September 4, 2008. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Alice Springs is perfect for cycle tourism worth millions in other places. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Mountain bike rider and competition organiser Jack Oldfield wants to see the land adjacent to Kurrajong Drive turned into a recreation park for cyclists, runners and walkers.
Mr Oldfield was approached by Tourism NT about a year ago, to come up with some proposals for the development of bicycle tourism in Alice Springs. 
After some thought he has put together a proposal for the recreation park, which he says would benefit not only cyclists but anyone who enjoys exercising in the bush.
It would also increase the appeal of Alice Springs as a destination for bicycle tourism, a booming sector in Europe.
On that continent he says bicycle tourism is predicted to be worth A$93 billion annually within 15 years.
Germany’s Bodensee Cycle Way is one of the most popular cycle ways in Europe, with an estimated 380,000 cyclists using the trail every year.
It contributes an estimated 75 million Euro (A$120 million) to the German economy.
The sector is also growing in Australia.
Annual supported “big rides”, run by state cycling organisations in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria, each attract between 800 and 8000 people and together inject many millions into the economy. Just one event, the Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under, injected over $13.2 m into the South Australian economy in 2006.
Central Australia is already seen as an adventure tourism destination, says Mr Oldfield, but cycling tourism – for which its terrain and climate during much of the year are ideal – is largely un-promoted.
He says the Kurrajong area is the best mountain biking and walking area in Alice Springs.
Indeed, in surveys conducted over the past five years by the organisers of the Central Australian Bike Challenge, an event which Mr Oldfield founded, competitors consistently rated the tracks in the Kurrajong area as among the best in Australia.
The area’s vast landscapes – readily accessible, with mobile phone coverage, and already traversed by established tracks – make it perfect for events and recreational fitness.
Mr Oldfield is proposing as the entry carpark a site which is already graveled, in the past considered for the location of a Scouts facility.
It would include amenities such as a toilet bock, drinking water, a shade area, recycling bins, bicycle stands, table and chairs.
Signage would be needed there and at intervals on the perimeter of the park about liability, rules – including the protection of fauna and flora, and the prohibition of motorized vehicles and littering – safety, track routings and distances.
Colour coded signage on all tracks would indicate distance, grade of difficulty and the name of the track.
He is proposing that prisoners would undertake routine track maintenance and carpark cleanup.
So far, Mr Oldfield has talked about his idea informally with Tourism NT, Parks and Wildlife, Mayor Damien Ryan, the Masters Games office, and Jungala Kriss who runs Cultural Tours on bicycles painted with Aboriginal motifs.
Mr Oldfield says the concept is attracting interest.
He hasn’t yet spoken with native title holders.
His next step is to get on board other sporting clubs and organisations to take the project forward.
“I don’t want this to be Jack’s park,” he says.
“This would be a fantastic facility for the whole community and could be the basis of significant economic opportunities.”

Garrett to keep eye on NITV allegations. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Federal Arts Minister Peter Garrett says he “expects to be kept abreast of the outcomes ... via his Department” of an “independent investigation currently underway” into claims about National Indigenous Television (NITV) by a former senior executive of the company, Neville Perkins, according to a spokesman.
The Howard Government allocated $50m over four years for NITV, currently spending $12m a year.
Mr Garrett is now the responsible Minister for the venture seeking to set up a nation-wide Indigenous TV service.
Mr Perkins has made allegations, reported last week in the Alice Springs News, about improper use of public funds and a string of management shortcomings.
NITV failed to provide comment sought by the News before publication of last week’s edition, and again for the current edition.
Mr Garrett’s spokesman said: “NITV is controlled by an independent board and the Government has no role in its day to day management.”
Two Sydney law firms acting for NITV CEO Pat Turner, deputy CEO Paul Remati and chairperson Larissa Behrendt last week threatened the News with defamation action.
This is how we reported the events in our online edition, subsequent to the deadline for our print edition: “The Alice Springs News invited NITV to respond to allegations made by prominent Central Australian Neville Perkins.
“No reply was given by the deadline set by the News, and neither during the remaining five hours before the News was sent to press, although the issues raised had been the subject of an internal investigation by NITV for some time.
“The News had confirmation that Mr Remati had received a complete copy of our report, and offer of right of reply.
“Ms Behrendt contacted the News at the time the report had already gone to press, saying in part: ‘The article contains material which is factually incorrect and which is defamatory of NITV as well as a number of NITV staff members.
‘As you would know, Mr Perkins sent the complaint to the board and I wrote to him promptly advising him of the fact that the Board was having an independent consultant look into the allegations.
‘Given the complex nature of the allegations the investigation took some time and the report is still being concluded.’
“But Mark O’Brien, of Johnson Winter and Slattery, one of the lawyers who contacted the News on Wednesday (the printed paper was already in transit to Alice Spings), said in his email to the News: ‘In fact, the independent lawyers and accountants appointed by the NITV Board to investigate the allegations have confirmed they are false.’
“If this is the case, then this is an answer that could easily have been given to us in the time allowed, and would of course have been reported by us.
“NITV has been told our offer of a right of reply continues.”

By-laws are needed to control pit bull terriers, says Ald Stewart. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Alice Springs has too many pit bull terriers, a breed prohibited or restricted in many jurisdictions around the nation, according to the manager of the local RSPCA, Jill Hall.
And Alderman Murray Stewart, who describes “pit bulls” as the “canine Mike Tyson” and “the crocodile on land”, says the Town Council should urgently bring in controls of the animals notorious for their “lock jaw” style of attack.
“If a pit bull gets hold of you, you’re in trouble,” says Ms Hall.
“He won’t let go. These dogs are bred for killing.”
Ms Hall says one pit bull was reportedly in the pack which mauled the body of a man in the Hidden Valley town camp recently.
The animal was an emaciated pit bull cross female which had obviously had many litters.
Ms Hall estimates there are currently some 200 pit bulls in town.
However, she argues that banning the breed isn’t the answer, because a ban can’t be enforced.
To avoid draconian action by authorities breeders themselves should show responsibility, she says.
But Ald Stewart says the council should pass by-laws making sterilisation of pit bulls mandatory, prohibiting advertisement of their sale, and outlawing commercial breeding.
He says pit bulls aren’t acquired by “sensitive new age types getting them for their good looks.
“They are bought for security purposes.
“They’re often a macho thing, an intimidating ego trip.”
Ald Stewart says he’s not buying the argument that problems with pit bulls relate to the owner, rather than the dog.
“Some of the owners are 70 cents in the dollar, but you can’t ban them,” he says.
“But we can impose restrictions on the dogs, making them harder to get, stopping breeders from setting up here.
“A bad dog and a bad owner are a recipe for disaster.
“Pit bulls are tomorrow’s new feral animal disaster.
“It’s true, all dogs have a hunting and pack mentality, but pit bulls are so much better at it.
“They are the best hunters and destroyers on earth.”
Ald Stewart says his stance “is not just about the safety of our children, it’s a pro-animal, pro-dog stance.
“Pit bulls don’t like other dogs.
“If dogs could talk, there would be a sigh of relief going through the dog world if we brought in restrictions.”
He says his wife Brigida, taking their dog for a walk, had been “menaced by pit bulls just down the road.
“They are lethal. With their jaws they can apply hundreds of kilos of pressure.”
Ald. Stewart says controls in Alice Springs would be easier to enforce than they are elsewhere. The town’s isolation would prevent an “overflow” from other jurisdictions.
“We’re a smaller and well defined jurisdiction.”
Ms Hall says the control measures should principally be de-sexing the animals, males and females alike, and ensuring that they cannot roam the streets.
Ms Hall says two people “walking in the street” in Alice Springs have been attacked and injured by pit bulls, as have a number of dogs and cats.
Sterilisation quietens the animals and, of course, cuts down on the numbers.
The present problem is the unchecked breeding, says Ms Hall: a typical litter is 10 to 12 pups, and there have been four or five litters recently.
“That’s 50 more dogs in town,” she says.
On top of this, there’s a lot of cross-breeding.
Ms Hall has little faith in legislative measures because rules are hard or impossible to enforce.
She says breeders should self-regulate by the following actions:-
• De-sexing, at a cost of about $250 per animal. It is cheaper than raising a litter.
• Registration as required for all dogs. Ms Hall estimates just one percent of pit bulls or crosses are registered at the moment. Of 64 pit bulls that came into possession of the RSPCA since January this year, just two had been registered and five de-sexed.
• Building safe enclosures to keep them off the streets. The alternative is to keep the dogs on a chain, which is cruel.
• When selling pups, monitoring for an extended period that the buyers properly look after their new pet.
Pit bulls sell for up to $1000 for a registered pure-bred.
Cross-breds and some of the pure-breds are often given away.
The fee for getting back an impounded dog is $240 if not registered. It’s $80 if the animal is registered.
Meanwhile Linda Watson, a research fellow at Monash University in Victoria, and a member of the Endangered Dog Breeds Association of Australia, says “I don’t think it is remotely likely that breeders would set up in Alice Springs to avoid restrictions elsewhere.
“There are no restrictions in the ACT and NT nor Tasmania.”

Footy brawl ‘reasons for escalation’ down to Cole.

Deterring people from getting involved in the rising violence in Alice Springs, especially violence for “petty reasons”, was among the reasons for Magistrate Vince Luppino imposing gaol sentences on Owen Cole and Geoffrey Miller for their parts in last year’s football grand final brawl.
Mr Cole got six months and Mr Miller one month, but both sentences were fully suspended taking into account their good character and that they were first offenders.
Mr Luppino recognised the backgrounds of both men as “quite exemplary”.
He said they “were not typical of the sort of people I would expect” to resort to violence.
Particularly to Mr Cole he said: “You are a high profile personality and you ought to be setting a good example ...
“You need to appreciate that with your level of achievement certain people are going to look up to you ...
“The last thing I or you want to hear is people going around saying ‘well, look what Owen Cole did – if it’s all right for him, then it’s all right for us’.
“You’ve set the bar yourself for that and with that comes responsibilities.” 
He described Mr Cole’s actions during the melee as “vicious, “out of control”, “savagery and thuggery of the worst order”. .
He said Mr Cole was “a main instigator in [the melee] and I put a lot of the reasons for the escalation of violence here down to your conduct”.
He said police were present on the grounds but could do nothing to control the violence: “That shows the extent of the problem and the misconduct.”
Mr Luppino is appalled by the extent of the violence he sees each time that he comes to Alice Springs:
“It’s much more severe than in any other part of the jurisdiction [Northern Territory] ...
“There’s been more and more of this escalation of violence in the last three years and more for these petty reasons.”
Thus “general deterrence” was an important consideration in sentencing.
He said neither man showed any remorse for their actions, evidenced by the “barely arguable defences” they had advanced.
“You don’t get any credit for that.”
A “no conviction disposition” was “entirely out of the question”.
Suspension  of the sentence in the case of Mr Cole was accepted because of the “exceptional” circumstances of his character and background.
In the case of Mr Miller it was appropriate because of the “limited nature of his conduct and assault”.
See Alice News reports August 21 and June 5, 2008 and September 13 and 20, 2007.

Rust & spinifex have never looked so sexy. By KIERAN FINNANE.


It was a fitting finale for Kael Murray: the 20 year old who has been entering the Wearable Arts Awards since she was in Year 10, was overall winner this year, taking out, with her co-designer, the Alice Desert Festival Acquisition Award, as well as the People’s Choice, on top of the Recycled or Found Object award.
It was Murray’s last awards night, at least for the time being, as she is moving to Melbourne where she’ll pursue her performing and visual arts interests.
Her passage through the awards over the years, starting in 2003 when she modeled a design, is a vindication of their developmental role.
In 2005 – she was then in Year 11 – she won the student award for a strikingly attractive entry (“A Waste of TIME”) but one typical of the novice designer, where the body is used to present a design, rather than the design working with the body as an integral element.
On Saturday night with “Rust” Murray and co-designer Michael (Joey) Klarenbeek used the harshest of materials to create a sculptural work integrated with the body.
Murray had achieved this kind of integration in 2006, transforming a tall lean male body into a tree, using heavily draping fabrics.
Much more challenging to work with her choice of materials this year – things as unpromising as rusted bedsprings and dried out cactus – and to integrate them with the classically feminine shapes and lines of her own body.
The bedsprings flounced as she walked. Another piece of industrial wire became a ruff around the skirt. By skillful use of line and colour the cactus stems, organic material, were assimilated with the industrial materials, as well as with her body.
A reservation I had was that the structure for the piece – bra or bodice and separate skirt – has been used a lot in the awards over the years.
In awarding the acquisition, the judges – Pip McManus, Peter Tiller and Elliat Rich – noted that they were constrained in their choice by having to consider how well materials would last, commenting that they had never seen spinifex “looking so sexy”. 
Two entries worked with spinifex – about as unpromising as rusted wire when matched with human flesh.
“Spinifex Country” by Simone Guascoine and Erin Mearns-Tonkins won the Desert Impressions Award, while “Sticks & Stones” by J9 Stanton was highly commended in the category.
Like “Rust” both worked their materials with the articulations of the models’ bodies to great sculptural effect.
“Spinifex Country” perhaps gained an edge by its referencing of “bush toys” – the kind made by the Tjanpi weavers, bunched spinifex stems wrapped in wool. Great ropey lengths of these were somehow twisted and tied together to form a funnel-shaped skirt – this shape, the shape of a spinifex clump, then echoed in the lines of the bodice and the head-dress.
“Sticks & Stones”, however, had a wonderful brittle grace that spoke strongly of the desert in dry times.
These three were the standout works at the art end of wearable.
But the awards have other well-loved and practiced strands across their various categories.
There are the entries that play with fashion – Franca Frederiksen was awarded two highly commendeds for her works in this vein, “Sleek Chic”, using black and white plastic bags for a Vogue-style concoction, and “Rug-Up”, a 1920s-inspired outfit made from old blankets.
There are entries that take their cues from the traditions of theatrical costuming – Colleen Byrnes and Carmel Ryan excelled in this, with “Out of Africa” and “Maid in China” winning in their categories. (“Maid in China” also won People’s Choice at the afternoon show.) 
And there are the entries where character, humour and performance are premium – the people meter goes off the dial for the best of these.
And the judges were in sync with the crowd: Claire McKee and model Sam Chen won third prize in the performance category for “Alexander” (which also won the Natural Fibre category); Philomena Hali and models Lily Alexander and Steven Crawford came second with “Self Storage – De Construction Couture”; and Franca Barraclough and Andrew Moynihan, with Franca modeling, won first for “The White Rabbit”.
The direction and stagecraft of the whole presentation, this year coordinated by Marion Braun, was part of the success of the night: as the audience took their seats a wonderful collage of past entries, put together by David Nixon, was screened.
This was followed by a beautiful performance from Christopher Brocklebank on classical guitar and Katrina Stowe on clarinet, and Natasha Hopkins who danced to their melody. She conjured “the spirit” of the occasion, retrieving from the folds of her Renaissance-inspired costume (an acquisition from the very first awards night) wearable elements to adorn the musicians.
Clips created by Nixon provided an individualized backdrop for every entry –no doubt worth more attention than it was possible to give.
After intermission there was a fun performance from stilt-walking duo Circosis.
Brocklebank was a relaxed, humorous MC; Hopkins did a great job providing brief voice-over commentaries for the entries; presentations were well rehearsed and timed, with music and sound effects well chosen.
All this did not add up to the best awards ever for me – the “wow factor” was thinner on the ground this year – but the event continues to one of the best on the local arts calendar, a fantastic crowd pleaser married with high level creativity.

Bushfoods ready for market but is market ready for bushfoods?


Already two recipes from the Bushfoods / Wildfoods competition are ready to be commercialised, says esteemed chef Jimmy Shu of the Hanuman restaurants in Alice and Darwin.
He was a surprise guest judge at Heat One of the competition last Saturday, together with Shane Cross who is head chef at the Alice Springs gaol.
The pair were invited by the upbeat Beat Keller of Keller’s Restaurant to join him in the judging, along with  Rayleen Brown of Kungkas Can Cook, Peter Yates of Outback Bushfoods and Rebecca Gooderham of Afghan Traders.
Mr Shu told entrant Joceyln Davies that her Capparis (wild passionfruit) and chilli dipping sauce, which she served with yabby and yalke (wild onion) wantons, was “ready to be bottled and sold”.
“You can start increasing your bank balance. I’m very impressed,” he said.
Mr Keller said the sauce was superior to many of the bushfoods products already on the market, for both taste and appearance. 
He commended Ms Davies as “an asset to the competition every year”.
A second dipping sauce for the same entry, using wild lime and mountain pepper, was made by Denise Gilfillen, a novice to the competition.
Ms Brown found its flavour “stunning”.
Mr Shu was also enthusiastic about the bush tomato and date chutney entered by Ange Vincent, which she served with cream cheese and wattleseed pepperines (a type of cracker).
Mr Shu suggested the chutney would also be good served on a medallion of meat, while Mr Cross thought it would be excellent with salmon.
Ms Vincent had used ripe yellow fruits, rather than the more typical dried form. She said this accounted for the sweeter than expected taste.
Mr Keller was “amazed” not to encounter the bitterness he expected from a  bush tomato recipe.
Mr Shu said there is a huge Asian market for this kind of “high end” product, but suggested that the “medicinal” properties of the ingredients had to play a role in the marketing.  You have to be able to say what good it does you, for instance, its aphrodisiac quality – then they will latch onto it.”
He also said the “bushfoods” label might need a rethink.
However, there’s no easy path to commercialisation, as Mr Yates has found out with his Outback Bushfoods products.
He says he has spoken to distributors around Australia about Outback Bushfoods’  Wakalpuka Dukkah, made with locally harvested wattleseed.
He says everyone who tasted it agreed that it was “a world class product” but they wanted him to have done the marketing himself.
“You naively believe that what you have to do is produce a good product,” says Mr Yates, “but the distributors think that it is your job to sell it as well.”
He collaborated with Sydney-based gourmet sweets company Serendipity to create a wattleseed dessert syrup.
This continues to sell but it is not enough to sustain the local wattleseed harvest.
Mr Yates says he could have bought a “brilliant” wattleseed crop from Aboriginal harvesters last year but there was no demand for it.
He says the product has been marketed in multiple spice packs, together with bush tomatoes and mountain pepper.
But there’s been no wild harvest of bush tomatoes in our region for at least two and a half years because of lack of rain.
So food processors have stopped pushing the packs and stopped buying wattleseed. 
As well, there was already a lot of wattleseed in storage.
He says the bushfoods industry in The Centre is poised to go but needs hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of investment – to get farm-based cultivation going, to set up a processing facility and to market the products.
“It would be an investment in social inclusion, to see Aboriginal people benefit from their bushfoods knowledge.
“Private investors are not going to do this – they would prefer the bigger dollar from crops like table grapes.
“We weren’t making enough to invest ourselves.
“And Aboriginal organisations that I’ve spoken to have shown no interest whatsoever.”
Mr Yates has also not been able to get the assistance he hoped for from Desert Knowledge (see Alice News, March 22, 2007).
Mr Shu had a lengthy conversation with Mr Yates after the competition last Saturday.
He urged Mr Yates “to think outside the square”, to develop a business plan, to get exposure  – “someone will recognise the potential”.
For Mr Yates it was a bit too much like deja vu.
Mr Shu struggled to understand the obstacles. “Forget about Australia,” he suggested – buy the local harvest and take the rest of the process off shore.
“This would reduce your labour costs.”
“Yes,” said Mr Yates, “but that’s not why I got involved in this. I wanted to support Aboriginal people to become involved.” 
That’s where the two approaches part ways and the bushfoods industry languishes.
Heat Two of the competition gets underway on Saturday, 10am till noon, at Afghan Traders, with the third and final heat on the following Saturday. On-lookers can listen to the informative conversations between judges and participants and lucky first-comers get to taste the entries.

Anti-nukes high and dry. By DARCY DAVIS.

Henley on Todd these days is inundated in advertising, but one product was noticeably missing last weekend: freedom of speech. DARCY DAVIS spoke with a local group which was denied a launch.

I’d gone down to the Henley on Todd to find sailors of the ship HMAS Arunta – I was curious about their motto “Conquer or Die” and whether this lay behind their coming so far inland.
Upon arrival I found a man called “Pully” outside the portable police station near the entrance, asking the officers if they “wanted a beer?”.
“It’s great drinking in the creek when it’s not illegal!” said Pully.
 “It makes this town seem not so dry.”
I went walking around the transformed creek bed in search of the HMAS Arunta crew in their immaculate starched whites. I couldn’t find them anywhere.
But I did find people in white suits ... HAZMAT suits.
 “What boat are you guys from?”
“The HMAS Cameco,” the figure replied from behind the respirator.
 “We were just denied entry into the race.”
I looked over to see a shipwreck of the HMAS Cameco, complete with symbols of radioactivity, and recognized the name to be that of the Canadian Company involved in uranium exploration in our region.
 “We were told that running with props would be unfair against the other competitors,” explained the man, Nathan.
“But props are all we have to be active in such community events.”
I figured this was my chance to pop an essential question.
“Why did you want to run with a boat down the river?”
 “Well the event is set on a dry river bed and we’re trying to highlight the importance of water in a place like Alice Springs,” explained Nathan, “so we thought we’d try to represent the dangers of mining in a water catchment area in a theatrical way.”
“We’re trying to raise public awareness in a light hearted way,” added another white-suited shipmate, Anita.
Postscript: As I walked away from the Henley on Todd, my head was ringing from the exhortations of the MC, crackling from speakers mounted in trees.
A small drop of rain landed on my forehead and got stuck on my eyebrow.
Wouldn’t it be funny if the only two days it rains in Alice this year are the Finke Desert Race and the Henley on Todd, both events celebrating the dry desert culture!
As though the gods of irony had peered into my thoughts, small trickles turned to mini rivulets, and presently it began pouring.
My eyes were drawn to movement in the sky over Old Eastside.
An amazing numbers of crows were flying in ever-increasing spirals, calling out to one another, creating a cacophony comparable to the row emanating from the drunken but licensed celebrations in the river bed.
The Alice News asked event organiser Dale McIver why the HMAS Cameco group had been refused entry to the event.
She had not responded at the time of going to press.

Salvos have few options for homeless. By KIERAN FINNANE.


Last financial year the Salvation Army helped 43 newly homeless families in Alice Springs, carrying over five more families from the previous year.
They were able to house only four of them.
The transitional housing and outreach support program is called Towards Independence.
To qualify for assistance people must be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, unable to get alternative help, for example from family, and must have dependent children.
The program, funded by the Territory Government (for $250,000 a year), leases six properties from Territory Housing – two three bedroom houses and four semi-detached units.
This time last year not all of the properties were tenantable, needing major cleaning, repairs and maintenance.
In principle the properties should turn over every 13 weeks but at present, with the extreme shortage of rental accommodation and long waiting lists for public housing, there are few “exit options”, says program manager Shirley Baker.
Some tenants have been in transitional housing for over a year.
“There’s a bottleneck until we can find them somewhere secure and long-term,” says Ms Baker.
It is “very rare” for the people in the program to find private rentals.
For most, Territory Housing is the only option.
Can Ms Baker quantify the unmet need?
Not really; the program gets a flood of enquiries when a tenancy changes hands and word gets around that the Salvation Army has houses. Then just as quickly the word gets around that there are no vacancies and things go quiet again.
But during one week in May, for example, they were approached by six families whom they were unable to assist. Their housing was fully occupied and the outreach program, which can cater for 20 families at a time, was at capacity. 
The families whom the program could not house during the last financial year were helped in other ways.
None of them were “sleeping rough” – people in this situation are assisted by an emergency relief service. But their accommodation was often little more than a bed on the corner of a verandah in one of the over-crowded town camps.
Overwhelmingly, the families are Aboriginal (88.5% last year) or Torres Strait Islander (3.8%).
They are also almost entirely single mothers with children  – 96%.
The majority are aged between 25 and 29 years and they have come into town from bush communities.
Two main reasons are given for the move to town: health care for a family member and education for kids.
“We try to empower them with the skills that will make them successful tenants,” says Ms Baker.
She says they are mostly unused to living in “western” style accommodation to the standard required by Territory Housing or private property owners.
Non-Aboriginal clients can be recovering alcoholics or drug addicts; they can also be people who have suffered from mental illness or have been victims of domestic violence.
The first problem to tackle is income.
“We make sure they are getting the appropriate Centrelink payment.
“We try to work out if they have the capacity to save some money.”
The program also ensures they have an application in with Territory Housing and will help them “address existing rent arrears” which are a barrier to future tenancies.
Then it might be a matter of passing on same basic know-how for becoming a tenant.  They can need to learn, for instance, how to operate a gas stove safely; how to use mattress protectors; how to manage electricity consumption in order to keep their electricity bills affordable.
Once they have the keys to a property, the program will help them get together basic household goods – everything from cutlery to fridges.
They can need the program staff to intervene in managing the impact of visiting relatives.
A laminated poster naming the people who have a right to sleep in the house, as stipulated by the tenancy agreement, can do the trick, says Ms Baker.
She says most clients could make the adaptation required to become a successful tenant if it weren’t for the impact of their extended family.
For people with substance abuse problems, they can need help to get in touch with rehabilitation services. The program’s tenancy agreements stipulate no alcohol or other substances can be consumed on the properties.
The Salvation Army believes in total abstinence but is there to help rather than to judge, says Ms Baker.
“We believe everybody has good in them; there is hope for everyone.”
Sometimes the program is dealing with people who have had housing but it has become unsafe for them, for instance, as a result of domestic violence.
Caseworker Hannah Morrison will help them find emergency accommodation – increasingly difficult, she says. 
A lot of the hostels, including Stuart Lodge, are for “medical priority” clients. One that isn’t is Ayipirinya, but it is usually fully occupied.
The key to a better service and reduced homelessness, says Ms Baker, would be to have more housing available – both transitional accommodation and public housing for long-term tenants.

Our man in tie at Youth Down UNYA. By DARCY DAVIS.


Every year the United Nations Youth Conference (UNYC) is held in a different capital city of Australia; the conference deals with issues of high priority for youth, which of course includes matters of global significance. This year, the focus was on ‘Building a Sustainable Future’.
After reporting on the local United Nations Youth Association (UNYA) forum in June, I was offered the chance to attend the National Conference with other youth from all over Australia.
When I arrived in the Hobart Airport I was disappointed not to see my name on a placard and limousine waiting for me (neither was there a spiral staircase or fountain); I couldn’t even see a bus or bicycle built for two! Alice Springs clearly didn’t have high priority in the vision of the United Nations, so I waited.
Eventually the ACT delegation landed and I tried to assimilate. It became apparent they had spent some serious time together as they straightaway performed a song and dance for the facilitators – I improvised.
On the bus it was ‘show and tell time’ to display the drawings they had done, symbolising each other’s hobbies and interests. I sat by myself, not equipped with a drawing for anyone, feeling some regret about my decision to join this camp. I felt like Alice Springs – isolated and disconnected from the rest of Australia despite being ‘smack bang’ in the middle of it.
By that evening I began to feel a bit more comfortable. I could hear the NT delegates in the dinner room, not singing songs but in a chorus of “langs” and “gammons” and at our first NT delegation meeting that night – having the rules laid down for us (“not too much sex”) – I realised that I was in good hands and was gathered with some of the best minds my age from around Australia, New Zealand and Korea.
We were divided into discussion groups to formulate designated sections of the Youth Declaration, to be presented to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Minister for Youth Affairs Kate Ellis. 
I had been placed in the “Gender Issues” group of mainly girls. Did this mean they had gender issues? Gender issues are not what I’m so passionate about. Boys are treated pretty well, so I let the gender inequality discussions prevail but listened with interest, later arranging a change to the environment declaration group.
After dinner we were told to get changed into our pyjamas and come back to do our “Mock Res”. What was that? I sat in my Jim Beam pyjamas, clueless of what anyone was talking about but “too shame” to ask. The next day I would find out.
I was told I would have to be dressed in “formal clothes”.
“Does that mean I have to wear a jacket…?” I asked one of the facilitators.
“I’m a Territorian – we don’t normally dress that way!”
He was a good facilitator and the next day I arrived at Tasmanian Parliament ready for the session, in a jacket.
The Environment Committee discussions began the next day and I soon realised I knew none of the formalities the other delegates were demonstrating. They stood properly when it was their turn to speak, spoke through the president and passed written notes through facilitators around the table.
I was representing Afghanistan and thought I’d make some contributions to the discussion about food security and the current world food price crisis. I sent a note to the president, telling him I wanted to speak.
When it was my turn I began, “Well I reckon…”
The president interrupted: “When you address the council you must speak on behalf of your country, not in first person.”
“Afghanistan was unaware of these protocols,”  I answered (Afghanistan was also very tired from late nights and early mornings).
“You should have learnt that stuff at your state conference,” said one of the delegates later on.
“I didn’t go to a state conference,” I said, “just had a little chat down at St Philip’s College about some of our problems – and we’re not a state.”
Days began at seven in the morning. Discussions over the breakfast table started up where they ended the night before. We listened to guest speakers, discussed what they had to say, had youth declaration sessions where we consolidated what we’d discussed, then we’d have dinner and break into smaller groups for more discussions.
The days worked your brain to overload but there was some amazing energy that flowed. I think I felt the power of collective consciousness.
Contrary to my assumptions, there were a wide range of political persuasions – left-wing, right-wing, cock-pit, passengers and some were definitely flying the plane, but they all seemed to do their own bit to go in the right direction.
Although we were all young people, the delegates seemed to represent the spectrum of opinions and persuasions in Australian society. 
The most exciting and rigorous day though was the General Assembly at the end. In the middle of standard discussions about drugs and war, we received some breaking news on DVD – an ABC News report informing us that at six o’clock that morning a nuclear missile had exploded on Hiva Ova, an island in the Marquesas, population 2000 people.
The gentle morning debates turned into furious, fiery argument from youth in suits, and jackets. The Netherlands declared we needed “complete nuclear disarmament”; Afghanistan called for a war on weapons; poor America claimed there was no evidence that this was an American nuclear bomb – “it could have been anyone’s!”
After seeing some delegates bursting into tears, Gabrielle Morriss, representing Niger insisted the facilitators “tell them the truth”. She spoke in a blunt but identifiably Territorian manner. Gabrielle’s feat of junior UN diplomacy was just one of the reasons she won this year’s “Delegate of the Year”.
The awful potential of such an event got us thinking about the real implications of dealing with nuclear devastation. It also demonstrated the power of persuasion the media has over people.
As with the 2020 summit in Canberra this year, our small groups came up with big ideas in the final Youth Declaration:
• setting binding carbon emission reduction targets within a government’s term of office.
• investigating and implementing an opt-out system for organ donation to replace the current opt-in system.
• disputing the contention that there are identifiable national values and calling for the recognition of the individuality and personal choice of Australian citizens.
• urging the recognition of statehood to further benefit the populace living in the territories.
• introducing an environmentally friendly logo, similar to the Heart Foundation’s tick of approval, to be awarded to environmentally sustainable businesses and corporations.
I was initially worried about these would-be politicians, but the experience reassured me there was hope for Australia if just some of these kids were to one day have political influence.
My only concern is that there seems to be a trend of having fantastic fresh ideas and ideals when you’re younger and losing momentum as you grow up. In a thank you speech by a Korean Delegate we were warned about the dangers of “group-think” and encouraged us to take into consideration the other side of popular opinion so we can make informed judgments.
It was an important message that both the delegates and current politicians of our country should keep in mind.

Desert Knowledge hosts leading edge solar trial.

Thin film solar technology will be installed for the first time in Australia at the Desert Knowledge Solar Energy Technology Facility in Alice Springs.
It will be one of 15 different solar systems at the facility, oferign a platform to compare today’s commercially available tcehnolgies for solar energy generation under harsh test conditions.
The Cadmium Telluride thin film modules, according to Phoenix Solar, the company introducing them to Australia, will “generally produce more lecetricity under Australian conditions than other solar modules with comparable power ratings”.
This is due to “better performnace undre high ambient temperatures, excellent low light respnse and more tolerance towards shading”.
Phoenix Solar is a fully owned subsidiary of the Greman company Phoenix Solar AG.
Its Australian managing director Christian Bindel will arrive in Alice Springs with Germany-based colleagues on September 15.

Joyriders at The Rock.

Yet another Territory story of young unlicensed drivers has emerged, with two female students from Nyangatjatjara College being summonsed for a variety of recent offences including “Drive unlicensed” and “unlawful use” of a vehicle.
The vehicle belonged to the college and was taken by a group of a dozen girls, all current boaders.
Ten of the girls were under the age of criminal responsibility.
The bus was reported stolen to the Mutijulu police on August 5 and was later  recovered on a dirt road near Mutijulu.
An Alice News reader said police and parents weren’t contacted by the college, but this appears to be unfounded.
Superintendent Sean Parnell provided the News with information about police action, and Pastor Mark Doecke of Yirara College, which is running Nyangatjatjara College on behalf of the Nyangatjatjara Corporation, says all parents and family were spoken to.

Gravity survey: What is underneath?

Exploration companies in Central Australia have access to new information about their tenements thanks to a very extensive regional gravity survey in the region.
The helicopter-based survey was conducted by Atlas Geophysics for the Northern Territory Geological Survey (NTGS), which is a division of the Department of
Regional Development, Primary Industry Fisheries and Resources (RDPIFR).
The three-month survey covered 150,000 square kilometres from the Queensland border
to the Tanami track and from Alice Springs north to Barrow Creek, with 12,000 gravity meter readings being made up to four kilometres apart.
The gravity meter measures minor changes in the Earth’s gravity caused by the density of the rock formations at the surface and underground.
The greater the density a rock type is, the higher the gravity response will be, so the variation in gravity readings records the underlying rock types of the survey area.
This survey is part of a $14.4m initiative by the territory Government that aims to foster exploration in new areas.
Already companies in Central Australia have been able to follow the progress of the survey on the RDPIFR website as new gravity image data is uploaded, looking at the data over their respective tenements.
The final data will be distributed to exploration companies, which can be used to develop new geological models to locate targets for further exploration and investigation.
“Additional gravity surveys will be undertaken in other parts of the Northern Territory over the coming months”, said NTGS geophysicist, Clarke Petrick.
To view the gravity survey data visit:

LETTERS: OK, Paul now loves us, but how much?

Sir,– Comments on local radio by our recently re-elected Chief Minister appear, on the surface at least, to be somewhat conciliatory towards Alice.
The announcement of additional funding for CCTV cameras and monitoring demonstrates at least a passing interest in turning around Labor’s shocking record, in virtually every area of administration, bar the creation of recreational facilities in Darwin.
Mr Henderson wants to win the hearts and minds of Centralians.
He had, as far as he could see, two choices: either to ignore the people of the Centre, who didn’t vote for him, concentrating his energies on those in Darwin who did; or take on board the criticisms of Centralians and do his best to make amends.
His announcement indicates he has chosen the latter.
This of course is fantastic news for our region although it demonstrates that Mr Henderson hasn’t quite grasped the reality of his new political situation.
With the numbers in Parliament now closely balanced, and two committed Centralians, Karl and Alison, in Cabinet, any attempt to ignore the plight of Central Australia could well see Mr Henderson’s demise, and possibly that of the Labor Government.
While Mr Henderson is to be congratulated for taking on board the message sent by regional Territorians, he should be careful not to slide back into the kind of tokenism and propagandised sloganism that have been the hallmarks of his government to date.
It’s time to shut down the glossy brochure department!
Money for CCTV is nice but will do nothing at all about the social dysfunction that makes CCTV necessary.
We must see real funds put into low cost housing, the establishment of a rehabilitation style prison farm, and a work orientated youth camp.
We need compulsory rehabilitation programs that return offenders not to the streets, but to homes, and jobs.
We need an immediate injection of funds into our beleaguered Department of Planning and Infrastructure, increasing staffing and seniority levels so it can administer and monitor the kind of infrastructural investment that Alice desperately needs.
The AZRI housing development must be given major project status, bringing commission style, low cost housing and land onto the market within 12 months.
Our aging and neglected water infrastructure needs funds, with an emphasis on the development of the Rocky Hill bore field, before the present Roe Creek field is completely vandalised by over-pumping.
Funding for the Mereenie loop must be given the highest priority.
The ownership of the present Ayers Rock Resort needs to be broken up or government must make available further sites for development there.
Our horticultural industry must be given suitable land. Subdivision of pastoral leases must be freed up as a matter of urgency.
We need policy changes, and to advertise new opportunitie. Then the government should step back and allow free enterprise to do the rest.
Government must also put aside the cynical practice of “clawing back” budget allocations.
Announced funding must be being given untouchable status, except in cases of extreme emergency.
Northern bureaucrats give the appearance on paper that the various regions are receiving their fair share, while in reality the funds are being poured in elsewhere.
The party that brings about the demise of “clawing back” will most assuredly form our next government.
During the election campaign government Members proudly boasted of a budget surplus.
I see that as complete and utter failure of government and its bureaucracy to put the funds where they are desperately needed!!
Celebration and congratulations on budget surpluses will come when all Territorians are enjoying somewhere near the same level of basic services, paid for not by the charity of other Australians, but with money we have earned ourselves.
Steve Brown
Alice Springs

Sir,– Regarding Ren Kelly’s comments about the sell-off of Voyages’ resorts, particularly about targeting Europe for tourism marketing (Alice News, August 21), that may prove unlikely, given the deepening economic gloom that seems to be affecting this part of the world (I’m writing from Latvija).
A few specific examples I have to hand are: Estonia, now in recession, down from 10% economic growth last year; the same for Denmark, with the value of real estate shrinking by 25% and a major financial lender being bailed out by the national bank after becoming insolvent; the economy in Latvia is almost flatline (0.2%), inflation has topped 17%, with many building/housing projects being moth-balled and an across-the-board obligatory cut of 5% of staff for all government departments (some are retrenching more). “Stagflation” is a term in common use here at present.
The UK economy is similarly on the verge of tipping into recession, with marked reductions in the value of real estate and a sharply reduced value of the pound cf. the US dollar. I have not heard a single word about any place in Europe where the outlook seems better; it all seems to be a case of hanging on to what you’ve got and pulling belts in tighter.
Competing for international tourism is going to be a much tougher game, I reckon.
I think this situation is shared to varying degrees around most of the world at present – perhaps the Asian economies are weathering the situation best of all, although I’ll bet my bottom dollar that China will demand better (ie lower) prices for raw material commodities from Australia, which will take the gloss off the mineral boom to a degree.
Anyway, that’s how the scene appears to look over here in the Baltics. It’s not good – also worth noting that most major economic recessions/depressions in history commence some time in the northern hemisphere autumn. Apparently it’s a psychological effect – the despondency that many people feel with the onset of winter rubs off onto share markets and the like.
Given the summer in much of Europe has been unusually mild this year, many people in my vicinity feel that they have “missed out”. There’s certainly not much of a mood for celebrations at present.
Meanwhile, following my letter commenting on the results of the NT elections (August 28), I have one further observation to make.
Some readers may recall my article “Beating Berrimah Line at the ballot box” (June 13) where I advocated for a voting system based on proportional representation.
I analysed the voting figures for the NT elections of 18 June 2005, which under the existing system of single member electorates gave Labor, the CLP, and independents 19, four and two seats respectively.
My analysis under proportional representation, with five electorates each of five members, gave the result of Labor 13, CLP 11, and one independent.
Some people (particularly mainstream political party supporters and of powerful vested interests) argue that proportional representation is undesirable on the grounds of the likelihood of hung parliaments and all the difficulties that implies – while conveniently overlooking the inevitable arrogance of overwhelmingly dominant parties in power and all the bad policies and practices that invariably occur under the existing system.
Anyway, under the current system of one member electorates, what result do we now find? Labor 13, CLP 11, and one independent. Well, well ...
Unfortunately I think it would be very difficult to analyse the recent election figures under a proportional representation system because there were no contests in two electorates, which effectively denies constituents of those electorates a choice in who should represent them in parliament.
That would not occur under a system of proportional representation.
Alex Nelson
Riga, Latvija

Uranium frightening
off business?

Sir,– In January Melanka Resort closed its doors to make way for a $30m development by parent company Gilligans to eventually house 412 people. 
A month later, our NT government gave uranium giant Cameco / Paladin the right to apply for a licence to explore within walking distance of our town!
Could it be that Gilligans got cold feet upon realizing the impact on life with a uranium mine in Alice Springs?
David Chewings
Diana Whitehouse
Alice Springs

ADAM CONNELLY: Getting ready to blossom.

In a few short weeks I shall turn another year older. While there are some people who dread getting older, the slow march to the grave and all that melancholic piffle.
 I’ll be 33 and to tell you the honest truth I’m excited about it. I don’t know why but since I was a small boy I have always had a feeling that my time in the sun would have to wait until my mid-thirties. 
Some shine early. Sporting stars’ careers are pretty much done and dusted, the trophies on the mantle and the boots in a bag on top of the wardrobe by the time they get to my age.
Child prodigies have by definition bloomed at a far earlier age than I have. You never hear of a geriatric prodigy do you. By then people are not defined as prodigious. They might be wise, masters or elder statesmen but never prodigious.
Interestingly, people in the field of mathematics often rise to the top at a young age. If you care to have a look, many a mathematician’s greatest achievements have occurred before his or her 33rd birthday.
Some people don’t fulfill their potential until much later on in life. In the worlds of business and politics for example, senior ranks aren’t achieved until well into middle age most of the time.
But for me it’s my mid thirties. This is my time to shine. I can feel it. I’m just warming up.
By the time people reach this age they generally have a fairly decent grasp of who they are. Sure there are things about me I don’t particularly like, I can be a bit hard to live with at times but I know my faults as well as my strengths. I know my likes and dislikes and importantly, I know what I think.
When I was younger I might have had an opinion on everything but I didn’t know what I really thought. My thoughts weren’t my own. I was swayed by popular opinion. I was swayed by what was cool and most detrimentally I was swayed by what pretty girls wanted to hear.
When I was younger I was worried about what people thought. Will they like me? Will they think I’m a wanker? Will they think I’m attractive? While these thoughts seem shallow they are thoughts which we all have had. We’ve all sought the approval of people and all wondered with social dread if what we just did or said would be accepted.
My father was a good man. He, like many fathers, was my hero. His love for me was never in doubt but sometimes I wonder what he would make of the man I turned out to be.
I’m not sure if he would have been that overjoyed by the career choices I have made. Some of my life choices would probably have sent him spare. I’m far more emotional, more petulant, more spontaneous and probably less manly than my dad.
He thought city kids were soft. I told him to catch a train home late at night and wait for a bus with the junkies and the schemers and the gang bangers hanging around and rethink his position. 
Regardless of what my father might have made of me as a man I have only just now begun to understand a lesson he tried to instill in me from a young age.
I remember we were at home one day. I couldn’t have been more than seven or eight at the time and I can’t remember how it came up but the advice remains as clear as spring water. Dad said to me “Son, some bastards just won’t ever like you.”
Not exactly Confucius but I now get what he was saying.
What Dad tried to say is that it’s all right not to be liked by everybody but it isn’t all right to change just to be liked by somebody.
Knowing this gives me the strength to get through criticism, to get through rejection of various kinds and to be my own man. A valuable lesson. A lesson learned through age. So look out 33, I’m about to give you a big shake.

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