Story Archive » Volume 20 » Issue 24 »

September 13, 2013

Taking down Snowdon, little chunk by little chunk


As the nation turned its back on Labor, Warren Snowdon held Lingiari – how come? Has there been a convincing emphasis, in the CLP campaign, on the opportunities of leasing Aboriginal land? And does the Alice Springs Country Liberals branch need new blood? These were some issues raised by ERWIN CHLANDA with the president of the Country Liberals, Darwin architect Ross Connolly (pictured). FULL STORY »

MacFarlane concedes in Lingiari





Country Liberals candidate Tina MacFarlane this morning conceded the Lingiari election to long-time sitting Member, Warren Snowdon. He is pictured being interviewed by Radio 8HA at noon yesterday. He claimed victory in Lingiari late yesterday. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Scullion: outback economies answer to bush welfare mess



Creating outback economies that provide jobs is the way out of the current passive welfare structure that doesn’t match the needs in the bush, says Australia’s new Indigenous Affairs Minister,  NT Senator Nigel Scullion. He spoke this morning with Alice Springs News Online editor ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

No need to beef up by-laws: public behaviour better

Council look set to knock on the head a move to double the penalties for some public places by-law breaches, initiated by Councillor Geoff Booth (pictured, at his induction) a year ago. Cr Booth said his aim was not to increase revenue through fine collection but to “change habits”, while Mayor Damien Ryan, Crs Jade Kudrenko and Liz Martin, and Director of Corporate and Community Services Craig Catchlove were all of the view that there has been a marked improvement in the town’s public places. KIERAN FINNANE reports.


Police seek man in relation to an indecent assault





Police have released this comfit of a man they would like to speak to in relation to the indecent assault of a 24-year-old woman. Meanwhile police are also searching for a male who assaulted a 19-year-old girl as she was walking to work just after noon today. FULL STORY »

Booth resigns from the Town Council

 Former Cr Booth’s empty seat at this evening’s council meeting.


Councillor Geoff Booth embroiled in a scandal over an escort agency application, resigned from the town council at 4.58pm today and no further action is being taken by the council. KIERAN FINNANE reports. UPDATED 8.58pm. See FULL STORY for further UPDATE,  October 1, 2013, 9.32 am: Full text of Cr Booth’s resignation and CEO’s intentions on register of councillors’ and executive officers’ business and property interests. 

Let’s not waste a good scandal

So, it’s business as usual, as if the Councillor Geoff Booth scandal never happened? At 4.57pm yesterday the Town Council was getting ready to discuss, among other issues, whether Cr Booth’s proposed profiting from prostitution had put the council into disrepute. At 4.58pm Cr Booth emailed his resignation and that was it. The carpet was lifted and the dirt, swept under it. ERWIN CHLANDA comments. 


Onshore gas bonanza: what role fracking?



Onshore gas is a potential game-changer in the Northern Territory with potential reserves of unconventional gas totaling about 240 trillion cubic feet spread across six basins, write Chief Minister Adam Giles (at left) and Mines Minister Willem Westra Van Holthe (at right). We asked them what role they expect fracking to have in this development process. FULL STORY »

Fresh, relevant, moving, funny: 24 Hour Theatre

Three one act plays, written, rehearsed and presented all within 24 hours: it may not sound like it would reward high hopes, let alone exceed them, but it did. The stories were fresh, relevant, moving as well as funny at times, the performances committed, the theatre-craft well on the way. This was Red Hot Arts Central Australia’s 24 Hour Theatre, an early exercise of the organisation’s InQbator and presented as part of the Alice Desert Festival program. KIERAN FINNANE reviews. FULL STORY »

The risk in going risqué




Tits, bums, fart jokes, striptease right down to the cliché of breast tassles  – whatever happened to Cat’s Meow? From the audience response to the Nine Lives Cabaret last Saturday night, I know mine is a minority view, but for me this entertainment was one-dimensional. The talent was there but story, ideas and wit were mostly missing. There were laughs to be had, for sure, but they mostly weren’t for anything clever or simply zany. It was as though in deciding to become more risqué, more of a burlesque, most of the creators had regressed to adolescence. KIERAN FINNANE reviews.


Wanted: sites for relocating the landfill


Councillor Steve Brown (pictured) has inched further in his pursuit of eventual relocation of the Alice Springs landfill from its present site just south of the Gap. KIERAN FINNANE reports.


Framptons: reprimand slap on the wrist, says victim

UPDATED 5:30pm Monday, Sept 16

The Alice Springs News Online has received the following statement from Detective Superintendent Brent Warren: “Southern Investigation Detectives have completed an investigation into the conduct of Framptons First National Real Estate and liaised with the Department of Public Prosecutions. At this time no criminal offences have been identified against Framptons.”


UPDATED 12 noon and 4:48 pm

The Agents Licensing Board has issued a reprimand against Framptons for publishing misleading advertising and so breaching of a rule of conduct under the Agents Licensing Act. Chair of the Board Suzanne Philip said such a finding by a disciplinary board is a serious sanction, however victims of the collapsed housing scheme, Framptons New Homes, present at the hearing, were not satisfied. In the hearing and without being invited to speak, victims Alan Fisher and Denyse Thornton (pictured today) expressed their frustration.  KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Government still obstinate on take-away alcohol supply



Twelve months after the Coroner recommended that the NT Government should commit to all available, reasonable measures to reduce the supply of excess alcohol from take-away outlets in Alice Springs the NT Government has failed to do anything new in response, writes Dr. John Boffa, of PAAC. FULL STORY »

A little interruption of the ordinary




Rogue bureaucrats were at it again in Todd Mall today, in their pencil skirts and pin-striped blouses, markers and whiteboard in tow. They were collecting ideas, any ideas for an agenda … a meeting would be held soon … a meeting of important people … Kieran Finnane happened to be passing by. FULL STORY »

Aboriginal men ‘need to reinvent’ themselves: forum

Half of the inmates in the Alice Springs gaol are men who are there for having assaulted their intimate partners. Justice Jenny Blokland is one of the people gaoling them. It gives her no pleasure, she told a public meeting in Alice Springs last night, attended by hundreds; it’s a protective measure, often short-term, and doesn’t solve the problem. She acknowledged the “very difficult” social issues in Alice but said this does not explain the “gendered nature” of the violence: 80 to 90% of perpetrators are men. KIERAN FINNANE reports.


Booth ‘terminates’ escort agency application

UPDATE 03:15pm Monday:

Karen Avery, of the Department of Business, says the application by the group including Cr Booth for an escort agency licence has now been withdrawn.


UPDATE 12:15pm Monday:

Cr Booth, who was expected to be attending tonight’s council meeting by telephone hook-up, has this morning notified the council that he will not be attending in any form.


UPDATE 10:20am Monday:

Karen Avery, of the Department of Business, said this morning: “There has been some indication that the licence application may be withdrawn. However, the Department of Business or the NT Licensing Commission have not received any formal withdrawal yet.”


Town Council CEO Rex Mooney (pictured) was told by Councillor Geoff Cr Booth that he had “terminated” his application for an escort agency operator’s licence. But in a written report to tomorrow’s council meeting Mr Mooney says:  “Cr Booth’s withdrawal of this application does not in any real way satisfy or even deal with the concerns raised” by council solicitor Chris Turner, whom he instructed to provide legal advice following “media attention” focusing on Cr Booth’s place of residence and escort agency plans. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Heritage under fire






The Pitchi Richi Sanctuary just outside The Gap survived a deliberately-lit fire earlier this week, thanks to the quick action of on-site volunteers and up to eight firemen from our local fire service. But that’s not the only fire in heritage protection. COMMENT by DOMENICO PECORARI.


Young men get 15 years for gang rapes of European tourists

UPDATED 5.22PM: See FULL STORY for what the court heard about the convicted men.


Eighteen year olds Norman Kernan and Ginger Green were this afternoon each sentenced to 15 years in prison for the armed robbery and multiple rapes of two European tourists in May last year. Justice Dean Mildren described their crimes as “not in the worst category” of offending but “at the high end”, as “outrageous” and with “devastating consequences” for their victims. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

Pictured: Alice Springs Courthouse.


No hard feelings for Giles, says Anderson


Dumped Minister Alison Anderson says she is looking forward to her time on the back bench and has no hard feelings for Chief Minister Adam Giles. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Four assaults on women in last three weeks

The lengthy sentences handed down today for the gang rapes of two European tourists in May last year come in the wake of  four assaults on women in Alice Springs in the last three weeks.


Cabinet: Anderson out, Price in. Elferink rejects Lawrie allegation.


UPDATED, 6.39pm: Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie comments, claiming Ms Carney “is known to have a deeply damaged relationship with her new Minister, John Elferink.” Mr Elferink a few minutes ago rejected that allegation. See FULL STORY.


Children’s and Families Minister Alison Anderson (left) has been sacked from the NT Cabinet and the portfolio has gone to Justice Minister John Elferink. MLA for Stuart Bess Price (right) has been elevated to the Cabinet, to take on a new portfolio of Community Services, as well as Parks and Wildlife, Statehood and Women’s Policy. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Terrifying ordeal at gunpoint: multiple rapes of European tourists, one suspect still unidentified

MODIFIED September 26, 2013, 11.05am: Earlier suppression orders in this case were formally lifted today. The names of two of the three offenders are now part of this report. A photo has been added and minor details updated.


WARNING: Some readers may find the article distressing.


“I told her she would be safe.” This was all AN could think about when she was woken in the early hours of May 2, 2012, to the sound of banging on her car and male voices shouting, “Come out, you pussy.” She wanted to protect her friend but she had no chance. One of the men was armed and he pointed the rifle straight at her head. The Australian holiday of two young women, from Germany and Finland, was about to turn into a nightmare. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

Pictured: The cul-de-sac at the end of Maconochie Road where the tourists had parked their car to sleep overnight. FULL STORY »

Never ending story: Desert Mob 2013






From Aboriginal art centres across the deserts comes one of the most significant interfaces between Central Australia and the rest of the world. KIERAN FINNANE reports from Desert Mob, the exhibition and the symposium.


Pictured: Warmurrungu by Nyarapayi Giles, Tjarlirli Arts. FULL STORY »

Has councillor brought Town Council into disrepute?

Questions of bringing the town council into disrepute and residency requirements of the Electoral Act will be raised in the public part of the meeting of the Town Council on Monday. This follows the disclosure by the Alice Springs News Online that Councillor Geoff Booth is the director of a new escort agency in Alice Springs. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Residency is at risk, says heritage group



The NT Government is planning to call for “Expressions of Interest” from the public for leasing the heritage-listed Residency building, thereby opening up the highly likely possibility it will put to commercial use, such as offices, cafe or restaurant. This should be opposed, writes Domenico Pecorari of Heritage Alice Springs Incorporated. PHOTO:  Libby King (red hat) and Lilly Jodson, keen gardeners, dressed up for the flower show in the historic Residency yesterday.


Councillors have open mind on landfill relocation

Coucillor Jade Kudrenko (pictured) says discussion about relocating the landfill is an example of “strategic forethought” which is a responsibility of the town council. And Cr Chansey Paech (pictured) says he is “open to discussion with other elected members” should another site be identified. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

What partner in Alice escort agency has to offer




A glimpse at the website of Maxine’s Gentlemen’s Club may offer a hint of what Councillor Geoff Booth’s escort agency has in store for the town. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Recycled water scheme ready for testing



New water recycling facilities have been commissioned in Alice Springs this week and will undergo three months of testing before the water is supplied to businesses and institutions south of Heavitree Gap, writes Les Seddon, of Alice Water Smart. Photo: Part of the plant now being tested, early in its construction phase. FULL STORY »

Let’s think globally and act locally on climate change



In this week when a climate report urges governments to redouble there efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions it seems fair to ask, what if anything does the new government policy mean for Central Australia, writes Richard Bentley, from Alice Springs.


Reforms aimed at students in their early years




I urge parents and teachers to arm themselves with the facts about the NT Government’s education reforms which are squarely aimed at improving student outcomes. It is crucial that these reforms are put in perspective, writes Education Minister Peter Chandler.


Syrians really need a hand



Sir – Imagine houses in your street bombed and your neighbours left homeless. Imagine that every 17 seconds a fellow Australian is forced to flee in fear of their lives. This is all happening to the people of Syria, most of whom just wish to go to school, work and live a normal life, writes Robert Tickner, CEO, Australian Red Cross. FULL STORY »

Crime drops as super sleuth car hits beat






Sir – Figures from the June quarter this year show a 40% reduction in house break-ins, a 50% drop in commercial break-ins and a 43% fall in motor vehicle thefts, compared to the same quarter in 2012 as Alice gets police vehicle fitted with an in-car computer and video system, a next G and satellite connection, and an Automated Number Plate Recognition system, writes Chief Minister Adam Giles. FULL STORY »

Young men plead guilty to multiple rapes of international tourists

MODIFIED 5.10pm: Although no suppression order was sought today, the Alice Springs News Online has just been informed that an earlier order with respect to the offenders’ names may still be in force. Until this is clarified we are removing their names from our report.


Two young men this morning pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court in Alice Springs to eight counts of sexual intercourse without consent with two international tourists on May 2 last year, as well as one count of robbery. The young women, one from Germany, the other from Finland, were asleep in their car in a suburban street in Alice when the assaults began shortly before 3am. A third Aboriginal male was involved but has never been arrested for want of evidence against him. The victims have been unable to identify him; there was no DNA evidence related to him; and the perpetrators have not assisted the police to identify him. KIERAN FINNANE reports, with more to follow later today.

PHOTO: The location of the rapes in Maconochie Road, near the casino. FULL STORY »

Landfill shift ‘inevitable’ but costs, timing are issues




Costs and timing are the major issues for the relocation of the dump which several town councillors see as inevitable. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. 

Pictured: View from the range, with sewage ponds and landfill in the middle ground of this beautiful valley. FULL STORY »

A pool that’s not in deep water


The Mutitjulu community at Uluru (Ayers Rock) has a community pool with a difference, namely secure operational funding, says David Ross, director of the Central Land Council. FULL STORY »

Taxi disgrace: $24 fare Trucking Yards to CBD



Come on, taxi drivers, a review of your personal and professional ethics is in order, writes Jodie Clarkson of Alice Springs.


Moving the dump will be discussed by council …



Councillor Steve Brown has taken the first step to get discussion on the table of an alternative to future expansion of the landfill west into the beautiful Ilparpa Valley. Officers will provide a report but will it be discussed in open? KIERAN FINNANE reports.


The Boys who made the Big Time



Some of The Boys who came from the bush and made their mark in the nation, with TLC from Father Percy Smith and Mrs Smith: Bill “Buckshot” Espie (2nd from left). Middle row: Vince Copley, Charlie Perkins, Ernie Perkins (the other two unidentified). Front row: Brian Butler, John Smith (unsure). Help us fill in the gaps! Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.


PHOTOS UPDATE: Readers have now provided more names! See comments.

Being away from Alice: the scream


I’m studying Buddhism & meditation in Melbourne. It’s awfully interesting. But man, do I miss Alice. FULL STORY »

Black jobs: are we really just starting to ask the questions?




Su McCluskey (pictured) heads up a think tank that rates Central Australia amongst the least competitive regions in Australia, on a scale of five (see map FULL STORY). Last week she spoke to a forum at Desert Knowledge Australia, the organisation which has been charged, for the past 15 years, to find ways for arid inland of Australia to be a better and more productive place: so far the results are slim. Editor ERWIN CHLANDA put to Ms McCluskey that The Center has a million square kilometers of land, lots of water we know of, and doubtlessly more that we don’t, lots of idle labour, as well as backloading freight opportunities, both on road and rail, which could take produce to Alice Springs or south. How come we’re not rolling in money? FULL STORY »

Dancers take over after dark


FULL STORY MODIFIED to include more photos, September 16, 2013, 10.15am.


It must rank among the best things the Alice Desert Festival has put on in its 13 years, for its key idea of enlivening our central public spaces after dark, erasing their normally anxious, shuttered and desolate state with sensual exuberance, open-hearted humour and welcome. The event was Dance Jam After Dark. It began at the entrance to the Fan Arcade where at the start of the 7pm performance last night a crowd of 50 or so spectators gathered round. By the end they’d been joined by hundreds. KIERAN FINNANE reviews. Video (click FULL STORY) by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Circus of madness and magic

“Running away to the circus” – the image is of escape, overthrow of the strictures of the adult-governed world. But what if the adults are completely on side? If they’re convinced that here lies the path to “truth, wisdom and knowledge”? This is the delightful prospect of joining  Circus Dust. Story by KIERAN FINNANE. Photos and Video by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Councillor Booth director of new Alice escort agency




UPDATED: On council website, he is a “family man, proud resident of Alice.”


A town councillor, Geoffrey John Booth (pictured), is a director and secretary of an escort agency being set up in Alice Springs, and the CEO of Imparja television, Alistair Feehan, is a shareholder. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »