Amidst the crusty truckies at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame reunion in Alice Springs last week was one quite unlike the rest: she is a petite blonde driving the rig of the year, a 50 tonne Drake low loader pulled by a 550 horsepower Western Star – total value more than half a million dollars.
Perhaps the only hint there may be a woman driver behind the wheel is the prime mover's colour: pink.
Julie Gavin transports earthmoving and mining equipment all around Australia.
Does she know what the future will hold for the industry she loves? "Good question. What's next week's lotto numbers, Erwin?" ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Anderson joins Country Liberals, will target shires, growth towns, commercial development, 'separatism' in education
MacDonnell MLA Alison Anderson says the failure of the super shires,
fixing the "appalling" SIHIP housing program, reforming "pretend"
education and training and creating meaningful economic development
strategies in the bush will be among her main objectives.
Ms Anderson, who started her parliamentary career as a Labor Party
member and became an Independent in 2009, last night joined the Country
Liberals. This puts the numbers in the House at 12 – 12, with Gerry Wood
holding the balance of power.
She says there have been "no deals whatsoever" to entice her into the conservative party, such as the offer of a ministry.
Ms Anderson says: "The shires are a mess. They are too top heavy, too
much money goes into the hierarchy while services on the ground are
She says repairs and maintenance to bush homes carried out under
SIHIP is "absolutely appalling. She's had complaints from communities
including Santa Teresa, Haasts Bluff, Papunya and Docker River.
"Repair crews were meant to have come back in June but still haven't.
The money goes to consultancies and layers upon layers of bureaucracy."
Ms Anderson says the "separatism" in education must stop. She says
even as a Labor Member she had admired the education policies of
Opposition Leader Terry Mills.
"There should be one set of policies, not a pretend education and
training system in the bush. We've got training for the sake of
training. Some people have 20 or 30 certificates [but no opportunity of
She says the economic development efforts of the Government are a sham.
Consultation consists of getting wish lists from people, so the Government can tick boxes, but there's seldom any follow-up.
The growth towns – Hermannsburg and Papunya in her electorate – are concepts without substance.
People aren't necessarily happy to have a central service hub,
although Ms Anderson concedes that she was the Labor Minister introducing the hub and spokes model of the growth towns.
She says there should be specific commercial proposals based on
research of the available assets, markets and the preferences of the
locals. She says Hermannsburg has some obvious opportunities –
tourism attracted by the town's history, Palm Valley nearby, and the
proximity to Alice Springs.
The options for Papunya are not as clear, and "we will do a proper
talking session [about] where we want to go". A cultural museum and a
visitor complex at the back of ranges near the town may be some options.
Have the Country Liberals done that sort of planning in the past, so as to have a strategy in place?
No, says Ms Anderson, but a start on focussed economic planning will begin this year.
Ms Anderson is pictured with MLA for Braitling Adam Giles.
Meanwhile Mr Mills says Ms Anderson’s decision to join the Country
Liberals "is simply reflecting the wishes of the people of MacDonnell,
who’ve told her they want to get rid of Labor”.
Ms Anderson’s application will be discussed at a branch meeting in Alice Springs tonight.
Photo: Ms Anderson last summer with Country Liberals MLA for Braitling Adam Giles. From the Alice Springs News archive.
[See "full story" for comment from the Leader of Government Business, Chris Burns.]
along a drain at the eastern edge of town on Sunday – their outstanding
efforts should not be undermined by red tape in other quarters.
Stuart Highway last week to cut fire breaks near the Holcim quarry,
about 10 km north of town.
far back, putting 1075 kilos (four to five wheelbarrow loads of sand)
more weight than allowed on one axle.
property and maybe lives, the weighbridge staff could have said: "Just
take her forward a bit, mate. And good on ya!"
Photo above: Map of bushfires in Central Australia earlier this week. Bottom: Peter Latz, native grasses in the left of the photo; thick buffel on the other side of the fence.
Massive rains last year boosting exceptional plant growth made it
inevitable that 2011 would be a major year for bushfires – but
authorities are still gearing up to cope with them.
The fire west of Alice Springs is still burning out of control, but no longer in the immediate vicinity of the town.
Matt Braitling, from Mt Doreen Station, the chairman of Bushfire NT's
regional council, says the fire fighting effort had to focus on
protecting assets, including Aboriginal outstations at Bond Springs and
the Golden Mile just west of the town, either side of Larapinta Drive
leading to the West MacDonnell Ranges.
Meanwhile according to one of Central Australia's most eminent
wildfire experts, botanist Peter Latz, the massive blaze last week
burning right up to the western edge of Alice Springs is no surprise but
came a bit earlier than expected.
The author of Bush Fires & Bush Tucker and The Flaming Desert
says the fire will probably protect the town from a much worse one later
in the year.
Dr Latz says the ferocity of the fire was caused mostly by buffel
grass, introduced as a dust suppressant by the CSIRO decades ago, and
now covering much of Central Australia.
While trees mostly survive the "cooler" flames of native grass, many
were destroyed, including trees in the West MacDonnell national park:
"Where there is thick buffel under the mulgas they are dead." ERWIN CHLANDA reports.