A travelling police roadshow is no substitute for a full-time policing commitment in Alice Springs, says Shadow Minister for Central Australia, Matt Conlan (pictured).
Operation Shiloh, which will see up to 25 officers transiting through Central Australia over the next few weeks, is a stop gap measure which will bring little long term benefit to the town. [Media release.]
Excuse me? Mid-thirties this morning and a howling northerly. A wildfire raging five kilometers away in the Ilparpa valley that afternoon (at right). Yet the fire danger sign on the airport road indicates "low to moderate", the lowest category on the scale? Surely not.
As it turns out, the local fire station sets the indicators in accordance with advice from the Bureau of Meteorology. The "curing rate" depends on the level of fuel loads, wind and temperature, moisture and humidity, says Station Officer John Pyper. He says the sign is updated at least daily, and he wouldn't be surprised if it went up in the next day or two. Fires in the open are prohibited unless they are for keeping warm or cooking food.
Homes are more likely to be sold than units as the moratorium on the sale of public housing in the Territory is being lifted.
A spokeswoman for Housing Minister Chris Burns says the number of dwellings to be sold is not yet known and decisions will be made on a case by case basis.
Meanwhile the waiting times for public housing in Alice Springs are five years and two months for non-pensioner one-bedroom units; three years and 10 months for pensioners; three years and nine months for two-bedroom homes and four years and 10 months for three-bedroom dwellings.
Dr Burns says the sales will follow "significant work undertaken to build more dwellings" but will not "see a return to the CLP policy of selling off thousands of dwellings, pocketing the returns with no significant upgrading or replacing of housing stock.
“Prior to 2001, the CLP were selling public housing dwellings at a record rate – some 781 dwellings in the 98-99 year alone, at a time when the wait list stood at over 3350 people."
He says properties will be assessed depending on location relative to services, shops, facilities and transport; age and condition of dwellings; level of concentration of public housing; demand for that particular type of dwelling; suitability for priority / complex needs housing; future redevelopment potential, and / or opportunity to contribute to home ownership and affordable rental targets (i.e. unit complex redevelopments).
And so it begins ... the mass exodus towards the coasts, towards international airports, family homes, romantic getaways, relly bashes of epic proportions or a bit of down time. Whatever way, there’s a lot of work being put in at this time of year – finishing projects, tying up loose work ends, attending end of year dos, making Christmas cards, making lists, the mind running double time and, god forbid, all this whilst moving house!
Where is Christmas in Alice Springs when you're one of the many movers? I was involved in the kid’s Christmas carnival, themed around a crazy Alice in Wonderland tea party on miniature mushroom shaped furniture. The kids (and I) loved it but I didn’t see Christmas. And even though the big Christmas tree has been lit and carols by candlelight have been sung, I’m still not feeling it.
Pictured above: Alice kids and families waiting for the town Christmas tree to be lit. Photo courtesy Alice Springs Town Council.
For St Philip's College students the idea isn't all that far-fetched: "We're equal distance to any coast in Australia," they say.
In fact their school is the only one in Australia to offer a Year 12 boat building course.
One boat they built this year is a 5.5m John Dory and the other one a Gaot Island Skiff, seen being launched in the Glen Helen Gorge by students Joshua Blain and Paul Berriman, and Geoff Leedham, Head of Applied Technology.
All techniques of modern timber boat building were applied, using Australian made marine grade Hoop Pine and other associated timbers, including Fiji Mahogany and Huon Pine. With modern epoxy adhesives one boat used only six screws in its construction, while the other had none.
A massive coal-to-gas project in the Simpson Desert is caught up in a campaign by the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) for a moratorium on coal seam and shale gas exploration.
ALEC says the project should be suspended "until a proper regulatory and environmental impact assessment framework is in place".
Although the Simpson Desert project by Central Petroleum (CP), aiming to produce "ultra clean diesel", does not involve the controversial process of fracking, ALEC includes it in its protest under the heading "other non-conventional gas exploration projects".
ALEC's Jimmy Cocking (pictured) says in similar ventures in China and Wyoming, USA, underground fires are burning out of control, causing major environmental damage. Central Petroleum says this is not true. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
LAE Enterprises, a company connected to Alice Springs' native title organisation, Lhere Artepe, today confirmed reports in the Alice Springs News Online that Darryl Pearce (pictured) has been sacked.
The statement said: "In response to the need to address significant business challenges, in particular the slippage in timing of completion of the Mt Johns Stage 1 [real estate] Project (above right), the Board of Lhere Artepe Enterprises has reviewed operating costs and made a decision to reduce ongoing overheads to ensure LAE’s continued financial sustainability.
As a result of this management review, the CEO position for LAE Enterprises has been made redundant and Mr Darryl Pearce has left his position with the company effective 2 December 2011."
Update 9.30am December 13:
Darryl Pearce has been sacked from the position of CEO of Lhere Artepe Enterprises Pty Ltd (LAE), which Bob Liddle describes as the investment arm of the Alice Springs native title body.
Mr Liddle is a senior member of the Mbantua estate group, one of the three moieties of Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation (LAAC).
Mr Liddle says his sister, Pat Miller, the Territory's Deputy Administrator and chairwoman of LAE, had given Mr Pearce notice in writing a few days ago.
A meeting has been called for 10am today.
A prominent member of the group within Lhere Artepe seeking to reform the organization, Ian Conway (pictured left), says: "Now is the time to refocus Lhere Artepe, he argues, for the sake of the whole town where once black and white lived in harmony but now the tensions are "revved up". ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Is there an income test for people to qualify for government subsidised housing on town camps? Yes. Does it apply to the Shaw family, which has dominated Tangentyere Council for decades, and has turned much of Mt Nancy (pictured) into their private domain? No. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Citizen action is part of the answer to management of the Todd River.
The current state of the river corridor is "our problem, the community's problem", says Ken Johnson, who has lived close to the river for 15 years. Over the last two years he has adopted the section of east bank between the Wills Terrace causeway and the Stott Terrace bridge and made it his business to control particularly buffel grass but also the couch along that stretch. The work has paved the way for the return of a wide variety of native grasses and shrubs such as plum bush and the birdlife that comes with them.
When he started, buffel grass was growing waist-high through this area and so thickly that it had pushed almost everything else either out of sight or out altogether. At the right time – in a vigorous growing phase – he sprayed both it and the couch, being careful not to spray anything else. He achieved a good kill rate of the invasive grasses and since then it has been a matter of following up to check for new seedlings, which he usually disposes of with his shovel. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Ken Johnson on the east bank of the Todd, amongst the native plum bush that has returned since he cleared the area of buffel grass. The Stott Terrace bridge is in the background.
Big projects are destablising in the short term and have minimal impact in the long term, says economist.
"It's that Territory mentality: if it's a big thing with lots of cranes, then it's really good for the economy. But it's about as good for the economy as two high schools in the long run."
Economist Rolf Gerritsen, research director at the Alice Springs campus of Charles Darwin University, is talking about the $20 billion INPEX gas project and its impact on the Territory economy. The Alice Springs News Online asked him whether it is the "game changer" from which "all Territorians" will "ultimately benefit" as Chief Minister Paul Henderson would have us believe. Professor Gerritsen pours cold water on that idea: "It's the way we see economic development. We don't see the university here, for example, employing an extra two people as economic development, but it is. They generate demand in the local community, a more sustainable kind of demand than these big projects." KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Ross Engineering workshop in Alice Springs. Recruiting staff, already a nightmare in Alice Springs, will become even more difficult when INPEX starts competing for skilled workers. That's the view of Neil Ross, from Ross Engineering. On the other hand, the giant project – if it gets its final approval – may offer business opportunities for firms in The Centre, the huge distance from Darwin notwithstanding.
Petrol sniffing, once one of the greatest sources of misery in Central Australia, has turned into a success story. The strategy of how to all but eradicate the scourge was developed, promoted and implemented by a small Alice Springs based team attached to Tangentyere Council, the Central Australian Youth Link Up Service (CAYLUS). In the next few days its head, Blair McFarland, will be meeting with SA Substance Abuse Minister, John Hill, and his WA counterpart, Helen Morton. They're interested in importing the scheme. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Pictured: Central Australian Youth Link Up Service bush trip. Blair McFarland with hat.