Story Archive » Volume 20 » Issue 2 »

February 25, 2013

“In which state is Alice Springs,” asks 000 operator as armed thugs threaten to kill





“In which state is Alice Springs?” No, this wasn’t the irritating question by a cold caller from New Delhi.
It was what tennis club manager Matt Roberts was asked by the woman responding to his 000 call while he was under siege, for nearly an hour, from a gang of armed, rampaging youths. PHOTO: A piece of timber used as a weapon in the assault. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

German Foreign Office says mobile homes should stay only in caravan parks with guards, warns of rapes, armed robberies in Alice Springs

An attack on two German tourists in a mobile home in the West MacDonnell Ranges is of the kind described in a German Foreign Office security advisory website (pictured), in its Australia section singling out Alice Springs alone. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

$23 million Bunnings development on schedule for mid-year

Bunnings Warehouse $23 million development will be completed mid-year, creating more than 100 permanent jobs and a further 160 construction jobs. FULL STORY »

Reasons for a health pact in the NT




The NT has a huge health burden accelerated by “unhealthy commodity industries” responsible for the sales and promotion of tobacco, alcohol, energy-dense foods such as burgers, frozen pizzas and pasta dishes, nuggets, sticks, crisps, biscuits, confectionery, cereal bars, carbonized and other sugared drinks and various snack products, described in a Lancet report. PHOTOS: The Territory isn’t on its own when it comes to consuming too much of the bad stuff … bulk booze near Longreach, Queensland, in days gone by (above), and a junk food sign targeting kids in Adelaide today. RUSSELL GUY reports.

Anderson gets Children and Families, Conlan Central Australia

Chief Minister Terry Mills has changed the line-up of the Government’s front bench and reshuffled Cabinet. – MEDIA RELEASE FULL STORY »

NT Minister to probe Tangentyere funding for town camps

Tangentyere Council needs to come clean with the taxpayer about how it spends the $43m a year it gets from the public purse, says NT Minister for Indigenous Advancement, Alison Anderson (at left). She says the arganisation was previously responsible for all or most of the town’s up to 19 camps, but is is now looking after fewer than half of them; is failing to stem the “rivers of grog” despite the camps’ “dry” status, is incapable of curbing extreme violence; and is treated by the Shaw family as its private “dynasty”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTOS: Garbage in Charles Creek in 2010. The same location on Wednesday this week, after Ingkerreke has taken over from Tangentyere clean-up and parks maintenance functions. FULL STORY »

Sentenced to a Job Program “successful beyond expectations” and will be expanded



Prisoners have been sent to work “in real jobs, for real money” as part of the Sentenced to a Job Program, first reported in the Alice Springs News Online on December 18, 2012. Minister for Correctional Services John Elferink (pictured) says the trial program has been successful beyond expectations and will be expanded. FULL STORY »

Meeting of minds on the shores of a desert lake


In 2008 a flaked stone cobble was unearthed on the shores of Paruku, known in English as Lake Gregory. The latest dating techniques put the stone at 45,000 to 50,000 years old, its flaking (for tools) evidence of ancient human habitation at the site. It was a landmark archeological find but nothing surprising for the Walmajarri traditional owners: they knew their ancestors had always been there, since the Waljirri (the Dreaming). This story is but one of the intriguing strands of an exhibition and book, both titled Desert Lake – Art, Science and Stories from Paruku, launched at Araluen on the weekend. They are the result of relationship and collaboration, in some instances over many years, between traditional owners and visitor scientists, artists  and writers, looking at meeting points and divergences in the ways of knowing that country. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 


Pictured: Some of the Desert Lake team at last Friday’s launch of the exhibition and book at Araluen.


LETTER: Alice Solar City’s commercial program winds up

After more than four and half years, almost 200 free energy surveys and $1.5m of funding support, Alice Solar City’s commercial program is coming to an end. FULL STORY »

Council suspends its collection scheme and activists ‘disable’ Coca Cola machines as NT loses container deposit court case


The Northern Territory Government will ask the beverage industry to voluntarily continue the container deposit scheme following today’s Federal Court of Australia ruling that it is illegal, says NT Chief Minister Terry Mills.

Meanwhile a group calling itself Out Of Order has begun sticking OUT OF ORDER notices on Coca Cola and Mount Franklin vending machines around the country, says spokesman Katso, “in support of the Northern Territory’s ‘cash for cans’ scheme,” says spokesman Katso.

UPDATE: And the Alice Springs Town Council has today suspended its Cash for Wine & Spirit Glass Bottles scheme which had been operating out of Territory Metals since October 2012. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.



LETTER: Looking for a mate

I am writing in the hope that someone in Alice knows the whereabouts of Steve Goode, aka Goodie. FULL STORY »

Kilgariff suburb still a work in progress









If the government wants 100 residential blocks in Kilgariff ready for sale “off the plan” by July – the target date, according to minister Adam Giles – then they’ll have to get a wriggle-on.

Mr Giles says he’s been fighting hard to bring on the subdivision early but apart from the number of blocks, very little seems clear at the minute. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. IMAGE: The approximate area where the first 100 residential blocks will be developed. The circled number 1 is the new Stuart Highway intersection.

LETTER: Labor’s mismanagement of $9m splash on Henbury carbon farm

The Gillard Government doesn’t even have a management plan for a cattle property turned carbon farm, Henbury Station, south of Alice Springs,  it ploughed more than $9 million of taxpayer funds into back in 2011, writes Fiona Nash, Nationals Deputy Senate Leader. FULL STORY »

Macklin opens door to grog in Aboriginal communities, brings in ‘assessors’ to check pubs in Alice

An initiative by the Federal Government could open doors to permitting alcohol in communities that are currently dry, while assessors will be checking Alice pubs to see if they are causing harm. The final form of the Alcohol Management Plans, part of the 10-year, $3.4 billion Stronger Futures in the NT package, was announced by Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin. She is pictured in Alice Springs with Rosalie Kunoth Monks at the Centre for Appropriate Technology after unveiling a $4.36m program to upgrade infrastructure in the Utopia homelands. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. UPDATED at 4.30pm on Wednesday.

LETTER: R. M. Williams responds on Henbury

The owner and operator of Henbury Station, R. M. Williams Agricultural Holdings, clarifies points about Henbury Station raised by Nationals Deputy Senate Leader Senator Fiona Nash in her letter to the editor. FULL STORY »

Strife torn child welfare set for more turmoil: worker





After more than three years on the frontline of child welfare and protection Fred – not his real name – is leaving town. He’s taking with him corporate knowledge, which he says has been dwindled worryingly, about matters that are uppermost in the public’s mind.

He says he isn’t bitter nor angry, rather feels privileged to have developed relationships with a part of the population that is raising profound concerns, both as victims of abuse and neglect, and perpetrators of crime: some four fifths of Fred’s clients were Aboriginal.

He spoke in person with editor ERWIN CHLANDA, for an hour and a half, but on the condition of not being named.



Tourism lobby to draw up action plan





A “who we are and what we do action plan” will be drafted by the executive of Tourism Central Australia with likely topics being a new website, increased use of social media, the continuation of the mountain biking strategy and moving the visitors centre, says TCA’s new general manager Jaclyn Thorne (pictured). ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Protecting, controlling kids in trouble: Robyn Lambley’s long and lonely road



A youth curfew during periods of period of “high social unrest,” grappling with how to make parents pay for the damage done by their kids, an institution for young people out of control or with special needs, the government paying up to half a million dollars a year for some children in residential care services, massive cuts in Federal funding for child welfare and protection – these are some of the waypoints on the long and lonely road of the Minister for Children and Families, Robyn Lambley (pictured with constituents, photo supplied by her office). She spoke with editor ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

LETTER: All quiet on the Alice alcohol front

Alice Springs was a winner as well as the All Stars: a peaceful weekend thanks to co-operation and less grog. Take a bow Alice Springs.

You conducted yourself with dignity and discipline, writes Dr. John Boffa, of the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition. FULL STORY »

LETTER to Janet Brown and Russell Guy

Janet and Russell, you have both articulated with passion your diametrically opposed views about the degree to which the state should regulate our private lives, writes Alice Springs News Online editor ERWIN CHLANDA. I have found in the current New York Review of Books a concept which may provide a compromise between your positions while not requiring either of you to lose face: It’s called “nudging”. IMAGE: Detail of a 2012 advertisement protesting New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on the sale of soft drinks in containers larger than sixteen ounces. He is portrayed in a nanny uniform. The image illustrates the Review article. FULL STORY »

Money for movies

The NT Government will maintain the previous level of funding for traveling film festivals such as the Sydney one, opening in Alice Springs for a three day season on Friday, with nine movies to be shown. FULL STORY »

Mayor to raise poor police response to emergencies


Mayor Damien Ryan is to contact today the southern region’s new police commander, Kate Vanderlaan, about poor response to calls to 000 and 131441. The matter was raised in last night’s council meeting by Councillor Eli Melky, in an apparent reference to our report yesterday of the inadequate police response to an attack on the tennis club. In other council news: the search for land for affordable housing (not Kilgariff?); consistent shortfall on Indigenous staffing target; public art commissions let; no breakthrough on netball car parking. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 


At left: The Todd mall police post. How useful is it, Cr Melky wants to know. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Native title changes must go ahead, and should go further

Despite exaggerated claims from industry bodies and state governments, the Commonwealth’s proposed reforms to the Native Title Act 1993 are modest, straightforward, and long overdue. These changes leave many of the large problems in the native title system unchanged, but they address some of the small problems that can be easily fixed, writes Stephen Keim of the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights. FULL STORY »

Two week boot camp not enough to solve youth problems

A 15 day boot camp as apparently proposed by Correctional Services Minister John Elferink would be of little value.

That is the view of a member of the town council who, together with long-time youth worker Graham Ross, has been planning for years to set up a residential facility out bush for young people. PHOTO: Graham Ross (at left) and Cr Brown at the site in the Larapinta Valley where they hope to establish a camp for young people in trouble. FULL STORY »

LETTER: New recycled water whets appetite of large businesses in Alice Springs

Large businesses and institutions south of Heavitree Gap in Alice Springs will soon be taking advantage of recycled water at their properties as the Alice Water Smart Reuse Project aims to reduce consumption of potable (drinking) water by replacing it with recycled water for horticultural and irrigation purposes, writes Les Seddon, Alice Water Smart Project Manager. FULL STORY »