August 21, 2008. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Alice a fly-in, fly-out town?

“We don’t want to turn this into a fly in, fly out town, but a couple of our electrical sub-contractors are working like that now.
“And bush work is being done like that, people fly in, head out bush for a couple of weeks to do the work, and fly back out.”
So says Trevor Jacobs, general manager of Sitzlers in Alice Springs.
He says the extreme shortage of rental accommodation in town is having an impact on being able to recruit long-term staff.
Short term solutions, like fly in, fly out, are expensive – with the cost obviously having to be added to the costs of the job for the client.
And they are not good for the town.
“We want to grow the town in the long term, but that can’t happen at the moment,” says Mr Jacobs.
Gone are the days when the company could recruit leading hands, foremen, qualified tradesmen from Melbourne and Adelaide and leave them to sort out their own accommodation once they arrived in town.
“You find people, they’re out there,” says Mr Jacobs, “but they want to know how much assistance you can give them.
“That creates another difficulty, with two sets of employees, the ones that are getting this kind of assistance and the current staff who’ve been here for a while and whose conditions don’t include this extra help.”
Mr Jacobs notes with irony that the facility built in the late 1960s to solve this very problem of staff accommodation is now being bull-dozed, with nothing certain to replace it. He’s referring of course to Melanka’s, originally a Commonwealth Government owned hostel for workers, although for many years operated privately as backpacker accommodation.
What are the solutions?
Mr Jacobs says Sitzlers has contemplated housing staff in dongas or caravans on their site in the industrial area, but they haven’t resolved the security and access issues. 
He says in the 1970s it was common to have people living in caravans on the industrial blocks.
He raises the possibility of a single person’s quarters, a “donga type arrangement”, being set up, but doesn’t know where it should go or who would run it.
Short-term subbies are being put up in moderately-priced hotels and motels, but what will happen during the Masters Games, he asks, when every bed in town is booked.
“If we’re having to fly subbies in then to meet short-term deadlines, we’re stuffed,” he says.
Fortunately, unskilled labourers can usually be sourced from amongst backpackers who have their own “short-term digs”, says Mr Jacobs.
Beat Keller, of Keller’s Restaurant, also relies on backpackers, mostly from South Korea and Taiwan, to work as short-term kitchen hands.
He says their beds “never get cold” – as one moves on, he or she passes on their accommodation to the next.
Ross Engineering bought two units in 2006 to house the families of skilled workers they had recruited from India. 
And they are now buying a house for workers from the Philippines, who began arriving last week.
“I’ve never seen it as bad as this,” says owner-manager Neil Ross, commenting on both the shortage of properties and the high rents being charged.
Mr Ross says providing shared accommodation would not work for everyone, but “it won’t worry [visa]’457’ workers”.
He says accommodation is one of the big problems he has to think about when recruiting staff.
However, the high rents in town are not driving wages up.
He say the main wage pressure his firm is feeling is driven by the competition for staff from the mining industry: “That’s quite fierce.”
He can’t see an immediate housing solution in the offing.
“New housing that is being turned off is not in first home buyer territory which is where your rental properties usually come from.”
Hostel accommodation would help.
The type that is currently available – very small apartments at the bottom end of the market – is still expensive at $200 a week.

Cole’s victim defenceless. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Former chairman of Imparja and a leading light of the multi million dollar Aboriginal investment company Centrecorp, Owen Cole, was last week found guilty of aggravated assault by Magistrate Vince Lupino.
Mr Lupino found that Mr Cole’s victim, Blayne Cornford, was “unable to effectually defend himself from the attack ... a circumstance of aggravation”.
Mr Cole is also a past board member of the NT Tourist Commission, and this week said “no comment” to a question from the Alice Springs News about any current positions he may be holding on boards.
The assault he was charged with occurred during the brawl that followed the Central Australian Football League grand final match between Wests and Pioneers at Traeger Park on September 8 last year.
Mr Cornford was a spectator at the match and ran on to the ground at the end, together with other members of Wests B Grade team, to congratulate the victorious A Grade team.
Mr Cole was a Pioneer supporter.
In his “reasons for decision” Mr Lupino said Mr Cole “is apparently a well known Alice Springs identity” and had been “sufficiently identified” by “numerous witnesses”.
He was also “clearly identifiable by [Mr Lupino] on both of the recorded footage”.
The footage was that of ABC TV cameraman Daniel Furber and amateur cameraman Nicholas Reuther.
Mr Lupino described the ABC footage as “of excellent quality and with sufficient zoom to optimise the vision and the identification of persons involved and the actions they perform”.
He said the amateur footage was also of “better than expected quality” and “shows more of the events which precipitated the brawl”.
He said, subject to certain qualifications, relating to  integrity, quality and extent of the recording, “the version depicted on the recorded footage should be preferred to versions reliant on eyewitness accounts of events occurring in a highly volatile situation with much occurring within a short period of time and in a confined area as occurred here”.
Mr Lupino gave an account, drawing on the amateur footage, of how the brawl seems to have erupted.
“What the amateur footage shows is that on the sounding of the siren, a Wests player gestures towards the crowd ... Then, after a short period of celebratory hugs with team mates he is seen to gesture towards a Pioneer player ... 
“The Pioneer player seems to take offence as he is then seen to walk up to the Wests player and they bump each other and then start jostling each other ... Cole can then be seen in that footage ... 
“Cole’s facial expression suggests that he is very angry and that anger is clearly directed towards [the Wests player mentioned, Adam Taylor] ... there is much to suggest that there was some offensiveness in [Adam Taylor’s] gestures.”
Mr Lupino “carefully viewed the recorded footage a number of times” and used it to give the following account of events related to Mr Cole’s actions on the day.
“Where Cole is initially seen on top of Cornford and punching him, Cornford is seen to be actively attempting to fend off the punches and he is using both his arms and legs to do this ...
“The Pioneer players then pulled off Cornford and as he gets up, he is grabbed momentarily from behind by a Pioneer player wearing the number 1 jumper.
“At this point, Cole is seen to be focusing directly on Cornford and runs straight for him as Cornford is being led away and facing away from Cole.
“Cole approaches Cornford from the back right side of Cornford.
“Cole is seen to wind up with his right arm and then make contact with his right forearm to Cornford’s jaw or neck area in a wide swinging tackling motion and at the same time pulling Cornford down on the ground from behind.
“That motion forces Cornford to the ground and Cole is then seen to drop on top of Cornford with his knees and is seen reaching in on top as a number of Wests players reach in to pull him off.
“A round arm punch by Cole apparently aimed at Cornford’s head is seen almost instantaneously after he drops himself on top of Cornford and then the presence of the pack obstructs any clear vision of any further strikes, other than that Cole’s right arm can be seen cocked at the elbow and in a punching motion aimed at the presumed location of Cornford’s head.
“However, with this blow neither the fist nor the contact can actually be seen.”
Mr Lupino found that one circumstance of aggravation was etsablished in relation to Mr Cole’s assault on Mr Cornford.
That of causing harm was not made out, because the harm that Mr Cornford suffered could have been caused by “the involvement of other assailants”.
The circumstance of Mr Cornford being defenceless at the time was made out.
Said Mr Lupino: “It has been argued that Cornford was able to defend himself because he gave evidence, supported by the recorded footage to a certain extent, that he was blocking blows and attempting to push Cole away with his feet.
“However, the circumstance of aggravation is made out when a victim is unable to ‘effectually’ defend himself.
“Parrying blows is a natural defence mechanism.
“It does not mean that a person who performs any defensive actions is thereby able to effectually defend himself ...
“Cornford has done no more than taking basic instinctive type actions ...
“In the circumstances of the gang assault, in my view, the circumstance has been made out beyond reasonable doubt and I find that Cornford was unable to effectually defend himself from the attack from Cole ...
“I accordingly find Cole guilty of aggravated assault but not of the circumstance of aggravation of harm.”
Geoffrey Miller, charged with aggravated assault of William Smith in the course of the same grand final brawl, was also found guilty.
David Kerrin and Jawoyn Cole-Manolis, also facing charges arising from the brawl, were found not guilty.

LETTERS: Intervention ‘holocaust’

Sir,- Specialists and District Medical Officers met with members of the Review Board for the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER).
They tabled three submissions; two by paediatricians and one submitted by hospital specialists which was signed by 28 Specialists and District Medical Officers working in Central Australia.
The submissions describe the chronic underfunding of existing health services, and the lack of consultation with both health professionals and Aboriginal communities.
A lack of clear objectives in the NTER, and the inadequacy of merely performing child health checks were discussed.
They detailed how the health checks have merely duplicated information that was already known, at great cost, with little benefit.
There needs to be better funding of existing services, and funding of new services after appropriate consultation with both communities and experts. Measures which are not evidence based need to be stopped.
We believe that the Racial Discrimination Act must be reinstated.
Recommendations the doctors made included implementation of the Little Children are Sacred report, which is evidence based, and would address the social determinants of health.
Dr Marcus Tabert, a local Psychiatrist said: “Unless you address the social determinants of health, nothing will change.
“This includes for example education, housing, nutrition, and cultural wellbeing.”
Dr Stephen Foster, a District Medical Officer for remote communities added: “Local Aboriginal people are saying this is our holocaust.
“There has been huge squandering of money with this Intervention which could have been better spent.
“We need long term commitment to the social determinants of health based on culturally safe community consultation.”
Dr Penny Stewart, an Intensive Care Specialist stated: “This is a great opportunity for the government to improve access to comprehensive primary health care to all Australian citizens.”
Dr Hilary Tyler
Alice Springs
(ED - We hope the review board asked Dr Foster whether he thought the term ‘holocaust’ could be justified. For instance, could he say how many people have died as a direct result of Intervention policies? If he could not, then surely using the term is a terrible insult to the memory of the millions who were exterminated by the Nazis during World War II. This kind of emotive language does nothing to further the debate in the Territory.)

Sir,- Why is Labor stumbling with the basics?
A colour brochure identifying the progress 12 months on from the inception of the Howard Government’s emergency response shows much has been achieved, but policy backslides could jeopardise key reforms.
The Rudd government has bled funding away from the Emergency Response in the Budget, and is bending to pressures from the Northern Territory Labor Government not to monitor the cost shifting and exploitation of indigenous workers.
The Howard Government response recognised unemployment was a key factor in alienation, poverty and anti-social behaviour. 
The Rudd Labor Government’s decision to extend CDEP, denying mainstream unemployment services to indigenous people, has to be a severe blow to those expecting improved life chances.
Thanks to a huge injection of funds and the abolition of CDEP, the Coalition saw more than 1400 indigenous Australians transitioned off welfare and into work.
The Government’s decision to reinstate CDEP has, however, seen many of these same people leave their real jobs to return to the sedentary lifestyle that “work for the dole” allowed them to have.
Surely, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin can see that 1400 new jobs created outside the CDEP system is reason not to reinstate a failed system?
The Rudd Labor Government plans to reinstate the permit system and allow alcohol and pornography back into remote indigenous communities.
These “reforms” will undermine the intervention.
Labor’s stuttering commitment to the Emergency Response has no doubt influenced the huge swing against Labor in the Northern Territory election.
Territorians really do want to see real improvements for indigenous Australians – more employment in the real economy, the normalising of access to public places in their settlements, children protected from pornography and better laws to stop grog running.
The Labor version of the emergency response refuses to offer indigenous Australians a fair go.
Sharman Stone MP
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs

Sir,- The NT election result gives the government an opportunity to implement new processes for the delivery of primary health care services.
A transparent process is needed to pool primary health care funding from the NTG and the Commonwealth, and to increase the capacity and scope of Aboriginal community controlled health services.
I welcome the NT Treasurer’s agreement to a Senate inquiry into how Commonwealth investments have been spent in the Territory.
It’s clear that by “pooling” the governments’ health investments from Canberra and Darwin we’ll be able to reduce bureaucratic duplication and to more accurately target those areas where primary health care funding is most needed.
John Paterson   

Split up Ayers Rock Resort: tourism lobby. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The Ayers Rock Resort, part of the Voyages group due to be sold by the troubled General Property Trust (GPT), should be broken up into several properties, says Ren Kelly, deputy chairman of Tourism Central Australia.
Mr Kelly says diverse ownership would present an opportunity for the resort “to invigorate itself, look for new markets”.
The Voyages chain has 21 hotels with more than 1700 rooms, including in Central Australia the Alice Springs Resort, Longitude 131° at the Rock and a 49% stake in King’s Canyon, with Aboriginal interests, including Centrecorp, holding the balance.
Tourism sources say Ayers Rock Resort is battling but the company will make no comment on visitor numbers nor turnover.
The sources say the region would benefit from the introduction of a “competitive edge”.
Mr Kelly says it’s better “to have 10 pairs of feet pounding the pavement in search for business than just one pair.”
He says the industry needs to look “really carefully at international opportunities.
“The yen and the US dollar are soft but the Euro and the Pound are solid and that’s where we need to be looking for business.”
He says the Rock hasn’t escaped the general downturn: “They are victims of fluctuations in international markets like all other resorts.”
There has been press speculation that GPT is looking for $900m for its entire tourism portfolio, which makes up just 7% of GPT assets, according to Voyages’ public relations manager, Louise Longman.
It was never very clear how much the resort cost the NT Government to build: the official line was $280m but sources close to the project have put it at almost $500m.
GPT bought it for $220m in 1997 after the resort had been mostly losing money. The NT Government continued to provide power, water, sewage, airport, police, health clinic, school. Until June this year electricity was apparently subsidized but Ms Longman gave no details.
Ms Longman says no price has been put on Voyages so far, and the sale process is likely to “extend well into 2009”.
The resort has a staff of 1000 and is the only tourist accommodation in close proximity to The Rock,  a major drawcard for The Centre, attracting tourists from all over the world.
The resort was the brainchild of first NT Chief Minister Paul Everingham, conceived as the township of Yulara.
This is a snapshot of its development:-
• 1970s: decision to move the accommodation village and airstrip outside the national park area. 
• 1980: the start of basic road, airport and utilities construction at Yulara, under the management of the NT government’s Yulara Development Company Ltd.     
• 1983: campgrounds opened. 
• 1984: Four Seasons Hotel and the Sheraton property now known respectively as Desert Gardens Hotel and Sails in the Desert Hotel open. The shopping centre, including the bank, become operational and the primary school is completed.
• 1985: Commonwealth legislation under Prime Minister Bob Hawke to hand over the Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park to Aboriginal ownership.
• 1986: Management of the park is transferred from the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory to the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.   
• 1988: Emu Walk Apartments, open.
• 1989: New coach campgrounds open in the location of an aborted experiment to establish an Aboriginal living area on the periphery of the resort.
• 1990: Red Centre Hotel, now known as Outback Pioneer Hotel, open.
• 1991: Yulara  Development Company is renamed Ayers Rock Resort Company Limited, a new board is appointed and 40% of the shares are sold off. 
The Sheraton hotel is sold and all hotels come under one management.
• 1996: ThecCompany purchases Alice Springs Pacific Resort, now called the Alice Springs Resort.   
• 1997: Ayers Rock Resort Company Limited is sold for $220 million to General Property Trust. The company is renamed Ayers Rock Resort Management Pty Ltd.
• 2000: The company changes its name to Voyages Hotels and Resorts.

Clash over $16m pool complex: Project manager will sue council over sacking. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The services of the consultant project manager for Stage 2 of the Alice Springs Aquatic Centre have been terminated by the Town Council.
Stage 2 involves the design and documentation of the indoor facility.
Council is required by the terms of its funding agreement to have an independent project manager.
CEO Rex Mooney says the termination was caused by the failure of Nicole White, trading as Territory Project Management, to comply with council’s instructions.
Ms White is taking council to court for wrongful breach of contract.
She will be represented by John Stirk of Povey Stirk.
Mr Stirk says attempts to resolve the matter by mediation have been rejected by council.
He says he and his client have not been informed of the specific cause for the termination.
Mr Mooney says council will vigorously defend any court action.
He declined to comment further.
He denied that the situation would cause delay to the completion of works at the Aquatic Centre.
He says the 50 metre pool will be open to swimming clubs on September 1, as scheduled, and to the public on September 14.
There will be some delay to completing work on the Learn to Swim and paddling pools, caused by a hold-up in the delivery of non-slip tiles from Germany.
Federal funding of $4m, promised by Warren Snowdon MHR in the last election, has not yet flowed.
This is separate to the $4m allocated by former Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough, drawing from the Aboriginal Benefit Account. This money is flowing.
Mr Mooney and Mayor Damien Ryan recently met with Warren Snowdon, to express concern over the delay in payment.
Council has since received a letter from Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development and Northern Australia, Gary Gray, assuring council that the funds are not in jeopardy and work will be done to expedite their payment.
Again, Mr Mooney says, providing the matter is settled within a couple of months, this will not delay council’s building program for the centre.
Total budget for the Aquatic Centre is $16.1m, $8.1m of which came from the Territory Government.

‘Longest shortcut’ becomes task for local government.

The “longest shortcut in Australia” is how Mayor Damien Ryan describes the Outback Highway, which the Alice Town Council and the two neighboring “super  shires” will be lobbying for. It runs from Winton in Queensland through the Territory via the Plenty Highway, down to Alice Springs, out through Docker River and  on to Laverton in Western Australia.
Mr Ryan and the CEOs of MacDonnell and Central Desert have all joined the Outback Way Council.
Some members of that council will travel to Canberra to try to persuade the Federal Government that this is a national project and needs their support.
Meanwhile, local governments around Australia, through the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), have begun work on seeking recognition of local government in the Australian Constitution.
Alderman Jane Clark, who was reinstated at the Town Council on Monday after contesting the Legislative Assembly elections, is in Canberra today for an ALGA meeting to take this work forward.
She says winning recognition for local government in the constitution is a first step in building a case to apply a proportion of federal taxation revenue to local government.
She says local governments everywhere have more and more to do, including the repair and maintenance of ageing infrastructure and providing services to changing populations.
For example, Alice Springs has a growing cohort of senior citizens as well as a high proportion of children. So improved services in areas such as transport and child care centres need to be provided. 
To cope with the demands councils need reliable access to revenue other than through rates, says Ald Clark.

Throwing a spear meets kicking a ball. By DICK KIMBER.


The men had sung as they applied red ochre to their bodies and faces, and sung as they then helped one another with the painting of individual totemic designs on their chests. 
These stylised paintings of Possum, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Kangaroo, Rain, Emu and other Dreamings of the local and visiting Warlpiri, Pintupi and other men stood out prominently on the red ochred bodies.
Some wore nose-bones, others had arm-bands decorated with leaves or feathers, and still others wore Wedge-tailed Eagle or Pink Cockatoo feather head-pieces. 
All carried long hunting spears as they quietly gathered in the pulapa corroboree preparation area for the welcoming dance.  They were screened from the corroboree ground by mulga trees and witchetty bushes, and beyond the cleared ground the men who were not participating, and the women and children, sat waiting in two separate groups. 
There must have been about 30 men, all fit and most of them in early middle-age, but with one extremely wiry Pintupi man of about 80 years also in the group, who emerged from the mulga and witchetty bush. 
They were led by a Jungurrayi man. 
Each warrior used the high-stepping, hard- stamping, running action used by the men in the welcoming dance.  They followed one behind the other, each holding a spear and a shield, and all chanting “Wah! Wah! Wah!” in time with their stamping. 
Dust rose and, as the audience identified kinfolk and made appreciative comment, the dancing men circled, then turned inwards in a sudden huddled grouping, and gave what to my ear were then strange, sharp calls. 
This concluded the welcoming dance, and they briefly relaxed as they placed their spears upright against forks in mulga trees so that their sharpened ends were protected, and lay their shields safely on the ground. 
A brief discussion of the form of the “corroboree” they were about to dance now followed.
One warrior then danced towards the audience in a slow high-stepping run, then turned towards the performers.  As he turned all of the performers jogged forward and formed  two large circular huddles, one inside the other, facing inwards, and began a low chant. 
Suddenly a ball of rags was thrown a metre or so into the air from the midst of the huddle.  As it went up all of the men instantly stood upright, and leapt and flung up their hands in an attempt to catch the ball, but it was a man of the inner circle who caught it, and immediately the two circles of men again huddled. 
The ball was quickly passed around among the inner circle and then, catching the outer group a little by surprise, it was thrown vertically up a metre or two again.  The instant leaping attempts to catch the ball caused excitement among both the performers and audience, and there was much appreciative laughter. 
Again, though, it was one of the central group who caught the ball, and after a very brief time, up the ball went again. This time it was thrown about four metres above the leaping men’s outstretched hands, but so directly had it been thrown that, despite the best efforts of the outer circle of men, it was again caught by an inner circle performer.  The huddle instantly formed again, but with a final sharp call this “happy corroboree”, as it was called, ended, and the men broke away to appreciative calls, comments and laughter from all of the onlookers. 
This Warlpiri pulapa, performed at Yuendumu in August, 1971, was likened to Australian Rules Football.  Clearly the attempts to catch the ball were similar to the attempts at pack marks by groups of Aussie Rules players. However so stylised was the peformance that I asked further about it.  The Warlpiri and Pintupi clearly knew it as a tjukurrpa “corroboree”, something from “the Dreaming”, and Old Darby Jampijinpa later showed me how a traditional ball was made from emu feathers, tightly bound about with hair-string.
It was oval in shape but, only being about 15 centimetres long, was very light.  The size could vary a little, and when emu feathers were not available a ball could be made from soft grass. 
There was also a traditional ball game but it differed markedly from the stylised pulapa “happy corroboree” performance.  By 1971 it had only been played by the men of about 50-90 years of age.
Australian Rules football had been introduced to Central Australia during World War II, and then patrol officer Ted Egan had introduced it to the Warlpiri in the 1950s.  It had instantly become the favourite sport of the young men, and the permanency of water and food at communities meant that a regular game was possible such as had never been the case in pre-contact times. 
As best I could determine from Old Darby good rains, meaning plentiful water, supplies of bush tucker and larger hunting game, were required.  These good things of life allowed large gatherings of people, sufficient to allow major important ceremonies and also to allow the light-hearted traditional games of football. 
Again as best I could determine from old Darby, in pre-contact times such games were only played about every 12 to 15 years.  Smaller social and ceremonial meetings occurred much more regularly, but a large gathering of 100 to 200 people was required to have sufficient young men and older boys to play the game, which was called purlja in the Warlpiri language. 
A natural grassy clearing on soft loamy soil was chosen, and any fallen branches from trees removed.  It could be hundreds of metres long and wide, even a kilometre or more as the game flowed freely beyond the arbitrary boundaries. Trees acted as obstacles about which players ran and dodged.
The number of men and older boys who played varied, and could be from about 20 to 30, and occasionally more.  Teams were not selected so much as naturally formed because of various well-known group affiliations and obligations. 
Running, dodging and weaving, kicking and throwing of the ball, with high leaping catches equivalent to high marking, were common features of the game. 
There was no hard tackling, no goalposts and no time limits.  Players who suffered minor injuries or became fatigued left the field, then returned as they recovered, and the game ended when all had simply had enough. 
It could be revived again later the same day or on succeeding days, and it was the excitement and laughter of friendly competition that all of the old men remembered.  Interestingly, as is the recorded case in Victoria, only a limited number of groups played the game in Central Australia. 
Thus football was not recorded as an Aboriginal game by such as Frank Gillen, Charles Chewings and others of the 1870s to 1920s period for any of the Arrernte and other peoples from Oodnadatta area to Tennant Creek, or anywhere south-west of the Alice. 
Spear-throwing competitions, and also for some southern groups a particular game using long narrow clubs that were thrown so that they skittered along the ground, appear to have been the alternative games played. 
However, as indicated, a traditional game of football was played by the Warlpiri of the Tanami Desert country.  It was also played by the Gugadja of the Balgo area, and probably introduced to the Pintupi through the latter. 
In that the oldest people at Yuendumu in 1971 learnt the game from their fathers and grandfathers, who in turn had learnt it from earlier generations, knowledge of the Warlpiri and associated western peoples’ game was also 150 years old at the same time that the AFL celebrated their 150 years a fortnight ago. 
My sincere thanks to the people of Yuendumu, in particular Harry Nelson Jagamara, Warren Williams and the late Darby Jampijinpa, and also Robert Tjapangarti of Balgo, for their help in the preparation of this article. 

Wearable art fresh Out Of Africa

Seeing more African people around Alice Springs, her enjoyment of the best-selling novel, The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, set in Botswana, her fascination with African wildlife shown by filmmaker David Attenborough, all came together to inspire an “Out of Africa” theme for Colleen Byrnes’ entry in the Wearable Arts Awards.
She has designed three costumes for the Fantasia category – a lion, a zebra and an elephant – which will be modeled by her three daughters, Shae, Bec and Nikki.
Both Shae and Bec have modeled for their mother before but this year’s event will be a first for Nikki, pictured in the bodice of her lion’s costume (the rest is being kept strictly under wraps).
A promise to Nikki to put her on the catwalk brought Colleen back into the fold this year. A skilled designer and sewer, she was a participant and a winner in the early years of the awards but hasn’t had time to enter since she began work in the real estate industry.
These days her sewing is restricted to making dresses for her daughters’ formals.
But she says entering this year’s awards has been pure pleasure, especially because her girls are involved.
She began back in May, moulding the bodices using papier mache, and has worked on the costumes a little bit at a time most evenings and weekends ever since.
The bodices are covered in beadwork; the skirts and headdresses are concocted from silks and tulles, hand-dyed where necessary and textured with pleating, plaiting, stitching, layers and ruffles.
“I’ve tried to capture the spirit, grace and beauty of the animals,” says Colleen.
The Wearable Arts Awards will be presented in three shows this year: two for the adult entries on Saturday, August 30, at 3pm and 7pm and one for children’s entries on Sunday, August 31, 1pm.
Young Mardi Hammond, Anna Miers, Phoebe Schumann-Riley and Maddy Bail are among the entrants from Ross Park Primary School in the youth presentation.
They’ve worked on their creations as part of a wide-ranging investigation of fashion and body image in their grade five / six class with Ali Hood and Jackie Mullins.
Mardi has made a skirt from dollar bills and a bodice from receipts, making a statement about the cost of being a slave to fashion.
Anna’s design, using pages of text from books and newspapers, is about information overload.
Phoebe and Maddy want everyone to slow down and have time for a cup of tea. They’ve used tea to print their paper pants and scarves; teabags to make their braces; and have made cardboard teapots for their headdress.

The town Alice became: KIERAN FINNANE reviews Sally Mumford's exhibition.

In the beginning was Mparntwe: Sally Mumford in her exhibition This Place reminds us of the landscape and culture that the town of Alice Springs has built out. 
Her meticulously rendered drawings – three panoramic views in full colour, seven sequenced historical views – is showing at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden visitors centre.
The panoramic views are her starting point, one from each of the three important hills giving views into the CBD. She titles them with their Arrernte names, giving their English name in brackets – Annie Meyer, Billygoat, Anzac.
They show a banal urban street plan and architecture, oblivious of its marvelous natural surroundings – the vast valley hemmed by sweeping ranges to the west, the hills rising to the north, the Gap to the south.
The townscapes have a ghost town feel to them.
From the top of Annie Meyer Hill no people can be seen, just a lone car crossing Stott Tce bridge.
There are the obligatory tourists atop Anzac Hill; a small group of Aborigines sit to one side on top of Billygoat Hill.
Otherwise this is an unpopulated place – a way of suggesting, no doubt, that the urban spaces that have been created are not people-friendly.
They’ve been made more with cars and commerce in mind.
The rooftop vista is particularly ugly and the characteristic hardened angular surfaces of the town are emphasised. There are few points of welcome and shelter. 
In the sequenced views, Mumford starts always with  the place that still lies beneath – Mparntwe, with its birds, shrubs, trees, grasses.
Then she records the transformations of particular sites as the town developed, from tin sheds, rough hewn verandah posts, through post-war expansion, to the modernist flavours and prosperity of the ‘sixties and the devastation of the ‘eighties.
Increasingly there is a townscape cluttered with cars, carparks, roundabouts, commercial signage, and with all that, as she notes in her artist’s statement, the old spaciousness of the CBD goes.
The facade that best represents the trend is the Ford Plaza, 1988, with its memorably kitsch red heart.
The heart has gone, and down in one corner we can see an rubbish bin adorned with Aboriginal art, but the view in 2008  is scarcely better.
Mumford’s exhibition is a salutary reminder of our losses – of country, history, culture, character, story.
Shows until September 3.

Old sins cast long shadows. By CAMERON BUCKLEY.

Pop Vulture reviews the latest Star Wars instalment in the form of a suicide note.
Hi. It’s Lucasfilm here. I’ve decided to leave you all.
But I want the audience to know, it’s not because of them. Well, maybe they’re partially to blame. With new generations come new demands.
My productions have achieved magnanimous accolades in the past. My first worldwide acknowledgement came in 1977 with a film called Star Wars.
There were riots at the box office with the following instalments. But was that it?
Putting aside my collaboration with Spielberg on the Indiana Jones franchise, I couldn’t get much further on my own.
I released a monstrosity of a failure – The Clone Wars.
Why, with so much money, could I fail to generate any feeling or soul into this project? From the opening scene, I am sure that the watchers felt as if they had joined a story that begun half way through. 
And the sound – noise – capitulated into a bastardised version of the unforgettable masterpieces. Sound bites, pick-pocketed.
My direction had some glimmering moments. But even these were too far and few between.
I feel that if I end it now, I may still bow out gracefully.
I employed a few voices from the original series – Anthony Daniels and Samuel L. Jackson. But I was really just clutching at straws there. They do little to mask the problems of the bigger picture.
The storyline and plot are drowned in over-elaborated ideas.
I think it may be fitting that I hang myself using the stock reel from the original Star Wars movie. Maybe one thing people can take from this is that sometimes great things are better left untouched.
I once said that films were never really finished, only abandoned. But then some of the most memorable things are created on the wings of a desperate act.
I love you all, don’t be sad, be happy that I don’t have to suffer anymore.
XOX, Lucasfilm Limited.
Pop Vulture rating: 392/1000

Councils want a shortcut to dollars from Canberra.

The Alice SpringsTown Council will join forces with the three shires in southern NT – Barkly, MacDonnell and Central Desert – to ask the Federal Government to consider this region’s special needs for regional development funding.
In the past the Federal Government’s regional planning, through the Area Consultative Committees (ACCs), has looked at the NT as a whole.
However the Rudd Government is restructuring the ACCs as Regional Development Australia (RDA).
The Town Council is making a submission to have RDA recognise the council and the three shires  “as one unit”, says Mayor Damien Ryan.
Work has begun with the shire CEOs and managers on prioritising the region’s development needs.
Mr Ryan says council looks forward to taking the work further with the shire presidents who will be elected in October.

ADAM CONNELLY: We armchair sports lovers.

When I was growing up, I lived in a suburb divided. My suburb was split almost 50-50 into those that barracked for the local Penrith Panthers and those with an allegiance to other clubs.
My suburb was a land release in the late ‘seventies and so many people came from different areas of Sydney for an affordable first home. When these people came they brought their jerseys and beanies from those areas.
I have never barracked for the Panthers. My sporting heart belongs with the mighty Tigers. This caused some friction, in a sporting sense, with friends who thought that suburban parochialism was an important virtue. They couldn’t understand why, upon moving to the area, people wouldn’t get behind the local team.
I took their philosophy seriously for a moment. They had a point. The Panthers were our local team and they did many good works in our community. Perhaps for a moment I considered jumping ship. If only for a community spirited reason.
Back then however, the Tigers jersey was a work of art. Brilliant orange with a twin black V. The logo was a majestic tiger head in full-throated roar. To my mind the Tigers jersey of the 1980s is the epitome of Rugby League.
The Panthers strip on the other hand was not so inspiring. Before the mountain men changed to their now familiar black livery, the Panthers had the nickname of the chocolate soldiers. The jersey was brown, poo brown if we’re being frank, and white. The logo was a blue panther leaping across the circle. A blue Panther?
So in the end, schoolyard fashion dictated that I was never really going to switch. The Tigers are still my team.
Alice Springs doesn’t really have that problem. We here are among the most vocal and passionate supporters of sporting teams yet we have no club to call our own.  There is no Territory A-League, NRL, AFL, NBL or Sheffield Shield team for us to direct our passion to. Besides. if there were a Territory team, it would probably be based in Darwin. I’m pretty sure many Centralians might find the prospect of getting behind a Darwin team a little tough.
The term fan is a contraction of the word fanatical and no where is that contraction more obvious than here in Alice Springs. We are educated and always opinionated fanatics. Soldiers in our team’s army. We know the stats and the history and will, without provocation, inform anyone and everyone about the glorious virtues of our team.
We will watch anything that can remotely be seen as sport. From the zenith of human sporting endeavour, the Olympic games, through to cow tail throwing at Harts Range.
This fanaticism is contagious. During the Olympics I have found myself becoming an expert in the field of handball. I only get to see handball once every four years at the Olympics but I know all the rules and have caught myself criticising the refereeing.
I stayed up late to watch the men’s 100 metre sprint, an event in which Australia doesn’t really excel. I now know all about the big names and was genuinely excited before the race.
It is the zenith of human sporting endeavour – the fastest humans on the planet. Usain Bolt from Jamaica won gold and broke the world record, setting the new mark of 9.69 seconds – 9.69 seconds to run 100 meters! It takes me that long to get out of a comfortable lounge chair.  
Alice Springs will have its chance to become expert in a random port when the Masters Games rolls into town in October. We will head along to watch the mile race and maybe some hockey too. And while many in town see the games as an opportunity to get to know competitors from out of town in an intimate fashion, others will be taking their sport seriously.
While the Masters Games can be a great and fun experience, I have a word or two of advice. You can be confronted with scenes that can scar you. There is something truly disheartening in watching a man double your age run the 400 quicker than you ever could. It doesn’t feel good. But that feeling of inadequacy will pass once the games are over.
The sight of baby boomers making out like they’re 17 and at a Blue Light Disco, however, will never leave you. 

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