June 30, 2011. This page contains all major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

To our home page.

Emily catalogue would
cast light on forgeries

Emily Kame Kngwarreye, from the Sandover River region north-east of Alice Springs, died penniless in 1996 but her paintings sold – and are selling – for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Her works hang in the Australian National Gallery in Canberra, in the new indigenous art wing (photo below courtesy of the Australian National Gallery, Canbera: 22 works by
Kngwarreye dominate the entrance hall to Australia's top indigenous art gallery.)
The people of Japan were "ecstatic" when 120 of Kngwarreye's works were shown there in 2008, according to curator Margo Neale, of the National Museum of Australia.
"Here we are – Emily from Utopia we now can say in the same breath as Monet, Modigliani, Cezanne and so on," Ms Neale said at the time on the ABC, in a comment about the largest exhibition by an Australian artist to be seen overseas.
But there is still no authoritative catalogue of Kngwarreye's work, says a prominent figure in the Central Australian indigenous art scene, who did not wish to be named.
He says such a catalogue should now be compiled, to protect the reputation of the artist and the interests of collectors while forgeries – and genuine 'Emilies' – are still surfacing. He says Sandover artists Freddy and Lenny Jones made an appeal as long ago as 2000 for imitators to stop "doing old lady's paintings".
They say in a letter (pictured - names are blanked out but Alice Springs News Online has the version with the names showing) that a prominant woman artist who has since died was copying Kngwarreye's work. And the letter writers said false claims were being made about relationships to country and money issues by some imitators and forgers.
The source says some of the forgeries can be detected easily because paints, canvas and linen used were not available in Kngwarreye's lifetime.
The existence of fake Emilies, and low-grade originals, has been known for many years and these facts are not setting the art world on fire.
Christopher Hodges has dealt in Central Australian art for many years, and owns Utopia Art Sydney. He says Kngwarreye's "top group of works, hundreds not thousands" of pieces, possess an immediately noticeable excellence.
"They stand apart," says Mr Hodges. "All people who have studied Emilies will recognize what's true and authentic. The range is enormous."
Nevertheless, a catalogue raisonné should be drawn up, he says. The question is, by whom?
"It would be a challenging task for a good scholar," he says. "All the people who had a vested commercial interest in Emilies during her lifetime have their own perspective."
Mr Hodges, whoworked with Kngwarreye, says she was in a very different position of, say, white painters living in a city, who have access to alternate employment during lean times. Kngwarreye did not, and she was under constant pressure to provide for a big family, an obligation "Aboriginal way". The only opportunity for her to make money was to paint.
"If someone said I have $1000 and I need 10 paintings by Friday she would deliver – but they would get what they paid for," says Mr Hodges.
In addition to that there was a group of family members, hangers on, peers – a whole School of Emily, who copied her work, not necessarily without her knowledge.
But her top authentic works will always be a national treasure, says Mr Hodges.

An end to the stink of Perfume Creek? By ERWIN CHLANDA

The inadequacy – becoming acute yet again – of the Alice Springs sewage treatment plant seems set for a substantial remedy.
Perfume Creek is flowing again but all or some of this overflow may soon have a far more useful destination.
In official parlance that waterway is called St Mary's Creek. It is fed by partially treated sewage from the settlement ponds just outside The Gap. The ponds rely on evaporation – essentially wasting billions of liters of water a year in the driest part of the driest inhabited continent on earth.
When the weather cools, evaporation slows and sewage escapes into the swamp and St Mary's Creek.
It flows on the surface, crosses under Ilparpa Road and the Stuart Highway (pictured) through culverts, and makes its way south along the eastern side of the Stuart Highway.
A decade ago, Power & Water, which is responsible for sewage disposal, was given a December 2006 deadline to stop "dry weather discharge" from the sewage ponds. It still hasn't.
And it doesn't get much drier than this: monthly rainfall this year, in millimeters (for those still on the old scale, 25 mm is an inch):- January 64.2; February 107.6; March 120; April 0; May 2; and June so far 8.8.
There is a pipeline from the main ponds to new settlement ponds on AZRI land, near where the 1200-block Kilgariff suburb is planned.
These ponds were 10 years in the making but clearly are not up to their job, or Perfume Creek would be dry.
And the project still doesn't have an end user for the water, beyond a 75 ML allocation to AZRI for future use. It has been hoped to attract a horticulture business as an end user but that search has been going for years and has still not borne fruit.
One thing that has changed is the disappearance of the term "dry weather discharge" from the Power & Water vocabulary.
"This discharge and others fall within our existing operating licence with the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport (NRETAS)," a spokesperson for Power & Water said this week.
Of course the people who run NRETAS are the same people who own Power & Water, namely the Territory Government.
So the NT Government is giving the NT Government permission to break NT Government rules.
Power & Water says it is heading a consortium "working on long-term solutions that may alleviate the need for overflow situations".
The consortium includes the Arid Lands Environment Centre, COOLmob, the Town Council, Tourism NT and NRETAS. It is not surprising that more than half of the $15m budget for their program comes from Canberra.
Much of it is about telling people to use less water – shower with a friend stuff.
But Power & Water also says it is "looking at a major investment in infrastructure that would allow some large water users to use recycled water".
This is good news but it also raises concerns about the current, long established practices.
Well informed sources say the "major investment" is upgrading the DAF plant at the town's main sewage disposal facility
– apparently the $8.5 million infrastructure project mentioned in the March media release.
DAF stands for Dissolved Air Floatation, removing solids from the raw sewage. At present, as we understand it, that water does not have Health Department clearance for use where it can come in contact with people.
The only commercial user at present is Blatherskite Park, the show grounds, where a patch of lucerne fodder and the oval are being irrigated with that water.
However, users of the grounds are warned of its impurities and the risks associated with it.
The warning is included in the usage agreement and on signs around the grounds.
We hear the infratsructure upgrade is due to be announced on July 12, at 1pm in the Mall, with fanfare.
Now for the bad news: what comes out of the DAF plant right now is clearly dangerous to people. This will be the case until the plant is upgraded, a process that will apparently take 18 months.
That water now flows past a children's home, the new houses where people learn how to live in a suburban context, a place where babies are born and the racecourse.
(Alice Springs News Online will report updates as they come to hand. Google our archive for related reports going back to 1997, and a dossier preceding that date.)

Constitutional convention last chance to empower Alice Springs

OPINION by ALDERMAN JOHN RAWNSLEY after a lively exchange on Twitter between him, Prof Rolf Gerritsen and the Alice Springs News Online.

Section 121 of the Australian constitution provides for an avenue for new States to be admitted.  It will be a decision of the Australian Parliament on the ‘terms and conditions’ they see fit.  The consent of other State governments or its people through a national referendum will not be required.
Under this process the sticky points will likely be those that have a direct effect on the Australian Parliament, such as how many Senators we will be entitled to (all other States have twelve, a number which will be unlikely for us, but in any event it is likely we will receive more than the current two).
My focus, however, is what our new State will look like internally.
The upcoming constitutional convention is a blank canvas.  It will be up to elected delegates (three from each electorate) to show Territorians what this new State would look like.
This constitutional convention is a once only opportunity.  I will be putting my hand up as a delegate and, if elected, will be working with other delegates from all sides of the political spectrum for a united position.  We need fundamental change, and with the new city of Weddell near Darwin expected to grow by 73,000 people within ten years, if we don’t achieve structural change now as to how we are governed then places like Alice Springs will be irrelevant as we move forward.  If we don’t get it right this time, in terms of coming up with a new way of empowering regions such as Central Australia as distinct from the current power base of the capital of Darwin, then we will likely never have another opportunity.
I haven’t stated a position either for or against Statehood, but strongly agree with the process that is to take place which will ultimately be decided by Territorians.


I didn't say (in last week's article by Kieran Finnane) that the Commonwealth would in future renege on our statehood. But, they could amend the Statehood Act to override the NT Assembly – for example over euthanasia, if the NT's politicians ever again muster the courage to enact it! So we are left where we are now.
The problem of our referendum vote not counting as a jurisdiction could be overcome by counting us as part of the national vote (as happens now) and then including our vote in South Australia's. Other territories have that happen to them; Lord Howe Island is counted as part of NSW; I think Norfolk is too. I don't know about Christmas and Cocos-Keeling, but they are counted in the NT for federal election purposes.
In my opinion getting the distributional architecture right in the NT is a must. We need a form of fiscal constitution before the Commonwealth will even countenance statehood. I think Mr Rawnsley is with me on that?

Google statehood in our five million word story archive.

Shooter pleads guilty, says he was on Ice. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The man charged over the shooting of Paul Wallace, near Junction Waterhole north of Alice Springs on May 29 last year, has pleaded guilty – not to attempted murder, as originally charged, but to intent to cause serious harm and causing serious harm. In extraordinary developments during his plea hearing last week, he claimed that at the time of the shooting he was heavily under the influence of the drug Ice; he also offered to pay his victim restitution.
His plea was heard by Justice Judith Kelly. The no-nonsense judge challenged him on his restitution offer, put by way of demonstrating his remorse. She asked exactly what was being proposed, given that Mr Wallce has lost his ability to practice his trade for the rest of his life and that his time off work and extensive medical treatment have almost rendered him bankrupt.
She described victims of crime compensation as "a pittance" in the circumstances and asked Mr Nadich whether he, rather than the victim, would be prepared to be the one who "lives in poverty" for the rest of his life. If that were so, he should be prepared to enter into "a binding agreement".
When Mr Nadich, through his lawyer, agreed, Justice Kelly adjourned sentencing to "enable Mr Nadich to put his money where his mouth is". Prosecutor Michael McColm agreed to help the Defence establish the figures involved, essentially the difference between the victim's earning capacity before the shooting and his current earning capacity. The intention is to draw up an enforceable deed. As a demonstration of remorse, it would entitle Mr Nadich to some discount off his sentence. If the deed were not complied with, he would have to serve more time in gaol.
The court had not previously heard Mr Nadich's claim that he had smoked Ice before the shooting. Mr McColm did not object to the Defence putting this forward as a fact, with no knowledge of the matter one way or the other.
Mr Nadich had had a "florid poly-substance drug habit", said his lawyer. It had led to him dealing in drugs himself, over which he had been charged in Adelaide (a matter not yet dealt with) and also in Alice Springs. He had been kept in custody for over a year awaiting trial on the Alice drugs charges. Once convicted, the remainder of his sentence was suspended and he walked from the Supreme Court on May 14, 2010. Under the conditions of his suspended sentence, he was not to take any drugs. The shooting occurred on May 29.
As a remand prisoner he had received no drug rehabilitation although he had not consumed in that time. On the night of the shooting he claims he was given half a gram of Ice by Jason Corp, a passenger in the car that had taken Mr Nadich to the vicinity of the waterhole. His lawyer said he was "grossly affected" by the Ice as his resistance was "non-existent".
Justice Kelly said she would not be accepting "without evidence" the relevance of the drug-taking or any of the other additional facts put by the Defence in mitigation, especially as Mr Nadich had told police "lie after lie" attempting to minimise his role in the events.
His lawyer put Mr Nadich in the witness box. Mr Nadich said he had known Mr Corp in gaol, Mr Corp had produced the Ice on the night, and "the temptation got to me". Asked how it made him feel, he said "happy, high as normal".
He also claimed that he himself had been shot on the night, by a "wad" (a cutdown cartridge), which had wounded his arm, causing swelling and bruising; and that the victim, in a heated exchange with the occupants of Mr Nadich's car, had said, "How would you like it if I get my gun and shoot yous" or something similar. He said the combined affects of his "altered state of consciousness", the shock at having been shot himself, and the victim's words which he interpreted as a threat, made him panic. He wound down the window and shot the victim, with a single-barrel 12 gauge shotgun.
In cross-examination, Mr McColm asked Mr Nadich why he had taken drugs, when he not been out of gaol three weeks and was on a good behaviour bond. His lawyer objected: "Why is something drug addicts can't answer."
Justice Kelly ruled that the question was fair in cross-eamination.
Mr Nadich said it was a relapse, that he had had no rehabilitation, as it is not offered on remand.
"So, it's someone's else's fault?" asked Justice Kelly.
"No," said Mr Nadich. "I didn't address my issues with drugs, I still haven't."
When Mr McColm asked him why he had shot the victim, Mr Nadich said  it was "hard to say", he again referred to panicking but said he didn't intend hurting the victim.
Justice Kelly reminded him that by his plea he had admitted intending to cause serious harm. Why did he now say he did not intend to hurt the victim? Mr Nadich didn't know; the only explanation he had was that he had panicked.
The unexplained nature of the shooting was mentioned by Mr Wallace and his partner, who had been present at the scene, in their victim impact statements.
Mr Wallace said, "I don't understand why he shot me and never will." He said it was a "random act" and that Mr Nadich is "a menace to society". He called for the maximum penalty and hoped that Mr Nadich "never walks the streets again".
His partner described the shooting as "beyond comprehension"; one year later she still feels "incredulous". She said she has always been able to find forgiveness for people who have hurt her in the past, to find "some sort of understanding". But she can't find "any reasonable explanation" for the shooting and sees it as "a  black spot on my soul to think I may never find forgiveness for this person or believe that he is anything but  a monster".
Mr Wallace is still in constant pain as a result of his injuries. It affects his sleep and makes him short-tempered which has affected his relationships with his children, friends and colleagues. He can no longer work as a diesel mechanic nor take part in the many physical activities that were part of his life – motorbike riding, off-road racing, boxing, running, cycling.
His months off work have forced him to sell all his assets and spend his savings. He said he is just about bankrupt, suffers from depression and no longer has the energy to enjoy life as he used to.
The couple no longer live in Alice Springs.

Prove you're sorry: judge. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The guilty plea by Reuben Nadich in relation to the waterhole shooting would likely not have been made without the willingness of the men originally co-accused to give evidence against him.
The charges against them for the shooting were dropped at the committal stage but both have since gone on to be tried for an assault that occurred later on the same day, May 29, 2010. In April they pleaded guilty to unlawfully causing serious harm to Jarrod Sellars. Sentencing submissions were heard last week.
The two men are 38 year old Jason Corp and 20 year old Benjamin Gaff (19 at the time of the assault).
According to the Crown facts the assault took place at Tony's Auto-Wreckers, which at the time was both Mr Corp's place of business and his residence. The business has since folded and won't reopen, according to Mr Corp's lawyer.
Late in the evening of May 29 Mr Sellars was taken to the auto-wreckers by Mr Nadich. He waited outside for a while, but was then told to come inside. Shortly afterwards he was hit in the nose by Mr Gaff (a "king hit", he said at committal, which broke his nose) and was elbowed in the face by Mr Corp. When he tried to escape and scale a fence in the yard, he was pulled down by Mr Corp, who told him to get down on the ground and roll onto his back. Mr Corp then started to choke him and Mr Gaff hit him with a shovel below the knee. The victim also felt the blade of the shovel against his neck.
Mr Corp then appeared to help him by giving him a bowl of water and a towel to clean himself with. He was on his knees when Mr Gaff kicked him a number of times (with steel-capped boots, Mr Gaff has admitted).
The victim was later taken to hospital by Mr Nadich and has had facial surgery for the injuries suffered during the assault. He now has a permanent hole in the bone below his right eye socket. Medical opinion cited by the Crown described the harm as "serious".
Mr Corp has been in custody since his arrest last June, while Mr Gaff was released on bail before Christmas last year until his plea of guilty in April, after which he returned to custody.
At the time of the assault Mr Corp was under a suspended sentence for an assault on his former girlfriend and her son; in fact, like Mr Nadich, he had only been out of gaol for a number of days and was under a good behaviour bond when he got involved in the assault on Mr Sellars.
As with Mr Nadich, sentencing submissions for the two men were heard by Justice Judith Kelly, who again showed herself unwilling to accept anything on face value. If the offenders claimed to be remorseful, she wanted evidence.
Lawyer John McBride, acting for Mr Corp, admitted the Crown facts. He suggested that the fact that his client had not applied for bail demonstrated "some contrition" and an acknowledgement of seriousness of the assault.
Justice Kelly retorted that it was an acknowledgement of the seriousness of his own situation.
Mr McBride said his client was intoxicated at the time, he'd drunk a large number of beers and half a bottle of whisky.
Justice Kelly pointed out that he had had "sufficient mental acuity" to observe and act on his observations during the unfolding assault.
On his prospects of rehabilitation, Mr McBride pointed to, among other things, his relationship with his mother, who had "stood by him in a troubled time".
Justice Kelly: "That says more for his mother than for him." She went on to comment that family members can be the "collateral victims" of an offence – it is "such a common story".
Mr McBride said that his client, to his regret, had not had a father figure in his life.
Justice Kelly, who had heard that Mr Corp has fathered four children by three mothers and has a "significant relationship" only with one, said: "It hasn't motivated him to take an interest in his own children."
Mr McBride said the assault was not pre-meditated by his client.
Justice Kelly said that as no explanation had been offered for the assault, she could not know that.
Lawyer Peter Elliott, acting for Mr Gaff, said his client accepts that the assault was "a disgrace" and something that he is "completely ashamed of". He referred to a psychiatric report made about his client, but Justice Kelly warned him that she would not accept any opinion by the psychiatrist as to Mr Gaff's remorse "without evidence". She said that on a reading of the facts of the case she finds it "highly unlikely that these people are at all sorry or remorseful" and that the onus was on the Defence to establish that they were, "on the balance of probability".
Mr Elliott referred to the observation of another judge that submissions from the bar table ought to be accepted unless there is strong reason not to. Justice Kelly produced her strong reason: It's "inherently improbable" that the people who did this "could suddenly be genuinely remorseful".
Mr Elliott then put Mr Gaff in the witness box.
Mr Gaff said he was ashamed of the assault because it was "stupid". He said he was sorry because the victim did not "deserve" it. He referred to Mr Corp having told him things about Mr Sellars that made him angry. He said he used to "look up to" Mr Corp but did not now, "not at all", and had asked to be kept away from both him and Mr Nadich while in prison.
He said he had been drinking on the night because he was upset about the shooting earlier in the evening. He said during the assault on Mr Sellars he had been provoked by Mr Corp, who was yelling at him to hit Mr Sellars again and then to stop. This was so Mr Corp could get Mr Sellars' "ecstasy pills" off him.
Mr Elliott asked him what he thought of people who did what he had done. Mr Gaff said they are "sad, lonely people who are hurting inside".
He said he wanted  to get on with his life, start a business, resume living with his girlfriend, in a flat at his father's home, and that he would be willing to promise the court not to drink alcohol for "as long as necessary".
"What does that mean?" asked Justice Kelly.
Mr Gaff suggested five or 10 years and said he would be willing to be randomly breath tested by police at any time of day or night.
In cross-examination Mr Gaff was taken to the shooting by Prosecutor Michael McColm. He stunned the court when he suggested that the victim of the shooting had threatened him and his passengers (Mr Corp and Mr Nadich) with "an AK47 and 3000 rounds". Elaborating, he said the victim had threatened to "hail us with bullets as we drove off".
Mr Gaff continued: "I said, 'With what?' and he said, 'With an AK47 and 3000 rounds'."
Mr McColm suggested that was not true. Mr Gaff said he was "pretty sure" he had put it into his statement to police. Justice Kelly exclaimed, "This is becoming ridiculous!", but on objection by Mr Elliott, withdrew the word "ridiculous".
There was more evidence led about the shooting until Mr Elliott expressed his concern that it was not a matter for which his client was being tried. Justice Kelly said the differing accounts given by Mr Gaff  of the events – to police, to the psychiatrist and to the court – would be of assistance in assessing his reliability.
Mr McColm said the history of the events given to the psychiatrist was not accurate, and that the Prosecution had never accepted that the shooting victim threatened Mr Gaff and the occupants of his car.
Mr Elliott attempted to bring the argument back to Mr Gaff's acceptance that what he did was "an outrage", that he didn't seek to excuse it, that he should not have done it. However, Justice Kelly said that her impression was that Mr Gaff was seeking, through his statements in the witness box, to lessen his moral culpability.
Mr Elliott said his client was seeking to explain why things had happened, not why they were OK. He said what happened was "completely out of character" and pointed to the several testimonials about Mr Gaff that said as much. He said Mr Gaff was a very good worker but, as happens with a significant number of young men, he had fallen in with the wrong crowd and gone off the rails. He argued that his prospects of rehabilitation were "very, very good" and that the community as a whole would be better served by his rehabilitation rather than by further time spent in gaol. He pointed to the public gallery where a large number of friends and family were present in support of Mr Gaff.
Justice Kelly commented that so many coming before the court "are not so fortunate".
She also asked for submissions regarding the implications for sentencing of different versions of the same event that were now before her. Mr McBride said his client was before the court on the facts agreed with the Crown and that to take Mr Gaff's version into account when sentencing him would be entirely to his disadvantage.
Mr Elliott accepted that Justice Kelly could take into account Mr Gaff's comments only in relation to him and not to Mr Corp. Mr McColm agreed.
Sentencing was adjourned till July 15.

MOZZIE BITES falls in love

Last Friday I awoke suddenly with a gushing, flooded feeling. I had been dreaming I was a part of a blood cell traveling down someone’s thick red vein. We swerved the fleshy, wet corners and came gushing out the severed end into a surprising pool of cool, blue water. I looked around confused and then realized delightfully that I had simply been in the red water slide at the new Aquatic and Leisure Centre. Lucky! It may sound gruesome, but in all honesty this slumber simply shows my new enthusiasm for the place!
When the Aquatic Centre opened a couple of months ago I was too busy with assignments and dentistry problems to take much notice. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I thought. So the project cost $18.3m – who cares? I was simply obsessed with who was going to cover my tooth job!
When a good friend of mine showed horror at my lack of enthusiasm for a pioneering visit, however, I decided it was time to drag myself down there and have a look ...
When we stepped through the motion detector doors and felt the heated air on our winter bodies my whole being began to well with delight. It is becoming more rare in adulthood to feel such bewildered joy, but looking at all the fresh, exciting inside-pool features made my heart race and my eyes boggle. The old town pool was almost wiped instantly from memory. Two massive, swooping waterslides (including my adored red one), a beautifully shaped whirlpool, a spa, a toddler paddling area and so much more is connected through one huge leisure pool. There is an isle that sprays heated water when you walk through and many fountains with their own quirky attributes. We jumped around like children and ran our hands through one feature that pours water like a fast growing afro. My favorite, however, is the shallow end’s bubble mock ring of mushrooms that makes a perfect circle to meditate, or reflect in.
Now, it’s been a few weeks since I first discovered the center and the enthusiasm is starting to wear. Simple things, like are you trying to kill us with so much chlorine!? Or, the promise of a café? It’s hardly a canteen, guys, yet alone a kiosk. They don’t even know how to use the coffee machine! That being said, I’ve promised myself to hold onto that original feeling of wholesome love and over look the shortcomings.
On a practical level, the new solar heating system supposedly supplies 40% of the heating requirements for the indoor pools and will increase to nearly 100% during summer. So, environmentalists and greenies can’t complain too much!
More important, from what I’ve experienced, is that once you step into the water and begin to wade, kids come up to you and ask if you wanna play, or what’s your name. It is such a trusting, friendly environment. One kid offered to lend me his blue-lensed goggles sporadically and another instigated a game of hide and seek. Last weekend I took a work colleague of mine there for the fist time and within half an hour he had kids scrambling on him and being playfully thrown from his shoulders. It was quite entertaining!
Though I’ll always remember fondly learning to swim in the old pool, the two trampolines that provided endless hours of fun and the daggy shade cloth picnic areas, which would have been directly beneath what is now the Aquatic Center, I can’t help but feel pleased that Alice Springs is finally getting some class. If this pool were in another major town, or city in Australia I probably wouldn’t bat an eye, but because it’s in my hometown, it seems so extraordinary!
Anyway, I really just wanted you all to know the passionate love affair I am having with the Aquatic Centre. It’s beautiful.

Back to our home page.