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.