November 6, 2008. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

We need workers’ hostel, says new Chamber boss. By KIERAN FINNANE.

A consortium of local businesses should buy the Melankas site and develop it as the type of hostel accommodation Melankas was originally designed as.
So says newly elected branch chair of the Chamber of Commerce, Julie Ross (pictured), co-owner with husband Neil of Ross Engineering, and its financial manager.
The Melankas site, together with plans to develop it as a backpackers resort, are on the market.
Ms Ross says she and her executive feel this would offer a quick and easy solution to the accommodation crisis that is hamstringing the Alice economy.
“I would like to see it set aside for working people.
“I’m aware of people coming here looking for work who are living in caravan parks and tents and then move on because they can’t find anywhere suitable to live.
“Our skills shortage is going hand in hand with our accommodation shortage.”
The government’s recent announcement of a $14,000 subsidy to new home builders and unit buyers “is of no consequence”, she says, in responding to the crisis in Alice Springs – there is not sufficient land available and, even if there were, there are not enough construction workers. 
On this she finds common ground with Alice aldermen who expressed similar criticism at last week’s council meeting.
Ms Ross says the most imminent land release, in Mt John’s Valley, will be too expensive for the type of housing needed.
Pressure on accommodation is due in part to the Intervention, one of its unwanted effects, says Ms Ross. 
Accommodation houses, rental car companies and restaurants have all done well out of the Intervention, she says, but the companies supplying the add-on experiences to tourists – like camel rides, bush dinners, touring –  are suffering, with tourist beds taken up by government employees.
Law and order issues are also a big concern, not least because of the hike in break-ins to commercial premises – “mainly those that sell and store alcohol”.
Again, this appears to be an unwanted effect of the Intervention, says Ms Ross.
She says the recently emerged Responsible Drinking Lobby, organised by Liz Martin, an alderman and executive officer of the Road Transport Hall of Fame, has some suggestions worth considering, such as wet canteens or workers’ clubs being established on communities.
“I personally don’t think more police will solve this problem,” says Ms Ross. “We already have more police per capita than any other Australian town of our size.
“We should get together with the Town Council to come up with solutions to take to government.”
Collaboration with the council as well as with other representative bodies in town, such as Tourism Central Australia, should also happen on other issues affecting the local economy, so that “we lobby the Territory Government with a more powerful, united voice”.
Ms Ross says the Territory’s other regional centres are experiencing very similar problems.
When the general council of the Chamber met in Darwin two weeks ago, Katherine, for instance, listed their main concerns as anti-social behaviour, youth issues, police numbers, skills shortage and land availability.
And they also talked about the Intervention’s Income Management measures, the closure of the GBS gold mining venture in Pine Creek, the new shires and fuel costs for businesses.
“A lot of these are the same issues we are constantly battling with,” says Ms Ross. 
“We’ve got some challenging times coming up.”
Not least of these are the uncertainties arising from the international economic downturn. 
The vulnerability of the Territory’s mining and tourism industries were the main areas of concern during discussions at the recent meeting of the general council.
“There was concern about Pine Creek and how it will survive the closure of GBS Mining.
“And the impact of this will go beyond the immediate community of Pine Creek – GBS owed NT businesses $144m.
“At the moment it’s a matter of waiting and watching.
“If the recession becomes global there’s not much the Chamber can do to make a difference, except to continue to lobby the NT Government to stay in spending mode.
“If they slowed down now it would have a domino effect.”
What is Ms Ross hearing locally?
She spoke to a company last week which is a supplier especially to junior companies involved in mining exploration. These companies had put a complete halt on purchasing – things like safety equipment and their repairs and maintenance program – all in the same week.
“This will have some knock-on effect.
“It is a bit scary if this is going to be the end of the resources boom as we’ve known it for the last five years.
“The upside is that it might free up some of the skilled labour that the town has been so short of.”
She is confident that her own company can weather the storm as their major clients are well-established.
The Power and Water Corporation, for instance, will always continue to at least maintain existing infrastructure.
And The Granites mine has been around “as long as I have”.
Both were major clients back during “the recession we had to have” of 1991-92  – “we didn’t notice a particular change in focus”, says Ms Ross.
Nonetheless, this is a time for diligence – “checking out that your clients are able to meet their commitments” – and like many, Ms Ross has decided to put a hold on non-essential spending.
Ms Ross says the Alice branch also needs to “get back” its identity within the Chamber of Commerce NT. “We had lost a lot of momentum, we were being taken over by the Darwin office.”
Local events were being organised out of Darwin and it was decided from there, for instance, that next year’s Expo in Alice would be cancelled because it was too expensive.
Ms Ross says she and her executive “want to see our members exhibit at the Alice Springs Show which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year”.
Meanwhile they will look at how future Expos can be organised without causing too much financial strain.

‘Transparent’ Centrecorp still stumm. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The majority ownership by the Central Land Council (CLC) of the secretive multi-million dollar Aboriginal investment company, Centrecorp, is under challenge after issues were raised at the recent Senates Estimates hearings (Alice News, October 30).
CLC director David Ross, during questioning by Shadow Attorney General George Brandis, agreed to take on notice questions about how much money from Centrecorp had been distributed to Aboriginal people.
Mr Ross is required to respond by December 12.
Centrecorp general manager Bob Kennedy has since been quoted by the Centralian Advocate, in a puff piece, that “more than $1 million” had been given to charitable causes in the past seven years.
The newspaper, appearing a day after the Alice Springs News reported on the Senate hearings, quoted Mr Kennedy as saying that Centrecorp now wanted to be “more transparent”.
But the Advovcate says it failed to get an answer from Mr Kennedy about the value of the company’s assets.
Whilst stating that Centrecorp has shares in L J Hooker, Mitre 10, Peter Kittle Motor Company, Milner Road Foodtown, King’s Canyon Resort and Yeperenye shopping Centre – all previously reported in the Alice Springs News – the Advocate did not report on the size of the respective shareholdings.
The News has been covering the Centrecorp controversy in 44 reports and comment pieces since April 1998, and a dossier of Alice News reports was a substantial part of the briefing NT Senator Nigel Scullion gave Senator Brandis.
The Senator also questioned Mr Ross, and senior officials of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, of which the CLC is an agency, about a possible breach of the land rights act.
It says a land council must not engage in commercial activity, not directly related to Aboriginal land itself, that may expose the land council to “financial liability or enable it to receive financial benefit”.
Sen Brandis asked a departmental officer: “Have you turned your mind to the question of whether or not, in view of what has been asserted in the media, the relationship between the Central Land Council and Centrecorp might, potentially at least, be in breach of the statute?”
The officer said they had, that a number of reviews and investigations had been made; the Senator asked to receive copies; his request was taken on notice.
The CLC owns three of the five Centrecorp shares and Mr Ross is also a Centrecorp director.
Both the department and Mr Ross claimed that the CLC receives no benefits from Centrecorp, which is the trustee of a charitable trust enjoying tax exemptions.
The hearing was told the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) had made a “ruling” that the CLC and Centrecorp were not “related entities”, and it was proper for the CLC to list its Centrecorp shares amongst its assets at the nominal value of $3, instead of their actual value of many millions of dollars.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has given similar reasons for rejecting sustained calls from Aboriginal leaders received by the Alice News for transparency by the company, and for it to use its wealth for the benefit of the Centre’s largely impoverished black population.
Senator Brandis asked the department to provide him with the ANAO documents, and the department took this on notice.
Senator Brandis questioned whether it is up to the ANAO to make a ruling on the issue. “It is a legal question,” he said at the hearing.
He said to Mr Ross: “The profits of Centrecorp will be distributed according to its charitable trust deed for the benefit of Aboriginal people in the Central Australian region. 
“That is the ...  justification for the treatment of your interest in Centrecorp at nominal value only.
“Has Centrecorp made any distributions [and] if so, when, what were the amounts and to whom were the distributions made?”
Mr Ross: “I will take that question on notice.”
Senator Brandis: “Thank you. I will make this as plain as I can.  If there had been no distributions, that note to your accounts would be misleading.”
And later in the hearing Senator Brandis said: “I assert that one of the reasons I am entitled to ask the CLC questions about the asset values and holdings of Centrecorp is that in the CLC’s own financial statements the justification given for treating the shares at nominal rather than real value is that distributions are made to Aboriginal people by Centrecorp under its trust deed.
“If that statement is false, there is a falsity in the accounts of the Central Land Council.
“We have an extraordinary situation.
“A 60 per cent shareholding in a business, which is asserted by credible investigative journalists to hold in excess of $100 million in assets and which would have a real value to the controlling shareholder of in excess of $60 million, is written down in the books of the CLC at only nominal value.
“The CLC ... has to explain and justify the treatment of this asset in that way ... in its own balance sheet.”
[The News left a phone message for Centrecorp on Tuesday but did not receive a response.]

Wattle seed from Oz could eliminate famine in Africa. By KIERAN FINNANE.

An Alice Springs PhD student is mounting an ambitious research project to put an end to famine in the African region known as the Sahel.
Running in a belt south of the Sahara, from the Atlantic in the west to the Red Sea in the east, the Sahel includes Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan and Eritrea.
The key to ending the spectre of starvation in this region, argues Peter Yates, is to expand the embryonic market there for the highly nutritious Australian acacia (wattle) seed.
It has already been demonstrated that Australian acacias flourish in the harsh Sahel environment and produce their protein-rich seed during the prolonged dry season, when food stores from the staple millet crops run low.
The seed is also the base ingredient of an emergency food biscuit that Mr Yates is developing as part of his research.
He wants to see a nutrient-dense ready-to-eat emergency food that is made entirely from ingredients produced in the Sahel, giving the region greater food self-sufficiency and counteracting debilitating dependence on food aid.
When food aid is imported, he says, the price for locally grown produce drops, and farmers stop growing or reduce their crops.
This has seen African food production drop steadily (by per capita measure) since the 1960s, in contrast to everywhere else.
Some food aid will always be needed, with droughts and conflict creating temporary shortages.
But some of what is currently imported could be supplanted by African-grown Australian acacias which prosper in land systems that in Australia are not seen as suitable for agriculture, says Mr Yates.
“In the Sahel there are 100 million people living in country like we find to the north of Tennant Creek – semi-arid subtropical land.
“Their staple millet crop fails in one out of five years and people go hungry. But if we add acacias we can make this area a net food producer within a decade.”
Indeed, he says the world can’t double food production in the next 30 years, as it must do, without involving the semi-arid subtropics.
The emergency food biscuit would play a role in stimulating the local market for the acacia seed as well as other local products.
Mr Yates has created a prototype made from acacia seed; millet; ground dried moringa leaves, which are also very high in protein and the B vitamins as well as Vitamin A, one the key missing ingredients in Thirld World diets; peanuts or peanut oil; and dates, or alternatively the so-called Chinese date or pomme de Sahel, as a source of sugar and Vitamin C.
“The objective is to provide complete nutrition in a biscuit, something that you could live on for six months if you had to. We want it to be palatable, and to be made only from whole foods  produced in the region.
“We’re looking at things like shelf life, transportability and versatility in the way it is used. For instance, it could be crushed and added to millet porridge, which is a daily food, to make the porridge much more nutrious.”
The biscuit’s not going to become a hit snack food but it is pleasant enough to eat, and “I think I can improve it”, says Mr Yates.
He, together with CSIRO scientist Michael La Flamme, outlined the  project, complete with tastings of the biscuit, at the Desert Knowledge Symposium on Tuesday.
Further analysis and testing of the biscuit in collaboration with health professionals will be undertaken in the course of Mr Yates’ PhD research.
Experiments with plantings of Australian acacias in the Sahel began about 30 years ago but the trees have taken off in the last few years as a result of work by Christian mission group SIM and World Vision, particularly in the Maradi region of Niger, which Mr Yates visited to buy the seed.
At the time he was attempting to establish a market for the seed in Europe, to be used as a nutritious and tasty additive to breads.
These plans are in abeyance for want of finance, but the exercise did much to create a positive profile for the seed among farmers and villagers of the region.
Tony Rinaudo, Natural Resource Management Advisor for World Vision Australia, reported after a visit to 12 villages in Niger reports “enormous interest” amongst communities which benefit from improved vision, physical strength, breastmilk, sexual performance, and, in chickens, more and heavier eggs.
The trees are also used for firewood – indeed, at present one third to half the value of the plantings is down to that use.
As long-lived perennials with deep root systems, the trees are drought-resistant and also contribute to maintaining soil fertility, by cycling nutrients into the upper soil layers.

Slow road to progress.

This is the second article in a series by ALEX NELSON on how economic fortunes elsewhere have impacted on Central Australia in the past.  The first was published last week.

By 1928, 40 years after its foundation, the township of Stuart (Alice Springs) boasted a European population of about 40 residents – one for each year of its existence.
Except for four leases by the Todd south of Gregory Terrace, the township remained confined within its original boundaries surveyed in 1888.
Central Australia was an isolated economic backwater, and what little industry there was (pastoralism and mining, both marginal) was focussed on the railhead at Oodnadatta in South Australia.
The railway to Oodnadatta was constructed during the 1880s as a major SA government public works project employing hundreds of labourers during the SA recession.
It took over six years to build the line from Marree to Oodnadatta alone, finally commencing operation in January 1891.
By now South Australia’s enthusiasm for constructing and operating the north-south transcontinental rail line had waned. Administration and development of the Northern Territory had become a drain on finances at a time when most Australian colonies were about to plunge into economic depression.
It had also belatedly dawned on the SA parliament that the north-south railway, once completed, would operate at a loss.
Negotiations for the transfer of control of the NT to the Commonwealth began immediately after the first federal government took office in 1901.
Unsurprisingly the Commonwealth was wary of this unpalatable proposition but South Australia had an ace up its sleeve, as the Commonwealth was obliged to construct an east-west rail link to Perth as one of the conditions for Western Australia joining the Federation – and of course this line had to cross over SA.
Defence considerations also came into play after the Japanese destroyed the Russian fleet in Tsushima Straits in 1905 – the defence of northern Australia suddenly became a major national priority.
During exactly the first decade after Federation a deal was negotiated between SA and the Commonwealth for the latter to take control of the NT on January 1, 1911.
South Australia had won a legal commitment from the Commonwealth to construct the railway to the Top End but no specific date was set for its completion.
Canberra had little time to assess its new  territorial acquisition, as the First World War diverted the nation’s attention (ironically the feared Japanese fleet of a decade earlier provided the escort for Australian troopships to the Middle East and Gallipoli in 1915).
It was not until the mid 1920s, a time of world-wide prosperity, that the Commonwealth turned its attention in earnest to the NT. Coincidentally Central Australia had by now commenced its next major drought, which lasted some 14 years.
The Nationalist-Country Party Coalition government oversaw two major developments for Central Australia.
The Northern Australia Act of 1926 split the NT into two territories, and the town of Stuart became the “capital” of Central Australia in February 1927.
The second simultaneous (but unrelated) development was the re-commencement of rail construction north from Oodnadatta in January 1927, complementing extension of the North Australia Railway in the Top End.
John Charles Cawood was appointed the first “Government Resident” of Central Australia. His first official report in 1927 is illuminating: “I was warmly welcomed by the residents, who seem to appreciate the possibility of the separation of Central Australia from North Australia as likely to mark a new era as far as local administration is concerned.
“Rightly or wrongly, they were imbued with the idea that Central Australia was too far removed from the seat of government at Darwin to receive the attention it required.”
The effect of the new administration was to spark a construction boom to cater for the increased presence of a new bureaucracy.
The first buildings were the Residency and the Resident’s Council and Administration offices on opposite corners of Parsons and Hartley streets, which were completed in November 1928 – exactly 80 years ago.
However, the economic stimulus provided by the two administrations of the NT came at a significantly increased public debt incurred by Canberra ...
The construction of the railway to Stuart was completed in July 1929, a little over two years (in stark contrast to the snail’s pace progress of rail construction almost 40 years earlier).
Rail services, dubbed the “Ghan”, commenced operation in August 1929.
Twelve years of conservative rule in Canberra ended on October 22, 1929 with the victory of Labor under PM James Scullin.
A few days later the Great Depression began in the USA, with devastating consequences for Australia.

Govt. revolution in bush. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The Central Desert Shire (CDS) is the size of Victoria, has a population of 4500 mainly Aboriginal people, mostly young, and a budget of $27m, of which only $500,000 or less than 2% is raised from rates.
As of this week the shire has 12 councillors, all except one Aboriginal, who will elect a president from their midst later this month.
The Shire Service Managers in each of the nine major communities will between them oversee 90 permanent “core” staff and 130 people working for contractors engaged for one year at a time.
It’s tempting to see new structures like this in terms of numbers.
But no doubt, slowly, these new players in politics will get a public face, will give media interviews, run campaigns, drop the odd leak and hold a speech or two at election time.
About half have a history of service on the previous small councils.
They are elected for four years and will meet six times a year, three times in different bush communities and three times in Alice Springs.
Some prominent figures missed out: In the MacDonnell shire, Gus Williams in Hermannsburg topped the primary vote but did not receive enough preferences.
The legendary Barry Abbott, with an amazing record of rehabilitation of petrol sniffers, polled third in a field of eight but also missed out.
Right now there is some pretty vigorous grumbling from people on stations who consider themselves frozen out of the process.
The shires rates, little as they may be, will – at the discretion of the Minister for Local Government – be paid mainly by pastoralists and miners.
Pastoral leases and commercial agricultural properties will be paying the unimproved capital value (UCV) multiplied by 0.0006.
Typical cattle stations around The Centre are between 2000 and 3000 square kilometers. One 2100 sqkm station near Alice Springs has an UCV of $450,000.
The applicable shire rates would be $270 but the minimum amount payable is $300.
Another station, 3000 sqkm and with an UCV of $370,000, would be up for $222 but will be charged $78 more – not a huge amount but a new impost, some say.
A 4000 sqkm property north-east of Alice Springs with an UCV of $1m will pay $600 in rates.
For active mining, extractive and petroleum leases, the assessed value is 20 times the yearly rent payable in respect of the lease, where the rent is $10 per hectare.
Rates are calculated by multiplying the assessed value by 0.00284.
For commercial properties (not otherwise classified above) the minimum rate or service charge will be $710 per operational location or, where the commercial property is on rateable title with a UCV greater than $250,000, the rate is calculated by multiplying the UCV by 0.00284.
For residential properties a flat rate of $600 per dwelling has been adopted, although who pays may be a tough call in the legislative maze of local, state and Federal governments, and the collective nature of land ownership under Aboriginal landrights.
No miners nor pastoralists have been elected to the office of councillor in the CDS where 11 of the 12 elected members are black and the only white councillor is an essential services officer in an Aboriginal community.
Some cattle station folk have complained they were obliged to vote but had no details about the candidates.
They didn’t know them and couldn’t contact them.
The grumbles from the rate payers are now focussing on the fact that most of the shire activities will be for the benefit of the non-payers: child care, aged care, night patrol, recreation and sport manager services, housing maintenance.
But shire CEO Rowan Foley takes an upbeat view: “We are in our first year of operation, and in many ways we are the modern day pioneers of the Northern Territory, facing many challenges.
“We are determined to succeed just like the original pioneers did in developing the NT.”
Elected councillors are:-
Central Desert Shire: Jasper Haines, Adrian Dixon, James Jampajimpa Glenn, Noel Heenan, Bruce Finter, Louis Schaber, Jean Brown, Ned Hargraves, Robbie Walita and Maisie Wayne. Willie Johnson and Norbert Patrick had been elected unopposed in their Northern Tanami Ward.
MacDonnell Shire: Peter Ross Wilson, Mildred Inkamala, Carl Inkamala, Roxanne Kenny, Sid Anderson, Lance Abott, Irene Wilpinta Nangala, Raymond Kiernan, Lisa Wilyuka, Joseph Rawson and David Doolan. A by-election to fill one vacancy in the Lyarrka Ward will be held on December 13.

CCTV blind to crime. By KIERAN FINNANE.

For the second time in a fortnight CCTV in the mall failed to detect the smashing of a business premise window.
The Alice News reported in our issue of October 16 that a window had been broken at Oscar’s restaurant the week before and no footage was available of the act.
In the early hours of that morning, a Thursday, the front door at Lone Dingo, on the corner of Todd Mall and Gregory Terrace, was smashed.
The owner, Simon Reu, was called to the premises at around 2am by police, who had discovered the incident.  
There is a camera in front of Lone  Dingo.
The Alice Springs News enquired whether CCTV had picked up useful images.
CEO Rex Mooney replied: “Council’s weekly active or manned monitoring is scheduled for three nights a week.
“During active monitoring, monitoring personnel have    the ability to pan, tilt and zoom the cameras and thus the recordings are a live record.
“During the unmanned monitoring sessions, the cameras are fixed on presets.
 “Unfortunately, due to the existing budget, active monitoring was not scheduled for the early hours of the 16th October and the camera was not pointing in the direction of the incident.”
Active monitoring takes place from 6pm to 6am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The Alice News also asked about the progress of extension of CCTV into other areas of the CBD and whether, before council goes ahead, is it going to require any kind of formal review of the system’s effectiveness in the mall?
“Council is aware of the short comings of non-active monitoring and with the additional funding recently announced by the Chief Minister, an expanded coverage of areas by the cameras will be considered.  “With respect to the effectiveness of the CCTV system, this will be addressed when the scope of works is being worked through and the funding arrangements from the NT Government are finalised.”
So it seems clear that the town will get an extension of CCTV, at a cost of at least $1.1m (the Chief Minister’s recent announcement) without first establishing, beyond the anecdotal, whether or not it is useful.

Melanka party is over ... but what a party it was!

DICK KIMBER remembers his five years as a lodger at Melanka Hostel, just demolished to make way for ... who knows.
I arrived in the Alice in the mid-morning of 6th February, 1970, having taken nine leisurely dirt road days to get here from Adelaide via the Flinders Ranges and Oodnadatta. 
After locating the post office – then in Telegraph Terrace – and sending a telegram to my parents to let them know that I had arrived, I located Melanka Hostel by the pencil pines outside the office. 
In those days it provided the main accommodation for the majority of government and other single workers who arrived in town – close to 200 people at a guess. 
It consisted of Stott House, where four World War II Army barracks with a main entrance off Stott Terrace provided rooms for single women and single “white collar” male workers. 
Long verandahs, fly-wire screened, gave shade, and these verandahs also had entrances at each end. 
Todd House, diagonally opposite, where the council chambers and council car-park are now, consisted (as I recall) of a large Nissen hut and five long Army barracks for the male “blue collar” workers.
The majority of the boarders were young men, but in Stott House young women were also prominent.  They and the nurses at the old nurses’ wing accommodation of the old hospital, only a stone’s throw south, drew the young men like magnets, and many a roaring party was had.  (The feminist movement had had little impact, and young men often referred to the nurses’ quarters as “the bulk store.”) 
Griffith House, opposite the old Hartley Street school, was also a boarding house where numbers of young women boarded, but it was difficult for liaisons because a night security man constantly prowled with a torch. 
Although I spent time in both, I mainly lived in Stott House.
The manager of these Commonwealth Hostels greeted me as I entered on that first day.  Although he had arrived in Australia as a teenager, his voice was that of an English Army major.  His name was Thomas A’Beckett Flood, or “Mister Flood” to his face and “Old Floody” in general reference. 
He had been appointed in 1960, after years of the barracks’ residents running amok, to straighten things out.  People who had not paid their rent, or got drunk and picked fights, were quickly evicted. 
And although the expressions are politically incorrect these days, even more quickly evicted were those universally known at the time as “gin burglars” or “gin jockeys.”  
(One of the Todd House barracks was nick-named “Gin Alley”, and a notorious character called “Bluey” had been given his marching orders the year before I arrived, after a drunken weekend of rowdy debauchery.  Two naked Aboriginal women whom he had invited up from the Todd River to help him share a couple of flagons of red wine, then also the going price for “a bit of creek”, as such sex was sometimes called, were given time to dress and evicted along with him.) 
Mr Flood’s first act of welcome was to open a stubby of beer and give it to me, and at the same time allot me a room on condition that I sign a form.  This form was not binding but suggested that, if he was able to form a new Aussie Rules football team called Melanka, I would play for it.
I did not want to commit myself before knowing the nature of the local competition, but it was clear that he would find me a room more quickly if I signed.  He also told me that the population of the Alice was about 9,000, which was larger than I had expected. 
My first room, recently vacated by a post office worker, was in block two.  It had a bed, clothes’ cupboard, small chest of drawers, chair and a few nails in the walls for hanging of a mirror, photographs or other items, a small electric fan and not quite enough room to swing a cat. 
All other rooms were identical, with the exception of block four, where overhead fans prevailed (and to which I moved after a couple of months). 
I placed an old leather jacket and a broken-backed guitar, both left by the previous boarder, in the cupboard along with my clothes, and added a popular poster of the time, “Save Water – Shower With  a Friend”, to the back of my door. Almost everyone had posters of some kind, often “psychedelic”, as decorations, they having become popular in the mid-1960s. 
After a walk about the main town area, observing the people, shops, Flynn Church, Adelaide House, Marron’s Newsagency and the three pubs, I returned to the general foyer area.  There, to my surprise, I recognised receptionist Kay Weeks (absent on an errand when first I arrived) with whom I had attended Glossop Highschool in South Austtralia, then Brendan Linnane, a newly appointed  highschool teacher.  He and I had attended Adelaide Teachers College 1966-1969, and he had arrived a couple of days earlier. 
He introduced me to Dave Green and Jill Finch, respectively a primary and an infant teacher, Jill being from Darke Peake in South Australia.  Lunch-time found me seated with John (“J.B.”) Bell of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA), and Commonwealth clerical officer Bob “(the Grazer”) Fraser. 
Both instantly asked if I had played Aussie Rules football and tried to sign me for their respective teams, Federals and Amoonguna, the latter community then providing a team for the town competition. 
They also told me that the reason for the broken-backed guitar was that the owner was driving another resident up the wall with his discordant practicing so that, when he refused to stop, the offended bloke grabbed it out of his hands and smashed it over his head. 
By the end of the day I had met my long-term mate Jimmy “The Stirrer” Thomas, then working for Connellan Airways, Barney Foran and Sam Miles of the AIB (Animal Industries Branch), Stuie Phillpot and Gavin O’Brien (patrol officers in training with DAA), Geof Bartram and Peter Brew who were doggers for CSIRO’s dingo research, Kim Cook , Denis Kolberg and Don “The Elusive” Dobie of Telecom, Ray Hodson, a rugby player and all-round sports enthusiast who worked at the post office, Mignon (“Min of the Inland”) Williams, Di Jackson, Sue Bolt and a host of other mainly young female teachers, Peter O’Donell, the “Flick” representative, and numbers of surveyors, water resource workers and other government workers. 
I had also met Neil Black (“The Reverend Mister Black”), the young deputy manager of the hostel, and had begun to meet the men of Todd House and the Melanka staff. 
Most of the Melanka staff had been working there for years, some of them decades since its change-over from an Army barracks. 
Among the cooks were Romano “The Ram”, Johnny Pozz’ and Johnny de Lucca, while assisting at meal-times were Romano’s wife Natalina, Sandra Cole and “Tilly” Tilmouth.  Cleaners included Florrie Bray, Mrs Freeman, Doris, Carol (who tragically had a fall from a horse that almost made her a paraplegic) and another buxom young woman also called Carol whose role in life, as she expressed it, was to “play hide the dick” with her truckie boyfriend.  
Doyen of all of them was Winnie Zander, with her nasal twang of a voice, shuffling slippers and habit of reading everyone’s private mail – and commenting on it. 
She lived in a small flat a few steps west of block four, and Barney loved to bait her by imitating a cat outside her room.  After a while would come the twang of her rising voice, “Is that you, Barney Foran?” 
Barney would echo her in imitative twanging voice, “Is that you Barney Foran?”, and leave Win looking for her cat. 
A legendary inhabitant was “Morrie” Morrow, a very able senior public servant who had lived in the same room for a record 25 years (no-one else wanted the record!), and was reputed to be the only person able to control the even more legendary ancient anthropologist Miss Pink. 
(Miss Pink lived in a cement-floored hut in what is now called the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, but she was never called other than Miss Pink.  Most children thought that she was a witch, and quite a few adults concurred).  Morrie was a small, wizened, friendly man who drunk himself to early sleep every night, and later retired down south to care for his aged mother. 
By far the majority of people who boarded at the hostel were aged 20-30 and, being single and normally staying in the Alice for less than a year, made the most of their time. 
Tony de Boek, whom I remember as a friendly health inspector of Lebanese descent with a good sense of humour, only came every year for a few weeks. 
Friends and relationships were quickly made, and the walls were so thin that every moan, groan and ecstatic scream of a relationship was heard by the residents of the nearest surrounding rooms. 
In case there was any doubt, one young man gave emphasis as his lady squealed by yelling out, “I’m giving you a baby!”  As may be imagined, numbers of married couples in town met at either the old or recently demolished new Melanka. 
There could, however, be sad occasions when good friends left town or relationships broke down.  The young man who had previously boarded in my room visited after about a month, by which time I had put his smashed guitar out in the rubbish. 
We had a friendly yarn, he retrieved his jacket and regretted the demise of his guitar, and I said that he should feel free to drop in any time. 
A short time later, his girlfriend having left him, he committed suicide.  Every now-and-again I wonder whether, had I not thrown out that broken guitar, his depression may not have been so great.  I only met him that once, yet 38 years later he remains in my mind. 
It being very hot weather throughout February and through to Easter, the evening cooling of the verandah cement of block four, abutting a meandering gold-fish-pond with water lilies, became a favourite drinking and yarning area.  Occasionally blokes playing the fool jumped in with the fish. 
People also bought small record players, and a mixture of Slim Dusty singing “Trumby was a Ringer” and the American group, Crosbie, Stills and Nash singing “Marrakesh Express”, was frequently heard.  Card-playing was also popular in bursts. 
The era was still one of great trust.  Unless sexual gynmnastics were being performed, doors and louvres were inevitably left open by most residents most of the time, and any two people having a drink and a yarn could develop into a party. 
Even though two was as many people as a room could comfortably accommodate, “J.B” created a record when 21 people crammed into his, with those standing on the edge of his bed obliged to grab at the overhead fan for support, and “thousands” more spilling out onto the cement verandah. 
In the morning his bed was almost u shaped, and the blades of the overhead fan sagged like the petals of a wilted flower.
In contrast to this, when Denis Kolberg was having a party, his back-to-back resident and good mate Gary Bierman, wanting to sleep, opened the door to his cupboard and took all of his clothes out. 
He then shoulder-charged the back of the cupboard, crashed through the separating wall, and landed on Denis’s record player. 
In the momentarily stunned silence Gary announced in his strong Germanic accent, “The party is over!” 

Changes afoot for Araluen. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Witchetty’s at Araluen will be used more often as an exhibition space following the success of its recent transformation to accommodate the Togart Contemporary Art Award, says director of the Araluen Cultural Precinct, Tim Rollason (pictured).
A tender for works was advertised on Tuesday.
The works will see further refinement to a system of movable exhibition walls and plinths, as well as the installation of lighting and the opening up of access to the garden at the rear, so that it can be used for outdoor functions.
Performance-based events will still be possible at Witchetty’s but more gallery space is sorely needed, says Mr Rollason, especially as the newest gallery, created with Centenary of Federation funds, will be turned over to a permanent exhibition of Aboriginal art.
For several years now the focus in that gallery has been on Araluen’s Aboriginal art collection, with themed selections rotating every six months.
This has been in response to the reported demand from tourists for an Indigenous experience in Alice Springs.
Now, as a Moving Alice Ahead project, a more in-depth permanent exhibition is being developed, that will provide an introduction to Arrernte stories and art, including cultural tours over-sighted by the Arrernte Custodians Reference Group, Indigenous culture more broadly and the development of Aboriginal art since the 1930s.
The move is seen as part of a longer term move towards an Indigenous art gallery in the Northern Territory, wherever that may ultimately be, which is being considered in the current museum sector review, says Mr Rollason.
Such a gallery would become the permanent home of the Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory’s collection of more than 200 early Papunya boards.
These are the subject of a comprehensive research and conservation effort at the moment, involving Papunya Tula Artists, The Museum of Victoria and the National Gallery of Victoria.  It is hoped it will be completed by the end of next year.
The intention is to then take the boards on international tour, the launch of which may take place in Alice Springs, says Mr Rollason.
The Alice News has heard that the present Museum of Central Australia, incorporating the Strehlow Research Centre, may move to the Desert Park as a result of the review, thus liberating the museum building at the cultural precinct.
Mr Rollason said he couldn’t comment on that, except to say that there was some discussion in the Moving Alice Ahead proposal about  “creating better linkages across the precinct, including social history of the site itself”.
Meanwhile, Witchetty’s will become available to exhibit in particular the work of local  artists.
Mr Rollason says use of Witchetty’s has declined on average to just one day a week, and that is often for a small meeting.
He says there are good alternatives for such uses, including the Town Council’s Andy McNeill Room.
Events like the Beanie Festival and the Festival Club during the Alice Desert Festival will continue to be able to use Witchetty’s. Programming will commence this month around the dates of these events.
The Alice News asked if there had been community consultation around the changes. 
Mr Rollason says he talks to the community all the time and he has had only positive feedback, especially following the Togart show.
He says changes to the Museum of Central Australia would be put to the community.
Is a cafe at Araluen on the cards?
Mr Rollason says the masterplan “acknowledges the need for a refreshment and catering service”. 
A retail shop within the Araluen Centre is likely to be developed, differentiated from the shop in the museum and also from Central Craft’s shop.

Hit show has some unasked questions. REVIEW by KIERAN FINNANE.

The play Ngapartji Ngapartji began with, so the charismatic Trevor Jamieson tells us from the stage, him wanting to tell a story about his brother, Jangala.
He is worried about him, he’s been in gaol, he thinks he could even die.
We are shown some home-style video footage – the camera dwells mainly on his niece, a child of about four, who is with Jangala, her father, and his friends in a fairly well-advanced drinking session.
We can hear Jangala talking to the little girl – the edgy hilarity that comes from being drunk yet aware that this is not a good place for his daughter to be in.
This and subsequent filmed scenes with Jangala are revealing, the decision to show them painfully honest. Jangala, whom Jamieson obviously cares for, is exposed as the irresponsible, even if amusing drunk, so ready to see himself as helpless, victim of forces greater than himself. Undoubtedly he is struggling to find foothold in all those areas that give us a sense of self – in family, relationships, culture, the wider society, purposeful activity.
How did it come to this?
Jamieson and the Ngapartji Ngapartji project, led by Big hART director Scott Rankin, look to history for answers – the confluence of past events in Australia and overseas that led to the dispersal and multiple instances of personal suffering and cultural breakdown among Jamieson’s people, the Spinifex Nation. It’s an ambitious undertaking, cleverly, imaginatively, movingly done, and it achieves much, but it leaves some questions uncomfortably unanswered, some not even asked.
In relation to Jangala, the honestly exposed story should surely go on to ask and attempt to answer why Jangala and Trevor, when both share the same big history and family history, lead such different lives.
Why has one brother proved far more resilient and pursued with passion a creative response to the painful past, while the other has pursued grog and trouble?
No doubt part of the answer is a complex psychological one but somewhere in there too is an issue of self-responsibility and Ngapartji Ngapartji skirts this.
It comes up too in the terrible story of Jamieson’s grandfather on his father’s side, who murdered his wife. As Jamieson tells it, the killing happened because of anger and despair after the couple and their people had been forced to leave their land, and their traditional way of life had been utterly disrupted. His grandmother had started drinking and going with other men, and his grandfather killed her.
The scarifying story is paired with the murder also of his mother’s mother, by a white taxi driver. Both his grandmothers were murdered – it’s an extraordinarily tragic feature of his family history, but can the answers as to why this happened only be looked for in the bigger historical stories, of colonisation (including the atom bomb tests at Maralinga, on the Spinifex homelands) and of racism?
Throughout the play, Jamieson repeats the phrase, “Something is happening here”, and the whole theatrical effort moves towards elucidating what that “something” is.
But the light only shines on parts of the story. We don’t get individual responsibility at all; nor do we get an acknowledgment of men’s power over women – the vulnerability of women in both Aboriginal and the settler society to violence at the hands of men.
The position of women and girls bookends the play, exposed but unexplored, from the little niece at the start to those teenage girls who are such “good little breeders”, referred to by Jamieson in his final moments on stage.
By having babies and plenty of them, he would have it that they’ll help his people take their revenge, so that one day they will be able to “smooth the dying pillow” for the low-birthrate white race.
This is said with Jamieson’s trademark wicked smile and gets a good laugh but, for me, this is an uncomfortable, unsatisfactory conclusion for a story-telling project that has given itself, along with its excellent artistic and entertainment values, such a profoundly serious purpose.
It’s all the more striking for the fact that women have such an important presence in Ngapartji Ngapartji – from the aunties who make up the chorus line and give the play its cultural authority to the young women, including Jamieson’s daughter Kiescha, who fill various dramatic and musical roles.
Indeed, apart from Jamieson the only males on stage are his young son Kalem, the artist, young Elton Wirri, and Lex Marinos, who holds the non-Aboriginal male roles.
Jamieson and Rankin have just won a Deadly Award in the Most Outstanding Achievement in Theatre category, announced just after the play’s most recent seasons in Ernabella, SA, and Alice Springs – but the latest in a string of accolades and successes including seasons of sell-out performances and standing ovations in Australia’s capital cities.
A next big step is for the play to travel to London to perform at Origins – the First Nations Theatre Festival in May 2009.
The play has had a nine year evolution and Ngapartji Ngapartji is also more than a play – it is associated with a language and education program with wide-reaching social goals. It’s an admirable undertaking that deserves its successes, which I feel would only be added to by some development within the play around the issues I’ve mentioned here.

LETTERS: Uranium miner Cameco answers allegations.

Sir,- I’m replying to Hal Duell (Letters, Alice News, October 30).
As the operator of uranium mines in Canada, the US and Kazahkstan, Cameco has broad experience in environmental protection.
We also know that uranium mining ventures attract more public attention than other projects and often become lightning rods for activist groups around the world.
Our plan for the Angela and Pamela project near Alice Springs is to further explore and, if feasible, develop these deposits in a way that is safe and environmentally sound, creates economic opportunity for local people, and enhances quality of life in surrounding communities.
These are Cameco’s measures of success.
All new uranium projects as well as ongoing operations are subject to rigorous environmental assessment and regulatory review directed by government agencies.
These processes make sure that the public is fully aware of developments and people have an opportunity to register their concerns and have them addressed. They also tend to generate polarized debates where the truth can get lost.     
For example, Mr Duell lists issues involving Cameco operations in Canada and the US. Here’s some information that was not included.
January 26, 2008 – leakage of uranium-laced water from Cameco’s Rabbit Lake uranium processing facility in Saskatchewan.
This event was the result of excavation work as part of an environmental upgrade at the Rabbit Lake mill. The contaminated water was contained, collected, and pumped back to the mill for treatment.
November 2007 (and earlier) – delayed restoration of groundwater, “routine” spills, and a seriously inadequate bond to cover restoration at its wholly-owned subsidiary Power Resources in Wyoming, USA.
This event related primarily to licensing documentation after wellfields scheduled for closure remained in production due to market changes. 
The spills referred to are essentially water with tiny amounts of uranium ranging up to 35 parts per million.
All were self-reported and remediated to the satisfaction of regulatory agencies.  The level of bonding is reviewed annually and has been increased to the level requested by the state regulator.
November 2007 – a water leak at the Eagle Point underground mine at Rabbit Lake, Saskatchewan.
Groundwater routinely flows into underground mines on the Athabasca Basin due to geological conditions.
In November 2007 we experienced a sharp increase in water inflow in a development area on the mine.
All of the water was pumped to the Rabbit Lake mill and treated before release.
June 2007 – closure of Cameco’s uranium hexafluoride conversion plant at Port Hope, Ontario due to radioactive ground contamination at the site (production is not expected to resume until the third quarter of 2008).
Industrial activity had occurred on this site for more than 100 years before Cameco became the operator in 1988 and there are many environmental issues associated with it. Nonetheless, Cameco voluntarily suspended production at the Port Hope conversion facility in June 2007 after discovering evidence of seepage of process solutions from the plant.
The situation was fully investigated and steps were taken to contain and collect the contamination.
We also completed extensive improvements to the facility and operating practices to avoid future incidents. Cameco consulted closely with public and regulatory agencies during the event. Production resumed in September 2008 with regulatory approval.
October 2006 – Cameco’s Cigar Lake mine in Saskatchewan flooded after a rock fall delaying opening of the new mine from 2008 to 2011.
Cigar Lake is a mine under construction and it was not producing uranium when the groundwater inflow occurred. All of the water pumped out of the mine is treated to remove contaminants before it is released to the environment.
Details of these events are fully documented and available to the public on the websites of Cameco’s regulators. Information on Canadian operations is available at
For information on US operations see // or
Cameco is accustomed to intense public and regulatory scrutiny.
Our record for worker safety and environmental protection is exemplary and we have earned consistently strong support from local people wherever we operate, confirmed by polling conducted since the early ’90s.     
In the 20 years since the company was formed, we have learned that the more people know about how we operate, the more likely they are to support us. 
This leads us to be open and transparent in our communication with the public.
It also requires us to pursue leadership on environmental matters.
Cameco has undertaken a corporate initiative to move our environmental performance ahead of public and regulatory expectations which have increased steadily over time.
The key advantage of nuclear energy is environmental.  With the exception of hydro, which is dependent on geography, it is the only large-scale electricity generation option that doesn’t produce greenhouse gases or other air pollution. 
As environmental concern grows around the world, nuclear is increasingly recognized as a sustainable way to power modern societies.
As a nuclear energy company, Cameco believes the “clean energy” advantage must be apparent across our activities from uranium exploration through to electricity generation.
We recognize that many people in Alice Springs have questions about potential impacts of exploration and mine development.
We will keep people informed as work on the Angela and Pamela project proceeds.
At this point, we can say unequivocally that we would only build a mine if the health and safety of people as well the environment is protected.
Jennifer Parks
Alice Springs

Shire vote was a farce

Sir,- Like many in the shires I was fully aware I would be compelled to vote at the election for the new local government representatives. This fact has been well advertised in the last couple of weeks.
What there is a huge information vacuum on was anything beyond a name for each of the nominated candidates.
While attempting to find out more about who I was going to have to vote for (an unsuccessful search) I located the MacDonnell Shire Business plan on their website.
Having given myself a migraine from reading 300+ pages of confusing waffle several questions stand out in my mind.
As every single service outlined in the “Service Delivery Plan Summary” is provided to a community, township or outstation thereof, why are Pastoralists and mining companies included as part of the shires?
We are to simply pay rates and be sent reams of paperwork outlining how our money is to be spent on services we cannot access.
I have no objections to changing the local government system on remote townships, if that is what the people living there want.
What I want to know is why we are to be lumped in with them.
Only 1.6% of money will be coming from rates.
They are relying on money from government grants.
This information is for the next three years.
What will happen after those three years are up?
Will there be further government grants?
At the same level? Or will rates rise to astronomical levels to compensate?
While I admit to being no accountant, this system does not seem to be economically sustainable
When you add in candidates who are unable to promote themselves even to the point of a basic introduction and policy statement when seeking people’s votes this system appears to be set up to fail.
C. Morphett
Horseshoe Bend Station

Federal Labor gets it half right

Sir,– The Rudd Labor Government has responded to the recommendations of its own review into the Northern Territory Emergency Response, which was chaired by Peter Yu.
While the Country Liberals support some of the decisions announced by Federal Minister Jenny Macklin, we’ll be curious to hear the Henderson Government’s response to the retention of ID checks for purchases of $100 or more of alcohol.
We’re happy, though, Federal Labor appears to have finally heard the pleas from Indigenous women and ignored the Review recommendation to introduce voluntary welfare quarantining.
This would have left vulnerable people like women and pensioners exposed to humbugging and violence by men looking for money to fund grog, ganja and gambling.
It’s also pleasing to see the Commonwealth will retain five year leases on Town Camps and controls on pornography.
The Opposition will watch with interest Federal Labor’s proposed re-instatement of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Since winning office, Federal Labor has significantly weakened the Intervention by re-introducing permits to enter Aboriginal land.
Adam Giles
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Policy, NT

Tourism could help

Sir,– I commend the documents from the Aboriginal Male Health Summit in July (at
I strongly urge consideration of ways in which the tourism industry in Central Australia might be involved in working strategically with Aboriginal organisations in implementing many of the recommendations especially around employment, health and education.
If Aboriginal organisations such as Centrecorp (60% owned by the Central Land Council with Tangentyere Council and Congress Health both owning 20%) can be encouraged to invest further and more widely in the Aboriginal people of Central Australia through tourism related employment, health and education, much could be achieved.
Phil Walcott
Alice Springs

ADAM CONNELLY: Acts of selfless love live on.

They say charity begins at home, the thought being that if you can’t show charity to family then to whom can you show it.
I guess that’s not what the ubiquitous “they” had in mind when I started door-knocking my sister’s bedroom dressed as a koala carrying a bucket. What can I say, I was a entrepreneurial eight year old. 
The word charity comes from the Latin “caritas” which means an altruistic love. A selfless affection towards others.
Charity in its purest sense has become somewhat unfashionable of late. Sure we all sign up for a cause.  Whether that cause is Drought or Darfur or Dementia, we’ve all put our name on a petition or signed up on Facebook or gone to a benefit concert featuring Lee Kernaghan.
Supporting a cause has become the new McCharity. The charity for a self absorbed generation.
You see supporting a cause is a statement about oneself.
“I’m trendy, I’m against animal testing.”
“I’m so right on, I’ve just joined People Against the 40 hour Working Week.”
These causes need support in order to be causes. And I suppose there’s nothing wrong with adding your name to a list because Angelina Jolie is a spokesperson. These are all valid causes and I have nothing against people being enthused enough to sign a petition or join a protest but don’t call it charity.
Adding your name to a list is selfish. Supporting a cause is a self-centred act and in a world of blurring classes and fluid gender and sexuality (all of which both confuse and amuse me) supporting a cause is a perfectly decent way of establishing one’s identity.
But charity it ain’t.
Charity is a selfless act of love. It sounds a bit soppy, a bit old world but it is just as vital to the maintenance of humanity as any other device. It’s more vital to civilisation than democracy, and free trade because without charity, or care for each other, all of it turns pear-shaped. Examples of how that happens are in the papers pretty much every day.  
In Australia, calls for more money are made on an almost weekly basis by charitable organisations, and with the global financial crisis starting to filter down to the working class, those calls will get louder. Philanthropy seems to be a dirty word in the lucky country.
But all is not lost.
Last Friday I witnessed real, fair dinkum charity at it’s finest. At Pioneer Park a small group of charitable hearts organised a black tie BBQ for a bloke named Rob Cook. Now I’ve never met Rob or his family but many of you have because almost 400 men and women attended the fundraiser. Rob was involved in a helicopter crash a little while ago and is currently showing more guts than John Goodman in intensive care down in Adelaide.
Obviously after such a trauma, recovery is going to be a slow and painful process. A slow and painful process 1500 kilometres away isn’t cheap so a fundraiser was seen as an appropriate way for the friends of the Cooks to show their altruistic love. Their charity.
And show it they did. By the end of the night the attendees from stations and town had raised over $50,000 to help the family get to Adelaide and pay for the services needed for recovery.
There were ringers and station owners and stay at home wives and small business owners and labourers and nurses, all there to rally around a local family and a local bloke in real need.
Alice Springs can be a pretty tough place at times and our problems are amplified by isolation.
Yet as soon as you start to think that the town is unforgiving and as harsh as its environment you turn up at a benefit like the one on Friday night.
A benefit you’d be hard pressed to find in the suburbs of the big cities.
A benefit full of emotion and humour and a desire to help.
You see an event like that and you realise that our capacity for charity may well be limitless.
It was an honour to be there on Friday night and the organisers should be proud. But they won’t gloat. There won’t be pride or patting of backs.
Because it wasn’t about that.
It was real charity. 

Wicked weekend warriors

Pop Vulture with CAMERON BUCKLEY takes a look at life in Alice outside the boa constrictor confines of the workplace.

The snake uncoils its hold on the town’s  week day worker bees. The contractors,  the cubicle occupants, the table clearers, the seat fillers, the in- and out-of-towners, the freelance thinkers.
Some are a long time waiting at the edge of boredom, all are Nostrodamus in the realm of anticipation of Alice’s next event.
October 31. For the come of age it’s time to go for a swim in the mainstream. 
The enthusiastic faces of the gap year contingent keep the streets astir early evening. 
Drunk high heels and raised collars step out of time to the plastic, flavour of the month RnB sounds that pollute the sound systems, providing a sticky-floored soundtrack to Halloween. 
Most want to play, like there’s no commitment to tomorrow. 
By Saturday morning they ain’t so bootylicious. Trick or treat,  yell the hemisphere -disorientated kids as costumed skeleton hands stretch through beer garden bars, wanting a beer.
Times have changed.  Or times haven’t changed.  Waiting are some for a garden gnome and statue liberation front to gather and take all our stone-faced friends out of town to a large Halloween orange fire where they can disco till dawn.
They live to decorate. This night is always long. And those with blood 100 proof drip through their bar stools at final bell and wake up to breathing beds.
November 1. A rose’s day of the dead party clusters together local bodies and turns rhythm into smiles.
Who needs a pub, when you’ve got dub. Being in the now is a gift, that’s why it’s called “the present”. 
Being amongst your tribe seldom weighs heavy on the pocket. But liberating the mind is always rewarding.  Sometimes you’ve got to go where everybody knows your name.
November 2, fashion in a gallery. The voyeurs, herded in like sheep, see a well dressed serpent move with the charm only a snake can posses.
Ready to constrict the people of Alice for another week.  There is much ado about nothing, when all one must do is seek.

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