ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
August 20, 2009. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
sites authority: huge fees for permits to remove dangerous trees. By
There’s disagreement between the Town Council and two
government agencies over paying the Aboriginal Areas Protection
Authority’s fee to process the fire management plan for the Todd and
An estimated fee of $43,910 was reported to council on Monday night, an
amount described by Deputy Mayor John Rawnsley as “unfair on Alice
The authority has since told the Alice Springs News that the correct
amount is $37,710.
While council “values” having so many registered sacred sites within
the town – “a much larger concentration” than Darwin has – the
authority’s “user pays” system impacts on council finances, said
However, the authority’s regional manager, Andrew Allan, says he has
already indicated to council that the authority will endeavour to
“minimise the charge”.
“We will only charge actual costs as required under the regulations,”
He says the NT Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act, which governs the
authority, requires it to “recover a portion of costs”, but the
authority is “open to discussion with the council over costs and has
offered significant reductions in costs in some recent applications”.
He also says it is important to understand that the rivers are “areas
of significance to Aboriginal custodians” and that work must be done
throughly to “ensure there is no damage”.
Ald Brendan Heenan described the charge as “a bit ludicrous” when
council is “trying to do the right thing and protect sacred trees”,
stressing the danger to the trees from surrounding couch and buffel
Ald Liz Martin, who had reported a fire in the river last Wednesday
night, said the fee was “amazing”.
Ald Rawnsley asked what could be done to change the fee.
Council’s director of Technical Services Greg Buxton said the authority
is unable to move because of the size and complication of the fire
management plan application.
He also said that the Department of Planning and Infrastructure and the
Fire Service, both part of the application, have said they won’t
contribute to the fee.
The council has “care, control and management” responsibilities for the
“Council is stuck in the middle,” said Mr Buxton.
Ald Rawnsley said council should approach the issue at ministerial
The Act is administered by the Minister for Indigenous Policy, now
CEO Rex Mooney said both government agencies involved had been asked to
provide written advice regarding the fee.
There would be a further report to council before any approach to the
He described the issue as “a matter in the public interest with public
authorities at a Mexican standoff”.
The issue is further complicated by the fact that council currently has
no certificate from the authority to cover emergency situations.
The former certificate expired in February 2006 but coverage was
extended while council prepared a new application.
Once the application was lodged coverage lapsed.
Mr Buxton says the authority has advised council to use their
discretion in an emergency – for instance, if a tree in the river was
A bad decision, however, could cost council a $10,000 fine.
Mr Allan says the authority “works closely with council to address
considerations of public safety – we have a good working relationship
with them in that regard”.
Mr Buxton had given an example of this relationship: after the violent
storm on September 22 last year, a tree in the mall became unstable. Mr
Allan inspected the tree with Mr Buxton, saw the immediate danger and
allowed the tree to be removed, said Mr Buxton.
Council’s application to remove two sacred trees from Traeger Park
which have died is “active” with the authority, said Mr Buxton.
Mr Allan says the authority has taken “independent advice” with respect
to the application.
It also waived all fees for it except for the statutory $50 application
Meanwhile, day-to-day work on any tree native to the Centre within the
municipality requires an individual certificate from the authority,
“which can cost up to $3000”, says Mr Buxton.
The authority is reluctant to “give blanket cover – they want to
inspect each tree”, said Mr Buxton.
Mr Allan says a certificate provides council with legal indemnity from
prosecutions regarding damage to sacred sites.
Council can choose or not to apply for a certificate – “a form of risk
management” for the applicants.
Council has just commissioned a report from arborist Geoff Miers on the
state of all trees within the CBD and will make a single application to
the authority to cover all the recommended works.
Mr Buxton estimated the cost for this application at $15,000 to
Mr Allan declined to comment on the cost as the authority hasn’t
received the application.
After assessment of over 600 trees, Mr Miers recommended the removal of
19 trees, and heavy remedial pruning of a further 50.
Once works proceeds the removed trees will be replaced as quickly as
possible by twice their number, in line with council’s two for one
Mr Miers’ report notes “Trees of Significance”, most of which require
treatment for termites and monitoring, with some requiring dead wood
Voyages sells King’s Canyon,
Alice resorts. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Voyages has sold its 46% interest in the King’s Canyon Resort and its
wholly owned Alice Springs Resort.
The company’s flagship, the Ayers Rock Resort, is still on the market,
for a rumored $400m.
The King’s Canyon interest has gone to the US firm Delaware North.
The buyer of the Alice Resort has not been named but it is “an
Australian-based investment group who have other interests in tourism
related assets in this country”.
The purchase prices have not been disclosed.
Voyages have also sold resorts in El Questro Wilderness Park (Top End
of WA), as well as Lizard, Heron and Wilson Islands.
The five properties fetched $84.9m.
With nearly 1000 beds the Ayers Rock Resort before the sale made up
more than half of Voyages’ capacity.
Current occupancy rates are not available but a spokeswoman says there
is high demand for the camping grounds at the Rock and the luxury
accommodation Longitude 131 whose room rates are $2100 per night.
Industry speculation put the value of the Voyages resort portfolio at
$860m before the recession and $660m now.
A spokeswoman says Delaware North Companies Australia has been
established for more than 20 years and “is one of the country’s leading
hospitality companies, managing extensive food and beverage operations
across a number of major tourist destinations, venues and transport
hubs across Australia, including Melbourne and Werribee Zoos, Sovereign
Hill, all capital city airports, Sydney Central and Southern Cross
Railway Stations, Melbourne Park and Etihad Stadium in Melbourne”.
Delaware North has also been operating in parks and resorts in North
America since 1993 and is known for operating in some of the most
spectacular places in the world, including Niagara Falls, Yosemite
National Park, the Kennedy Space Centre and the Grand Canyon.
I did not damage Rainbow
Valley, says Noel Fullerton. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Noel Fullerton is rejecting allegations by a Territory parks official
of having caused environmental damage to the Rainbow Valley national
park (Alice News, Aug 13).
If it were not for him the spectacular rock formation would in all
probability not exist, says the legendary camel man.
He said the red sandstone bluff was under a mining lease, set to be
“blown up and cut into small pieces”.
But he and Terry Karger, the lessee of Orange Creek station, on which
the formation was, asked MLA Roger Vale to intervene.
The then Member for Stuart did, and the NT Government bought back the
lease, “for 12,500 pounds, I think”.
A conservation reserve was declared which, for decades, was one of the
jewels in the crown of tourism in The Centre, until recent access
restrictions have diminished enjoyment of the park.
Di Calder’s photo of Mr Fullerton, on a camel, galloping down a
sandhill about a kilometer from the rock face, went around the world
many times, adding to The Centre’s romantic and exciting image.
The photo was on the cover of an official NT Government publication and
the motif on Territory lottery tickets.
But now the current NT Government, following a deal with Aboriginal
interests, has closed some 90% of the park, limited access to the rock
formation to just one brief walk, and deny access to what Mr Fullerton
describes as the most beautiful sections, including the striped stones
giving the place its name.
And last week Chief District Ranger Wayne Gaskon said Mr Fullarton’s
camel activities, among others, had contributed to the erosion of the
sandhill behind the bluff, the spectacular feature that makes Rainbow
Valley such an alluring landscape for visitors.
Mr Gaskon’s allegations made Mr Fullerton see red.
“Rangers think parks are for rangers.
“They have a green pole mentality.”
Mr Fullerton says his camel tours, highly popular for decades, were
carefully organised to avoid environmental damage.
He says the parks service should be aware about the movement of sand in
the area: “Any marks in the sand we made were soon completely filled in
“The fluctuations of the level of sand could be as high as one metre.
“Rangers put in benches and tables and one time they were covered in
sand and had to be dug out.
“We didn’t create any tracks.
“We made sure our camels walked spread out, not in line.
“They cannot walk in cattle tracks. Their feet are too wide.”
He says he avoided one of the clay pans which features rare plants.
Mr Fullerton says over the years most of his staff were “coloured
people” with some knowledge of traditional lore.
But he says he also had contact with “full bloods” who shared sacred
knowledge with him, in detail and accuracy well beyond the knowledge of
people currently involved in land rights deals.
While he says he welcomes Aboriginal people getting an income from
tours of Rainbow Valley, that should not be to the exclusion of others.
And he questions whether people taking part in the process of taking
the park from public ownership have appropriate traditional knowledge.
“Are they initiated? Have they had tjuringas issued to them,” asks Mr
“I’ve never been stopped by full blood people.”
He says he has been shown, or has discovered himself, sacred sites,
including caves with paintings, which his tours avoided, as well as
Aboriginal “sites of significance” which his groups visited but
He offers to advise the parks planners about areas to be avoided: “I
can show them the sacred sites.
“And then leave the rest of the park open.”
Mr Fullerton says he has never removed sacred objects from the park but
says it’s possible items disappeared when a road was built.
He says the way authorities deal with sacred sites is hypocritical.
“Why don’t they close Heavitree Gap in Alice Springs?” he asks.
“It’s the most sacred site in the Stuart Plain.
“Men coming in from the south had to have a custodian with them and
were not allowed to look to the left as they walked through The Gap.
“And women had to climb over the range.”
The Alice Springs News endeavoured to contact Ricky Orr, the
traditional owner who runs Rainbow Valley Cultural Tours, but had not
heard back before going to press.
Chopper pilot returns to
charge over Kings Creek fire death.
A man wanted in relation to the death of Canadian tourist Cynthia
Ching, who died from burn injuries she received at Kings Creek Station
in 2004, was arrested at Sydney airport last week, after arriving in
Australia from New Zealand.
The Alice Springs News was the first to report Ms Ching’s death nearly
one year after it had happened, when no-one had yet been charged, the
police investigations were incomplete, and it was uncertain whether a
coronial inquest would be held (www.alicespringsnews.com.au/1213.html).
The inquest was finally held in March 2006, but the Territory Coroner
did not make any findings.
The police have provided the following account of the events leading to
Ms Ching’s burns:
“On April 15, 2004, the victim was among a group of people drinking at
the staff quarters at the [Kings Creek] station.
“The woman was injured when one of two improvised lanterns was being
“The alleged offender was pouring aviation fuel into a sand-filled beer
can when the fuel caught alight, causing him to drop the jar which then
splashed over the victim and caused severe burns.
“The woman was medivaced to Royal Adelaide Hospital where she died
on May 27, 2004.”
A media release from Territory police this week said that “an arrest
warrant was issued for the alleged offender on March 2005”.
This date does not correspond to their release of August 19, 2005
announcing that they had issued “a summons for the appearance in court
of a helicopter pilot involved in an incident that resulted in
the death of Canadian tourist, Cynthia Ching on 27 May last year”.
Their release of March 30, 2005 – the same date as the Alice News
breaking story – described the police investigation as “continuing”.
By the time the police issued the summons the alleged offender had left
Australia for New Zealand.
According to the police media release of last Friday “there was no
reciprocal offence existing in New Zealand at the time [so] he could
not be arrested”.
“An alert was placed on the man’s name by the Department of
Immigration so police would be notified should the man try to
re-enter the country.
“Detectives from the Casuarina Investigations Unit received
notification from the Department of Immigration [last Thursday, August
13] that the man was being detained at Sydney Airport after arriving
from New Zealand.
“The man appeared in the Sydney Magistrates Court [on Friday,
August 14] where he was bailed to appear again on August 28 at which
time Northern Territory Police will make an application for
“The man was required to relinquish his passport.”
Government deal: Golden
opportunity gone west. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Unlike our rich cousins in the Top End, The Centre is getting exactly
what it deserves from the extraordinary political deal making last
week: very little.
When the horse trading was at its peak, when all was thrown into the
melting pot, when a new future was being forged, when history was
begging to be made, where were our leaders?
Nowhere to be seen.
Oh, to be sure, when it was all over, the outrage was just gushing, the
disappointment crushing: How could they do this to us?
Well, they did, and we allowed them to.
A better opportunity could not be imagined: Alison Anderson, a
politician with a most unusual amount of courage and vision, pulled the
pin on a government that had become a joke a long time ago.
All the balls were in the air, all bets were off, use any metaphor you
like, there was no better time to make a deal.
Blind Freddy knew that the key players were Paul Henderson, Terry Mills
and Gerry Wood: Where was our pitch to them on behalf of The Centre?
Stuart MLA Karl Hampton turned his back on Anderson and obediently
sided with his party.
No matter, there were plenty of people left who could have made a
difference: Anderson, the three Tory MLAs Jodeen Carney, Adam Giles,
Matt Conlan; the Town Council; plus the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
Central Australia, between them representing more than 500 of the
region’s most productive people.
What a force it could have been – had it been assembled.
True to Alice Springs form, of course, it wasn’t.
The result is a bonanza for the Top End locked in already, while we are
now playing catch-up.
Says alderman Liz Martin, regretfully: “We are not proactive. We are
Independent Gerry Wood, the reluctant pivotal figure in the drama, is
at pains to say Alice won’t miss out.
But while his electorate has reaped a bonanza of specific projects (see
box this page), all he can – at this stage – offer Alice is benefits
from Territory-wide initiatives, such as planning reform and release of
residential land and review of the bush housing fiasco, SIHIP (which
will benefit mostly the Top End, if it ever gets going).
Were any of the Central Australian MLAs in touch with him prior to last
Mr Wood doesn’t clearly say so, but the answer is obviously “no”.
“Look, that’s exactly what I need to do now.
“In no way do I want Central Australia, Tennant Creek and all these
other areas to not be part of what we are trying to do.
“That would be the last thing I want.”
He wants to “get down to, in the next couple of weeks, get down to,
say, Alice Springs, and hopefully even, if these people want me to,
attend a public meeting, and put forward proposals, for them to give me
What this indicates without any doubt is that Mr Wood is determined to
include Alice Springs in his agenda.
But how regrettable is it that Alice Springs didn’t give him the
ammunition while there was still a sitting target – a Chief Minister
prepared to hang on to his job at any cost.
Now we can still ask for what we need – but it will be cap in hand, as
“The whole idea is to try and change the process of government around,
to make the government less about spin and more about the realities of
what we are doing,” Mr Wood said in an interview with the Alice Springs
News on the weekend.
Most would wish him luck.
The Wood agenda: Extracts from
Independent Member Gerry Wood’s speech in Parliament last Friday.
In relation to the prison location [formerly proposed for Wedell], we
will establish an expert review panel to review the location.
It will examine alternative options to one large prison. We will
investigate prison farms for Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine,
We will introduce caravan park legislation – at last – to protect the
We will look at property law reform, which I have been pushing for, for
about the last five years.
We are going to address pricing and availability of land especially for
first homeowners. For too long, nothing has happened – young people
cannot afford to buy a block of land.
The government ... will look at the subdivision of the forestry land in
the rural area [south of Darwin]. Where possible, they will expedite
native title issues and housing proposals for the Howard Springs
forestry land to overcome residential land shortage. There is a
possibility of 400 blocks that could be developed very quickly.
We need to look at the industrial land – review Glyde Point as a
potential site and detail other options. We need to review and update
the Humpty Doo District Plan with the view to encourage housing
opportunities. Humpty Doo has been stagnant for years.
We need to investigate development of the Girraween district centre.
We need to look at the establishment of the city of Weddell.
There will be a competition to be announced by November 2009 asking for
architects and town planners to design a visionary plan including
sustainability principles for the new city of Weddell.
We need to look at the future development of Middle Arm, where future
approvals will be dealt with by the existing Litchfield Development
Consent Authority – something the government took away.
The government is prepared to put it back, with the exception – it is
out of my hands – INPEX has been approved. That has happened.
However, the rest – at least Middle Arm – has gone back to the
Litchfield Development Consent Authority.
I have asked for a town planner – and this has been agreed to.
They will appoint a qualified experienced town planner to provide
direct advice to the minister.
The Darwin Regional Land Use Structure Plan will be reviewed and
updated following public consultation.
Also, issues with traffic from the Robertson Barracks to the northern
suburbs via the Knuckeys Lagoon area will be addressed.
Regarding public housing; public housing waiting lists are too long.
The government will now set goals to reduce waiting lists for public
housing by type, by region each year, and work towards these reductions
over the next five years.
In regard to national resources and environment and the national
radioactive waste repository, the Northern Territory government will
continue to call on the Australian government to repeal the Radioactive
Management Act 2005, and for the site selection of the national
repository to be based on scientific evidence and allow for appropriate
consultation in approvals.
If the Commonwealth government picks the Northern Territory based on
scientific approvals, I will immediately ask the government to repeal
its own law, not allowing that to happen.
There will be continued commitment to the implementation of the
container deposit scheme.
There will be the establishment of three heritage parks, especially for
World War II heritage.
The Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program [SIHIP]
will be referred to the Council of Territory Cooperation for inquiry
and report back to the parliament.
Youth clubs will be developed based on the old Police Boys Club model
in urban areas in Casuarina, Palmerston, Katherine and Alice Springs,
to be managed by police or non-government organisations.
The [Darwin] rural area, for far too long, has missed out on, I
believe, a fair input from the government.
I am asking the government to investigate a sewerage system for the
Howard Springs commercial area to allow for existing demands and future
growth; the adequacy of a water supply system to support future
development of the Howard Springs commercial area; sewerage
infrastructure for the growing Coolalinga shopping area; replacement of
private water mains with Power and Water Corporation mains where
appropriate; support Freds Pass Reserve by funding greater capital and
operational funds on an annual basis.
Freds Pass Reserve is a major recreational centre for the whole area
and, yet, its funding is so poor it has struggled and still struggles.
It is time the government appreciated that we must support our young
people and that is why I put that in here. The big bucks have gone in
town, the little bucks have gone out in the rural area.
We need to develop an aquatic centre for the rural area, and work on
improving relationships between the Northern Territory government and
Litchfield Council, or commence construction of bicycle paths in the
rural area in conjunction with preserving the old railway corridor, and
it is something that has fallen off the books, the regional waste
facility – review and expedite the development of a regional waste
facility in the rural area.
In regard to special education, I believe the government has said it
will investigate and report on delivery, and investigate and provide
plans for infrastructure upgrades.
Agriculture – there will be a new emphasis placed on primary industry
in the Territory as a key industry driver of regional economic
development and employment.
The Ord River – the Northern Territory government will have an ongoing
relationship with the Western Australian government and Kimberley
Development Commission into matters concerning development in the Ord
River Project, especially those areas in the Northern Territory.
Beef roads – further upgrades of beef, commercial and community roads,
such as those in the Douglas / Daly region.
Land clearing / native vegetation – include a native vegetation act to
provide clearer guidelines for vegetation preserving and clearing.
Local government – local government reform – refer to the Council of
Territory Cooperation for enquiry and report to the government.
Heated meeting fails to
resolve council by-laws. By
Concerns about restrictions on personal rights dominated time at last
Wednesday’s public meeting about the Town Council’s draft by-laws,
while a lot of heat developed in the discussion of by-laws some claimed
were targeting Aboriginal people, culminating in an angry outburst from
Alderman Sandy Taylor.
The exchange between Ald Taylor and Harold Furber pointed to a common
problem with the draft by-laws causing most concern, that is, their
apparently broad reach.
Mr Furber had asked if one of his relatives asked him for “a few bucks”
and he responded, would that be illegal.
“Am I part of the problem?”
This kind of scenario is not one that council wishes to target with its
begging by-law and it clearly irritated Ald Taylor.
“We all have relatives who ask us for money, Harold!” she retorted.
She then attempted to clarify the intent of the begging by-law: “We’ve
heard this from Aboriginal people, through our traditional owners, and
they’ve said that they don’t like the fact that people are humbugging
on the streets ... Harold, you are making a distinction between our
relatives and people who continue to make a public nuisance of
“The people I’m talking about are traditional owners,” countered Mr
This remark didn’t take the discussion forward. It would have been good
at this point to try to tease out what is meant by “humbug” and whether
humbugging behaviours can be more tightly targeted in the by-laws.
However the meeting by now had gone well over time and tempers were
Ald Taylor let fly. She said “some of these people make more money than
you and I” – a comment in line with one by David Price in these pages
(Letters, August 6).
After further exchanges and provocative heckling she also said, or
rather shouted: “Why don’t people go to bloody school, get a frigging
job and have a bloody house and get on with their lives!”
She then left her seat at the front of the meeting and went to the back
of the room – she did not leave the meeting as has been reported –
where she continued to talk to Mr Furber.
Ald Taylor’s outburst may seem beside the point but it is in line with
her approach to life in general and Aboriginal affairs in particular,
that is, that people need to take responsibility for themselves and
advantage of the opportunities on offer.
She has since told the Alice News that she has apologised to Mr Furber
for the anger she showed.
She says she does not want to contribute to any further division in the
community but she is frustrated by people “portraying Aboriginal people
as victims” – “we’re survivors, now let’s get on with our lives”.
And at Monday night’s council meeting Ald Taylor told other aldermen
that, although they are “trying to do good things”, the message
from the public meeting was “loud and clear – we don’t have the
[by-law] wording right”.
At the public meeting CEO Rex Mooney, who had been valiantly trying to
restore calm, attempted to answer Mr Furber’s question.
He said it was an entirely different matter if the person asking for
money was a relative. He said the begging by-law is for “extreme
situations”; an element of pressure or intimidation needed to be
involved; he mentioned the example of “humbug at ATMs” (elaborated on
by Ald John Rawnsley in these pages, July 30).
The problem, however, remains that the text simply says: “A person must
not beg or solicit money or goods in a public place.”
And a person who does so “is guilty of an offence”.
How is the public, not privy to detailed discussions with council,
going to know what is in council’s mind?
How is discretion going to be exercised by “authorised persons” around
identifying “extreme situations” where they might intervene?
Eric Sultan asked if a workshop could be conducted around rewording of
the by-laws causing concern.
Ald Rawnsley, who chaired the meeting, said rewording suggestions could
be included in written submissions to council, which close on August
Again and again members of the public called into question the broad
framing of the by-laws.
For example, bl 22, “Distribution promotional material”, and bl 23,
“Placing or affixing promotional material”, require a permit for these
activities, and a permit generally involves a fee.
A question was asked about the expense involved for not-for-profit
activities, such as fundraisers with a community benefit.
This is in fact not a new by-law and council’s director of Corporate
and Community Services, Craig Catchlove, said that “in reality” there
would be no cost.
The public was being asked to discount the letter of the law in favour
of the practice of a benign administration.
It was an ask that many in the meeting were not comfortable with.
More controversial was bl 24, “Promotional material on private
premises”, which in its text requires a permit for such material if it
is “over or in view of a public place”.
The public were assured that material deemed appropriate would not be
affected – “We don’t want inappropriate signage,” said council’s ranger
unit manager, Kevin Everett.
But a woman wanted to know who deems what is appropriate or
Again it is a pre-existing by-law and, said Mr Catchlove, for the last
22 years it has not been used to control freedom of speech.
Its target, rather, is commercial advertising; it allows council to
control, for example, the proliferation of billboards.
What is appropriate would be up to council administration, with the
possibility of appeal to elected members.
Council was again challenged from the floor by several speakers about
the discretionary wielding of such broad powers and was asked to remove
the by-law or make its wording more explicit.
This lead to the first angry outburst of the meeting. Graham Tjilpi
Buckley brought up the instance of political advertising at the end of
the mall – a reference to a banner raised during Ald Murray Stewart’s
mayoral election bid, controversial at the time and already dealt with
When Ald Stewart took the microphone to explain this, Mr Buckley
shouted him down.
Ald Rawnsley, who had warned at the outset that he had the power to
close the meeting, threatened to exercise that power.
From the floor Lisa Stefanoff asked for a show of hands on exemption of
political advertising from the by-law.
Ald Rawnsley wouldn’t allow this.
Mr Catchlove said signs on private property would be assessed on an
individual basis, taking into account things like size and
Ms Stefanoff pressed for criteria to be made known.
Mr Catchlove said so many factors would need to be taken into account,
it would be impossible to write them all down.
Wayne Thompson, representing the Dyson group of companies, wanted to
know whether signs promoting events such as school fetes, placed in the
back windows of school busses would need a permit.
Yes, they would, but there’d be no charge, said Mr Catchlove.
Hal Duell from the floor got explicit about the type of sign that was
no doubt on the mind of many in the meeting – the “Keep Alice safe, no
u-mine” signs that have proliferated since the licence for exploration
of the Angela Pamela uranium deposit was granted. He has such a sign on
his fence; he’s received no complaints from his neighbours.
“Will I need a permit?” he asked.
“Technically, yes,” said Mr Catchlove, but he also said council would
not pursue the matter unless they received a complaint.
It was Lenny Aronsten, a Greens candidate in the last council election,
who turned the discussion towards by-laws seen to be targeting
He said he was “finding it hard to have respect” for the council,
referred to the “on-going war on the Aborigine”, asked for the
withdrawal of unspecified by-laws, referring to the NT Legal Aid
Commission submission, and concluded – “you know what I’m talking about
and you should be ashamed of yourselves”.
This was greeted with loud applause.
Ald Rawnsley reminded the meeting that it was a question and answer
session, not an opportunity for making “political statements”.
Mr Furber objected to Ald Rawnsley’s threats. Ald Rawnsley
Don Coffey from the floor asked for the “no camping in a public place”
by-laws to be removed until accommodation alternatives were in place.
Where should people go, he asked.
Mr Catchlove said council understood fully “the lack of suitable
accommodation” and lobbies on the issue in all the “appropriate forums”.
He also emphasised that council is “at one with Lhere Artepe [the
native title holder body]” with the 24/7 ban on camping.
This point appeared to penetrate little.
Ald Melanie van Haaren later took it up, asking people to reconsider
their opposition to the by-laws that the traditional owners would like
to see introduced – “get behind the traditional owners of this
From the floor Jimmy Cocking wanted to know what the problem is with
A man describing himself as an activist and “an educated blackfeller”
suggested the by-law was telling Aboriginal people “you can’t maintain
your culture and come and camp here”.
He described Alice Springs as “our natural habitat”, and said the
by-law would “restrict our freedom of who we are”.
He received strong applause for these comments, despite the very clear
message from Lhere Artepe that they do not want people to “camp on
sacred sites, including the Todd River” – one of the nine “DON’Ts”
identified for visitors to “Central Arrernte Country”.
Among the nine “DOs” are calls to “respect the cultural landscape” and
“respect our wishes”.
Ald Brendan Heenan pointed out that the by-law also targets people in
campervans, especially those without toilets on board, who camp in
carparks and on public land, for instance around the garden cemetery,
and “make a mess”.
Ald Liz Martin challenged the apparent assumption that she, as a white
woman, has never been affected by homelessness or alcohol and drug
Mr Mooney said the “litmus test” for the by-laws is in “how they are
He said he wasn’t saying “trust council” – though this does seem to be
what he was saying – and referred to council’s “good track record”.
Mr Everett attempted to explain the problem with camping in public
places. He talked about people burning trees, leaving thousands of tons
of rubbish behind, and “a myriad of things they shouldn’t do”.
He said rangers are “not bastards”, that they try to “refer people to
help”, even more so if there are children involved.
“We don’t hand out fines, we try to assist,” he said, describing the
ranger team as “highly motivated”.
And he denied that rangers “burn” people’s belongings.
He said the rubbish is taken to the tip, while blankets are taken to
Tangentyere Council for cleaning.
Faith Graham, an Indigenous woman who works on town camps, asked about
rangers’ training and whether they undergo police checks.
Mr Catchlove described the various training programs, which include
cross-cultural awareness, and said council will be ensuring that all
rangers undergo nationwide police checks.
Regarding the enhanced powers of rangers, Mr Catchlove said at present
they are powerless to do anything about, for example, a drinking party
on the Civic Centre lawns and that this is not an incident for which
police, who are “run off their feet”, will attend.
Eric Sultan wanted to know whether council employs Indigenous rangers.
Ald Taylor said she would “love Aboriginal people to apply”.
Mr Catchlove said council has employed three Indigenous rangers in the
last five years, and there is one at present.
“We are desperate to get more,” he said, adding that council is working
with Lhere Artepe to identify good candidates.
The graffiti by-law (44), requiring property owners to remove graffiti
from their premises within 14 days or face a penalty, also drew comment.
Rodney Angelo from the floor suggested replacing unsightly graffiti
with quality graffiti art.
A representative of Incite Youth Arts referred to their aerosol art
projects as an alternative strategy.
Mr Cocking saw the problem with this by-law as one in common with
others – a “zero tolerance” approach that has failed elsewhere.
Mr Catchlove said council “strongly supports” authorised aerosol art
and is developing anti-graffiti kits to assist ratepayers to comply
with the by-law. These may consist of vouchers for cleaning products.
Ald Martin wanted to see more assistance given to people, such as the
elderly, unable to do the physical removal work themselves.
The ban on swimming and bathing in public places without a permit was
When a young woman suggested lifeguards as an alternative she drew the
ire of Mr Thompson (of the Dyson group): “Have you seen the river in
flood?” he demanded, several times.
A man said he understood that the river in full flood is dangerous but
what about when the flood is abating and he knows it’s safe, how would
the by-law work then?
Mr Catchlove said without such a by-law council has no power to control
the situation when it’s dangerous.
From the floor Hilary Tyler urged council to “say what you mean – you
are making your powers too broad”.
Ald Taylor called on people to propose alternative wording in their
Making drunkenness an offence was criticised by Jonathan Pilbrow of
NTCOSS as a backwards step and in conflict with the recommendations of
the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
Mr Catchlove said council needs a by-law to be able to move drunks on.
Would rangers be stationed outside Bo’s in the early hours to move
“white drunks” on, he was asked.
How would rangers know that a person was drunk and not mentally ill, he
And would rangers call in medical personnel?
Or would they lock up “a diabetic having a hyper”?
This last was shouted by the man who had earlier identified himself as
an “educated blackfeller”.
It was a step too far for Mr Catchlove: “You really are the most
offensive person in this room,” he replied, which earned him loud
groans and heckles.
The ban on cycling in the mall was contested and there was a call to
remove any by-law about cycling until council has completed its cycling
Mr Everett said council receives five to 10 complaints a month about
cycling in the mall as well as regular reports of injuries.
Clark says sorry.
Alderman Jane Clark has unreservedly apologised to the Town Council for
saying that she was “shouted down” over her views on the draft by-laws.
At Monday night’s committee meeting Mayor Damien Ryan sought an apology
for Ald Clark’s “disregard” of council’s code of conduct during the
meeting of July 27.
He saw her behaviour as a “low point in this council”.
He cited a section of the code requiring members not to undermine the
trust the public has in the council and not to bring other members into
He also referred to the Local Government Act’s code of conduct.
He took Ald Clark to task over not having availed herself of the
opportunity to make her views on the draft by-laws known when standing
orders were removed during the July 27 meeting – which would have
allowed other aldermen to respond – while having already indicated her
views in a radio interview earlier that day.
On this point Ald Clark said she had adhered to meeting procedure.
She said she had been given no notice of Mr Ryan’s intention to seek an
apology and requested that he put his case in writing.
Mr Ryan pursued his points with some vehemence, suggesting that Ald
Clark had used the chamber improperly, and said her allegation that she
had been “shouted down” was an “insult”.
Ald John Rawnsley also said he had a “big issue” with that allegation
and raised concern about the way Ald Clark discussed the by-laws on the
social networking site, Facebook, promoting “misconceptions”.
Alds Liz Martin and Murray Stewart similarly objected to Ald Clark’s
allegation of being “shouted down”.
It was then that Ald Clark, who remained calm under pressure,
apologised unreservedly for her use of that expression. By way of
explanation she said it was her way of saying she felt “shut down”. She
had felt “intimidated” for having a “different point of view” but “you
didn’t shout me down, you did give me an opportunity to have my say”.
Ald Brendan Heenan asked Ald Clark had she ever talked about rangers
“burning blankets”. She was categorical that she had never suggested
Aldermen accepted the apology with a show of hands.
Abandoned blankets, if they can be reused, may be taken to Tangentyere
Council for cleaning, and rubbish taken to the tip, but personal
belongings with any form or suggestion of identification are not
touched, says council CEO Rex Mooney.
“Rangers use their discretion in all cases, “ says Mr Mooney. “They are
mindful of what seems to be personal property.”
Tangentyere or other agencies are advised of the presence of the
belongings. If there is a weapon present, the police are called.
The draft “abandoned items” by-law, with its apparent broad reach, is
one that has stirred a lot of controversy but Mr Mooney says it is not
possible to cover every contingency in a by-law.
Don’t like a by-law? Suggest
Public submissions in writing on the by-laws have to contain some form
of “constructive feedback” before they will be forwarded to aldermen.
Council CEO Rex Mooney says if all they say is “what a silly idea full
stop” they won’t be passed on, as they “don’t give council any guidance
Council is hoping that if a by-law is opposed, the person objecting
will suggest amendments or an alternative approach.
Submissions containing a lot of offensive language will “probably not”
be passed on, but will be “minuted”.
Submissions that arrived at council before the publication of its
official notice of the proposed by-laws (August 1) similarly will not
be taken into account.
“A lot of insulting emails came in a rush” before August 1, says Mr
Reviewers hammer grog report
for NT Government. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Evaluation of alcohol control measures in Alice Springs, conducted by
the NT based Menzies School of Health Research and commissioned by the
NT Government, has drawn scathing criticism in a review by academics of
the National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology,
The Alice News has obtained a copy of the review by Dennis Gray, who
has carried out extensive alcohol research in Central Australia since
1998, and Tanya Chikritzhs, one of Australia’s leading alcohol
epidemiologists and researchers.
The review, prepared for the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition in Alice
Springs, says the Menzies report has been framed around the way supply
restrictions and the use of alcohol are perceived by members of the
community and stake holders, instead of examining the whole range of
strategies that make up the Alcohol Management Plan (AMP).
The emphasis in the Menzies report, according to the review, is on the
culture of drinking and the view that the culture and opposition to
restrictions must be changed before any further changes to restrictions
The review says this argument ignores the fact that legislation or
regulation can be an effective means of changing culture. Some obvious
examples are the introduction of compulsory seatbelt use and
The Menzies report describes supply reduction measures, says the
review, as “an emergency, interim strategy until a broad change in
drinking culture is achieved”.
But the review argues that this view is “contrary to the national and
international evidence that has consistently shown that restrictions on
availability must remain part of any alcohol management package”.
In its recommendations, the Menzies report seems to have “ignored or
forgotten”, says the review, that the national and international
literature overwhelmingly demonstrates that supply reduction measures
are the most effective means of reducing harmful alcohol consumption,
even though the point is made early in the report itself.
The Menzies report recommended that the current restrictions regime be
maintained, rather than pursuing the potential offered by adjusting the
The rationale for this recommendation, according to the review, is that
the restrictions are not popular with some segments of the Alice
However, the review reiterates the common observation that what is
popular does not work and what works is not popular.
The review also challenges the faith the Menzies report places in
promotional work and education.
“While promotional work and education can be useful in raising
awareness and increasing knowledge, their impact in reducing
consumption and related harms, that is, changing behaviour, are
marginally effective in the short-term and ineffective in the
long-term,” says the review.
“Few studies have shown long lasting behaviour change for children and
adolescents resulting from school drug education programs.”
The review also says the Menzies report does not understand the
mechanisms of social marketing campaigns – not the same as education or
raising public awareness – and gives no consideration to “the
considerable resource required to mount an effective social marketing
More importantly, though, the review says “the evidence for the
efficacy of social marketing campaigns in the alcohol field is not
strong and thus should not be considered a cornerstone recommendation”.
The review criticises the Menzies report’s methods for calculating
It says they fail to take into account that a significant percentage of
alcohol purchased in Alice Springs is consumed by residents of the
broader Central Australian region visiting the town, but whose numbers
are not captured in estimates of tourist numbers. This results in an
over-estimation of per capita consumption.
The review notes that the Menzies report comments that the government
had not implemented the demand reduction and harm reduction strategies
of the AMP, but does not discuss this nor give it “critical
It says the Menzies report also makes no reference to a number of major
national and international reviews of the evidence with regard to the
prevention and / or reduction of alcohol-related harms – which the
review describes as “key documents”.
And, in considering harms, it gave no consideration to road traffic
accidents, although these contribute substantially to
alcohol-attributable death and injury.
Other points made by the review:-
• If the Alcohol Reference Panel (ARP) is to be a grass-roots
committee, it would seem appropriate for there to be some input from
the committee members themselves in setting their agenda.
Cohesion and agreement between the members of the committee may be
difficult given the vastly diverse and in some cases opposing interests
of the group. The Menzies report fails to give clarity as to the power
dynamics operating within the group and how power to implement
strategies would be divested from the NT Government.
• The Menzies report suggests that the NTG review the effectiveness of
the night and day patrols. These community-operated services are not
responsible to the NT Government (only one patrol is funded by the it),
and it is not clear that the NTG has the authority to conduct such
reviews. Furthermore, imposition of such a review would undermine the
control the Aboriginal communities have in operating such services.
This proposal demonstrates a lack of understanding of the services and
contradicts the report’s recommendations with respect to
community-based approaches to managing the issue of alcohol in Alice
• The Menzies report is unclear as to the functions of the various
patrols operating in and around Alice Springs. For instance, it states
that the night patrol operates between Thursday and Saturday when in
fact it is funded between Tuesday and Saturday. It is the youth patrol
that is funded between Thursday and Saturday. Furthermore, no mention
is made of the youth patrol operated by the Tangentyere Council.
• The suggestion that the NTG should engage in more comprehensive
negotiation processes with town camp residents and their
representatives regarding the current “dry town camps” laws is
worthwhile, given that they are perceived as a prohibition measure and
• There is brief discussion of the alcohol courts and their
under-utilisation, “but the report fails to mention that offenders must
‘appear to be dependent on alcohol’ for referral”.
• “There are serious methodological problems with the report, including
lack of technical understanding of appropriate techniques, and poor
analysis of the consumption and epidemiological data.
“This is ironic given that the report includes a chapter on ‘Developing
evaluation framework and a minimum data set’ and suggests that Menzies
School of Health Research provides ‘over arching advice to local
Blank walls, blank minds. By
POP VULTURE with CAMERON
For the past three decades two cities, New York and Melbourne, have
emerged at the pinnacle of fine street art.
Although many will argue that the graffiti scenes in Paris and Berlin
are equally compelling, NY and Melbourne have maintained a thriving
culture based around this art. Virtual galleries of works span the
entire city scapes, rather than being restricted to certain areas.
With the skyrocketing popularity of street artists such as Bristol’s
“Banks” (2008 saw him sell a piece for a record breaking five million
pounds) and mounting appreciation of ‘70s pioneer French stencil artist
Bleak Le Rat’s works, the echo from this movement is beginning to
resonate within Alice’s vibrant artistic community.
A local paradigm of this viciously in vogue form of expression is the
nuclear boot hovering above families gathered in the desert, to be
found in the centre of our town (Todd Mall, next to Sounds of
Given that the original painting, which now makes up the artwork’s
background, was not more than motel art, this new addition to town is
subtle – multi-layered and yet very accessible.
Street art erases the gap between demographics, and it can beat down
the high walls of class separation. Whether or not you agree with this
predominately misunderstood art form, there is no denying its interest.
Samples:”Give up whitefella we have you surrounded” emblazoned on a
rock west of town.
“Yuendumu magpies only one best in 2009” and the like, tattooed on
phone booths and power boxes around town.
Stencil art protesting over nuclear issues.
The petitioned graph pieces on shop walls.
And not to overlook the explosion of youth projects orchestrated by
community groups such as “Head Space” that have given generations y and
w (or whatever) the chance to turn brick walls into canvas.
Street art appears to be on a steady incline, in part due to many works
attracting mainstream acceptance.
Rumour has it that Power and Water may employ the services of aerosol
artists to decorate designated power facilities about town. This may
have some pop cultural voyeurs thinking that now that this art form is
bleeding itself into contemporary corporate culture, it may begin to
lose a lot of its ‘cool’.
Alice Springs is lucky enough to have never been swamped by billboards,
looking like giant train that doesn’t move, but the elements of control
and consumerism are still adamant, and this style will hopefully
begin to make more of a home for itself here.
Fest just keeps on growing. By
Aerialist Lil Tulloch gave a taste of what’s to come at the Alice
Desert Festival, which launched its program last Friday.
She’s arrived in town to mentor the Cat’s Meow Cabaret in aerial and
acrobatic skills as well as whip-cracking, joining several other
performance professionals to build the skills of the caste – 120 of
them at last count.
Cat’s Meow is but the latest signature event that the eight year
old festival has spawned.
Like Wearable Arts it has had sell-out shows since inception and this
year will stage two to cater for audience demand – both in the main
theatre at Araluen.
Young models in past Wearable Arts award-winning creations played
hostess for the launch guests, while traditional custodian Doris
Stuart reminded all that Alice Springs has long been the site of
celebrations and festivals.
One of the first occurred when caterpillar ancestors from the west met
up with those from this place.
The dancing forms of the Coolibah trees in the swamp mark the site and
event of this festival that occurred thousands of years ago, she said.
This year’s Wearable Arts Awards promises to be a big show with over 50
entries received in the categories. There are now six awards
attracting $1000 prizes.
The bushfoods competition is being remodeled this year, with two
one-offs – on the opening and closing weekends, rather than a heats and
a final judging.
The HUB space, which has undergone various transformations since its
inception, will undergo another, becoming The POD situated at Anzac
LETTERS: Will the UN hear
about the human right of Aboriginal women to live free of violence?
Sir,– Today there are consultation meetings being held in our town with
the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Affairs.
The meetings are being organised by the Intervention Rollback Action
This is a group that has carefully excluded anybody with views
different from their own, white or black, from the events they have
organised in the past.
They have abused those with differing views, publicly burned our
national flag and marched through our streets shouting obscenities.
They are in no way representative yet they are convening the
“invitation only” meeting with the UN representative. There is a one
hour open meeting later that day for community members and
Since I didn’t get an invitation I do hope that somebody mentions:
The inalienable human right of Aboriginal women to live free from the
endemic violence of their communities.
The right of young Aboriginal men not to be trained to believe that
they are inherently superior to women and have the customary law right
to execute women for cultural reasons.
The right of Aboriginal children to live in a safe and secure
environment and to have access to the mainstream economy based on a
good quality education in the national language.
But given that this is the organisation that has gratuitously delayed
the refurbishment of the town camps and the building of new houses,
that has been happy to indefinitely extend the misery of town camp
residents despite the overwhelming majority opting to cooperate with
the government in these matters – I doubt it.
I hope, in memory of the 800,000 murdered souls of Rwanda, that the UN
gets this one right.
SIHIP review not till February –
G’Day Ed,– My brain is still in denial.
I have just watched Chief Minister Henderson on ABC Stateline blithely
state that “the Auditor General will deliver a review of the SIHIP
(Aboriginal housing) program in FEBRUARY”.
It’s f***ing August.
The interviewer asked why so long?
Henderson responded that the Auditor General sets his own timetable.
Surely the government appoints the AG.
Given that the whole debacle came about with former Minister Anderson’s
frustration at the lack of progress, I would expect a report about the
end of next week!
This piece of procrastination signifies bullshit as usual.
If Henderson cannot see the urgency, his resurrection will be short
Not that I would like to see the CLP return, especially with the awful
Elferink smirking in the wings.
I have campaigned hard for Anderson in the last two elections, and will
be seeking an explanation for her defection.
In particular I would like to know why Anderson, Scrymgour, McCarthy,
Hampton and a couple of others from bush seats (Gerry McCarthy, Lynne
Walker?) cannot carry the day in the Cabinet.
Sir,– Just days after signing a deal that included a clause requiring
the government, public service and Parliament to become accountable and
transparent, the Chief Minister refused to answer a series of straight
forward questions as to how much money has been spent on SIHIP.
So much for the Chief Minister’s pledge to end his Government’s
notorious reliance on spin, and so much for the agreement with Gerry
The Opposition have been asking for the details regarding SIHIP
expenditure for months.
Yet despite losing a Minister over the matter, the Chief Minister still
refuses to answer this basic question.
The scandal surrounding SIHIP has stained the entire Henderson
Government, which has failed to deliver a single new home in the two
years since SIHIP was announced and is determined to hide just how much
money has been spent to date.
The deal struck with Gerry Wood requires the Government to break its
addiction with spin and ensure an open and accountable government,
public service and parliament.
The Chief Minister’s performance on Monday confirmed that won’t happen.
Leader of the Opposition
Alice out of deal
Sir,– The deal struck between Chief Minister Paul Henderson and
Independent MLA Gerry Wood was a bad one for Central Australia.
The move effectively creates two Chief Ministers: Paul Henderson – who
leads the Labor Party and Gerry Wood – who will now approve the passage
of all legislation, effectively sidelining the remaining MLAs whether
they be Labor, Country Liberals or independent.
As a result of the agreement the government is over a barrel every time
it tries to pass legislation through the Assembly.
While MLAs represent specific electorates, governments are there to
govern for the entire Northern Territory and oppositions are charged
with holding governments to account.
Central Australia has been the Labor Government’s poor cousin for the
past eight years and it appears this will continue under the new
Despite the fact that broader issues such as alcohol rehabilitation,
land release and prison reform have gone untouched, it wouldn’t have
been unreasonable to expect some focus on Alice Springs such as
providing shade at Charles Darwin University oval; oncology
choice; community park upgrades or even the establishment of the Police
Citizens Youth Club in Larapinta.
Unfortunately the Chief Minister dealt Alice Springs out of his
negotiations with Gerry.
Instead, Gerry’s electorate in rural Darwin will receive a new
multi-million dollar aquatic centre, bike paths, upgraded parks and
The Government hasn’t made clear the impact of these projects on the
Territory budget. In its May budget, the total debt for every man,
woman and child in the Territory was $26,000 – Labor should explain the
impact of these new commitments on the Government’s bottom line.
The Country Liberal Party was formed in Alice Springs, to stand up for
There are five Central Australian seats in the Northern Territory
Parliament. It would be great if all five Central Australian members
voted together to support the centre.
MacDonnell MLA Alison Anderson quit the Labor Party and became an
independent because of her frustration at Labor’s inability to
deliver on its promises.
If voters in the electorate of Stuart also believe they have been
neglected by this arrogant Labor Government and sold short in their
parliamentary agreement they should convince Karl Hampton to also
become an independent so the five of us can vote as a block for the
greater good of Central Australia.
Meanwhile, Adam Giles, Jodeen Carney and Matt Conlan will continue to
MLA for Braitling
Racist vitriol unhelpful
Sir,– Last week’s public meeting held to discuss changes to by-laws was
seen by some as an opportunity to raise unhelpful racist vitriol
against council members.
It’s about time that certain elements in our community got a grip on
the fact that no matter if racial comments are made by whites about
blacks or by blacks about whites, it’s still racism, just as hurtful
and just as destructive.
I can’t believe that it was put to the meeting that the use of the
terms “they” and “them” in the by-laws, was actually a veiled reference
to Aboriginal people, and that the wording in the by-laws should be
changed to say “Aboriginal”.
What a patently ridiculous idea, with its roots buried firmly in
The use of the terms “they” and “them” are, as they are supposed to be,
race neutral even when it can be argued that individual by-laws may
affect one race more than the other.
The terms “they” and “them” are used because the laws are to be
applied to all of us equally, regardless of who we are, or where we
These by-laws are designed as a set of all inclusive community rules,
standards, behavioural demands, that will assist all races to live
Separate sets of rules, or rules just applied to one group or the
other, leave us with no standards at all!
It’s in the interest of all of us, the whole community, to make these
Also from the meeting, ABC Radio appeared to take issue with Sandy
Taylor’s outburst calling it “unprofessional”.
I beg to differ. There is absolutely no reason in the world, why a
fantastic, committed, hard working Centralian like Sandy, should sit
there and take hurled racial abuse from an unpleasant group of drop-ins
who have absolutely no interest in our community outcomes.
I congratulate Sandy on her stand. We should see a lot more genuine
Centralians taking the same strong stance!
Our town will be all the better for it. Good on you Sandy!
The same radio station made much of speakers giving their length of
residence in Alice, when giving an opinion. Should length of stay be
taken into account at such meetings?
Of course it doesn’t always count for much, but in general 30 years’
experience would tend to rate over two weeks just about anywhere, I
would have thought.
All too often in the past Centralians have been content to sit back and
allow do-gooding blow-ins to formulate our future directions.
I think in waking up to this at long last, Centralians like to give
their length of residence as a way of demonstrating their commitment to
our town and as a way of saying that they are likely to stick around to
feel the effects of the decisions they are making.
As such they are likely to give a good deal more thought to the
I’m sure there are many worthwhile contributions being made by
However, as in all walks of life, it pays to wait until you know what
you are talking about before venturing to express an opinion.
There wasn’t much evidence of that in the meeting the other night.
Simple solutions dangerous for by-laws
Sir,– The public discussion on the proposed new by-laws hosted by the
Town Council was more interesting and far more disturbing than I had
It was also marred by one angry soul who tried to hijack the meeting to
air his own race-based opinions. My advice [to him] is write a
letter to the editor. If they think you have a point and can
express it, the chances are they will publish it.
It is the case that our CBD is beginning to resemble the streets and
parks around the doss houses in any major city.
The drinking, the derros and the humbug have to be addressed, and I
congratulate council for having the courage to do so. But let’s
not throw the baby out with the bathwater here.
My problem with some of the new by-laws is that by using inclusive
and yet vague language the effect, if not the intention, will be
to make far too many of us at least technically in breach of these new
It’s easy to recognise obscene or slanderous graffiti and obscene or
slanderous political sloganeering. By all means get rid of both
the obscene and the slanderous but stop there.
To go further would threaten our basic freedoms of speech and
expression that must take precedence over vague and lazy wording whose
primary function would seem to be to simply make council’s work easier.
The argument that the authority conferred by a new by-law is needed
coupled with a promise not to enforce the new by-law is a very curious
It does little to allay community fears of repressive
Assuming good faith on the part of this council, the danger lies down
If passed as originally drafted, another council with a different
agenda could easily enforce these by-laws to the letter and do real
damage to the open, tolerant and vibrant political and social life that
we have come to know and enjoy in Alice Springs.
Our current Town Council has taken on the task of updating our by-laws,
and again I congratulate them. But hopefully they will not be
persuaded to settle for a seemingly simple but inherently dangerous
Meanwhile, I knew the Christmas tree story was simply too good to
The artificial Christmas tree designed in Mexico, built in China and
sourced in the US would have to cross the Pacific too many times and
would still need a power transformer to work. That deal is off.
Now the preferred option is made in Victoria, comes within budget and
carries its own solar receptors. Those green-nosed reindeer can
put away their torches and their GPSs. The way to Alice will be
Camel cull blunder
Sir,– I wonder who stands to gain this time using the ‘emissions
trading scheme’ with the camel cull.
The government would see this as a safe alternative to lower emissions
without losing votes and upsetting its constituents.
The far greater threat may be to our livestock industry which may have
to be ‘culled’ as well if they can’t justify spending $19 million on
The real impact will come when they finely realize what a blunder they
committed after they slaughter the strongest genetic camel herds
(dromedary) in the world.
And the expertise of breaking and training these animals, learnt from
Indigenous people who worked with the original Afghans to open up this
country that you now live in.
Is this the only educated solution our government can come up with, for
all unwanted, uneconomic mistakes from the past?
And because going green has helped the big polluters with carbon
credits and the camel cull will no doubt benefit them as well.
As for knocking down million of trees for power lines and asking people
to plant more, many people must be asking why vote at all, when
politicians play games like this.
Lobbying by these big companies must be transparent, or governments
will fall hard.
Go on treating your voters like idiots and you will go down in history
as the biggest idiot of all.
L E Butcher
Another power hike?
Sir,– Territorians face another power price hike by an incompetent
Labor Government that has already slugged them an extra 25% over the
next two years.
In a worrying sign, new Utilities Commissioner Andrew Reeves refused to
rule out on radio [last Thursday] further hikes in the price of power.
When asked whether further price hikes were inevitable following
another review of the power system, Mr Reeves responded: “Look, it’s
really too early to say.”
The Government should immediately rule out any further increases in the
cost of electricity to provide much-needed certainty to Territorians.
I was surprised to hear the new Utilities Commissioner flag another
inquiry into the electricity system.
Andrew Reeves has already conducted one review in response to last
year’s disastrous blackouts that was just released in April.
Given the seriousness of the crisis, it’s very surprising that
investigation wasn’t full and comprehensive and that now he’s holding
The Government should also explain whether Mr Reeves will live in the
Northern Territory during his tenure as Commissioner and also the size
of his salary package.
Sir,– With help through your paper may I thank two young Alice people,
Zoe and Garry, for the assistance they gave to my husband and I when
our vehicle broke down on the lonely Lake Eyre Halligan Bay Road.
They were so caring -– very welcome indeed when we were very stressed.
Thank-you again, we hope our paths cross again.
ADAM'S APPLE: Thumbs up for
our own Big Things!
My first road trip was from Sydney to Brisbane. For a kid from the
city, the one thousand kilometre trip driving by myself was a journey
to rival Columbus.
It was a real coming of age moment. I had never stepped outside my
state boundaries before (the ACT doesn’t really count) and I had never
ever driven so far in my life.
I prepared well though. I had made several mix tapes for the trip
and had given the old XD Falcon its first service for perhaps a decade.
I loved every single part of that trip. The waking up early, the less
than nutritious food at the roadhouses along the way and even the
massive trucks thundering past me on the mountain descents all made for
an excellent adventure.
When people get nostalgic they never seem to yearn for the absolutely
perfect. You never hear people fondly recalling the time when they
drove along a perfect stretch of road to a perfect bed and breakfast
and for the whole two weeks nothing went wrong.
All the stories about great trips that I have ever heard involve some
sort of trial.
“Your Father nearly killed us taking the bend too fast. Of course back
then the highway wasn’t there. We had to take the road through the
hills. I nearly puked about a half a dozen times. Great holiday.”
The Pacific Highway from Sydney to Brisbane was one of those
roads. Not exactly well maintained but full of adventure.
It is also littered with that great Australian tourism ploy, the Big
Thing. An ostentatious representation of the region’s main industry as
an enticement to get you to pull over, take a picture and buy lunch at
The most wonderful of these is the Big Prawn at Ballina. It is a giant
pink eyesore, magnificent in its hideousness.
It meant that the journey was almost at an end. It meant that there was
a toilet nearby and it meant that I should pull over, take a picture
and buy food at the bistro.
There is a tragic end to this tale. The owners of the Big Prawn have
decided that it is too expensive to maintain and are going to demolish
it. Upon reading this my heart sank. A little piece of my history will
lie in the pink rubble of the Big Prawn’s demise.
I wonder if Alice Springs could do with a big thing. Let’s be honest,
Uluru is almost 500 kilometres away. What about a big thing here in
town. I was thinking perhaps a big VB can. We can make it hollow and
fill it with actual cans. That way when it gets full we can put it on a
train down to Adelaide for recycling and it can pay the clean up levy
instead of the bottle shops footing the bill.
Just an idea.
Places without big things to put on a souvenir spoon have other iconic
events to unite the community and bring in the tourists. Birdsville has
its race, Darwin has the beer can regatta, Sydney has Mardi Gras and my
hometown has the fortnightly dole night violence.
Alice Springs has an embarrassment of riches in the iconic class of
event. But which of these events is the most iconic? The Camel Cup is
pure Centralia, but there are other camel races around the world. The
Bangtail Muster is all that’s good about Alice Springs yet it is really
just a parade. So is Mardi Gras. In fact when you think about it, both
the Bangtail Muster and Mardi Gras have boys dressed as cowboys
featuring quite prominently.
Finke is great but there are other bigger off road races. None of which
can boast a higher consumption of rum, I’ll grant you.
There are only a couple of sleeps until the Henley on Todd Regatta.
The most wonderfully ridiculous reason for people coming
together. The Henley on Todd is a beautifully irreverent piss take on
our complete and utter lack of water and the fact that we couldn’t give
a tinker’s cuss.
These iconic events are so engrained in the Alice Springs experience
that we measure the passing of time by them. This will be my fifth
So this is a plea to those that think they might have had their fill of
the Alice Springs social calendar. Invite some of your non-Territory
friends, head down to the river, and watch some well respected members
of the local community act like kids.
With increases in insurance premiums and the Australian dollar, these
events are getting tougher to hold. God forbid any of them should go
the way of the Big Prawn.