ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
April 15, 2010. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Judge urges progress
with Ryder Five charges: Manslaughter pleas?
IS THE REPORT IN OUR NEWSPRINT EDITION WHICH HAD A TUESDAY DEADLINE.
PLEASE SEE OUR HOME PAGE FOR UP-TO-DATE NEWS.
By KIERAN FINNANE
If the five men who stand accused over the death of Kwementyaye Ryder
accept a guilty plea to manslaughter, the Supreme Court hearing of the
case could be brought to a conclusion as soon as this weekend.
On Monday this week Chief Justice Brian Martin pushed for the hearing
to go ahead tomorrow (Friday) if the five men agreed to entering guilty
pleas on a count of “engaging in conduct that caused the death” of Mr
Ryder on July 25 last year.
The Chief Justice told counsel if a start could be made tomorrow, he
had in mind to sit again on Saturday in order to hear all five pleas.
If they were not heard this week there would likely be a significant
delay (until July), because of other matters before the court, and,
said CJ Martin, “these young men are in custody”.
Given that the pleas go ahead, the men will be formally charged, guilty
pleas entered, the agreed facts will be read out and a copy of them
given to the Chief Justice.
The accused will also give an explanation of their conduct and their
All that will be left is for the Chief Justice to consider the
It will have become clear in court of this morning (Thursday), as the
Alice News hits the streets, whether the guilty pleas have been agreed
to and whether the hearing will go ahead tomorrow – check
www.alicespringsnews.com.au for an update.
At last week’s arraignment in the Supreme Court (on April 6), counsel
for the accused responded to a new indictment from the Director of
Public Prosecutions, effectively offering to drop the charges of murder
(Count 1) in exchange for pleading guilty to manslaughter (Count 2).
A murder conviction in the Northern Territory carries a mandatory
penalty of imprisonment for life.
A person convicted of manslaughter is also liable to imprisonment for
life but the penalty is not mandatory.
Counsel for Anton Kloeden, Glen Swain and Timothy Hird all indicated
last week that they would accept a plea to the charge of manslaughter,
subject to the facts being agreed upon with the Crown.
Counsel for Joshua Spears and Scott Doody at that point did not have
instructions about whether to proceed with a plea.
The matter was adjourned until Monday, April 12.
Counsel had that morning received some fresh facts from the Crown and
had not yet had a chance to speak with their clients about them.
Acting for Mr Spears, Tony Whitelum said he would want to take advice
about the facts from senior counsel in Adelaide.
CJ Martin said it would be “unfortunate” if the only thing holding the
matter back was advice from counsel.
Mr Whitelum said he would make some calls that day.
Murray Preston, acting for Mr Doody, said he had some difficulty
with the facts that he had received and he had some doubt that he would
be ready for Friday.
He said he would be speaking to his client that day but discussion with
the Crown would be necessary.
CJ Martin urged counsel to put aside other things, find time to get
together with the Crown and to be able to indicate on this morning
whether or not they would proceed with a plea tomorrow.
One complication to all this is that the manslaughter count, involving
all five, would have to be formally separated from a further charge,
Count 3, which in the new indictment only Mr Kloeden faces.
The Crown is alleging that he “engaged in conduct that gave rise to a
danger of death to Tony Cotchilli”, that he “drove a motor vehicle
through camps being reckless as to the danger of death” and that the
reckless conduct was aggravated by “use of an offensive weapon, namely
a motor vehicle”.
The penalty for recklessly endangering life is 10 years, but for an
aggravated offence, it is 14 years.
At committal in the Magistrates Court, all five of the accused were
facing eight counts of recklessly endangering life.
It was alleged that a white Toyota Hilux, driven by Mr Kloeden, and in
which the other four were passengers, was driven at speed at two camp
sites, endangering the lives of those camped there.
At the conclusion of the committal, lawyers for Mr Doody, Mr Swain, Mr
Spears and Mr Hird, all made submissions that their clients should not
be charged over this conduct as there had been no evidence that any of
them had been at the wheel of the vehicle.
However, the Crown prosecutor at that stage said that the four had been
passengers in the vehicle for an extended period of time and had been
in a position to get out of the vehicle if they’d chosen to do so.
He also said there had been evidence of more than one voice coming from
the car when it was driven at the two sites.
Magistrate David Bamber said that a jury could consider that the four
were involved with the alleged crimes on the basis of complicity and
found that there was a sufficient case to answer. The Director of
Public Prosecutions now obviously has a different view.
In court last week Russell Goldflam, acting for Mr Kloeden, said that
this matter would either require further discussion with the Crown or
would “need to be fixed for trial” – in other words, Mr Kloeden would
not necessarily be pleading guilty.
Mr Goldflam last week also expressed some concern about the wording of
Count 2 being “a little open in that it has the phrase ‘being reckless
This wording reproduces that of Section 160 of the Criminal Code under
which the charge has been made.
Mr Whitelum (Spears) and John McBride (Hird) expressed similar concerns
regarding the wording.
Remembering Stuart. By
They may be a little older and greyer but their voices and musicality
The return of Alice’s much loved folk quartet Bloodwood was a highlight
of last Sunday’s occasion which had brought them together on stage for
the first time in years – the celebration of the 1860 epic
journey of John McDouall Stuart into the Centre.
Together with companions William Kekwick and Bejamin Head, Stuart was
the first white man to reach this part of the country.
Sunday’s was a joyful event. Heavy rain had caused it to be moved from
Owen Springs to Simpson’s Gap but if anything, the majestic qualities
of the red sandstone ranges rising either side of the gap against the
sombre sky only added a fitting impressiveness.
As Kekwick descendant Rick Moore said, the excitement of the Stuart
story is “all about country”. This was also what Bloodwood’s Dave
Evans wanted to convey in the song he and Barry Skipsey composed for
His sense of Stuart, of what made him tick, was that he
“was at home in the bush”.
In the song, “What drives a man?”, this translated into a chorus line –
“The unknown was the only known comfort John McDouall Stuart desired”.
Stuart was the spearhead for non-Aboriginal people to develop
relationships with the bush in the Centre, for it to become less
unknown and for many, cherished.
Love of the land, of ways of living on it is what many of Bloodwood’s
songs are about and listening to them, variously funny and moving, as
the sky pressed down and kites wheeled above the cliffs softened by a
mist of green grasses, was a memorable experience.
The centrepiece for the day was a reenactment of Stuart’s arrival in
In the role of the explorer was fourth generation Centralian and
pastoralist, Billy Hayes.
A man who has made his living from working on the land, he was well
placed to take the measure of what Stuart achieved: “How he ever got
through Central Australia with just two other men to help him I don’t
“What a remarkable man he must have been,” he said.
Mr Moore, who is president of the John McDouall Stuart Society, makes
the point though that Stuart was not without his faults.
In his failure to provide adequately for the nutritional needs of the
expedition, Stuart showed that he was ready to let himself and others
The knowledge of what was required was available, says Mr Moore, but
Stuart chose to ignore it. Why he did so “remains a complete mystery to
me”, he says.
Benjamin Head certainly paid the price, as event organiser Stuart
Traynor pointed out on Sunday: the 18 year old lost half his body
weight on the 1860 expedition and never fully recovered his health.
But, says Mr Moore, Stuart also paid the price: he died in 1866 at age
50, only four years after he returned from his last expedition, while
Head lived on for another 40 years.
Mr Moore is sure that Stuart’s “severely compromised nutrition over
many years” contributed to his early death.
Mr Moore clearly has a passion for the Stuart story. It was awakened
initially by his ancestry but kept alive by “the country”, he says.
He has made his living in the livestock industry, knows how to cook on
a campfire and get from A to B using a GPS (and “probably a compass”,
he admits), but when you get a sense of the country that Stuart
traversed and begin to appreciate his toughness and resourcefulness,
“it all changes”, he says.
It was an all-male cast on Sunday and they were the achievements of men
that were celebrated, but one man made sure he remembered the often
unacknowledged role of women in the bush.
Ted Egan, singer-songwriter, historian and former Administrator of the
Northern Territory, had his own song about Stuart, “Rider in the
mirage”, honouring him as “intrepid man number one”, but he closed his
set with the recital of a poem, “The Bushwoman”, inspired by a station
woman he once met, a woman with her own kind of fierce courage and
Mr Egan alluded to the problems Alice Springs faces to day but imparted
a sense of optimism about the way forward. And if on Sunday we
were remembering the start of something, of the venture that paved the
way for most of those present to be in this country, there was also a
strong sense of vitality, blessed it seemed by the scattered drops of
rain that began to fall as Bloodwood sang their last song.
Ross River Resort, the only facility of its kind in the East
MacDonnells, will be “left to the nation as a conservation zone”, says
its current manager, because as a resort it can never make money unless
the government agrees to connect it to the electricity grid.
The manager says the diesel bill alone to keep the present minimal
operation going is $20,000 a month.
He says he charges $3 for a cup of coffee but it costs him $5.50 to
produce, once power and water costs are factored in.
Going solar is not an option, he says, because the facility would have
to be rewired, “costing millions”.
He says the owner – Melbourne property magnate Reno Grollo – was
prepared to spend $22m on general upgrades at the facility if the
government agreed to the grid connection but this was knocked back “by
a Cabinet meeting at the resort about four years ago”.
The Alice News asked media advisor to Tourism Minister Malarndirri
McCarthy to corroborate this and for a comment from the Minister on
“whether the government would reconsider the issue in order to boost
tourism to the East MacDonnells”.
We had no reply, which isn’t unusual, but when we called, the advisor,
Ursula Raymond, said she hadn’t looked into it because she didn’t have
And in the future? She would not be looking into it in the future
Such helpfulness aside, there is more to our interest in the Ross River
Resort than this.
Is Outback-style friendly service consistent with denying visitors the
use of toilet facilities at a tourist resort?
Bea Winkel and her husband think not.
After spending a day, just before Easter, hiking and swimming in the
East MacDonnells they decided to drop into the Ross River Resort for a
coffee and a toilet stop.
The resort was booked out to a conference, “exclusively”, and they
couldn’t be served a coffee, nor could they use the toilet.
Ms Winkel, who has lived and worked in Alice for the last 10 years,
says her husband then had to “make use of a tree” and they left,
“That kind of experience is bad for our tourism industry,” she says.
“People spread that around and other people decide not to come here, or
if they do, stay only for a day or two.”
The resort manager, however, won’t accept the criticism.
“This is a private property,” says Raymond, who declines to give his
“Our toilets are for the exclusive use of our clients.
“There are public toilets at Trephina Gorge, which visitors pass on
their way here.”
In fact, the Trephina Gorge toilets are several kilometers from the
Ross Highway and at the time the road to the gorge was closed due to
Raymond says the road closure is not his problem.
Repairs to that road are the government’s responsibility and it is the
government who should be asked why they are not making these repairs a
Department of Construction and Infrastructure’s regional manager Henry
Szczypiorski advises that the road is now open to high clearance 4WD
only “due to debris in the floodways”. He says DCI staff will
clear the floodways “as soon as possible”.
Raymond also says that the toilets at Trephina are “covered in
redbacks”, that tourists don’t like using them and prefer to come on to
his facilities, which are clean.
But “this is not a piss stop”, says Raymond. Neither is the
resort’s phone available for use by the public.
Telstra took the public phone out, he says.
He says he does not advertise for business, yet the Alice News pointed
out to him that the resort has an attractive website promoting its
He says he would shut the website down if he knew how. But while
he doesn’t advertise he still wants people to know that the resort is
generally open and he is “more than happy” to receive people’s
The camping grounds and cabins are available for people arriving
between 8.30am and 4pm daily.
The restaurant and bar are also open unless the facility has been hired
out for a private function, in which case a notice is posted on the
door: “Closed to the general public.”
Tour operator Harry Osborne is also based at the resort and runs
Ossie’s Outback tours from there, with advance bookings required.
Raymond and his wife are the only other permanent residents.
People should phone from Alice Springs in advance to know whether or
not the resort will be open when they want to travel.
In any case, says Raymond, casual visitors should not be coming through
at the moment because the road is closed from the Alice side of Bitter
Springs Creek (past the Trephina turn-off and before you reach the
turn-off for N’Dhala Gorge).
Raymond says he put in the sandy by-pass around the huge washout at the
creek so that he could service his property, but it is not for use by
the general public.
(The DCI ‘s advice on this differs: they say that the Ross Highway was
closed “for a short time about four weeks ago”.
“A detour has been put in place around the damaged section of the road
to allow traffic through.
“Repairs will be carried out as soon as the current weather pattern
It would be a mistake, however, to think that Raymond does not want to
He says he has pulled about 20 cars out of bogs since the big rains of
this year, “putting at risk his own life and machinery”.
But again, that should not be his job, he says.
First, people should not travel on roads that are closed, and second,
rescuing them should be a ranger’s job, not his.
Meanwhile, the heavy rains and flooding have cause $200,000 worth of
damage at the resort, says Raymond.
Apart from extensive erosion, “we lost the bore and the pump, and the
cabling from the generator shed to the campsite”.
He says the owner is ultimately intending to bequeath the property to
the nation as a conservation zone.
As for other roads to destinations in the East Macs, Mr Szczypiorski
advises that Emily Gap, Jessie Gap and Arltunga Heritage road are all
N’Dhala Gorge is “impassable” due to flooding, meaning that the road is
subject to “potential short-term water depth changes which may delay
the passage of vehicles”.
Ruby Gap access is closed due to extensive damage and will remain
closed “until the current wet weather pattern has passed and a full
repair is complete”.
A repair program is being discussed with local park rangers, says Mr
Sale of Imparja
TV floated at fiery CAAMA meeting. EXCLUSIVE by ERWIN
Imparja TV could be put up for sale for $35m.
This possibility was floated by Owen Cole last Friday at a special
general meeting of the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association
(CAAMA), according to sources who attended the meeting.
CAAMA owns a 63% share of Imparja.
Mr Cole was the CEO of CAAMA, a position now held by his partner
Jennifer Howard, until he resigned when he was facing charges of
The charges, later proven, arose from the the notorious brawl following
the 2007 football grand final.
According to our sources, the meeting, called by 28 members, was also
• The organisation, which gets $2m in grants from the public purse, and
is due to celebrate its 30th birthday in a few days, is in an ongoing
critical financial situation.
• It borrowed $2m with the former Imparja building in Leichhardt
Terrace as security, possibly in contravention of a Commonwealth caveat
regulating the use of that building.
• The meeting was told that the building (pictured), after renovations,
will be let out to the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, a health
organisation, for $400,000 a year. This may be used to re-pay the $2m
• Imparja, which gets a $2m a year Commonwealth subsidy for its
satellite use, and is a de facto relay station of the Nine Network,
pays no dividends to CAAMA.
• CAAMA Radio head Jim Remedio, a Torres Strait Islander from
Queensland, resigned last week.
• Although CAAMA and Imparja have state of the art TV production
equipment, they have not produced anything substantial for about two
years, when CAAMA had a $2m commission from National Indigenous
Television (NITV), also in financial difficulties at present.
• There is only a minimal income from CAAMA Music and none from CAAMA
• About $300,000 was paid out in consultants’ fees, including $50,000
to Mr Cole.
• A motion to sack Ms Howard was not put but members of the board
undertook to review management issues, including financial management,
Our sources say there was vigourous discontent at the meeting about
Imparja’s failure to carry out or commission major productions,
especially Aboriginal ones; about its diminishing Aboriginal identity
and the absence of a substantial local news service.
It is unclear why Imparja is not paying dividends to its major
shareholder, CAAMA, which – after 30 years in operation – remains
dependent on government money.
The sources say although a structure for paying dividends is not in
place now, it could easily be put into place.
Eight CAAMA board members are sitting on the Imparja board of 12.
Ms Howard did not respond to an offer from the Alice Springs News of a
right of reply, and did not respond to our requests for corroboration
of the information provided to us by the sources who spoke on condition
Meanwhile the Alice News on Monday put the following issues to Federal
Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, with a request for comment.
We had not received a reply from him by the deadline for this print
“CAAMA has been funded by the governments – mostly Commonwealth – for
30 years, receiving many millions of dollars.
“It has accumulated state of the art gear but hardly uses it, and
hardly ever hires it out.
“CAAMA’s income [other than government grants] is very low, and they’re
constantly on the verge of insolvency.
“They own 63% of Imparja yet receive no dividends from it, and continue
to be depended on the public purse, which continues to be generous with
“Where do Imparja’s profits go?
“It receives $2m a year in satellite subsidies.
“It has a dispensation from government programming requirements, (for
example, it is allowed to have no news service; it is allowed to be a
de facto relay station for the Nine Network; it fulfills none of the
programming pledges CAAMA made when it applied for the licence ... see
our web archive).
“Only one other TV organisation in Australia has such a dispensation –
Seven Central – the only other commercial TV station in Central
[Parts of this report appeared in the Alice Springs News online
scandal escalates as govt. agencies are out to a long lunch. EXCLUSIVE
Damien Golding, who is claimed to be the “supervising builder” under
whose control Carey Builders Pty Ltd were constructing 11 homes in
Alice Springs, said last week: “I am not responsible nor liable for Mr
[Randall] Carey whatsoever.”
Mr Golding was issued a NT builder’s licence in 2006.
On June 26, 2007 he was sentenced in the Territory Supreme Court on
several cannabis offences to an aggregate term of imprisonment of 15
months, to be suspended after two months.
According to the Building Practitioners’ Board, his builder’s licence
is still current today.
Mr Carey’s company is in liquidation, with uncertainty over hundreds of
thousands of dollars in payments made for work not done, and debts to
suppliers and sub-contractors.
Buyers have made demands of the real estate firm Framptons who have
given undertakings with
respect to the projects.
Robin Cantwell, of Territory Building Certifiers, told the Alice News
on Tuesday that Mr Golding was the “supervising builder” for all the 11
Mr Carey’s builder’s licence expired on January 1, 2009. It is
understood an application for renewal was rejected in August last year.
Mr Golding’s lawyer, Ian Rowbottam of the Darwin law firm Withnalls,
says: “Mr Golding will be dragged in the mud, but he has never received
any money [under the Carey / Frampton deals], has never signed any
contract, has never met Framptons nor met any of the home buyers.”
But one of the home buyers, John Stafford, says he spoke to Mr Golding
in early November last year, seeking assistance in signing off
certificates required for a permit to occupy.
“Mr Golding provided the relevant signed documentation.
“He told me he used to work for Mr Carey in Queensland, and he – Mr
Carey – had asked him a favour with respect to ‘finishing off a couple
“When Mr Golding realised there were several houses involved he told Mr
Carey he was to no longer use his licence.”
Mr Stafford says he reported these events last year to the office of
then Minister for Construction, Delia Lawrie, asking for an appointment.
“I spoke to the Minister’s adviser who said he would take up the matter
and get back to me.
“I heard no more from the adviser nor from Ms Lawrie.”
Meanwhile two of the 23 home buyers
met with NT Construction Minister
Gerald McCarthy last week.
Ald Murray Stewart says he and John Stafford told Mr McCarthy about the
financial loss and heartache caused by the fiasco, and the failure of
NT Government officials and agencies to prevent the losses, despite
troubling signs as long as a year ago.
It was known that Mr Carey was an undischarged bankrupt and had
problems with registration and licensing.
Ald Stewart says the group is asking for financial assistance from the
This seems to have little chance, as the government, its bureaucrats
and agencies are protected by law from such claims (see below).
Opposition infrastructure spokesman and Braitling MLA, Adam Giles, was
scathing about Mr McCarthy’s “inadequate response to the plight of
Mr Giles said Mr McCarthy’s “response to their concerns was deflating
“I anticipated that the Minister would turn up with a suite of
solutions for these victims.
“However his opening declaration was that he ‘doesn’t have a cheque
book’, adding that getting ‘a cheque book is a big gig’ and that ‘the
Government cannot provide taxpayer money to assist in this case’.
“In other words, he was ruling out any substantial help to families.”
Says Mr Giles: “It was this Government that licensed Randall Carey
despite his chequered history in Queensland and, after a number of
complaints, finally cancelled his license in 2009 and then failed to
tell his clients.
“As the Minister left the meeting he said, ‘I wish you guys all the
“The Chief Minister should attend the next meeting, scheduled for April
“Meanwhile, the affected families continue to make mortgage and
interest payments with no results.”
[Parts of this report appeared in the Alice Springs News online
The summer of
love in the death throes. By
Totem theatre. River flowing outside. Little theatre not used enough.
Sitting inside tiny not used enough theatre. Walking through
threshold short but deep. Feels like the room is going underground. Not
used enough. This riverside Totem. Old old place. Older than most of
the trees guarding it. Giant gum tree bouncers.
Most of the time. You go to local theatre. Knowing that it’s going to
be good. Knowing that it’s not going to be that good. Butterflies are
free will exceed most expectations.
Heads in the way. Feels warm inside. Looking at people’s backs.
Intimacy in reverse.
Pop and appear. Actors creaking the boards. Natasha Raja. Felix
Meyer. Isabel Dupuy. Kallum Wilkinson. Butterflies are free. Written
around death throes of the summer of love by Leonard Gersche.
Story of love. Film adaptation launched the career of Goldie Hawn.
Beautiful little set. Tiny stage wraps itself around the storyline.
This is 3D cinema. Don’t worry about those migraine inducing pieces of
cardboard horror glasses.
For actors theatre air can be brutal. A slavish devotion.
Multi-personality chess games and playtime. It’s a rush to get it
nailed. It’s a rush rush rush to relax.
Felix. Fresh from the theatrical birth canal. Tense from the start,
relaxing into the role as the story unfolds. Good diversity in the
part. Good for cutting teeth. Maybe move less at the beginning. Cool to
watch the outer tantrum.
Natasha. Confines of Alice Springs theatre. Not enough plays in central
desert. Not enough plays with Natasha in them. The elasticity of her
portrayals. Free spirited crossing over to anger. Cool watching the
Natasha needs to go over to screen. Fantastic to see what she could
achieve if there were ‘takes’. Ellen Paige-like expressions. But a bit
An actor knows when they have reached the next plateau when they don’t
have to audition for parts. This will happen for Natasha soon. Should
have no local auditions.
Isabel. Plays the motherly part convincingly. Like cat to fish pond.
Down to the comical relief.
Kallum. Battering ram accent. Sticky merchant of sleaze. Fits shoes
with a presence that leaks out of his shoes. Nice cameo. Nice.
All key players gel. Towards the end give moving performances.
Goosebumps a bit.
Kirryn Wilkinson. Director. Let it all submit to performance. Empties
actors movements into tiny bucket of space. Uses outside. Uses inside.
Needs more room to play. More lights to burn out.
The air seemed tight at the start. Expanded as actors melted into their
roles. Fantastic ever evolving magic. They go far and seldom lose
Few anachronistic problems. Props need to be used. Go without dinner
and have a picnic on the floor. Something needed.
Play runs a better part of two hours. Bar near door. Door near bar.
Watched a person that had never seen a play before. Folded arms from
Finished with laughing. Finished with clapping. Long clapping. Louder
than rain clapping.
River flowing because rains clapping. People standing around after. Not
circles of silence. Little pools of choir. Singing praise. Only
seventeen fifty the ticket. Could go twice.
Tapping out an
Once again members of the Morsecodian Fraternity are bringing the post
office at the Old Telegraph Station to life.
Last Saturday was the first day of Heritage Week and the tiny stone
building was crowded with visitors wanting to send telegrams. They’d
write out their message on an “originating form”, then it would be
tapped out in Morse code and transmitted – these days via a telephone
line and a modem, as telegraph lines no longer exist.
The messages were received in Sydney, at a station in the Powerhouse
Museum, where they were printed out and posted. Once upon a time a
“telegram boy” would have delivered the telegram to your door.
The Morsecodians in Alice were also receiving telegrams from Sydney,
which they in turn were printing out and posting in special souvenir
The annual heritage activity is a way of reminding people that in
1872 the Old Telegraph Line enabled for the first time the transmission
of instantaneous messages between Adelaide and Darwin and thence to the
The fraternity’s trip to Alice Springs was paid for by Telstra and they
are accommodated here by the Parks and Wildlife Service.
Last Saturday they sent around 65 telegrams for visitors to the OTS,
and if it’s anything like last year’s effort, by next Sunday, their
last day, they will have sent some 1600.
Pictured is Leo Nette (Beechworth, Victoria) explaining to visitors how
it all works – and asking them to “cross my palm with silver”.
With him in Alice are Brian Mullins (Sydney),who has been awarded an
OAM for his contribution to the preservation of Australia’s
telecommunications history, Charles Spalding (Perth) and Keith Macrae
Mr Mullins and some 20 volunteers maintain the Telstra Museum at
– Kieran Finnane
The Alice Springs Desert Leadership Program has its first 19
participants, representing a broad cross‐section of the Alice
Springs community, says CEO of Desert Knowledge Australia, John Huigen.
“They were selected based on the potential for leadership they have
already shown and their commitment to the future of the town,” says Mr
The program is an initiative of Desert Knowledge Australia and the
Alice Springs community to increase leadership capability within the
Participants aret: James Nolan (NT Police), Lyndon Frearson (CAT
Projects), Mark Lockyer (community advocate), Kristy Bloomfield
(CAALAS), Nichole Kerslake (Red Dust Theatre), Donna Lemon (Congress),
Thomas Newsome (Low Ecological Services), Skye Thompson (Ingkerreke),
David Quan (NT Fire and Rescue Service), Fionn Muster (Michels Warren
Munday), Georgina Davison (Public Library), Jade Kudrenko (CLC), Kellie
Tranter (Hospital), Barbara Shaw (community advocate), Benedict Stevens
(Hospital), Lynda Lechleitner (Tangentyere), Ian McAdam (Clontarf ),
Sam Osborne (Dare to Lead) and Joe Clarke (Clontarf).
APPLE: Have a go!
I thought I might take this opportunity to clarify a couple of things.
In Alice Springs there is a wonderful sporting culture that not only
helps many of us try and get fit but also provides a real sense of
When discussing some of the sporting nomenclature of the sports we play
here in the centre, there are occasions when things get a little
The confusion stems from the melting pot community in which we live.
There are so many people from so many different places that sooner or
later a Babel-like confusion was bound to take place.
You see when I talk about watching “the footy” or going to “footy
training” I bring to the conversation a New South Wales sensibility.
Therefore I am talking about Rugby League or Rugby Union. When a South
Australian sensibility is brought to the discussion, “footy” refers to
This difference becomes problematic when allegiances are being
discussed. “Who do you follow in the footy?” is a question with an
answer that relies on the respondent knowing the heritage of the
For those of you from the states dominated by Australian Rules, here is
another clarification. When you say “rugby”, you refer to either Rugby
League or Rugby Union. This is slightly incorrect.
Rugby Union is referred to as “Rugby” while Rugby League is “League”. A
small but helpful differentiation to avoid confusion. No matter
what you call Rugby League or Rugby Union I love playing both games. I
will however be the first to admit that my love of playing the game is
in no way a reflection of the level of proficiency to which I play
I’m not that good. I wish I were a footy playing superstar. Nothing
would make me happier. I’d like to think that I am enthusiastic but am
under no illusions that for the most part I am making up the numbers.
In life, making up the numbers is frowned upon. It is preferable to
dedicate one’s life to pursuits in which one demonstrates competency.
Sport or more particularly, grass roots sport is great in that way. I
am able to play a game I love although I am not at all good. Golfers
will understand this concept better than most.
There are other pursuits that can remain enjoyable in spite of the
pursuer’s lack of proficiency. Monopoly and crosswords are among the
many hobbies that lend themselves to this phenomenon. And how many
truly awful pieces of art or offensively horrid throw rugs or
structurally unsound bookshelves are here in Alice Springs alone?
The planet is full of shining tributes to having a go in the face of a
complete lack of talent.
Now I’m not advocating that we should all follow our dreams in spite of
our lack of qualification. Alice Springs Hospital has just found out
why that is a bad idea. No one should have to suffer for your
unrealistic ambitions. But when the only person who could be hurt
is you, why not reach for the stars?
Why not have a crack at building a bookshelf? Why not try your hand at
growing carrots or making pasta from scratch? Why not buy a cheap lemon
and try turning it into a luxury vehicle?
What? You say you only just figured out where the petrol goes? Who
cares? That’s what Google is for.
Alice really is a land of opportunity. Wages are higher than average.
You can get a job here and if you don’t like it, you can get
In their spare time, people turn their hands to a myriad of activities
and who knows, you may just find one you love doing.
So do it!
buffel grasses unsuited for grazing.
Sir – While I share the concerns that our Parks are overrun by buffel,
some solutions suggested recently are naive, misguided, and ignorant of
many of the facts.
When buffel was “officially” introduced in the late ‘50s and early
‘60s, a dozen or so different varieties were imported from various
parts of the world. Their characteristics varied, from palatable
and generally smaller plants, to quite unpalatable and generally larger
Field trials were carried out in Central Australia, but in the
incredible wisdom of the same institution that gave us the cane toad,
these varieties were planted side by side, and recent research,
including DNA testing, has supported the suspicions of botanists that
considerable uncontrolled and undesirable hybridisation has occurred in
Almost all of the buffel growing about Alice Springs and in our Parks,
and now along almost every road between Pt Augusta and who knows where,
is of the less palatable/unpalatable, and most probably, hybridised
A few years ago we took samples of these predominant varieties to the
AZRI laboratory, for nutrient testing, and we were told that “a cow
could not move its jaws enough times in a day to get a feed” from
So even if it were logistically possible (and it’s not, for a variety
of reasons that aren’t that hard to work out), to use cattle to reduce
the buffel mass, you would not have a salable turnoff as a result.
Cattle are like children – they like to “eat their ice-cream first”.
Cattle will eat any available native plants before they will turn to
these buffel varieties, and by that time the buffel is even less
nutritious, and seeded. It is then also more problematic for cattle to
eat, with considerable eye and pizzle damage. Camels hardly touch
buffel, and goats will chew on wire netting before they tackle
buffel. It is not digested by termites.
Fresh buffel (young plants, or those regenerating after fire or
slashing), is more readily eaten, but apart from the risks, collateral
damage and costs of getting buffel in that condition on the scale
required, there are other problems.
A high consumption of buffel leads to a condition in horses known as
“bighead”, which I understand can be countered with supplements, but a
more insidious condition occurs for cattle (and sheep I believe) called
In pregnant cows for example, this presents with “uterine inertia”,
which if you are fortunate enough to have the services of a vet who
knows what’s going on, may only result in the loss of the calf, but
otherwise the cow will die as well, poisoned from the decaying carcass
she carries but can’t expel.
To suggest that there is a direct correlation between high fuel loads
and productivity is not sustainable; one only has to contemplate
spinifex for example, which while it is useful in the grazing sense
when seeding, it is in no way in proportion to its fuel load
capacity. With buffel, the correlation is inversely proportional
to the palatability, physical size and age of the variety / plant. Far
from enrichening the soil, buffel is a savage nitrogen depleter
(something any half observant land manager would work out without the
help of boffins).
So much so, that in recent years one of the large Queensland
universities has spent millions on a project to find a grass that will
replace nitrogen in the soils ruined by “pasture improvement” –
clearing all the native nitrogen fixing species, and sowing
At least one State in the USA has outlawed buffel. While there
may well be a buffel variety or two that are of some benefit to the
pastoral industry in Central Australia, unless we as a community,
including pastoralists and governments at all levels, unite and address
the threat of the rest of the varieties, those one or two won’t stand a
chance. Neither will our Parks or pastoral industry.
I suggest the first document on the further reading list should be “The
Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen.
Sir - Following the article ‘An Easter trip into the land of buffel’
(Alice News, April 1), which contained quotes from myself, I’ve had a
number of comments made to me.
These have come from a spectrum of the population, among them public
servants, CSIRO personnel, housewives and others. I was told that I was
a stirrer – for this I am grateful.
One man suggested, after a recent road trip to Glen Helen that the
abundance of buffel along the way will lead to irretrievable fire
There were other comments about the vast take-over by buffel in tourist
areas in the mountain ranges.
One woman said that she never wishes to visit Simpson’s Gap again – it
was a favourite place BBG (before buffel grass).
Comments were made in agreement with the lack of will power to get
serious about the problem, the hopeless delay in getting anything done
due to today’s procrastinating-type administration; and one woman, the
wife of a hard-working tradesman, agreed wholeheartedly with the
comment “just get to bloody work!”
I belong to an era, not too long past, when people were enthusiastic
about their work.
When things needed to be done, you did it yourself.
There are some today who would faint at the sight of a shovel – if they
knew what it was!