ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
June 2, 2011. This page contains all
major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
To our home page.
to cattle 'inhumane' but trade must go on, say cattlemen. By ERWIN
Territory cattlemen are "horrified and
angered by disturbing and graphic footage of animal cruelty inflicted
upon Australian cattle in Indonesia" shown on the ABC's
Four Corners, says
Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association president Rohan Sullivan.
Mr Sullivan released this statement today:-
I have never seen or heard of such abuse during my own visits to
Indonesia in the last 12 to 18 months, and what I saw sickened me. I
also know that what we saw is not common practice and that the
improvements that have been made and implemented over the years were
The reaction from Australians is entirely understandable, however to
cattle producers and families who proudly devote their lives to the
care and production of cattle, this has been a day of great distress.
I have been inundated with calls from members of the public and
producers immediately following the program.
Cattle producers who have, in good faith, contributed levies to drive
improvement in animal welfare are incensed, are disappointed and
Clearly, solving this requires intervention at the highest levels, with
government to government agreement and a mandate for change from
Indonesian government, commercial, and religious authorities. We
support Minister Ludwig’s initial announcements and will stand ready to
provide what ever assistance and support necessary.
If we exit this market, will this drive any change in the system for
cattle in general, whether they be from Indonesia or elsewhere? We
certainly can't change it if we have no relationship with the system
and have no place in it.
The frustration that we feel must be the impetus for positive change.
But our view is that you develop positive change through relationships,
not by destroying them. Producers are also demanding that their cattle
are treated humanely and in line with their standards and expectations,
and those of the wider Australian community.
Australian Ministers need to get on aeroplanes today and speak to their
counterparts in Jakarta. Cattle producers and their cattle need to be
supported not abandoned.
With over 220 pastoral leases, our industry manages a landmass in
excess of 620,000 square kilometres and a herd of over two million
head. Annual turnoff is around 600,000 head with over 50% of these
going to live-export and domestic markets.
The pastoral industry is the Northern Territory’s third largest GDP
earner, accounting for more than 50% of primary production in the NT
and generating over $400 million in direct income.
The industry directly provides more than 1800 jobs, mainly in rural
areas of the Northern Territory. Our industry supports hundreds of
indigenous and non-indigenous families across the Northern Territory.
Between 50% and 60% of Northern Territory producers and families rely
solely on the live export trade.
By area, employment and economic contribution the pastoral industry is
the dominant industry in land management in the NT, with a predominant
focus on long-term sustainable production.
Over 85% of all NTCA members are active participants in Conservation,
Environmental and Landcare groups throughout the Northern Territory and
the Association encourages members to join their local groups.
Details of council's secret parks
plan revealed. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
The Town Council had a secret plan in mid-2009 to sell off public park
land for housing blocks.
specifically and further parks were meant to be considered later.
News Online has
learned this from a well informed source (not Ald Eli Melky).
The three parks
are the Lewis
Gilbert Park (pictured above),
between Hillside Gardens and Eagle Court adjacent to the
golfcourse; Finlayson Park in Barclay Crescent and Ashwin Park in
The council was
planning 10 to
12 residential blocks in Lewis Gilbert Park, seven to eight in
Finlayson Park and 14 town houses in Ashwin Park.
The plan was to
have the land
rezoned and to sell the blocks to boost the council's revenues.
The council was
looking for a
"partner" in the venture.
development and sale of parks sparked a major row recently when it was
again put on the agenda by Ald Melky, elected in a by-election in
At the council
week Ald Melky demanded the council to make public past plans to
develop parks but the majority of aldermen voted against this.
Council brawl: more than
just about parks. By KIERAN FINNANE.
ugly rift appears to be developing within the Town Council, ostensibly
around the potential sale of some park land but going deeper than that,
to the relationship between Mayor Damien Ryan and two aldermen, the
veteran Samih Habib Bitar and the recently elected Eli Melky.
Ald Habib Bitar left Monday night's meeting in anger and did not
return; Ald Melky also walked out for a period. He returned in time to
vote on the declaration of rates and charges, but as the public part of
the meeting came to a close and media were leaving the chamber he was
exchanging heated words with Mayor Ryan.
Ald John Rawnsley was also emotional during the meeting. He suggested
that the cold explained his shaking voice, but his anger towards Ald
Melky seems a more likely explanation. Unusually for him, he threw out
a number of interjections while standing orders were in place and took
offence when none was given.
The atmosphere degenerated early in the meeting when councillors had to
debate a motion on notice, moved by Ald Melky and seconded by Ald Habib
Bitar. From the start Mayor Ryan, in the chair, was visibly irritated
by the motion, abandoning his usually relaxed chairing style for a
terse, authoritative approach, particularly toward the mover and
The motion was an attempt by Ald Melky to bring into the open an
apparently existing report on the potential development and sale of
park land. The motion read: "That the archived minutes of any
discussion or subsequent motion or motions regarding the development or
selling of any and all parks be brought into open and made public."
Most motions are brought to council in committee meetings where
standing orders do not apply, discussion can flow freely and time for
reflection can pass before the formal vote on the motion at the full
council meeting (the so-called "Ordinary Meeting"). At Ordinary
Meetings standing orders give each alderman one bite of the cherry,
while the mover, usually having introduced the motion, can also close
the debate before the vote.
On Monday Ald Melky declined to speak first, apparently feeling that
the motion itself and the brief discussion of it provided in writing
was sufficient. This left it to Ald Habib Bitar, to his surprise, to
open the debate. His spoke in general terms about too much council
business being in confidential, calling on council to come to the
public "with a clear voice" and to "open their mind to the public".
Mayor Ryan cut him short, saying that this was not the motion in front
of him, which was about the development or selling of parks. Ald Habib
Bitar protested: bringing it into the open was what it was all about,
adding that lots of other business should be moved from confidential.
Ald Rawnsley raised a point of procedure with CEO Rex Mooney,
commenting that the inference of the motion was that council was not
letting aldermen speak in public about the parks issue, and denying
aldermen the opportunity to move a motion about parks (a debateable
Ald Habib Bitar again attempted to speak, but was overruled by Mayor
Ryan: he'd invited Ald Habib Bitar to speak to the motion, "he's had
Ald Rawnsley, however, was able to further comment that aldermen hadn't
heard from the person who moved the motion, asking Ald Melky to
reconsider. Ald Melky said he couldn't see the need for it.
Ald Jane Clark spoke against the motion, in part because it was too
broadly termed. She also made general comments about council's approach
to business being discussed in confidential.
Mayor Ryan commented that the motion is "a bit open ended."
Ald Murray Stewart spoke in favour of the motion "in principle" but
said he would also like to see it tightened up. He also indicated that
a report on the rationalisation of park land exists and felt that it
should be released to the public. Mayor Ryan asked him to bring his
comments back to the motion – although it could certainly be argued
that Ald Stewart's comments were relevant to the debate, as were Ald
Ald Stewart continued, saying it would be a very good step to have
plans and costings, though not conversations and minutes, released to
the public; it was time for the public to have their say and perusal of
Ald Rawnsley now spoke again, again expressing his disappointment that
Ald Melky had not spoken to the motion and broadening his comments to a
criticism of Ald Melky's "highly irresponsible" statements in public on
the issue in relation to council's budget and future rating levels. He
said there was nothing to stop Ald Melky putting forward a motion about
selling parks and wondered when he was going to do it.
Ald Stewart too was able to speak again, this time on how he and Ald
Melky may be sitting alongside one another but were thinking
independently. Ald Habib Bitar attempted to make a point of order but
was over-ruled by Mayor Ryan.
Ald Liz Martin said she was confused about the motion and did not
believe there was any demand from the public to sell park land.
Mayor Ryan now asked Ald Melky to conclude the debate. Ald Habib Bitar
protested that there had not been a discussion. He was over-ruled.
Ald Melky stumbled in his opening remarks, clearly feeling tense. He
had the existing documentation in an envelope which he raised for all
to see: this was what he wanted to have brought into the open, but
because it was a confidential item he had felt it prudent to keep his
motion "close and tight". He spoke about the council's reliance on
grants and rates and the challenge this represents for long-term
sustainability. He said when he came across the detailed confidential
plan on the rationalisation of park assets, he felt that it would be a
"starting point" towards financial sustainability. He said the plan did
not need to be kept in confidential.
Mayor Ryan put the motion to the vote, with only Alds Habib Bitar and
Melky in favour.
There was again protest from Ald Habib Bitar, dismissed by Mayor Ryan.
The meetign then moved on to other business, but was brought back to
the issues by Ald Melky, declaring himself to be a fully licensed real
estate agent and financial broker, putting questions to Mr Mooney about
conflict of interest. He asked for guidance on whether he could
continue to talk on the issue of potential redevelopment and sale of
park assets without being accused of having a conflict of interest.
Mr Mooney referred to the Code of Conduct under the Local Government
Act and said that in his opinion Ald Melky did not have a conflict of
interest, providing the discussion was in a general form in terms of
policy. Ald Melky asked – no doubt knowing full well the answer –
whether he would be able to tender if the council were to sell land. Mr
Mooney replied that then he would have a conflict of interest. Ald
Melky said he had just wanted clarification.
Ald Rawnsley said that it might well be clarified but that there were
"questions out there" and that a "perceived conflict of interest" is
something that council members ought to consider. Ald Stewart retorted
that the perceived conflict of interest was an "absurd notion".
Once again the meeting returned to other business, this time the issue
of pedestrian crossings in the CBD. When the debate, again under
standing orders, was brought to a close by Mayor Ryan, Ald Habib Bitar
angrily claimed to have had his hand up to speak three times and to
have been overlooked. Mayor Ryan invited him to speak but Ald Habib
Bitar declined, gathered up his papers and left the chamber.
A vote took place, with Ald Habib Bitar's vote recorded as 'against',
the default position if the alderman does not vote.
In the wake of this Ald Rawnsley also had an upset outburst, taking
offence at Ald Brendan Heenan's comment in the pedestrian crossing
debate that "people were more important than cars". Ald Rawnsley felt
that the inference of the comment was that those aldermen who wanted a
traffic study to help guide their decision on the crossings thought
that cars were more important than people – a "disgraceful" inference
in his view, but probably an unnecessarily long bow to draw in the view
By this time Ald Melky had also left the chamber, but voting on the
Municipal Plan and the declaration of rates and charges was busily
being pushed forward by Mayor Ryan. Ald Stewart asked if all parties
were required for the votes. Mr Mooney said council had a quorum. Ald
Clark suggested that a recess be taken to wait for the two aldermen to
return; Ald Martin, clearly frustrated by the carrying-on, felt that
voting should ahead, as the two had known that the votes were coming.
A recess was taken while Mr Mooney went out to see the pair; he
returned saying that Ald Habib Bitar had left but that Ald Melky would
The vote on the declaration of rates and charges was taken, but the
rift opened up again during Questions Without Notice, when Ald Melky
challenged Mayor Ryan on comments he had made in the media about land
supply in Alice Springs having gone from "famine to feast". He wanted
to know on what information he had based such a comment. Mayor Ryan
pointed to Kilgariff and the old drive-in site "if you haven't noticed
that". Ald Melky said the comments, suggesting an excess of real
estate, affect his industry. Ald Rawnsley bought in to this exchange,
with a challenge to Ald Melky. Ald Stewart attempted to diffuse
the tension, wondering aloud if Alds Rawnsley and Melky could "step
outside and have a blue".
The public meeting was finally closed, giving Ald Melky and Mayor Ryan
a chance for a face-to-face confrontation.
ALICE SPRINGS NEWS COMMENT:
would find a way to bring Ald Melky into a constructive dialogue with
his fellow aldermen and thus harness his considerable energy for the
benefit of the community. Ald Melky would of course have to be open to
conciliatory moves but his expression of appreciation for the feedback
via email on his motion from Deputy Mayor Ald Liz Martin suggests that
he would be.
Good leadership would also find a way to work more effectively with Ald
Habib Bitar, whose long-standing contribution to the council is worthy
of respect. This might include addressing openly the frustration that
some aldermen clearly have with his manner of expressing himself and
his apparent failure to fully absorb, in advance of meetings, the
detail of council's business papers.
READER COMMENT by HAL DUELL
Since first taking office three years ago this Council, Alice Springs
eleventh, has been flirting with disaster. On Monday the chickens came
home to roost with a breakdown of procedure as bickering and snide
asides replaced debate in the monthly Ordinary Meeting.
Standing Orders are there for a reason. As I understand them, each
Alderman is entitled to one comment and one question each on every
issue being debated. When all have had their turn, a vote is taken, and
the next item on the agenda is then up for discussion.
My advice would be to keep the all-in brawling for the committee
meetings. Go back to running the main event as it is meant to be run.
Alderman Jane Clark has as good a working knowledge of this procedure
as anyone up there, so listen to her. Or just ask the CEO.
With respect to Mayor Damien Ryan, the Mayor is only the first among
equals, to borrow a term from the Roman Catholic Church’s definition of
the Pope’s role as a Bishop first, and a Pope second. You were elected
to lead as the first among equals. Do that.
With respect to Alderman Melky, you were elected to be one of eight
alderman, not to unilaterally set Council’s agenda. Do that.
And with respect to Alderman Rawnsley, it is never a good idea to put
out a fire with gasoline.
Deputy Mayor Liz Martin on plane graveyard,
selling parks, and council rift.
I have no idea who initially told me about the plane storage facility
but it has been pretty well common knowledge here for at least two
years. In fact our National Road Transport Hall of Fame board looked at
the option of developing a "Planes, Trains and Automobile" museum
facility if it eventuated and since then have even been offered a
couple of aircraft from interstate. It is an opportunity we would still
look at if given the chance.
I visited a couple of graveyards in America and they are havens for
both tourism and enthusiasts looking for parts and aircraft for
restoration. It probably could have been a bit more public but it's
definitely been out there for a while. I think a lot of people in our
community are too apathetic until such proposals become reality and
then they jump up and down. I hasten to add I have had no contact with
the Consultative Group and thought the idea had died until I read about
it a few days ago in the Advertiser (SA) and then it was brought up at
council on Monday.
Yes, I did find the motion (Eli Melky's) very confusing because the
wording wasn't specific and it is "past" tense. We should be
concentrating on "now" and "future".
With all the development going on in Alice Springs (Kilgariff, Sterry,
McEwen, CAT, Mt Johns, Drive In etc) I personally think we (council and
government) need to better get our combined acts together, remove
bureaucratic impediments to construction and do what we can to expedite
these developments so that we can get those places completed, occupied
and paying rates. I have no idea how many residences this means in
totality but it would represent a significant increase in our rate base
albeit with accompanying services and infrastructure requirements. Some
of this already exists and could be better utilised with a higher
percentage of rate-payers. At the end of the day it's all about
economies of scale.
As far as selling parks is concerned, I will look at each such proposal
on its individual merits when and if it is put to council in a proper
manner. I see no need to rehash the past with deliberations from this
or previous councils being made public. The dynamic of the town changes
considerably over time and that needs to be taken into account but, as
"commercial in confidence" matters would have to be withdrawn it would
give a skewed impression of what may or may not have occurred and
then we are put in the unenviable position of trying to justify what we
can't legally justify under the auspices of the Local Government Act.
Everybody I speak to in Alice Springs says NO to selling our parks and
that's good enough for me. If I thought we needed the infill for
affordable housing to meet the current crisis I would weigh up the pros
and cons of the park concerned and the constituents who use it but I
just don't see the need for it. To me parks are parks whether they are
developed or not. I support wholeheartedly the need for the dog park,
regional park and the all-abilities playground park proposed by
Alderman Sandy Taylor but I also think that tracts of undeveloped
native land are important to keep too. Everyone who lives in this
community deserves easy access to a bit of bush or green belt. We live
in an iconic part the Australian outback and the landscape of our town
should reflect that as much for our residents as for tourism.
I am all for looking at revenue-raising opportunities for council so
that we can keep rates as low as possible. The bottom line is while
council provides services, rates will have to be charged to
constituents and we have a fair bit of inequity in Alice Springs as far
as who pays rates and who doesn't. I think we did well to keep rates as
low as 5.8% as proposed in the next budget in the Municipal Plan that
was out for public comment until May 25. I would have liked to see it a
bit lower but some wanted it as high as 17%. Our economy would not,
could not, sustain that and we (council) would be providing a plethora
of nice new services and initiatives to a quickly departing populace
and closing business centre.
In relation to the article "Council Row", you'd have to be Blind Freddy
not to see that a rift is developing and I agree it is deeper than the
selling of parks issue. I have been trying to stay out of it because it
is disruptive and destructive, takes our focus away from what we should
be doing in the community and for the community. But it's getting
I have totally disagreed with some decisions made by council but once
the decision is made you forget the brawls and the argy bargy and get
on with the job. I have also been guilty of changing my position on
some issues after listening to concerns of constituents or more learned
presentations from other aldermen. I reserve my right to continue to do
so but will always vote on the night for the way I feel on the night
about the issue and not in a block for one side or the other. However,
I do get annoyed when aldermen just walk out as it disrupts the
meeting, shows little respect for democracy or time constraints and
sometimes leaves us without a quorum. One night it left us without a
meeting and we had to waste time rehashing all that business again!
Most of us have real jobs we have just come from, and real jobs we have
to turn up to first thing next morning, and just want to tend to the
business at hand in a professional manner. That is the commitment we
all gave to our town, so we should be honoring it.
I am not standing up for our Mayor for the sake of it but I sit
opposite Alderman Habib Bitar and know he was trying to get the Mayor's
attention as I was at the time too. We had new microphones that emit a
red light notifying the chair that you wish to speak. Mine would not
illuminate and nor would Ald Habib Bitar's and there was a fair bit of
flak flying elsewhere across the floor. I didn't see the need to walk
out but I guess the difference was I had the feeling the vote would go
the way I wanted it, and Ald Habib Bitar may have felt it wasn't going
the way he wanted. Irrespective, I want my vote counted and see no
value in walking out except to adversely impact the credibility of
I also find extremely offensive the calls that council has put the town
in a hell of a mess. Most of the issues in these accusations should be
aimed at the Northern Territory or Federal Government and are out of
control of Local Government. Sure, it hasn't been an easy ride and
there have no doubt been issues we could have dealt with better (this
is the real world – what's that old adage, you cant keep all the people
happy all the time) but there have been some pretty good initiatives
and successes implemented along the way as well. Examples include
completion of the Aquatic and Leisure Centre, the Cash for Containers
Scheme, the Glass Crusher, the Christmas Carnival and night markets,
the success of the Solar Cities initiative, and more recently the
mowing blitz, lowering of CBD speed limits, the display screen in the
Mall and of course new by-laws for the management of public places,
animals and errant trolleys just to name a few. Some of these had hung
around throughout the ninth and tenth councils without being finalised
(and in fairness, some good initiatives originated there too).
Personally I like the make up of our existing council. We all come from
different backgrounds and industries and bring opposing opinions and
viewpoints to the table and are truly representative of the diversity
in our community. That's how it should be. I actually like listening to
the opinions of others as there is always something you can learn even
if you disagree. However, I have to say I am so sick of having someone
else's opinion shoved down my throat and being told that I am "wrong"
or "weak" or "Damien's puppet" because I don't vote the way someone
else wants me too or don't get involved in this nonsensical
demoralizing public brawling over personalities. Anyone that knows me
knows I am too strong-willed to be swayed that way and I WILL continue
to remain independent of splinter groups despite the increasing
pressure and even threats for me to "choose sides". If I couldn't
handle the heat, I'd get out of the frypan and simmer somewhere else.
Liz Martin OAM
Deputy Mayor and Chief Executive
Officer, National Road Transport Hall of Fame
How Territory blundering could help
the nation. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
endemic incompetence of governments in Darwin – Tory or Labor – may
offer an opportunity for the Territory to become a leader in national
constitutional reform, creating a model that is "new and quite
different," and that could also be applied to the rest of the nation.
It could trigger the demise of the Australian states, leaving Canberra
and local governments on steroids to run the country. Of course Fred
Chaney didn't put it as bluntly as that, but he says it could just be
worth a shot.
The idea was promoted by Gough Whitlam and Al Grassby in the early
1970s, as the Liberal Mr Chaney generously acknowledges. (The writer
was chairman of the short lived committee in Alice Springs in 1975
looking at the setting up of a Regional Council of Social Development,
with encouragement from Al Grassby.)
Mr Chaney has runs on the board in both camps: in the Fraser government
he had portfolios including Aboriginal Affairs and Social Security, and
he assisted the Ministers for Education, National Development and
And now he's a champion of the "regions" where it doesn't get any more
regional, heading up Desert Knowledge Australia based in Alice Springs.
In his address on Sunday to guests of the Charles Darwin University's
"emerging thinktank", The Northern Institute, Mr Chaney wasn't at all
singing from the same song sheet as Minister for Statehood, Malarndirri
McCarthy (in a message read by former Mayor of Alice Springs, Fran
Kilgariff). Ms McCarthy's central reason for advocating statehood is
the "constitutional fragility" of the NT, which allows Commonwealth
interference in the NT, such as its on-going Intervention in Indigenous
Mr Chaney, however, was more interested in pragmatics than principles.
He made the point that while Darwin is a vibrant city, the rest of the
NT is lagging well behind. But the kind of complaints made by
non-metropolitian residents of the NT are similar to those of
non-metropolitian residents in the states. There, as in the NT, the
capitals operate as "city states" colonizing the hinterland which is
the victim of the "tyranny of democracy".
Only 5% of Australia's population lives in the 85% of the country
regarded as remote, yet that region produces the "tradeable wealth that
keeps Australia afloat".
Mr Chaney said regional and remote residents around Australia have four
things in common:-
• poor services;
• inequitable financial flows;
• unresponsive governments;
• and exclusion from the national narrative.
As the experience is similar across states and territories, statehood
in itself is "unlikely to remedy these complaints, nor would it remedy
the north / south divide in the NT". And it "does not guarantee
Mr Chaney said while the NT is currently doing very well, on a per
capita basis, in the distribution of Commonwealth largesse, as a state
it would be in a weak position in the "revenue snatching" of "feral
fiscalism", the reason being that "you don't win elections in the NT".
The Territory's current ample funds come mostly from taxpayers
somewhere else. While Darwin has been made "impressive" with other
people's money, the Territory capital does not want to transfer power
or money to the bush.
Given the NT's performance, Canberra would be "nervous" to surrender
control, and its distrust of the Territory's ability to manage its
affairs is profound and well founded, suggested Mr Chaney.
A second Intervention is on the cards as the Territory appears unable
to deal with problems raised by the Little Children are Sacred report.
This is, of course, a "rolling back" of NT self-government.
In matters such as housing and education Canberra has no faith in the
NT's ability to serve "non-Darwin interests, to govern in the interest
of all of the NT". The NT's demands for the repatriation of land rights
legislation have been consistently rejected, by Labor and Coalition
On the other hand, a regional government, dealing directly with
Canberra, would have a string of advantages.
In the Central Australian setting that could mean Alice Springs and the
MacDonnell and Central Desert shires forming one region, possibly
extending across the currently entirely arbitrary state boundaries. The
rest of non-urban NT could be a second region, and Darwin a third.
There would be real power and real opportunities in those regions,
which would attract people of "talent and commitment". The satisfaction
that comes with being able to make a difference would keep those people
here, instead of them being sucked out to the capitals.
Such a regional government, entrusted with far broader functions than
local government is at the moment, would answer to the people where it
"The place would have authority over its own future where all solutions
are local, which they need to be," says Mr Chaney.
He was not proposing any kind of blueprint but was suggesting that the
statehood debate was a distraction from issues of substance. He argued
that "to be or not to be a state" was not the right question, with its
outcome unlikely to change the current situation where he goes to "many
celebratory openings but not to many celebrations of achievement".
Meanwhile the CDU's research professor in Alice Springs, Rolf
Gerritsen, says the Northern Territory will never have the kind of
independence from Canberra that the existing states have.
The people of Australia are highly unlikely to support statehood for
the NT in a referendum, he says. That means the only way the NT can
become a state is by an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament, and
Parliament can repeal or amend any of its Acts at any time. So anytime
the Commonwealth didn't like what the state of the NT was doing, they
could still intervene.
Hargrave manslaughter: convicted man gets
nine and half years. By KIERAN FINNANE.
The man convicted of the manslaughter of popular Alice motorsport
identity and father of four, Edward Hargrave, was sentenced on Tuesday
to nine and a half years in gaol. He must serve four years and nine
months of the term before becoming eligible for parole.
Mr Hargrave died on April 3 2009 as the result of a stab wound to the
back of his right shoulder, which severed arteries from which he bled
Graham Woods was convicted for his manslaughter on March 25 this year.
He has already been in custody for 26 months and the sentence is
back-dated to the date of his arrest. He will thus become eligible for
parole in early 2014.
His parents, grandmother, two siblings, and seven other members of his
family were in court for the sentencing. Members of the Hargrave family
and Mr Hargrave's widow, Sarah Woodberry, attended via video link.
Mr Woods appeared to become angry during an exchange between counsel
and Justice John Reeves over the record of interview he had provided to
police. His counsel, Russell Goldflam, was arguing that Mr Woods was
entitled to credit for this interview, during which he had conceded
crucial facts, albeit slowly. Justice Reeves, however, was of the view
that Mr Woods had lied and prevaricated in the interview and had even
suggested that it was his co-accused (ultimately acquitted) who had
struck the fatal blow.
Mr Goldflam said his client had been in a state of extremis during the
interview, that he had not eaten nor slept for two days, that he was
struggling towards the truth. This did not cut much ice with Justice
Reeves who went on to rely largely on the interview in assessing Mr
Woods' culpability and hence appropriate punishment.
After the lunch adjournment, Mr Woods appeared resigned to his fate and
stood without showing reaction during the hour plus of Justice Reeves'
explanation of his reasoning.
Justice Reeves said he considered the earlier incidents of the evening,
outside the 24 Hour Store and in the carpark opposite the Memo Club and
subsequent chase to be "too removed in time and place" to have bearing
on his decision. He rejected Mr Goldflam's submission that these events
provided a context for Mr Woods, leading to him acting as he did out of
fear and to protect himself and his family, even if it was "a classic
case of excessive self-defence".
Justice Reeves said the jury must have found beyond reasonable doubt
that he did not act in self-defence and defence of others, which would
have been a complete defence to charges of both murder and manslaughter.
Likewise the jury must have rejected that he acted defensively in the
striking of the fatal blow; they must have found that he was aware that
he had a knife in his hand; and that the blow was not struck
independently of his will.
Justice Reeves did accept that the blow was a single blow, causing both
the incision wound to the scalp and the stab wound to the shoulder. If
it had been two blows, the jury would have convicted Mr Woods of
INTENTION WAS TO FRIGHTEN
He accepted also that Mr Woods' intention when he ran out from
unit, weapons in hand, was to frighten and not to fight or inflict
harm; again if the jury had found otherwise, they would have convicted
him of murder.
He said Mr Woods' "self-induced intoxication" may have been taken into
account when the jury reached their verdict but it was not relevant to
He rejected Mr Goldflam's submission that Mr Woods had acted in a state
of panic and in circumstances of darkness and danger. Going to the
record of interview, he said Mr Woods' first mention of panic was when
he saw blood on his hands, when he realised he may have killed someone,
He said he did not mention darkness in the record of interview and had
said he did not feel danger at the critical moment of contact with the
deceased, commenting that this was "hardly surprising" given that he
was armed with a hockey stick and a knife.
He did accept that the confrontation was brief and sudden but said Mr
Woods had created the confrontation by running out of the unit, running
towards the deceased when he turned and striking out at him. Justice
Reeves said Mr Woods could thus not rely on suddenness and brevity to
ameliorate his culpability.
In Justice Reeves' view Mr Woods' actions were proactive, not reactive;
he had embarked on a deliberate course of conduct, not justified by
self-defence or defence of others. He said he could have remained in
the unit and called the police, as his sister did. His "high degree of
culpability" for his crime was, however, ameliorated by it not having
been part of a sustained attack and not having had a murderous
Sentencing submissions had revealed that Mr Woods had offered to plead
guilty to reckless manslaughter, verbally via his counsel as early as
June, 2010, and in writing on August 17, 2010 and again on September 2,
2010, just 13 days before his trial was originally intended to commence
(it was delayed because of his successful application to have the jury
Justice Reeves allowed a discount of two and a half years for the plea
offer (from a sentence of 12 years), saying more may have been allowed
if it had been made at the earliest opportunity and if the letters had
contained expressions of remorse.
Mr Goldflam appeared surprised by this expectation, saying that he had
written many plea offers and they did not usually deal with remorse.
He argued that Mr Woods had shown remorse in his record of interview,
when he said he was "disgusted" with himself; that he had expressed it
in his letter of apology to the family of the deceased (read out in the
court following the verdict); that he had also expressed it to Mr
Goldflam on many occasions, particularly in relation to the children of
In relation to Mr Woods' personal history, Justice Reeves noted that he
is an initiated man with strong family relationships and a good
employment record, including most recently two years full-time
employment as a labourer and his successful application just before the
offence to work as a truck driver at the Granites Gold Mine. He has no
significant disadvantages – including no alcohol or substance abuse
problems, "unusual for a person in your position" – to impede his
reintegration to the community once he has served his sentence. He also
has an "excellent record" and is "very well liked" in prison.
On the negative side he had been convicted for aggravated assault with
a weapon and assault on a female, both offences occurring in 2005.
However, as both the one-month and 14-day sentences had been fully
suspended, the court must have been of the view that they were not very
serious. Nonetheless it meant that Justice Reeves could not treat Mr
Woods as a first-time offender.
The race backlash that didn't happen. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Once the sentence was
passed, Mr Woods had a brief moment to turn to his family and was
embraced by his mother, visibly distressed, and his father before being
taken away. It was not possible to observe the reaction to the sentence
of the Hargrave Family and Ms Woodberry but Justice Reeves had recalled
their victim impact statements, particularly the "heart-rending terms"
of the statement by Ms Woodberry which she read to the court herself.
As he said, "no penalty can salve their loss". The end of the
trial, however, brings a measure of closure to a period of communal
anxiety in Alice Springs.
Mr Hargrave died just two and a half months before Kwementyaye Ryder.
The two men accused of Mr Hargrave's murder were Aboriginal, while the
five men accused of the murder of Mr Ryder (and who ultimately pleaded
guilty to his manslaughter) were non-Aboriginal. In the wake of the two
killings many in town felt that the community had come to a new pass in
race relations and dreaded an escalation of racial antagonism and
This did not happen – for which some credit must go to the exemplary
leadership of members of the Ryder family. But the trial of the five
accused over the death of Mr Ryder was closely watched from this point
of view, and much of the national and international reporting and
commentary was through this lens, sometimes hysterically so. By
contrast, the trial of the men accused over the death of Mr Hargrave
has been ignored by national and international media and commentators,
although in its course racial tension, racial bias and racism –
perceived, potential and actual – were constantly confronted or just
below the surface.
In July 2010 the accused, Mr Woods and Julian Williams, who was
ultimately acquitted, applied to have their trial moved to Darwin
because they believed they would not receive a fair trial in Alice
Springs where Mr Hargrave was well known and loved. Their belief was
founded in part on their experience of "specific prejudice" towards
themselves in gaol – as a result of which for a period they were
transferred to Berrimah – and to the family of Mr Woods.
In the application the accused said they were also conscious of the way
that racial issues had been highlighted in media reporting of the case,
including the way in which it was being linked with the unrelated death
of Mr Ryder. They also saw the historical racial skewing of juries in
Alice Springs as a potential disadvantage.
The application was denied, with Justice Jenny Blokland ruling that the
trial judge would be able to overcome any difficulties by her or his
proper directions to jurors.
However the potential bias of the jury was raised again by the accused
in September, just ahead of their scheduled trial. The successful
challenge to the jury array – which pushed the trial back to March this
year – was fought largely around the "unrepresentativeness" of juries
in Alice Springs, where Aboriginal people make up around 21% of the
local population but never constitute a similar proportion on juries.
Factors contributing to this, it was contended, included: potential
jurors being drawn only from Alice Springs and not from the region
where Aboriginal people make up over 40% of the population; and the
broad disqualification provisions regarding people who have committed
criminal offences, which impact disproportionately on Aboriginal
The argument was not that a fairly constituted jury panel must be made
up of a proportionate number of Aboriginal people – as true random
selection would not necessarily achieve this – but rather that
selection procedures must provide for the possibility of
The legal team also challenged the validity of the Juries Act (NT) on
the basis of inconsistency with the Racial Discrimination Act and
infringement of the Australian Constitution. The Full Court of the NT
did not uphold these parts of the challenge but they did quash the jury
array, agreeing that the jurors had not been summonsed in accordance
with the law, including by allowing the checks for disqualification to
be done by SAFE NT, a division of Police, Fire and Emergency Services –
"a party who is not indifferent to the prosecution".
the trial finally got underway, the accused faced a jury – drawn
from a new array – which appeared to be, as usual, in the majority
non-Aboriginal. A number of potential Aboriginal jurors had been
excused on the grounds that they were related to or knew the accused
and / or their families – always likely to be a problem in Alice
Springs for greater participation by Aboriginal people on juries. In
the way of Alice Springs, however, associations also crossed the racial
divide, with one potential Aboriginal juror excused because he knew Mr
CROSSING THE RACIAL DIVIDE
The divide was also far from clear cut in the events that lead to the
confrontation during which Mr Hargrave died. Mr Hargrave and his four
companions on the night all worked for an Aboriginal organisation,
Ingerreke, and they had gone out together to farewell one of their
workmates, an Aboriginal man, Faron Peckham. Another of the four also
appeared to be Aboriginal or to have married into an Aboriginal family.
Evidence was heard of racial insults being made on both sides – some
people were "white cunts" and others were "black pricks".
So the confrontation was not in any simple way a case of black versus
white, and perhaps, as with the Ryder case to a degree, factors more
relevant to any generalisations would be gender, age and drink.
However, the raw nerve of race sensitivity was touched by senior
counsel John Dickinson, acting for accused Julian Williams, when he was
summing up. He suggested that the case was "ripe for sympathy and
prejudice" and referred to its racial overtones in the context of "a
debate going on that we all know about", urging the jury to put
prejudice and sympathy to one side.
In a note to Justice John Reeves a juror expressed their offence over
these comments, which apparently they had discussed with other jurors.
The juror also commented that it might be considered that Mr
Dickinson's client had initiated the racial overtones of the case
(referring to his taunting and harassment of one of Mr Hargrave's
companions in the early part of the evening, outside the 24 Hour
The juror's note led to an application, on the 13th day of the 15-day
trial, to have the jury discharged and the trial vacated on the grounds
that the jury was tainted. At this stage Mr Dickinson was no longer
present and it was junior counsel for Mr Williams, Ted Sinoch, who made
the application. He did not think Mr Dickinson's comments remarkable
and argued that the degree of sensitivity shown by the juror suggested
the lack of an "impartial mind" in respect of his client.
Justice Reeves thought the juror's note was at pains to point out that
race-based considerations had not affected any of the jury's
discussions; he also noted that the juror had pointed to "at least one"
member of the jury being an Indigenous person.
Mr Sinoch urged him to speak to the jury in "the strongest possible
terms" to point out that Mr Dickinson was not seeking to create a
racial divide, he was merely seeking to ensure that racial prejudice or
bias was expunged from the jurors' minds.
Justice Reeves replied – "with great respect" – that if Mr Dickinson,
from interstate, had greater knowledge of the local situation he might
not have embarked on his "unfortunate" reference to prejudice and the
broader debate. This was all entirely irrelevant to what the jury had
to consider. He declined to discharge the jury but agreed he would
speak to them.
When he did so he said he could understand that they might take
offence, having been "a member of this community", but urged them to
simply focus on the evidence and to continue to approach the matter
impartially as the note suggested they had been doing all along.
We can never know what exactly went on in the jury's minds or their
discussions in the jury room, but they came back with a verdict that
acquitted Mr Williams, despite his counsel's fears of prejudice against
him, and they found Mr Woods guilty not of murder, but of the lesser
offence of manslaughter.
The killings of Mr Hargrave and Mr Ryder were rare for their
involvement of inter-racial elements. They will rightly be remembered
as tragedies for the victims, their families and friends, and as
criminal acts which diminish the whole community. There are lessons to
be learned from the events, particularly around the widespread culture
of heavy drinking in the NT and the readiness of many men to resort to
physical violence. There are lessons too in the context of race
relations, and some of them are cause for optimism: the justice system
has been allowed to run its course (one with many hurdles in the
Hargrave case); those responsible, non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal, have
been held to account; an Aboriginal defendant was acquitted by a
majority non-Aboriginal jury; the racial context has been named and
explored, in different ways for the two trials in the court and
certainly endlessly discussed outside of court. And all the while
community has stood back from what was most feared: the deaths have not
been been used as a pretext for further violence. This is to the
See KIERAN FINNANE's reports from the
And reports on the "fair trial" issues:
Alice is the land of opportunity, say
youthful leaders. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Amidst the widespread gloom
about Alice Springs it was buoying to hear
a more optimistic take on the town's future from four young people at a
forum organised by Desert Knowledge Australia and the four senior high
schools last week.
The older two of the four – David Quan and Kristy Bloomfield – are
participants in the DKA Desert Leadership program. The younger two are
still at school, Lucinda Reinhard in Year 12 at St Philip's College,
and Alfie Lowe in Year 10 at Centralian College.
Alfie is a participant in the Youth Desert Leadership Program, a fresh
initiative of DKA and the four schools. This year it involves six Year
10 students from each, 24 all up. Eventually it will involve students
across Years 10, 11 and 12.
Also on the forum panel were Eddie Fabijan, principal at Centralian,
and Reg Hatch, manager of Family and Youth Services at Tangentyere
Council and CEO of YMCA Central Australia.
The panel was asked to answer the question, "What's your dream
for Alice Springs?"
David Quan has only lived in Alice since 2007, but has found it a
"welcoming place", an assessment he has held on to despite the last 12
months of "bad press". He said after a "particularly bad summer" he is
confident things will be "getting better". He plans to stay here and
raise a family, emphasising the work opportunities the town offers.
He's a firefighter and, with energy to burn (no pun intended), has also
worked at the Juvenile Detention Centre and as a teacher's aide with
the Irrkerlantye unit at Bradshaw Primary School.
Later his wife, Monica, spoke from the floor. She was raised in Alice,
went away to university and has come back, for the "great community"
and the job opportunities, about both of which the town should "blow
its horn". She said her career would be nowhere near where it is if she
weren't in Alice Springs.
Kristy Bloomfield spoke of the "quality of life for all" in town – the
access to housing, health, education and employment – but
stressed the need for people to "grab the opportunities". She referred
to people coming into town not taking the opportunity to get educated,
suggesting they need to be both "encouraged" and "pushed" to do so.
Reg Hatch took up this point later, talking of the role of parents in
keeping their kids home at night so that they'd be ready for school the
next day: "Our weakness for our kids is our parents," he said, to
murmurings of approval. "I'm happy to be shot at for [saying] that."
Lucinda agreed about the plentiful opportunities but spoke of the need
for them to better promoted. She suggested that young people can simply
not know where or how to seek out the opportunities.
Alfie Lowe agreed with her, saying most young people are "too scared"
to seek opportunities. He said he had a lot of hope for the future, but
that it was important to take that hope and turn it into action, not
just talk. Commenting on a question about how to better prepare
Aboriginal people for mainstream employment, he said, "as an Aboriginal
student in mainstream, it's that much different to being a white
student if you've got the desire to learn".
Lucinda Reinhard spoke of "a culture" amongst Alice youth around plans
to leave Alice Springs, but said that the job opportunities, the
possibilities for making money, draw many back.
Kristy said she had left Alice to live in Cairns for three years and
that young cousins of hers are wanting to leave, to go to boarding
school and experience life elsewhere. She said her time in Cairns
helped her realise that there are problems "all over the nation" and
that she was motivated to come back to try to make a difference in her
home town. She saw this as possible through even the small acts of
assistance that she can render in her job as an Indigenous Court
Officer for the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service.
The panel was asked about ways to help people "grow in harmony".
Kristy suggested the reinstatement of inter-school sports days as they
existed when she went to school. She said she got to know "heaps of
people in that way". This was responded to positively as something
achievable, by Donna O'Brien, Year Eight coordinator at Centralian
Middle School, present in the audience.
Lucinda agreed that the schools don't interact much "for the size of
the town". But even within schools she said people tend to stick to
their own groups. She suggested confidence programs, leadership
programs to break this down.
Alfie wanted to see more events that "everyone is interested in", like
the recent impromptu visit to Centralian by Justice Crew, a street
dance group from Sydney. This would allow young people to learn about
"the things that are the same" for all of them, "not the differences".
He saw this as also part of the answer to underage drinking. This issue
was raised by a young person from the floor, who spoke of students
going home during school hours "to have a few beers – how ridiculous is
Lucinda, who spent some time recently living in Melbourne, said young
people there drink and smoke a lot too, putting it down to seeing their
"idols" drink and smoke.
Picking up on a comment by Eddie Fabijan about drinking as a "rite of
passage", David spoke of his experience with some of the inmates of the
Juvenile Detention Centre. They might be aware at some level of the bad
consequences of their actions, he suggested, but until they get through
the experience and "something clicks", better choices can't be forced
The panel was asked to identify the things that "fill them with
confidence" for Alice Springs.
The people, especially peers and colleagues got several mentions, with
Lucinda coming back to opportunity, a sense and experience of things
being possible: "It's a really cool place to grow up."
'storage': The spin, the reality. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The aircraft graveyard for up to 300 planes alongside the main runway
at Alice Springs Airport has turned into an object lesson of how badly
Alice Springs deals with major proposals about which the public wants
and deserves a say, but isn't getting one.
Above all, the Town Council, which is currently enmeshed in a row over
keeping things behind closed doors, has failed in its duty to
its constituents about what's going down.
To be sure, the private company that owns the airport is leasing the
land from the Federal Government and it doesn't have to answer to the
council, nor even to the NT Government. However if it wants to be
good corporate citizen it cracks itself up to be then it needs to
behave in a radically different way.
But then, given that the council and some politicians are prepared to
swallow whole the spin dished out by the airport and Asia Pacific
Aircraft Storage Pty Ltd (APAS), what do they have to fear from keeping
the public in the dark?
In tandem with some people's opinion of the proposed nuclear waste
facility, which at least will he hidden from view, and the constant bad
publicity about crime in the town, the airport's project may be
re-inforcing the perception that Central Australia is a dump.
Just what we need as the local tourism industry is fighting for its
It's useful to list what people gushingly welcoming the facility think
it will do for the town, while in fact it won't.
Just ask Tom Vincent, managing director of APAS, and Katie Cooper,
manager of the airport.
• Spin: It will be a major employer. Fact: Mr Vincent says so far as
the – very limited – construction work is concerned "he cannot go into
it" because it's all up to "external consultants". And once the
facility is operational there will be "less than 10 employees
• Spin: It will be a major tourist attraction. Fact: "Definitely. Would
love" for this to happen, says Mr Vincent. But the principal concern
needs to be the safety and security of the public. This is an
operational aerodrome and the area where the planes will be placed
cannot be open to the public. Once the operation is bedded down APAS
may turn its mind to tourism but "it's not a primary objective".
• Spin: The planes will fly again or be recycled. Fact: According to Mr
Vincent some bits of some planes will be and some planes will be stored
temporarily and returned to service. What percentage of the planes? It
all depends on the global aviation industry, considerations of fuel
efficiency and a whole bunch of other things. Does the company not have
a business plan? Does it not make projections? Well, yes, says Mr
Vincent, "anecdotally" 75% of the planes stored at such a facility
never re-enter service.
• Spin: The planes will be scrapped. Fact: The facility "is to be for
storage and break down only and not to become a scrap metal yard."
The spin turns to farce on the subject of informing the public: "We
have been quite transparent with the information we are able to share
... by having information on the website," says Ms Cooper.
"The information has been publicly available. I understand some people
may not be aware of it. It they have an interest then I encourage them
to regularly look at our website."
In fact the "boneyard" was mentioned at the meeting on November 26 last
year of the Airport
Community Consultation Group.
This is what was published in the minutes which are on the airport's
website – one of the estimated 300 million websites on the net:
"Discussions have now been in place for approximately 18 months for
aircraft storage (Boneyard) to be located on the airside of the
Airport. It is proposed to be directly opposite RWY C on the other side
of the Runway. It will be on land that cannot be used for any other
purpose due to the vicinity to the Runway. A new Taxiway will be
required to be built to meet Aviation Standards from the Runway to the
storage area. It is to be for storage and break down only and not to
become a scrap metal yard. There is currently nothing of this type in
the Southern Hemisphere."
This "community consultation" organisation is widely unknown. Whom does
it consult – or advise – the community or the airport?
We tried to ask the chairman, retired top public servant John
Baskerville. His mobile phone isn't made available and he didn't
respond to messages we endeavored to get to him.
The meeting, which lasted an hour and 10 minutes during which it dealt
with 12 agenda items, apart from Mr Baskerville was attended by Ross
Baynes (NT Airports), Tony Parkyn (community member), Helen Kilgariff
(aviation), Jo-anne Harkin (tourism), Ken Johnson (environmental), Rex
Mooney (Alice Springs Town Council) and Helen Gannan (Office of
Owen Cole (community member), Kay Eade (business community) and Darren
Olson (Air Services Australia) were apologies. The descriptions in
brackets are from the minutes.
There are several remarkable aspects: When that meeting took place in
November 26 last year the project had already been in "discussions" for
"approximately 18 months". Not a peep had been uttered to the public.
It took another six months for the project to be disclosed – last week
– when the airport and APAS were good and ready.
Council CEO Rex Mooney attended the November meeting, and Ms Cooper
says she'd been having discussions with Mayor Damien Ryan for some
time. Yet the aldermen were not informed, and there was no discussion
in council meetings, open to the public or otherwise.
We asked Mr Mooney and Mayor Ryan why they had kept the project under
wraps. We didn't get an answer.
Ald John Rawnsley raised the issue at the council meeting on Monday. He
asked the Mayor: "Have you been involved?"
Mayor Ryan said he had been asked that question by media. He referred
to Federal Minister Anthony Albanese's White Paper of about a year ago,
which talked about setting up community consultative groups around
Australia. He said the one in Alice Springs was one of the first to be
formed. He said there were questions from one media organisation (that
would have been the Alice News).
Mayor Ryan, singing from the same songsheet as Ms Cooper, said he had
gone online and found the list of members for the Alice Springs group
and the minutes on the airport's website.
He said the decision doesn't have to come to the council and that they
(the airport) "have had public record out there".
Not a word about discussions with Ms Cooper.
Picture: An aircraft graveyard
in the USA.
Native title: the traditional law
men and women have final say. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
You'll be hearing
these tongue twisters a lot as the bitter rift deepens in Alice
Springs' native title organisation: apmereke-artweye and kwertengwerle.
Try: apmerika-ateka and koordungoola, who are, respectively,
decision-makers for sections
of tribal country, and caretakers and co-managers who can speak for but
not make decisions about that country. This is the explanation offered
by highly respected Eastern Arrernte elder Margaret Kemarre ("MK")
They were always powerful people in a tribal and ceremonial context.
But a decision by the Martin government, elected in 2001, gave these
leaders an altogether new power, one that's measured
in cold, hard cash. This is how it works.
Martin government needed to open up Crown Land to ease the shortage of
residential blocks that was crippling the town. To do so they had to
make a deal with the owners of native title which the Federal Court had
found to exist on land in the municipality that had not been dedicated,
under formal title, to any other use.
The haggling was fierce, delays were doing damage to the first ever
Labor government in the NT, and the Opposition advocated expropriation
of native title and letting a court settle the compensation issue – as
the Act allows if a deal can't be reached.
The Martin government did reach an agreement which, in the light of
later native title deals elsewhere in Australia, was a bonanza for the
native title holders: they got freehold over half the land for agreeing
to the extinguishment of native title over the remainder.
The first deal, Stirling Heights, was worth $2m to the native title
body, Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation.
The going rate in WA, for example, is not 50% of the freehold value,
but 5%, one-tenth.
Chief Minister Clare Martin said it wasn't a precedent. But when eight
years later the deal was done over Mount Johns Valley (Stephens Road)
residential subdivision her successor, Paul Henderson,
applied the same formula.
Suddenly Lhere Artepe was awash in money and assets.
So what do the apmereke-artweye and kwertengwerle have to do with this?
Everything. They determine who is a native holder and who is not. Who
can be a member of Lhere Artepe and who cannot. Who can benefit from
the millions and who cannot.
This is an extraordinary arrangement (which is not to say it's
necessarily a bad one) in an organisation that resembles a company with
ASIC would be keeping a sharp eye on the listed company and the
shareholders themselves would be told what happens with their money.
Admission to Lhere Artepe's shareholding fraternity, by contrast, is on
the nod from people whose authority isn't rooted in Australian
corporate legislation, but in ancient tribal traditions. And to
the word of a significant portion of the Lhere Artepe membership, they
can't find out for love nor money what's being done with their dough.
This is all the more surprising when one considers the operating
structure was set up by no less than the Federal Court in a process
that took six years, cost a lot of money and culminated in a ceremony
in an Alice Springs court room with the participants in the process
patting each other on their backs.
In a nutshell, this is what Justice Olney determined on May 23, 2000,
in Paragraph 2: "The persons who hold the common or group rights
comprising the native title (the common law holders) are those
Aboriginals who are descended (by birth or by adoption) from the
original Arrernte inhabitants of the Mparntwe, Antulye and Irlpme
estates who are recognised by the respective apmereke-artweye and
kwertengerle of those estates under the traditional laws acknowledged
and the traditional customs observed by them as having communal, group
or individual rights and interests in relation to such estates."
And in Paragraph 7: "The rights and interests from time to time
comprising the native title are to be held by the common law holders."
Pray tell: To whom do you complain when an apmereke-artweye tells you
you're not a native title holder?
Also, this part in Paragraph 2, "by birth or by adoption," was not in
that paragraph, identical otherwise, in the 1999 draft of the
rights of adopted persons is an issue most hotly debated in the current
row: Should people who are not "blood relations" be accepted into the
membership of Lhere Artepe. Disaffected members say that question goes
directly to the eligibility as a member of Lhere Artepe group CEO,
Darryl Pearce (pictured).
There is another big difference in the Alice Springs determination
compared to later determinations: Federal Court determinations
sometimes include the names of the native title holders.
(See, for example, chedule 6 of the Barunga
v State of Western
In the case of Alice Springs the court was acting on behalf of
"nameless people", as one insider put it.
In the Alice decision the absolute discretion over native title
possession appears to reside with these law men and women. Who are they?
The Cambridge encyclopedia of hunters and gatherers describes the
apmereke-artweye as land owners – usually linked through their fathers
(patrilineally) to the first ancestral owners of the country while the
kwertengwerle "are said 'to police' the land owners and 'keep them
straight'." They are descendant through their mothers.
The Alice Springs Native Title claim was lodged by "Myra Hayes and
Others" in court speak and was opposed by the Northern Territory of
Australia and Others. The claim was lodged on 1994, a year after the
Commonwealth's Native Title Act came into force.
If evidence was put before the judge for him to believe that a process
is in place for law men and women to be appointed, he didn't put that
detail into the determination.
The Alice Springs News has asked the Native Title Tribunal and the
Federal Court to help us find any submissions made to Justice Olney,
and if we find them we will report them.
The Alice claim was one of the first in the country.
Rules were pretty loose before the 1998 Native Title Act, which brought
in a registration test and more criteria to be complied with.
In the beginning all it took in order to gain a hearing by the Court
was to fill in Form 1, give details of the claim group, provide a
family tree and identification of the area – quite often just a big
black texta line on a map, with the Natitve Title Tribunal having to
fill in the details. (The hearing itself, of course,
went into great detail and as we've said spanned six years.)
Investments and control. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Alice Springs' native title body, Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation
(LAAC), lists under financial assets in its 09/10 financial report a
loan of nearly $400,000 to Lhere Artepe Enterprises.
This appears to be Lhere Artepe Enterprises Pty Ltd which has bought
the three IGA supermarkets and bottle shops for $14m, including a
non-repayable grant of $5.8m from the Federal Government's Aboriginal
And a $372,000 loan from LAAC to Lhere Artepe Enterprises is recorded
for the 08/09 financial year.
This appears to be in conflict with statements by the CEO of the Lhere
Artepe group, Darryl Pearce, that no LAAC funds had gone into the
purchase of the supermarkets.
LAAC is registered by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous
Corporations (ORIC) which has detailed reporting requirements and
publishes details of corporations on the web, but does not take an
investigative nor controlling role.
Pty Ltd companies, by comparison, are far less transparent and required
to disclose only limited details.
The director's report for the financial year ending 30 June 2009 of
LAAC was posted on the website of the Office of the Registrar of
Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) on April 4, a year and nine months after
the end of that financial year.
That report lists as the corporation's principal activities "to provide
social facilities to members of the corporation".
Under significant changes the report notes: "No significant change in
the nature of these activities occurred during the year, other than,
funds previously held in trust have now been reported through the
relevant companies and trusts."
These apparently include Lhere Artepe Enterprises Pty Ltd, wholly owned
Artepe Pty Ltd which in turn is owned in equal shares by the three
estate groups making up LAAC.
These disclosures come as major forces within LAAC tried to sack Mr
Pearce last week, and as ORIC has served a "show cause notice" on LAAC
why a special administrator should not be appointed.
That notice was replaced on April 21 with a comprehensive compliance
notice, deferring "for a period of up to nine months whether or not
determine that the corporation be placed under special administration".
ORIC Registrar Anthony Beven says Lhere Artepe has met the first of the
notice's several deadlines.
He also told the Alice Springs News that financial reports on the ORIC
website are reports to each corporation's members.
Any further information would need to come from them.
Mr Beven said: "ORIC does not prepare the reports or verify the content
of the reports.
"It ensures that the reports are prepared in accordance
Accounting Standards and audited in accordance with Australian
Standards, and that they are lodged with ORIC and provided to
"The directors are responsible for the contents of the reports.
"ORIC is neither a controlling body nor an umpire, but is a regulator."
The native title story so far. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Posted 1830 Friday May 27
Pearce, the CEO of the Native Title organisation Lhere Artepe,
has been stood down, the organization's bank accounts have been frozen
and the locks changed at its Alice Springs office after a tumultuous
special general meeting today.
There was a "resounding" motion of no confidence in Mr Pearce (at right), says Ian Conway (speaking in the video above), a
senior traditional owner and son of the legendary Mort Conway. Under Mr
Pearce's management the organisation, or entities affiliated with it,
has embarked on ambitious real estate deals and bought three suburban
supermarkets, in part with a $5.8m non-repayable grant from the Federal
government. Meanwhile, says Mr Conway, traditional owners in White Gate
(photo at top), at the
of Alice Springs, are still living in"chooksheds".
The move to stand down Mr Pearce is backed by traditional owners
representing all three estate groups, says Mr Conway.
A statement released by the group says there will be an audit of the
membership of the organisation by the "traditional managers and owners
of the land". The
current executive has been replaced by the one in office in 2009/10. Mr
Pearce, who did not respond to an invitation to comment, was ordered to
hand over immediately all assets to Deputy Chairperson Connie Craig.
Update 1900 CST Friday May 27:
Mr Pearce says he's not working for Lhere Artepe but for
Lhere Artepe Enterprises, a serive provider to Lhere Artepe. He says Mr
Conway's meeting did not have a quorum, and people who are bringing
Lhere Artepe into disrepute will be removed.
Mr Pearce says he is in Queensland at the moment, working. If a
locksmith has changed the locks he will be charged with break and
enter. Ms Craig is not the deputy chairperson – a new committe was
elected in December.
He put this question to the Alice Springs News:
"Why would a committee sack me, then hold an inquiry and then sack
Update 1200 CST Monday May 30:
Lhere Artepe Group CEO Darryl Pearce
says "it's business as usual – again or still".
The locks at the organisation's office have been changed back, the bank
accounts had never been frozen and "our lawyers are following up on
He says last week's events have brought to the surface a string of
contentious issues which will now be dealt with in public.
The challengers will need to prove to the Office of the Registrar of
Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) that last week's special meeting was
legitimate and that the people claimed to have been there, actually
Mr Pearce says there will be a review of who has and who has not a
claim to native title or traditional ownership of land.
"There is a Ground Zero effect," says Mr Pearce. Some of the
challengers "may not be traditional owners. It will finally come to the
fore that they are not who they say they are."
He says inclusion on ORIC's website list guarantees no "ability to be
at the table" and the "traditional land owners will need to decide".
Any removals "will have to be made in public".
Mr Pearce says one of the three estate groups making up Lhere Artepe,
Antulye, has amended its constitution, requiring native title holders
to be biological descendents from Arrernte people, excluding adopted
Mr Pearce says this is in conflict with Justice Olney's Federal Court
decision which underpins Lhere Artepe.
Mr Pearce claims that the actions of the challengers have damaged "the
brand of Lhere Artepe".
Their bid to oust him by re-instating the 2009/10 executive and sack
the 2010/11 executive doesn't make sense. Mr Pearce says he had strong
support from the 2009/10 executive: the current president, Brian
Sterling, was in the chair at that time, and it included several
members of the Liddle family, into which he has married plus some of
his own family members from the Irlpme Estate group of which he is a
The Alice Springs
News has left messages for Ms Craig and Mr Conway.
native title holder Kathleen Martin wrote this open Letter to Darryl
In reply to your statement to the Australian reported in the Centralian
Advocate of May 31 that you have complete control over the Lhere Artepe
I would like to ask, what are you in control of?
Your control of Lhere Artepe has been addressed at several meetings by
native title holders, namely traditional native title holders.
The main question asked has been, what is going on, and what is
happening with Lhere Artepe, simple questions that only require simple
answers, but you have conveniently been out of town.
My concern is that you are calling yourself a native title holder.
Who gave you the right to call yourself a native title holder?
And also, that you have abused the right to claim your involvement with
my father's name, that is Williams, especially in the claim that you
are an Arrernte man, which you knowingly are not.
Further I would like you to know that these people you are treating
with contempt are my father's people, therefore, my people.
I am Kathleen Dorothy Williams,
also known as Kathleen Martin.
Mr Pearce saying it's all the fault
of the Alice Springs News?
Darryl Pearce replied at 1515 CST on
June 3. The letter was prefaced: "Erwin, Please find my
response to Aunty Kathy below, you DO NOT have permission to publish it
unless it is published in its complete form,
unaltered, unedited, no spelling changes, including web link. Lets see
if you have the courage of your convictions about the “freedom of Free
Speech” and publish."
Here it is.
Response to Kathleen Martin’s
open letter to me
Aunty Kathy, you know the truth inside the family about the issues you
have raised and that you choose to ignore it, is a call for you to make
and sadly you have chosen to make public statements about me which are
hurtful and disappointing. You saw me last week at the Irlpme Estate
Group meeting where you said none of this stuff even as I helped you
with your wheelchair to the car and therefore I will not respond to
your letter as again you know the truth.
I will however respond to the Alice Springs News and to the journalist
(tongue in cheek), editor (supposedly) who chose to publish what
amounts to private family business which creates pain and division. I
point you to a news site to look at a speech by Mick Gooda, Social
Justice Commissioner about what he sees as “Lateral Violence” in
communities around native title issues and I quote:
“Mr Gooda said 'lateral violence' is on the increase and native title
disputes provide a platform for it. The volatile mix of some of the
problems that already exist in our communities played out in the native
title context and then add a big bundle of money to it amongst a group
of people who are fairly poor anyway - it's like adding petrol to the
fire," he said.
He described lateral violence as "internalised colonialism" that
involved harassment, bullying and sometimes violence.
"People are internalising oppression and oppressing each other," he
said. "It's disrespect, it's gossiping, it's backstabbing ... it leads
"We have to feel a little bit more powerful than the next person so the
easiest way to do that is to run them down."
Mr Gooda said “community divisions
were often easily exploited by outside political or financial interests”
(my emphasis) web link is at bottom of response. End quote.
The Alice Springs News boasts that it reports the news not gossip and I
have stated to the journalist \ Editor involved previously I have grave
doubts about that and by publishing the letter from Aunty Kathy he has
proved my point. I believe, I have also describe previously described
him as “socio-pathetic” and again I believe point proved.
The Journalist involved has now created a fight between 2 sisters (same
mother) who are 78 and 77 years old who in the fading and last years of
their lives should be finding peace and tranquillity, not anger and
Well done Erwin, your children must be proud of you and your behaviour.
Read more: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/about/media/media_releases/2011/47_11.html
The Alice Springs
News was approached by a member of Mrs Martin's group, asking us to
contact her because she had something to say. Of course we did not deny
Mrs Martin her freedom of speech. Erwin
Chlanda, Editor, Alice Springs News Online.
Statement from Betty Pearce:
As promised here is my response as one of the Native Title Holders over
the municipality of Alice Springs. This response is on condition that
you report it, in its’ entirety with spelling mistakes, grammatical
On my birth certificate is Father’s name Tom Williams along with his
In the 1960’s when Strehlow was setting up the Family Trees of the
Central Arrernte people in the presence of the late Mr. M. Wagu, Mr. W.
Rubuntja and a number of other elders, Dad (Tom Williams) put my name
down as his daughter along with my daughters. Dad identified
Kathleen as his younger daughter and Walter (Wally) as his son.
This gave me the right with my children, grandchildren and great
grandchildren to identify as Central Arrernte and in turn Native Title
Holders in accordance with Justice Onley’s Native Title findings.
This has happened and ONLY the Collins / Conway Family (no attachment
to Ian Conway) can say whether we stay as Native Title Holders.
Not a 77 year old in the Winter of her life.
As for you Erwin, how you have fallen down the ladder of journalism to
be reporting / printing personal / private family issues.
Are you enjoying your silly little game of pitching people against each
other for the fun of it?
What you have done is opened a can of worms which is going to tear
other families apart, not just mine.
I am absolutely staggered that you could possibly call yourself a
journalist or even a responsible editor,
One of the Native Title Holders
over the Municipality of Alice Springs
ED: The Alice
Springs News Online
is publishing the letter from Mrs Pearce, and that of her son, Darryl,
because these letters add to the public's knowledge about the current
crisis affecting the influential as well as increasingly cash and asset
rich native title organisation, Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation. I
reject the gratuitous attacks on my personal and professionnal
integrity by Mrs Pearce and her son. Erwin
Costs slow development on
Melanka block. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
five story complex of luxury apartments on the site of the former
Melanka hostel is delayed because of high costs.
The complexity of the project because of sacred trees that must be
preserved is also adding to the difficulties.
As spokesman for the project, Doug Fraser, of L J Hooker in Alice
Springs, says it is not cancelled but delayed.
The developer, Christian Ainsworth, a member of the poker machines
dynasty, has commissioned Deloittes to assist in the development.
Mr Fraser also says the building costs will need to come down.
Managers of new pool in deep
water. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
chilly outside but inside it's tropical! The new heated indoor pool in
Alice is drawing water lovers in, especially kids and especially on
weekends. Since its opening on April 17 the pool has had 6912 visitors,
not including the 2000 plus who came for the opening. The figures are
described as "very encouraging" by the YMCA, which manages the facility
for the Town Council.
... but not all is
well in the new pool
POSTED 1950 CST Sunday, May 29:
Alice Springs resident Ray Rowe
comments about the YMCA's refusal to allow swmimming instructors not
employed by them to ply their trade at the pool:-
I’ve just been speaking to
Petina Franklin, a swimming instructor.
Her main goal is simply to get
as many kids as possible into swimming. She has had discussions with
aldermen Murray Stewart and Eli Melky, both of whom are very supportive
of her predicament.
The real crux of the matter is
that the YMCA conduct their own swimming program, and naturally
competition means lower profits.
Now the YMCA has the contract,
they have virtually created a captive audience, ie, if you want your
child to learn to swim, all profits go to the YMCA.
Alice Springs residents love
the new facility, but I am sure they would not agree with the community
owned (ratepayers') facility, being exclusively for the use and profit
of one business. The YMCA and council happily accepted Petina’s money
for hiring lanes in the outdoor pool over summer, but it now seems that
the flash new indoor pool is where everybody will be going, so the Y
has seen this as an opportunity to increase profits by denying other
instructors access to the heated facility, eliminating all competition.
These strange management rules
have also prevented Deb Renkin teaching aquatic fitness in the heated
Last year Petina was the
second biggest commercial user of the pool. How many parents would buy
a cup of coffee or have a snack at the warm indoor café as they
watched their kids being taught how to swim? If they thought laterally,
they may realize there are other ways to make a profit.
Petina fully expects to pay a
reasonable fee for hiring one or two lanes, and has even offered to pay
a premium to help offset the cost of running the heated facility.
Petina is not overly concerned
about who teaches kids to swim, as long as people have a choice.
1300 CST Monday, May 30:
Smith, the CEO of the YMCA says
he has agreed to meet with the external instructors: "We have always
been open to suggestions for them to come on board," he says.
The YMCA does "not make a profit. We are not a business. We're looking
for cost recovery.
"The council has given us exclusive right to learn to swim programs,
and we have modeled our programs accordingly."
The pool is now able to offer a full time program with a full time
coordinator. Previously there were "support deficits, the squad did not
have a full time coach, schools had to cancel, and there were not
The swimming club, too, has asked for assistance with their program.
He says a model should be created that "benefits the community".
"We do not exclude external providers," says Mr Smith.
The winter blurs. MOZZIE BITES with
Paranoid, medical mask (disguised as scarf) clad faces
avoid eye contact whilst tiptoeing down silent, cold streets. Somebody
coughs and we all jump. Where am I – Japan? Mexico?
That’s right – winter’s back. But it’s not the bird, or pig flu we’re
all suffering from. The common cold has taken hold of Alice Springs and
doesn’t seem to be letting go any time soon. It’s gotten right into the
core of our bodies – like a bullet to the heart, an ice block on the
teeth, like a virus to the system. Oh. Wait. Yeah. It is a virus!
I’d been whiney, snotty and missing days from work on and off for a
week. Friends teased my clogged-up lisp. “It's snot funny!” I cried,
poor soul that is me, into a eucalyptus-soaked hanky.
Then, when ordering a ginger and honey tea at a café down the
mall, I noticed something. All around was a sea of alike red-nosed,
squinty-eyed sods. All of a sudden it seemed like the whole of Alice
was sick! Well, at least I’m not alone.
So how is it that the town is still functioning ? I guess we’re all too
spaced out with the blurs to notice our colleagues rocking up three
hours late to work, the incorrect orders from restaurants, that we’re
wearing our pants inside out, back to front and upside down. Lucky it’s
contagious is all I can say!
Chinese medicine practitioners, on the other hand, are thriving. Whilst
GPs will tell you there is little you can do for the common cold,
Chinese doctors claim to have a deeper understanding and promote the
use of herbs, acupuncture and various nourishing foods.
Other than that all you can do is sleep, or snuggle up with a good
old-fashioned hard copy book. I would say a film, some bad daytime
television, or an i-pad downloaded story is comforting also, but as
such technologies emit delta waves that are disruptive to the healing
process, I won’t. However, whatever you need to get through these hard,
hard times cannot be condemned.
The only other companion to the sofa is a warm brewed medicinal
beverage. So, best remedies! One goody that I heard, from a Chinese
medic nonetheless, was eight slices of fresh ginger and a cinnamon
stick boiled and then simmered together for five to 10 minutes. Pour
the liquid into a cup over fresh mint, lemon, honey and lemon grass.
Yummy and curative! Another I heard, through Facebook, had similar
references, but then added whisky at the end. I won’t promote such
behavior either, but whatever you need to get the germs evacuating is
OK by me. At least drinking such scorching potions warms the system.
Someone told me the other day that Alice has had some of its coldest
days for the past 27 years this last week and it’s not even full blown
winter yet – seriously, the injustices!