Story Archive » Volume 25 » Issue 23 »

Rates freeze but reduction unlikely


And a $5m COVID-19 reserve will be established, for assisting the community and the town’s recovery. KIERAN FINNANE reports the results of council’s special meeting on their COVID-19 response. FULL STORY »

A touch of light: totemic caterpillars – ewepe


April is the month we expect to see the lines of shuffling caterpillars, conspicuous and rope like, seemingly oblivious to hazards or predators. They are known by Arrernte people as ewepe, a sensibly short name that doesn’t try to match the collective length of the organism, writes MIKE GILLAM. FULL STORY »

Ellery Big Hole? Nah, Litchfield, in the Top End.


While Top Enders are allowed to frolic in national parks including Litchfield this long weekend (ABC TV News image), Alice Springs people continue to be locked out of their West MacDonnells without any explanation from the Gunner Government. By ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Melbourne COVID outbreak: Time to stop eating meat



Closing slaughterhouses doesn’t mean a food shortage, because no one needs meat. Consuming it is linked to heart disease, cancer, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, writes Mimi Bekhechi, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. FULL STORY »

Territory basket case in Commsec State of the States Report


“We have consistently had the worst performing economy in the nation and Territorians are sick of it. We don’t deserve to be last, we deserve to be first, but we have a Government with no drive, no vision and no capability to deliver,” writes Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro. FULL STORY »

Council: decision on Covid relief delayed

Officers propose a $5m COVID-19 response as alternative to councillors’ measures. Meanwhile legal advice on the possible compulsory acquisition of Anzac Oval remains under wraps. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Gunner mum on money issues



Chief Minister Michael Gunner yesterday did not answer any questions about government finances Opposition Leader Leader Lia Finocchiaro put to him yesterday, according to a spokesman for her. FULL STORY »

Dale vs Dale in Braitling



A prominent local puts her hand up for the Territory Alliance in Braitling held by Labor by the slimmest of margins. And the Chief Minister gets a caning for the keeping the West Macs locked down and his four year long futile campaign for a national Aboriginal gallery. The 2020 election campaign gathers momentum. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Robyn Lambley, Terry Mills and Dale McIver neatly separated during a media event today. FULL STORY »

A touch of light: Painted fire-tail finches


After a few false starts, the first Painted finch arrived at the stony ledge to drink, his clan watching  from the shadows. Then the second arrived and a third before the formation of watchers broke and descended in a rush, writes MIKE GILLAM. FULL STORY »

Which of these questions will Gunner answer?



Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro may be on a mission impossible tomorrow: During Public Accounts Committee hearings she will be asking Chief Minister Michael Gunner 14 questions about government finances. When the Alice Springs News raised with him a related issue on March 11 in Alice Springs, the answer was predictable. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Workers on visas in trouble as businesses close




Red Cross has received more than 50 requests for financial help from Alice Springs residents travelling on temporary visas in the fallout of COVID-19, says Laurel Duffell (pictured), a spokesperson for the organisation. JULIUS DENNIS reports. FULL STORY »

Solar lights may go



Or they may be made to look pretty. I think the approach is called “putting lipstick on a pig”. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Outstations ‘near Alice’ excluded from the biosecurity areas

Residents will be treated “just like other rural residents” on the edge of town, says the Central Land Council. FULL STORY »

Coles donates 50 tonnes of food to Indigenous communities


Coles has donated more than 80 pallets — the equivalent of 50 tonnes — of food and essentials to remote Indigenous communities across the Northern Territory, according to a media release from the company. PHOTO: Coles Alice Springs Store Managers Ray Viney and James Powlton with Central Land Council CEO Joe Martin-Jard. FULL STORY »

Recovery: No help from oil and gas, says study


Mills, Finocchiaro agree with peak industry bodies plan while study reveals that oil and gas will do little to help with the economic recovery. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE May 13 at 9.30am: Statement on behalf of Origin contradicting Jimmy Cocking. FULL STORY »

Life without COVID, flies and heat


Sick of COVID? Move the continent where there is none. Former Alice Springs doctor Rhys Harding did. He’s now the medical Jack of All Trades for the crew of 24 at the Davis Station in East Antarctica, one of Australia’s research stations. This is his story.  FULL STORY »

A touch of light: native passionfruit



With delicate precision and inter-spacing the caper white female butterfly hides her vulnerable eggs on the underside of the leaves. Within a few hours the chalk coloured eggs begin to harden and darken to a tangerine orange, writes MIKE GILLAM. FULL STORY »

COVID: ScoMo not here to tell Gunner what to do



The Gunner Government is happy to try and slam through legislation with minimal scrutiny. It will do everything in its power to cover-up and squash debate. It’s just not on, says Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro (pictured). FULL STORY »

Questions of conflict multiplied by two


Just in time for Deputy Mayor Matt Paterson’s announcement of his candidacy in the forthcoming Territory election, council’s Conflict Management Policy was up for discussion. Mayor Damien Ryan left the meeting; DM Paterson stayed. KIERAN FINNANE reports.  FULL STORY »

A lonely ANZAC Day, but no less heartfelt


The dawn service, the march, the two-up, the beers (in a group of mates): The pandemic has put paid to these, for the time being. But LYNNE SMITH found a way to keep alive the spirit of ANZAC Day with a story about her grandfather who made history in a very surprising way. FULL STORY »

COVID Territory style: Beer and skittles



Beer in, restrictions out: Just don’t ask any questions. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE MAY 12 AT 3:55pm: Reply from COVID Media.


UPDATE MAY 13 at 3.10am: Reply from the police. FULL STORY »

COVID: Trouble in the bush

High prices, scarceness of food, grog running, breaking of biosecurity laws: The part of the country the NT Government has clearly forgotten in its COVID responses. Now there’s a call for the Feds to bring in a 20% point of sale scheme, the CLC’s Joe Martin-Jard, supported by Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee, announced this morning. They are pictured above – observing physical separation. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE April 23, 4pm: Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt says the Government does not support a direct subsidy or rebate on groceries at this time.


UPDATE April 24, 10am: The National Indigenous Australians Agency to revoke a store licence if pricing and quality expectations are not met, however this power has not been used.


UPDATE April 24, 3.25pm: Linda Burney, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, says food insecurity and unreasonable pricing is severely undermining the public health response to COVID-19.


UPDATE April 24, 3.40pm: No comment from the CLC to Mr Wyatt’s statements. FULL STORY »

Hardship rates waiver hits snag



The waiver, for both both residential and commercial ratepayers, looks set to go ahead despite councillors having voted down a motion to allow it. How can that be? asked Cr Marli Banks, the mover of that lost motion. FULL STORY »

Waive rates for a quarter says Cr Marli Banks

Now is the time, given the unprecedented Coronavirus shutdown, that people are finding it hard to meet their bills and they are looking to council to help, she says. KIERAN FINNANE reports. Cr Banks is pictured at council’s last Zoom meeting. FULL STORY »

Paterson stands for Territory Alliance



The Deputy Mayor (pictured in a charity ride from Alice Springs to Adelaide before public office) joins Mayor in quest for a seat in Parliament. FULL STORY »

COVID spitters are grubs, idiots, and lowlife: Gunner


Chief Minister Michael Gunner in a statement less than an hour ago announced police powers to impose on-the-spot fines of $5495, and he called alleged offenders grub, idiot, and lowlife. Power and water prices for Territory businesses will be slashed by 50% and mandatory quarantine arrangements will be formalised. New measures will be brought in during a special session of Parliament on Friday, with some Members attending remotely. FULL STORY »

Wakefield ready for fight: affirms intention to acquire oval




“The Town Council is not willing to negotiate, so we will acquire the land,” she told the Alice Springs News, following the Town Council resolution to challenge any such move. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

New Normal recipe from the too hard basket


Will the New Normal get a handle on vital projects which governments – Territory and local – have failed to tackle? Some issues, and there are many more, that were raised by Alice Springs News readers over the past quarter century. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

A touch of light: at home among the corkwoods

“A quick survey of the town’s street trees reveals a landscape architect’s worst nightmare. It took a century of effort, mostly uncoordinated, of overlapping Government departments, Federal, Territory and Local to provide this expensive, high maintenance, botanically weak sense of place,” writes MIKE GILLAM.

Bangtail still here, virtually



Strutting their stuff on the screen instead of the street: The Rotary Club of Alice Springs wouldn’t let COVID spoil the town’s fun. FULL STORY »

Alice Prize: online but undaunted


Although claiming our attention gently, the winning entry is a lovely work by the early career Thea Perkins and its acquisition as part of the Prize will be an important addition to the Alice Springs Collection. KIERAN FINNANE reviews the exhibition, after a privileged visit to the gallery in this time of coronavirus shutdown.  FULL STORY »

COVID-19 impact on schools abates

Student numbers at Catholic schools slightly above last year. Government school figures to be released on Monday. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE May 11 at 12.10pm: Attendance at Northern Territory government schools has returned to pre-pandemic levels. FULL STORY »

Government looking for private developer of seniors village



Dale Wakefield (pictured), Minister for Territory Families and Member for Braitling, suggests Mout Johns location. FULL STORY »

Stop spending billions on warfare and put healthcare first



On 23 March 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for a global ceasefire. We call on the Australian Government to support the UN Secretary General’s call, writes The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN). FULL STORY »

Visa holders likely to fall through the COVID aid cracks



Governments are promising to keep people and the economy afloat but anyone on a temporary visa — that’s anyone on a holiday visa or even a sponsored worker on a temporary visa are likely to miss out, says Alice Springs migration agent Anke Nagel (pictured). Report by JULIUS DENNIS. FULL STORY »

Standoff over Anzac Oval for gallery crescendoes


Minister Dale Wakefield may be “ready to pull the trigger” on compulsory acquisition of Anzac Oval to allow the government’s plans for the national Aboriginal art gallery (NAAG) to proceed, but Alice Springs Town Councillors are pushing back.


UPDATE, 1.50pm: The Town Council will challenge any attempt by the NT Government to compulsorily acquire Anzac Oval. FULL STORY »

‘Affordable land’ in a man-made desert


Kilgariff Stage 2 will cost $4.1m at a time when the NT’s population is decreasing, house prices are falling and a big question mark hangs over the past COVID-19 era. And why was the natural scrub turned into a wasteland? ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE 12.55pm: In the denuded areas, landscape architects have been engaged to return some of the native vegetation, says the CEO of the government’s Land Development Corporation, replying also to other questions from the News. FULL STORY »

Woollies brings back Pick Up of online orders

Woolworth says they have reinstated Pick Up at both Alice Springs and Darwin stores. FULL STORY »

Gunner Government needs to come clean on debt



With the debt of $1.8 billion blown out to $6.2 billion predicted this year the Gunner Government only wants to be judged on how the National Cabinet has handled COVID-19 and for us to forget its management before that, writes Opposition Leader Lea Finocchiaro (pictured). FULL STORY »

Keep real time fire tracking tool funded: pollies


After the devastation of the 2019-20 bushfire season, now is not the time to be leaving funding for fire management programs in the lurch, write politicians including Warren Snowdon MP (at left) and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy. FULL STORY »

Melky’s plans for smoothing the road to recovery



By his calculations, extensive rate relief can be offered without putting council’s budget in the red, leaving its $20m worth of reserves intact. This would lay the ground for council entering a new entrepreneurial phase. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Mimi’s meat comments ‘perverse, hysterical’



Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend the consumption of 65g/day cooked red meat, which is equivalent to 455g a week of cooked red meat as part of a healthy diet because red meat is considered the most important protein source for iron and zinc, writes Ashley Manicaros (pictured), CEO, Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association. FULL STORY »

Cancellation of fireworks is disappointing: Oppsition



On the whole, Territorians have responded responsibly and quickly to COVID-19 restrictions and in our view are responsible enough to comply with physical distancing and gathering restrictions if cracker night was to go ahead, writes Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro (pictured). FULL STORY »

PETA: Aussies going vegan ‘in droves’

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals challenge cattlemen’s statistics. FULL STORY »

Who will benefit from Paterson’s $2.8m voucher scheme?

Those most in need or investors and business, with an assumed trickle-down effect? KIERAN FINNANE reports on the Town Council debate. Pictured: Deputy Mayor Paterson. FULL STORY »

Tourism smaller but better, pollies must talk to the people



Veteran tourism operator Charlie Carter (at right) predicts the visitors business post-COVID will get smaller but better while former Tennant Creek businessman and public figure Gavin Carpenter (at left) is sure rebuilding communication with communities is the only way for any government to succeed. They talk with JULIUS DENNIS in Alice Votes. FULL STORY »

Oval for gallery back on table – as bone of contention

With compulsory acquisition hanging over their heads, Councillors were not exactly primed to give a sympathetic hearing  to Minister Wakefield and Moss’s latest pleas. KIERAN FINNANE reports on this and other council news, including the live-streaming of funerals.  FULL STORY »

Macs stay closed while other COVID restrictions come down

The West MacDonnell national park, the main tourist attraction for Alice Springs, and its population’s popular long weekend venue, remains closed. The NT Government has not responded to questions from the News why the park has been declared as a biosecurity area. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.



This crisis can’t look to natural gas for relief




Unlike during the GFC, when massive spending on gas development prevented more serious problems for Australia, for the current crisis there is no similar fistful of dollars, says EnergyQuest Chief Executive Graeme Bethune (pictured). FULL STORY »

Booze making allegations, cannabis in tyre tube



Police do not respond to allegations of brewing illegal alcohol but say they seized more than $95,000 worth of marijuana destined for remote communities.  FULL STORY »

Petitioners, scrutiny miss out in ‘arrogant’ Gunner Parliament



Other Parliaments allowed questions on COVID, says Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro (pictured). FULL STORY »

Booze consumption went up after floor price came in



The popular two litre cask wine, which can be picked up in other Australian states for around $10, skyrocketed by 300% to now cost Territorians closer to $30, says an alcohol industry spokesman. PICTURED: Four litre casks selling in Port Augusta for around $19. Their sale is banned in Central Australia. FULL STORY »

Special COVID permit to attend CLC meeting, go shopping


On the one hand the Central Land Council successfully lobbied early for closing the NT’s borders in order to protect remote communities, on the other they scheduled a meeting in Alice Springs that require a man from a designated biosecurity area to come into town. Telephone and online communications facilities are available in the man’s home community. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Google Earth photo of Papunya. FULL STORY »

NT dismal in State of the States Report



Population, construction spending plummet, unemployment up, according to the Commsec State of the States Report. “We don’t deserve to be last, we deserve to be first,” says Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro. FULL STORY »

Alice Springs boys first Indigenous players for Port Adelaide



Indigenous talent has thrived at the Port Adelaide Football Club which has had 54 Aboriginal players since 1953. Richie Bray (pictured on the wing) was one of them. The club is turning 150 years old in 2020. Story by JOHN P McD SMITH. FULL STORY »

McConnell to Gunner: Stop name calling

A crude Chief Minister (at left) with the worst budget management on record, since well before COVID: Welcome to the Northern Territory. While Michael Gunner takes kudos for achievements arising from the National Cabinet, Scott McConnell (at right) says there’s too much self-congratulation. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.


UPDATE April 23, 10.10am: Strategic Communication COVID-19 explains “back to country” quarantine. FULL STORY »

Ask Pine Gap for help to stop breach of COVID rules: Lambley

MLA for Araluen Robyn Lambley (pictured) says the space base has “geo surveillance” facilities that can detect people breaching mandatory quarantine by going to biosecurity designated areas on remote bush tracks, avoiding police roadblocks. EXCLUSIVE by ERWIN CHLANDA.


UPDATE 11.30am April 11 Mrs Lambley says the Police Commissioner responded saying that essentially they have this problem under control and it is not a big as what people say.mHe did not comment on the idea of working with Pine Gap to provide more comprehensive surveillance. FULL STORY »

Pine Gap and Five Eyes: what did they know about COVID-19?


Foreign Minister Marise Payne (pictured) has called for an independent review, mentioning in particular the role of China and the World Health Organisation. But what about the intelligence agencies? KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Stick it on your fridge. It’s downhill from here.



This will be the high point in tourism earnings for possibly a long time to come. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Lock down Aboriginal lands but get the rest back to work

The NT is in two parts: The 50% where 70% live and work and the balance held as inalienable land trusts under Federal Government stewardship where most of the remaining 30% live. That is the area where the greatest concern for COVID infection is. These and other lands with the word Aboriginal in their title must be kept under lock down by whatever means, but let some light into the rest, writes Graeme Hockey of Bayview, an NT resident since 1977. FULL STORY »

Lucky the Town Council isn’t in the forestry business



This little tree (1.2m) and recently denuded by processional caterpillars, on a suburban nature strip, is the subject of an extraordinary and costly campaign by the council to remove it. Guest Writer RALPH FOLDS tells the story. FULL STORY »