ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
October 26, 2006.
This page contains all major reports and comment pieces in the current
MARTIN, DEPT. BOSS AT ODDS.
RED FACES AFTER SLAGGING IN PARLIAMENT BY STIRLING AND THE CHIEF
By KIERAN FINNANE.
A letter from a senior public servant in her own department, leaked to
the Alice Springs News, gives the lie to Chief Minister Clare Martin’s
attack in Parliament on the credibility of former Territory public
servant Gregory Andrews.
Ms Martin, responding to a question from Jodeen Carney about the Chief
Minister’s knowledge since 2004 of child abuse in Mutitjulu, sought to
deflect attention to supposed deficiencies in the work of Mr Andrews,
yet the letter from the Executive Director of her own Office of
Indigenous Policy, Neil Westbury, gives a glowing account of that same
work by Mr Andrews.
In the Legislative Assembly on October 11 Ms Martin said: “The memo
that is published today [in The Australian, the same memo the Alice
News asked Ms Martin about on August 17] was the work of Greg Andrews
who was employed as the coordinator in the Working Together projects
between the Territory and the Federal Government at Mutitjulu.
“One of the things that I have had to recognise in the appointment of
Greg Andrews to that position is that he was very disappointing. He
made a lot of allegations about Mutitjulu that we have seen since he
appeared as the anonymous youth worker in that Lateline program, much
to his enduring shame, that many of the allegations that he made have
had no substance.”
Responding to a further question from Ms Carney on the child sexual
abuse issue in Mutitjulu, Ms Martin acknowledged the problem of “people
feeling fearful of stepping forward and saying: ‘That’s the
perpetrator. I want him to go to court’” – in other words, she did not
deny the facts of abuse.
Yet immediately afterwards she again sought to undermine the
credibility of the person who had drawn the problem to her government’s
“I say again, the information [on child sexual abuse] that was passed
to me by someone I trusted, ie the Project Manager of Working Together,
Greg Andrews, a lot of it has been unsubstantiated.
“He did not, as an employee of the Federal government working in the
Territory, pass on issues that he was instructed to do to our police.
He never did that – only an anonymous fax after he left employ and the
This statement is certainly factually wrong on one point: Mr Andrews,
when he worked for the Mutitjulu Working Together project, was an
employee of the
Territory, not the Federal, Government.
When Mr Andrews left that position this is what Neil Westbury had to
say in a letter on Department of Chief Minister letterhead dated
December 19, 2005:
“The purpose of this letter is to express both my and the Office of
Indigenous Policy’s sincere thanks and appreciation for your tireless
work in relation to the Mutitjulu Working Together Project. There is no
doubt there has been significant progress made under this project over
the past two years. [Mr Andrews had been in the job since September
“This has been in no small part due to your own energetic efforts in
assisting both the community and various government agencies to
identify and confront a number of issues that are critical to the
future well being of all community members at Mutitjulu.
“Your imminent departure will undoubtedly create a significant gap and
consequent challenge for all the project partners.”
The letter ends with personal wishes to Mr Andrews’ wife and newborn
child and concludes, “I look forward to working with you again”.
SHOOTING THE MESSENGERS ... FROM COWARDS’ CASTLE.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
From the safety of Parliament, “cowards’ castle”, Chief Minister Clare
Martin and her deputy Syd Stirling have tried to shoot the messengers,
rather than staying with the issues in Indigenous affairs.
Their faces should be bright red right now because one of the
messengers, whipping boy of the moment Gregory Andrews, is someone Ms
Martin’s own department praised highly for his work when he left her
employ late last year.
Ms Martin and Mr Stirling aligned themselves with the National
Indigenous Times newspaper to attack Mr Andrews and the ABC current
affairs program, Lateline, and their contributions to the now national
debate on child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities.
Ms Martin’s attack on Mr Andrews (see our lead story) looks almost prim
in contrast to Mr Stirling’s nine days later:
“We all know about the infamous Greg Andrews,” Mr Stirling told the
Parliament on October 20.
“What a lying little grub he is. What a lying little grub Greg Andrews
is. Sat there, shaded out – don’t put the light on, don’t let the dawn
his face because he, as we all know, is a staffer to Minister Brough.”
Mr Stirling is talking here about Mr Andrews’ anonymous appearance on
Lateline on June 21, the reasons for which have been explained in a
statement by Mr Andrews published in part by the Alice News on August 3
(see our website).
Mr Stirling then goes on to denigrate the program itself and its
presenter Tony Jones:
“Little did I know what a pack of lies and innuendo had been drawn
together to present, as fact, something that was far, far from the
“To hear and learn that ABC Lateline and Tony Jones are up for a
Walkley Award [one of Australian journalism’s most prestigious] just
“Just to be nominated demeans the Walkley Awards. You would not want
one! You would not want a Walkley if Lateline has been nominated for it
and Tony Jones ...
“Lateline ought, one, sack Tony Jones and apologise for the lies that
they have run out or, two, be removed from the air because it no longer
enjoys any integrity or any reputation for honest reporting in the
community and that [is] sad ...
“It hurts me that a program like this, based on lies, fuelled and fed
by the likes of the malicious rumour mongering of the Member for
Araluen [Jodeen Carney, who can at least defend herself in Parliament]
can all be held up against the ABC until such time as they come out and
say: ‘We actually got this wrong’.”
What exactly is Mr Stirling saying Lateline got wrong? What is he
saying is “far, far from the truth”?
He is far more muted when it comes to criticising another source for
the program, refraining even from naming Mantatjara Wilson, a founding
member of the widely respected NPY Women’s Council, instead referring
to her patronisingly as “this old lady”.
He suggests that her comments were merely part of Lateline’s “beat up”
because she has not lived in Mutitjulu for seven years.
He conveniently overlooks NPY Women’s Council’s defence of the
substance of the Lateline allegations.
In an opinion piece, published in The Australian on August 7 and since
released to other media, the council, under the names Muyuru Burton,
chairwoman, Margaret Smith, vice-chairwoman and Yanyi Bandicha,
director, stated in part:
“Mantatjara Wilson, who talked on the ABC’s Lateline in June
about violence and child sexual abuse ... has lived in the Mutitjulu
(NT), Kalka and Ernabella (SA) area her whole life, moving
between these communities.
“We set up NPY many years ago because governments and others were
listening only to the men. Nobody heard our voices. Sometimes this
“In our communities there is a lot of petrol sniffing, illegal
grog, people using marijuana and trafficking drugs and a lot of
violence. There are a lot of people dying because of the
violence, grog, petrol and marijuana, mental health problems and
“There are children and young people who wander around hungry and
neglected, with no one to look after them.
“There are some men who will find weak young women and girls and
give them petrol, grog or marijuana to get them to have sex with
“Many of our communities have no police close by, so it is very
hard to catch people who are doing the wrong thing and causing
communities are very small and it is very hard for us to speak up
these problems because sometimes it is our family members or
who are involved.
“Sometimes the men who are powerful on community councils are the
ones doing all the talking and sometimes they are involved in
the problems. We also know that this happens in other parts of
Australia, and all over the world, and that we are not the only
ones with problems of domestic violence and child abuse.
“Sometimes these people who make big trouble are born in other
places or have grown up in other places, moved in to our communities,
taken over jobs and taken a lot of power in the community. Often
it is these people who organise local people to sell drugs or
grog, and they make big money
from this. This happens in many communities in our region.
“Now we see what happens when Mantatjara Wilson and other people
who know what has been going on, including our staff, speak up
after years of seeing these things happening. We are very upset
that after many years of worrying about these things and seeing
no action, their story gets pushed away or turned into another
story. Mantatjara Wilson and the other people who spoke on
Lateline did not make up those stories. They are not liars or
“Our women and young people are human beings. They should be able
to grow up healthy and strong and not be sold or given petrol and
or be assaulted or used by adults. That is the real, true issue.
“This should not be a political game for newspaper reporters and
politicians who shut their eyes and ears to our worries and our voices.
“When they do this, they are twisting the story. They are really
supporting the ones who do the wrong thing, and pushing us and our
ideas and problems away so no one hears us – again.”
Ms Martin and Mr Stirling would do well to focus on the “real, true”
Their latest nasty little performance has only further damaged their
credibility, no one else’s.
As Ms Martin and Mr Stirling routinely ignore enquiries by the Alice
Springs News on controversial subjects, we invite them to write a
letter to the editor for next week’s edition if they have anything to
say on this matter.
‘SLACK’ TOUR LOBBY COMES UNDER ATTACK.
REPORT by ERWIN CHLANDA,
A tourism operator in Alice since the early ‘eighties is mustering
support from the industry to give its local lobby, CATIA, a major
Chris Chambers says the tourism industry is in decline throughout The
But in the town itself the decline has been going on for 16 years
because the government’s tourist commission is failing to promote it
on the Ayers Rock Resort, and big operators at the expense of the
And CATIA lets them get away with it.
Mr Chambers says CATIA’s executive, of which he’s a member, needs new
blood, and the courage to take the tourist commission to task, even
though it supplies a good slice of the lobby’s budget.
“The CATIA executive is a talk fest, not achieving anything.
“No-one’s asking the hard questions.
“Come to the annual meeting on November 9, put up your hand and get
involved,” he says.
Mr Chambers himself is moving his “business focus” to Port Lincoln in
South Australia “because of a poor operating environment” in Central
He’s gathered a wealth of statistical information in the past 20 years,
across a string of indicators from bed nights to visitor numbers at
Gap, mostly statistics from government agencies.
He says the pilots’ dispute, the Ansett collapse, SARS and 9/11, still
blamed for the woes of the industry, are irrelevant glitches over the
long term trend.
“They did not cause the long term trend,” he says.
“Visitation numbers in Central Australia peaked in about 2001 and have
been declining ever since.
“But Alice Springs itself peaked in the early 1990s.”
And the picture emerging from the statistics contrasts sharply with the
“hype” put out by the NT Tourist Commission, now called Tourism
He says in the past four years, when the decline set in, there’s been
far too much promotion of the Ayers Rock Resort and hardly any for the
attractions around Alice Springs, a trend that had started in the
“Recent attempts to change the focus back to all of Central Australia
are inadequate to stem the decline – as the numbers show,” says Mr
Attractions such as the West MacDonnells have been neglected for some
years now: “Why would people go there if they’re not told they exist?”
• Visitor nights in Central Australia are down 8% compared to 1985. In
that year Central Australia had 2.88m room nights. Today the annual
figure is 2.65m,
that’s 371,000 fewer nights.
• In 1985 visitors were staying 9.8 days in The Centre; last year it
was 3.6 – mostly at Ayers Rock.
• A top hotel in Alice charged $150 in 1991 and is now down to $100. It
now shuts down one of its three blocks of rooms for four months of the
• The top hotel at Ayers Rock charged $250 in 1991 and is now charging
$480. (The figures collected by Mr Chamber’s are not CPI adjusted.)
• A major bus company is manoeuvring to shut its Alice depot,
concentrating its operations on Ayers Rock.
• In the 1980s an average of 25 people took Alice town tours, 365 days
a year. Now three out of seven tours are cancelled, the average number
of passengers is 10 and the tour stops in summer.
• Visitation to Simpsons Gap reached a peak of 240,000 in 1987 and was
down to half that number in 2005.
• Ten tourism properties in Alice Springs have gone “off line” and are
no longer available for tourism because they have been converted to
flats and homes, or are concentrating on local business, largely from
Aboriginal communities, frequently with governments paying the bill.
• The number of beds in Alice Springs for tourists has dropped 30% over
20 years while doubling at Ayers Rock.
• An operator of an Alice caravan park has been unable to sell it and
recently just walked away.
• The current Qantas Holiday brochure, where operators pay to be
included, has eight pages about the Ayers Rock Resort, which has about
four operators, and eight pages for Alice Springs, which has hundreds
Mr Chambers says it’s a trap for the town to rely on “single focus”
tourism such as conventions and the Masters Games, at the expense of
the Free Independent Traveller (FIT).
Single focus tourists come on the same day and leave on the same day,
creating an air travel logjam on those days, while booking out all
accommodation for a period during which demand for flights evaporates
because no-one can get a room.
And single focus tourists, travelling on a package, are less likely to
patronise the wide range of shops and services in town and
There is a decreasing amount of “pre and post” touring and the global
trend is not to bring one’s spouse.
Mr Chambers and his wife, Naomi, employ two to three drivers and run
four luxury 4WD vehicles.
He came to Alice in 1983 as a mechanic for the Central Australian
Tourist Association, a group of tour businesses headed by Keith Castle
and including Ross River, Wallara Ranch, the Chalet at The Rock, Glen
Helen and the Alice Springs Motel.
He later worked as a mechanic for Ansett Trailways and Australian
Pacific Tours, before going into business on his own right with the
He now says the way forward is to – urgently – make the existing
“product” viable again, getting the small operators out of their slump.
Seeking a second airline now would be premature and “set it up to fail”
as the current level of demand is not adequate and still declining.
Mr Chambers is calling on the NT Government to raise visitation to
Alice Springs to the level of Ayers Rock by 2008; to return visitation
to “regional” Alice Springs – places like PalmValley, Ormiston Gorge
and Chambers Pillar – to the level of the year 2000; and to increase
the average length of stay to six days.
“It’s all about promotion, promotion and promotion,” says Mr Chambers.
RATES, ROADS & RUBBISH, BUSH STYLE.
By Erwin CHLANDA.
Should the Territory be getting conventional local government where
there is none at present, namely out in the sticks?
The NT Government is set on the idea, although the only concrete
benefit is access to $16m worth of annual road funding from Canberra,
available only to “incorporated” areas.
Surely there are more efficient ways of getting roads fixed than
setting up yet another bureaucracy.
In the bush, the vast majority of “ratepayers” won’t be paying rates:
Aboriginal-owned land cannot be rated.
So, when it comes to coughing up the money, it may have to come from
the minority of economically productive people, miners and
pastoralists, plus, of course, massive injections from the Feds and the
Yet when it comes to voting, the non-payers, because of their
overwhelming numbers, will have by far the biggest say in how other
people’s money is going
to be spent.
CLP Senator Nigel Scullion says he’s already been contacted by several
pastoralists “with concerns their holdings may be subjected to the
rating process” – up to $300,000 a year, he thinks, “and [they’d] get
nothing for it”.
“These new rates would just be another attack on pastoralists,” Senator
Local Government Minister Eliott McAdam wants the proposed “shires” to
contain at least 5000 people.
As a guide, the huge electorates of MacDonnell (all of the NT south of
The Alice) has just under 8000 people, and Stuart, 6350.
Some areas, Amoonguna, for example, may be tacked on to Alice Springs.
Given the sustained under performing of the Alice Springs Town Council,
and the never ending allegations of incompetence and corruption in the
councils, it all should be a lot of fun.
But first stand by for a some intense activity of consultation,
meetings and talkfests by a proposed advisory board and a string of
Alice News editor ERWIN CHLANDA spoke with Kerry Moir, recently
re-elected as president of LGANT, more than half of whose members are
from Aboriginal councils.
NEWS: Mr McAdam wants shires with populations of at least 5000 people.
Wouldn’t he be scratching to find them?
MOIR: He certainly would. In fact there are currently 300 plus councils
of the 700 or so councils with less than 5000 people, for example,
Cloncurry with 3900. We’ll also need to investigate whether the groups
need to abut each other, or whether or not you’re going to have
communities of interest rather than being geographically linked. The
Minister has left this open.
NEWS: What personnel would a shire have?
MOIR: I’m looking at what models there are in place all around
Australia. We’ve got one example of Darwin working with the Tiwi
Islands. We might have a mayor and one representative from each of the
councils linked together. What the Minister has said is that
there will no longer be community councils nor Aboriginal councils as
such. Community of interest and geographic cohesion will be considered
in the establishment of a shire.
NEWS: What would a shire do?
MOIR: None of this has been decided but there are lots of things that
could be done. At our conference in Alice [two weeks ago] one council
said they had 91 grants to apply for and acquit to be able to carry out
their operations. A shire could do that on behalf of all the councils
in that grouping. They could have one set of road maintenance
equipment, they could apply for road funding, that type of paper work
could be done centrally.
NEWS: Would small and currently successful councils be swallowed up to
MOIR: In NSW a number of councils amalgamated voluntarily. The major
concern was that each one has development priorities, such as a
cultural centre or a railway museum, which may drop off the agenda.
Each community must have a voice and be able to have their priorities
NEWS: Who’s going to be paying rates?
MOIR: If people live in houses not owned by the council, but by – for
example – the Federal Government, then the people who pay rates are the
people who own that property, not the people who rent it. [The
Commonwealth is usually rate exempt.]
A community council CEO said people in those [Aboriginal] communities
have very little money, they have very little capacity to pay rates.
But in some cases service charges amount to more than rates because
they apply per head.
And they’ve got very little capacity to buy their property in the first
place to have to pay rates. But they may have to pay a contribution for
services, such as garbage collection, upgrading of lighting, having
gutters or drainage put in. Many are on CDEP or unemployed, and won’t
be able to pay rates. But the aim of all this is for these people to be
no longer on CDEP, and to actually have real jobs.
NEWS: Where will the money be coming from to begin with?
MOIR: For the first time the councils, formed as shires, will be able
to raise revenue. Under the amended Land Rights Act people will be able
to buy 99 year leases. This has caused great upset to traditional
owners, as have discussions about taking away the permit system.
NEWS: It seems the rate payers, miners and pastoralists will provide
the bulk of the rate money, but as a tiny minority they will have very
little voting power. The councils will be run by the people making no
because they are in the vast majority. What will that do for harmony in
MOIR: That’s an assumption. There’s nothing to stop pastoralists and
miners from putting their hands up to be elected. Pastoralists, in
fact, pay rates to the NT Government already, in the form of lease
NEWS: But are they likely to get in? They don’t belong to the majority.
MOIR: There are a number of communities which have a variety of people,
not just Aboriginal people, who are elected to the council. The LGANT
executive in fact has two Indigenous community leaders and two
non-Indigenous. I was elected as president on the votes of Aboriginal
community council members.
NEWS: The split up of country is about half Aboriginal freehold and
half pastoral leases. Can you imagine many people in Yuendumu casting a
vote for one of the handful of white pastoralists in the region, even
if he stood for
MOIR: That’s a proposition and I can’t dispute that. In the current
situation there would be very few pastoralists who would become
involved in local government. But that’s not to say [it will be the
same] once the shire situation comes in. Yarralin, next to Victoria
River Downs, a very important station, has an Aboriginal council. Just
over there you’ve got Pigeonhole and just over there you’ve got Timber
Creek [both Aboriginal communities]. That’s where a pastoralist could
stand for election, on his record of expertise, to the shire council,
which may well be called the community management committee.
NEWS: How many councils are currently members of LGANT?
MOIR: There are 62, comprising six municipal councils (Alice, Darwin,
Katherine, Tennant Creek, Palmerston and Litchfield), one special
purpose town (Jabiru), 29 community government, 26 association
councils, including two under the Office of the Registrar of Aboriginal
NEWS: Could Alice Springs become part of a larger shire?
MOIR: It could well be. Katherine has just taken on responsibility for
Binjiari, 14 kilometres away. It had broken away from Katherine when
the Federal Government was encouraging the establishment of
outstations, “back to your roots”. That’s when lots of these little
councils were declared. The reality is that Binjiari does not have the
same quality of life and services as its neighbour. Katherine took them
back but they want equality of services, not a second class suburb.
This is also happening in Alice Springs [with the town camps]. But
whatever happens must be properly funded.
NEWS: Does that include outstations?
MOIR: Absolutely. We’re talking about normalisation in all instances.
NEWS: I believe about five shires are expected to be created.
MOIR: I won’t put a number on it and neither will the minister. And I
certainly don’t think it will be just the five administrative
districts. When the rumours were flying they went from five to 12.
NEWS: Your meeting in Alice discussed the Public Benevolent Institution
status of some councils.
MOIR: Some have it and some don’t. The Australian Taxation Office has
advised the 13 councils that do will lose their status which means they
will have to pay GST. [This is now under review.] Meanwhile the NT
Government has frozen its assistance grants although last year Jack Ah
Kit promised to index them. Three per cent inflation means that
councils will be doing less because they have less money.
NEWS: Why did LGANT carry a motion to retain the access permit system
to Aboriginal land?
MOIR: It was a very vigourous debate.
Many of our members had not been spoken to directly about why the
permit system is going, or about people coming to their communities and
obtaining 99 year leases, without permission from the traditional
owners, I might add, but with a lease granted by another group set up
outside the orbit of the traditional owners.
NEWS: I understood the Federal Government wants to abolish permits only
for public areas in a community where publicly funded facilities are,
as clinics, schools, police stations and council offices.
MOIR: At the conference it was clear elders did not know the details of
the proposal. I’m sure shires will have a discussion about this.
[Facilities] that are publicly funded may well become open to the
NEWS: Would LGANT support the notion that those public areas should be
accessible without permit?
MOIR: In principle we have no problem with making communities open and
transparent. I work for the Education Department, people go out to
communities all the time. What the owners can say is they don’t want
Kerry Moir, for example, coming on their land, they want someone else.
NEWS: People in Alice Springs don’t have the privilege of saying that.
MOIR: This needs a whole lot of debate. The people on the communities
do not know what is on [Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal]
NEWS: What’s happening in the immediate future?
MOIR: We can’t ignore the fact that there are councils that are about
to fall over. [On the other hand] communities have good things in
place, such as law and order systems.
The Tiwis have a suicide prevention program going. The elders have
created a code of conduct, and a law and order policy. The assumption
that every Aboriginal
community is dysfunctional is a generalisation that needs to be knocked
JODEEN ON THE BIG ISSUES.
1. We need to retain ownership of national parks in public hands.
CARNEY: The CLP agrees without reservation.
2. We should develop parks, especially the West Macs, as the prime
tourism attraction in Central Australia.
3. This would include the promotion and facilitation of the
establishment of a string of new resorts, and promote the creation, by
private enterprise, of activities ranging from trekking to 4WD routes
and motorbike adventures, horse and camel riding, camping, ballooning
etc, and experiencing traditional Aboriginal culture. Tasmania is a
great example of how to do this well.
CARNEY: If the tourist project could be conducted sustainably without
adverse impact on the park the CLP would look at any option.
4. Insofar as it enhances the role of the parks as assets promoting the
broad social and commercial development of the region, we need to
the participation of Aborigines in their management and the running and
owning of concessions.
CARNEY: The CLP strongly supports Aboriginal people becoming part of
the general economy rather than merely being dependent on it. To
that end we support the proposition that Aboriginal people should
develop their land.
5. This should be part of a broad revolution in Aboriginal affairs: We
must move away from nurse maiding perpetually dependent and supposedly
incompetent people. We must forge a partnership focussing on realizing
the vast commercial potential of this region and the enjoyment of its
superb environment by all races. That will require, over time, a
fundamental change of personnel dealing with Aborigines, in government
as well as NGOs, currently the remnants of bureaucrats and social
workers who over 30 years have brought about failure and misery on a
massive scale, ignoring or suppressing the resilience and
resourcefulness of Aborigines here.
CARNEY: The CLP has never been a supporter of welfare models.
Aboriginal people should be participants not dependants.
6. The establishment of facilities for international flights to Alice
Springs must be accelerated and given priority. The Alice is ideally
situated to become
a hub for national and international flights in and to Australia. An
of international hub and spoke airports is Denver, Colorado. As the
of the Yulara airport, the NT Government must prevent any moves towards
flights there, but the Ayers Rock Resort will benefit from an upgrading
CARNEY: The CLP would not legislate against business. The airport
is privately owned in Yulara as is the resort. If the company
the money to extend the runway privately then the CLP would not, and
probably could not consider legislation to hinder an expansion.
Having said that,
the CLP remains a party committed to its birthplace in Alice Springs
stands on a long proud record of tourism development in the
7. The NT Government should spend $10m a year to acquire cattle station
land to expand the parks estate, and create commercial incentives for
Aboriginal land holders to add some of their land to the parks estate.
CARNEY: Hard to put a figure on it but the Owen Springs lease buy back
is an example of CLP commitment in this area.
8. The government should return its parks administration to Alice
CARNEY: Not to mention the 30 DCIS jobs that have been wound back.
9. It should put 50% of the Tourist Commission budget, around $20m, at
the disposal, for tourism promotion, of Alice-based community
interests, such as the Chamber of Commerce, in consultation with the
Town Council and CATIA.
CARNEY: The CLP will place money where it is needed. Arbitrary
figures of commitment are not necessarily the best way to proceed.
10. Make continued public support for Desert Knowledge conditional upon
its demonstrated benefit to the social and commercial development of
CARNEY: Desert Knowledge is largely funded from Federal coffers and
much of the money is being spent in Alice Springs in terms of
construction. However, progress has been too slow. All
development projects must demonstrate social and commercial
benefits. There are enormous social and economic benefits of
Desert Knowledge, however, more work needs to be done informing and
educating the public.
11. The government needs to double expenditure on road construction and
maintenance, including the Mereenie Loop, the Tanami Road and the East
CARNEY: The CLP had Mereenie placed on the forward design list.
The Land Councils are the delay at the moment because of the road
corridor. The CLP would ensure that both projects were properly
supported. GST windfalls should guarantee significant increases
in all road funding.
12. scalate alcohol control measures until crime, public misconduct and
ill health are reduced to levels no greater than the Australian
CARNEY: Alcohol is restricted now. That is what the Liquor Act is
for. Levels and availability will be set in accordance with
public expectations. This is a difficult issue and whatever
decision is taken the answer will never
be the right one for everyone in the community.
13. CDU should establish a fully fledged campus in Alice Springs, with
comprehensive courses and local staff, enticing families with tertiary
education age children to stay in town.
CARNEY: The CLP brought tertiary education to the Territory. The
CDU Board however does function independently of Government. If
it was to
be established by Government, then Government would have to contract
to CDU. Without a costing available for that outcome it is hard to
commit completely for such a move.
14. The Larapinta development has set the value of native title rights
at half the freehold price of land. This needs to be reversed. The
clear intention of Federal laws is that the value of native title
rights should be set on a case by case basis. Native title claims over
Yulara and Darwin have recently been rejected by the court.
CARNEY: Larapinta should have had the rights acquired years ago.
Then the compensation for loss of title rights would have been with the
months not years after the assessment of title on the area and the
of Alice Springs could have proceeded unhindered.
The model chosen by Labor went the long way around to achieve exactly
the same result.
15. The government needs to remove onerous conditions from the
development of the second half of Larapinta so it can go ahead and land
prices in the town are reduced and affordable housing is created
through an increase in supply.
CARNEY: If they can they should, but in their negotiations they may be
committed to staying the course. If native title had been
acquired the cost of the compensation could have been paid for by the
sale of the blocks.
16. The government needs to replace the evaporation sewage plant with a
fully fledged recycling facility, requiring just a couple of hectares.
can then rehabilitate the freehold land presently used for the
ponds, some two square kilometers, and sell it for residential housing.
would further lower currently excessive land prices in the town, and
for the recycling facility.
CARNEY: Tempting course of action but needs more research. As
shown in Queensland recently there is a ‘yuck factor’ involved with
this and public support is needed to sell the idea.
17. The government needs to close the rubbish tip, rehabilitate it and
start a new one at Brewer Estate. The power station should also be
moved to Brewer Estate.
CARNEY: The site of the rubbish tip is becoming a concern. The
power station is also a concern. In both cases cost becomes a
major issue, however, as part of a major infrastructure overhaul, the
relocation of these sites would make sense.
18. The government needs to make a comprehensive assessment of the
state of the town’s sewage pipes and start a replacement program, if
and as required.
CARNEY: Not to mention the water pipes that are also 30 years
old. What the CLP will do is commit itself to the core functions
of government before all else. Power, water, law and order must
take priority over non-core functions such as wave pools in Darwin.
19. The government needs to put in place effective flood mitigation for
Alice Springs which, on present indications, requires the construction
a dam upstream from the Telegraph Station. This can either be a dry or
wet dam. Failure to do so will have catastrophic consequences as global
will cause rainstorms to become more frequent and ferocious.
CARNEY: The CLP will continue to argue for a flood mitigation dam in
Alice Springs. The only truly effective protection against a 1 in
Comment by RAINER CHLANDA.
I am a fifteen year old skateboarder living in Alice Springs. Our town
has a population smaller than the number of people attending the
University of NSW. Even though it is small, it is not unknown and this
makes me quite proud to live here. But there are a limited number of
activities for teenagers. The activities that are available should be
taken full advantage of and this is why our local skate park should
have an extension.
If we have enough money to make a $800,000 hockey field, a four million
dollar football grandstand and a 10.6 million dollar extension to the
chambers, we should have enough for a small extension to our skate
Many riders including roller bladers, skate boarders, bikers and
scooterers would be able to use a ‘street based’ facility like the one
that has been suggested. Street based means that the facilities mimic
street structures like stairs, railings and ledges.
The skate park as it is now is mostly suitable for bike riders and it
is difficult for the skaters to skate the same terrain. The extension
the two groups more and help avoid many painful collisions.
One of the main reasons the skate park was built was so that the users
would spend their time there and not in places like the mall or the
streets where riding and skating can be an annoyance for the public.
The reason skaters and riders ride on the street is because of the
structures like stairs and rails. They are an essential part of
skateboarding and BMX riding as sports.
The skate park does not contain any stairs and has only one rail. This
is considered unusable because of the blocked landing – it is blocked
by another ledge. This makes the skate park a poor substitute for the
street and for this reason it is unsuccessful in keeping skaters and
riders off the street.
The extension could easily provide a small range of stairs with rails
and ledges going down them and some more street based facilities like
‘manual pads’ – platforms for skaters to jump up on, balance and then
The provision of an extension would benefit many in the community –
keeping skaters and riders off the street and happily occupied with
their challenging sport.
It would also encourage more professional skaters and bikers to come to
Alice Springs and hold competitions here, which would raise the profile
our town in the skating world.
ALICE FASHION IS ON REWIND.
By BIANCA GEPPA.
Spots, stripes, bold colours, chunky shoes, play-suits and shiny disco
style accessories. Take you back to the 80s?
Well, those from that generation are about to have a blast from the
past and teens will be raiding their parents’ wardrobes as old trends
become new fashion.
The winter bohemian look is out and the 70s and 80s style is back this
summer, in a big way, according to Mixed Lollies owner Anastasia
Alice Springs is not usually known for following fashion trends, but
that’s about to change.
Store owners, managers and assistants I spoke to say they are now
bringing in more “city style” clothing and accessories, and young
people are willing to become bolder in their fashion choices.
So, what’s hot for summer?
All of the people I interviewed agreed on one thing: spots, stripes and
prints are all very popular for the girls. Bright colours, such as
reds and yellows, are the “new black”.
Dresses will be massive, short shorts have taken over denim minis, and
bubble skirts have made a comeback.
Get ready to throw away those hipsters, traditional high-waisted pants
and skirts are back in.
“Play-suits are also in,” says Anastasia, “it’s just a matter of girls
being brave enough to wear them”.
Play-suits – mini shorts and top all in one – are a new take on the old
Accessorise with chunky necklaces, huge bangles, bright headbands and
shiny belts. When accessorising, remember big. Big jewellery, belts,
sun glasses and bags – you can’t go wrong with oversized
accessories. Big jeweller and high waist belts can dress up any
As for shoes, bright court shoes, colourful wedges, girlie flats and
casual thongs are all hot this summer, according to Rachel Anzolin,
manager of our local Betts shoe store.
And in today’s society, females aren’t the only fashion victims. Males
are becoming more aware of fashion, and taking pride in their
appearance. Everyone agrees that girls are no longer the only ones who
dress to impress.
“Army style clothing” is in for boys, commented Just Jeans sales
assistant, Sarah Delsar. Striped polo tops, 80s style shirts and
colourful tees with vintage prints are also in for the guys.
“Coloured denim is what all the boys in the city are wearing,” says
There is no reason for Alice Springs to be behind in the fashion
Tania Bone, manager of clothing store Chain Reaction, says, “There is
not as much choice in Alice Springs, but we are definitely not behind.”
Just because we live in a small town, does not mean we can’t follow
So leave those comfy track pants for lounging around the house and give
your wardrobe a touch of summer style.
(Bianca Geppa is a Year 10 student at OLSH, who was doing work
experience with the Alice News.)
ARE BATCHELOR GRADUATES READY FOR WORK?
By KIERAN FINNANE.
With greater pressure now on Indigenous people to equip themselves for
the world of work than at any time in its more than 30-year existence,
how is Batchelor Institute meeting the challenge?
Vice-chair of the institute’s council Des Rogers say the overhaul of
the last two years has seen a shift back to core business – education
and training “for grassroots Indigenous people” – and away from
the push for university status.
“The average age of students at Batchelor is 34, so we’re picking up
Indigenous people who’ve fallen through the gaps, whom the system has
“But we can’t be seen as the institute to solve all the disadvantage of
Indigenous people. We have a role in it,” he says.
The council led a restructure of the senior positions at the institute
as well as an extensive community consultation and review process.
“Now we’ve got a really good team working together,” says Mr Rogers.
He says Batchelor’s vision is to provide steps towards education and
training Indigenous people want.
Whether it’s higher education or literacy and numeracy skills, “it
builds capacity of those people”.
There are still higher education offerings: “We haven’t moved away
entirely,” says new director Jeannie Herbert, “but we’ve put our energy
back with the teaching program, across both VET and higher ed.”
Students might begin with the certificate course in spoken and written
English (CSWE) and “then might have a go at something else”, says Dr
Herbert. Is that really enough? Do most of the CSWE students move
Research by Metta Young for the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research
Centre shows fewer students doing VET courses across desert Australia,
most of those courses being at pre-vocational levels and enrolments
shifting to single subjects.
(Ms Young’s research drew on 2004 data, the most recently released,
the National Centre for Vocational Research.)
Dr Herbert suggests that the decline in VET is a national trend, not
confined to the desert.
But she says Indigenous people are turning away because of what they
perceive as lack of relevance – something Batchelor is “working on” –
and also because of the cost.
She says Abstudy does not recognise the reality of Indigenous lives,
that money might have to be shared between a much larger group than a
student’s immediate family. Both Mr Rogers and Dr Herbert insist
that participating in CSWE is “a great outcome” whether or not it leads
to employment or further education and training.
But is CSWE enough to gain the students greater independence?
Says Dr Herbert: “If you’re living out in the desert and surviving I
would have thought that was pretty independent.”
In the context of trying to break welfare dependency is this position
sustainable. Dr Herbert did not answer.
Mr Rogers, a successful businessman in his own right, is highly
sceptical about the expectation of greater economic independence for
remote communities: “It’s going to be same old, same old. People will
still be reliant on some sort of subsidy because the real jobs simply
“We, as Indigenous people, are a contiuous experiment, this will be
another experiment. Take Wallace Rockhole where I live. You simply
can’t generate enough income to pay 100 people in full-time jobs. A lot
of people on remote communities are always going to be in subsidised
The Alice News asked Mr Rogers about the potential of, apart from
opportunities in tourism and hospitality, a market garden whose produce
could supply his fruit and veg wholesale business. Mr Rogers says this
kind of enterprise is
not “part of the culture” of Aboriginal people.
Yet both Dr Herbert and Mr Rogers acknowledge the importance of linking
Batchelor’s programs to employment.
“In our new way of doing business, training has to be linked to some
sort of employment,” says Mr Rogers.
And Dr Herbert says: “It’s important to know where our students go in
the end. We want to know and do know that they’ve got
Mr Rogers says Batchelor’s recent community consultation showed them
that they “need to get out more, get more lecturers out in the bush”.
There are now some well-equipped study centres in some communities but
the biggest obstacle to a greater presence in the bush is lack of staff
Lifestyles on communities might also make for “very poor attendance” at
courses delivered full-time over a year, suggests Dr Herbert.
“The workshops model, of one week or two week blocks, comes out of
years of experience.”
Mr Rogers looks forward to the campus moving to the Desert Knowledge
precinct: “It’ll be better, safer, away from the bright lights,
Indigenous peope will be more comfortable out there.”
The recent graduation ceremony on the Alice campus – always a colourful
and moving occasion – coincided with the release of the Australian
Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) audit of Batchelor Institute.
Both Dr Herbert and Mr Rogers were delighted that AUQA recognises
Batchelor’s role on the national scene “as the only higher educational
institution solely for Indigenous students”.
Says the audit: “Many institutions of higher education are
multi-campus, many are mixed mode, some are dual sector, some have a
high proportion of students from equity groups or remote areas or
non-English speaking backgrounds, but Batchelor is the only institution
that has all these characteristics.
“In addition, its location in the Northern Territory causes difficulty
in recruiting and retaining staff. This makes it a very complex
poses unique challenges for governance and management.”
Elsewhere the audit refers to OECD figures on the population base for a
VET college and a university: 400,000 and 500,000 respectively.
The audit did not question the on-going existence of Batchelor,
pointing rather to the necessity of different approaches for funding
But as the Northern Territory has a population base of some 200,000 and
supports both Charles Darwin University and Batchelor, both of which
higher education and VET, the Alice News asked what is the case for
a separate institute for Indigenous people.
Education and training of Indigenous people is also “core business” for
In a recent posting on the AUQA website the university reported an
Indigenous enrolment of just over 25%, “nearing population parity in
the VET sector”.
It also reported a higher education Indigenous enrolment of 5% in
undergraduate programs, “high by national comparisons” although “there
remains considerable distance to go to reach the Northern Territory
So, the News asked, why not put resources into supporting Indigenous
students through the mainstream institution?
“We do it better,” says Dr Herbert, while Mr Rogers invited the News to
“look at our AUQA report and look at theirs.”
The audit reports do not make the comparison, but the CDU audit
describes, for instance, their enrolment of 230 higher education
students and employment of 46 Indigenous staff as “an admirable
achievement” although “there needs to be a more fully expressed plan
for increasing the participation of
Indigenous students and staff”.
It also gives CDU a commendation for recognising “its vital role in
Indigenous development and its commitment to valuing Indigenous people”.
Batchelor also gets a lot of ticks, including one for its shift away
from placing priority on gaining university status.
The audit refers to “a difficult period of dissension and confusion
over direction”, concluding “while all is not yet solved, there appears
now to be largely a sense of shared purpose in a culturally safe and
characterised by optimism and hopes for the future.”
The audit identifies Batchelor’s strengths as including:
• high level of commitment by council and staff;
• the belief of staff in Batchelor’s unique vision which is highly
appreciated by students, past and present;
• relation to remote communities in the Northern Territory and across
• increasing visibility as a national institution.
And it lists as issues for attention:
• development of the both-ways philosophy and its practical
• the role of research;
• performance management;
• staff retention;
• implications of a changing student population, including greater
variety of study modes.
On the both-ways philosophy the audit says Batchelor has continually
struggled to enunciate it in a way that would enable staff to use it to
inform their teaching and research.
“That no fixed position has ever been reached on this may be an
inevitable consequence of changing ideas and contexts. However, this
variability is a
liability for [Batchelor] when it has stated that the both-ways
its defining characteristic. The concept is being revisited this year,
AUQA urges [Batchelor] to approach it creatively.”
CAAMA HEADS INTO FAST LANE OF THE TV GAME.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Double Trouble, the first commercial television drama series by a
Territory production company, is the culmination of CAAMA
Productions’ efforts over two decades to show that “Indigenous films do
rate”, says CEO Priscilla Collins.
“When we started the assumption was ‘Indigenous films don’t rate’.
“We had to keep breaking down the stereotypes every time, to show that
they can rate,” says Ms Collins.
CAAMA Productions was established as a company in 1988.
CAAMA TV, set up two years earlier by Freda Glynn and Phillip Batty,
had been producing Urrpeye, an Indigenous current affairs program.
“But only the ABC would put it to air, at 11.30 at night,” says Ms
So CAAMA bid for and won the Imparja licence and set up CAAMA
Productions “with a charter to promote and present Indigenous language
and culture and to train Indigneous people in the film industry”.
They took on a group of trainees under the National Indigenous Training
Strategy and, while training was underway, successfully tendered for
Australia, programming produced and paid for by ATSIC.
The group included Ms Collins as well as Rachel Perkins, Erica Glynn,
Warwick Thornton, Allan Collins, David Tranter and Jason Ramp, all of
whom have gone on to make careers in the industry.
The training, full-time for three years, was accredited by the
Australian Film Television and Radio School.
They started making Nganampa Anwernekenhe, an Aboriginal language
series, as well as Anwerne Aretyeke, five minute “fillers” on
Indigenous current affairs.
Nganampa Anwernekenhe continues to run 18 years later, although it has
dwindled from 26 half-hour episodes a year to just four. It is
broadcast on Imparja, which pays quite dearly for it – $350,000, the
Alice News understands, although Ms Collins says this is cheap compared
to standard industry rates. She puts these at $120,000 for a 30
Imparja otherwise buys little from the local film and television
Ms Collins also did managerial training at the Institute for Aboriginal
Development together with another lot of well known names.
“Every person I did my managerial course at IAD with is now in senior
management in town: Donna Ah Chee, Stephanie Bell, Mervyn Franey, Betty
Campbell, Barbara Richards
“They put a lot of money into us but the long term benefits are there,”
says Ms Collins.
CAAMA has lobbied a recent Senate Select Committee on the need for more
intensive training support to be made available.
Meanwhile, Ms Collins says CAAMA pieces together funding for training
opportunities from different sources. And with some success.
Last year the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation gave them
$250,000 to spend on training Indigenous people at Santa Teresa
Hermansburg in radio and video.
This year they have received $500,000 from the National Crime
Prevention Strategy, also to be spent on training Indigenous youth over
Troy Dowler was their first Indigenous apprentice technician
to graduate in 2004. Josh Wellington is a current apprentice
Three young men are dooing film attachments on Double Trouble and there
are currently five trainees in production, as well as others in CAAMA’s
“Kids will see you don’t need to leave Alice Springs to become skilled
in the film industry,” says Ms Collins.
This kind of funding puts into some perspective CAAMA Productions’
claim that it operates as a commercial company, without direct
However, they have had a number of commercial successes, in the sense
of raising healthy budgets and making sales.
Marn Grook, their 1996 documentary about the achievements of Aboriginal
Aussie Rules players, was sold to Channel Seven.
Red Storm, made in 1999 about the phenomenon of dust storms, was sold
to National Geographic.
Film Australia funded Dhakiyarr vs The King as a National Interest
Program in 2003. It deals with the controversial trial for murder
and subsequent disappearance in 1934 of Yolgnu leader, Dhakiyarr
Ms Collins says when full-time employment, guaranteed by the contract
to make Aboriginal Australia for ATSIC, came to an end it “forced a big
“People had to go freelance. We started getting confident and wanted to
start producing for a national audience, doing docos for ABC, SBS, and
Channel Four in Britain, National Geographic, CBC in Canada.
“Budgets had to be over $300,000 for us to stay afloat. Then we started
getting films to festivals, winning awards.”
Allan Collins won AFI and IF awards for his cinematography in Ivan
Sen’s Beneath Clouds. He is also the first Indigenous filmmaker to be
presented with an accreditation certificate by the Australian
Cold Turkey and My Colour Your Kind both attracted AFI nominations.
Warwick Thornton’s Greenbush won Best Short Film in the Panorama
(auteur section) of the Berlin International Film Festival, and won two
Dendy awards in Sydney in 2005.
Yellow Fella screened at Cannes, while Green Bush, Mistake Creek,
Bonita Mabo, Karli Jalangu and Cold Turkey all screened at the Sydney
Double Trouble was the next step.
“No one in Australia was hitting the 12 to 15 year old age bracket.
“If we did it, I knew it had to be for a commercial network. My kids
think the films CAAMA makes are boring.
“They watch commercial stations and Pay TV. I’m gonna get a commercial
network and Disney for Double Trouble!’ I told them.
“They didn’t believe I could but that made me more determined.
“I had a poster dummied up and I pitched with that to Nine and Disney
and they bought it.
“Once they were sold on the idea, I said we want the writers, director,
cinematographer and sound recordist to be Aboriginal. And they accepted
With the Nine and Disney presales in place CAAMA then raised over $1m
from the Film Finance Corporation, and $243,000 from the News South
Wales state film agency. At the last minute, after pre-production
had already started, the Territory Government matched the NSW
Why the Territory Government was so tardy remains a mystery.
Arts Minister Marion Scrymgour’s advisor Chips Mackinolty “flew to
Alice to explain exactly what had to go in the Cabinet submission”,
says Ms Collins.
And this was after the NT Film Office had prepared the submission and
organised a face to face meeting with the Minister.
Water under the bridge now. Ms Collins says: “They were very supportive
of our project and went out of their way to make sure we could get the
“It’s taken us a long time to get this far, from training and
presenting Aboriginal culture to hitting a mass audience.”
She brushes aside any doubts about the relevance to Australian, let
alone Aboriginal, teenage lives of a remake of a now quite old
“I know teenagers are going to catch it: it’s got all the ingredients,
twins, the fish out of water theme, boyfriends, hip hop, sexy clothes.”
And she says Double Trouble does contain a lot of Aboriginal cultural
“A lot of our kids base their lifestyles on TV, the way they talk and
dress and dance is based on American hip hop culture.
“In Double Trouble they will see how their own people live, people on
communities, how they talk, how their families interact, dancing and
singing – some traditional, some Aboriginal contemporary bands –
Aboriginal elders, kids as they are playing
footy, nanna and poppa cheering them on.
“It promotes how Aboriginal people are today.”
But is the emphasis at CAAMA now more on promoting Indigenous careers,
rather than Indigenous culture?
Says Ms Collins: “We do promote traditional and contemporary Indigenous
culture through our films, in both documentaries and dramas, we do it
“We also promote Indigenous careers, from people like Allan Collins and
Rachel Perkins to school-based apprentices.
“If anyone comes in and asks for a job I go out of my way to get them
She says CAAMA will also work with non-Indignous producers, citing Red
Storm as an example: “Chris Tangey wrote ‘Red Storm’, it was his
“And David Vadiveloo did Trespass and Beyond Sorry with us.
“If someone comes to us with an idea we are happy to work with them.”
Nganampa Anwernekenhe is quarantined for Indigenous employment; and the
Australian Film Commission’s Indigenous Film Unit insists on both
and director of programs it funds being Indigenous.
How many CAAMA productions have made money?
“None!” is the surprising answer.
“By the time you take out the distributor’s cut, not much comes
back,” says Ms Collins.
Recently they signed up a distribution officer and they are looking at
taking on distribution themselves.
Ms Collins says the NT Film Office should operate like the other state
“It should be funded at an industry level, so that it’s got money to
put into development and production as well as training and getting
people to market.”
But she’s patient: “It’s all very new for the government, they don’t
know much about the film industry.
“The more we make good productions to show to them, the more they’ll
support the industry.”
NEW FUNNY WOMAN FOR ALICE.
by KIERAN FINNANE.
She’s a middle-aged mum with a bunch of kids and an Irish Catholic
Fiona O’Loughlin, right?
“Well, we seem to have a lot in common,” says Donna O’Brien, who had
the audience in stitches at her first gig, a support act to Fiona’s
last week at The Lane “There are a couple of differences though: I’ve
physics degree and I can see what’s on top of my fridge.”
Donna’s getting a second run at The Lane next week, Wednesday, November
1.I heard her give a hilarious speech at a friend’s 40th a couple of
months ago – has she always been able to make people laugh?
“I’d like to think so but when your friends start paying money to hear
your jokes that makes it a lot more serious.”
She admits to feeling nervous even though she’s used to standing up
in front of people: she’s a maths teacher, at Anzac High now, moving to
Centralian next year.
“When you’re trying to keep kids awake during coordinate geometry and
trigonometry, you have to throw in a few jokes.
“But my grandmother used to say, ‘Don’t be funny, Donna, it doesn’t
suit you’ – she just thought she was funnier than me.”
How did she go about preparing her gig – it’s not the same as cracking
a funny with your mates, is it?
“I told the audience I’d googled stand-up comedy and it said start
with a local joke.
“I didn’t really google but I did start with a local joke ... about
Dr Panel’s bedside manner.
“That got a good laugh but then a friend started gesturing to me, there
he was, sitting in the front row!
“And this was just one minute in.”
Was he laughing?
“He had his hand over his mouth – I’m not sure. I’ve never seen him
laugh. He’s a great doctor but just not as chatty as me.”
Her jokes are often at her own expense: like her biggest worry
that on her deathbed she won’t realise that it is her deathbed and her
last thought will be, “Oh dam, I forgot to floss my teeth!”
Donna’s married to Arrernte man Andy Ross and took permission to have a
few jokes about black politics as well as to take on some of the
paternalistic attitudes of her own white Brisbane family, like the aunt
who informed her that Aborigines like mutton stew.
“It’s funny being up front and seeing the different responses different
“Jokes about Tupperware seem to strike a chord, and so do jokes about
“I’m used to having attention drawn to my faults. Like my 15 year old
students saying, ‘Oh, Miss O’Brien, what were you thinking this morning
when you put that outfit together!’ They’re really just trying to
me from the fact that they didn’t do their homework.
“But I like to go for a walk in the evening. Sure, it’s about keeping
fit but mostly it’s looking at my 18 foot long shadow with very slender
“I could tell from the laughs that a lot of women do the same thing.”
Has Alice got room for two comediennes from an Irish Catholic
background with lots of kids (though Donna has only three)?
“Well, Fiona travels a lot and I just want to hang around here.”
Donna will be supporting Wilson Dixon, the country singer character
created by award winning comedian, musician, and television actor Jesse
Described as “a laconic cowboy who sings sweet country tunes and
delivers more one-liners than a postman at Christmas,” Wilson Dixon has
had outings in London at the famous Comedy Store, at the Edinburgh
Festival, across Australia and New Zealand headlining comedy clubs, as
well as being a cult hit at both the Auckland and Melbourne
International Comedy Festivals.
WHO SAYS US GIRLS CAN'T PLAY RUGBY?
It’s not often you see a burly rugby player cry. But coach Wayne
shed plenty of tears after his protégé, Sophia Costello,
her last match.
Having turned 13, Sophia had to give up rugby league at the end of the
season because there is no women’s competition and she’s no longer
to play on the male team.
“She’s made me cry twice. When I broke my leg I didn’t shed a tear but
is much worse,” said Middleton who coached her for five years.
“Sophia is like a daughter to me.
“She’s been fantastic: she’s shown other girls like my daughter Keina
they can play.
“And it made the boys play better: they show off when she’s playing!”
As forward for the West Dragons Sophia scored 48 points last season and
named the players’ player. She also won the coaches’ award and the most
in junior rugby league trophy, and was the only girl in the under 13s
Although she’s had to switch to touch football, Sophia is determined to
up rugby again.
“I always knew I’d have to give up rugby but I still wish I could keep
“It’s fun and you can get your aggression out on everyone.
“I love playing against the boys because they’re soft.
“When my brother moves to Queensland I’m going to try out for a team
Her brother Aaron, Memo’s front row and centre, is keen to trial on the
“I think the reason why girls don’t play here is that they are scared
might get hurt,” says Sophia who admits she experienced some severe
“I’ve broken my collarbone and also my wrist twice. I’ve had two
“But it made me more keen. I played in the national championships with
broken wrist. Did it hurt? A little bit but I wanted to play.”
A qualified referee, Sophia played rugby from the age of three:
first two teams were Raiders and Broncos.
Mum Rebecca says she’s amazed at her daughter’s determination and
“Sitting in the hospital with a broken collarbone, she was desperate to
back on the field and play,” says Rebecca, admitting that having a
playing daughter has proved unconventional for some players.
“The Yirara boys didn’t know what to do when they realised they were
a girl!” she says.
“When she’s got her hair back and she’s running with the ball, she
no different to any other player.
“But because in Aboriginal culture boys and girls are separated at this
the boys jumped back in horror when they realised it was a girl.
“She took advantage of it and kept running.”
Only a handful of girls have played rugby in recent years, and there
only two playing in the last competition.
“Here we just don’t have the population for it,” says Wayne Middleton.
“But we want to incorporate a female tag ball competition into Alice
“I really hope we can set one up and boost the numbers.”
Tag ball is a modified game of rugby without tackling or scrums: to get
contact the Central Australian Rugby Football League 89 525514.
NICE GUY COUGH UP!
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Territory Minister for Sport and Recreation Kon Vatskalis “comes across
a sincere and decent human being but that’s not going to solve the
confronting our sports facilities.”
So says Alderman Murray Stewart following the town council’s meeting
Mr Vatskalis last Friday.
The council presented him with a submission for funding a new floor at
basketball stadium and also gave him notice of further funding
Ald Stewart says the Sports Facilities Advisory Committee, on which he
council’s representative, will be meeting in November to nut out
details on what he says will be a submission to government for $100m
a year over 10 years).
That’s what necessary to reverse the steady deterioration of the
“If we don’t do something some sports will be facing real danger,” says
Stewart, “real occupational health and safety issues.
“The recruitment of people in our town into sport in recent years has
nothing short of amazing.
“That can only be good for all the issues confronting us, particularly
obesity and general levels of health and fitness.”
Ald Stewart says Mr Vatskalis spoke favourably of sports facility
partnerships in Darwin between government and private enterprise.
“But we’re not in that position,” says Ald Stewart. “We’re not a
to Asia, we haven’t got the same opportunities, we effectively rely on
“I wanted him to understand that our options are quite limited in that
“I told him I’d just seen the 10 year plan to make Darwin the world’s
attractive tropical town.
“But here, we’re confused – where do we fit into the picture?
“We’re struggling to get the money to put even our indoor pool
On completion of the Traeger Park grandstand, Ald Stewart says Mr
was immovable: the Territory will only fund half the cost, so it’s back
the drawing board for council.
PLAY NOW, SLEEP LATER.
By COLUMNIST ADAM CONNELLY.
So how’s your Masters Games going? Come on, there’s only a couple of
days to go and you can have all the sleep you want.
Just between you and me, I am kicking myself for not buying shares in
Berroca, Red Bull and whatever company makes the little paper umbrellas
for cocktail glasses. I have seen more little paper umbrellas in the
last week than you could find at a midget Mary Poppins convention.
But while you are all getting on with the business at hand, the
business of having a good time, remember to at least in some small way,
take care of
In all the excitement of the sporting and social calendar of the
Masters Games, often people over extend themselves and find that
towards the end of
the week, it catches up with them and they need to take a whole day
No one wants to take a whole day off the party of the biennium!
I almost came to grief under such circumstances recently. After a
particularly long week at work mixed with going out every week night I
feeling fairly tired on the Friday night.
And early the next hot and fairly humid morning, when I had to work out
in the elements, I got even more emotional.
Feeling seedy, sweaty and somewhat over it all I wondered if I was
going to make it through to the end of the shift.
I persevered and somehow made it through. I had resigned myself to the
fact that due to my over extending through the week, the rest of the
weekend would be spent sleeping and reading.
With an air of resignation I walked home and past the pool into my
house. Hang on a second. It’s almost 40 degrees, it’s
Saturday afternoon. I should be in the pool.
Ah! The pool. In the Alice the pool is a better tonic than any aspirin
or oyster shooter can provide. I changed and made my way to its ceramic
side as quickly as my lethargic body could carry me and fell in.
There is nothing more satisfying in the world than living in a desert
and swimming in a body of water. There is nothing more therapeutic than
cold water sting from the first plunge into that man made oasis. All of
sudden the rigours of the week fade faster than an Australian Idol’s
My suggestion for those of you feeling the pinch is a simple one. Get
thee to a pool. Or a waterhole, or a very large bath, but preferably a
There are however rules you must obey in the pool. These aren’t rules
to spoil the fun and the relaxation. These rules will enhance the
tranquility you feel in the pool.
For example, I have previously told you about the letter all of the
units in my block received concerning “special times” in the pool. This
is a no no. “Special times” should only be enjoyed out of a pool.
This is a rule that might have been broken a few times by a small
number of competitors in town this week.
Now if you are in a share pool and a couple is getting a bit flirty, or
perhaps a group of people are being a bit too loud and boisterous,
breaking the rules.
If someone is breaking the rules there are ramifications. It’s a simple
equation. Crime equals punishment.
And here is the simplest form of punishment possible.
When such crimes are spoiling your fun, simply head slowly down to the
deep end of the pool.
Stand in one spot for thirty seconds or so and pull a confused face.
Trust me, the perpetrators of the destruction of your bliss will stop
what they are doing and exit the pool. Works every time.
LETTERS to the editor.
Sir,– This is a an open letter to Mayor Fran Kilgariff:
Dear Ms Kilgariff, What are you doing! I have read and listened to you
over the past weeks giving your views on the future of this town and
all you seem to be doing in my opinion is inciting more and more
tension in an already fragile situation that exists between the
Aboriginal and “white” people.
“ Whites will not rule.” (see Alice News, October 5, page 4). For
heaven’s sake, Ms Kilgariff, wake up and give people some support and
hope that this town will survive.
Is your hope for a Labor seat and indigenous votes more important to
you than the welfare of the people of this town, a town where you have
I spent most of last night scared, because a gang of rampaging youths,
mainly half-castes, had taken over my street and neighbourhood,
swearing and smashing bottles, and instilling fear into the people.
My friend had a pot plant thrown through her window and her fence
kicked in, and Ms. Kilgariff, it was a rental house belonging to your
sister, while the other peoples in the neighbourhood were locked
insides their homes, in fear!
Why should we have to put up with this? Police have not a hope in hell
of keeping some sense of law and order when we have the mayor of this
town sitting back and not giving anyone the encouragement or hope that
this town will gain
some form of respectability and order.
I came to this town 20 years ago and have seen it deteriorate and seen
many people, many born here and who raised their families here, that
have left and are leaving because of the constant threats that exist
here, in the real world, Ms Kilgariff!
All I hear is politicians sitting back in their ivory towers, telling
us that equality is the right way and here you are saying, that this
town will be an Aboriginal town in 10 years and that whites will not
rule – I didn’t know that they did. Oh Ms Kilgariff – why have you let
this town down?Give us some hope of survival, before you leave and move
next door to Clare Martin!
We certainly do not need you and your political ambitions. You have
done more damage in your comments than this town and its people need!
A. L Truman
The Alice News offered Ms Kilgariff right of reply:
Dear Ms Truman, Thank you for your open letter. My comments about
“whites will not rule” have been taken out of context from a
My intention was to highlight the complete lack of representation by
Indigenous people on the Alice Springs Town Council since the
resignation of Alderman Des Rogers. I wished to emphasise
the need for Indigenous people to stand for council and be part of
the governance of the town and leaders of their community and was
encouraging Indigenous people to nominate for the council
elections in March 2008.
This is especially important given the demographic predictions that
around the year 2020 the population of Alice Springs is forecast to be
approximately equal [parts, Indigenous and non-Indigenous]. I see
this predicted demographic mix as once of the most urgent challenges
facing our town.
These predicitons are not new but as a town leader it is my
responsibility to ensure that people are aware of these forecasts, so
that we can plan for the future.
I am not one to bury my head in the sand and hope that this issue
will go away instead of being acknowledged and managed.
No problem has ever been resolved by maintaining ignorance of the true
state of affairs.
It is essential to instil a sense of urgency in all government
departments and non-government organisations. The education,
employment and training of young Aboriginal people has to be of the
highest importance and priority for the sake of the individuals
concerned and the economy of our town.
Indigenous culture is a major drawcard for our local tourism industry
and it is important that we celebrate our cultural diversity and work
together to ensure that Alice Springs is a place we can all be proud
To me the easy availability of welfare has been a tragedy for
Aboriginal people and one that has led to many Indigenous people
being unable to contribute to the wider community. I support
moves by the Federal Government to reform the welfare system so that
public money more truly goes to where it is needed, such as for food
and shelter for children. As Bob Beadman has said and also quoted
in the Alice Springs News, “welfare should be a safety
net not a hammock”.
My highest priority apart from my family is the future of Alice
Springs. I work daily with police, Indigenous organisations,
community groups and government
departments to ensure that we have a peaceful and prosperous future.
There are many things in Alice Springs that we can
be proud of and can build our future prosperity on. The
incredible atmoshpere of the Masters Games in town this week is an
example of that.
I remain positive about the future of our town and will continue
to bring issues to the attention of our community.
Alice Springs Mayor
We are what we eat
Sir,– This is an open letter to Glendle Schrader, CEO of Wana
Ungkunytja Pty Ltd.
Dear Mr Schrader, As I understand it, Wana Ungkunytja Pty Ltd, or
one of its subsidiaries, is responsible for purchasing the food being
in the stores on many of Central Australia’s remote communities.
If true, I have a question I would ask you, please, to address.
Given that our health is directly related to our diet, and given that
the people on the remote communities have the most appalling health
statistics, exactly what are those stores selling?
We are what we eat, and I admit I am hoping to hear that you do not
stock cool drinks by the pallet, greasy chips or other ersatz foods, or
sugar by the tonnage.
If everyone with the responsibility for stocking staple food supplies
could forego the easy money items, they would not lose business to the
store across the street. There isn’t one.
This monopoly provides an ideal opportunity to educate as well as to
profit, to lead as well as to profit, to do so much more than just
The economic heresy I am suggesting is that the true bottom line is not
the store’s annual profit and loss statement. The true bottom
is the community mortality rate.
ED – The Alice News offered Mr Schrader right of reply. He had not
responded by the time of going to press.
Sir, - Fay Miller and John Sheridan (Alice News, Oct 5, letters) may
feel threatened by loss of freedom if speed limits are introduced in
What about the freedom of people in wheelchairs after road accidents?
Territorians are twice as likely to be killed on the road as other
Hardly a mark of a freedom.
Sadly, people who don’t drive fast still suffer. Our colleagues are
killed, we wait in over-crowded hospital emergency departments, and our
taxes pay for ambulances, hospitals, and road-unkeep. Territory roads
are not the Autobahn.
We do not have separated traffic streams, side rails, merging ramps and
skid-resistant surfaces which make travel safe at high speed.
We have remote country roads, and speed kills. Let’s slow down.
Why Pine Gap?
Sir,– Regarding ‘Peace activist: have hammer, will travel’ (Alice News,
Interesting to see that some things (or, more precisely, minds) never
change. There were no rallies against Saddam Hussein slaughtering more
than a million of his own people.
No rallies against Russia’s ongoing terrorizing of Chechnya (Russian
journalist Anna Politkovskaya was working on an article on torture in
Chechnya when she
No rallies against North Korea’s testing of an atomic bomb and
threatening of neighbour states to nuke them in the case of economic
Consequently South Korea just demanded to be covered by the US nuclear
shield and Japan is considering (re)building their arsenal.
Do “peace activists” read newspapers?
Dr Christopher Lueg
Sir,– I am trying to contact an old friend who I nursed with in the
late 1950s and 60s.
Her married name is Ruth McKenzie-Campbell and her husband’s name was
She lived for a number of years in Alice Springs. It is possible
her children still live in The Alice.
Any advice anyone can give me in locating her would be very much
appreciated as we are planning a nurses reunion, next year it being 50
years since we started our training.
Back to frontpage the Alice Springs News.