Story Archive » Volume 25 » Issue 17 »

Handbag snatched



A 26-year-old woman was at a café in the Todd Mall this morning when her handbag was stolen by an unknown youth who then fled from the location. The handbag was subsequently recovered. FULL STORY »

Government and council bicker over youth 



The testy relationship between the Town Council and the Territory Government looks set to only get testier in the countdown to the Territory election. KIERAN FINNANE reports on their tit-for-tat on youth issues. FULL STORY »

Jamie Chalker appointed Police Commissioner



The appointment today of Katherine born Jamie Chalker (pictured) as the Police Commissioner has prompted the Police Association to say it is “looking forward to seeing the reinstatement of Territory values” to the force “following the sudden departure” of former Commissioner Reece Kershaw to the Australian Federal Police. FULL STORY »

A concert of hybrid culture celebrates climb down at Uluru

Maraku Inma performers and the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir all knew the words of Shane Howard’s “Solid Rock”,  spontaneously dancing during the sound check in heart lifting delight. The same thing happened with Garrett’s “Beds are Burning”. “Person-to-person recognition and reconciliation has been going on underground for a long time. We don’t need long speeches,” writes CRAIG SAN ROQUE.  FULL STORY »

Fracking elephant in room of NTG climate response



It also needs a legislative framework to have legs, strategies and implementation plans to bring down greenhouse emissions, and adaptation measures addressing, among others, water and food security. The response has got none of these, writes Estelle Roberts.  FULL STORY »

Portraits: it takes two

“While Smith has been better known to us as a landscape painter, I think we can question the division – landscape artist / portrait artist – if we shift the focus from object to process and realise that what is on offer is about a kind of intimate engagement that arises from intense looking with an open heart and senses,” writes KIERAN FINNANE. FULL STORY »

Former Anzac Hill High School: time to take stock



With Chief Minister Michael Gunner safely out of the country on a trade mission, and the public completely in the dark about what his government will be using the land for, the demolition of the historic Anzac High is underway in the face of public protest. ALEX NELSON reviews the issues. FULL STORY »

Climate change: Home insurance shock



Flood mitigation inaction will drive up insurance costs, create “uninsurability,” according to a national study supplied to the ABC. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Minister Moss defends heritage record

She answers our questions following a ritual burning of the Heritage Act by campaigners protesting the imminent destruction of the old Anzac Hill High. Chief Minister Michael Gunner has ignored those put to him about his government’s intentions for the site. KIERAN FINNANE reports. Pictured is the Coles mural whose heritage value Minister Moss feels is sufficiently protected by documentation.


Heritage Act: not worth the paper it is written on


With several heritage sites around town “on death row”,  a ritual burning of the Act was held at the gates of the former Anzac Hill High this morning by a small but ardent group. And thus far the bulldozers do not seem to have moved in at the school site.  KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

How hard is it to keep cattle out of a small conservation reserve?

The Corroborre Rock Conservation Reserve, 42 kilometres east of Alice Springs, one of the jewels in our tourism crown, is not much bigger than a rural residential block. It is currently invaded by cattle and horses. Fencing is too hard, says Parks and Wildlife, and Aboriginal rangers – just equipped with new powers – don’t control cattle, says the Central Land Council. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Guarding his culture with spear, canvas and book

A unique manifesto as well as a fascinating account of a life well lived, a hymn of praise to the culture that nourished it, a testimony to one man’s vision and resolve. KIERAN FINNANE reviews Kulinmaya! by Kunmanara Williams. FULL STORY »

Thieves target master keys, steal from motel rooms

Alleged daylight robbery in South Terrace on Monday. FULL STORY »

Sacred sites authority mum on Melanka trees



The Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority is wrapping into red tape an enquiry by the Alice Springs News about sacred trees on the Melanka block in the CBD. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Rock climb closure: total government control of media



Public servants will declare what is “news of the day” and what is not as media prepare to cover the end of an era under an avalanche of restrictions. Absurdly the restriction do not, and of course cannot, apply to the ocean of social media. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Mammoth police training less then 12 months from election



A normal squad of 30 before the busy Christmas period would have made more sense, writes Paul McCue (pictured), Police Association President. FULL STORY »

NT party changes name to make its point




It will also avoid confusion with another political organisation, says president Braedon Earley (pictured). FULL STORY »

No to halting Anzac High demolition: tribunal

Undeterred, local historian Alex Nelson will now attempt to get an injunction in the NT Supreme Court. The clock is running down to Monday, when demolition proper is due to start, with heavy machinery procured by the contractor en route.  KIERAN FINNANE reports.


UPDATE, 18 October 2019, 11.22am: In reasons published today, the NTCAT President says review sought by Mr Nelson would have “at least an arguable prospect of success”. FULL STORY »

Big drops in grog crime, break-ins on way down: police

Alcohol-related crime is at a 10 year low, including a 28% drop in assaults, and astonishing drops in public drinking and protective custodies at the watch house – 72%  and 71% repectively. Even in the case of break-ins, there is a downward trend after a significant rise last summer. This was some of the “good news” presented to the Town Council last night by Police Commander Bradley Currie. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Blackout: Managers must go, says union source


They are CEO Tim Duignan and Grant Chorvat (at left), General Manager Assets and Operations. But the Electrical Trades Union also has a bone to pick with Essential Services Minister Dale Wakefield who a source says has been the mouthpiece for Territory Generation spin, pointing to a clipping (pictured) from the company’s newsletter.


UPDATE 3.20pm: Statement from Minister Wakefield –We have facilitated discussions between Territory Generation and the Electrical Trade Union on concerns raised with the transition from Ron Goodin Power Station to the Owen Springs Power Station.

We will continue to work with Ron Goodin Power Station (RGPS) employees and the independent consultant chosen by the Electrical Trades Union to minimise impacts of the transition from RGPS to OSPS.

UPDATE Oct 16, 1.20pm: TGen’s CEO Tim Duignan: Owen Springs Power Station expansion project, including the substation expansion, was completed for $72.9m. FULL STORY »

The entitlement of not answering questions



Is ethnic profiling practiced by the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress? Maybe there will now be an answer to an issue raised a year ago by pensioner and enthusiastic commentator on local issues, Evelyne Roullet (pictured). Report by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Gas fracked in NT could double nation’s emissions

Fracking the NT’s gas reserves could contribute about 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year if industry projections play out. Australia’s total domestic emissions for the most recent year – the highest ever recorded – were 560 million tonnes., writes the Lock the Gate Alliance. FULL STORY »

The good and the bad of spending money we don’t have

“Massive infrastructure spend” or “we can’t afford more than $1m a day in interest”. Take your pick. FULL STORY »

Thieves ram cars out of compound

Two children are alleged to have broken into a CBD building, stolen car keys and having embarked on “erratic” joy ride of three vehicles. FULL STORY »

Lame duck MLA, says Katherine voter



Shameful behaviour by the former Member for Katherine Willem Westra van Holthe and the poor performance of the Giles administration contributed to the Labor victory in Katherine, as also did the fact that Sandra Nelson (at left) stood on an anti-fracking platform and received preferences from another anti-fracking candidate. But Labor will lose Katherine, writes Bruce Francais (at right). FULL STORY »

Interrogating council’s Climate Action Plan




Concerned residents are maintaining their interest in the progress of the CAP, including its “exciting” plan for turning food waste into a resource rather than a greenhouse gas emitter at the landfill.  KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

No changes to non-pastoral use of cattle land



Minister Eva Lawler (pictured) is encouraging Aboriginal land councils and cattlemen to continue with discussion. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Arrernte Mary and Jesus watch over Alice’s Catholics



A stained glass window created from a painting by well-known artist and senior Eastern Arrernte woman Kathleen Kemarre Wallace was unveiled  on Saturday, marking the 90th anniversary of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart parish in Alice Springs, and the 50th anniversary of the church building. FULL STORY »

Pine Gap: The link Alice has to Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds


“We have agreed to nest the Pine Gap facility just outside this town. We are involved in the geopolitical drama as much, or even more than any other citizens of Australia. And yet we cannot question this relationship of trust. Is the United States still trustworthy?” Craig San Roque poses the question. He is portrayed as a Senior Territorian by Henry Smith.


UPDATE Oct 16, 9.15am: This is a comment from Jules Cashford, a colleague in the UK and contributor to the forthcoming book  Cultural Complexes and the Soul of America. FULL STORY »

No power for eight hours on hot, humid day


Territory Generation’s pledge last week to provide “a stable and reliable electricity grid for the Alice Springs region” has a hollow ring after an eight hour blackout yesterday. ERWIN CHLANDA will be seeking answers from TGen, Power Water Corporation and Treasurer Nicole Manison (at right), the NT’s electricity system’s sole shareholder on behalf of the people of the NT.






Legal action as Anzac school demolition starts



Local historian Alex Nelson makes an application to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act to examine the rejection by the Heritage Council of the listing application and is calling on MLAs Scott McConnell and Robyn Lambley to initiate an independent judicial inquiry into the issues. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Boyer Lectures aim to reignite recognition debate



The 2019 Boyer Lecture series in a month’s time, entitled The End of Silence will be delivered by Rachel Perkins (pictured) to inject new momentum into the call for a First Nations voice to Parliament. Since 1959 the Boyer Lectures have been a platform to stimulate conversation about critical ideas. This year will be one of the most important lectures in recent times, writes MARK J SMITH. FULL STORY »

Fracking foes to take protest to Origin meeting

Many Native Title holders were never consulted by Origin at all, even though they have a legal obligation to talk to them. And the meeting takes place amidst concerns by pastoralists on stations where Origin have begun civil works last month, write Ray Dimakarri Dixon, Daniel Tapp and Marylou Potts. FULL STORY »

Election 2020 salvos fired with Alice the first battleground

Compulsory acquisition of Town Council owned Anzac Oval for the art gallery is on the table. Mayor Damien Ryan position in council is compromised as a CLP candidate. Anzac High (at right) faces demolition starting Monday. But not all is bad in politics: Namatjira MLA Chansey Paech (at left) is adjusting to a re-jigged electorate and patiently pursuing resolution of the flagrant misuse of rural residential land. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

About Bronnie, RIP



Bronwyn Beesley  (centre) was a living working entity of Central Craft, writes PHILOMENA HALI, in great sadness. FULL STORY »

Visitor spend increased in 2018/19


But The Rock remains far ahead of Alice Springs and MacDonnell combined, as fresh Tourism Research Australia statistics show. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Part of the crowd at the A cappella in the Gorge, at Ormiston this year. Many came from interstate and overseas. FULL STORY »

Police want to speak with this man




Unlawful entries, car theft are being investigated. FULL STORY »

How do NT Labor and the CLP rate on heritage?



Labor’s track record is showing up as considerably worse than the CLP of old and can only be considered a complete and utter betrayal in abject subservience to unaccountable commercial interests, comments ALEX NELSON. FULL STORY »

Conflict of interest raised in council’s rejection of gallery offer


The Town Council rejects the NT Government’s Aboriginal art gallery offer as Ministers Wakefield (left) and Moss (right) raise the question whether a “conflict of interest exists with their elected officials”. Mayor Damien Ryan has announced he will be a CLP candidate at the next election. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Labor, CLP discuss preference swaps: Scott McConnell


Candidates of the major parties set to gang up on independents in history-making deals. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Scott McConnell.


UPDATE Oct 9, 1pm: Ms Wakefield and Mr Ryan have neither confirmed nor denied the accuracy of reports received by Mr McConnell. FULL STORY »

Private $25m residential project for health staff


Chief Minister Michael Gunner (pictured) announces private construction of 70 dwellings near the hospital to be leased by Central Australian Health Services for its staff. FULL STORY »

Old visitors centre trashed


The former visitors centre adjacent to the Alice Springs library has been trashed. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE October 10: Updates from the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics and from the police.


UPDATE October 10, 4pm: It was proposed to lease out the building for a peppercorn rent to amateur historians and photographers but that was rejected by public servants “because we can get a lot more for it, it’s valuable real estate”. FULL STORY »

Government electricity firm in trouble as solar booms

A gloomy Territory Generation forecast says solar power is driving the government-owned electricity company into financial difficulties. Meanwhile the Electrical Trades Union is scathing about the commissioning of the Owen Springs powerhouse and expects blackouts during summer, saying the now mothballed Ron Goodin power station (pictured) should be maintained for back up generation. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE: Dale Wakefield says ENI is investing $82m in the construction of three solar farms which will support 170 jobs and create power for the equivalent of 13,000 homes.


UPDATE 5.10pm: Statement from TGen CEO Tim Duignan on a power outage yesterday.

UPDATE Oct 9, 11.30am: TGen CEO Tim Duignan provided a statement about the transition to the new Owen Springs power station in stages “to ensure a reliable supply of electricity to Alice Springs region”. FULL STORY »

NT Minister Paul Kirby hawking gas sales



Labor Resources Minister Paul Kirby (pictured) to create “multi-generational opportunities for Territorians and local businesses” from gas sales to Japan. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Listen to the experts: town camp women on DV



Their lived experience is what makes them the experts; they know the good ways to work, they have the knowledge, the stories and the resilience to share. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

What would John Clarke have said?


Among the bitterness and ego of contemporary politics, finding a way to engage us, make us laugh, and focus on important issues through that prism, even the NT Intervention. John Clarke (pictured) was able to do it at least once a week and over a very long period. By MARK J SMITH. FULL STORY »

Politicking or community: What to do about youth crime?

Once again, the Town Council will turn its attention to what more they can do to curb antisocial and criminal behaviour in the town. From council to council, from Territory election to Territory election, the terms of the debate, the range of possible actions being considered scarcely shift, but in this council they have a bitter undertow. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Gunner’s reasons for demolishing Anzac High don’t stack up

Two historic buildings containing asbestos – Chapman House at Pitchi Ritchi and and the Seven Mile Aerodrome have received public money for restoration. The old Anzac High School has not. All have asbestos. The NT Government has not given any coherent reasons for this, including to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Analysis by ALEX NELSON. FULL STORY »

Climate: Spreading the word across generations



School strikers for climate action take their message from the street to the meeting room of the Rotary Club of Alice Springs. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Council backflip on Anzac Oval heritage


Last January it supported the application. The oval has since been recommended for listing but last Monday council, who own it on behalf of the community, withdrew its support. KIERAN FINNANE reports on this mystifying decision. FULL STORY »

Council on climate: wide-ranging action as matter of urgency

Even more people packed into the Town Council’s public gallery last night to support Councillor Jimmy Cocking in his bid to get council to do more about the changing climate. His persistence, their persistence paid off. The language of emergency was not adopted, but support to strengthen council’s response across the board was, unanimously. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Gold theft: the demise of a wattle

To improve drainage along almost a kilometre of Colonel Rose Drive all trees and shrubs succumbed to the grader blades. It was land on which had grown some of the most prolific stands of Colony Wattle – now in full golden bloom. On the other side of the road, camels were introduced. They nibble on some bushes but have devastated the wattle. DES NELSON reports. FULL STORY »

Bushfires: Government by reports



One minister, Eva Lawler, releases a three-year bushfire volunteer strategy while her front bench colleague, Lauren Moss, is still waiting for the evaluation of the 17-day January blaze which devastated half of the West MacDonnells. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Tourism treasures waiting for smart government spending


A plan to open up country around the Gulf of Carpentaria – the potential water playground for Central Australians, has been gathering dust for nearly 30 years. Guest commentator GRAEME HOCKEY went there and concluded the NT Government is spending money in all the wrong places. FULL STORY »

Cr Melky: Mayor’s CLP candidacy, a risk for the council?


The risk is for conflict of interest and breach of public trust. To avoid either, Cr Melky suggests that candidates who are also councillors should avoid the use of council resources other than for strictly council business. Resources include car, phone, office, title and more, he said. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Government fails bush on health, police: McConnell



Armed police in Alice Springs are making sure that the wrong person doesn’t buy a sixpack while health staff are fleeing remote areas where they don’t feel safe. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Meanwhile Independent MLA Scott McConnell is calling for an investigation “at the highest level”.


UPDATE, 13 November 2019, 8.27pm: A 28-year-old male Northern Territory police officer has been charged with one count of murder in relation to the Yuendumu shooting. 


Gallery and library: political game vs solutions

The doors have opened a crack on the ongoing machinations about the possible location of the proposed national Aboriginal art gallery and are set to open wider with Town Councillors pushing for  all correspondence between council and the NT Government on the issue to be brought out of confidential. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

See UPDATES: Further comment from Minister Wakefield; response from former council CEO Mooney.


Wakefield, Ryan star in the Phantom of the Art Gallery


The art gallery, public money, dealings behind closed doors, a historic pub – the curtain goes up on the next act of the town’s comic opera. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Truckies on ice, foreign tourist with LSD, dope in 13 cars



Police say they will step up searches and testing in cross border operations, including alcohol runners, with Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia police. FULL STORY »

The drought isn’t the only worry on the land



Drought, disagreement over non-pastoral pursuits on cattle land, looming industrial manslaughter legislation, access by frackers: It’s a big agenda for the president of the NT Cattlemen’s Association, Chris Nott (pictured). Report by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

‘Cop will be labelled for the rest of his life as a blackfeller killer’

UPDATE:  Police say the officer was “stabbed with an edged weapon”.


Otto Jungarrayi Sims (at left) a prominent senior man in Yuendumu, describes the reaction of the community to the fatal shooting by police of a 19-year-old. Meanwhile the police association says “our brave officers … have encountered what was evidently a very volatile and unpredictable situation”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. At right: An angry crowd outside the Yuendumu police station last night.


OTHER UPDATES: The Central Land Council is calling for “an inquiry without delay that is independent of the NT police” and wants to see to see the body camera evidence • Reports that the dead man was on parole were in error. FULL STORY »

ICAC boss criticises Anzac High advice from public service



“It is critically important that the executive officers bring rigour to the role that they perform so that we, for example, can see a trail of decision making, matters documented, and the like,” ICAC boss Ken Fleming told ABC Radio about the process leading to the decision by Minister Eva Lawler to proceed with the demolition of the historic school (pictured). Report by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Questions of scale and artful answers

Towards the end of her three-year odyssey to bring The Visitors series to its current state of realisation,  artist Franca Barraclough embarked on a fund-raising drive to allow her to print two of her photographs at billboard-size scale. So I walked into this show alert to what that scale delivers beyond immediate visual impact. In both cases, it is significant, writes KIERAN FINNANE. FULL STORY »

Saddle up and disconnect from everyday life



Traversing the West MacDonnell Ranges, yarning about outback families facing challenges, overcoming adversity and developing resilience in their everyday lives – that’s what Horses for Courses is all about. FULL STORY »

Blackout witch hunt


Workers crucial to restoring electricity during the system black event of October 13 are being victimised by Territory Generation, claims the Electrical Trades Union. PHOTO Ron Goodin power station.


UPDATE: TGen replied that it is unable to comment on matters that are under investigation. FULL STORY »

Uproar about possible closing of Katherine Museum



The Katherine Museum, home of  the Tiger Moth (pictured) flown by the legendary Dr Clyde Fenton, is threatened with closure and the historic Knotts Crossing Cemetery is a mess, writes resident Bruce Francais. FULL STORY »

Yuendumu shooting: ICAC starts independent investigation



The ICAC has powers to investigate improper conduct, including corruption, misconduct and unsatisfactory conduct by public officers, including NT Police, says the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Ken Fleming QC (pictured). FULL STORY »

Escapee ran into the bush



Kevin Hayes (pictured) was last seen at Mt Allen, say police. FULL STORY »

Thor finds more tungsten, copper



Thor says the key driver for drilling at Bonya is to expand the Molyhil area mining inventory with an objective of a minimum of 10 years total open pit mining and processing. FULL STORY »

Government grant for Todd Tavern, Alice Plaza development

UPDATE 11.50am November 8: Owners of Todd Tavern land, building not consulted by the government nor the lessees about any development.


Plans were apparently delayed or scrapped following the town council’s rejection of Anzac Oval as a site for the national Aboriginal art gallery. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE 6am November 8: The general manager of the Todd Tavern says its plans are confidential.


UPDATE 5.15pm November 8: The Master Plan for Alice Springs Plaza and Todd Tavern has been shared with the Northern Territory Government and was completed as per the funding grant agreement. The contents of the Master Plan are commercial in confidence and cannot be shared at this time. Department of the Chief Minister.


UPDATE 7.10 pm November 8: Statement by Councillor Eli Melky. FULL STORY »

No sign of Anzac High work claimed by Minister Lawler



An inspection this morning showed no sign of demolition work, writes Alex Nelson. FULL STORY »

Government firm on demolishing Anzac High: Lawler


The demolition of Anzac High School (pictured) will continue, says Minister Eva Lawler, the Minister responsible for the Department of Infrastructure, Planning & Logistics (DIPL). In reply to a shock statement from the ICAC yesterday she says getting a report on the refurbishment of the historic building “would have been a waste to taxpayers’ money”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

UPDATE Friday 7.40am: Save Anzac High campaigner David Hewitt says he inspected the school last night and found no signs that the removal of asbestos had started, as claimed by Minister Lawler. FULL STORY »

Top secret ‘master plan’



There are apparently multi million dollar plans for the top end of the Mall but the public is getting the mushroom treatment. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Anzac High in good condition, no deterioration: ICAC told


The ICAC finds the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics let a $2m tender to demolish the Anzac Hill High School despite a report that it was “good condition” with “no sign of deterioration in any of the external walls, floors, pylons, or concrete stairs”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Town Council: New dawn for transparency



Robert Jennings (centre), the Town Council’s new broom, is sweeping  up behind the closed doors where the heavy stuff has been routinely dealt with “in confidential” and away from public scrutiny. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Billionaire may invest in giant Tennant solar farm



Aussie investor to make announcement about giant Tennant Creek solar farm to supply Darwin and Singapore, writes Chief Minister Michael Gunner. FULL STORY »

Vast electorates, poor participation in our democracy



While the NT accounts for less than 1% of the national roll we account for over 5% of the electors not enrolled, says the NT Electoral Commission. That and the sheer size of remote electorates raise questions about the functioning of our political system. FULL STORY »

New spin on Red CentreNATS crowd figures

The government’s Major Events company, which sponsors the event, will not declare the number of people attending. Last time they were caught out by a question in the Assembly from Independent Member for Araluen, Robyn Lambley. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Cattlemen ask: Where’s our drought aid?

Working group needed to “refine priorities.” FULL STORY »

CLP candidate Ryan compromised as town’s negotiator



Should he be able to use his $100,000 job as Mayor (pictured, ABC News) campaigning against the government poised to invest $70m in the town for the Aboriginal art gallery and cultural centre, and more for the CBD? COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Australia’s medical researchers in Centre for rural health



This is the birthing of a new health research ecosystem in regional Australia writes Professor Brigid Heywood (pictured), University of New England Vice-Chancellor. FULL STORY »

Alice excluded from national water bomber deal


Three small fixed-wing aircraft and one helicopter are standing by at Batchelor for use as water bombers during the fire season but there are none in Alice Springs. PHOTOS: The devastation at Ormiston Gorge after January’s 17 day blaze in the West MacDonnells. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Now that the Rock can’t be climbed, visiting it will cost more




While you can’t climb The Rock any more, the fees to enter the national park will climb – a lot. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

DIY art funding

Over 20 years Franca Barraclough has made an outstanding contribution to the arts community in Alice Springs. She’s got the images for her new work in the can. Now she’s inviting the public to help fund making them really big. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Most money for mining, military


Half a billion dollars earmarked for US forces to play war in the Top End, mining pushing ahead and some roads are getting built: But where is private investment in the Territory’s economic development? ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

The Territory: It’s a gas!


A gas bonanza expected following the lifting of the fracking moratorium, says NT Resources Minister Paul Kirby in a duet with his Federal counterpart, Matt Canavan.


UPDATE 10.35am: Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyers says the NT should follow the UK’s lead placing an unlimited moratorium on fracking “after the latest in a series of fracking-linked earthquakes”. FULL STORY »

Alice students fire up for climate action


“As the temperature rises, so will we!” cried the School Strike  for Climate leaders in Alice Springs this morning. Some 200 of their peers filled the lawns outside Flynn Church in the mall, supported by 300 to 400 adults. That is a sizeable turnout for this town and the mood was elated even while the messages were sombre. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Areyonga students graduate from Year 12 at Unity College


Four students from Areyonga have graduated from Year 12 at the Unity College at Murray Bridge, South Australia. Pictured from left are Tarna Andrews (Areyonga Teacher), students Jimmy (Mick) Doolan, Selinda Hopkins, Claudia Coulthard, Christopher Doolan and Jonty Fernando (Areyonga School Principal). FULL STORY »

Fire threat: Where are the big water bombers?

With half of the West MacDonnell National Park burnt in the 17 days long January blaze, and a potentially catastrophic bushfire summer staring us in the face, the government is still not moving to bring large water bombers to The Centre, as national debate about them is gathering momentum. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Is government fumbling our solar future?

Moves towards solar must go beyond being an opportunity for making money: Communities, the broad population must be involved, says the Arid Lands Environment Centre, willing to lead the development “but we will not accept that shale gas fracking has a role in this future”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Cheap money, long terms, but where are our investors?


Alice Springs movers and shakers are slow on the uptake of Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund loans, pampering borrowers with generous interest and repayment conditions. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia at Yulara is borrowing $27.5m for airport runway, taxiway and apron upgrade, runway lighting and provision of contractor accommodation. FULL STORY »

Another nail in the Anzac High coffin


For the second time NTCAT has knocked back an injunction halting demolition works at the former Anzac Hill High School. Although the walls and roofs are still intact, they are set to come down from next Tuesday, 5 November, the tribunal was told. KIERAN FINNANE reports.  FULL STORY »

More than 50 Alice businesses strike for climate

Some had opened their doors late, so they could support the students this morning, some at lunchtime, to attend the action’s Sustainable Barbecue (camel burgers donated by Milner Meats). Others closed for the whole day, throwing themselves this afternoon into planning the forward momentum of this movement. KIERAN FINNAE reports. FULL STORY »

Camps leader Shirleen Campbell, Local Hero


Proud Warlpiri and Arrernte woman, she is a third-generation resident of Alice Springs Town Camp, Lhenpe Artnwe – or Hoppy’s Camp. The 38-year-old is also the co-ordinator of The Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group (TWFSG), which gives women in the camps a voice in family and domestic violence and leads action against it. FULL STORY »

NT Government’s climate response compromised by fracking

Just ahead of the global day of action tomorrow pushing for much stronger responses to the climate crisis, the NT Government today released its draft “Climate Change Response”, asking for public feedback. The contribution to emissions of fracking, which is going ahead without an offsets policy in place, is all but ignored in the response. FULL STORY »

Council: no interest in heritage; tiny leak from confidential

Not one councillor put up their hand last night for nomination to the Heritage Council. Meanwhile, an inadvertent question made it clear that council’s rejection of the government’s offer for the Civic Centre site was not unanimous. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Desert Song: We are one and free


At Ormiston Gorge a program of riveting highlights, including the mighty Soweto Gospel Choir, wound up the 10 day Desert Song Festival, an incomparable experience of what unites us all. STORY by KIERAN FINNANE, VIDEO by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Anzac High: No plans yet for what will replace it


“Clearly, we think the Anzac Oval site is the best site for the national indigenous art gallery project,” says Minister Dale Wakefield. She was speaking at the launch of a youth action plan at the St Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre this morning. Students cooked lunch for the function. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Council: push to declare climate emergency backfires

Many more people than a fortnight ago filled the public gallery, in the end it was standing room only. T-shirts had been printed, speeches prepared, 17 people took to the microphone, a song was sung … and ground was lost. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Have a look at what’s being demolished



“Even by today’s standards, opening a place of this magnitude would be a major ribbon cutting ceremony. Demolition is the height of ignorance and stupidity, a shocking, staggering waste of money and resources,” writes MIKE GILLAM. FULL STORY »

New tourism brand: Aborigines prominent – in brochures


The “65,000 years” of Indigenous culture are a major drawcard in the NT’s new “Different in every sense” tourism brand – but where are Aboriginal people themselves? ERWIN CHLANDA reports from the launch of Strategy 2030.


UPDATE Sept 18, 1.40pm: Expenditure on the brand development so far has been $800,000, according to a spokesperson for the Tourism Minister. FULL STORY »

What they were going to say when he’s no longer there



When in doubt, have a party: Last Saturday Alice Springs was at its best, with one of its best at the centre. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Native Title threatens cattle land development: NFF


The process of allowing non-pastoral uses of cattle land, such as tourism and horticulture, is under threat of turning into red tape, says the non-pastoral use permit process, under the NT Pastoral Land Act,” says the CEO of the National Farmers’ Federation, Tony Mahar (pictured). FULL STORY »

Salt mines and tourism: bread and circuses


“I cannot believe that [Tellus] can gain a genuine social license or consent to dump toxic waste in country, out of sight and out of mind. Beyond the questions around type, volume, source and security of the proposed waste, the project raises bigger questions about extractive industries and their consequences,” writes Jennifer Taylor. FULL STORY »

Electoral reform doesn’t go far enough: CLP



There should be limits on travel spend for interstate campaign workers, writes Lia Finocchiaro (pictured), Deputy Opposition Leader.


UPDATE 9.30am: CLP President Ron Kelly comments. FULL STORY »

Tourism, salt and toxic waste, 780 metres below


Plans to get Alice Springs and Titjikala involved in a giant mining project 110 km south of town. Some express doubts. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE October 29: Town Council CEO Robert Jennings, when asked to comment, said he is waiting for more information on the Chandler mine before expressing any view or comment. FULL STORY »

I climbed Ayers Rock



Millions of T-shirts with that inscription are now relegated to history. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Ministers lash out at council over gallery


The council is “divided, lacks leadership and individual Councillors have put their own political interests above the interests of the people of Alice Springs”. MLA for Braitling, front-bencher Dale Wakefield (at left), and culture minister Lauren Moss (at right) respond to Tuesday’s rejection of the gallery deal. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Blackout: ALP backs call to keep old power station on standby



Next time there could be deaths from heatstroke or disease. The risk is too great. Resource and maintain Ron Goodin Power Station now or face the consequences, writes Dave “Strawbs” Hayes, Electrical Trades Union Territory organiser, after the Labor Party NT Conference unanimously back the union’s stance. FULL STORY »

New mines in The Centre – a snapshot

Five mines in The Centre are at varying stages of development. None have reached final investment decision, but if even just two make it into production, and that is likely, the economic advantages for Alice Springs would be significant, ranging from a big boost in employment to lower airfares for FiFo operations. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. At right: Drilling at Molyhil. FULL STORY »

Council cemetery: Seven years of planning, no conclusive result


The Memorial Drive Cemetery could tell a spellbinding story about The Centre but the Town Council is unable to put a coherent plan for its development, says Dave Mortimer, a long time member of the council’s cemetery committee. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE Oct 28: Town Council CEO Robert Jennings looks forward to public comment on the issues. FULL STORY »

Alice Can Dance: thinking their moves


Who knows what hard times the children of today, even in as privileged a country as Australia, will have to deal with in the future as a result of all the challenges facing the world. But those who participated in Alice Can Dance 2019 will surely draw strength from having started to think about them early, writes KIERAN FINNANE. FULL STORY »

We won’t be there for His Royal Highness


The staff of Prince Edward (pictured) and the Chief Minister’s Department lay down the law for journalists during his visit next week: No questions, censorship of text and photos. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Police gets street parking, cops’ private cars in compound



Businessman says there was no public consultation about arbitrary loss of scarce car parking. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Paul Lewis. FULL STORY »

Gallery statement by ministers mischievous: Councillor



No one in their right mind would want to demolish a perfectly good building such as the current council civic centre, with the risk of burdening the community with a huge debt, writes Councillor Eli Melky. FULL STORY »

Council says ‘no’ to government gallery offer



$20m is not enough, the council decided in a secret meeting last night. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

National gallery: Waiting for the council, says Wakefield

Just hours before a secret meeting of the town council to discuss the sale of its civic centre land to the NT Government for a national Aboriginal art gallery (a swap deal), Minister Dale Wakefield this morning has made it clear that the project’s future – at least for the time being – will depend on the decision of the councillors and Mayor Damien Ryan. PHOTO: Ms Wakefield (centre) at the launch of the Northern Territory Solar Resource project this morning, wearing her hat as the Minister for Renewables, Energy and Essential Services. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Secret art gallery business


The Town Council is holding a Special Meeting tonight to consider the location of the national Aboriginal art gallery – the NT Government’s land swap deal. The meeting, behind closed doors, will have full decision-making powers, but again Cr Jacinta Price will be absent, on the third last stop of her interstate speaking tour. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Rules for outback work travel may catch some out



“Going bush” is a major part of many jobs in The Centre and NT Work Safe has requirements that may catch some employers unprepared. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Desert Mob: the enduring phenomenon

More than 200 artists are represented in Desert Mob; many more are active when you consider some of the big names missing from the show, obviously in too much demand elsewhere, and the many others whose work was available at the Market Place. Considered in light of the region’s population, it is phenomenal. KIERAN FINNANE reports on some of the highlights. FULL STORY »

Chinese will like to go bush: travel agent



Our wide open spaces a drawcard for Chinese tourists, especially young ones, says visiting travel agent Sam Lu, pictured at Simpson’s Gap yesterday. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Boy from The Centre to address UN Human Rights Council



A 12 year old Arrernte / Garrwa boy from Central Australia will give a speech at the world’s peak human rights body in Geneva tomorrow, with a simple message for Australian governments: stop sending 10 year old children to to prison. Dujuan Hoosan is pictured with his mother Megan. FULL STORY »

Cattle in parks: Fences impractical, says department


Parks are leaving fencing to pastoralists, says Cattlemen’s Association. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE: Cattle have no place in conservation reserves nor national parks – ALEC CEO Jimmy Cocking.


UPDATE Sept 7: Central Land Council says CLC rangers don’t control cattle in national parks. FULL STORY »

Vincent Lingiari award: the art of truth-telling



The Vincent Lingiari Art Award, being held this year for only the second time since its inauguration in 2016, is infused with the spirit of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, in particular the truth-telling about Australia’s history that the statement calls for. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Councillors send message to Jacinta Price



A majority of her colleagues have effectively put Councillor Jacinta Price on notice that they will not continue to unquestioningly accept her absences from council meetings.  KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Ask former top Federal public servant about NT debt mess


Martin Parkinson (pictured), the recently retired Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and former Treasury Secretary, who has been the nation’s top public servant for two Prime Ministers, may have answers eluding Michael Gunner and his government.


UPDATE Sept 9, 5pm: Comment from Opposition Leader Gary Higgins. FULL STORY »

‘The fastest accelerating vehicles on planet’



The Alice Springs Inland Dragway is among the nation’s best, rated for 8000 horsepower Top Fuel machines, and built by enthusiasts for the town’s huge number of petrol heads. ERWIN CHLANDA spoke with long-time supporter Andrew McGouchie.