This week almost 40,000 kids from across the Northern Territory are returning to school after the summer holidays, dusting off their books and settling into their new desks. In a Letter to the Editor, School Education Minister Peter Garrett (pictured) says they are embarking on a historic year in which he looks forward to "building on Labor’s vision to provide every student in every school a world-class education".
A native title holder says there should be an investigation into the ownership of the land in Mt Johns Valley now being developed as a residential estate.
William Craig says he and his sister Connie, both from the Antulye estate group, have been fighting for four years to get clarity about the deal.
The process by which the land came into the possession of LAE Nominees Pty Ltd needs to be investigated, he says. The town's native title body Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation (LAAC) had authority over the land and was the party to do a deal in its regard with the NT Government. The question is, how did the land end up in the hands of a private company over which LAAC has no control. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
DRAWING: Architect's impression of units at Mt Johns subdivision.
Lhere Artepe Enterprises Pty Ltd (LAE), which is carrying out the Mt Johns Valley real estate development, is tight-lipped about a $650,000 loan it received from the town's native title body, Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation (LAAC).
To an enquiry from Alice Springs News Online whether the money had been repaid, and if not, when would it be, a spokeswoman for LAE said: "This is a matter between LAAC and LAE."
And she says the LAE board had not seen an email, nor approved it, sent by Darryl Pearce, in connection with a share deal in CDE Civil. Mr Pearce was recently sacked as the company's CEO. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo:Happier days (from left) LAAC chairman Brian Stirling, now replaced by Ian McAdam; real estate agent David Forrest and Darryl Pearce, sacked as CEO.
Early last year an article by two Australian academics began circulating on the internet, proposing that the prison sentences passed on the five men convicted of the manslaughter of Kwementyaye Ryder – seen to be too light – were a "consolation prize" for their "whiteness". They painted a portrait of a "frontier town" where "if Aboriginal people are no longer formally prohibited from remaining within town limits after dark, their places remain on the fringes of Alice Springs: among scattered ceremonial grounds or as presences to be monitored and moved on at the edges of malls and souvenir shops, in dilapidated and dangerous town camps, and in the shadowy, uncertain shelter of the dry river bed".
The five, in the events of that night, were "re-animating their own ancestral rituals of white violence", they argued. The tragedy of Mr Ryder's death was "one more instance of racist violence and assault inscribed with the trauma-memory of exterminatory massacres".
The authors, Suvendrini Perera (Curtin University, Perth) and Joseph Pugliese (Macquarie University, Sydney) were commended for their dissection of "the white power play of the NT justice system" by Ray Jackson, President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, to whom their article was dedicated. Mr Jackson asserted that "had the perpetrators been Asian, Muslim, African or indeed other Aborigines, then it would be a different story".
All of this struck me as a particularly unhelpful and often quite wrong-headed analysis of the events, their social context and the way in which they were dealt with in the court and by the community at large. It also flew in the face of the public statements of the Ryder family: their call for calm as the justice process began in August 2009, their acceptance of the verdict and sentencing when it drew to an end in April 2010, and the comment from family spokesperson Karen Liddle that the community could learn from these events.
In this spirit I worked with Mark Finnane, my brother and an academic himself with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security at Griffith University, Brisbane, to write an alternative analysis of these events. KIERAN FINNANE and MARK FINNANE comment.
Pictured: The memorial to Kwementyaye Ryder at the place where he died, Schwarz Crescent, Alice Springs.
MIKE GILLAM, in our Food for Thought Series, is inspired by a policeman's battle to save the trees in the Todd River – in November 1888.
Mounted Constable W. G. South wrote to the Minister for the Northern Territory: I have the honour to inform you that when the township is sold … the Young Gum trees along the Todd Creek … will require protection or they will be all cut down by the residents for building and fencing purposes, in fact some of the trees have already been destroyed by persons forming camps. I would request your instructions on this matter and … all regulations with regard to protection of timber. The trees are a great ornament to the place and it would be a great pity to destroy them ...”
Today, 124 years later, the battle still rages.
PHOTOS: Author Gillam and the Wills Terrace causeway across the iconic river (above).