July 8, 2010. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Aboriginal interests buy Kmart complex for $16m.

Local company Yeperenye Pty Ltd has made a major acquisition, purchasing the Kmart Shopping Centre in Alice Springs for $15,850,000.
The titles, three in all – comprising the main carpark, the small carpark fronting Gregory Terrace and the lot on which the store stands – changed hands in the middle of last month (area delineated in red at right).
Former owners were CPT Custodian Pty Limited, part of the Centro Group, which was described by The Australian on June 10 as “debt-laden” and reported to be divesting itself of more than $1b worth of shopping centres.
Original owners of the three lots were GJ Coles & Coy Limited, buying the property in 1985 for $1,800,000. It was then bought by TIO in 1999 paying $11,875,000.
It is not clear from NT Land and Property Transfer documents how much CPT Custodian Pty Limited paid for it nor exactly when they took over.
The Territory Government made a tidy sum out of the shopping centre’s sale to Yeperenye Pty Ltd, who paid $784,575 in stamp duty.
The title transfer is signed by Yeperenye directors Peter Renehan and David Ross, the latter the director also of the Central Land Council and a key figure in the Aboriginal investment company, Centrecorp.
Other directors of Yeperenye Pty Ltd are local Aboriginal identity and erstwhile director of CAAMA, Owen Cole, as well as interstate residents Danny Masters and David Cloke.
The Alice News asked Yeperenye Pty Ltd to comment on the acquisition, including on who its shareholders are and who stands to benefit from this new investment.
Our request was declined with a curt, unsigned “no comment”.
A company search reveals only that the shares of the company are owned by Yeperenye Nominees.
The Alice News understands that 60% are controlled by Centrecorp or a trustee arm of that company; and 40% by the Alice Springs native title holder body, Lhere Artepe. We also asked Lhere Artepe CEO Darryl Pearce to comment on the acquisition and its benefits for members but he had not replied at the time of going to press.
We put our questions to both in the context of the original gifting of the land on which Yeperenye was built to Central Australian Aboriginal organisations by the Uniting Church.
Then until 2004 the shopping centre was owned by ATSIC.
There was a risk of the asset passing into the hands of national body Indigenous Business Australia but local Aboriginal leaders, including then ATSIC regional council chair, Des Rogers, lobbied successfully for it to be transferred to local Aboriginal ownership.

Show shines after rains. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The cattle section at the annual show reflected the excellent season in the wake of huge rains earlier this year.
The 38 stud bulls brought in by breeders from interstate – mostly South Australia – were snapped up by local pastoralists, in a sell-out at prices between $2000 and $4500, says Elders stock agent Doc Cunningham.
The annual cattle auction was held in the Bohning rail yards before the show.
“The sale went very well,” says Mr Cunningham.
“It’s built up over the past 15 years to be a blue ribbon sale known throughout Australia, offering the pick of young cattle from The Centre.”
He says the main interest comes from feed lot operators and “backgrounders” who buy young cattle and turn them out on good pasture before putting them into a feed lot.
Also in the show yards were about 80 local cattle, not as many as in the last couple of years, vying for ribbons.
Brendan Wade, Regional Livestock  Manager for Landmark in Queensland and NSW, praises these local cattle: “You can see people have spent a lot of time and effort on them.
“They have a good temperament, they show good breed characteristics, they are generally a pretty high standard.”
And about the stud bull offering at the show Mr Wade says: “Breeders are producing a specific article that suits the graziers in this area.
“They are repeat vendors. They come to the show every year.”
Mr Cunningham says the bulls offered included white-faced Herefords, black Angus, Charolais and 60 Santa Gertrudis – the latter all sold at a separate sale in the Department of Primary Production yards.
Mr Cunningham says: “This is a very good year, shaping up like the early 1970s when we got 30 inches [of rain].
“It’s the best season in 10 years.
“This year’s rains on the eastern side of the highway in January and February were so heavy that people are only just getting around now.
“It’s fantastic.”
On the downside, substantial numbers of Top End cattle which were previously shipped live to Indonesia will now be diverted to southern and eastern markets.
This follows an import ban by Indonesia of cattle weighing more than 350 kilograms.
Mr Wade thinks “green cattle” which free range in The Centre’s bush rather than being raised in feed lots will see growing demand from the public.
"Consumers are becoming very conscious where our food is coming from,” he says.

Keeping that community feeling. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Does the Alice Show need a facelift?
Two stalwarts, Sue Ride (horticulture steward) and Geoff Miers (agriculture) say their domains are fine the way they are.
That’s despite Mr Miers having to cajole people to enter exhibits, and Mrs Ride admitting her entries are down, too.
The week before the show “we were well down on numbers,” says Mr Miers.
He went on the ABC to stir up interest and numbers “increased by more than 100%” but off a very low base, as he admits.
In the end there were 200 entires but that still left a lot of space on the erstwhile full exhibition shelves.
“People get a kick out of the way the show is presented and the way the agriculture section is done.
“I do think at times we need to reflect a little bit.
“There is now a focus on collections, with several people contributing, and some of our best entries are now in that section with five categories.”
Should the show remain a very traditional, old-style show?
“I was reflecting on it this morning and I think it is still old-fashioned and it has that sense of community.
“I would hate to see that disappear.
“I wish that more of the community were involved, but the success in this hall, for example, with horticulture, the crafts, the arts, the cooking, photography it all revolves around community, and that’s a very important part of the show.”
Mrs Ride is on the same wavelength as Mr Miers: “Our entries are down but we have some excellent entries and that made it a good section.
“The show has followed this format for decades.”
Is it time for a change?
“I think it probably is and I think the committee is looking at change.
“Over the last couple of years there have been some major changes, but I still think horticulture, agriculture are traditional things in a show and I think they should stay.

Todd Mall hawkers: Council concessions? By KIERAN FINNANE.

A Todd Mall trader says the Town Council’s revised approach to street sellers – to date mostly Aboriginal artists selling paintings – will see an annual permit fee of $200, a massive reduction of the current fee of $205 per day.
The trader was among 12 others, operating businesses on Todd Mall and Todd Street, who wrote to the Town Council following recent enforcement of the current fees, commending them and the rangers on their efforts in moving the street sellers on and keeping the Mall and lawn areas clean.
However, council’s current policy has also attracted a lot of criticism, some of which has been aired in this newspaper. Critics have argued that the permit fees are prohibitive, that the artists bring vibrancy to the Mall and that they offer tourists an opportunity for a genuine encounter with Aboriginal people. 
The trader, who declined to be named fearing hostile reactions to his views, says he has had discussions with an alderman on the issue.
He understands that the revised permits would allow street sellers an area of two metres by two metres from which to trade.
He is not at all happy with these proposed changes, wanting to see an area off the Mall allocated to the artists. 
The News asked the council for confirmation of the proosed changes, and whether the new permit regulations will apply to anyone, or are they specific to Aboriginal artists.
A report for aldermen on the permit policy has been prepared by council officers and will be debated at the committee meeting on Monday.
Council CEO Rex Mooney declined to comment until then.

Major mining in The Centre not affected by Gillard deal. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Both sides of NT politics are welcoming changes to the mining tax proposals by new Prime Minister Julia Gillard which will exempt the major mining ventures in The Centre – gold and uranium.
In its present form the new tax will kick in at 12% profit instead of 6% and the headline tax will be reduced from 40% to $30%.
As the proposed tax now only applies to coal, iron ore, oil and gas, only a handful of activities will be covered in the NT, says Willem Westra van Holthe, NT Shadow Minister for Resources.
“Allowing the recognition of the value in long term investment going forward means we can close the door on this sorry saga,” he says.
“The Country Liberals led the way with a profits based resource tax, which at the initial 18% rate is surprisingly close to the final outcome of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax.
“That doesn’t mean the current round of proposals is a good long term result. An extra impost by the Commonwealth will weigh upon investment and development decisions in the Territory in the long term, particularly on the fledgling Iron Ore industry with one current operating mine, and several advanced prospects in the Roper region.”
Chief Minister Paul Henderson welcomed Ms Gillard’s announcement.
“This issue in the Territory is not as great as in the rest of Australia because we’ve already got a profits-based royalty regime here,” he says.
“Ours has been in place since 1982 and certainly the only mining companies that pay a tax in the Northern Territory at all are the ones that are actually making a profit.
“The mining industry has continually said they want a profit based tax and I am glad that both parties have reached agreement as opposed to shouting at each other through the media.”
However, the exclusion of the exploration rebate that was a feature of the original Resources Super Profits Tax is “of particular concern to the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy which represents 10,000 professionals working in the minerals industry,” says its president Greg Chalmers.
“We realise this is a pragmatic decision by the government in its bid to preserve the net revenue expected to flow from the new Minerals Resource Rent Tax, but it once again breaks a clear 2007 election promise by the Labor Party to encourage increased exploration in Australia.
“The opportunity to replace our depleting mineral inventory through increased exploration activity is the only way to address the Prime Minister’s major concern ... that mineral resources can only be extracted once,” says Mr Chalmers.
Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon (ALP) says among “the key reforms [flowing from the proposed tax] to strengthen and secure our local economy” are:-
• An increase in super from 9 to 12 percent for 8.4 million workers.
• $830 million in superannuation concessions for 3.5 million low-income Australians.
• $6 billion in new and better roads, rail and ports in mining communities.
• A business tax cut to boost jobs and investment, with a head start for small business.
• An instant tax write off of assets under $5000 for 2.4 million small businesses.
• A standard deduction making tax time simpler for up to 8.9 million taxpayers.
• A 50 percent savings discount benefiting 5.7 million taxpayers.

Less than 1% improvement in primary school attendance in Intervention communities. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Primary school attendance in the 73 communities “prescribed” under the Federal Intervention improved by only 0.9% in the year December 2008 to December 2009.
Overall attendance – combined preschool, primary and secondary – from December 2007 to December 2009 looked a little better, with a 2.7% improvement.
But this is because of a rise in average preschool attendance – 2.9% – and secondary attendance – 4%.
Over this period primary school attendance actually dropped by 1.6%.
It is suggested that the secondary attendance increase and primary attendance decrease could be related, with the rollout of middle years schooling counting Year Sevens as secondary students from 2008 (they were already in the Centre but this was a change for the Top End).
These figures are revealed in the latest Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory Monitoring Report, July - December 2009.
The report also summarises the efforts by government in the Indigenous education area, including a $25.2m investment over 2007-09 to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes and to upskill local indigenous education workers in the Territory.
The Alice News put to the NT Department of Education that the figures indicate a very minimal improvement given the attention and effort being expended.
We asked the following questions”
• What was the overall targeted improvement?
• Did some schools make a significant improvement? If so, are there lessons to be learnt from them?
• And did some schools go significantly backwards? What explains this?
• What were the NTDET-specific strategies for improving attendance?
• What is NTDET’s view of the outcome?
• What is being undertaken to make significant improvements?
Through a spokesperson we received the following reply:
“The NTER [Intervention] is an Australian Government initiative.  It is inappropriate for DET to comment on Government policy, including the NTER or its outcomes.”
We also asked Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin whether she was disappointed in the result and what would be the next steps to improve attendance – how much carrot, how much stick?
Again through a spokesperson we received the following reply:
“Last month, the Australian Parliament passed legislation to deliver major welfare reforms to expand the benefits of income management to an increased number of vulnerable Australians, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
“The new scheme will be rolled out first across the Northern Territory in urban, regional and remote areas, as a first step in a national roll out of income management in disadvantaged regions.
“The reforms aim to increase parental responsibility, fight passive welfare and protect vulnerable people especially children.
The reforms link income management to promoting responsible behaviours, including ensuring children attend school and participating in work and training.”  

Perfume Creek flows, information does not

Last week the Alice News reported that deadlines leading to the end of dry weather discharges from the sewerage ponds into the Ilparpa Swamp appear not to have been met.
The deadlines were set in Power and Water Corporation’s current licence for treating Alice’s waste water.
Our questions about this situation had not been answered by the time of going to press.
Following further questions, this time to the Minister for Essential Services, we received the following reply from a PWC spokesperson:
“Power and Water reports performance and compliance of its treated effluent discharges from the Alice Springs sewage treatment plant to NRETAS in an annual waste discharge licence report.
“Liaison occurs with NRETAS and approval is obtained when it is necessary to undertake a dry weather discharge to Ilparpa Swamp.
“The Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) plant is operational and supplying recycled water for use at the Soil Aquifer Treatment (SAT) facility and for irrigation at Blatherskite Park.
“The SAT plant is still in the pilot trial phase but Power and Water is now looking at expansion of the system to increase recycling capacity. Power and Water has submitted its report on the performance of the SAT plant to NRETAS.”
 PWC’s licence states: “The commissioning phase of the REUSE 3 site and SAT system plant will be completed no later than 31 January 2010.”
A full five months later, we are asking, please, for an explanation for our readers of the delay in commissioning this plant.
The project has attracted a lot of interest in the past and there was a lot of effort put into explaining how it would work and why it was worth spending a lot of money on – $10.4 million.
It seems reasonable to be able to have a detailed update on exactly where it is at now. Our request for information stands.
– Kieran Finanne

Fiona O'Loughlin: Winning back the hearts and laughs. By KIERAN FINNANE.

It was a very public fall from grace and it is a very public journey to win back that grace again.
Just over a year ago stand-up comedian Fiona O’Loughlin – one of Alice Springs’ most successful exports – collapsed on stage at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, 20 minutes into her gig.
She was drunk.
She may also have been stressed, exhausted but she had definitely had too much to drink after a big night out, more drinks during the day and the inevitable “double anything” before the show.
She almost immediately went public, admitting that she was a problem drinker.
She could have tried to hide it – like she had for years when it was her “nasty secret”.
She says her parents and siblings urged her to not go public, but she knew that 600 people had seen her collapse and she couldn’t bear the thought of them knowing that she was covering up.
She went into rehab and now is a recovering alcoholic.
They come in all shapes and sizes, she says, but for her, she knows she is someone “who simply can never drink again”.
But she also went back to work – that’s been part of her recovery – and feels that her new show, On a Wing and a Prayer, the only one she has ever done sober, is her best yet.
Alice residents can see it on July 24 at Araluen, the theatre from where Fiona launched her career in 1999.
Fiona’s own life, her family and the people and situations immediately around her, have always fired her comedy, so it’s not surprising that the roller-coaster of the last 12 months has shaped this show.
But looking back, she can scarcely believe where she’s come from.
“It wrote itself, performed itself”, she says, into her Adelaide Fringe gig over two weeks, then “found its feet” at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.
For the first time, she has worked with pathos, but promises you won’t leave the theatre in tears. She’s found a “ridiculous ending” that takes the show out on a high note.
With typical self-deprecating wit, she says she’s become “an inadvertant poster girl for middle-aged alcoholics” but it’s just her story – “I’m not being evangelistic about it”.
Nor is she kidding herself that, though she’s hit rock bottom and picked herself up, it’s all better now.
“This is an ongoing disease that has to be managed.
“The key for me is to have a plan around those moments when I think I need a drink.”
For Fiona it’s when she’s performing, before and after going on stage, but also in social situations.
Since her career took off, she has been at parties and functions for around 200 nights a year and she’d drink every time – “it just wasn’t sustainable!”
“It started as ‘Dutch courage’ but it caught up with me.
“It was like swimming in the ocean, having a wonderful time and then suddenly you’re caught in a rip and what’s happening is out of your control.
“In the end, I had to choose, my career or the booze.”
She takes life and recovery one day at a time.
“I’ve had relapses – every time I pray it’s the last one.
“They’re always when I don’t follow my plan.
“I need to hang out after the show just as long as the adrenalin lasts – that’s a natural high – and then be ready to retreat”, back to her hotel or, best of all, back home.
She’s so grateful to live in Alice Springs, as a peaceful, artistically freeing place, where she can hang out with her kids, or curl up with a video, a cup of tea and a crumpet.
Looking back at the comedy she’s done to date, she feels now that “there’s always been a piece missing”, more so in recent years, when despite five star reviews, at times she’s been barely able to function.
“I thought I couldn’t be funny without alcohol  – many comedians feel that way and some of my best support in my recovery has come from other comedians who are recovering alcoholics – I call them ‘my carnival family’.
“I had to relearn what I do and how I can be in a social situation. I’ve done a lot of cognitive therapy around this.
“It’s so arrogant, in hindsight, the thought that people need you, drunk, to have fun – you know what, Fiona, parties can get on without you!”
She says she still feels as terrified as she ever did before she goes on stage, but it’s a “beautiful fear”.
“It’s so much better, everything is so clear now, I can react to the audience. I guess it’s like any job, you do it much better if you’re sober.”
How hard is it going to be to do this tell-all show in her home town?
“I’m not changing a word, it’s exactly the same show but I’m definitely twice as frightened.
“Conversely, I’m twice as excited.
“In the past it’s been a tricky dance playing to an Alice audience. A lot of my comedy was built around living in such an unusual place, but I’d have to change it for the local audience.
“This time I won’t have to do that.”
When Fiona says “same show” she means same core show. In fact every performance is a little different. She builds a show around 12 key words, not around a line by line script, and she never rehearses out loud.
The beginning, middle and end are the same but in between she leaves herself free to go off on tangents and keep it alive, feeding off the audience.
“I’ve never ‘phoned it in’,” she says, “even when I’ve been drunk and I’m proud of that.
“I think I’d have to stop if I ever got to that stage.”
Meanwhile, she’s trying something new – acting in a recreation of David Williamson’s play, Emerald City.
A charity fundraiser, it’s called One Night in Emerald City, in which Williamson promises “a scurrilous, opinionated and accurate look” at Sydney. Fiona got to propose the type of character she’ll play and she’ll be on stage alongside the likes of Robyn Nevin, Ian Thorpe, Ita Buttrose, John Singleton.
Before that though she’ll take On a Wing and a Prayer to New York, playing in the Gotham Comedy Club. Producers from the Letterman Tonight Show will be there. If they like what she does, she’ll get a spot on that show, making her the first Australian female comedian to achieve this.
“These ambitions exhaust me but setting goals is what’s taken me to where I am.
“In the beginning the goal was to do headline comedy at a club in Melbourne.
“Now I dream about walking a Red Carpet and when I’m asked where I got my dress, I’ll say from The Dressing Room in Alice Springs.”
Grand dreams aside, Fiona says the highlight of her career occurred recently when she played On a Wing and a Prayer in Sydney.
Her parents were there and loved the show, responding in a way that they haven’t before. Instead of a “very nice, dear” she got the “first real after show hug” she’s ever had from her mother  – “I’ve been waiting for that my whole life.”
“And my dear old Dad, who’s nearly 80, simply cried for joy.”
In the show her sister Emily Taheny joins her on stage for what Fiona describes as a couple of minutes of  comedic “riffing”. This is also a return to roots as it was the show Fiona and Her Sister that launched her career.
From Araluen she took it to the Melbourne Comedy Festival where she won the Barry Award for best newcomer.
She credits this festival for the rich development of Australian stand-up comedy. She says Americans are blown away that Australian comedians write a whole new hour of material every year.
“Critics will give us leeway of only five to 10 minutes of old rope. If there’s more than that, we’ll get slaughtered.”
She used to worry about her inspiration drying up but, through a conversation a few years back with the singer-songwriter Paul Kelly, she came to understand that comedy, like music, is an “infinite well”.
“As long as I keep my ears and eyes open and keep breathing in and out, it won’t end ... unless I want it to.”

Proverbial sore thumb in the middle of an artwork. COMMENT by KIERAN FINNANE.

Lights to enhance security on the streets – 20 using solar power, 20 conventional – have been installed around town – at Northside Shops and around the CBD at Anzac Hill, Leichhardt Terrace, Wills Terrace, Stuart Park, Flynn Church, Todd Mall and the Civic Centre.
Funded by the Australian and Territory Governments at a cost of $430,000, the locations for the lights were identified by the Town Council and the NT Police.
The solar lights, featuring two 135kW PV collectors with sealed Gel batteries warranted for 10 years, provide a 57% energy saving compared to the standard street light while emitting the same amount of light. They also provide 126,000 additional lamp hours and five relamping savings.
So, a good news story ... except for the placing of the solar light pictured, smack bang in the middle of the Gathering Garden, an artwork meant to be a showpiece for the council and the town, celebrating the achievements of Aboriginal artists of the central deserts.
The work, the council’s first foray into public art, was designed by Melbourne-based sculptor Julie Squires and Aboriginal artists Marie-Elena Ellis and Roseanne Ellis.
Their contribution was not confined to the objects – the coolamon-shaped seating, cast in bronze, bearing designs by Aboriginal artists from around the region, nor to the central water feature.
The concept was for the whole space, with the groundplan based on a painting by the Ellis sisters.
Just as it would be inconceivable to place any kind of foreign object onto the surface of a painting, so it should have been to place this light in the middle of the Gathering Garden space.
I asked council if the Public Art Advisory Committee had been consulted over the placement.
They haven’t been. Nor I presume have the artists.
The public space is sacred. If it shows signs of being cared for with thoughtful attention and sensitive creativity, it will be loved. Our lives will be enhanced, happier and healthier.
The town is endowed with a substantial number of people with design and artistic expertise.
They should be brought into the centre of decision-making about interventions in the public space; ugly, expensive mistakes would be avoided and Alice Springs could begin to realise its potential to be one of Australia’s most beautiful towns.

Be part of the design of the new town pool.

A piece of your household or your life story could become part of a feature wall at the new Aquatic Centre.
Local designer Elliat Rich has been commissioned by the Town Council to design and produce feature walls, one in the men’s change room, one in the women’s.
Instead of working with new tiles, Rich saw the opportunity of bringing the community into the picture: she’s asking people to donate one or two tiles and will develop her designs from there.
She wants whole tiles (no broken shards), commercially produced for interior use, with right angles.
But apart from that, the field is open.
She wants to work with the sense of chance that will come from taking “whatever comes through the door”.
The tiles don’t have to be fancy, indeed she’s hoping to get plenty of plain tiles as well, even standard whites and creams.
They may be left over from a renovation or perhaps picked up on your travels.
“There’ll be a little bit of magic for people if something of their personal story can be embedded in a public space,” she says.
She herself is willing to donate a beautiful tile she brought back from a trip to Turkey, but in the final design it may go. She hopes people will understand if, for design reasons, their tile can’t be used.
She doesn’t know until the tiles come in what principles will govern the designs, but she imagines that she will probably order the work using hues and tones – left to right by hue, up to down by tone.
There are lots of possibilities but “it won’t be a mish-mash”.
“The feeling of the pool is very modern, clean lines and a strong sense of order.
“The feature walls will add texture, detail and story but they will complement the feel of the architecture,” says Rich.
Deadline for donations is August 8. Drop them off (only one or two per houseehold) to the reception area at the Town Council chambers, writing your name and contact details on the back. The tiles will be documented front and back before they are used.
– Kieran Finnane

Bold painting from old men of the Kimberleys. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The artistic genius of the North is too rarely seen in Alice Springs but this is something that Dallas Gold at RAFT Artspace is well placed to set right.
After 10 successful years in Darwin Gold has moved his gallery to Alice Springs, at 8 Hele Crescent, and brings with him curatorial expertise in art from regions beyond the central deserts.
This will not be his sole focus for he’s equally excited by work from The Centre and he’s also interested in showing non-Indigenous art, but in the current exhibition he presents the work of three old men who share Kija (Gija) heritage – from Kimberley country.
Two of these men are around 90 years old but while sharing broadly similar backgrounds, including work on cattle stations, their painting is markedly different.
Mick Jawalji paints with gravitas, in natural ochres, strong forms and simple compositions, summoning the kind of authority that one would expect from a senior law man. His boards ground the show.  
Butcher Cherel Janangoo has had a longer painting career. While Jawalji started painting in 2001, Janangoo started exhibiting in the early ‘90s.
In the work on show he uses warm-hued gouaches on paper or cotton rag, with a lovely loose painting style. His references to country are mostly abstract and many of the compositions seem almost arbitrary, yet they hold together.
The third artist Rammey Ramsey is younger, born around 1935.
He has been a regular at RAFT in Darwin over the decade, having begun painting for Jirrawun Arts in 2000.
His palette is out of a box in Aboriginal art – high-keyed yellows, mauves, brilliant blues (the bold red in our reproduction is an exception rather than the norm). A single hue is cleanly brushed across the picture plane, with the motifs, elegantly simple in form, simply elegant in placement, outlined whether by dotting or in black.  
Many a sophisticated urban artist would envy Ramsey his graphic style.
Although the artists are related through kinship, their painting developed in separate art centres and if they sound a harmonious note under RAFT’s roof, it arises from something deeper than style – no doubt ‘country’, with all that it encompasses, is the word they’d use.

Town camp artists among finalists in major award.

Desert artists will once again feature strongly in the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award, this year the 27th.
Among the 96 finalists there are 27 works from the region as well as four from artists living in the town camps of Alice Springs, three of them – Alison Inkamala, Amy Napurulla and Dan Jones – represented by Tangentyere Artists.
This is the second time that Jones has been a finalist at the award and he is also a finalist in the Togart Contemporary Art Award (for Northern Territory artists).
NATSIAA curator Kate Podger says the pictorial narrative style favoured by many of the town camp artists is “gaining strength”, reflected by the increase in their selection.
Of other desert entries, Ms Podger says there are a number of “beautifully sensitive” watercolours from Ngurratjuta Artists and a very strong contingent of South Australian artists from the APY Lands.
“They have benefited a lot from input from people like Wayne Eager. The size of their paintings is increasing, their confidence is building, they’re really moving along.”
There are also “impressive works” from Papunya Tula and Utopia and “all sorts of little surprises”, including some strong textile sculptures from the Tjanpi Desert Weavers.
There is no entry from the desert regions in the new media category of the award but there are a number of new media entries  from other regions, including one from the Top End – a “very beautiful, sensitive work combining 3D sculpture with a projected image”, and a Second Life interactive work from a NSW artist.
The award has a top prize of $40,000 and will be announced on August 13 when the exhibition opens at MAGNT in Darwin.

My life with a (motor) addict. By CHRISANNE WALSH.

In 1982 I was working here in town as a graphic designer and Steve Walsh arrived from Adelaide to take a printing job.
He stayed until 1986, went back to Adelaide for 12 months and then returned to Alice permanently in 1987.
Little did we know when we first met in ‘82, that in the not too distant future we would not only become best friends but also partners in life.
Steve’s passion for bikes and all things custom, chopped and hot-rodded, began during the school holidays in 1969, when at the age of 14 he pestered his parents for pocket money to go and see the latest movie.
His parents would never have guessed that by giving in on that fateful day, they would be encouraging a lifetime addiction!
The movie had the obscure title of Easy Rider and starred two equally obscure actors by the names of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.
At the time, nobody (including Steve) realised how this movie and those two names would create such a massive impact on future generations.
To this day he can’t recall too much of the story line but he does recall that from that moment he was hooked! To him, those two bikes were works of art rolling along the highway – their crazy high handle bars and extended forks with wheels glistening in the sun. He had found his “nirvana”, his “holy grail”.
While still a high school student, he spent the next couple of years chopping up and customizing push bikes along with skate boarding.
By 1972 Steve had left school and commenced an apprenticeship in the print trade.
Although on a meagre wage, he soon saved enough money to buy his grandfather’s 1950-something Austin A30. After about 12 months he moved the Austin on and replaced it with an EJ Holden.
From here on (and sometimes to his mother’s bewilderment), there was a string of cars, boats and bikes.
He gives me a quick run-down on some of them: Datsun 1600 – “great little car, went like stink”; short wheel based Land Rover – “heap of s...t”; Zephyr Mark III – “beautiful car”; and in between these, an EH Holden, an XT Ford wagon, an FJ45 Toyota, a HQ ute and a Nissan 4WD.
During some of these years, Steve spent weekends fishing and surfing along the South Australian coastline and naturally, at the same time was the proud owner of a Volkswagen Kombivan.
Typically, it had a six volt battery which allowed the headlights to retain their dull, golden glow – even on high beam – and a motor that chugged doggedly up hill at walking pace before clattering down hill at double the speed. As you can imagine, a lot of great times were had and many miles travelled in this one. 
Several boats were also purchased and sold, along with a beautiful Z1A 900 when Kawasaki first introduced them onto the market.
At around the same time as the Z1900, Steve also purchased a Suzuki GS400. He had this bike for 13 years before moving it on and it accompanied him to Alice Springs in ‘82.
In 1987 when Steve returned to Alice to become a permanent resident, he arrived on a Kawasaki GPZ1100.
We got together soon after and so our journey began – a journey of bikes, cars, speed and adventure!
That same year, Steve and his mate Brian Jennings went fifty-fifty in their first speedway sidecar (outfit). Another friend took Steve’s place as a passenger for the first couple of months due to Steve’s work commitments but by the end of the ‘87 speedway season, Steve and Brian were working well together.
They had a fairly tight partnership on the bike and at the end of 1989 they won the title of Centralian Champions by achieving the highest points score for the season.
In 1992, the Jennings/Walsh combination decided to call it a day.
By now they had raced together for a total of six years, won a few trophies, been through four different outfits and several motors, and travelled to various speedway tracks.
Brian had decided to retire from racing and leave town.
Steve on the other hand, was enjoying the dirt and the dust and the fumes too much to walk away.
He soon replaced the outfit with an LJ Torana and with a lot of help and support from Bruce Longe as his mentor, went super sedan racing.
Although the Torana was the only six cyclinder amongst the big V-8’s, he still managed to give them a run for their money. So much so, that a season after he first began, he became the Centralian Champion in this field as well.
This car became fairly popular with the kids, due to having Daffy Duck painted on its quarter panels, rear and bonnet as a bit of a fun thing. Because of this Steve was given the nickname of “Daffy” which he still carries today. Throughout these years, Steve and I both did a lot of other behind-the-scenes work at Arunga Park.
We both served on the committee for a number of consecutive years – he for nine, and I for 11 – along with many other duties.
As well as racing, Steve spent several seasons driving the water truck or the grader, doing the track preparation with Jim Lydeker.
In the meantime, I was helping out with the Speedway Riders canteen and working in the tower as the Lap Scorer. At times, it was extremely frustrating and difficult for him to finish the track prep in time to get home, get showered and get back to the track in time to race.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, I recall being just as bewildered as his own mother had been, when we did a count of vehicles in the yard.
The grand total consisted of 13 which included two trailers, a super sedan, a sidecar frame, two motorbikes, two work vehicles, our two children’s cars and our everyday car plus a spare motor or two.
It had become time for a “stocktake” to move most of it on, which was surprisingly carried out with relative ease!
In 1997 our life took another direction and we decided to go into business for ourselves.
We agreed that speedway would have to go on the back-burner for a while due to work commitments but unfortunately once Steve gave up, he never got back out there.
We sold the super sedan and life went on, although we still had a Kawasaki GPZ1100 and took great pleasure in fanging it out to Glen Helen or up to Aileron every now and then!
In late 2001 we sold the GPZ and by the start of 2002 we were looking for another bike to get out and about on during our free time.
I will never forget the day Steve came home and informed me that he’d just bought a new bike for us – I was ecstatic – until he uttered the words “Harley-Davidson”!!
I couldn’t believe my ears – and he couldn’t believe his either – when I had a few (unprintable) words to say!
One of my brothers is also a biker and I have memories of his mates and their Harleys in the ‘70s as being extremely unreliable.
Nevertheless, Steve won me over and our love affair with Harleys developed over a very short period of time.
His new pride and joy was a 1981 H-D Sturgis, which are relatively rare to come by (so I was told). We joined the local Harley Owners Group and took part in many enjoyable events.
By 2004, Steve was getting restless again and wanted an update.
Our daughter was getting married in April of that year, so he decided that he’d wait until a couple of months after the wedding. Not so!
About four days after the big event, Steve saw an ad in the paper, we took a look, and he rode it home a few days after that.
We did a lot of talking over the next few weeks about whether to give the Sturgis up, and finally decided to sell it to its current owner Jon Mason, who has kept it in town.
This was done rather reluctantly, because after all, Steve had now realized his life-long dream – a nice car and two Harleys in the driveway!
He had become, and still is, the proud owner of a 2000 Nightrain.
Along with many rides we’ve been involved with, this bike also took us down to Nuriootpa in 2007 for a National HOG rally and again in 2008 to Victor Harbor for the SA State HOG rally.
For a bit of extra fun, Steve also enjoys taking her out to the Drags every now and then and he’s keen to keep beating his personal best time.
In 2009 another of Steve’s dreams finally came to fruition. He had waited nearly 20 years to have a decent sized shed built at the rear of the house and was keen to put something else in there with the bikes.
Then in January of this year, an opportunity arose to buy a rat rod from a bloke in Broken Hill.
Once he’d seen a complete set of photos another love affair commenced, and we decided to buy.
This time it was a 1928 Dodge Roadster Pickup which had already been chopped, dropped and fitted out, which he’s named “Bruiser”.
The vehicle had never been registered before and so it was with a bit of hesitation after hearing some horror stories about government departments, that the process commenced to get her roadworthy and registered.
Peter Hondow from Custom Automotive gave the vehicle a “once-over” and Ken Callanan checked the electrics before Steve started the paperwork and from there everything seemed to fall into place.
He’d expected delays and a lot of red tape but was both surprised and happy to have the car fully roadworthy and registered within a few weeks.
These days, when he’s not working, Steve is often found in the shed with his other “girls” or out on the road enjoying them.
I have my own bike, so missing a ride with him doesn’t bother too much, although I’m still waiting to have a drive of this newest toy!
I believe the competitive streak will always be a part of him, along with his great love of all things fast, loud and reeking of fumes.
He assures me that his collection is almost complete now – but mind you, he’d love to add a couple of old planes, maybe a sports car and perhaps a boat or two!

NANCARROW ARROW: Alice winter wonderland – the camels.

Sticking to the theme of what’s on in Alice Springs (for another week), there is some funny stuff and some not so much.
Nah not true, I think it’s funny, even if it is a bit sad at the same time.
That is the definition of humour isn’t it, it’s funny when it happens to someone else?
Like the first time I ever rode a camel.
For an observer it was hysterical, for me it was terrifying mainly because everything was going so well before the ‘incident’ occurred.
My dad took me to the Boy Scout Jamboree at Thebarton Oval which was a fair hike for us – we lived down south of the city and it was a fair commitment to go that far for a fun fair.
We parked, went in and it was cool, not the usual rides and stuff but Scouty things, abseiling, archery and a camel ride.
Camels weren’t that common in Adelaide in those days so this was an opportunity not to be missed.
Dad coughed up the cash and I got on my first camel. As a young man I was the sporty gung ho type but not terribly observant.
If I had been, I would have paid more attention to how the camel went from the sitting to standing position and not started the ride by head butting the saddle as it stood up, violently I thought and with more than a hint of petulant strop.
Blinking back the tears we started off around the designated circuit, three camels and six kids.
In and out of the tents and stalls, very proud to be so high above the pointing fingers and admiring glances from other kiddies.
We rocked. On our return leg we passed the area where the knock ‘em down gallery was set up.
For a dollar you got three bean bags to knock down a pyramid of cans – if you succeeded you got a prize-simple.
A piece of hessian at the back stopped any stray bags from causing mayhem in the world outside. Or did it?
From what I have seen of camel behaviour before and since, when they get cross they groan, spit, swing their heads from side to side and smell like wet blankets.
They are not supposed to spring up and down like a bucking bronco whilst making noises like a rhino with a peg in its bottom.
That is just  what happened when the bean bag sailed over the rather inadequate protection at the back of the knock ‘em down gallery and smacked my camel square in the chops.
I made it out alive, just.
Dad had ‘words’ with the poor bloke leading the camels.
But, let’s face it, he probably saved all our lives by swinging from the nose peg of the deeply offended animal as it lashed out at all and sundry after the insult to its face.
We left under a cloud and I never joined the Scouts.
Fast forward several years to the Camel Cup, Alice Springs where my darling wife was going to race a camel in race six.
No stranger to danger (nice), she has taken on poddy calves at Harts Range (and lost), won the Kangaroo toss at the same fixture, jumped out of planes and fallen off horses.
She is beautiful, smart and more than a bit mental so when she told me what she was going to do I wasn’t surprised.
After the mad scramble at the start she sailed over the finish line in the middle of the field, battered but triumphant.
So go to the Camel Cup and see the crazy people and their unpredictable mounts.
I like camels now – they taste great in a burger.

LETTERS: Real world jobs can have their own problems.

Sir – Regarding your article “Working in the real world” [last week’s edition], the comment was made that “programs and subsidies are part of the problem” getting Aboriginal people back to work.
They “deliver outcomes to the people running them, not to Aboriginal people”.
“As soon as you engage in that subsidy-driven world, you have to engage in all the baggage that comes with it and it aint worth the trouble”, Mr McConnell was reported as saying.
I think it is important to remember that welfare dependency works both ways.
Few of us are totally independent of government monies.
Without the money that comes through the welfare system many of us would not be paid to be doctors, nurses, lawyers, police, army, bureaucrats, school teachers or counsellors, and those of us who run liquor outlets, take away and food shops or who are tradespeople and operating on the open market wouldn’t have as much income, clientele or paid employment as we do now.
It could be useful then to be grateful for our welfare system rather than mainly damn it.
Sure it has its problems but so too do many of us; even those of us working in the real world.
In my mind it is this incessant need to only find fault and compete with each other that is one of our main problems.
The unemployment issues we are facing here in Alice Springs are interconnected to the issues we are facing with crime, violence, substance abuse, family breakdown, welfare dependency, people’s greed and with our lack of home, work, life balance.
Many of us don’t even have the time, energy, inclination or skill to attend to our most basic health needs, cook, clean, tidy up, garden, fix things around our homes or relate effectively to our family members.
Given this, how can we be expected to work efficiently, respectfully or reliably in our workplaces?
Mr McConnell said: “We need to invest in people, not programs, to give individuals the ability to make choices about their own lives” and this is very true. 
Many of us are slaves to the almighty dollar because we have been educated to value money, our work lives and other people’s expectations of us, above our home lives and day to day health needs, to such an extent that some of us don’t even eat a proper breakfast before we go to work.
This type of behaviour is not very intelligent or sustainable but many of us feel so pressured, stressed and threatened by the rising cost of living that we have become unable to behave sensibly, and make our individual health needs a priority.
To do so is thought to be weak, and we can be perceived to be uncooperative, lazy or a troublemaker.
In “the real world” we are expected to keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on until we’ve reached crisis point.
It is only then that we are legitimately allowed to take our health, relationship and quality of life issues seriously.
Once we’re well again, we’re expected to get back out into our uncaring, “each person for themselves”, rat race of a workplace which is why many of us end up sick, orphaned, in foster care or on welfare in the first place.
If, however, we invest monies into individuals not programs as Mr McConnell suggested, we first need to realise that many of us may not have been educated to make healthy choices and this is where the true problem lays.
Whether we invest in individuals or programs, money can still be misused.
It is the quality of our health and wellbeing that determines the quality of our choices whoever we are. 
To use money responsibly, ethically and sustainably in the real world or in the bureaucracy we actually need programs which teach us to make healthy decisions.
These programs, I am suggesting, would encourage and support us to seek a balance between our home, work and personal life and they would inspire us to value our health, family life and money equally.
Until our shared humanity is recognised, real and lasting positive change will not take place.
We will continue to point our finger and tell others about the problems they are causing and the changes they should be making, when we may in fact do well to look in our own back yard.
Kristina Mackey
Alice Springs

Gift of life

Sir – Territorian Katrina Rehlaender, now 29, was 11 years old when she received a gift she will remember every Valentine’s Day: a new heart.
Katrina had been born with a hole in her heart. After having an artificial valve and two pacemakers inserted, she was told she needed a heart transplant.
Thanks to an anonymous donor Katrina received her new heart on 14 February 1993 at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Now she is asking Territorians to consider pledging to donate their organs after death.
“Basically I wouldn’t be here today without my new heart,” she says.
“Once you’ve gone you don’t need your organs, so you could help save a life.
“But making the decision to donate can be a hard decision. Taking the time to think about it and talking about it to your friends and family today could make your wishes known before it is too late.”
DonateLife NT is urging Territory families to sit down and discuss each other’s organ donation wishes as part of a national organ donation awareness campaign.
Family consent is an important step in organ donation and we find that many people are unsure of their loved one’s wishes.
Knowing if your family members want to be organ donors can avoid confusion and crucial delays later on, and help save the lives of others.
Resources to assist families in discussing their donation wishes are available at
Lee Wood
DonateLife NT Manager

POP VULTURE with CAMERON BUCKLEY: Foot problems, itchy skin, a walking ailment and gastro: ignore the stars.

Avoid any financial gamble this week, art house theatre will yield something in the way of a subtle elevation of your own personal Idaho.
Foot problems over the weekend.
Enjoy the whirlpool all week long! As Saturn returns in the form of Combat Wombat. The Numb chucked Marsupial trio are everywhere and in the now.  A Monkey Marc set will make you think that Ethiopian jazz is a cross breed – Dixie land and the barroom band from Star Wars.
Itchy skin mid week.
People will be grabbing you by the horns. But it is in your nature to feel the overwhelming  urge to attend every single exhibition opening and closing, even if though you may have little to no grasp as to what is transpiring. Try and ride your own bumps this week. Singing in the rain.
Ease up the workload this week, your moon is always doing something! Sit back, and you will soon discover that the bygone Beanie Festival and the up coming Camel Cup are strangely similar eggs in a strangely similar woven basket.
Possible laryngitis in the latter half of a cycle.
It has finally arrived! Alice Springs Roller Derby League.  And “on the court, the mighty court / the lion sleeps tonight” a new sub culture is about to land! Posters about the place tell you when and where to sign. And heed the rumour that there will be a draft in place that certain people born on a certain date will be forced to enlist and serve.
If you are housed on the Golf Course Estate, don’t worry you may already be exempt from mandatory service.
You will get headaches later in the week.
Put on your scuttling shell, The Mollusk plays at Annie’s tomorrow eve.  It’s time overdue for you to enjoy the musical tidal changes of spinning vinyl. Everything feels fine this week.
It’s a jostle to and fro’ as your lunar sister planet begs you to have some sort of contribution to the Lens Flair film competition, it’s in its first year! The accolade hunt is inevitable for the one who wins. And with your cycle behaving the way it is, act now.
Your headspace is currently aligned with Uranus. So avoid any judgement scenarios on Stature Apparel.
So the Beanie you have spent the entire weekly nine to five earnings on, may return to haunt.
Minor back problems. Do not gamble.
Watching people show animals at the 51st annual Alice Springs Show has given you an enjoyable voyeuristic insight into what is truly a terrible sub-culture, whose occupants are nothing short of an experiment in humankind actually de-evolving!!!
This is theatre that is in diabolical need to be viewed by all.
If you’ve avoided the flu this season, place a bet at the up-coming Camel Cup.
Pluto is on the out! So is your ability to make good decisions, avoid anything orange or ochre!
For you it’s indoor bedroom bound. For the fixed water sign this week, everything pop cultural will feel dated and clichéd.
It is your unrelenting will to self harm that will be your Achilles’ this week end.
Try not thinking about it too much.
Your lot being the naughty of the naughty.
Everything will feel wrong with you.
It’s your twin personality playing up again!!!
As all week you will be under the impression that building a fast food outlet on every street corner (including the one in your mind) is the logical next step for old Alice town.
You are the walking ailment today.
Ignore company spokesmen dressed as clowns.
The age of ... it’s a pity that the folk who were once singing it gave birth to the people who are now living it but are completely oblivious of what it is … you realise this, this week.

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