Special police operations have been welcomed in Alice Springs this month, to prevent a repeat of the ‘crime waves’ of last summer. As a result, numerous people have been arrested and brought before the courts. So many in fact, that there’s not enough space for everyone at the prison, Mark O’Reilly of the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service writes.
My name is Fiona McLoughlin. I am George Brown's daughter.
Dad passed away on December 16 after having surgery on his hernia.
He unfortunately had problems and for the past two weeks. I thought he was strong enough to get better, and have been with him each day trying to help him get better.
However despite fighting very hard he couldn't do it.
Picture: George was a hit with the public when he was busking in Edinburgh.
A travelling police roadshow is no substitute for a full-time policing commitment in Alice Springs, says Shadow Minister for Central Australia, Matt Conlan (pictured).
Operation Shiloh, which will see up to 25 officers transiting through Central Australia over the next few weeks, is a stop gap measure which will bring little long term benefit to the town. [Media release.]
The Alice Springs News normally closes over the holidays but this time we're challenging our readers to make room for reflection about our town's future in the merriment of the season.
Our decision to go exclusively online in March has been massively vindicated by the subsequent traffic growth on our site.
Since July monthly visits increased 31% from 9906 to 13,012, and page views skyrocketed 76% from 16,920 to 29,792.
Our readers' comments section blossomed, and more than ever in our 18 years of weekly publication, we're the ideas forum of The Alice.
Each week over the festive season, when great food on the table is a pleasure, we're asking you to give Food For Thought a go as well.
Locals prominent in their field, until the end of January 2012, will set the scene for this debate each week.
Then it's over to you, to use our comment box, to agree, argue, protest, expand, praise, cane. You're not limited to just one response: Ranging far and wide will enrich the debate. Take aim at the panelists' points – as well as what other correspondents have to say.
Our usual news reporting will resume on February 2, 2012.
Till then, tell us what YOU think needs to happen in 2012, with Town Council and Territory Parliament elections as political high-points.
Other panel members include:-
CEO of the National Transport Hall of Fame.
The local champion of lateral thinking has parlayed the Hall into the town's top private and volunteer initiative. When this year visitation dropped Liz swapped focus to big functions. How can this kind of "never say die" thinking be applied to the town's current woes?
Photographer, environmental campaigner.
Why looking after our natural heritage and assets is good for our community and good for business. And how we can do it better.
Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce.
When things get though the tough get going. Kay strutted a no-nonsense attitude at a string of recent public functions: Enough talk, more action.
Senior Mparntwe (Alice Springs) custodian. Successful tourism operator over three decades. Toxic infighting has given native title a bad name. How can this be stopped and in what way will the town benefit from its Aboriginal heritage?
Publication December 29. Deadline December 22.
Tourism Minister, Malarndirri McCarthy says a new Tourism Strategic Plan is needed to guide the industry from 2013. Will Alice still have a tourism industry then, and what needs to happen to ensure it will? Deb has been in the tourism industry for 20 years, currently running a Bed and Breakfast, and has a history in sales, marketing, car rentals, tours, inbound and promotion in Sydney and overseas.
A community development worker with over three decades of experience in working with Aboriginal people in town camps and remote communities in the Northern Territory and Queensland. He will look forward to where we would hope to be when the sun sets on the current 10-year second phase of the Federal Intervention into Indigenous affairs in the Territory.
Excuse me? Mid-thirties this morning and a howling northerly. A wildfire raging five kilometers away in the Ilparpa valley that afternoon (at right). Yet the fire danger sign on the airport road indicates "low to moderate", the lowest category on the scale? Surely not.
As it turns out, the local fire station sets the indicators in accordance with advice from the Bureau of Meteorology. The "curing rate" depends on the level of fuel loads, wind and temperature, moisture and humidity, says Station Officer John Pyper. He says the sign is updated at least daily, and he wouldn't be surprised if it went up in the next day or two. Fires in the open are prohibited unless they are for keeping warm or cooking food.
Homes are more likely to be sold than units as the moratorium on the sale of public housing in the Territory is being lifted.
A spokeswoman for Housing Minister Chris Burns says the number of dwellings to be sold is not yet known and decisions will be made on a case by case basis.
Meanwhile the waiting times for public housing in Alice Springs are five years and two months for non-pensioner one-bedroom units; three years and 10 months for pensioners; three years and nine months for two-bedroom homes and four years and 10 months for three-bedroom dwellings.
Dr Burns says the sales will follow "significant work undertaken to build more dwellings" but will not "see a return to the CLP policy of selling off thousands of dwellings, pocketing the returns with no significant upgrading or replacing of housing stock.
“Prior to 2001, the CLP were selling public housing dwellings at a record rate – some 781 dwellings in the 98-99 year alone, at a time when the wait list stood at over 3350 people."
He says properties will be assessed depending on location relative to services, shops, facilities and transport; age and condition of dwellings; level of concentration of public housing; demand for that particular type of dwelling; suitability for priority / complex needs housing; future redevelopment potential, and / or opportunity to contribute to home ownership and affordable rental targets (i.e. unit complex redevelopments).
The revitalisation of the CBD is about a lot more than the opening of the northern end of the Todd Mall to traffic ... but what exactly?
That people, including the media, find it difficult to say reflects the absence of any kind of everyday imagining about what it could and should mean. When the Town Council last Monday formally voted that it would proceed to spend the NT Government's $5m allocation on the recommended works for the northern end of the mall and for Parsons Street, they did so without a murmur. That brought to a conclusion a process during which the council, who are the trustees of the mall, have really never been heard on the subject of its revitalisation.
All along Mayor Damien Ryan was the co-chair (with Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton) of a steering committee involved in the planning. Whenever the Alice Springs News Online asked for a comment on where the process was at, Mayor Ryan said it was for the Minister to say – not his follow co-chair, but Planning Minister Gerry McCarthy.
When there was finally, right at the end of the process, a public meeting to present the projects developed by the design consultants, the Mayor was away on other business. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Mayor Liz Martin, who did make a few comments, but they fell short of expressing a 'vision' – an over-used word but nonetheless a necessary concept when it comes to thinking about and deciding where we, collectively, want to go. KIERAN FINNANE comments.
Her name was Frieda Keysser. She was the wife of a famous man, mother of another, but The Tale of Frieda Keysser by John Strehlow, her grandson, will be more particularly her story and, we are promised, a widely encompassing one – this 1000 plus page book (a Volume 1) is sub-headed "Investigations into a Forgotten Past".
I'm not usually quite so arrested by the book as an object but this one asserts itself beyond its obvious imposing size. The care that has gone into crafting it signals a particular approach – the story will be unfolded, taking the time and space it needs. Turn to the title page and the promise of the sub-heading is amplified: the author quotes Thomas Carlisle on books as holding "the soul of the whole past time ... when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream".
Turn a few more pages: there's a photograph of a grave in the desert, that of Carl Strehlow, Lutheran missionary at Hermannsburg for 28 years. For 27 of them Frieda was at his side. She was an extremely emotional and passionate person with strong self-belief, a conviction, like that of her forebears, that her life would be purposeful. She found purpose through her marriage to Carl and her work at the mission, in particular with the women and children and combatting infant mortality. Her grandson John (pictured at right), in telling her tale, hopes it will lead to "a major reappraisal of the era", in particular the role of Christianity in The Centre. He spoke to KIERAN FINNANE.
Photo of Frieda, crop of the original, courtesy the Strehlow Research Centre.
On a recent 40+ degree day, Max Bialek from Germany cycled out from town to the Alice Springs News home office in the rural area. He brought greetings from his father whom we'd met as a tourist and skydiver here before Max was even thought of. The hardy young backpacker is loving his time in The Centre. Right now he's helping bring in the crop at Rocky Hill. We asked him to convey his first impressions of Alice.
"Alice Springs – what are you going to do there?"
"Now, in the middle of summer? You're crazy mate!"
That is how my backpacker friends reacted when I decided to make my way – contrary to the mainstream – from Cairns over nearly 2500 kilometers to Alice Springs. With each new place you encounter certain expectations and demands. Considering Alice Springs, these were primarily influenced by prejudices that circulate among backpackers. It is hot there, dusty and above all boring. The truth was my part to find out about.
When I arrived it was a bit chilly and rainy. Of course, an unusual situation, clearing up the first prejudice! MAX BIALEK comments.
And so it begins ... the mass exodus towards the coasts, towards international airports, family homes, romantic getaways, relly bashes of epic proportions or a bit of down time. Whatever way, there’s a lot of work being put in at this time of year – finishing projects, tying up loose work ends, attending end of year dos, making Christmas cards, making lists, the mind running double time and, god forbid, all this whilst moving house!
Where is Christmas in Alice Springs when you're one of the many movers? I was involved in the kid’s Christmas carnival, themed around a crazy Alice in Wonderland tea party on miniature mushroom shaped furniture. The kids (and I) loved it but I didn’t see Christmas. And even though the big Christmas tree has been lit and carols by candlelight have been sung, I’m still not feeling it.
Pictured above: Alice kids and families waiting for the town Christmas tree to be lit. Photo courtesy Alice Springs Town Council.
For St Philip's College students the idea isn't all that far-fetched: "We're equal distance to any coast in Australia," they say.
In fact their school is the only one in Australia to offer a Year 12 boat building course.
One boat they built this year is a 5.5m John Dory and the other one a Gaot Island Skiff, seen being launched in the Glen Helen Gorge by students Joshua Blain and Paul Berriman, and Geoff Leedham, Head of Applied Technology.
All techniques of modern timber boat building were applied, using Australian made marine grade Hoop Pine and other associated timbers, including Fiji Mahogany and Huon Pine. With modern epoxy adhesives one boat used only six screws in its construction, while the other had none.
A massive coal-to-gas project in the Simpson Desert is caught up in a campaign by the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) for a moratorium on coal seam and shale gas exploration.
ALEC says the project should be suspended "until a proper regulatory and environmental impact assessment framework is in place".
Although the Simpson Desert project by Central Petroleum (CP), aiming to produce "ultra clean diesel", does not involve the controversial process of fracking, ALEC includes it in its protest under the heading "other non-conventional gas exploration projects".
ALEC's Jimmy Cocking (pictured) says in similar ventures in China and Wyoming, USA, underground fires are burning out of control, causing major environmental damage. Central Petroleum says this is not true. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.