They have no control over their lives anymore ... paternalistic and punitive measures ... broken lives and spirits ... endure life [in a camp] ... toxic nature of intervention measures.
No, this is not the desperate plea of an oppressed people in a brutal Third World dictatorship.
It's Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw speaking on behalf of people benefiting from an unprecedented $150m Federal program – in addition to the massive ongoing welfare expenditure – to provide better housing and other services to his clients.
Meanwhile, are there members of the Shaw family living at Mt Nancy (pictured in this Google Earth photo) who are superannuated, employed, capable of taking on employment or in a situation in which Centrelink would expect them to be available for employment? And if so, why are they living in public housing? ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Life-line to the tiny mining town of Tennant Creek, Dave Baldock was initially horrified when he first arrived there in search of work in 1934.
However, he couldn’t afford to leave and took a job carting for the general store. By 1937 he’d saved enough money to move to Alice Springs and start his own business.
With two single drive V8 Ford tray trucks Dave began carting freight from the railhead in Alice Springs along the Old Telegraph Line to Tennant Creek.
Times were tough so Dave drove both trucks himself. He would drive the first truck, laden with perishables, to Tennant Creek and then fly back to Alice Springs to drive the second (dry goods) truck to Tennant Creek. He would then return to Alice Springs with the second truck piggy backed on the first.
With the WWII upgrade of the road Dave introduced duel wheeled GMCs to his fleet to haul 23 ton payloads; a feat unheard of just five years previous.
After WWII Dave purchased two ex US Army 200 hp Diamond T 980s at the Army surplus sales.
These trucks were powerful enough to tow seven trailers loaded with around twelve tons each and made for a foreboding sight along the track.
When laden, the truck had to be kept in low gear as it went downhill or the trailers would push the truck forward.
At the next upgrade you’d have to drive at full speed to keep ahead of the gaining momentum of the trailers.
Most of the trailers were made from American Army Bren Gun trailers.
Dave usually hauled general goods to Tennant Creek and carried copper ore back to Alice Springs. The average length of a Baldock roadtrain was 186 metres and they were, without doubt, the biggest in the world at the time.
In those days, the number of trailers was determined by the power of the truck, the condition of the road and the skill of the driver.
And, Dave Baldock certainly had the skill. His ingenuity with multi-trailer combinations helped pave the way for the development of the modern roadtrain.
Dave was a Foundation Member of the Road Transport Hall of Fame. He passed away in Adelaide in April 2000.
Story and photos courtesy of the Road Transport Hall of Fame.
Wayne "Krafty" Kraft (pictured), Honourary Ambassador for Alice Springs, passionate Central Australian and mine host at the Overlanders Steakhouse has made a call to arms to the flagging tourism industry of the region.
He recalls past community efforts to promote it – and deplores the "progressive transfer of ownership away from our control.
"I am challenging us, as a vibrant and proud community to find a pathway forward so that The Alice can regain ownership of its own marketing destiny.
"Alice Springs has the product, we have the management, and with the support of the Alice Springs Town Council, members of the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Central Australia, and the many positive residents of The Alice, we can embark on our own long term marketing strategies.
"It's NOT time for us to switch off now.
"It's NOT time for us to suggest that it's Darwin's responsibility.
"It's NOT time for us to suggest that because our business does not directly look after the visitor (tourist) market – it's not our problem or responsibility.
"NOW is the time for us to get excited about the fun and excitement we can introduce into our marketing strategies.
"NOW is the time for positive dialogue amongst our community.
"NOW is the time to support the concept for a Tourism Alice or Destination Alice or whatever "vehicle‟ our marketing strategies might be called.
"Should it be structured under the umbrella of the Alice Springs Town Council?
"Personally, I think so, but without another costly and unnecessary "mini bureaucracy‟ devoid of administration costs, full time wages, office structures and the like.
Krafty says his manifesto isn't Darwin bashing. To make this point he's brandishing a Darwin Stubby, a beer for a big thirst.
Re-channeling the 'biggest issue', not trees
We sounded a false note of optimism last week when the Alice Springs News Online reported that the Town Council had got the message about tree protection in the Todd and Charles Rivers. Work by trusties from the gaol, observed by readers knocking down buffel grass in the Todd, was no more than usual, occurring "most Thursdays" according to council's Director of Technical Services, Greg Buxton.
We would be wrong to think that the elected members are particularly stirred by the evidence of destruction of trees in the Todd and the persistence of the conditions that threaten them. With the exception of a brief comment by Alderman Jane Clark, no-one spoke of the trees at council's meeting last night. That there was discussion at all about the state of river came down to concern about flooding. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Trees ablaze in the Todd, opposite the Crowne Plaza hotel, on November 8, 2011. Alice News reader Dy Kelaart took this shot, commenting: "Fire crews were in attendace as bystanders with the many obsevers watching in disbelief as fire engulfed the beautiful old river gums. An amazing spectical, shame about the majestic trees!" Senior Station Fire Officer in Alice Springs, John Kleeman, says fire crews would definitely have tried to put out the fires as "this is our job". The Alice News visited the site yesterday. Many of the trees in the mid-channel island have survived, although one (at right) has been utterly destroyed. Meanwhile, the buffel grass all around is greening up. If unchecked, by spraying or slashing, when it dries out it will again create the tinderbox conditions that fed this fire.
As we 'speak' there are crews of trusties from the gaol in and along the Todd River, slashing the grasses around the base of mature trees. It seems that the message has gotten through that the community wants these trees protected from fire and urgent action is required. But there are other river management issues to consider.
"With trees you can talk of death by fire, but you can also talk of death by mowing."
The debate around protection of trees in the Todd from fire has expanded to broader river management issues. For instance, why, in the stretch of the Todd between Schwarz Crescent and Wills Terrace, does there appear to be practically no regermination of the river gums? On the eastern bank of the river the natural vegetation has been utterly transformed by the planting of exotic species, mowing and irrigating. The view across the river is all but unimpeded. There are a few surviving giants in the riverbed and nothing else. If they were to be destroyed by fire, would we have succeeded in sterilising the river?
The Alice Springs News Online asked Sunil Dhanji, former project officer for Greening Australia's Todd and Charles Rivers Biodiversity Project, what he thought might be going on.
Mowing is important for knocking down bulk fuel, he said, but the crew need to identify and avoid germinants (new growth). Doing this has to be built into the crew's work program; the crew needs to understand what they are doing and why. Getting this kind of management happening depends on having a vision of what you hope to preserve and promote in the landscape. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: A tamed river , utterly transformed by the planting of exotic species, mowing and irrigating. Are we rendering it sterile? This is the east bank of the Todd between Schwarz Crescent and Wills Terrace. Photo by MIKE GILLAM.
Despite more knowledge and cooperation ...
• nearly half the Centre burned this year
• 24 cattle stations had more than 50% burn
• 3 cattle stations had more than 70% burn
• another 26 stations had 30- 50 % burn
Gone are the days when landowners had to rely on "sniffing the breeze" in fire season – yet this year nearly half of Central Australia burned.
The North Australian Fire Information website (NAFI) has completely changed what's possible, according to Lyndee Severin from Curtin Springs Station. In the narrow window of opportunity for preventive burning at Curtin Springs this year, using NAFI's live fire maps meant they could adjust their plans "on a half day basis". Mrs Severin spoke with feeling at Tuesday's fire management seminar at the Desert Knowledge Precinct, featuring a presentation by fire scientist, Grant Allan. Mrs Severin said as pastoralists they were well aware of the fire threat represented by the massive build up of vegetation following above average rains: "We absolutely knew what was goign to happen."
Mr Allan's core message was that fire is an essential component of the Central Australian landscape and has to be used as a management tool consistently. Leaving control burning until there is a large build-up of fuel can be leaving it until too late, he said.
This year almost 40% of the southern half of the NT has burned. A large proportion of that was caused by wildfire in the months August to October, as well as by control burns getting out of hand, despite the best of intentions. Maps showing the intense and relentless progress of the fires over a large swathe of country, from the Simpson in the south-east to the Tanami in the north-west, brought a shocked gasp from the seminar audience.
KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Top – The Centre burns. Photo by OLIVER ECLIPSE. Above left – Pastoralists Ashley and Lyndee Severin at the seminar. Right – Fire scientist Grant Allan .
"Nor is there evidence to suggest that school attendance correlates with increased performance or improved levels of numeracy and literacy.”
Gems like this from Sarah Marland, Amnesty International’s Campaign Co-ordinator on Indigenous Rights, continue the dumping on Australia in the wake of the one-eyed "fact finding mission" by the organization's Secretary General Salil Shetty at Utopia last month.
All this raises the question: If Amnesty can be so absurdly wrong on issues about which we have first-hand knowledge, how much can we trust their pronouncements about issues we don't? OPINION by ERWIN CHLANDA. Pictured: Mr Shetty at Mosquito Bore, Utopia, last month. Photo courtesy Amnesty International and Chloe Geraghty.
Nice little earner: Aboriginal owners of private land get, at taxpayers’ expense, essential services – schools, clinics, police stations, and so on. Most would not argue with this. But now they will also get rent, from the taxpayer, for the land on which those services are set up. Indigenous Development Minister, Malarndirri McCarthy (pictured), calls this an "historic decision [which] lays the foundation for a proper working relationship between Land Councils, Aboriginal traditional owners and the Northern Territory Government".
Meanwhile Senator Nigel Scullion says Intervention Mark II is a sign of the failure of Mark I, Shadow Child Protection Minister Robyn Lambley alleges a bid to hide child abuse and Shadow Tourism Minister Willem Westra van Holthe
claims the government is doing not enough to reverse the fall in tourist numbers.