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

Parks deal a ‘fraud’. EXCLUSIVE by

Legal advice kept secret by the NT Government for eight years, but now obtained by the Alice Springs News, has prompted Shadow Minister John Elferink to describe the government’s handover of national parks to Aboriginal interests as “the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on the Territory public”.
The advice outlines strategies to re-declare parks after the 2002 Ward High Court decision in WA raised the specter of land rights or native title claims because the parks’ initial declaration may have been invalid.
But far from suggesting that public ownership over all the parks should be surrendered to Aboriginal owners, Solicitor-General at the time, Tom Pauling QC, outlined “solutions to the potential invalidity of NT parks” in a 15 page advice to Mike Butler, of the Parks and Wildlife Commission, on September 6, 2002.
But Clare Martin, then the Chief Minister, pressed ahead with the handover – still in progress now – of all the 11 parks in The Centre and some in the Top End.
Says Mr Elferink: “The advice I received is that only three parks were definitely in trouble, and they were not major parks.
“Now that I have seen the entire legal opinion except the annexes, I have no reason to believe that the advice I had received was wrong.
“If the parks were given away on the pretext of being under threat, whilst most of them actually were not, then one can only conclude that this was the greatest fraud ever perpetrated by any government in the Northern Territory.
“It is now up to the Territory Government to formally release the full advice from Tom Pauling, including the annexes, to demonstrate the legitimacy of their position.
“I for one do not believe them.”
Despite countless demands from politicians, members of the public and journalists – especially the Alice Springs News – for the legal advice to be made public, Ms Martin kept it under wraps.
At the same time she claimed to have legal advice that the alternative to the handover would be “years of legal uncertainty” .
The actual legal opinion remained concealed – even from ALP Senator Trish Crossin and the Labor MHR for Lingiari Warren Snowdon, president of the NT Labor Party, now seeking re-election in next month’s Federal poll.
Mr Snowdon last week spoke with the Alice Springs News.
We asked: Are you pleased that national parks in The Centre are being passed into Aboriginal ownership?
SNOWDON: You know I am. I’ve said this previously. It’s a very important step in settling what could have been quite difficult disputes over land tenure, providing a certain and sustainable future for these parks and for the people who are the traditional owners of them.
NEWS: Have you ever seen the legal advice about the parks given by Tom Pauling in 2002?
SNOWDON: I don’t recall any legal advice. I haven’t got Tom Pauling’s advice. Look, that’s history. It happened, and it’s in process. Whether or not I’ve seen [the advice] is irrelevant.
NEWS: What’s your understanding of what it says?
SNOWDON: I’m not even going to go there, mate. The world has moved on. An agreement has been reached. The NT Government has put in place a process to deal with these land issues, and they are dealing with them.
In July 2006 Territory Senator Trish Crossin said she had not been shown the documents: “I haven’t seen them but I’ve had briefings from Clare’s office a number of times.”
It seems likely the fate of the parks – the principal asset of the tourism industry in The Centre – was cast much earlier.
On June 12, 2009, during a ceremony at the Telegraph Station for the handing over of six parks under Ms Martin’s scheme, Mr Snowdon may have let the cat out of the bag about the real forces behind the parks policy.
Singing its praises at the ceremony, in the presence of a selected crowd, NT Chief Minister Paul Henderson and Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin, Mr Snowdon recalled that in the first blush of Territory Labor’s 2001 electoral success – a year before the Ward decision – he had taken Ms Martin aside to discuss the erstwhile “very confrontational approach to settling issues to do with land and native title”.
Mr Snowdon, president of the NT ALP when it won government after 26 years in the political wilderness, recalled: “One of the first things she did on my request was to hold a meeting on the 5th floor of Parliament House in the Northern Territory the purpose of which was to talk about what the way ahead would be in working with Aboriginal Territorians.
“I facilitated that meeting.
“And the outcome of that was to say to the Indigenous people who were there, we are no longer interested in litigation and taking you to court, we are no longer interested in fighting you about issues that we know are inevitably going to be resolved in your favor.”
In November 2003 – more than a year after the Pauling advice – Ms Martin spoke in the Assembly.
Far from sharing with the public her Solicitor General’s proposals to keep the parks in public hands, Ms Martin conjured up vast public expense and social disruption.
She said, in part, in the second reading speech to the Parks and Reserves (Framework for the Future) Bill: “A legal decision had happened last year that created a whole level of uncertainty and a need to find a solution for our parks and reserves.
“There is a lot of offence in that because there is an implication that we are doing some kind of closed door deal here ... we could litigate every one of [the claims], we could take them through the process.
“We could also, over a long period of time, and you are probably looking at about 20 years, we could go through all those claims.
“We could take them through the various tribunals, we could take them through the National Native Title Tribunal and the assessment is somewhere between $100m and $150m if you base it on the current costs.
“That is not a fanciful figure.”
The public wouldn’t buy it.
The Alice Springs News conducted an online survey in 2008.
The Martin scheme was gaining acceptance from the Howard Government because it was seen as a Territory issue. (The hapless Opposition Leader, Denis Burke, had failed to oppose the scheme because he didn’t want to have a fight with Aborigines).
The survey (of a wide range of local issues) put this proposition: “Leave all national parks in public ownership but set up an Aboriginal park management advisory body.” 254 respondents (75.6%) said “I agree.” 54 (16.1%) said “I don’t agree” and 28 (8.3%) answered “I am indifferent”.
“Save our Parks” activists collected 500 signatures and presented the petition to Parliament.
A public meeting was attended by 200 people of either view – one of the biggest single-issue public meetings in the town in the recent past.
The Pauling advice separated the parks into four categories.
He outlined strategies for three of them to overcome concerns raised by the Ward decision.
Land rights claims might have succeeded with respect to the fourth category, but possibly only in portions of those parks, especially if they were made up of land previously under varying type of leases or licenses.
Under the Martin scheme, the parks transferred to Aboriginal ownership were leased back to the NT Government for 99 years.
The Alice News last week asked Chief Minister Paul Henderson which parks were in which categories but – entirely predictably – he gave no answer.
Mr Elferink says the Labor Party’s professed philosophy of negotiation rather than litigation “is switched off and on according to the political environment at the time”.
“For example, the native title claim over Darwin was fought – successfully – by the NT Government all the way to the High Court, as was the Blue Mud Bay decision, where they even took out full page advertisements to say that’s what they were doing.”

Parks concerns: A thumbnail sketch of Pauling’s solutions

Only unalienated Crown Land – that’s land in which only the Crown has an interest – was available for claim under the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act.
The “national” parks in the Territory were commonly regarded as alienated. It was assumed they were not available for land claims because they were vested in the Parks Service of the NT.
Nevertheless, apparently acting on no more than a hunch, the Central Land Council lodged land claims over parks in Central Australia, just hours before the sunset clause stopped any further claims in 1998.
In 2002, following the High Court’s decision in Ward v Western Australia, the NT Government was alerted to a risk that certain declarations of Parks may be invalid because of the effect of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Mr Pauling analyzed the effect of the Ward decision on the NT parks.
The pressing question became this: Were there parks converted from unalienated Crown land after the Racial Discrimination Act?
Although there had been no court ruling to that effect, the declarations, under Section 12 of the NT Parks Act, may have been invalid, and the land may still be unalienated Crown land.
In that case an Aboriginal land claim can still proceed.
Mr Pauling put the parks into four categories:
1A: No land claim – no worries about keeping the park in public ownership.
1B: Land claim lodged, but there was a previous tenure, such as a pastoral lease, grazing licence, mining lease – or any other land tenure that made the land immune to claims under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. All clear, unless that previous tenure is found to be invalid because the transfer was for an improper purpose, such as seeking to defeat the Land Rights Act.
2A: No previous tenure but no land claim. All clear in the sense that it would have been possible to issue a fresh Section 12 declaration that would have been subject to native title, giving the park authorities valid tenure and powers of management.
2B: A land claim has been lodged and there is no previous tenure other than a Section 12 declaration: This category is the most vulnerable.
Nevertheless, even in case of 2B a park may include a multitude of blocks previously held under other tenures, possibly making those portions immune to land claims.
This seems to be especially the case with the West MacDonnells – the premier national park of The Centre, and not yet handed over.
Mr Pauling’s advice did not say what effect previous tenure may have on land claims.
At one point it was feared that the parks, if they had been declared improperly, would become an administrative nightmare, with no power of management or government authority: during a land claim process no fresh declaration could be made.
But then it was discovered that, except for Coburg, earlier declarations as reserves gave the government the powers to manage the parks.
So there was no need for making a hasty deal.

Aboriginal company loses SIHIP work.

A home-grown Aboriginal company competing in the local construction industry got a shock when their crew of 12, six of them Aboriginal, were stood down by Territory Alliance three weeks ago.
Ingkerreke Commercial were working on refurbishments of town camp housing under SIHIP (Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program).
General manager Scott McConnell says there has been no satisfactory explanation of why the Ingkerreke crew was stood down, rather than any other of the contractors employed by Territory Alliance.
He is confident that Territory Alliance manager Allan McGill will find a way to fix the problem but wants to know why the crew is now in its third week with no work.
Mr McGill was said to be out of phone range on Tuesday, but public relations firm Michels Warren Munday provided a written response to some questions from the Alice News.
The response was to be attributed to Mr McGill.
The response says Territory Alliance will be “awarding more work to Ingkerreke, including construction of new houses and the supply of kitchens from their steel fabrication unit, providing they remain competitive”.
Mr McConnell confirms that he received this offer in an email from Mr McGill on Monday, but says although he’s confident that will happen, “it is still just a promise”.
Mr McConnell questions why Ingkerreke was working without a contract and often without even a purchase order.
“We’ve learnt our lesson, especially when we experienced being stood down without notice.
“We wanted to prove our capacity to deliver to them, we thought this was an important relationship for us to have, so we approached the work ‘cap in hand’ but we don’t be doing that again.
“The alliance should be engaging everybody with proper commercial arrangements.”
The written response says Ingkerreke “has been working on an extended contract for the Clean Up work [late last year] and has purchase order numbers for the kitchen work they have been doing. 
“Suppliers don’t get paid without order numbers.  Scott hasn’t raised this issue with us but he is welcome to discuss it with us.”
Mr McConnell says this is untrue but he declined to debate the issue further through a third party.
It should be noted that the Alice News contacted Mr McConnell, following up on our report on Ingkerreke Commercial published on July 1. He did not initiate contact with us on this issue.
Ingkerreke’s work on houses at Santa Teresa and Amoonguna for the New Future Alliance continues  – “that’s going gangbusters”, says Mr McConnell, as is their other commercial work, such as the refurbishment of the Old Imparja building.
He says he understands why bottlenecks occur in the town camp refurbishment work.
Residents need to be accommodated elsewhere before the work gets underway: “There’s a lot of ducks to line up,” he says.
“But why is it our capacity that is the easiest to get rid of?
“Do the contractors who have been kept on have anywhere near the commitment to Alice Springs that we do?
“How long have they been here, what other clients do they have, are they members of the Chamber of Commerce, do they sponsor sporting clubs?
“What connection do they have with Indigenous employment strategies?
“Sure, they’ve got their groups of Indigenous trainees for this job but what kind of prioity in the long-term do they give to employing Indigenous people?”
The written response from Territory Alliance says “we currently have no interstate contractors working for us” but it does not say who their contractors are.
It also says “we still have 18 of our own Indigenous trainees working with us”.
Up to 14 Ingkerreke employees have been working for Territory Alliance in the town camps over the past four months.
At the time the work stopped, there were 12 on site, including carpenters, plumbers and electricians as well as six Indigenous employees, either full-time apprentices or “technical assistants”.
These positions form part of Ingkerreke’s transitional employment program, in which people gain exposure to a variety of trades so that they can decide which one they want to qualify in.
“I believe Allan McGill understands what we are trying to achieve,” says Mr McConnell.
“He’s someone who has lived in  Alice Springs, he was formerly the Town Clerk, we have every confidence in him to fix this.”
Later on Tuesday Mr McGill came into phone range and spoke to the News. He confirmed the essence of the written response, and reiterated that Ingkerreke would be offered more work.
He says the Territory Alliance had suddenly run out of work on site in the town camps and simply could not offer more until further “packages” were approved.
He says “everyone is aware of Mr McConnell’s huge commitment to Indigenous employment and wants to support him”.
He says he will look further into Mr McConnell’s claims about Ingkerreke working without a contract or even purchase orders.
He says no-one can get paid without the proper processes having taken place and Ingkerreke has been getting paid.

Giant statue agreed to in secrecy and in haste.

The Town Council by-passed their own advisory committee and policy because the Freemasons told them to.
That was essentially the explanation offered by CEO Rex Mooney when challenged by concerned residents at Monday night’s meeting over the imminent erection on the council lawns of a five metre high ferro-concrete statue of the explorer and Freemason John McDouall Stuart.
Stuart was the first European, together with his companions, to travel into Central Australia in 1860. The 150th anniversary of this expedition has been celebrated through a variety of events this year.
Council approved the erection of the statue, being offered as a gift by the Freemasons, as a “matter of urgency”, Mr Mooney said.
He was responding to a question from artist Pip McManus about why the decision was not referred to the Public Art Advisory Committee.
The urgency was that the Freemasons had a date fixed for the official unveiling: August 6.
There was some suggestion that this date was significant in relation to  Stuart’s expeditions, but in fact it is merely the date of a visit to Alice Springs by the Freemasons Grand Master, whom instigator of the statue project, Les Pilton, wants to officiate at the unveiling.
Council’s own policy  in regard to the gifting of artwork is explicit:
“Where a gift of existing finished Artwork is offered, the work should be submitted for assessment by the Public Art Coordination Team [read advisory committee] as to its suitability for inclusion in the public art collection along the established criteria applicable to all works in the Public Art Collection.”
This was brushed aside by Mr Mooney: the operative word is “should”, not “shall”, he pointed out.
Mr Mooney told the Alice News that the initial proposal by Mr Pilton was considered by council’s technical services committee in confidence at its meeting on March 15.
Aldermen “approved” the gift, with conditions about technical aspects and maintenance, says Mr Mooney.The approval was not the subject of a resolution or a vote, but there were no objections.  The proposal was kept confidential, in line with the wishes of Mr Pilton, so that the unveiling would come as “a surprise”.
Mr Mooney and Mayor Damien Ryan say that council accepted the gift in the context of the celebrations of the Stuart expedition anniversary.
Mr Ryan says he informed the advisory committee about the gift at their June meeting.
Committee member Lisa Stefanoff says it was also mentioned at the May meeting.
She says the committee was told council did not need to consult them because there was no public money involved.
The News asked Mr Pilton whether, given the size of the statue and its proposed location on public land right in the centre of town, whether he thought the townspeople should have been asked if they wanted it or wanted it there.
He says the members of his lodge have asked a lot of people and have received overwhelming support.
He also says townspeople demonstrated their support “with their feet” in turning up to the various celebrations of the Stuart expedition, including the Doreen Braitling Memorial Lecture which the Freemasons supported. 
Ms Stefanoff, who was part of a protest on the planned site of the statue on Tuesday evening, says the statue is unsuited to the location: “It’s a gargantuan piece. It would be better located by a roadside. No-one will be able to view it very well on the council lawns. At best they’ll be able to look at its knees or up at its groin.
“It’s very ill-conceived.”
An emergency meeting of the advisory committee is to be held tomorrow but as the Alice News went to press, it looked like the statue would go ahead.
The meeting, according to both Mr Mooney and Mr Ryan, was to be about information only.
There was no intention of revisiting the proposal.
If council’s conditions were met by the Freemasons, site preparation was to begin on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, permit conditions for the selling of paintings from the Uniting Church lawns were the subject of protracted debate at council’s meeting. It was agreed in the end to defer the issue to next month’s round, when draft conditions will have been further amended.

Araluen solar plant is down but not out.

After considerable community angst over its location and a move towards compromise, the solar air-conditioning project at the Araluen Arts Centre has now been put on hold.
Tenders have come in at  “almost double the cost we had anticipated”, Araluen director Tim Rollason announced last week.
How could that happen? One could understand the cost estimates being a bit out, but out by more than double?
Mr Rollason says the project was costed “quite a few years ago, when Alice Solar City (ASC) was first announced”.
An information sheet about the project reveals that the anticipated cost was around $1m.
Cost was discussed only in relation to an alternative option of photovoltaic cells put at “in excess of $3.0M”.
“This would be nearly three times higher than the installed cost of the solar troughs and the absorption chiller put together,” according to the information sheet. 
Mr Rollason has corrected this, saying this week that $1m was the anticipated cost for the solar troughs only.
The project was meant to be one of five “iconic” installations of solar technology for ASC. Controversy arose over its proposed location in the grounds of the arts centre, originally between Central Craft and the Strehlow Research Centre. A compromise location – on the Circus Lawns behind the arts centre, to the west of Big Sister Hill – was later agreed to.
Mr Rollason says in its earliest form the project was to be powered by solar dishes generating electricity, which were to have been located at the back of the arts centre.
Later, following a thorough analysis of the building and its energy needs, it was decided that solar troughs – collecting heat which through thermal exchange would chill water which would in turn cool air in the building – would be the better way to go. This was a different, more unusual technology.
The tender process revealed that a lot of parts for the installation would have to be ordered from overseas.
That was one factor affecting cost in unexpected ways; others were changes in the technology itself and  the changing “money story” around the world, says Mr Rollason.
Brian Elmer, general manager of Alice Solar City, says the project was “very much not an off-the-shelf technology”.
“There are only a handful of similar installations in Australia that we could refer to.”
It was necessary to work on the design in order to have an idea of what the cost would be of “such a unique application”, says Mr Elmer.
Replacing the now 26 year old air-conditioning system remains a priority for Araluen, says Mr Rollason.
In the past a number of other options were considered, together with costings; some were solar-energy options, some were not.
Mr Elmer says ASC would still be very keen to get a solar project happening for the arts centre, as “an important community facility which uses a lot of energy”.
ASC’s original vision was for five .
With an imminent announcement regarding a solar farm in Ilparpa Valley, four of ASC’s iconic projects will have eventuated.
Is an “iconic” project still a possibility for the Araluen site?
“That depends of your definition of iconic,” says Mr Elmer.
In community discussions over the Araluen project a high level of visibility seemed a key criteria. In this regard, would photovoltaic panels on the roof qualify?
Mr Elmer says Araluen has a “great north-facing roof” for solar and it’s “certainly an option”.
However Australian Government funding for this scale of renewable energy project will remain unknown until after the election.
Mr Rollason says people should also understand that photovoltaic cells would generate electicity but would not be connected to powering the air-conditioning system directly, although they would act to offset the carbon footprint of the building.
The Alice News also spoke to some members of the community reference group that was put together, after community pressure, to consider the location of the now defunct project.
Glenn Marshall, a member of the ASC consortium and a long-time champion of solar energy for Alice Springs, is frustrated over the costing estimates being “terribly wrong”: “We need to understand why to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” says Mr Marshall.
Mark Wilson, an artist and secretary of the Central Australian Art Society, says, “Now is the time to look for less iconic – read less expensive – options that will not detract from the physical environment of Araluen Precinct, but that will still have significant savings to the power load of the town.”
A PV installation on the north-facing roof is one obvious option, but Mr Wilson also wonders whether the originally planned heat exchange technology could instead be powered by natural gas with the door left open for a solar trough ‘solution’ at a later stage.
Fran Morey is a member of the Friends of Araluen but gives a personal view in calling for Mr Rollason to reconvene the community reference group “to encourage the use of solar energy at Araluen, to help with the costs of the new air-conditioning plant which is urgently needed - but in a cheaper and already tried form”.
Involving the group “would help with the general feeling in the overall Alice Springs community that there is very little consultation in any of the developments that occur at Araluen”, says Ms Morey.
The draft Araluen Cultural Precinct Development Plan is now to be revised with the final plan expected to be completed in the next few months.

Candid, courageous, moving & hilarious.

The audience were with her from the start.
In her opening line she told them that Saturday’s were the first shows she’d done in Alice Springs sober.
They clapped and cheered – it was more than sympathy, it was respect for her  fight, solidarity.
And if anyone was feeling a little anxious about whether this journey as a recovering alcoholic would be the stuff of comedy, Fiona O’Loughlin soon dispelled all doubts.
She was candid, courageous, moving but also hilarious.
How does she do it?
There are lots of things.
She creates an illusion of intimacy with her story-telling style – you could be sitting at her kitchen table.
She has a sharp eye but also a great affection for people’s foibles and weaknesses and the absurdities to be found in everyday life.
She turns this sharp eye on herself as much as she does on others.
She is a magpie for witty metaphor – “she has a mouth like a torn pocket”, “she’s as funny as throat cancer”, and so on.
And she can act.
This was new, for me at least: her grimaces, her accents, her pantomine, her pathos.
It was a rivetting, painful moment when she showed herself as she was a year go, nodding off on stage under the influence of alcohol.
Her performance of the two sides of a vacuous conversation between Maria Shriver and Oprah Winfrey was masterful and devastatingly funny.
Then there was another thing: her reaching back into childhood, wry, vivid evocations of this large Catholic rural family, mad, ridiculous, touching.
And a final thing, a grand liberating gesture, an exorcising of her demons, about which there seems to be an unspoken agreement to not spoil the surprise for future audiences.
How does all this come together to make laugh-a-minute stand-up comedy?
O’Loughlin certainly knows the answer.

Giving it a shot where the loaded guys race. MOTOR SPORT with CHRISANNE WALSH.

In May this year, Kyron Wright entered into the Piston Broke Promotions Show ‘n’ Shine and won the prize for the best looking bloke.
In fact his 1971 Ford XY GT Falcon won the Best Ford Classic category and the People’s Choice Car of Show, while his 1971 Ford XY Falcon won the Best Unfinished Project category.
It was one of many red letter days for a bloke who turned petrol head because his wife Sandi got sick of him sitting around the house and talked him into buying a GT.
Originally from Tasmania, Kyron completed a vocational course in motor mechanics at the Burnie TAFE after leaving school. In 1988, his family moved to Alice Springs and he commenced an apprenticeship with Centralian Motors.
A foundation member of the Aces and Eights Special Interest Vehicle Group, and the current Vice President, he tells me that he was never really into cars, although he always read Street Machine magazine. He says that working at Centralian Motors probably got the bug started.
Back then he owned an old Holden HK ute which he’d bought from his dad. He flashed it up a bit with fat tyres and bucket seats but then realized he was throwing good money after bad.
After moving it on, he purchased an old HZ GTS four door and put a 308 motor with a five speed gearbox in it and painted it up. This car was taken out to the drags once or twice when they were at the old airport. Kyron says “it was a good thing” but had to move it on to get out of debt. Soon after, Kyron bought the GT and he still has it now. He had moved from Holden to Ford and feels this was a better move because the old Ford went harder and faster as a standard than any of his Holden’s ever did - even after a lot of work.
At the time, Kyron was looking for an XA GT RPO83 type vehicle.
He explains how Ford had released the Phase I, II and III and never got around to releasing the Phase IV.
And then because a lot of parts had already been manufactured, the surplus parts were offloaded into the XA GT with the vehicle becoming known as the RPO83. 
His find never eventuated, and in the meantime Kyron’s mate Cliff Glover had sourced an XY GT here in Alice Springs. Cliff was going to buy it and move it on but after some friendly discussion, Kyron was the one who bought it. The car wasn’t what you see today and once he got hold of it, a major rebuild took place.
The entire vehicle was stripped back to bare metal before it received a respray at Alice Crash Repairs. From here on Kyron did most of the work himself with some help from Cliff. Every nut and bolt was replaced with brand new ones or re-anodized if new bolts were unavailable.
The GT is worth so much money now, making it a bit risky to bring it out too often. Although not really an issue in Alice Springs, cars have been stolen or damaged in other areas of Australia, where the would-be thief has followed the owner home and cased the place.
Kyron says: “I know it’s bad saying all that stuff and you don’t hear of it happening here, so I should just get it out and drive it.
“I don’t think it’s really a worry – it’s just over-paranoia on my part but you never know”. When asked how often he brings her out of the garage, he smiles and says: “Once in a blue moon and not often enough according to a few people!
“I’ve probably had it out about five days this year”.
Upon completing the GT’s restoration, Kyron swore he would never do it again but here he is, building another race car in readiness for another Targa Tasmania!
Kyron’s interest in Targa began when he took employment with St John Ambulance in 2003 and a new Deputy Operations Manager arrived.
The new guy, Craig, was into motor racing and had an old white VH Brock Commodore. Kyron started doing up the motor and a few other bits and pieces for him, when he came in one day and said: “Bugger this - we’re racing Targa”.
Kyron’s reply was “Oh, ok”. 
After a bit of quick thinking, they decided to race the car in the 2004 Targa Tasmania.
While in Tassie on holidays, Kyron went into the Targa office to find out which class their car should enter.
After describing the vehicle’s modifications he was informed that it had to be stock-standard, because it was classified as a “modern” car.
Kyron then suggested an earlier model and was told that there could be as many modifications as they liked.
He phoned Craig back in Alice Springs straight away to explain what had to be done and about three days later, received a call telling him to have a look at a car on the internet.
Between them, they bought another Brock Commodore – a VC – off the internet for $6,500 and by the time Kyron returned from holidays, the car was in the workshop.
They pulled everything out of the VH and put it into the VC, and went from there.
Once the car was ready, they then had the mammoth task of getting everything down to Tassie. In all, there were five people, a car, a tow-car and a trailer.
Before doing the Targa Tasmania, Kyron and Craig raced the Rally Tasmania first.
This event is held up on the north-west coast around Burnie, Wynyard and out the back of Elliott to the Savage River Mines.
Kyron says there were a lot of corners and tells how he took a travel sickness tablets every morning before heading off.
He laughs as he tells me about another much more experienced co-driver who ended up throwing up in his pace notes half way through the race and ended up having to just watch for the corners afterwards. 
Although they didn’t do too well, Craig and Kyron finished the race.
They weren’t too fussed about it though, because they only wanted to use the race as a practice run for the Targa event.
On their return to Alice Springs, they left the car in Tassie at Kyron’s parents place and then went back in May / June to do the race.
Upon their return, they took the car up to Launceston and realized how much of a rich man’s sport the Targa was: there were so many expensive cars and well-known professional drivers.  After completing the prologue, Kyron and Craig thought they were pretty good – they had placed 26th out of 150 cars in their class.
They believed they had a good chance but on the actual first day of racing, about three quarters of the way through the day near a place called Sheffield, they came around a corner and ran straight off the road and into a tree. Targa was over!
The car was transported back to Alice Springs and took about $800 to be repaired.
Kyron found an old Commodore and cut the front off. 
They used it on the damaged vehicle and did a few extras before taking the vehicle down to South Australia in 2006 to race in the Classic Adelaide.
Kyron believes this a better event by far, explaining that all vehicles start from the Hilton hotel every morning and finish at the Hilton hotel every night.
The circuits are no more than 200 kilometres away from the city centre every day enabling a much easier time during break-downs and the like.
One of the highlights was the prologue which went around part of the Clipsal 500 track along the front of the Victoria Park race track.
Kyron enjoyed being the driver during the prologue, although all his “mates” told him that he performed as though he was “Driving Miss Daisy”!
The race was conducted over four days and even though they had a few dramas, the boys made it to the end, happily receiving their finishing medallions.
After this, Craig decided to sell the car and Kyron has used his share of the money towards building the XY Falcon he’s currently working on.
Sandi bought it from Custom Automotive and gave it to him for Christmas. Although he’s done a lot of work on the car, he says it will probably be another year before it’s complete. “It’s a slow process when you haven’t got that much money to start with but I think you appreciate it a bit more when you’ve had the satisfaction of doing it all yourself”, he said. Working mostly on his own, he says it’s quite expensive to finish the car so that it steers and handles well.
Like the GT, he’s started from scratch on this vehicle as well and the body is probably the only original thing left.
It will basically be a brand new car when it’s finished due to almost everything being reconditioned, swapped, changed and renewed.
Kyron wants this to be a multi-purpose build so that he has the flexibility to go and race practically anywhere and he’d love to do another Classic Adelaide and win lotto to go back and finish the entire Targa race.
He acknowledges that without the support and help he’s been given by Custom Automotive and Eagle Training Services, he wouldn’t be as far along as he is now, although he says: “At the end of the day, it’ll probably only be used for the drags here in Alice Springs”. 
No matter what the outcome of the vehicles’ use, I believe it will be another beautifully restored and pristine piece of Kyron’s pride and joy.

Move over, Roadshow.

They’re a pair of culturaI entrepreneurs, no doubt: mid-weeks were pretty barren, apart from bars, until, after a year’s preparation, Pop Cinema got going, screening cult and independent films in a club-like setting, with food, bar, and live music.
But, is it a business? Can it bring in the dollars to ensure its survival beyond the initial bout of enthusiasm that has set it up?
“I prefer the term ‘free enterprise’ to business,” says Cameron Buckley.
“It’s an enterprise free of government grants. “
We just had to struggle to get it going.”
But pay its way it does and it pays its people too.
“There are things called ‘community businesses’,” says Buckley’s partner in the venture, Cy Starkman.
“These are often portals for grant funding.
“As opposed to that we are a business that supports a community.”
He sees it like this: in the creative community people are constantly asking one another to do things for free. If instead people paid each other to do things even a small amount, that would get cash circulating – it would create an economy.
So from the outset, Pop Cinema paid.
“It’s all about creating a venue that’s sustainable,” says Starkman.
When they say “venue” though they mean more than bricks and mortar.
They see Pop Cinema as an event programming venture rather than as a place.
To date its events have all been presented at Witchetty’s  at the Araluen Arts Centre, which they hire at the going rate.
They ‘bump’ Pop Cinema in and out – setting up a club-style atmosphere, with live music, tables and chairs, artwork by a feature artist on the walls, running a bar and inviting the collaboration of the caterer Reality Bites to provide meals.
Late August though they’ll take Pop Cinema to the pub. Where else to screen the four-hour film of the Bulgarian concert of the Big Four of metal music – Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax?
Local metal groups Miazma and Uncreation have been invited to play as the support acts.
The common denominator for programming is a feature film: “It’s our headline act, the thing that will pull the crowd and the income, and all the other things we do are the support acts,” says Starkman. Local short films are supposed to be among these. But screening them is more complicated than you might think. Getting a classification exemption takes time – “Allow a month”, says Starkman – and the default exemption is an “R” rating, which means that under 18s have to leave while the short film is on.
Until the locals catch up, Pop Cinema is falling back on a catalogue of Australian shorts that are ready to go.
With their feature artist spots they are hoping to create a space for artwork for which there’s not an obvious exhibition space, getting it out of the closet.
They identify local talent through their networks.
As for their feature films – films that would not get shown in Alice otherwise – they look to “the street presses of New York and Paris”, says Buckley.
Their first two screenings were sellouts. In fact they had to turn about 80 people away both times.
It’s a fine line between retaining a relaxed intimate setting, with something of the theatrical quality of old-time cinemas, and alienating a potential larger audience.
“We’re learning about our marketing,” says Starkman.  When we didn’t push a particular film and got only 52 people turning up, that told us something about the baseline of our support.
“But we have to be careful to not over-promote when we can only seat 120 people.”
Pop Cinema has been programmed in alternate weeks on either Wednesdays and Thursdays. That’s been a problem too as some people have turned up on the wrong day. For their 2011 season they’ll aim for a standard day to keep it simple.
In the meantime you can find out what’s coming up by going to (you don’t have to be a member).

LETTERS: Independent says drop big parties.

Sir,- Neither the Liberal Party nor Labor Party can be proud of their record in the Territory where housing and infrastructure remain sub-standard and outcomes for children remain dire.
I am calling for an enquiry into the enormous amount of money that has been wasted. 
We need to bring our infrastructure up to 21st century standards and the money allocated to the Territory through the Intervention could have gone a long way to modernising our communities and building our economy.
You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of sealed roads outside of regional centres in the seat of Lingiari, and both parties continue to ignore the need for new housing and infrastructure in regional, rural and remote areas.
Young families are struggling with high rents and many people in remote communities are still waiting for housing promised through the SIHIP scheme.
There should be an enquiry into the SIHIP scheme which has seen many millions of dollars spent on endless housing audits and the refurbishment of houses that remain overcrowded and quickly fall into disrepair.
In many communities houses were simply painted on the outside and photographed by political party’s spin doctors.
Local businesses are being overlooked and contractors are being brought in from all over Australia to undertake building works. 
We are paying for their accommodation and meals, while houses are built that are too expensive to heat or cool, and little or no training is offered to local people.
The Intervention was supposed to be about making life safer and healthier for children. 
Everywhere I go people are frustrated that the main issue facing children – homelessness – is not being addressed. 
The MySchool website uses the excuse that children are not attending remote schools for cultural reasons. This is untrue. 
Many children are not attending school because they have nowhere to live and their families are forced to move from community to community when crowding becomes unbearable. 
Children are also faced with a system that no longer celebrates their language and asks them to leave their culture at the school gate.
It’s time for someone who represents Territorians, and not a political party, to go to Canberra. 
The situation is urgent and Territorians are sick of being treated like guinea pigs in ill-conceived social experiments.
Deirdre Finter
Independent candidate for Lingiari

Public servants OK

Sir – I found a lot of good sense in Martin Robinson’s letter (‘Aborigines need jobs not programs, Alice News. July 22), but my approval became less enthusiastic as I read further. 
Why does he insist on people getting private sector jobs? What’s wrong with teachers, doctors, nurses, public servants, even politicians?
There’s nothing wrong with working in the private sector if you’re that way inclined, but as long as Aborigines are a disadvantaged class it’s good that they be (gently) encouraged to work in jobs where they serve their own people.
Mr Robinson seems to want them to aspire to lives of conspicuous consumption, and that at a time when we are starting to realise that the world isn’t big enough and productive enough for everyone to live at the standard of the white elites, and we who use a lot of its resources should cut back. (Do all “run-of-the-mill” Australians have passports and pools anyway?)
I was horrified that he wanted them all to have mortgages — to sign themselves up to a lifetime of debt.Of course some will choose to live in big houses behind high fences, but it would be a tragedy if the bulk of Indigenous people don’t continue to value family over wealth, the bush over holiday resorts, conversation over workaholism, while working in congenial and worthwhile jobs and contributing to their own communities and the wider community.
Gavan Breen
Alice Springs

Stop crackers

Sir,- I am pleading with the people who are continuing to let off fireworks around the town four weeks after Territory Day to Stop it.
We have one day in the year when it is legal to set off fireworks between 11pm & 6pm.
This alone can be distressing for pets but owners will usually take certain measures to ensure their pets are safe.
These ongoing random bouts of explosions are not necessary and many animals have suffered or lost their lives because of human beligerance and breaking of the law.
We have had the misfortune of having to put down our family pet and pedigree show dog last Sunday fortnight ago because of injuries sustained when he impaled the backyard fence trying to escape from the fireworks being released in a yard near by.
 This behaviour needs to be banned permanently and severe penalties should apply, it is not fair that we are now without our pet and have had to incur this loss because of selfish, careless people.
 To date fireworks are still going off causing our other dogs and us continual stress.
Marlene Douglas

No place for nuclear power in Oz
Sir – We condemn Minister Kon Vatskalis for entertaining nuclear power as a potential energy source for Australia.
Mr Vatskalis remains out of touch with the energy future Territorians want to see developed.
Public opinion in Australia has already demonstrated opposition to nuclear power – there was immediate and sustained opposition to John Howard’s nuclear power ambitions.  This will not change just because nuclear industry advocates and mining ministers tell people a change is inevitably coming. Mr Vatskalis is spouting out industry hype about a nuclear renaissance but in reality, the industry is flat lining not booming.
Despite industry and government spin about ‘clean, green’ nuclear, the nuclear industry has not yet found a solution to the intractable problem of radioactive waste management.
Indeed, successive governments have been unsuccessful in forcing a low and intermediate level facility on Aboriginal communities, including the current Muckaty plan.
Natalie Wasley
Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Alice Springs

Big gains from voluntary grog restrictions

Sir – Voluntary alcohol restrictions requested by the Aboriginal community of Norseman in regional WA and supported by the whole community – in particular the local publican – have led to a 60% decrease in alcohol-related hospital admissions and a 17% reduction in assaults.
The Evaluation of the Norseman Voluntary Liquor Agreement, released on July 12 by the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), found that a 12-month trial of the restrictions also resulted in a 10% reduction in police tasks and a 10% decrease in per capita alcohol consumption.
Local authorities also reported less violence and public drunkenness and improved health and nutrition among residents. 
Norseman is 720km east of Perth and 200km south of Kalgoorlie.
The evaluation demonstrated that alcohol restrictions that have been instigated and supported by the community can be very effective in minimising the harms resulting from alcohol misuse.
The Norseman Voluntary Liquor Agreement is unique in that the Norseman Aboriginal Community worked voluntarily with the local licensee to instigate change, rather than trying to declare a dry area or to use liquor licensing legislation to enforce restrictions, as has occurred elsewhere in Australia.
The restrictions, introduced in March 2008, limited the sale of particular cask and fortified wines to a six-hour period each day.
Quantities were also restricted.
The Norseman Aboriginal Community initiated the alcohol restrictions as the first step to addressing health and social issues in their community. 
The trial was so successful that the restrictions have been made permanent and, at the suggestion of the Norseman Hotel licensee, have been expanded to include two more products.
The evaluation found that in the 12-month trial of alcohol restrictions, there was:
 • A 60.5% decrease in the number of alcohol related hospital admissions from 38 to 15 admissions. Emergency Department presentations due to alcohol-related violence in the local Aboriginal population completely ceased.
• A 17.5% reduction in assaults, from 40 cases to 33, and a 15.3% decrease in domestic violence incidences, from 46 cases to 39.
• An overall 10.3% reduction in total police tasks attended, from 165 tasks to 148.
• A decrease in per capita alcohol consumption of 9.84%, with most of the decrease in cask red wine, fortified wine and ready-to-drink spirits.
• Increases in people voluntarily seeking early health care, such as residents having themselves and their children immunised with the flu vaccine and regular blood glucose testing for diabetics.
• Improvements in nutrition, such as regularly eating breakfast, and an increase in participation in family, community and sporting activities.
• Decreases in violence, arguments and public drunkenness.
The next step for the Norseman Community is to get government support for a permanent, locally based alcohol and other drugs worker to help the community expand its capacity to solve alcohol and other drug-related problems.
Andreia Schineanu
National Drug Research Institute
Curtin University, Perth

Judge welcomed

Sir – The Law Society welcomes the appointment of the Honourable Justice Trevor Riley as the sixth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the NT.
Originally from Western Australia, Justice Riley commenced practice in the NT in 1974, before Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin.
Following 10 very busy years at Ward Keller he went to the Bar, and was appointed as Queen’s Counsel just four years later.
Whilst at the Bar, where he excelled, Justice Riley was counsel in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody from 1988 to 1991, and was President of the NT Bar Association from 1993 to 1997.
The Society notes that Justice Riley has taken a keen interest in mentoring law students, most recently with a program for Indigenous legal students from Charles Darwin University; and with young lawyers through advocacy programmes.
He has authored a book called ‘The little red book of advocacy’ which has enjoyed wide distribution.
He was appointed to the Bench of the Supreme Court of the NT on February 1, 1999.
With 36 years of legal practice in the Northern Territory, 11 of which have been on the Bench, Justice Riley brings a comprehensive knowledge and experience of the Territory’s judicial system to the position of Chief Justice.
The Law Society extends its congratulations to Justice Riley and looks forward to working with him in the near future as Chief Justice.
Suzie Simmons for
Law Society of the NT

Political Animals

Sir – The RSPCA has launched a national recruitment drive for Political Animals who will cast their votes for the true underdogs this Federal election.
Voters who register at will be making a public declaration that they will make their votes count for those that have no voice
Puppy factories, live exports, humane slaughter and food labelling are four matters the RSPCA wants the next parliament to deal with.
We’re no longer prepared to accept change in animal welfare to move at a snail’s pace.
 A critical part of the RSPCA’s work is influencing legislative change to improve the treatment of animals in this country.
This change resulted in a national ban on cosmetic tail docking of dogs.
More recently in Tasmania, change resulted in a state-wide commitment to phase out the use of sow stalls in pig farming.
Heather Neil

NANCARROW ARROW: Power of persuasion.

What is it that makes certain people shine? I don’t just mean good looks; I mean the power of attraction – star power and charisma.
One person I know who has this special ability is a bloke called Oz. For those of you who have been here for a while, he used to work at Bo’s saloon behind the bar and play in a music duo called “The Wizard and Oz”. Which is how I knew him. I was the wizard to his Oz for a couple of years, enjoying some of the best gigs of my life.
Each Sunday we had a great bunch of mates come along and sing their hearts out at Bo’s, which in turn brought in passers by who wondered what all the fuss was about. Great days.
But he got itchy feet and moved on, heading west to Kalgoorlie and then moving home to NSW a couple of years later to be with his family.
Fast forward a couple of years to 2010 and the stage is set for the next part of the yarn – the one where this extremely-scared-of-heights person, me, gets talked into doing the unthinkable by his charming mate, Oz, and his offsider, Timmy.
Just recently Oz had a significant birthday and asked me to come over and play at the party. The Wizard and Oz would reform, rock the night away and I would get to see where he lives and works, as the party was to be held at his work place.
Ozzy’s new job is at an adventure camp, a place where schools send their students for a couple of days of RnR, interspersed with challenges of the physical (hiking, canoes etc) and mental kind. Stuff about facing your fears and overcoming them, making you stronger blah blah, you get the idea.
This is great when you are younger, have no real reckoning of your own mortality but do have a desperate need to seek the approval of your peers. So abseiling and throwing yourself off towers all makes good sense, especially as you are roped up and there is no real risk as such.
Not so good for me, who doesn’t care about the ropes and safety nonsense.
But still, there I am in my harness and Bob the Builder helmet, being quietly reassured by Timmy, the not-scared-of-anything bastard. I tell myself the definition of bravery is doing something even though you’re scared – still no improvement in the racing heart/sweaty palms stakes.
From the ground the step off the tower thingy looks OK, 11 meters up, attach rope and step off into thin air – doddle. Ozzy calls me up and the wheels start to come off.
As I climb I start to pant, not through exertion but sheer funk – not the Bootsy Collins type either. By the time I get to the top it sounds like I’m about to give birth and I’m shaking like a leaf.
The Oz man is very professional, getting me hooked up and manoeuvring me to the edge – or at least he tries too. I’m having trouble making my hand let go of the rail.
I step off and float gently to the ground, as promised. Upon landing my legs gave away and I grovelled in the dirt for a second before regaining my feet, alive and kicking. This was how we spent the day before the party, doing scary things. I was exhausted after running on adrenalin all day and had to have a restorative lay down before the gig, which went wonderfully well.
Thanks for the fun, Oz; I don’t think anyone else could have made me do half the things we did that day. Shame we couldn’t go on the flying fox though. 

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