By ERWIN CHLANDA
Three Alice Springs writers last night received the top three awards in the Chief Minister’s competition, topping the field of close to 50 entrants.
The Central Australian trifecta were Dani Powell, Kieran Finnane and Robert Hoosan who walked away with $10,000 in prize money each.
Ms Powell, the highly regarded director of multiple writers’ festivals in the Centre, entered her debut novel Return to Dust in the fiction category. It relates “a journey through the many layers and inseparable elements of life and death in remote Indigenous Australia,” according to the judges of the award.
Ms Finnane’s book, Peace Crimes, deals with the role of Pine Gap, and the trial of peace activists who trespassed on the so-called joint US and Australian defence facility near Alice Springs.
In her acceptance speech, Ms Finnane, editor at large with the Alice Springs News, spoke of the role Pine Gap plays in the provision of targeting data to drone pilots in covert US operations “killing people in countries with which Australia is not at war”.
Mr Hoosan, current chairman of the Central Land Council, represented the team behind Tjanimaku Tjukurpa: How one young man came good, written with collaboration from the NPY Women’s Council’s Uti Kulintaku Watiku Men’s Group with illustrator Jan Bauer.
Arts Minister Chansey Paech, who was standing in for the Chief Minister, gave an impassioned address about the value of writing, in particular for its capacity for engendering empathy.
He also said he was pleased to encourage authors to tackle controversial issues – in the interest of democracy.
Tongue in cheek, pointing at poster promoting the Chief Minister’s NT Book Awards, Mr Paech said he would like it to become the Arts Minster’s award.
PHOTOS: Mr Hoosan and Ms Finnane • The winning entries.