April 29, 2010. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

High rollers head for Rock. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The big spenders aren’t coming to Alice Springs. They’re heading for Ayers Rock.
Statistics provided by Tourism Central Australia chairman Ren Kelly show the average nightly expenditure in Petermannn (mostly Ayers Rock and King’s Canyon resorts) is $417, compared to $292 in The Alice.
Alice has more visitors – 435,000 of them, spending an average of nine days or 1.7m nights a year.
The figures for Petermann are 360,000, spending an average of just five days or 946,000 nights.
Yet Petermannn earns $286m a year from tourism, compared to $262m for Alice Springs.
In other words the Rock, with half the nights, is making more money than Alice.
Looking at international visitors in isolation, The Rock with 188,000 guests is leaving Alice behind with 167,000.
Mr Kelly did not provide any figures for previous years.
On the upside, he says keen promotion and good service have enabled Alice tourist accommodations to avoid the slump elsewhere in the nation in the wake of the global recession.
He says in the December 2009 quarter there has even been a 4% increase over the year before in domestic travel – an additional 20,000 visitors.
But numbers are still well below the peak in 2000.
“The accommodation industry had to work hard to maintain occupancy, marketing at trade shows and the internet,” says Mr Kelly.
“And the yield this year is expected to be reasonably good, based on advanced bookings, and what they’ve seen in the past three months.”
He says Virgin’s decision to fly Sydney to Ayers Rock Resort rather than to Alice may be a blessing in disguise: because Tiger flies Melbourne to Alice, coach and car operators now can go with full loads either way.
Visitors flying to The Rock can travel by road to Alice and fly back from there – or the other way ‘round.
Mr Kelly says the Qantas flights between Alice to Cairns and Perth are now doing less well than previously, apparently as a result of changes in international travel.
Virgin’s connection with international airlines including Delta, Virgin America and Atlantic, Emirates and Malaysia Airlines allow discount arrangements for flights in Australia previously offered only by Qantas.
Meanwhile Tourism Minister Malarndirri McCarthy says the NT Government will spend $42.6 million on tourism in the 2010 Budget.
This would include money for “innovative and integrated marketing campaigns ... and developing new products from emerging Indigenous entrepreneurs”.
There will be “$30.9 million to promote the Territory to global and domestic markets with $2.1 million for the continuing support of airlines services to the Northern Territory”.
Says Ms McCarthy: “The tourism industry employs around 18,000 people in the Territory and contributes $1.7 billion to the NT economy.”
Tourism Australia says all Australians are being invited “to share what is great about where they live as well as their favourite Australian holiday experiences to show what’s unique and special about our country” by uploading photos and stories to
Entrants will be eligible to win holidays.

Qantas hostie falls from plane in grog incident. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

A Qantas ground crew member at Ayers Rock Resort was stood down for two weeks after testing positive for a blood alcohol level in excess of regulations.
This followed an accident in which a flight crew member broke her arm and had to be evacuated to Alice Springs.
A Qantas spokesman described the alcohol level as “low”.
The aircraft, operating on the Ayers Rock to Cairns route, had been given the all clear to close the door and push back the stairs.
However, as the door would not close readily, the hostess put a foot outside the plane to get better leverage, but the stairs had already been moved. She fell from the aircraft.
The spokesman says the crew members,  as is routine, were subjected to alcohol and other drugs testing.
A ramp crew person – the spokesman would not specify the gender – was found to be over the limit.
The person was given “medical assessment and counselling” and returned to work on March 18.
Another alcohol related incident involving Qantas staff was reported this week to have occurred in Alice.

Gearing up for camel trade. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

There is money in camels, and the estimated one million feral beasts in Central Australia – mainly on Aboriginal land – can be turned into a major export earner and source of Indigenous employment.
So says local cattle man Gary Dann (pictured) who is calling for a network of camel catching and slaughtering facilities, some of them mobile, including trap yards, and slaughter floors where the initial butchering of the beasts can be done after shooting them in the field.
Mr Dann runs Territory Camels, which is operating Wamboden, a multi species (cattle and camels) abattoir north of Alice Springs.
He is consulting for Aboriginal interests setting up an abattoir at Ernabella in the Pitjantjatjara Lands in South Australia, is expanding camel meat sales in Australia and overseas, and has in the past set up killing works in Mistake Creek and Kalkaringi.
Mr Dann says most camels are on land owned by Aborigines: “They should benefit from the resource.”
Mr Dann takes issue with the mass slaughter of camels by shooting them from helicopters and letting them rot in the desert.
This strategy sparked outrage around the world late last year.
An aerial cull, under cover of secrecy, took place in the Docker River area, in the south-western corner of the Territory.
Last year 100 people were registered as unemployed in that community, but none were given a role in the control of camels there.
The shoot was funded by the Federal Government and organised by Ninti One Ltd, a company spawned by the now defunct Desert Knowledge CRC (DK-CRC) in Alice Springs, claiming to be holding the “intellectual property” associated with the management of feral camels.
Mr Dann was responding to an analysis (Alice News, April 8) by Dr Charlie Carter, of studies commissioned by DK-CRC.
These reportedly cost $15m over six years.
According to Mr Dann, during the latter part of that work people with hands-on knowledge of the industry were ignored.
Mr Dann says: “You could have built a multi species abattoir for half that money. Unbelievable.”
He says a fully fledged mobile abattoir would include a power source, kill floor, chiller, boning room, blast freezer, storage freezers, all on trailers, pulled by prime movers.
But a better solution is a “part-portable abattoir”.
Camels are classed as a game animal in the NT and can be shot “in the field, like it was done in the buffalo days,” he says.
“Mobile slaughter floors would be taken to where camels gather.
“You have half to three quarters of an hour to get the shot camel to the mobile “skinning and eviscera” floors, once they have been bled, where intestines, feet, skin and the head would be removed, roughly half of the weight of the camel.
After being quartered and inspected they would be taken in a refrigerated Pantech to a main processing plant.
Mr Dann takes issue with Dr Carter’s statement: “One camel per 1000 acres – keep that in mind when talking about harvesting.”
“Camels roam in preferred areas, depending on seasonal conditions,” says Mr Dann.
“If they were one every 1000 acres it would be impossible to shoot them from helicopters as well.”
He says: “Once trap yards and infrastructure are in place, the cost [of harvesting a camel] would be $10 to $20 per head, not $75 as suggested by Dr Carter.
“That would include labour to shut the gates, move the trapped animals to another yard, feed them, until we’ve got enough of them to come and get a load.
“For $75 a head I could put them in a yard with helicopters.” 
Mr Dann disputes Dr Carter’s freight calculations, based on the DK-CRC reports.
Mr Dann says a figure of $135 a head is quoted for transport from Docker River to Alice Springs, and he rounds it up to $200, for 700 kilometers.
Then it is claimed the further transport to Darwin would cost $200 – although the distance is 1500 kms.
“Dr Carter is all over the place. I cannot follow him,” says Mr Dann.
Mr Dann says while ships to carry adult camels are scarce, small weaner camels could be carried on cattle ships.
“It would take two weeks handling to get them settled and eating hay and pellets.
“Young camels quieten down very quickly and are easy to handle.”
Mr Dann disputes the camel meat prices are too low for wild camels in remote locations to be commercially viable.
He says Territory Camel is selling at the following wholesale prices, per kilogram: Trim (that’s 90% visual lean meat, or 10% fat) at $4; sausage trim with 25% fat $2.50; fillet $20; Scotch fillet $12 (beef Scotch fillet is $17.90); porterhouse $12; rump $7.50; T-bone $6; topside $6.50; round $5.50; silverside $5.50.
Mr Dann says a big adult camel weighs about 300 kg live.
“Let’s say we buy it for $1 per kg carcass weight (Ausmeat trim) from whomever brings it into that abattoirs.
“That’s $300 – a pretty good price to the ‘grower,’ be it a pastoralist or an Aboriginal company.
“I can get 200 kg of meat from that animal.
“That means I paid $1.50 per kg of meat to the grower, and 90c per kg to kill, bone and process.
“Back-loading freight to Adelaide would be 10c to Adelaide, or 30c to Darwin.
“So the cost to me per kg is $2.60.”
At that rate the profit per animal would be about $200 on cryovact selected cuts, on the domestic market.
Frozen, bone-in boxed camel is contracted at $3 landed in Port Adelaide.
“This is bone-in, mind you,” says Mr Dann.
There is less work, and the profit is $150 per camel.
On top of that is the edible and inedible offal, providing some additional profit.
“It’s bloody good money, I tell you. Most abattoirs wouldn’t be making that on cattle,” says Mr Dann.
“Dr Carter claimed Asian people don’t like camel.
“In fact, the Asian people at the 2009 Restaurant Convention in Melbourne referred to our camel meat as tender and tasting very much like lamb.
“This was good, graded camel meat, low on cholesterol, Omega 3 and Omega 6, coming from arguably the cleanest deserts in the world.”
Mr Dann says his own experience isn’t alone in demonstrating the viability of the camel trade.
He says he’s been offered $1.90 per kg from the Caboolture (Queensland) meat works for a 250 to 300 kg carcass weight.
Using 275 kg as an average that would bring $522.50 per animal.
“Caboolture still has to kill, bone and process, costing 90c per kg, or $247.50 per animal, a total cost of $770 per animal.
“At that figure they haven’t made a profit yet, and of course they would not do this for no return,” says Mr Dann.
“This tells me two things: There is money in camels, and the multi species abattoir, processing from 150 to 200 camels a day, should be in Alice Springs.”
“The freight cost from the Pitjantjatjara Lands, for instance, to Caboolture is about $450 per head.
“Processing in Alice Springs we would save $300 a head in freight.”
Mr Dann says Queensland wants a camel meat industry.
“I was at a meeting last year and they’re very strong on it.
“Their department is right behind them. But they have very few camels.”
Queensland also wants young camels for breeders and weed eradication.
“We have the opportunity, once again, to truck thousands of weaner animals, so the transport cost would be minimised.”
He says Dr Carter appears to be defending the “$75 shot to rot mindset” of the DK-CRC.
“If my company, Territory Camels, were paid $75 a head to remove them from hotspots such as Docker River, this money would go into the upgrading of facilities, would process them, sell them as protein much needed world wide, and provide employment.
“DK-CRC say they want to support a camel industry, but this is very hard to believe.
“At the meeting on March 18, 2010, not one industry person was invited, even though they are the doers in killing camels for food at the moment,” says Mr Dann.
He says people such as Ivan Coulter, from Peterborogh, SA, Caboolture’s Mike Eathorn and, “without patting myself on the back,” he himself were not invited.
Mr Dann says he was asked by Charles Darwin University to speak at a forum in Alice Springs last year.
But he says he was told this had been “scuttled” by DK-CRC.
“One must be wondering if they are fair dinkum.”
Enquiries from regions requiring halal meat (killed in compliance with Muslim customs), including Sudan, are “very encouraging.
“We have done the hard yards,” says Mr Dann.
“The camel industry is now where the goat industry was 15 years ago.
“The goats were considered as pests, to be shot with no value.
“Now they have a very important part to play to make farming more viable. Export of goat meat world wide continues to increase.”
Camels would supplement the production of Central Australian beef “which is some of the cleanest and greenest beef in the world because of the low rainfall, parasites cannot flourish here”.
Mr Dann recounts an anecdote highlighting the growing acceptance of camel meat.
He was asked to supply meat for lunch during a seminar in Alice Springs about Santa Gertrudis cattle last year.
“We sent in some camel T-bones and put on the box ‘Yearling Amburla Brahmans’.
“So they had their field day, they had lunch, everything was eaten, and there was a lot of raving on.
“At the end of the day the main Santa Gertrudis cattle expert, Alastair Bassingthwaite, if I remember correctly, said the meat we had here today was second to none, especially the Brahman from Amburla.
“And at that moment, Sarah Debney, from Territory Camel, said: ‘That was camel.’
“It went straight over his head and then he said, I beg your pardon?”
A business plan is under way to upgrade of Wamboden to Tier One standard, allowing export to 29 countries.
Mr Dann says this requires an expansion to handle at least 100 camels a day, bigger freezers, a new amenity block to cater for more staff and a by-products plant.
But the growth of the industry is facing a major obstacle created by people like DK-CRC, says Mr Dann.
“The big problem is, people think they can get camels for nothing, because we’re going ‘round shooting them and leaving them to rot in the desert.”

Litter litigation.

An upbeat announcement that the Territory is progressing its container deposit legislation (CDL) has come as liquor traders are taking legal action against the Alice Springs Town Council over the proposed “liquor litter” charge, set for hearing in Darwin on September 6.
The Alice News has been told by a reliable source that an affidavit filed by Mayor Damien Ryan in this matter acknowledges the political motives behind this initiative by council.
The affidavit says in part: “The context related to the declaration of the charge has also had a political dimension as the Respondent [the Town Council] has sought the assistance of government funding unsuccessfully as an alternative method of raising income to enable the Respondent to meet its core services in a balanced and fair manner with respect to its limited financial resources, in an attempt to better serve its ratepayers entitlements.”
There never was doubt in local minds that the Town Council forced the government’s hand on CDL with its litter initiatives.
They were underway early last year when the Territory Government announced its “in principal” commitment to a “Cash For Containers” scheme of its own, adopting even the name that council was giving to its recycling initiative.  
The Alice News asked the council to comment. CEO Rex Mooney replied:
“To the extent that [this] article suggests that Council imposed the liquor litter charge for no other reason than to force the government into a corner on CDL, it misrepresents the highly selective excerpt of the Mayor’s affidavit cited. Mayor Ryan’s point is that Council used the Local Government Act to raise the charge only after unsuccessfully seeking alternative assistance from Government. Its motive was to directly address a serious community concern in circumstances where Government would take no action.”
Now CDL looks set for adoption by the Government, according to a media release by Minister for the Environment Karl Hampton last week.
It had Mr Hampton citing the “significant environmental and social benefits “ of CDL for the Territory, following a visit to Adelaide where he inspected container recycling factories. 
Assessing options for his government’s introduction of CDL, he pointed to the 600 million containers recycled in South Australia every year.
“That’s more than half a billion plastic or carton containers that don’t end up in waterways, parks or landfill,” said Mr Hampton in the release.
“As well as the environmental benefits, CDL is a substantial commercial boost employing more than 1000 people and worth almost $100m a year to the SA economy.
“Much of this income flows to community groups like schools and clubs; for example, the SA Scouts turn over $18million a year from their members’ recycling efforts.”
The release said a Territory CDL model is being developed for implementation in 2011.
If that comes to pass, it will be a feather in the Town Council’s cap, although Mr Hampton failed to acknowledge their efforts in the release, citing instead a trial at last year’s Freds Pass Show in rural Darwin where more than 12,000 containers were collected in just one day.
Alice’s Cash For Containers scheme is expected to have removed seven million aluminium cans from the litter stream this financial year and council will be again allocating funds to continue it in the coming financial year.
As well 600,000 glass containers have been stock-piled and will be ready for the glass crusher (paid for with a grant from the NT Government) when it starts operating next month.
The crushed product will be mixed with sand for use in concrete for council’s footpath program and other uses are being explored. 
With the liquor litter charge council was also attempting to raise money from ratepayers owning property leased by takeaway liquor licensees.
The rationale was to offset council’s costs in picking up liquor-related litter in public areas.
Council spends some $630,000 a year on removing away-from-home litter, with liquor containers, especially green VB cans, making up half of the tonnage.  Council hoped to raise around $350,000 from the new charge under Section 157 of the Local Government Act.  
The court action over the controversial proposal may well cost ratepayers a pretty penny, which won’t be popular, but nobody will be able to blame council for not trying to address the litter issue, a major irritant for locals and undoubtedly detrimental to the town’s image. 

Ryder case concludes. KIERAN FINNANE with several reports:

Ryder death caused by a ‘relatively minor’ assault

“Ordinarily, it is not expected that a victim of an assault causing such relatively minor injuries will die.” 
So said Chief Justice Brian Martin, in his detailed, carefully worded remarks as last Friday he sentenced five young men to terms in gaol for the manslaughter of Kwementyaye Ryder.
Describing the attack as “cowardly and violent”, he also said it “needs to be understood clearly” that the attack “did not cause any fractures and did not cause any major external injury”.
Tragically though Mr Ryder died.
The weeping of his mother as the five offenders were led into court and the Chief Justice began to speak was an all too painful reminder of that fact.
The “critical events” that led to Mr Ryder’s death took place in “the space of a few seconds”, no more than five.
The Crown facts about these events are that the deceased fell as he ran away; Timothy Hird kicked him in the head once, Glen Swain twice, and Joshua Spears struck him with a bottle (that did not break).
The courtroom was packed by Mr Ryder’s family and friends, those of the offenders and the media, both local and interstate.
Unusually, filming and photography of the Chief Justice was allowed, in part no doubt because of his concern to give the community as much access as possible to his summing up of the facts and his judgment of them. His task was “unenviable” he said and presented “particularly difficult problems for a sentencing Judge”.
Addressing the offenders he started: “What began as an unremarkable night in Alice Springs when the group of you set out to have a social night and, elsewhere, the deceased did likewise, ended the next morning with a tragedy from which there are no winners. 
“First and most importantly, a life has been taken needlessly. The unlawful killing of the 33 year old male victim is a great tragedy and leaves a legacy of grief, anger and distress among family and friends. 
“In addition, a violent death through the commission of a crime diminishes our wider community. 
“Imprisonment of the offenders cannot change these consequences. Imprisonment will punish and express the strong disapproval of the community, but it cannot compensate for the loss of a life.”
If Mr Ryder had not died, the offenders “would have been guilty of an assault that caused relatively minor harm”, said the Chief Justice.
The cause of Mr Ryder’s death was bleeding from a blood vessel at the base of the brain, most likely the result of the bursting of a pre-existing aneurism.
The precise cause of the burst aneurism has not been determined, but it is “accepted” that the conduct of the five caused it.
This is how the Chief Justice explained their responsibility: “The group of you threatened [him] and chased him with the intention of assaulting him.
“In fear he ran away and fell over.
“The aneurism might have burst when he ran and fell and, therefore, you are responsible because your threatening conduct caused him to run and fall.
“Alternatively, the aneurism might have burst when blows were struck to his head.
“If the blows were the cause, your physical attack upon the deceased directly caused his death, but it is impossible to know whether it was the blows or the fall.
“In one way or another, all of you were involved in the threat, chase and violence inflicted upon the deceased. 
“In this way you are all responsible for the dreadful consequences of your unlawful conduct, notwithstanding that the victim was susceptible to suffering dire consequences as a result of relatively minor trauma.”
The Chief Justice found that none of the five “thought about the possibility of death occurring” and none “intended to cause serious harm”.
Thus the manslaughter of which they’ve been found guilty was not reckless, the more serious kind, but negligent – “a great falling short of the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the circumstances”.
While each offender admitted responsibility for the death in the sense of “aiding and abetting” the others in the attack, their physical roles and “moral culpability” were not identical which is why they received varying sentences.
As the long judgment wore on the Ryder family became more and more distressed, crying and with heads in their hands. Mr Ryder’s mother had left, weeping, no longer able to bear hearing any more details about her son’s death.
A collective dread seemed to settle on the court as the Chief Justice dealt with each of the five.
However merited some degree of punishment, and without forgetting that Mr Ryder lost his life, who could not regret the extremely difficult, if not wasted months and years to come in the lives of these young men whom the Chief Justice found to be “of otherwise good character and with good futures”?
Scott Doody was sentenced to four years from the date of his arrest on August 1 last year, but the sentence will be suspended after 12 months.
Having already served almost nine, Mr Doody will be released in just over three months’ time. He will be banned from drinking alcohol for two years from the date of his release and from using or consuming any illicit drug for three years. The operative period of the suspension is three years, which means that if Mr Doody breaches these conditions over the three years following release he will return to gaol.
The Chief Justice accepted Mr Doody’s lesser role in the physical assault and lesser moral culpability.
For the manslaughter, he found that there was no significant difference in moral culpability between Timothy Hird, Joshua Spears and Glen Swain, and also Anton Kloeden who, although he remained in the car, had “set the events in train”.
He imposed a sentence of six years on Mr Hird, Mr Kloeden and Mr Spears, back-dated to their arrest, and fixed a non-parole period of four years. Their earliest release will thus be in about three years and three months.
Mr Swain received a slightly lighter sentence, allowing for his cooperation with police as well as his plea  – five years and six months, with a non-parole period of three years and six months.
His earliest release will thus be in two years and nine months.
Mr Kloeden was also sentenced for recklessly endangering a life in the separate incident in the riverbed. He will serve five months for this count concurrently (at the same time) with the sentence for manslaughter.
He will also be disqualified from driving for three years from the date of release.
All five received reduction in their sentences because of their pleas.
The Chief Justice found that all five were  “genuinely sorry” for what they had done and its devastating consequences and that each has “excellent prospects of rehabilitation and is unlikely to offend again”.
Outside the court, the anguish of those closely associated with these events since last year overflowed. Families and friends wept and held one another, while others lingered, stunned by the sheer misery of it all.

Racist ‘at least to some degree’

Chief Justice Brian Martin’s findings on the “racial overtones” of the killing of Kwementyaye Ryder stop well short of the “race crime” treatment of the story by many media.
It is not skirting the difficult issues of racist behaviour and racial tensions and divisions in our community to bear in mind the limits of what he actually said.
He accepted that the five offenders had grown up in close contact with Aboriginal people and had always got on well with them.
But on this occasion, their “normal attitude and standards of behaviour were pushed into the background”.
On the basis of the events in the riverbed, which had occurred before the attack on Mr Ryder, he concluded that inside the Hilux driven by Anton Kloeden “there was a negative attitude towards, and an atmosphere of antagonism towards, Aboriginal people”.
He found that the atmosphere of antagonism had been created primarily by Mr Kloeden, who had driven at two separate camps of Aboriginal people, with one camp being targeted twice.
This behaviour was more than “ordinary lairising and hooning”, he said.
Adressing Mr Kloeden in particular, he said: “I have no doubt that if white people had been camped in the riverbed in tents, you would not have set out to harass them in the aggressive manner in which you set out to harass the Aboriginal people who were camped there.”
Abuse was yelled, and an imitation pistol discharged by Timothy Hird. This contributed to the aggressive atmosphere, said the Chief Justice, and it was the intention of at least these two men “to scare the Aboriginal occupants of the northern camp”.
Having crossed the causeway, the offenders were then confronted by Mr Ryder standing on the roadway holding a bottle, which he smashed against the side of the vehicle.
The Chief Justice found that it is “relevant that it was an Aboriginal person who threw the bottle”.
In the plea hearing he had tried to explore whether the offenders would have reacted in the same way to a drunk young white man throwing a bottle at their car.
In his sentencing remarks he concluded that they would have “reacted angrily and sought to confront him” but perhaps not as vehemently.
He found it “difficult to avoid the conclusion that the nature and rapidity of the reaction, and the actions of some offenders in kicking and striking the deceased while he was on the ground were influenced, at least to some degree, by the fact that the deceased was an Aboriginal person”. 
Said Chief Justice Martin: “Ultimately it remains unknown whether the attack would have gone as far as it did if the deceased had been a drunk white person. 
“I doubt that any of the offenders now know the answer to that question.”
In his remarks on general deterrence – that is, the way that penalties aim to discourage others from committing similar crimes – the Chief Justice focussed entirely on crimes of violence.
Said the Chief Justice: “Society as a whole must both challenge and work to eradicate the underlying attitude that resorting to violence is acceptable in order to solve differences and to exact retribution for a perceived insult or wrong.  
“This case stands as a stark warning to all members of our community as to how easily tragic consequences can follow from drunken violence.  As has been demonstrated so often in the Criminal Court, relatively minor violence can kill ... It is a message that needs to go out loudly and clearly to all members of our community.”

Ryder family satisfied with court outcome

The family of Kwementyaye Ryder expressed satisfaction with the outcome of last Friday’s sentencing decisions by Chief Justice Brian Martin.
Mr Ryder’s mother, Theresa, had left the courtroom, crying and angry, and making the comment for all to hear that while the offenders may be “good on the outside, inside there is racism straight out”.
Outside the court, after receiving apologies and comfort from the mothers of two of the offenders, she spoke to reporters.
She said she had left because she “couldn’t stand being in the courtroom ... hearing about what happened, the story being read out about my son laying on the ground and being kicked”.
Her departure came after CJ Martin began to speak about the penalties for manslaughter.
He had pointed out that life imprisonment, which she had called for in her victim impact statement, is reserved for cases in the worst category of manslaughter and said, “this crime does not fit that category”.
The court had already heard about the personal circumstances of the young men, who in all cases were deemed to be of underlying good character and highly unlikely to re-offend.
Mrs Ryder said about her angry comment: “For a mother like me, the feeling inside me, I’d say anything.”
She said she told the offenders’ parents who approached her that “I appreciate them” for apologising.
“It sort of makes me feel satisfied. I’ve been waiting for that time, for the mothers, parents and that to come up and apolgise and say sorry to me. Because I never ever blamed the families. They were at home not knowing what was happening, like me.”
Flanked by her relative Karen Liddle, her daughter and several other family members, Mrs Ryder also spoke of her son: “There was no story read out about my son. He was a local himself, he was born here in Alice Springs, went to school here, made friends with a lot of white kids.
“There’s still a lot of friends out there that miss my son as a good mate. And he also was a hard-working man.
“He was a good young bloke, he never got in trouble with the police in his life before. That’s why I miss him so much, he was the happiest in the family, he brightened up everything for the family.” 
She said “the pain will go on in me for as long as I live”.
Mrs Liddle also spoke.
“Myself personally I feel sad for everybody, for us, for our loss and also for those [the offenders’] families too, for how foolish those boys were in what they did.
“They ruined their lives, their families’ lives, our lives, and [now they should] just stand up and be men and do their time, for their sake and their families’ sake.
“We’ve got a lot of family support and we’re just happy with the outcome today.”
Mrs Liddle said that the community can learn from these events: “We all live in this community as Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and long-term residents must stick together.
“We’re satisfied with what has happened. They are only young men and their sentences, they are going to spend a long time in there.”
Asked if the offender Scott Doody had been let off lightly, Mrs Liddle said; “We can understand the law and how it works and circumstances made it that he didn’t participate as much as the other blokes. We’ve got to respect the law.”

COMMENT: No need for a beat-up.

The Alice Springs News hopes that the community will stick to the facts of the case in the many discussions that will flow from it.
The need for people in Alice Springs and other Australians to understand the causes and consequences of this crime, including its possible racist elements, is not assisted by the kinds of inaccuracies and distortions that we have heard in conversation around town and to which, for example, The Australian’s reporter treated the nation in his article last weekend (“Mother’s tears for a stolen son”, Lex Hall, April 24-25).
The reporter did not need a beat-up to drive home the seriousness of the case – the facts are surely enough.
There was no evidence in the court of a “brutal assault”, as he described.
There was no evidence of the offender Glen Swain being “consumed by hate”, nor of him being able to think “only of revenge”.
These were a novelist’s touches as was the use of the phrase “trainee pest exterminator” to identify Mr Swain; “trainee pest controller” was the term used in court.
The suggestion that Mr Swain “lined up Ryder” and that his kicks were “vicious”, that Joshua Spears “crashed” a cider bottle on Mr Ryder’s head and that the blow was “savage” were all in the same vein.
The suggestion that Mr Spears’ blow “probably triggered the brain aneurism that caused his death” was simply inaccurate.
The reporter seems to have misunderstood the Chief Justice’s comment that Mr Spears’ blow was the possible cause – though he could not be satisfied of this beyond reasonable doubt – of a 3cm laceration, which penetrated only the soft tissue.
Such a misunderstanding is hard to excuse – the Chief Justice repeatedly stated the facts around the “relatively minor” injuries sustained by Mr Ryder and the reporter had a transcript of the sentencing remarks to refer to.
The reporter, apparently anxious to convince his readers that this was a race crime, went well beyond the careful reflections and conclusions of the Chief Justice on this aspect of the case (see report this issue).
The full transcript of the Chief Justice’s sentencing remarks can be found on our website  – COMMENT

Give ‘em a hand! By ERWIN CHLANDA.

“You don’t get muscles like these by sitting on your hands,” says Dale Elliott, showing off his in Todd Mall.
In fact he’s doing quite a bit of sitting – in a three-wheeled, hand-driven cycle in which he, in the company of fellow paraplegic Andreas Dagelet, have just “manualled” from Melbourne to Alice.
The two ex-pilots don’t dwell on why they can’t use their legs (Dale had a motorbike accident seven years ago and Andy fell out of a tree 15 years ago).
“Life isn’t bad. It’s awesome,” says Dale. “You grab life and do what you can.”
The destination for their road trip is Darwin.
They do around 100 kms a day, and have done as much as 163 kms.
They are raising money for children with club feet in Kenya where an operation costing $20,000 in Australia is performed for $200.
They want to raise $200,000 to help 1000 children do what they can’t: walk.
For Andreas the trip isn’t a novelty: he’s been all the way around Australia in a hand cycle, 16,000 kms, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
Dale is also the first paraplegic to skydive solo in Australia and is the second to do it in the world.
Not surprisingly, both are motivational speakers in their day jobs.
Tonight (Thursday) they will appear at the Casino Samphire restaurant (book with Dave Ives at, phone 8953 7746).
They say in Alice they had generous support from the Stuart Caravan Park and the RSL.
More at

Artist takes us into the landscape.

Alice artist Sarah Brown pays homage to the Central Australian landscape, and in particular to its much admired glow as the sun sets, in her solo show at Peta Appleyard Gallery, which opened last Friday.
I say homage not just because the landscape and its rich low light is a major preoccupation.
It’s also a sense that she creates by her strong emphasis on the foreground, whether it’s spinifex marching rhythmically up a rise or sun dancing on the surface of a receding waterway. The larger forms of ranges, hills and gorges appear at a distance, almost unreachable.
We feel the artist is right there, in that space between us and the picture plane, as if ready to prostrate herself before all this glory.
This is the case too with her trees: she’s close enough to put her arms around the trunk and shows us the view,  looking up into their lacework of branches.
Her evocations clearly strike a chord with viewers: 29 out of 38 works had sold by Saturday.
My eye was drawn to a small work on paper, Water Lily, where Brown is doing something a bit different – still responding to the beauty and patterning of natural forms, but flattening them, heading towards abstraction. I’d like to see her go further in this vein.
There’s a chance that she will as she’s a prolific painter, finding in the work an essential antidote to the demands of her job as the manager of Western Desert Dialysis.
Show ends May 14.

Bernie Kilgariff: A power of good. By ALEX NELSON.

Bernie Kilgariff’s state funeral held at the Catholic Church in Alice Springs last Thursday was a special moment in the Northern Territory’s history, a celebration of the astonishing lifetime of a remarkable man.
A telling moment occurred when I encountered Father Adrian Meaney in the presbytery, former parish priest in the Alice, who had been a concelebrant of the NT’s first state funeral almost exactly 30 years ago, held in the same church in honour of Colonel Lionel Rose.
Both state funerals were offered by chief ministers named Paul – Paul Everingham in May 1980, and now Paul Henderson in April 2010. This coincidence alludes to important links between Rosey and Bernie, from a time now portrayed as one of struggle but was in fact a golden age of great achievement.
Much more requires to be revealed of that history but now is not the time – this is Bernie’s time.
As in his life, so it seemed in his passing – the funeral was held on a glorious Autumn day, the warmth pervading us all but never overbearing. A few scattered clouds maintained a respectful distance on the western horizon.
The hearse with police escort arrived, there was a smoking ceremony by senior Arrernte women, and a guard of honour by the St John Ambulance.
The coffin was lifted by pallbearers – Bernie’s sons and a son-in-law – preceded by a dozen priests and bishops, and was carried to the front of the church. The parish choir and Arafura Ensemble performed magnificently the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’.
The funeral was a traditional Catholic requiem mass, lasting almost three hours. The congregation, a spectrum of society come to honour Bernie, remained enthralled throughout.
The liturgy commenced – the First and Second Readings by Claire and Fran Kilgariff respectively, the Gospel by Fr Robert Egar, a family member. The Homily was given by Bishop Eugene Hurley, focussing on the centrality of Christian faith and belief in Bernie’s life – it provided the bedrock of certainty that governed all he did and was.
He spoke of Bernie’s 62 year marriage with his wife Aileen – it is impossible to remember Bernie without her – and of the primary importance of their large family, 11 offspring in all.
This was apt, to focus first on Bernie’s faith and family. As Bernie lived his life inspired by Christ, it is fair to claim Aileen was the rock upon which he built that life; and the children, like the Apostles, carry on that inspiration in the myriad paths of their own lives. How fascinating to note the dominant careers of the grown family – the arts, business, pastoralism, tourism, public service and office – all reflecting key aspects of Bernie’s achievements.
Following the ceremony of the Eucharist and Communion, the eulogies began, six in all. The first was by son Michael Kilgariff; then Chief Minister Paul Henderson, Opposition Leader Terry Mills, retired Senate President Margaret Reid, Deputy to the NT Administrator Pat Miller, finally former Administrator Ted Egan – a family friend.
All provided insights into Bernie’s extraordinary life, his character and achievements, their accolades and tributes pouring down like rain drumming on a tin roof, too much to describe here, but prompting the question, how did such a gentle man fit so much into one life?
He was an honest and highly ethical politician, a man of loyalty and dedication but whose principles were never betrayed.
He saw life’s opportunities as tram journeys, hopping on to see where one took him but knowing when it was time to get off one and board the next.
He pioneered and succeeded in farming, tourism, public service, politics, pastoralism, and voluntary service – and, it might be noted, he never had a university degree.
He was a soldier who saw active service in the jungles of New Guinea; typically of war veterans he spoke little about this to his family but on the rare occasions he did, revealed his complete dedication to Australia and an abhorrence of war. Later he was the first to organize the intake of refugees from war torn Vietnam – rather a contrast to the way we treat ‘boat people’ now.
Bernie was appointed the first commissioner of public housing in the NT, and it was pointedly observed the scheme has never been better run than it was under him.
Ted Egan described Bernie as the greatest Territorian achiever, ever. I half imagined hearing Bernie’s gracious chuckle, mildly protesting: “Goodness, oh no, I don’t agree – there are so many others. But thank you for the compliment”.
We remember and honour the exemplary life of this extraordinary man. Bernie Kilgariff’s legacy sets an example for us all, his memory is an inspiration.
Most importantly he lived his life for others, none more important the children who take their turn after us – like those who were at play during lunch break at the OLSH primary school next to the church. Their laughter and excited noise gently intruded during the eulogy by Pat Miller, herself a child of this town. Bernie attended the same school (though much changed) as a boy, as did all his children.
When the funeral was finally over, it was like the time after a passing storm – it had done the whole country around a power of good, life felt revitalized and flourishing.

Beware the uncultured. By POP VULTURE with CAMERON BUCKLEY.

It is time for you, fair citizen, to harvest the darling buds of May.
I speak of course of the second Wide Open Space music, arts and desert culture gathering this weekend.
Boosting on the version we saw last year, it is going from strength to magnificent strength.
It’s bigger, longer and uncut. And for the people that let it drift by the first time (sadly there were too many of you), welcome to the Central Australian musical layer cake.
If you fail upon your mission to attend, don’t worry, people won’t assume you’re out of touch with contemporary music ... to your face. You will be the butt of many water cooler jokes aimed squarely at the uncultured.
And when they hear that you weren’t there and they were, they may make it sound like you just missed the chanced to witness the second coming.
But hey! There is always next year, that gives you approximately 365 days to think up some other lame excuse not to wanna hang with the cool kids.
So go! Go! Go! Go!Go!
Go! If you have never been before.
Go! For the sake of going.
Go! Cos’ there is nothing better to do.
Go! Cos’ there couldn’t possibly be anything better to do.
Go! If you’re partial to the Abracadabra  of musical consumption.
As for the line up, the militia of sounds that await you, there are posters and flyers all over the place! Time is something in debt but to put this into perspective: imagine the Barons of Tang playing to the highlighted backdrop of the East MacDonnell ranges.
Monkey Marc on the coat tails of his debut release.
Neuron Compost, Saritah, Myxstic Beats, TD Shagga, Opiuo, Electrode, Agency Dub Collective ... the list rolls on.
If you don’t know who these people are, or more importantly what they sound like, it’s all the more reason for you to go. Trust me, giving even a short description of every act that is poised to perform is opening too great a can of worms.
Cos’ you’ll never, never know if you never, never, you know.  And the 85 km stretch of road between you and them is just another bass clef to play along.
The Dub Saloon doors are oiled and swinging open for your patronage,  this is an invitation  to feed your head. A brain cell banquet for the edifying. It’s feast time, and you’re sitting at the head of the table and you don’t even need shoes! Or a napkin for that matter – what spills down your front can only be recycled later.
The Wide Open Space flying saucer lands on the April 30, returning to orbit on May 2. Tickets are pre-sale at $90. If you wait until you get there you need to cough up $120.
And cough it up you will!
If you need any further encouragement go to 

LETTERS: Unlicenced hawkers damage Todd Mall trade.

Sir – I sent the following letter to the Alice Springs Town Council.
I own an art gallery on the Todd Mall and am constantly losing business to street sellers.
They are Aboriginal people selling art right outside my shopfront and general proximity.
I pay rates to have my shop here and I expect my elected Council to protect my right to have a successful business without the added competition of street sellers, who pay no wages, no rates, no GST, nor taxes.
While they sit in Todd Mall selling their paintings they are also collecting so-called sitdown money from the government as well.
Why are these street sellers not policed? Instead they are proliferating! 
Sometimes there are 20 to 30 sellers on the mall, selling three to four or more paintings each. 
Some have mini shops set up in front of galleries and the lawns in Todd Mall.
They also leave their rubbish on the Mall for the shop keepers and the council to clean up. 
It’s not only the street sellers, but it just encourages in general drinking in every dark corner they can find close to Todd Mall.
If I were to sell paintings in the street, I would be fined and prosecuted.
Why do I have one rule and Aboriginal people have another? 
The council’s lack of action on this matter means they don’t care about shop owners or what happens in the main street of Alice Springs.
I have been in the same gallery for over 20 years. Not once has a council representative called on me to discuss if there is anything the council could do to improve business and the general situation in Todd Mall.
It is the jewel of Alice Springs, it was the street where tourists used to walk after dark.
Now they are told by tour operators not to walk in the main street after dark as it is too dangerous.
We have windows broken regularly. Screaming and fighting takes place almost every night in Todd Mall and in front of my shop and on many occasions I observe the women lift their skirts and urinate on the footpath as happened tonight (April 12, 2010 at 21.15 pm) next to my window at 87 Todd Mall.
Is this what the council wants for Alice Springs?
Yes, I did call the Alice Springs police, only to be greeted by an answering machine informing me the station is closed and to call  000.
So I called 000 and explained to the nice lady in Darwin the situation.
She relayed the information somehow to Alice Springs police, so I waited and waited for the police to arrive and eventually I fell asleep in the chair. 
On the same night across the Mall the souvenir shop had their glass door smashed.
Who is responsible for the safety of us all in the Mall? The police, the council? Or doesn’t anyone care?
Is this the image you like the tourist to remember Alice Springs by and tell their friends? This is almost a daily occurrence.
In commercial terms, this is a matter of life and death.
I am urgently waiting for your response. Please do not lose this letter in your system.
Michael Hollow
Aboriginal Desert Art Gallery, Alice Springs

Imparja – Aboriginal in name only?

Sir – I agree with what Eric Sultan states in his letter of April 22, regarding Imparja.
Why change something that meant something to everyone to something that means something to only a few people?
Yes we have to ‘piggyback’ off of Channel 9, but we were unique in our concept, which has now been lost in a sea of whys.
The red box to me looks like a child’s toy that has been discarded or in the way of everything. That symbol would be more appropriate in a children’s programme surely.
Imparja is my choice of channel, when I want a change from Austar, except news time.
Has Imparja become Aboriginal in name only? I certainly hope not, but only the future will tell us if that becomes so.
I can hardly wait for the next instalment, regarding Imparja.
Aaron Perkins-Kemp-Berger
Alice Springs

Camels a goer

Sir – Just wanted to congratulate you on the very positive lead story ‘Camel trade a goer’ in last week’s edition of the Alice Springs News. Ian Conway is certainly another great example of ‘the legendary Territorian’ who is driven by compassion, humanity, humility and success. 
This is precisely the type of content that all the local media should be branding so that the projected view of Alice Springs will be positive to those of us who choose to live here and others who may wish to visit.
If we are to ‘turn around the way things are’ then we have to ‘turn around the way we do things’.
It’s all about perception. It’s about being a survivor, not a victim; being independent, not dependent; living in hope, not fear. Being positive creates positive energy that flows freely into the community and influences others positively. It really is amazing how all that stuff makes you feel.
Whilst acknowledging that there are clear social issues that impact negatively on the lives of people, animals and the environment etc, the focus by media on them does little to fix them.
In fact, I believe, it has the opposite effect.
It inflames them, bringing those who offend publicity and a sense of ‘achievement’. Metaphorically, if you keep picking at a wound  it will not heal – simply fester and grow worse.
This is not ‘rocket science’ – simply clear, practical and evident.
That we have evolved into a society over the past 50 years or so where ‘conflict sells newspapers’ is a sad indictment of where we have collectively taken the humanity journey.
But, while we’re still breathing (surviving), there is hope for the present and the future to be different.
I believe that the media, in all its forms, should work hand in hand with the community to develop a focus on tangible solutions rather than simply probing problems.
Thanks again for introducing us all to more of Ian’s wonderful achievements and visions for the future. He is indeed a great asset to humanity and Central Australia. Looking forward to reading Gary Dann’s story this week.
Phil Walcott
Alice Springs

Organisation of deluded two

G’Day Ed – I am genuinely pleased that there are people out there who are serious about trying to develop a camel industry.
I hope they succeed.
They at least do not go on with blather about ‘hundreds of millions of dollars lost’ etc.
However, I would like to take issue with one aspect of your front page article [in last week’s issue].
A ‘Facebook’ campaign is evidence of nothing other than perhaps abysmal ignorance.
The ‘page’ on your front page is from an organisation called ‘Act Now For Animals’ started in 2008.
It seems to represent two people.
They are upset about kangaroo harvesting, and are promoting veganism.
In the event that there are more than these two deluded individuals concerned about aerial camel culling, I offer them a couple of alternative scenarios:–
• Camel numbers continue to increase, with the degradation of millions of square kilometres of semi-arid Australia, accompanied by the extinction of many species of indigenous plants and animals.
• Dry seasons return, accompanied by the slow, painful, lingering death of thousands of camels from hunger and thirst.
• The overseas live camel trade takes off, with large, wild, desert animals being mustered, loaded on to trucks for thousand kilometre long journeys along dusty bush tracks, then loaded into ‘floating cages’ for weeks’ long trips to the Middle East where animal welfare considerations are substantially less then here.
I look forward to further information from the industry pioneers.
Charlie Carter
Alice Springs

High security facility not in rural residential area
Sir – A pink sign used by Territorians [when they want] to build garden sheds in their back yards was the only warning Northern Territory families had that a  “High-Risk Facility” is being proposed to be built on their doorsteps!
In both Darwin (Bees Creek) and Alice Springs (Cotterill Rd, Ross Highway) a “16 Bed, Secure Facility” that will accommodate “involuntary clients” that exhibit “high risk behaviour” to themselves and to the community has been proposed without any consultation with the local residents.
The facility which has “state of the art security”, “anti-climb fences” and “2.4 metre perimeter fences” is vaguely described as “Shared Accommodation” as a poor attempt to get it through Planning Authorities unopposed.
It was not until Adrian Renzi of Radio Station 8HA alerted the Alice Springs  public of the proposal, that the Department of Health and Families were forced into sending out a media release. Jenny Cleary, Executive Director of Health Services, DHF, speaking to ABC Radio host, Rohan Barwick, seriously but with some  “frivolity”, suggested that the proposed  facility’s fencing would be like that of most properties: “It will have a 2.4 metre chain mesh fence as you and I have”!
Jenny also clearly stated it would not have razor wire fences, only “anti-climb fences” and “state of the art security” so the public “will feel safe”!
Darwin and local Alice Springs residents strongly believe the NT Government have failed in their duty of care by failing to consult with them on such an important issue as this proposal in such close proximity to residential  housing, which at the very least would result in “loss of amenity”  and the right of NT families to feel safe and protected in their own homes.
The Health Minister, Kon Vatskalis, thus far, has failed to comment.
Darwin and Alice Springs residents have united to fight these proposed developments.
Rick Hall
Alice Springs

Sir – Firstly allow me to say that I am not opposed to the improved care for people with disabilities. The issue here is where the the facility is to be located. 
Cotterill Rd is currently occupied by hard working people that chose to live in a rural setting for a number of reasons but foremostly for the peace and quiet of a rural livestyle. All have paid the costs to aquire that comfort.
I have spoken to my direct neighbours and all are in a state of disbelief that the government could change the encumbrances on these blocks of land to suit their objectives without so much as consultation with the residents that live in the vicinity.
The Government has copious amounts of land where this facility could have been located – Percy Crt, CAAPU, the Crown land further up at Amoonguna, the prison just to name a few, but instead they propose to put it in a domestic rural setting such as Cotterill Rd.
We are in the process of lodging objections to this proposal and have organised a meeting for all those people opposed not to the facility but to its proposed location.
Rick Higgs
Alice Springs

ADAM'S APPLE: Coming up for air.

Every now and then you’ll get to talk to a teenager.
It’s a rare experience. For the most part if a teen isn’t a ball of brooding melancholy foetally prone on a chair in their bedroom, they are plugged into another dimension, self-excluded from the world between two white earphones.
But just as the majestic blue whale has to surface for air from time to time, so do teenage kids.
My other job is to know what music teenage kids like. So every now and then I like to venture into the mind of the teen and ask them a couple of questions. This task can be dangerous. Not physically but it certainly can be a mental danger.
Such an occasion happened recently. A teenage lad in a moment of clarity removed the ear buds from his i-life support system and for just a breath of time, entered reality.
I asked him what was on his personal digital music machine and amidst a barrage of “like” and “random” and “totally” he explained his musical taste. 
He said he had about 4000 tunes on his machine and several remixes of the particular tune he had been enjoying.
“How many?” I asked.
“About 40,” he answered nonchalantly.
Now I’m not lining up for the pension anytime soon. It wasn’t eons since I too was a brooding mass of angst, but things have changed since I was a teen.
When I was a teen, vinyl was around but on its way out. I owned some vinyl records but most of my music was contained in cassettes.
Cassettes had their advantages. They were portable. You could play them in the car. They were cheap. 
However they could best be described as a perfect combination of poor sound quality and a complete lack of durability.
Cassettes were awful. The cassette player would chew them. The sun would melt them. The cover art had to be miniaturised in order to fit into the case that would invariably snap, crack or otherwise perish. They were crap.
From the minute cassettes gained the edge over the vinyl record they were asking to be made obsolete.
The technological revolution has been swift and all encompassing. It has changed every last part of our lives and it has done it bloodlessly.
When I was a kid, GPS was a school for rich kids, a virus needed a doctor, a net was used to catch fish  and if you spent time in the web you were laughed at for doing the “get it off me, get it off me!” dance.
Teens have access to technology we couldn’t have imagined. iPods and MP3s and computers with enough memory to save entire video stores are all readily accessible.
We are so keen to accept new technology that often we buy the latest gadget for no other reason than to own the latest gadget.
The latest must have is the Apple iPad. It is known as a tablet. Not a laptop, not a pocketbook. It is, if you can believe the hype, the way of the future, the usurper of the laptop computer.
The cassette of the tablet world must certainly be the Amazon Kindle. Released by Amazon, the Kindle sold at an amazing rate. Primarily to people that love a new bit of kit.
I have to say that the Amazon Kindle could well be the single most useless thing on the planet. More useless than the human appendix, the tag on a mattress and a brochure called “10 things to do in Elliott.”
The Kindle is an electronic device to read books. You buy the book from and you can read the book just like, well a book.  In the US, the Kindle sold for $260.  It’s about the same size as a book and the folk at Amazon sell it with the catchy hook: “Reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight”.
To many, this sounds like a great new push forward for humanity. What it is, is a $300 way of reading a $24 book. And you can’t lend your friends the book without giving them your Kindle.
I wonder what will replace the iPhone? I wonder what will make the iPad look like yesterday’s hero? I wonder if it will be worth buying?

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