October 28, 2010. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

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Town planning: promises, promises

Labor would open up the town planning process, shrink the powers of the Minister to override the Development Authority, make it fully representative, give it a much greater autonomy from the Minister, and “link it much more closely to local government”: Member for Stuart Peter Toyne (ALP).
He was quoted in the Alice News of August 22, 2001, after the election which installed the first Labor government in the NT.
Dr Toyne was re-elected and became a Minister.
“We have always said that local government is best placed to look at planning needs of the town”: Former Mayor Fran Erlich (later Kilgariff) and unsuccessful ALP candidate for Greatorex in 2005, commenting in 2001.
No comment: Karl Hampton (ALP, pictured at left), Member for Stuart and Minister for Central Australia, October 2010, after the Minister, Gerry McCarthy, approved an application for 10 units in an area previously reserved for single dwellings blocks.
Mr Hampton would not contact objectors to the re-zoning who, according to nearby resident Liza Dubois, outnumbered supporters by at least 10 to one.
The Darwin-based Minister still has absolute power over zoning in Alice Springs.
He did not respond to calls from the Alice Springs News this week, and neither did Mr Hampton.
The Development Authority is now called the Development Consent Authority (DCA) except it doesn’t give consent when it comes to zoning: the Minister does.
Did the authority make a recommendation?
So thoroughly have the Labor election promises been broken that the DCA chairman, Peter McQueen, is not even allowed to say whether they did or not.
Can we have a look at the submissions?
That would be up to the Minister to decide, says the boss of the “fully representative” DCA.
And local government is still being blissfully ignored by the Minister.
The council expressed reservations about issues including stormwater, access and traffic, new residents dependent on using cars, and the need for additional footpaths, says CEO Rex Mooney.
None of that stopped the Minister from giving rezoning approval.
There will be 10 units on the 8000 square meter block of land, formerly occupied by a house owned by architect Gary Hunt, whose brainchild it was to develop residences on the golf course land.
Probuild’s Phil Danby, who will be a half owner of the block together with entrepreneur and developer Steve Brouwer, says the lifestyle units “won’t be cheap” and will have a pool, gym and tennis court as part of the complex.
This seems to remove the argument that the development provides a remedy for the acute shortage of affordable accommodation.
Mr Danby would make no further comment and Mr Brouwer did not return a call from the Alice Springs News.
The fact that Mr Hunt’s former home was demolished before the Minister announced the rezoning suggests a great deal of confidence that the permission would be granted.
Many neighbours are incensed.
Craig Catchlove says he bought a block in Range Crescent to live in a single-dwelling environment; with construction of the units complex traffic would triple; the concept of selling only to “seniors” is “absolutely unenforceable”; the sloping block is unsuitable for seniors; and sewage would require an easement across the golf course. (See letter to the editor, page 2.)
Mr Catchlove built his dream home about 100 metres from the land now re-zoned against his wishes and those of many other residents in Range Crescent.
He bought his block in 1995 for $68,000 – a lot of money at the time for a guy in a “lowish” level of the NT public service, he says.
He spent the next seven years designing and planning his home, a strong manifestation of his “belief in this town”.
Construction work started in 2002, with Mr Catchlove the owner builder and doing as much work as he could himself. He spent a lot of money with local tradies and subbies, and being very nice to his bank manager.
Mr Catchlove says before he’s even had time to finish the work, hard as it is, his enjoyment of it has now been diminished through changing the character of the area.
Ms Dubois says more than 30 people signed her letter to the DCA, urging a rejection of the application because:-
• It will be to the “detriment of one of the last existing pristine, tranquil and secure neighbourhoods, one that we have chosen to buy into and live in”.
• Up to at least 28 extra vehicles – more if there are more than two adults in a unit.
• Increased run-off that will further complicate the drainage.
• Active retirees, the apparent market for the units, will be tempted to run businesses from home, further increasing traffic.
• Access roads are narrow, dead-end, have no footpaths and with retirees living there, a bus service seems inevitable.
• “Despite the sales spin [the site will] ultimately be a common rental complex” for anyone who can afford it; and,
• “With the influx of such a large number of people in the area the security of the neighbourhood becomes an issue as there will be transient people (to an extent) walking the streets, climbing the hills and as many residents do not have fences (due to encumbrances or covenants on their properties) this complex will open up the neighbourhood to a higher security risk dangerous for road users.”
The government’s sincerity in terms of planning reform can further be gauged by the following.
“Only the organiser of the petition will be eligible for third party appeal rights, where appropriate, and not the signatories,” Mrs Dubois was told by a planning official.
This means if the 30 or so people who signed her letter had submitted the text on a separate piece of paper and signed it, maybe with a change or two, they all would now have third party appeal rights “where appropriate”.
Now only Mr and Mrs Dubois have it – maybe.
The Alice News published this story on October 12, 2005, under the heading “What a way to ‘keep’ an election  promise”.
When the NT Government says it’s allowing “limited” third party appeals to town planning decisions, it sure as hell means limited.
It’s another example of the wide gulf between what the government promises and what promises it keeps.
The “third party” is basically you: someone wants to build or subdivide something near your patch, the Development Consent Authority gives its green light, and you don’t like it.
In the bad old days ­– that’s under the CLP governments ­– only the applicant had the right of appeal.
You didn’t. Well, by and large, you still don’t.
In all the big recent and current town planning controversies the Martin Government’s amendments are perfectly useless: you’re not allowed to appeal against subdivisions.
Schemes such as the notorious Hornsby subdivision (I declare an interest in that as an objector, quite a few years ago), Ron Sterry’s Emily Hills, recently approved, and the current Emily Valley project are inexplicably shielded from third party appeals. So is every single dwelling, attached or detached, unless it is more than two storeys.
Provided you’ve lodged an objection during the “exhibition period” you can appeal against non-residential use of land provided you live next to it, not down the road, or “directly opposite” and the road is 18 meters wide or less.
And then you might still not get a say:-
• Third party appeals cannot be made for reasons of commercial competition.
• Non-residential uses such as bed and breakfast accommodation, home occupation, childcare centre, medical consulting rooms and caretaker’s residence within a residential zone are excluded from third party appeal rights “if the use complies with the provisions of the Planning Scheme and the consent authority has not varied or waived any requirements of the provisions,” as a handout declares.
Are you better off than under the developer-friendly CLP governments against which Labor when in Opposition ­liked to rail? Not a lot.

Making the most of climate change but the problems can’t be ignored

The largest contribution to carbon emissions in the Territory – 33% – comes from savanna (grasslands) burning; controlling it thus presents the NT’s greatest opportunity for reducing emissions.
The Top End is best poised to take advantage of this opportunity, given its more predictable seasons, but the drier south also has savannas and in seasons like the current one their fuel load is comparable to the north’s.
Problem is, even a well established project, like the West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement (WALFA) project, which has been underway for 13 years, has yet to engage with the market and won’t until there is a price on carbon in Australia, ushering in carbon trading.
The opportunities represented by climate change was the focus on Monday of the Inaugural Northern Territory Climate Change Forum, hosted by Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA).
Such a gathering, every 12 months, is stipulated by the NT Government’s climate change policy, released in December last year.
Despite excitement over the potential of WALFA and possible similar projects, there is a risk that such an easy target might deflect attention from other areas for action.
The forum heard from both panelists and people attending about the need to do something about the NT’s next largest source of emissions, which is “stationary energy” or electricity generation, contributing 25%.
Projects like Alice Solar City and COOLmob obviously get ticks here but the forum heard that their efforts could be undermined by poor planning decisions, such as the development of the supposed “eco-suburb” of Kilgariff, on AZRI land south of the Gap.
Panelist Ruth Apelt, convener of the Arid Lands Environment Centre’s Climate Action Group, challenged the government to put climate change at the front of everything it does, including planning decisions which should be assessed against climate change criteria.
That has not happened for Kilgariff, chosen on the basis of relatively low infra-structure costs.
“Show us the evidence” that this development is “meeting climate change targets,” Ms Apelt demanded, to applause from the small gathering.
Unfortunately Minister for Climate Change Karl Hampton was not there to hear her, having made his speech to open the forum, listened to the keynote address and departed.
Ms Apelt is a member of the recently formed Coalition FAB (For A Better) Alice, which has announced its intention to develop an “aspirational town plan”.
Fellow member of the coalition, architect Domenico Pecorari, resident in Alice for 26 years, told the forum about some quick calculations he’d done.
Allowing two car movements per day per household in Kilgariff, just transport alone would create emissions cancelling out those saved if 2kW photovoltaic panels were on every rooftop of the 1000 dwellings in the subdivision.
He said two daily car movements per household was conservative, as the average for Alice households is five car movements.
Travelling in and out of town would also add $1200 to $1400 to each Kilgariff household’s fuel costs, said Mr Pecorari, expressing concern that no analysis of social, cultural and economic impacts had been done for the proposed subdivision.
The forum also heard from Rohan Foley, conservation economy project manager for Centrefarm, a company originally set up to drive horticulture development on Aboriginal land, with strong links to the Central Land Council and Centrecorp.
Mr Foley spoke about the recent creation of the Aboriginal Carbon Fund Ltd, a not-for-profit company looking to develop carbon sequestration projects on Aboriginal land, initially in the NT, but ultimately on the 20% of the Australian landmass that is Aboriginal owned or controlled.
Mr Foley believes the future carbon market – “a matter of when, not if” – will respond positively to Aboriginal branded carbon, paying a premium for its products which will meet “triple bottom line” (economic, environmental and social benefit) criteria.
The carbon market has great potential for landowners who do not have other natural resources present on their land, he said.
However, it is not clear that native title holders have carbon property rights, said Mr Foley.
“We are fearful that the government will take carbon rights from native title holders.”
The forum’s keynote speaker was Joe Ross, a Bunuba man from the Kimberley, and chair of the Indigenous Water Policy Group within the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance.
He spoke passionately about his country in and around Fitzroy Crossing, rejecting the “deficit thinking” that characterises regions like the Kimberley and the NT as “failed states”.
Such thinking does not recognise the strengths in Aboriginal communities, and undermines confidence in Aboriginal people living on their country, enjoying the wealth of their land and culture.
Mr Ross preferred thinking that is focussed on taking advantage of opportunities.
Governments have to get beyond the “mind-numbing” discussion around Indigenous disadvantage, beyond thinking that the future of Indigenous people is “the remit of FaHCSIA” (the federal Department of Indigenous Affairs), he argued.
Carbon emissions offset opportunities will be very significant for Aboriginal people in remote communities, who lack other mainstream economy opportunities; partnerships to take advantage of them can be formed outside of government – hundreds of corporations and people throughout Australia will participate.
He asked DKA  to support him in organising a two day forum where leading Indigenous people from around the country could talk about climate change and its opportunities for Indigenous communities.

Council seeks to avoid $65,000 by-election

The Town Council has requested a dispensation from local government Minister Malarndirri McCarthy from holding a by-election following the resignation of Alderman Melanie van Haaren.
Mayor Damien Ryan put a motion to this effect at Monday’s night’s council meeting and was supported by all aldermen bar Murray Stewart (Ms van Haaren and Ald Samih Habib Bitar were not present).
Mr Ryan says a ballpark figure of $65,000 for holding a by-election would be a huge impost on ratepayers.
“We feel as a group we can do the job going forward without holding a by-election and spending this massive amount of money,” says Mr Ryan.
If the Minister decides an election must be held, the next available date offered by the NT Electoral Commission is in February.
The next full council election is due in March 2012.
No by-election is required if a resignation occurs within 12 months of that date, but Ms van Haaren’s resignation has come some four and half months earlier than that.
She lashed out on Tuesday, saying that she had been pressured to resign earlier than she intended.
She had taken four weeks’ leave for October to resettle her parents in Queensland, to where she and her husband will move in the new year.
She says she was going to resign in February, expressly to save council the expense of a by-election and to give herself time to bring to fruition projects she’d been working on.
She says the imperative to resign now was in order for a by-election to be held before Christmas.
She feels “deceived” by council’s decision on Monday, seeing it as having robbed her of “a dignified exit” and as preventing residents from exercising “their right to stand for a vacant aldermanic seat”.
Mr Ryan says Ms van Haaren never discussed her decision with him, though “lots of people told me she was resigning”.
Ms van Haaren says CEO Rex Mooney told her he had kept Mr Ryan apprised of their discussions about her future on council.
She says she felt under pressure from Mr Mooney.
Mr Mooney denies that he pressured her “in any way, shape or form”.
He says he was pleased to offer her professional advice, but in order for a by-election to be held before Christmas, she had to resign effective Monday to allow the due electoral processes (call for nominations etc) to take place.
He says he is not in a position to comment on the course of action being taken now by aldermen.
“Further decisions will be based on the Minister’s response.”
Ms van Haaren (pictured at right) is reluctant to say who among the aldermen pressured her, but some had sent her emails: “I hope they will declare their hand.”
She says a by-election is affordable from a council perspective: “The cost is no justification for not declaring the seat vacant.”
She also says arrangements in terms of payment could have been made.
This is supported by Ald Stewart: “We could have requested a stay on the charge until 2011-12, or applied for a grant.”
Ald Stewart says Ms van Haaren did the “100% right thing” in resigning “to allow democracy to take place”.
But should she not have stayed to the end of her four year term, is this not the commitment candidates make when they stand for election?
Ald Stewart says personal circumstances can change.
Is he confident council can do a good job without eight aldermen?
“That’s not really the point,” says Ald Stewart.
The law says council is made up of eight aldermen and a mayor, and so there should be a by-election, he says, noting that at times next year council will be down to just six aldermen when various members take leave.
Ald Jane Clark declined to comment.
Ald Brendan Heenan says he is unaware of pressure placed on Ms van Haaren.
He is confident council can manage without a by-election: many councils in Australia have only six aldermen and most boards work with seven members.
However he acknowledges the potential difficulty of an eight member council split four:four on motions.
Ald Sandy Taylor says she was shocked to hear of Ms van Haaren’s resignation, but “it was her choice”.
She says she valued Ms van Haaren’s input “when she was there” but did not value the number of meetings which Ms van Haaren did not attend or attended by phone-hookup.
She says when people put their hand up for election they should be prepared “for the long haul”.
Ald Taylor says council often operates with reduced numbers, when someone is away for whatever reason.
She says it would be hard to justify a $65,000 expenditure for just 15 or so months of service from a new alderman.

Coordinator General recommendations: ‘Take ‘em or leave ‘em’, says Minister.

Amongst the flood of recent reports on the state of the Territory came that of the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services, covering the period December 2009 to August 2010.
The Coordinator General, Brian Gleeson, reports to Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin on government service delivery in 29 priority communities across the country.
In this, his second report, Mr Gleeson gave focus to education, “which in my view deserves special attention given its centrality to Closing the Gap in remote Australia”.
He pointed to “structural impediments” to remote area education that governments “must address”.
“Urgent consideration should be given to funding schools in the priority communities on the basis of the eligible population, not attendance or enrolment, enabling resources to help close enrolment and attendance gaps.
“The current funding formulae do not provide any local capacity for additional effort to effectively start to improve educational attainment.”
The Alice News asked Minister for Education and Training, Chris Burns, to comment on his government’s position in relation to this recommendation.
He replied, via a spokesperson: “DET in conjunction with the Australian Government ensures that all schools are staffed for teachers on the basis of enrolment, as is the case with other jurisdictions.”
In other words, not interested.
Mr Gleeson also urged that “where English is a second or third language for students, attention needs to be given to ensuring that all staff are trained in Indigenous English as a Second Language methods”.
Dr Burns’ response: “Extensive ESL training and professional development is being undertaken for NT teachers and support staff, including a Graduate Certificate in ESL which has over 100 teachers enrolled, as well as ESL professional development associated with Indigenous student literacy programs such as Indigenous Language Speaking Students, and Strong Literacy and Numeracy in Communities.”
Interested, but not going to get too precise about it.

Desert flows with water. Part Two.

In Part Two of DICK KIMBER’s account of his recent trip into the Simpson Desert, we rejoin the party in the eastern Simpson, having crested the sandhill known as Big Red, beyond which was an immense lake.
See Part One in last week’s issue.

Leafy crests of distant coolabahs were like the heads of people wading through up to their necks.  It was a 10 kilometre detour about this normally dry lake, then shortly afterwards we struck the denser stands of coolabah trees in and about Eyre Creek. 
For the first time since leaving the Mount Dare and Dalhousie country we saw native hens, galahs, corellas, crested pigeons, magpies and a host of other smaller birds, together with the continuing green-and-gold flashes of small flocks of budgerigars, and flocks of Zebra Finches and Cockatiels. 
Two of our three vehicles almost came to grief at the Eyre Creek crossing, where the water was flowing fast and deep, but then in no time we were in Birdsville, where the pelicans fished and egrets stood still, regal and poised, and the first seagulls made their appearance.  We all greatly appreciated the pies in the bakery, a hot shower at the camp-ground and, for Joc Schmeichen and me, a catch-up with Don and Lyn Rowlands. Don is a local Wangkanguru elder and well-known ranger, and he and Lyn are as generous hearted as anyone I know. 
We left the next day, just as the Birdsville race crowd (as you would know from media reports soon to be thwarted by further heavy rains) began to gather in numbers. The gibber country of the Birdsville track was scattered with milky sheets of water which became turquoise-like gilgais and shallow turquoise swamps when they reflected the blue sky, and was flushed bright green in patches, contrasting with the vivid red of the sections of bare soil and gibbers. 
We had to slow down for, or take detours about, numerous flooded creek-lines, but the travel did not require 4WD, and we saw a 1920s Ford or similar chugging easily along to Birdsville.  After travelling in a convoy of three we reached the flooded Cooper Creek crossing, where seagulls squawked, pelicans paddled. The small punt only manages one vehicle at a time and people with trailers have to await the intermittently available small light truck to transport a trailer at a time. We eventually all crossed. 
It was such an immense contrast to last year, when all was grey-clay dry. 
Joc and I said our farewells to his brother Tom and our friendly companions here, as Joc, who has been a contributor to the Lake Eyre Basin studies for years, wanted to check on certain tourist aspects there and along the way down to the Flinders Ranges.
After yarning to the little cruise boat tourist operator there (Joc knew him from his earlier years at Innamincka) and a locally born station-hand called Bill Wilson, we made camp overnight by an old coolabah tree.  Bill is a nice-natured bloke who was the child receiving the mail from legendary Tom Kruse in that fabulous old mid-1950s black-and-white film, “Back o’ Beyond”, and later worked as Tom’s mailman driver as well as doing station work.
Early next morning we went on a half hour helicopter flight over the spectacular nearby flooded country.  As Joc had done his Masters thesis on the old Lutheran and Moravian Missions he was keen to take photographs of Killallpaninna and Kopperamanna from the air.
I had been long interested in the same aspects, and my wife Marg and I had visited them back in 1978 along with friend Bruce Strong.  
Both locations are inaccessible except by helicopter at present, but we briefly landed at Kopperamanna, where I was surprised to find that the old post-and-bough building frames were still standing more or less as they were in 1978, though it is nearly 100 years since they were abandoned. 
There is an interesting sadness in examining these old timbers, and the rusted iron or broken glass relics, a bit like walking about in a cemetery.  Those old missionaries went out into the wilderness full of certainty about their vocation, and at Kopperamanna they unwittingly established their church where, for aeons past, had been one of the greatest Aboriginal trading centres in Australia. 
Their hopes were mostly dashed and the missions abandoned during the droughts of the 1890s and 1914-1915, and only a limited number of descendants of the Dieri, Wangakanguru and other original Aboriginal groups remain at places such as Birdsville and Marree. 
Joc and I dropped in on two cattle station properties, the owners well-known to Joc, for friendly brief stops, then took it easy into Parachilna, where we stayed in a very comfortable old railway building for the night. 
Jane, the proprietor of the Prairie Hotel, is a very busy but excellent host, and the quandong pies are worth travelling 1000 kms to have a bite. Even something as normally mundane as the breakfast muesli is something that is almost worth dying for – except that to die for it wouldn’t allow you another meal there! 
The final day of our tootle was via Rawnsley Bluff homestead and more generally the Flinders Ranges, which are also a green picture at present, with occasional emus – Joc took photographs of an adult with two stripe-backed chicks – and euros. 
After a very comfortable overnight at Joc’s and Robbie’s place I caught the plane home.

Getting on board the Soultrain. By KIERAN FINNANE.

From director to set designer, band leader to stage manager, actor to acrobat, for every role in the forthcoming Cat’s Meow Cabaret there’s an experienced mentor.
This goes well beyond lip service to skills development: it’s a carefully structured long-term plan to expand the pool of high-calibre performing artists in Alice, who can create locally devised live performance at a professional level, get paid for their work, and pass on their skills to others.
Thus assistant director of this year’s show, Melissa Kerl, is being tutored by creative director Christa Hughes, who started stage life as a singer of jazz and blues. She went on to make a name for herself as an ‘out there’ performer in many genres, including stints with Machine Gun Fellatio, Circus Oz and her own cabaret shows, touring internationally.
Hughes is also doubling up as voice tutor for the Cat’s Meow ensemble.
The theme of this year’s show is being kept under wraps for the moment, but its title, Soultrain, and the eclectic graphics of its poster promise another theatrical journey into cabaret and vaudeville traditions, no doubt tweaked if not re-shaped by the sensibilities of 21st century fun-loving desert-dwellers.
This year for the first time there’s an entirely original music score, being developed by musical director Neil Duncan, working with and mentoring local band leader Stephanie Harrison.
They’re responding to the mood-setting demands of 10 separate scene leaders, a mix of familiar names of the local stage – Mei Lei Swan, Miriam Bond, Katelnd Griffin, Elspeth Blunt, Tammy Brennan, Adeline Peyer and Trish Hay – and visiting artists, Gabrielle Miller, Frankie Jaiyeola and Bianca Gonos. 
As in the past, the cabaret has a broad storyline with a main character providing a unifying thread, but each scene is in the creative hands of its own scene leader. They’re working variously with mentors in a range of performance skills.
For dance and movement, there’s Jason Lam, an intern at the Alice Springs Hospital who in a past life was a dancer with the Australian Ballet and the Sydney Dance Company – “He’s got the most beautiful technique ever,” says Kerl, “how lucky can we get!”
For performance and acting skills they can turn to Kerzlake (ex Red Dust Theatre).
“We asked everyone involved in last year’s show what they most wanted to learn more about,” says Kerl.
“Acting, dance and voice were the three main areas and we’ve tried to deliver on that.”
For those ready to extend into circus and physical theatre, Sarah Mason and Andrew “Cookie” Cook of Circosis fame will share their know-how.
For aerial work – a highlight of last year’s show – the small band of dedicated local performers, including Adelaide Church, Jasmine Ahwah and Matthew Leyland, have been coached by aerialist Tami Dawson, Brisbane-based and with eight years of national and international performances behind her.
“Normally you’d have to travel interstate and spend a lot of money to get this kind of tuition,” says Kerl.
Grants from Arts NT and the Community Benefit Fund has made it possible to engage professionals and pay, even at nominal amounts, the leading local participants.
Equal attention has been paid to building the skills of those working behind the scenes.
Vanessa Hutchins, Artback NT’s music touring manager with an 18-year background in the Australian entertainment industry, is mentoring Kim Hopper in stage management and Mijkl Blue in lighting design, before the latter works with Araluen’s Greg Thomson in the final week of rehearsals.
“We’re investing in people who’ve already shown an interest,” says Kerl.
“This will be Mijkl’s fourth show with us, and Kim’s second.”
Michael Watts (ex Red Dust Theatre, builder and playwright) is sharing his set design skills with Simah Koether.
And finally, Sarah Hill, whose work we have seen in Sustainable Couture shows and who coordinated the 2009 Wearable Arts Awards, is overseeing costume design and construction.
Outside of Araluen there’s no trained production crew in Alice; creating one will be an important legacy of the cabaret this year, says Kerl.
The vision of the cabaret committee – Franca Barraclough, Tammy Brennan, Milyka Scales and Kerl – is to further build on the foundations of the amateur as well as professional performance industry in Alice.
“There’s no reason why scenes developed for the cabaret cannot be reproduced later in other contexts,” says Kerl.
“We’re very committed to finding opportunities for this to happen.”
But in the meantime, Kerl is anxious to pay homage to the huge volunteer input into the cabaret – from the committee who meet every Sunday throughout the year, to the volunteer sewers and scene painters.
“The show simply would not go on without people giving freely and generously an enormous amount of time, effort and creative energy,” says Kerl.
Soultrain shows at Araluen on November 12 and 13.

Speedway: Shooting for double points. By CHRIS WALSH.

Arunga Park Speedway’s opening night last Saturday offered double points for all competitors.
It was also Round 1 of the Alice Industrial Supplies Junior Sedan Series and the TDC Refrigeration Formula 500 Series.  Numbers were down slightly in a couple of divisions but the majority compensated for any shortfalls.
Track conditions play a major role in speedway racing and credit must go to Steve Anderson for preparing an excellent surface for all divisions. Prior to racing, all divisions paraded around the track for the spectators – an excellent opportunity to see the new paint jobs for the season before they got covered in dirt or damaged!
Ben Lennon was the only solo rider on the night and gave his all in his heats – a three lap, a flying lap and two single lap dashes. Ben rode a little high on the home run of his flying lap, which brought him down and slid his bike into the wall. Although the bike was slightly bent, Ben was on his feet immediately, the crowd cheering their encouragement.
Sidecar action was fast and plenty with nine bikes competing over 12 heats for the night. The combination of Chris Dess and Samantha Fidler were a hard team to beat with four wins overall.
Although their peers gave them a good run for their money, they rode well and earned every point.  Other heat winners were Dave Totani and Darren Hyman with two, Kris Laverty and Dave Pirie with one, and Steve Sanders and Scott Doody with one.
The Carragher family were once again in fine form with husband and wife team Brian and Janelle taking two wins and two seconds.
Meanwhile, son Arlen and his new passenger Matt Sexton were a perfect match for the older couple taking out the exact same results.
The two remaining sidecars of Marcus Seidel / Kyle Laverty and Kevin Wooding / Mitch Wooding suffered engine problems halfway through the night, forcing them out of contention.
In the Formula 500 division, Shorty Maclean broke his own five lap track record which he’d originally set in 1990 at a time of 1:24:37. On Saturday night he wiped 1.08 seconds off the time before Matt Phillips broke the record again with a time of 1:19:59.
Shorty said he hadn’t been very enthusiastic but after he’d completed his first race, he was back into the swing of things. Although Shorty’s track record hadn’t been announced, he said he knew he must be doing things right when somebody told him he was “driving like an 18 year old”! 
Making their debut on Saturday night were three of the new Wingless Sprintcars driven by Mike Thompson, Sam Butler and Steven Howell.
Sam Butler did himself proud with a second and a third before retiring for the night with car trouble.
Both Mike and Steven have driven other divisions of speedway sedans, whereas Sam (a junior driver) has stepped straight out of a Go Kart and into this division with relative ease.
The Junior Sedans were ready, willing and able to get some laps in before their NT Title next weekend. Major points scorers were Talia Harre, Rowan Prudham and Jack Thomsen. After two third places, Jason Wegert retired for the night due to engine troubles, leaving Brock Napier with a healthy second in the final heat.
Bombers and Streetstocks endured plenty of action with Dave Sanders winning the majority of heats for the Bombers, and Grant Harris and Rod Berry sharing the points in the Streetstock division.
Thanks must be given to the competitors and pit crews who volunteered their time in the canteens in between races.
At times it’s quite challenging to come off the track after a race and go straight into the canteen but they managed to do it and do it well.
A number of Arunga Park’s new committee members are also competitors in various divisions, whilst those who are not competitors, hold official trackside positions.
Like most clubs and associations, the speedway is always looking for volunteers, so if you’d like to have a go, give them a call.

Kelly in Alice before too long.

The bell rings when Paul Kelly arrives in town. 
Over the past three and a half years he has played here twice. They have both been full house events, with the great un-genred drawcard pulling a crowd from many age groups.
The singer-songwriter’s career has spanned over 30 years, and he’s given birth to 17 studio albums.
His influence resonates through the vast cross section of performers – including Megan Washington, John Butler, Missy Higgins and Ozi Batla – on his recently released tribute album, Before too long.
He is also credited with hauntingly cool soundtracks for the critically acclaimed films, Jindabyne and Lantana.
The newly-released eight CD box set titled The A-Z Recordings is a collection of live songs recorded between 2004 and 2010, and has Kelly playing from the very bones of each number.
On a first listen many verses take on a different meaning to their original studio releases as more attention is paid to the storyline of each track.
Kelly’s voice has the subtle impacting sound of an idling chainsaw wrapped in a quilt. When you hear it, you sometimes have to wonder where it comes from – a voice alone or set apart from a simple musical backdrop.
With a song list that covers everything from the lonely heart to social and political issues, this collection is more than a fiercely insightful look into the heart, mind and soul of one of our unique musical treasures.
And three decades on, the artist still has something intelligent to say.
It would be a feat beyond the difficult to find any Australian Generation Xer that didn’t have some kind of a connection with one of his songs, Dumb things, Before too long, From little things big things grow, To her door, to name a handful.
But it’s a Sunshine sound that I hope finds its way onto the set list when the musician touches down in the centre. This song holds significance in abundance, when comparing verse to life out here.
With that sort of depth and diversity in a body of work, a long echoing career is the result.
And with the release of The A – Z Recordings, a national tour is set to follow. And we in The Centre (a place were Kelly has family ties) are included in the latter leg.
The A-Z tour has a real quirk of originality. It has him performing 100 songs in alphabetical order in a 96 hour stretch spread over four days. Something straight out of the difference machine.
Kelly has also stripped down each song to the bare roots of its creation, many sounding like how the original versions must have whilst they were being written, before having the injection of back up musicians or taken to the studio.
This concert will offer the audience a more intimate experience, something more malleable for the listener.
The tour begins late November and will reach The Centre mid-April 2011.

I like to see bands play their instruments.

I was looking forward to a good night out, readers, went and saw THE CONCERT at Anzac Oval (thanks Amy for the kind wedding anniversary gift of a ticket).
A quick flick through the bill got me excited. I like the Sneaky Sound System stuff (particularly Kansas City) and Empire of the Sun had some catchy songs.
I wasn’t entirely sure about the bloke with the hat thingy and make up but had heard the stage show and lighting was full on so I thought they might be a modern day KISS, without the blood-spitting or fire-breathing. Err, no.
Timed my entrance perfectly, just as the Sneakies hit the stage. No disrespect to the opening bands but I wasn’t prepared to pay $9 a drink for several hours when they didn’t even have what I wanted and I timed my run from the Todd Tavern via Uncles perfectly.
I walked in grinning at the prospect of a night of live music from some of Australia’s grooviest up and coming acts and looked at the stage to see the players.
One of my favourite things about seeing live bands is the interaction between the musicians, the ebb and flow of energy and emotions as they make music.
It’s why my fave place to watch a gig is from the side of stage. You get the best view in the house without having to endure the crush at the front of the stage, usually free drinks and a toilet that (hopefully) is fit for use.
You gotta remember that I did a lot of these shows when I first started out in the music biz and I got used to being behind the scenes.
Anyway, I look up and see a curly haired chicky bouncing back and forward, singing her heart out and a bloke standing behind his mum’s kitchen table with a bad taste silver sparkle table cloth hiding the red linoleum that you just know must be under there.
(Wonder what his mum does when he says he’s going on tour, probably gets the folding table out of the spare room with the wobbly leg and grumbles while he is bigging it up in Europe). No band in sight.
There is a name for this pastime, when a dodgy DJ plays songs without lyrics while some pop tart gives her best rock star impersonation – it’s called Karaoke.  The only reason they have Mr Table up there is to give the whole thing some credibility, he waves his hands around and makes out he pushes some Very Important Buttons that make the whole show happen.
My arse. I’ve seen some great DJs mix tracks flawlessly, creating new sounds out of existing ones with great skill and creativity.
This one finds the right track and pushes go. Karaoke.
Still enjoyed the songs, the girlie can sing and the crowd got into it, it was fun but a bit of a let down. Bring on the modern day KISS.
There was definitely makeup but that was about where the similarities ended.
These guys held instruments and banged away in a vigorous fashion but what they were playing wasn’t what was coming out the front.
This time we had Karaoke with dress ups and miming too. 
The man with the big hat strode back and forward and the dancers writhed dynamically which was all very good, the lights effective and the screen at the back helped create a buzz, tying in with the songs wonderfully.
I enjoyed the spectacle, I just expect to see bands play music; call me old fashioned, if you like.
If someone like Pink Floyd can recreate some of the most complex recordings ever live on stage (with some sampling, granted) the excuse of the music being too hard to perform live goes out the window. 
I messed up, I should have got there early and watched people play instruments …

LETTERS: Zonings increasingly no guarantee.

Sir – I sent the following submission to the Development Consent Authority, objecting  – unsuccessfully – to the Range Crescent multiple units project.
The residents of this street purchased, built, or are building very expensive homes on the natural presumption that the amenity would be protected by the SD zoning of the blocks.
In the majority, the owners of the homes on Range Crescent are not the super rich, but people who decided that Alice Springs is their town and were willing to invest in their properties to facilitate the lifestyle they sought in their long term home.
The homes are, on the whole, architecturally interesting and have obviously been created and extended by people not looking to “turn them over” for a quick profit, unlike most of the recent development in this town spurred on by the accommodation shortage.
Range Crs is a narrow cul de sac.
A tripling the traffic on that street (which is what this development would do) would not only spoil the amenity of the street, but be dangerous.
This whole scheme is not “altruistic” for the benefit of seniors, but appears a cynical ploy by a developer to either get planning permission and then sell (as per two other recent redevelopments that have been passed by the DCA), or build as many units as is possible and flog them off to anyone. 
The concept of only selling to “seniors” is absolutely unenforceable.
The application is full of “possible” developments and a fancy sketch.
The concept of a senior’s lifestyle village (which is what exactly?) is a marketing ploy giving a “motherhood and apple pie” [image to the] proposal that makes it seem almost evil to not support it.
The site is a steeply sloping block obviously not suitable for real seniors.
The proposed multilevel townhouses are again patently not suitable for real seniors.
There are no footpaths on either Range Crs or The Fairway (the street that leads to Range Crs) – again it is absurd to say this is suitable for real seniors.
There is no public bus service within coo-ee.
The vague assurance that the pool and tennis courts would be added later is, of course, the same “staged development” ploy put forward by a number of developers to avoid having to develop the non-commercial aspects of the proposal.
Sewerage requires an easement across the Golf Course.
I’m sure the Golf Club would not agree to having their course ripped up and effective control over the land handed to others.
Have they been asked?
Why should they have to – to benefit a developer?
The Planning Notice, installed uphill at the end of a cul de sac, would have been unknown to most concerned residents or the club, so the argument that they have had the opportunity to comment is a situation lifted directly from the pages of “A Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy”.
The new development at Mt John would be a perfect place for a real seniors’ development.
Or the previously mooted site of the current YMCA (with this facility relocated to the Alice Springs Pool site).
The NT and Federal Government could (and should) then assist in the development as per the Masonic development in Darwin.
Range Crs No 17 was developed as the premier single home block in Alice Springs.
The original home should be replaced by a single dwelling sympathetic to the nature of the street, not by slapped-up flats to make a buck on the back of the current residents of the street who have made the property so desirable by their sweat and long term investment.
If the developer does not have the passion for, and long term dedication to, Alice Springs to do this, then he may sell it under the same SD zoning as he bought it, not trash the amenity of the current residents.
Craig Catchlove
Range Crescent
Alice Springs

Tighter controls needed

Sir – I have just recently finished working in a job with close contact to the real estate industry and I am writing to vent my frustration with the seemingly unregulated manner in which business is conducted in this industry.
In my time in my job I witnessed firsthand, blatant bullying, questionable conduct, representatives of many of the agencies giving advice outside of their field of expertise and the use of incorrectly qualified trades people.
Many of the people I dealt with buying houses said that while they were frustrated with the service and treatment by the industry, the current market dictated if they did not buy these properties someone else would and they chose not to pursue further action.
Many felt the governing body (REINT) would take no action and it would just be a waste of their time.
While crime and anti-social behaviour are big issues in Alice I personally believe there should be tighter control of this industry and I can honestly say I am glad not to be a part of it anymore.
Andrew Brookes
Alice Springs

ED – The Alice News offered REINT right of reply. CEO Quentin Kilian responded: 
We find the comments made by this writer quite disturbing, albeit that they are quite broad ranging and somewhat ubiquitous in their nature. 
The REINT isn’t the “governing body,” the Agents Licensing Board is. 
The REINT is the peak representative organisation for the real estate profession and its members but if a person has a substantiated complaint we may be able to assist with mediation or by directing their complaint to the appropriate authority, including the REINT’s Board of Directors.
We would like to dispel the inference of a lack of regulation in our profession.  Every agent must not only undergo extensive education and training to obtain their qualifications and licensing, but must continually comply with a very strictly enforced code of conduct and ethics.
Japanese emperor

Sir – In Japanese court ritual two of the most iconic images are those of a flower and a bird.
The chrysanthemum has been revered for centuries in Japan to the point that the Japanese throne is popularly known as the Chrysanthemum Throne.
In the same vein the throne itself is sometimes said to be situated behind the Chrysanthemum Curtain.
The Siberian crane is revered because, as it flies high over the land, it is thought to see all that happens in the realm below.
When formal announcements are made from the throne, the Emperor is sometimes said to be speaking with the Voice of the Crane behind the Chrysanthemum Curtain.
I sometimes wonder if the NT Government is channeling all this.
 Listening to Chief Minister Paul Henderson talk about the social ills that plague Central Australia, his could be heard as the Voice of the Magpie Goose speaking behind the Berrimah Line.
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Cultural festival

Sir –  We the Anangu Elders, Leaders and Artists fully support the call by the Arunta Elders and Traditional Owners of Mbantua Country for the NT and Federal Governments to support an ongoing Central Australian Aboriginal Cultural Festival.
Along with the Warlpiri Traditional Owners and leaders, we also feel that there is a great need for an appropriate Aboriginal Cultural Festival to be held in Central Australia to properly promote, celebrate, preserve and record our culture, languages and performing arts.
Central Australian Aboriginal communities have been looking forward to another festival after the big success of the 2001 Yeperenye Dreaming Festival.
A regular cultural festival managed and hosted by the Arunta Elders and Leaders, involving other Central Australian tribes to participate, would more broadly assist to alleviate the disadvantage and despair of Aboriginal peoples in Central Australia.
This cultural initiative would also promote harmony and reconciliation in Alice Springs, where there is much racial prejudice, crime, violence and social disharmony.   
This kind of Aboriginal Cultural Festival would boost the local economy, create employment, community and capacity development, boost tourism and help sharing of knowledge and culture between Aborigines and the wider community. 
Rene Kulitja, Judy Trigger, Tommy David, Jane Inyika of Mutitjulu, NT
Jim Nyukuti, Yvonne Yibardi of Docker River NT
Alison Hunt, Alice Springs
Billy Cooley, Lulu Colley of Anyilalya SA

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