Will the good news outweigh the bad?
Sir – Do we focus on the good news or on the bad news? This is the question being asked by the Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce and our tourist industry.
Let’s look at some good news first.
Part of the carbon tax will be an increase in funding for renewable sources of energy. Our status as a solar city means we can benefit from this.
If the aeroplane boneyard gets going, this will put a novel feather in our financial and tourist caps.
The Desert Knowledge, CAT, CSIRO and Arid Lands complex south of the Gap gives Alice a brains trust that can be built upon.
The new suburb of Kilgariff is being built. The new Aquatic Centre has been.
The recent initiative by Coles to acknowledge and start to address the devastation wrought by alcohol in Alice shows corporate social responsibility peeking through. They are setting an example for our other corporations to follow.
The advertisements run locally by Action for Alice prove that responsible people living in Alice really do care about what is happening, and what will happen, in this town we all share.
We remain the central hub for a style of indigenous painting that has been called the last great art movement of the 20th century.
Araluen is a worthy centre for our many artistic expressions.
With our demographic mix we are a melding of cultures that, at its usual best, works and works well.
With our clean air, clean water and easy access to inspirational country, Alice Springs is a place like few others to raise a family.
Our schools, from primary to tertiary, are full to bursting with our hopes for tomorrow.
And the bad news?
In the all-important quest for government funding, we play second fiddle to Top-Enders whose vision does not extend south of the Berrimah Line.
Social flatliners from our satellite communities keep coming into town to drink themselves stupid, do stupid things and contribute nothing. They then disappear back into those same satellite communities leaving us to sweep up the broken glass and broken lives left in their wake.
We can fix the first by seceding from the Territory, but if we can’t put a stop to the second, we will soon be sweeping up a broken Alice.
Then all the good news will count for nothing.
Thinking outside the square
Sir – With the inevitable final decision by the Lands and Planning Appeals Tribunal, permitting Telstra to proceed with a 24 metre high phone tower in the Larapinta area after seven years disputation, one wonders whether a different approach by all parties concerned might not provide a more satisfying long-term outcome.
Travel broadens the mind, it’s said; and as my flight approached Riga International Airport in Latvia in July, 2008, the first thing that caught my attention was an enormous tower (pictured) situated on an island in the Daugava River near the city’s southern outskirts.
The third tallest manmade structure in Europe, its primary purpose is for transmission of TV channels across much of the flat Latvian landscape.
It resembles the world-famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, perhaps lending some credence to Riga’s claim to be the “Paris of the Baltics”.
It’s an imposing edifice, unmistakable on the skyline yet situated so that it does not inappropriately dominate the city, which architecturally is seen as one of the most diverse and best preserved in Europe.
The sheer scale of it is best appreciated from close-up, which I did on a pleasant river cruise that included a tour around the island. It creates a startling juxtaposition with the natural vegetation below, yet its simple structure creates an elegant solution to what otherwise risked being an ugly utilitarian blot on the landscape.
Far from despoiling the view, this TV transmission tower actually creates an attraction as a landmark in its own right. It’s evident a lot of thought went into its construction, most impressive given the impoverished status of the Latvian economy.
In many respects Latvia reminded me of my home in Central Australia. By European standards it’s a remote and under-populated region (about the size of the Irish Republic, Latvia has 2.5 million people, much less than either Sydney or Melbourne).
Tourism is a major economic mainstay, much of it occurring on a seasonal basis as it does here (coincidentally the same time of year).
However, as an independent nation Latvia cannot rely on constant taxpayer funded largesse as we do in the Northern Territory – there’s no equivalent of a Canberra for that country.
So necessity becomes the mother of invention – in Riga a tremendous amount of effort has gone into preserving, restoring or reconstructing the historic character of the old city, while modern structures like the TV transmission tower add a new dimension to architecture which can add to, or at least complement, the aesthetics of place and nature.
Perhaps there are some lessons in that for us.
Get out of cushy Canberra, say NT cattlemen
Sir – The Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association has backed calls for the independent review and Senate Inquiry to extend their deadlines and come to Northern Australia to talk directly to affected producers and their families.
If the Senate doesn’t leave the rarefied chambers and cushy armchairs of Canberra, we will have no confidence that it will have done its job properly. People need to be given a chance to have their say when the committee is considering draft legislation aimed at closing down an entire industry which is vital to Northern and rural Australia. Pastoralists won’t have a say if the committee sits only in Canberra. In fact, by sitting in Canberra it will be unduly influenced by the uninformed activists based in Southern Australia who have ready access to their politicians.
Our recent trip to Canberra revealed a frightening lack of knowledge and understanding of basic issues surrounding the live export trade, indeed of Northern Australia generally, among politicians representing Southern constituents.
It is a telling fact that 80 per cent of Australia’s land mass is represented by only 6.6% of Federal Parliamentarians. It would be a gross miscarriage of justice and a failure of democracy for such a vital matter to be considered only in the committee rooms of Parliament House, Canberra, without exposing the Senators on the committee to the realities of what is being proposed by Senator Xenophon, Andrew Wilkie and the Greens.
I back comments by Labor Member for the Kimberley, Carol Martin, at the weekend who expressed concern that the inquiries will lack balance if they don’t have face to face contact with pastoralists. Ms Martin pointed out that pastoralists were helpless in the whole process, whereas animal welfare lobbyists had had five months to prepare for the airing of the Four Corners footage. Ms Martin was quoted on the ABC at the weekend as saying, “The cattle industry has been brought into ill repute by a stupid government making stupid decisions to please one per cent of the constituency who usually don’t vote for bloody Labor anyway.”
I say, “Hear hear.”
Exploration worker in the 60s says he likes resource project
Gday Erwin, (and Team) – Thanks to your excellent weekly online News Service.
We have just read with much pleasure the best news story [about the coal to diesel proposal in the Simpson Desert] ever produced since Alan Wauchope and Peter Wilkins were in competition!
I commenced my working life in the Alice in the early 1960s, on the first oil and gas exploration lines out from Mt Dare and Old Andado.
We miss Alice.
Kind regards to all who know us up there in God’s Country.
Peter and Marlene Bassett
Neighbors not consulted over school’s outdoor learning area
Sir – Education Minister Chris Burns is again riding roughshod over the interests of residents living near an Alice Springs school.
The construction of a Covered Outdoor Learning Area at Gillen Primary has angered residents living near the school.
It’s de-ja vu for Alice Springs residents. Residents living near the school were not consulted on the nature of the building and its proximity to homes.
Most only received notification that the building was to be constructed just a few days before building commenced.
This failure to consult bears a disturbing resemblance to the development of an indoor basketball stadium just metres from homes at Centralian Middle School.
It’s beyond belief that just a few months since committing to improving the Government’s consultation processes, the Education Minister is presiding over a similar debacle in Alice Springs.
I have written to the Education Minister expressing my disgust at the Government’s failure to consult over the school development and I will work with residents to have their objections heard and to have the COLA relocated elsewhere within the school’s grounds.”
Member for Araluen
Love, sadness for The Red Centre and Aussie arts and crafts
Dear Sirs (a very British greeting but that’s what I am) – I have just read your article about Renate Schenk, along with reports in other papers of alcohol related crime, with sadness.
My husband and I first visited Alice Springs in 1994 when we drove from Uluru to Ross River and finished with a few days in Alice.
We fell in love with The Red Centre and the Outback. The whole experience was everything we hoped for and although, even then, we were advised to avoid the Todd River area in the evenings, we enjoyed our few days exploring the main tourist areas.
In Alice we bought three wall hangings of the type shown in your picture – they were all proudly “Made in Australia” and we have them still.
Between 1986 and 2006 we have visited Australia six times and each time we were determined to explore a different corner of your fabulous country. Grant you, the impetus for our visits was having family out there but after the first holiday in 1986 we needed no ulterior motive to keep returning – just the funds!
Each trip gave us some magical moments and wonderful memories. There are too many to recount.
We returned to the Red Centre in 2001, hiring a small campervan out of Alice and spending a week exploring Uluru (again), Kings Canyon and the McDonnell Ranges, including the Mereenie Loop Road.
Our only slight disappointments came with the inevitable “progress” and the increase in tourists.
The base walk around Uluru became discreetly cordoned; it made no difference, those who wanted to take the 1000th photo simply stepped over the rope and ignored the signs to respect the sacred areas.
Port Campbell National Park and the 12 Apostles went from a wild and wonderful natural experience in 1986 to fully commercial, Visitor’s Centre with coach parks and boardwalks by the time we returned in 2003.
By 2006 we noticed a marked increase in accommodation and car hire costs (and the UK pound wasn’t as weak then as it is now!); everything seemed much more commercial, whether it was Sydney, Noosa, Gold Coast and so on.
Our biggest disappointment was the amount of cheap souvenirs. Trying to buy anything of decent quality made in Australia became a challenge almost as tough as Outback driving!
My favourite store in Sydney has gone to the wall – Weiss Art. We did find a small family business with a stall at The Rocks Market in Sydney where I spent a small fortune.
And in Queensland we bought two watercolour prints by a local artist. They now are proudly hung in our lounge. But I guess that we are of the few who would rather buy one genuine Australia-made article than ten made in China.
It must be even more difficult now that the infamous Global Downturn has affected most of us.
We are now retired and know that with the current exchange rates between our two countries my husband and I cannot afford to do the kind of independent trips we used to enjoy and the organised tours all tread a well worn route, moving on after just a day or two in each place.
They miss so much.
We hope to get back to Australia one day and when we do we’ll do our best to support local arts and crafts – if there are any.
Good luck and best wishes
Isobel and Dave Smith
Lifting of live export ban welcomed
Sir – The Federal Government’s decision to lift the suspension on live cattle exports to Indonesia is a relief to the industry and pastoralists who have faced almost a month of uncertainty about the future of their industry and the trade to Indonesia.
Now our efforts and focus must shift to immediately hammering out the logistics around the practicality of how the resumption will take place on the ground.
Primary Industry Minister Kon Vatskalis will be talking with officials and industry about:
• assisting the transition back to exports;
• supporting Territory families affected to understand how the resumption will work;
• identifying after-effects including managing oversupply of cattle;
• exploring new potential markets in Asia.
We estimate there will be an extra 100,000 head of cattle left on country that would otherwise have been exported to Indonesia. As the cattle trade resumes it is important that the necessary assistance is provided to Territory pastoralists to help manage their excess cattle.
The NT Government will also provide funding to host and train Indonesians involved in the industry so that animal welfare standards are adhered to.
Paul Henderson, Chief Minister
Kon Vatskalis, Primary Industry Minister
Sir – I cautiously welcome the Federal Government’s decision to lift the blanket ban on live beef exports to Indonesia.
While details are sketchy, I welcome Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig’s announcement that live cattle exports will resume with Indonesia and hope the decision breathes life back into an industry that has been on its knees.
The decision to slap a six-month blanket ban on live exports to Indonesia showed the Federal Government was woefully out of touch with northern Australia. Its knee-jerk reaction has damaged northern Australia’s economy as well as our relationship with Indonesia.
Senator Ludwig’s back-flip was necessary and overdue. I look forward to seeing the details, although it appears the Commonwealth has put the industry back on the same footing it was immediately after the Four Corners program went to air.
In the weeks since the blanket ban was announced, the livelihoods of thousands of Territorians have been under threat as income streams dried up. I hope the Commonwealth honours its commitment to compensate pastoralists and workers affected by the ban.
The blanket ban has highlighted the importance of the Northern Territory re-establishing a permanent presence in Indonesia to capitalise on our strategic relationship to mutual benefit.
We welcome your comments: