Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

Kieran Finnane

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Mother's assault on toddler not what it seemed

 

It was a case that attracted widespread reporting and commentary back in June: a young mother was arrested and charged for an alleged assault on her 16-month-old son. The details of the allegation, made by the child's father and revealed by a police media release at the time, were shocking: the father said his wife had hit the child over the head a number of times with a can of soft drink, picked him up by one leg and slammed him into the ground three times and then into a fence, before holding his head under her arm and punching him to the head.

In court last week there was no-one in the public gallery to hear the evidence about what happened – apart from the Alice Springs News. In the witness box the father stuck broadly to his original story while the young woman firmly denied most of it, admitting only to shaking the pram in which she was pushing the child and slapping him on the cheek three times. She also admitted to threatening to kill the child, with the words "I'll kill your son", but she said, "I didn't do action".

The father's story was very similar to his account of another alleged assault on the child six months ago on Elcho Island. The mother again disputed most of the alleged facts. She denied having been drinking or having smoked ganja on both occasions and the court heard no evidence that she had done so, other than the father's account. However she pleaded guilty to both "aggravated assaults", the aggravation being that the victim was a child and she was an adult. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

Council will look at tree register and by-law

The Town Council has supported Alderman Jane Clark in her request for a report from officers on establishing a tree register, with pruning or removal of significant trees being subject to council approval. Ald Clark put her motion to council after contact from constituents expressing their concern over the destruction of mature trees in the ANZ carpark last weekend.
Steve Thorne, Chair of Northern Territory Urban Design Advisory Council,
who headed up the consultant team on the revitalisation of the Alice Springs CBD, has also suggested the establishment of a tree register, as part of an effort to halt the "death by a thousand cuts" that is occurring in our town centre.

Says Mr Thorne: "The slow removal of quality buildings and trees in the public realm in Alice Springs has previously been described as 'death by a thousand cuts'.  This refers not only to the removal of good things to look at and experience, but to the economic consequences as Alice becomes less attractive in the broadest sense.
"For these reasons alone it may be time for the community to record those places and objects which give Alice Springs its character.  I feel that a survey should be undertaken and the significant trees in Alice should be mapped, photographed and registered."

Meanwhile, Ald Murray Stewart has proposed the formation of a "taskforce" to boost business confidence. Business needs "a shot in the arm" and it needs to happen as soon as possible, he said, but nobody mentioned the $5m 'shot in the arm' that council is sitting on until the middle of next year – the revitalisation projects. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

Photo: Google Earth shot from space shows the trees providing shade in the ANZ carpark – now no more. Earlier stories: Chainsaw rules and Felled trees: Q & A.

Felled trees: Q&A – land owners mum on revitalisation plans

The ANZ carpark – from which all vegetation including mature trees was cleared on the weekend – is owned by Yeperenye Pty Ltd.

Alice Springs News Online asked the company why the trees had been chopped down and whether it was aware that it was recommended that these trees be protected as part of the revitalisation plans for Parsons Street. The company released a statement which says in part that the trees had caused "major water ingress problems" to the adjacent properties. The statement does not respond to questions about the revitalisation plans. Pictured: The scene of destruction last Saturday seen from Leichardt Terrace. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

Chainsaw rules in Parsons Street

Mature trees, including red gums, have been chopped down in the ANZ carpark on the corner of Parsons Street and Leichardt Terrace. Yet these very trees were supposed to be protected for their contribution to the Parsons Street "biodiversity corridor" that is envisaged as part of the revitalisation of the CBD.

The plans for this and other projects identified after a three year consultation process are currently on display at the Town Council, which has $5m in its kitty to start the work.

The idea of the biodiversity corridor is to connect the ancient red gum west of the Sails with the Todd River. Mike Gillam was commissioned to develop a creative brief for the project and wrote about it extensively for this site on October 13.
In the brief he advises specifically that we "protect existing mature red gums including those in the carpark behind ANZ. These provide a vital stepping point in the sightline between the [ancient red gum] and the river". It's now too late. Pictured: The scene of destruction this afternoon. KIERAN FINNANE reports.


UPDATE: See below for statement from the landowner, Yeperenye Pty Ltd.

He walked the line …

Tall Tales but True: Brought to you by the National Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs.

Christopher (Chris) Kuhn started work for the Commonwealth Railways in 1928 and went on to work for them on the Marree to Alice Springs section until 1953.

His job was to use a horse and scoop to clear the ever-shifting sand drift and debris from flash floods and windstorms off the track so the Ghan train could get through. The Old Ghan train was notorious for literally being stopped in its tracks and it was Kuhn’s job to ensure the train could get through gaps in the sand dunes. Sometimes the track collapsed because termites had gnawed through wooden sleepers.

If the train got stuck a goat, or other game, would be shot so the passengers could be fed. Those were the days too when all litter from the train (ablutions, kitchen waste and tins) were dropped through chutes to the track. It was a harsh and thankless environment: working in freezing cold or searing heat and open to the elements.

Chris Kuhn and his wife Mary lived at Irripitana just south of William Creek for many years. Following the line as it progressed towards Stuart (now Alice Springs) it was a harsh and nomadic life and yet they managed to raise 12 children. The family were known by all Commonwealth Railway staff and regulars who used the line to be friendly and welcoming and willing to lend a hand to anyone in need. Following the tragic loss of a daughter the family moved into Alice Springs.

Mary worked as cook at the old Alice Springs hospital where she cared for sick Aboriginal children. The Kuhn children grew up to be pioneers in their own right. Their eldest daughter Jean married Les Poole who was one of the town's first electricians. Their son Chas was instrumental in starting the Old Ghan Preservation Society in Alice Springs and works today on maintaining the modern locomotive fleet on the Adelaide to Darwin run. Chris retired in 1953 and was drowned in 1955 when a flash flood in the Todd River washed his car downstream. Kuhn Court in Alice Springs is named in his memory.

Blackened country greening up

It
doesn't take much for buffel grass and couch to get going again even
after a fire has been through. Our photo shows a devastated burnt tree
in the Todd River – there are many along the town stretch of the river –
with buffel and couch regrowing (and setting seed) following recent
light rain. How soon will we – and surviving trees –  lose the
fire-break benefit of recent burns, whether controlled or otherwise?

The Alice Springs News Online asked the Department of Resources about
what rate of grass regeneration we can expect in the large areas of
burnt country in and around Alice Springs, given that a weak La Nina
event is predicted for the summer.

'No evidence that curfews reduce crime" – Jodeen Carney's Youth Justice Review

It costs about $200,000 per year to lock a young person up. 

It costs about $83,000 per year to care for a young person.

 

The Youth Justice Review released by the Territory Government this
week rejects the notion of a youth curfew, finding "no evidence that
curfews are effective in reducing crime". This conclusion obviously
applies to blanket curfews as the review notes that Apart from the
courts already have the power to impose curfews on individual
offenders.

The review was conducted by a team chaired by former Country Liberal
MLA and Opposition Leader Jodeen Carney, who has a legal background, and
included a lawyer, a legal research officer and a number of project
officers.

Will the conclusion of the review be enough to put the youth curfew
notion to bed? Probably not, for as the review notes, public perceptions
of youth crime are "somewhat different" to the facts: that the numbers
of offenders are "relatively low" as is the nature of their offending.
However, the review acknowledges that youth crime is on the increase,
with more apprehension, more matters coming before the court and more
young people being held in detention, more often on remand that serving
sentences. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

What's cooking – radioactive fish, colonial scones and jam ?

 

What can I peaceably eat without turning my life into a obsessive
compulsive over-analysis of all things good or bad or both at the same
time for me, others, and the environment? Caffeine is bad for you. But
fair trade organic coffee is good for somebody else.  Raising
animals to eat is highly costly in terms of water, feed and land usage.
What about fish? OK then, what if it’s sustainably farmed? Probably
still bad as oceans potentially become radioactive.

Business confidence – a case of swings and roundabouts

If
some businesses are closing in Alice Springs, others are opening and
others still, adapting to the times. In the middle of the Todd Mall,
former curator at the Araluen Art Centre, Kate Podger, is opening an art
gallery in the venue vacated by Peta Appleyard. There's also movement
on the corner of the mall and Parsons Street, at the site of the QC
restaurant which closed some time ago following a fire.

On the fringe of the mall, in Todd Street, while a tourist business
has recently closed, Rocky's has opened a gelato bar, and while his
internet cafe has closed, Cameron Buckley has refocussed on his coffee
shop, expanding its offerings, giving people more reasons to go
there. Pictured: Top – Kate Podger and staff
member Peter Astridge working on the hang of large works from
Tjungu Palya in the new gallery. Below – Cameron Buckley in his coffee shop (he's holding a polaroid photo of himself in his coffee shop). KIERAN FINNANE reports.

Young people 'on the fence' on curfew

If
they were mayor for a day, they'd introduce an adult curfew – no, just
kidding. In fact this group of young locals didn't raise strong
objections to a youth curfew. Asked to think about the pros and cons,
they came up mostly with cons but certainly not howls of protest.

They were a dozen students from the town's high schools – Centralian
College, St Philip's, OLSH and Yirara – involved in the Youth Desert
Leadership Program.

In a workshop hosted by Desert Knowledge Australia and the Alice
Springs Town Council, the students also discussed how to make the centre
of town more attractive to young people. One proposal is that the
government buy the vacant Melanka block and turn it into a park where
young people could hang out at night. Pictured: Mayor
Damien Ryan talks to youth leaders at yesterday's workshop. From
left they are Tyrell Swan, Russell Modlin (Yirara
teacher), Naomi Ingamells and Rachel Dash. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

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