September 23, 2010. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

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Bush slum millionaires. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The member of a Western Desert based mining royalties association with more than $26m in assets says she has no idea what is being done with the money, and nor do most of the other 400 members.
Jane Blunden, from Katherine, says the royalties association, Kurra Aboriginal Corporation, is run by staff of the Central Land Council (CLC).
The CLC did not respond to requests for comment, and neither did Neil MacAuslan, the CLC staffer acting as Kurra’s co-ordinator.
Ms Blunden says she’s been trying to find out whether Kurra money is being invested in Centrecorp, which is three-fifths owned by the CLC, or companies associated with it.
There is only one general meeting held every year, at which decisions are made about investments worth millions of dollars, by people with a grossly inadequate understanding of what’s going on, or no understanding at all.
Ms Blunden says she believes much of the money has been sunk into Centrecorp which has extensive investments in Alice Springs and now also in South Australia, and is three-fifths owned by the CLC. She says at the annual meetings CLC staff typically give brief verbal resumes of the proposals, without displaying details on a whiteboard or on paper.
After that a show of hands is called.
She says the vote is sometimes influenced by members who are stooges, getting a larger share of the moneys distributed to members, which make up about half of the association’s annual income.
The individual payments range from $2000 to $63,340.
In fact there are two individuals with the same surname, and two families, each getting $63,340.
In the 2009 financial year, Kurra, according to its general report published by the Office of the Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations (ORIC), had a total income of  $7,966,470; a total expenditure of $3,880,398; current assets worth $7,583,019 and non-current (fixed) assets worth $19,051,458.
Ms Blunden says the money comes mainly from gold mining in the Western Desert.
Centrecorp is not a company registered by ORIC, but is a Proprietary Limited company, and as such not required to disclose financial details to the same extent as ORIC registered companies are.
Last year Ms Blunden engaged a solicitor, Vincent Peters, of the Darwin law firm Hunt & Hunt, to observe the Kurra annual general meeting at Lajamanu.
Mr Peters’ report stated in part:-
“I feel from the perspective of what the meeting achieved it was unsatisfactory.
“My concerns are the manner in which these meetings are conducted and I think it is entirely inappropriate for such a meeting to be held out in the open with members of the Corporation in effect divided according to gender and spread right around the yard.
“In addition, I think it is inappropriate for advisers such as Neil MacAuslan and James Nugent [a CLC lawyer] … standing there with the microphone endeavouring to explain to people, without a whiteboard, the nature of a proposal that they are being asked to vote on.
“I also found it entirely inappropriate that Neil MacAuslan spent approximately two minutes only reading through financial statements and a balance sheet, without any explanation to members of the nature and implications of the information.
“I think it is appropriate that the directors take more control of the corporation and that they do so by having regular meetings where they are properly informed as to the financial position of the corporation and the way in which those funds are being applied,” wrote Mr Peters.
“I cannot accept that any members of the corporation came away from that meeting with any understanding of the financial situation of the corporation and its subsidiaries and no appreciation whatsoever of the business of the corporation.”
Following this report directors demanded that there be four meetings of directors a year, and four financial reports, provided to the directors ahead of each meeting, that suitable premises are provided for the meetings and proper explanations are given.
Ms Blunden says these demands were not met.
Kurra committee meetings, of which also only one a year is being held, appear to be lively affairs, replete with heated arguments and threats of violence.
In part they deal with issues relating to WETT, an organisation linked to Kurra with a focus on education, and a recipient of direct payments, tied to education purposes, from Newmont Mines.
The Alice Springs News has obtained a copy of the minutes of last year’s meeting of the Kurra committee.
Excerpts (The News has withheld most names):-
“Talked about CLC’s involvement with Kurra Corporation and their lack of fixture [sic] to the rules. Talked about how CLC need to take more of an advisory stance and stop telling people what to do with their money.”
“You may have heard about Warlpiri boarding college and how we have made queries to WETT and we have not had any response. Goes on to ask people in Warlpiri for money to support this school. Please don’t say no, it is time we stood our ground together.”
Later in the meeting support for the proposed Warlpiri Independent Secondary College was rejected.
This is how the decision was minuted: “Talks about the advisory committee and the fact that they have investigated this idea (Request for 1.4 million dollars, to conduct a study into the feasibility).” All: Resolution not passed.
The Alice News reported on the project (September 9), quoting Andrew White, executive director of Education Transformation (ET), which has opened a college on the Tiwi Islands.
Mr White said the CLC “sank” a similar project at Yuendumu, while administering “massive” royalties, declining an application for funds from the Warlpiri Education Board.
Ms Blunden, when asked by the Alice Springs News, says the college project was rejected because there was no opportunity of discussing it adequately.
More from the minutes:-“You never did answer me, you have a rude attitude, you people were born with a rude attitude, now I have a letter to leave with you, you can burn it, or you can kick me out the door!”
“There are two laws, kartiya and yapa, and kartiya are giving our babies their education. I’m proud to be a yapa man. If you want to be kartiya, you are going to have to paint me white. (Is quite emotional and continues in this strain.)”
There was an exchange between Mr MacAuslan and Ms Blunden about Kurra providing loans for housing.
MacAuslan: I’ve been doing this job for 15 years and I’ve watched (several corporations) kill themselves. I’m telling you now if you start sticking your hand in your investment, you will not stop.
“Blunden explains how Yapa are, and have been struggling for years because they only ever receive tiny royalties every year. Opening the investment is the only way to get ahead.”
MacAuslan: I have to stop the meeting if you want to look at opening your investment. I don’t know what’s available. I need to call the office and it’s nearly five now so no one will be there. I suggest we finish now and come back tomorrow morning.
The minutes record (quoted in part) the opening of the meeting the following morning:
MacAuslan starts by telling the Kurra Investment Committee that they will not be able to open up their investment to use for personal use, as it is against the corporations rules.
Blunden: Why do you keep blocking me? I just want to buy those houses. Kurra is a company that can do whatever it wants with its money.
MacAuslan: Show me a company in the world that will lend one of its directors 1.5 million dollars for an unlimited amount of time, interest free.
[Ms Blunden told the Alice News the money would have been for five families in NT and Queensland, primary residences.]
Other members: We have rights Neil, why can’t you listen to us … You need to listen to the directors … Why is it always us you don’t want to listen to? … It’s all a lie, land council is taking all of our money.
MacAuslan: We cannot take any more than 5%.
Members: You are getting greedy … Arrente people get it all.
MacAuslan: Arrente people get nothing. Arrente people look at you guys and think that [you’re] millionaires, goes on to explain exactly what Arrente people get.
You own the NAB, you own Deloittes, and you’ve got shares in the APT. All that money is working for you.
Correspondence was recorded, in part (name omitted): Member would like to apply for a loan of 10,000 dollars and needs money to pay for the treatment and associated costs … would like to ask the association to help him with the cost of buying a headstone ($6000) for his granddaughter … would like to ask Kurra for the amount of $37,000 to assist the Baptist Church in buying a bigger bus … has been ill with cancer for a while.
We are asking Kurra to support the family by providing $60,000 for a very long stay in Alice Springs … requests $35,000 to “pay for my bills and other things” … would like assistance in the form of $12-$13,000 to pay for a heart operation he requires in Adelaide … is asking for $16,000 to help with her son’s check-up during a period of around 2-3 months.
About the discussions how the payments to the clans ($800,000 for one and $756,000 for the other) should be divvied up, the minutes record “general aggravated discussion whereupon several methods of division were written up on the whiteboard and subsequently rubbed out due to overspending.
“(Name deleted) informed Neil that he was going to snap his back and made advances toward him, punching the whiteboard instead.
“Everybody left the room and (name deleted) called the police at 1420.
“Distribution [of money] Commenced 1500.”

FOOTNOTE: This week a group of 100 people fled Yuendumu after people were injured in fights and a house and six cars were set alight. They sought refuge at the Seven Mile, a guest house at the old Alice Springs airport. On Tuesday they left on two buses, headed for Adelaide, where they are said to be staying for some time, enroling their children in schools.

Findlay: Listen first, talk later. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Labor’s candidate for the Araluen by-election on October 9, Adam Findlay, has safety in the streets as his main objective.
He says “real things” need to be done to deal with the town’s alcohol related problems, there needs to be more affordable housing and rents must not rise any further.
Having been in the region during the 1988 floods he says he will “consider anything that can protect Alice Springs and its people,” including a dam in the Todd.
But the first-time candidate makes it clear he wants to find out what the electorate wants, through doorknocking, and then push for it if elected, rather than advocating policies.
A professional chef Mr Findlay first moved to The Centre in 1986 for four stints in mining projects and now works as a chef for the Pine Gap contractor, Raytheon.
He and his wife Racquel have two young children.
From 1993 and 1996 he ran his own business in the Hunter Valley in NSW.
He spoke with Alice Springs News editor ERWIN CHLANDA.
NEWS: In Western Australia, the fee for extinguishing native title is about 5% of the freehold value. In Alice Springs it is 50%. This helps driving the price of land through the roof and creates absurd projects such as cramming 80 dwellings into the drive-in site, and developing the Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) block, which some say is not suitable [for housing], just because these are not encumbered by native title. Should the NT Government revise its policy about [compensating for] the extinguishment of native title?
FINDLAY: I’ll have to look into this and answer your question later. It’s not something people are raising in my doorknocking.
NEWS: Do you get many comments about the cost and scarcity of residential land?
FINDLAY: There have been a couple. It’s certainly an issue. I would say it’s not one of the high ranking ones – so far. I’m still out there doorknocking and I’ve got a lot more to do. It’s certainly not on top of the list.
NEWS: We recently asked the government for how much the AZRI blocks – which are on land owned by the public – will be sold. The answer was market value. That is currently around $250,000 to $300,000. It costs $50,000 to $60,000 to develop blocks – roads, water, sewerage, power and so on – a windfall to the developer of $200,000 to $250,000. Should land be sold at the cost of development, to bring an end to our ongoing land crisis?
FINDLAY: I’m sure in due course there will be some sort of decision made about how that will all operate, including grants for first home buyers.
NEWS: My question is, what will you be pushing for as the representative for Araluen?
FINDLAY: I want affordable housing for the people of Alice Springs, there is no question about that. We’ve just gone through the process of buying a home here, and it’s a very daunting task with the prices here in the last four or five years. Definitely I’ll be looking for a good result for the first home buyers.
NEWS: Is there a case for selling the AZRI blocks for or near the cost of their development?
FINDLAY: In due course everything has got to be looked at. I’m not sure about the mechanics of it. You should probably ask the minister about that detail.
NEWS: The voters will wish to know what your intentions are, what your platform is and what you’re pushing for.
FINDLAY: I will definitely be pushing for a good deal for first home buyers and for affordable housing. I’ll endeavour to get some more details out in the course of this campaign.
NEWS: A report has just come to light that recommends five storey developments in several locations of the centre of Alice Springs. The government has apparently received that report close to a year ago, and so did an advisory committee headed by the Mayor Damien Ryan and Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton. The real estate industry is represented on that committee. Earlier this year the government gave the green light to the five story Melanka development, yet the public was invited to comment only a few days ago.
FINDLAY: This is a really important question but you should ask the minister.
NEWS: We’ve put in a question. [This was on September 10 and the News has still not received an answer.]
FINDLAY: I’ve started asking businesses around the mall and in the CBD what their feelings are about going to five storeys and I’ll be continuing to do that to form an opinion.
NEWS: What are the answers you’re getting so far?
FINDLAY: A lot of people really don’t want it and people with vested interests do want it. It’s a fairly hot topic.
NEWS: Is it about half-half at the moment?
FINDLAY: Very close to half-half, yes, possibly favouring slightly against.
NEWS: As we speak we’re on a flood alert. The question for many years has been whether we should build a flood mitigation dam – not a lake – which experts consider to be the only measure which would save the town from major loss of life and catastrophic damage in  a one-in-100 year flood. What is your view?
FINDLAY: I was here in the late ‘80s when [Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister] Robert Tickner stopped the dam from being built. I was in the region during the 1988 floods in Alice Springs, when the centre of town was flooded. And I had my own home affected by floods in NSW. I consider there to be a risk. I will consider anything that can protect Alice Springs and its people.
NEWS: Would that include a dam, given what the experts say, irrespective of the arguments against it?
FINDLAY: What I have to do as a candidate is to sound people out, how people feel about that, and then pursue vigorously what the people of Araluen want me to do.
NEWS: Yuendumu has just had a few days of unrest which had its roots in the death of a man in Alice Springs. From what we can make out, there were suspicions of sorcery, a man was ‘paid back’ by stabbing him and he, too, died. Is it not time for the government to pass clear legislation banning payback and the excesses of tribal punishment?
FINDLAY: That’s a sensitive and complicated area. I’m not a government spokesman yet. I want the streets to be safe in all communities and in Alice Springs. Questions regarding something that is so sensitive is probably not something a candidate should answer [but should be directed to] a government minister.  
NEWS: We put a question to Karl Hampton in June on that very issue but we haven’t had an answer yet. The purpose of the conversation you and the News are having right now is to describe you as a candidate, what your views are, what you stand for.
FINDLAY: This is day four of the election campaign. I am not a government spokesperson but I want our streets to be safe and for us to have law and order. There are a number of alcohol reforms and programs happening.
NEWS: There has been a lot of tinkering with the problem of alcohol. Your opponent, Robyn Lambley, has suggested that habitual drunks should be dealt with by mandatory custodial rehabilitation, in other words, they should be locked up.
FINDLAY: Most of the crime in this town is related to alcohol. The government is very clear: it’s about cutting grog and the opposition is about putting more grog on the streets. There is some measured success, some good programs, a lot of people are putting in hard work. I want to work with the key stakeholders, [including] the police. They are the experts in this field. It’s not about tinkering but about doing real things to improve the safety in our streets.
NEWS: What initiative in the last nine years, the period Labor has been in power, has worked, and how has it worked?
FINDLAY: The restrictions have reduced consumption by 18%. There are now 195 police on the beat. There’s a whole range of things that have had an impact. Tougher sentences. But more needs to happen and I want to be a part of making our streets safer.
NEWS: Looking into the future, which measures should be implemented and how will they make a difference?
FINDLAY: I’m getting some interesting feedback during doorknocking. Everybody has a different perception of how people think in this town. I will gather as much knowledge as I can, and as we go forward in this campaign I will put together my own views in line with what they want to see happen.
NEWS: The handover of national parks to Aboriginal interests has been in progress for some time now. Recently the legal opinion on which this process is based was leaked to the Alice Springs News. According to commentators, the opinion does not say, as the government claims, that the surrender of park ownership to a minority is the only way of dealing with inadequacies in the declaration of some parks. In your view, should the handover be delayed of the remaining parks – the West MacDonnells, Finke Gorge and King’s Canyon, which underpin our tourist industry – pending an independent examination of the opinion?
FINDLAY: I’ll take this question on notice. I am aware of the issues but I don’t have enough details at present. I’ll do some research and get back to you.
NEWS: Before the by-election?
FINDLAY: Absolutely.
NEWS: Your CV mentions you were a union representative.
FINDLAY: At Mereenie Gas and Oil I was a site representative for the AWU, South Australia branch. Most of my role was negotiating enterprise bargaining agreements. There was a series of redundancies in 2005. We had high level negotiations with Santos. The talks broke down and we did have an Industrial Commission hearing in Adelaide.
NEWS: What would you like to achieve as the Member for Araluen?
FINDLAY: I would like to achieve safe streets, and a big improvement in law and order in Alice Springs. I would like to see the Alice Springs business community and tourism to grow, more affordable housing for young people coming in, and rentals to stop climbing. I’ve got two young children, so education issues are high on my agenda.
Schools here are fantastic, and they need continued support to maintain the excellent facilities we have here. And our hospital has been just about rebuilt from the inside out, and let’s maintain it.
Alice is a fantastic town now, a fantastic region, let’s make it even better.

Town planning: Do as I say, not as I do. COMMENT by KIERAN FINNANE.

Planning Minister Gerry McCarthy has failed to answer questions from the Alice Springs News, put to him on September 10 (11 days ago as we went to press), about two reports on the future of the town centre currently out for public comment.
In contrast to the treatment of  any meeting, competition or plan concerning land, housing and development in and around Darwin, there has been no media release nor press conference to draw attention to the reports and their main ideas.
Manager of Planning and Development, Peter Somerville, however, did write to Alice News editor last week, by snail mail, to let him know that the reports are available, almost a week after a detailed front page article in our newspaper about them.
These are but further examples that undermine confidence that the government and the department are acting in good faith when they ask the public to comment on the plans.
Meanwhile, works impacting significantly and lastingly on the town centre, and development applications that could if they are approved, proceed although they are in conflict with recommendations of the reports.
The reports say we should bring more people to live in the town centre, making it a more vibrant, safer place.
There are at present at least three development applications for the provision of office space with no mention of residential capacity – the one for the old Commonwealth Bank building, the one for the vacant lot in Bath Street and another on Railway Terrace in the former Bob Jane building.
A further application, for the vacant lot next to KFC, is for a car hire business – another car yard fronting the street would be in direct conflict with the recommendations of the reports.
The reports say that buildings in the town centre should come right up to the boundary, have active frontages (opening onto the street, with two-way visibility) and that blank walls in the town centre should be limited to a maximum of three metres.
The Westpoint building on the corner of Stott Terrace and Railway Terrace is currently being renovated – several windows and doors have been sealed and rendered over.
There are two stretches of blank wall facing Stott Terrace and Billygoat Hill that are around 10 metres long.
An artist’s impression of the Bath Street building shows large expanses of blank wall, and the reported intention to accommodate cars at ground level is in direct conflict with the recommendations of the report.
Antecedent to the reports, an Urban Design Audit (prepared by the same interstate company and released in August last year and reported on by the Alice News, described roundabouts as “quite inappropriate” for use in the town centre: they’re efficient for traffic flow but “reduce crossing safety for pedestrians and cyclists”.
The current reports emphasise that walking should be the main mode of travel for the town centre, yet earlier this year the Town Council put new roundabouts into the area.
The reports make the usual recommendations about street trees that appear to fall endlessly on deaf ears, and also mention plantings on median strips while the council has allowed concrete median strips to proliferate.
The Coles Complex seem to have taken their cue from council’s concreting fervour, concreting over the garden beds surrounding their allotment, fronting Gregory Terrace and Bath Street, increasing the ugliness, harshness and heat retention of this end of town. 

Questions Minister McCarthy is not answering

• The thrust of the Built Form Guidelines and the Residential Capacity Report is to provide a context for relaxing the height limits in Alice Springs. They don’t provide any discussion of the merit or rationale for going to a maximum five storeys other than the request of landowners to consider it. Future redevelopment, especially of residential capacity in the CAD, in both reports is predicated upon going to five storeys at most of the identified sites. The benefits, such as getting rid of carparks along the river, are presented as a trade-off.
These reports are dated November 2009 and January 2010 respectively.
In light of this, was the Minister’s decision to grant a conditional exceptional development permit to the owners of the Melankas site prejudiced by a policy direction that the government had already committed to as there is no exploration of the alternative in the reports it commissioned?
• The former Planning Minister, Delia Lawrie, said “the wishes of the community will be respected” in relation to going to five storeys. (
To what extent did the Minister take into account the “wishes of the community” in granting the exceptional development permit?
How exactly will the “wishes of the community” be respected in relation to the responses to these two reports?
• Can the community expect that the request to comment is made in good faith when, by government directive to the consultants, there has been no exploration of the alternatives?
• If the invitation to comment is made in good faith, how come the Melanka decision was made before the release of the reports and before the invitation was issued?
• When did the Alice Springs steering committee get the reports?
• I note that a member of the real estate industry is on that committee. This could give rise to speculation that the real estate industry has had advance warning of the recommendations. Is that proper?
• What are the formal restrictions and sanctions in relation to what members of the committee can communicate to people outside the committee?
• The process seems to short-change the public which has been paying around $300,000 for a vacant house block, unaware of the potentially cheaper housing that could come in some high rise buildings. Please comment.

Hargrave murder accused  say they can’t get fair trial. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The trial of the men accused of the murder in April 2009 of Ed Hargrave, which was to have started on September 14, has been delayed.
Lawyers for the accused contend that their clients cannot receive a fair trial given the way juries are selected in Alice Springs.
The two, Graham Woods and Julian Williams, are Aboriginal, while the deceased was non-Aboriginal.
Aboriginal people make up around 21% of the local population but never constitute a similar proportion on jury panels.
The Full Court in Darwin began considering submissions from defence and prosecution counsel regarding this issue on Tuesday as the Alice News went to press.
The trial start date had been put back to September 27 (next Monday) but, depending on the Full Court’s decision, could be further delayed as the court is being asked to consider whether the jury panel that has been summoned should be discharged and the trial adjourned in order to secure the men’s right to a fair trial.
If this were to happen it would also impact on other jury trials.
Justice John Reeves, hearing the accused men’s application in Alice Springs last week, lifted a suppression order put in place earlier by Justice Jenny Blokland.
She had heard in July applications on behalf of the accused to move the trial from Alice Springs to Darwin on the grounds that there was a risk that they would not receive a fair trial if the jury were drawn from Alice Springs.
Justice Blokland declined to change the venue of the trial (see separate article for her reasons).
Both Mr Woods and Mr Williams have pleaded not guilty to murder.
The application heard last week raised in part questions of “abuse of process” in relation to the selection of juries, although there was no suggestion that the Sheriff, who conducts the selection, had acted for an improper motive.
Issues included the order in which the selection is made, and the procedure of sending the list of potential jurors to the police who strike out disqualified people (see separate article for detail on the procedures).
The court did not hear evidence regarding these questions but did hear that a meeting of judges in Darwin on September 14 had given the Sheriff various directions in relation to how he would conduct the jury array in the future.
The application also raised questions of law in relation to the Juries Act and its consistency with the Australian Constitution and the Racial Discrimination Act.
The Crown summarised the basis of the defence’s concerns as to do with:
• the Alice Springs jury list being drawn only from the municipality of Alice Springs and not from the broader southern region of the NT;
• the broad disqualification provisions regarding those who have committed criminal offences;
• the disqualification of people who cannot read, write and speak English with proficiency.
“All these matters together preclude an appropriate proportional representation of Aboriginal people on jury panels” which deprives the accused of a fair trial, according to the Crown’s summary of the defence case.
Under the Juries Act, people who have committed a criminal offence and been sentenced to a term of imprisonment have to have completed their entire sentence, including any part of it served in the community, more than seven years ago before they can qualify as jurors.
The Full Court, with Acting Chief Justice Mildren and Justices Reeves and Blokland presiding, is now being asked to consider whether the Juries Act is invalid because of its inconsistency with the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, in that in its operation it infringes the right in Article 5(a) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and infringes s80 of the Constitution (which concerns the right to trial by jury).

What both sides agreed on

Here in summary is how the jury selection for the current sittings in Alice Springs worked, based on the agreed facts before the Full Court this week:
• The Sheriff estimated that 150 jurors would be needed for the September sittings.
• 350 people were randomly selected from the annual jury list drawn from the electoral roll for the Alice Springs municipality.
• SAFE NT, a division of Police, Fire and Emergency Services, cross referenced the selection in order to disqualify persons by virtue of a relevant term of imprisonment or exempt them (for example, lawyers, pastors and police officers are exempt). This eliminated 91 people.
• The Sheriff added 34 people who had previously deferred their jury service, which took the list to 291 persons, who were summonsed by posted letter.
• In all of these procedures there is no specific information about whether or not people are Aboriginal.
• When they came to court a Deputy Sheriff assisted those deemed to not adequately speak, read and write English to be excused, although it is contended that the Deputy Sheriffs are not expressly authorised to do that.
Of relevance:
• Of the list of 291, only 14 people had addresses in town camps.
• In the Sheriff’s experience it is not unusual for only half of people summonsed to present themselves to the court.
• Aboriginal people make up some 21% of Alice’s population of 27,481, but 45% of the 48,000 people who live in the area for which jury trials are conducted in Alice Springs (76% if the township is excluded).
• In 2008 83% of the NT prison population was Aboriginal.
• The electoral roll does not record specific house numbers for addresses in town camps.
• Mail is not delivered directly to town camps but is held at Tangentyere Council for up to six weeks for collection. Only a small proportion of it is collected.

Justice Blokland: Trial judge can overcome difficulties

Justice Blokland, in giving her reasons for refusing to change the venue of the trial, summarised the arguments put on behalf of the accused.
Among these were that:
• Mr Hargrave was a prominent person, possibly regarded as "a local hero or loved son of Alice Springs";
• public grief had been evidenced by, for instance, a statement from the mayor, a well-supported public appeal to raise money for Mr Hargrave's family, a memorial procession through the town, and a significant volume of expressions of regret and notices in the local press;
• racial issues had been highlighted in media reporting of the case, "including a juxtaposition of this case with a previous unrelated case where racial elements were acknowledged", as well as instances of inaccurate or misleading reporting;
• specific prejudice to both accused and to Mr Woods' family had lead to both men being moved for a period to custody in Darwin;
• the composition of juries in Alice Springs historically has been racially skewed.
Justice Blokland said that it is in the interests of the community that ordinarily an offence  be tried in the locality in which it is alleged to have been committed and that the jury be selected from the same district.
Changing the venue would also result in increased costs and inconvenience to the Crown, witnesses and others from the local community interested in the trial as well as the accused. 
The applicants argued that the trial needs to not only be fair but be perceived to be fair, but Justice Blokland said perceptions need to be appropriately and reasonably informed. 
She recognised some issues of concern but saw "nothing that could not be overcome by direction and instruction of the trial judge once brought to their attention". 
She cited the High Court on the proper direction of jurors:
“What ... is vital to the criminal justice system is the capacity of jurors, when properly directed by trial judges, to decide cases in accordance with the law, that is, by reference only to admissible evidence led in court and relevant submissions, uninfluenced by extraneous considerations. 
"That capacity is critical to ensuring that criminal proceedings are fair to an accused.”
The applicants had presented her with a number of extracts from local print media and web pages, some of which "impliedly" referred to Aboriginal people in a negative or accusatory way.
The applicants also felt that a headline for a report about the committal, which read “DNA found on knife”, gave a wrong impression, when it was in fact the deceased's DNA on the knife.
However, Justice Blokland felt that the media coverage was not comparable to the mischievous or inflammatory coverage of a 1981 case (The Queen v Peperill) when Justice Muirhead moved the trial of five men from Alice Springs.
The applicant Graham Woods reported in an affidavit threats and abuse by prison officers towards himself and the co-accused. 
After two weeks in custody both men were moved to the Darwin Correctional Centre. 
Mr Woods stated he was told by prison officers that he and Williams were transferred for their own safety because there was so much feeling against them in Alice Springs after the death of Mr Hargrave. 
He reported other abuse and taunting on the way to Darwin, but said he had not been treated badly since his return to Alice Springs Correctional Centre shortly before the committal hearing in October last year.  
Justice Blokland said the previous treatment of the applicants, if true, was serious but as it had changed, she concluded that there was no longer the same "intensity of feeling". 
The father of Mr Woods also reported in an affidavit that for the first time ever he had had difficulty obtaining work in Alice Springs. 
He believed that was a result of his family being blamed for the death of Mr Hargrave. 
He also reported certain incidents of threatening or offensive remarks and behaviour to members of his family.  For a time, the family moved out of Alice Springs, but since then had returned and he had obtained a small amount of casual work. 
Justice Blokland founds the incidents "concerning" but again concluded that the initial antagonism had lessened significantly.
She also noted the submissions from The Crown that no antagonism had been evident in and around the court at the committal. 
A lot of civilians had been in the court room however "there were more family for the accused than the victim’s family", according to the court's Officer in Charge. 
The applicants' concerns around the prominence of Mr Hargrave and the expressions of grief, loss and regret over his death did not mean "the trial will be unfair if conducted in Alice Springs", said Justice Blokland.  
"Over a year after the critical events, in my view these are all matters that if the trial judge deems appropriate, may be raised with jurors concerning whether they can bring an open mind to proceedings or whether they believe there is some reason why they would not bring an open and impartial mind or be perceived not to bring the same. 
"It is open to the applicants to draw any of these matters to the trial judge’s attention for formulation of any instruction to potential jurors."
She quoted counsel for Mr Woods, Russell Goldflam, on the racially skewed composition of juries in Alice Springs and noted that the Crown did "not appear to disagree that Alice Springs jury panels often do not include Aboriginal persons". 
Said Justice Blokland: "Mr Noble for the Crown referred to his observation that many Aboriginal persons excuse themselves from jury service. 
"The ultimate jury selected and drawn from the array will be subject to the directions of the trial judge. 
"There is no reasons to conclude that whatever the racial make up of the panel, they will not comply with the trial judge’s directions.
"I am not satisfied good cause exists to change the venue of the trial at this time."

Casino: Will multi million project go interstate? By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Rumours that a $35m contract for extensions and refurbishments of Lasseters Casino has been let to an interstate company have been denied by Lasseter’s manager, Brad Morgan.
He says no decision has been made as yet, but a Sydney firm, Metrovic Constructions, is advertising on the internet for a “production manager – Alice Springs”.
Mr Morgan confirmed that Metrovic is one of three tenderers for the work due to start in January, competing against two local firms.
Mr Morgan says the casino’s Malaysian owners are likely to make a decision within two weeks.
In the first year the project will include 70 more rooms and suites, relocating the swimming pool, a new reception, a day spa with a commercial gymn and creche.
In the second year there will be extensive works to the casino, a new restaurant, bar and gaming facilities.
The advertisement by Metrovic says: “The successful applicant will be required to work for Hotel project in Alice Springs.
“This role will suit an ambitious, driven site manager who has already completed at least two or three projects over $20m in value on a variety of sectors.”
The applicant needs to have “experience on hotel construction [and] on fitout and refurb”.

She was a top trainer for more than 50 years, now she’s demoted to a strapper. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

On the wall of the Members’ Lounge at Pioneer park is a row of photos of local racing identities.
One of them shows Emmie Wehr, now 72 years old, who has spent most of her adult life training race horses, has many wins to her name, and is held in high esteem by aficionados of the Sport of Kings in The Centre.
This admiration is not shared by the Territory racing bureaucracy: it has awarded Mrs Wehr (pictured) a Certificate III in Racing (Advanced Stablehand).
In the new bureaucratic arrangement she clearly should have received the Certificate IV in Racing (Thoroughbred Owner Trainer) but she didn’t.
That means Mrs Wehr lost the authority to race her horses, in her own right, in the NT and, it seems, anywhere else.
All this results from new rules introduced a couple of years ago.
NT racing authorities commissioned instructors all the way from the TAFE in Orange, NSW, to get the Territory racing fraternity into line.
After a career as a trainer spanning more than half a century Mrs Wehr was demoted to strapper: “The advanced stable hand works to the delegated instructions of a trainer who has overall responsibility for the enterprise,” say the new rules, whereas “a Thoroughbred Owner Trainer is a person who is licensed to operate a business that trains horses that are owned by the trainer or the trainer’s family for the purpose of competing in industry-regulated events.”
How come Thoroughbred Racing NT allowed that to happen?
Darwin Turf Club Business Manager Andrew O’Toole’s answer to the question is, “there is no problem”.
He suggested the Alice Springs News should be “very careful” about what it published on the subject (we assured Mr O’Toole we always are).
And this is the best Lindsay Lane, Chairman of Stewards of Darwin Racing could do: “The RPL project which was conducted in the NT some years ago accredited those persons who were licensed at that time, some persons completed Cert III and some Cert IV, unfortunately I can’t recall the reasons why each individual completed the project at the level they did but there were some of our owner trainers who completed Cert III which was deemed appropriate by the Board and the accreditors for owner trainers.
“Hope that helps.”
Well, no, it doesn’t.
Cert III does not bestow the privileges of an Owner Trainer. What kind of arrangement, if any, has the board made for Mrs Wehr?
We wrote to Mr Lane: “On the face of it, Emmie does now not have the formal right to race her own horses here nor interstate.
“If she does have that formal right, please advise in what document, published ruling or whatever that right is enshrined.
“There are suggestions that there may be some ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink, she’ll be right’ arrangement in place.
“From what you are telling me about the necessity these days of following the rules, surely that wouldn’t be acceptable.”
We’ve not heard back from Mr Lane.

Bushfood judge ‘blown away’. By KIERAN FINNANE.

A trail mix featuring Australian bushfoods was judged the overall winner of the WildBushfoods recipe competition in a round marked by high level food concepts and some stunning food artistry.
The brilliantly simple Larapinta Trail Mix was yet another creation from Miranda Sage who developed it to her exacting standards – lots of bushfoods, delicious flavours, nutritional value and elegant presentation in a shoulder bag.
There was a packet of nibbles including bush tomatoes, macadamia nuts, crisped saltbush leaves  and wattleseed and cheese crackers; there were camel and kangaroo jerky strips; a sweet chewy energy bar featuring quandongs, bush lime and dates; and a refreshing quandong and ruby saltbush cordial.
Guest judge of the round, chef Andrew Fielke, known for his decades-long involvement in the bushfoods industry, immediately noted the potential for the concept being developed by local small business or a community enterprise.
And Robert Taylor of RT Tours, also a competition judge, asked Mrs Sage straight up for her permission to borrow from the idea in his business.
She welcomed the enthusiasm – the idea is there for anyone to take up.
The trail mix was entered in the Wildcard category which also saw another entry ripe for commercialisation, Lisa Reiner’s Territory High Tea.
Served on an old-fashioned tiered cakestand it featured smoked emu and kangaroo sandwiches, lemon myrtle tartlets, chocolate and wattleseed macaroons, topped off by butter and orange zest cupcakes with macadamia toffee shards, accompanied by a delicious tea, in china cups of course, made from riverland mint, native to eastern Australia.
In the Dessert category the win went to Ange Vincent for her Passion Brulee, a creme brulee flavoured by native passionfruit, which has a delectable light pumpkin-like flavour. Ms Vincent can deliver on the requirements of classic recipes but allows her bushfoods to speak strongly through them, in taste, texture and presentation.
The beautiful orange of the passionfruit, which she’d harvested herself and painstakingly pulped to remove the bitter seeds, could be fully appreciated in the glass coffee cups she used to serve. 
The wild passionfruit was new taste to Mr Fielke.
A noteworthy new taste for me was the mulga apple used by Carol Turner to make a jelly, with a wonderfully light, refreshing taste and a slightly nutty texture (her only additives were a small amount of sugar and gelatin leaf).
In the Wildcard category Ms Vincent presented an Assiette de lapin, a mixed plate of rabbit, using the whole carcass to make variously a terrine, a confit and cured meat. A memorable taste sensation was the cured meat topped with a bush orange jelly.
Runners up in the Dessert category were acclaimed particularly for the aesthetic of their creations. Raeleen Beale served a quandong icrecream in a bowl made from ice in which she’d trapped mint leaves and quandong peel.
These touches of green and red in the transparent ice had the delicacy of an exquisite piece of china (it sat inside a glass bowl, of course, and on a warm day would prevent the icecream from melting too quickly).
Suzante Kelly was inspired by the West MacDonnells landscape, building towering forms from wattleseed brownies, and boulder-like mounds from burnt orange-coloured macaroons.
Mr Fielke told guests at Sunday’s gala bushfoods dinner that he had been “blown away” by some of the competition entries; they were “outstanding”, exhibiting “such creativity”.
This assessment comes from a man who has seen over many years, as he said, “a lot of dishes made from native foods”.
He spoke of the possibility of a community kitchen being established, perhaps using the facilities at CDU, in which people could make foods to a commercial standard when ingredients come into season. This could be the basis of a small industry.
“It’s smarter to value add here,” he said, urging organisations like  Desert Knowledge, the council and the government to get involved.
An important step nationally has been the creation in 2006 of Australian Native Food Industry Limited as a peak body to lobby for research and industry development.
Mr Fielke also spoke about recent victories for the industry in getting some bushfoods, such as lemon myrtle, recognised as “traditional” rather than “novel”, which makes a difference to the way they can be exported.
This represents a “huge turning point for the industry”, he says: it will help with the future recognition of further foods from the “incredible array” native to Australia.


Last Saturday’s Melting Moments Masquerade Ball at Monte’s served up a layer cake of music.
Local ensemble Los Bandeleros Perdidos have reached a new maturity not only their instrumental bonding, but the very stage presence bouncing off this Alice-born rhythmic octopus is more than worthy of ‘out of towners’ getting a taste.
The cluster of musicians summarise desert festival spirit, with the organic percussion of their sound, and the balance of emotion on stage (the stone-faced musicians in the background combining with the facial animation of the front man).
It was good to hear this group again. The fact that they have spaced their last few shows further apart seems to have heightened their sense for live performance.  Sound check between sets gave ball-goers opportunity for their own type of theatrics. Extroversions, small suppressed quirks, and any other undercurrent of mannerisms people stash away, are turned loose when someone dons a mask.
The entire evening had this warm blunt edge of happiness snaking its way in and out of the gathering punters. With the barrage of events recently gifted to the town coming to an end, there was the desire to hang on to the after-glow of the past 10 days.
With a collective local force that constantly has people from interstate challenging their preconceived ideas of Alice nightlife, the ever-reliable Alice event regulars produced a unique brand of entertainment.
The newly-formed Iron Maidens embraced the scattering audience with a rusty but rife operatic sword of vocal talent. The set cut through a collection of metal songs with parody of stylings and fashion in full swing. This will be an act to watch if it is developed over the coming months.
Then the jewel of the evening’s bill, the Woohoo Revue! This band of accomplished musicians seemed to perform out of place, even though timing, tempo and musicianship was at a level of near flawlessness, and the duel between trumpet and violin was a cool note-for-note boxing match.
But they lacked presence and energy, with their stage predecessors having claimed far more of ownership of the night.
I began to think that this ever evolving gypsy music movement has started churning out polished products, bands that possess a line up of classically trained, technically brilliant, private school educated musicians, that become a performing compact disc rather than a dweller of the grit-filled trenches that gave birth to the genre. 
The music kept the dance floor full and people seemed to like it.
And when it comes to the festival in many cases this can be all that really matters. 
Post midnight rolled around and masks and face paint started turning up in odd places.

Veteran biker tough vintage. By CHRIS WALSH.

Derek Poolier currently owns four vintage bikes and three dirt bikes – he says he’s had “a bit of a clean out”.
“The more bikes you have, the more time you need to fix them.”
He is a member of the local Royal Enfield Club, the Secretary of MECCA, a member of the Australian Motorcycle Trail Riders Association and a member of the Adelaide Velocette Club.
Derek grew up in Enfield, in Adelaide’s north-eastern suburbs, and at the age of 13 took a part-time job at the Cross Keys Service Station.
It was 1957 and the service station was one of the first to sell Honda motorbikes. The owner would have lunch at the pub every day, leaving young Derek in charge – a golden opportunity for him to teach himself to ride, using the stock Hondas up and down the forecourt.
At age 16, he’d saved enough money to buy his first motorbike – an Ariel 500 Red Hunter with a sidecar.
At the time he weighed “about 25 kilos wringing wet” and couldn’t kick start it, so the owner got it started.
Derek took it down the road and promptly side-swiped a car.
The owner suggested that he would ride it home for him.
Derek’s parents were not very impressed when it turned up. His father told him, “Whatever you do, don’t take the sidecar off”.
Naturally, the very next day he removed the sidecar and never looked back! He rode this bike to school for the next three years. 
After leaving school, he bought a Matchless G80, followed by a Norton 500 and then aged 20, joined the Army and served in Vietnam.
While he was away, to his horror, his mother sold the Norton to a neighbour for five quid “just to get it out of the way”!
Derek built his first dirt bike in 1970 and took it up to Derby. Later, he moved to Mount Gambier and bought a silver tanked XL250 Honda.
He stayed for four years and was president of the Mount Gambier Motorbike Club, running lots of enduros.
When he moved to Alice over 20 years ago, he became heavily involved with the local motorcycle club for about 10 years, organising and finding lots of venues for about 20 or 30 enduros.
“They used to just have a shot gun start. I’ll never forget going up to Aileron and being astounded at the mayhem. “A shot gun was fired and they all took off.
“Within half a kilometre there was a gigantic crash and broken legs.”
So Derek started a system where the riders start in twos, minute by minute, and then their times are corrected accordingly. This system is still being used today and is a lot safer.
“The young lads riding Finke are used to going in top gear flat out, so I laid out a lot of courses that needed to use first and second gear.
“I incorporated rocky climbs as well as declines through creek beds.” 
The riders didn’t like the courses much at the time but have adapted these days.
“If you can ride that sort of course, you can ride fast but if you can ride fast, you can’t necessarily ride that sort of course.”
Derek and others have organised the courses for the Masters Games enduros out at Undoolya Station.
After writing to every motorcycle club in Australia, they got about 40 entries for their first round of Masters Games and about 70 or 80 people from interstate for the second.
At their third Masters Games, it was about 44 degrees at 9am and although the locals weren’t bothered, the interstate competitors were not very impressed.
Derek has raced in the veterans’ class at the Masters Games as well as out at the local motocross track and taken home a few trophies. The last time he actually competed was about five years ago.
He attended a Motorcycling Australia course in Sydney a few years ago and is qualified to run courses for stewards, flag marshals, starters, scrutineers, etc.
He has raced in the Finke Desert Race three times: finishing in 2000, winning a trophy in 2001 and breaking a leg in 2002.
He hates the Finke track now and considers parts of it to be dangerous.
“It’s always been a very fast race but at 66 years of age, I don’t think I’ll be riding in it again.”
Derek still goes dirt bike riding regularly with a few mates. He would have liked to do the Masters Games enduro this year but will be in Adelaide for the annual “Bay to Birdwood” rally.
He will also take part in other events with a couple of vintage clubs from Adelaide, including visits to a number of private motorcycle museums around the city.
Earlier in the year 20 members of the Australian Motorcycle Trail Riders Association came up from Adelaide and he accompanied them on a trail ride around Alice Springs, including to Chambers Pillar and from Bundooma across to the Maryvale Road.
He was amazed to see them set up their camp and then produce gourmet meals – pineapple cakes and things like that – in the campfire at night!
Next year Derek will ride with them from Coober Pedy to Ceduna via the Anne Beadell Track and way out through Cook along the railway line of the Nullabor Plain.
He spends a lot of his spare time restoring and renovating old bikes. He’s done about 50 or 60 to date.
He also buys old dirt bikes to renovate and sell.
It began when he found a BSA B33-500 wreck here. He spent ages totally restoring it before riding it and discovering that he didn’t like it – so he sold it.
“You can’t count the time you put in otherwise you’d never make a profit.”
 Twenty years ago it was very difficult to restore a motorbike in Alice because of the problems with getting parts.
Now the internet allows him to shop for any part he wants, anywhere.
His favourite bike is his Velocette, which he and his wife Sharon found in a shed up in the Adelaide Hills.
And of course just restoring and building the bikes is not the thing – it’s riding them.

NANCARROW ARROW: Camping joy (not).

We live in a visually spectacular place, that is undeniable.
The view from our back porch is of the MacDonnell ranges (once you get past all the trees and things in the way), and on a winter’s morning they glow a deep, primordial red that is quite stunning.
I love to ride my mountain bike along tracks that twist and turn over ridges and along valleys. I delight in strolling along shady pathways and climbing mountains. I embrace my surroundings with passion and joy – as long as I have a proper bed to sleep in afterwards, a hot shower and television to watch (good but not necessary). 
So I think it’s fair to say that camping out is not my forte. Which is unfortunate as it is something that Kirsty (leaving wife) likes to do a lot and as she is going soon I kind of had to go along for the guilt induced ride, agreeing to an overnight night trip to Trephina Gorge this week.
I’m not a total sook about where I sleep. For the first few years in the music industry I was a stage technician and guitar tech for a variety of Australian pub bands, working stupid hours and travelling almost every day.
And believe me, the lifestyle ain’t that glamorous for the bands and even less so for the roadies. You make enough money to get by, drink too much and sleep too little, usually in the rooms the publican can’t rent out to the public as they are so dire. 
I had my first experience of inter-species war at a Holiday Inn in Dee Why, a battle for supremacy between the spiders and the cockroaches in a room I had just been given the key for. That was soon settled by my ability to grasp things and hit, thus demonstrating evolution at work – go the opposable thumb and victory for the humans! 
This was short lived, however. What Los Roachos lacked in thumbs they made up for in sheer numbers and Sydney roaches are SO big compared to their  more southern kin. Scuttle scuttle on the floor was followed by multi-legged tap dancing on my face.
I just brushed them off, rolled over and went back to sleep – we had driven to Sydney from Melbourne and I was trashed. But I had four walls and a roof (of sorts) so I was OK.
Back at Trephina, we found a beautiful spot that was surprisingly not occupied and walked down to the gorge, which is stunning at sunset and made even more so by the water running through. This is the bit I like, wandering about without a care in the world and enjoying the birdlife that water in the desert attracts.
That done we wandered back to the campground and prepared for the night, cooking steaks and drinking cocktails that were a little stronger than one might expect from a pub. This is my preferred method of getting ready for a swag, which let’s face it is a canvas bag on the ground – getting drunk enough to drift off to sleep without getting so totalled that you wake up with a disgusting hangover to cap off a night sleeping in the dirt.
Just as the pleasant glow of my second drink kicked in I looked around at our secluded spot and wondered why no one else had set up shop in such a sweet place. Then it became obvious – even though I’m not a camper by nature I did live out in the country for a while and I’ve seen enough water courses to recognise one if I look a bit more carefully. Still, we would be OK if it didn’t rain. It wouldn’t rain, would it? Surely not.
This is why, at 4am as the first drops hit my face, I was reminded of why I HATE CAMPING! I’m rubbish at it, pure and simple.

LETTERS: Boy stripped of medals wins them back.

Sir – My son recently traveled from Alice Springs to Darwin to compete in the 2010 NT Track and Field Championships.
I am very proud to say that my son won gold in his age group for the 800m, 1500m and not only won the 5000m but he also set a new Northern Territory record.     He raced in the Open Men’s division and placed second in every race he entered.
Athletics NT however stripped him of his placings, refused to award him his medals and was not recognising the new NT record that he ran, saying that he ran as an “invitational runner” – this was not mentioned in [a pre-event] email from them.
To cap it all off even though he won his age group he was not to be considered for selection to represent the Northern Territory at the Australian All Schools Championships and also, the National Junior Championships in 2011.
This was obviously discrimination at its worst. On the Athletics NT website it says, “Athletics NT welcomes everyone for 2010”. Obviously if you live south of the Berrimah Line it does not count.
Yvonne Brooke-Anderson
Alice Springs

ED – The Alice News contacted Athletics NT, offering a right of reply, and while we did not hear back from them directly it appears that it prompted them to go some way towards resolving these issues.
Ms Brooke-Anderson writes:–
I have heard back from Athletics NT and as per their constitution because the boys are minors they are not allowed to comment to the press about what happened. 
The boys are receiving medals in the mail and Nick’s record will be noted but as run on an unratified track. 
As he is still at school we will support his travel to SA at the end of October so that he can qualify for the All Schools comp.  We are negotiating on selection for the Nationals. 
There are a few things that I need to follow up locally so while I’m not overjoyed, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Thanks for requesting feedback from the board as I believe this assisted in them contacting me.
Alice gets hundreds
of tourists?

Sir – The Chief Minister Paul Henderson has resorted to outright deceptions to justify the differences between alcohol restrictions in Darwin and Alice Springs.
When asked on ABC radio [on September 9] whether his government would ban alcohol sales before 2pm in Darwin as well as Alice Springs, the Chief Minister peddled the ridiculous line it wouldn’t because: “Well I think Darwin is a bit different in as much as we are a capital city and a capital city that caters for thousands of tourists, not hundreds of tourists.” (ABC Darwin breakfast program).
In effect the Chief Minister was claiming the tourism industry in Alice Springs is of limited importance to the local economy.
Fact 1 – 386,000 tourists visited Alice Springs in 2009.
Fact 2 – Tourism is worth $300 million to the Alice Springs economy each year.
Fact 3 – In 2009 visitors in Alice Springs spent $1225 per visit compared to $1149 in Darwin.
Fact 4 – Many tourists are annoyed to discover they can’t buy takeaway alcohol before 2pm and business is lost as a consequence of those restrictions.
Fact 5 – Paul Henderson will never impose the Alice Springs restrictions on Darwin because he fears a political backlash in Darwin.
The Chief Minister’s comments have again demonstrated just how far out of touch he is with life south of the Berrimah line.
Matt Conlan
Shadow Minister for Central Australia

CLP must support
Alice alcohol reforms

Sir – Terry Mills must stand up and overturn the County Liberal Party’s plan to extend bottle shop trading hours in Alice Springs that will re-open the rivers of grog.
The Henderson Government has announced the most comprehensive reforms in the Territory’s history to curb alcohol-fuelled violence and crime, including in Alice Springs.
 A range of actions in Alice Springs has seen serious assaults drop by 21% and sales of pure alcohol reduce by 18%.
However in Alice Springs alcohol continues to be consumed at twice the level than Darwin and Palmerston, is involved in two thirds of all violent crimes and contributes to 70% of policing costs.
 Alice Springs also has three times the rate of protective custody incidents than Darwin and Palmerston.
That’s why the Henderson Government has said enough is enough and is taking tough action to turn off the tap to problem drinkers who continually commit alcohol fuelled violence and crime.
Delia Lawrie
Minister for Alcohol Policy

Where is affordable
housing in The Alice

Sir –  NT Shelter asks why Alice Springs is missing out on the types of new affordable housing that is now beginning in Darwin.
Through the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), Ethan Affordable Housing has been allocated 1200 subsidies for new affordable housing dwellings in Darwin and Palmerston.
The subsidies equate to $9,000 per dwelling, per year, for 10 years yet none are approved for Alice Springs where the housing crisis is worse than in Darwin.
NT Shelter is hosting an Affordable Housing Forum in Alice Springs tomorrow to highlight these and other issues in the Alice Springs housing sector.
Dr Louise Crabtree will be talking on another topic aimed at producing long term affordable housing through Community Land Trusts.
According to NT Shelter’s Executive Officer, Toni Vine Bromley, both our interstate speakers offer exciting and valuable insights for developers and others in Alice. 
We believe the gap in the current housing system between public housing and the private rental market is failing to deliver the housing opportunities which would assist the whole economy of Alice  Springs.
 Affordable housing is housing that is specifically targeted for low to moderate income households such as people in lower paid or part time jobs, young people and key workers in the community such as in health and community services.
The NT Government is establishing an Affordable housing Rental Company but even this home grown initiative is targeted at the Top End rather than Alice.
For more information please contact Toni Vine Bromley on 0428 802 240.
Ashley Fenn
NT Shelter
Safety first on park
walking trails

Sir – Visitors heading out on the longer hiking or bushwalking trails in Territory parks and reserves are urged to use satellite phones, Personal Locater Beacons (PLBs), Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) or a Spot Messenger to help ensure both personal safety and a speedy and efficient rescue if needed.
The Overnight Walker Registration Scheme will no longer be used by Parks and Wildlife as it is no longer the best system to ensure visitor safety.
The scheme was not compulsory and many searches arose due to people failing to de-register when they completed the trail.
The Overnight Walker Registration Scheme also wasn’t suitable for multi-day walks or 4WD drives as something could go wrong on the first day but the alarm isn’t raised until the party are due to complete their activity, which in the case of the Larapinta Trail could be another 19 days.
Today there are a number of better options available to provide real safety benefits to the user at a reasonable cost and will help ensure rangers are able to respond to emergency situations promptly and more adequately.
Chris Day
Chief District Ranger
West MacDonnells

Good times

Hello Folks – Even though I haven’t been back to Alice Springs since 2001 I still read and enjoy your newspaper every week. Our visit to your city, and the train ride to get there, was the high point of Australia visit.
In your September 9 issue you had a story about Bek and Chris Axe and the problems they were having getting into their new home. Sounds a lot like the same situations we face here in the USA.
My best to them and hope everything works out.
He was wearing a purple and gold University of Washington Husky shirt.
The school is located right here in Seattle. I have a shirt just like it.
I was wondering if there was any way to find out where he got the shirt?
I didn’t expect to see it half way around the world.
Thanks so much for your assistance.
And again, I truly enjoy your paper.
I don’t always understand the root of your many problems but I sure enjoy the good times you write about.
Dar Clark
Seattle, Washington USA
Looking for Uptons

Sir – I’m hoping to find the wife and children of Jonathan Upton. 
Mr Upton is believed to have lived in or near Alice Springs. 
He emigrated from either Bristol or Bournemouth, England, year unknown and died about 15 years ago in Alice Springs.  Any information about the whereabouts of his descendants would be appreciated.
Hugh Upton
Montreal, Canada

Fossil Ferguson

Sir – What a shame that Prime Minister Gillard missed the opportunity to move Martin Ferguson out of the resources and energy portfolio.
Academic Clive Hamilton describes Mr Ferguson as the fossil fuel industries’ “point-man in the cabinet” and includes him in a ‘dirty dozen’ list of people who have done most to block effective action to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr Ferguson’s plan to impose a national radiaoctive waste dump on Aboriginal land in the NT has also been highly controversial and is now subject to a legal challenge initiated by Traditional Owners.
Mr Ferguson has repeatedly refused requests to meet with affected Traditional Owners and his draft legislation overrides the Aboriginal Heritage Act and the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.
The Prime Minister ought to have paid more attention to the election results − a large swing against Mr Ferguson in his suburban Melbourne electorate of Batman (previously the safest Labor seat in the country, now within reach of the Greens), and a 24% swing against the ALP in Tennant Creek, the town closest to the proposed radioactive waste dump in the NT.
Dr Jim Green
Friends of the Earth

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