ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
August 19, 2010. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
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Abbott a pawn?
By ERWIN CHLANDA with additional reporting by KIERAN FINNANE.
Country Liberals heavies appear to have been scheming to sacrifice Leo
Abbott – highly unlikely to win Lingiari – to get at Labor’s Damien
Hale who is on a knife’s edge in the seat of Solomon (Darwin).
This is suggested by an email exchange leaked to the Alice Springs News.
But Mr Abbott on the weekend survived a strong push to have him
disendorsed over his breach of a domestic violence order (DVO).
Mr Hale, too, has a DVO against him.
Mr Abbott’s breach consisted of messages sent by text and email to his
estranged partner, after the miscarriage of their baby.
Magistrate Greg Borchers, who heard the charges on December 15 last
year, emphasised that there were no threats, abuse or denigration
contained in the messages. (See below for further detail.)
The apparent schemers behind the attempted dumping include former Chief
Minister Shane Stone, CL director Peter Allen and treasurer Graeme
Mr Lewis said to 10 addressees: “I doubt that disendorsement is a legal
option – voting has started.
“But we need to put petrol on the issue to fix Hale right up.”
And Mr Stone replied: “If we determine its correct then we pull his
preselection and at the same time challenge the ALP to do likewise with
“The ALP will argue the difference is that Hale agreed to the Orders
and never breached them – the point is that the ALP and Hale will be
out there having to defend his predicament – Hale’s DVO has oxygen
finally for them that don’t know [sic].
“Terry Mills could call for the disendorsement.”
The fracas has the Country Liberals teetering on the brink of a
Party heavies in Alice Springs and Senator Nigel Scullion are backing
Mr Abbott as the candidate in Saturday’s election, while the entire
Territory parliamentary wing, his fellow candidate in Solomon, Natasha
Griggs, and even the national Opposition Leader Tony Abbott want him
Alice Springs delegate Steve Brown says Leo Abbott told the party’s
preselection committee in a closed meeting earlier this year that he
had breached a Domestic Violence Order (DVO), had been fined by the
court, but no conviction had been entered.
Mr Brown, who was at the meeting attended by more than 100 people, says
he and several leading CL members in Central Australia are supporting
Mr Abbott, in a bid to groom an Aboriginal candidate for Lingiari which
for decades has been dominated by Labor’s Warren Snowdon.
Mr Brown says the DVO breach – sending text messages and not involving
physical violence – had been committed by Mr Abbott in a state of
extreme sadness over the death of his son.
“I believe he has the right to move on,” says Mr Brown.
But Members of the Legislative Assembly, who are not permitted to be
present during preselection proceedings, were not told about Mr
Abbott’s confession, it is claimed.
And while the party machine confirmed its support for Mr Abbott, and
declined to disendorse him, the CL Members of Parliament demanded he be
MLA for Port Darwin and earlier a prominent CL figure in Alice Springs,
John Elferink, told the Alice Springs News he had only learned about Mr
Abbott’s breach from media reports last week.
He said he had asked Mr Abbott at the Darwin show whether rumours were
true that he had breached a DVO, and Mr Abbott had told him all charges
had been thrown out of court.
Mr Abbott gave the same reply to a question from the Alice Springs News
in mid-May, clearly telling a lie.
Opposition Leader Terry Mills started the “dump Abbott” campaign by
speaking to national media late last week.
On Monday Mr Mills, using the party’s website, issued a statement
saying the party’s “parliamentary wing ... met this morning and were
rock solid behind my move to have Mr Abbott disendorsed.
“The issues surrounding his breach of a DVO mean he is not a suitable
person to represent the party at the Federal election.
“While I am naturally disappointed the party’s management committee saw
the matter differently, I believe the view of the parliamentary members
more accurately reflects the community’s view.
“There is too much violence in the Northern Territory and there is too
much domestic violence.
“The Country Liberals’ party wing believes it is the role of community
leaders to send a signal that all forms of domestic violence are
abhorrent and unacceptable.”
The three CL Parliamentarians in Central Australia, Jodeen Carney
(Araluen), Matt Conlan (Greatorex) and Adam Giles (Braitling) did not
respond to requests for comment from the Alice Springs News.
However, the News obtained emails from Ms Carney and Mr Conlan to
constituents, informing them that they will not be supporting Mr Abbott
at Alice Springs polling booths on Saturday.
Says Ms Carney: “For many, many years, I have taken a strong public and
private stand against any form of violence against women. It is
for this reason, and as a matter of conscience, I cannot support
this candidate, which is why I will not attend at the Gillen
polling booth on election day.”
And Mr Conlan: “The parliamentary wing and Tony Abbott support Terry
Mills and his call to disendorse the candidate despite the wishes of
those on the Country Liberals management committee.
“As a result, I won’t be attending the Sadadeen polling booth this
Saturday as a matter of principal [sic].
“The stance by Terry Mills has also been supported and applauded by
former Chief Minister Shane Stone who along with Marshall Perron were
at the forefront of pioneering domestic violence prevention programs in
the wider community and also among the indigenous population.
“The program was called Enough is Enough and was so successful it
became a bench mark for other jurisdictions around Australia.
“Hence my decision to withdraw supporting this candidate.”
They are now clearly in conflict with the people who endorsed them, the
CL members in Central Australia.
Mr Abbott did not respond to phone calls from the News.
At the time of the hearing of the breach charges, Mr Abbott had no
criminal record, was not known to the police, and had never been before
This was clearly stated by both the police prosecutor and Mr Abbott’s
Magistrate Greg Borchers accepted that Mr Abbott had an excellent work
history (from working as a stockman, to 13 years in the Parks and
Wildlife Service, where he rose to a senior position, and recently a
consultancy for FaHCSIA, where he was Program Manager for Indigenous
Engagement)); and that he had made a significant contribution to his
immediate community as well as to the wider Indigenous community.
The DVO was served on Mr Abbott on April 14, 2009 and expired on
April 5 this year.
The breach of the order consisted of 21 messages sent by text or email
between April 16 and May 31, 2009.
Mr Abbott participated in a voluntary electronic record of interview
with police on July 18, 2009.
He accepted that the messages were “a form of contact”.
When asked why he had contacted the protected person, he said,
according to the police prosecutor, “I was reaching out to her”.
Mr Borchers, who was supplied with a “download” of the messages, noted
that they were “not in any way threatening”.
He said they expressed Mr Abbott’s affection for the protected person
and sought an agreement from her to speak to him.
Nonetheless they constituted a breach of the order against him, which
Mr Borchers said a man of Mr Abbott’s education and background should
His defence lawyer had put to the court that Mr Abbott believed that
“contact” related to “face to face” or being in the person’s
Mr Borchers said the offence was found proven but he was “not moved to
record a conviction” against Mr Abbott.
He fined him $500 and placed him on a good behaviour bond for nine
months. It will be due to expire next month.
Meanwhile Mr Hale supplied this statement: “I condemn domestic violence
and have never engaged in it.
“Family separation is hard on everyone but no where is it harder than
“My ex-wife and I placed DVO’s on each other in July last year for a
period of 12 months and they have since expired. At no time were the
police involved in the matter between my ex-wife and myself.
“Neither of us ever breached the Court Orders. We are now divorced but
communicate because we have five beautiful children. Our focus has
always been about protecting our children so it is for that reason I
will not be making any further comment on this matter.”
Who will benefit
from AZRI - airport development? By
$50,000 for a house block? It may be unlikely but certainly not
impossible: just how hard will the public push the pollies to make
something like this happen?
As has been expected for years, the AZRI (Arid Zone Research Institute)
land south or of the town has now been officially joined by some
airport land in plans to provide desperately needed land for homes.
The airport is owned by the Commonwealth, leased for 99 years to
Northern Territory Airports (NTA) and as is the case with the AZRI
land, is unencumbered by native title.
NTA paid $110m for the leases of the Alice, Darwin and Tennant Creek
airports in 2000.
Both AZRI and the airport are public land.
The NT Government is spending $10m to bring headworks – power, water
and sewerage – to the edge of the AZRI block.
The cost of internal development – streets, electricity, water,
sewerage – is around $50,000 per housing block, given that the land is
flat and not stony.
So why should the government charge more than it costs it to bring the
land on stream for home buyers?
If the government charged the extortionate current market rate for
residential land, who would get the $270,000 per block windfall?
And if it didn’t, what would the people say who for years have been
paying through the nose, or who just left town in disgust or despair?
Warren Snowdon, who is seeking re-election as the Member for Lingiari,
with great fanfare announced that the Commonwealth had approved the
airport master plan which provides for residential development on 3.5
square kilometers, about 10% of the huge block accommodating the
airport, at its north-western edge.
Together with the AZRI project there will be room for creating 4,500
dwellings over 20 years, says Mr Snowdon.
He did not explain why that approval wasn’t given more than two years
ago, or earlier.
Successive airport master plans contained the housing proposal and it
was raised in a major town planning forum in 2008. (See
At that time the parasitical dealing with land in Alice Springs had
reached crippling dimensions.
In fact plans to use the airport land as living space dates back to the
first airport master plan, in 2004, when it was approved by the then
Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson (Coalition).
When Labor came to power in 2007 it embarked on a review of the entire
The new suburb went on the back burner while the cost of housing
Labor decided there should be no houses, schools, hospitals and the
like on airport land, no matter how big it is, nor how desperately they
This is unless there are exceptional circumstances, which the Minister,
Anthony Albanese, has now decided are present.
This discovery came – conveniently for Mr Snowdon – just a week out
from the elections.
A spokesman for Mr Albanese says neither he nor his predecessors had
any opportunity – until now – to approve the residential use of part of
“The airport operator could have brought an amendment [to the master
plan but] chose not to do that.
“They could have. They did not.”
But Ian Kew, NTA CEO, says the Commonwealth was “well aware what’s in
our master plan all of this time”.
He says the proposal had been approached by the NT Government “with a
lot of vigour in the past couple of years ... we had to go out last
year and get detailed studies [and engage in] community consultation.
They challenged us to provide more information.”
Asked whether Mr Snowdon had offered in the past to fast track the
process Mr Kew said he had not but “he may well have done that.”
The aviation review of the new Labor government had also caused some
“It’s still early days” is a common answer when one enquires about
projected land prices in the new suburb of Kilgariff.
The airport company is now proposing to collaborate with the NT
Government. Mr Kew says the exact form of this is not yet clear.
The company, which also owns the airports in Darwin and Tennant Creek,
may be surrendering part of the lease area to the NT
Government. What it will get for this – if anything – isn’t
The Commonwealth may take the view that as the company is leasing the
land for aviation purposes, it isn’t any skin off its nose if the owner
– the Commonwealth – trims off a bit to counter ever rising real estate
A spokesman for NT Minister for Lands Gerry McCarthy says the cost of
the blocks “will be determined by the market”.
In that case someone will make a killing, either the government or the
developer, given that the market value of residential land is five to
six times the amount it costs to open it up.
The spokesman says with the Darwin suburbs of Belamac and Johnston, the
land was auctioned.
The purchase prices will not be disclosed, except that the government
will re-invest any profit in opening up further land.
All this evokes fond memories of the days of “Canberra control” before
self-government in the Territory: land was sold at the cost of the
The writer of this article in 1975 bought a brand new three bedroom
house on a quarter acre block for $36,000. The deposit was $600 and the
remainder at 4% interest.
Thousands of people moved into town in those days.
The style of Kilgariff is another uncertainty.
When we raised the plans two years ago with the airport director at the
time, Donald McDonald, he said his company would be careful not to
offend against “acceptable” land use patterns.
This raised some questions.
The plan put forward by consultants to the NT Government, Opus Qantec
McWilliam, shows along Colonel Rose Drive, the northern boundary of the
airport, land for “single dwellings”, conjuring up anything from homes
on quarter acre blocks to cluster housing.
In one place along that road there is provision even for “medium rise
And to the east of the residential areas is land set aside for
“tourism” – which could mean anything from walking trails down to the
Todd River to hotels and caravan parks.
On the other side of Colonel Rose Drive are long-established rural
residential areas, mostly two hectare blocks (five acres).
Residents there have fought determined battles, by and large
successfully, to retain the character of their area and their
Mr McDonald told the Alice Springs News two years ago that community
wishes would be respected and where appropriate, there would be rural
residential land, which would mean two hectare blocks or bigger.
That seems to have gone by the wayside. A new plan released by Mr Kew
last week shows town-size blocks just across the Colonel Rose Drive,
opposite Heffernan and Petrick Roads (the writer of this article lives
in this area).
Stand by for another blockies’ revolt!
out for council on liquor litter case. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The Town Council has been offered a way out of Supreme Court
proceedings challenging the validity of its liquor litter charge,
according to information leaked to the Alice Springs News.
The council is not proceeding with the charge in the current financial
year, now that the NT Government has promised a Territory-wide
container deposit scheme by late next year.
However, the council has refused to rescind the charge imposed in the
last financial year, although it has offered to consider a scheme of
payments of the outstanding amounts.
Several of the affected parties are now proposing that council enter
into confidential arrangements with them to not enforce the charge and
to reimburse those who have paid it, in exchange for discontinuing
their legal action contesting its validity.
This would leave the charge “on the books”.
Should council accept their proposal, the parties, represented by Peer
Schroter of Povey Stirk, would be seeking a negotiated agreement on the
issue of legal costs.
A pre-mediation conference has been scheduled for next Tuesday (August
24), with “position papers” of both sides due to be filed yesterday
The plaintiffs’ “position paper” reflects the above proposal, first
made on June 29.
Apparently council’s position paper will disclose for the first time
the legal basis of its defence.
Should the case go ahead it will be heard in Darwin by Chief Justice
Riley on December 16 – a relisting due to the unavailability of the
council’s senior counsel.
The Alice News has asked council for comment.
CEO Rex Mooney said council considers it “inappropriate to comment as
the litigation is still pending”.
river campers watch out: by-laws will be enforced. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The Town Council’s public places by-laws are now in force.
During the implementation period there will be “some leniency shown”
with regard to enforcement, with an emphasis on education.
However, rangers are apparently being prepared for rigorous enforcement
with baton training and obtaining security licences, council business
At Monday night’s meeting rural resident Rod Cramer asked what had the
by-laws changed with respect to camping in public places, beyond
extending its ban for a few hours.
Craig Catchlove, director of Corporate and Community Services, said
those hours (up to 9am) are useful for the exrecise of ranger powers.
He said rangers have been actively booking “quite a number” of tourist
At first they are advised to move on but if they “tarry”, rangers issue
Rangers clock on at 8am, though on “river run” mornings (usually three
a week) when they deal with campers in the river, they start at 5am.
Would it not be better to deal with people at 9pm, rather than 9am
after “the damage” has been done, asked Mr Cramer.
Mr Catchlove says enforcement in the morning is deliberate, in light of
the accommodation shortage in town. Moving people on at 9pm would be
“verging on the inhumane”, he said.
There’ll be a “communications strategy”, including on CAAMA radio in
Aboriginal languages, about the new by-laws, he said, letting people
know what the major differences are.
Regarding tourists camping in public places, he said if necessary “the
old overtime book” would be pulled out and rangers would move them on
He said council met with police last week and put the view to them that
they should also act to enforce council’s by-laws.
Meanwhile, the permit conditions for selling art from the lawns in Todd
Mall have been redrafted and are likely to be voted for at the end of
Alderman Melanie van Haaren, who had previously objected to conditions
she felt were covered by the by-laws (such as prohibiting ‘public
toileting’), said she was happy with the redraft.
Mr Catchlove said he had gone back to the Uniting Church, owners of the
major part of the lawn area, and they were happy with the by-laws
coverage of points of concern and for “specifics to be handled on a one
on one basis”.
The condition regarding ownership of the works being offered for sale
now says the paintings must have been “predominantly”, instead of
“wholly”, produced by the sellers.
Permits will cost $200 for a year, or $50 for three months, and $100
Aldermen also supported formalising community collaboration with the
police, with a model that has been successful in NSW to be put to NT
Police “as applicable to Alice Springs”.
Called “Community Safety Precinct Committees” the model provides the
opportunity for local councils, community members and business owners
“to get involved in strategies designed to address local crime
only for aggressive dogs. (Posted Sept 3, 2010.)
Town Council rangers under no circumstances will use batons when
dealing with the public, says CEO Rex Mooney.
The baton training referred to in last week’s Alice News (“Tourists,
river campers watch out: by-laws will be enforced”) is for “the express
purpose of dealing with aggressive dogs in extreme situations”, says Mr
The Alice News regrets the error.
from Spears, Kloeden rejected. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Applications on behalf of Anton Kloeden and Joshua Spears, two of the
five men convicted of manslaughter of Kwementyaye Ryder, seeking
leave to appeal against the severity of their sentences have been
The lawyer acting for Mr Spears, Tony Whitelum, has since applied for a
rehearing of the application.
Such applications are considered by a single judge in chambers on the
basis of affidavit material.
See our web archive for reports about the content of the affidavits
Meanwhile, Selwyn Kloeden, father of Anton, says detention conditions
for his son and co-offenders have improved.
They are now allowed out of their cells for six hours a day.
Mr Kloeden (snr) spoke out about the conditions on a recent Four
At the time of the interview he sad the five were being held in their
cells for 22 hours a day, describing that as “just extraordinary”.
Mr Kloeden told the Alice News that the conditions were changed just a
few days before the Four Corners program went to air.
He is continuing to push for the detainees to be given the resources
they need to study.
His son is doing a business course, through CDU, but is not allowed
access to a computer.
will keep sharp eye on new town camp homes.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Residents in a brand new house at Hidden Valley town camp say they want
to keep the house clean, but they also must keep it clean.
Sarah Mangeraka (pictured), daughter of Judy Williams, a dialysis
patient who has been allocated the house, says “Tangentyere [sic] come
and see the house all the time”.
Sarah lives with her husband Patrick Nandy at Amoonguna, about 16 kms
by road from town, but frequently comes to Hidden Valley to help her
“Before they come we clean the floor, we clean all the wall. If kids
chuck icrecream or whatever on it, we got to clean it.
“If they see it’s dirty, we have to get out from this house, go back
and stop at another house.”
Until a month ago Mrs Williams was living in a house with – her
grand-daughter, Melissa Sitzler, adds them up – 12 adults and five or
six small children.
And no-one was doing cleaning.
“That was stressing her out,” says Mark Lockyer, a nephew who calls her
In the new house there’s three adults – Mrs Williams, her grandson
Angus and Melissa – and eight young children.
“I love little kids, they make me happy,” says Mrs Williams.
“They’ve got to stop here with me.”
She grew up in Hermannsburg and spent time at Ali Curung and Tennant
Creek before moving into Alice at age 19, living at first at Little
She’s been at Hidden Valley since the mid-80s, in a number of different
For the last several years she’s been on dialysis.
“I been waiting long time” for a new house, says Mrs Williams.
She lives off the money on her Basics Card (50% of her benefits) and
saves the rest for the little kids – so she can buy them a treat when
the mobile shop comes in the afternoon after school.
Mark, Mrs Williams and Sarah all seem happy with the Basics Card system.
“Before the Basics Card most kids were eating weetbix, bread and
noodles, now they eat proper food,” says Mark.
“Basics Card is alright,” says Sarah.
“Before people spent their money on grog and cards.
“Now we buy tucker, clothes.
“I do shopping every day, before the kids come back.
“We save our tinned stuff.”
When Mrs Williams had good health she ran her own household, did her
These days she needs help and although she has a carer, “Allan, a white
bloke”, she also wants Sarah to be around to look after her.
With one wish fulfilled, she hopes for another.
She points to a vacant area just over the fence and says she’d like a
house to be built there for Sarah and her husband.
“I been talking about that to housing,” says Mrs Williams.
“Patrick’s a good son-in-law for me. He does cleaning, raking too.
“Before I go to dialysis Sarah feeds me.”
There’s also checking for evidence of drinking in the house, they say.
Mrs Williams doesn’t want drinking anyway and sends any drinkers down
to the nearby subdivision drain.
She’s happy with the house. It’s a cold windy day when the News visits,
but sheltered and sunny out the back. There’s a breezeway, protected by
security screens. The family will be able to sleep there when it gets
hot, says Mark.
There’s a bedroom and bathroom separated by the breezeway from the rest
of the house; a kitchen with breakfast bar and a small living room,
plus three more bedrooms, a bathroom with disabled access, and a
Outside the yard is bare but trees have been planted along the
fenceline and mulching applied. The residents are expected to keep the
yard clean and the trees watered, they tell the News.
Mrs Williams says “housing” haven’t given her a washing machine and she
also mentions wanting a fire drum. The News suggests that they could
look for a drum at the tip shop, but Mark says they’re hard to come by.
At the house where he lives, caring for his mother who is also on
dialysis, they asked for a new stove and got one.
Mark is also pleased about the services coming on to the camps: there’s
care assistance for the aged and disabled, help with money management
and life skills, dog control, and regular rubbish collection by the
Town Council, with two wheelie bins per house.
“We need two because of the number of people and visitors living in the
houses,” he says.
Wheelie bins are much better, he says, because you can take them
outside. With the 44 gallon drums they had before, they couldn’t easily
move them, dogs used to jump inside and strew the rubbish around and
people used to burn the rubbish.
“Step by little step” things are improving, he says.
In his own life too: he was recently selected to take part in the
Desert Leadership Program, a recognition in part of his role as a
The program will take him to Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra at the end
of the month. He’s particularly looking forward to visiting Canberra,
where he says he’ll be “listening and learning” but also intends to
speak to politicians about issues in Alice, such as alcohol abuse,
violence, and overcrowding in Aboriginal housing.
Drag queens. By
with a pit pass, I spent most of last Sunday afternoon at the Alice
Springs Inland Dragway’s Street Meet, talking to the six female racers
to find out what makes them “tick”.
Mother of three and grandmother of four, Chris Jackson races in the
Street Class but comes out for every race meeting to help.
She usually drives a blue 350Z Nissan and was having a day of ups and
downs due to being in her husband’s unfamiliar 350Z.
Chris and Pete sponsor the dragway’s computers through their business,
Centre Labour Force and Recruitment NT, and Pete spends most of every
meeting in the tower, handling the technical stuff and calling names
I asked her how she first got involved with racing. “When we installed
the computers I got sent down the track as a sensor tester and loved
it,” laughed Chris. Chris and Pete were proud to be associated
with the dragway’s Make a Wish Foundation charity day by sponsoring a
lane: “You have got to give back to the community,” said Chris.
Glenys Wilkins has been racing for 15 years and got started because of
her husband Tim: “It was a matter of joining them or being completely
out of it,” said Glenys who has 11 grandkids.
One of her granddaughters is her pit crew along with a lot of the young
fellows around town who all come out to help their Nan.
“Tim does a lot and Pete Hondow is a big support, especially when a
motor is blown – he puts another one in and away she goes – he always
seems to get me back there.”
Glenys has raced the same car since she first began and last year she
won the Super Street Title, the latest of quite a few over the years.
In 2004 at the old 7 Mile track she won, out of the whole club,
Champion Driver of the Year.
“A few boys didn’t like that too much but I earned it because I never
missed a meeting.
“It was a bit of a surprise and I think I was the only female racing
Glenys has attended a few “rod runs” down south but never raced at
them, although she has raced in Darwin.
Her best time so far is 11.3 seconds down the quarter mile but she
still wants to go faster!
“I want to beat not only my own time but also my husband’s – he’s
blitzing me at the moment.”
Her car is a naturally aspirated car which doesn’t have anything extra
under the hood. Although she has sometimes thought of going to “nos”
she feels it would be a bit of a false thing.
At present, Heather Parkinson is the only female motorcycle drag racer
on her Harley-Davidson 2003 Anniversary model Deuce.
Heather got involved at the age of 16 in Adelaide when she did five
years crewing for her best mate and his old Monaro.
After all these years, she has now decided to have a go at racing and
because she owns a Harley, she decided to have a go on a motorbike.
This is her first full season after having a couple of goes last year.
Her goal is to win a meeting and more than anything, to beat her own
“Every time you get back to the pits you have a look at your time cards
to see if you’ve run a quicker time. “It’s all about running quicker
and beating yourself and also your reaction time too.
“You have to get off the line quickly – you’re always trying to better
that as well, so you’re actually out there trying to beat two things.”
Heather’s mates, who are also drag racers, come out for every meeting
and give her heaps when she misses gears and so on. After racing, they
usually get together and have a chat over in the pits to see how each
other has gone.
Heather has been on the committee for five years and reflects on the
hard work in getting the track built. She’s pleased that things are
finally coming together, and although she usually commentates, says
this is her year to have a go at racing as well as helping. “You do so
much for the track (and I love it otherwise I wouldn’t do it) but it’s
so nice to be out there actually doing something for yourself for a
Heather’s friend Margie Paris from Darwin races mod bikes and comp
bikes all round Australia and in New Zealand, making her Heather’s
biggest idol when it comes to female bike riders.
Heather has also been touring on the national circuit and crewing for
various Door Slammer teams. As part of a crewperson’s job, she has
packed parachutes and assisted with pushing and bringing cars back.
She owns a Trans-Am which she hopes to have ready for the next Street
Meet – with two toys to race, she’ll have a hard decision on the day.
As the daughter of one of ASID’s original driving forces, Big Al,
Angelique Stainer is a well-known local female drag racer who started
at age 14.
After they turn 16, competitors must move out of the juniors, so
Angelique’s parents bought her current car for her 17th birthday.
“Most kids got a cricket bat in those days,” said Angelique, “whereas I
got a drag car and if it wasn’t for my parents supporting me and
letting me have a go, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with the sport.”
When I asked Angelique what’s in it for her, she didn’t have to think
at all before replying, “My heart and my soul”.
She finds it hard to come out and race because she really, really
misses her dad but on the same note she’s doing it for him.
She tells me about the butterflies she gets on the inside, and how at
first she thinks to herself that she doesn’t want to do it.
“But in the end, that’s what you do it for, because you need that
adrenalin feeling and I suppose now, I can’t get away from of it
because I grew up with it.”
As a junior dragster, Angelique travelled to Melbourne and won the 1995
Junior Dragster Title, then went to Adelaide and did track passes
there. She won a track record in Adelaide, along with numerous NT
titles for as many years as she was a junior.
After juniors, she was lucky enough to have a consistent car where she
could keep up and make it into a lot of finals. Wins in her
current car include the Mildura Power Sports Motor Weekend and her car
won the Best Presented Vehicle Overall in the Show and Shine.
It has also won a Best Paint Job category and the 1/8 Mile Titles in
Tennant Creek for four or five years in a row.
Angelique’s most meaningful win so far has been the runner up in the
Big Al Stainer Memorial Title.
To date, Angelique has had one season off due to her dad passing away
and she also took time off to have her son. Female competitors aren’t
allowed to race after the first three and half months of pregnancy.
Angelique had her last race at about 3 months and wasn’t too happy at
the idea of having a season off. She laughs and tells me, “He was doing
7.9 seconds down the quarter mile before he was born, which is
something he can tell his mates about when he’s older.”
Her son’s first outing after he was born was to the old 7 mile drags
strip and although Angelique didn’t race that meeting, he slept through
the whole thing and didn’t wake up until all the noise stopped and his
pa had a trophy for him.
Now aged 10, young Alan is her main support. He’s been picking out
rubber from under the car and helping to polish the wheels.
If she can afford she’d like to get young Al out there one day, said
“It’s such a family orientated sport it would be good to have him
participating and not just helping.”
Considered a bit of a “revhead”, mother of one Nicki Lee Bowen always
liked the drags but never had the opportunity to have a go – she was
not aware of the old 7 Mile strip, even as a spectator!
When the new strip opened, her husband Russ brought their commodore out
to race, and they saw Warren Wallace’s rail car for sale. There
was something about this dragster that made Nikki Lee fall in love with
it and so things moved on from there.
She feels this is a classic drag car – it was the only one in town for
a while – and whenever someone mentions drags, these are usually the
first picture that comes into a person’s mind.
Having always driven a four cylinder, Nikki literally jumped out of a
Yaris and into a dragster and she’s now been involved for about two
“I like the rail car because it’s long and I like the length of it
because it doesn’t seem to step out as much as the altered dragsters,”
One of her more nervous moments occurred in Tennant Creek when she got
the car a couple of metres sideways.
Nikki had only been racing for a couple of months before her biggest
moment – winning the 2008 Alice Springs Titles. It was the first time
she’d ever really won anything and she just couldn’t believe it.
Her car has a 468 big block chev motor and she runs a 150 shot of “nos”
Her fastest time so far is 8.21 over the ¼ mile.
For Nikki the club is like one big happy family and that’s what makes
it special. When she’s not racing, she helps out wherever she can and
she and her husband both enjoy different areas of the same things,
which helps to keep their partnership strong. Russ is her “number one”
and her head mechanic, manager, crew and financial support. He puts in
a lot of hours and is the one who has the ideas to make things come
together, said Nikki.
Heather Anderson has a background in speedway, starting when she was 16
as a passenger on a sidecar. She moved on to solos for two and half
years, then swung for Ringer Sidey and a couple of other people.
After this, she met and swung for her late husband Neil, who had been
transferred from Adelaide to work for the aviation crew at the airport.
Neil used to drag bikes and a GT ute with Heather as pit crew and an
observer, so last Sunday was her first time as a competitor.
She’s racing a ‘66 fastback Mustang which came out from California. It
was imported by Down Under Thunder in Brisbane and she actually bought
it when it was still on the boat to Australia.
She’s had it for about nine months during which it has just sat it in
the shed and been polished a lot because she’s been too scared to
This car also won the Best American Muscle category at the Piston Broke
Promotions Show ‘n’ Shine in May.
Heather said she didn’t realise drag racing would be so hard. Although
it’s a lot of fun, she was very, very nervous and was also having a
little bit of trouble with the clutch.
She feels it’s probably a bit easier for the guys with automatic
transmissions and was prepared for the clutch to burn out after her
The best part of Heather’s day was probably getting her confidence up.
“I’m still a bit frightened of it but the guys have been helping me out
all day and they’ve been fabulous.” Heather wants to stick it out for
the rest of the season but there’s a fair bit of work needed on the car
first. She was surprised at how slippery it was out there without
Sitting there for the first time on the line was “absolutely
petrifying” and she was worried that if something went wrong, she
wouldn’t know what to do, how to correct it and shut it down.
Each of these women gave me a closing comment which was really positive
and I couldn’t help becoming swept up into their enthusiasm for the
Chris Jackson: “The biggest buzz for me is that this is actually time
out for me where I don’t get interrupted for 15 seconds.
“There are no phones and no people, and I can just purely concentrate
on what I’m doing – it’s great stress relief!”
Glenys Wilkins: “I think it’s nice that an old girl’s driving this car
with a motor that could have run in any era – that makes it all good, I
Heather Parkinson has played netball and other sports over the years
but says nothing gives her an adrenalin rush like this: “The noise, the
methanol, all the fumes and the burnouts – this is ‘it’ for me!”
In the future, Angelique sees herself in the same car but possibly in a
different class and hopefully with her son alongside her. But if she
had to choose, she’d give up and allow her son to have a go.
Nikki says racing has become her life, and although her car is out of
action at the moment, she simply can’t wait to get back out onto the
Heather Anderson feels at her age, this sport is a bit kinder than
speedway and motocross but still gives an adrenalin rush.
Since Neil’s death, Heather has changed her entire attitude to life.
Her advice: “If you want to try something, just get out there and do it
because you might not be here tomorrow – don’t wait – just go and do it
because life’s too short and it’s bloody good fun.”
Desert triumph in national awards.
In a triumph for painting from the western desert, Jimmy Donegan, now
living in the remote South Australian community of Kalka, has won the
27th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award.
His work Papa Tjukurpa and Pukara also won in the General Painting
Award category, which meant Mr Donegan went home $44,000 richer.
The painting depicts two dreamings on a single canvas (measuring 1.8m x
2m) – dingo from his father’s country, and water snake from his
The Alice News met the artist briefly last Saturday on his return trip
from Darwin where he had attended the awards ceremony the night before.
A dignified man in a stockman’s hat and dark blue jacket emblazoned
with the word “Australia” and white stars of the Southern Cross, he
appeared delighted about the win but keen to get home.
He speaks little English but made it clear that he did not want to talk
about the “dreamings” in his painting, with all others present being
Local audiences can look forward to seeing work by him and others from
the NPY region, currently experiencing an ascendancy in the art world,
in the forthcoming Desert Mob.
Mr Donegan was born at Yanpan, a rockhole near Ngatuntjarra Bore,
around 1940, and grew up as a ‘bush baby’ in country around Blackstone
and Mantamaru in Western Australia.
He has family links through the Pitjantjatjara lands, his wife
originally from a place near Kalka. Now widowed, Mr Donegan lives in
Kalka with his four children and close to his sister Molly Nampitjin
Miller. The artist is also a wood craftsman, with his spears, spear
throwers and boomerangs sought-after.
Old Timers Fete $ bonanza.
Thousands turned out last Saturday for the reliably delightful annual
Old Timers Fete, which raises funds for the aged care facility.
It grossed its second highest takings ever, with $72,000. Funds are
likely to be put towards upgrades of the cottages.
Over 80 people had responded to a call for volunteers, with business
and community organisations joining the traditional church and service
Clockwise from top left:
• Resident Old Timer Anne Cox, who turns 93 next month, welcomed
visitors to the museum.
• It was a perfect day for picnic.
• Lluisa Vilalta from Barcelona joined local Elissa Pernu for a fete
favourite, Devonshire tea.
• Volunteers Elaine Sheridan and Sue Collins with another fete
specialty, handmade soft toys.
• Volunteer Mister Shaun was auctioneer.
• And volunteer Nola Leyback closes a deal at the book stall.
LETTERS: Mental illness affects many in
Sir – [A] canvas shows a mark for each human life lost to suicide by
friends and family of the 30 attendants at the Mental Health Forum and
Vigil run by local GetUp members last Wednesday. There were around 120
Local candidates for the seat of Lingiari, Deirdre Finter and Barbara
Shaw, attended the vigil.
Claudia Manu-Preston from the Mental Health Association of Central
Australia (MHACA) spoke with assistance from an Indigenous support
worker and a past consumer of mental health services.
Indigenous carer Valda called for a telephone service offering support
in Indigenous languages.
Ms Preston emphasised the fact that while crisis services are
important, a successful approach to Mental Health requires a holistic
approach, with areas such as accommodation, support networks and
community education providing crucial building blocks to sustained
She cited MHACA’s recently released report into Alice Springs
accommodation services for the mentally ill, There’s No Place Like Home
– There Is No Place, which made the following recommendations:
• to recognise priority of need of people with a mental illness,
particularly their risk of homelessness;
• to meet urgent housing and support needs: 10 long term flats, 24-hour
supported accommodation for six people;
• provide accommodation beds to avoid unnecessary hospitalisation or
incarceration of people with mental illness;
• strengthen the capacity of clinical services to provide timely
response, including after hours, to support carers and accommodation
Short funding cycles were also identified as a major problem for long
Local NT Independent Phil Walcott also spoke of his life experiences
and plans as a candidate prior to the candlelit vigil.
GetUp is supporting the recommendations of Australian of the Year
Professor Patrick McGorry: to increase the federal mental heath budget
by $545m in funding 90 youth ‘Headspace’ centres, 10 early psychosis
intervention centres, 24-hour suicide prevention and psychosis teams,
support for mental health patients to recover outside of hospital, a
national mental health education campaign, social support services and
training for counsellors.
Sir – The debacle surrounding the Stuart statue is made worse by the
fact that Stuart, whom I believe to be Australia’s greatest inland
explorer, never came within 100km of Alice Springs. A better
option would have been to celebrate John Ross who found a way through
the MacDonnell Ranges or the discoverer of the original Alice Springs.
Given what I can only describe as the penchant of the
council to use the by-laws as a form of social control over the
residents of this town it is doubly disgraceful that the most secretive
council I can remember failed to follow its own procedures (possibly
even those in regards to conflict of interest), simply to satisfy what
I can only describe as a mysogonistic secret society with tentacles
stretching throughout the town, with secret members and handshakes to
I believe that the failure to follow due process means the town will be
lumped with a western triumphalist statue more suited to 19th century
Australia than 21st century Australia. An explorer with a
gun may symbolise food to some but repression to the original
I believe the best option for council is to donate the statue to the
Waramungu, who turned Stuart back at Attack Creek, to do with it as
Fab guided tour at
G’Day Ed – We run a small tour business, taking interstate artists
camping out bush for a week in various locations around the Centre.
Our last camp was on Owen Springs reserve, and we took a day trip with
our artists to Rainbow Valley.
There we did a morning tour with Rainbow Valley Cultural Tours.
Guide and Traditional Owner Ricky Orr took us on a tour of the
occupation and art sites behind the cliffs, including tool-making
sites, rock engravings, and rock paintings.
The tour was excellent, and greatly enjoyed by our artists. Ricky is
courteous and knowledgable, and has what we consider the essential
prerequisite for a good guide, the willingness to say “I don’t know”.
As a result of the tour it is obvious why those parts of the Reserve
should have restricted access. Having unguided visitors scrambling over
the country would cause irreparable damage to the archaeological,
biological and cultural values of the area.
Not to mention the ones who come with a crowbar and take a slab of rock
art away with them, as has happened in the past.
The existence of these tours is a direct outcome of the Joint
Management Plan and the Indigenous Land Use agreement set up under the
Native Title Act.
It is a step towards the much talked about Aboriginal business and
employment, and provides another item in the much sought after
‘Aboriginal tourism product’ category.
We also witnessed local Aboriginal people employed in the Ranger
program carrying out buffel grass control, in an area where keeping
this invasive weed out is an achievable objective.
We will be going back as part of our next camp.
Deb Clarke and
Sir – I hope those involved with the camel cull, the current federal
member and Peter Garrett, squirm at the realization that the Federal
Government managed the magnificent sum of $1 million for the 20 million
poor people suffering from flooding and starvation in Pakistan, nothing
for the 9 million starving in Niger (including millions of children),
and $19 million to eradicate the alleged one million feral camels,
leaving the meat to rot in the desert. Mr Garret in his magnanimous
wisdom has stated to me the purpose of the cull was to “contain costs”
and “prevent exploitation of the Indigenous community”.
In four recent trips into the heart of the Simpson, over some 2000 km,
I have seen the princely number of six camels!
Sleep well, those devoid of conscience. I hope you squirm and suffer
the same pangs of hunger as those in Pakistan and Niger.
Livestock export vital
Sir – The livestock export industry is vital to rural and regional
Australia, and any restriction of the trade would have a devastating
effect on thousands of Australian families and communities.
The industry employs 13,000 people across Australia – not just farmers
and exporters, also veterinarians, stock agents, truck drivers, and
many more people.
The industry contributes $1.8 billion to GDP nationally and underpins
the entire economies of some regional areas.
It also ensures that farmers have a range of markets to sell their
livestock to, making sure they get a good price for the animals they
work hard to produce.
Contrary to the rhetoric, the practical reality is that our overseas
customers require both live animals and frozen and chilled meat
products, and one simply can’t replace the other.
But it’s not just economic contribution that’s important; it’s also the
contribution we make to improving animal welfare.
Healthy and humanely treated animals are our number one priority and as
an industry we lead by example. We operate under the highest standards
in the world and are one of the most highly regulated industries by the
This ensures that all animals are exported on high quality vessels
where they have room to walk around, lie down and have constant access
to fresh food, fresh water and fresh air.
We also ensure that Australian stockmen and veterinarians accompany
their voyages overseas.
We employ full time staff in the regions we export to, as well as
a team of experts that travel regularly overseas to upgrade facilities
and train and educate local workers.
CEO, Australian Livestock Exporters Council
Sir – The Henderson Government has rejected a Country Liberals’ plan to
establish an anti-corruption watchdog in the Northern Territory.
I am disappointed the Government voted against this important motion,
which would have provided a valuable governance tool into the future.
While I acknowledge the work done by existing organisations such as the
Ombudsman’s office, the Auditor General and the Territory Police Ethics
and Professional Standards Command, I also believe there is scope for
an over-arching authority such as Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct
I believe the establishment of a corruption watchdog would allow the
Territory to grow unimpeded by the type of corruption that exists in
The Country Liberals plan was to adequately resource the new authority
and provide it with the capacity to fight major crime and oversee high
standards of integrity in the public sector.
It would also have ensured complaints about public sector misconduct
would have been appropriately investigated.
Women in gaol
Sir – The National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame is undertaking a local
history project about the women’s section of the Alice Springs Gaol –
the one located at the foot of Billy Goat Hill next to the Royal Flying
Doctor Service which was operational from 1938 to 1996.
I want to talk to anyone who worked in the women’s section, or who was
imprisoned there or who visited the gaol regularly.
The information I collect will be used to write a history of the
women’s section of the gaol and to develop signage and other
interpretive materials for a permanent exhibition in this space.
People who contribute information can remain anonymous if they wish.
I can be contacted on 8952 9006 or 8952 8024 or via email:
email@example.com. Please put Women’s Gaol Project in the subject box.
a Yank shrink
Sir – Hello, all. My wife and I just discovered your website and
thought we’d drop in for a visit. My wife is a retired secretary, and
I’m a retired psychologist. Oz looks like it’s worth a visit!
Joe Roberts, USA
Looking for Raelene
Sir – For a number of years I was in correspondence with a Raelene
Treis of Alice Springs.
It appears that she no longer uses her old email address.
She was proud of being a resident of Alice Springs. I’m wondering if
she is still there.
given, lesson taken.
The nasty rain has gone away and the day is ripe for people-watching.
It’s a bit like bird-watching in that you look for all the different
types and species in your area and can be amused a great deal by their
behaviour. It is a favourite pastime of mine, particularly in foreign
fields where there are new and exotic creatures to observe.
We are quite lucky here in Alice though, it’s like we are on a
migratory flight path, we get all sorts of people passing through for
all sorts of different reasons.
The “Silver Nomad” or self-funded mobile retiree is often easy to spot,
driving a huge 4WD car that will never see dirt but is useful for
pulling a caravan the size of an apartment block down the highway.
These generally happy folk do have a rather annoying tendency to drive
at 5kms an hour down the streets in the middle of town because they
don’t know where things are.
Here is a suggestion, park your environmentally very unfriendly monster
truck and walk around. Alice is very small and you can stroll
everywhere in a couple of minutes, free up the streets and reduce
stress levels. My stress levels.
To the old chap that got a few hand gestures and creative suggestions
about where to drive his car, I do apologise but you were driving like
a complete pillock and we were running late for a wedding. And, truth
be told, we had put up, without abuse, with you driving down Leichardt
Terrace, almost pulling into car parks before violently re-entering the
road and without, I might add, consulting the masses of mirrors that
hung from every conceivable pillar and post.
No, it was only when you pulled into the Todd Tavern Bottlo the wrong
way that you got red-carded.
Shooting backwards into the street without looking you nearly totalled
my car and wrecked my day. Silly old bugger.
Actually the take away boozer is another place that will let you
identify the Silveries.
While the locals have their IDs out and ready for the particularly
stupid practice of scanning, the Nomads look confused and start asking
questions, like “Why do we have to do this?”.
Answer: “It helps reduce the consumption of grog, reduces violence and
identifies people with a court restraint against buying grog”.
“Really?” asks the bemused silver one, looking at the chaos and noise
that rings in 6pm daily.
“Really, really,” says the attendant, who has the grace to at least
blush in the face of such pork pies.
This is the easiest way to differentiate the Nomad from, say, older
Even though they look alike (think vests with lots of little pockets,
gaily coloured glasses and sandals with socks) these folk don’t really
know the country and like all tourists in a strange new world, secretly
think the locals are pulling their leg.
When they get asked for ID while buying one can of beer they are even
“Ziz is not pazzibol, u vant me bring my pazzport to buy beer! Vy iz
siz so?” They get the same lines as the Nomads and react more
“Vot! Mein Gott yu Ossies are zer jokers, yes?”
That’s the trouble with spin doctoring, you can bullshit all you like
but when someone comes in from outside the whole thing gets exposed for
the sham it is.
Like in the tale of the emperor’s new clothes, these migratory folk
come from elsewhere, point the finger and state the obvious.
But no one wants to hear …