may be missing an opportunity right now to reduce the town’s greenhouse gas emissions by 10% to 25%.
The $60m relocation of the power station from Sadadeen to Owen Springs means moving the Titan and Taurus generators which use inefficient “open cycle” technologies.
The option has not been fully explored to capture the generators’ waste heat and feed it through an add-on “combined cycle” steam turbine, which increases efficiency and reduces greenhouse emissions by over 50%.
Given that electricity accounts for 60% of the town’s total greenhouse emissions, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve major greenhouse reductions for the town.
ALEC has asked Power and Water and the caretaker government what their intentions are for these generators.
Our main energy source will remain as gas, but solar power is an emerging good news story.
Alice Solar City is constructing the Ilparpa Solar Farm, and residents will soon be able to purchase “green power” from there without investing heavily in their own rooftop panels.
However even the Solar City will become a national backwater if we do not continue to advance our solar profile, due to rapid global developments in this area.
As an example, Whyalla is building Australia’s first base-load solar power plant that stores a portion of daytime energy to be used at night.
Why aren’t we building it?
Alice Springs must continue to attract prototypes and innovations to stay at the forefront of solar development.
Note that ALEC and forward-thinking residents kick-started the Solar City vision back in 2000, demonstrating that grass-roots enthusiasm and persistence lead to good things for Alice Springs.
All of the above are achievable and will build our community resilience to a changing world.
Ultimately, our town’s destiny is in our own hands, and we will have to be clever and active to keep it vibrant, commercially attractive and DesertSMART in coming years.
Ask your pollies what they think.

Harmony theme for Alice festival.

It’s that time of year again – the Alice Desert Festival will be launched tomorrow (Friday), at the mural courtyard outside Araluen, staring at 11.30.
There’ll be a performance by Asante Sana, the  Afro-fusion choir, to mark the occasion.
The festival itself opens on Friday, September 12 and runs through to Sunday, September 21.
This year it has a theme – “Many roads, one voice”.
The theme reflects the many roads taken to Alice Springs by many different people, says festival director, Eugene Ragghianti, as well as the hope that “we all have one voice on things like justice and freedom” and that maybe the arts can make a difference on these issues in the community.
The festival has worked on giving the theme expression in its various events. For instance, it has collaborated with schools to get children involved in flag-making to represent the many nationalities present in Alice Springs, during the opening parade.
An exhibition titled “Beautiful Faces, Amazing Places”, curated by Franca Barraclough, will present portraits and stories of 20 people who have come to Alice from around the world.
A choral event, produced by CAAMA, will showcase choirs from remote communities and Alice Springs, finally all coming together to sing “with one voice”. 
The festival will go bush on the second weekend with a performance by the Asante Sana Choir at Trephina Gorge.
The Hub Space for the first weekend’s events (September 12 to 14) will again be in Todd Mall.
It will provide, among other attractions, a “Dream Street for Kids and Families”, with story-telling, games, and an Alice in Wonderland tea party.
And following the parade, the main stage will host the annual Bush Bands Bash.
A highlight will be the bush foods / wild foods event, with heats for the recipe competition starting on August 30, preceded by a launch on August 23 at Afghan Traders, 10am-noon. 
Guest judge for the finals this year will be renowned chef Stephanie Alexander.
A culinary challenge will ask professional chefs to invent a dish using wattleseed and one other bush or wild ingredient and to serve this dish in restaurants.
Best dish will be decided by the dining public.
And it is hoped that the fare will remain available into October when the national Regional Arts Australia  conference will be hosted in Alice Springs.
Two events that the festival “umbrellas” will take place outside of the main program.
The first is the hugely popular Wearable Arts Awards which this year will have three presentations.
On Sunday, August 31 at 1pm there’ll be a children’s and students’ show, with prizes totalling $2400.
Two shows for the adult entries will take place on Saturday, August 30 at 3pm and 7pm, with total prize money of around $10,000.  
There’ll be a People’s Choice Award at each show.
Cinema in the River, showing locally produced films on a big screen in the Todd River, will take place once the warmer weather starts.
Meanwhile, there’s an exhibition of past winning entries in the Wearable Arts Awards on show at the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame (2 Stuart Terrace, in the Old Gaol).

A nice cross-generational property? By CAMERON BUCKLEY.

Telling the true story of the Baker St bank job – which made more money than the Great Train Robbery – The Bank Job will be reviewed as a conversation between a door to door salesman and John Q citizen. Knock, knock!
John Q: Hello!
Door2door: Hi, gee it’s hot out. Could I come in for a drink?
John Q: No. What are you selling? Because whatever it is, I neither want it nor need it.
Door2door: Heh, heh! Got ya. 
John Q: Sorry, what?
Door2door: I’m here to sell ... I mean tell you about the excitingly true story, transferred to film. It’s called The Bank Job.  You need this. To see it. Essentially, for the harmonious growth of your household. Oh … and did I mention your neighbour already owns two copies?  And you good sir, have to see this. It has Saffron Burrows in it. And she offers an appeasing performance. Powerfully gentle.
John Q: You think a good looking cast, who also possess the ability to act, is all you need to sell this picture? What direction have you got?
Door2door: ummm … Roger Donaldson.
John Q: You mean the guy who did The World’s Fastest Indian?  Can I expect a lot of pretentious hype, about the omnipotence obtained through the completion of a life quest or goal? Will this man’s directing talents make me actually want to perform a bank job when I leave the cinema? Or is it going to be a movie that “directs itself”?
Door2door: No, I think this is the best thing he has directed. Also there is a great soundtrack. Albeit a little anachronistic. But maybe that provides a nice cross-generational property, gives the whole picture an almost unrecognisable timeless quality.
John Q: You know, I do have to keep up with the Joneses.
Door2door: What better way than to own something that’s not only contemporary but may be overlooked by the consensus. The same consensus that may look back on this film and use it as some sort of reference.
John Q: I have no idea what you just said, but I’ll maybe buy one. But I can’t pay for it now.
Door2door: That’s OK. This film carries a payment plan and a Pop Vulture rating of about 736/1000.

LETTERS: Election: Seniors, victims, ratepayers speak out.

Sir,- Older Australians have set three bold election demands in the lead-up to this week’s Northern Territory poll.
Consumer lobby for the over-50s, National Seniors Australia, is calling on candidates to commit to addressing nursing home staffing shortages; discriminatory workers compensation rules for the over-65s; and hefty stamp duties on median-priced housing.
With the number of people aged 50-plus in the Top End significantly increasingly over the next decade, now is the time to act.
Nursing home standards are already being affected by poor working conditions, low wages and staffing shortages. With demand for aged care set to increase as our population ages, these things will only get worse unless government steps in now.
Similarly, if the government expects Territorians to work beyond traditional retirement age they need to create a level field for mature age workers.
Currently, the NT Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act with its age-based restrictions on weekly compensation payments is completely unfair.
If you’re under 65, there’s no limit and no issue. If you’re over 65, compensation will only be paid for a maximum of 26 weeks.
Compared to other states, which range from at least one year in NSW to five years in Queensland, it’s the most restricted compensation scheme in the country.
National Seniors is also calling for a stamp duty exemption on median priced homes for pensioners already struggling under the weight of soaring living costs.
Behind Sydney, Darwin has the second highest rate of stamp duty for a median priced house. It’s absurd - why is that?
An NT pensioner downsizing to a median value house of $463,000 currently pays over $18,000 in stamp duty. Yet, in the ACT and Victoria pensioners receive full stamp duty exemptions for homes up to the value of $412,000 and $330,000 respectively.
Margaret Gaff
National Seniors Australia, Alice Springs

Sir,- On the night of August 3 our car was attacked again by attempted murderers – rock throwers.
Our six months old baby was in the car this time but it was a minor incident, fourtunately.
We are over this town’s problems now and will be moving.
Just the other day a male Aboriganal urinated on our car in the Coles car park.
My wife was loading the car with shopping at 4.30pm. She told the man to move on but he came at her. She jumped in the car and locked it.
Then he proceeded to blow his nose’s contents on our windows.
I hope the next Territory government has a better solution to this sad, sad way of life to this town’s problems.
I also put forth a question to all Alice Springs parents with teenage youths. Is your teenager an attempted murderer?
Because this is the way my wife and I see it as of Saturday, June 7 at 10:20pm!
 This was a traumatic moment for my wife as she was coming to pick me up from work.
She normally has our five month old daughter in the car (thank God for visiting relatives).
At this time on Telegraph Terrace heading into town three male youths threw three LARGE rocks at our family car.
All of them hit their intended target. Fortunately no one was injured but the damage to the car was evident.
After seeing news events of Eastern States tragedies from “rock throwers” I am thankful my wife is safe.
 Now to those three individuals: You have attempted murder!
Rocks thrown at a moving two ton vehicle can have a disastrous outcome! They may bounce off metal after reshaping it and removing paint but once they penetrate glass this is where it gets serious.
They maim and kill!
This is my third rock attack now in eight years and we will no longer live with the anti social behaviour of this town’s youth.
No one can change them! They can only change themselves!
 I would like to thank the police units for their quick response on this violent act.
But once again [the perpetrators] got away. I ask again the parents of Alice Springs: Where were your sons on that night at that time?
Ask them!
Tim and Sylinda van Amerongen
Alice Springs
Sir,- Alice Springs has every right to expect commitment and loyalty from those we elect to our Town Council. 
Four months ago Ms Clark ran second in the mayoral race and was the third declared alderman. 
Can you imagine gaining a podium finish if she had declared an intention to stick around only until something better came along?
Over the last three years ratepayers in Alice Springs have seen their rates go up by 25%. 
Money is so short that even the pensioners setting up stalls in the Sunday Market are being asked to dig deep. 
And yet if successful in Braitling, Ms Clark will run up a by-election tab of at least $30,000 that the ratepayers will have to cover. 
We will also face the inconvenience of an unwanted by-election. 
Before this campaign is over will someone from the NT Greens please explain to us why we would want that?
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Sir,- In just a couple of weeks’ time, NT Labor will celebrate being in power for seven years (August 18, 2001) and also the winning of the current election which may deliver them another seven or eight years in office.
“Hendo” is the winner who will take all.
With a touch of arrogance, our Chief Minister jetted into town last Friday to spend just 19 hours with Central Australians before the election unfolds in a few days’ time.  
His first port of call was the ABC radio studios where he spent as little time as possible giving listeners no opportunity to call in with comments and questions.
The day prior, Country Liberals leader, Terry Mills was similarly in town for their campaign launch.  
Terry spent much longer discussing matters of election importance. 
The lines were open.  
Not one call was received by the ABC.
Doesn’t that tell you something?
Terry, like Kym Beazley, you are an honourable politician and I am sure the constituency of Blain speak highly of you.  
I am also sure that under your leadership, the Country Liberals can double the number of seats held to eight. 
The seats of Drysdale, Port Darwin, Johnston and Fannie Bay are within reach.  
Back in the dark days of Denis Burke, I supported your run for leadership. 
These days, you head a team of 10 recycled candidates; a few of which have real political and leadership talent. 
I hope the election delivers to us voters the effective opposition that democracy needs.
 The Country Liberals need to find and nurture their next leader now.
 If August 9 is to deliver bad news for the Country Liberals it will be bad news for the state of debate in the Northern  Territory.  
For example, the Country Liberals will continue to beat the old and prosaic law and order drum, and continue playing follow the leader on very important issues like uranium and our town camps. 
The depressing fact is that with no decent opposition nothing will change for the better.
 For the record, the Country Liberals have lost our support for all time, given their unquestioning “me too” approach to the Angela Pamela uranium issue.
David Chewings
Diana Whitehouse
Alice Springs

Sir,- Many thanks to Elsa Corbet, lessee of the Pitchi Ritchi Sanctuary, Palm Circuit, from the University of the Third Age (U3A) history group.
Elsa gave us a tour of the area, with stories of the colonial artifacts and the sculptures.
Members of our group are aged 50 plus and unfortunately not able-bodied enough to assist in the maintenance of the sanctuary.
It is very important for the area to receive heritage listing, which has been delayed for a long time.
The Alice Springs Heritage Society are in favor of this, but await approval from the NT Government.
Younger, able-bodied members of this community could perhaps give a few hours to help maintain this interesting place, one of the few remaining “Alice originals”.
It has been closed to public for eight years, due to inability to maintain the area.
Patricia Pate
Alice Springs

ADAM CONNELLY: Let me just be the devil’s advocate.

On more than one occasion, a member of the opposite sex has described my head in a manner that isn’t the most flattering.
I don’t blame them. I’m at an age where I have come to accept that I’ll never really be confused for Johnny Depp. Let’s be honest, I probably won’t ever be confused for Johnny Rotten.
But to some, my face is confusing. People have a hard time pinning down my cultural background.
I get asked if I’m from a multitude of backgrounds. Am I Jewish?
Am I Italian? Am I Hungarian? I haven’t been asked if I’m Japanese but I’m not ruling out the possibility.
I don’t know what it is about my head that leads to this pandemic of national ambiguity. I don’t think I’d like the answer if I asked.
So let’s save an awkward conversation. In 1823 Robert John Connelly sailed to Sydney from county Mayo. Eight generations later I turned up.
My mother’s side is a little more convoluted but basically the genes that make my face come from the island of Ireland.
Like many Irish families that came to our shores of opportunity, back in the day the Connellys were proudly and devoutly Catholic. In my family there are priests and nuns and members of various Catholic organisations.
But somewhere around the turn of last century my family had something of a reformation. There was a family sized schism and some of the family, for various reasons, left the Catholics and joined the Protestants. It is one of those family things no one talks about.
The theological elephant in the room. Anyway, by virtue of birth I ended up in the Protestant side of the family.
Which is OK except for the fact that the Catholic Church has some pretty cool jobs. I mean, the Pope must be a pretty sweet gig.
But I reckon I’d have made a great Devil’s Advocate. For those that aren’t up to date on the employment structure of Mary’s Mob, the Devil’s Advocate was the guy who tried to challenge the church’s stand on things, most particularly saints. He got paid to be a pain. To put forward the other argument.
It was his job to take a skeptical view of a candidate’s character, to look for holes in the evidence, to argue that any miracles attributed to the candidate were fraudulent. He has a pretty awesome job title too. The Catholic Church still refers to his position in the Latin as Advocatus Diaboli. Sensational.
I think I would have made an excellent Devil’s Advocate. Not because I don’t believe, but because for most of my life I have been the holder of unpopular opinions. Opinions not born out of a rebellious streak or a need to be either iconoclastic or counter-culture, but simply because I don’t think the popular answer is always the best one.
To people like me, democracy can be a real pain. If only everyone thought the same way I do. People like me are convinced the world would be a better place if that was the case.
With the election in the next few days we have already been inundated with populist policies. That’s not a judgement on any particular policy; it’s just that during an election no one’s really going to go out of their way to promote something that might be remotely unpopular. 
The Advocatus Diaboli might think that lowering taxes and promising new police is probably just a way of getting you to put a number 1 next to the right box this Saturday. The Devil’s Advocate thinks that issues in the electorate are generally a bit too complex to explain in a five second sound bite or a 30 second commercial and if you are able to explain it in that time, it’s probably been conceived just to fit the sound bite.
The Devil’s Advocate might wonder if restricting the sale of alcohol really is the way to stop problem drinking. He wonders if putting big blue signs outside of town camps does anything of value. He wonders if anyone on the ballot on Saturday really has the answer to any of the questions.
And while for the most part the Devil’s Advocate feels like he’s bashing his head against the wall in frustration, he is often comforted in the fact that he is asking the questions in the first place.
It’s almost enough to make me change my theology! But I reckon there might be a few thousand people in Alice Springs putting their hands up for the job too. 

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