April 9, 2009. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.


The night Finke Race identity and family man Edward Charles Hargrave, 37, was stabbed to death outside the Keith Lawrie Flats on the corner of Bloomfield Street and Musgrave Street was a busy night for police – but not unusually so.
Between 6pm on Friday and 6am on Saturday police say they attended to 91 “jobs” including three assaults, eight domestic disturbances and 36 general disturbances.
An assault and robbery was committed in Warburton Street when a 48-year-old man was walking home  around 3am.
On Friday evening police had deployed “on the beat” a large number of officers.
The evening shift, 2pm to 11pm, had 18 officers “on the road”.
They were supplemented by 10 police engaged in a special operation in the CBD and the town camps.
Four traffic officers were on the beat between 2pm and 10pm.
The night shift, 11pm to 7am, had eight officers on patrol.
Police say the events culminating in Mr Hargrave’s death appeared to have started with a “disturbance” involving two groups of three people at the Memorial Club. The call was made at 10.22pm and police were despatched “almost immediately”.
However, the two groups involved in the “altercation” had moved off and could not be found.
The alarm was raised about Mr Hargrave’s stabbing at 11.35pm and police say they were on the scene three minutes later.
Mr Hargrave was taken to hospital but was dead on arrival.
Police said earlier this week that three men aged  21, 22 and 25 had been arrested and were being interviewed about the killing.
One has now been been charged.
A 21-year-old man was released without charge on Monday.
Police are appealing to anyone with information about the incident to come forward by phoning 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Police say the man robbed in Warburton Street was approached by a group of up to seven youths.
“He told police they threatened him with a knife and assaulted him before stealing his wallet and mobile phone” says the police media release.
“They then fled and the victim went home and was later taken to hospital.
“The victim was treated for cuts and bruises to the head and arm,” says the police media release.
 “The offenders are described as being males aged in their mid to late teens and of Aboriginal appearance.”
Meanwhile, statistics for the fourth 2007 quarter released this week by the NT Government show commercial property crime in Alice Springs was on the rise.
However, the numbers of overall alcohol related assaults which include victims, offenders or both have decreased to 747 in 2008, compared with 848 in 2007, after a relentless climb from 466 in 2004.
The figures show 67% of incidents recorded in 2008 had alcohol involved, 10% had no alcohol involved and 23% were unknown, yet suspected of having alcohol influence.
The decrease in alcohol related assaults is partly due to increased management programs, controlling liquor supplies and restrictions of money and supply of alcohol since the intervention.
The number of break-ins recorded in 2008 was nearly three times as high than 2004.
In the last 12 months the number of break-ins into commercial premises has risen from 334 to 504.
Police Commander Bert Hofer says limited availability of alcohol, income management under the intervention and limited accommodation in town are thought to be some of the reasons why commercial property crime in Alice Springs is on the increase.
Commander Hofer says during the last six months there has been a significant rise in the numbers of people coming into town: “You just have to look around to see that,” he says.  
He says Alice Springs still remains as the service centre for more than 280 communities. People are becoming increasingly mobile, and this is difficult to cope with.
Because of limited accommodation and town camp houses being over crowded, visitors are over staying their welcome.
Police have recently been serving trespass orders to remove them. However, more camps are appearing in the rivers.
The December quarter always has higher crime numbers because of the warm weather: The winter cold usually slows down crime.
A recent straw-pole conducted by police found that of the 16 to 17 camps in the Todd River between Gap Road and Stott Terrace, most are filled with people who have nowhere else to go.
Others say they are visiting friends and family, whilst some say they are here for medical reasons.
The majority of commercial properties are being targeted for alcohol, mostly pubs and clubs.
Motor vehicle theft and related offenses were up in 2008 by 8% from 2007.
House break-ins also increased  – a 32% rise since 2003.
In 2007 243 property offenses were recorded compared to 245 in 2008, a slight increase.   
House break-ins from 2007 to 2008 have increased 2% but they are down 29% over the six-year period.
There was a 4% decrease of assaults during the 12-month period ending December 2007 compared with the same 12-month period of 2008.
However, over a six year period assaults have increased by 32%, from 826 to 1112.
Sexual assault has also seen a decrease of 4% from 2007 and 2008, showing a 3% drop overall in three years.
Commander Hofer says this increase is primarily because of enhanced methods of crime prevention and recording under the Violent Crime Reduction Strategy introduced in 2004. 
The number of recorded assault offenses has decreased from 1182 in 2007 compared to 1112 recorded throughout 2008, drop of 90.
The bulk of recorded assaults continue to be from domestic violence issues, women remaining particularly vulnerable and violated.

Sacred trees must go, says alderman. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Alderman Murray Stewart, now chair of the Town Council’s Technical Services Committee, says protracted negotiations with the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) over the fate of two sacred trees in Traeger Park that are now dead must be brought to a conclusion.
Ald Stewart (pictured above with the trees) says the trees must be removed.
“If they fall they will kill someone, and it’s not a matter of if but when.
“And that’s unacceptable at a major sporting oval, with major sporting fixtures, and that’s in regular use by the town’s children and sportspeople.”  
Ald Stewart had a family friend in Hunter Valley, NSW, killed by a falling tree; he remembers going to his funeral when he was young.
He says he doesn’t want to be going to a funeral in Alice Springs of someone killed by a falling tree.
At present a safety fence surrounds the trees, but Ald Stewart says it is inadequate.
“You can step over it.”
This is down to council, according to Dr Ben Scambary, CEO of AAPA.
“The height and perimeter of the fence around these sacred sites is solely determined by the Alice Springs Town Council for public safety reasons,” says Dr Scambary.
But Ald Stewart says: “So long as I am on council I would never instruct officers to erect fortresses around unsafe trees.
“Not only would they be aesthetically ugly but also a monument to a racial divide.”
An arborist’s report on the state of the trees is due at the end of the month.
Ald Stewart says he is not expecting the report to reveal that the trees are in imminent danger of falling but that’s not something council should wait for.
And he says in a recent meeting with council representatives, AAPA CEO Ben Scambary and regional manager Andrew Allan indicated that no matter what the verdict of the arborist’s report, the board would only consent to extension of the safety fence, in height and perimeter.
Not so says Dr Scambary.
“It is not possible to pre-empt the outcome of the report or any action that may arise.  
“Once the safety assessment has been received the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority will consider the implications of the report together with the Alice Springs Town Council.”
“I would like to see a solution where we go forward together, “ says Ald Stewart.
“I don’t want to tread on traditional rights. I’ve got a great deal of respect for all manner of traditions and cultures. But no tradition in modern times should perpetuate beliefs that put lives in danger.
“I believe there has been a precedent for resolving these issues in the past.
“I have 100% respect for the sacred trees. I’ve spoken to Indigenous people. I believe there are ways around this from a cultural perspective. I see no reason why the trees’ sacred aspect could not be transferred to another tree, with an appropriate ceremony.
“Black and white could possibly come together at such a ceremony.”
Says Dr Scambary: “There is no precedent of custodians agreeing to the removal of sacred trees, or damage to other sacred sites, in return for financial compensation.
“On occasion, compensation has been paid to custodians for damage to sacred sites, but such damage has not been sanctioned by custodians.
“There are instances of protective measures being placed on seedlings of sacred trees that have died.”
Unfortunately there are no such seedlings in this instance.
All costs associated with dealing with these trees, including the safety fence, and the liability from any mishap will be borne by the ratepayer.
“I think that’s rich, AAPA have all of the care and none of the responsibility,” says Ald Stewart.
He contends that resistance to removing the trees comes from a senior member of the 10-member board. (The board is made up of five male and five female Aboriginal custodians of sites nominated by NT Aboriginal Land Councils, together with two government appointees.)
“The nine others might as well go home,” says Ald Stewart.
He suggests that the “totally hierarchical” structure of AAPA is inappropriate for dealing with “modern situations”.
“I don’t see why senior status comes into play on an issue of safety,” says Ald Stewart.
However Dr Scambary says none of the AAPA Board members have custodial rights in relation to these trees and have not made decisions “of the nature” that Ald Stewart suggests.
“The request by the Alice Springs Town Council for an Authority Certificate to remove the trees was refused by custodians of these sacred sites. The Board of the Authority respects the decision of the custodians,” says Dr Scambary.
It appears that the trees were deliberately poisoned.
“If the trees were poisoned it occurred while the NT Government, not council, were in control of the grounds,” says Ald Stewart. 
Dr Scambary says an investigation revealed that the trees at Traeger Park had died as a result of poisoning.
“The investigation failed to identify the person or persons responsible for the poisoning.”
If the issue is not resolved, it could go to the Minister who could possibly over-ride the decision of the board.
Dr Scambary confirms that Division 3 of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act is a provision for ministerial review.
“The AAPA has regularly met and will continue meeting with the Alice Springs Town Council to discuss this issue with a view to resolving the concerns of all parties,” he says.

Centrecorp shares: Did land council mislead Parliament? By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The Central Land Council (CLC) is apparently “beneficially” holding shares in the secretive Aboriginal investment company, Centrecorp, while telling the Senate that its shareholding is merely as a trustee.
A “beneficial” holding of a share means the holder has all benefits and obligations flowing from it.
This would place the CLC in conflict with the NT Land Rights Act which says it must not “incur financial liability or receive financial benefit in assisting Aboriginal people with commercial activities”.
The Federal Office of Evaluation and Audit has recently revealed that Centrecorp, in turn, holds shares beneficially in four companies, including Yeperenye Nominees Pty Ltd, which operates one of Alice Springs’ large shopping centers.
A spokesperson for Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said this week: “The Central Land Council does not have beneficial shares in Centrecorp.”
But a company extract obtained from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) says the CLC is holding three of the five Centrecorp shares – a majority.
The document notes about the shares: “Beneficially Held: Yes.”
The Alice News confirmed this by telephoning ASIC this week.
ASIC said the CLC’s beneficial shareholding dates back to at least 1990 when the Federal ASIC, and its predecessors, assumed its current responsibilities from the states.
The CLC is a Commonwealth statutory body for which Ms Macklin is responsible.

Embattled IAD under microscope – again. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The Federal Government has appointed a firm of accountants, Ernst and Young, to “undertake an assessment of [the] financial and business systems” of the troubled Institute of Aboriginal Development in Alice Springs.
A spokesperson for the Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, says: “The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations is aware of the difficulties faced by the Insitute for Aboriginal Development.”
Meanwhile the institute, subject of a bitter faction fight for several months, is tight-lipped.
How many students are attending courses, whether mediation is going ahead, what the authorities are saying about the current situation, are all “private matters” that will be worked through “within the boundaries” of IAD, says chair of its management committee, Janice Harris.
“IAD does not want the issues to be played out in the media,” an angry Ms Harris told the Alice News.
She asked whether the Alice News has a code of conduct for reporting on Aboriginal issues.
She was told we work in accordance with the journalists’ code of ethics which apply to all issues equally.
She accused the Alice News of being disrespectful to Aboriginal culture in the way we had reported on the issues at IAD.
She said the reporting had inflamed tensions and not benefitted IAD at all. The News put to Ms Harris that as a publicly funded institution it should be accountable to the public.
Ms Harris says IAD’s accountability is to their potential 400 students and more than 30 staff.
She says IAD’s business is carried out in an ethical, open and transparent manner but “there is no need to be transparent in the press when you are transparent in your operations”.
She accused Neville Perkins, who has been extensively quoted by the Alice News, of “turning up muck”.
She said the issues he has raised are old and there’s no need to bring them up when “we are trying to do positive things”.
A government source says in 2007-08 IAD had complied with all conditions but all this financial year the organisation had been on “a temporary funding agreement”.

Burping beasts new task for innovative cattlemen. By BEVERLEY JOHNSON.

Managing and decreasing methane levels from burping beef may be the answer to reducing agricultural carbon emissions, according to research by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) presented at last week’s Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association 25th Anniversary Conference.
Future concerns for the Northern Territory cattle industry lie mainly beyond the gate. This was the overall conclusion of the conference’s wrap-up panel.  If the Australian cattle industry is to survive it is imperative that the industry secures its place in an international market by addressing its ability to offset carbon emissions.
The Federal Government’s Emissions Trading Scheme, set to come into practice by 2010, is causing some controversy within the agricultural industry.
NTCA say that the current methods used by scientists to calculate agricultural emissions need to be improved and made much more accurate, taking in the full cycle, not just part of it. NTCA  argue that current carbon accounting methodology does not take into account the CO2 that is absorbed into the soil. Because of this there are growing fears that cattle producers may end up carrying the heavy burden of a carbon emission tax by 2015.
MLA’s Beverley Henry, Manager for Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change, spoke about tackling climate change through reducing methane emissions.  Three key areas of research include measuring emissions from individual ruminants, breeding new cattle to evaluate whether cattle burping is genetic, and managing the diet of cattle.
This Reducing Emissions Livestock program, a collaborative venture of various industry specialists and government, has attracted $11.25m in government funding and a further $4.25m from industry.  
According to the Australian Greenhouse Office the percentage of greenhouse emissions belonging to agricultural practice makes up approximately 18%, significantly lower than energy from stationary engines at 47.3% and transport at 27.4%.  
MLA cannot be certain at this point by how much emissions could be reduced.
Other concerns expressed in the panel discussion included the impact on cattle feed as temperatures rise due to climate change, causing the soil to no longer produce enough nutrients.   
At present a limited amount of research has been conducted on savannah burning and ways to reduce C02 emissions.  More work is expected on keeping nutrients in the soil via bio-char (burying the charcoal produced).  
There has been some testing in Queensland but it’s a costly process.
The Northern Territory pastoral industry was estimated to be worth some $205m during the 2007-2008 financial year, employing around1800 people along the production chain.
NT cattle numbers, however, fell significantly last year due to a number of reasons such as huge de-stocking in the Barkly area because of drought.
Overall some 300,000 cattle had to be moved interstate from the NT last year.
Ironically the early rains of 2009 left the Barkly region suffering from huge flooding through much of January and February.
With worldwide population predicted to grow to nine billion in 15 years, the greatest economic growth is expected to come from Asia.
The panel made it clear that the cattle industry now needs to work hard at increasing purchasing power and setting policies for international markets such as Japan, Korea and China in order for it to survive and compete with the changing demographics and world consumer behaviour.
In November 2007 Australia re-opened its live export market with Vietnam. A memorandum agreement was signed. Australian beef is now being shipped from Darwin to the Vietnamese province of Khanh Hoa.
MLA says some 600,000 cattle were exported between 2007 and 2008 and live export has increased by 17% since early 2007.
Trade is expected to grow to one million in the next five years. Industry forecasters predict that even with the global downturn the outlook for future trading seems positive.
Another issue raised from the floor concerned Brazil entering the Indonesian market for frozen beef and the threat this could hold for bio-security, for instance from Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
Nothing has been approved as yet, the conference was told, and the threat from Brazil is limited: it can only produce frozen beef for this market that is too far away for chilled fresh meat.

Breeding beef clean and green. By BEVERLEY JOHNSON.

The NT Cattlemen Association (NTCA) says its members were shocked when they learnt the Australian Government could possibly approve live strains of virus, including the notoriously fatal Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) for scientific testing in Victoria’s Geelong Veterinary laboratory.
NTCA says Australian cattle could be at risk if FMD gets out.  With global food consumers becoming ever more aware and conscious about where their purchased produce originates, the agricultural industry in Australia needs to be able to deliver assurance of the health of its beef.
The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) can be used to trace forward and backwards any  stock movement if required and count the number of beef cattle that have a Radio Frequency Indentification Device (RFID) attached to the ear via computer technology. A microchip embedded with the RFID, contains a 16 digit code that is registered to that property and this information is captured as the cattle go past the reader then the information is processed through the National Livestock Indentification System (NLIS) database.
As cattle entering the Bohning cattle yards near Alice Springs must be identified with a NLIS device the NTCA and CAWD Livestock have been testing an upgraded system at the Bohning yards that will assist in finding cattle entering without a NLIS device attached to their ear. 
Cattle which have lost or had their tag removed are separated through an automatic air draft where they can be tagged with the NLIS device registered to the Bohning yards.  
CAWD is responsible for developing the technology in partnership with NTCA. The technology here is a modification of a similar system CAWD has been working on with the research organization Desert Knowledge, which measures weight of cattle to determine whether they fit into certain market criteria.

A remote community where all adults work & kids go to school. By KIERAN FINNANE.


A remote community where all able-bodied adults work, where children go to school every day, where the community raises most of its own food, where people are strong in their own language and culture while also speaking English and interacting with ‘the mainstream’: this community exists ... it’s the Papunya of memory for Alison Anderson, now the Territory’s Indigenous Affairs Minister, and her-sister-in-law Linda Anderson, a teacher.
It’s the place where they spent happy childhoods but where today, as in many other remote communities, they fear for the futures of the community’s children.   
Alison lived her first years in Haasts Bluff, born, like so many of her generation and those before her, in the bush – under a tree in the creek.
There was a ration depot at Haasts Bluff and a Lutheran mission. Aboriginal people initially lived in humpies across the creek. They would get their water from a soakage.
After a while the missionaries moved people into “sheet of iron housing”.
“They were nice houses compared to humpies. We felt really proud, they were like little mansions!” says Alison.
She was eight years old when her family moved to Papunya. A ration depot had been established there; the community was closer to her family’s country; there were more job opportunities.
At first they lived again in a humpy on the west side of the settlement. For shade her parents planted a bean tree that is still there.
Her mother, who adopted the English name Beverley Anderson, taught in the pre-school. She had learnt to speak English when she was working as a “house girl” for non-Aboriginal families. She had also been to school in Hermannsburg for a while but she couldn’t read or write.
Her father, Yama, was a grader operator, responsible for road maintenance in and around the community. He would be away from Papunya for three to four months of the year, working on the roads to Yuendumu and Glen Helen.
Alison (pictured at right, making a case for the Federal intervention) had started school at Haasts Bluff, and continued at Papunya.
Parents were keen to send their children to school, she says.  She discusses with Linda the right English word to describe their attitude: they were “excited”, she says, willing to “push down the barriers to send us to school”.
“The siren used to go off in the community, letting us know it was wake up time, time for our parents to go to work, and for us to go to school.
“They’d wake us up, ‘Run to school, run to school’.
“We would go first to school for a shower. We each had a pigeon-hole with our toothbrush and a comb in it.
“Our school uniforms, a different colour for each class, were kept at school.
“We would shower, hand over our camp clothes to be washed, put on our uniforms.
“We weren’t allowed pituri [a native tobacco plant whose leaves are chewed] – teachers would check our mouths and behind our ears to make sure we didn’t have any.”
When they were ready, they’d go to the communal kitchen for breakfast.
After classes they would change into their clean camp clothes.
“We never had scabies or any kind of skin disease.” 
Both Alison and Linda attended school regularly, as did most children.
If a child missed a day, the principal and teachers would visit their family to find out why.
They remember their teachers with fondness, naming among them, Tom Bonner (principal), Miss Gowdy, Terry Perry – “a good music teacher”.
Teachers would see that some children were making good progress – they were put into a multi-grade class and given intensive literacy and numeracy training.
The two women point to themselves as “evidence” that the schooling they received worked.
Lessons were given only in English. They could speak their Aboriginal languages in the playground and after school but not in the classrooms.
Both women speak several Aboriginal languages.
Alison’s command of English, her ability to coin a phrase, to articulate thoughts through a telling or poignant image, to tell funny stories, is legendary.
Linda speaks English fluently though more quietly and carefully.
I put it to them that there is a widespread assumption that the mission times at Papunya were harsh, that at best Aboriginal people in this era were bossed around from pillar to post.
They have no memories of harsh treatment.
They say they were treated with love and compassion.
They look back on these times as good times.
They talk about old Pastor Petering – “he’s passed away now, poor thing”.
Every Saturday he would pick them up to take them to clean the church.
They say they were pleased to do it.
At Christmas time they would go out with Pastor Petering to get “a proper Christmas tree” (a native pine).
They would decorate it and on Christmas Eve it would be lit up; they would receive presents from the missionaries – “dollies, teapots, umbrellas”; “the ladies would get scarves and purses”.
They remember all this with pleasure.
Do they not see it as another way of being inculcated with western cultural values?
“We grew up in that time and we still have our language and our culture.
“We appreciate what was given to us – the ability to live in both worlds,” says Alison.
Religious instruction was a “core function” of the school, but “they didn’t tell us our way was wrong”.
“They were very kind and loving people.”
Alison searches for an example of kindness and tolerance. She laughs as she remembers ‘Old Darky’ coming to church stark naked.
Mrs Petering would take him up to the house to put clothes on him but by the time they got back to the church he had taken them off again.
At church the children used to sit at the front, their parents at the back.
After the service the children would go to Sunday school, “drawing Christian pictures, listening to little Bible stories”.
The Christian religion is “still strong in both our lives”, says Alison.
“It sat with us, we didn’t notice it was there, it happened naturally.”
But there was time too in the community routine for Aboriginal ways and law.
Every school holidays, the different family groups would be assisted with transport to go back onto their country.
“Our country was out past Mount Liebig, past Warren Creek,” says Alison.
“We’d get a bag of rations to take but we’d go out there and live on the country again, hunting, eating bush tucker.”
Alison remembers travelling in a truck.
Linda’s family had a camel, a “cheeky one, called Lofty”. She’s written a book about these childhood times, in which Lofty features.
Holidays were also a time to visit family members. Alison’s mother’s mother lived in Hermannsburg, her father’s mother in Yuedumu.
Sometimes Alison would go to stay with her maternal grandmother, for six months, eight months, and during this time would go to school at Hermannsburg.
Linda interrupts and speaks to Alison in Luritja.
“She’s remembering how our life was strict in the Aboriginal way,” says Alison.
“When we were adolescents we would live with our grandmothers.
“Now young girls live anywhere, go into any room, there’s no discipline.
“Young men used to live with their grandfathers and uncles in men’s quarters; young women with their grandmothers and aunties in women’s quarters.
“It was a time to teach the young people how to behave.”
“And a way for them to be safe,” says Linda.
Ceremonial obligations were and are a once-a-year thing, says Alison, around Christmas time.
“It always started when school was finishing, people had respect for kids going to school,” she says.
“There was no going inside classrooms, interrupting lessons as happens now,” says Linda.
“If a mother wants to go to Kintore or Hermannsburg, she just comes into the classroom and picks up her kids and takes them,” she says.
Both women talk with enthusiasm about the highlights of their young lives – the “Black Olympics”, held annually at Yuendumu, the swimming and music carnival  at Areyonga. 
Alison recalls photos of herself and other girls at the carnival, in sailor hats and little green dresses – “Deadly!”
Amos Anderson, Alison’s brother and Linda’s husband, and Sammy Butcher, playing ukuleles, won the first Rock Eisteddfod in Darwin, back in 1971 or ‘72, remembers Linda.
The population at Papunya was much bigger then – 1700. Now it’s 600.
There were 17 teachers at the school and though all able-bodied Aboriginal adults were working, there were also a lot of non-Aboriginal people in the community – the superintendent, plumbers, electricians, builders, all lived there.
There was a very active building program. Alison describes the community as “really interactive”.
Aboriginal people did fencing, wood-chopping, butchering, baking, worked in the school, in the classrooms and in the yard, on the community’s farms, and on neighbouring cattle stations – Narwietooma and Derwent.
“There was a multi-purpose centre, where all the young fellas were taken out of school once a week to learn manual arts and trades.”
Both women emphasise how clean the community was – there were lawns, hedges, an orchard, a piggery, a small farm in the community, a larger one five kilometres away, where Sid Anderson’s outstation is now.
This was run by Alison’s grandfather, Ukinyi. He grew melons, cabbages, carrots, tomatoes, raised chooks, all fenced in by a border of cactus.
Ukinyi had two wives, Watjala and Ukamba.
Alison has vivid memories of herself and her sisters and brothers walking from Papunya to the farm to get a good feed.
The “old ladies” would go hunting for goannas which they’d cook up for the children.
Afterwards the children would relish the watermelon and rockmelons from the farm. There was a dam nearby where they’d go for a swim.
The girls of the family were older; they’d carry their little brothers on their backs when they got too tired. They’d let them down in the cool places, pick them up again when it was hot. 
If it was very hot they’d make themselves grass shoes to protect their feet from the burning sand.
Alison recalls that her uncle, Timmy Jugadai, kept horses at Papunya.
She and other children would sneak up and unhobble the horses to take them for a ride.
The piggery was where the football oval is now: “You can still see the old pens.”
The chookyard, run by the pastor and his wife, was where the council building is now.
The community was producing most of their fresh food themselves, though there were still ration trucks delivering “sugar, flour and tea”.
Linda recalls a meat truck as well, but there were also butchers in the community who would slaughter and prepare their own meat.
I asked the women what their favourite foods were?
They mention bushfoods straight up but also remember good food cooked at the communal kitchen.
“My old aunty, Francesca Malbunka, got up every morning at five o’clock to bake bread,” recalls Alison.
Linda remembers “stew and hot damper” in the evenings as well as “apple pie and custard”.
“And rhubarb pie”, says Alison. 
People had to line up for their servings and then sit down to eat at a table, with a knife and fork.
“They taught us how to eat food in a social context,” says Alison.
It was towards the end of the ‘seventies that everything started to change – “going backwards”.
Alison describes community life up till then as like a “see-saw in perfect balance”.
“Then all of a sudden it went one way and Aboriginal people all came tumbling down at the bottom.
“People thought, without talking to us, that we were badly treated.
“We were not.
“Our parents and we were well treated.
“We were educated so that we can live in both worlds.
“They told our parents that they shouldn’t have to do things like gardening, they should sit down, do carving, make spears. They told them things they wouldn’t tell their own children.
“I say this and reiterate the fact that we have not lost our law and identity.
“Now we look around us and see the hopelessness of our nieces and nephews who are not able to live inside the world of opportunity that is the non-Indigenous world.
“Only this can do justice for our people.
“There’s fear about creating another stolen generation. But look at the Yirara College model.
“Those kids still have access to their parents.
“Their parents can come and take them out on weekends.
“The kids can go to their community events and have that contact time there.”
If it’s good enough for rural kids in Victoria and South Australia to catch the bus for long journeys to school each day or else to go to boarding school, why not for Aboriginal kids, she asks.
Alison herself was sent into Alice Springs for further education.  At first she lived with an aunty. She was sad to have left her family and friends and did “run amok” during the first couple of months: “On the way to the school I would divert down to the river to sit with the old people painting.
“My aunty soon said, ‘You have to go to school’.
 “Later Alison was sent to board at St Philip’s when it was still only a residential facility.
“After a while it was OK – I adapted, I made new friends.”
There were 20 to 30 Aboriginal kids there, from as far afield as Ernabella in South Ausralia and Borroloola on the Gulf of Carpentaria, living alongside station kids.
“We all communicated really well,” says Alison.
“We lived in a house parent structure.
“They were really beautiful people, just like our mums and dads. We never got homesick, their love filled that gap.
“We all had a duty of care towards the juniors, we would take them under our wing, teach them how to use the washing machine, how to make their beds and polish their shoes.”
Linda, who is younger, came in to Yirara College towards the end of the ‘seventies.
A lot of other Papunya children at this time went up to Kormilda College in Darwin, says Alison.
“Our parents went from being people who were working, to seeing their children on welfare.
“The old people, my aunties and my mother, they look at the younger generation and say, you are not like us, we worked hard. “
Alison has made sure her children have received a good education – “their foundation to live in this other world of opportunity, to open doors, to be able to move around in this country”.
Generations of school children have seen Linda working, teaching them. Hasn’t this been an example for them?
“They get the message a little bit,” says Linda, “but it has got to be from the parents too.
“Like our parents in the early days – they had education in mind.”
But many of today’s parents “lie under the welfare tap with their mouths open”, says Alison. “And if we don’t turn that tap off we won’t get them to see the rivers of opportunity.
“People of the past did achieve employment outcomes, had a work ethic, took up the opportunity to live in both worlds.”
She describes the situation now as “frustrating and hurtful”.
The fight to get land back, culminating in the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT) of 1976, had to happen.
“But where to from now?” asks Alison.
“All we’ve got our land for is to die on.
“There’s no economic growth, no opportunities.
“Our cultural life will always be there.
“I don’t need a piece of paper called the Land Rights Act or the Racial Discrimination Act to say that I am linked to my country – I was linked to it at birth.
“Our land has become a cultural museum for us. We’ve got to change that.
“In the early ‘seventies there was room for the left of the left in the fight for land. Now we have to move to the centre left, grow people and communities, match people to the opportunity of the land mass that we have.”

Basketball bashing must stop. By BEVERLEY JOHNSON.

Security patrols are needed at the basketball stadium, according to coach Natasha Watkins, speaking out after a violent incident two weeks ago.
An argument between two teenage girls started inside the stadium, became a fight and moved outside. One girl’s head was smashed against the concrete ground before Ms Watkins and a parent succeeded in separating the two.
One of the girls involved was not a member of the Basketball Association and apparently has been banned from the courts.  
A group of youths watched on, some recording the action on their mobile phones.
“The association needs to pay for security to protect those who belong to the club,” says Ms Watkins.  
“What if one of these kids gets seriously hurt one day, what then?
“The groups that hang outside the stadium each night don’t even play basketball. They are just here to cause trouble.”
Wednesday, 6.45pm: The Roaring Ramblers under 16 team have just finished their game at the Traeger Avenue stadium.
Coach Watkins stands outside patiently, waiting to ensure each girl makes it to her ride safely.
The team almost had to forfeit the game this week, two players are on holiday and a third has decided she will no longer play for the team after the attack last week.
“This is ridiculous. It shouldn’t be the coach’s responsibility to act as a babysitter,” says Ms Watkins.  
“The stadium needs security to keep these delinquents away.
“Both black and white kids are involved,” she says.
“A parent and myself had to jump into protect the girl, this shouldn’t be the coach’s responsibility.
“We volunteer to teach these kids basketball. The basketball association should take responsibility to protect the players.”  
Tanya Dodds is the Roaring Ramblers club secretary. She says the club has written to the association’s management committee about the fight and security issues.
“There used to be a court supervisor responsible for looking after spectators and players, making sure they are following the rules, but I don’t think I’ve seen one around,” she says. 
“The groups of teenagers that are causing trouble out the front of the courts have been getting worse lately.
“An argument that started in the stadium should have been stamped out and settled in the stadium before it even reached outside.”
Raging Ramblers player Shaylee Fly says she saw the girls fighting but it was “just a fight and not that big a deal”.
This seemed to be the general opinion of young people outside the courts.  No one was particularly phased.
Some of the teenage boys were laughing about the incident, and spoke about watching the footage on their mobile phones, yet no one was willing to show the footage to the Alice News.
Mixed stories came from a group of girls, none of whom play basketball but have their parents drop them off outside the courts so that they can hang out and “radar” – check out what’s going on.
None of them wanted to give their names, but they thought the fight between the two girls started over a boy. The girl fighting who was not a player was actually fighting on a weaker girl’s behalf, they said.
The Raging Rambler who was involved is known by most of the group. They say she doesn’t go to school.
Ms Watkins says she has heard the player “can be troublesome”.
“But she was really good at sport, the stadium should protect her. Now she won’t come back and play. 
“When I was younger playing basketball used to be so much fun. Now it is so stressful for them. 
“We are trying to keep them active, healthy. It’s hard when they are not happy because everyone is concerned that there will be a fight.”
The Roaring Ramblers Basketball Club is an old team that was brought back to life by Ms Watkins and her sister about two years ago.
“We just invited anyone who wanted to play. We mainly got kids off the street.
We were looking left right and centre for team players.” 
Lance Godwin,  association president, says the committee is aware of the situation and the groups of youths “loitering” around not only the basketball courts but also the neighbouring tennis courts and hockey fields. 

“It’s a sad state of affairs.”
Soon the football season will begin and it is likely that more youths will want to congregate.
The basketball association has over 500 members.
The stadium is run mainly by volunteers, who “work really hard”.  
Mr Godwin says the police have been informed of the incident.
The Town Council, who own the basketball facility, have been informed and now intend to monitor Traeger Avenue as part of the regular town security runs.  
Tangentyere Council youth patrol have been informed and may run security patrols.  
Mr Godwin says the basketball association is currently approaching people about taking on a court supervisor come administration role.
This person can then “keep an eye on youths, do regular patrols and usher trouble makers on, making sure they are removed from the grounds”.
However, Mr Godwin says the “overall responsibility lies with the parents who continue to bring their children down to the courts and drop them off, knowing that they are not playing basketball. 
These parents should be taking responsibility.”
Mr Godwin says he was not aware that one of the girls in the fight a fortnight ago had previously been banned from the courts.
“When we identify the trouble makers we make sure they understand they are not welcome,” he says.

Pop Vulture: Homegrown harmonies.

In the tradition of Phantom comics, for those who’ve come in late ...
Putting aside the interstate acts penned in to attend the Wide Open Spaces music, arts and desert cultural gathering to be held at the Ross River Resort, on May 1-3, there will be an appealing line up of home grown performers.
• One of the festival’s organisers, Dj Mustaphaa, has enjoyed great success recently, having supported the launch of Melbourne Dj Spoonbills’ recent release, Zoomorphic, with a performance that generated rave reviews, amongst peers and critics.
Mustaphaa creates an ambience of electronic beats that marries itself with the crowd’s energy.
• Many residents of Alice will be familiar with the whimsical stylings of singer and cello player Mei Lai Swan, playing alone or often accompanied by keyboard and double bass. Her songs are heartfelt and deep thinking, exploring both conscious and sub-conscious thought.
Mei Lai recently relocated to Melbourne, but frequently returns to the Centre, filling the musical hole that is created in town during her absence.
• The Papunya-based Tjupi Band are a major draw card on the Bush Bands Bash bill. The ultra tight unit deliver a smooth Reggae sound with a hauntingly calm precision. This will be a treat for overseas and interstate travellers.
• A couple of festivals deep, the Doctor will again be in the house. The ever evolving sound of the Alice-based quintet Dr Strangeways is living proof that exploration is key. The group transgress the basic rock beats, and delve into pools of Reggae, Ska Dub step and Hip Hop.
Their song “Reggae Racehorse”, featuring MC Audio Grill, is a demonstration of musical maturity and also of what can be achieved when interbreeding musical genres.
• Shon has spent a lot of time around the red Centre. She’s an Africa drum, rhythm and percussion instructor whose raw energy on stage is rivalled only by her compelling personality. Filling the other half of the percussion goblet is Svet, the long time musical director of Circus Oz. The monstrous combined percussive force is sure to breathe and beat in a pulsing kinetic symphony.
•  Newly formed and eager to showcase, Los Banderos is a local rhythmic octopus, at times with as many as 11 members, exploring the world Latin through improvisation, losing themselves to a realm of music.
There’ll also be film screenings, Cats Meow Cabaret shows, art installations, talks and loads more.

LETTERS: Whose life is a misery?

Sir,– Last week you wrote of “the public drunks who make our life a misery”.  Let’s face it, dear Editor, my life is not a misery, yours either, I would hazard a guess.
The lives of the ordinary people going to work and to play in this town are not a misery. For those of us reading your paper, we send our kids to good schools, we enjoy our recreation time, we eat well, we visit the doctor when we need to and we get listened to when we speak. Our lives are not a misery. 
Their lives are a misery. The lives of these “public drunks”, a life in which people resort to losing it and to losing their minds, their people, losing their life or taking someone else’s. Many lives are taken because of this misery, and yes, sometimes some of the vulnerable are of our own skin. I do not condone it.
Here in Alice Springs we recognise the effects of this misery on our streets, our grassy verges, on sandy rises under a tree. 
This is the tragic reality of the dispossessed, the recently colonised, many of whom are without language in which to operate effectively in our increasingly bureaucratised world, rendering them more and more without power, making them more and more miserable. 
I draw to the readers’ attention recent figures from the Sunrise Health Service which covers 112,000 square kilometres of the NT: since the beginning of the Federal Intervention rates of Indigenous children with anaemia have risen dramatically from 20% to 55%, threatening the physical and mental health of more than half the area’s children. 
Low birth weight in infants has risen from 9% prior to the Intervention to 19% in December last year.
Diabetics are going without food.
For my own part, not working in the health sector or the media and not always privy to such information, I observe other people’s misery every day. 
I see it when I am at a supermarket and someone has to strip back their trolley of essentials, put back the vegies, the fruit and the washing powder and make do with bread and meat, if they are lucky. 
I see it when people find there is no money after waiting in the queue, only then to spend hour after hour in Centrelink, faced by a worker often overwrought, many times uncaring, mostly without the comfort of shared language, to come away with nothing. 
I see it as I struggle day by day in my classroom to overcome barriers such as hearing loss; loss of mental health; loss of family or the more basic and more pervasive loss of sleep.  “Didn’t you sleep well last night?”
“Nah, too many people, too much grog, too much ganga.” 
They are not talking of themself. 
“What happened to your watch?”
“My nephew, he took him for card game.”
My life is not a misery, dear Editor.  
Harriet Gaffney,
Alice Springs

Why were residents not told?

Sir,– I received an email from Rod Cramer from the Rural Area Association in Alice Springs regarding the 20 metre towers that are proposed for Ross Highway, Palm Circuit and Len Kittle Drive.
I would like to know why the residents and businesses were not notified of this construction in the area affected.
I as a business operator with MacDonnell Range Holiday Park in Palm Place and a resident on Palm Circuit object very strongly to the decision to build these 20 metre high towers along a residential and business precinct.
This is 2009 not the ‘50s and ‘60s when power lines were put above ground.
In any private subdivision the power lines are required to be put underground.  So why can the NT Government go against its own regulations?
Is there a different policy for Darwin to Alice Springs?
To build these unsightly 20 metre high towers as a backdrop to the entrance to our beautiful town will spoil the view of the ranges for our visitors and residents alike.
Our town relies on tourism and to have these 20 metre high towers so close to the ranges [is unacceptable], especially when people are taking photos of the Ghan train as it comes through the Gap – they will have the towers in the background.
I would  request that the power lines be put underground for at least three kms before the entrance to Heavitree Gap.
I  presume that the reason that the power lines are being put underground along Bradshaw Drive is so as not to spoil the view, but [it is also in keeping with] NT Government and Power and Water policy.
The 20 metre high power line will be visual pollution to our town’s entrance.
A visitor to our town once said arriving in Alice Springs is like driving through a painting by Albert Namatjira. It is a great place to visit.
So why is there a different policy if you live on the town side of the ranges to the southern side of the range?
Do the overhead high voltage power lines affect mobile phone reception? Have health problems in the future [been considered], with people living underneath these high voltage lines?
I am sure the residents of Alice Springs and visitors don’t want these ugly 20 metre high power lines at the entrance to our beautiful town.
Brendan Heenan
MacDonnell Range Holiday Park 

Where are the budget documents?

Sir,– The Treasurer has not followed normal budgetary processes by withholding updates on the Territory’s budget changes from Parliament.
Each year the Treasurer tables in the Assembly ‘Transfers of excess Allocation’ documents and historically they have been tabled in a timely fashion.
In the current financial year none of these documents have been tabled.
In the previous financial year these transfers were available for inspection before midway through the year.
These documents reveal how much the Government is overspending its budget.
Their absence from the public domain is a concern because Territorians are unable to assess how the Government is tracking with their money.
In the current environment the Treasurer should be open and honest with Territorians – not withholding information.
The Treasurer is struggling with a $200 million dollar black hole in her budgets over the next 15 months and this secrecy is giving nobody any comfort.
If the Treasurer wants to restore confidence in the Territory budget then she can release these documents now to the public and still comply with the law by tabling them in Parliament in April.
John Elferink
Shadow Treasurer

Code welcomed

Sir,– The Alice Springs Town Council Environment Advisory Committee welcomes the announcement by Minister Delia Lawrie that a Sustainable Building Code could be introduced in the NT this year.
The committee recently wrote to the Minister stating that the we believe that to achieve significant improvements in energy and water efficiency, these regulations should be introduced Territory-wide and focus not only on the building envelope (ie, five star or equivalent), but also include hard-wired appliances (such as water heating, air-conditioning and lighting) and key water consuming appliances (such as toilets and taps). 
Comprehensive measures are already in place in other jurisdictions such as Queensland and we believe that for environmental and economic reasons, the Territory should follow suit.
The proposed new lands for housing development near Alice Springs are welcome, but we must make sure that appropriate planning occurs in terms of public transport, a roads infrastructure that does not disadvantage some suburbs during flood episodes, and that we plan for affordable, family friendly communities.
Ald. Jane Clark
Chair, Environment Advisory Committee

ADAM'S APPLE: To the moon, Alice Springs.

We are the Territory boys, We are Territory Thunder,
Yellow, ochre, black and white, We are out for plunder.
Premierships are on our mind, We’ll tear our foes asunder,
We are the Territory boys, We are Territory Thunder.

These are the lyrics for the new club song for the Territory Thunder. Penned by Ted Egan, I’m fairly certain that the tune ticks all the boxes in relation to what is a successful footy tune.
Australian Rules football has a tradition of turn-of-the-last-century style ditties reminiscent of the ironically light-hearted tunes sung by diggers in World War I.  Rugby League football tends to steal popular rock tunes sung by rock stars, set to a montage of sweaty shirtless blokes running on a beach.
Ted Egan was the man for the job. A founding father of Central Australian football and the writer of many a classic Aussie tune, Ted was able to rhyme the word “Thunder” without resorting to a lie I, a lesser songwriter, might have chosen. Nowhere in the new song is the line “We’ll make those banana benders chunder”.
Our boys in yellow, ochre, black and white start a new chapter in Territory football. We (don’t you love the Australian proclivity of inclusion in sporting teams by using the term “we”) now play in the Queensland competition. It’s a big step forward for Territory football.
Some would have liked it to be a bigger step, however. We can’t forget that we were knocked back by the stronger SANFL and WAFL competitions and some members of the community feel as though we have settled for a competition that isn’t as strong.
There is a sizable subsection of the community that I think might just have an over-inflated opinion of the capabilities of Alice Springs.
I have had conversations with these people who firmly believe that having just 30,000 people living in a town 1500 kilometres from any other town or city of note is merely a detail. Not a hurdle, but a detail to be factored into the logistics.
There are people we all know – perhaps you are one of them – who swear that Alice Springs deserves an AFL game played for competition points at Traeger Park.
They are firm in their conviction that Alice Springs would be a perfect place to host a Test Cricket match and swear like sailors when games are occasionally played in Darwin. “How dare they!” they scream into their schooners at pubs around town.
I used to think these folk foolish. As if Alice Springs a small town in the middle of the desert is a primary choice for a major event? But now I’m coming around to its absurdity.
We already host the Masters Games and we have more infrastructure than most towns of a comparable size. We are a tourist town with hotels to bed a truckload of people, we have sporting centres the envy of many and we have a population not averse to volunteerism.
Most importantly we have people who believe that it can happen.
So I say why stop with sporting events? Let’s dream big Alice Springs. Let’s aim for the stars …literally.  Think about it. We live miles from any other centre in a relatively flat desert. We live close to an installation we all call the Space Base. Is it too ludicrous to imagine the Alice Springs Space Agency?
Is it beyond the realms of the imagination to picture in our minds a manned flight to Mars or the Moon or heck, let’s dream a little, the outer realms of space?
Imagine the tourist dollars if a Cape Canaveral style outfit was built at the old drive-in. It’s time to stop living in the ALFQ of our lives, Alice Springs.
It’s time to dream. Time to go to the moon, Alice!

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