Records are being broken across the country as we in Central Australia swelter through another week of the "heatwave" continues which many commentators are referring to as "the new normal". Yet it is not clear what the new Northern Territory Government’s approach to climate change will be but early indications are not encouraging, writes JIMMY COCKING, of the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC).
Amnesty International welcomes the announcement of a further 12 million dollars for property maintenance across Northern Territory homelands in the State Mini Budget, though remains concerned by the conditions attached to the funding, writes Sarah Marland, the organisation's Indigenous Rights Campaigner Coordinator.
In a decision that turns the 16-year-old native title dispute resolution system on its head, landowners will soon be left high and dry – forced to fund their own representation in native title disputes, while claimants will continue to be funded by taxpayers, writes Warren Truss, of
Central Australia is getting merely crumbs off the table in "a significant investment in bush roads across the Territory" by the Federal and NT Governments.
Malarndirri McCarthy, NT Minister for Regional Development, and Warren Snowdon, Member for Lingiari, announced today they would be committing $16m and $90m, respectively, to a "new Regional Roads Productivity Package" to "encourage growth and development in a number of communities and local industries".
The slice of that for Central Australia will be for "upgrading the gravel condition of priority sections" – no lengths or costs disclosed – of the Santa Teresa Way whose total length is about 70 kms.
Congress CEO Stephanie Bell (left) resigned yesterday as claims were being made that Indigenous Health Minister Warren Snowdon (right), the Member for Lingiari, declined to fund another indigenous health service unless it operated under the control of Congress. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
The serious issues raised in yesterday's breaking news report about Congress are not new. The leaked letter was dated April 23, 2012. Two months later, what has the Congress Board and / or the Australian and NT Governments done?
Specific questions put by the Alice Springs News Online to the Congress Board President Helen Kantawara have gone unanswered today. Ms Kantawara's response to our report yesterday failed to address many of the concerns raised.
The News asked her today, in particular, what action the Board is taking about the apparently acknowledged inappropriate use of a corporate credit card by Congress CEO Stephanie Bell (pictured), to which there was no reference in Ms Kantawara's response.
The News also contacted Warren Snowdon, MHR for Lingiari and Minister for Indigenous, Rural and Regional Health, nominated by the Department of Health and Ageing as the Australian Government person for the News to seek comment from. Total silence, in keeping with his recent treatment of other legitimate enquiries by the News.
Meanwhile, the NT Department of Justice says they are enquiring to matters raised about the changes to Congress' constitution.
A committee of the Alice Springs Chamber of Commerce has hand balled the proposal for a national indigenous art and culture center to Tourism NT, which appears to have put it on the back burner.
Liz Martin, who runs the highly successful National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Sprigs, says the town may lose a major opportunity to Queensland where she understands a similar project is being mooted, apparently assisted by major mining interests.
"We should grab it by the horns and run with it," says Cr Martin who serves on the town council's Tourism, Events and Promotion Committee and was its chair person for the last three years of the 11th Council.
Says Tourism NT CEO John Fitzgerald: "Tourism NT has not taken over planning of the proposed centre."
Pictured: The sensational Canning Stockroute exhibition which enthralled visitors in Canberra and Sydney and indicated what a major national indigenous museum could be like, and what it could do for Alice. Photo by Tim Acker, Canning Stock Route Project. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
South Broken Hill and Alice Springs have a lot in common so far as their problems are concerned.
They couldn't be more different in their quest for solutions.
Empty shops, people leaving town, public facilities needing a facelift, the outback magic failing to lure the tourists in the numbers aspired to.
It seems The Alice could take a leaf out of South Broken Hill's book.
The poor cousin of the iconic mining town, South Broken Hill is separated from the main part of the city by a hill. As if out of sight, out of mind, the symptoms of decline set in two decades ago: shops in the main street closed. Some were turned into dwellings, some just stayed empty. Of 21 shops only 16 are occupied.
Now the push is on to get new tenants, and some short-time occupancies have been offered to artists and exhibitions.
In the long run the vigorous community action is aiming to turn Patton Village into a buzzy place for locals and a magnet for visitors. Bell's Milk Bar owner Jason King, as one of the leading lights, is spreading the message around the nation, especially through the Desert Knowledge Australia Outback Business Network. He says local government and the state government are regarded as stakeholders, "but we have to drive the changes.
"To bring Patton Village back to life, its people will have to do it." ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
PHOTO: Its own community will bring South Broken Hill back to life. No-one else will.
The Northern Territory is mostly on the bottom of the heap of national education indicators, and the nation itself has slid downwards compared with other countries.
The Gonski Report, the Review of Funding for Schooling commissioned by the Federal Government, makes dismal reading.
For example, the Territory has the nation's lowest proportion – just under 70% – of the 20 to 24 year-old population with Year 12 or equivalent attainment (2008).
That's for the non-indigenous population.
For the NT's indigenous population the figure is 24%. The corresponding figure for the other states is at least double that (see graph). ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
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".