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.
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.
The public will be doing the heavy lifting in the bid to reduce water use by one sixth of the current consumption over the next two years. Just 14% of the 1.6 billion liter reduction will come from the Power and Water Corporation, by phasing in recycled water for irrigation south of the Gap. This is despite the fact that Power and Water will get the lion's share of the $15m Alice Water Smart funding. The rest of the water savings – 86% – will come from consumers cutting back, mostly by turning down the lawn watering tap which is currently using up more than half of the town's supply. Meanwhile, almost twice as much as we're trying to save, close to three billion liters, is being evaporated each year in the sewage treatment plant, water lost to the town forever as the vapour drifts wherever the wind may take it. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Google Earth photo showing the expanse of the sewage evaporation ponds. Around three billion liters of water are wasted each year. The Alice Springs News Online published a comprehensive dossier on the sewage plant in 1998.
Aboriginal land councils are reportedly asking huge rents for land needed to house public servants in the bush, and providing the very services – education, health and police – the land councils are clamoring for.
Independent MLA Gerry Wood says such land should be under a peppercorn rent. The Alice Springs News Online has learned that on one community police are short staffed, and another one needs more teacher housing, as negotiations with the Central Land Council (CLC) are deadlocked over rents to be charged. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Pictured:Teacher housing in Hermannsburg(top). Chook farmer and Independent MLA Gerry Wood(right).
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.
Construction is set to start on the intersection leading to Alice Springs’ new suburb of Kilgariff. Tenders are being called for a cross intersection at the new junction of Norris Bell Avenue and the Stuart Highway with construction set to begin by the end of the year. The project will include the construction of slip lanes and central islands, as well as the relocation of water mains, installation of ducting and electrical supplies to new street lighting. It builds on the $4.5 million sewerage works underway to ensure houses can be connected to services as soon as the land is developed. Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton says the new suburb will accommodate up to 3000 people.
“We’re committed to driving down the cost of living," he says. – Government release.
Treasurer Delia Lawrie today contended that a letter written two years ago was proof of a deal last month between Opposition Leader Terry Mills and former Independent Alison Anderson to "lure" her to the Country Liberals.
Ms Anderson says the letter attached to Ms Lawrie's release is authentic but it dates back to the last election, when the two major parties negotiated vigorously to get the numbers in Parliament.
A media release today from Ms Lawrie quotes Mr Mills as saying (on September 9): "There's no deal."
She adds: "Terry Mills has a lot of explaining to do, he needs to come out of hiding."
Ms Anderson says the Country Liberals' approach to her was no different to the ALP's negotiations with Independent Gerry Wood, who made a comprehensive deal for his support of Territory Labor which formed the present minority government.
Ms Anderson says the letter circulated by Ms Lawrie today was extensively reported in the media two years ago.
The former Labor Member became an Independent and recently joined the Country Liberals.
She says Ms Lawrie's media release is "pure fabrication".
The Alice Springs News Online has asked Ms Lawrie for a comment and we will post it when it is to hand. – ERWIN CHLANDA
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.
The Vinnies shop in Alice Springs is closing and its future is unclear. Staff were told yesterday and a public announcement was made today.
Acting CEO Martha Swart says the board of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in the NT will work with an Alice Springs sub-committee to come up with a business plan for the future.
Ms Swart said only the shop is closing; the daily emergency relief program and food van will continue and Christmas hampers for the needy will be unaffected.
The reason for the shop closing is that the building requires extensive renovation. It leaks, it needs re-wiring, new air-conditioning: "We can't have our staff and our customers working in a building like that," she says. "It's a valuable property but it will cost a lot to rebuild."
It's not clear where the money will come from. Ms Swart says the money raised by the shop goes immediately into the emergency relief program, which assists up to 120 people a month.
The possibility of the shop operating from other premises is one of the things the board and sub-committee will examine. Presumably funding of the relief program is another. – KIERAN FINNANE
New statistics released by Treasury this week have highlighted the collapse of the construction sector in the Northern Territory, says Shadow Treasurer John Elferink. “Year-on-year, overall construction in 2011 fell by 8.9% in the Territory, the worst results in the country. “Worse still, comparing June quarters, residential building has dropped by almost one third in the last year, with new housing construction down 41.1%, which means the door has slammed shut in the last quarter," says Mr Elferink. “On an annual basis, construction spending is now at its lowest level since the end of 2005. “Programs like the Government’s BuildBonus scheme has delivered a miniscule $10m in housing construction, less than 10% of the anticipated $150m it is meant to support. “In terms of houses built, that’s less than 20 homes out of a potential 325." Meanwhile Shadow Alcohol Policy Minister Peter Styles says while there are 1576 people on the Banned Drinker Register, already 104 of those have breached their third Banning Alcohol and Treatment notice. Not one has been made to undertake alcohol rehabilitation. "This is one of the inherent flaws in the Government’s grog plan," says Mr Styles. "Problem drinkers can continue to access alcohol, but they don’t have to undertake treatment for their addiction. “The Country Liberals policy mandates alcohol rehabilitation and leaves ordinary Territorians to buy alcohol without producing photo ID.” Mr Styles said the grog bans have resulted in increased humbugging and alcoholics seeking out other drugs, such as cannabis.