December 9, 2010. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

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Big audience for Terry’s secret chat with Leo

Secret negotiations between Opposition Leader Terry Mills and Leo Abbott, about whether or not he should stand down as the Country Liberal (CL) candidate for Lingiari, have all the elements of a comic opera.
Mr Mills thought he was having a one-on-one conversation with Mr Abbott during the CL management committee meeting in Darwin in August, having asked everyone else to leave the room.
But in fact the telephone hook-up to Alice Springs, and possibly also to Katherine and Darwin, remained live.
And so in an Alice Springs livingroom, some 10 local party heavies could hear every word exchanged between Mr Mills and Mr Abbott, for about half an hour.
They had activated the mute button on the speaker phone (pictured at right with Mr Brown) at their end so Mr Mills and Mr Abbott could not hear the reactions by Alice branch members – mostly giggling, says branch vice-president at the time, Steve Brown.
This week Mr Brown, who has since resigned from the party, applied for re-admission and was refused, confirmed the accuracy of the haggling’s transcript published in the NT News last week.
The newspaper says it had “obtained” the transcript without naming the source, but Mr Brown’s on-the-record statement now confirms the text’s authenticity.
The Alice News broke the story of an offer from Mr Mills to Mr Abbott on November 18, after a leak from highly placed CL sources, under the story heading “Did Abbott offer a job to Abbott?”
We reported the offer was alleged to have been made by Mr Mills and his Federal counterpart, Tony Abbott, whose office we quoted as saying the story “is totally incorrect”.
However, a spokesman for Mr Mills said he “won’t be feeding the rumour mill on this matter” and Mr Mills has still not issued a denial.
The transcript does not contain any reference to a job offer, but it quotes Mr Mills as saying this to Leo Abbott: “I have his [Tony Abbott’s] word that if he be the Prime Minister, we will be in a strong position to look after you.”
In the transcript Mr Mills forcefully makes the point to Mr Abbott that he should step back from the candidacy because of his breach of a Domestic Violence Order (DVO).
He argues the CL wants to attack sitting Labor candidate Damien Hale in the crucial seat of Solomon over his DVO.
Mr Hale was holding Solomon by a narrow margin, while it was unlikely that Mr Abbott would win Lingiari.
Mr Mills was apparently following a strategy favoured by former Chief Minister Shane Stone and party treasurer Graeme Lewis and outlined in an email exchange leaked to the Alice Springs News.
We reported on August 19 that Mr Lewis emailed 10 addressees saying: “I doubt that disendorsement is a legal option – voting has started.
“But we need to put petrol on the issue to fix Hale right up.”
And Mr Stone replied: “If we determine its correct then we pull his preselection and at the same time challenge the ALP to do likewise with Hale.
“The ALP will argue the difference is that Hale agreed to the Orders and never breached them – the point is that the ALP and Hale will be out there having to defend his predicament – Hale’s DVO has oxygen finally for them that don’t know.
“Terry Mills could call for the disendorsement.” <>
As it turned out, Mr Abbott stuck to his guns, did not quit his candidacy, and the party, when the August meeting resumed, confirmed his preselection.
He failed to win the once blue ribbon Labor seat but made significant inroads into the vote of sitting member Warren Snowdon.
Mr Hale lost Solomon, and Mr Mills has since been at odds with what seems to be a growing number of party members and is far less accessible to the media than he used to be.
His strategy towards Mr Abbott was blunt: if he played ball and stood down, the party would protect him.
“We would have that opportunity to stand around you and you stand there with dignity and we protect you,” he said, according to the transcript.
If not, they would drop him. 
In the transcript Mr Mills puts to Mr Abbott that standing down “saves, protects your good name and the name of the party and puts you in a stronger position for 2012 ... and Tony Abbot has said that in the event he is the Prime Minister, there is a very good position to bring strengthened support around you for 2012.”
It appears that for Mr Mills a DVO breach by Mr Abbott was a problem in the 2009 election but wouldn’t be in the 2012 one.
He did not respond to requests for comment.

What did ‘get ceNTred’ yield?

Tourism Central Australia (TCA), the local industry lobby with a membership of 450, in the last three years received $2.259m from the NT Government’s Tourism NT “to provide marketing and industry enhancement activities, and to provide visitor information services”.
Tourism NT Acting Chief Executive Rita Harding says the agreement, due to run out in June, is being re-negotiated.
TCA manager Peter Grigg will not reveal the other income of the organisation but says it receives subscription payments from members and commission on the sale of members’ products. Ms Harding says a new Red Centre campaign will be launched by Minister for Tourism, Malarndirri McCarthy in February.
Meanwhile the move towards a television and digital focus in advertising “cued” two years ago continued with the 2010 Red Centre campaign, Get CeNTred.
It consisted of 30-second teasers broadcast on Channel 7, featuring campaign host, football star Russell Robertson’s first experience of Alice Springs and the Red Centre, “driving” viewers to the Yahoo! 7 website “to view the full story,” says Ms Harding in a written statement.
“The Branded Video Destination hosted on Yahoo! 7 showcased Robertson’s life-changing journey through the Red Centre, and provided opportunities for local industry partners to showcase their own content and offer deals to consumers looking to book a holiday.”
You go to the site, scroll down from the hulking Robertson and the hulking Rock and click on “Video Itineraries – 48 hours in Alice Springs”.
You’re taken to a YouTube video of camel and quad tours, the reptile centre, ballooning, Araluen, beanies, Todd Mall, a motel, the Ghan and coach travel.
By last Sunday it had 2,840 viewings since February 18 – not a huge number.
By way of comparison, the footy final brawl video the Alice Springs News posted in 2007 had 70,000 views within a week (we pulled it off the net because of the disgustingly racist statements that were made in many of the anonymous comments).
One of the operators promoted in Get CeNTred, which cost $2.1m, is Larapinta Trail Packages for which TCA is named as the selling agent. Mr Grigg says it sold 126 packages in 2009. During Get CeNTred in 2010, until August 71 packages were sold – and not many after because it’s getting too hot.
Kath Frost, of Quad Biking which operates on Undoolya Station, says business had been “down a bit” this year but that could have been a consequence of the global recession and the weak US dollar.
She says the promotion on Get CeNTred was free of charge and “things could have been worse without it”.
We asked Tourism NT to provide turnover figures generated by Get CeNTred, and for an interview with Ms Harding.
Instead of providing these Tourism NT provided spin in the form of a media release from Ms McCarthy on May 21 – yes, that’s six months ago.
She said: “This was the third Get Centred domestic marketing campaign which attracted 2.8 million viewers to the Channel 7 television commercials every week.”
Does she mean 2.8 million viewers tuned in just to see the Get CeNTred campaign spots, or did they tune in to see the programs during with the spots were screened (and may well have gone to the dunny when they were on). No answer.
“In total 6,000 bookings were made for tours, accommodation and airfares during the campaign period – this is an outstanding performance.”
Which of thise bookings were made during that period as a direct result of Get CeNTred? No answer.
“The Get Centred domestic marketing campaign was tracked by Tourism NT and hit the mark with its key target market, Spirited Travellers, by increasing their preference to visit the Territory on holiday in 2010.”
Increased by how much? No answer.
 “The Seven Media Group partnership resulted in a 510 percent increase in online clicks to partner products such as hot deals, compared to the 2009 Red Centre campaign.”
That’s 510% on what base? No answer.

Empire built on shoe leather worn out in Europe & Japan

Ren Kelly, who was defeated by Jeff Huyben in a two-way ballot for the chairmanship of Tourism Central Australia (TCA), has been a towering figure of the industry in Central Australia.
Pounding the pavement in key cities of Europe and Japan, doing half a dozen trips a year, with scarcely any government support, he pioneered overseas visitation to The Centre and especially to Ayers Rock.
Mr Kelly, a former manager of Radio 8HA and now its chairman, in the ‘70s set up the Red Sands Motel, one of four establishments at the base of the Rock.
It was a collection of dongas, sheds and basic buildings, but full of character, and fitting the the expectations of people seeking a down-to-earth outback adventure.
His support for the industry over decades extended to serving on bodies such as the Tourism Board, and later on the Central Australian Tourism Industry Association, the forerunner of TCA.
When the Rock tourism village was being replaced by Yulara, Mr Kelly served on the planning board.
In the new complex Mr Kelly, and his wife, Joy, first leased the Ernest Giles Tavern and started a hire car company that soon developed into a massive operation, VIP Tours, with a fleet of luxury cars, buses and stretched limousines, attracting the big spending tourists from the world over.
Fortunes turned sour for Mr Kelly when Ansett Airlines, for which his company provided ground services at the Yulara Connellan airport, went bust in 2001, leaving substantial debts to VIP unpaid.
Mr and Mrs Kelly now live in Alice Springs where he is working for a Federal agency seeking to promote Aboriginal tourism.

Serious assault accused free on bail

A man accused of aggravated robbery, intending to cause serious harm and causing serious harm, as well as a number of firearms charges, has been released on bail for fear that, if found guilty, he may end up serving more time in prison on remand than the prison time his sentence would require.
Magistrate John Neill, hearing a bail application for accused man Benjamin Gaff, said there is a danger of defendants on remand becoming “over-cooked” and asked the Crown whether there was a risk of that in this case.
Crown prosecutor Michael McColm said there was a risk that if the matter proceeded to trial, it would not be heard until the latter half of next year.
Mr Gaff has been on remand since May 31 this year.
If his trial were to go ahead in September 2011 that would mean he would already have spent 16 months in prison.
Defence lawyer Rennie Anderson said that time on remand is much more severe than time in the general prison population, principally because remand prisoners are entirely unoccupied, with no access to work or any kind of rehabilitative programs.
Mr Gaff was originally charged with attempted murder in relation to the Junction Waterhole shooting on May 29, but that charge and two other counts relating to that event have been withdrawn.
The Crown believes that he was the driver of the vehicle in that incident, not the shooter.
Only firearms charges remain from that original charge sheet.
The further charges he faces relate to the assault and robbery of Jarrod Sellars on the same evening as the shooting.
Mr Gaff has admitted in a police record of interview to kicking Mr Sellars in the side of the face with steel-capped boots.
Mr Sellars subsequently had to travel to Darwin for facial reconstruction surgery. His injuries included a fractured eye socket and loss of a tooth.
Mr Neill said the Crown case for the serious harm charges is very strong, but significantly less strong with respect to the robbery.
If Mr Gaff were convicted of the assault, Mr Anderson suggested that the head sentence could be two to two and half, maybe three years in prison but with only 18 months to serve.
With a guilty plea there could be a reasonable chance of less, said Mr Anderson.
Mr Neill said it was hard to see what difference the firearms charges would make.
Mr McColm agreed that on their own they could earn a non-custodial sentence.
Mr Neill said Mr Gaff had no meaningful prior history of criminal offending.
He said there was no cause to think that the victim’s safety would be threatened by Mr Gaff’s release on bail, but he ordered him not to contact the victim either directly or indirectly.
“You can’t do it and you can’t have anyone do it for you,” said Mr Neill.
He imposed a number of restrictive conditions, saying “you are far from being an entirely free man”.
Mr Gaff must stay at his residence between 10pm and 6am; during those hours he must present himself at the door of his residence if the police require it.
“This can be very invasive and disturbing,” said Mr Neill, “but you have to roll with it, understand it and accept it.”
He must also report regularly to the Alice Springs Police Station.
He must not drink alcohol or take illicit drugs and must submit to breath analysis or urinalysis if required.
He is also banned from all licensed premises whether or not he intends to drink.
Mr Gaff’s father posted surety for his son of $50,000 with a cash deposit of $10,000.
The firearms charges have been set down for plea or mention on December 14.
Mr Gaff was smiling as he left the court, and thanked his prospective employer who was present together with several of his relatives.
Mr Gaff’s co-accused for the robbery and assault charges, Jason Corp, remains on remand. Both men will be arraigned in the Supreme Court on January 31 next year.

Arlparra School digs deep

It started with a couple of teachers growing moustaches and a donation tin in the front office.
At the end of their Movember effort, the 50 students at Arlparra School, their parents, teachers and friends had raised $2000.
Movember is an international movement raising funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and depression.
Tiny Arlparra School is located at Utopia, 250 kms north east of Alice Springs. A senior student suggested a community night to raise money.
Staff decided to combine it with their end of year open night at the school on November 26.
Students showed movies they had made and there were slideshows of other student work and activities.
Hotdogs, chips and drinks were for sale, with some 250 people attending.  Over $1900 was raised on the night.
Although rain forced an early end to the evening, “everyone went home happy after a great family gathering and sharing”, says school principal, Kerry Kasmira.
Added to the $1900 were $32 raised by a middle years class enterprise project, with staff chipping in to make the magic $2000.shaved by Amazon Glenn.

Second class statehood is not the answer. COMMENT by DR CHARLIE CARTER.

For over 20 years as a Centralian I’ve been listening to the statehood cry. My response has always been, “The last thing we need is another state, we should get rid of them all!” Not that getting rid of the states is a new idea.
At a meeting of the Tennyson (Vic) Farmers’ Association, held on June 28 1902, it was carried unanimously, “That, in the opinion of the association, the time had now arrived when we should have unification of Australian interests and abolition of state Parliaments, as we think one Parliament with the assistance of the municipal councils, quite sufficient to legislate for Australia.”
Two years ago the NT’s first Chief Minister, Paul Everingham, called for the abolition of all state and territory governments. He said, “The NT’s push for statehood is a waste of time. If we were going to get 10 senators or 12 senators, you could see some use in it. But nothing will change except that we’ll be called a State. So it’s really just watercress on a sandwich, if you understand what I mean.”
For the people of Central Australia, I doubt we’d even get the watercress. The Berrimah Line would still be there, and Central Australia would still be getting the short end of the stick from Darwin. We would still have the ludicrous situation where the various states have consulates and trade missions bidding against each other to give overseas interests more and more of Australia for less and less return to our people.
The issue of Senate representation is an important one. Why? Because nobody is even suggesting that the proposed new “State of the Northern Territory” will get full statehood rights. We will not get 12 Senators. We might get three or four. What we are being offered is not statehood; it is second class statehood. 
The NT should not accept second class statehood. Citizens of the NT deserve the same constitutional representation and rights as other Australians.
It’s clear that under the present Federal constitution this problem is not likely to be resolved. The answer is to change the Federal constitution.
The people of the NT cannot do this alone, but we should be able to present this situation to the Australian people, and convince them that change is necessary.
The conservatives in the Australian community always come up with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” response to proposals for constitutional change. In this case we can prove that it is “broke”: the people of the NT cannot get equitable political representation under the present system.
What kind of change is required? There are several possibilities, but I suggest that the most sensible one, even though it is a radical change, is to abolish the states, form sensible geo-political regions, and have a two tier system of government. Is this possible?
Let’s say that we propose a region of Central Australia, roughly within a radius of about 800 km from Alice Springs, including bits of WA and Qld, and a fair bit of northern SA. I reckon that if we conducted a referendum offering an autonomous regional government, equal to regional governments in the rest of Australia, it would be carried overwhelmingly.
Repeat that line of argument with all the other sensible geo-political regions in Australia, and the idea of radical change becomes feasible. Think Albury/Wodonga, the New England area in NSW, Far North Queensland, etc. Big cities, like Brisbane, would have their own regional government. 
Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce said recently: “What are the states? They are lines on the map that were drawn at an arbitrary point in time when a boat turned up on the coast and its occupants created a settlement that grew to a colony that became a state. Our nation should reflect that the geographically based communities of interest within it have evolved far beyond the meaning of states in 1901.”
Future Senate representation could be based on these regions, not on arbitrary lines drawn on maps by people who had never seen most of the country they were dividing up.
Where is the famous Territory pioneering spirit ? Are we going to sit back and be content with a proposal for second class statehood, or are we going to grab the opportunity to lead the rest of the country in making sensible, much needed changes to our national constitution?

Cabaret exposes greed, hubris, and other sins. By RUSSELL GUY.

The progress of the Cat’s Meow cabaret company over the past few years has been interesting to observe. 
The show that played to packed houses in the Todd Tavern sometime around 2003 was an indication of talent and promise.  The venue lent much to the atmosphere, but it was obvious that the costuming and direction set the performers on a course which summed up the European tradition of cabaret. 
Then came the Witchetty’s show which was also pretty stunning.  The dance routines on that small stage were simply gobsmacking.
The latest, Soultrain, on the Araluen stage, caused me to ponder whether the transition to the big stage was a success.
Cabaret is a great medium for exploring social issues in an entertaining way and has an impressive history – at its best when revealing excess of pomp, power and oppression, either by an individual or the State. 
Cabaret emerged from vaudeville and slapstick and was arguably at its most remorseful at the height of Nazi Germany.  It doesn’t ridicule, but it does reveal hubris, greed and other deadly sins.
In the Central Australian context, the immoral promotion of alcohol would seem to be a more pressing matter for conscientious cabaret than, as in Soultrain, the death of the planet.
Cabaret can be a sophisticated art form clothed in glittering finery, but with the deshabille designer tag that gives it an edge, while some see cabaret as light entertainment for cocktail lizards and I’m not knocking it.  Many of the songs are superb. 
To use the vernacular, some corroboree functions in the cabaret tradition.  An Aboriginal crooner with two sticks beating time can lift your feet and your spirit.  
The scripted linking of scenes was the weak link in Soultrain as in the recent St Philip’s College show, although to be fair with the latter, it was firmly in the tradition of musical. 
I say this with trepidation because I’m aware of how tortuous scriptwriting can be, but delivery of comedic/dramatic dialogue is an acquired skill. When so much focus is on it, performers can be exposed as seriously lacking in timing and projection, so that it’s often lost through garbled delivery or thrown away as a clumsy filler. 
The emphasis should be more on movement and music. 
The Master of Ceremonies role works well if we must have narration, or much more attention should be given to dramatic coaching. As in the recent St Philip’s show, the Soultrain band was excellent. 
Having said that, I realize that these are not professional companies, however, they aspire to such and are to be warmly encouraged. 
The aerial scene in Soultrain was captivating  and for my money, the jellyfish-like puppetry is showing the way ahead.  Mime is an overlooked element of modern cabaret. 
Some synthesis in all of this may produce a Centralian style capable of shaking the nation. 
Russell Guy is a journalist and writer.  His plays have been produced on ABC radio and Brisbane theatre. 

Be concerned, be very concerned. By VICTOR ZULU and DELTA TANGO, aka Blair and Jenny McFarland.

The Department of Lurks, Perqs and Junkets (DLPJ) – whose proud aim is to avoid the creation of dependence in the client group by providing no services –  sent eight delegates from the Committee for Looking Concerned (CFLC) and the Sub-Committee for Looking Alarmed (SCLA) to four remote Indigenous communities on a fact finding mission in October last year.  
A plane was chartered so the committee members could spend a full 45 minutes in each community, doing in depth consultations with whoever happened to be there at the time.
The CFLC recommended that the Department release a funding grant of $50,000 to the most deserving of the communities.
The SCLA endorsed the decision of the CLFC after a series of high level meetings with each other over a six month period.
The budget was ratified by the Committee for Remote Area Programs and Policy (CRAPP), and the department head of the Office for Perqs after a consultancy by his own firm, Pollyanna Consulting, gave a positive report.  
The Commissioner of Junkets was away at a series of overseas conferences on Staff Accountability Strategies.
Accountability for resources supplied by the department and transparency in decision making are top priorities for the DLPJ.  
During the consultations, the committee delegates were assured by all four of the community spokespersons in turn that the grant would be spent wisely, not all at once, and with the strictest adherence to guidelines and reporting criteria set by the DLPJ if deposited directly into their personal accounts.  
The committee team deliver their report this month and a decision will be made by November next year.

Joy of colour

Over 40 people with disabilities have enjoyed recent workshops in felt drawing and fabric painting facilitated by textile artist Philomena Hali, and organised by Arts Access Central Australia with InCite Youth Arts.
Their creations – felted art works, wall hangings and floor rugs – are on display in the Civic Centre foyer this month through to January.
Arts Access is wrapping up its year today with music and and colour healing workshops, facilitated by musician Dian Booth.   

Hello concrete canyon Alice?

Local architect Brendan Meney has had a seat on the Alice Springs Planning for the Future Steering Committee since it was created in the wake of the 2008 Planning Forum.
Out of the process overseen by the committee two documents have been produced and are before the public for comment (deadline February 23, 2011).
These are the Built Form Guidelines and the Residential Capacity Report.  Mr Meney has provided Planning Minister Gerry McCarthy with detailed feedback on the documents. Now he wants to share his main ideas with Alice News readers in the hope that the “revitalisation” plans for the CBD will be “truly embraced by the community as their own and not driven by limited groups of planners, developers and reactionary planning processes such as the recent high number of exceptional development permits”.

Mr Meney believes the Built Form Guidelines need “additional prescriptive content” so that the desired forms are clearly explained, supported by quality examples.
Permissible building heights need to be related to form, without which there is potential for the creation of “urban canyons”.
The height map in the guidelines predominately advocates a five storey limit across the CBD and “sends out the wrong message”, says Mr Meney, in contrast to the residential capacity study which “seeks a case by case approach on merits and negotiated outcomes”.
“Our desert town sits within an open and vast landscape with a big sky and extended horizons,” says Mr Meney.
Built form in the CBD should reflect this at street level with “massaged” building profiles and by retaining “limited heights in critical areas”.
He would like to see open, low scale vistas at all internal street hub intersections, with maximum two- to three-storey buildings.
Maximum heights in heritage zones should be two storeys.
All river corridor properties should be low scale “in order to set the urban form away from the low open landscape, creating a height lead up into the set back highrise of maximum three storeys, with preferred two storeys tiered to five storeys”.
All existing and anticipated future open space should be identified and designated with a single storey limit to retain the open space context.
Stuart Park frontage should retain the park context with lower scale fringe buildings (maximum three storeys).
The Hartley Street Heritage precinct should be a low scale neighborhood reflecting its history (maximum two storeys).
Mr Meney urges more consideration and control guidelines “for retaining the surrounds” of all the existing identified heritage sites in and around the CBD.  “They must have a designed low scale buffer to guarantee and protect the existing ‘historical context’.”
The Todd Mall frontage should maintain its pedestrian scale (maximum three storeys), as should the proposed central park.
The major ‘gateways’ into the CBD – the four corners occupied by the Todd Tavern, Westpoint, Civic Centre and Central Comms – should be identified with low scale height limitations (two storeys) to reinforce low scale visual ‘lead in’.
“Building heights that create intense urban environments are a highly emotive issue in Alice Springs,” he says, “and must be canvassed with clear explanation and reasoning, relieving community doubt that they will be presented with an ‘urban depression’ outcome.
“Our town is a desert town and the guidelines must support the opportunities for its urban density to develop at a rate that is consistent with the community’s context and physical needs.”
Mr Meney wants the guidelines to retain the term “CBD”. In draft form they suggest CAD – Central Activity District.
He thinks the change is confusing and that it seems to suggest that there is no “activity” elsewhere in Alice Springs, that the town centre is “where it all happens”.
This would be a negative connotation “when it comes to trying to support future higher density residential ‘nodes’ and increased business activity around outlying areas such as the shops at Northside, Eastside, Milner Road, Gap Road, and Larapinta.
He would like to see the central area under consideration extended to include the southern side of Stuart Tce, Billygoat Hill, and the Melanka site down to the river.
To get timely and cohesive development of the CBD a tradeoff system should be introduced: in other words, a permitted development should be accompanied by a negotiated complementary contribution to the bigger picture revitalisation of the CBD.
Some height tradeoffs are suggested in the Residential Capacity Study but not in the Built Form Guidelines.
He says the built form guidelines must have a legislative link to the NT Planning Scheme “to mandate enforcement” and so “achieve the overall desired outcomes”.
 Without prescription the way would be open to “commercial exploitation”. He cites the Sitzler-proposed six storey development on the old Commonwealth Bank site as a case in point. 
This could cause “community negativity to emerge”, which would “undermine well designed, strategic and appropriate high rise developments”.  
He would like the guidelines to provide many more appropriate visual examples which display their intent and desired outcomes, guiding users of the document and providing a “pathway” to achieving.
For instance, where the guidelines talk about enhancing Alice Springs performance as a “solar city” they should show examples “which indicate how solar opportunity zones are achieved”.
“This is critical to guarantee a legal right to access the sun for hot water, power and energy generation.”
The guidelines’ examples should also represent “local built form opportunities” and wherever possible show “good local examples”.

You don’t have to run away  to join this circus! By KIERAN FINNANE.

The next generation of local circus performers showed what they can do at a Circus Us end of year show last Wednesday.
They were all girls, 15 of them, aged 10 to 16, but boys are very welcome and some have trained in the past.
Some of the current crop of students only started learning six weeks ago, but impressed with their enthusiasm and daring.
Others wowed the audience of family and friends with the polished acrobatics that a few years’ practice can give.
Trainers Adelaide Church, founder of Circus Us, and Matt Leyland, a star aerialist of the recent Cat’s Meow cabaret and often seen juggling around Alice, were on hand to supervise and help.
Leyland hopes to study circus full time next year: he’s auditioned for the National Institute of Circus Arts, at Swinburne University in Melbourne, as well as for Circoarts in New Zealand.
Other multi-talented performers Katelnd Griffin and Adeline Peyer, who also featured in the Cat’s Meow show and were a star turn at the Alice Desert Festival’s comedy night, will go to the Tasmanian Circus Festival and Training Week in the summer – a big event in Australian circus.
They’ll be joined there by Eremaya Albrecht, a young member of Circus Us, together with her mother, Sally Mumford.
Jasmine Ahwah, who impressed on the ring (or lyra) in Cat’s Meow, will continue her circus and dance activities in France where she is going for a year-long Rotary exchange.  Meanwhile, Circus Us will be teaching circus skills as part of the Town Council and Red Hot Arts free school holiday program in January.
Regular circus classes for anyone over 13 years old will resume next year at the YMCA on Sunday afternoons and it is hoped that a youth circus program will also be able to continue.
Circus Us is work on industry-standard equipment and mats, use safety-rated rigging, always teach skills progressively and spot students to ensure security where necessary.
Students advance at their own pace, and are encouraged to work towards their personal goals.

LETTERS: Ridges Estate block owners done over?

Sir – Despite the extraordinary number of objections received to the re-zoning of two blocks in the new Ridges Estate on Albrecht Drive – over 60% of eligible owners – the Minister has seen fit to approve the application, allowing for multiple dwellings.
Once again, Darwin knows what is best for us.
A group consisting of many of the objectors have petitioned the Minister objecting to the approval and requesting a review of the decision.
Shortly after the approval, the two blocks were sold by the developer for $360,000 each (publicly available info at 
The new owners are now advertising them for sale, through Framptons, as MD (multiple dwelling) blocks: One is “under offer” following an advertised price of $440,000, the other currently advertised at $460,000.
That’s a total $180,000 mark up in 14 weeks. So much for these blocks meeting the need for “affordable housing” with a land input cost of that level. 
Are Framptons informing prospective purchasers that the MD zoning is subject to an appeal? 
The apparent “rule” within government is that a decision of the Minister cannot be appealed, although the protest group wonder why this is so.
The group expects to be ignored, or have their appeal refused, by the Minister.
However, they still have the right to initiate legal action through the courts.
Informal legal advice received so far indicates they may well have a case. 
In any event, any further development on these blocks would be delayed pending the outcome, possibly for years.
New owners may well find themselves with a very long term investment, and no guarantee of the outcome.
As for AZRI –  doesn’t everybody have to live “inside”?
We’ve just approved five storeys, and when they’re full up, we can go to 10 storey blocks of flats, and when they’re full up, infills forever and ever amen.
On the other hand, what an opportunity! 
Will anyone have the vision to make it what it could be?
Subsidise the cost, although this means controlling speculators from buying and reselling a few months later for $100K profit.
Let’s NOT have postage stamp size blocks.
Let’s limit the building footprint, so you don’t have to listen to your neighbour’s loo flushing.
Let’s demand that all house designs achieve a six-star energy rating (it’s not hard).
Let’s aim for self-sufficiency in energy use: every home to have a photovoltaic solar energy system, grey water recycling, solar hot water, high efficiency lighting and appliances.
Underground stormwater control, as is mandatory in many interstate housing developments, to water the open spaces and public areas.
A corner store so the residents, and indeed all the “outsiders” can pick up a loaf of bread or a pint of milk without having to drive into town. Ah, the possibilities are endless.
Judy Barker
Alice Springs
ED – The Alice News offered Framptons right of reply. None was to hand at the time of going to press.

CCTV no help for broken windows

Sir – I wrote to you a couple of years ago and mentioned how I’d like to break the legs of some of these ratbags / idiots that break my shop windows, because I was just sick to death of it.  This may be hard to believe, but about 98% of people I spoke to congratulated me on my views! 
I recall one senior person (a friend) who mumbled something like, “Tim, your comments weren’t really appropriate” (he was the 2%), but the twinkle in his eye told me that he quietly agreed! 
But I know that I and those agreeing with me shouldn’t really be saying this.  So sir, can you tell me why we are?
The law and order in this great town of ours is rapidly being lost! 
From a personal point of view I would like to tell you about my last 10 days of November (and I’d bet that there are at least 300 readers who could write the equal to this!! )
Saturday, Nov 20: I was playing cricket at Head Street in the afternoon and it was reported to me that three other cricket ground centre wickets had been severely vandalised overnight causing thousands of dollars damage, plus the great inconvenience to players and the public alike.  The vandalism was clearly premeditated.  (Have the offenders been caught?  If so, will they be punished?)
Saturday, Nov 20, evening: I played social tennis with one of my grandsons and arrived home around 9pm-ish, only to find a message on my phone from yourself.  A glass door had been kicked in at the Heenan Building, in Gregory Terrace.  You were called in because the police thought it was the door to your office, however it was the door to the stairs leading up to our museum. 
We later attended and cleaned up the mess, including glass splinters on the footpath.  We also barricaded the hole.  It was reported to us that the offender had also been throwing bottles at people in the vicinity.  (Has the culprit been caught, and if so will he be punished??)
Friday, Nov 26, 1am: Some idiot punched a window of the gallery in Gregory Terrace so hard that the alarm activation for broken glass was set off.  This resulted in Talice Security attending and notifying us of it.  Fortunately the window didn’t break, however it was another  early morning inconvenience, and a $44 cost for Talice to attend.
Friday, Nov 26, approx 6pm: Our maintenance manager was driving home along Undoolya Road when a car ran into it him from the left at an intersection. 
When the driver of the offending vehicle was asked to pull over to the side of the road to exchange details (as you must by law), she hopped into her car and drove off in the opposite direction. 
Fortunately her car registration has been obtained and since reported to the police. In the meantime we have a vehicle now with a very large dent in it. (It will be interesting if any outcome comes of this!)
Tuesday, Nov 30, approx 11pm: We received another call that the front door of our gallery on Gregory Terrace had been smashed.  Further inconvenience and cost!!  (Was the offender(s) caught?  And if so, will they be punished?)
All of this window damage, mind you, occurred within 10 and 20 metres of one of our new inner city you beaut surveillance cameras!  Got the idiots, you would reckon, wouldn’t you? 
Well not with this particular camera, because for some reason only known to those in the inner circle of knowledge, it has been installed about six feet above the line of our veranda roof – happily filming moths at play on the roof top! (If in fact it works at all!!)
Now, on Tuesday morning, December 2,  it was pointed out to me that there was considerable blood on the wall of the Heenan Building next to a broken window.  As a result, at my own expense I purchased paint and employed a person to clean up the blood and then paint the wall where the blood was, as well as any other dirty scuff marks nearby – so that it was nice and presentable for our town’s appearance.
So our painter gets into action and along comes a Town Ranger. 
“Have you got a permit to paint this wall?” he asks. 
You guessed it – the painting had to stop until a permit was obtained – for $58.29! 
Add the time wasted by the painter having to stop plus obtaining the permits and the cost is now up around the $200 mark at least – just for this painting part!! 
Add on all the call out expenses for the original kicked in window, glass replacement and the costs are soaring!  And it’s not claimed on insurance, as many readers may be thinking, because premiums are too high!!  
What’s happened to the spirit of the law? I’ll never forget back in 1975, then Inspector Mick Palmer (later Federal and NT Police Commissioner) told me and my associates when I joined the NT Police Force:  “ The key to good policing is to work within the spirit of the law, not just the letter of the law.” 
And that was great advice for ALL forms of policing!  Unfortunately this appears to no longer exist!!
I can hear the mood of this town, and it’s the same as my mood.   
It’s past the time for the government, police and other relevant bodies associated with law and order, to get their hands dirty and sink their teeth into what is in fact their jobs!  Not to continually cruise around the fringes and make up excuses!  
Tim Jennings
Alice Springs

New life for
old drive-in

Sir – I sent the following to the Heritage Advisory Council as my submission to  the application to revoke the heritage declaration over the Pioneer Drive-in:-
It is not often that I get involved with issues of this nature. However, as I see opportunities for celebrating the unique and worthwhile qualities of Alice Springs diminishing it has become apparent that there is not a strong nor cohesive vision for the future of the town.
Specifically regarding Pioneer Drive-In (within Lot 1604, Stuart Highway), with stunningly successful examples of working outdoor cinemas in Darwin and Broome to get rid of the infrastructure and historic foundations of what could become the Alice Springs equivalent seems foolhardy.
In a town where there is little choice for ‘night time activities’ for locals and tourists alike, the potential for a working drive-in is huge.
I appreciate that there is a difference between the heritage listing of the space and a functioning facility, but one is dependent on the other. Heritage listings indicate a sense of meaning and stories of place to a particular moment in time, clever development embraces this and works within and around these ephemeral qualities. Once the drive-in as it stands is removed there WILL NEVER be another opportunity for this kind of place.
The influence of screen-based culture now and into the future is significant. The Pioneer Drive-In could once again provide Alice Springs with an opportunity to be pioneering; embracing our local, national and internationally acclaimed film-makers, show-casing cutting-edge digital media and providing a much needed ‘cross-cultural neutral’ space for the people of Alice.
I urge you to see the past heritage and future potential value of this space, retain the heritage listing and encourage a creative and worthy development for a town like no other.
Elliat Rich
Alice Springs

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