Story Archive » Volume 24 » Issue 9 »

Black money

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Race will determine where the money will go following three NT Government decisions announced this week. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA. Pictured are Ministers Dale Wakefield (at left) and Ken Vowles (at right). FULL STORY »

Council not keen on offer of help to fight crime

24100 Phil Alice, Shane Lindner SM


The elite of traditional owners in Alice Springs got the cold shoulder from the town council last night as social initiatives of newly elected members were watered down or delayed in a marathon sitting. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Senior Arrernte man Phil Alice got little thanks for his offer to fight the juvenile crime explosion shoulder to shoulder with local government. FULL STORY »

Did Peace Pilgrims answer an extraordinary emergency?

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If they can establish that they were and that their action was a reasonable way to respond, then that could be a legal defence of their actions. But the Crown contends that it was an ordinary day and night at Pine Gap, business as usual, even if that business does involve drone strikes. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Leaders want town council help to fight youth crime

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Aboriginal elders are seeking a new lease of life for a long idle memorandum with the council in the wake of an alleged robbery by a 14-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy, and a violent clash outside the Catholic Church. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Floodlights at Anzac Hill to discourage rock throwing. FULL STORY »

Pine Gap’s role in drone warfare: former Senator, former PM

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Justice John Reeves allowed some evidence on the issue from both former senator Scott Ludlam, in the witness box, and former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, in a tendered radio interview. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Public money flowing into facility about to be closed

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Tradies are still busy refurbishing and expanding the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre which Michael Gunner says will be closed very soon. ERWIN CHLANDA. reports.


UPDATE Monday 9:40am


‘Royal Commission report will live as stain on the NT’

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As Chief Minister, I accepted the responsibility of making the changes necessary so no Chief Minister needs to address this again, writes Michael Gunner. Speakers at a small rally a short while ago (at left).


Batchelor negotiating major government contract

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One contract the institute had will be put out to tender, the other – worth $11m for the current year – is being negotiated for 2018. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


Strange encounters: the Peace Pilgrim and the Police Sergeant

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“Hi, Ken.” “Good morning, Margaret.” Not many cross-examinations begin this way. KIERAN FINNANE reports on an unusual relationship arising from the long history of protest at the Pine Gap military base. FULL STORY »

Emirates jetliner dumps fuel on Central Australia

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Local aviation enthusiast Mitch “Chip” Childs reveals incident while the airlines is tight-lipped about details. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


Royal Commission: Children’s voices are at the centre




Young Aboriginal people are by far the tragic majority in the horror statistics Commissioners Margaret White AO and Mick Gooda were confronted by.


Wide-ranging and drastic recommendations about government personnel and facilities.



Cut mining royalties to land councils: elder

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“White fellers” at the CLC – lawyers, anthropologists, administration  – “think they are the bosses,” says Senior Warlpiri man Robin Granites (pictured). Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.


How 50% solar in the NT by 2030 can mean 100% in Alice

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With an eye on Port Augusta where solar power dreams have become spectacular reality, RePower Alice Springs is starting to focus on how and when to make practical use of The Centre’s abundant resource, sunshine. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


Masterpiece to be lost as gallery planning plods on

2499 Earth’s Creation SM2499 Emily Kame Kngwarreye SMNo bids from government nor council at auction of Earth’s Creation (at left) by Emily Kngwarreye (at right). Report by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Peace Pilgrims: evidence on why, not if they were at Pine Gap

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They will be presenting evidence that Raytheon, which they suggest is a large private defence contractor at the base,  is also one of the world’s largest suppliers of weapons, and that Pine Gap is involved in providing targeting information for those weapons. However, Crown witness Sgt Kenneth Napier said Raytheon is no longer a “service provider” at the base. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Peace Pilgrims fight Pine Gap charges: their actions intended to defend themselves and others from imminent disaster

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They were allegedly detected standing on rocks on a steep hill within Pine Gap military base boundaries, playing musical instruments. They face charges with a maximum penalty of seven years on gaol. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

UPDATE 17 November 2017, 9.00am: The trials of the Peace Pilgrims have been raised in the Senate. FULL STORY »

Guilty: unanimous jury verdict for Peace Pilgrim

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The jury took little more than half an hour to reach their unanimous verdict. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

UPDATE, 15 November 2017, 6.15pm: Crown wants Peace Pilgrim to serve real time in gaol. FULL STORY »

Troubled kids: A year with little to show for

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In the past three months, only one out of every 41 youth detainees in the NT was not Aboriginal. And on any given day, more young Aboriginal people on remand, without convictions, fill youth detention centres than those with convictions. PATHI RAJ reports.


Territorians join nation in majority same sex marriage vote

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In the NT’s Lingiari electorate 54.5% voted Yes, in contrast to Solomon with 60.6% in favour, closer to the majority Australian result of  61.6%. FULL STORY »

Drug haul estimated at $850,000

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Police allege two men were running drugs from South Australia.


Pine Gap’s nuclear role and the alternative

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RICHARD TANTER, an acknowledged academic expert on nuclear weapons and international relations, describes the role of Pine Gap in a possible nuclear confrontation between the United States and an enemy state such a North Korea, and argues for the alternative, a nuclear ban treaty, already signed onto by the majority of the world’s governments. FULL STORY »

MyFuel prices up instead of down

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The Government got it wrong with the MyFuel web site which requires retailers to publish retail fuel prices, writes Opposition Leader Gary Higgins. 


Dual citizen rows: Tennant Creek had them first

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The Barkly is a long way from Canberra, but when it comes to wrangles about who can sit in Parliament and who can’t, that outback electorate had them first, recalls ALEX NELSON.


SA Bank Tax dead, NT should follow suit: Higgins




It is time for the Chief Minister to finally show leadership and categorically rule out a bank tax in the NT, writes Gary Higgins, Leader of the Opposition.


Peace Pilgrim says he had permission to be on Pine Gap

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He was there with the “permission, blessing and support” of Arrernte elders, Paul Christie told the Supreme Court this morning. KIERAN FINNANE  reports.


UPDATE, 14 November 2017, 6.20pm: Prosecutor says there’s a difference between ‘permission’ and ‘permit; Pilgrim concedes, asks jury for “mercy”. FULL STORY »

Mystery fault may have triggered blackout

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A long-time fault in the general area of the Sienna Village is likely to have caused Thursday’s blackout, and it took the new Remote Operations Centre in Darwin (picture by Territory Generation) too long to bring power back to Alice, says the Electrical Trades Union. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


The ex-Pom who nearly missed the boat

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Nigel Scullion’s dash to London to revoke his British citizenship: The events that turned the molehill into a mountain. By ALEX NELSON. 


15-year-old charged with assaulting police officer

15-year-old boy charged with assaulting a police officer in Alice Springs resulting in a head injury requiring hospital treatment. FULL STORY »

Here we go again …

2499 council chambers in rain SMIMG_4106 SMThe only “electrical activity” in town didn’t come from the power station but from the sky. The black-out has forced tonight’s council meeting to be postponed. The photo of the municipal chambers without the lights on (at left) is by Councillor Eli Melky, from his office across the road – also in darkness. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. AT RIGHT: But come 6:55pm and it’s all over bar the shouting. FULL STORY »

Trial of Peace Pilgrim begins

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Paul Christie is accused of being unlawfully in a prohibited area – the so-called Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap – on 3 October 2016. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

UPDATE, 13 November, 2017, 6.22pm: Court sees rare CCTV footage inside Pine Gap; hears from arresting officer who “gained subject control” of the non-violent peace activist.  FULL STORY »

Government breaches faith over CM appointment

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Professional correspondence between the Alice Springs News Online and the Chief Minister’s department was passed on to lawyers for Cliff Weeks (pictured) whose quarter of a million dollars a year appointment to the department’s Alice Springs office is subject to defamation action against The Australian newspaper. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


Call for public to monitor police at bottle shops

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Keep an eye on the cops at bottle shops, says alcohol control campaigner: A vicious cycle occurs when TBLs have gaps, booze purchases increase, causing a spike in crime that requires further withdrawals of police from points of sale, says PAAC. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.


Gas deal: They can’t blame Giles for this one!

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The Henderson Labor government saddled the Territory taxpayer with a deal ending in 2035 to buy gas, which it may not need, from an Italian company at a time when it seems hard to read the fickle market a fortnight ahead, let alone 15 years. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Paul Henderson (centre) with Labor candidates (from left) Adam Findlay, Rowan Foley and Deborah Rock and a journalist.


Your ideas for the CBD sought, again

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The government’s vision is wrapped up in a couple of minutes in a corporate-style video, leaving more questions than answers, and the public gets its say in an online survey. At stake, the expenditure of $20m and the future of the town centre.  KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

What place for Centre in Darwin’s Museum of the NT?

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The museum will “showcase what it means to be a Territorian”. Its Darwin site is chosen, architects are on board but otherwise it’s pretty much a $50m blank canvas. A small public meeting in Alice pondered if and how it can serve Central Australia. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Moss ties together three Alice projects worth $90m

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An art gallery, a cultural centre and mall revitalising are “delivering jobs and creating a safer community in Alice Springs,” writes Lauren Moss (at left), Minister for Tourism and Culture. She accuses Independent MLA for Araluen Robyn Lambley (at right) of not getting behind the projects. But Ms Lambley rejects this, saying as a CLP front bencher in the Giles Government she had backed extensive preparations for very similar projects. FULL STORY »

Scullion announces bonanza for Menzies




Indigenous Affairs Minister to spend $12m for more research of Indigenous children. Nothing of this will be for changing their lives on the ground. ERWIN CHLANDA comments.


Power out

Electricity is out across all of Alice Springs.



November 11: Looking to the past and the future

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Remembrance Day is an occasion to think about those who have died in wars, and those who may not need to  if we can turn around some global policies, write Dr Rosalie Schultz and Jonathan Pilbrow.  FULL STORY »

Seniors concessions praised, but questions about tiers

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$500 a year for seniors “good news” but capping power and water charges not welcome, writes Sue Shearer, CEO, COTA NT.


There’s more to renewables than sunshine

2494 Territory Generation 3 450Hydrogen in our pipelines, molten salt storage, running aircons off ice made during low demand, game changers for the NT: “We’ve got plans” exclaims Essential Services Minister Gerry McCarthy as Territory Generation’s CEO Tim Duignan maps out the road to 50% renewable by 2030. Photo: One of the 10 gas powered engines at the core of the $75m furore engulfing Adam Giles. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Fracking report delayed after flawed consultation

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A firm conducting community consultation in the Elliott area caused the fracking inquiry “utmost dismay and concern at [its] unacceptable conduct”. Now the job has to be done again, delaying the final report by three months. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


Newmont may build gas spur to Granites gold mine

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Piped gas may soon make the Tanami gold mines less exposed to being cut off by flooding, reports a mining magazine.


National Indigenous gallery process hijacked?

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KIERAN FINNANE comments on the current consultation about a possible site for a project we know very little about and on which we are yet to hear from the Minister (pictured) or the committee co-chairs. FULL STORY »

Top govt job in Centre: Long time local ignored

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A Western Australian facing serious criticism in his past job will take the top NT public service job in Alice while Bruce Deans, a former leading light in commerce and volunteer work, gets passed over. No comment from Dale Wakefield. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo from TV documentary Cry from the Heart. FULL STORY »

Students the winners in Rotary’s Melbourne Cup sweep

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Rotary Club of Alice Springs sells about 10,000 for charities supporting local tertiary students. PHOTO: Yesterday’s draw in the Yeperenye Centre.


Gunner ‘demotes’ Alice: art gallery options ‘lacklustre’

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This is a one-off opportunity for Alice Springs to have potentially a total of $90m of public funds available to upgrade and develop the CBD, writes Araluen MLA Robyn Lambley.


Recommendations in for National Indigenous Art Gallery site

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BREAKING NEWS: Two potential sites that best meet the requirements of a major national gallery have been identified. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

UPDATED 5.40pm.

UPDATE 12:45pm Friday:
Chamber of Commerce boss says the site close to the CBD is better.

UPDATE 4:15pm Friday:
Anzac Hill site is a very good idea: Mayor. FULL STORY »

Rock climb to close: Who wins?

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Tiny groups of private land owners control huge assets – our national parks, while the public purse is paying for them, comments ERWIN CHLANDA as the death knell has been sounded for climbing The Rock. PHOTO: Climbers ignore the sign at the base of The Rock.


Best street kids campaign, says Chamber CEO




Planned NT Government summer initiative announced by Mr Gunner (at left) will be “inclusive – not making kids feel like they are the enemy, pushing them away,” says Kay Eade. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


Question mark over $15m government racing funding

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“The issues surrounding recovery of funds” stolen by former Alice Springs Turf Club CEO Graham Smith, about $30,000, “are for the Alice Springs Turf Club,” says the NT Government’s Racing Commission. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


Katherine plans for ‘children’s children’: lessons for Alice?

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What lessons can Alice Springs learn from the experience of our northern neighbour, as our Town Council takes somewhat hesitant steps towards developing a master plan? KIERAN FINNANE speaks to Katherine Town Council’s get-up-and-go CEO. FULL STORY »

Outback Way to get more bitumen

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Nation’s longest shortcut to get shorter – in travelling time.


No money for dead people: Scullion




Media, Labor got it wrong in jobs for the dole reporting, writes NT Senator Nigel Scullion.


Shock statistics about out of home care

In 2015–16, Indigenous children were nine times as likely as non-Indigenous children to be admitted to care, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. FULL STORY »

Rock climb to be closed for good




The Rock is “not a playground or theme park like Disneyland”, says CLC executive member Sammy Wilson, who also chairs the jointly managed park’s board and runs a small tourism business. “We want you to come, hear us and learn.” FULL STORY »

Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid defunded

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From 1 January 2018, relevant funding has been awarded to North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA). This disempowers Aboriginal people of Central Australia, says the CAALAS board. LETTER TO THE EDITOR. FULL STORY »

Pine Gap peace activists return for trial




They were playing a musical lament on viola and guitar and praying  in the Pine Gap “prohibited area”. It could cost them fines of up to $42,000 each or gaol terms of up to seven years. FULL STORY »

Community solar: the devil is in the wires

2493 Ho Chi Minh electricity 3 SMThe good news is, prices for solar gear have come down hugely. But when it comes to community based electricity generation the wires remain a vexed question. ERWIN CHLANDA speaks with Alice Springs based expert Lyndon Frearson. Photo (from the Alice Springs News Online archive): Power wires in Ho Chi Minh City, a seemingly unregulated electricity distribution system. FULL STORY »

28 minutes with Dale Wakefield

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Tourism, booze, sport, troubled kids, transparent government – to what extent is The Centre’s top pollie prepared to engage with the public on The Centre’s major issues? She spoke with ERWIN CHLANDA. Photo: From the latest “industry update” by the CEO of Tourism NT, lots of images of The Rock, none of Alice or MacDonnells.


How vision and planning reversed a small town’s fortunes


When Alice Springs architect DOMENICO PECORARI recently spoke to the Town Council in support of its move to develop long-term, big picture planning (a master plan) for the town, he spoke of a planning success story he is familiar with on the other side of the world. FULL STORY »

Fewer police boots on the ground: Union.




Number of Indians down while Chiefs are up 20%, writes Paul McCue (pictured), NT Police Association President.


Students pitch business ideas for social benefit

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A tour bus by day turning into a homeless shelter at night; a family-friendly restaurant selling its own non-alcoholic beverages; a classroom on wheels, delivering extra-curricular programs in remote schools, doubling as a tourism venture on weekends and holidays: these were among St Philip’s Year 8 students’ ideas for businesses creating social impact. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Federal Court will hear NT youth detention class action

NT Government application fails to have the matter struck out or declassed, and instead heard as individual cases in the NT Supreme Court, writes Ben Slade, Maurice Blackburn Class Action Principal. FULL STORY »

Govt underestimates public support for Indigenous recognition: survey

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A national survey has found widespread support for Indigenous constitutional recognition, including the Voice to Parliament proposal, contrary to the Turnbull Government’s assertions last week. FULL STORY »

Master plan could turn around population and economic slump

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Zero population growth over the last decade, with losses particularly in the family-age groups, makes master planning for the long-term future of the town more urgent, Town Council hears. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Report shows huge variations in fracking benefits

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Increase to NT Government revenue could range from $29.1m to $143m of extra funding each year, from a net real income increase of between $36m and $222m per annum, writes Justice Rachel Pepper (pictured), Chair, Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory.


‘Govt fracking jobs figures out by a factor of 10’




Deloitte has claimed that in 2040 there would be 6,321 jobs in the highest possible fracking scenario, but ACIL Allen says now there will be only 558 jobs in their highest possible development scenario by the year 2043, writes Naomi Hogan (pictured) from the Lock the Gate Alliance.


Wakefield dodges questions on threats of violence to kids

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Families Minister does not see a role for herself in responding to threats of violence against children in local Facebook posts, such as a recent one that incites vigilantes to be “flogging the f**k” out of “little c**ts” congregating around town at night. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

PM second guesses Australian people: No to Indigenous Voice to Parliament

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The Turnbull Government will not put to a referendum the call by Australian First Nations to have an Indigenous ‘Voice to Parliament’ enshrined in the Constitution. FULL STORY »

Bashing of boys: Arrest warrant for accused

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Man charged fails to appear in court. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

NT pampered by the public purse




In the Territory, government spending per person is streets ahead of the national average, especially if you’re Indigenous, shows a Productivity Commission report released last night. But NT Treasurer Nicole Manison (pictured) ain’t happy. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Council buys property next to its depot

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Land costing three quarters of a million dollars to be on short term lease to recyclers. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Police: We do not condone vigilantes

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Police reject allegations of misconduct in an investigation of bashings of two boys last week, and say they “do not support or condone any vigilante activity”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Ratepayer, do you want your money back?



In a surprise turnaround a majority of councillors have supported Cr Eli Melky’s motion. It suggests a shift in the balance of power on council. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Bottle shop cops ‘security guards, paid for by the taxpayer’




Police Commissioner appears to succumb to political pressure, ordering cops to be “standing at a privately-owned bottle shop as a pseudo security guard,” writes Paul McCue, NT Police Association President (pictured). FULL STORY »

Barkly needs a master plan, says Mayor

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It would pull together opportunities from the gas pipeline, re-opening of mines, and the council recently creating a cross border economic alliance with Mt Isa Town, writes Mayor Steven Edgington (pictured).


UPDATE 8:50am: Statement from Minister for Primary Industry and Resources, Ken Vowles.


Fuel firm on warpath with Alice upgrades Katherine site

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A service station with Pie Face restaurant offering “artisan roasted coffee” for Top End town while three proposed projects in Alice are subject to a wrangle with the town council. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

NT lags on locator devices for people lost in the bush

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Satellite gadgets for locating people lost in the bush are a no brainer these days, but in The Centre the wheels are turning slowly, as the “help, we’re lost” message from an American couple last week emphasised again. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


How much of Parrtjima’s $2m goes out of town?

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Well, the government isn’t saying. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Passing of the Namatjira matriarch

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Just six short days after the Namatjira copyright victory, one of the principal figures in the fight for its return to her family passed away. FULL STORY »

Only 3 of Turnbull’s 38 northern roads started, all in Qld

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There is a massive underspending on Northern Australia infrastructure projects by the Federal Government, says Anthony Albanese, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Tourism. FULL STORY »

Cattlemen support Pastoral Land Act amendments

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The Northern Land Council needs to stop running interference on every single improvement that both governments and industry make for the good of all Territorians, writes Tom Stockwell (pictured), President Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association. FULL STORY »

Solar centre breathes new life into Desert Knowledge

2489 DKA solar centre SMThe precinct’s 39 sun-powered electricity generators illustrate much of the industry’s short history and is a research facility used the world over. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Town council denies blocking new servos

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A fuel company alleges the Town Council is blocking the construction of three service stations in Alice Springs. The council is due to issue a response shortly. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE from council at 4:10pm FULL STORY »

We’ve got the sunshine, they’ve got the people

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Add this one to the assets of your home in Alice: Lots of cheap electricity, independent from the big end of town.  ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

When NT was officially ‘a country for the White Man’

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The White Australia Policy was the official line for development of the north when the Territory’s first Administrator, John Anderson Gilruth, took up his post. Ted Egan AO tells the story his latest book. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Booze report: What the government is likely to do.




Bring back an independent liquor commission, lobby the Feds for a volumetric tax, law for 400 square meter floor limit to go, and a floor price on alcohol products to prevent alcohol related harms, writes Natasha Fyles, Attorney-General and Minister for Health. FULL STORY »

Namatjira copyright breakthrough: family, galleries celebrate

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After years of campaigning by descendants and Big hArt, 100% of the renowned artist’s copyright has been transferred to the Namatjira Legacy Trust, with entrepreneur and philanthropist Dick Smith helping clinch the deal. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Pine Gap and the Nobel prize the Oz government ignores

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The role of our spy base under Trump who wants to increase the US nuclear arsenal tenfold. Local peace activist RUSSELL GOLDFLAM comments.


Warrant for police search of construction firm office

Police say they have a warrant to search the premises of MPH Constructions in Alice Springs but will give no further details. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE October 13, 2:39pm. FULL STORY »

CBD planning: The vibrants are at it again

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Another town plan in the making: The public is invited to have its say but it appears much is already set in concrete. It seems the government is hoping it will get leave to squeeze the town’s future into a template already cast. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.