Story Archive » Volume 20 » Issue 6 »

March 28, 2013

Little Sisters attackers sentenced

Cycle of revenge not ‘traditional’ and cannot be tolerated, says Chief Justice


Two men were sentenced yesterday for their part in the violence at Little Sisters town camp on March 7 last year. Their names are familiar now to anyone who attended the trial of Liam Jurrah, cleared by a jury last week of having caused serious harm to Basil Jurrah, his cousin. Christopher Walker pleaded guilty to causing that harm, and by way of “common intention”, the assault on two residents of Little Sisters, carried out by Josiah Fry. An unidentified co-offender also took part in the assault on Basil Jurrah, according to the sentencing remarks of Chief Justice Trevor Riley. The Chief Justice also took the opportunity to repeat his call  for “worthwhile efforts to curb the flow of alcohol” and to refute the notion that the ongoing cycle of violence between Warlpiri families is “in any way a traditional response”.  KIERAN FINNANE reports.


Pictured: Police moving in to calm an angry crowd outside the Alice Springs courthouse during the committal hearing of Jurrah, Walker and Fry last year. The cause of a seemingly similar eruption during Liam Jurrah’s recent trial was more complicated, at least in part involving another case.


Liddle resigns as chairman of Lhere Artepe



Michael Liddle (pictured), who is also the deputy chairman of the Central Land Council, has resigned from his position of chairman of the local native title organisation, Lhere Artepe. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Cattle industry needs ‘smart footwork’ to profit from food boom


NT Cattlemen’s Association president David Warriner (pictured) told its 29th conference that it is “eerie, and frankly disturbing” to see how similar today’s situation is to that of nearly three decades ago: “Aboriginal Land Rights, BTEC, AMLC (now MLA) needing more money to finance the budget”.
Then: “Herd numbers – we have hit 23.4 million cattle. The first increase since everyone got their fingers burnt in the ’70s. Shades of this period on the dusty horizon.”
Now: “Here we are with over 30 million head.” ERWIN CHLANDA reports from the NTCA conference. FULL STORY »

Bid to lighten load on local courts




A measure to lighten the load on the courts of summary jurisdiction will be proposed to the NT Cabinet by Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, John Elferink (pictured).

He says if the measure becomes law, in the event of a not guilty plea both parties will be obliged to have a pre-trial conference in a bid “to sort it out”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Cattle boss gives thumbs-up to pastoral land use change

A 30 to 60 year provision for “non-pastoral” use of land under pastoral lease has been described as “certainly very interesting” by the president of the NT Cattlemen’s Association David Warriner.

“I don’t understand what the finer detail is [but it seems to include] any agricultural, irrigation, potentially grain, could be melons – any agricultural and horticultural activity, could be timber,” he says.

The changes were announced today by the Minister for Land Resource Management, Willem Westra van Holthe (pictured), as amendments to the Pastoral Land Act (PLA). ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Eviction cruel or a necessity in a desperate housing market?

A family is facing eviction from the home it occupied since 1994 because the partner, father and grandfather, who has held the lease, has died. A cruel act – or a necessity in a desperate public housing market? And what lies behind the circumstances in which a battler family is finding itself? ERWIN CHLANDA spoke with Bronwyn Ferguson pictured (from left) with her daughter Tiarah Ferguson, son Dennis Novak and two-year-old granddaughter Naryiah. FULL STORY »

Ludwig has ‘hide’ to attend cattlemen’s conference

World beef price double that of other meats but northern industry decimated


The elephant in the room at the Alice Springs Convention Centre – where 350 delegates are attending the NT Cattlemen’s Association’s annual conference – is Indonesia, which takes over 45% of Australia’s total live cattle exports, said Joe Ludwig, Federal Minister for Agriculture.
It was harmed catastrophically after the ABC’s Four Corners showed examples of cruelty during slaughtering in Indonesia.
Sen Ludwig (at right) told the conference: “It is our closest overseas market, and it is critical” and steps taken to shore up its future “were not easy, but they were necessary”.

Emeritus Professor David Hughes from the Imperial College London, gave the conference this food for thought: beef world-wide costs twice as much as other meats.

And long term Central Australian pastoralist Tony Davis (at left) said the performance of Sen Ludwig’s government over the past two years had been “disgraceful” and he had a hide to even attend the conference. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

From Little Pricks Big Pricks Grow exhibition












It has been a hectic nine months since the inaugural LittlePricks exhibition – a change of government and some of the worst political infighting the Territory has ever seen. The CLP government is keen to move on and have us forget their antics.

But people won’t forget thanks to the keen, and perhaps cynical, eye caste over proceedings by Territory artists. While the pollies have been slugging it out our local artists have also let rip. DAVID HANCOCK reports. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Remote areas NAPLAN results a disgrace

The 2012 NAPLAN results show close the gap indicators for education are going backwards under the Gillard Government and the results in remote and very remote areas are a disgrace, writes Senator Nigel Scullion, Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Labor’s $150m Alice town camps disaster



Sir – Minister Jenny Macklin has not only wasted $150m meant to improve living standards in the Alice Springs town camps she has badly let down the camp’s indigenous residents, writes Senator Nigel Scullion (pictured), Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister. FULL STORY »

Disclose reports on Agent Orange at Kilgariff, oil in Alice water




The Alice Springs News Online is supporting calls on Facebook for full disclosure of all NT Government reports dealing with the apparent use in the past, on the land where the Kilgariff suburb is now being built, of a chemical best known as Agent Orange, notorious as the defoliant widely used in the Vietnam war. It caused widespread birth defects.

And we requested two days ago, from the Department of Mines, and the Mines Minister Willem Westra van Holthe, all reports about oil spills into the Alice Springs water supply, mostly compiled during the Labor administrations between 2001 and 2012, which kept them under wraps. We’ve not yet heard back from either. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Picture of man with massive birth defects as displayed in the Ho Chi Minh City war museum. Alice Springs News Online photo. FULL STORY »

Chief Justice lashes out at failures in alcohol policy

The Northern Territory Chief Justice Trevor Riley appeared to be expressing his support for a Banned Drinkers Register or something similar when yesterday in Alice Springs he sentenced a man  to four years and nine months for a cruel, drunken assault on his wife.

An obvious step to address the “terrible problems” of alcohol in Central Australia would be “to limit the flow of alcohol to people such as” the offender, he said. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 


Pictured: A drunken fight brewing in the Alice Springs CBD. Photo from our archive. FULL STORY »

Liam Jurrah not guilty




His family and friends clapped and cheered in the court when Liam Jurrah was found not guilty by unanimous verdict this afternoon just before 2pm, but the man himself only smiled quietly. As he left the dock where he has sat for almost two weeks, he hugged his counsel Jon Tippett QC.


Outside he was immediately surrounded by media and, with a beaming Mr Tippett by his side, he calmly fielded questions. KIERAN FINNANE reports. Video by ERWIN CHLANDA. 


For links to our complete coverage of the trial, see FULL STORY, below the video.


If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it’s missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe. This error may appear if the URL path to the embedded object is broken or you have connectivity issue to the embedded object. Powered BY XVE Various Embed. FULL STORY »

Questions about Mereenie oil polluting Alice water still linger

Corroded well pipes in the Mereenie oil field leaked oil below ground into the Amadeus aquifer which provides the water for Alice Springs, so did a leaking pipeline, and highly saline water was kept in an unlined evaporation pond. These were issues raised by an NT Government water expert, John Childs, from about 2001 and still lack credible answers. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Google earth picture of the Mereenie oil field.

Man lost in system: sentenced to six months, already done 12

A man sentenced today in the Supreme Court in Alice Springs to six months imprisonment had already been in custody for 12. While in custody he suffered a serious assault at the hands of another prisoner (since sentenced for the offence) and spent the rest of his time in gaol in “protection”, which in fact means lockdown for 22 hours a day. “The system has failed,” said Chief Justice Trevor Riley (pictured).

KIERAN FINNANE reports from the Supreme Court where the jury in the Liam Jurrah trial is still out. 


Liam Jurrah abandons bail application




Former AFL football star Liam Jurrah today abandoned his bail application and has been remanded in custody to appear in the Alice Springs Local Court, by video link, on May 29. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Palm Valley gas flowing, but less of it


Natural gas production will continue in the Palm Valley field 145 kilometres west of Alice Springs under an agreement between Magellan and Santos.

Magellan has a contract with Santos for the supply of 22 Bcf (billion cubic feet) over 15 years.
This follows a swap last year which saw Santos becoming sole owner of the Mereenie oil and gas field west of Palm Valley, and Magellan of the Palm Valley field. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: The Palm Valley gas field. Hermannsburg is at top right of the picture, the Finke River at right and the Palm Valley at the bottom.

LETTER: Be careful with fracking!

With the Annual Geoscience Exploration Seminar (AGES) and Mining Services Expo being held in Alice Springs this week it is an opportune  time for all concerned members of the public and the exploration and mining industry to refocus on the Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry and Hydraulic Fracking and its potential adverse impact on Central Australia’s limited water resources, writes Bob Taylor, of Braitling. FULL STORY »

LETTER: The politics of caterpillars




Reader Andrea Hewett sent in this photo of hairy procession caterpillars. She says they remind her of our current political situation: They are going around in circles for hours, very slowly, no-one knows who the real leader is, and if you get too close to them they cause a major reaction. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Chief Minister summarises initiatives

Chief Minister Adam Giles writes about a string of initiatives by his government. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Inauguration of ICTV Channel 601 at Yuendumu

At 5pm CST on April 18 2013, Indigenous Community Television (ICTV) will officially commence full-time broadcasts on its own dedicated channel (601 on VAST). The occasion marks over 30 years of broadcasting in remote Indigenous communities.
Yuendumu, 300 km NW of Alice Springs, is the home of Warlpiri Media (now PAW Media & Communications), who shares with Ernabella (home of EVTV), the historic foundation of Indigenous television in Australia, writes Rita Cattoni, Manager, Indigenous Community Television Limited. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Alice first Australian town to adopt voluntary water use guidelines




Sir – A new water use Guide, which lists the top six actions to help Alice Springs residents save water was launched today on World Water Day at a free community breakfast (pictured) on the Town Council lawns, writes Liz Locksley, Alice Water Smart Homes and Business Manager. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Tourism continues its ups and downs



Sir – Tourism continues to experience ups and downs in the Territory, with more Australians visiting the NT last year but fewer international visitors travelling here writes Matt Conlan (pictured), Minister for Tourism and Major Events. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Looking for Ray and Brenda

I am trying to locate dear friends of mine from the past, Ray and Brenda Bensley, writes Bruce Long. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Don’t frack up the great Central Australia!

Sir – Reading the Alice News every week, I am constantly disappointed in reading how the social fabric is far from improving.
Week after week, the main article is the good old alcohol abuse, followed by the known outcome of such abuse.

So, you have to ask yourself what next. Well, after reading the article by Bob Taylor dated March 21, I now Fracking know, writes Jim Cleary, from Colorado. FULL STORY »

Film festival: no gladrags but a big buzz



Film festivals are mostly glittering occasions, great opportunities for the celebrities of showbiz but Alice Springs, as always, put its own twist on the opening of the Sydney Travelling Film Festival opened last night. ERWIN CHLANDA was there (in his best long trousers). FULL STORY »

LETTER: The Banned Drinkers Register did NOT work


The Banned Drinkers Register did not reduce drunken violence on our streets and did not stop drunks accessing alcohol.
A huge haul of alcohol (picture courtesy police) obtained by Alice Springs Police today illustrates why the BDR simply did not work, writes Chief Minister Adam Giles. FULL STORY »

The work of healing hands

“This book is about our hands and our faces, that’s our work, our hands,” explained Pantjiti McKenzie, one of the nine ngangkari present on Monday at the Desert Knowledge precinct to launch a new book about Anangu healing traditions – the use of healing hands, healing breath, insight and lifelong experience to renew the health and happiness of sick people.  KIERAN FINNANE reports.

At left: The book cover featuring the hands of Andy Tjilari. FULL STORY »

Trip to the dump as an election is looming


You always know when an election is around the corner: Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon is doing what he does best, namely spending public money.

Or in TV news footage he is standing close to someone else doing it.

Sources say that he will dole out $8m to the regions west of Alice Springs in the next few days, for more dialysis facilities and infrastructure support such as hostels.

And a media doorstop at the dump on Monday has attendees scratching their heads. ERWIN CHLANDA comments.

PHOTO: Smile! (From left) Cr Liz Martin, Mayor Damien Ryan, MLA Alison Anderson, MHR Warren Snowdon, Cr Brendan Heenan, Cr Geoff Booth and Cr Steve Brown. FULL STORY »

A star on British TV, ignored by Tourism NT

Alice Springs’ own Chris “Brolga” Barns of Kangaroo Dundee fame is delighting an overseas TV audience of 15 million.

The first show, having taken Britain by storm, will soon be running in the USA, and the shooting of a six part sequel is about to start.
It’s free publicity for Central Australia upon which promoters, one might have thought, could build a dream campaign.
But it seems the massively funded yet chronically underachieving Tourism NT doesn’t want to know Brolga. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.        FULL STORY        


See earlier readers’ comments.


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Anderson on juvenile misery, delinquency: We’ll make a change

In November 2007 we reported that Debbie King, a ward clerk at the Alice Hospital, drove her car on Wills Terrace past Anzac Hill (in the background of the photo) when a rock thrown from the hill crashed into her windscreen. Five and a half years later, pelting cars with stones is a rampant as ever. Last week a tourist bus was attacked twice in the space of one hour, the second time when it was ferrying visitors from a restaurant to their hotel. ERWIN CHLANDA spoke with the new Minister for Children and Families, Alison Anderson (at left). FULL STORY »

Mall works: a lesson not in engineering, but public relations?

“They should be working 24/7. They could have finished the job in a third of the time.”
It’s an understandable reaction by Todd Mall traders who are doing it tough – some of them very much so.
But the manager of yet another refurbishment of the town’s main drag says even if it had been decided to incur extra costs for labour, little would have been gained in terms of an earlier finish from working around the clock: constraints of keeping down construction noise at night in the vicinity of three tourist accommodation houses, preferred trading times of certain shops, the weather and trouble with documentation of existing underground services left little slack. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTOS: Above – Where the Sails used to be. At left – Lynn Treis in her shop mostly empty of customers.