Story Archive » Volume 21 » Issue 18 »

June 14, 2014

Ministers mum on threat to West MacDonnells, tourism promotion fiasco




Two ministers with key roles in The Centre’s troubled tourism industry have declined to be interviewed about their failure to get visitor numbers up, and to arrest a major threat to the West MacDonnell Ranges national park. Tourism Minister Matt Conlan relied on a written statement, short on specifics, from a minder to respond to questions from the Alice Springs News Online. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Trekker thigh-deep in the weed buffel on the Larapinta trail about, three kilometers west of Ormiston Gorge last week. Parks Minister Bess Price, the custodian of the tourism industry’s majors asset, the West Macs, is sitting on her hands. FULL STORY »

Salt mine near Alice planned to be region’s biggest private employer


The company Tellus Holdings says it wants its planned salt mine at Titjikala, 120 kms south of Alice Springs, to be the region’s bigger private employer. RACHEL McFADDEN reports. PHOTO: A salt mine in Germany (courtesy Tellus). FULL STORY »

‘Gift’ costs ratepayers $75,000



p2140-Stuart-statue-base-frIt was supposed to be a gift to the ratepayer from the Freemasons. Now the John McDouall Stuart statue is going to cost the town $75,000. Work has begun on the base: the concrete needs to cure for 28 days before loads can be applied. KIERAN FINNANE reports.



Time to hold the line on carbon.




Claims that carbon pricing will crunch our economy when there is so much evidence to the contrary should be judged harshly by the electorate. Central Australia, with abundant sources of renewable energy, stands to be a significant beneficiary of carbon pricing which will encourage solar energy harvesting and carbon farming. FULL STORY »

Shopping for a hijab can be fun





While walking between tour agents one afternoon comparing their prices for a sunrise trip to the top of the local volcano, my eye was caught by the sign over a hijab store in Malang, Java. FULL STORY »

Thumbs up for two Finke winners and 300 volunteers

When Victorians Ian and Shannon Rentsch (pictured) blasted home to win the Tattersalls Finke Desert Race this morning, they got a well-deserved thumbs up. But the other half of the story is the sensational effort by hundreds of local volunteers, performing tasks ranging from cleaning dunnies to operating the Finke website, year after year, without pay. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Meeting suspending director not valid, says land council




A statement from the Central Land Council (CLC) today says “no valid meeting of the Executive” has taken place and the “purported dealing with the employment of David Ross” is of no effect. The statement follows the leaking to the Alice Springs News Online of a letter from CLC chairman Maurie Japarta Ryan to Mr Ross (pictured), the director of the CLC, suspending him “effective immediately”. (See report posted yesterday.) FULL STORY »

‘Alice water plan out of sight & mind of locals’





We are concerned that changes to the Alice Springs Water Allocation Plan (ASWAP) as prescribed by Councillor Steve Brown are being developed in Darwin, out of sight and mind of Alice Springs residents, writes JIMMY COCKING (pictured) of the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC).


Squeeze on jobs: not necessarily a bad thing



Gone are the golden days when just about anyone could walk into a job in Alice Springs. Although the unemployment rate is low here compared to the national rate, the job market has become more competitive. It’s not that there are fewer jobs, there is more competition from an interstate and overseas workforce and this is not necessarily a bad thing, says Kay Eade, Executive Officer at the Chamber of Commerce. RACHEL McFADDEN reports. FULL STORY »

NT pays back to mining industry almost all its royalties

The Northern Territory taxpayers are providing massive assistance to the mining industry, a staggering $407 million over six years, which is enough to fund 799 doctors, according to The Australia Institute (TAI).



Mad hatters come out to play in Alice



Here’s a Mad Hatter’s riddle for you: Where’s the world’s largest festival celebrating the art of keeping your head warm? No, not in the frigid climes of Scandinavia or Alaska but here in Alice, centre of the desert heartland of Australia. This year’s Beanie Festival was the 18th and Friday’s opening night at the Araluen Arts Centre was attended by thousands sharing in the head-warming festivities, catching a glimpse of the mad hats on show and sipping wine, chai and coffee with old friends and new. RACHEL McFADDEN reports. FULL STORY »

The joy of an Hour of Power



From years of teaching dance, Melissa Kerl has learned that many people just want to dance without being limited by choreography. She and collaborator Franca Barraclough are hosting just such an opportunity with their Hour of Power sessions on a Tuesday night. More a celebration of people’s everyday desire to move than a class or rehearsal, this is mostly a freeform experience, but Kerl and Barraclough bring to it a few embracing rituals. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

From gorgeous to outrageous

p2141-Couture-Sinead-orangeIt’s recycling at its most refined and at times most playful. From heirloom lace, vintage kimonos, linens and silks to old tablecloths, curtains, jumpers, unpicked, cut up, restructured, even boiled to make “fashion statements” from the gorgeous to the outrageous. The name of the process, Sustainable Couture, is also an event and once again it packed out the Aviation Museum last Thursday, the opener of a five-day celebration of textile arts. KIERAN FINNANE reports.  FULL STORY »

Stop skimping on WiFi, Alice




I will admit to an expectation of easy and nearly universal access to free Wi-Fi before starting this trip into Java. Previous trips to SE Asia had given me some idea of what to expect, but even with those recent experiences, I was still not prepared for what I have found.


A lesson from mining that went bad




I was picked up this morning from my hotel under the Surabaya airport’s flight path and taken to the mud flats at nearby Lapindo. There’s a lesson in those flats for prospective miners who do not take sufficient care. It seems a company was drilling for gas and managed to puncture one of our planet’s membranes. FULL STORY »

Alice Springs ED was initiative of Federal and Territory Labor





The NT Government’s Minister for Health Robyn Lambley said that the Alice Springs Hospital’s new Emergency Department was a success.  I welcome this and am proud that I could get $13.6 million of Federal funding to partner with the former Territory Labor Government to get this facility built, writes WARREN SNOWDON, Member for Lingiari. FULL STORY »


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NTG should release Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Act review




Now that the NT Health Minister Robyn Lambley has come clean that the purpose of Alcohol Mandatory Treatment (AMT) is to get drunks off the streets, the Government should release the findings of its review of the Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Act that closed four months ago, and get rid of the inequitable offences of breaching either an AMT order or an Alcohol Protection Order. It is high time that Minister Lambley released the results of a review of the Act, writes Dr JOHN BOFFA for the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition. FULL STORY »

Land Council executive moves to suspend CEO






Members of the Central Land Council (CLC) have moved to suspend David Ross as the CEO of the council, according to a letter dated May 30 and leaked to the Alice Springs News Online. FULL STORY »

CSIRO staff in Alice Springs protest over funding cuts



Local CSIRO Staff Association members and supporters are joining with other regional laboratories across Australia holding a day of protest tomorrow, Tuesday 24 June.We do not yet know whether our Alice Springs CSIRO office will lose any of its staff but we are deeply concerned at the impact of federal government budget cuts, which will result in the loss of 700 staff across Australia over the next twelve months, writes Dr JOCELYN DAVIES and local Staff Association members. FULL STORY »

Who will benefit from Utopia’s new police station?



Who is going to benefit from a new police complex at Utopia, now called Arlparra, estimated to cost $7m? ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: The existing demountables which seem to be adequate. FULL STORY »

New Emergency Department delivering results




The Alice Springs Hospital community is celebrating the first anniversary of the new Emergency Department, which has has recorded more than 43,000 attendances since the Country Liberals Government built the larger facility in mid-June last year. This is more than 3000 patients than the older facility was able to treat in the previous 12 months, writes Minister for Health ROBYN LAMBLEY.  FULL STORY »

Taxpayers happy in 2014





Those who spent Friday afternoon behind the wheel may have heard news (ABC Radio) that a majority of Australians are now happy to pay their taxes, writes our new columnist, RICHARD BENTLEY. FULL STORY »

Boot camps could be what troubled youths need



The Northern Territory Government’s first ever Early Intervention Youth Boot Camp has been held in Central Australia with seven male youths completing the 10 day course. The program is aimed at youths who have been identified as at risk of entering into the justice system and could be the intervention that troubled youths need to turn their lives around. Ten males aged 12-14 were identified for the first boot camp, writes Minister for Correctional Services JOHN ELFERINK.

First youth boot camps get underway




The first group of young Territorians to participate in the Government’s new early intervention youth boot camp programs will tomorrow take their first steps towards getting their lives back on track, says Minister for Correctional Services John Elferink (pictured) in a media release. FULL STORY »

Assaults and alcohol-related assaults down Territory-wide




The Northern Territory has experienced a dramatic drop in assaults over the four months that tough new alcohol policies have been in effect. Territory-wide there has been a 16% reduction in assaults in the four months to April 2014 compared to the same period last year. Assaults are down by 25% in Alice Springs, write Chief Minister ADAM GILES and Attorney-General JOHN ELFERINK. FULL STORY »

Noise ‘deafening’ from school basketball court


Sir – I have some unanswered questions regarding the shed structure for the basketball courts at Centralian Middle School. The noise generated is deafening, writes local resident Ron Kern.

See update with the reply of Minister Chandler. FULL STORY »

Telstra to fix mobile reception, but it will take a while




Telstra, for now at least, is adopting a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude to the mobile phone fiasco at the Finke and the recent Ulysses meeting (pictured), and the ongoing problems with slow internet connections and call drop-outs south of the MacDonnell range. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Immersed in metal


Central Australia is making a serious name for itself in the metal music scene. Leading the way is Uncreation, who come under the Black Wreath label, a local outfit, five larrikin lads all hailing from Alice Springs. JULZ WILLSON got an earful – and liked it. FULL STORY »

Todd Mall: Butt out!

p2105-Mall-al-fresco-frontCouncillor Jade Kudrenko is calling for council to enforce its smoke-free policy in Todd Mall and Todd Street North: “I find it quite frustrating that people can smoke in the Mall when it is very packed. In this day and age it is something we should not accept. If people wish to smoke that’s fine but they shouldn’t do so in those extremely packed areas.” RACHEL McFADDEN reports.  FULL STORY »

Building contracts: Giles govt. should stand up for small business

Steve Brown comment



With the Giles Government now halfway through a term it was with some disgust this week that I discovered that the very mechanism used to rort the SIHIP funding for Aboriginal Housing is still in play. FULL STORY »

Stuart statue update: Break-down of the $75,000.

The Town Council has responded to doubts about the cost of $75,000 for the relocation of the controversial Stuart statue by releasing the break-down of the costs. FULL STORY »

EXCLUSIVE: Desert Knowledge: management, board to be replaced after crushing report




The hype was huge when nearly five years ago, a $10m Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) project linking businesses across the outback was launched in Alice Springs with a video link across much of the nation.
Not much is left of that today as a report commissioned by the NT Government has little good to say about the organisation that, the report claims, “myopic optimism that … is further demonstrated in the self-referential nature of the Board, the senior management and those with whom it decides to engage.”

In September 2009, DKA CEO John Huigen (blue tie) and NT Minister Chris Burns (on the screen at left) in Darwin joined Federal Parliament and nine towns in Desert Australia via a video link on Monday to launch an initiative that will make the buck stop in the outback. Joy Taylor, DK Network Development, did the talking in The Alice. Ron Saint (seated at right), from project partner Telstra, was in the launch audience. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Bess Price unable to explain her policies, says Opposition




CLP Minister Bess Price was unable to explain her comments calling for changes to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in the estimates hearing,writes Ken Vowles (pictured) Shadow Minister for Indigenous Policy. FULL STORY »

More than a driveway, it’s a story


In a town bent on ever hardening its face with lowest common denominator concreting – filling garden beds, roundabouts, median strips – at 8 Hele Crescent owners Mike Gillam and Maria Giacon show what is possible with thought and imagination. KIERAN FINNANE reports. Pictured from left, the  team: builder Matt Hablethwaite, Mike Gillam, Maria Giacon, builder Jamie McKnight and concreter Richard Castine.


Sequins to satire: life at The Totem

p2142-Totem-5SMCommunity spirit is alive and well in Alice Springs, with close to two-dozen volunteers attending a working bee at the Totem Theatre last Saturday. It was many a young girl’s (and boy’s) fantasy: piles of tutus, flamboyant gowns, stage props scattered across the lawn. The volunteers, lending hand and muscle, got in the mood, draping themselves in sequins and tulle. But theatre  can also be the vehicle for exploring more pressing concerns. RACHEL McFADDEN reports. FULL STORY »

Javanese eyes on Alice



In the Javanese city of Jogjakarta, where Akiq Abdul Wahid comes from, “everything happens in the street”. In Alice Springs, which he is visit on an exchange residency, he has noticed that the street is a place for getting to what is happening. If there’s something to observe in the street – apart from our mostly lack-lustre urban environment – it’s the social tension. How he has interpreted that is on show at Watch This Space. KIERAN FINNANE reviews. FULL STORY »

Yarning around the campfire? Not here, mate.

Steve Brown comment



I was disturbed to hear on ABC radio this morning, as reported by the Alice Springs News Online last Saturday, a story about Territory Parks and Wildlife demanding that hikers on the Larapinta Trail cease lighting camp fires and carry gas cookers. FULL STORY »


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