In reply to David Chewings concerning the correct spelling of …

Comment on Cr Brown adapts Port Augusta solution to Alice Springs, calls for closer look at youth centre proposal by Alex Nelson.

In reply to David Chewings concerning the correct spelling of Tangentyere Council – jes, jou’re probably correct but I’m fairly sure the name was originally spelt with a ‘j’. That’s me, always living in the past! There’s nothing unusual about the evolution of spelling of Aboriginal names; for example – Aranda, Arunta and now Arrernte.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Cr Brown adapts Port Augusta solution to Alice Springs, calls for closer look at youth centre proposal
I don’t have an argument with many of the proposals put forward here by Steve Brown but, as usual, I’m reminded of various attempts and proposals from the past to deal with these issues.
Steve Brown’s youth centre proposal echoes a suggestion I put forward over 20 years ago to convert the abandoned Turner Arcade at the north end of Todd Mall into a youth-oriented facility in which the young people of Alice Springs would have a direct say in its management and operation, and would expose them to real-life experience of business and commercial operation. I wrote specifically to Alderman Carole Frost about this idea – she was also the head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Alice Springs and was a prominent identity in the Alice Springs Branch of the CLP. I received a nice letter of acknowledgement in reply but the idea never proceeded.
A few years later Turner Arcade was bulldozed, along with the Shell Todd service station, to make way for the existing carpark at the north end of the mall, in conjunction with opening up that end of Todd Mall to traffic in the current cul-de-sac – all at the cost of $5 million to bring more people into that end of the town again. Hmm, sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? But I digress.
It was also in the very early 1990s that another attempt was made to create a youth complex (a Youth Multi-Function Centre) in response to the entrenched issues of youth crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour that was plaguing Alice Springs at the time. A committee was established, including Tangentjere Council, and a number of sites were listed for the proposed youth centre, including the abandoned water-slide site (now Mercorella Circuit) and the Transport and Works depot off Smith Street (from where the large shed for the Road Transport Hall of Fame was obtained). However, the timing could not have been more inauspicious – Australia was enduring the “recession we had to have” and the NT Government had enacted a program of freezing recruitment in the NT Public Service, slashing over 1220 positions in the process, and implementing wide-ranging cutbacks in expenditure all over the Territory. No prizes for guessing what happened to the Youth Multi-Function Centre proposal!
Finally, in regard to the treatment of Aboriginal people with the “gushing destructive paternalism of the past”, it’s perhaps salutory to take note of Albert Namatjira’s opinions on this issue published on the front page of the Centralian Advocate in October 1952, almost exactly 60 years ago. Namatjira was seeking citizenship rights equal to that of white Australians for himself and a few other Aboriginal people; but he expressed strong reservations about extending such rights to all Aboriginal people for he feared that “they will drink liquor like water”. In light of subsequent history he clearly knew what he was talking about.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

‘Voter apathy greatest threat to Territory democracy’
@ Domenico Pecorari (Posted August 23, 2019 at 8:44 pm): Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this but occasionally it’s been my practice to spoil my ballots by adding an extra box labelled Informal or None of the above, and voting for it.
These days I think “Informal” would end up being the most popular candidate in every election campaign, which is possibly a reason why politicians would be reluctant to include it on the ballot slips!
An update to my previous reply to Ted Egan, I noticed a reference that enrolment and voting was made compulsory for all Aboriginal people in the NT (at least for Territory elections) in the early years of self-government so this situation has existed much longer than I realised.


‘Voter apathy greatest threat to Territory democracy’
@ Ted Egan (Posted August 23, 2019 at 10:54 am): My understanding is that Aboriginal people (ie. “full bloods” as opposed to people of mixed race descent who could vote from 1953) gained the right to vote in the NT in 1962, however it was non-compulsory. This remained the case until comparatively recent times, as I recall.
The first elections that all Aboriginal people could vote in was for the NT Legislative Council in December 1962. The Labor candidate for Stuart, DD Smith, was the first person in Australia to advertise his campaign over radio in an Aboriginal language (Arrernte) – he got Milton Liddle to speak in language for him.
Smith won the seat from long-serving member Bill Petrick, who unsuccessfully objected to the result on the basis that only English could be used in an election campaign.


Opposition leader will not be questioned on looming NT poll
I have made the point a number of times for well over a decade, principally through Alice Springs News, in making two key observations about patterns in Territory politics.
One is that governments that win massive majorities in elections suffer serious electoral backlashes in subsequent polls.
This trend is strengthening over time; for example, in August 1997 the CLP won 18 seats and its greatest ever total vote across the Territory but it lost office for the first time in August 2001.
Similarly, Labor won 19 seats in June 2005 but was reduced to a minority government in August 2008.
There’s no reason to believe the Gunner Government, with its initial 18 seats (now 16) will not suffer a similar fate in a year’s time.
The second pattern is that political parties whose leaders represent electorates outside of Darwin always lose elections.
This pattern began as long ago as 1965 when the Member for Alice Springs, Colonel Lionel Rose, became the leader of the North Australia Party – he lost his seat by a narrow margin to Labor candidate Charlie “Chas” Orr, and the NAP was obliterated to a single winning member (Tony Greatorex, Member for Stuart).
History went full circle when Chief Minister Adam Giles, the Member for Braitling, narrowly lost his seat in 2016 to Labor’s Dale Wakefield, and the CLP was reduced to its worst ever result of just two seats.
The current leader, Gary Higgins, represents a rural seat and – consistent with the existing pattern – it’s highly unlikely in my view that he will succeed in leading the CLP to victory next year.
As noted in another report, there’s a high level of disengagement of electors in the political process, and with democracy itself, in the Northern Territory.
We live in interesting times.


Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Karen (Posted August 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm): Hi Karen, I presume you mean the wildfire on the Ross Highway side of Todd River in 2002, as I recall?
That was a very damaging conflagration fuelled by buffel grass that had grown rampant during the wet years of 2000-01.
It came very close to rural properties next to the river.
As it happened, I took photos of that area several times prior to the wildfire so was able to get contrasting before and after shots that demonstrated the severity of that particular blaze.
There were a number of other deliberately lit fires at the time such as along Colonel Rose Drive, and the damage remains clearly visible to this day.


Gunner goofs: No council ‘decisions’ on gallery site
@ Some Guy (Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:43 am): No, I don’t “feel like this golden opportunity of a project to secure the future of Central Australia both in an economic and cultural sense on the world stage is slowly slipping through the fingers” because it was an illusion in the first place.
This isn’t the first occasion that a big project has been held out for us in The Centre offering some kind of economic Nirvana; we were told exactly the same kind of thing with the casino 40 years ago, and again with the development of the Alice Springs Desert Park in the mid 1990s.
Both of these facilities may be attractions but have never come close to fulfilling the visions originally held out to us as major game changers for the Centre’s economy.
With all due respect, I cannot see how a “National Aboriginal Art Gallery” will prove to be any different in the long run.


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