ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
November 25, 2010. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
To our home page.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
A new park will become a meeting place in the heart of Alice Springs on
land behind Adelaide House and the Uniting Church.
The park is part of the plans for revitalising Todd Mall, for which a
contract has now been let.
A design team has been assembled and includes local architect Susan
A detailed budgeted plan for the works will be ready by June 2011, with
$5m already allocated by the NT Government (promised in the 2008
Much of the land for the park is owned by the Town Council and is
currently used for carparking, which is likely to be
There will be intensive public consultation on the plans in February
All this was announced at the planning information session held at the
Crowne Plaza on Monday night, but it was largely overshadowed by the
pent-up frustration of many in attendance with the broader current
planning issues in Alice Springs.
More than an hour of the four-hour meeting was spent on the
presentation of ideas and examples of sustainable urban design from
The presenter, Wendy Morris of Ecologically Sustainable Design, was
entertaining and informative and described what looked to many like a
highly desirable planning process.
Known as "enquiry by design", it develops, with community involvement
and local expertise, multiple scenarios to test a wide range of
planning solutions for a site.
This process has been applied to the proposed new city of Wedell in the
Top End, and Alice will get its turn next year: trouble is, it will be
applied only to the proposed subdivision of Kilgariff, on land till now
devoted to horticultural and pastoral research by the Arid Zone
Research Institute (AZRI).
Speaker after speaker from the floor challenged the logic of this.
Local architect Domenico Pecorari noted the contradiction of applying
"enquiry by design" to a "fait accompli" such as Kilgariff, which has
never been subject to detailed investigation.
He asked for the process to go back one step "“ to genuinely enquire
into planning solutions for the town as a whole, involving the whole
community (see Mr Pecorari's comment piece on page 9.)
Rod Cramer, president of the Rural Area Association, said rural
residents had been "shafted" by the process arising out the 2008
Planning for the Future Forum.
He said they had made their property investments based on official
planning documents going back to 1975, which stipulated no residential
subdivision south of the Gap.
Were all those planners wrong, he asked.
Why do rural residents have to sacrifice their lifestyle aspirations
for a "sudden backflip" on good policy?
In responding, Executive Director of Strategic Planning for the
Department of Lands and Planning, Sharron Noske, said she could not say
why there had been a change in government policy.
A similar situation had happened in Darwin, she said, but now opponents
to the change are coming on board.
She was strongly challenged on this response by rural resident Glenn
"You represent your government", he told Ms Noske.
"It's beholden on you to clearly understand the decisions that have
been made up till 2008 and take responsibility for what comes before
He said Alice needs planning autonomy; that the CBD plans had been
talked about "for years" and "nothing has happened".
He said the lack of local planning controls makes our leading town
planner, Peter Somerville (present at the meeting), "a lame duck".
He said he had not seen any "solid evidence" to support a subdivision
on AZRI land.
He said the subdivision had become a "fait accompli" within "the first
10 minutes" of the 2008 forum and like others, he wanted the process to
go back a step.
He suggested a big driver for the AZRI solution was people's
nervousness about what happens in the centre of town after dark: they
want to drive through the Gap so that it's not their problem.
The centre of town and AZRI are "all part of the same issue", said Mr
Marshall, who expressed his horror at seeing razorwire being used to
protect property in town, including on the new CLC building.
Ruth Apelt, a member of the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) and
the Climate Action Group, described the AZRI plan as "urban sprawl" and
"hasty, ill-conceived and based on no evidence".
She asked for evidence of population growth, suggesting that the
current housing shortage has "artificial drivers", such as
She argued that the town can accommodate new housing needs for the next
10 years within its current footprint, with over 1000 blocks available.
(The Town Council has suggested, she said, that the town needs the
release of 100 new blocks a year.)
She called on the government to immediately take up "the Sadadeen
option" of 150 blocks.
She said the AZRI option, at least five years away, was acting as "a
red herring, taking energy away" from the plans for the town centre and
asked the government to concentrate on what they can bring on line
Ms Noske said there was fairly detailed demographic data pointing to
future population growth in Alice of 1% to 1.6% per year.
She did not see increasing densities in town and development of the
AZRi subdivision as mutually exclusive.
Timing can be a problem with infill development, she said; people can
agree in principle as long as it's not next door to them.
She said the government is looking to AZRI as a long-term solution to
housing needs over the next 20 to 30 years.
Alex Nelson, who grew up on the AZRI land where his father was
employed, said creating a subdivision there would represent a
"monumental loss of opportunity" in terms of sustainability.
On the Todd River flood plain, the land is inherently the most fertile
in the town area and four decades worth of horticultural knowledge
referring to it is stored at the Institute, said Mr Nelson.
He said there should be a moratorium on the proposal until the town has
worked out properly where it is going.
The call for a moratorium was later reiterated by Mr Pecorari and
supported by Trevor Shiell.
Ian Sharp said the inevitable trips to town by people living at
Kilgariff would make for a "questionable ecological footprint in the
21st century" and wanted the proposal subject to "a closer look".
There were speakers in support of the AZRI subdivision: Alderman Murray
Stewart asked people to be "positive" about it because of the the dire
need to relieve the accommodation shortage.
Ald Liz Martin said she was "very excited" about it for the same reason
but said she would like to see the concerns expressed by people at the
Eli Melky underlined the housing shortage, saying that the joke in his
real estate business is that they can get you $200 a week rent for a
tent pitched in your backyard.
After all this, facilitator of the meeting, Stephen Bowers of Novus
Urban Pty, could hardly avoid concluding that "it's clear that people
have great reservations" about the AZRI plans and that planners need to
know how to address those reservations.
The meeting also heard from Steve Thorne of the Melbourne-based
consultancy, Design Urban Pty Ltd. Mr Thorne spoke to the
documents he has produced, together with Rob Adams: the Alice Springs
Central Activity District Built Form Guidelines and Residential
Capacity Report, both of which can be found on the Future Alice
He spent a good deal of time reading from the documents already widely
However the meeting was no doubt pleased to hear that the
revitalisation plans, for which he has been contracted in a leading
role, will be "explored in a very consultative way".
Part of the process will be to test the Built Form Guidelines,
including the proposed increase to height limits.
Few would have argued with his assessment that our town centre is
suffering from "death by a thousand cuts". If there was any doubt, its
decline is reflected in stagnant property values, which "should not
happen in a vibrant place", said Mr Thorne.
Meanwhile, the Territory Government has extended the period for public
comment on the two documents to February 23, 2011.
"So the gun was pointed at the man and
the trigger was pulled." By KIERAN FINNANE.
The man accused of shooting motor mechanic Paul Wallace at Junction
Waterhole on May 29 this year will go to trial in the Supreme Court for
attempted murder and the further counts of intending to cause and
causing serious harm and recklessly endangering life.
He will be arraigned on January 31, 2011.
At the conclusion of the committal hearing in the Alice Springs
Magistrates Court last Friday, Magistrate John O'Neill said he was
satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to put Reuben Abane Nadich
"upon his trial".
Mr Nadich reserved his defence and was remanded in custody.
His mother had been in court all week in support of her son.
Mr O'Neill referred particularly to the evidence of the records of
interview of Benjamin Gaff and Jason Corp, whom the prosecution says
were in the car with Mr Nadich at Junction Waterhole, Mr Gaff driving
and Mr Corp in the front passenger seat.
These records of interview were not played or read out or quoted from
in open court.
Mr O'Neill also referred to the evidence given in person by witnesses
Rhiannon O'Burtill and Matthew Waters, concerning alleged admissions by
Ms O'Burtill knows Mr Nadich and Mr Gaff as friends, and knows Mr Corp
"briefly" through Mr Gaff.
She is a "close" friend of Tiffany Forbes, who is Mr Gaff's girlfriend
and was living with him at the time of his arrest.
Ms O'Burtill gave evidence that she saw Mr Nadich on Monday, May 31 at
the hospital and had a conversation with him.
At first she said she did not really remember the conversation beyond
it being about "Ben's stolen car" and being "out bush".
Prosecutor Michael McColm asked her to refresh her memory by reading
from the statutory declaration she gave to police on June 2, 2010.
After reading it, Ms O'Burtill said that Mr Nadich had told her they
went out bush to test a gun and ran into people.
"There was an argument and then the gun was shot at the man."
What was said by Mr Nadich, asked Mr McColm.
"The man was swearing at the boys, he threatened to go get a gun out of
his car, so the gun was pointed at the man and the trigger was pulled,"
said Ms O'Burtill.
(Shooting victim Mr Wallace has denied that he had a gun in his
Do you recall what Mr Nadich said about who fired the gun, asked Mr
"Yes, he pulled the trigger," said Ms O'Burtill.
In cross-examination Tony Whitelum, lawyer for Mr Nadich, asked Ms
O'Burtill about Mr Nadich, on the night of the shooting, taking clothes
from Ms Forbes for Mr Gaff who was at Tony's Auto-wreckers.
Ms O'Burtill said she did not recall. Mr Whitelum pressed her "“ did
know anything about clothes being taken for Ben Gaff on the night of
May 29? She said "no".
Matthew Waters worked for Jason Corp, who at the time was manager at
He gave evidence that on the night of May 29 Mr Nadich looked like "he
was stressing about something".
He said he had asked him what was going on; he saw "something rolled up
in a towel", grabbed it and hid it away.
He said he unwrapped it when he went outside and saw that it was "a 22
and a bag full of double Ds".
He put it in one of the wrecks out the back.
When he went back inside he asked again what was going on, telling them
that he had "hid whatever it was away".
"They said they were going out shooting for a little bit," said Mr
When they were driving back "a bloke pulled them up and asked them what
was going on".
He warned them not to shoot "around near us".
"Supposedly the bloke told them that if they keep going the bloke was
going to walk back to his van, grab a gun and come back and shoot "˜em.
"Then they said Nadich wound the window down, whistled out and shot
"And Benny just drove straight off."
Mr McColm asked him who "they" were.
He said Jason [Corp] and Reuben [Nadich].
Mr McColm asked who said Mr Nadich shot the man.
Mr Waters said they both said it.
Mr McColm asked him if he had been drinking that night. He said he had
been drinking, "quite a few actually"�; that
Mr Corp had also been
drinking, but Mr Gaff and Mr Nadich had not before they left in Mr
When they returned he said he saw Mr Corp and Mr Nadich drinking Wild
Turkey (bourbon) "from a bottle"�.
In cross-examination by Mr Whitelum Mr Waters said Mr Corp had asked
him to move the gun and ammunition wrapped in the towel from the wreck
where he had put it on the Saturday night to another spot "just before
Detective Sharkey came"�.
He said Mr Corp told him to put it in a spot where the police "would
see it as soon as they walked in"�, but "a bit out of the way of
Ms O'Burtill had given evidence, under questioning by Mr Whitelum, that
she had seen Mr Waters handle a gun, checking its barrel and wrapping
it in a towel on the night of Wednesday, May 26 at the home of Mr Gaff
and Ms Forbes.
She said he had put the wrapped gun in Mr Gaff's Landcruiser, though
she had assumed this rather than seen it.
Mr Waters, under questioning by Mr McColm, said that on the night of
May 26 Mr Gaff had shown him a "Nerf gun"�, the kind that fires
"foam bullets you buy from Kmart"�.
He said he had not been shown any other guns on that occasion.
Mr O'Neill said he was also satisfied on the basis of medical evidence
concerning injuries to the victim that Mr Nadich be tried on each of
the three counts charged.
He said he limited his consideration to the injuries Mr Wallace
received to the upper part of his body (see last week's report).
Mr Wallace's partner, Emma Salmon, who was at the waterhole with Mr
Wallace when he was shot, told the court she could only see the driver,
but she thought she could hear more than one voice coming from the
vehicle that had approached their camp spot.
She said she could recall an "impression"� of the driver.
She said she had frozen where she was, rather than joining Mr Wallace,
because of comments that were made.
The first was, "You're right mate, we thought you were blackfellers, we
were going to shoot you."�
The second was, "Are you guys having a root?"�
"I felt uncomfortable and I was a little bit afraid."�
She also said she heard Mr Wallace say, "You've got a gun, have you?"�,
but she said he sounded unbelieving.
She said after that she heard an apology: "You're right mate, you're
right mate, our mistake, we're going."�
The car passed between her and Mr Wallace. She saw him fall over but
she did not immediately understand that he had been shot.
She told the court of her unsuccessful attempts to get Mr Wallace into
his car as the ambulance service had told her that it would be faster
if she could drive out to the highway to meet them.
"He had lost a lot of blood, he was pretty delirious and he was in a
lot of pain.
"˜I suppose I was hurting him, trying to get him into the car."�
She was worried because he was getting cold, clammy and very pale.
In the end she had to give up trying to move him and wrapped him in a
The shooting had taken place shortly after 6.37pm. She could remember
the time precisely because she had been tuning the car radio, above
which there was a clock, when the second vehicle arrived at the scene.
She estimated that it was about 8.15pm when the ambulance arrived and
she gave her first statement to police "in the middle of the night"�
while waiting with Mr Wallace at the hospital.
Decades pass, problems remain. By ALEX
PERSPECTIVE by ALEX NELSON
The release of statistics by the Department of Justice showing an
increase in reported assaults, house break-ins, vehicle and other
thefts in Alice Springs for the past financial year might serve to
confirm the fears of some people that crime and anti-social activity is
out of control, or even the worst it's ever been.
The claim has been made numerous times over not just years but decades.
Two decades ago, in 1990, I was living in a unit in Chewings Street in
the Old Eastside.
One early December evening I was walking home on the Wills Terrace
footbridge when a young thug came from behind and king-hit me in the
face, breaking my nose.
It was an attempted mugging but was thwarted because I was carrying no
money. The thug fled while I dribbled a trail of blood on my trek home
"“ there was no-one else around.For many others, especially Aboriginal
people, violence is a "˜normal' way of life.
This issue came to national prominence in May 1990, when Aboriginal
women from various communities, supported by senior men, converged on
Alice Springs and staged a protest in Todd Mall against violence and
There was extensive media coverage, with journalists, cameramen, and
various prominent identities and politicians at hand.
Chief Minister Marshall Perron consulted widely with the women and
senior men from the communities. Crime, violence, alcoholism, and
anti-social behaviour had reached crisis point and the NT Government
(then CLP) was obliged to tackle these problems in a crucial election
On May 24 Mr Perron sent identical letters to Robert Tickner, Minister
for Aboriginal Affairs, and Senator Graham Richardson, Minister for
Social Security, in which he sought the assistance of the federal Labor
government to implement some of the proposed solutions.
The letter makes interesting reading, in light of contemporary efforts
to deal with these issues.
"My dear Minister, Over the past few months there has been heightened
concern about increasing public disorder in Alice Springs, which has
focussed primarily on disorder associated with uncontrolled drinking by
groups of Aboriginals either resident in or visiting the area.
"The public disorder is evidenced by unacceptable social behaviour,
public drunkeness, incidents of violence, damage to property and the
"As an example of the measure of the problem, over five thousand
Aboriginal people have been taken into protective custody or sobering
up shelters during the past four months.
"Such a situation cannot, of course, be allowed to continue and my
Government has recently set about measures to address the problem in
the short term, while strategies for the longer term are established.
"In addition to the Territory Government, the Alice Springs Town
Council, the Tangentyere Council, members of the Labor Opposition in
the Territory and other organisations have been searching for ways to
alleviate the situation.
"I am sure that constructive proposals can be agreed on and pursued
locally. One of my concerns is that local solutions will not have the
capacity to address all the problems.
"I wish now to seek your concurrence in a proposition that can only be
fostered by the Commonwealth.
"It is fair to say that a large bulk of the money available to problem
drinkers in Alice Springs arises from Social Security payments intended
for the support of the recipient and his or her dependants to meet the
basic living needs of shelter, food, clothing, transport etc.
"This, significantly, is now being voiced as a basic concern by members
of the Aboriginal community themselves.
"I recently met in Alice Springs with Aboriginal women and senior men
representing communities from all over the Centralian area.
"At those meetings I was told, in the starkest possible terms, of the
family neglect, social dysfunction and breakdown of traditional values
arising from the "˜urban drift' of Aboriginal people leaving their home
areas in favour of accessibility of liquor in Alice Springs.
"People that I talked with over many hours pleaded with me to exercise
a power I do not have to send the drinkers back to their communities,
and even to consider a form of "˜prohibition' for Aboriginal people.
"The alternative proposition put to me, and which I now put to you, was
that Social Security payments be available to recipients only at their
"The reasoning is obvious when one considers the ease with which a
recipient can change his or her forwarding address to Alice Springs,
leaving dependants to fend for themselves or seek support from the home
"A related concern is the number of Aboriginal people who opt out of
community based CDEP programmes so as to take the alternative of an
unemployment benefit cheque to spend on liquor in Alice Springs.
"Since the adoption of a CDEP program is based on a community majority
decision, there should be no ability for individuals to withdraw from a
program in order to pursue the Alice Springs alternative and its
"Naturally, there would need to be provision for exceptions to both
propositions in cases of extended absence from a community for
legitimate reasons such as health care.
"I am sure that, in considering these proposals, your officers will be
able to identify a number of reasons why they should not be
"Many of the reasons will be, or will appear to be, well founded on
premises such as the "˜rights' of the individual."�
Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
"˜Can do' council is the developer of
7-stage residential subdivision. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Alice Springs is not alone in suffering a housing shortage but we may
have a lesson to learn about solving the problem from our neighbour
across the desert, the mining city of Mount Isa.
Mount Isa City Council took over development of a 25.3 hectare lot as a
residential subdivision rather than let the project stall when the
original developer collapsed.
The land had been gifted to the city by mining company Xstrata in 2004.
Mount Isa calls itself a city, even though its population is only
22,000, somewhat smaller than Alice's.
It has suffered from "huge"� land and housing shortage over the last 10
years, according to Ross Thinee, formerly a real estate agent and
auctioneer, now employed by Desert Knowledge Australia in Mount Isa.
The city council was reluctant to take a hands on role in development
but "community need"� meant they could not let the project fail,
according to a council spokesperson.
The council had called for expressions of interest, to which two
external developers responded.
When they did not proceed beyond negotiation stage, and with no other
interest forthcoming, council decided to become project managers and a
contractor was appointed to undertake the engineering works.
This contractor fell over and council was then forced to take over that
role as well.
The subdivision, known as Healy Heights, comprises 176 residential lots
with open space and a park.
Xstrata asked for 15 residential allotments be retained for their use.
The land has been released in stages, with the final stages 6 and 7
still to be completed.
Stage 1, 22 allotments, was released in March 2006, followed by Stage
2, 27 allotments, in September of the same year "“ just two years after
the original gifting of the land.
The lots sold for an average of $75,000.
As of September this year, houses had been completed or were underway
on 12 lots of Stage 1, and 21 lots of Stage 2.
A further 22 houses had been built in Stages 3 to 5, with covenant
approvals gained for another 16 lots. Only 12 lots out of more than 100
The covenants outline housing styles and standards as the area was
designed for "executive"� living. "Affordable"�
housing will be built in the adjacent Gliderport area, the principal
future growth area of the city.
The council has recently secured ownership of the land following
lengthy negotiations with the State Government and the resolution of
native title issues. Healy Heights was freehold land and thus
unaffected by native title.
Mount Isa Mayor John Molony says the Gliderport development will not
have any "onerous covenants"� and "people should be able to erect
quality transportable homes in this area"�.
This means "˜kit style' homes, not demountables or "˜built in' caravans.
Town planning crossroads. COMMENT by
As we approach the end of the first decade of the new century, Alice
Springs stands at a planning crossroad.
On the one hand, the town can continue with the "˜business-as-usual'
model, based upon short-term opportunism but carrying with it the
prospect of longer term costs, or it can join the many cities,
towns and communities, both interstate and internationally, that are
preparing themselves for a future that will minimise the unavoidable
impacts of climate change and peak oil.
The "˜business as usual' option is best demonstrated by the proposed
suburban development at AZRI and its future extension to the northern
edge of the Alice Springs Airport.
My critique of this proposal, based on its lack of any detailed
analysis of the environmental, social, cultural and economic
consequences, has been reported on recently in these pages (articles by
Kieran Finnane in the Sept 23 and Oct 28 editions).
There is an alternative vision, but preliminary survey work on the AZRI
site is proceeding with such haste that we may have reached a "˜point
no return' by the time we come back from our summer break.
The alternative involves accepting a future in which, most likely, we
face increasing fuel costs for transportation, increased climatic
changes and reduced funding support from increasingly more centralised
federal and state governments.
This option requires of us to accept a greater degree of
self-sufficiency, especially as we are perhaps the most isolated town
of our size in Australia.
We need to see the AZRI land, believed to be the most naturally fertile
in our area, as vital to our town's future viability and to set it
aside for a local horticultural industry we will one day need and not
to be wasted on a poorly thought out, inappropriate suburban
We need to move towards "˜future-proofing' our town through containing
its growth within the present town's "˜footprint' and by consolidating
future housing into our town's centre and towards building up
The creation of more densely populated, well designed medium-density
housing, located within easy walking and riding distance of the town's
centre and our inner-most shopping centres such as Eastside, Northside
and Gillen, would reduce our dependence on private vehicle use, as well
as contributing to a healthier lifestyle and reducing the need to
provide in-town carparking.
Environmentally, this reduction in car use and the average distance of
car travel into the town centre would produce measurable reductions in
carbon emissions for the town as a whole.
Medium density housing is also significantly more energy- and
water-efficient than the single house and better suited to a
demographic group without children or "˜passing through' the town.
Economically, it would help make Alice Springs a more affordable town
in which to live and promote a more diverse range of socio-economic
groups needed for the functioning of a society.
Strategically locating these growth areas would also assist in
rationalising our water, sewer, power and
telecommunications infrastructure, as well as permitting a more
targeted public transport system.
Socially, it would encourage a sense of identity and belonging that
could contribute towards countering some of the anti-social behaviour
currently plaguing out town. That sense of identity has long been
established in the Old Eastside, but it is slowly developing in the
Northside area as well. The clever use of public spaces
within these neighbourhood hubs would provide places to meet for
residents of all ages.
Culturally, it would promote a more sociable and interactive way of
living, an alternative to the stand-alone suburban house which promotes
social isolation and a dependence on the private car.
Need for a Plan:
The above alternative is only a small part of a bigger picture vision,
let's call it a Town Plan, which we should be considering and
developing for Alice Springs. This vision should integrate the
environmental, social, cultural and economic aspirations into a viable
and sustainable whole: a model that suits our town's and its people's
particular conditions and circumstances and which, perhaps, will come
to define our town for the outside world.
Coalition FAB Alice was recently launched with the aim of putting
together such a Town Plan for Alice Springs, through collecting
relevant recommendations from the many reports and studies of the
recent past, seeking input from the body of expertise and experience
within the town and giving anyone with an interest the chance to
participate in the process.
The group has recently re-organised its mail-out system and is
currently putting together a website which will include an on-line
forum and the developing Town Plan, as well as seeking a publicly
accessible space in which ideas can be received, presented, discussed
and exhibited for public comment.
Unlike the many great recommendations held within reports which are
collecting dust on many shelves, the ideas generated by this process
will go into creating a living document, one that reflects the needs
and wishes of the community and which will provide the necessary
guidance for the future development of Alice Springs.
The process will not take long, as the required data and information is
readily available, although presently dispersed, amongst the many
environmentally, socially, culturally and economically focused
organisations within our community.
It is believed that the final document, based on data and developed as
it will be by the community, will have to be accepted by the NT
Government and the local Alice Springs Town Council, by the sheer
weight of community support. A truly democratic process in
In the lead up to the summer break, I'd be willing to bet that our
political leaders and decision-makers have their holidays planned to a
tee: airline tickets purchased, tours and hotels booked, everything
packed that would be needed for the holiday ... with nothing left to
Why then, I wonder, do they not see the need for planning the future of
a whole town and instead permit the ad-hoc development so evident in
Note: To be kept informed / become involved in Coalition FAB Alice,
email us at email@example.com
Cool hotrods & street machines. By CHRIS WALSH.
Have you ever seen the cool hotrods and street machines at the annual
Show "˜n' Shine or just cruising around town and wondered who
It's more than likely that their owners are members of the local Aces
and Eights Special Interest Vehicle Group with Peter Hondow (pictured)
as the association's president.
Pete returned to Alice Springs in 2001 and couldn't understand why
people weren't cruising in their hot cars on a Saturday night. He
decided to organise an informal cruise night, starting with about six
More people started to get involved and eventually it was agreed that
they would meet at a central location such as Hungry Jack's before each
This allowed them to pop the hoods and publicly display their vehicles
before the actual cruise and then return to somebody's house for drinks
On some occasions, the cruise would turn into a "shed crawl"� where the
guys would get to check out each other's collectibles while the girls
socialised. As time went on a few people left town but were quickly
replaced with newcomers.
Pete would organise runs every couple of months or so and the group
gradually grew to what it is now.
The events were free of charge although sometimes they would have
prizes which were donated.
"Chris Vaughan from Bo's has always been really good,"� says Pete.
"He's always given little prizes such as clothing or meal vouchers.
"Once we had an hour's dyno-tune time donated by Dallas Tuxworth, which
In 2007 Pete was encouraged to become the president and make the group
an official club.
His main concern was that this step may take away a lot of the fun and
he knew he would have to have some help.
It was agreed that the founding members would form a committee and have
inaugural membership numbers allotted which would be permanently
retained. They organised a constitution and applied for incorporation
after choosing the name "Aces and Eights"� and the rest, as they say,
Aces and Eights is a family club. They always try to provide activities
for the kids and a lot of people turn up in their everyday vehicles.
On movie nights the club sells popcorn and hot dogs and they show
cartoons before the main feature.
The cruises usually leave from Hungry Jacks if food hasn't been
organised, or otherwise the Kmart car park.
Members sign in before each event.
There is a clubman champion trophy presented at the end of each year
and the points for this are derived from the sign-in book.
Points are awarded for attendance, outstanding vehicle, who set the
vehicle up and anyone who has given help over and above the usual
Pete says that at present, there are about six people on similar points
who are all in contention for this year's trophy.
"We encourage people to try to keep the core group as hotrods, muscle
cars, street machines and the like.
"We allow bikes as well, providing they're a bit different "“ modified,
restored or of exceptional quality. "And we do allow more modern
cars at the discretion of the committee."�
Associate membership is available for owners of everyday-type
vehicles however the committee feel that if they let every XR6 or
Commodore join in, then a few years down the track the club will be one
of many Commodore or Ford clubs.
"We're looking for something that's a little bit different, not run of
the mill,"� says Pete.
For example an old XD falcon might meet the age criteraion, but on
closer viewing the paint may be scruffy, it may have horrible wheels,
it may not be restored and the interior may shabby "“ that's not what
Aces and Eights is about.
If on the other hand, the car looked brand new and was presented as a
concourse-type car, then it would definitely be eligible.
Club registration plates are also on offer to Aces and Eights members,
on approval for the committee.
Club rego requires a minimum three runs per year and the member must be
financial for a minimum of six months before endorsement is given.
The club rego scheme allocates 90 days of use per year with 30 for
personal use and it's preferable that the vehicle is not used to drive
to or from work.
A few people abuse the system by using the vehicle as an everyday drive
but the MVR is going to crack down on this in the very near future,
He says vehicles may travel interstate providing they notify the club a
month in advance, so that the club can notify the MVR.
A meeting between several local clubs and an MVR representative from
Darwin was held in Alice Springs recently and some minor changes have
These changes are currently being reviewed at present and some
amendments will be made.
Pete's main special interest vehicle is a '36 Ford Tudor hotrod with a
supercharged Holden V8.
Tt took him about 3000 hours over six years to build: by the time he'd
finished he really needed some time away from it. It hasn't been on the
road for some time but hopefully it'll be going next year.
He also has "Groucho"� "“ a '72 Holden HQ One Tonner ute with a 350
motor and 9 inch turbo 1200.
Groucho has a leather interior, custom paint and some murals on it and
Pete says he built it as an everyday work car.
He has an '88 FJ1200 road bike which was built from a basket case.
Now that it's going, it's become an everyday rider as well.
He has a '69 XW GT Falcon which he hopes to restore in the next few
years; he's always loved that particular car from when they originally
came on the market.
Then there's the XY ute that he's been working on for several years
although it was put on hold when Groucho came on the scene.
He estimates it will take another 500 hours to get it on the
Peter smiles and says: "We've got to that stage in life where "˜one
has come around and we're actually going to do it."�
Through a looking glass.
An exhibition by 36 local artists
about "looking, listening and connecting to country"� opened at Araluen
on the weekend.
It was co-curated by Doris Stuart,
traditional custodian for Mparntwe, together with artists Dan Murphy
and Lucy Stewart.
Murphy described Doris and her family
as having provided a "looking glass"� into Mparntwe for artists taking
part in an ongoing dialogue and cultural exchange facilitated by the
artist-run initiative, Watch This Space, for a number of years now.
The exhibition, Pmere Arntarntareme /
Watching This Place was opened by photographer MIKE GILLAM whose edited speech follows:
In 1936, before most of us were born, the last captive Thylacine died
in a Hobart Zoo. And yet the Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger continues to
occupy a place of acute longing and regret in our nation's
This fact is evident here, in this exhibition, in our town, where many
important features of the landscape have a connection with the
ancestral Alhekulyele (wild dog / thylacine).
A few years back a famous old painter visited Doris's brother, the late
Bob Stuart, and asked to be taken to several Alhekulyele sites
(including Mt Gillen) to fulfill his quest to follow part of this song
line, his dreaming, connecting his Top End community with Alice
Springs. Such is the living culture of Mparntwe and the town of Alice
Springs that overlies this special place.
So while the Thylacine is presumed extinct, the rich legacy of
Alhekulyele lives on for those who have responsibility for Mparntwe, a
place that was shaped by ancestral heroes and is the final resting
place for many.
For me it's a great comfort to walk into this exhibition and sense the
presence of the late David Mpetyane, son of Doris Stuart. While
caterpillars and occasionally Thylacines featured in David's paintings,
much of the great knowledge that shaped his work remains hidden to the
Like Doris, his words and poetry were far less cryptic when he examined
the impact of the town's development on his family and the sacred sites
they struggled, against the odds, to protect. I'd recommend a closer
look at both of his works in this exhibition. His aerial view of Alice
Springs for instance, reinstates a minor watercourse buried long ago,
beneath the suburbs, its intermittent flows stemmed by sub-divisional
For many years I've witnessed some of the relentless pressure placed
upon members of the Stevens, Stuart and Rice families who continue in
their role as custodians for this place.
I vividly remember a time 25 years ago when I accompanied AAP reporter
Dave Richards and Arrernte custodian Thomas Stevens to Barret Drive
where the tail of the ancestral caterpillar Ntyarlke had been cut off
to make way for a road.
I photographed a defiant and distressed Thomas standing in front of the
desecrated site holding his book aloft: "Damaging Our Dreaming"� was
title. I was bewildered over this lost opportunity for the town to
innovate and highlight the presence of our amazing natural and cultural
landscape. At the time, the government and much of the town's
population seemed oblivious to the irony that Barrett Drive was a main
access road to the town's premier tourist precinct. We can't bring back
the Thylacine but we can take responsibility for this time and place.
We can certainly show respect for the natural landscape and the sacred
sites that are embedded within it.
As artists we can search for common ground between people. We can
certainly pay homage to the landscape and by extension, to the heritage
of those who came before us.
We cannot possess the heritage of another but we can help to defend it,
and among our own culture, networks, families and friends, we can raise
public appreciation for the cultural richness and diversity of this
place. Doris showed a generosity of spirit when she took artists on
tours of sacred sites in the town area and hopefully the artists will
respond over time with equal generosity and respect. Perhaps through
her collaboration with contemporary artists, Doris Stuart continues a
process in this exhibition that will ultimately prove more enduring
than any government marketing campaign could hope to be.
Alice raises $10,000 for victims of
floods in Pakistan.
More than 200 people came together at Olive Pink Botanic Garden on
Friday to support the flood affected people of Pakistan. A team of
volunteers gave generously of their time, resources, and creativity to
raise about $10,000.
Guests enjoyed music by Rusty and the Infidels, Emma, Jane and friend
together with food from RT tours and desserts prepared by friends and
served throughout the evening.
Mary Muldrum, Australia's first female auctioneer, got the crowd into
the spirit of the evening and bidding for Pakistan on items donated by
The night culminated in an Indian semi-classical dance performance,
followed by a vibrant display of exquisite subcontinent attire.
Throughout the evening, guests felt the intimacy of Pakistan through
photographs as they enjoyed Kam's coffee.
This event was a tribute to and recognition of the diversity of Alice
Springs and its generosity, where our connectedness within the Centre
and across the oceans was celebrated.
"“ Dr Farida Khawaja
Is IAD for Aborigines or for Arrernte?
It is not yet clear whether IAD language and cultural activities will
be devoted exclusively to Arrernte or whether other Aboriginal language
groups will be included.
This will be a decision of the Council of Elders once it is
A special general meeting last Friday amended the constitution of the
Institute for Aboriginal Development (IAD) to allow the appointment of
Elders will be recognized Arrernte Apmereke-artweye (decision-makers
for Arrernte country) and kwertengerle (caretakers), and there will be
a balance of females and males.
A group of Councillors will be appointed by Elders by resolution passed
at an Elders meeting.
Councillors must be identified as belonging to one of eight Arrernte
The duties of Elders and Councillors are to preserve and share their
"¢ Apmereyanhe "“ The Country Ground;
"¢ Tyerrtye Apmere-arenye "“ People of the Land;
"¢ Anpernirrentye "“ Kinship;
"¢ Atnengkarre "“ Story and Language.
"“ Kieran Finnane
LETTER: Share our salad dressing.
Sir "“ It's difficult to be optimistic about the Building Our Museums
and Art Galleries Sector consultancy which visited Alice Springs
I observed that barely a minute was taken, much less a recording made
of the consultation. I am reminded that there are people who, instead
of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to
what they are going to say themselves.
Or perhaps the exasperation evident amongst the attendees for
visionary leadership and immediate, practical assistance was perfectly
In which case, you'd expect some urgency is applied to filling the
positions of MAGNT Director (vacant for two years) and MAGNT Regional
Museums Network Officer (vacant for five years) with passionate and
Elsewhere, cultural institutions are embracing the web 2.0 revolution
with relish and applying innovative digital technologies and audience
engagement strategies to great effect.
By comparison, MAGNT languishes a very distant last in developing the
transmedia storytelling capacity of its own workforce and the sector it
serves, and continues to contract creative industries services with
procurement guidelines developed for building toilet blocks.
The tourism slogan "˜Share Our Story' is likely to remain as salad
dressing for a while yet.
Browse the collective wisdom of international museum thinkers at my
ARROW: Pregnancy is a laugh, so long as it's not
Good news this week folks, a friend of mine is pregnant and I'm rapt
Yes, I did go from the singular "a"� to the plural "them"� because
apparently women don't have babies anymore, couples do "“ as in "we are
having a baby"�.
This is modern parenting, apparently it shows commitment and love etc
but there is one small detail that this does not cover. To whit, it is
the lady who does all the work and sacrificing in order to bring the
child into the world.
Granted, the other partner has to put up with mood swings that make
Regan's turns in The Exorcist look light weight and self indulgent, as
well as watching the birth from an angle the mother cannot appreciate
due to circumstances beyond her control.
What mummies have to go through in order to get a card, a box of
choccies and a well meaning but often inedible breakfast in bed once a
year is incredible. Hats off ladies!
However, alongside the other obvious changes that happen are some other
rather amusing ones, as long as it's not you of course.
I will cover my bottom here by saying not all ladies have this
interesting side effect of growing children (that way if you don't like
what I'm about to say, you don't have to kill me in a hormone-fuelled
rage) but I have seen enough to think that it is not an isolated
phenom. Quite frankly, they go a bit mental.
Which, considering the circumstances, is reasonable. If I had a
parasitic creature growing inside of me I would be in denial as well,
especially if I knew that the finale was going to resemble the gut
burster scene from Alien, albeit with the exit point a little lower
The last few weeks are spent in a slight daze, punctuated by frequent
toilet stops and tummy rubbing by complete strangers who think that
it's OK to do so. It's like God has allowed some mummy drugs to take
the edge off what is a fairly uncomfortable part of a woman's life.
Then they say and do funny things.
Like a friend of mine who was already "˜blessed' with three boys under
two (twins+1) and was expecting again. She was a bit tired and
emotional one day late in the last trimester and was telling me that
she would dearly love to have a girl to round out the tribe. She had
always wanted a little girl, you see, and had even picked out a name
while she was young and fantasizing about the life she would lead when
she grew up.
What was the name of this fantasy child, I asked.
She had a spaced out, dreamy expression on her face as she said,
That was all I recalled for about five minutes as I laughed until I
almost threw up, crying, snot bubbles the whole bit. Then I got myself
under control, looked at her pissed off expression and started laughing
Finally, and I do mean finally, I managed to point out she had married
a Mr G. Cox and I didn't think Ophelia was a good choice of name in
this case. The fantasy sequence hadn't included the last name and
Ophelia Cox was never considered. It all came to naught in the end "“
she had another boy and disaster was avoided.
They can also get a bit funny and over protective of the unborn bub,
like the lady who didn't want hard rock music playing while she
exercised at the local gym. She didn't want the child "exposed to that
sort of influence"� while she bounced its head against her pelvic floor
as she strode out on the treadmill. I dunno, it's already a head banger
"“ maybe she didn't want it coming out with little studded wrist bands
too. I can see that.
POLLY POINTS: Um, is that down or up?
New crime and justice figures show the number of assaults dropped by 15
per cent across the Territory in the June quarter "“ the lowest level
since September 2009.
It's pleasing that in Darwin assaults have dropped 24 per cent, 17 per
cent in Palmerston, 18 per cent in Alice Springs, 19 per cent in
Katherine and 48 per cent Nhulunbuy.
However disappointingly alcohol continues to be involved with 59 per
cent of all assaults across the Territory which remains too high.
That's why the Henderson Government has said Enough is Enough and is
rolling out some of the toughest actions in the nation to reduce
alcohol misuse and associated violence and crime.
The 25% increase in assaults in Alice Springs over the past 12 months
is devastating for a community crying out for leadership to end the
cycle of violence gripping the Town.
There were more assaults in Alice Springs than there were in Darwin "“
city with approximately four times the population.
This is a disastrous outcome that will be no surprise to the residents
of Alice Springs. The Labor Government is in denial about this
The 25% increase also highlights the failure of the Government's grog
restrictions to make even the slightest difference to the rates of
The Government admits that 66% of assaults were alcohol related "“ and
yet it maintains grog bans in the town are working.
The misleading and deceptive use of the June quarter crime statistics
by the Attorney General shreds the last of her limited credibility. The
Attorney General's media release deceitfully ignores the meaningful
year on year statistical comparison of criminal activity.
Instead she has grasped the statistically meaningless comparison
between the March and June quarters.
The fact is in the Territory for the last decade assaults have fallen
generally in the order of 10% between the March and June quarters "“
it's a seasonal inevitability.
The Attorney General should have been comparing assaults recorded in
the June quarter 2009 with those of June 2010.
That figure shows a 6.5% increase from one year to the next which is
part of a trend that has seen assaults in the NT increase by 73% in the
last six years.
That includes increases of 87% in Alice Springs and 128% in Palmerston.
The Territory Government should tell Territorians exactly what is
happening with the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure
Transparency leads to greater accountability and improvements in
delivery and will end speculation about performance.
On current estimates, more than $500m has been spent building just 88
Government must also explain what difference SIHIP will make.
Many houses have already been trashed and are in the same condition
they were in before they were upgraded.
Also causing concern among community leaders is that there will be
fewer bedrooms when SIHIP ends than when it began [due to the number of
houses being demolished and abandoned].
[Based on what I have learnt during this year's Estimates Committee and
recent briefings] it appears the Labor Government will spend more than
$1billion dollars on SIHIP for no net gain in bedrooms or houses.
It also means there will be no significant impact on overcrowding.
The tragedy is SIHIP was supposed to be an emergency to protect
children by providing them with safe places to live.
The NT Government has acted swiftly and responsibly to the most
comprehensive inquiry into child protection undertaken in the Territory.
Not only are we creating a dedicated "“ stand alone - child protection
agency, but we have acted very quickly to allocate additional resources
to address the Board of Inquiry's recommendations.
This includes funding for an additional 42 child protection
professional workers "“ on top of the 76 positions funded in the last
Non-government provider Lifestyle Solutions [has been] appointed to
provide emergency residential care in Darwin for the next 12 months.
Since the Inquiry was handed down last month there had been ongoing
advancement on the recommendations including:
"¢ Ongoing negotiations with AMSANT to establish the peak
"¢ The funding of a position at NTCOSS to coordinate and boost NGO
"¢ The announcement of the chair and members of the Reform
Committee "“ the Government's commitment to external accountability in
progressing the Inquiry's recommendations;
"¢ The secondment of 10 highly experienced child protection
professionals from New Zealand who will be dedicated to continuing to
reduce the investigation backlog.
The Henderson Government has tripled arts expenditure since 2001 and we
will continue to build and support Territory arts.
A vibrant arts scene makes the Territory a better place to live in and
also promotes better education outcomes as well as reducing antisocial
The Territory's per capita arts funding is $45.31 per person, which is
$12.17 above the national average.
Annual funding increases since 2008 include:
"¢ $250,000 to the Indigenous program including $150,000 allocated
Indigenous music touring circuit;
"¢ $200,000 for remote, regional and community festivals;
"¢ Additional funding of $100,000 for arts projects; and
"¢ Darwin Community Arts, Chambers Crescent lease 2008-11,
The Territory Government also provides arts funding for other key areas
such as Indigenous Arts, the Darwin Festival and public arts grants,
and it was this Government that established the Northern Territory Film
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