April 22, 2010. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Camel trade a goer. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Two Central Australian men who have decades of hands-on work with feral camels under their belts are defending the commercial viability of a camel industry in The Centre.
Ian Conway says there is nothing better suited to lift local Aborigines out of their prolonged disadvantage.
With his wife Lynne, Mr Conway founded and developed King’s Creek Station, a major tourism and pastoral facility near King’s Canyon.
“When we started Kings Creek we were making a living out of camels because they were walking past our front door.”
Mr Conway has close links to nearby communities, and frequently employs locals as stockmen.
“I had men out here last year,” he says.
“There is no hassle with them turning up for work.
“You get them out into their own country, and they will work.
“There is absolutely no doubt about that.”
And pastoralist Gary Dann is involved in the multi-species Wamboden abattoir north of Alice Springs, is setting up another one in the Pitjantjatjara lands, and has done feasibility studies for selling camels on the hoof, in the box, slaughtered in mobile abattoirs or transported to fixed ones in Australia.
[The Alice Springs News will publish a detailed account of Mr Dann’s past accomplishments, experience and research for future ventures in next week’s edition.]
Is there money in camels?
“Yes, there is,” says Mr Dann.
He and Mr Conway were responding to an analysis by Alice News guest writer Charlie Carter of reports commissioned by the now defunct Desert Knowledge CRC (DK-CRC).
Dr Carter found the reports were generally pessimistic about the future of a camel industry, because of the vast numbers (more than a million in Central Australia), and the remoteness of where they roam.
DK-CRC spent an estimated $15m over six years on the reports, yet when camel numbers reached crisis proportions last year all the organisation could come up with was shooting them from a helicopter and letting them rot in the desert.
The cull has caused controversy around the world (Alice News, Dec 10, 2009), including a vigorous campaign on Facebook.
Mr Dann estimates the cost of a mobile abattoir at “up to $1m.”
At that rate, more than 15 abattoirs could have been acquired for the cost of the DK-CRC study.
Mr Conway, a son of the legendary Mort Conway, who till his death in 2001 was one of the major traditional owners of Alice Springs, says Aboriginal participation in the industry could be in many forms.
It could include catching “10 or 20 camels at their own discretion, whenever they see them, developing an ongoing business.
“They need it. Most of them have got nothing.”
Mr Conway says the most likely path to success would be a well managed operation, where Aborigines are employed as workers under the same conditions as anyone else.
He says he has no objection to applying Centrelink rules of stopping dole payments to people offered jobs in camel mustering and slaughtering.
However, he says most Aborigines would need a year’s grace to get work ready – but not more.
“We’ve created an idle race of people but a very clever race of people, if you give them the opportunity.
“In particular that applies when it comes to dealing with stock on their own land, because they know every inch of this land.
“There’s a lot of young Aborigines wandering around Alice Springs.
“They have nothing to do.
“We need to encourage these people to go back onto their own land.”
The camel operations should initially be controlled “not by Aboriginal organizations, because they don’t trust Aboriginal organizations.
“They need to be controlled – probably – by Federal Government at this stage, and by people who understand business.”
For many locals work with camels would be their first structured employment, says Mr Conway.
“Let’s face it, all these young men, idle labour as you call them, all they know is daylight and dark.
“They don’t know what time it is.
“We sent a mob of kids to school in Adelaide a couple of years ago.
“The oldest boy was 15. He couldn’t even tell the time.
“Something’s got to be done so they are no longer dependent on social security.”
And although Mr Conway says “it’s not going to happen overnight” he is confident in putting a time limit on the process to become “work ready”.
He says: “You’d have to look at about 12 months, because, realistically, you’re training these people from scratch.
“A lot of these people don’t have their old men left now.
“The oldest men in the camp are 35 years old.
“They’ve got no-one to give them direction.”
Mr Conway says Daily Telegraph journalist Paul Toohey has his facts mostly wrong in a report on March 3, quoted by Dr Carter in a letter to the editor of the Alice News (April 8).
Dr Carter quoted Mr Toohey: “Last year the young men of the Ukaka community (near King’s Canyon) got together with neighbouring pastoralist Ian Conway to catch wild camels, spending several months to muster 250 camels they sold for $50,000.
“After employing a helicopter pilot, buying a car and outlays for fuel and food there was no money left for the workers.”
Dr Carter commented: “Mr Conway is an experienced local operator.
“This is a ‘best case’ example of a harvesting operation, several unpaid men, several months, business experience and expertise and ... 250 camels.
“This newspaper report, from a reputable journalist constitutes a brief “case study” and does have some numbers.”
Says Mr Conway: “The majority of time we spent training these men to be stockmen and putting in infrastructure.
“Mustering came later because these fellow didn’t even have a pair of pliers.
“They bought two cars and we did have money for workers.
“It wasn’t a great deal but they got some top-up out of it.
“The fact is Mr Toohey wasn’t here. He got it all second-hand.”
Mr Conway says: “I trust these men I’ve educated.
“There was no grog involved with any of those blokes.
“There was a little bit of a turnover with men from time to time, with funerals.
“Protocol insists that they be present at certain funerals, which can be a week or so.
“But you provide incentive for them to work, particularly the stock side of it.
“You put a hat on them, mate, and they are cowboys.”

Negligent, not reckless: Ryder trial coverage by KIERAN FINNANE.

Chief Justice Brian Martin stated in the Supreme Court last week that he is satisfied that the conduct leading to the death of Kwementyaye Ryder was a matter of negligence rather than recklessness.
He said it was “quite plain” that the offenders were “a group of young men who didn’t think about the consequences”.
“It all happened so quickly,” he said, and all the offenders, bar the driver of the car who was not physically involved in the assault, were “very drunk” with “no thought to the consequences at all”.
A finding of recklessness would mean that the offenders had an awareness that a substantial risk of death would follow from their actions.
A finding of negligence would mean that their actions fell short of the standard of care expected by a reasonable person.
Negligence is at the less serious end of the manslaughter charge to which the five men – Scott Doody, Timothy Hird, Anton Kloeden, Joshua Spears and Glen Swain – pleaded guilty.
Following the assault on him in Schwarz Crescent near the Todd River, Mr Ryder died from a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage most likely caused by a ruptured aneurism. 
Dr Terence Sinton, who conducted the autopsy, told the Magistrates Court on February 24 this year, that he could not isolate any single cause for the blunt force trauma deemed to have resulted in the rupture – it could have been a fall or a blow.
He also did not believe that alcohol was a contributing factor to Mr Ryder’s haemorrhage (the toxicology report for the deceased showed a blood alcohol content of .22%).
The five co-accused appeared in court last Friday dressed in formal suits for the first time. All had family members in the court.
Mr Hird’s former employer was also present, “out of interest and concern” for Mr Hird, the court heard.
The court heard that Mr Hird and Mr Kloeden were living with young women at the time of the offending. These young women were also in court.
As the accused sat down after their pleas of “Guilty, Your Honour”, the sad sighs of their connections were audible.
Many tears were shed during the hearing, both by the defendants’ connections and those of their victim.
The accused sat without moving, mostly eyes downcast or straight ahead, throughout the long hours of the hearing.
If one emotion could be ascribed to them generally, it seemed to be shame, especially during the submissions made specifically about their individual roles in the offending. Mr Hird appeared quite anguished during the submissions made about him.
In his submissions to the court, John McBride, acting for Mr Hird, said if there was a degree of recklessness in his client’s action it was at the bottom end.
CJ Martin replied that there is “no grade” of recklessness: “Either awareness was there or it wasn’t.”
His questioning about possible racist motives behind the assault on Mr Ryder went to this issue of awareness or state of mind which may have related to the offenders’ intentions.
The agreed facts in the case say that Mr Ryder, in the middle of the road on Schwarz Crescent, threw a bottle at the White Hilux driven by Mr Kloeden and the bottle smashed against one of the right-hand side panels.
Mr Kloeden immediately did a U-turn and drove right up to Mr Ryder, close enough for Mr Ryder to put his hands on the bullbar before he turned to run away.
Mr Hird, followed by Mr Swain, then Mr Doody and lastly Mr Spears got out of the car.
Mr Ryder fell to the ground.
Mr Hird admits to kicking the victim once, Mr Swain to kicking him twice in the forehead and Mr Spears to striking him with a stubby bottle.
Mr Doody did not get involved physically in the assault.
The Chief Justice wanted to know if the accused would have reacted in the same way to a young white man who had thrown a bottle at their car.
He accepted the statements in references for Mr Hird that he had worked alongside Aboriginal people and had had Aboriginal friends over the years.
Yet racism takes all sorts of forms, he said, and the issue needed to be addressed in relation to the events before the court.  
He reiterated: Would Mr Hird have had a different attitude towards a drunk young white man?
Mr McBride said his client’s actions were a sudden and quick response to a bottle being smashed against the vehicle.
(The court heard that the assault from beginning to end lasted only seconds, possibly no more than five seconds, while Mr Kloeden made a three point turn to again head westwards.)
Mr McBride said there was nothing in Mr Hird’s previous character to suggest that he was not “indifferent to race, as he should be”.
The court had heard earlier from lawyer Murray Preston on behalf of Mr Doody that he too had had Aborginal friends and that he had never shown “any indication whatsoever” of racism.
The Chief Justice again raised the question of racist attitudes as the hearing resumed on Saturday morning.
The unusual decision to sit on a Saturday was made in order to bring matters to a conclusion, given that the five have been in custody since their arrest last year.
Addressing Russell Goldflam representing Mr Kloeden, CJ Martin said he had given consideration over night to questions of motivation and of attitudes towards Aboriginal people on the night of the offences.
Mr Kloeden, alone of the five, faces an additional charge of reckless endangerment to the life of Tony Cotchilli, to which he also pleaded guilty.
(This was downgraded last Thursday to a charge without aggravation.)
Mr Cotchilli was camped with others in the dry Todd River, near the western bank, on the north side of Schwarz Crescent.
Mr Kloeden drove at the camp. Mr Cotchilli, who is elderly, could not move out of the way and the car narrowly missed him.
This event occurred about half an hour before the assault on Mr Ryder.
Going over the agreed facts, the Chief Justice said Mr Kloeden, after initially driving close to [Mr Cotchilli’s] camp, had chosen to do so a second time when he returned from driving towards the Telegraph Station and at that time one of the campers had thrown a stick at his car.
Then he drove close to another camp on the south side of the causeway, stopped and words were exchanged.
CJ Martin asked why he should not infer that “at the very least” this displayed an attitude on that night of “complete disrespect and lack of regard” for these people and this attitude was because they were Aboriginal people camped in the riverbed.
Mr Goldflam accepted that the action showed a lack of regard and disrespect but he said, even though it is notorious that the majority of people in the riverbed are Aboriginal, he could not accept that there was specific intent to go out and look for Aboriginal people to annoy.
He said his client entered the riverbed for different reasons – his focus was on his driving, the loud music they were playing and having fun. He said his client had travelled up the river from Tuncks Causeway and there had been no suggestion that any other group of people, likely to be Aboriginal, had attracted his attention.
CJ Martin accepted that the initial motivation for entering the riverbed was “lairising, hooning and having fun” but once one camp had been targeted, a second camp was, when no-one had done anything in the second camp to provoke Mr Kloeden’s attention.
That was “concerning” him, he said.
Prosecutor Michael Colm later pointed out that the agreed facts are that some of the offenders yelled abuse at the people from the camp.
Mr Goldflam said his client had told him that driving through people’s camps is expected behaviour at the annual Finke Desert Race, it’s a “feature of Alice Springs youth culture,” he said.
In submissions relating to his client’s part in the assault on Mr Ryder, Mr Goldflam said Mr Kloeden was responding to the deceased having smashed a bottle against his car.
It was not because of colour or race, he said. 
He said the Chief Justice had addressed “the elephant in the room”  – would Mr Ryder have been assaulted in this way had he not been an Aboriginal man.
He said Theresa Ryder, the deceased’ s mother, had asked the same question in her moving and very powerful victim impact statement.
And he said they were not the only people in Alice Springs asking this question.
To answer it, he told the court of his own experience of being assaulted in Hindley Street, Adelaide: a flashy red car had almost driven over his toes, he remonstrated by hitting the roof of the car with the flat of his hand and for his trouble he was knocked to the ground by the car’s four occupants and punched a few times in the face.
Young men and their cars have a “peculiar bond”, he said – “if you touch someone’s car, you place yourself at risk”.
All this was not, however, to deny that Mr Kloeden’s reaction to what Mr Ryder did was wrong, which was why his client was pleading guilty.
Mr Goldflam said that although Mr Kloeden did not get out of the car, he acknowledged that his actions in the car were aggressive and confrontational and had given his friends tacit encouragement to assault Mr Ryder.
The Chief Justice also wanted to hear from Mr McBride about why Mr Hird had got the imitation pistol.
According to the agreed facts, this happened after the initial drive in the river and contact with the two camps.
The five, who with the exception of Mr Kloeden had been drinking all night, returned to Mr Hird’s house, shared with Mr Swain, to get more alcohol and Mr Hird had retrieved his imitation Colt 45, which fires 9mm blanks. He discharged it once in Undoolya Road, before they all returned to the river at Schwarz Crescent Causeway.
CJ Martin particularly wanted to know why the five had returned to the causeway and why they had stopped on the corner to unjam the pistol before driving on.
Mr McBride said the return to the causeway was because they had detoured via Warburton Street, where a cousin of Joshua Spears lived, and that the causeway was then a logical way to proceed to the Stuart Highway and on to the west side of town to Mr Spears’ home, their destination.
They had stopped on the corner because the pistol was jammed, he said.
CJ Martin said that there was no need to unjam the pistol unless it was to let off a round and scare people in the camp from where the stick had been thrown.
He asked why he should not infer that the pistol was deliberately pointed northwards to scare those people.
He warned counsel he would be drawing that inference unless he heard evidence to the contrary.
Mr Goldflam said that if the intention had been to scare the campers, the round would have been let off immediately opposite the camp, which was on the western side of the river (north of the causeway). However the round was let off at the eastern end of the causeway.
Mr Goldflam also said that none of the witnesses from the northern camp had made a statement about having seen or heard the gun.
He said the gun had also been discharged at the roundabout on the corner of Lindsay Avenue and Undoolya Road (at some distance from the Todd River).
The motivation on both occasions was to annoy the general population, not specifically the campers, said Mr Goldflam.
Tony Whitelum, counsel for Mr Spears, added that the layout of people in the car – with Mr Hird sitting behind the driver and the car driving west, meaning he was on the right-hand side – was what led to the pistol being pointed northwards.
CJ Martin was unconvinced. He said he would draw the inference that the intention was to frighten, to say “here you are and basically ‘up yours’” – not uncommon, he said, in this type of situation of drunks hooning around.
Mr Colm (the prosecutor) later pointed to evidence from Mr Swain about the reaction to the sound of the firearm: a couple of people had started running, they “obviously feared for their lives”, Mr Swain had said.
Rennie Anderson, representing Mr Swain, made the point that at all stages Mr Hird had the replica pistol, that there was nothing to suggest that the gun had been passed between the group.
CJ Martin expressed impatience with the contention of all counsel that their clients did not know what was going on.
He asked if counsel were trying to tell him that when Mr Hird let off the first round, the others were not all cheering, that they were not part of it.
“I didn’t come down in the last shower,” said the Chief Justice.
An incident during the hearing also revealed the racial tension around this case.  
When prosecutor Michael Colm read out the agreed facts describing the assault on Mr Ryder, one of the dead man’s connections became very upset.
She was weeping and got up to leave the courtroom but before doing so, turned and pointed at the accused: in between her sobs she said, “See you white bastards!”
This happened just after the Chief Justice had told Mr Colm, who was reading in a loud voice and with some dramatic inflection, to lower his voice, “We’re not entirely deaf ... just read the facts, thank you”.
After the woman’s interjection he commented: “It’s a good reason not to have the volume up.”

I never intended to
kill, court hears as
the accused weeps

Defendant Glen Swain, in his filmed record of interview by police shown to the court last Saturday, broke down and wept when he was asked if he had intended to kill Kwementyaye Ryder.
“No way!” he said through his sobs.
“I would never do that, intentionally do that, to anyone.”
He cried, head in his hands, for quite some time, struggling to answer further questions.
In the courtroom, as the interview was replayed, Mr Swain’s mother, who travelled to Alice Springs for the hearing from her home in NSW, also broke down and cried.
The emotion in the record of interview was in stark contrast to the apparent calm displayed by Mr Swain during the re-enactment filmed by police and shown during committal proceedings last year (see
The interview with Mr Swain was conducted on August 2, 2009 and the re-enactment on August 3, little more than a week after the death of Mr Ryder.
In the interview he was also asked whether he had ever kicked anyone in the head like that [as he had admitted doing to Mr Ryder] before.
Through continued sobbing he said “no” and added: “It was such a dog act ... to kick him on the ground.”
He did not attempt to excuse his actions, to say he was provoked or forced by anyone to behave as he did: “I’ve got my own brain, I make my own decisions,” he said.
When he was asked what he thought might happen when he approached Mr Ryder, he said: “I didn’t think anything about what would happen afterwards, it was spur of the moment.”
Mr Swain also admitted during the interview to having “made up a story” with Anton Kloeden about the events of that night, saying he was “freaking out” [about what had happened].
His lawyer, Rennie Anderson, said he played the record of interview to address the issues of recklessness versus negligence, to address why Mr Swain had initially lied to police in his statutory declaration, and as an illustration of his client’s remorse.
In his record of interview and the re-enactment Mr Swain had made comprehensive admissions which should be seen as a mitigating factor when it comes to sentencing, said Mr Anderson.
He said his client wanted to “get it off his chest”, that the “relief” in the record of interview is “palpable”.
Mr Anderson said there was no motive for kicking the deceased: it was a “senseless act of violence”.
He said that Mr Swain had drunk a 700 ml bottle of Bundaberg rum in the course of the night of the offending, the equivalent of about 20 standard drinks.
He was intoxicated when he assaulted Mr Ryder.
In the record of interview Mr Swain was asked by police if he was under the influence of any other drug on the night.
In barely a whisper he said “just drink”.
Mr Anderson said his client in the course of the assault (lasting a matter of seconds) realised that “something was wrong” and stopped when he saw the deceased lying motionless on the road shoulder.
Mr Anderson said the attack on Mr Ryder by his client was an “uncharacteristic aberration”.
He said general deterrence demanded the imposition of a gaol sentence, but asked that it be structured with a non-parole period, suggesting that a non-parole period of two and a half to three and a half years would send a strong message to the community that such behaviour is abhorrent.
Prosecutor Michael Colm argued against suspension of any part of the custodial sentences for all five. He said none of the five needed the assistance of others to rehabilitate.
Such a need could be a reason for sentences to be suspended.
Mr Goldflam asked the Chief Justice to take into account that the sentences would be served under the harsh conditions of protective custody, as it would not be safe for the accused to be in any other part of the gaol, with Aboriginal people accounting for 80% of the prison population.
He had previously told the court of other prisoners’ threatening words and actions towards his client.

Spears ‘hit Ryder on head with bottle’

In a last minute admission, Joshua Spears said through his lawyer Tony Whitelum that he hit Kwementyaye Ryder on the back of the head with a bottle.
This statement went further than the agreed facts read to the court, where it was stated only that Mr Spears struck Mr Ryder with the bottle.
Till then the only evidence before the court, said Mr Whitelum, was that there was a stubby-size bottle of Strongbow cider at the scene and it had both Mr Spears’ and Mr Ryder’s DNA on it.
None of the four eye-witnesses had given evidence about this blow.
And none of the co-accused had mentioned it in their evidence.
Mr Whitelum described the admission as “life-changing” and submitted that it, together with the early offer of plea to manslaughter should be taken into account when sentencing.
(All of the accused made pleas in February, before the conclusion of the committal hearing, but the pleas were only accepted by the Crown earlier this month.)
Mr Spears’ contradictory statement in his record of interview that he did not get out of the car was made out of sheer fear of the consequences, said Mr Whitelum.
Mr Whitelum gave an account of Mr Spears’ actions over the course of the fateful evening.
He drank six cans of rum [presumably mixed] at a friend’s house; went on to Bojangles where he drank four to six vodka and oranges; got a lift to the casino in the early hours of the morning but was refused entry because of his intoxicated state.
It was there that he met his friends, the four co-accused, and they went to a room at Lasseters, hired by a friend and his girlfriend, and proceeded to drink some more.
The Strongbow cider was added to the mix when, after the first excursion into the riverbed, the accused returned to the home of Timothy Hird and Glen Swain to fetch more drinks.
Mr Spears first saw Mr Ryder, said Mr Whitelum, standing in the middle of the road at  Schwarz Crescent.
Mr Whitelum described the blow delivered by his client.
At the time he was 185 cms tall and weighed 60 kgs.
He held the bottle by the neck.
He swung from the shoulder in a crouching position.
The bottle did not break.
“He instructs me to tell you and the Ryder family and his own family and friends that it was a cowardly act,” said Mr Whitelum. 
He said Mr Spears did not know why he did it; he deeply regretted it and deeply regretted not having made a decision earlier to leave the vehicle.
He said admitting what he did was very difficult for a young man to do but Mr Spears had done so.
He said his client had not foreseen the consequences of his actions nor his mates actions; he had thought it would be a “quick dust-up and off”.
He never had in mind that anything serious could arise, let alone what actually did, said Mr Whitelum.
He did not intend serious harm to Mr Ryder.
He understood that his and his friends’ actions had caused a “huge calamity” in the Alice Springs community.
The youngest of the five accused – 18 at the time, now 19 – he did not have the life experience to make a proper or informed decision, said Mr Whitelum.
To this Chief Justice Brian Martin responded: “Informed decisions are not made by people who are blind drunk.”
Mr Whitelum submitted that his client has the offer of two jobs he could return to upon release. One, at Pine Hill Station, where his father also works, comes with an offer of supervision from the employer and senior staff and would entail a ban on alcohol.
The Aboriginal employees at the station would be “happy to receive” his client back, said Mr Whitelum, commenting, “the healing process has started”.
Mr Spears, like his co-offenders, has been in protective custody since he was arrested and has been told that protective custody (see separate story) is likely to contiue for the whole of his sentence.

Anton Kloeden: ‘a person is
dead because of my actions’

The court has rarely heard from the five co-accused in their own words.
Most of their statements have been paraphrased by their lawyers.
However, Russell Goldflam, counsel for Anton Kloeden, on Friday read out a handwritten statement by his client to the court.
After a request from the Alice Springs News, he sought and received Mr Kloeden’s agreement to make a typed verbatim copy available to the News.
We reproduce it here:
In the heat of the moment it never crossed my mind an assault would cause death.
I am sincerely sorry it has taken the death of Mr Ryder to realise violence is not the answer to resolving problems. 
The hurt and trouble this has caused the Ryder family & my family I can guarantee it will always be on mind & I will never put myself in a situation like it again.
I may not have got out of the car but I completely understand my decision to turn the car around to resolve the issue was not the right choice & unfortunately the death of Mr Ryder was the result. Something never intended but happened none the less.
Without knowing someone its easy to judge them.  Young, dumb got caught by police he must be guilty & assault people often which is not the case at all.  
I didn’t know Mr Ryder at all & judged him from one act – throwing a bottle at my car & as the driver took it upon myself to confront him.  
The speed of which it all happened, the actions of the others & being in the wrong lane meant I stayed in the car.
After 8 months in jail the worst punishment has been done – Caused pain & trouble for the Ryder family, my family (the innocent victims who don’t deserve any of it), have on my mind for the rest of my life that a person is dead because of my actions & having a criminal record – manslaughter at that & the implications of it (work, travel…).  
These are all lifelong punishments.

Death threats in gaol

The five offenders have all been held in protective custody since their arrest and this is likely to continue while they remain in gaol.
While this regime is for the offenders’ safety, it is a harsher form of incarceration than most prisoners experience.
They are held in their cells for 22 hours of every day, allowed out for only two hours a day.
And they cannot take part in any programs – work, education, sport – involving contact with other prisoners. 
Russell Goldflam, acting for Anton Kloeden, described to the court threats made to Mr Kloeden while he’s been in gaol.
“There are times when he sees other prisoners in the mainstream part of the G-block population – that’s the remand and maximum security section of the gaol.
“And every day he sees a person drag their finger across their throat in a signal to him, an unmistakable signal to him and his co-offenders.
“There’s one bloke in the gaol who says, ‘We’re going to chop off your head. We know where you live, we’ll kill your family, rape your grandma, rape your sister, cook you like a kangaroo.
“’When you get out you’re going to get fucked. There’s a price on your head. The family’s waiting for you.’”
Mr Goldflam said he had no idea who the person was who had said these things and did not wish to imply that he had anything to do with the victim’s family, who, as he had pointed out to his client, had made “an extremely dignified, restrained, respectful and moving” statement to the media after the charges had been laid.
The threat-maker had also said “we’re going to kill” Mr Kloeden’s father.
Said Mr Goldflam: “For [my client] hearing those last words is the worst thing.”

Once we were enemies ... By ERWIN CHLANDA.

On Monday, Anzac Day, we’ll be paying homage to the courage and sacrifice of our diggers. But it’s also an occasion to spare a thought for a former enemy, which now welcomes us with open arms: Vietnam. Alice News editor ERWIN CHLANDA went to Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, and the Vung Tau district, where Aussies fought fierce battles at Long Tan and Nui Dat.

Who wants to be a millionaire? In Vietnam your wish is instantly granted.
At this week’s exchange rate, 100 Aussie dollars is worth around 1.74 million Vietnamese Dong.
Sounds a lot but a 600 ml bottle of beer is 16,000 Dong. That’s less than a dollar.
With direct flights from Darwin, some six hours, Ho Chi Minh City – the former Saigon – is now in our back yard.
The people are proud and strong, victors in a century-plus battle against foreign powers.
In the end, the little people in black pyjamas showed the door to the world’s mightiest nation.
Today, the Vietnamese are doing their own thing, with admirable gusto, manifested by all, from the street traders touting biscuits, sunglasses, scooter rides, meals or hotel rooms (self contained ones starting at $15), to the tens of thousands of small businesses, right up to the highrise buildings that are popping out of the ground all over Saigon.
A communist regime?
“I’ve got less government interference in my business than in Australia,” says a bar owner from Oz.
There is only one thing wrong with Saigon airport: food and drinks cost 10 times as much as they do at places a 20-minute, $7 cab ride away.
Apart from that the terminal is just a year old, big, beautiful and efficient.
It’s your first sign of the direction in which Vietnam is heading: Welcome world!
Uniformed personnel, albeit unsmiling, at a long row of counters dispense with immigration formalities in minutes.
Our immersion in the frenzy that is Saigon began the moment we exited the terminal: we were instantly surrounded by dozens of cabbies vying for our business.
It was around midnight and we had no idea where we would be staying: when it’s a buyers’ market you don’t need to book ahead.
We settled on a cabbie who wanted $20 to take the four of us into the city and find a hotel for us.
We bartered him down to $15. (The actual fare is $7 – just make sure the meter is on.)
He beeped his horn at least 5000 times from the moment he plunged us into one of South East Asia’s great experiences: Saigon traffic.
It would be the perfect rehabilitation for our roadragers to make them drive there for a day or two.
There are millions of scooters, motorbikes, cars and pedestrians.
Stopping at red lights? It’s optional.
Zebra crossings are painted on the road for decorative purposes only.
It appears there may be a law that vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road.
That means to cross it you look left first.
You do so, and when all looks clear you step off the kerb – at which instant you barely escape being hit by a scooter on the wrong side of the road.
You hire a scooter.
Turning left is a high wire act of finding gaps in the oncoming traffic, usually 10 scooters abreast, moving briskly.
You give cars a slightly wider berth than scooters and even less to pedestrians whose survival is miraculous – or following a complex routine still awaiting definition.
Confronted by that our brain-dead shakers of fists at the slightest traffic provocation would either succumb to a heart attack in the first 10 minutes – or begin to comprehend that a stoic demeanour, and hardly ever a harsh word, works a lot better than standing on your digs at every turn.
Our road rager would conclude from the spellbinding fluency of the traffic, that being “right” isn’t as useful as making it work in a spirit of live and let live.
And so scooters and small motorbikes – usually under 110cc – are carrying Vietnam: its people, mostly four astride, as well as much of its cargo.
We saw a pillion passenger on a scooter holding large panes of glass on his lap.
We saw semi-trailer style contraptions attached to scooters with huge loads on the back.
We saw cool dudes at high speed penetrating the pack.
The skill of texting whilst weaving between hundreds of oncoming scooters is worthy of becoming an Olympic discipline.
At night in the lovers’ lanes you see couples locked in embrace, straddled across, of course, their scooters.
In Vung Tau, Saigon’s beachside getaway, in the balmy evening, you see hundreds of scooters, two, three or four people astride them, or sitting side-saddle, eight abreast, slowly cruising the splendid esplanade, having a chat and a laugh, the distinctively designed and coloured Vietnamese fishing boats anchored in the bay, the sun setting behind them into the ocean.
Saigon is fun, at least for a day or two.
Much of the budget tourism is focussed on District One.
In the bigger streets are cheap hotels (you can usually barter down to $20 a night, air conditioned and with facilities, but make sure everything works, like the taps and the drains); restaurants with $3 meals, shops and more shops.
First contact may be cool, but a wink and a “g’day” instantly break the ice and evoke a smile.
But soon you realise that the many of the friendly Vietnamese surrounding you are people with something to sell, and the conversation with fellow tourists is – well – about cheap rooms, food and beer.
It’s time to explore the side alleys, maybe two metres wide, flanked by narrow houses, four storeys high, with a business or a shop on the ground floor, inevitably a scooter squeezed in there, living quarters upstairs.
In the morning there may be a market, wonderful veggies, fresh meat and fish, tiny stalls serving meals to people folded onto tiny stools.
This part of the town isn’t all that keen to see you, but it will put up with you, and as usual, a wink or word will break the ice.
Back in the main street you may decide to get a massage – declining the “happy ending” sometimes offered – or a meal, but by now you have said “no thanks” a 1000 times to vendors of sunglasses, pirated DVDs and books, rickshaw or scooter rides.
At no time did we feel in danger – physically or in a deal.
Once an agreement is made, usually following robust bartering, the Vietnamese will stick to the agreement.
Bear in mind, the Lonely Planet or movie DVD being sold by a street hawker is likely to be a pirated copy. But you don’t have to buy it.
Before heading up country, the reason you came, don’t miss two experiences: The War Museum and the Reunification Palace, triumphant monuments to the unflinching courage of this people in the face of colonisers and aggressors – including Australia – who’ve done them over for more than 100 years.
The museum tells the story of ultimate victory by the little people in black pyjamas.
In picture after heart rending picture, mostly black and white, of broken bodies, adults and children, and savaged landscape, and in text that doesn’t need embellishment, the story is told of triumph over the French, and then the USA, the world’s most powerful nation at the time, with Australia in tow from 1965, courtesy our venerated Prime Minister, Bob Menzies.
During our stay in Vung Tau we drove to Long Tan and Nui Dat, descending into one of the legendary Vietcong tunnels which helped turn the war.
There was nobody shooting at us, of course, nor dropping bombs, and our taxi was waiting outside to take us back to a nice dinner and a comfortable room.
But as we followed the former guerilla fighter, now an old man, down the dark tunnel, dug out by hand, walking in a low crouch, our shoulders touching the sides, we got a glimpse of the terror and bravery of that war.
You can find a list of the 18 Australian diggers who died in the battle of Long Tan at
The Aussies were outnumbered by 30 to one, according to one estimate.
Their bravery and honour will never be diminished by the injustice of the war – for that we have to blame our politicians.
We could find no list of Vietnamese dead on the web: estimates ranged from hundreds to 1000.
What we did find at Long Tan was a memorial to Australian soldiers who died there in a rubber plantation, a few kilometers from the Aussie base at Nui Dat.
It was a bizarre sight: a low chain enclosure, about half the size of a tennis court; a cross, about man high, in the middle; at one side a drum-like structure with incense sticks stuck in the top which in turn had cigarette filters impaled on them.
The whole memorial was painted white, but there was not a word written anywhere – not in English nor in Vietnamese.
According to the original cross was stolen.
It had carried this inscription: “In Memory of those members of D Coy 6 RAR and 3 Tp 1 APC Sqn who gave their lives near this spot during the Battle of Long Tan on 18th August 1966. Erected by 6 RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Bn 18 Aug 69.”
Closer to Nui Dat was another structure that also appeared to suggest Australia’s one-time presence should best be forgotten.
It was a kindergarten opened in 2002 by Dr Stephen Henningham, Australian Consul General to Ho Chi Minh City.
The Australian Veterans Vietnam Reconstruction Group and the Long Tan Memorial Committee are also listed on the plaque as sponsors.
The former military building seems structurally in good nick – but there are no children.
The garden is overgrown with weeds. Some windows are broken. The rooms are empty. The building has obviously not been used for quite some time.
It’s a message that today, Vietnam has its own agenda as far as the outside world is concerned: becoming a Mecca for tourists, who enjoy the benign climate, excellent food, breathtaking scenery – and all at prices half of Australia’s, or less.

Vietnam currency
rip-off - in Darwin

Getting ripped off is one of a traveller’s main fears.
We had such an experience, changing currency, in December 2009. It was at the airport – in Darwin.
We were a group of four. Each of us wanted to buy A$100 worth of Vietnamese Dong on December 20, 2009 from a company called Travelex operating in the departure lounge.
The exchange rate on that day was 16,438 Dong for A$1.
The woman at the counter paid 13,056.
In addition she charged each of us A$10 commission – irrespective of the amount changed. She had not told us that in advance.
We discovered this after three of us had changed A$100 each.
We put to the woman that had we known the conditions, we would have changed $300 instead three times $100, and she should charge only one lot of commission – already pocketing the 20% difference in the exchange rate.
Notwithstanding the fact that the transactions had been made only a few seconds earlier – this lady is a very fast operator – she refused our request.
Travelex, when asked for a comment, said its sales consultants are trained to make the customer “fully aware of these costs” and expressed “regret that the matter was not discussed by our sales consultant to the customers.
“We have referred the matter to our Regional Sales Manager who will be conducting the necessary investigations to address this concern.”
But Travelex admits there is a large gap between the published currency rates and what they are offering.
If you can’t get Vietnamese Dong from your bank, get US dollars, anybody will accept them in Vietnam.
You can get the exchange rate on the net, for example, at
There are internet cafes all over Vietnam and most restaurants and hotels have wireless – “WiFi”.
The easiest way of getting Vietnamese currency is via an ATM displaying the “Plus” logo, inserting your Australian bank’s account card and selecting the amount required.
NAB, for example, paid very close to the published rate and charged $4 per transaction.
The maximum respective amount per withdrawal were two million VND (costing $124.45 including a fee of just over a dollar).

Anzac Hill = Eiffel Tower. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.

In the late 1980s Chinese born architect I. M. Pei proposed a glass pyramid for the forecourt of the Louvre, acting as the entrance – with most facilities under ground – for the most magnificent art gallery of Paris and home of the Mona Lisa.
Most people in France, from the President down (it was his project), had a say. This was an issue for everybody – not just the art community. The reputation of La Belle France was at stake. Its honour. The cash it earns from tourists the world over.
OK. If Anzac Hill is our Eiffel Tower then Araluen is our Louvre.
While the Pei pyramid in front of the Louvre is still argued about, many accept it as a masterpiece.
What has been proposed controversially for Araluen is no masterpiece but an ugly industrial project partly dominating the eastern side of the grounds, causing trees to be cut down, partially obscuring a sacred hill and impacting on access and light of the craft studio alongside.
After community pressure it was decided to form a Community Reference Group “to advise on the preferred location for the Solar Air-conditioning Project at Araluen Arts Centre that is both practical for the operation of the Araluen Art Centre’s air-conditioning and aesthetically fits into the Araluen Precinct”.
Expressions of interest were called for.
All better late than never. But – sticking with the bureaucratese – is this a good outcome?
Or is it another example of town’s fragmentation which will send Alice down the gurgler?
Alice has three powerful lobbies:-
• The Town Council which represents us all.
• The Chamber of Commerce.
• Tourism Central Australia.
The latter two represent the people who probably generate 90% of the non-government wealth in The Centre.
None of the three put their hand up to take part in deciding the fate of the Araluen project.
Says Tourism CA’s Ren Kelly: “No idea. I’m probably at fault that I didn’t follow it up.
“I saw it come through as a fait accompli.
“I didn’t know applications had been called for.”
Says council CEO Rex Mooney: “As the lead proponent of Alice Solar Cities, Alice Springs Town Council supports Alice Solar City and its projects.
“In relation to this particular project Mr Tim Rollason has assured Council that he is consulting with the community and other stakeholders to reach a positive outcome for all parties concerned.
“In view of this Council did not nominate for the Committee.”
Says the chamber’s Julie Ross: “I was on holidays. I just came back on Wednesday [last week].”
The members appointed are Mark Wilson (Central Australian Arts Society), Lyndon Frearson (Centre for Appropriate Technology), Glen Marshall (Alice Solar City), Margaret McDonnell (former editor of IAD Press), Fran Morey (Friends of Araluen), Domenico Pecorari (heritage architect), Ruth Elvin (Alice Art Foundation) and Faye Alexander (Central Craft).
No argument whatsoever, they are all honorable and capable people. But representative of the whole community they cannot be. A little bit more communication all ‘round may help pull the town out of its doldrums.

Great Central Australian will be laid to rest today.

A good man has left us.
Bernie Kilgariff, former Senator, pastoralist, community leader, family man, friend of many and one of the founders of the Country Liberal Party, passed away last Tuesday.
His state funeral is being held today, 9am at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Much will be said and written of the great contribution made by Bernie in his 87 years of life.
We would like to speak of his kindness.
We had first hand experience of it when our house burnt down in 2003.
Although unwell at the time, Bernie drove out to our block to see us and make a very substantial offer of help.
He was too unwell to get out of the car but wife Aileen came in to let us know he was there.
We never needed to avail ourselves of his help but it lifted our spirits greatly in a difficult time.
 Later, when we had rebuilt our house Bernie and Aileen sent a gift towards re-equipping it.
We use it with pleasure and gratitude.
But we also know, through our journalist work, that our experience of Bernie was not exceptional.
Over the years many people from a variety of backgrounds, including many Aboriginal people, have spoken to us of their own tough times and the practical help and warmth offered to them by Bernie and Aileen (pictured above) – and all this while they were raising their own large family.
What a wonderful legacy.
We extend our deepest sympathies to Aileen, Fran and all the Kilgariffs at this time.
Kieran Finnane and Erwin Chlanda, Alice Springs News

Consumers are protected by certifiers: department.

The Alice Springs News asked the Department of Lands and Planning to whether building certification process protects consumers.
We posed this question in the context of our story about the fiasco surrounding the renovations of Danielle Eisenblatter’s home (see April 1 issue), where numerous defective works had been signed off by a certifier.
A departmental spokesperson has now replied to our question:
“Yes,” she says.
“The building certification process is one of several measures in the Building Act (amended in 2006) that help ensure that where required, building works meet the requirements in the Act and other legislation.
“Since the commencement of these changes in 2006 about 1% of building approvals for homes have attracted complaints, which means a vast majority are being successfully completed.
“The Territory Government is looking at what can be done with Home Warranty Insurance.  
“It is important that individuals do extensive research before engaging a builder, including seeking legal advice before signing a contract , and the Government will increase communication to the public to encourage them to do this.”

A multi-storey carpark for hospital extension?

Council is urging the architects of the new units at the Alice Springs Hospital and the Department of Lands and Planning to provide for a multi-storey carpark at the site.
The demand for parking at the hospital already exceeds capacity and Council CEO Rex Mooney says the current approach to further carparking provision is piecemeal.
In council’s view the current plans will not adequately cater for parking needs in the long-term.
He says council originally suggested a masterplan be developed, but as that has not been done is now pushing for a multi-storey carpark. 

Naturally by Alex Nelson.

In 1972 a large book, The Use of Trees and Shrubs in the Dry Country of Australia – written by 11 distinguished co-authors and  published by the Forestry and Timber Bureau, Department of National Development, in Canberra –  provided advice for exotic (non-native) species, with a favourite being the Athel Pine (Tamarix aphylla). Athels are “very suitable for shelter and light shade”, they wrote.
“It is the outstanding exotic species for moderately low shelterbelts in the arid zone.”
One author described trial plantations from 1950 of various tree species to combat increasing salinity in southwest WA, and athels were recommended for this purpose.
For cultivation the book notes an athel “can be grown from its minute seed but is more readily raised from cuttings”.
There’s not the slightest hint that athels could be a problem other than that they were banned on government home properties in Alice Springs because the roots blocked sewer pipes.
The book merely reflected reality – athels had been planted widely across inland Australia since the 1940s, and much use of them was made in Central Australia.
Yet the timing of the book’s publication was inauspicious, as Central Australia experienced its wettest years on record in 1973/74. Rivers and creeks flowed for months, and millions of delicate athel seeds were washed downstream – especially the Ross River and the Finke at Hermannsburg – where they germinated and took hold in ideal conditions. Soon thick athel infestations stretched for 600 km along the Finke.
Realization dawned by the late 1970s that a major new threat to the environment had emerged; by 1988 athels were listed as a Class B Noxious Weed where growth and spread are to be controlled, specifically in the Alice Springs region outside of home gardens.
In 1989 several local CSIRO researchers published an article in the Journal of Environmental Management, putting beyond doubt the severity of environmental degradation of the Finke River system posed by athel pines; in fact much of the entire Lake Eyre Basin was at risk.
Control measures began in earnest in 1992, especially along the Finke and Ross rivers.
The Ross River infestation was small and successfully controlled, mainly by the effort of (then) weeds officer Murray Fuller; but eradication along the Finke is a protracted affair that continues to this day.
In 1999 athel pines were listed as a Weed of National Significance, one of 20 such species in Australia.
A striking feature of the history of athel pine introduction, research, use and its spread is that it is markedly similar to buffel grass.
Yet in terms of both its actual and potential detriment to the natural environment, athel pines come nowhere close to the threat that is posed by buffel grass.
Buffel grass is well recognized for its weedy characteristics but isn’t a declared noxious weed in Australia – this is despite being described in 1991 by the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service as one of Australia’s worst environmental weeds. Buffel is also recognized as one of the world’s worst environmental weeds, too.

Push-powered pictures. By POP VULTURE with CAMERON BUCKLEY.

A derby of pedal pushers descended on Annie’s Place last Saturday for the first annual Bicycle Film Festival.
It played to a pulsing sea of people – 20 films, all locally made.  An eclectic collection coming from top drawers and bottom vaults around old Alice town.  Silent, documentary, stop frame, musical, comedy and horror! All genres were catered for. The film making collective of Central Australia was in full swing.
Due to the high number of submissions reviewing all 20 would reach points of tedium. The following is a handful of what was served up.
Deadly Treadlies – hunting and gathering the sun bleached skeletons of bicycle carcasses decorating the desert. This mini musical documentary shows the audience the childlike coolness of the dealings with salvaging and repairing abandoned treadlies.
Filmed six years ago by Suzy Bates (she of Nothing Rhymes with Ngapartji fame) this still seemed fresh and relevant.
Horror time! B-Grade stomp, with an A Grade soundtrack from the Dead Weather.  The Bicykiller. The story of some strange undead bicycle haunting its previous rider. This six minute piece by Jeff Kessel and starring Tammy Brennan, Kieren Sanderson and Kristelle Sherwood, seemed to generate a retrospective feeling of the old headless horseman tale. An ambient spook, at times hilarious, and synchronized well with the choicest music of the night.
Bike Love. A two minute flicker book by Jess Abrahams of two wheeled travels abroad. If only this short just went a little longer, due to the stop frame nature of the production it comes across as a kind of intermission. When viewed frame by frame, tiny actors appear in the form of wildlife and weather.
Road Train. Armageddon on the footpath! This looked like some sort of geographical anachronism. An out of time, out of place battle between generations for right of way heading home. The work of Missa Bolibruk-Ramsay, Anchor, Megg Kelham, Imba, and Sharon Follett, the film shifted along at a punk speed, fitting three punk songs into its seven minutes.
Live For This Trailer. A sample from the BMX DVD released last year (on sale at Ultimate Ride). Nu Metal verse grinds out a Crusty Demon like ride of suicide stunt antics. It was like the BMX bandits on amphetamines, nothing was cooler in the ‘80s, only Tuffs. This youth culture is much like the Metal sub-vein. They remain relatively non accessible –  a tribal obscurity that runs free and loose in the Alice Springs trenches.
A moving creation from Isaac Elliott and Dylan MacDonald, In Your Stride, and it won the People’s Choice. A 12 minute story about an intellectually disabled man (played by Hayden Jude) hurdling a series of obstacles on the path to his eventual happiness. Elliott’s own ability to conquer affliction continues to resonate and inspire the community.
The little pedal-powered mechanisms that trigger human emotion were on show here. This town really does evolve well with the lens. Throughout the evening I can’t recall a film being received badly and I don’t think this can be chalked up to a mates’ rates reception.
With a jockeying for submissions a certainty for next season, pushers should have enough inspiration to carry forth the next wave of push-powered pictures.

LETTERS: Imparja, get rid of red box, reinstate local news, increase Aboriginal programs and employment.

Sir – Because of the concerns raised by many community members I have organised (solely by myself) a petition about the future of Imparja and am collecting signatures in support of its proposals.
Over the past 15 years or so, Imparja television has slowly but surely lost its Aboriginal identity and concepts in regards to the Imparja logo, programming and Aboriginal employment and training, and has seemingly failed in keeping with all aspects of its aims and objectives.
Due to minimal pressure over the past year or two from certain community members, a feeble attempt has been made by Imparja management to satisfy the community members’ concerns about a logo that we feel is unsuitable and unsatisfactory.
In recent times, Imparja has been promoting the ‘red cube’ concept and has requested viewers to provide feedback via email about what we think the red cube represents.
I suggest as a matter of urgency that community members reply to this along the lines of:
“As a community member, I am not interested at all in what the red cube represents. I hereby wish for Imparja to regain some semblance to its unique identity by having the original logo reinstated.”
In the petition I am seeking support from community members to get Imparja to immediately address the following:
• Get rid of the red box
• Reinstate the original Imparja logo and for it to be predominantly featured alongside the Channel Nine logo.
• Reinstate a nightly 15 minute local news segment read by our very popular Aboriginal newsreaders Ryan Liddle or Catherine Liddle.
• Advertise program times, scheduled to NT time.
• Increase the delivery of Aboriginal programs and language.
• Increase the staffing level of Aboriginal employment and training to 75% over the next two years.
Imparja television was developed from 1984 to 1987, with its first test program transmitted in January 1988.
It is the first Aboriginal controlled community TV station, and is totally owned and controlled by NT and SA Aboriginal shareholders.
Imparja means tracks or footprints in the Arrernte language and the logo was developed from a painting by a well-known Arrernte artist and traditional owner.
The logo symbolises the McDonnell Ranges, Todd River, and the Yeperenye Caterpillar dreaming of the Mbarntwe people of Alice Springs.
Imparja’s vision is to deliver information and communication services to the community while promoting Indigenous culture and values, with continued commitment to its shareholders and the development of its employees.
As a major initiative, Imparja should continue to ensure that all its activities will positively promote Aboriginal culture and values.
The challenge is to manage its social and cultural integrity and to meet the need of community expectations regarding language and cultural programming.
Please note that this letter and the petition is in no way a reflection of any mismanagement or personal attack towards Imparja directors or its staff but should reflect only the members’ concerns about Imparja’s future direction as per its charter.  
Eric Sultan
Alice Springs

Healthy stash on
Basics Card

Sir – I work as a nightfiller at a large supermarket located in an Aboriginal-owned shopping complex.
This is a job which entails a lot of hard labour for not a great amount of pay but at least I get paid for keeping fit, rather than spending a lot of money at a gym.
Anyway, recently one evening I was approached by an inebriated Aboriginal man requiring assistance to purchase some food.
He was concerned about being able to afford it; and he was illiterate, as he asked for the prices of various canned foods he indicated to me.
Eventually I showed him a brand of tinned pie on special for a little over two dollars. He was still concerned about being able to afford to buy this pie, and he showed me his Basics Card and a little slip of paper on which someone had helpfully written the amount of money in his account.
His account contained $9600.
I told the fellow he didn’t have anything to worry about; and I went back to my low-paying job so that I can continue to pay taxes and do my bit to prop up the Welfare State.
Alex Nelson
Alice Springs

A pathological
fear of grass!

Sir – After reading Rod Cramer’s letter to editor on the subject of buffel grass I can only conclude his childhood on a sun-bleached goat paddock on the Ross Highway has left him botanophobic, beset by a lifelong, pathological fear of grass!
What other reason for his rather ludicrous statements on the terrible consequences of cattle eating buffel grass?
On plenty of mornings in the past few months I have had the pleasure along with the entire population of the White Gums valley of watching Rod’s cattle happily grazing the buffel pastures in his front paddock!!
It is often the subject of bemused discussion in the valley, as many are aware of Rod’s views. 
Rod, if you really believe the dire consequences you say will come through the grazing of buffel, then sorry mate, it’s time you called the vet! Urgently!  Failure to do so may well leave you subject to animal cruelty charges!
All over our televisions every night, and in the pages of our real estate magazines, we find properties for sale actively boasting their acreages of buffel grass, because they – as productive, market driven cattlemen and farmers – actually know and understand, the true value of improved pasture, it’s worth its weight  in gold!!
There sure are a few varieties of buffel that are less palatable than others, they are nonetheless still palatable.
The search for a nitrogen fixing plant is not about repairing damage from improved pasture, but about complementing the buffel pastures, making them more sustainable. Before turning up your nose at the concept of improved pastures, remember that almost the entire wealth of this nation was built upon it!  It should also be remembered, as many search for answers to global warming, to reducing our carbon emissions, that the use of improved pastures across our continent has been put forward as a viable carbon sequestration method. A method that would more than meet the sequestration requirements of our entire nation!
In closing I would like to agree with a comment also in your Letters, by Des Nelson – “It’s really about work”! The success of buffel is a great outcome, but it does require a good deal more work (employment) to manage it. Should we fail to put that work in, then perhaps we fully deserve what follows.
Steve Brown
Alice Springs
Wonderful Centralian

Sir – Bernie Kilgariff played a big part in assisting my family with our housing problems on our arrival in the Alice in 1968.
A wonderful man and a great Centralian.
My deepest sympathy to the family. 
A great man has gone, but the memories will always be there.
Jim Cleary
Colorado, USA

Wait for muck
up at Muckaty

Sir – Classical Australian poets have described our wide brown land so aptly, that many sayings resonate in our cultural language. Banjo Patterson talks about “the dried up bed of an inland sea”. Dorothea Mackellar most famously describes “a land of sweeping deserts, a land of flooding rains”.
I find poetical illustrations of early things seen by Europeans an increasingly lost art and cultural memory.
We can now see and visit every spectacular place, yet we have lost a sense of haphazard “terror” that our writers describe, and that our country continues to provide.
I am accordingly alarmed at plans underway for a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty Station.
Being in my fifties, I have already, and almost annually observed local dismay from all over our country when “unheard of” local climactic, or fire, or other geomorphic catastrophes  randomly occur, most recently in Western Queensland.  
Having said that, I will not be surprised if in my lifetime I wake up some day to learn Muckaty and its fail safe nuclear facility is under water with  Chernobyl consequences.
Political leadership? This situation currently provides us with politically expedient decisions.
I am very displeased with our Federal Member Warren Snowdon. When he was in opposition, I attended a public meeting at CDU where he argued against Federally convenient coercion on this issue.
Now, close to the actual decision makers and a Federal minister, he has altered his stated principle to acceptance and support for local Aboriginal decision making, hence a declared intended vote in Parliament for a dump at Muckaty.
What parody of representation for us all! Indeed, is not the local Aboriginal opinion about this decision plainly unilateral?
I seriously propose if a disposal place is necessary due to our Federal uranium trading obligations that storage be in a Canberra kind demographic, where it will get the utmost care, and most important:  wide scale community attention.
If at Muckaty, it will be out of sight and mind until a very alarming and disastrous  “Muck Up”! Who says what then?
Howard Davies
Alice Springs

ADAM'S APPLE: The Lingo Dingo.

After four years of writing Adam’s Apple I have come to appreciate a good writer. Four years of looking for that perfect word or turn of phrase that conveys exactly what I want to say makes me envious of those that seem to do it regularly.
The ability to dexterously and majestically uncurl the mind without misquoting or being engaged in uncomfortable mimicry is to ensnare the reader in flowery, honey-tongued fixtures.
While that sentence is a bit over the top and while it splits an infinitive or two, it would not have been possible 400 years ago. Literally, it would have been impossible because 400 years ago, 10 of the words in that sentence weren’t invented yet.
All 10 had to wait in the ether of the literature underworld for one man to give birth to them. To them and 1700 other words.
William Shakespeare invented over 1700 words in his lifetime. Do I even use 1700 words?
This is a testament to not only the man’s genius but also to the adaptability of the English language. It is also a testament to the fact that a dictionary of any merit had not been created.
1700 words and countless phrases are an unbelievable contribution to a language. Aerial, bedroom, control, dawn, epileptic, fashionable, gallantry, housekeeping, invitation, juiced, kissing, luggage, manager, new-fangled, outbreak, perplex, quarrelsome, reclusive, satisfying, traditional, undress, varied, widowed, yelping and zany all came from the mind of William Shakespeare.
It’s fun to imagine what words we would use to describe all those ideas had young William decided to follow his father into the glove-making industry.
Of all the major languages, English is the most malleable.
Despite all of the strange spellings and pronunciations, the ability of the English language to evolve with its speakers has made it the language it is today.
Think about it. If you were to try and have a conversation with William Shakespeare today, chances are you wouldn’t understand him all that well and he definitely wouldn’t understand you. But for all intents and purposes you would both be speaking English.Wherever there is a gap in the language, English has the ability to fill it. Shakespeare isn’t the only person that invented words. Download, gigabyte, outsourcing, obesogenic, abdominoplasty, bioterror and detox have all been invented in the last 30 years or so.
All of these words say something about the world we live in.  In their book, The Meaning Of Liff, Douglas Adams and John Lloyd invent many different words that have made readers laugh but haven’t made the Oxford English Dictionary just yet.
Adams and Lloyd decided to take words from road signs and appropriate a definition to them. So that the Italian “Naples” becomes the word to describe the dimples found on a Ryvita biscuit. While the British “Luton” describes the horseshoe shaped rug that goes round a toilet seat.
These examples are a bit of fun but finding words for new or increasingly popular things happens all the time and still holes exist.
The Germans have a word for which there is no English equivalent – Schadenfreude is the word Germans use to describe the feeling of happiness one experiences when something bad happens to someone else. Perhaps the British were too polite to name such a feeling.
There is a myriad of experiences unique to Central Australia, so why not invent some words? What about a “plastofenestra”? A greek/latin hybrid to describe the often seen car window in which the glass has been replaced by Glad Wrap.
What about a word to describe the physical slap in the face one feels when leaving an air-conditioned room into the summer heat?
Or a word to describe the annoyance felt when carrying an armful of items and being asked for identification at the bottle shop?
Surely we need a word to describe the act of being caught behind a vehicle going 40 in an 80 zone.
It happens all the time.
We need a word to describe the bewilderment experienced by tourists when confronted by a simultaneous plague of flies, stinkbugs and grasshoppers.
We also need a word to sum up the suppression of dignity needed to don a mosquito net hat.
Come on Alice Springs. It’s time to fill the holes left by Shakespeare.
Time to add our own signature to the language.

Back to our home page.