Monday, March 1, 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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Alice takes the NT lead for violent drunks but at least there are fewer of them than last year

Recorded assaults in Alice Springs
are down 13.2% for the period July to September this year, relative to
the same period last year.

This is better than the NT wide figure (down 9.1%) but not as good as
the decreases achieved in the Top End. In Darwin the assaults dropped
by 15.9%; Palmerston, 16.5%; Katherine, 19.2%.

Alice's drop is off a very high base relative to these centres. There
were 401 recorded assaults in Alice for the period last year, scarcely
lower than the total for Darwin (414), a city with three times the
population.

This year Darwin experienced 348 in the period, and Alice, exactly the same number.

The NT Government, releasing the preliminary data today, is linking
the decreases to the introduction of the Banned Drinkers Register.

Looking at the regional breakdown of people on the register, Alice
Springs towers above the rest, with a total of 208 on the register at
the end of September, compared to 98 in Darwin; 63 in Palmerston;
Katherine, 73. – Kieran Finnane

CBD revitalisation: consultation not over yet

In a process that began with the
Planning for the Future forum in June 2008, the (hopefully) final
consultation phase has arrived: the Town Council has put on display for
public comment the proposed plans, although they have already selected
the projects they want to implement with the $5m allocated by the NT
Government.

Says Mayor Damien Ryan: “Because much of the plans involves public
places we really wanted to get the whole community’s views on this. It’s
an opportunity to literally help shape Alice Springs!  So if you
have some constructive comments on the plans, we’re eager to hear them.”

And if the public doesn't like what they see or proposes something
quite different, what then? Back to the drawing board? That seems
unlikely, so why doesn't council simply get on with it?  – Kieran Finnane

 

The plans can be viewed at the Civic Centre or via council’s website. For full details go to the connecting @lice site.

All submissions must be made in writing, addressed to the Alice
Springs Town Council - Chief Executive Officer, PO Box 1071 Alice
Springs, NT 0871 by COB Friday 11 November 2011.

 

UPDATE: Realistically, revitalisation works could
begin in Todd Mall by the middle of next year, says Town Council CEO Rex
Mooney. Responses from the public to the current consultation will be
considered by Council possibly at its November 28 meeting and if not,
on December 12.

Council's decision to call for further public comment is in line with
its public consultation policy, says Mr Mooney. He acknowledges that
there has been consultation on the proposals but says when that happened
Council had not yet indicated its priorities for implementation – that
is, to open the northern end of Todd Mall to traffic and to develop the
'biodiversity corridor' in Parsons Street. (See Mike Gillam's creative
brief for Parsons Street, this issue.)

Amnesty rhetoric fails to show the way forward for homelands

The one-day visit last Saturday by Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, to the Utopia homelands generated the usual round of headlines: conditions are "devastating", comparable to those in the "Third World", policies amount to "ethnic cleansing" (this last from Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Utopia resident and Barkly Shire President).
What the so-called "fact finding mission" did not do was shed any light on the challenges facing governments and Aboriginal people about the future of the homelands at Utopia and elsewhere. This was done incisively by the outgoing Northern Territory Coordinator General for Remote Services, Bob Beadman (at right), in May of this year. His few pages of analysis provide far more insight into the situation than all of Amnesty's rhetoric, either in Mr Shetty's pronouncements or Amnesty's report, The Land Holds Us, released in August.
Mr Beadman also recommends some immediate (catch-up) steps for governments to take. There's no sign of the Northern Territory Government doing so. Minister for Indigenous Development Malarndirri McCarthy declined to answer the questions put to her by the Alice Springs News. Amnesty also declined to be interviewed by the Alice
Springs News.

However, a spokesperson for Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says her government "respects the rights of Indigenous Australians to live on their traditional lands and acknowledges the profound connection which many Aboriginal people have with their homelands" but "housing investment is currently focussed on larger Indigenous communities where more Indigenous people live and which are faced with poor housing and overcrowding".

And the spokesperson says Canberra has provided to the NT Government $80 million for provision of basic municipal and essential services to homelands in the Northern Territory over the past four years but "future funding from July next year will be discussed with the
Northern Territory Government." KIERAN FINNANE reports.

PHOTO ABOVE: Lenny Jones, 73, and Albert Bailey, 79, Chairperson of  Urapuntja Health both from Soapy Bore, speak with Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty. Photo courtesy Amnesty International.

On the road again

Outback
roads and roadhouses have cast their spell on the alt-country rock
band, Rustflower. After their Outback tour in 2008, they are taking the
music "further and wider" with a "Big Country" tour –  13 gigs, 18
days, 4000 kms.
Playing their own brand of infectious Aussie country rock, Rustflower
tell the stories of the characters and land, mixing them with the rhythm
of the road. They're always open to a “guest” vocalist or tambourine
player, creating an atmosphere where everyone is part of the night.
They're in the Alice area this week, performing at Ti Tree on Thursday,
October 13, and then at the Glen Helen Resort on Friday, supported by
Alice muso, Barry Skipsey – under the stars in the venue provided by
nature.
Rustflower’s Big Country Tour is supported by the Australian Government's Contemporary Music Touring Program.

Alice, working its power

On
a crisp and beautifully serene late Febuary morning in 1988 a young
couple ventured up a rocky climb on the outskirts of town. While both
were fit, healthy and familiar with the land, theirs was a particular
challenge, given that one was 36 weeks pregnant.

She was my mother on her way to the very top of the MacDonnell
Ranges, on the eastern side of Emily Gap. Knowing that I was not far
away, both she and my father wanted to fasten an image to my birth. That
they certainly did! Within a few hours of reaching the peak my mother
went into labour with your honest author.  MOZZIE BITES reflects on
the ties that bind her to this place, even though for now she is taking
up residence in Melbourne.

Pictured: That's me not long after, getting a
big cuddle from Denis Neil. His family's friendship with my family is
part of what will always keep me connected to Alice.

Will Alice Plaza businesses turn around?

 

 

Owners of the Alice Plaza would welcome the re-introduction of
traffic to the northern end of Todd Mall. Their representative, Tony
Bruno, says they have always believed that the mall was too long and
that traffic and some convenient, short-term parking would help bring
life back to the northern end.

If that were to happen, would the Plaza consider re-orienting its business towards the street?

"Anything's possible," says Mr Bruno. "If the landscape changes that could be looked at."  

UPDATE, posted October 7, 2011, 9.40am : Steve
Thorne, of Design Urban Pty Ltd, who headed up the design team behind
the proposals for revitalising Todd Mall, is "hugely encouraged" by the
responses of Alice Plaza interests.
"Unless there is a response from retailers and other businesses adjacent
to the mall, it is not worth spending millions on bringing traffic back
in."
Revitalisation can't be done "half-heartedly", he says. "There's got to
be a dramatic change in the environment. The mall has suffered 'death by
1000 cuts', through a  lack of transparency, activity, vibrancy.
"Without those things then what you get is the anti-social behaviour that people don't want."

While Mr Thorne's role in the CBD project has finished for the time
being, he has been engaged by the NT Government to chair its Urban
Design Advisory Panel and will be keeping a watching brief on what
happens in Alice.

Pictured: Top – Musicworld with its back turned to Todd Mall. At left – Could this lively frontage, inside the shopping centre, face the Mall? KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

Sally Thomas new NT administrator

Former Supreme Court judge, Sally
Thomas AM, has been appointed as the new administrator of the Northern
Territory. She is the first woman to hold the role.

The NT Government nominated Ms Thomas for the position, and she was
accordingly appointed by Governor-General Quentin Bryce  today.

Ms Thomas replaces outgoing Administrator Mr Tom Pauling, who has served in the role since 2007.

Ms Thomas served on the bench at the Supreme Court from 1992 to 2009
and recently also served as Chancellor to Charles Darwin University.

Rain is not a simple blessing

Rain, in fact hail, helped fire crews last night when they were
battling a deliberately lit fire at the inter-section of the Plenty and
Stuart Highways, a 45 minute drive north of Alice Springs.

It was but the latest in the "absurd number" of deliberately lit
fires along the roadsides of a widespread area of Central Australia,
says Neil Phillips, Acting Senior Fire Officer for Bushfires NT.

While helpful last night, the rain may pose a problem further down the track. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

Posted Oct 4, 2011: Interesting story on
the ABC about concerns in South Australia about buffel grass invading
from the NT. The introduced grass species is a major contributor to the
seriousness of the current bushfires. Today rain is providing relief.
Search the Alice Springs News Online archive for articles about buffel grass.

Pictured: Fire alongside Stuart Highway. Archive photo.

Come close

Students at Acacia Hill School were working this week with guest artist Kat Worth to develop their theatre project, Close to Me.

Through talking, writing, drawing and dancing the students had
arrived at a theme for the piece of personal space – who to let come
close, when and how, how to set boundaries.

Their thinking  started with defining what's important and
precious to them. The answer was family, friends, and home and the work
grew from there.

Kat devised tasks to get their performance ideas flowing, for
example, by creating their own 'countries' on the floor, bounded by
masking tape, then inviting people in and pushing them out. Pictured: Kat Worth with, front row, Chris and Tiffany, and at rear, Jasmine and Harishma. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

Northern mall and Parsons Street get top priority in revamp of town centre

It's
official: the northern end of Todd Mall is definitely intended to be
opened to traffic – two-way – down to The Sails and left into the
eastern end of Parsons Street opening onto Leichardt Terrace. The road
will be narrow, the speed 30kmph, and the footpaths wide; at Parsons
Street on the southern side, as wide as 7.5m.

This will create space for pedestrians, for future al fresco seating
in front of commercial premises, and also for a "bio-diversity
corridor". The idea is to make a connection between the majestic red
river gum, known as the Grandfather Tree or Knowledge Tree, that stands
just west of The Sails, and the Todd River. The bio-diversity will come
from a water feature – a slender stream, fed by periodic flood
irrigation, running the length of the street, and plantings, including
"dancing trees", coolabahs with their writhing limbs, planted in
human-like clusters.  These in turn will attract wildlife, such
birds and butterflies. Pictured: from top
– View east from the Knowledge Tree through The Sails to the river:
de-cluttering will be a first step to improving this area. • The
Knowledge Tree from Parsons Street west: the works will restore it to
pride of place. • Yeperenye hawkmoths, detail of photograph by Mike Gillam: the moth wings have inspired the design of new shade structures. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

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