March 5, 2009. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Where are the mining millions? By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The Central Land Council (CLC) has failed to disclose to Parliament details requested by NT Senator Nigel Scullion about mining royalty payments – some $23.5m in 2007/08 – paid to Aboriginal people in the last three financial years.
The puzzle over the secretive Aboriginal investment company, Centrecorp Aboriginal Investment Corporation Pty Ltd, widely reported as having interests in $100m worth of assets, deepened last week when it was claimed it was both a trust, and the trustee administering it.
The CLC has a majority shareholding in Centrecorp.
It was also disclosed that the American-owned Newmont gold mining company, operating north-west of Alice Springs, paid $5.3m to a Warlpiri organisation, via the CLC, but bypassing the conventional royalty process.
Newmont paid the amount to GMAAC, the Granites Mines Affected Areas Corporation.
These details came to light during the Senate Estimates Hearings in Canberra on Friday, in answers from CLC director David Ross.
Shadow Attorney General George Brandis, who conducted the questioning, requested an explanation of GMAAC payments, which Mr Ross took on notice.
Senator Brandis said Senator Scullion had asked the CLC for a list of all mining royalty payments in 2005/06, 2006/07and 2007/08.
Senator Brandis described the reply from the CLC as a “non-answer” in which, he said, it had asserted that “to provide a list of all payments for the previous three financial years would be a time and resource intensive process.”
When Mr Ross referred to a section of the CLC’s annual report Senator Brandis replied: “Now what that tells me, Mr Ross, is that in 2007/08 there was a distribution of only something a little short of $7.5m although there were receipts ... of some $23.5m.
He said: “Do I read this account correctly as telling me that in 2007/08, some $16m of the $23.5, or roughly three quarters of the royalties received, were retained and not distributed?”
When Senator Brandis insisted that the annual report did not reveal who exactly had been getting royalty payments, CLC General Manager Bruce Nystrom, sitting next to Mr Ross, replied: “The notes do not go to nominating specific recipients.”
Brandis: Where does the Parliament go to to be informed about where these payments were made?
Nystrom: I would presume the Parliament would ask the question.
Brandis: I am asking it now. You see, Senator Scullion asked the question ... and the CLC declined to give him an answer. So, let me ask it again.
Nystrom: With respect, Senator, that question asked about a list of all payments.
Brandis: Yes.
Nystrom: We couldn’t interpret the question to decide what sort of payments, or what category of payments, the Senator was interested in.
Brandis: Well, that’s not the ground given for declining to answer, but let’s not quibble about that. Let’s just answer my question ... I’d like to know who the payees of those sums were, please. Would you like to take this on notice, Mr Nystrom?
Nystrom: Yes, please.
Brandis: Have I made myself perfectly clear now what I’m looking for in terms of these payments?
Nystrom: Yes.
The questioning is likely to continue in the May round of the Senate Estimates Hearings.
The hearing was cut short after just 33 minutes, the protracted controversy over Centrecorp notwithstanding.
An aide of Senator Scullion said it had been a battle to get the CLC issues on the agenda.
Local Aboriginal people have claimed for years that Centrecorp’s management should be transparent, and that it should be up to representative Aboriginal people to decide how the assets, reportedly having grown from seed money in the form of mining royalties and charitable donations, should be put to work in the combat of poverty and disadvantage.
Senator Brandis continued questioning of Mr Ross he began at the hearings in October last year.
The CLC is an agency of the Department for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
The questioning last week focussed again on the valuing of the Centrecorp shares.
It has interests in a string of Central Australian businesses and real estate, including a 50% share in the Peter Kittle Motor Company, the dominating car dealership in The Centre, now also established in three South Australian centres.
Brandis: We know, Mr Ross, that you are a director of Centrecorp. That’s right, isn’t it?
Ross: That’s correct, Senator, yes.
Brandis: And you are familiar with its financial affairs? You must be if you are a director and you are complying with your obligations under the Corporations Act?
Ross: Yes.
Brandis: Because the CLC is the holder of three of the five shares in Centrecorp, and you are also a director of the CLC, I’m sure you agree with me that the financial position of Centrecorp is a matter of interest to you as a director of the Central Land Council.
Ross: No, Senator.
Brandis: You wouldn’t agree that the financial position of any corporation which appears on the balance sheet of the CLC is a matter of concern to the CLC?
Ross: Not to the extent that the shareholding exists ...
Brandis: I’m sorry, I don’t understand that answer. The shareholding does exist. You have certified the accounts. Let me come to what I want to know: I’m speaking to you in your capacity as a director of the CLC, which counts among it assets its investment in Centrecorp. I want to know what in your opinion is the net worth of Centrecorp.
Ross: Three dollars, Senator.
Brandis: Thank you.
The Senator then quoted from the CLC annual report. He said: “The profits of Centrecorp will be distributed according to its charitable trust deed for the benefit of Aboriginal people in the Central Australian region.
“Do you say that the net worth of Centrecorp is the nominal value of its shares, three dollars, because Centrecorp acts only as trustee, so that trust funds under its administration are not its assets and therefore don’t form part of its net worth? And that would be a perfectly respectable position to take. Is that your answer?”
Ross: That’s pretty much the position, Senator.
Brandis: All right. Now, what’s the name please ... of the trusts administered by Centrecorp?
Ross (after some lengthy paper shuffling and consultation with Mr Nystrom and CLC senior lawyer David Avery): There are two trusts, Centrecorp Aboriginal Investment Corporation, there is the Central Australian Aboriginal Charitable Trust.
Brandis: Is Centrecorp the sole trustee of those two trusts?
Ross: My understanding is yes, Senator.
Brandis: Is the administration of those two trusts the only business of Centrecorp?
Ross: That’s really Centrecorp’s business, Senator.
Brandis: That’s all it does. It doesn’t do anything other than administer those two trusts?
Ross: I think these are probably questions that you probably need to put to Centrecorp, Senator.
Brandis: You see, as I said a little while ago, because you count your investment in Centrecorp as a CLC asset, then I think speaking on behalf of the CLC, and since you have a legal obligation to it, to make yourself familiar with the financial affairs, and that includes its asset position, I think I’m at liberty to ask you about these matters. It’s not a hard question, is it, the case that all Centrecorp does is administer those two trusts?
Ross: That’s the two trusts of Centrecorp, and it’s their business how to operate those trusts.
Brandis: Mr Ross, I could perfectly well understand why in the CLC’s financial statements, the value of its investment in Centrecorp would be written down at three dollars ... if it had no business other than to act as trustee. I would find it more difficult to understand how its value could be written down as the nominal value of its shares if it did things other than act as a trustee.
The answer to this question really goes to the accuracy of the treatment of Centrecorp in the CLC’s financial statements.
If the best of your understanding is that Centrecorp does nothing else than act as a trustee of the two trusts you have named, then that satisfies me. It’s a perfectly complete answer and it’s a perfectly good explanation of the treatment of Centrecorp in the CLC’s books. So, could I have the answer, please?
Ross: It’s a trustee only.
Brandis: It’s a trustee only. The only thing it does is administer those two trusts. Is that right?
Ross: That’s it.
Brandis: Thank you.

Anger over mall pokies. By BEVERLEY JOHNSON.

Alice resident Jocelyn Davies is outraged to discover 10 new poker machines installed in the Town and Country tavern, in the centre of Todd Mall. 
Dr Davies (pictured), a researcher by profession, had objected to the Gaming License application before the Licensing Commission in May 2007 and understood that the application had been denied, as indeed it was on November 6, 2007.
Unbeknownst to Dr Davies the Town and Country asked for a review and a second hearing was held in the following June.
The earlier decision was overturned and the go ahead given on July 15, 2008.
“I have not been advised that there was an appeal,” says a disgusted Dr Davies.  
However, she also thinks that she would not have stood much of a chance against the applicant’s legal team at the review.
The team included a QC and a solicitor.
In her objection Dr Davies had expressed concern about the impact the gambling machines would have on the community.
“I have nothing against the Town and Country and I understand people run businesses to make money.
“But the community is already struggling enough – there are alcoholics, poverty stricken, homeless and neglected kids in Alice Springs,” Dr Davies told the Alice News.
 “Poker machines have been associated with all of these problems.”
She also thinks gambling ruins the ambience of the Mall.
“The Mall is a community space and a family space. There is a church across the road.”
The proximity of the church was the “most persuasive issue” when the Licensing Commission initially denied the application. However, at the review the Licensing Commission agreed with the Town and Country’s challenge that Dr Davies did not provide evidence to support her case.
“It’s not my job to find the evidence, it’s their job,” says Dr Davies.
“Neither is it my part to talk to the community members, the social services and the church. That’s their job, that’s why we pay our taxes.”
Dr Davies is also annoyed that the applicants at the review focused on how she objected to the “type” of patron that would be associated with the Town and Country because of the poker machines.
She says she never said that more Aboriginal people would start using the poker machines.
Her main point was always that the machines would have an impact on the family environment of the Mall.
David Campbell, an economist, also attended the hearing in May, 2007 to support Dr Davies.
He says the new machines are unnecessary.
“There are plenty of poker machines in the local area already.”  
He also queries the capacity of a member of the public to play against “the big boys” without financial backing.
“If the public presents a concern, then surely the public should be supplied the research and legal representation,” he says.
“The process needs to allow the testing of what is brought forward [such as the Community Impact Analysis that the applicant is required to produce].
“At the moment it does not appear to,” says Mr Campbell.
The machines are due to be switched on next week, says one source.
The doors to the Town and Country have been regularly open this past week, allowing all who pass by a glimpse at the new machines.
“This causes more concern, especially as the Town and Country argued when the application was being reviewed that the gaming machines ‘will not be visible from the street and there will be no advertising outside the premises’.”
Town and Country license nominee and co-owner Geoff Booth would not discuss the new poker machines with the Alice Springs News.

Karl Hampton: Caution and focus. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Karl Hampton is easing himself into his new role of Minister for Central Australia, cautiously but with a clear focus.
“I am stepping into the big shoes of Alison Anderson, but I’ve got my own way of dealing with things,” he says.
“I live here, I am a concerned resident, I’ve grown up my kids here.
“I want to hold my colleagues in Darwin accountable, just as much as Alison did.
“I’d like to see them down here, talking to stakeholder groups, and I know Minister [for Children and Families Malarndirri] McCarthy is certainly doing this in the next few weeks.”
Mr Hampton is going to have his work cut out as anti-social behavior and petty crime are escalating with urban drift, debate about parental responsibility is becoming heated, and there is a push for police – a huge and well-performing organisation – to expand its activities into prosecuting parents and carers for not providing “the necessities of life” to children by failing to send them to school and allowing them to run amok in the town centre (Alice News, February 25).
At times it seems he’s spent too long in bad company – bureaucrats and functionaries of non-government organizations – judging by his choice of words and reliance on meetings and reports.
Nevertheless, Mr Hampton’s strategy emerges as one of caring, consultation, avoidance of conflict but – as it befits an ex-footballer – keeping an eye on the ball.
He says the process underway started with the bi-partisan meeting of the five Members of Parliament and the Mayor over the last six months, “culminating” in the report by ex-alderman Raelene Beale.
The objective is “supporting kids and families, making our community safer, as well as taking action where we need to”.
Doing what?
“We need to work with families, support the kids and families.
“It’s about the high school boarding facility for kids who aren’t engaged in school, about the youth service coordinator being a police based position, and we’ll work across government and non-government agencies and services [putting an end to] the lack of coordination amongst that group of providers.”
But isn’t that all optional, un-enforced? People may or may not use the facilities and services.
Has the time not come for enforcement, under the threat of punishment, of laws requiring parents to send their kids to school, to provide the necessities of life, not to abuse children through neglect?
Mr Hampton sets great store on Family Responsibility Agreements.
But there have only been two in the whole of the NT since last July, the Alice News put to him.
“This will gear up as we have these other mechanisms of support [including] the family centers.
“As we work closely with the identified families which are falling through the gap. We need to pick them up.”
How? Would we say to them we’ll punish you if you don’t meet you obligations?
“There will be a number of ways we could be saying that, with the patrols, the schools, identifying people through the youth hub at Anzac High, or through the youth service providers,” says Mr Hampton.
Hasn’t the time come to go beyond offering help to some forms of enforcement if the parents’ obligations are not met?
“I’ll work closely with my colleagues who ultimately have legislative powers.
“I’ll urge them to come down and speak to the stakeholder groups, to the families themselves.”
You can talk to them until you are blue in the face, we put to Mr Hampton: If you don’t enforce the requirements that exist, nothing will happen. Isn’t that so? We have schools but so many kids don’t go to school.
Mr Hampton: “I certainly agree with that. We need to try and support the kids and the families to get into the type of behavior of saying, school’s important. You need to get your kids to school.”
It’s a matter of building one on one relationships with families, he says: “That’s what the family centres are going to be doing ... intensive, one-on-one contact with families that most need it.”
Would neglected kids be forcibly committed to the planned hostel?
“This has yet to be worked out,” says Mr Hampton
“There are a number of models to be looked at.
“There could be one that’s triggered by Family Responsibility Agreements or by court proceedings.”
He says an example of the other options is the Clontarf Football Academy, that originated in WA, offering after-school hostel accommodation, and requiring a comprehensive pledge of conduct. (See story at right.)
Should there be an occasion where the attendance of such a college is not voluntary?
“That would have to be worked out.”
We put to Mr Hampton that overcrowding of houses can be stopped quite easily by prohibiting it.
These dwellings are publicly owned and the public, through its government, can impose rules of usage.
There are lots of empty houses in the bush – also built with public money. While we tolerate overcrowding in Alice Springs and regional communities, it will continue to occur and escalate.
Says Mr Hampton: “We’ll have a lot of people who are coming into town from remote communities, some for longer periods of time.
“And often, if they are not staying with family members in the town camps, they’re staying in the public housing dwellings.
“It’s a long term issue.
“We need to look at land release, at more public housing in Alice Springs, there is no doubt about it.”
What about transient camps such as those that former Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough tried to get going?
“I’m not a big fan of transient camps.
“We’ll need to look at a more stable and appropriate short term accommodation.”
What would it be?
“The Stuart Lodge model, managed short term accommodation, a user pays system, may be more appropriate,” he says.
“The Stuart Lodge seems to have worked fairly well, particularly the women and children coming in for hospital appointments.
“It’s a very important issue, and one I won’t shy away from.”

Huts for the West MacDonnells? By BEVERLEY JOHNSON.

Eco-lodges in national parks, a range of spa and wellness experiences that incorporate Indigenous healing practices, activities for special interest groups such as art enthusiasts, cooking classes using bush foods, a variety of accommodation styles and types that incorporate elements of Indigenous art and culture, are among the plans being explored by Tourism Central Australia (TCA) to cater for the “new kind of traveller”. 
Ren Kelly, TCA chairman, says the organization is in talks with the Central and Northern Land Councils to develop Indigenous tourism products, including interactive or interpretive tours that focus on traditional land management and art.
And the concept of eco-lodges in parks is being taken up with Territory Parks and Wildlife. 
The “experimental traveller” is identified as one of the new kinds of traveller the local industry should cater for in a report titled Strengthening Tourism for Alice Springs and the Red Centre, distributed at last week’s launch of a tourism action plan by Tourism Minister Chris Burns.
The report suggests that the global economic slowdown, high levels of negative media coverage focussing on social issues, substance and alcohol abuse during 2006-2007, and the Federal Government’s Intervention announced in June, 2007, have all had a negative impact on Central Australia’s tourism market. Central Australia as a tourism destination also has strong competition, not only from inbound tourist hot spots like Broome, the Kimberley, outback Queensland, and Tasmania’s wilderness, but also from  Central Asia, Nepal, Arizona’s Grand Canyon and New Zealand’s Southern fjords, to name but a few.
It is imperative that the local industry stays on the ball, or our visitors will end up elsewhere.The industry needs to “keep in pace” with changing demographics, said Dr Burns.
A “new kind of traveller” wants more “interaction with culture and Aboriginal experience”  and is “looking for life experience,” he said. The industry had heard at recent Tourism NT forum comments on the new kind of traveller from chairman of Tourism Australia forecasting committee, Bernard Salt.
“There has been a shift in consumer values,” said Mr Salt. 
The modern consumer is now morally and environmentally conscious. Consumers have ethics about what they are buying.
“There has to be a level of transparency.
“Consumers want green and sustainable.”
If the tourism sector aligns with current consumer values, Central Australia could develop a new market of world consumers, said Mr Salt.Consumer research, quoted in the Strengthening Tourism report, says that the “experimental traveller” segment represents approximately 40% of the long haul travel market. 
They are the Territory’s “ideal target market”, says the report.  They’re looking for more exposure to culture and nature, more physical challenges and a holiday that can cater for special interests. 
CEO of Alice Springs’ Chamber of Commerce, Kay Eade, said a number of pilot programs aimed at getting more Indigenous tour guides in the Centre are underway. An implementation committee will oversee the rollout of the action plan.
Those involved represent Tourism Central Australia, Alice Springs Town Council, Chamber of Commerce Northern Territory, Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts, Department of Chief Minister and Tourism NT.
There is also A Shared Vision for Tourism at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. All plans are linked a five-year strategic plan of 2008-2012.
Photos from, a site for mountain huts in Austria. Should we have some in the West Macs? Minus the snow, of course.

Food stalls under pressure once again. By BEVERLEY JOHNSON.

Small food stall operators are struggling to grasp health and safety requirements and need help, Tourism Central Australia (TCA) was told at its quarterly general meeting last Wednesday.
Director of the events management company responsible for the Camel Cup and Henley-on-Todd, Dale McIver asked TCA to organise a forum to help local businesses and groups deal with events-related issues.
The Camel Cup and Henley-on-Todd are big attractions on the Alice tourism calendar, each attracting around 4000 people annually. As manager, Ms McIver said her main priority is “event safety.” Running a food stall is no easy task, with strict health and safety regulations to follow. For some smaller operators the mountains of paperwork can be overwhelming.
“The smaller non-profit organisations who attend local events are often not there to make a profit, they are often raising money for charities,” said Ms McIver.
“The Girl Guides and Scouts, for example, are not aware of all the health and safety guidelines, they are unclear about regulations like, for instance, the correct gas bottles.”
Gas bottles were targeted by Work Safe Inspectors at the night markets during last year’s Masters Games, with a number of food stalls shut down.
The Sunday markets in the Todd Mall have recently returned. If small traders don’t strictly comply with the rules and regulations, there is always the possibility that they could be closed down.
Beat Keller, chef of 30 years’ experience, president of the Central Australian Food Group and a local restaurant owner, has been running a market stall for 16 years.
He says getting on top of the rules and regulations regarding food can be “a daunting task”.
Mr Keller was one of the market stall owners shut down during the last Masters Games, because he did not have a double regulator for his gas-fired mobile barbecue.  He has since had the issue resolved and began operating again soon after.
“From a general health perspective the basic minimal requirements have not changed so much,” says Mr Keller.  
“It’s the interpretation of these things that has changed.”
He says that if he is not sure about the legalities, he will often look for “direct dialogue” with the department concerned. He has always been able to get a meeting and the people he has spoken to have been very helpful.
TCA will now be organising an events meeting on a quarterly basis, giving local operators a chance to voice concerns about various issues, make suggestions and gain advice from those in similar situations. 

Araluen kicks off 25th year.


Floor talks to open three new exhibitions, including one in the refurbished Witchetty’s, were the highlights of Araluen’s launch of its offerings last Sunday.
The strong audience for all three is an indication of how much people appreciate the added opportunity to learn and discuss what they’re looking at with people who have deep knowledge.
Witchetty’s has been transformed by some clever but simple works to function alternatively as a gallery and performance space.
The walls, formerly raw brick, have been lined, and movable partitions add to the hanging space. They can be packed away into a storage area in one corner, which can also function as a change room.
The bar, formerly with dark wood furnishings including an overhead installation, is now a simple counter in pale wood, which helps open up the entry to the space.
The whole impression is of a much bigger area, and an attractive by-product is the way the stained glass windows benefit from the more light-filled interior.
Soon the space will be further enhanced by doors on the southern side opening directly into a landscaped courtyard.
Exhibitions will be programmed in Witchetty’s for the first six months of the year and performances for the second, says Araluen director Tim Rollason.
The performance program previewed on Sunday features a balance of local productions – a concert by Warren H Williams, the Cat’s Meow Cabaret, and Bite Size Theatre – with some exciting imports.
Bell Shakespeare returns with The Taming of the Shrew; the Australian Opera’s Oz Opera will present Madame Butterfly, directed by John Bell; and from The Dancers Company of the Australian Ballet will come a classic, Nutcracker – Act Two, as well as new work.

National Muslim cameleers exhibition looking for a permanent home in Alice

Alice Springs has the opportunity to become the permanent home of a major exhibition about Australia’s Muslim Cameleers, says its passionate co-curator Anna Kenny.
Speaking at the launch of the exhibition at Araluen on Sunday, Dr Kenny thanked community identity Eric Sultan, of Afghan-Aboriginal descent, as well as retired MLAs  Lorraine Braham and Elliot McAdam, for their efforts to bring the exhibition to Alice.
Almost at the end of its two-year national tour, a decision has to be made now about what will happen to this material of national and international interest.
Dr Kenny told the Alice News that Port Augusta has expressed an interest, but as a long-term resident of Alice Springs, she would prefer the exhibition remain here.
The involvement of the South Australian Museum meant a certain weighting given to South Australian elements of the story.
However, says Dr Kenny, there are many materials relating to the Territory that have not yet been seen and could be contributed to a permanent installation.
It would be an “amazing asset” for tourism in Alice Springs, she says.
The exhibition shows mainstream Australia that Muslims have been part of Australian society for 150 years.
Popularly known as Afghans, these people (mostly men but also some women) are more correctly termed Muslim cameleers, as they came from both Afghanistan and British India (today’s Pakistan) and from several distinct language groups.
Dr Kenny emphasises their role as pioneers – European settlement of the inland was heavily dependent on their expertise and hard work.
They helped build the Overland Telegraph Line, the inland railways, supplied mining towns and pastoral stations, and took part in exploration expeditions.
For instance Muslim cameleers Dost Mohamed, Belooch and Hassan Khan were involved in the famous and ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition, although their role is not widely appreciated.
This was the expedition that showed that camels were the right animal to endure outback conditions.
Several Muslim cameleers deserve to be credited as explorers (not merely assistants), says Dr Kenny.
Among them Bejah Dervish and Saleh Mahomet stand out, and their stories can be traced through a number of the exhibition’s sections.
While their memory is cherished by their descendants, many of whom donated materials to the exhibition, in the popular mind it has become stereotyped.
This exhibition with its fascinating array of photographs, paintings, documents and all sorts of objets, from camel-handling gear to clothing and prayer mats, goes a considerable way towards counteracting that.
Shows until April 12.

Jewels of the desert

Araluen now has, for the first time, a permanently installed exhibition that traces the story of Aboriginal art in the Centre from its origins to its most recent innovations.
The exhibition, developed by Araluen’s visual arts team led by curator Kate Podger, makes the most of works in the permanent collection and is enhanced by significant works on loan.
The jewels in the crown are the early Papunya boards, which are owned by the community of Papunya and  have been on display in the Namatjira gallery for some time.
Their place within the Origins to Innovations exhibition provides a better context to appreciate their foundational role, but these are also works to simply spend time with, to experience.
As Arts Minister Alison Anderson said at the launch of Araluen program for the year, “It’s about us feeling it, about us travelling.
“The hairs on your neck stand up to see these are alive.”
As you enter the gallery there is a section dealing with relationship to country – the origins. 
It includes a large work by Arrernte artist and inspirational leader Wenten Rubuntja and a specially commissioned rain dreaming ground painting by Thomas Jangala Rice, esteemed Warlpiri artist and elder.
A DVD featuring the Undoolya Dancers at Jessie Gap – Akapulye, a place of significance for Arrernte people –  makes the point better than any number of explanations that theirs is a living culture.
There are also batik silks from Utopia and Ernabella in this early section – who can’t regret the decline of this medium?
For all the glory of works on canvas, there is something about the ripple of silk in the air current  made as you move in front of it, that is in deep empathy with the body painting at the source of much of these artists’ mark-making.
The exhibition goes on to trace the development of a dense symbolism by such greats as Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri; its paring away in the hands of others, such as Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Dorothy Napangardi; the explosion of colour – from the creamy palette of Makinti Napanangka to the blood red intensity of a Tommy Watson – that has so enchanted art lovers and that has gone hand in hand with the rise of art centres.
A section on spiritual belief includes a work by Linda Syddick, representing the Christian story in Aboriginal pictorial language, as well as traditional understandings – the graceful spirit figures of Kathleen Wallace, the impressively frightening Kadaitja figures of Tristan Malbunka. 
The corridor space between the main gallery and the Namatjira gallery has been set up as a learning and children’s area, and also features craftwork.
A magnetic board with colourful pictorial elements – both symbolic and figurative – is there for children to play with, assembling the elements in their own designs.
A sand box will be used by an Aboriginal guide to teach  visitors about the symbols traditionally used in sand drawing and recognisable in many of the works hanging in the gallery. 
Some viewers may regret, as I do, the partitioning of the large gallery. Its high southern wall and large open floor area were used to great effect in the staging of past shows.
At present the value of the Origins to Innovations exhibition together with the refurbishment of Witchetty’s, allowing it to function half the year as a gallery, offsets the loss.
But it will be interesting to watch the impact of the changes on the presentation of major shows, such as the Alice Prize and Desert Mob.

After diagnosis and cure, Callum has energy to burn again.

Today, Callum Duguid of Alice Springs is an active 12 year old who tears around like any other boy of his age. 
He’s very active and loves playing soccer and cricket and belongs to the Junior Rangers.
But four years ago, it was a very different story.  Callum’s energy levels dropped to almost zero and no one knew why.
His dad Angus explains: “From the age of about eight, Callum started to get very tired. 
It built up over two years until eventually, he could only play soccer for 15 minutes or so before he had to stop, he would just be exhausted.  He also started to get very bad tummy aches all the time.
“We knew something wasn’t right but we didn’t know what could be causing it.
“Eventually our local GP did a blood test and that’s when we found out Callum had coeliac disease.  It was a bit of a shock because we didn’t really know anything about it.”
Coeliac disease is the most common hereditary autoimmune disease in the world today.  In Australia, it affects over 210,000 Australians, or one in every hundred people. 
Unfortunately, diagnosis is rare.  In fact, three out of four sufferers don’t know they have it.  Untreated, it can lead to life threatening illnesses such as liver disease and cancer.
Oddly, testing for coeliac disease is very easy – a straightforward blood test followed by a simple biopsy of the small intestine if the blood test is positive or if coeliac disease is suspected. 
So too is treatment.  By being careful and following a strict gluten free diet, most people can lead a healthy, pain free, active life again in a very short space of time. 
Callum is one of the lucky ones because he was diagnosed at a young age. 
To improve diagnosis rates across Australia, a cheeky new campaign called: “Is your MOJO Missing?” is being launched by The Coeliac Society and The Coeliac Research Fund during Coeliac Awareness Week, March 13-20.  The campaign urges people with typical symptoms of the disease – unexplained tiredness, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation – to ask their doctor for coeliac tests.After being so unwell, it was a real relief to know what was wrong with him and to be able to do something about it,” said Angus.
“Putting Callum on the new diet was the best thing we ever did – he improved out of sight pretty much straight away.”
ED – This story was contributed by Coeliac Awareness Week Coordinator Lillian Galjanic.

LETTERS: Mark Lockyer is a community hero.

Sir,– I would like to thank the editor of Alice Springs News for the article ‘At 16 you become a drunk’ (February 26).
It brings an individual perspective to an issue that is discussed in broader terms thus distancing us from the problems for each of our children who face daily care and neglect issues.
I have therefore been moved to write an open letter to Mark Lockyer and the shame that is children’s services delivery in Central Australia by state and community organisations.  
Mark Lockyer is a community hero, role model and a resource who should be harnessed by community and government organisations. He dares to speak out, tell his story and shame his community for the physical, emotional, sexual abuse, and neglect issues facing the children in his community.
By himself he got out of this highly dysfunctional community and has made his way in life unsupported by those that are privileged. We should be asking this man what was the trigger or turning point in his life and how did he beat the odds.
Tangentyere Council, you have been shamed.
It is my view that this man should be supported to up-skill on a management training scheme, or be used as a consultant for community organisations working to address a national shame – the abuse of children in the Northern Territory.  
This man highlights the plight of our children and raises questions – where are the investigating welfare organisations and community organisations that should be undertaking mandatory notification leading to effective intervention in families?
Should we continue to turn a blind eye because the problem is too big to manage, and why is it that young children continue to roam the streets of our town every night and are largely ignored by the public and authorities?
Where is the Minister to explain what she/he is doing to address this problem?
What do Tangentyere Council staff in these communities do to report daily drinking and why is nothing done to address this problem?
Those staff who work with and in the Hidden Valley community know of the high alcohol consumption on a daily occurrence, they know this is a dry community, they know adults take children during daylight hours up the track behind this community and out of sight of local authorities to get drunk, yet they do not report this.
These community workers know of the excessive drinking each night, however only report this infrequently to authorities and welfare organisations.
All people and especially professionals are required to undertake mandatory notification every time they are aware of child abuse or neglect issues, therefore you are failing those children you are employed to empower or assist by not undertaking this obligation. 
Hidden Valley is by no means an isolated example of antisocial behaviour which causes the harm of children.
Aboriginal communities and their lefty supporters complain the government intervention infringes on adults rights whilst at the same time turning their backs to the presenting issue – the abuse and neglect of the rights of children in Aboriginal communities.
In my view every child in Alice Springs town camps needs removing and conditions on remote communities are not much better.
Every adult who abuses and neglects children or turns a blind eye should have all welfare payments stopped.
Until we and those leaders in communities recognise child safety as paramount to community success and take appropriate measures to address issues, we will all fail these children.
The Intervention has no teeth, is slow to act and has not gone far enough to address our national shame of the ongoing abuse of children.
I say stop all welfare payments to those adults whose children are missing from school, not attending to Youth Court Orders, or are parents who have moved from community to community to avoid children’s services intervention.
I believe this should be not only to parents but all adults who reside on a property with children where care needs are below acceptable levels.  
To the heroes like Mark Lockyer, you and your story are an inspiration to an entire country that is indifferent to the plight of Aboriginal children in remote communities and town camps in Northern Territory, Australia.
Mark, you are a role model to all children who are neglected by those who should protect them.
To federal, state, community policy makers and managers of state and community services that continually fail your clients, shame on you – your inaction leads to the harm of children daily.
To those parents and community leaders, you should face court action for the continued inaction of your behaviours. You are your children’s shame.
Until the issues facing Indigenous children are addressed and communities stop hiding behind cultural excuses to roadblock intervention, our children will remain some of the most neglected in the world and be all Australians’ shame.
Thomas Thompson
Alice Springs

Rump end

Sir,– As quoted in the Alice Springs News (in the article on Alice in 2030), Darryl Pearce recently remarked that while we in Alice Springs are governed from Darwin, we are not connected to it. 
Can we take that one step further and say that as a community we have been impoverished by the financial antics of those holding office north of the Berrimah Line?
Consider their big projects.  First there was Yulara, the company-run tourist town that I imagine is feeling the pinch as the world’s financial system teeters on the brink of insolvency. 
Then came Darwin harbor with its Convention Centre, Parliament House and East Arm Port.  Daily we can appreciate the increase in Top End commerce as we sit at the crossings, watching the trains roll by. 
Their latest project, the new town of Weddell, would seem to have nothing to do with us at all. 
Or do they see it as a place to move us once their unconscionable punt on the Canadian uranium miners comes a cropper?
Meanwhile, back in Alice, we are losing population not quite as fast as we are losing respect for politicians in general and the NT government in particular. 
Adding insult to injury, we are now being asked to vote for statehood. 
Why would anyone in the Centre want to become the rump end of a new state just to replace our current status as the rump end of an old territory?
Perhaps Darwin can become the state and we can remain as we are. 
We could hardly be worse off under direct rule from Canberra.  The big Centralian projects are Federally funded anyway. 
Any funds coming from Darwin are just second hand monies that originated in Canberra and travel south after passing through the Berrimah Line filter. 
And as we all know, it’s in the nature of filters to keep something back. 
Perhaps all I’m really proposing is that we cut out the middle man.
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Housing hold up

Sir,– Senator Scullion is critical of the NT Government’s failure to build a single house in remote communities over the past 18 months. The NT Government is to be congratulated!
NO public money should be provided to construct housing whist the landowners – the Land Councils / Trusts / Corporations – refuse to provide valid leases.
They deny their tenants – even “Traditional Owners” they purport to be helping – valid leases, so as to avoid providing tenants with enforceable rights and responsibilities.
Those enforceable rights and responsibilities that protect other tenants around Australia !
Offensive is Senator Scullion’s criticism of Chief Minister Paul Henderson’s admission that their discussions have “not moved beyond talking about the problem”.
For 30 years Federal Parliaments thwarted almost every attempt to require landowner Trusts to accept their responsibilities as the landowners, including efforts from NT Government.
Federal Parliament, Federal Government, preference was to play racist label games.
Credit here to Mal Brough, for at last he tried to end that disgrace.
Whilst sheltering within Federal Parliament Senator Scullion suggests.
He says: “You cannot shelter under a promise and endless talk is no substitute for a roof.”
Senator Scullion can seek from the Commonwealth Minister explanations as to where things are at now towards issuing of valid leases for housing in all our ALR(NT) communities ?
Senator Scullion can ask relevant Land Councils / Trusts / Corporations to explain where things are at now, why it is taking so long, to obtain the issuing of valid leases for housing and tenants in all our ALR(NT) communities? 
Senator Scullion should explain why he fails to assist those who sought such “required” leases, why he supports the division, the segregation of Australian families by racial testing, before claiming to support “basic human rights”.
Paul Parker
Lismore, NSW

Fight for Rudd $$

Sir,– The Rudd Government finally admitted last week its initial pledge to the Building Australia Fund of $40billion has been slashed to just $12.6billion.
My concern is that Paul Henderson and the Territory’s man in Canberra, Damian Hale, will lie down and take what they’re given by the Commonwealth without putting up a fight.
The Government’s priorities should include funding for: The Outback Highway; a new hospital in Katherine; essential services infrastructure in Alice Springs; Territory roads; Darwin Airport; Darwin port; the Top End’s water capacity; a fibre optic cable link between the Territory and South Australia; extended broadband.
Adam Giles
MLA for Braitling
Compassion needed

Sir,–  Health Minister Kon Vatskalis’s suggestion that I’m against the long promised,Oncology Unit is just silly.
People undergoing treatment for cancer, given that the costs to the taxpayer of travelling for treatment in Darwin or Adelaide are about the same, they should have a choice.
In effect the Minister is saying he’ll force residents of CA to undergo treatment in Darwin, even if they have friends and family in Adelaide. Cancer sufferers with private healthcare will have to pay airfares, accommodation, transport and living costs.
Public patients with cancer have no choice and private patients with cancer can have treatment interstate provided they are able to afford additional costs.
The Minister for Health should develop a little compassion for people battling cancer.
Matt Conlan
Shadow Health Minister

ADAM'S APPLE: Breaking the rules.

It would be fair to say that sometimes people do things that are so unbelievably stupid, so amazingly moronic, that upon hearing about these acts of idiocy, my brain momentarily fails to function.
My brain deals with the knowledge of these ludicrous events in the same way that a computer deals with a bath in Coca-Cola, the way a bug deals with an oncoming windscreen.
The day I heard the news from home that my favourite uncle had been cheating on his beautiful and loving wife with a woman half his age, my brain went into shut down mode. It was a miracle that I didn’t lose control of all bodily function.
The only thing that could be heard coming out of my mouth was a HAL like “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that.”
It wasn’t the emotional attachment I had with these people that caused the cranial crisis. It was simply that the data my brain received was so foreign to its understanding of the way the world should work, it was like a dog being shown a card trick, like a seven year old being shown a vinyl record.
You see I have a theory. A theory that I believe is universal.
We all know that in the world of physics there are laws and rules and limits. These laws and rules and limits explain to the physicist what is possible and what is not.
In the world of mathematics and chemistry and right throughout the natural world there are these laws and rules and limits put in place, not to hinder our experience of the world, but to stop man-eating trees the size of mountains fighting with the exploding goat monkeys.
In other words without the rules of the universe, the universe wouldn’t work.
My theory is that in the same vein, our lives have laws and rules and limits. I’m not talking about rules like not talking on your mobile phone while driving. I’m talking about the moral parameters of living.
We all know these moral life laws. We all know when we break them and we all know how to stay within them, and yet with a distressing regularity people break through these parameters.
These laws, like the laws of physics, aren’t set in place to limit our enjoyment of life. They are designed specifically to stop us appearing on the Jerry Springer Show.
You know you’ve breached the rules of life when you are guest number 2 on an episode entitled, “My Stripper Daughter Stole My Man!” No ifs, no buts, you broke the rules.
Chris Brown is a ridiculously successful American R’n’B artist. The man is barely out of high school yet has managed to sell millions of copies of hit after hit. The incredible success has only been overshadowed by the success of his stunning girlfriend, the Caribbean R’n’B star Rihanna.
A couple of weeks ago Chris decided the rules of the universe didn’t apply to him and he decided to shut his girlfriend up during an disagreement, not with infallible logic or erudite argument but with his fists.
My brain immediately begins its shut down. I can perhaps comprehend a man thinking about the act of domestic abuse.
My own brain, even in its fully functional mode has the ability to conjure up thoughts repugnant to its owner. But to even consider entertaining the idea of perhaps thinking about actually hitting your partner breaks the universal rules with such a level of interpersonal retardation as to render my grey matter useless.
This week the unhappy pair did it again. The only thing I understand less than taking your fists to the woman you love is that woman taking the repugnant piece of spam that is you back!
It boggles each one of my faculties.
So before you start thinking solely with your toilet bits, before you try to push the envelope on the way the world works, just think for a minute. Do you want to appear on “I slept with my secretary…turns out she’s my cousin.”
And if that doesn’t dissuade you, think about me. Think about what you’ll do to me if I hear about it. You’ll hurt my brain!  

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