Council: Stuart statue back, feral trolleys tamed, CDL in limbo, 'no' to higher fines, WiFi for mall, dropped BDR empties river


The Freemasons-sponsored statue of John McDouall Stuart by Mark Egan (pictured during its unveiling followed by immediate removal) will be returning to the town centre. It won’t be at the first choice of location, the council lawns. It won’t be at the number two choice, either, about half way between the former Memo Club and the roundabout outside the Flying Doctor Service.
It will be a bit further to the west of that, still in Stuart Park, following the approval by the Heritage Advisory Council of the council’s application, last night’s Town Council committee meeting was told.
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The town is a big step closer to kicking in the butt the problem of feral trolleys.
If you’re shopping in Coles and try to cart your goodies past the edge of the car park, the electronic signal from a buried wire will lock one trolley wheel and that’s as far as you go.
Town Council director for Corporate and Community Services Craig Catchlove told last night’s council meeting that virtually no Coles trollies are found at large these days. The only ones still being recaptured are a few old ones that have been at large for some time, and are not fitted with the braking system.
Mr Catchlove said Woolworths is still having problems, needing to redeem 30 to 40 trollies each month at a cost of $110 each. The alternative would be to risk a fine. That hasn’t happened yet.
The council impounds trolleys left outside the CBD – inside it the council encourages collectors to do their job.
It’s understood that things got worse for Woollies with the introduction of Coles’ system: Some shoppers take a Woollies trolley to the edge of the Coles car park and transfer their goodies.
Woollies were proposing to include the Hartley Street car park in a “wired” system similar to that of Coles but the council said no.
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The council, on present plans, will shut down its wine and spirits bottle collection when Territory Metals closes down as a result of the Federal Court’s CDL decision.
Mayor Damien Ryan and CEO Rex Mooney stressed that to run the council’s scheme as a stand-alone would be very expensive. Mayor Ryan said when the decision was announced the council’s officers decided first to stop the glass collection but when Territory Metals decided to stay open for a little longer, it was continued to take advantage of this. As an “operational decision” it was properly a matter for the staff.
But Cr Jade Kudrenko said issues of recycling should be a matter for the elected members to decide, not the staff, and there should be further discussion.
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The council is investigating the installation of WiFi in the mall, but the NT Government has signaled it may have a solution, so it’s a “wait and see,” says Mr Catchlove.
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If you think you got away with it, think again. That fine may still be coming. It’s just that the NT Government’s Fines Recovery Unit (FRU), which does the council’s collecting, is still sorting out problems. Mr Catchlove clearly isn’t impressed with the arrangement: once the instructions are passed to the FRU the council “loses control” over the process. It gets a cheque from time to time but isn’t told who has paid and who has not.
The council had considered doing the collection themselves but this was judged to be too ineffective. Using the Small Claims Court, for example, is far less efficient and effective than using the broad powers of the FRU.
And private collection agencies didn’t want to know about it, either: the amounts are too small.
Meanwhile, the council rejected a suggestion by Cr Geoff Booth for an increase in fines. The proposal was put on hold for six months, after discussion with support also from Cr Booth.
It is understood the Alice Springs Town Council already has the nation’s highest fees.
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Mr Catchlove’s report says the number of people “spoken to in the river has decreased steadily since the Banned Drinkers Register has been dissolved.
“Many people who were frequenting the river have all moved back to the camps.”
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Mayor Damien Ryan, who gives monthly reports to the council about his activities, suggested the councillors may like to do the same – in an informal, verbal manner. The idea was adopted unanimously.
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Not only will the civic centre dunny stay open on weekends, that fact will also be promoted in visitor guides. Cr Brendan Heenan said it is a vital facility for locals and tourists alike. Especially grey nomads welcome such an amenity. And Mayor Ryan suggested the attendant could be doing an “emu parade” outside from time to time, picking up rubbish on the council lawns. Director of Technical Services Greg Buxton said he would take the idea “on notice”.


  1. How does this work? ‘Mr Catchlove’s report says the number of people “spoken to in the river has decreased steadily since the Banned Drinkers Register has been dissolved. Many people who were frequenting the river have all moved back to the camps.”’
    PAAC members have been carrying out regular – usually daily – checking of what has been happening in the Todd riverbed over the last 18 months.
    When the BDR was abolished last August, there was virtually no illegal over-night camping in the river, and there is normally very little now. Police and Council action has seen to that, both before and after the BDR was abolished. Daytime drinking places, or ‘dinner camps’, in the riverbeds are another matter.
    The Mayor said Council workers complained soon after the BDR was abolished that their rubbish collection problems had shot right up after the BDR was lifted.
    Now Catchlove claims that those (non-existent) campers shifted “back to the camps” after the BDR was abolished. His inference seems to be that people were camping in the river because of the BDR: but why would this be so?
    Just before it was abolished, in July / August last year, the BDR was working so effectively that police had plenty of time on their hands to attend call-outs, patrol the town and keep law-breaking strongly under control. It was not a problem to deal with the small outbreaks of riverbed camping or drinking when they occurred.
    Alcohol was banned in the town camps before the BDR was invented, and was still banned in the town camps after it was abolished. The BDR had nothing to do with whether people were drinking in the river or living in the town camps.
    What was relevant to these issues may have been the introduction of Operation Marathon last May, which had made illegal drinking on town camps more difficult, and may have led some people to try to drink in other hidden places, but – since the police simply couldn’t be everywhere on town camps at once, and so couldn’t really eliminate illegal drinking on the camps – this still doesn’t supply the missing logical link: why does Catchlove imagine that the BDR had been causing drinkers to camp in the river rather than in the town camps, and what evidence does he have to support his contention?

  2. As as former a member of the ASTC Public Art Advisory Committee who was involved channeling public responses to the John McDouall Stuart statue in 2010 I was invited to speak about it on local ABC Radio yesterday morning. Here is a summary of what I said, with a little elaboration of some points and a couple of extras:
    There are very good reasons to be concerned about this latest chapter in the statue story:
    [a] I understand that council helped the Freemasons to make their submission to Heritage when they clearly said that they would not do this. The Council’s public pledges can unfortunately not be trusted. This is very disappointing given the trust and faith that we want to have in our elected representatives.
    [b] As discussed in 2010 and since, Council did not respect its own public art policy nor the expert advice of its Public Art Advisory Committee in accepting the statue as a “gift” in the first place. The PAAC supports a professional best-practice approach to the commissioning of appropriate public art through proper consultation and design processes.
    [c] The particularly dominating representation of JMcS in this statue, standing triumphantly with an oversized gun, is offensive to many people and is not an accurate portrayal of his arrival in central Australia: he in fact arrived on his knees, weak and ill, and was helped by local Aboriginal people. Why not represent this encounter through a properly commissioned piece if we need another memorial to him?
    [d] A false claim has been circulated from the start that this is a JMcDS memorial when it is in fact a memorial to masonic history in central Australia, using the explorer as a cipher of that history. The plaques that will go on the large pyramid plinth all honour former centralian masons. This is a private artwork that at best belongs on private property.
    [e] “Plonking” the statue in the existing rather elegant Stuart Park represents an aesthetic disruption to that space. One of the major problems with this artwork is that it is not a site-specific design. Proper public art design processes integrate artworks and place from the start.
    [f] There will be considerable costs associated with maintaining and securing a controversial piece of public art. What is council’s budget for this perennial job?
    [g] Local media has in recent days given air to the highly inaccurate claim that there is no opposition to the statue. A capacity crowd attended the 2010 emergency public meeting about the statue and the very large majority were against it for a variety of reasons, some of which I’ve outlined here.
    I resigned from the ASTC Public Art Advisory Committee last month. I encourage anyone with concerns about the erection of the statue to contact the PAAC at your earliest convenience.

  3. Why is a statue of a past pioneer not allowed because he holds a gun? This is how many people in the early days traveled, unsure of what was ahead of them. Not having a weapon makes it hard to kill for food, and this is mainly how explorers got their meat.
    When will we as Australians work together for a better country?

  4. How is Stuart’s gun any different to the Anmatjere Man’s spear? There were many good reasons, such as a lack of established Council process and no public consultation, to oppose the original placement of Mark Egan’s monumental statue, but the gun issue was always, and still is, a bogus distraction.
    John McDouall Stuart carried a gun. Of course he did.
    A more interesting question is what business is it of the Alice Springs Town Council to assist in honouring the Freemasons?


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