October 9, 2008. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

U-mine splits Alice Labor. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The Alice Springs Branch of the Labor Party has expressed “disgust and dismay” at the Territory Labor Government’s grant of an exploration licence to Cameco Paladin for the Angela-Pamela uranium deposit just south of the town.
A motion, moved by long-time member Charlie Carter, seconded by Angus McIvor and carried in a close vote, said given that the licenced area is within the Alice Springs water control district, “it cannot be guaranteed that there will not be radioactive contamination of the Alice Springs water supply”.
The motion asserted:
• there will be radioactive pollution of the atmosphere;
• the level of radioactive contamination of all Alice residents will rise;
• there is no “safe” level of exposure, every increase raises the level of harm;
• there was no consultation with the people of Central Australia.
The motion called on the Chief Minister and the Minister for Mines to appear at a public meeting in Alice, to listen to the concerns of the Alice people, and to reverse their decision.
The Alice News asked Dr Carter what he will do if the government ignores the motion?
“Continue to fight,” he said, but “what if” strategies had not been discussed.
Dr Carter said the motion was debated at length, with the close vote reflecting both a split in views about the issue and the unhappiness of some members to dissent so strongly from the government position.
He said it would be “fair comment” to say that “quite a few” of those opposing the motion are “closely associated with the government”.
He estimated about 15 members had attended the meeting.
Did he think a public meeting would offer a fair gauge of community opinion on the subject? 
He said “when you get Advocate editorials like [Tuesday’s]” it is clear that public opposition to exploration and a possible mine is not confined to “ideological loonies of the Left”.
He said it is pretty hard to gauge “informed” public opinion; the issue requires a “certain amount of understanding”.
“That’s where governments should take a lead and not respond to perceived public opinion.”
A plebiscite in Alice Springs would “not necessarily be useful”.
If one were to take place “there would have to be reasonably intensive information dissemination beforehand”.

Raging Rita – art can turn around decline in the bush. By KIERAN FINNANE.

To transform and reinvigorate country towns, leaders need to be prepared to “piss people off” (and this often happens when you “say it like is”), to not fit stereotypes, to let change lead growth, to never miss an opportunity to present themselves well, to make optimism a top priority and to have fun.
It was a feisty set of messages delivered at the plenary session of Regional Arts Australia’s biennial conference, dubbed art at the heart, and held in Alice from last Thursday to Sunday. 
The conference drew over 1000 delegates from arts endeavors around  Australia.
The keynote speaker went on to deliver a blunt message to Arts Minister Peter Garrett, present for the conference’s opening ceremony: “Next time you come, come with a proper announcement about funding in your pocket.”
This referred to the Rudd Government slashing by $4m the former government’s commitment to boosting the Regional Arts Fund.
But this was almost an aside in the brilliant analysis of the social and cultural decline of so many Australian country towns, offered by Ann Dunn aka Rita Rodeo, the Mayor of Somewhere  – a small town in the middle of nowhere, somewhere the back of beyond.
Dunn has a 30 year career in community arts and cultural development and is a former chair of the Community Cultural Development Board of the Australia Council.
She threw this CV out the window on Sunday in favour of her rough and ready Outback publican come local politician, Rita Rodeo. With an excellent collection of images, devastating wit and the audience-wooing skills of a stand-up comic, she painted a vivid picture of hapless attempts to dress up the dreary face of country towns in decline.
Typical solutions are kitsch theming in the street furniture that overstates some aspect of the town’s history or economy; or a building that looks “too flash” for the surrounds, is expensive to build and manage, which limits access and generally misses the mark in responding to the community’s needs; or importing random decorative features of another town’s character.
Sound familiar?
What’s missing in all of these are the “things that bring us together”; “wonderful people” are “the gold” of any community, said Rodeo.
The “most precious” thing leaders have to offer to a  community is themselves, she said.
Dressed in red and black vinyl, later stripped off to reveal a flowered boob tube, the “single but interested” Rodeo had the plenary audience singing, laughing, clapping and cheering, doing exactly as she urged – having a lot of fun.
“Life is too serious a good bit of the time.”
But she also suggested that they “might try being angry” in response to neglect and high-handedness – “Stick together, work out a campaign and get on with it. You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.”

"We need tourism rooms and cheap land for housing." By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Alice Springs needs two new hotels with 700 to 800 rooms for tourists, and a new residential subdivision with blocks costing less than $100,000.
Terry Lillis, retiring chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, said in his farewell speech that these were two goals eluding him in his seven years on the organisation’s executive.
The prominent land developer and businessman’s successor is businesswoman Julie Ross.
Mr Lillis said conversion of former motels, including the Red Centre Resort, into backpackers’ accommodation, flats, units or temporary accommodation for bush visitors, and the demolition of Melanka, have diminished the room stock for tourists.
“Perhaps now the time is right to suggest to Centrecorp or other large Aboriginal investors that the construction of a hotel owned, operated and staffed by Aboriginals would be a positive investment in their own future, the town and in Indigenous tourism,” said Mr Lillis.
And he said the logical site for a new suburb is the Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) block on the South Stuart Highway, corner Colonel Rose Drive.
The AZRI block had been identified at a recent symposium held by Lands Minister Delia Lawrie “as the most favoured proposition ... perhaps extending into the airport land”.
He said there are “no native title issues, and with good will from the government, a quick turn off of affordable land with the potential of several thousand available blocks” could be achieved.
“If we could turn off a couple of hundred blocks annually and quickly, I believe we would see the return of many of the building trades people who have had to leave town to be guaranteed a continuity of employment,” said Mr Lillis.
“These same tradies, if given the opportunity to buy flat land at under $100,000 per block, will return to Alice, work for others and build speccies [dwellings for sale] themselves as they did 20 and 30 years ago.
“This will help kick start meeting the town’s needs.”
Mr Lillis said assets of the AZRI land include potential recycled water stored there, proximity to the ideas generated by Desert Knowledge, and electricity from the new solar power array.
“The fact that all major head works services are south of The Gap, power, sewer, water supply and so on, will all contribute to the construction of affordable residential land.”
Mr Lillis said the town also needs to continue to work with all the potential miners exploring in the Alice Springs surrounds.
“They have the means to contribute as much to the town’s economy as the tourism industry already does, and I hope facilitating meetings and information sessions between concerned local residents and potential miners will continue to be a function of the chamber.”
Mr Lillis said the Chamber of Commerce is the Territory’s largest employer group, representing over 1200 businesses Territory wide.

CCTV working? Here’s another $1m, just in case. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The town council is gearing up to spend, on stage two of the CCTV system in the CBD, $1m of NT Government money, granted by Chief Minister Paul Henderson in the wake of his near death election experience.
His candidates had done worse than usually in The Alice.
Yet the benefits, if any, of CCTV stage one are not yet known.
The evaluation is still under way.
The council will not admit media to the monitoring centre of the system, run by the taxi firm owned by Ald Samih Habib.
But the Alice News was given access to the system’s single monitor at the police station.
The pictures are fuzzy.
It would take a while to flick from camera to camera.
There are about 12.
Chances are that a misdemeanour – a rock hurtled through a shop window – is missed, or not discovered until the villain has legged it.
There are some great shots of kids in hoods.
In any case, the two police officers taking incoming phone calls pay scant attention to the CCTV.
When the Alice News was there on a Friday night, they were flat out dealing with reports of disturbances, from a woman being harassed in Tennant Creek to a mentally disturbed patient absconding from the hospital.
There was hardly a moment when they were not taking a call, despatching patrols, logging complaints and monitoring the progress of responses on their wide screen computers, until the all clear.
Police Superintendent Sean Parnell says there is anecdotal evidence that things are getting better in the Mall, but there is no conclusive analysis.
He says the CCTV has shown up kids violating bail conditions or busting curfews.
But the News has been told that “the problem” may be shifting to the lane behind the post office, and the car park there, labelled by a security company manager as “Beirut”.
Supt Parnell asks how do you define”disturbance”?
A cause of annoyance are the many Aborigines who shout in the streets, but raising your voice can hardly be a case for prosecution.
However, acts such as urinating in public, swearing and fighting are proper offences, punishable by six months imprisonment under the Summary Offences Act, says Supt Parnell.

Best part of Old Ghan track cut by uranium mine lease. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The Cameco-Palledin uranium exploration lease cuts across the “best part” of the Old Ghan track, effectively cutting the track in two, says Liz Martin, CEO of the National Road Transport Historical Society which now runs the Old Ghan.
This means the society is faced with one of two options: repairing the track, at present washed-out, between the MacDonnell Siding (just south of Alice Springs) and Mount Etiva, and possibly a little beyond to make for an optimal run of 10km; or moving the operation south, to run between Ewaninga and Ooraminna.
The two scenarios cater for different markets, says Ms Martin.
The first is good for casual visitors, particularly during the tourist season.
The second would rely more on the incentive and convention market, “which is where I think the big money is”.
She says the society receives almost weekly enquiries from this market about setting up train-related events   but at present has to turn them away.
Upgrading the track, for whichever scenario, will be a big ticket item (around $1m), for which the society would seek corporate sponsorship.
Since taking over the running of the Old Ghan the society has spent $80,000 on upgrading rolling stock.
Crewing the train still remains a challenge, says Ms Martin. There are some qualified people who work on the new Ghan who are available, but otherwise the society is looking at fly-in, fly-out crews.
“We couldn’t cater for the convention market with only a  volunteer staff,” says Ms Martin.
Meanwhile, the Old Ghan tearooms and museum have turned a  profit for the second year running, she says, after losing money over the preceding eight years.
They are attracting about 50% of the Road Transport Hall of Fame visitors, whereas before they were getting around 25%.
Ms Martin suspects the difference in levels of interest may be because there are rail museums elsewhere, but not truck museums.
A rail museum with an operational train is another matter though, and another reason why getting it rolling again is “crucial”, says Ms Martin. In a year or two the society will introduce a single ticket for visits to both attractions. 
The society has put money – around $20,000 – into upgrading the tearooms, especially their catering equipment.
“That has returned a dividend. If people can smell a good coffee, they’ll buy it.”
Effort has also been put into beautifying the grounds and installing a playground to draw mothers’ clubs and families to the precinct.
A meeting will be held soon with Tourism Central Australia and tour companies to explore the options.
Ms Martin says she would like to add to the list the possibility of running the train into town but the quantities of rubbish along the track rule that out.
This is something the new Ghan passengers are constantly exposed to.
Ms Martin says she recently took a trip on the Ghan to Darwin.
The arrivals into Tennant Creek, Katherine and Darwin were all “pristine and beautiful”.
Only the arrival, both north and south of Alice, is a “nightmare” she says.

Taking chances for silliness and survival. By ALEX NELSON.

This article may tempt the fates, and make me look a bit silly in the process –  not without precedent – but here goes.
There are some people who claim there is no “real” spring season in Central Australia but a range of trees and shrubs beg to differ. Citrus, white cedars, bottlebrushes, and now jacarandas, all erupt into bloom across town at this time of year.
These introduced plants are accompanied by some local native species, notably the delightfully named Gundabluey (or Prickly Wattle) with its masses of pale cream blossom, while the normally unprepossessing Colony Wattle has largely completed its brief annual eruption of spectacular golden flowers.
These common wattles, together with various sennas, will only flower in spring, regardless of rainfall or other seasonal conditions. This contrasts with other species, such as mulga and witchetty bush, which will flower opportunistically in response to heavy rain (or other irrigation) at any time of year.
What is of particular interest is how much flowering and vigorous new growth there is for many local native trees and shrubs right now. This is despite the extremely dry conditions being experienced – or is it actually a response to the drought?
Native plants across inland Australia are divided broadly into two categories on the basis of their survival strategies – avoiders and tolerators.
“Avoiders” comprise those species which live briefly and produce masses of seed, such as wildflowers and annual grasses, or longer-lived types that die back and remain dormant as tubers, bulbs and rhizomes hidden in the soil until the next big rains come.
Other avoiders are those plants that are confined to protected niches, such as creeks, gaps and gorges, where they can rely on groundwater for survival.
“Tolerators”, by contrast, are all those rugged types that “tough it out” as conditions become progressively drier and harsh – they are mostly the plants we see in the countryside around us at all times. These plants build up reserves of energy and moisture when times are good, and then rely upon these resources as drought sets in. They are rather like vegetative batteries.
These plants possess complementary strategies for extending their reserves, such as the gradual dessication and shedding of foliage and dying back of branches.
However, there is ultimately a limit to how long these adaptations will work, and sometimes droughts will persist long enough to outlast the capacity of many plants to survive.
This happened in the major drought of the early 1960s, when large tracts of native vegetation perished. Many people in Central Australia are unaware that most of the vegetation seen here now is of quite recent origin, having grown in response to the wet years and flood events of the 1970s and 80s.
The current run of dry years is looming as severe as the 1960s drought, and we are on track to experience one of the driest years on record in Alice Springs. Much of the natural vegetation is stressed yet strikingly many trees and shrubs are flowering and growing vigorously. Why?
My suggestion is that, as the energy and moisture reserves of tolerator species gradually run down, they start to behave as avoiders – that is, they flower profusely and set large crops of seed, and produce a lot of new foliage to generate the food reserves needed for seed production.
This seems counter-intuitive, and certainly it is a high-risk strategy for individual plants, but it actually may serve to ensure the survival of these species in the long term. The seeds of most native plants can survive for years (in some cases for decades) until the right conditions occur for their germination.
Thus by waiting a few years into a drought before massively flowering and setting seed, possibly at the cost of their own survival, many trees and shrubs can build up a large quantity of seed in the soil bank that will persist well into the next run of good rainfall years.  
This is what happened in the 1960s through to the 80s.
In the 1960s and 70s there was a great deal of research effort in Central Australia investigating the nutritive value of native trees and shrubs as “topfeed” for cattle – these plants were perceived as a resource.
However, the wet years of the 1970s and 80s prompted massive germination and growth of trees and shrubs to such an extent that they impacted adversely on the availability of native pasture grasses for grazing. Several previously valuable topfeed species morphed into “woody weeds” and much effort was devoted to finding ways to control them.
OK, but what has all this got to do with tempting the fates? Well, it’s just that a few years ago I had a letter published about this topic that generated such interest it was reported nationally on the ABC’s Country Hour radio program.
This helped to salve my battered ego, because on the very same day my letter was published a passing storm dumped an inch of rain over Alice Springs and a broader band of weather dropped some very useful rain across the north of Central Australia. Some pastoral properties enjoyed a valuable respite from dry conditions and actually had a very productive season.
There is still the odd person about that likes to remind me of that particular day.
So the purpose of this article is to see if I can tempt the fates to do the same again.
Will it rain again with such exquisite timing, thereby making a fool of me in the bargain? Gee, I hope so…

Bass a disappointment. By DARCY DAVIS.

Bassinthedust 08 was certainly a downgrade from last year’s effort.
For a rock concert, there were surprisingly few live bands – only three of the six national acts played live, the rest had turntables and microphones.
In 2006 there was a dance tent especially for the techno beats, turntables and microphones. 
I heard a  conspiracy going around school that the organizers deliberately put on a bad line up so they wouldn’t have to do it again next year.
But despite the poor line up there appeared to be even more people than last year.
After the huge fuss made in the Advocate about the Australian Idol style text message voting system to choose the local bands, Miazma, Unbroken Expanse and Glasgow Smile played from 3pm to 5pm when there were about 50 people around.
I believe the opportunity for local bands to play should be about professional development and exposure. It would be much healthier for the bands’ growth to slot them in for 20 minute sets in between the national acts.
Paul Kelly followed the techno dj Matt Roberts and crowd pumper Seany B but played a surprisingly short set without any of his true classics like “From Little Things Big Things Grow” or “Dumb Things”. I’d expected Paul to be headlining the night once the crowd had got all their head banging and dancing out of the way so they could sway and sing along.
Then there were more dance beats and crowd working by Kid Kenobi and MC Shureshock.
The Getaway Plan didn’t seem to have a huge fan base but got some girls and emos to the front of the stage, clutching their hearts.
“Where are all the Indigenous bands?” I wondered. The last big gigs I’d been to in town, Home Brew and Bush Bands Bash, were host to both black and white performers so I wondered why Bass hadn’t done the same.
Would have been great to see Tjupi band up on stage singing in language, I bet they would have got the people dancing.
The bouncers also appeared shamed of the line up as they wouldn’t let me behind the barricade to get close to the bands to take my photos.
Bliss n Eso were the true highlight of the night, fantastic stage presence. Dressed in white, they looked like messiahs of OZ Hip Hop.
During their set they parted the sea of people into a sound off and seemed to surf the crowd’s vibes all night. DJ Izm pulled out some sensational scratch work when he cut a turntable solo over the top of a screaming rock guitar solo.
The Sydney hip hop crew finished their set with a refreshingly positive chant of “Peace, Love and Unity”.
Surprisingly Jebediah, who haven’t released an album in four years headlined the night – a minority of the crowd knew the words well enough to sing along and many people simply left the oval. Maybe the organizers got a discount? 
While clouds were brewing all day, the symbols from the skies finally said Bassinthedust was a disappointment. There was no rain or flood, just a light breeze that was refreshing, but nothing like a good downpour.

Being in another place. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Within hours of arriving in Alice delegates to the art at the heart conference were lead into the Todd riverbed and seated in small groups around a campfire to drink billy tea and be welcomed by a local host.
The delegates were left in no doubt about being in another place – the evening still hot and humid, the sky heavy, with late sunlight occasionally bursting through the cloud, the rough touch of sand and dry grass and leaves against legs, the smell of woodsmoke, and a person with a face and a name and a local story speaking to them. 
It’s not usually as immediate and easy to have this kind of intimate bush experience and local contact.
In this the opening ceremony was beautifully conceived and well received.
What needed to happen then though was something that reached out and lifted you up or grabbed you and shook you up or bowled you over or made you laugh or cry.
The soundscape that followed, which began with Aboriginal chant and ended with the Queen, and the choreographed elements didn’t manage to do this, remaining somehow underwhelming.  
The moment came the next morning in the opening plenary when Yolgnu artist Djambawa Marawili took to the stage.
With humour and eloquence he explained his people’s belonging to the sea, the failure of the missionaries and other non-Aboriginal people to understand that the sea had “pattern and song too”, the ultimate success of the Blue Mud Bay claim, all this to the backdrop of image after image of his magnificent paintings.
And then he sang and you felt the surge in the packed auditorium – the uplifting that comes when there is complete attention to the transmission between artist and audience.
A soundscape and choreography that suffered from too vague a conception were always going to struggle to have this kind of power – the power comes from human voice and presence and profound conviction and great artistic gifts.

Everything borrowed.

Pop Vulture with CAMERON BUCKLEY eavesdrops on a conversation about the latest release by pioneering Brit Hip Hop outfit, The Streets. It’s between the iconic cartoon duo of crows, Heckle and Jeckle, and as is the norm with these two, they are in total agreement.
Heckle: Anthropologists say that the male of the human species doesn’t reach his creative highpoint until he enters his forties!
Jeckle: If that’s the case, The Streets’ Mike Skinner is set to be an intellectual landmine in years to come. His lyrical prowess on display here is nothing short of the evolution of thought.
Heckle: Yes, I definitely want to go to heaven for the weather, hell for the company.
Jeckle: That’s right! I entered this world with nothing, and leave only with love.
Heckle: Did we like it that much? Cos the beat became like a monotone at some points.
Jeckle: The slow and soft “pillowcase beating” backbeat is an excellent complement to the introduction of many additional instruments. I feel that Hip Hop has evolved to a point where it may well give birth to new sub genres. History is the stereotype! Decks and samples were once the two sticks that were rubbed together to create this ever-spreading sound. But in years to come, maybe they will ride back seat to the course of evolution that inevitably occurs in all cultures.
Heckle: Oooooohhhh! The silence is violence. Well, what sort of environment best suits this so called missing link in our musical DNA?
Jeckle: OK. It isn’t the whipper snipper cord you pull to kick start an evening of brain cell demolition. It’s more like the sound of a brand new lawn mower you hear a few doors down in suburban hell. It leaves you feeling both comforted and distant.
Jeckle: Yep, it’s a Sunday comedown.  Best heard when you have nowhere to fly but your own branch. Rating: 852/1000.

Massive losses of verge trees.

Close to 20% of the trees on Alice Springs verges were uprooted in the wild wind and rain storm on September 22, while a third or more were injured.
Town Council’s supervisor of parks and gardens, Scott Allen, estimates 500 trees were lost and between 3000 and 3500 lost limbs.
A year ago there were over 9000 trees on verges around the town.
Council will conduct an in-depth review once the clean up is completed, says Mr Allen, to see what lessons can be learnt.
This will include looking at which species better survived the storm.
One of the worst hit verges seems to have been along Grevillea Drive, with 12 to 15 trees knocked down in a row. These were 20 year old trees of varying species.
Council has a replanting policy of two to one which means that 1000 new trees will be planted. 
But this “won’t happen overnight”, says Mr Allen.
“It will take a long time to get the town back to what it was.”
Clean up after the storm is still underway. First priority was given to streets, then sporting venues to have them in readiness for the Masters Games.
Attention this week turned to parks and laneways, with work expected to continue into next week.
It has not been assisted by some residents dumping their “rubbish” in a park on Eastside, says Mr Allen. 
Meanwhile, by late last Sunday around 900 tons of extra green waste and three tons of storm-damaged goods had been delivered at the landfill due to the storm. All fees for green waste had been waived up until last Sunday and there was no charge for dumping storm-damaged goods for the week following the storm.

Desert Mob record sales.

Desert Mob again made record sales on its opening day, September 29.
Sales totalled $315,000, an increase of almost $35,000 on last year’s opening day.
The Araluen Arts Centre acquired works from the Ernabella, Martumili, Maruku, Tangentyere, Tjungu Palya, Warakurna and Yarrenyty-Arltere art centres for the Araluen Collection.   
“These works will continue to develop the Indigenous focus of the Araluen Arts Centre Collection, and will become integral to a new, permanent exhibition chronicling the history of Aboriginal art in Central Australia, when it opens at the Araluen Arts Centre early next year,” said Araluen director Tim Rollason.
The exhibition shows until November 9.

LETTERS: Reptile killing story goes around the world.

In another bout of bad publicity for Alice Springs the story of a seven year old who bludgeoned to death reptiles at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre and then fed them to the centre’s crocodile has been reported far and wide. To name a few publications –The Scotsman, The Times and the Guardian, all in the UK, AAP, The Times in Johannesburg, South Africa, as well as Australian interstate publications. This was the most talked about subject in our letters to the editor this week – all of them from international readers.

Sir,– I hope that there has been a resounding outcry concerning the fates of the innocent reptiles killed in the recent incident at the Outback Zoo.
I will assume that everyone recognizes the need for immediate and extended psychiatric / psychological intervention for this child and his family.
I agree that the child’s parents owe the zoo not only financial restitution but a full realization of what has been brought to light about behavior, values, and accountability. 
This should be expressed to the zoo with a heart-felt and genuine apology, at the very least.
Despite the existence of world-wide crises, economic and otherwise, I believe this incident is still worthy of further contemplation by each of us. 
As a US citizen, I realize that my country’s upcoming presidential election likely will not produce the changes necessary to reverse our moral and economic decline. 
However, assessing the state of our individual inner domains may provide an opportunity for improvement of our immediate quality of life and interactions with those around us.
Pausing to take stock of the real meaning and horror of this youngster’s actions and the circumstances leading up to the incident is a possible way to improve his future, perhaps ours, and hopefully that of his own children. 
Neither vilifying nor coddling him and excusing his actions will provide him a chance to become an adult who can contribute to society in a positive manner.
Miki Fujita Davis
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Sir,– We are pretty disgusted with that seven year old kid killing those animals.
Absolutely, the parents are responsible.
Where were they when the child is out killing?
Any way you see it, that kid has some issues.
Our heart is broken for those poor animals.
Albert Vasquez
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sir,- Maybe your paper could explain to the rest of the world why the Australian government is punished for taking away Aboriginal children back in the day (as in the movie Rabbit Proof Fence)?
And now Aboriginal leaders are asking for children to be taken away and ratepayers are made to spend millions to house the psychopaths of these people?
Why do we have to pay millions in claims, when, apparently, the white government was right all along?
[ED - Ms Dellaca-Badgett then quotes parts of reports on the Alice Springs News website.]
“In other incidents on Friday night police received reports of juveniles causing a disturbance in the vicinity of Bacon and Spencer Street.
“About 80 juveniles were drinking on the Flynn Drive Oval, approximately 35 juveniles causing a disturbance and running through yards in Roberts Crescent, about 15 juvenile gatecrashers at a party in Bradshaw drive, and juveniles running around the golf course greens following a party at a Range Crescent residence.
“Juveniles were also reported fighting at the Memorial Club Carpark in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“[They were] vandalising cars at the Anzac Hill oval and causing damage to a vehicle driving down Gregory Terrace by throwing a beer bottle at the back window of the vehicle and smashing it.”
Says [police] Superintendent [Sean] Parnell: “There is absolutely no excuse for children as young as this roaming the streets with no adult supervision at this time of night.
“The community has to start taking responsibility for this problem and parents have to be made accountable.”
Kimberly Dellaca-Badgett
via email

Sir,- It’s gut-wrenching to imagine the terror, pain, and helplessness of the animals who were bludgeoned to death at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre.
Locked in cages, all they could do is wait for this disturbed young boy wreak his havoc.
By their very nature, zoos leave animals vulnerable to a variety of dangers from which they have no defense or opportunity to escape.
Animals in zoos have been poisoned, left to starve, deprived of veterinary care, and burned alive in fires.
Many have died after eating coins, plastic bags, and other items thrown into their cages.
They have been beaten, shot, pelted with rocks, and stolen by people who were able to gain access to their cages. Animals in zoos are far from home, and far from safe.
Jason Baker
PETA Asia-Pacific
Hong Kong

Sir,– Just thought you would like to know that the story of the seven year old who bludgeoned zoo animals to death has made the headlines here in Switzerland.
The following things must happen and your website and newspapers should demand it from the authorities (that’s why they are there!):
• Child removed from family permanently.
• Any other children must also be removed permanently.
• Parents must pay for replacement.
• Parents must pay a huge fine.
• Parents (both!) must do substantial jail time.
Cruelty to animals is a sure fire sign of mental illness. Next time it will be arson and murder, just for kicks.
Here are some references for you to consider.
Full story:
Eric Kapoor

OTHER LETTERS: Permit system incompatible with Australian democracy.

Sir,- I can’t let the replies to my letter of last week pass without further comment.
We are told the new MacDonnell Shire will hold all its meetings in Alice Springs until the permit issue is resolved, and the new Central Desert Shire will hold one meeting every second month in Alice Springs and one meeting every other month on a community.  This community meeting will be kosher because the Central Land Council has been asked to waive the requirement for a permit to visit the host community on the day of the meeting.
What I find astonishing in these replies is that both shires seem to be admitting that the practice of democracy in the Australian tradition of open and accessible government is incompatible with a permit system. 
The Four Horsemen of the Intervention (grog runners, drug dealers, pedophiles and dodgy art dealers) were doing a roaring trade while permits were in force.  Are those Horsemen still doing a roaring trade, or has the Intervention put a wrinkle in their game? 
I think the arguments in favor of reinstating a blanket permit system show the politics of misdirection and deception at its most reprehensible. The losers will once again be “the little people on the ground”, and those ratepayers who will be levied rates to maintain a public road system that, because of permits, will be a private road system.
Reinstating the permit system over the 1% of Indigenous Homelands where it no longer legally applies would be a retrograde step.  Let’s hope the Senate has the good sense to not allow it.
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Sir,– A metal rose was stolen from a metal vase at Alice’s Secret Travellers Inn. The hostel is packed with quirky art. Sunday afternoon something was stolen for the first time. 
The metal rose, one of bunch of three, was made, leaf by leaf, by a local road train driver. The work was bought by the owner of Alice’s Secret at a scrap art sale at the Silver Bullet two years ago.
The metal rose was much loved by the owner and her guests alike.
So if you see someone strolling about with a metal rose in his buttonhole, grab it off him, jump on your white horse and return it to Alice’s Secret where it belongs. Luck will be with you forever after.
Suzanne Visser
Alice’s Secret

Sir,- This is the first time I have logged on to the Alice Springs News.
I thought that the pictures were lovely. Please publish more photographs.
Lynda Maine
Edinburgh, Scotland

Sir,– I was at the Anti-Intervention rally last week. I know very well many of the people who spoke against the Intervention whose families and communities have the same problems that the Emergency Response is trying to address.
There has been plenty of violence and sexual abuse in our communities and all of us have lost loved ones to avoidable causes, deaths that didn’t have to happen. Yet they stand up and say the Intervention is wrong.
People like my aunt, Valerie Martin, should be doing something about the problems in her own community that she doesn’t want to acknowledge.
Where were the Yuendumu women who spoke strongly for their own store when all this mob invited to the rally were trying to stop them and keep the old, mismanaged one? Valerie does not speak for them.
Where were the representatives of the “silent majority”, the 50% plus, who supported the Intervention in the CLC survey of town camps and communities?
Why were they not invited while all those Southern radicals were? Valerie says that our culture is strong.
But she knows that our children are not learning our culture. She talked about keeping our language strong but the whole world is changing, people are losing their languages all around the world.
We have to acknowledge that we have serious problems and we have to deal with those problems ourselves.
We don’t need a bunch of people from Down South who don’t know anything about us to come here and tell us what is good for us.
As a traditional owner, a law woman, an elder, and Indigenous leader fighting for the rights of my people, whatever you want to call me, I tried to say these things at the rally.
Barbara Shaw told me I could speak at the end; so did my uncle, Harry Nelson.
A whole lot of whitefellas and blackfellas from interstate who know nothing about our problems here were allowed to talk rubbish about us.
There was a lot of talk about democracy. Right at the end I was told I could not speak. Barbara Shaw shouted at me through the microphone that this was “an anti-Intervention rally”!
Only those who thought like her were allowed to speak.
We want proper governance for our organisations. We don’t want flag burning and shouting abuse through microphones.
We don’t want young Southern radicals coming here preaching at us and taking sides against us.
We want everybody’s story to be heard.
Bess Nungarrayi Price
Alice Springs
[ED – The Alice News offered a right of reply to Ms Shaw but she did not respond.]

Sir,– In response to the recent letter in your paper [from Natalie Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, September 25] concerning the proposal to construct a nuclear materials store at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, ANSTO, we note that the construction of that store would not replace the need for a central radioactive waste management facility for Commonwealth waste.
It is international best practice to have a central facility or facilities to accommodate a nation’s radioactive waste so it can be safely and securely managed and monitored.
Such facilities worldwide are often located in areas which are much more densely populated and wetter than the sites in the Northern Territory which have been assessed.  
For example, the major French repository for low-level waste – which is many times larger than would be needed in Australia – is located in the Champagne region. 
The operation of those facilities, and the transport of waste to them, has never had an impact upon human health or the environment.
Currently Australia has radioactive waste dotted around the country in stores that are not purpose built, which is not good practice.
Of the low level waste destined for a national repository, about half comes from ANSTO and half from other organisations.
The ANSTO waste arises from operations that are part of the production of life-saving nuclear medicines, which benefit all Australians.
ANSTO is happy to supply any further information requested.
Dr Ron Cameron

Sir,- The Alice Springs Angela Pamela (ASAP) collective has branded the NT Government decision to allow exploration at known uranium deposits Angela and Pamela a blatant disregard of community concern and opposition.
The local community has spoken loudly and clearly that exploration at these sites is not welcome.
950 people signed a petition calling for this license not to be granted and hundreds of people have attended public meetings and rallies to show their opposition.
The NT government and companies have tried to talk up possible economic benefits for the region, but local residents, pastoralists and tourism operators will be adversely impacted if this project goes ahead.
We will continue to foster broad community alliances to oppose uranium exploration and mining at these deposits and throughout the Northern Territory.
Natalie Wasley
Jimmy Cocking
Alice Springs

ADAM CONNELLY: Intervention one day, uranium the next: all in a protestor’s week.

Bloody politicians! Fancy giving the Angela Pamela mines the go ahead before I’d made a decision about it. I hate sitting on the fence.
It’s a crappy position to be in. Especially in Alice Springs. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the issue. I’m hoping to come around to a position on the issue soon otherwise I’ll get left behind.
It’s not that I’m uninformed about the uranium issue, it’s just that I can annoyingly see both sides of the story. I can understand the pro-uranium side of things. The economic and power benefits are undeniable. The flow on effects are also of great potential.
The extra people moving here to work means more money in the community. Extra services become necessary and that is of great benefit to a town like Alice. With a mining boom comes a housing boom and with a housing boom comes infrastructure. All very positive things for a community.
However I can just as easily see the negatives. Uranium is really radioactive and removing it from the ground is really dangerous. The by-products of using uranium are equally as awful and disposing of them is at present impossible. Mines are also pretty ugly, especially in a region proud of its natural wonder.
Then there’s the “are we ready” factor. A mining boom takes a bit of planning. I’m guessing we don’t have enough houses yet. I’m also guessing we don’t have enough people to pick up their rubbish and to give them electricity yet.
They are all pretty compelling arguments. Arguments that have polarised the community into three camps. Those for the mine, those against and those like me who aren’t able to make up our minds.
For the lucky ones who have come to a decision on the issue – well done. For those wanting the mines, it’s a time of celebration. For those opposed, it’s time to protest.
I have nothing against protests. I’m not even offended by people who protest for a living. One of the beauties of a democracy is that no matter how ill advised or expert the opinion, everyone has the right to peacefully voice it.
There was a protest in town last week. They were protesting against the Intervention. Now if you believe strongly enough in something I’m all for you raising the issue.
But are protests against the Intervention looking remarkably similar to protests against uranium? Are they looking just like protests against free trade and protests against oil producers and big business and the fur trade and, and, and?
Is it just me or can you not tell one protest from another. It’s as though the same group of people all wear the protestoer’s uniform and march along the same route shouting “Whaddawewant?” “(Insert cause here)!”
The product of this template approach to protesting is that the only way to get more than 20 seconds on the evening news, the only way to get off page 8 of the local paper is for a fight with police to occur.
The problem with that is that fighting police is wrong and your message is lost in the fighting with police story. I’m bored with the peaceful march protest. A group of people marching behind a banner is more soporific than a hot shower, a hot chocolate and a Sally Field movie marathon combined.
It’s time to sex up the protest. How do you get you message in the press without looking like the violent unwashed? Well I’ve had a think about it. Why not throw a party? Music, dancing, food and a good time. That would be more interesting than the stock standard surely.
Why not one of those walks? Michael Long, Ian Botham, Dean Jones, they’ve all walked for a cause. Sure walking between here and Erldunda may not get you the exposure you’ll want, but a well planned stunt will get you more coverage than yelling into a megaphone.
It’s time to think out of the box. It’s time to get creative. Because there are people like me still on the fence. And I love a good circus show.

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