November 18, 2010. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

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Waterhole shooting shock

“Why did he shoot me?”
That’s what the victim of the May 29 Junction Waterhole shooting kept asking, as he lay wounded on the ground – bleeding, pale, clammy, in excruciating pain – and later as he waited for surgery in hospital.
The Alice Springs Magistrates Court heard this account by the victim’s partner, given the day after the shooting in a video “walk-through” at the crime scene.
The victim, Paul Wallace, also gave evidence.
He struggled to remember “with 100% certainty” much about what happened during and after the altercation and shooting and has not been able to identify his assailant(s).
The shotgun wound shattered his left shoulder, which has had to be reconstructed, and “blew away” a significant part of his underarm. He wears an apparatus on his lower left arm and hand without which he cannot pick things up. 
He also sustained a broken pelvis, and the tendon was torn off the inside of a knee.
He is now employed as a teacher / mentor of plant operation, as his injuries mean he can no longer work as a mechanic.
“I can’t walk too much”, he told the court.
Only one man, Reuben Nadich, is now accused of the attempted murder of Mr Wallace.
His committal hearing was continuing as the Alice News went to press.
Till Monday Benjamin Gaff was also facing the charge, but it and two other related charges have been withdrawn by the prosecution.
It was expected that Mr Gaff would give evidence during Mr Nadich’s committal but as it got underway on Tuesday, Mr Gaff’s family was told that the prosecution would not be calling Mr Gaff as a witness, although possibly the defence would.
On Monday, the Magistrates Court heard the committal of separate charges against Mr Gaff and Jason Corp, concerning an alleged aggravated robbery and cause of serious harm that took place at Tony’s Auto-wreckers on the same night as the shooting.
Victim Jarrod Sellars told the court a king hit by Mr Gaff had broken his nose.
He said Mr Gaff also struck him with a shovel on the leg, and held the shovel blade on his throat, applying pressure (Mr Gaff denies the latter).
As well he said Mr Gaff kicked him in the head with steel-capped boots.
He told the court he thought he was going to die that night.
He said Mr Corp had elbowed him, stopped him from jumping over a fence to get away, and had tried to choke him.
The court heard that Mr Nadich was present during some of the incident.
Mr Sellars said Mr Corp asked him about money and Mr Gaff told him to “empty his pockets”.
Mr Sellars took money out of his wallet, $75, “all I had”, and said Mr Corp took that money from him.
The court heard that Mr Sellars had had to go to Darwin for facial reconstruction as a result of his injuries, which included a fractured eye socket and loss of a tooth.
Both accused said they had been drinking heavily.
Mr Gaff said they had been drinking themselves “stupid”.
Mr Corp said he had drunk a carton of beer and three-quarters of a bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon, though it seemed he had shared this quantity with at least one other person.
Magistrate John Neill was satisfied that the matter should go to trial before a jury and ordered Mr Gaff and Mr Corp to be arraigned in the Supreme Court on January 31, 2011.  Both men are expected to apply for bail in the coming weeks.

Outback way OK. By

The Mount Isa Chamber of Commerce is giving its qualified endorsement to the Outback Way, the proposed east-west highway linking Brisbane with Perth via The Centre.
Chamber president Brett Peterson says on the one hand, the road will bypass Mount Isa by about 300 kilometers, taking the shortest route, and it’s not clear what effect that will have on the town.
On the other hand, Mount Isa has carved out for itself an image as the gateway to the outback, and it is Queensland’s largest regional city.
As such it’s likely to benefit from a greater visitation to western Queensland which the Outback Way would generate.
Mr Peterson says the mining tax, as proposed by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, sent shudders through the town with some mines rumored to be going to a care and maintenance mode with massive job losses.
“We must push tourism,” says Mr Peterson.
The Chamber is forming a task force focussing on tourism, destination marketing, industry development and training.

Todd neglected as weeds take it over. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

An “expansion” of the noxious weed Mexican Poppy has led to a new low point for Alice Springs’ iconic Todd River.
The blighted waterway and some of its banks are now overgrown not only with buffel and couch grasses, but also with the nasty weed from Central America.
There is no-one doing anything about it, except in the immediate town area, and even here the weed is present.
With every flow of the river Mexican Poppy is being spread towards the Simpson Desert.
The sand mined from the Todd is transported to depots around town and to bush communities for use in concrete and bitumen, and outbreaks have been reported from several locations.
Environmentalist Alex Nelson has photographed the weed growing in piles of sand stored on industrial blocks in the town.
Regional Weeds Officer Chris Brown, with just one other staff, is responsible for controlling noxious weeds in 580,000 square kilometres of Central Australia.
Parks and Wildlife rangers also do some weed controlling, says Mr Brown, and so do the Tjuwanpa Rangers in the Hermannsburg area.
The town council and NT Government weed inspectors are fighting outbreaks north of the John Blakeman bridge (which is linking the Stuart Highway with the Ross River Highway) but there are no controls in the Todd south of that bridge.
“Infestations in that area are now heavily entrenched,” says Mr Brown.
“Efforts focus on prevention of spread and reports of incursions into clean areas.”
He says small amounts of Mexican Poppy, toxic to stock and humans, according to Weeds Australia, have been in the Todd for some 20 years, but after the recent heavy rains the river has become “heavily infested” and the weed has taken root in several river systems in Central Australia.
“It’s really bad. Control in many of these areas is now no longer viable, due to the high cost of control and ongoing maintenance.
“Mexican Poppy is now on some river banks as well, and spreading,” says Mr Brown.
The outbreak is especially virulent where sand is being mined in the Todd not far from the airport.
On the western side of the river there are several square kilometres of densely growing Mexican Poppy, around one to one and a half metres high.
The sand miners are required to skim off and not use the top layer of sand, and to cover their load on the trucks.
However, the intense infestation where the sand is transported from the mine raises questions about the adequacy of these precautions.
There has been ample warning that a catastrophic outbreak would occur.
The Alice Springs News headlined its lead story on October 22, 1997 “Mexican Poppy, a noxious weed, threatens The Centre’s dry rivers”.
The report said: “Authorities failed to act on a report to the Parks and Wildlife Service eight years ago about an infestation of the Todd by Mexican Poppy, a weed now choking up the Todd and several other river systems in Central Australia.
“The report to the service – then called the Conservation Commission – was made by a former noxious weed inspector, Des Nelson, after discovering an outbreak on November 11, 1988.
“Mr Nelson says he was told no action could be taken because Mexican Poppy had not been declared a noxious weed in the Territory.
“Meanwhile Murray Fuller, the weeds officer with the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries in Alice Springs, says he expects the poisonous thistle will infest all the sandy creekbeds of Central Australia within five years, if the present rate of expansion isn’t checked.”
In the NT the Poppy was in the early 1990s declared a Class B/C weed (“growth and spread to be controlled” and “not to be introduced to the Territory”).
It is not a Class A weed (“to be eradicated”).
Mr Brown says Mexican Poppy seed is viable for seven years.
The only way to fight it is to destroy the plants before they set seed – and do that every year for seven years.
He says it’s a mammoth task, well beyond his resources.
Mr Brown says earlier in the year there has been some interest to help from the prison, currently holding around 500 people, but nothing has come of that so far.
“We’re happy to help land care groups which want to play a part in controlling Mexican Poppy,” says Mr Brown.
Mr Brown says the meagre resources at his disposal mean he needs to focus on tasks likely to “make a difference” – for example, the infestation by Athel Pine along 600 kms of the Finke River where 420 kms are now at a “manageable maintenance level,” he says.
But so far as Mexican Poppy is concerned, the horse has bolted.

Thorny issues in leaders forum. By KIERAN FINNANE.

"If we're talking about Alice Springs as a whole  community, we all have to have the same laws."
Mayor Damien Ryan was responding to a question from the floor at last week's leadership forum organised by Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA), asking, "for Alice Springs to move forward", should we have one set of laws for everybody or do we need different laws for some.
MC, ABC journalist Stuart Brash, jumped in: in the "prescribed areas" (under the Federal Intervention) there are different laws.
"I don't agree with it," responded Mayor Ryan.
"The Intervention was designed by someone who doesn't live here.
"If you're going to change the law you need to talk to the people you're going to affect."
Income management is now being rolled out for everybody, said Mr Brash.
Everybody  in the Territory, qualified Mr Ryan – "We're a social experiment for the rest of Australia."
He got strong support from the panel on this issue: the three participants in the DKA desert leadership program – Donna Lemmon, Fionn Muster and Lyndon Frearson – were all troubled by the race-based provisions of the Intervention.
Mr Frearson particularly talked about the difficulty he had in sitting at the same table with other participants in the program who are residents of the town camps, knowing that when it comes to buying alcohol to consume in their own homes, different laws apply.
(This is on its way to being changed – see Alice News, "Camps grog ban to go", September 2.)
Only panel member Bess Price took a different tack.
The outspoken Warlpiri woman and her husband Dave Price have consistently put on the record their support of the Intervention, in the face of the overwhelming problems of, particularly, alcohol-fueled violence in Aboriginal communities.
In the forum Mrs Price said that if there's going to be one law for everybody, then the town camps have to become part of Alice Springs.
"Make them a part of normal life, then we won't have rampant alcoholism amongst our people," she said.
While it was not raised in the forum, the Town Council's contribution to entrenched separation of the town camps from the rest of the town, through its Memorandum of Understanding with Tangentyere Council on the delivery of municipal-type services, signed in 2000, is only now being turned around.
It took the Intervention and its architect Mal Brough to get this ball rolling.
Mrs Price continued: "I would like to have one law for everybody. But then someone will say, 'It's got to be culturally appropriate'. Where do you go?"
Mr Brash raised the push from some quarters for greater recognition of customary law.
Mr Frearson commented on the damage done by the breakdown of traditional structures in Aboriginal communities but pointed to the thorny issue of Aboriginal customary law recognition setting a precedent for other groups in the community, whose customary laws could, for example, turn back the clock significantly on the rights of women and girls to equal opportunities.
Elsewhere Mr Frearson pointed out that it's no longer adequate to talk about Alice Springs as a bi-cultural town, with such a conversation not taking into account our rapidly diversifying multi-cultural population. 
How to deal with the "problems of youth" was another issue raised from the floor.
Donna Lemmon, an Aboriginal woman, had previously talked about the change in the town over her lifetime of 33 years, commenting on the "disheartening" experience of washing being stolen from clotheslines, cars being damaged in they're parked in the street.
Now she spoke about being brought up "the hard way".
"I used to get a big hiding if I did the wrong thing."
She sees a generation gap between her own and the current generation and said "our kids lack respect".
She commended programs like Clontarf Football Academy and Girls in the Centre but asked what should happen with the young people "falling through the gaps".
They "need a big hiding", she said, "they need discipline", adding that the "rights of parents have been taken away".
In another context she might have been greeted with a round of applause for these statements, but here you could sense a collective gasp.
Mr Ryan expressed his disappointment in government not "picking up" the youth issue, commenting on the numerous youth service providers in the town but the apparent lack of a coordinated plan.
Mrs Price called on Lhere Artepe to take a more active role in establishing the ground rules for behaviour, while Mr Ryan also said parents should not be "let off" their responsibilities.
The young woman who had asked the question is also a participant in the leadership program, Skye Thompson.
She spoke of growing up in the town when there were things like the Blue Light discos for young people. Now there's nothing, she said, expressing worry that her 13 year old daughter will get into "a rut" if she stays here, but sadness that the young girl doesn't even want to stay – she wants to go to boarding school.
Another question asked whether people rely too much on governments to fix things.
Mrs Price commented on people in remote communities having always had government doing everything for them and having lost the ability to "take control and do things for themselves".
Asked how young people in communities could be encouraged to take on a leadership role, Mrs Price talked about the importance of reflecting on "where we've come from".
"We haven't been able to look at ourselves in the mirror to question ourselves," she said.
She spoke of the need for secondary education in the bush, and for exposing young people to the world outside – "they haven't got a clue" and they come into town and "lose their way".
The forum also took questions submitted online, including one about whether the panel supported the recognition of Indigenous people in the Australian constitution.
Ms Lemmon saw worth in it as an expression of the equality of Indigenous people with other Australians.
Mrs Price said that it wouldn't make any difference to her people and wondered about the point of making a big fuss about it.
Ms Muster was in sympathy with Mrs Price, supporting recognition in principle, but asking what change it would bring about.
Mr Ryan wondered whether it would be like the former Prime Minister's apology to the stolen generations – "Not a lot came of it".
Mr Frearson said it would be important as an acknowledgment of the "weight of history behind the First Australians" but wondered whether it would imply that the rest of the constitution is a white middle class document.

Did Abbott offer a job to Abbott? By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Former Country Liberal Party (CL) candidate Leo Abbott would not confirm nor deny that he was offered a government job, if the Liberals won, on condition that he withdrew from the candidacy.
Mr Abbott was standing in Lingiari in this year’s Federal election amidst a bitter party dispute over allegations against him of domestic violence.
Despite a boycott from members of his own party, Mr Abbott made significant inroads into the votes of long-term sitting member, Warren Snowdon, in the formerly safe Labor seat.
Reports of the job offer come from well informed sources.
The offer is alleged to have been made by NT Opposition Leader Terry Mills and his Federal counterpart, Tony Abbott (no relation to the candidate). Tony Abbott’s office said the story “is totally incorrect”.
A spokesman for Mr Mills said he “won’t be feeding the rumour mill on this matter”.

Temporary lodgings: rains delay completion. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

“Heavy rain over the last few months” has delayed the completion of the temporary accommodation for Aboriginal people from October to December, according to the Department of the Chief Minister.
The Apmere Mwerre Visitor Park on Len Kittle Drive will be managed by Aboriginal Hostels Limited (AHL), employ 22 and accommodate 150.
It will be alcohol and drug free and allow stays of up to 14 nights, and “in some instances” up to three months.
It will be staffed seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Fees will be, per person per night: Camping $5 (children free); tent $7 ($2); cabin $14 ($3) and self contained cabin $20 ($4).
“The facility will have a secure fence, controlled access through a managed entrance and enforced rules and policies,” says the department.
“It will also be declared a private prescribed area which means no alcohol can be taken on the premises.”
There will be dining facilities where visitors can purchase meals and kitchen facilities in the self contained cabins and barbeque areas where visitors can cook their own meals.

Power struggle.

The Town Council “has been in negotiation with Power and Water to find a suitable resolution” about the re-instatement of the road seal in Len Kittle Drive (pictured), which runs along the show grounds, and on bike paths along Bradshaw and Lovegrove Drives.
The traffic ways were dug up to install the new 66kv power supply to the Lovegrove substation.
PWC has made an offer but the council, at Monday’s meeting, decided to require a five year warranty and “the road be reinstated to current Australian standards,” says CEO Rex Mooney.

Local talent shines. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Each new Cat’s Meow cabaret has its strength: this year, with Soultrain, hats off have to particularly go to the music, both composition and performance.
In keeping with the eclectic flavour of the whole event, the score drew on many traditions and was impressive for its sheer diversity as well as the flair of the band’s renditions.
Maestro Neill Duncan, band leader Stephanie Harrison and musicians, take a bow.
The beautiful singing voice of Mei Lai Swan put its stamp on the show from the start and a nostalgic shanty from Jordan VanderSchuit let us down gently at the end, following the high-spirited grand finale, featuring most of the cast.
Dance highlights came from the classically trained Hayley Michener as the Centaur, and the Mirror Girls – Miriam Bond, Gabrielle Miller, Kissilyn Labis, Emma Hurley and Francesca Jaiyeola – whose injection of sexiness was matched by the strip dancers Christian O’Connor, Roman Micairan and Swan.
Hip hop brothers, Jacob, Samuel and Aaron Crowe, delivered a fresh zing of energy in the final scene.  I only regret that we did not see more from this trio.
For me the highpoint, as a piece of whole theatre, came with the aerial sequence, Merbirds, led by Katelnd Griffin. It had everything – the music was exquisite, it was charged with meaning and emotion, the performance by all the aerialists and in particular Matt Leyland was spectacular, and the prop-making and lighting were in perfect complement.
‘Prop’ is probably not the right term for the puppet that looked like a jellyfish and represented the plastic garbage clogging up the oceans. Lit from within and appearing, with the aid of puppeteer Adeline Peyer, to float effortlessly, it was beautifully ominous.
Leyland reaching for it from his apparatus expressed wonderfully the struggle, frustration and failure to come to grips with its threatening presence.
Environmental crisis, indeed doom, and the complacency of the rich West, embodied by the characters Flora May (Swan) and Narci (Tammy Brennan / Jack Batty), was the themic thread linking the 15 separate scenes.
Building on the theme, the countdown of the last 24 hours of life on earth provided a greater coherence to the scenes of the second half.
Scripting, particularly of monologues, needed to be tighter. When you’re working with stereotypes and archetypes, there’s no need for elaboration. Once the characters are identified the focus in a cabaret needs to move quickly to song and dance.
A protracted monologue (also difficult to hear) gave a lagging energy to the opening scene which, combined with a very basic set design, meant a less than magical entree for the whole, despite Swan’s lovely singing.
And somehow a better balance between narrative thread and the individuality of each scene needs to be struck – people could be forgiven for feeling confused as one scene gave way to another going in an utterly different direction.
Overall, however, the Cat’s Meow crew delivered another wonderful night’s entertainment, full of colour, whimsy and wit – all power to them.

Growing a garden together ‘just a normal thing of life’. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The idea of turning a patch of “baking hot sand and prickles” into productive and beautiful land is what brought the Stitfold family out to Sunday’s launch of the Alice Springs Community Garden.
The garden would also be “a space to nurture something outisde of the home”, said Mike Stitfold. Katja Lamb has a productive garden at home but wants her kids to have “a sense that growing things is a normal part of life”, shared with the wider community.
Carl Barrow was at the launch, curious to see what’s planned. He lives on the western side of town and doesn’t know if he would be very involved in this garden, which is on Eastside, in the Frances Smith Park.
But he gardens at home: “It’s an important way to support the environment.”
An interest in healthy food and growing your own is what drew a group of friends there, three of whom work as dieticians.
Jessica Abbott is also on maternity leave and was looking forward to an opportunity for community involvement.
Grace Coleman commented that some children don’t understand where fruit and vegetables come from, seeing them only as shop produce.
Local resident Wendy Mann likes to garden but doesn’t always have a lot of success so she’s keen to learn what works and why.
The Town Council leased the site to the Arid Lands Environment Centre.
A conceptual site plan has been developed by landscape architect Jen Clarsen. On Sunday she stressed that ALEC, through its community garden steering committee, is looking for people’s input to the plan.
She pointed out the way water flows naturally across the site and the importance of earthworks to capture that flow and allow it to infiltrate.
The soil is hard and alluvial and needs intensive reworking to become productive, she said.
The Power and Water Corporation is donating water for irrigation free of charge to the project.
Immediate plantings will be large acacias to encourage the production on site of mulch.
But before that the site needs to be fenced and fundraising to help pay for that began on Sunday with a raffle.
The steering committee has put out a prioritised wish list and will be happy to receive donations (cash donations are tax deductible).
Ultimately the garden will comprise both individual and community group plots, leased to applicants through a transparent process at a square metre rate.

IAD an institute for Arrernte only? By KIERAN FINNANE.

A Council of Elders, to be elected tomorrow at the Institute of Aboriginal Development’s AGM, will be asked to decide on whether IAD will become an Arrernte organisation or retain its broader vision as an organisation for all Aboriginal people of Central Australia.
The management committee has determined that IAD will refocus on language and culture, as in its heyday in the 1970s, but at last week’s launch of its new plans there were divided views over whether that focus should be exclusively on the “Arrernte Nations”.
These are the Akarre, Anmatyarr, Alyawarr, as well as Central, Eastern, Lower, Southern and Western Arrernte.
While chair of the committee Jody Kopp pushed quite strongly for an exclusive focus on Arrernte, at least initially, prominent elder Margaret Kemarre Turner repeatedly and with feeling called for a more inclusive approach.
Her diagram of cultural learning, developed with her grandson David, and published in her book “Iwenhe Tyerrtye – What it means to be an Aboriginal person” has been put forward by IAD as its curriculum outline.
It was described by CEO Janice Harris as a creation of “genius” for the way in which it expresses an Aboriginal world view, and of how knowledge of that view is acquired, that has clear parallels with curriculum requirements in mainstream education.
The views of Mrs Turner could thus be expected to hold a fair bit of sway.
Her position was strongly supported by Warlpiri elder Rex Japanangka Granites who urged those present to “work together as Yapa people”.
If they did not they would become “nowhere to be seen but outer space”.
Mr Granites said the town is a base for many people and races.
He pointed to widespread intermarriage and the children whose heritage comes from two language groups: “You can’t chop them up.”
Elder Maureen Trindle, who spent 10 years as a home liaison officer with the Department of Education, argued that whatever is decided, it is essential “to get the people here”.
She said the “most important thing” she saw while working for the department was “the deterioration of Aboriginal people and culture”.
“Everyone says our kids are uncontrollable, their mothers and fathers drink.
“If that’s the case then bring those kids here.
“If we’re genuine we have to make it our business to learn and relearn, otherwise it’s not going to work.”
Jody Kopp said language and culture have to underpin education and training.
People can’t participate in learning unless they’re “personally well”.
A sound knowledge of language and culture is essential to health, self-esteem, self-confidence and well-being: without it “our elders feel powerless”, “our young people are disconnected and lost”.
She said it was not financially possible to service all language groups – “we don’t have the staff and resources” – and argued the case for specialising.
Like Mrs Turner, her “Nanna”, she too believes it’s important to be inclusive but “we need to get Arrernte right first before we can help the other language groups”.
Ms Harris said the IAD membership would not be daunted by the difficulty of the decision: the Council of Elders would show them the way.
She spoke about the restructure of the organisation around four departments: language, performing arts (particularly designed to engage youth), press (the publishing arm, a “mainstay”), and corporate services.
There were cheers and “deadlies” from young people to the announcement about the performing arts department.
She said IAD would be approaching “Aboriginal business” to fund these initiatives, mentioning in particular Lhere Artepe and Centercorp.
“We’ll become culturally strong through Aboriginal money.
“We feel strongly about that,” said Ms Harris.
People were also asked to express their views on a possible name change.
The current name had seen the organisation through 40 years of “hell” and “glory” but should it change now?
Tomorrow’s meeting will tell.


IAD wants to shed its image as disorganised and crisis-ridden.
Its annual report for 2009-10 outlines the way it has gone about a restructure.
It has incorporated as an Aboriginal corporation and adopted a new constitution.
An external independent recruitment panel recommended the appointment of former committee chair Janice Harris as CEO, starting January this year.
She and the management committee took on board the recommendations of a review conducted by Ernst and Young.
They implemented major staff cuts – from 25 to 12 – and brought the budget back into the black.
Earning before Interest and Depreciation (EBID) has gone from a net loss of more than $.5m in 2007-08 to a gain of $76,379 in 2009-10, according to the annual report.
Better management of its buildings and other property has helped.
Offices, training and meeting rooms were made available for hire.
Plans to renovate and lease a residential and office block are underway.
An MOU with Frontier Services made the canteen available for the preparation of food for Aboriginal school children in town, which allows IAD students in the Food Safety Program access to a supervised canteen worksite.

Prangs packed a long night with top action. By CHRIS WALSH.

Casualties turned the Territory Metals NT Sidecar Title into quite a long night but the crowd didn’t mind being entertained with plenty of action.
Locals Garth Thompson and Phil Anderson took out the number one title.
Chris Dess and Samantha Fidler came fourth overall with two top end combinations taking second and third.
Once again, Steve Anderson did a fantastic job on the track, only for the official practise to be rained out on Friday evening.
While the rain was pelting down, a quick committee meeting was called and it was decided that if the weather improved, scrutineering would be held mid-afternoon on Saturday, followed by a shorter practise time than usual.
This made for a nervous wait to see what would develop overnight but the Gods must have been smiling down upon their three-wheeled warriors and although humid, Saturday’s weather dried out.
The track was ideal and as the night wore on, it held up and became better and better.
State titles for both sidecars and solos are only open to competitors from within the state they’re being held in and usually have a maximum of 16 contenders over 16 heats.
This allows every competitor to meet each other once and to start from every grid position available.
Each state and territory’s third place getter becomes a reserve for the number one and two place winners who will all meet at the Australian Titles. 
This makes it very difficult to produce a draw for an odd number without having back-to-back racing all through the program.
Currently there is a total of 13 sidecars within the NT, so they ran over 13 heats with every heat being a back-to-back for someone before contending in two semi-finals and the final race.
To allow time for refuelling and any other mechanical problems, Formula 500’s and Wingless Sprintcars along with Stockbikes, Quads and Division 1 Peewees from the Alice Springs Motorcycle Club raced between every sidecar heat.
All of the sidecar competitors took part in the grand parade at the beginning of the night, completing two laps before stopping on the western side of the track.
The line-up was then introduced by Matt Henderson and presented with their medallions by Chris Walsh.
There is definitely dedication to the sport with people coming into town just for this event.
Darwin’s Joe White drove to Alice for the weekend and his passenger Andrew Beattie now living in Tasmania, flew in on Saturday morning, raced the night and flew home again on Sunday.
Shayne O’Connell also drove down from Darwin with his wife and small son.
His passenger Todd Wyatt flew in from Roxby Downs on Friday before returning on Monday and Melody Carragher flew in from Queensland for the weekend to swing for Cameron Miller.
This created another page in the book of Arunga Park‘s history with the entire Carragher family racing against each other for the first time.
The combination of Brian and Janelle racing against their son Arlen and his passenger Matt Sexton, and their daughter Melody alongside Cameron made for a very special family reunion.
As an added bonus, Janelle’s brother Brad flew in from Port Headland to assist in the pits for the night. He and his wife Sharon arrived unannounced as a welcome surprise for the family.
This is the first race season for nearly all of our local sidecar competitors and they’re all good mates, so there was plenty of the usual jocular-type bantering, although this time it was mixed with a raw and nervous excitement.
On the track, life became serious and everyone was out to try and win – and try, they did, as right from the very beginning, the night was action packed!
On the start line in heat one, Marcus Seidel and Kyle Laverty broke the tapes and were excluded, leaving three on the grid.
As the tapes went up for the second time, Kevin and Matthew Wooding plunged forward with a wheel-stand as the two other bikes shot off the line.
Wooding was also excluded, leaving only two on the grid. Garth Thompson / Phil Anderson took first place and were closely followed by Steve Sanders/Scott Doody.
Heat two was almost a repeat performance, with Kris Laverty pulling a massive wheel-stand off the start line, dumping his passenger Dave Pirie just after the start and completing a lap without him.
They were excluded and the race was taken out by Garth Thompson / Phil Anderson and the combination of Brian and Niara Metcalfe.
From here-on, the night’s action continued with plenty of thrills and spills for all.
Cameron Miller and Melody Carragher’s race night was short-lived when their bike came to a stop a few metres short of the chequered flag.
The crowd began yelling for them to push the bike across the line, which once they did, gave them third place and their only point for the night.
It was discovered after the bike was pushed back into the pits that the frame had split in half.
Brian and Janelle Carragher were unable to start in two of their heats and unable to finish their 4th due to their fuel tank splitting and losing fuel, however they had a great win against their son Arlen, leaving them with three points for the night.
The team of Marcus Seidel and Kyle Laverty had a disappointing night due to exclusion for breaking the tapes in the first heat, followed by two unfinished heats and a third place.
Dave Totani and his passenger Darran Hyman came second in each of their last three heats, giving them enough points to go into the first semi-final.
There were a couple more exclusions during the night for various reasons and for added fun, a couple of light hearted moments as well.
One such moment was when Brian Metcalfe pulled onto the infield and unknowingly dumped his wife Niara in the mud, before taking off again.
There’s some great video footage of Niara frantically waving her arms and Brian innocently riding off!
Another example was when Arlen Carragher pulled infield and bogged his bike in the mud.
Competitors holding tenth to seventh place in the points were put into the first semi-final as follows: Brian and Janelle Carragher on pole, Dave Totani / Darren Hyman out of 2, Kris Laverty / Dave Pirie out of 3 and Kevin and Matthew Wooding out of 4.
The first semi was won by Totani / Hyman, followed by Laverty / Pirie and Wooding / Wooding. 
The second semi-final consisted of the 6th, 5th and 4th points holders from the heats along with the winner from the first semi.
Across the grid was Arlen Carragher / Matt Sexton on pole, Dave Totani / Darran Hyman out of 2, Steve Sanders / Scott Doody out of 3 and Joe White / Andrew Beattie out of 4. 
This proved to be a good close race with contenders all bunched together for much of the time.
The combination of White / Beattie came over the line first for a place in the main final, followed by Sanders / Doody and Totani / Hyman. The local combination of Garth Thompson and Phil Anderson were on maximum points for the night, which allowed them to by-pass the semi’s and pick their preferred grid position for the final race.
They chose to come off the grid from position 3, with Shayne O’Connell / Todd Wyatt choosing the pole line, Chris Dess/Sam Fidler choosing position 2 and Joe White / Andrew Beattie out of 4.
As the tapes went up, Dess/Fidler had a great start, closely followed by Thompson/Anderson and White / Beattie.
The O’Connell / Wyatt combination got off to a bad start in the soft dirt on the pole line and had to play catch up.
Dess and Fidler were still in the lead as they came out of the second corner when mayhem struck and they blew a rear tyre.
As they fought for control of the bike, Garth Thompson and Phil Anderson passed them on the outside with Joe White and Andrew Beattie coming up from behind on their inside.
As the tyre peeled, the bike pitched and connected with the left hand side of the White / Beattie bike and their race was over.
Unfortunately, Samantha Fidler had her foot crushed between the two machines as they connected and Andrew Beattie was thrown off the bike, landing on the infield.
St John personnel were kept busy throughout the night with a number of minor incidents and a couple of major ones.
The first calamity for the night happened as Greg Allen pulled his Formula 500 into the pits after a race and everyone started yelling “fire in the pits”.
The car came to a stop and fire extinguishers came from all directions, as he tried to undo his safety harness and get out of the vehicle.
As it turned out, radiator coolant was spraying over him and he received burns to his leg and hands.
He was transferred to hospital and also ended up with stitches in his right hand.
Another catastrophe occurred when Luke McDonald’s quad was tapped from behind and hit the wall coming out of turn two.
This resulted in him being injured and transferred to hospital as well. 
Later in the night Samantha Fidler and Chris Dess were also transferred to hospital after their accident in the final.
Although there were a number of injuries, none of them are life threatening and all of the competitors are recovering well with the attitude of “S…t happens and that’s racing”!

LETTERS: Big Gigs give all a chance.

Sir – I write in response to the article “Fine tuning the big gigs” (Alice News, Nov 11) particularly in response to the comment that tour operators are “missing out” when big events are held in the town because accommodation houses are booked out and they can’t get “their” clients into them.
As CEO of the National Road Transport Hall of Fame and event manager for our annual truckies reunion I would just like to remind everyone that, as the catch cry goes, tourism is everybody’s business and we all deserve a bite at the cherry.
I could equally say that I am disappointed that many of the tour operators don’t bring their clientele to visit my museums when their coaches are full and my museums empty.
People come to events such as our reunion, the Finke Desert Race, the Masters Games and the Beanie Festival etc because that is their particular area of interest.
I personally think Alice Springs has a bright future as an events destination.
There is no denying we do our events extremely well and we are fortunate to have a vibrant visitor orientated township in which to host them coupled with a great team of dedicated community minded businesses and volunteers who get behind each of these fabulous events
From our perspective, my organisation markets almost exclusively to the trucking industry.
There is a considerable amount of time, money and effort that goes into bringing 8000 people to this town and I make no apology for wanting them absorbed in our activities, functions and events while they are here.
As a self funded community based museum, that gets NO government or council funding, events such as our reunion are vital to our continued financial viability and growth, and ultimately, the economic and social contribution we make to our town.
Having said that, we always impress on our participants that Central Australia is a magnificent and unique destination and recommend that they stay for at least a few days before or after our event.
However, we also emphasize the need for them to think well ahead and book early whether it’s for flights, accommodation, hire cars or touring options.
We do this partly because we don’t want them to miss out when they get here, partly because of the poor logistics of trying to arrange everything at the last minute and partly to allow time for various stakeholders to bring things like extra catering equipment, hire cars, coaches and even personnel to town to cope in high demand periods.
I couldn’t get enough staff in town. I had to fly them in from interstate.
In preparing for our event, I called for expressions of interest from caterers, tour operators and business houses who wanted to be involved in our reunion at least three times in the twelve months prior to the event.
On each occasion I had a pretty poor response but for those that did respond information about their product went out in our newsletter to participants and they booked well ahead of arriving in Alice Springs.
We believe in spreading the love!
And we spread it all over Central Australia, and indeed Australia.
The Old Timers Museum in Coober Pedy took an extra $8000 in entry fees that week alone.
Bojangles told me they had the best week ever on record.
One roadhouse sold an extra $50,000 worth of fuel and a local butchers shop stayed open for a 24 hour period just so they could keep up with our demand for steak.
We kept at least one chiropractor busy fixing the bad backs of old truckies hell bent on reliving their youth and we even got a serve from a local shopper because we bought every potato and onion in town.
The list goes on and on.
Tourism is indeed everybody’s business irrespective of what business you are in and the fact of the matter is we simply can’t all win all the time.
It’s all about seizing an opportunity when it’s under your nose.
Transport is the biggest industry in Australia and the trucking fraternity is relatively affluent when compared to other industry sectors.
Generally they are not afraid to spend big on their recreation and leisure.
We are indeed fortunate that they have taken to heart Alice Springs and the National Road Transport Hall of Fame as the home for their heritage.
Likewise with devotees to the many other unique events we host in the Centre.
That does not come by accident. It comes from smart planning and hard work and the people who give their heart and soul to bringing them to fruition delivering economic benefits for the whole of the community not just the tourism sector.
Since our reunion Kenworth have committed to doubling the size of their museum by 2015 and we have had initial negotiations, at their instigation, with another major truck manufacturer about building another comparable million dollar museum on site.
Its all onwards and upwards from here and the winner is the Alice Springs community collectively and completely.
Sure, I agree that there are things that we, as a town, can do better when we host these big events and I have had first-hand experience with many of them including a few disappointments along the way. I am happy to share them and my ideas for solutions with anybody who is interested.
In the meantime my advice to people who feel they are “missing out” when we hold these fabulous events is think lateral, don’t be afraid to take a risk, partner up with some of them and most importantly of all, never let a chance go by!
Liz Martin OAM
CEO – National Road Transport Hall of Fame
Alice Springs

Whining over banks

Sir – I was watching Julia Gillard on National TV in China whining that the Big Banks in Australia were not doing what she wanted.
Hello! Misters Rudd and Swan started the ball rolling before the Global Financial Crisis struck in full, rocking back from a jaunt in America and stating: “The Banks in Australia are strong”.
All this statement did was cause a run on the smaller institutions, weakening them, strengthening the Big Banks and stopping lots of pensioners and many others from getting their money.
Surely your readers remember this, I’m sure many of them were affected.
This was the first nail in the coffin of the smaller institutions.
Then they slugged in one more nail by backing up the Big Banks with the Commonwealth backing of deposits while the smaller institutions were left to founder as they did not qualify for the backing.
This further weakened the smaller institutions and increased the power of the Big Banks.
Then there was Bank West and Saint George, both allowed by Misters Rudd and Swan to be consumed by the Big Banks.
This has further weakened any competition against the Big Banks and has further increased their strength.
Adding insult to injury, the sheep out there in never never land voted Labor back into power.  If you’re a Labor supporter, don’t whinge about the position the Big Banks are in, you – by proxy – have allowed this to happen.
Richard Kinsel
Alice Springs

Lessons for The Alice in Cairns?

Surely being a part of an Australian community means you have a right to certain treatment.
That the people that govern speak some kind of truth, that your upholding of the status quo is meaningful, that the sacrifices you make for the greater good are not in vain.
It would be nice to think this was the case in our happy home. What a crock.
I have recently been to Cairns and the visit has shown how hamstrung we have become by our negativity, how we have become so blinkered by the actions of a few that we forget what is normal.
I have been a victim of this thinking before, when a relationship becomes so abnormal that you accept behaviour that is unthinkable in normal situations. I forget where I heard it first, but the saying “If you hang around with crazy people long enough you become crazy yourself” comes to mind.
Cairns is our close sister, being the main town near one of the big four Rs of Australian Tourism, the Reef, the Rock, the Roof, and the Roo.
That is, the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock, the Sydney Opera House and the Kanga, which can be found prone on the side of most highways.
They say that we are the only country that eats our symbolic creatures, the kangaroo and the emu, and I believe that’s true.
I’m sure there is no country in the world but us that makes change purses out of the scrotum of its heraldic animals.
Back to Cairns. As I was saying, it too is a town based around tourism, albeit with a different focus.
They’re doing it a little tough at the moment as visitor numbers are down a bit due to the higher Australian dollar and the time of year.
You wouldn’t know to look at the place – tourists everywhere, enjoying a myriad of places to eat, drink and socialise.
The council spends its money on providing entertainment for its visitors.
I saw 400+ people doing a free Zumba class on the waterfront.
It was a spectacle enjoyed by both the people doing the class and the spectators who flocked to see.
It had become an attraction in its own right.
So what is the point of all this you may ask?
I was looking for the differences between there and Alice, some things I could take note of and bring back with me.
So, what did I see? What were the main differences?
Firstly, any number of places selling alcohol at all times of the day and night, without having to provide any sort of identification unless you were obviously very young.
The upshot of all this would be drunken anarchy in the streets, you would imagine.
Certainly this is what we are told by people who wish us to have restricted trading hours for liquor and who actually want to stop businesses from opening because they want to sell wine with a meal. No, just people enjoying a drink when and where they wanted.
So availability is not the problem then, it’s the people drinking to excess. Makes sense.
Secondly, no rubbish strewn everywhere. A little bit here and there but not vast rings of empty KFC wrappers and VB cans on the lawns out the front of the RFDS.
I guess that’s how the council can afford the Zumba lessons, they don’t have to pay to get mountains of rubbish removed each day.
And finally, no drunks in the centre of town, screaming, spitting, fighting and begging on the way to self destruction.
The tourists were free to enjoy their stay unharrased and without an appalling display to tell their friends about when they got home.
When I got home I was greeted by a man defecating on the side of the highway near Civic Video, in full sight of the traffic, at 2pm in the afternoon.
I wasn’t shocked, not any more. Unfortunately.

Pollies points.

John Elferink
(CL, Port Darwin)
The refusal by Corrections Minister Gerry McCarthy to allow me to work a shift at the prison is demonstrative of a “Government in fear all and control all” mode.
I do not accept the assessment of health and safety risks which are offered as an excuse.
As a police officer in the past I had repeated cause to go into prisons as an outsider, and health and safety risks were never a problem then.
I believe the Minister wants to keep me away from rank and file prison officers communicating to me issues in real time in their workplace.

Adam Giles
(CL, Braitling)
As tipping more money into the troubled SIHIP program became a necessity, more evidence that the program is failing to meet its promised targets has come to light.
I was advised that the target of 2500 “fix and make safe” houses at an average cost of $75,000 would not be met in the five year program due to funding constraints and the target would now have to be reduced.
It is time that a full judicial enquiry is conducted into SIHIP mismanagement and profiteering.
[On the refugees from Yuendumu] the Minister for Central Australia, Karl Hampton, should be at the forefront of attempts to re-settle up to 90 people who fled to Adelaide because they felt their safety was threatened.
Mr Hampton has a duty to be involved in the safe repatriation of the people but instead he’s chosen to opt out of the process.
It was his Government’s inability to guarantee their safety that resulted in these people leaving in September.

Delia Lawrie
(ALP, Karama)
ABS labour force figures out today show nearly 4000 new jobs have been created in the Territory over the past 12 months.
Many of them have been supported by Territory Government initiatives including record infrastructure investment of $1.8 billion in Budget 2010.
The figures also confirm the number of jobs in the Territory has grown for six consecutive months
The labour force participation rate also rose and continues to be highest of all states and territories.
The Territory’s trend unemployment rate remained steady at 3.1 per cent in October.
All major states recorded an increase in their seasonally adjusted unemployment rate.

Robyn Lambley
(CL, Araluen)
The Chief Minister’s claims of a cultural change within the Territory’s child protection system are in tatters – as is his credibility.
Paul Henderson has failed to take responsibility for the tragedies outlined in the Four Corners report into the Territory’s child protection system.
He has been a part of Labor’s Cabinet from the start, and has defended the very system that he now says is ‘the wrong system’, despite overwhelming evidence that system was in crisis.
When the Children’s Commissioner’s annual report was released last year, it showed notifications of child abuse had climbed by 68.8% from the previous year (3668 to 6190) but investigations had increased by only 20.3% (1970 to 2370).
When then Child Protection Minister Malarndirri McCarthy was asked about this disparity in Parliament last October, she said she had “noticed” that investigations were not keeping up with notifications.

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