Sir – Reading the Alice News every week, I am constantly disappointed in reading how the social fabric is far from improving.
Week after week, the main article is the good old alcohol abuse, followed by the known outcome of such abuse.
So, you have to ask yourself what next. Well, after reading the article by Bob Taylor dated March 21, I now Fracking know, writes Jim Cleary, from Colorado.
The Alice Springs News Online is supporting calls on Facebook for full disclosure of all NT Government reports dealing with the apparent use in the past, on the land where the Kilgariff suburb is now being built, of a chemical best known as Agent Orange, notorious as the defoliant widely used in the Vietnam war. It caused widespread birth defects.
And we requested two days ago, from the Department of Mines, and the Mines Minister Willem Westra van Holthe, all reports about oil spills into the Alice Springs water supply, mostly compiled during the Labor administrations between 2001 and 2012, which kept them under wraps. We've not yet heard back from either. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA. Picture of man with massive birth defects as displayed in the Ho Chi Minh City war museum. Alice Springs News Online photo.
Corroded well pipes in the Mereenie oil field leaked oil below ground into the Amadeus aquifer which provides the water for Alice Springs, so did a leaking pipeline, and highly saline water was kept in an unlined evaporation pond. These were issues raised by an NT Government water expert, John Childs, from about 2001 and still lack credible answers. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Google earth picture of the Mereenie oil field.
Michael Liddle (pictured), who is also the deputy chairman of the Central Land Council, has resigned from his position of chairman of the local native title organisation, Lhere Artepe. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Natural gas production will continue in the Palm Valley field 145 kilometres west of Alice Springs under an agreement between Magellan and Santos.
Magellan has a contract with Santos for the supply of 22 Bcf (billion cubic feet) over 15 years.
This follows a swap last year which saw Santos becoming sole owner of the Mereenie oil and gas field west of Palm Valley, and Magellan of the Palm Valley field. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO:The Palm Valley gas field. Hermannsburg is at top right of the picture, the Finke River at right and the Palm Valley at the bottom.
Attempting some laps and trying to cool off a little at the town pool on Monday (the eve) I overheard a lovers' quarrel: "But you said we weren’t ‘doing’ Valentines Day! Now I’ve got to get you a present!" So that is ‘doing’ Valentine's Day, buying stuff. Christmas had barely been peddled from the shelves before gaudy Australian flag propaganda was being hawked and now it was poor old St Val’s turn to be flogged (who coincidently was apparently almost stoned and clubbed to death and failing that was in the end beheaded). I may as well start preparing now for the next commercial 'shock and awe' event that is Easter.
Darryl Pearce, who was recently sacked as the CEO of companies which are carrying out the Mt Johns real estate development, apparently still has a hand in the multi million dollar project.
He is the secretary of Lhere Artepe Pty Ltd which – directly or indirectly – appears to be the owner of all the entities bearing a name including the words Lhere Artepe, the town's native title organisation.
This includes the private companies tied up in the multi-million dollar Mt Johns development.
But late today, Michael Liddle (pictured), listed as a director of Lhere Artepe Pty Ltd, said: "I have never signed an agreement to join the company's board.
"The board has never met. As far as I know, there are other directors in the same position as me." PHOTO: Current advertising promoting the land as "re-released" after considerable delays. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
The creative brief for the redevelopment of Parsons Street in Alice Springs' CBD has won an international award.
The brief, titled Revealing the Spirit of Parsons Street, was prepared by photographer Mike Gillam who is also well-known for his long-time commitment to the preservation and protection of our natural and cultural heritage within the urban environment.
Mr Gillam was commissioned to develop the brief as part of the CBD revitalisation project.
The Green Dot Awards celebrate "excellence in green products and services". Mr Gillam's unusual entry stands alongside other first prize category winners such as the Copenhagen Wheel – an electric bicycle that generates its own energy while pedalling and braking – and the work of a Hong Kong based architectural firm, Aedas Ltd, specialising in sustainable design.
Pictured is Parsons Street now: this choked sightline will be de-cluttered in the redevelopment. Photo by MIKE GILLAM.
To get an idea of what's ahead of us in this election year it's instructive to read the final words spoken by government front bencher Chris Burns in the NT Parliament before the Christmas break.
Producing his own brand of Festive Season cheer, Labor politician Dr Burns was having a shot at Alison Anderson in the adjournment debate of the last Sittings of 2011.
That's not surprising, because the colorful Member for MacDonnell had recently joined the Country Liberal Opposition, after having been an Independent, which was after having been a party colleague of Dr Burns'.
What is remarkable about his sniping is that his ammunition consisted mostly of alleged past transgressions by Ms Anderson which, while she was a Labor Member, his party either ignored or said Ms Anderson was not guilty of. And that was from then Chief Minister Clare Martin down.
So Dr Burns engaged in some robust mental gymnastics to explain his change of heart.
It's all about the book by Melbourne journalist Russell Skelton, King Brown Country, The Betrayal of Papunya. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.PICTURE: Ms Anderson and her brother, Sid, now the president of the MacDonnell Shire. Different takes on their role as power brokers in Papunya shape up as election fodder.
Vocal law and order campaigner Steve Brown (pictured) is standing for Mayor and Alderman in the town council elections on March 24, although he says he will be "facing an uphill battle" against the "firmly entrenched incumbent," Damien Ryan.
Mr Brown says he would bring a "much more vigorous approach" to the position: "Damien’s embrace of the NT Labor Government's policies and his willingness to take up offered positions on every board and committee that came his way has often left him obligated and somewhat compromised, and the council in a position of being unable to criticise when criticism was absolutely due."
He says he will not accept membership of "any committees or bodies or boards not directly associated with the operation of the Alice Springs Town Council".
Mr Brown says if elected he would have a pro-growth "corporate Alice" approach, running the town as a successful business, aiming at attracting more permanent workers and giving incentives to business.
Meanwhile Alderman Eli Melky, while still not declaring his hand for the coming elections, continues his attack on the actions of the current council.
He has given notice that at council's committee meeting next Monday he will put a motion to abolish council's “Removal of graffiti” by-law, which places the onus of removal on property-owners. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
People do still fall in love with Alice Springs. Amidst much gloomy talk, it's good to be reminded of that. It happened to Edan Baxter when he arrived here five years ago and his ardour is undiminished.
He still sees at the forefront all the things that have built the town's mystique – the fantastic mix of people, from around the country and the world, alongside Aboriginal people, the presence of their ancient culture, the closeness of pioneering history, burgeoning creativity, stunning natural environment.
But many decisions are made that limit the "amazing potential" of all this, he says, and this is what has prompted him to nominate as a candidate in the coming Town Council elections.
At 32 years old, he's pitching himself as a "younger, fresher voice" but his emphasis is on the long-term. He sees the focus of public debate on "the issues of the day" – such as young people on the streets at night and anti-social behaviour – as something of a dead end. KIERAN FINNANE profiles this Town Council candidate.
Where will the money come from to pay rent for shire assets on Aboriginal land?
The eight Northern Territory shires are acting in concert on the issue of lease payments for shire facilities on Aboriginal land. The Northern and Central Land Councils' position is that traditional owners are entitled to rent for leases over the various land parcels once the Australian Government's five-year town leases expire in August. The Australian and NT Governments have accepted this, with the NT Government determining that rents should be set at 5-10% of UCV (unimproved capital value).This will amount to a bill of around $3 million annually for the NT, potentially rising to $5 million once all leases are settled. The leases for public housing land are exempt, with 'peppercorn' rents charged "in recognition of the direct benefit for local people", according to Minister for Local Government, Malarndirri McCarthy.
The cash-strapped shires are appalled: already they are struggling to provide a basic level of service to their communities. Don't their services amount to a "direct benefit for local people"? And, with limited operational funding, rates revenue, and budgets patched together from grants and charges to agencies for delivering their programs, where will the money come from?
A meeting on January 24 was attended by representatives of the eight shires, a lawyer from the firm Minter Ellison to advise them, and representatives of the Australian and Territory Governments as well as the Local Government Association of the NT.
The eight shires agreed to five points of a joint approach. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Shire workers learning to undertake maintenance on work plant at the Ti Tree works depot. Photo courtesy Central Desert Shire.