November 4, 2010. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

To our home page.

‘Infill’ will save the government money while changing your life. By

The Melbourne Cup is over for another year but in Alice Springs, the run for exceptional land development permits has yet to hit the finish straight.
The buzzword is infill and Lands Minister Gerry McCarthy invoked it when he gave last week, against massive opposition from neighbours, permission to build 10 units on a block in Range Crescent previously reserved for a single dwelling.
This is how he explained his move: “The amendment is considered to be consistent with the strategic direction provided by the NT Planning Scheme, in particular the Planning Principles for Alice Springs which supports maximising for urban infill.”
So you can put your money on the government saving dollars on sewage, electricity and water headworks.
And people who chose as their place to live in a suburb with an uncluttered lifestyle will be amongst the “also ran”.
Will the town council put its view on what clearly is becoming a trend?
Says Mayor Damien Ryan: “The issue of ‘infill’ has not been raised with the council and therefore hasn’t been discussed.
“These are planning matters over which the council has no control.”
However, he stated, as his own opinion, that this matter has arisen as a result of restrictions on release of land over a long time: “They’re doing that to fill a need.
“We need to grow as a town. We have jobs here but have struggled to find accommodation for workers”.
While acknowledging the problem, Mayor Ryan also threw out a challenge: “What is your solution? It’s easy to complain about these matters but we need ideas to resolve them.”
Though infill issues have not been “in front of his mind” he is sympathetic to the plight of residents faced with rezoning of blocks in their neighbourhoods such as Albrecht Drive: “I was not supportive of that development.”
There was a hint already of infill becoming the punter’s choice in November last year when a dispute erupted (still ongoing) over plans for two blocks on the Ridges Estate development in Albrecht Drive which had been held back from sale by the developer.
It transpired they were intended for multiple dwelling units set amongst single dwelling residential blocks (see  “Land buyers kept in dark”).
The neighbours believed they would be safe from two storey structures impacting their views and privacy.
Another mooted development on Albrecht Drive, the Larapinta seniors’ village, is one of seven planning applications to go before the Development Consent Authority on November 10: “To construct 18 x 1 and 2 bedroom dwellings for seniors accommodation,” as the agenda puts it.
Oddly, the fact that this facility hasn’t been considered yet by the planning body, let alone given the green light, didn’t stop Chris Burns, Minister for Public and Affordable Housing, announcing that it would go ahead.
He did so more than a month ago, on October 1, when he inspected the site with Labor candidate Adam Findlay in the run-up to the Araluen by-election.
According to the Centralian Advocate Dr Burns said: “A $5.6 million Larapinta seniors’ village on Albrecht Drive will have 18 units.
“This will include 12 two-bedroom and 6 one-bedroom units.
“The construction tender to build the Larapinta Seniors’ Village will be advertised soon.
“Construction will start at the beginning of January and be completed by September 2011.”
This begs the question why it is necessary for this planning submission to go before the DCA next week, over a month after Dr Burns’ preemptive announcement.
Nevertheless, according to Albrecht Drive resident Judy Barker, there has always been awareness of this proposal and no-one objects to it.
The site was announced by former Planning minister Delia Lawrie on November 8, 2007, in her press release stating “one multiple dwelling block will be set aside for seniors public housing in Larapinta stage two”.
When the Alice Springs News sought from the only Labor MLA in The Centre, Karl Hampton, a minder re-directed us to planning minister Gerry McCarthy and Dr Burns.
We made the point we wanted Mr Hampton to comment as the Minster for Central Australia but to no avail.
It’s also revealing to look at all the planning proposals considered by the DCA that day, including four exceptional development applications.
Two are for multiple dwelling applications, providing denser housing where a more spread out style of living now predominates.
The most significant is the proposal for 82 dwellings at White Gums on Jane Road by Patrick Brown.
The remainder are for two multi-level buildings in the town centre, the six-storey office complex for the old Commonwealth Bank site, and a four-storey office building for 50 Bath Street, the former address of the late Lizzy Milnes.
Out of 11 applications to be heard before the DCA, only two attracted submissions from other parties – the White Gums and six-storey office complex proposals.
There is an application for the conversion of a former motel on the corner of South Terrace and Breadon Street into multiple dwellings under unit title, which presumably reduces available tourist accommodation in town if approved.
The second is for eight three-bedroom units in two double storey buildings at 1 Renner Street, on the corner of Sturt Terrace.
This site is across the street of a block of units built on two former single dwelling blocks in the mid 1990s.
Those units were designed and built after extensive consultation with the Eastside Residents’ Association (of which the writer was a committee member), and generally to everyone’s mutual satisfaction. This occurred in the bad old days of CLP government.
In light of current circumstances, it’s probably not surprising that few development applications attract public submissions as invariably when they do, the Minister for Planning is likely to ignore them.
However, Mayor Damien Ryan urges everyone interested in planning issues and the future direction of Alice Springs to attend a public forum on November 22, 4pm to 8pm, as one means of providing solutions for these problems.

Mining millions fuel eight figure deals in desert. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Wheeling and dealing by some indigenous corporations is done in seven or eight figures.
The money comes in part – mostly? – from mining royalties.
Five of the nation’s six richest Indigenous corporations are in The Centre and the Top End, with Bawinanga (Maningrida) the leader, controlling $40m in “income and assets”, according to a table published by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) for 2005/06, the most recent figures on their website.
The runner-up is Julalikari (Tennant Creek, $22.4m), with Marra Worra Worra (Fitzroy Crossing, $19.9m) in fourth place (No 3 is a corporation near Perth), followed by Bungala Aboriginal Corporation (Pitjantjatjara Lands, $19.6m), and Kurra (Yuendumu, Lajamanu, Western Desert, $18.8m).
Some groups pay 5% of their earnings to a land council for administration, some 40% is distributed to traditional owners and the rest is invested.
There is a lot to go ‘round.
The Granites gold mine is north-west of Yuendumu.
A newcomer to the top earners, the Granites Mine Affected Area Aboriginal Corporation (GMAAAC), in 2008/09 had an income of $6.2m and spent $2.3m, presumably mostly on cash distributions.
By that year GMAAAC had accumulated $17.6m in current assets and $6.4m in non-current assets.
Kurra, which has 16 directors and 390 members, has shot well ahead of its 2005/06 position, with $7.6m in current and $19m in non-current assets for 2008/09.
The ratio is the flipside of GMAAAC’s.
Kurra’s investments include money in the Peter Kittle car dealership in Adelaide.
There is not a great deal else known about “where the money goes,” a constant irritation for Aboriginal people, including leaders, who can’t get information.
The “contact person / secretary” for several corporations is Neil MacAuslan, a Central Land Council (CLC) employee.
(The Alice Springs News asked Mr MacAuslan for an on-the-record interview. He said we would need to speak with the CLC media person. We told him past contacts with her had been unpleasant and fruitless, and we’d given up dealing with her, but he was welcome to contact us anytime.)
It may be understandable that the general public is kept in the dark, but it’s surprising that members of the corporations are as well.
A Katherine woman, a member and former director of Kurra, has been trying since 2007 to be given “copies of all current agreements” between Kurra and the CLC “or any agreements entered into by the CLC on behalf of [Kurra] including agreements with North Flinders Mines Ltd and other agreements entered subsequently.
“Please also provide copies of any other agreements made with us in relation to collection and / or investment and / or distribution of royalties by Centrecorp Aboriginal Investment Corporation Pty Ltd [and] any other related entity,” she asked.
Her letter was signed by 10 members.
She still does not have the information.
The Alice News drew this to ORIC’s attention and we received this reply this week: “While you have provided this information, we require the directors to make the formal complaint.
“This will allow us to validate the complaint, and remain responsive to the needs of the directors.
“Once the complaint has been made we will investigate and respond to it within 20 working days.”
ORIC keeps a public record of corporations’ members, office holders, annual income & expenditure, as well as current (cash) and non-current (investment) assets.
But there it stops, as further disclosure is at the discretion of the corporations.
And so knowledge of the forays into surprisingly high finance by people regarded often as the most disadvantaged and poverty stricken in the country must rely on rare leaks.
Who’s calling the shots?
One of the Kurra meeting minutes quotes Mr MacAuslan as replying to an investment proposition put to the meeting, home loans for members, by a member who inquired as to who would need to approve “this sort of loan”.
Mr MacAuslan is quoted: “David Avery [CLC Manager Legal Services] and Mr Ross [CLC director] would probably not approve it as they would see it as an improper use of the funds.”
So it seems any such approval needs to come from the land council, not the members.
In a letter dated August 2008, obtained by the Alice News, Mr Avery sets down requirements for housing loans, saying: “I suggest that [Kurra] could only make such investments on commercial terms that promise a fair return to its members from the investment.
“All costs should be met by the proponent.
“Unlike banks and building societies, Kurra does not have systems designed to manage housing loans.
“Should you wish to follow through an investment proposal, each person who intends to be a party to the proposed investment(s) should provide a detailed proposal in respect of any loan requested to be made to that person.”
A tall ask for people with scant mainstream education and for whom English is likely to be their third or fourth language.
Mr Avery sent the letter at a time when the Commonwealth was gearing up to spend around $1b of taxpayers’ money on Aboriginal housing in the NT.
At a Kurra meeting in April 2007 a lengthy discussion took place about investments.
Bob Kennedy, the secretary of Centrecorp, the investment company in which the CLC has a three-fifths majority holding, addressed the meeting “about establishing an economy for Aboriginal people in Central Australia so that if mining were to stop they would still have an income and assets which would keep growing,” according to the minutes.
He talked about the Peter Kittle car dealership in Adelaide for which GMAAAC had paid one half and the other was borrowed from the bank.
“The property cost $5.4m and if you agreed to invest in this we can pay the bank back and the Trust will own it all,” record the minutes.
“[Mr Kennedy] gave a presentation showing photos of the property and explaining its excellent size, location and potential.
“Situated on a corner block on two main roads over 300,000 vehicles pass by every day.
“Bunnings Hardware have opened a store on the other side of the road and a big shopping centre is about to be built close by.
“If you agree to invest in this it will cost $2.75m.
“Later on when we are ready and have plans drawn up I will come back and ask for money for the redevelopment,” Mr Kennedy is quoted as saying.
The minutes also report him explaining “the benefits of being in the Trust with properties owned in Darwin, Cairns, Adelaide, Alice Springs and now possibly Port Lincoln.
“Kurra is already involved in the Trust through the buildings on the Peter Kittles site [in Alice Springs, presumably] where they invested $1m and others in the Trust invested too.”
The following resolution is then recorded: “That the Kurra Aboriginal Corporation ... agrees to pay $2.75m into the Central Australian Aboriginal Property Trust for the purchase of the site in Adelaide.”
The Trust consists of the Kurra, Malikijarra, Wulguna, Ngayuwarntu and Janganpa Aboriginal corporations as well as GMAAAC and TMAAAC (Tanami Mine Affected Area Aboriginal Corporation ($11m non-current assets and $1m current ones).
Being a member of the Trust spreads the risk, the Kurra meeting was told.
MacAuslan described Kurra as being “in a very healthy position, Newmont’s [the owners of the Granites gold mine] projection is for another 10 years of mining.”
However, Mr Kennedy urged caution with respect to the “Deloittes and NAB buildings” owned by Kurra in Alice Springs.
Should Deloittes move out, the two floors would be hard to fill and it would have been “better if the property had been part of a property trust where the risk of loss was lower,” the minutes reported.
“All partners get the same return on their investments, no one gets more or less.
“When one part of the country goes down another goes up.”
Nevertheless, explained Mr Kennedy, the NAB building cost $2m, rental income was $328,869, that’s 16% on the investment. Comparative bank interest would have been $121,000.
The current value of the building was $2.7m.
The Deloitte building, at the time, cost $1.1m, made 14.5%, and bank interest would have been just $64,000.  It was worth $1.45m at that time, record the minutes.
The Deloitte and NBA buildings were bought outright but the Kittles investment was part of the Trust.

Music saw him through. By KIERAN FINNANE.

A young man walking down a highway with a guitar on his back: for many it’s a romantic image, an image of freedom.
For Damien Armstrong, it’s bittersweet.
It’s strongly associated with a place that was home for many years – New Ilparpa town camp – as well as with going to school and learning music there, discovering that this was his passion in life.
But it’s also associated with deteriorating conditions at the camp – that had tragic fallout for some of his young relatives and peers – as well as with attitudes towards him as an Aboriginal person.
If he stayed at school for band practice, he’d miss the bus and have to walk home – a long trudge from Alice Springs High to just behind Radio 8HA.
Schoolmates, who lived in the rural area and were being driven home in big 4WDs, would tell him the next day that they’d seen him on the highway: “Gee, thanks for the offer of a lift,” he’d think.
“I realised that even though I thought camp was a pretty cool place there were people who didn’t want to go there.”
As a child he’d not known that race mattered, but going to high school it became clear to him that it did.
Fortunately, it hardened his resolve to achieve, but not everyone responded like this.
Damien arrived at New Ilparpa at around age seven.
Before that he’d been on a cattle station, with his grandparents.
When his grandfather passed away he moved with his grandmother across the border to Mt Isa, before eventually rejoining his mother in Alice.
Although he’d been to Alice for visits before and even a brief stint at school, when he arrived to stay he felt the odd man out, as he wasn’t able to speak his family’s Aboriginal language and didn’t know “the cultural protocols”.
“All the other kids knew – language and culture is so strong here.
“It was a bit awkward, needing to reintroduce myself to my family, learn what it is that makes Central Australia so unique.”
He soon settled in and grew to love the camp.
It was freshly established, all the homes were new and everyone living there was family.
“In each house you could name the relative who was the head of that house.
“All the kids were pretty close.
“You’d tell the adults which house you were staying at.
“When the grownups wanted to drink or whatever, all the kids would go to my great-grandmother’s house, Number Two at the end of the camp.
“Our parents would provide some food and some cash, there’d be 10 to 15 kids camped in the loungeroom.
“We’d watch the early morning cartoons and eat jam and toast for breakfast. Everyone respected Nanna Bebe.
“Most people were proud of their homes, they had gardens, they’d learnt on the stations about planting fruit trees.
“They were keeping the place clean.
“Life was quite harmonious.
“On the weekend we’d walk through the scrub to the drive-in to watch the movies.”
He’d catch the Number One bus to Traeger Park School with the other kids. While they were waiting outside Radio 8HA, in season they’d duck across to the research farm opposite and pinch the oranges.
“It was a brave new world then – land rights, the formation of the town camps, houses being built.
“Aboriginal people had gone from renting houses in the suburbs or living on stations belonging to ‘landowners’ even it was their own country, to living in their own communities.
“The idea of the town camps at that time was quite empowering.”
It changed though. Young as he was Damien could see town influences taking hold for the worse.
“People who had worked on stations, who had that hard working class pride became complacent with the ease of life on welfare.
“The value of a good home, a good community was not the primary value anymore.”
And he was also starting to experience the outside world differently.
“In primary school, children don’t see the world in terms of class, your mates are your mates.
“In high school, your clothes aren’t good enough, where you live starts to affect you socially, affect what opportunities you can have in life.
“These things start to matter even between Aboriginal people. There’s a class division between people who live in town and town campers.
“They’re seen to be on low incomes, receiving charity, which is not necessarily  true. There’s a real mixture of people, some working, some not. What many of them want is a sense of community.”
Damien’s family were hard-working people and he took his cue from them.
He studied, he practised the guitar.
“I wanted to show that a young fella growing up on a town camp can get an education, can get a career.”
He started the band NoKTuRNL which went on to make its mark nationally and toured overseas.
“I’d speak to the media, I’d tell them, this is where I come from, this is who my people are, this is how we are being treated.
“Social justice and change starts with an awareness of self and self-worth.
“Self-worth is starting to be lost among a lot of young people.”
Damien is 32 now. He looks back at those he grew up with, the 15 who were the closest to him – seven are now dead, five of them to suicide.
The first suicide, his own sister, occurred just after he left school; the most recent was just two months ago.
He says he also thought about suicide when he was at school.
“It felt like it might be too difficult to make the effort to try and achieve things for myself and for my people.
“In the camp people had stopped looking after their houses and their own health.
“What was once a nice place had changed.”
He recalls the turning point: he was in his first year of high school when the space on the camp that had been used for an after-school program, as an artroom, a playroom, became a drinking spot, and he started to see people living in camp whom he didn’t know.
“They might have been distant relatives or visitors, they were constantly arguing. 
“You could no longer wander from one house to another.”
His passion for music saw him through.
“I watched footage of big concerts, in stadiums with thousands of fans and saw that it didn’t matter what ethnic background you had.
“Musicians like Jimi Hendrix, he was a good-looking half-caste bloke.
“He was making money from his art, he had adoring fans, the world appreciated his talent.
“I was more determined than ever to learn how to play, to see the world and what it had to offer.”
He was intending to go to uni but as he approached the end of high school he was offered a traineeship in tourism with the Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre established by Paul Ah Chee.
That was excellent training to fall back on when NoKTuRNL disbanded.
Damien still performs and does session work and also still conducts cultural tours. He strongly believes that to have an experience of Aboriginal culture, people need to meet and speak with Aboriginal people. Visiting a museum or cultural centre is not enough.  
He lives in town, he’s a father. He feels life is rich in its possibilities and he’s optimistic, but sadness, anger and a strong desire for change and justice are not far below the surface.

Up and coming speedway juniors as an honoured senior passes on. By CHRIS WALSH.

Well, now it’s done and dusted, the NT Junior Sedan Title, that is!
The official practice on Friday evening had just concluded when the heavens spilled their contents over Central Australia once again. With steady and sometimes heavy downpours throughout the remainder of the night, people were left guessing as to whether the titles would still go ahead or be transferred to the rain-out meeting on Sunday afternoon.
Thankfully, Saturday gradually cleared up and Steve Anderson was able to prepare another great speedway track. The pole line was a little spongey in places but most of the surface water was successfully diverted to the infield.
Although down in numbers because of the weather, the crowd enjoyed the action when several competitors found the wet spots on the infield, resulting in a couple becoming bogged and being towed out! The Junior Sedans endured six heats of good, hard racing and plenty of sideways action before their points were totalled up and grid positions allotted for the final.
This was held over 20 laps and saw several stoppages due to cars slipping and sliding across the track. A number of vehicles had minor touch-ups but I think the hardest hit of all was Kayla Barron of Queensland who nose-dived her car straight into the north-east corner of the wall, ending her race after 15 ½ laps. Local driver Jason Wegert completely stripped his right rear tyre in the final but stubbornly persisted to come home in fifth place.
Overall placings were: 1st Jesse Arthur (SA); 2nd Mikayla Hein (SA); 3rd Brody Thomsen (Qld); 4th Talia Harre (Alice Springs); and 5th Jason Wegert (Alice Springs).
On a totally different note, last Saturday was a very sad day in the pages of Arunga Park Speedway’s history with the passing of Brian Joy (pictured above).
Born on September 7, 1947 and recently celebrating his 63rd birthday, Brian passed away peacefully after a long illness last Friday night. Brian moved to Alice Springs in the early ‘70s and was employed by Power and Water for many years, before moving on to XL Com and then Comspec. 
He was extremely passionate about motorsports and Sprintcars in particular. He had a very close rapport with the McFadden family which started in the mid-80s when Dave was racing a sprintcar.
Later in the ‘90s, when Dave and Tania’s son James McFadden first started racing go karts, Brian firmly believed that James would one day be a champion driver – and he was right! In recent years, James has commenced a very successful sprintcar racing career on the east coast.
It was a mutual passion for speedway that led to the beginning of our friendship and respectful admiration of each other since the mid ‘70s. We both became members of Arunga Park at about the same time and over the years had an amicable relationship where we agreed to disagree! We seemed to be alike in our pig-headedness and would often be at loggerheads over the preferred number of wheels attached to a speedway vehicle – he preferred four wheels to my two or three. 
Brian raced “Fender Benders” (an earlier version of today’s streetstocks) before moving on to the Super Sedan division. After retiring from the actual race track, Brian became the head steward for the car divisions on and off over many years.
The car divisions at that time consisted of Formula 500s, Speedcars, Streetstocks, Super Sedans, Hot Rods and Sprintcars, with each division having separate Australia-wide rules and regulations. Brian took his job very seriously and made it his business to know the rule books for each division from cover to cover. In doing so he was firm but fair, regardless of whether it was an agreeable outcome for the competitor or not.
I served on Arunga Park’s committee in various positions over a long period of time and in later years served 11 consecutive years in a row. A number of these years were served alongside Brian when he was either president or vice president.
Every year after positions were declared vacant, he always volunteered to chair the AGMs. During his years on the committee, he was a very strong advocate on Arunga Park’s behalf for procuring government funding and assistance.
Brian instigated many changes, including the acquisition of a grader and water truck, upgrading the pits and the installation of the concrete windrow. He had many suggestions and proposals, most of which were acted on. In the mid-90s Brian was awarded the Matthew Warde Memorial Champion of Champions Trophy for his untiring commitment to the club.
In later years, Brian suffered ill health and because of this, gave up his steward’s chair in the speedway control tower. Typically, his absence wasn’t long-term and he returned in the new season as Big Al Stainer’s offsider.
This was the beginning of yet another era in Arunga Park’s history. Both Brian and Big Al will always be remembered as two of Arunga Park’s most professional announcers, conveying a wealth of motorsports knowledge to the listeners.
As well as speedway, Brian was heavily involved with the Alice Springs Karting Club and served on the committee as their president. He chaired their AGMs and was their official MC as well.
Brian’s health continued to deteriorate, forcing him to permanently retire not only from work but also from his beloved motorsports announcing. In recent years people who have returned to race in Alice Springs, have often asked of his whereabouts. Go karts and speedway alike, not all visitors could put a face to him but they certainly knew his very professional style of speech.
In recognition of our input and achievements, Brian and I were both awarded Life Membership of Arunga Park Speedway in 1998. Big Al Stainer officiated on the presentation night as the MC and shook hands with both Brian and I. Who could have known that I would one day be writing about two of Central Australia’s most well respected and well-loved men? I feel extremely privileged and humbled to have known them both.
On behalf of the Arunga Park Speedway ‘family’ I would like to express our sincere sympathy to Brian’s daughter Lisa and son Carey and their families; his brothers David, Brenton, Kevin and their families; and to his many friends and colleagues. He will be sadly missed.

Chatting with muses. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The delightful whimsy of birds taking each other for a twirl, wing clasping wing, of blithe women touching the stars, bearing bird-filled bowls on their heads, of the heads of birds and women sprouting flowers and herbs, all rendered with immaculate technique, whether in graphite or coloured pencil, with the finest articulation of detail: it’s trademark Sally Mumford.
But her show at Peta Appleyard Gallery, Dialogue with the Muses, goes further than a rejoicing in beauty, spirit and the abundance of this wonderful season in the desert.
If she has long imbued her work with a mythical quality, here Mumford delves deeper into one of the great archetypal stories of the night sky, the Seven Sisters, or The Pleiades as they were known to the Ancient Greeks.
Viewers wanting to know more about this story will find an informative essay by Craig San Roque in the exhibition brochure, but in simply looking at the images we can see that, as is her wont, Mumford has declined to limit her envisioning to any one cultural tradition or way of seeing.
Her interest is to find a way of expressing the sisters’ essential natures and as this is translated onto her drawing paper from some deep place in her imagination, we go spinning around a world of ancient civilisations.
They are Indian, Aztec, African, Egpytian with possibly some contemporary science fiction thrown in – and through a panoply of feminine qualities.
Here’s a sister all froth and fantasy; another fiercely determined, justly angry; one resourceful, elusive; another implacable yet creative; this one’s powerfully protective; and this one sensual, beautiful, deeply self-assured, while another’s beauty is faded by her docility.
In other takes on the theme, Mumford is less interested in these distinct qualities and more in the way that together they charge the universe.
The work for this show has all been produced since July.
None of it could have been quickly achieved. An architect by training, Mumford demonstrates an astonishing precision in her drawing, a matter of both hand and mind.
So while the show goes in a number of different directions apart from the core groups of works on the Seven Sisters theme, it is united by a sense of intense focus, deeply nourished from without as well as within.

Hampton: long on announcements, short on answers. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

If Labor’s Adam Findlay had been won in Araluen we would presumably have had by now a Parliamentary Secretary for Central Australia with “specific responsibility for the Alice Springs Youth Action Plan”.
This campaign promise appeared to be an admission by government that more energy was needed in The Centre generally, and on the Youth Action Plan in particular.
The Alice News asked Karl Hampton, Minister for Central Australia, if a Parliamentary Secretary would be appointed anyway or was there never really a need for such a Parliamentary Secretary in the first place.
Through a spokesperson Mr Hampton said he retains primary responsibility for the Youth Action Plan and “will continue to drive this commitment to get the best results for Alice Springs”.
During his campaign Mr Findlay made a ‘First 100 days’ promise to get “wayward youth off the street at night” by:
• convening weekly meetings on the Alice Springs Youth Action Plan and getting it working;
• working with Police and community sector to keep kids off the street at night;
• meeting with parental groups to start the process of making parents responsible for the children’s whereabouts at night.
We asked whether Mr Hampton would undertake to do the same, especially points one and three.
Through a spokesperson he replied: “The Alice Springs Youth Action Plan has already achieved some good progress, and we are working on delivering more improvements.
“The recent operation that identified 197 youth will help us identify and target youth we need to work with closely to help get them on the right track.
“I met regularly with the key stakeholders of the Alice Springs Youth Action Plan and will continue to do so.  This includes regular meetings with local police. 
“We have already announced that we will work with the Commonwealth to look at income management for parents whose children are repeatedly found on the streets at night.
“Planning for the Youth Hub to be established at ANZAC Hill is underway including government, non-government and alternative education providers being based there. 
“All schools work closely with school based constables, and this work is continuing.”
We particularly asked whether a “provider” had been appointed for the education program for “disengaged” youth to operate from the Youth Hub. No answer.
We asked for a timeline, from construction to operation, for the planned boarding facility at the Youth Hub for young people unable to live at home. No answer.
Have anticipated services moved into the Youth Hub, ie NT Police’s Youth Diversion Unit and Crime Prevention Unit, the Department of Health and Families’ Family Support Centre; and Youth Corrections workers?
No answer.
We asked for an update on family responsibility agreements entered into in Alice Springs.
When we last reported on the subject (Feb 18, 2010) the answer was none, however six families were “engaged” with the Family Support Centre. No update was provided.
We asked whether there had been progress on renovation and revitalisation of the Alice Springs Youth Centre, as recommended by consultants David Murray and Tony Kelly. Recently $40,000 was allocated as a heritage grant for the hall at the centre, but what about the rest of the facility and its level of operation?
No answer.
We asked whether improved public transport had been provided, to give better access to recreational activities to youth from outlying areas such as Larapinta (and get them home again).
No answer.
We asked for an update on school attendance: what are the numbers for getting chronically truant children or unenrolled children to school? We reported on Feb 18, 2010 that “a dedicated unit of police officers [would be] working to address truancy”, as announced by Mr Hampton.
No update was provided.

LETTERS: Inequality shakes faith in the town she loves.

Sir – I love this town but am starting to have my faith in it get pretty shaken.
I’m a fourth generation and my children are fifth generation Alice Spring locals born and bred.
My great-grandparents came here and were pioneers of this area. They were part of the building the railway line into the Territory.
Great-grandpa and his brother had a team of horses that built the culverts in the line while great-grandma cooked for the workers of the line. My great-grandpa’s brother was the first white man to cross the Simpson Desert unaided on a camel.
My great-grandparents moved out to a cattle station and ended up buying it, and had a good relationship with the local Aboriginal people. They gave the people employment at the same award rate pay as their white compatriots and during drought time great-grandma would make sure that the tribe’s people had food and water and she would provide medical care. They became like family to our family.
Their grandson (my father) was fostered by one of the elders and was taught their ways and beliefs and has always had a very strong relationship with them. We have never treated the Aboriginal people with inequality.
My Mum was born in Darwin but came to the Alice as a baby and grew up here. Her Dad was a builder and started the first dry cleaners and then had a jewellers shop in town. Grandpa was also a Mayor of Alice Springs for a few terms.
However my Dad and my Mum had to go to school in town. My Dad had  a few run-ins but could talk the language better than the part white/aboriginal kids and they were a bit wary of him.
My Mum had a totally different story. She and her brother and sister copped it bad. They were called F**ken Whiteys and so forth.
My Auntie was riding home one day following her  sister when a rock was thrown at them and hit her in the head and nearly knocked her cold. They were then attacked and had to run for it for a couple of miles as it was back then.
Their crime? They were F**ken White C**ts. This happened often until my Mum and her brother decided to stand up to them. The thing is they had Aboriginal and part Aboriginal friends also. They (the kids) were also are part white  – what about that part of it? They forget about that.
I went to high school in this town as being a bush kid I did my primary school with the School of the Air. One of my school friends who I was very close to was a part Aboriginal girl. We would talk on the radio and write to each other.
When we came to town we went to St Philip’s boarding house (it wasn’t a school then). We were not aware of racism then or the inequality that came with it. My first day and coming weeks were a shock, I can tell you.
On the first day I was a F**ken white c**t. I was then attacked for walking past or something … I was also small and looked like an easy target.
Ninety per cent of my fellow white students got this kind of treatment, and a lot of us were too scared to defend our selves so it didn’t stop until we cracked and then we were accused of racism. Where’s the logic in that?
I also noticed the inequality. We were not particularly wealthy and my parents struggled to pay for the boarding house, new clothes, school uniforms and shoes (and I went to public school).
I had never had shoes to wear every day. We had riding boots to wear while we were mustering and doing cattle work or if we were riding horses but otherwise it was bare feet.
My friend’s clothes, education and spare pocket money was government funded. She was also given a stipend of moneys for every day she attended school as was every other Aboriginal or part Aboriginal kid. 
We couldn’t understand why that, coming from the same situation, there wasn’t the same sort of support for us.
Then to top it off they resented and terrorised us for very little or no provocation and, if asked what we had done to them, we were told in no uncertain terms that it is because that we were White C**ts.
I had to learn to defend myself in this town because I was unfortunate to be born of pure European origin with no Aboriginal blood in me.
I have often been told to go back to where I come from – where’s that? This is where I come from.
The same people who get on the TV and radio saying that they were exposed to racist treatment are the same offenders who terrorised myself and others. I wonder who was game to pick on them. We would do our darnest to not get noticed by them for fear of attack.
My kids now go to school in this town and both of them have had the usual problems. My kids are both on the small side and of really gentle natures. They are both blue-eyed redheads.
My son is 10 years old and has had a year of being punched in the back of the head, black eyes and such. He is constantly called a F**king White Ranga by other kids of Aboriginal origin in his school.
Two of his best mates are part Aboriginal but for some reason he cops it from the others and he struggles to understand as he is not racist yet.
Up until now he has not fought back and has walked away. My husband and I have now given him permission to fight back as the racist bullying has gone beyond the joke.
Go to the school for help and they respond with sweet bugger all.
I got a phone call the other day from the school, my son had stood up to a bully who stood heads and shoulders over him and my son was in trouble for not backing down to him and turning away and copping a hit to the back of his head or a King hit as they are famous for. 
I was told that he was provoking because he wouldn’t turn away and the other boy who had started the fight was bigger and of Aboriginal origin it was up to my son to back down. Is the school trying to create bullies?
My son also has trouble with learning as he is easily distracted and has trouble understanding some of the work. His school has a tutoring group that gives help to struggling kids. I asked if he could be put into this group and was told it was for the Aboriginal kids of the school only.
If we needed help, we could enrol him in the Kip McGrath program which is a cost I can’t afford.
My daughter and her little friend, who are both 13, were catching the school bus home last term and as they got off at their stop and were walking home they were attacked from behind by a bigger Aboriginal girl.
My daughter’s friend was repeatedly punched in the head, kicked and her hair was pulled while my daughter screamed at her to stop. The girl was screaming at them that they were White C**ts and Sl*ts.
Nothing ever happened to the girl as we were told that because she was an Aboriginal the charges that we as parents pressed on her wouldn’t stick. The police said that their hands were tied. Both girls are scared to catch the bus and some days if they see the girl who attacked them refuse to go to school unless we the parents drop them off (very inconvenient if you work which we both do.)
My daughter who goes to the Centralian Middle School is forever being tagged the F**king White Ranga B*tch.
These are just a few of the stories I can tell you about. There are others.
This is a little of why I am losing faith in my town, the inequality of the laws, the racism, the vandalism, and the lack of respect. I am sick of it.
K. Anderson
Alice Springs 

Good monney after bad?

Sir – The recent announcement of a further grant to CDU to research the effects on the environment of the destruction of feral camels is nothing short of farcical, and the money should have gone to more productive endeavours, like removing the bureaucratic nonsense with the health department surrounding the establishment of a camel dairy at Stuart’s Well, and adding support in its place. 
Unnecessary intervention by government  stopped an emerging industry in its tracks. Garry Dan could have been helped to maintain markets and animal management, or Ian Conway to promote Indigenous employment.  Instead we will have yet another report with no tangible benefit to anyone except the academic reputation of the writer, and CDU.
A recent visit to one of the camel culling sites showed exactly what the effect of rotting carcases has on the surrounding vegetation – blood and bone have promoted spectacular growth in the plant populations. Why do we need another costly research project to discover that?
The gases resulting from decomposition of the carcases are, I understand, also to be investigated for their impacts on global warming.  Most third year high school science students can tell you that the carbon in these gases is not created or destroyed but merely changed from one compound to another, and in either case originated from vegetable matter with the aid of sunlight and water.
A recent symposium on ecological matters here had a contribution by a prominent environmentalist /botanist and authority on arid lands ecology, who stated that camels came number five in his list of environmentally damaging factors, rating behind fire, rabbits and buffel.  If this is so and I believe it is, why the huge expenditure on camels and negligible expenditure on the other major factors in environmental degradation? 
Another recent symposium at Kings Creek station estimated there were 1.2 million feral horses in Australia –  more horses than camels. We have heard nothing of plans to control horse numbers because the animals are too politically sensitive, or don’t we really care about the environment, and the damage hard hooved animals do? Mexican Poppy  in our waterways is a far more serious threat to our environment than camels. One has only to see the fields of white flowers cascading down the Todd near Amunguna, or appearing in the Finke National Park and Hugh River, to recognise the dangers.
Again there is an urgent need to instigate a commercialization program here. They did it in Darwin with buffalo and research should be based at AZRI. When the boffins finally realize that they have killed off a significant new age industry  for the sake of political expediency  it will be too late and we will be importing our expertise from Dubai.
Trevor Shiell
Alice Springs

Looking for Kent Moore

Sir – Just to set this up, as a Texas teen, I lived in Alice Springs from 1968-1970. 
A friend posted a class (501) photo from Alice Springs (Anzac Hill) High School from 1972 and with help from former classmates, all the individuals were tagged with their name. 
One in particular caught my interest, as there were added comments.  Her name was Glenna Orton.  I never knew Glenna. 
A little internet research revealed a letter written to you and published on your website on April 6th, 2005 from Kent Moore.  Mr Moore and Ms Orton were sweethearts back home and even after 31 years he was still trying to deal with her death – Glenna, her parents, sisters and all the passengers and crew were killed on a PanAm flight back to the States in 1974, in Pago Pago, American Samoa. 
The most touching part of his letter was that he didn’t even know where Glenna was ultimately laid to rest. 
I found out where and now I can’t find him.  The email address you published is no longer valid and the phone number for the most likely candidate in the Dallas area is no longer a working number.  
I know it’s a real stretch, but did Mr Moore ever contact you or your readers again?  Did he ever provide an alternate means of contact?

Julia Odle

With God’s help

Sir– My story should never have been but by the grace of God. I was born in Tenant Creek on the February 18, 1960. 
It is said that I and my two brothers were born at a mining station somewhere out from Tennant Creek.  My birth certificate says that we were born at the Tennant Creek Hospital. Stories seem to differ over this.
At any rate I am told that we were all born premature and were put in the most basic of humidi cribs.  Only two of the triplets were to survive.  There are differing stories about the triplet who died.  Some say it was at birth, others say it was after.
The reason given for all of this and for me having cerebral palsy is that my biological father came home in a drunken rage and slammed my biological mother in the stomach with a shovel.
We were put into the care of the child welfare department.  I was to find myself in the Sydney hospital and my brother in a home run by the welfare department.
My foster mum had lost one child who was in her care to a hole in the heart a year before they found a cure.  She desperately wanted to have children again and so she and the man who was to become my father went and found Max, my other twin.  I was in hospital, a totally twisted up mess.
The Welfare told the MacIlwraiths, my to be parents, that they couldn’t have one with out the other.  They were also told that I could feed myself.  Nothing could be further from the truth – all I could do was to say “duly, duly, duly”, probably because the nurses were calling me darling. 
The MacIlwraiths took me and Anna MacIlwraith lay with me on a matress while I was in callipers up to my stomach and wearing boots.  This was so that one side would pull the other into place.
They raised me till I was 14 years old and then Mrs MacIlwraith had a heart attack.  Soon after she had another, combined with a stroke and died. 
By then the MacIlwraiths were Mum and Dad to me I was devastated.  My brother Max had become too hard to handle and had been taken back by the Welfare.
I was placed in a home for disabled people where I was told this was the spastics’ world and I would be there for a very long time. No way, I thought, and I fought my way out of there with God’s help.
I did what I could to fix my education which was sadly lacking and I now reside in Queensland were I am an accomplished dressage rider and sought after Justice of the Peace (qualified), assisting the public and the police.
I promised my Father that one day I would proudly bear his name and I do. Through deed poll I am making it official to have MacIlwraith on my birth certificate.
David MacIlwraith, JP

Top Gear, polar bears and lifting weights with your testicles.

I’m not sure how you would go selling global warming in Alice Springs at the moment.
It’s a bit like being confronted by a dodgy car salesman, making extravagant claims that are not backed up by the product.
If the temperature has increased recently, I haven’t noticed.
It’s nearly November and I have spent the night wondering if I will actually have a roof on the house and not blown away down the street by morning.
The rain has been lashing down and I had to rescue the dog from a roaming polar bear that must have stepped off an iceberg. Madness. Still, it’s good practice for a European winter I guess.
Speaking of things European, I can’t love the Australian version of Top Gear.
I tried watching with an open mind and with a patriotic spirit but still didn’t like it.
The only thing I can put it down to is the three blokes hosting all try too hard to be funny, rather than actually being funny.
If you’re not familiar with the format of the show, the hosts drive all manner of vehicles about the place and are generally silly. That’s about it.
The original (UK) version has become extremely popular, creating spin-off versions in other countries, a bit like the Wiggles.
And like the Wiggles I think they should scale back the franchising and concentrate on the original product, cos the home grown version sucks big ones.
Even with the addition of the genuinely funny fat bloke of “Kenny” fame, it struggles to raise a snigger let alone a laugh out loud fit of hysteria.
Speaking of fat blokes, I’ve had a full on fortnight in the gym after stepping on the scales a couple of weeks ago. I knew I was getting porky and had enough excuses to keep the ever tightening waist band of my favourite jeans firmly at the back of my mind, where it couldn’t do any more damage to my fragile ego. 
Until the scales – can’t ignore those numbers baby, specially when they wiz past the previous high water mark and shudder to a halt in all new, stratified territory. Oh dear, not good.
 I would be the perfect weight if I was a six foot two strapping lad, which is a damn shame because I’m not even close to that height and no one ever used the expression “strapping” to describe me even when I was laddish, which is a while ago now. 
No, what I had become was a short fat bastard and that was going to have to change.
The only thing in my favour is I am no stranger to exercise. When I pull my finger out and get on board, I go hard.
It has been wonderful to watch the transformation. I’m not skinny by any length of the imagination but I have started the process and that feels good.
It’s like I’m back in control of the ship, rather than being thrown about by the waves.
I keep making progress by increments, bit heavier here or a bit faster but always under control.
An elite weightlifter once said that the muscles don’t know how heavy the weight is and never is that more apparent than when I observe some young blokes in the gym.
They don’t lift weights with their muscles, they do so with their bollocks. Bigger is definitely better.
They throw a massive amount of resistance on a machine and huff and puff before moving the enormous structure a centimetre or two. They do this by throwing their whole body weight against the handles before bouncing up and checking themselves out in the mirror.
Good on you boys, enjoy it while you can, I did. Then the first injury makes you realise that longevity is better than ego.

Back to our home page.