October 23, 2008. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Shire poll fiasco. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Many voters in the inaugural shire elections on Saturday will barely have a clue about who they are voting for – but it’s not for want of trying.
For example, this is the ballot paper (pictured at left) for the Rodinga Ward in the MacDonnell Shire.
The 10 candidates are standing for four positions of councillor.
One person compelled by law to vote is Nicole Hayes, from Undoolya Station, east of Alice Springs.
She doesn’t know any of the candidates.
In order to cast an informed vote she contacted the MacDonnell Shire office in Alice Springs, and went on the NT Electoral Commission’s website, to get details about them.
The Alice Springs News did the same.
Both Ms Hayes and we were told by the shire office that they could give no information, such as candidates’ profiles and policies.
The reason: The Electoral Commission had told them not to give out such details.
The Electoral Commission website was of little use.
That’s not its fault: The commission is permitted to publish, in addition to the name, only those details approved by the candidates.
Five of the candidates were listed by name only.
The other five had hotlinks, but those added only the name of their community.
Only two of the 10 candidates published phone numbers.
The News left messages for both of them.
Neither called back.
Ms Hayes says she and several of her contacts in the bush now have no choice other than to vote informal – not a good start to the brave new world of local government in the Outback.
She says several electors have already cast their postal ballots as informal votes.
This week the issues turned into high farce.
Electoral Commissioner Bill Shepheard told the News the commission has no power to tell the MacDonnell Shire what to do and what not to do.
“We try to provide guidance, that they need to be even-handed,” he says.
Until the election the shire is under the leadership of Andrea Martin, an NT public servant.
There are no regulations regulating what information the shire can or cannot disseminate about candidates.
But MacDonnell CEO Wayne Wright told both Ms Hayes and the Alice News that the commission had indeed stopped the shire from disseminating candidates’ profiles and other details, in posters and online, for example. 
Who stopped them?
Don Boyd, the Deputy Returning Officer of the Electoral Commission, that’s who, says Mr Wright.
And it was done in the presence of several people, including Bruce Fife, from the Department of Local Government.
Here is where the story turns into vintage Yes, Minister.
True, the Electoral Commission can’t tell the shire staff what to do.
But the commission has recruited shire personnel to give a hand with the current elections.
They became “authorized officers” to undertake election related tasks.
And as such they had to enter into a “neutrality agreement”.
A MacDonnell Shire spokesperson quotes Mr Boyd as saying that “whoever has signed a neutrality form / statement cannot help / assist and or promote a candidate.
“This includes Department of Local Government and shire staff.”
So in one fell swoop the people who could have breathed some meaning into the shires farce were sidelined and silenced.
Mr Wright says this wasn’t the only problem.
He says: “There has also been a lack of communication regarding the mobile polling booths in each community.
“When a constituent phoned them and said they had missed the polling booth and had no idea about the mobile polling booth being in their community, the NTEC told them they had sent the mobile polling booth schedule to the Shire and this was the extent of the communication.
“It is highly unfortunate that the NTEC think that a single email to Shire Council staff about the polling booths schedule some 12 days ago is satisfactory communication and promotion to ensure every person on the electoral roll knows when the booths are visiting each community,” says Mr Wright.
Mr Shepheard says he will be investigating the issues and make a further statement.

COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA: Will Minister get the sack?

The shires election fiasco is the latest manifestation of the Territory Government’s contempt for democracy and its processes.
This most lavishly funded Government could not find a few dollars to hire extra staff for its Electoral Commission so it can properly run the inaugural shires poll concluding on Saturday, touted as a revolution of governance of the bush.
The sponsors of the Darwin Waterfront, which benefited from hundreds of millions from the public purse, scrounged staff from the shires, pulling them out of the crucial work which could have made the elections meaningful.
Will Chief Minister Paul Henderson preside over the sacking of yet another public servant for this one, or will his Minister take his hat and go?

Centre’s tourist industry rolling with the punches. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The twin wallop of 9/11 and the Ansett collapse in 2001 stopped holidaymakers flying because they were frightened.
The current global economic melt-down is stopping them because they are poor – or fear they soon will be.
Seven years ago tourism pioneer Ren Kelly was at the peak of his career, which started with the Red Sands Motel at the base of Ayers Rock in 1974, and culminated with VIP, a luxury tour firm with 200,000 passengers a year and operating throughout the NT.
The tourism business in Central Australia crashed along with the twin towers in New York.
Mr Kelly’s empire took the extra knock of the collapse of Ansett which defaulted on payments to his company for running its terminal at Yulara.
Mr Kelly says in 2001 a quarter to a third of tourist industry jobs in The Centre were lost.
The international market stopped abruptly.
The Australian tourist trade in The Centre was hit when Qantas exploited its new monopoly position, and fares went sky high.
Mr Kelly says no-one knows yet which of the two disasters is going to be the greater: “The current one is more wide spread but not as immediate as Ansett and 9/11,” he says.
The industry in The Centre still hasn’t fully recovered from the debacles seven years ago.
“The  international inbound passenger numbers are still not good,” he says.
“There are more outbounds than inbounds, for the first time on record.”
Mr Kelly believes The Centre should now focus on the very rich, and on the backpackers.
The first group remains financially secure, and the second “don’t have investments, don’t have a job to lose.
“They are finishing their studies, have saved a bit, or their parents have saved.
“Be wary of the middle income range,” says Mr Kelly.
Many of the people “in the middle”, domestically and around the world, have lost money, either on the stock market or through their diminishing superannuation.
The Centre has always been a short trip destination, five days or so, distant and expensive.
With the current overwhelming uncertainties, people are more likely to holiday closer to home, wondering if they’ll still have a job when they get back.
Or they’ll stay home altogether.
The 9/11 terror attack came at a time when the industry was at its peak while the current woes come as the industry has been in a slump for some time: “We were riding high then, but today we’re at the bottom of the trough.”
Mr Kelly says the Australian Tourist Commission’s new campaign, targeting the general population, is inappropriate: right now the general population is going nowhere.
He says the high fliers need to be targeted, not by mass TV, but through the travel sections in high-grade press, and on-line sites linked to other top-class providers on the web.
The extent of the decline won’t be known for some time.
“You’ve got to be out there, hammering on travel agents’ doors, doing joint ventures with tour operators, contacting every tour planner, going to trade shows in smaller cities,” says Mr Kelly, who during the height of VIP Tours went on six overseas sales trips every year.
“Mass media are not the way to go,” he says.
“You need an enormous budget and yet you’re pissing in the wind.”
At present people are still taking the holidays they’d paid for before the stock markets crashed.
Alice Springs is firmly on the circuit of the grey nomads – but their shares and super have been decimated in the past couple of months.
Some are forced back to work.
Mr Kelly says in 2001 some people were retrenched and natural attrition lowered staff numbers.
Many operators were trying to maintain the level of their operations, hopeful of a quick turnaround, but it did not occur.
Then the last on were usually the first off.
In Alice Springs the Federal Intervention has been a boost to accommodation and car hire, but the industry’s real story is told by the slump in the attractions – such as the Desert Park and the Telegraph Station – “and the guy selling T-shirts,” says Mr Kelly, although “only a few traders are telling the truth about it.”.
For the top of the market Alice Springs isn’t a bad destination: “Everyone knows it’s there, but you have to market it carefully.”
Only about one per cent of the super rich are looking for high class service.
“The average well to do want to meet genuine people, get good quality service, not fawning, good food, don’t want to get around in big groups, they want to travel with their families, in privacy.
“They like to believe they’re doing somehing others are not doing.
“It’s a trendy thing, talking at dinner parties about meeting an Aborigine, adventure trails, camping.”
Mr Kelly says Alice Springs “is gaining the upper hand” over public anti-social behavior.
Aboriginal artists selling their artwork in the Mall is the kind of thing to be encouraged.
“We’re slowly getting there,” says Mr Kelly. “The Mall and the CBD are a lot tidier, there is less anti-social behaviour and drunkenness.
“The humbugging days are gone.
“People are quietly sitting around Adelaide House, quietly displaying their paintings and artifacts, there’s a good price range, they’re answering questions.”
This will  make a visit to the Mall memorable, something the “experience seeker” is after.
The Alice News asked Mayor Damien Ryan whether he thought the town is ready for the super-rich – would they feel comfortable and safe here?
The town “worked beautifully last week” during the Masters Games, said Mr Ryan, who was present at over 30 of the games events.
He said there were groups of people in the mall late at night, groups walking into town from Barrett Drive and as far as he knows there were no incidents: “Everybody I spoke to had had a wonderful time in Alice Springs.”
And “the authorities did a great job in providing a very safe town”.
He said the town would welcome the “super rich” with open arms.; it would be up to tourism packages to work towards attracting “small numbers, high yield” tourists, the kind of market that the Tourism Australia campaign seems to be targeting, he said.
Town Council CEO Rex Mooney said council is sometimes criticised over its efforts in relation to tourism but the Masters Games is an excellent example of what the council contributes, which includes $200,000 worth of in kind support.
The “multiplier effect” on the town’s economy would have to be in the millions, said Mr Mooney.

Tourism has come back from shocks. Will it again? By KIERAN FINNANE.

Forecasting is a risky business but Tourism Australia’s Tourism Forecasting Committee makes it theirs, issuing two forecasts each year.
The latest, Forecast 2008 Issue 1, dated August and thus before the intensifying of the crisis in the global financial system, considered the impact of external shocks on international visitation to Australia.
First, the committee established a base case, by looking at what happened with international visitor arrivals from 1977 to 2007, a period which included the world recession of the early 1980s, the Australian pilots strike in 1989, the Asian financial crisis in the late 90s, then 9/11, the Bali bombing and SARS in the early 2000s.
Over the three decades visitor arrivals grew at a compound annual growth rate of 5.2% a year to reach 5.6 million.
They declined in six years, four of these within the past nine years.
The committee said a range of factors contributed to the negative growth in each of those years, but the impact of external shocks was significant.
On the basis of this information, and assuming that the price of West Texas Intermediate oil would fall to US$110 a barrel in June 2009, the committee forecast, as a base case, visitor arrivals to reach 8.7 million in 2017, representing average annual growth of 4.4% over the period from 2007, higher than the average rate over the past 10 years (2.7%).
The forecasters then had a look at what could happen in “one shock” and “two shock” scenarios.
“Shocks to the industry can lead to significantly different outcomes from the base case scenario.
“These shocks can arise from unexpected changes in key economic assumptions or disruptions to the relationships between the economic variables and tourism activity due to catastrophic events such as pandemics or terrorist attacks.”
The current international financial meltdown without a doubt fits the bill of “catastrophic events”. But its extraordinary scale only began to become apparent after the forecast went to print.
In the “one shock” scenario the forecasters assumed that the price of West Texas Intermediate oil would average around US$150 for the remainder of 2008 and through 2009.
How could they have imagined that in just two months the price would tumble by more than half (it was at US$74.25 on Monday) and that there would be such major uncertainties in so many of the other “economic variables”. 
That it could be so soon a legitimate question to ask, will there be any people left, other than the super-rich, with money to travel?
The committee’s one shock scenario predicted growth of 3.9% over the forecast period, representing 761,000 (or 9%) fewer arrivals in 2017 compared with the base case.
Under a “two shock” scenario growth would be reduced to 2.7% over the forecast period, leading to over 1.4 million, or 16% fewer arrivals in 2017 compared with the base case.
Their next issue, grapppling with a multiple shock reality, should be interesting!
However, the forecasters point out there are also possible “positive shocks” over the forecast horizon.
“Growth in arrivals from some countries may exceed expectations if, for example, incomes in those countries rise at a faster pace or if the Australian dollar declines more substantially than currently assumed.”
The committee was working off an assumption that the Australian dollar would remain high for the rest of 2008 and early 2009 and only start depreciating to around US$85cents by mid 2010.
As we all know the Australian dollar too has been tumbling: it was at US$70 cents on Monday.

Tourism NT & Central Australia out to lunch?

The Alice Springs News sought an interview with Tourism NT about the impact of the financial crisis.
The News asked initially for information about whether there are cancellations at a higher rate than usual or fewer forward bookings than would be expected for travel into this region, in particular from international travellers.
After four and a bit days we received the following statement of the obvious, credited to Maree Tetlow, Chief Executive Tourism NT.
“The future for the Tourism Industry is uncertain in such a volatile economic climate – but there are positives for inbound tourism from a lower Australian Dollar (this improves the ‘value for money’ proposition to visitors) and the soon to be released ‘Australia’ movie that will remind a global audience of the romance and allure of Australia’s Outback experiences.”
We asked further questions and requested that they be answered within an interview, for instance with the Manager of Insights and Strategy, or with the Director of Aviation.
We were told that there would be no other comment provided and to look on their website to see if there was any research of interest there. They were clearly determined to be helpful and communicative.
Our further questions were:
• Is TNT doing any kind of strategic planning around the situation? If so, what does that involve?
• Is there any research within TNT about the impact of past shocks and recovery from them?
• For instance, what kind of losses were experienced in the industry in the wake of the 9/11, Bali bombing, SARS shock sequence and how long did it take to recover?
• Were there any lessons learnt from this experience?
Tourism Central Australia was in an even less communicative mood. Three messages over two weeks to general manager Peter Grigg went unanswered.

Mall market muddle. By KIERAN FINNANE.

“It wasn’t us!” said the Town Council on Monday, following numerous complaints about food stalls being shut down at the council’s night markets last Thursday.
Craig Catchlove, council’s director of corporate and community services, said he was “disappointed” by  the action, taken by NT WorkSafe inspectors.
He understood they were enforcing requirements of the new Workplace Health and Safety Act, in force since July 1, and wondered why they had chosen the night markets during the Masters Games as the occasion to get tough.
Why hadn’t they used the opportunity of the Sunday markets and other night markets during the preceding months to conduct an education campaign, he asked.
However, a spokesperson for NT WorkSafe says the body has been “proactively working with all operators of temporary catering facilities in Alice Springs since September 2007”.
She also says, “There are no new requirements – gas and electrical safety at these stalls have been regulated for a number of years and are national standards for the safety of this equipment.”
On this point, the spokesperson would appear to be in agreement with Beat Keller, one of the stall holders closed last Thursday, who says his equipment is in compliance with Australian Standards.
He has checked this with his plumber who has assured him that it is the case, says Mr Keller.
He says the NT WorkSafe inspector closed him down because he did not have a double regulator for his gas-fired mobile barbecue.
He says the Australian Standards regarding the need for double regulators are not applicable to mobile barbecues hooked up to gas bottles.
He says he has had two previous conversations with the inspector about his equipment, which resulted in him making changes, but the requirement of a double regulator had never been specified.
The spokesperson for NT WorkSafe says its inspectors acted after it received “a number of complaints from stall holders who had taken action to ensure that their operations complied with safety requirements and felt that NT WorkSafe was not requiring others to comply as well”.
Mr Keller too says, after he was closed down, he saw one stall holder on the Thursday night and another at the Masters Games closing ceremony on Saturday continuing to operate without a double regulator.
Mr Keller says he has not finished with looking into the matter, especially as early this week he was handed a form backdated to the previous Thursday, titled “Improvement Notice”.
“It gives me until November 3 to comply – so why was I shut down last Thursday?” he asks.

Aboriginal art triples. By KIERAN FINNANE.

In 2001 a “complete guide” to contemporary Aboriginal art was adequate in covering the work out of three main regions and 20 art centres or art-producing communities.
Its new updated edition launched in Alice last month covers work out of nine regions and 80 art centres or communities across Australia and lists some 3000 artists, testimony to the continuing growth of Aboriginal art and the associated industry.
The publication, McCulloch’s Contemporary Aboriginal Art, is the work of Susan McCulloch, formerly visual arts writer and art critic with The Australian, and daughter Emily McCulloch Childs (the pair pictured at right).
A guidebook’s role is to act as companion in a journey its reader will actively undertake for him or herself.
To this end it needed to be “highly illustrated”, says Susan McCulloch. The new edition doubled its illustrations to 400.
It gives an introduction to Aboriginal art broadly – its ancient roots, cultural significance and concepts and on through the earliest exhibitions for a non-Aboriginal audience.
We learn, for example, that the first display of Aboriginal art in southern states was of work by inmates from Darwin’s Fannie Bay Gaol, presented at the 1888 Melbourne Exhibition.
And, of course, the guide goes on to trace the rise and spread of the modern movement, in which the artists of Central Australia have played such an important role. Indeed it opens with an account of the record-breaking prices fetched by three works of Central Australian artists – J. Warangkula, E. Kngwarreye and C. P. Tjapaltjarri – milestones in a new era for Aboriginal art, underpinned by the involvement of about one quarter of Australia’s total Indigenous population, a vast increase in the number of community art centres (from around 30 in 1996 to almost 100 now) and the rise in the secondary market.
Has the quantifiable growth been matched by a growth in quality and depth?
Of course, says McCulloch, there will never be anything like the works that came out of the early days at Papunya, for example, and while there are certainly a lot more low-cost works, catering for the tourist market, there is also growth in top quality works and in diversity.
In the mid to late 90s the output was more even, now the range is more polarised, she says, fed by the growth in demand.
The guide contains for the first time a section on Alice Springs, long a hub for Aboriginal art from the desert, but now also home to both Aboriginal-owned art centres and a range of private operators creating permanent painting sheds and houses in town and on its outskirts.
McCulloch notes eight Aboriginal-owned arts centres in Alice at present. These, and in particular the two set up to cater for artists from town camps, get a fairly detailed account,  but she also pays some attention to  “the artist / private dealer relationship”, naming a number of them, including the long-established Gallery Gondwana. She says these relationships are “one of the reasons the town itself has become a significant art-producing region”.
McCulloch tries to stand back from the controversy that dogs Aboriginal art – the exploitation of Aboriginal artists by supposedly ubiquitous carpet-baggers. She regrets the way this has dominated coverage of Aboriginal art in recent times.
“It’s hard to shift away from it to some of the positive aspects, some of the amazing stories of people and their achievements,” she says.
In her buyer’s guide section, “From the Bush to the City”, she acknowledges “highly contentious” and “other quite bizarre” circumstances for some private dealing and “numerous incidents” of artists being underpaid for work.
“Yet this does not mean that every art work sold privately is either fake or necessarily of lesser quality,” she writes.
She also warns against “making assumptions about the facilities in which artists work” – “pressures on artists within a community are often also intense”, she writes.
She contests the assumption that all artists are unable to manage their own sales, citing C. P. Tjapaltjarri and E. Kngwarreye as examples of highly sought-after artists who did so.
While she acknowledges community art centres as “unquestionably the heart and soul of the art movement without which art would not have developed as it has”, she writes “not everyone who deals directly with artists, or who artists choose to work with, are of the same ilk”. 
And, “Whether Aboriginal artists are treated fairly in any transaction is largely determined by the ethics of all involved.”
Educate yourself, do your own research, develop your own eye, she urges buyers, and concludes with the salutary reminder that within the many problems on communities and with an often fraught art marketplace “the practice of art, like a beacon, continues to flourish” and is “one of the most positive and empowering aspects of life for many Aboriginal people”.

Selling out or evolving? Pop Vulture with CAMERON BUCKLEY reviews the Kings of Leon’s most recent album.

Floating out of the deep south swamps, like a toxic reptile with a three day growth and riding the tails of sound mavericks The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The White Stripes, the cousins and brothers that are the Kings of Leon have paddled up stream for a fourth time with their latest release, “Only By the Night”. 
The Kings conquered their way onto the alternative music scene in 2003, unleashing “Youth and Young Manhood” and in 2004, “Aha Shake Heartbreak”. 
The result was a sledgehammer to the face of any music appreciator in search of a new and unique sound.  Preceding these two sensory bulldozing albums was a third album titled “Because of the Times” which was released to a mixed bag of reviews, wasn’t welcomed by many of the band’s adoring minions but was accepted by a new wave of listeners. 
“Only by the Night” stays true to that change.  The song list becomes better appreciated the longer it is played. 
“The band shows its new path like a changing, rhythmatic, malignant cancer that needs to be fed. 
The album, on the whole, appears to be two bullets in a six shot revolver set of headphones, one bullet is marked “selling out”, the other is marked “evolution of sound”. 
Put the revolver to your head and pull the trigger. 
Rating: 667/1001

Year 12 – the final countdown. By EMILY RYAN.

The dull rhythm of a small marching band beats in your temple. Fluttering nerves have found a place to call home in the pit of your stomach.
Before this year you were not familiar with such feelings.
You hear yourself using the words “stressed” and “exhausted” and “maybe later” more than your parents do.     
The clock on your wall becomes your best friend and your worst enemy.
You can compare your struggle to get through the list of deadlines to swinging on a set of monkey bars – high over cement.  
The things you once enjoyed doing before and after school are now specifically labelled “extra curricular activities” and being on the school premises after dark is no longer hard to imagine.
On the bright side, however, at least you now have more things in common with your classmates – you’re all dealing with the stresses and successes of Year 12.
Your classmates and your teachers become a kind of family, with its disagreements and accomplishments. 
What starts out as a kind of personal race to achieve the most you can, soon becomes a team game and you look to your friends as team mates.
You begin to understand the qualities of friendships – your friends and teachers help you to discover the qualities in yourself.
While the last year of school may be just another year at school for some, for many it is one of the most memorable experiences of their young lives.
I will always remember the afternoon before my last exam. While studying with a friend at a unit I was minding, we decided to take a break.
We stepped out into the courtyard for some fresh air, my friend pulling the door shut behind her.
In an instant we realised the door was locked from the inside! We were in a space the size of a double shower, in between one unit and the next, the brick walls seeming to tower overhead.
With only a matter of hours before our final exam the following morning, we were both highly exasperated, and the November heat radiating from the bricks was not helping.
After what felt like ages and several attempts to climb the brick wall, using the pot plants in the courtyard as steps, we managed to get to the top and then had to climb across the boiling tin roof in bare feet before jumping onto the pavement below.
We’d risked having to sleep outside, going the night without food or water and ultimately missing our final exam, but instead we’d managed to forget the stress of last minute study while we dealt with the problem at hand and exhausted ourselves enough to enjoy a night’s deep sleep before the exam.
Last nights before last exams are still awaiting students like Nathan Bald and Erin Reilly, both in Year 12 at Centralian College.
They say this final secondary school hurdle has seen a change in their relationships with their teachers and other students. 
“The teachers become your mates,” says Nathan.
He says the more the teachers push you the more respect you have for them.  
“You don’t see school as something boring that you have to do,” he says.
Students become more mature and more willing to learn, say Nathan and Erin, and this helps them to prepare for the “real world”.
They’re looking forward to leaving school, but the idea of leaving friends and teachers is daunting.
Nourhane Saudi, at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, is completing her second year of Year 12 as she strives to fulfil her goal of becoming a doctor.
However, she is savouring every minute of her youth.
She  jokes: “I still think I could do a random subject again next year just so I can come back to school and chill out.”
Nourhane says her first year of Year 12 was devoted to study, but this year she has taken a step back, realising the importance of balance.
“You need to have a social life,” she says. “Year 12 is such a pivotal year in developing friendships.
“We’re all in it together.”
Michelle Ellis, also at OLSH College, says Year 12 has helped her develop important life skills: “I’ve learnt to organise myself better. You just learn to keep on top of things.”
When I went through Year 12 (it was only last year) I was lucky to have picked subjects which I came to thoroughly enjoy. Thankfully I also got along well with my teachers.
Some  of my classmates, however, preferred to leave school and get a job rather than face having to stay in to complete an assignment on a Saturday night.
Others remember struggling through their Year 12 experience.
Liz Meldrum, who also completed Year 12 last year at Centralian, got sick at the crucial stage of the trial exams.
She says her illness was brought on by the stress of exams “and the worry that I had so much to do in such a short period of time”.
“I started feeling the pressure that I had to study for five exams and not many other people had to.
“I didn’t know where I was going to find all the time for all the revising.”
She says doctors couldn’t find any physical problems after running blood tests and examining her symptoms and it was soon put down to the stress she was under mentally and emotionally.
“When I started to recover I thought I wasn’t going to have enough time to catch up, which brought on more stress and most likely slowed down my recovery.”
Not wanting to redo Year 12 and with the help and encouragement of her parents, Liz managed to recover for her final exams, after obtaining a medical certificate and applying for extensions on her work.
From my own experience and that of the students I’ve spoken to, I can say organisation and balance are essential to coping with the pressure.
Take the time to hang out with friends or go for a walk to clear your head, and while you look forward to the moment it’s all over, remember your school years will always be some of the best of your life.
Good luck, Year 12s!

LETTERS: Council misses mark with its graffiti plan.

Sir,– I wrote this letter to the Mayor of Alice Springs, Damien Ryan:
When I found this Graffiti Management Plan in my letter box, it grabbed my attention because of the eye-catching images – and I am familiar with this famous art piece from Melbourne, which was commissioned by the city of Melbourne, and I was expecting that this was part of a youth project for Alice Springs, a town which is lacking in public art – this is perhaps why you need to pick art pieces from other cities.
Perhaps your anti-graffiti pamphlet would have been more effective displaying offensive writing rather than art.
Or perhaps the money invested in the pamphlet print out and delivery, reward money and policing plan, could be better spent on a youth project such as the one on the Alice Springs Youth Centre wall or Gap Youth Centre etc.
It’s not just the photographs that are misplaced and inappropriate, it’s the wording that is most offensive, such as “disorder in the community” and “increasing feelings of fear”, reporting “offenders”…
I appreciate your efforts to reduce vandalism and defacing of public and private property, but the way you are approaching this feels under-researched and mis-targeted.
This approach is disempowering already at-risk youth, and repressing the creativity and potential for this town to reclaim a sense of community through urban art, which in this time is an accepted and respected art form – for instance in the metro train in New York, which back in the ‘70s was criminalized but today is encouraged by the city and was commissioned.
This zero tolerance approach is antiquated and divides the community by asking people to report on their fellow community members.
Another question is – where does the graffiti start and end? Why are political campaigns and advertising legitimised and yet community participation criminalized?
Wiriya Sati
Alice Springs 

ED– The Alice News offered Mayor Damien Ryan right of reply. He supplied the following:
Please be aware that the Graffiti Management Plan delivered to residents last week was not an Alice Springs Town Council publication.
The NT Police, NT Government, ASTC, and Power & Water continue working together to combat graffiti in Alice Springs, and often include the logos of these partners on individualised productions.
Council has been taking proactive steps to separate the concept of ‘graffiti’ (vandalism, defacing of property, i.e. ‘bad graffiti’) from aerosol art (like the Melbourne art space, the Alice Springs skate park sign, or the legalised site at Anzac Oval, i.e. ‘good graffiti’).
Council and NT Police are working jointly to promote the reduction of graffiti in Alice Springs, and Council continues to promote new projects encouraging creative expression through aerosol art on legalised sites around town – for example, the recent aerosol art workshops, an event provided free of charge by Council during the last school holidays and facilitated by a local aerosol artist.
To this end, the NT Police produced the brochure, Graffiti Management Plan, which was distributed last week, while Council continues to work on a television advertisement aimed at helping residents to clean up and reduce vandalising graffiti on private properties.
Please direct further comments regarding the Graffiti Management Plan brochure to the NT Police’s media department on 08 8951 8888. Graffiti vandalism is a crime.

Police cannot
ignore crime

Sir,– A number of recent public comments and media reports have implied that there has been some fundamental change in the approach of our members to law enforcement in urban and rural Aboriginal communities.
In some quarters it has been suggested this is the result of the Federal Intervention.
It appears to me that a number of individuals and interest groups are attempting to use recent events involving police as a platform to attack the Federal Intervention.
It has been implied as part of this campaign that police in two particular matters have been heavy handed and ignored the cultural sensibilities of the respective communities.
Our Association totally refutes these insinuations.
NT Police Officers in my experience have always attempted to enforce the law in an even-handed manner, taking into account a community’s cultural sensitivities, particularly when working with Aboriginal people.
The Intervention has not changed the underlying values of the NT Police Force or individual Police Officers.
The Intervention has in fact highlighted the good relationship between police and many Aboriginal people across the Territory.
Our members are required to enforce the law and cannot simply ignore reports of crime or wrongdoing.
Are our critics honestly suggesting professional Police Officers can ignore crimes, such as sexual offences or reports of firearm offences?
If a community or an individual believes that police have overstepped the mark there is a process to resolve complaints.
Sadly, a number of commentators have opted for trial by media before the full facts of a situation are known.
It has also been suggested that police require more cross-cultural awareness training.
There is a distinction between cultural sensitivity and ignoring a crime.
Our critics should take the time to find out exactly what training is provided by the NT Police to both recruits and seconded AFP members before making ill-informed comments.
Our critics ignore the enormous amount of corporate knowledge our Police Force has developed after decades of working in Aboriginal communities.
Our critics ignore the fact that many of our current serving members have been working alongside and with Aboriginal people for more than 20 years.
Our Association acknowledges that our members make mistakes – they are, after all, human.
Our challenge is to reduce the chance of making the same mistake again or alternatively, making sure individuals and communities understand why police acted in a particular way.
Vince Kelly, President
The Northern Territory Police Association

Angela Pamela
too easy!

Sir,– I wonder if the reasons for Cameco Paladin pulling up at the Angela Pamela prospects are nothing more than sloth and greed. Uranium is apparently to be found all over inland Australia. We hear reports of deposits in South Australia, West Australia and many sites in the NT.
But Angela Pamela sits on a sealed highway, has a rail line running past its western boundary, an airport only minutes away, and enough water for a mine.
Too easy!
The greed is all but a given. Corporations are financial entities specifically designed to siphon wealth from the bottom to the top. 
That’s what they do, and if a bit of community concern will help in their pursuit of corporate and shareholder profit, then a community may reap some benefit. Scientific opinion is divided. Which is to say proceed, but quietly, and never pass up a chance to declare your good intentions. Now we hear phrases like fly-in and fly-out, but never ever fly away.  Or just fly somewhere else.  I’m not trying to save the world, I’m just asking Cameco Paladin not to piss in my water.
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

The case of
the stolen rose

Sir,– Re. letter to the editor pleading for the return of a stolen rose, one of three made from recycled aluminium cans by bulldozer driver, occasional sculptor and currently, law student at University of Adelaide, Simon Holding.
To create this exquisite vase of roses Simon painstakingly de-constructed actual roses and replicated them in metal, petal by petal. The artwork was subsequently sold during an exhibition of sculptures at the silver bullet cafe in 2006.
Simon was touched by the sentimental value placed on his work by local business woman, Suzanne Visser, and asked me to send her a replacement rose. He also offered to weld all three long stemmed roses and the vase to an appropriate counter, plinth or other heavy steel surface!
To the person who stole the sculpture I would like to add: there is a big difference between taking a flower from a garden and stealing artwork and hopefully this difference will tarnish you in the eyes of the recipient.
Mike Gillam
Alice Springs

ADAM CONNELLY: King of the hill goes for a spell.

It may seem strange that I am talking about the festive season so early in the year.
As we approach the end of October no doubt you’ll begin to get invitations to Christmas parties in the next couple of weeks and you workplaces have already started printing the most egregious of festive salutations, the business Christmas card.
Supermarkets are already selling mince pies and Christmas cake by the truck load. I have never understood the fruit mince pie. Why is a fruit mince pie only available at Christmas time? I personally think that if I don’t like eating something in June, I’m probably not going to want to eat it in December. And I’m definitely not going to want one in October.
Getting you in the spirit of festive consumerism isn’t why I want to talk about the holiday season. I want to remind you of that period in your life when Christmas day was the best day ever. It beat your birthday hands down. It even rated higher than when Jenny Thompson kissed you in fifth grade.
Remember before all the family politics and the hassle of getting to Mum’s place and packing up the kids and paying a bazillion dollars for the return flight? Remember when Christmas was all about being able to play with new toys, running amok and eating until you got a cramp? Remember?
Do you remember December 27? Arguably the most boring and melancholic day on the calendar.
December 27 is the day when you realise that the fairy tale is over. Sure you have some new toys.
You may even still be on holidays but December 27 is the day when life returns to normal. No more big lunches with laughing, loving family. No more getting spoiled by Nanna. No more sips of beer from Uncle Pete’s tinny. 
I’m sure psychologists have a name for the situation. They have probably even given it the elevated status of a disorder or even a syndrome.
Something akin to “Post-Festive Depression”. Whatever the name given to it, it is real and many of you might have a touch of it right now.
It’s a post-Masters malaise that looms large over the heads of several of you reading now.
A sadness that the good times had to end.
Many of you have had a ball over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been out and about and I know that some of you have had some of the best times of your life at the Masters Games.
You have become a party animal, the Belushi of Central Australia. Your mates called you a legend and members of the opposite sex looked at you in a way they hadn’t since you left school.
You laughed harder, danced better and drank more than you had in years. And now the thought of going back to the office makes you feel a little empty.
I understand. Although I was clearly less successful than you in the past couple of weeks I too have had the occasional purple patch of excellence. I too have been king of the hill for a spell. I know what it’s like to realise that it is all over.
Remember December 27? It feels like that, doesn’t it? 
The thing about December 27 was that December 28 and 29 and 30 followed. Then it was New Year’s Eve. After New Years Eve was another four weeks of school holidays. You got a bike for Christmas and a cricket set and a couple of CDs (or cassettes or 8 tracks or LPs).
Summer was yours for the taking and take it you did. You rode around the streets like kings. Exploring and laughing in equal measure was the call of the day.
The next day you beat your family in the first backyard test match and you had your theme song playing to celebrate.
Post-Masters malaise is a crappy feeling I’m sure. So why not get out the cricket set?

Back to our home page.