A youth curfew during periods of period of "high social unrest," grappling with how to make parents pay for the damage done by their kids, an institution for young people out of control or with special needs, the government paying up to half a million dollars a year for some children in residential care services, massive cuts in Federal funding for child welfare and protection – these are some of the waypoints on the long and lonely road of the Minister for Children and Families, Robyn Lambley (pictured with constituents, photo supplied by her office). She spoke with editor ERWIN CHLANDA.
The recharge of the Mereenie bore field, from which Alice Springs is getting most of its water, is moving into sharp focus again as Alice Water Smart is looking for ideas about saving the precious fluid.
Councillor Steve Brown, who heads up the council's environment committee, says the NT Government owned Power Water Corporation (PWC) is "vandalising" the bore field by sustained pumping of too much water.
He says there should be an independent study of how the resource is used, and he is certain that a significant recharge can taking place. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Image:NT Government.
"Community water rules" – does that sound like you're going to be told you can only water the garden twice a week or only use a bucket to wash your car? Not in Alice, not yet anyway. Alice Water Smart, a $15m project funded by the Australian Government, wants the town to formulate its own rules for using water more efficiently. But this won't force you to change your lifestyle and the rules will be voluntary, more a guide to maintain "what you've got" or get you "what you want to have", says project officer Liz Locksley. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Long-time locals Murray and Barbara Neck reduced their water bill by 40% after putting their garden on drippers, installing a pool cover, repairing leaks and buying a water-efficient washing machine. Photo courtesy Alice Water Smart.
What's an empty beer can worth? The container deposit saga goes on.
While the depot operator says he's still below break-even point, it seems the Alice Springs Town Council's glass crusher – bought from Queensland with a grant from the NT Government – is a white elephant: it can do in just four days all the crushing the town needs in a year.
The council, after negotiations by the Mayor, rejected a joint venture deal with a local business which was buying a crusher, capable of also processing rocks and old concrete.
The deal would have saved the ratepayer more than half a million dollars. Council CEO Rex Mooney says: "There was no formal proposal" and the equipment bought by the local company would not be suitable.
Meanwhile beverage manufacturer Lion Nathan has issued a media release "firmly" rejecting allegations of profiteering in implementing the the NT government's container deposit scheme and describing it as "expensive and poorly designed".
And Environment Minister Karl Hampton says: "The glass crusher belongs to Alice Springs Town Council – any [questions about the] use of the glass crusher and plans should be directed to them."
ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTOS: The "largest glass crusher in regional Australia" (top, courtesy Town Council) and Kym Schiller sorting empties into no less than 24 categories.
The public will be doing the heavy lifting in the bid to reduce water use by one sixth of the current consumption over the next two years. Just 14% of the 1.6 billion liter reduction will come from the Power and Water Corporation, by phasing in recycled water for irrigation south of the Gap. This is despite the fact that Power and Water will get the lion's share of the $15m Alice Water Smart funding. The rest of the water savings – 86% – will come from consumers cutting back, mostly by turning down the lawn watering tap which is currently using up more than half of the town's supply. Meanwhile, almost twice as much as we're trying to save, close to three billion liters, is being evaporated each year in the sewage treatment plant, water lost to the town forever as the vapour drifts wherever the wind may take it. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Google Earth photo showing the expanse of the sewage evaporation ponds. Around three billion liters of water are wasted each year. The Alice Springs News Online published a comprehensive dossier on the sewage plant in 1998.